Bribes and Gold Stars

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As much as I love to workout, sometimes I have to resort to mind tricks to motivate myself to actually lace up my sneakers.


Today’s bribe:  Run 3.0 miles with speedwork and you can go out to lunch!


Done and done!


I wasn’t running on a track or using my Garmin 305, so I didn’t approach speedwork with any real plan.  I just worked in speedy bursts and tried to run 10 seconds longer than I thought I could hold on for.  Although my foot hurt a bit initially during my run yesterday, it felt fine afterwards and today during my run.  So maybe I’m healed!  🙂


My reward was a spinach salad with onions, carrots, golden raisins, sunflower seeds, and a hunk of goat cheese.  With honey mustard dressing.  Mmm.


+ a banana for snacking later.


Speaking of rewards… I was talking to a teacher last week about how well “gold star” charts work in her classroom and decided to try the same technique on myself.


I printed out a chart for the week and listed some ‘healthy goals’ horizontally across the top.  Down the side is each day of the week. 


My goals include flossing, drinking water, sleeping 8 hours, daily yoga, daily sweat (some sort of cardio), and 5 fruit and veggies.


I fill out the chart at night but it’s kind of fun to think of it throughout the day.  For example, I was thinking about getting a bag of chips for my snack but opted for a banana when I remembered my chart. 


No success yet on working in daily yoga.  Win some, lose some. 🙂



  • Holly @ couchpotatoathlete January 25, 2011, 2:14 pm

    Caitlin I love your chart! And I’m glad to see you are getting 8 hrs of sleep — that is something I want to work more on!

  • Heather January 25, 2011, 2:17 pm

    Savvy Julie and I have a gold star challenge google doc spreadsheet that we keep together, a tab for each of, with daily goals to aim towards. Our goals are V. similiar to yours – water, 7-9 hours of sleep, 5+ servings of freggies, etc –

    It’s a great accountability to be doing this with my best blend, not only for having someone who is reminding me of WHY I’m doing these things when I am losing motivation, but also a little friendly competition, as well. 🙂

    • Caitlin January 25, 2011, 8:07 pm

      That is so fun!!! I love the idea of a google doc with a friend.

    • Julie @SavvyEats January 26, 2011, 9:27 am

      The doc totally helps me stay on track and helps hold me accountable. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the “winner” gets a cookbook or DVD from their wishlist…

  • Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life) January 25, 2011, 2:19 pm

    I love the gold-star approach!
    Mine would include water and protein… I’ve been having trouble getting protein in lately… weird, huh?

  • Michele @ Healthy Cultivations January 25, 2011, 2:20 pm

    Caitlin, that hunk of goat cheese looks like it’s worth its weight in gold!! I love goat cheese. I also make sleep my Number One Priority. Without adequate sleep, nothing else works out properly.

  • Jackie @ Baking Charms January 25, 2011, 2:24 pm

    I do this is my planner… it definitely helps to have it staring you at all day long!

  • Erika @ FoodFitnessFun January 25, 2011, 2:25 pm

    That chart is such a good idea! I always feel more productive when I write out a “To-Do” list for myself so maybe this will help me with my New Year’s Resolutions/Goals? Let me know how it works out! 🙂

  • Julie (A Case of the Runs) January 25, 2011, 2:26 pm

    Based on this, I need to try to get more sleep. I usually get about 6-7, even though 8 is perfect!

  • Meghan@travelwinedine January 25, 2011, 2:27 pm

    A chart is an awesome visual way to track accomplishments! Now that I am working at home, this would definitely help me organize things that used to be part of my schedule when I left the house 🙂

  • Katy (The Singing Runner) January 25, 2011, 2:28 pm

    Haha! This is a great idea! I should do it! 😀

  • Jenn @ LiveWellFitNow January 25, 2011, 2:29 pm

    Girl I love it! There is a reason incentive charts do so well in schools…they work just as beautifully with us grown ups too. 🙂 Sometimes we need a small reminder + a small reward to push towards something.

