Erin is a mom of two and has been with Today’s Mama for ten years. She is charged with finding and sharing all of the wonderful things the web has to offer. She is particularly fond of food, photography, printables, and funny things. She writes about losing weight in her Healthy Living for Mom series, and is chronicling her attempt to master her DSLR camera with her series, Big Girl Camera.

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Healthy Living for Mom: Rewards

When I was working on my post last week and gathering the images that inspire me on Pinterest, I came across a saying that annoyed me.

“You are not a dog. Don’t reward yourself with food.”

I’m all for being honest and getting down to the nitty gritty of this whole weight loss thing, but that rubbed me the wrong way. I found it incredibly belittling. It’s hard enough to find time to workout and/or resist the urge to cap off each evening with a sweet treat, without being compared to a dog.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about that pin.

Because I reward myself with food.

My most recent reward.

I have also been known to quell my stress by eating donuts. Three or four at a time.

So, the overall message revealed something to me, even if the actual phrase is one I can do without. It got me thinking about non-food items or activities that I could use to reward myself.

I need a weekly treat. Here are a few non-food treat ideas…

  • New nail polish.
  • A few new songs from iTunes. (Something with some pep, for the treadmill.)
  • A really good bag of coffee*. (I dream of splurging on a small bag of pricey beans.)
  • Drugstore lips. (I like tinted Burt’s Bees.)
  • A magazine and an uninterrupted hour to read.
  • Someone else puts the kids to bed and I get a bubble bath. (I don’t think I’ve had a bubble bath in almost four years!)

I like the idea of a “ten pound treat”—something that I get at each ten pound weight loss interval.

  • A massage.
  • A new pair of shoes.
  • New make up. (I’ve got a long list of items I need from Sephora. I could get excited about spending an hour picking out new colors.)
  • A fun piece of jewelry.
  • New workout clothes.
  • Movie night. (More Thor!)

Don’t get me wrong, I still plan on enjoying sweet treats. But I think a small shift is in order. Because those donuts, on top of a nervous stomach, have never actually made me feel better.

But I bet a bubble bath would.


  • Starting Weight: 195.5 pounds
  • Week Eight Weight: 184.5 pounds (-2.5 pounds this week / -11 pounds total)
  • Goal Weight: 165 lbs

I need more non-food treat ideas. Help!

*Although, it is technically “food”, coffee is first and foremost, a necessity.


Read the previous Healthy Living for Mom posts…

Healthy Living for Mom: Portion Control

Healthy Living for Mom: Metabolism is Magical 

Healthy Living for Mom: Let’s Do This 

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Comments (24)

  1. Brandi 04/18/2012 at 9:34 pm

    Love this. Great sentiment and great motivation. Best of luck to you Erin on your weight loss goals!

  2. Lynn Smith 03/05/2012 at 1:39 pm

    Great ideas! Thanks for sharing. I’m tryimg to get away from food rewards myself. Right now I’m big into giving me time rewards: read for an hour, or nap for 30 minutes, or 60 minutes of shopping. For a big reward, I give myself a couple of hours to work on a crafts project. GL

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  6. Becky 10/31/2011 at 3:47 pm

    When I was doing my no-sugar healthy eating thing, I would save a treat until my free day and then I had a stock pile of things to eat and usually, I would throw away tons of those things. It’s almost if you can put it out of your mind and do something different…like look forward to a totally hot new pair of jeans, you can give up the things that might make you happy for a moment for something that will make you feel better for like a year!
    Man, I need to get back on this, but I don’t feel ready yet.

    • Erin Oltmanns 11/01/2011 at 9:15 pm

      I’ve been so removed from the hot-jean crowd for so long! I need a tutorial on hot jeans. 🙂

  7. Cory 10/31/2011 at 2:36 pm

    I had a lot of luck with the slow-carb diet:

    I went from 215 to 178 in 18 weeks. That diet is like Atkins with appropriately timed carb consumption and no “empty” carbs. You are good all week and then go nuts one day per week. You need to be regimented in what you eat and when, but it was pretty easy to follow. I eat the same things every day for breakfast and lunch. I ate whatever the family was eating for dinner and had an orange and a glass of red wine for a snack. A typical day was:
    5 AM: 1/2 c shelled edmame (sometimes with olive oil, garlic, peppers and a touch of salt), 1 pint of iced green tea
    5:15 – 6:45 AM: kettle bells, pushups, pullups, situps, and stationary bike
    6:45 – 7 AM: get ready and wake the kids
    7 – 7:20 AM: get the kids ready
    7:20 – 8 AM: breakfast with kids 1/2 c lite yogurt w/ 2 tbsp hemp seeds, 1 pint green tea, 1 tbsp peanut butter
    8 AM – 12 PM: 64 oz water
    12 PM: Chocolate whey protein shake
    12:30 – 5 PM: 64 oz water
    5 PM: Dinner whatever is served, but avoid bread and starches
    8 PM: 1 orange, 1 glass red wine

    Reference to the past tense is because once you get your metabolism working from the kettle bells, you can add back in some carbs in moderation. Chocolate is my vice.

