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How to reward yourself after an intense workout session

Working out requires perseverance, effort and dedication, and all of these things leverage the most heroic part of us all; rewarding ourselves after a workout becomes as important as the workout itself.

Let's face facts: if it is true that there's a mini superhero in all of us, it's also true that life is made up of simple pleasures and small personal victories, which are essential to keeping us on the right path.

We know how much effort it takes to work out during the day; the sweat that pours as we struggle our way through every single rep, the feeling of paralysis brought on by lactic acid every time we get up from the chair, reminding us of the 150 squats we did the day before... These are all familiar sensations. But at the end of the day, when will the time come when we can reward ourselves for all this effort?

Let's just begin by saying that rewarding yourself doesn't need to mean giving in to wild abandon. We know that the first thing that often comes to mind while working hard is the family-sized pizza and chips that you could order for dinner, but when we talk about rewards, this is not quite what we mean.

Your results are the biggest prize and rewarding yourself means finding out what really makes you feel good. To do this, you need to learn to focus on (and celebrate) even the smallest improvements, to avoid slipping into feelings of discouragement and suddenly letting your workout routine fall by the wayside. As such, it's important to set yourself intermediate goals, and not convince yourself that you can achieve results that require months and months of consistent dedication in a very short time. In this context, rewarding yourself means recognizing and celebrating even the smallest daily achievements without focusing exclusively on that far-off, final goal – in other words, noting your progress on your fitness journey, and measuring your achievements step by step.

Free your mind and reward your body by relaxing

It is also important to reward ourselves by giving our body the rest it needs to help it recover. In addition to be a fundamental part of working out, stretching is also an opportunity for relaxation, and to reward your body for its recent efforts. Try a good post-workout stretching session before getting in the shower – your body will thank you for it!

Treat yourself to good food

In objective terms, however, we can't just get by on sporting gratification – but it is important to learn to distinguish the concept of gratification from that of consolation. We often use the fridge as our stress relief valve and if the forbidden hunger that holds us captive before working out subsides, we may find that when rewarding ourselves with food, we don't actually need to devour the entire contents of the biscuit tin.

When consumed in reasonable amounts, there are many tasty foods that are good for body and mind alike: have you ever tried swapping the inevitable post-dinner dessert for a little extra-dark chocolate or Greek yoghurt with nuts and honey?

Food is not the only way to reward yourself. Would you like to experience the joy of slipping into a smaller size, feeling more comfortable in your skin, or splashing out on new clothes because now you can wear them without feeling that you need to hide those imperfections that you never liked? In short, rewarding yourself is good. But, as is always the case, there's a right way to do it: namely, focusing on your well-being first and foremost.

Share your progress with others

Another secret to success, in this social media age, could be to share your progress. It goes without saying that your happiness does not need to be subject to the approval of others, but it's always nice to gain a healthy sense of personal satisfaction in showing anyone who didn't believe in us that not only have we not given up on working out, but we have also managed to achieve the first tangible results. Sharing our joy with others is also part of rewarding ourselves.

And accordingly, the best advice to make yourself feel good is to have fun, or better still, to find fun and joy where we previously saw only sacrifices and hard work. If the goals we set ourselves are a cause for joy, then the journey to reach them must also be a cause for joy: the right music, the right company, the right personal gratification.

To sum up, rewarding yourself is a key part of your fitness journey, because just like sport itself, it is an excellent opportunity to get to know yourself a little better, to look inside yourself and gain a better understanding of what makes you feel good.

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