  • Kristy @ January 25, 2011, 2:29 pm

    Whatever works! 🙂 It’s a great idea though. Maybe if you earn so many stars you can treat yourself to something special like a massage!

  • Amanda (Eating Up) January 25, 2011, 2:29 pm

    I love that idea! I just made a calendar countdown until my last day of school. It’s fun to mark the X’s!

  • Allie (Live Laugh Eat) January 25, 2011, 2:30 pm

    My mom used to have a star chart for us. For each star we got like 1 cent. It worked for awhile…and then we realized it was a rip off!! 🙂 I’ve been flossing everyday this year wahoo! Major major gold star

    • Caitlin January 25, 2011, 8:08 pm

      ahahah cute 🙂 1 cent is a rip off!

  • Lisa January 25, 2011, 2:30 pm

    Ooh I love the idea of the gold star chart! I may make one myself. I definitely need motivation on getting the 5 fruits and veggies.

  • Darcy @ She Sings at the Table January 25, 2011, 2:30 pm

    I bribe myself all the time with ridiculous things to get my reading done for school….”10 more pages and you can (fill in with social/fun activity here).” It keeps me moving through my to-do list! Now I kind of want to make myself a gold star chart. Or maybe a sticker chart 🙂

  • Katy @ RecipeCan January 25, 2011, 2:30 pm

    Ah, the chart is very clever. After I get yelled at during my dentist appointment tomorrow, I will probably have to start one for flossing too 😉

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) January 25, 2011, 2:31 pm

    I need to use that chart on my kids! That salad was totally a great reward for that run! The hunk of goat cheese alone is worth any hard work!

  • Valerie from Love and Running January 25, 2011, 2:33 pm

    I use a chart to reward myself. It’s on a spreadsheet 🙂 True story!! I am very reward driven, so having the chart helps me study, clean, floss, workout, make healthy food choices, and get stuff done that needs to be done. I post it on our fridge and my fiance even adds stickers to it 😉 Sometimes the rewards are frozen yogurt, a date night, massage, movie night, etc. It’s worked. I like it a lot, plus i like to see what I have accomplshed 🙂

    • Caitlin January 25, 2011, 8:08 pm

      Hahah we are 5 years old, aren’t we?

  • Flo January 25, 2011, 2:33 pm

    I have something IDENTICAL on my wall! My columns are split into Some sort of fat burn, yoga, dry body brush and sugar free. I find it really useful, if a little neurotic! Glad to see Im in good company 🙂

  • Kelly January 25, 2011, 2:33 pm

    Flossing is just one of those “good for you” things I can never get in the habit of doing! I like the idea of this chart, though. Not only does it keep you focused, it helps you remember the little things when you have so much else going on.

  • erica January 25, 2011, 2:35 pm

    i love the chart idea! i should do something similar.

  • sarah January 25, 2011, 2:36 pm

    I made a star-chart, and when I fill it out, I get frozen yogurt 😛 A fun speed workout i do is 1 minute hard, 1 min. easy, then 2 hard/2 easy, 3 hard/3 easy, 4 hard/4 easy, and then back to 3/3, 2/2, and 1 hard/1 easy!!

    • jess January 25, 2011, 10:40 pm

      love that! thanks!

  • kristin p. January 25, 2011, 2:40 pm

    I put a smiley face sticker on my calendar everyday I work out and it works so well haha. I’m a teacher myself so I know the tricks! It’s funny how putting that little smiley on my day makes me feel SO good!

  • Jasmine @ Eat Move Write January 25, 2011, 2:44 pm

    I need to put flossing on my daily to-do list. I am terrible about that, even though I know I should.

    I think your chart is a great idea – I may have to implement it myself!

  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) January 25, 2011, 2:44 pm

    I think that’s a great idea. I love stuff like that. It’s why I want to be a kindergarten teacher 🙂

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) January 25, 2011, 2:45 pm

    I love your gold star approach and i bribe myself mentally to just GET OUT of the DOOR and if i hate it, i can quit in 10 mins. 99% of the time, endorphins kick in and i dont quit 🙂

    And the promise of coffee when i get back home always works!

