21 Benefits of Healthy Living


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  68 comments   :  118,624 Views

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?

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  • 18
    Thank you, great list. You're right it is not a marathon...something I need to remember. - 1/25/2012   11:32:21 AM
  • 17
    Jack LaLanne, the Godfather of Fitness, who passed away last year at 96, always said "You can't wear out your body by using it as it will only get stronger and stronger the more you push it." - 1/25/2012   11:12:26 AM
  • 16
    Breaking my own addiction to the scale has not been easy. Like many people here, I too spent way too many years tying my emotions to what the scale said. One pound up, bad day. One pound down, good day.

    It took a while, but I learned there really IS more to good health than a number that stares at us from between our toes in the morning. Yes, it's important to maintain a healthy weight. BUT, the scale can't tell a person how many push ups they can do. the scale can't tell a person who fast they can run or walk a mile. The scale can't tell a person if they can do a hand stand against the wall.

    I've become much more aware of what my body can do and stopped worrying about what it can't or how it looks. I've stopped being a slave to the scale. Exercise has helped increase my confidence ! My shoulders can carry the world now. LOL !

    - 1/25/2012   9:44:10 AM
    Tis blog is very timely for me and the year long journey I have been on. I will put away my scale and focus on the other positives. I am going to make a list too. My journey is about find new 'joys' in my life. My Type 2 diabetes is under control without medication, my high blood pressure is under control, going from wearing a size 22 one year ago to a comfortable size 12 (I'm not stopping there - 1/25/2012   8:58:28 AM
  • 14
    AWESOME blog & great quote thank you so much for sharing. - 1/25/2012   8:54:27 AM
  • 13
    So true! Loved the quote. - 1/25/2012   8:09:49 AM
  • 12
    This is a great blog. THANK YOU! - 1/25/2012   7:26:14 AM
  • 11
    Love this blog. I know for me I have to stop looking at the scale. Numbers don't tell it all. Since I began this journey, people have asked, how are you losing weight. I can truly say... I am not on a 'diet" I am moving more eating less and getting healthy! - 1/25/2012   5:27:07 AM
  • 10
    I have learned that although working out is hard, I feel so much better afterwards and that makes it worth it! - 1/25/2012   1:53:37 AM
    I feel the pain. - 1/24/2012   11:56:23 PM
  • 8
    I love this blog! Thanks. I have been on a plateau for about 9 months. I am trying all sorts of different things to bust through. I'm not giving up. It's nice to hear your story and remind me that there is a destination in site and that I can get there over time. - 1/24/2012   11:45:16 PM
  • 7
    This was a nice blog to read. I'm going through my own weight loss plateau (9 months at the exact weight-right down to 3 decimal points!) and while not discouraged I've been beating myself up trying to figure out what the heck I'm doing wrong. I know that positive changes are happening that I can't see-but I'm tired of my scale mocking me! - 1/24/2012   10:10:26 PM
  • 6
    Here is another entry for your list: reduced risk of Alzheimer's

    - 1/24/2012   9:51:35 PM
  • 5
    This week I realized something -- when on earth did I come to think that sitting around most of the time and eating whatever I wanted when I wanted it was NORMAL and that working out and eating healthy were some kind of punishment? So glad I am changing my priorities. - 1/24/2012   9:38:23 PM
  • 4
    This is a great blog. It is so hard to remember that weight loss can be very slow. With shows like the Biggest Loser that show huge amounts of weight loss in a week you can feel like a failure if your loss does not happen like that. I will try and remember that slow and steady wins the race. - 1/24/2012   8:15:22 PM
  • 3
    Nice article. I tell people all the time I am doing this and it's called "Stroke Therapy" I have a hugh family history of strokes. I believe if you redesign your life in such a way that you won't have many failures. I keep all junk out of the house. I eat a clean diet. I put working out in my life on purpose. I only weigh myself 1 or 2 times every 3 months. I use other ways to measure my success. It's all about having a heathy body and not a number on the scales or what size I wear. - 1/24/2012   7:42:07 PM
    I love the thought of making a list of positive outcomes related to exercise. I see too many people who look at exercise as a chore, one more "have to" on the to-do list. This inventory help to re-frame activity to something enjoyable. Additionally, many of the items on the list are things we have within our control whereas the needle on scale can have its own mind sometimes.
    - 1/24/2012   7:14:16 PM
    I really liked this blog with surgeries and other health issues it seems like it will take forever to get to my goal.But its not about time. - 1/24/2012   6:45:30 PM

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