By Lindsey Joe, YMCA Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

When you've been at this healthy living thing for a while, sometimes it's difficult to know what the next step is in your journey. We previously talked about how to stay on track with your goals, and an often overlooked step is "celebrating your success."

Now you may be thinking, "But I haven't reached my ultimate goal yet." While that may be true, progress is still worthy of celebration. The thing is, depending on your health goal, progress isn't always apparent to the eye. But you don’t want to lose sight of how far you’ve come. Why? Because your progress pushes you to keep going!

No success is too small

Let's say for example, you set a S.M.A.R.T. goal to "walk for 45 minutes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at lunch" and are now able to jog the entire time. This seemingly small step shows that you've strengthened your muscles (including your heart) and developed a healthier habit. That’s something big to celebrate! Woop woop!

So whenever you hit a mini-milestone, take that opportunity to show yourself some love. What success—big or small—have you enjoyed recently?

Here are 12 ideas to help YOU celebrate healthy living achievements:

  1. Share your success with your support system.  Send a quick text to your support squad to let them know what you've achieved. Their reinforcement and kudos will help you recognize what you're doing well.
  2. Post your progress as a reminder of your recent win.  Whether it's a post on your favorite social site or a personal note jotted on a post-it, seeing your success written down will encourage you each time you read it.         
  3. Download a new workout playlist or music subscription.  Feel-good tunes help get you in the zone and give you something to look forward to.
  4. Add a motivating app to your smart phone.  Whether it's a goal tracker, water keeper or food journal, these tools can up your game and enthusiasm for your progress.
  5. Buy new workout gear.  Consider something like earbuds, clothing, sneakers, shades or even a wearable fitness tracker.
  6. Register for an active event coming up.  The added challenge of a race or walk/run can put your new skills to the test!  

  7. Gift yourself items that make healthy eating easier.  Think a reusable water bottle, Tupperware, lunch box, or a kitchen gadget or tool. Set yourself up for nutritional success.     
  8. Subscribe to a health-focused magazine or local CSA.  You'll have something to reward yourself with regularly.
  9. Take a mental health day.  Set aside time for relaxing and rejuvenating activities on a 24-hour staycation.
  10. Surprise a loved one.  "Wait, I thought this was about ME?" It is! Giving a "just because" gift to a friend, co-worker or family member will bring a smile to their face and yours. Often, the most rewarding thing you can do for yourself is to make someone else's day.
  11. Up your game with a personal training or nutrition session.  The help of a professional can ensure you continue to make progress on your journey to healthier living.
  12. Allow yourself to fully relax and recharge.  Grab an extra hour (or two) of sleep, book a hair appointment or enjoy a massage. 

No matter how you decide to treat yourself, remember that no achievement is too small. Recognizing what you can do keeps you motivated, and giving yourself little rewards along the way is an effective catalyst for long-term change.

Tell us on Twitter: what will you reward yourself with when you reach your next goal?

Establish Healthy Habits with the Y

Ready for a healthier lifestyle? Get more information on YMCA memberships and health and fitness programs at your local YMCA fitness center near you.