5 ways to replace food rewards for fitness motivation

PBS host Stephanie Mansour, of "Step It Up With Steph," shares ways to treat yourself with positive reinforcement when it comes to achieving healthy goals.

(CNN)Healthy milestones offer a moment to celebrate victories, no matter how small.

Positive reinforcement, such as rewarding yourself with a treat, plays an important role in maintaining motivation and perseverance when it comes to reaching your ultimate goals. These small wins can help you stay on track, research has shown. By dividing one large goal into various smaller ones, each step becomes an achievement.
However, it's easy to go overboard with rewards that can undermine our goals. Let's face it, we all want to give into our junk food cravings, and what better a time to indulge than after you've just accomplished something healthy? You don't have to cut out junk food entirely, but knowing how to reward yourself in a way that aligns with your health goals can completely change your approach.
    There are plenty of nonfood rewards that will get you pumped about achieving that next step in your plan. So the next time you find yourself leaning toward sugary or salty cravings, consider celebrating with these healthy rewards instead.

      Take a nap

      When was the last time you've set aside time for a quick power nap? Because it can be tricky prioritizing a nap in a busy schedule, try making this a reward for your next achievement.
      Brief naps have been shown to improve cognitive performance in some cases. So by giving in to sleep, you may actually be benefiting your work life. Allowing yourself to feel refreshed and energized after a workout aligns with health-related goals, unlike giving into sugary or fatty foods.

        Buy a piece of workout gear

        Have you been eyeing a certain pair of workout leggings? How about a new workout-style fanny pack? Set an attainable goal for yourself and preselect an affordable piece of gear, and once you reach your target, hit the internet to shop.
        Having that new item on your mind while working out may help you stay motivated longer.
        Looking good for your next workout also can help you feel better about yourself as you work toward your ultimate goal. Knowing that you've earned that piece of clothing or equipment that you're using will only help you strive for more, taking you one step closer to your next milestone. This reward is a win-win.

        Light a candle and read a book

        Lighting a candle is a simple act, yet it can be super relaxing and rewarding. After a long day of work and exercise, letting yourself simply sit down with a book and a candle by your side could be just what you need to unwind.
        "Me time" usually isn't prioritized, but it's a great way to reenergize our minds and bodies.
        Reading a book is a fulfilling reward.