10 Ways Living Healthy Can Make You Happier

It’s something I’ve heard since the time I was probably a preteen (if not younger):

“Well, life is short. I’d rather die happy.”

And honestly, it makes sense. Why live miserably? Shouldn’t life be happy? But probably 99% of the time, this statement is said in the context of food. And that’s where the confusion lies.

I don’t know how many times I’ve personally heard that statement be made, but it wasn’t until a month or so ago of hearing it for the billionth time that it finally hit me: I AM happy and I’m pretty sure that by saying this statement, which comes off more as an excuse because the person usually says it to justify some eating habit of theirs, the person speaking isn’t as happy as they’d like to let on. I mean…why say it anyway? Since when does eating that piece of cake in front of you equate to dying happy? Sure, that cake is delicious… but dying happy because of it? I highly doubt it.

The statement also implies that being healthy therefore equates to UNHAPPINESS. Why? Why view it that way?

So, my friends, I bring you 10 ways that I’ve found living a healthy lifestyle can make you HAPPIER. And I can guarantee you that this kind of happiness lasts longer than those 30 seconds it takes you to eat a piece of cake.

How does living a healthy life make you happier? Comment below!

1. You Never Have to Feel Guilty for Eating that Treat Again

This may confuse some, and I picked it as the first point because I think it’s the most forgotten concept of living a healthy lifestyle. Many people view living healthfully as limiting. But actually, I’ve found it to be one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done. Now that I keep track of what I eat on a daily basis and make the majority of my food fruits and vegetables, I never feel guilty for having a treat. Now remember, a treat is just that– a treat. As in, you don’t have one ALL the time or three times a day or whatever. But frozen yogurt out with the girls? You betcha. Craving a piece of chocolate this evening? Sure. Wedding cake at my brother’s wedding? I’m not even going to bat an eye.

I used to be such a slave to what I thought was good or bad for me. I’d sweat bullets at gatherings where there would be junk food. But now that I understand more about moderation and have adjusted to a diet filled with plant-based food (though I definitely do eat meat and grains, just in moderation) and don’t keep junk food in the house where its available on a daily basis, I never have to worry about if something outside of our home occasionally is going affect my diet negatively. I never have to lie to the MyFitnessPal food diary log because I’m ashamed I ate a piece of cake at the baby shower this past weekend. In fact, I ate that cake and enjoyed it and LOVED that MyFitnessPal had the exact calorie count for my tiny sliver of Costco sheet cake.

Living a healthy lifestyle is just that– a lifestyle. And living a life is a key part of that. If you live a balanced life full of healthy foods and exercise, then the occasional treat or two will not only not derail you, but you’ll never feel guilty about it. And without guilt, you no longer have to make excuses.

How freeing is that? No Guilt. Not Excuses. Sounds like happiness to me.

2. If You Can’t Find A Close Enough of Parking Space, You Won’t Get Angry

This may sound silly, but how often do little things like this get our blood boiling and knock our mood down a few points to the point where we turn into grumps? If you’re living a healthy lifestyle, instead of loathing moments like this, you’ll welcome the opportunity! In fact, since getting my FitBit, I purposely park further away in order to get more footsteps counted. And this goes for other things too.

Elevator broken? Sweet! Let’s take the stairs and get some cardio in.

Have to go an extra couple of blocks further than you thought because something was closed/ there was a detour/ you got lost while walking in the city? No worries! More steps for me.

You can’t get frustrated when it’s a pleasant surprise that you know will help in your overall fitness, right?

Purposely parked here to get some extra steps. Made finding a parking spot easy.

Purposely parked here to get some extra steps. Made finding a parking spot easy.

3. You’ll Save Money on Food/ Drinks When Going Out

When going out with friends, it’s easy to get caught up in the lots of food=hanging out rut. And sure, while food is a great way to socialize, it doesn’t have to dominate your entire outing. Not buying sodas and such when going out already saves you money and countless calories whether you’re at a restaurant or even at a movie. But your sorority sisters think it will be cute if you all get the same matching medium tub of popcorn? Don’t feel pressured. Get whatever your feel comfortable with. If you’re up for popcorn, get a smaller size or maybe get Twizzlers to share instead.