    • Erin Oltmanns 11/01/2011 at 9:14 pm

      Wow! Good for you! I thought wine was a big no-no on a low carb diet, did I get my wires crossed?

      • Cory 11/14/2011 at 12:25 pm

        Red wine is 3-5 g of carbs per 5 ounce serving. The resveratrol in wine has been shown to aid in recovery from workouts and increase fat loss.

  8. Allison Y. 10/26/2011 at 10:50 am

    I was wondering how that works as I was reading your posts. I can’t reward myself with treats, it just makes me feel like all the hard work I put in that week is for nothing. But I do see your stats are awesome. For some reason, I could rock my eating all week, and then if I eat a dessert and weigh in the next day, I won’t lose any weight.

    When I started Weight Watchers in January my first goal was 40 pounds. At that point, I set the reward as a new bed. Yes, a new mattress. We needed one badly and it was uncomfortable to sleep. So that was my reward! After that it was a new pair of jeans every 10 pounds since the old ones would be too big anyway.

    • Erin Oltmanns 10/26/2011 at 7:47 pm

      I have to remind myself that I’m trading a drop on the scale for the treat. I’m happy if I maintain my weight after a treat. I’ve found that I can be happy with a much smaller portion these days. It’s too hard to work out and lose weight, only to pack it back on because I had a latte AND a scone. 🙂

  9. Amy Allen Johnson 10/26/2011 at 10:07 am

    don’t laugh, but I once had to go on a fabric diet. Yes, that’s right. I went an entire year without buying fabric. Now, I allow myself to splurge by getting the cutest remnant in the pile rather than an entire yard (think.. eating 1/2 a donut, not the whole box). It’s my favorite non-food treat.

    • Carina Wytiaz 10/26/2011 at 11:48 am

      I love fabric. Argh.

    • Erin Oltmanns 10/26/2011 at 7:40 pm

      I think I need to commission a few items from you! I’ll pay good money for a table runner. Let’s talk. 😉

  10. Rachael Herrscher 10/26/2011 at 9:23 am

    My problem is, when i decide I need a treat reward, I’m practically rabid from the deprivation of it all. So my treat would need to be instant . . .

    • Rachael Herrscher 10/26/2011 at 9:23 am

      I mean my NON food treat would need to be something pretty instantly accessible

      • Erin Oltmanns 10/26/2011 at 7:42 pm

        If I plan my treat out, then I can wait. I bought that caramel apple on Friday…ate it on MONDAY while I watched Castle! Of course, I had to hide the apple in a rarely used cabinet so I wouldn’t see it. Seriously. I opened the cabinet a few times and was surprised to see it. #dork

  11. Erica Fehrman 10/26/2011 at 9:17 am

    I like to go to Barnes and Noble for an evening. Usually I sit and peruse sections where I don’t normally purchase books, just for a change of pace and some interesting scan-reading (making paper, photography, building an adult treehouse…)

    Also, you are getting a bubble bath during our retreat. Yes.

    • Erin Oltmanns 10/26/2011 at 7:43 pm

      Oooo…I love the book store idea! Does it get expensive, or do you commit to browsing only?

  12. Gloriana 10/26/2011 at 8:53 am

    Love this. Exactly what I needed to hear today.( i have a piece of cheesecake waiting for me to eat tomorrow to celebrate 21 days of no sugar. How does that make any sense??)

    • Erin Oltmanns 10/26/2011 at 7:44 pm

      Congratulations! You are a ninja! I don’t think I could go 21 days…just think how delicious that is going to taste. I could only finish a quarter of that apple…it was SO sweet.

  13. Melissa 10/26/2011 at 8:12 am

    I just REALLY want an apple like that now. That looks sooooo good!

    • Erin Oltmanns 10/26/2011 at 7:45 pm

      It was delicious! Well worth the wait. 🙂 I didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s made with dark chocolate…YUM.