Setting goals for yourself is an important part of every fitness journey. Whether you’ve achieved a number on the scale, a number on the weight bench or a number of miles run, keeping track of those big milestones is crucial to staying motivated.
But what’s the best way to treat yourself after achieving a milestone? We definitely do not recommend going out and ordering the biggest milkshake you can find! Instead, below are some of our favorite (healthy) ways to celebrate your successes, both big and small.
Schedule A Spa Day
You’ve worked your muscles hard—now let them relax! A rejuvenating spa day is the perfect guilt-free way to treat yourself, and will leave you refreshed and ready to crush your next goal! Don’t have time for an entire day? Scheduling an extra-long massage is a great way to meet in the middle of time constraints and indulgence, and will provide your muscles with the detox they need to bounce back even faster for your next training session.
Take a (Healthy) Cooking Class
Normally we’re not big proponents of food-based rewards, but taking a cooking class have enough benefits that we think it’s OK! Not only does the fun of cooking classes make them a reward on their own, but by picking a health-based one, you’ll be learning about curating a proper nutrition plan for continued fitness success.
Find Some New Workout Gear
What better excuse to buy new workout gear than celebrating your accomplishments in the gym? While budget gear will certainly get the job done, there’s something about a nice pair of sneakers or leggings that just feels absolutely luxurious. Looking great and feeling great is the best way to slay your next workout!
Clean Out Your Closet
This might sound like more of a chore than a reward, but bear with us. If you’ve hit a major weight-loss milestone, chances are you have an excess of too-big clothes lying around. Take a day to pare down your wardrobe and donate those items you no longer need—you’ll have less clutter and the confidence of knowing how far you’ve come!
Upgrade Your Music Game
Music is a big part of fitness motivation, so if you’ve been making do with the headphones that came with your phone, now is the perfect excuse to upgrade! A sleek wireless pair will take you from the treadmill to the weight set without annoying cord tangles, and you’ll be able to get even more engaged by your favorite pump-up jams.
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There is no better feeling than having a meal ready and waiting for you after a long day, but most of us don’t have personal chefs to help make that happen. No worries, the answer to your mealtime mayhem is frozen make-ahead dinners.
Here are a few of our favorite recipes that will help make your weeknight dinners a breeze:
Buy in Bulk, Freeze the Rest
If you live close enough to a warehouse store like Sam’s Club or Costco, you can save a lot of money by purchasing bulk foods and freezing what you can’t use right away. From butter to bread to ground beef, there are plenty of foods that can be frozen, saving you time at the store and money in your bank account! Here’s a great list of foods you can freeze that might even surprise you!
Buy Meat from Your Local Butcher for the Whole Year
This option is for beef-lovers, only! If you own a deep freezer—you may want to consider buying a whole or partial cow. By purchasing meat from a local butcher, you won’t just save money—you’ll also get more quality beef from a local source you can trust.
Freeze Your Scraps for Stock
After peeling and preparing your vegetables, don’t throw away those tasty scraps! Freeze them, instead! Using a freezer bag, store all your leftover veg and save them until you’re ready to make stock. Sound difficult? It’s not! Making your own stock is pretty simple, check out The Kitchn’s article on how to make vegetable stock here.
Make Your Own Smoothie Blends
Smoothies are a great way to kickstart your morning or fuel up after a great workout. Picking up a smoothie from your favorite spot can get pricey, so why not put your freezer to good use and store smoothie packs instead? By doing a little smoothie prep ahead of time, you’ll have perfectly portioned freezer bags loaded with your favorite mix to throw into your blender in a snap. Add your favorite berries, avocados, leafy greens, bananas—whatever floats your smoothie boat, and add to individual quart-sized freezer bags. When you’re ready to make a smoothie, just add to your blender along with your go-to milk, protein powders or nut butters, too!
