For the vast majority of Americans, shortly after the pain of doing your taxes comes the joy of a nice chunk of money all at once in their refund. While the temptation may be there to spend it all on a new TV or purse you've been eyeing, or big vacation consider investing at least a portion in something of high value with the best returns around- your own health and wellness.
Whether you've been considering losing weight, getting in even better shape, or simply eating healthier, here are a bunch of great ideas on spending your extra cash. Build up your wellness arsenal for a gift to yourself that will pay dividends all year and well beyond.
First: Re-evaluate That Gym Membership
It might seem like the most logical place to start would be to get a (sometimes costly) gym membership. While a gym can be the ideal choice for some, more often than not people see the charge on their bank statement more than the actual gym itself, especially as life and work inevitably get busy.
A better approach may be to start building up the resources right around you every day. If you're already a gym member, evaluate the investment and make sure it's worth it. If you aren't, consider the following before signing that monthly or annual contract.
What to Buy: Must-Haves For Diet and Exercise Efforts
Use this ideas list of diet and exercise ideas to help energize and support a healthier lifestyle.
Choose a Destination Event for Vacation
Get the best of both worlds! Find an organized race/event in an area you'd love to visit, plan a vacation around it, and start training. There are hundreds of events around your region and the country for any level of skill such as:
- Your first 5K or a Color Run 5K
- A Mud Run
- Non-competitive triathlons
- Half or full marathons
You can research great destination options using sites like Active.com and checking out lists of popular destination events around the country.
Build up the Home Gym
Do a little upgrade to your home workout options with these affordable equipment add-ons.
- Yoga mat
- Medicine ball
- Resistance band
- Portable Stair Climber or Step Blocks to work out while watching TV
- Exercise videos or inexpensive add-on streaming subscriptions
- Stand up desk
Upgrade Your Exercise Clothes and Gear
Those worn out shoes or cotton jogging pants will slow you down, or worse, put you at risk for injury.
- Good fitting, lightweight running/athletic shoes with proper support
- Shirts, pants, shorts and socks made from technical materials that are lightweight, wick away sweat, and reflective
- Replace an old stopwatch or pedometer with a connected, wearable exercise tracker, such as a GPS watch or Fitbit
Try Out a New Exercise with a Group
Fitness and group exercise classes are becoming more popular than ever. Signing up for one can be a way to not only enjoy staying in shape, but you'll get to make new friends that help you stay accountable. Here are a few popular or tried-and-true workouts that you can likely find in your area:
Note: It's important to consult your physician before beginning a new exercise program.
- Couch to 5K
- Bootcamp (indoor or outdoor)
- Hot Yoga
- Circuit training
Reboot Your Kitchen
When it comes to eating healthier or dieting, having plenty of tasty, healthy foods at your fingertips makes all the difference. Open up a world of new options by putting together the right tools.
- Food processor or handheld immersion blender for shakes and smoothies (such as this)
- A simple shaker bottle for protein shakes
- Steamer basket for delicious vegetables and rice dishes
- Salad spinner
- Save time and effort on fruits/veggies with a mandoline slicer
- Sign up for a healthy cooking class and learn how to make exciting new creations
Start a Weight Loss Program or Meal Plan
Whether you're looking to cut calories, lose a few pounds, or eat healthier, there are several easy-to-follow plans or diet kits to meet your needs.
If you're getting some money back in taxes this year, be sure to consider not just spending it on yourself, but investing in yourself. Whether you use some of the ideas above to improve your diet/exercise routine or pay off some debts, weight the long-term rewards!