Going out to eat? Skip the appetizer entirely unless you’re all sharing a lighter one and cut your entree in half to take home with you later. Now you have a dinner for later for the price of one meal. Talk about glorious.

And no matter what kind of drink you’re drinking that night, you don’t need to have more than one or two to have a good time. Sure, if a ice cold Coca Cola is really your guilty pleasure from you inner child, then have one as your treat. But stick to water the rest of the time.

Scared about being the odd man out? Forget about it. Usually people have high respects for others with self control and more often than not, some people will follow your lead.

But in the end, you’ll save money by not buying tons of junk food. And money saved means happy to me (or at least to the Hubs lol).

4. You’ll Have More Energy and Feel Less Stressed

I don’t know about you, but if I start my day off wrong, eating-wise or make poor decisions, it can make for a difficult day. Say I wake up late and forget to eat breakfast, or I only have time for a non-satisfying breakfast bar. By lunch I’m starving and eat a burger or that chicken salad croissant I LOVE. But then by mid afternoon I’m dying. Then I’ll grab something from the vending machine, which while it’ll help for a short period of time, I’ll still be running on fumes by the end of the day where I’ll go home…plop on the couch, try to figure out dinner if we didn’t already cave and pick something up on the way home, watch TV to “relax” and then feel overwhelmed by the fact that I have so much to do but no energy to do it. Of course if I don’t have time to do my own laundry then I definitely don’t have time to exercise.

But it’s really just a trap. It’s a terrible cycle that just feeds into each poor decision. And I don’t care what anyone says, when I was doing that type of life, no matter how tasty that take-out is, I wasn’t happy. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Now I’ll start my day with a protein shake usually or a piece of fruit and for lunch, I try to keep it as veggie centric centered as I can– salads, soups, veggie wraps, etc. I try to make it a rare instance where I’ll eat meat for lunch. In the afternoon, I’ll space out healthy snacks with fruit and carrot sticks, etc. Then, I try to work out first thing when I get home if I don’t have an engagement to attend to right away, or after I prep part of dinner. No lie, now we’ve been very on top of our household chores. I don’t even know where I get the energy from all of this. We’ve almost got it down to a science. The other night, Hubs folded laundry while I was on the elliptical and together we watched Doctor Who before dinner.

Is my house a clean castle of awesome? No…not yet. But we’re getting there. We’re slowly erasing those months of slothdom and reclaiming our lives with new energy. And of course with more energy, you don’t have to feel stressed about the stuff you haven’t gotten done yet. That sounds pretty happy to me.

5. You Never Have to Diet EVER Again

The best part of living a healthy lifestyle is that it’s a lifestyle and NOT a diet. This goes hand in hand with point number one, but it’s so important, I had to rephrase it and tackle it from a new angle. Think about it– diets are short term and often meant to reach some sort of goal– usually number oriented.

Do I want to lose weight/be a certain size? I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was. But is that my overall goal? Not at all.

If your goal is to live healthfully, there’s no reason to “diet” like the rest of the world does. There’s no reason to imprison your eating habits in a way that makes you feel like a failure and then binge on a pint of Ben & Jerry’s when you couldn’t handle it after a week or month of deprivation. That is no way to live. And you’ll end up right where you started (or worse).

But living your life as healthy as you can? Now that is living on a whole new level.

6. No Matter Where you Are In Your Journey, You Can Look Back and Feel Good

Living a healthier lifestyle does reap visual benefits from weight loss to even getting more toned if you workout the way you should. But it’s not necessarily an overnight weight-loss solution by any means. The results you glean from what you do is equal to the effort you put in.

That being said, it’s okay for results to be slow because it’s a journey to live a healthier lifestyle. You don’t have to go cold turkey. You can start with baby steps. But at the end of the day, you can know that you are better than where you were a week ago, months ago, years ago, etc.