Use Your Ice Cube Trays in Unique Ways
Buying fresh herbs can be expensive and letting them go to waste is never fun. The best way to avoid throwing away herbs unnecessarily is by freezing them in olive oil using an ice cube tray! You’ll always have fresh herbs on hand, ready for whatever recipe you decide to make.
Store Make-Ahead Meatballs or Burger Patties
Sure, you can buy store-bought versions of meatballs and burgers—but you can also make your own, ensuring the best taste and saving you money at the same time. By making a big batch ahead of time, you’ll be able to whip up a weeknight dinner in a flash and avoid going through the drive-thru.
If you’re baffled as to why your weight-loss or muscle-gain plans never seem to come to fruition, IFBB pro bodybuilder, registered dietitian, and Universal-sponsored athlete Chris Tuttle may have the answer you’re looking for.
Want to reap the benefits of yoga, even off the mat? These nine tension tamers and feel-good moves can be done anytime, anywhere.
Take control of your day before it gets away from you. These three moves help set a good overall tone for your morning by opening your body and mind.
1. Rock Your Heart
Desperately in need of a good stretch when you wake up in the morning? This pose might help. “It’s a good, gentle way to balance the body,” says Chen, who lives in New York City. “When you wake up in the morning, you’re crumpled and slumped from sleeping. This opens your chest, gets your blood moving and brings suppleness to the spine.”
How to: Sit up in a comfortable chair and place your hands on your hips (a). Inhale and lift up the center of your chest. It should feel like the lift originates from your middle upper back between your shoulder blades. (b). Exhale and draw your belly button into your body and gently tuck your chin to your chest. Feel your upper back dome slightly. (c). Repeat at least five times or more.
This move is based on yoga’s classic fish pose. Instead of lying on the floor, you’ll use the wall to find the shape. “I feel like I’m snorkeling in this pose,” says Chen. “Reach your arms behind you and lift your head and chest slightly like you’re looking for fish in front of you.” This pose stretches your chest and helps release tension in the neck.
How to: Stand with your back against the wall and your feet hip-width distance apart, shoulder blades resting on the wall (a). With your arms by your side, press your fingertips, palms and forearms firmly into the wall. (b). Begin to lift your chest up and away from the wall. Your shoulder blades should move slightly closer together on your back while your lower back remains on the wall. (c). Inhale and lift your chest a little more. Continue to breathe deeply.
3. Unbreakable You
Have a big presentation or important meeting ahead? This move is based on a traditional mudra, or hand gesture, meant to connect you with your inner strength. Your interlocked fingers represent the coming together of your skills; the act of pulling your fingers apart is a symbol of your power, Chen says.
How to: Stand or sit, back straight, and let your shoulders relax (a). Interlace your fingers and place your palms on your torso, just below your chest and above your belly button. Extend your thumbs up toward your chest. (b). Pretend to pull your fingers apart and reach your elbows out to the side. Your fingers should form a lock and prevent your hands from separating. Don’t let your shoulders creep up to your ears. (c). Slide your shoulder blades down toward your waist and reach through the crown of your head toward the ceiling.
Sitting and staring at your computer screen for hours isn’t doing your body any favors. “It’s important to get up every so often, stretch and keep yourself loose,” says Dr. Arnouk. These three moves address the main culprits of on-the-job pain — poor posture, tight hips and neck tension.
4. Spine Align
When you sit for a while, you may inevitably start to slouch. To counteract this, “All you need is a thin blanket or thick scarf to re-create the same feeling of a bolster to help you sit up nice and tall,” says Chen. “This aligns the spine, and relieves tightness in the neck, shoulders and back so you’re not working so hard to sit up.”
How to: Roll your blanket, scarf or towel into a thin, smooth roll. The roll should be about as long as the distance between your seat and the base of your neck (a). Vertically align the roll with your spine and place it between your back and the back of the chair. Make sure you’re sitting back in your chair to secure the base of the roll in place. (b). Lean back and feel your chest and shoulders gently open.
