At the outset of any new health and fitness program, it’s always a good idea to think through your goals. When I ask new clients what their goals are, I often get “to lose 10 pounds” or “well, obviously I want to lose weight” or “I just need to get these stubborn 5 pounds off.” And then I ask the *real* question: why?
Why is it important to you to lose weight? No one wants to lose weight just for the sake of losing weight. Maybe it’s because you’ve lost some confidence in the way you look. Or you have a high school reunion coming up and you want to look great. Or you can’t fit into your clothes and it’s bumming you out. These “why’s” are important to nail down because they represent what really matters to you.
But let’s look past the scale when it comes to setting health and fitness goals. For one thing, your worth is defined well past that number on the scale. You are many, many things besides your weight. Second, weight loss is a long-term goal. What about right now? When it comes to incorporating a healthy lifestyle, what are the benefits you’ll start experiencing right away? Let’s take a look.
And for the purpose of this article, I’m defining a healthy lifestyle as getting approximately 30 minutes of exercise per day and eating a diet that primarily consists of lean meats, lots of fruits and vegetables, some healthy fat, and limited grains, sugar and alcohol.
Immediate Benefits of a Healthy Lifestyle
We are seekers of instant gratification and it can be hard to have the patience required to see the numbers tick down on the scale. So what are other benefits that you’ll start noticing right away?
- Better sleep: Moving your body throughout the day and feeding it well will naturally result in a better night of sleep. You’ll fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Surprising research by Eve Van Cauter shows that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have bigger appetites due to the fact that their leptin levels (leptin is an appetite regulating hormone) fall, promoting appetite increase.
- More energy: It’s funny how expending energy gives you more energy, isn’t it? But think about it, when we sit around and don’t move, we feel sluggish and tired. If we can push ourselves to get up and get going, we find we have more energy than we first thought! Studies show that sedentary people who completed a regular exercise program reported improved fatigue compared to groups that did not exercise.
- Better mood: Have you noticed how you just feel lighter and in a better mood after a workout? It’s not your imagination! Exercise actually releases endorphins that boosts your body’s natural hormones. Not only that, but being kind to your body just makes you feel good. When we treat this “house” we live in with respect, healthy food and exercise that strengthens the heart, lungs and muscles, it will respond in kind and reward us with good health.
- Improved confidence: Even if the pounds don’t start falling off right away, chances are you’re going to experience an immediate boost to your confidence. And why not? You’re awesome! You’re lifting weights and sweating out the toxins and generally discovering that you’re quite strong and more than a little bad-ass. Hold your head a little higher as you walk down the street because your confidence will shine through!
- One healthy habit leads to another: The great thing about treating your body well is that healthy habits are contagious! Start with baby steps: add in exercise 3 times per week. Next thing you know, you decide to have the salad for lunch instead of the cheeseburger. Now that you’ve discovered you feel and sleep so much better on the days you’re working out, you decide to take it from 3 days to 4 days. And on and on it goes…
These are just a few of the immediate benefits that you’ll start experiencing as soon as you start living a healthier life. The goods are there for the taking! You just have to decide to take the first step. Just remember, it’s not all about weight. You have so much more to look forward to besides a lower number on the scale.