  • Jes January 25, 2011, 2:49 pm

    You mentioned the 305… I have been thinking about getting one, but have a very small wrist. measures ~6 inches around… Do you think it would be too big?

    • Caitlin January 25, 2011, 2:53 pm

      My wrists are pretty small (i can wrap my other hand around it easily) and i think its fine. the 305 is big, but all GPS watches are – you get used to it. you can also buy velcro straps that are more comfy.

      • Jes January 25, 2011, 8:38 pm

        Thanks!! This helps a lot!

    • G January 25, 2011, 3:51 pm

      I have very small wrists too (5.5 inches) and the 305 stays on fine for me and doesn’t feel bulky! But I’m sure you can try it on in the store (if you aren’t buying it online) if you want to check to make sure it feels comfortable! 🙂

      • Jes January 25, 2011, 8:39 pm

        Thanks for the measurement comparison!

        • jess January 25, 2011, 10:43 pm

          You can also get the extender strap that fits any size…chances are the original strap will break …unfort ive heard that happen often as it did to me. anyeay, the etender strap is a cheap option

  • Madeleine @ Stepping to the Bright Side January 25, 2011, 2:54 pm

    i LOVE the chart idea- a really cute method to stay on track. and PERFECT for those of us who die for checking off lists and gold stars 😉

  • Carly @ CarlyBananas January 25, 2011, 2:56 pm

    1) I am so jealous of that goat cheese. Holy yum, I want some!
    2) I love this chart so much! My half marathon training plan is set up so I get to check off each workout. I think at the end of each week I should add a reward!

  • Sarah (Sarah Learns) January 25, 2011, 2:57 pm

    what a great chart! i totally want to do that for myself too – but i want the real star stickers! 🙂

    when i was little i had a brushing my teeth chart that i got to put a sticker on each time i brushed (morning and night!). i LOOOOVED it.

  • Kara January 25, 2011, 3:02 pm

    I like the idea of a chart, but I’m afraid it would end up like the “Baby’s first year” calendar that I started and then forgot about and now just feel guilty for forgetting 🙂

    If you actually flossed daily, I bet no dentist would believe you 😛

    • Caitlin January 25, 2011, 8:09 pm

      Pick back up Baby’s First Year and start it again now! Never too late!

    • jess January 25, 2011, 10:44 pm

      i floss daily…really! I like it! i know…im a weirdo

    • caitie January 26, 2011, 7:22 am

      i feel like once i started flossing, i cant ever quit. my teeth feel very dirty if i go without flossing now!!

  • Amber K January 25, 2011, 3:07 pm

    What a fun chart! It looks like a great way to track your goals.

  • Lizz (leadingthegoodlife) January 25, 2011, 3:07 pm

    I totally make those charts, too. Otherwise, I would never floss!

  • Lindsay January 25, 2011, 3:09 pm

    good idea with the chart! you need cute smiley stickers on it though 🙂 ps. i started flossing and LOVE it. my gums look so much whiter!

    • jess January 25, 2011, 10:45 pm

      dollar store has perfect tiny stickers for charts- im a teacher- you can get like 4000 for a buck!

  • Allison @ Happy Tales January 25, 2011, 3:09 pm

    So neat that you create a chart like this! I think something tangile like this would really help me reach mini goals throughout the day. THanks for the idea!

    Also, I’m so glad to hear you’re still pain free. I’d still try to take it easy, though…as I know jumping in to your old routine too quickly can be a major setback. From personal experience, I waited 2-weeks of being completely painfree and it worked wonders (ran 2 half marathons shortly afterwards).That’s just personal experience, though…everybody is different!

    • Caitlin January 25, 2011, 8:10 pm

      Yes, this is good advice. 🙁 I just don’t want to follow it!

