Walking Guide

21 Benefits of Healthy Living

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I recently came across a quote that read, "Healthy living is a life sentence, you will never be pararoled or pardoned."  What I love about this quote is that healthy living is a way of living. It is not something that can be measured by a number on the scale. It is the actions we take every day that allow us to leave the diet mentality behind.

Having worked for SparkPeople for over three years now, I have seen many common concerns on the message boards. One of the most common themes is the fear that when a member starts integrating healththy habits into his/her life and the the results aren't as quick as they should be, the member is convinced something is wrong. The member is either eating too much, not exercising enough or for many, they are convinced the program does not work. For many long term dieters, like myself, we are convinced that we may have even permanently destroyed our metabolsim (which is not the case).

I am here to put the record straight that with time and patience the changes will happen, but you must utilize the tools in order to see the success. These changes can take as long as six to eight weeks to show up on the scale, but when a member doesn't get the results he/she expects to see on the scale, the fear is that they must be doing something wrong.

This journey isn't a sprint to see how quickly you can get the weight off only to go back to your unhealthy ways. I view this healthy living journey much like I do my training for an event. I can't slack on my training if I expect to reach my goal. I can't expect to go from the couch to a marathon without going through days, weeks and months of training. Just like adaptation to exercise takes time, so does weight loss.

Midway through my weight loss journey, I went through a very long nine month plateau where no matter how hard I felt I was doing everything right, that doggone number on the scale would not move. At the time I was working with a running coach/trainer who insisted that I throw the scale away. I reluctantly gave my scale away. Now I am not saying that is what YOU should do, but my coach could tell I was putting too much emphasis on the scale and not on all the changes that were happening within my body.

One of my assignments was to compile a list of changes that were happening to my body that had nothing to do with the scale. Almost five years later I still have that list and add to it as I come across the new research as to how healthy living can impact our life, even if the scale is not moving.

Nancy's List of Healthy Living Benefits

-Exercise increases lung capacity

-Exercise increases immunity fighting immunoglobulins

-Exercise increases our mood due to an increase in mood-enhancing chemicals-serotonin, dopamine and nor-epinepherine

-Exercise builds lean muscle mass and bone mass therefore we experience a decrease risk of osteporosis

-Exercise and healthy eating habits helps lowers blood pressure

-Exercise helps lower our heart rate and build a stronger heart

-Over time your risk for cardio-vascular disease and type II diabetes falls

-Healthy living helps lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) levels

-Healthy living increases our HDL (good cholesterol) levels

-Healthy living helps lowers triglycerides

-Your runs, walks and other exercises become easier

-Healthy living cuts  your cancer risk

-You feel better and have more energy

-You feel younger and more confident

-Improves posture

-Increases self-esteem

-Helps with sleep

-Controls stress

- Increases the volume of your muscle mitochondria which leads to burning more carbs and fats

-Doubles your muscles ability to use oxygen, therefore, you are better able to use fat as an energy source

-Allows me to take risks in life

As you can see, our body benefits so much more from embracing healthy habits for a lifetime. The number, as many of you know, is just that--a number. It cannot and will not ever measure our health and fitness.

We must be careful not to get too hung up on that number, nor can we expect to undo years of unhealthy habits in just a few days, weeks and months. While many members have seen rapid success, I will confess that it took me over 3 years to drop 80 pounds. As I have mentioned in a previous blog, I once considered myself the Queen of Weight Loss but the Joker of Weight Maintenance.

In February 2005 I vowed that this was finally going to be the year I was getting off the diet roller coaster once and for all. I was no longer going to start a diet, only to vow to begin again the minute I experienced my first slip-up. I was not giving myself a timeline to reach my goal. What I was going to do was make healthy choices a part of my daily life, even if that took me the rest of my life to do. 

Fast forward seven years and I am still the same weight, give or take five pounds (I do not believe in having a goal weight, but a goal weight range) that I was when I reached my goal four years ago. This has finally become my way of living. I have reached the point in my life that it is more natural for me to choose the healthy options in life than the unhealthy ones. This for me is a much bigger success than any number on the scale or the size on the tag.

What are some of the lessons you have learned in your own journey? What changes have you experienced that has helped you give up the control the scale holds over you?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints

