Health Is The Way To Happiness

When was the last time you felt truly happy and what is it that made you happy? The answer will be different every time it’s asked but there is one answer that will consistently bring you happiness and that is the benefits of good health.

Happy people have younger hearts, younger arteries, and a better outlook on life. Happy people recover more quickly from surgery, cope better with pain, have lower blood pressure, and have longer life expectancy than unhappy people.

Studies also suggest that happy people may have stronger immune systems and are less likely to get colds and flu viruses. If they do get sick it’s not as serious and they get better faster.

Not surprisingly, happy people are better at looking after their health, too. When people’s happiness levels improve, so do their health behaviors. They exercise more, get enough sleep, take better care of their teeth, wear sunscreen, and go for regular checkups.

What else determines happiness?

Genes play a part in your happiness just as they play a part in your general health. Some researchers estimate that as much as 40% to 50% of a person’s capacity for happiness may be genetically predetermined but that doesn’t guarantee a person will live a charmed life.

If you ask someone what makes them happy the answers will be as varied as the people you ask. Winning the lottery, being successful, finding that special person, world peace, and losing weight would be some easy guesses. How long would that keep them happy before they wanted something else?

Everyone wants to be happy and the benefits are clearly plentiful but people aren’t always great at predicting what will make them happy.  Left to our own devices, we tend to focus our energies on things that will give us the greatest instant pleasure. Even when we know better we will ignore the one thing that will bring us lasting happiness because it takes time and personal effort.

Even the gloomiest of us can learn to be happier and good health is the lasting way to happiness. Studies show that a person’s health is one of the strongest predictors of happiness. But the link between health and happiness is complex.

What makes us unhappy?

Adverse changes in health have a negative impact on happiness levels, at least temporarily. Poor health has the potential to significantly affect almost every aspect of your life so it’s no wonder when your health takes a hit so does your happiness. Once we adapt to those changes most people gravitate back to the level of happiness they enjoyed beforehand.

When the change in health status is severe, involving chronic pain or multiple disabilities, the impact on happiness can be long lasting. And both physical health and emotional health influence happiness.

Mental health can make it hard to be happy or do what it takes to be healthy. If you think you may be living with a mood disorder get it treated. Mood disorders diminish the quality of life even more than chronic physical ailments, such as arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes. Appropriate treatment can help reduce your symptoms, increase your sense of well-being, and get you back on track to a happy life.

If you look closely at unhappiness there will always be a reason for it that is linked to our health even if it’s not obvious. Always talk to a doctor for help if you feel that you can’t be happy they can help you find the answer.

What you can do to be healthy and happy?

Find something you like to do that will get you moving and preferably outdoors. Only 10 minutes of sunlight a day will boost your body’s natural response mechanisms to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter which helps to elevate the mood, and melatonin, a hormone which promotes sleep. It promotes healthier attitudes toward diet and exercise and gives us a dose of Vitamin D which can be hard to get from foods alone.

Exercise not only helps keep you healthy but also keeps you happy. In general, increasing the amount of physical activity in your life increases well-being, whether it’s yoga, weight training, or daily walks around the neighborhood. Studies show that people who are active daily usually stay active throughout the day and weigh less than their couch potato counterparts.

Be your healthiest and happiest by eating a balanced diet with lots of fruit and veggies, getting a good night’s sleep, keeping stress levels to a minimum, getting regular checkups, wearing sunscreen, laughing often, moderating alcohol intake, getting plenty of exercise and not smoking.

It may sound like a lot of rules but we have to do so many things in our lives that we have no control over so the good news is when it comes to our health and happiness we can totally do it. Once we learn how to accomplish it there’s nothing better than being healthy, happy and enjoying our lives to the fullest for as long as we can.

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Exercise is the gateway to good health and happiness.

Since I started riding my bike every other day I have been extremely happy and my life is anything but perfect but I’ve never been happier or healthier and it’s a great feeling! I look forward to my rides despite the weather I have more energy than ever before I just feel awesome!

I still need dual knee replacement but by bike riding the Bay Trail every other day, I have improved my knees by a large percentage. I’m no expert but they are so much stronger now and I can walk 4 miles on a good day. I still have a lot of pain but it’s manageable right now. As a side effect daily exercise acts as a natural painkiller in the body. It does!