      • Allison @ Happy Tales January 25, 2011, 8:24 pm

        Completely understandable! It’s almost impossible to “replace” a form of exercise you love with something else. I hope you don’t have to wait too long…

        Let me know if you ever want to go on a nice leisurely run! (I’m super slow and just starting my marathon training, so I have lots of runs in my future that I’ll be needing some motivational support! And my pace would probably help you ease back into running without pushing yourself too hard.)

  • Camille January 25, 2011, 3:11 pm

    I love filling out any sort of goal oriented chart! It is so satisfying 🙂

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey January 25, 2011, 3:13 pm

    I totally love your chart. We use a homework chart for my fifth grades – it seems kind of juvenile, but they love putting stickers on their chart and getting a prize (ie: homework pass) once it’s filled up (it takes about 6 weeks).

  • Ann @ Day by Day January 25, 2011, 3:13 pm

    I love the chart idea! Mine would also have “no more than 1 cup of coffee” and “under an hour of TV” and “finished homework.” Hmm those three actually go hand in hand. I’m always procrastinating and doing my homework the morning it’s due which is probably because I watched too much TV the night before and then I have to drink lots of coffee to get up early enough to do all my homework. I’m definitely going to copy you and try this too!!

  • Leanne (For Health's Sake) January 25, 2011, 3:14 pm

    I use a similar chart system — it really seems to help! 🙂

    Plus most habbits are beneficial if done on a consistent basis, so it helps you track how often you’re actually doing things!

  • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans January 25, 2011, 3:23 pm

    I like the idea of a chart system. It holds you accountable and its very organized and structured which are good things in my books!!

  • Jennifer (keepitsimplefoods) January 25, 2011, 3:24 pm

    I like the idea of a chart, maybe not everyday, but checking in once in a while is a great way to stay on track. I realized last night that I’d gone the entire day without eating any real veggies (I don’t count beans or tomatoes)- not even a single green and hardly any fruit. I was appauled. A chart would have helped me stay on track!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat January 25, 2011, 3:25 pm

    OMG flossing is on my list too!! It’s not really a goal – more of a necessity! But I’m sure my dentist will be proud next time I go in because I could certainly afford to do a little more flossing. I might have to make a chart like this too, because who doesn’t love getting gold stars!? 😀

  • Baking 'n' Books January 25, 2011, 3:25 pm

    Sounds like a plan. I need to do that sleep thing – mine sucks and I wake up so groggy – and usually just getting to work in time. Not good when you have to scrape your car off every morning either in the cold! Eeps…

    Do you do yoga at home or always only at a studio?

    • Caitlin January 25, 2011, 8:10 pm

      Only in the studio… Do you do it at home?

      • Baking 'n' Books January 25, 2011, 9:00 pm

        Yeah, I’m really trying to do it as I feel like it and not pressure myself. I’m not good! But I did do the certification…long story – long story – …it’s too expensive for me to go to a studio and takes a bit to get there (and pay for parking), so I don’t know…

        • caitie January 26, 2011, 7:24 am

          iTunes has Dave Farmer podcasts for free that you can download! As long as you can understand what he’s talking about, they are really good!!

  • Ashley (The Vegetable Life) January 25, 2011, 3:26 pm

    I made a chart like that for a whole month once and when the month was over I LOVED how many “stars” i had earned over the course of the four weeks!

  • Krista @ Journey to a Healthy Berg January 25, 2011, 3:28 pm

    I love this idea! I’ll have to try it 🙂

  • Dee January 25, 2011, 3:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing your Gold Star chart- I love the idea and about to make my own right now!

  • Alex @ Healing Beauty January 25, 2011, 3:46 pm

    I think that is a fantastic idea! I’ll definitely be using that for myself!

  • Parita@myinnershakti January 25, 2011, 3:50 pm

    I am totally going to create a chart like that! Simple but ingenious! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • Tammi Marie January 25, 2011, 3:55 pm

    I like this idea. I normally give myself a smiley sticker in my daily agenda on the days I work out, but I like this better.