5. Counter Pose
Do your hips feel as tight as rubber bands when you stand up from your desk? This pose was one of Chen’s go-to’s at the news desk to counteract the built up tension in her hips. It’s based on yoga’s pigeon pose.
How to: Stand and face your desk, making sure that the space in front of you is clear (a). Lift your right leg and rest your outer shin, calf and knee on the desk. Your knee should be positioned slightly wider than your shoulder. (b). Place your hands on the desk to stabilize yourself. Flex your right foot, drawing your toes towards your shin. (c). Lean forward gently onto your left hand. Take your right hand to your right hip crease and let your fingers fan along the outer thigh. Press gently and rotate your thigh out and down toward the desk. Try to keep your hips even. (d). If you still feel okay, hinge forward at the hips while maintaining a flat back and walk your fingertips forward. The forward fold will further calm your mind. Switch sides.
6. Let It Roll
When you’re stressed, it’s common to find your shoulders slowly creeping towards your ears, causing your neck and shoulders to become stiff over time. Next time you feel your anxiety levels rise, this move will help you roll away the tension and restore mobility in your neck in 10 seconds max.
How to: Sit in a chair, back straight (a). Inhale and shrug your shoulders, drawing them toward your ears. (b). Exhale and relax your shoulders. (c). Keeping your right shoulder down, inhale and gently drop your right ear toward your right shoulder. (d). Exhale and roll your chin toward your chest. (e). Inhale and continue to roll your head so that your left ear comes toward your left shoulder. (f). Exhale and roll your head back to center. (g). Inhale and roll your head to the right. Repeat several times.
Can’t stand your commute? Crowded trains and planes, combined with delays and cranky passengers are a recipe for stress. The next time you travel from point A to point B, try these moves to find relief for your body and mind.
7. Eagle Perch
There’s nothing worse than being stuck in the middle seat. Instead of elbowing your neighbors, make your own space with this pose. It releases tension in your shoulders and upper back and helps you turn your focus inwards.
How to: Sit up straight. Bend your elbows and lift them straight in front of you, to shoulder height (a). Take your right arm underneath your left arm and wrap it around your left arm. Connect your palms or the back of your hands together. Alternatively, press your arms together from elbow to palm. (b). Move your elbows forward slightly and let the tops of your shoulders drop away from ears. You should feel a stretch in your shoulders, upper arms and back. Switch sides.
8.Bird of Prey
This pose will help you improve your focus, while also teaching you to pay attention to your posture. You’ll open up your chest and sit taller. It’s also a good pose to complement Eagle Perch.
How to: Sit in a chair towards the front of your seat (a). Take one arm behind you, elbow bent and forearm resting against the middle of your back, parallel to the seat of your chair. Your palm should face the back of the seat. Roll your shoulder up and back toward the seat. (b). If you feel comfortable, take your other arm behind you in the same fashion. Grasp opposite elbows. (c). Gently lift your chest forward and up. Widen across the collarbones and breathe deeply.
9. Reach for the Moon
If your energy levels are shot at the end of the day, try this pose on your commute home. It’s based on the yoga pose Standing Half Moon and is designed to refresh you, working your core and spine while improving your flexibility. It’s best for train or subway commuters.
How to: Stand up straight (a). Inhale, reach your right arm up and over your head to grasp an overhead bar or handle. Let your left arm rest by your side. (b). As your reach for the bar, let the back of your right shoulder drop toward your waist. Keep your right arm straight but not locked. (c). Inhale and grow taller in your spine. Gaze up at your upper arm and don’t let your chest collapse. (d). Exhale and gently side bend to your left. Gaze towards your right shoulder. (e). Inhale and exhale at least 5 times. On an exhale, come out of the side bend.
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Registered dieticians Douglas Kalman, Ph.D., and Susan Hewlings, Ph.D., pull up to the table to discuss what they ate for breakfast, how the rest of us should navigate the perils of mealtime, and their new course on Bodybuilding.com All Access: Bodybuilding.com’s Foundations of Fitness Nutrition.