Comments

SLOWDETERMINED 8/13/2018
The experiences Nancy Howard relate are very familiar to me. I started being more conscientious over a year ago. I recorded everything I ate. My goal was to just stick to SparkPeople for a year without doing the rollercoaster off and on again. I did not lose much weight the first year, but I kept trying because I knew I was on the right track, and my husband and I were eating much better. This year I am moving more, exercising more and I am losing a little more weight. If I fall "off the wagon" I don't let it bother me any more I continue the next day as if it didn't happen. This was the key for me, and I don't "fall off" the way I used to do. For me consistency is the key. Thanks for the great blog, Nancy. Report
KHALIA2 5/20/2018
Great article! Thank you! Report
ALEXTHEHUN 4/9/2018
A great list of reasons and it sparks room for thinking of others to add. Report
CHRISTOPHER63 3/25/2018
Thank you Report
TOMATOCAFEGAL 3/11/2018
benefits surpass all buts. Report
PAULA3420 3/9/2018
I love reading the benefits of exercise. Good reasons to get it in gear!! Report
USMAWIFE 3/3/2018
great article Report
AGAINIWILL 3/1/2018
thanks Report
JAMER123 2/28/2018
Great, thank you. Report
AGAINIWILL 2/28/2018
Just what I needed , thank you. Report
BARBOC5 1/2/2018
Thank you, this is what I needed today. Report
MIYAMO 12/26/2017
Very encouraging. Report
LIS193 11/11/2017
Good article Report
LITTLE58K
The best encouragement I have heard in so long.... Report
GOOD INFO. Report
Informative and inspiring. Report
Great article. Report
Very good article. I was weighing myself every day but for the last 2 1/2 weeks, I have only weighed myself twice a week. I want to make sure I'm not gaining. If I lose I will be happy and if I don't I will be happy. I just want to be healthy. Loved the article!!! Report
The benefits of working out weigh those reasons to not workout.. Just do it! Report
This is an article I would definitely recommend. I like the idea of a range instead of a goal weight. The list of ways a healthy and active lifestyle can help is encouraging. There are many good reasons to make a lifestyle change, in the right direction, permanent. Report
Great article very helpful Report
THREEDOVES1
Good information. Report
Well said! Awesome blog! Report
Great reminder of why we wake up each morning with determination to get moving! Report
What a great article on 21 benefits of healthy living! Report
excellent article good motivation tips on reasons to exercise and eat healthier! Report
I think she makes a great point about all the benefits besides weight loss to pursue a healthier lifestyle. Report
Great reasons to exercise. Can't wait to get over this Respratory Infection and get back to the wellness center. Report
MOMMOMCONNIE
Didn't get this way over night and can't expect to lose the weight over night. It is a life long commitment of being aware of what you eat and why. Finding other ways of dealing with your emotions and stress besides food! Report
consistency, exercise and healthy eating, you can't go wrong! Report
A nice, positive way of focusing one's thoughts - because taking good care of one's body affects one's entire life. I am making it less likely I will suffer from dementia, have broken bones like hips, have a heart attack, have cancer, or depression. I am more likely to be around positive people who will encourage me to take care of myself. I am more likely to live a long time and to be able to have children, and to have fun with them. I am more likely to have fun in my life in general if my body can do more of what I want it to do, all the way into my 90s and beyond. Report
RPA1214
I was feeling defeated because I didn't lose weight. After reading this blog I feel so much better. Thank you Report
Is there a negative side to healthy living? I think not! 8-) Report
Great article Report
This was spot-on for me. The choice for me is not a temporary diet, but a permanent life style. I'm a work in progress . . . every day, all day. Report
Good information that is important to be reminded of. Report
DHH0306
Nancy's post is very apt and right on target. It's a cinch by the inch and hard by the yard. Diet isn't something that you go on. This implies temporary. In reality everyone has a diet be it healthy or unhealthy. Diet is simply a pattern of eating. The choice of healthy foods and activities is a lifelong adventure. I've always known this but I'm more aware of it since my diabetes diagnosis about 3 years ago. I gained some weight during the perimenopause and menopause years. I've lost part of it very gradually and over time desire to return to my healthiest weight. I've not dealt with weight issues until the last 6-7 years. I have come to recognize that my body today is not the same one as a year ago, 5 years ago, or 20 years ago. I recognize the need to be patient with myself and the progress I make. Report
Good stuff here.... but do remember to factor age and health issues (temporary or permanent) into your equation.

The things I did at 30 and 40, I cannot do at the same intensity or duration at 63. And be sure to recalculate your targeted heart rate.....

And never quit! Report
KMBURBACH
I just completed 3 years of exercising regularly (5 days a week) and eating healthy. I have experienced progress, it has been a challenge. It does take planning and dedication every day. I realize it is a change for my lifetime and IT IS WORTH it. I am better than 3 years ago and will press on stronger with small improvements at a time. Report
This is so me. No matter what I do I cannot get the pounds off. Even the my A1C dropped from 12.6 to 5.6 I was still stating I'm dieting exercising and can't loose the weight my Drs. response is don't worry it will happen what you are doing is working. My husband will say to me you are able to do things today that you could not do a year ago still I say I'm not losing weight. I started weighing myself several times a day. Since I started SP on the 28th I am trying to weigh 1x a week. Reading this article I now know what everyone is saying Report
Thanks for sharing this. It's so encouraging to hear from others that didn't have the ten pounds a month falling off of them either. For some of us it's a painfully slow process and it's so nice to hear encouragement that we're still making healthy changes and improving our lives! Report
this is a keeper!
Report
Thank you for this encouraging article/ blog. Though I've adapted my eating/ cooking patterns, I'm still struggling to consistently incorporate the exercise component and other healthy activities (like enough sleep). And since I certainly do contribute the weightly plateau (just 17 pounds from what I'd like to reach) on my lack of discipline and consistency, I do sometimes seem to look in the mirror and completely "no longer see" the progress and visible improvements from LAST January. Thanks! - Maryjean Gregory Report
Thanks...I needed this. The scale hasn't budged...but I'll be honest, my own disappointment in the numbers is what has been holding me back from doing my best lately. You're right: I feel better, I look better, I'm more healthy so why am I depending on the scale so much? I wish it was that easy though. It'll take time, I'm sure. But thank you for getting me that much closer :) Report
SAS202554
Thanks for the blog!! I had decided to do away with weighing and just use measurements ever so often. I am measuring my success by how I feel. When I use healthy habits my joints don't ache, I sleep better, and I feel better!!! I am taking it one day at a time to get to my goal. I am going to measure my success by how I will fit into the airplane seat on March 9th! LOL I enjoyed your blog!!!! Report
BAMBI31311
Great article, worth reading and paying attention to the words and really putting them into action. Report
Very inspirational! Report
EMIAYSU
That was inspiring! Report
ROOZETOLOOZE
Terrific blog! I get so frustrated when I do not see the scale move in the first week or two of my healthy lifestyle. It's at that point when I say "what difference does it make, I may as well just eat that bag of chips", but you have motivated me to look at it differently. Even when I am not losing weight right away, I am still working towards being healthier...on the inside even if it doesn't show on the outside! Thank you! Report
Awesome blog, Nancy! Report
Walking Guide