Gold Star Exercise Strategy

Do you remember the reward charts that you used to have in primary school – if you did something good, you’d get a gold star or smiley face stamp next to your name?

When I was 8 years old my primary school participated in a state wide book reading challenge. For every book you read, you’d receive a gold star next to your name and if you got 10 gold stars, it meant you could get 1 free pizza from Pizza Hut.

I’m not sure what I wanted more, the gold stars next to my name or the pizza but by the end of this challenge one thing is certain, I became a book worm and my reading improved tremendously.

Earlier this year I started to wonder, could gold stars help me in other areas of my life such as health/fitness? Sure, I realise 18 years have passed since I used the gold star technique but surely it was worth a shot?

So on the 1st of January 2010, I set myself the following goal – to exercise 5 times a week for 1 hour each session.

Every day that I did this, I would place a star sticker on my yearly calendar (see below).

Now you may think that surely a gold star wouldn’t be motivating and certainly at first, it wasn’t super exciting. But as more and more stars appeared on my calendar I started to feel more motivated. The stars represented all my hard work.

After a few weeks I could see in one glance that I had been putting in consistent effort and I started to feel really good about the fact I was sticking to my goal. I also started to feel quite fit and healthy (the ultimate goal).

Since implementing this gold star strategy, exercsie has become a part of my daily routine. If I don’t do my one hour of exercise, I feel terrible.

Alas, cold weather is upon us here in Australia and I’ve got cold feet. I can see from my chart that over the past few weeks my gold stars have dropped from an average of 5 or 6 down to 4.

When I look at my chart and see that I’ve come to the end of the week and there are only 3 or 4 stars, I can’t help but think “Far out, you’re letting yourself go. Your losing the benefits of all those months of training”. One glance at my chart is all it takes for me to kick off my uggboots, put on my sneakers and head to the gym.

Last week despite the cold weather and heavy rain, I managed to do 5 exercise sessions. On some of those days I had to force myself to go to the gym, but after every session I felt great. As I put each star sticker onto my calendar it felt amazingly satisfying!

Do you have any strategies that you use to help you exercise? If so, I’d love to hear about them.