You’ve probably heard that good health is an investment in your future. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can increase your life expectancy by decreasing your chances of developing illnesses related to poor health such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, certain lifestyle choices can also impact your odds of developing certain cancers. Those are most definitely the long-term benefits to investing in a healthy lifestyle.
However, most people want to see some small return on their investments, too. After all, you get monthly or quarterly statements showing you the health of your financial investments, be they savings funds, retirement accounts, or stock performances. When it comes to our physical health, we like to see some progress. We don’t want to have to wait until we’re decades older to see the return on our investment in our health. We can enjoy it then, and our families, I’m sure, will be happy to share in the benefits.
Because I like to see smaller improvements and dividends. I choose to think of my calories as debits and credits, and I invest those. Each day, I burn a certain number of calories, and I ingest a certain number of calories. The calories I ingest are my “debits.” The calories I burn are my “credits.” My goal each day is to finish with more credits than debits, just as we want to do with our financial investments. When I’ve earned a lot of credits through exercise, then I feel comfortable expending some of them in a sweet little something.
There are those days, though–and admit it, we all have them–when it’s cold, grey, and rainy outside, and all I want to do is curl up with a good book. There are also those days when it’s blazing hot, and I just want to lie under a fan and move as little as possible. If I eat too much on those days, then I’m going to wind up with more debits (calories consumed) than credits. The trick is, on those days, to know about how many calories my body will burn with no help from me (just over 1400) and eat fewer calories than that.
Other days, though, I’m killing it. I’m weight training and doing cardio and practicing yoga. I’m burning calories like a spoiled rich girl burns her dad’s credit card at the stores. Some exercises, like weight training, has the added benefit of burning calories even after the workout, as sore muscles heal and repair themselves in the day or two following. Those days, I happily end up in the black, calorie-wise.
I’m far from perfect; just motivated. There are those days when food is too good, lava cake calls me, and I haven’t been motivated to do much all day. These days aren’t the best, but I don’t let them get me down or discourage me. I accept them for what they are and resolve to get back on track the next day. At the end of the week, my report shows I’ve been burning more calories than I’ve consumed, and over time, that helps with the weight loss and strengthening that has helped me be healthier, get stronger, and become fit enough to do mission work and a 5K. Down the road when I’m decades older (hopefully), I’ll still be here and healthy enough to be active with my children, grandchildren, and maybe even great-grands.
These little investments now will lead to long-term benefits down the road. Thinking about that helps me stay motivated and show extra kindness to myself. After all, it’s about the healthy coastal lifestyle, not the healthy coastal “this week” or “this month.”