  • Ellen@FirednFabulous January 25, 2011, 3:58 pm

    Daily sweat AND yoga? And flossing! You ambitious girl, you 🙂

  • kat January 25, 2011, 4:03 pm

    I used to love the gold star approach, but then when I got my Masters in Elementary Ed it was drilled into us how BAD it is to have public charts depicting how well students are doing in comparison to each other. I definitely still like it on a personal level, though, especially for health-related motivation!

    • Caitlin January 25, 2011, 8:12 pm

      Wah…. They ruin everything! First dodgeball, then Indian style, now star chart?!?!?!?

  • monicanelsonfitness January 25, 2011, 4:12 pm

    your gold star approach is brilliant! Great reminder for all of us. 🙂
    I am off to bribe myself too, a fast workout, and then coffee and cookies with a friend. 🙂

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg January 25, 2011, 4:29 pm

    I love stuff like that. I made a cleaning chart once for me and my husband– I loved it, and he hated it.

    Go figure. 🙂

  • Amy January 25, 2011, 4:33 pm

    Sorry, I might have missed it, but what happened to the found dog? I love weimerainers! (sp?)

    • Caitlin January 25, 2011, 8:12 pm

      We found his owner that night 🙂

  • Hannah January 25, 2011, 4:38 pm

    I LOVE organizing things into charts and lists–but I tend to get too OCD with it. It’s good to not get too black and white about it–Sometimes I get wrapped up in the idea that because I didn’t get enough veggies, that day was a “fail”.

  • Gill (snaxandthecity) January 25, 2011, 4:42 pm

    oh what a cute self-motivation trick! I used to love gold stars 🙂 Lunch looks buff!

  • Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) January 25, 2011, 4:56 pm

    I think the 8 hrs. of sleep is so, so, so important. And yet it’s one of the things that most of us have a hard time achieving.

    I love your gold star list. That is such a fabulous idea! 😀

  • mary (what's cookin' with mary) January 25, 2011, 5:12 pm

    Your salad looks divine! I love that you rewarded yourself with some fresh veggies 😀

  • Josephine @ Creating a Positive Life January 25, 2011, 5:17 pm

    I did the same thing except on a google doc – so I could easily access it and save paper. I plan on sharing a few shots of mine on my blog today 🙂

  • Elizabeth@The Sweet Life January 25, 2011, 5:20 pm

    Love the chart idea–gold star for you!

  • Tina January 25, 2011, 5:23 pm

    Caitlin, awesome interview on!!! You are such an amazing inspiration!

    • Caitlin January 25, 2011, 8:12 pm

      Thank you!

  • Melissa @ Be Not Simply Good January 25, 2011, 5:43 pm

    That’s great! 🙂 I sure do love crossing things off my to-do lists! I also have an excel sheet for my half-marathon training. I like to come home and enter in the date and miles when I’m done.

  • maria @ Chasing the Now January 25, 2011, 5:56 pm

    What’s your reward for marking everything off for the week??

    • Caitlin January 25, 2011, 8:13 pm

      Hmm I haven’t gotten that far yet!

  • sarah (the SHU box) January 25, 2011, 5:57 pm

    i wrote about this (sort of) today too! why does writing things down help so much?! it amazes me.

    –> going to do the li’l assignment i wrote for myself this AM 🙂

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss January 25, 2011, 6:23 pm

    Really good idea about the goal sheet! That way you can be sure to get them into your day. Also, props for using food as a motivator. I know they say you shouldnt “workout to eat”..but seriously, somedays food’s the best motivator!

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss January 25, 2011, 6:23 pm

    Really good idea about the goal sheet! That way you can be sure to get them into your day. Also, props for using food as a motivator. I know they say you shouldnt “workout to eat”..but seriously, somedays food’s the best motivator!

