The Secret to Healthy Living: Make it Relaxing, Full of Joy, and Rewarding

In his book Return to Life Through Contrology, Joseph Pilates wrote, "physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness."

This idea is so simple, so basic, so fundamental, that we hardly ever think about it. We play, work, and socialize every day, and we do it with joy because our bodies deliver. They enable us to achieve the many things that we do each and every day. Yet, we rarely think about this. And we rarely think about how our actions affect the health of our bodies.

We have too much difficulty maintaining health in this country. We struggle to eat well. We struggle to exercise. We struggle to prioritize taking care of our bodies. You know why? We think of these things as chores. Who wants to cook from scratch? Who wants to limit portions of our favorite foods? Who wants to spend every night exercising? I get it. But it really doesn't have to be that way. The people who successfully live healthy lifestyles find joy in those same things that others dread. They've learned to make healthy living a way of life that is relaxing, filled with joy, and rewarding. It makes them (gasp) feel good. You can do the same, and you'll feel good, too. I promise.

Here are some ideas to motivate you:
  1. Combine exercise with relaxation: take the family out to the local bike path or preserve. Walk, bike, hike, or kayak. Soak up the sun and the crisp air. Move at a good clip. Get out of breath as you chase your dog or child. Rejoice that you have the physical stamina to enjoy your surroundings
  2. Make an exercise date: find a like-minded friend and invite her to come with you to experience a new class. Try yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, whatever you are interested in. Follow it with a cup of green tea at your local coffee shop for a good hour of girl talk
  3. Make a date with a trainer: if you are in an exercise slump, find a trainer to help you breathe new life into it. Have her teach you new moves. Make sure you are challenged. Don't be complacent
  4. Test your body outside the confines of the gym: if you have been exercising regularly, take advantage of your level of physical fitness. Push your body and enjoy what it can do for you. Take up scuba diving, horseback riding, rock climbing, or whatever appeals to you
  5. Get inspired by great chefs: go to your favorite healthy restaurant with your husband or significant other. Order your favorite dishes and discuss how you could re-create them at home. Then, go shopping for what you need and have fun experimenting in the kitchen
  6. Thank your body for performing for you: you've pushed yourself, you've seen what you can achieve. Be sure to schedule time for relaxation. If you can afford it, head out for a glorious massage. If you can't, put some lavender in the bath, pop open a bottle of red wine, and soak
Remember, you will only make lasting change if you can sustain it. Find joy in healthy living. It may take some trial and error, but it is well worth it. You will enjoy a healthier body, and a happier life.

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