I used to walk with a cane and my heart used to pound when I had an office visit with my doctor it got pretty bad. They would do EKG’s on me. I was gaining weight, clinically depressed and totally lost on meds. One day I looked in the mirror felt sick at what I saw and decided to change it.

What helped me most was deciding to ride every other day and sticking to it. Even if I bike a few miles as long as I did something. The more I rode the better I got and my riding got. Once the discomfort of getting into shape was over I looked forward to my rides. My doctor now thinks I’m in amazing shape.

I urge you to try riding a bicycle if you’re not already doing so. For me, it didn’t take long to see results. People of all ages can ride and even adults can learn to ride if they don’t know how. Stick to it and give it time, it took me over a year but good things don’t come easy. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I love burning up the calories on a good bike ride.

Bicycle riding is optimal because it’s an aerobic exercise that isn’t hard on the joints and takes your heart rate through the exercise zones needed to strengthen your heart. Riding a bike burns calories at a fast rate as it strengthens your core, improves your balance and sharpens your mind. Admission is only the cost of a good bicycle, some safety gear, and can bring back those feelings you had when you were a child. It can make you happy and can be addicting.

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Like I said before, good health is a balancing act of exercise, healthy eating, and enough sleep. Exercise, food, and sleep are like the Macros of balance (instead of nutrients). Get it?

source: Some info and artwork was found using Google Search.

The featured image is a photograph of mine I took 6/10/17 at Talbot’s in San Mateo, CA where I bought the bike I own now. They fixed my flat tire I got that day. After I was done with coffee at the library I checked my bike before taking off and discovered my back tire was flat as a pancake. Lucky I could call a taxi company with a minivan to get me and my bike to the shop.

Be healthy, be happy, just be!

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A Balancing Act You Can Do

Since September of 2015 I’ve lost over 56 pounds and in August of this year was thrilled to hit my target weight of 145, even going a little below. I didn’t time it that way, it’s just the way I lost weight. Everything I did was a balancing act, do a little of this, a little of that and practice leads to good health. If I can do it anyone can.

The time it takes to lose weight is not divided into weeks or months. I wanted to lose it as fast as possible but my body had its own ideas. I had plateaus at 180 pounds and later at 165 where I thought I’d NEVER lose any more weight, gained back weight, (without over eating) and more. I just stuck to my plan of logging my food and bike riding. If I messed up one day I’d start again the next.

It was a balancing act that I found my body and I could do! Along the way, I learned oodles about myself and my body that I use today to keep my hard-earned figure.

A Little Of This

Water is my “go to” drink now. It’s all I drink and when I get tired of it I add fruit. I bought a water container that has a ball in it that crushes the fruit when I shake it and it works well! I put raspberries, blueberries, any fruit I want in it and take it with me. I call it my Jammin’ Juice. Drinking water can keep you feeling full and helps your body function properly.

I quit most sugary drinks including fruit juices (except OJ) and soda. At first, I wondered how I’d do this but now I don’t even notice it’s gone! My biggest problem is fat but it makes things taste good and I use the better fats versus the bad.

Of course, I’ll have an occasional soda, milkshake or even an alcoholic drink. I make sure and log them.

I also quit snacking. Many new diets now have “days off” or teach you healthy snacking. I think learning to expect snacks between meals can go wrong. For me, it’s 3 main healthy meals and for snacks, it’s a piece of fruit, carrot sticks or a handful of nuts.

The diets that promise you “days off” are not what you think. It doesn’t mean you can have days to totally go off of your diet. These diets have strict rules for your days off they are not days you can just eat what you want.

The best thing is to find something that is doable for you. Be honest with yourself about what you can eat or drink and find a good application that will help you keep track.

A Little Of That

I bought a Jawbone UP3 health band I’ve been wearing since October of 2015. I used it to learn how to improve my sleep by changing my bedroom and sleeping habits. I use it to monitor my REM, awake time, light and deep sleep.

I used to be an insomniac but now I sleep like a baby and get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. The recommended is 7 1/2 to 8 hours a night.

New studies say sleep is important for weight-loss and good health. If you don’t get enough sleep there’s a good chance you are overweight. Sleeping well will make you live longer. Sleep is something we all take for granted but if you get enough quality sleep for a period of time you will notice the difference.

A Little More Of This

I’ve been on a 1,200 calorie diet since September of 2015 and learned to eat more healthy foods. At first, I walked and watched steps to lose weight. I lost over 30 pounds but needed something more to tone up.

