What makes us happy? I’m talking about a passionate, unequivocal sense of zest and love of life.

It’s not something you wake up one morning saying “You know what? I think I’m happy. I made it.”

No.

Happiness comes from within. Work your butt off to get the perfect beach body, but guess what? You’ll never feel like you have the “perfect” body if you aren’t happy with yourself. As humans, we always want more, but happiness isn’t an end point kind of deal.

It comes in many forms. Almost all of which can be traced back to self-confidence. When you are confident in yourself you see success in your actions, the progress, not results. You recognize your hard work towards these changes, credit your body with love, and express self-gratitude. You emanate inner strength; a testament of your relentless efforts.

We are always making changes, buying the next greatest technology, thinking, “This is IT. This will finally be what makes me happy.”

No, it has to come from you.

By now, most of us have been conditioned that if we start eating better and we will feel better.

It’s not that easy.

Ask anyone. I would be the first to advocate healthy eating. No matter how much I ramble on the life changing benefits and fear striking facts, why would someone make the effort to go through the troubles of eating healthy if they don’t have a deep respect for themselves to provide their body with the absolute best?

This is the brutal truth and unfortunate side to the awful, perpetuating cycle of an unhealthy lifestyle.

When was the last time you saw a sad, weak, and physically unhealthy person leaving the gym?

It’s not the bodybuilder who just maxed out at the gym or the ambitious 10 year old who just beat her mile time you see double-fisting chocolate cupcakes.

 

No. You see the fit, perky, lively can-doer speed walking out the gym with an apple in their hand (most likely pursuing the next big feat they are motivated to accomplish and spend their very productive day doing). They are all sorts of fueled – physically and mentally. These are the ones moving a mile a minute, getting work done, and loading up at the salad bar.

Go ahead and start a diet, but you’ll never be satisfied if you aren’t first happy with yourself. Let alone, if you don’t possess the tiniest ounce of faith that you are capable of so much more, how far are you really going to get? You’ll only crave results. Let’s be real – five pounds less is never enough. You got your a six-pack? I wanted an eight-pack!

It’s never enough.

No wonder we crave a cheat day, and even worse, straight up quit – this external, result derived happiness leaves us feeling even worse from when we set out begin this ambitious lifestyle change. Now you’re left feeling even more hopeless than when you started. I’ll take that second slice of cake for my piteous efforts…healthy eating and exercise just ain’t my thang (even worse, yo-yo dieting).

So then, where to begin?

First, find your place to derive motivation and confidence.  LilWayneSmile

For me – EXERCISE. WE ARE MADE TO MOVE – the benefits are endless and it’s something we should all be doing. I’m not saying that because I’m some fit, bias, endorphin addict athlete – these are the facts of human nature and any research can back me up. Being active works in our favor in more ways than one – increasing our sense of well being and pushing our body to its physical and mental limits.

The second we start being active, we start to care. We start to see changes – we don’t want to lose that hard work.

We respect ourselves.

Think about a person you really respect – you would do anything for them. They radiate strength and kindness. They’ve work hard to never let you down. They serve as a foundation, source of relentless dependency…c’mon, how could you ever do them wrong?

That’s the relationship you start to have with your body.

Exercise is an evolving process that brings enjoyment as we grow and continually strive for more. Not because we aren’t satisfied with what we’ve accomplished, but because we start to believe that we truly are capable of so much more. Along the way, maybe even discovered we posses a slight purpose beyond the daily rout of life?

Never mind all those happy hormones, social benefits, and physiological changes that come along for the ride – that’s a nice little bonus.

With that being said – when you feel good about yourself you eat better.

Why? It makes perfect sense. People who invest energy and time into their health and personal well-being care enough to not screw it up.

Not until we value ourselves do we care enough to treat our body with love. The funny thing is, when we start eating better we feel good about ourselves.

We don’t always make sense, but this is the way we function as ridiculous as it may seem.

Exercise is a way to push us to limits that before were unfathomable. We begin respecting ourselves a tad bit more – I mean hey, you did make the effort to get off the couch anyways – that’s at least worth something.

The person who is still in bed at 1pm, stayed out drinking all night, and just kicked off the day watching Netflix, cracking open a Coke for breakfast, doesn’t care because they are already unhealthy – why not just go all the way?

Yea, yea…we’ve all done this at one point or another *cough cough vacation season*

Society doesn’t help with the abundance of environmental triggers, media, lazy outlets, eating temptations – making it easier than ever to just go down the path of fast food, living vicariously through a digital screen, and never needing to walk a step again. Our expectations of “healthy” are often skewed – we assume it must be painful and require unnecessary disciple that we don’t have. Our day is ruined by a disgusted hour of suffering and we are deprived of any palatable foods.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Finding an activity you enjoy changes everything.

Exercise is no-doubt, always the highlight of my day. Except for when I encourage others to experience that too – that tops it off. No one can be controlled, whether it’s your spouse, kids, or a client. But if you work to be the the best you can possibly be – striving toward optimal health, expanding your knowledge, opening your perspective, learning from others– you can provide the best of yourself in a way that inspires changes in others.

Stay active, eat whole foods, drink water, get some shut-eye, and have a balanced lifestyle…I can promise you for the most part you will be just fine. If we care enough to treat ourselves the absolute best, (and if you want to take it this far – thus the world around us) we actually start acting on it.

I’m not saying the key is to start working out first and then eating better, or vice versa – I’m saying if you first and foremost do something that motivates you to be better and brings you joy then you will treat your body with respect, nourishment, and want to be healthy. You simply can’t have one without the other.

What comes first – exercise/dieting or self-confidence? People change their eating to lose weight so they feel better about themselves. But people who feel better about themselves usually are more active and eat better.

So where do you begin? I think that’s a question only you can answer.

The answer doesn’t reside in these outcomes but in yourself, which you find through the process of being better – whether it is by eating or exercising. It’s a cycle, not straight line with beginning to end. See your improvements in whatever it may be, build your confidence by recognizing your gains. Embrace that feeling. Let your body be inspired and driven toward improvements.

We want to be motivated! We want to be better!

Think about it, if you don’t respect your body and possess a sense of worthiness, why the hell would you take the effort to fuel it.

Start respecting yourself and all your potential. Start pushing your limits. Start working out. Start eating better.

Start being happy.

Happy Labor Day!

Written by Amanda Presgraves, COR Intern.