Sometimes when I let the self-depricating monsters in my head actually speak up occasionally (years of being self-concious about your weight can do that to you), I like to look at a picture of myself from my senior year of college before I started really trying to take back control of my life. When I look at it compared to who I am now (the picture on the right was taken this week), I realize that those self-depricating voices have no room to talk.

pic

Don’t mind the crazy outfit on the left. I was dressed up for an 80s party (can you believe I’m wearing Spanx and still look rather plump?) I can’t believe the difference sometimes and that I used to let myself be that way. But just looking at my waist alone…I am humbled by how far I’ve come and thanking Jesus for the strength he’s given me and for making broccoli so delicious.

Am I where I want to be/ need to be? No. But am I happy where I’m at right now? You bet. Because I worked hard to get here and I ain’t going back. It’s that kind of motivation that encourages me to keep on living a healthy lifestyle and seeing even small differences overtime makes me truly happy.

7. You’re Able to Do More Things with Your Life

I never realized how limiting an unhealthy lifestyle was until I started working in an office. As a young 20 something, I had back pain and popping knees. That’s ridiculous. But not only does eating terribly and not moving around that much zap your energy like I mentioned in an earlier point, it can limit  your capabilities both in the now and the future.

If you’re actively seeking a healthy lifestyle, you’ll welcome things like hiking trips and biking or even signing up for a 5K with friends– even if you aren’t a runner! Why? Because living a healthy lifestyle has shown you that you are capable of so much more than you’ve ever dreamed. And you know its fun (and makes for much better Instagram photos).

On the flip side, continuing down a terrible path not only limits fun activities to TV and movies because you’re too tired to go do something, but it can also affect your future. More and more elderly are being sentenced to riding around in scooters and motorized chairs because their knees can’t take the pressure from their weight. Diabetes can cause amputations. Poor eating is also linked to Alzheimer’s and other neurological issues.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be a hopping old person always ready for the next adventure. And when my kids asked me what I did in my 20s, I don’t want to tell them the only thing I had time and energy for was watching TV after work.

That isn’t a life, no matter how you try to frame it. And if you think you’re happy living that way, then I don’t think you really know what happy is.

8. You Are More Confident In You Own Skin

Sure, you may not be exactly the size you want this very second at some point in your healthy lifestyle, but you’ll soon realize you’ll just generally be more comfortable with yourself. There’s the obvious benefits of clearer skin, shinier hair and healthier looking nails that can make anyone happy with their appearance. But it’s so much more than that.

When you eat healthier and workout more, you just feel better on the inside out. It’s the combination of having more energy and less stress that makes you feel good. I don’t know about you, but when I’m on my elliptical, I feel like a gazelle/Amazon woman/ flying super model.

Do I actually look like that? Probably not. In fact, I may look more like a walrus on roller skates, but I digress. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what I look like.  I feel great. I’m confident. And the truth is, I don’t care what other people see anymore because I know that I’m living my life the best way I know how, and I feel great doing it.

And when you’re out with others shopping or getting coffee or what have you, and the occasional “Man! I need to lose 5lbs” comes up among friends, you’ll also realize you don’t need to engage in that sort of talk because you’re treating your body right and if you need to lose 5lbs, it’ll come off soon because you’re eating right and exercising. There’s no need to worry about it or nag yourself about it at all.

9. You Actually LIVE Longer

Yes, life is short, but do we really want to make it shorter? Sure, if you’re going to die– you’re going to die. You could be super healthy and still get hit by a truck or still have an illness. I get that. I really do.

But there are certain things we know truly affect our health, like smoking leading to lung cancer and foods high in saturated fat will lead to heart disease. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to at least live responsibly and to take care of ourselves the best way we know?

Of course, there’s no point in living until you’re old and gray and being completely miserable, but there is a balance you can strike with your healthy lifestyle where you’ll still enjoy all these benefits, a long life and still get to have that occasional slice of pizza. Just not a whole one, by yourself… in one setting.

Life is short. Just don’t be stupid and make it shorter.

10. Physiologically, Chemically, and Hormonally– You’re actually happier!

I could get all sciencey on  you (after all, I did take four years of biology), but I’ll just leave you with this one note that sums up all the science pretty perfectly, in my opinion.

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