In February I started riding my bicycle every other day. I would ride however long I could stand it until I got better at it. Every other day was good because I had a day off in between. It wasn’t easy and sometimes I had to walk my bike up a hill.

I started to see small changes to my body that were adding up. Since cycling is aerobic it takes fat off of many parts of the body especially the legs, waist, stomach, and butt. It gives you a good core workout. One thing about regular exercise, you will gain a little weight in muscle but muscle burns more fat so in no time you will start losing again.

I wanted to lose as fast as possible but I still took days off and went over my calories for the day. I just made sure not to lose my head about it and go hog wild with the food and drink. In August I hit my target weight.

Some More Of That

I have to exercise if I want to keep my weight off and I do that by bike riding and walking. It’s not easy to motivate every other day and I do miss a day sometimes due to weather or life but it works for me and keeps me going.

Now that I’m in such good shape I can walk without a cane ( I still need both knees replaced eventually) and further than I have in years. I find on my days off from cycling that I get bored if I don’t have a lot to do. I decided that a walk on my days off can be something I really enjoy. I can now walk up to 4 miles and I like to hike on nature trails. It makes me so happy to be active spending my time outside and I sleep like a baby.

A Bit Of This

Because I’m happy with my diet I’m sticking to it. The foods I eat now on a daily basis are the foods I love. I still log my food and stick to a set amount of calories while I ride my bike or walk every other day. My weight has been stable around 142 and my health is wonderful. I’ve been extremely happy although my life is pretty much the same with the same issues. I just can’t be unhappy and I’m thankful for it. Be positive!

This balancing act you can do! Each of us has our own road getting to our target weight but it is so doable. You’ll feel like quitting, you’ll be hungry and you’ll have cravings but the weight will come off. Take before and after photos so you can share your story with others when the time comes because you’ll be so proud of yourselves.

I urge you to get back on a bike or find something you like to do because it’s so much easier to lose weight with exercise. We must do aerobics and weight bearing exercises to stay fit into old age. Picture yourself at 70, or 80, do you want to do things for yourself? Someone told me to visit an old folks home for motivation. You’ll never forget it.

It’s a balancing act you can do!

Duck Feathers

After I got over the initial pain of being a beginner and settled into my workouts I found that biking was making me feel amazing. I was in the best health ever and things that normally would have thrown me into a funk during my day just weren’t happening. I found myself not sweating the small things. I told my best friend there was no way that I could be depressed while riding my bike and surprised myself when I said it.

Just a year ago I was a dark cloud raining on everything that came my way. I couldn’t see past my various moods they colored even my best days. I was addicted to foods that didn’t nourish my body and spent all my time sitting on my kiester stuffing my face. It was a terrible way to react to the world and treat myself. As I increased my health through my bike rides I found the clouds parting and the weather clearing. Now it’s darn right sunny even on the rainiest days. I never imagined how well exercise worked as an antidepressant.

Now I feel immune to things that would have brought me crashing down in the past. I have found what I affectionately call, “my duck feathers.” Anything that threatens to bring me down just repels off of me like water off a duck. My problems haven’t gone away, I’m still the same person making the same mistakes I’ve always made, but now I have an inner happiness that keeps me going on a positive note.

The health benefits of exercising eating right and good sleep are astounding. My body is slowly changing for the better I can see and feel it. I have a waist and my stomach hasn’t been this flat in decades. My skin has cleared up, my hair is soft and shiny and my energy level is through the roof. My bad knees are so much stronger I don’t need my cane anymore. Overall, my legs and core feel strong. All the hours of riding have improved my heart and my doctor tells me with vitals like mine I’m going to live a long time. After only a year of working out, that’s music to my  62-year-old ears and I’m not stopping anytime soon.

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While all these things are wonderful side effects of an aerobic exercise like bike riding, the thing that surprised me the most is the good mood that won’t go away. A good mood that didn’t require drugs just riding my bicycle regularly. With so many people having problems with depression, syndromes, and unhappiness I would think exercise would be worth trying.

Discovering “my duck feathers” is something I’m thankful for this year, that, and the fact that I found a good reason for riding my 30-year-old bicycle. Getting this twice as old woman functioning, healthy and moving again!

Join me! If you’re lucky enough to be able to ride your bike year round do it and feel thankful for it.