  • Maryann January 25, 2011, 6:43 pm

    That chart is a great idea!! I still need to do my daily workout…dessert is a great motivation 🙂

  • Abby January 25, 2011, 6:44 pm

    that chart is a great idea! i wonder how many charts is too many??? haha. i see myself making about a million just so i can give myself star stickers every night! 🙂

  • Kristyn January 25, 2011, 6:47 pm

    Oh yes! Sticker charts work for us big kids too, not just my little first graders. I’ve definitely taken some of my sticker charts home to use for truly is motivating! They have so many fun charts too. We use treasure chest ones and then the students fill them with jewel stickers and when it’s full of jewels they get a reward. I should mail you one. =) haha. They are fun stuff! Love it!

    • Caitlin January 25, 2011, 8:13 pm

      Ooo jewel stickers sound awesome!

  • Lesley January 25, 2011, 6:53 pm

    That chart is a fantastic idea. It really appeals to the OCD part of my brain. I think I may have to do one of my own!

  • Lana January 25, 2011, 7:03 pm

    I love the idea of your ‘star’ system! I think that sometimes just writing something down that you can physically look at helps a lot.

    I am totally joining this venture! (my list looks pretty much like yours)

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin January 25, 2011, 7:03 pm

    It’s funny how some of the most fundamental healthy practices (sleeping enough, drinking water, etc) are some of the ones that are the hardest to remember to do! The chart is a great idea!

  • Emilie January 25, 2011, 7:09 pm

    I love gold stars–I was just talking to someone the other day about her gold star system and how well it works for her! I’m thinking of implementing one myself 🙂

  • Allison @ OneWhiteTulip January 25, 2011, 7:33 pm

    Haha, I need this! I’m waaay more likely to do yoga than to floss, sadly.

  • Kristin @ FoodFash January 25, 2011, 7:41 pm

    I love the items on your chart! Is it weird that I was pseudo flossing with a flosser while I read this?? (Dentist appt in a few weeks is my motivation)

    • Caitlin January 25, 2011, 8:14 pm

      I want a flossing tool… I hate the actual floss.

      • jess January 25, 2011, 10:48 pm

        the tools are kinda strange- you have to get the angle right…dunno thats just my perception. try them! maybe new flossing “gear” will inspire you! lol (you know, like running gear :))

  • Ali @ Ali Runs January 25, 2011, 8:01 pm

    This is such a great idea!! I always forget to floss even though it’s something I really need to do more of.

  • Ashley January 25, 2011, 8:45 pm

    Aw my mom used to have a star chart for me when I was bossy at school. I’m glad that that technique can still work.

  • Katie @ peacebeme January 25, 2011, 9:00 pm

    I am doing a chart like that with coping skills and it really helps! I want to check things off so I look at it a lot and cope more positively. 🙂

  • Kiran January 26, 2011, 12:40 am

    I love the chart idea. I’ve been using Outlook reminders to motivate me. But I think google doc syncing with a friend can help keep the momentum going. Else, it’s easy for me to keep hitting the snooze button 😉

  • Sarah January 26, 2011, 3:54 am

    Ok, this may be dumb question, but do you mean 5 fruits and 5 veg? Or just 5 of either one? Cooked/raw/either?

    • Caitlin January 26, 2011, 10:20 am

      There are no dumb questions 🙂

      A gal like me is suppose to get 2 fruits and 2.5 vegs a day

      You can calculate your needs here:

      • Sarah January 26, 2011, 11:35 am


  • Jenifer January 26, 2011, 10:15 am

    So I started doing something totally lame. I wont spend the money on a pedicure during the winter, but I still want my toes painted.So, for every workout, I paint 1 toe. I quickly realized that unless I want the old lady at the gym pool giving me dirty little looks I needed to really amp up my gym time, or use a much lighter cooler polish! It cracks me up though to look down and see like 3 toes painted this outrageous pink.

    • Caitlin January 26, 2011, 10:21 am

      ohmigod, this is awesome!!

  • lauren January 26, 2011, 2:51 pm

    Have you read The Happiness Project? She does the same thing with a “resolutions chart” based off of something Ben Franklin did.
    It’s a really cool idea, now I just need to make my chart!

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