More Moving: Cash Motivation

My last post involved some info on a scary scale number. I’m not new to physical activity, we just had a pretty serious falling out a few years ago. My current goal is to start up moving again and get some sweat pouring and some pounds dropping off.


I function best with walking/running. I do poorly with groups or regular time commitments. No way to change that so I just avoid classes or gym stuff. The whole “someone waiting for you is a great motivator…”?

No it’s not. It’s pressure. It makes me never want to exercise again – that way I’ll never disappoint anyone. I’m an oldest child – I take the “D” word very seriously.

But I also have an issue staying motivated over a long term. Once I get out the door I’m okay but actually overcoming the incredible lizard-brain screaming “NO” at me is terribly difficult. So this time around I have (at the suggestion of my amazing life partner) established an elaborate system of external motivators.

The tricky bit was coming up with things that are motivators that I wouldn’t just go out and get for myself. MUCH of the stuff I saw online in terms of motivation was geared toward moms with multiple kids – rewards and motivators were often things like “an afternoon to yourself” or “a night out with the girls” or some relatively low-cost splurge that would be a stretch for a one-income household (with multiple kids).

Those posts started me down the right track but had little by way of actually usable motivators for me because BOOYAA I get afternoons to myself all the time and I can go out with the girls whenever I want and we’re not on a tight budget. So I had to think pretty hard about motivators that would work to get ME out the door.

I share it with you, to be used as you like.

CASH PRIZE: This is a forever-growing pot of money that I will ONLY get when I have hit my final goal. The money that goes in will be “mad money” for a new wardrobe. I have enough clothes to see me to my goal so I don’t need to “treat myself” to clothes until I’m THERE.

This effort is not just about losing weight, it’s more about getting healthy. I’m overweight and the best, most direct way to address that is to me mindful about what I’m putting in my mouth and moving more. So I’m putting away dollars both for movement, for good food tracking, and then for pounds lost.

I have two amounts. A small amount and a little-more-than-that amount. Keep in mind I expect this effort to go on for quite some time and the point is not to make a ton of money or go broke over it – just to have coins filling up a bucket as a visual (and $$$) motivation.

Small amount:

  • for every day I move (purposefully) for 30 or more minutes
  • for every day I stick to my (healthy, non-starvy) caloric intake

Little-More-Than-Small amount:

  • for every pound lost

It all goes in a Mason jar. Until there’s too much and the Mason jar cannot hold the awesomeness of my ongoing effort.

I’m trying to motivate AND reward myself two ways here. First, I expect to be at this for many, many, many days before I hit anything meaningful in terms of weight loss. I want my movement and mouth-filling gains to be meaningful and rewarding in monetary terms because a  jar stuffed with cash is an easier (and more motivating) thing for me to focus on than my questionable waistline.

Also, I don’t have a lot of free time and I am jealous of it. So paying myself back for it, even a small amount, somehow appeases my sense of injustice that exercise takes any time out of my day.

The thing I like about the cash bit, especially the $/day deal, is that there’s at least one thing that motivates that is not contingent on LOSS – it’s all about EFFORT.

I’m really smart. I’m good at tricking myself into doing things.

What do you think? Have you ever done something like this before and did it work?!

Next post: Prizes!! Winning things!!

motivation for more moving part 1 - cash | a post from



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