“You go to the gym how early? I could never do that. I need my beauty sleep.”
“I’ve tried eating healthy, but I couldn’t give up my sweets…chocolate makes me happy.”
“You exercise every day? That sounds miserable; I hate exercise.”
“I can’t imagine life without chips and soda. You must feel so deprived.”
These, among others, are common responses I get as a Health Coach/Enthusiast to some of my life choices. Many people can’t conceive that I could squeeze an ounce of enjoyment from my gym-going, dessert-denying lifestyle.
To them, I sacrifice.
To them, I give up good times and delectable food. I forgo freedom and fun.
To them, my life is a series of saying “no.” No to anything delicious that passes under my nose. No to pizza with friends. No to relaxing evenings in front of the TV. No to doing what I actually desire to do.
To me, however, my life is a series of saying “yes.”
Yes to waking up and feeling energized. Yes to finishing a meal feeling nourished—not lethargic and uncomfortable. Yes to chasing after my nephew. Yes to a fun game of tennis with my husband. Yes to confidence. Yes to strength. Yes to not being limited by my own body. Yes to knowing that I control my life’s direction and not my circumstances.
You see, most people always focus on the sacrifices of healthy living and fail to see that there are sacrifices to an unhealthy life. Without a doubt, there are certain things we must “give up” (at least for the majority of the time) in order to maintain health, but for those who do, the benefits they gain far outweigh anything they surrendered.
Unhealthy living is all about sacrificing long-lasting fulfillment and satisfaction for the temporary pleasures and indulgences.
You are denying yourself the joy and freedom that comes from Well-Being for the fleeting gratification of our impulses and urges. You’re sacrificing a continual sense of balance, self-efficacy, and vigor for short bursts of “fun” or “decadence” that leave us feeling empty (or stuffed), sluggish, and looking for the next way to satisfy your constant cravings. Yes, without a doubt, there is enjoyment that comes from biting into a warm dessert. And relaxing on the lazy-boy certainly feels better at the time than sweating through a workout.
But after, how do you feel? And is it worth it?
Despite the discipline that it takes, I have never heard someone bemoan the fact that they started exercising, or began eating healthy food. I have, however, had countless conversations with individuals who regret ignoring their own body throughout the years; “How did I let myself get this way?” is a question I have unfortunately heard far too often.
We think that limitless food choices and comfort are the keys to the doors of Delight and Happiness, but in actuality, in our rejection of restraint we end up dead-bolting door after door of opportunities. We make the pool of possibilities in our life smaller and smaller.
On the other hand, by applying some restraint and discipline in the small things—to things that actually don’t matter to us much in the grand scheme of things—we allow ourselves the ability to enjoy the things that mean the most. Because for me, I would rather give up cookies for confidence. I would rather pass along the value of our bodies to my family than pass along value fries. And instead of spending all my time watching others’ lives on television, I would rather be out living mine. As the quote goes:
“Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most.”
So no, I don’t view a healthy lifestyle as a sacrifice. In fact, I think it may be the best way to spoil myself.