A few years ago, I realized I had discovered the “secret” to succeeding in the health, wealth, and happiness departments. I had lost ten pounds and was keeping it off. My legs had never been so toned, my skin was glowing, work was fulfilling, my finances were growing, and my relationships were going great.
And it wasn’t because I was working harder. I hadn’t been tormenting myself with terrible diets or 5am wake up calls. What was shocking about my transformation was how little sacrifice I had made.
My Simple Regimen
I think my approach to finding the secret to health, wealth, and happiness is exemplified in my diet and exercise regimen. This is exactly what I do for eat and exercise:
Meal plan: I eat depending on my appetite, usually less than 3 meals a day. I don’t have any restrictions on those meals. When I only eat one meal, I can eat carbs, sugar, starches, dairy, whatever I fancy.
Exercise plan: When I was working, I biked to work most days and go for a long run or bike ride on the weekends.
So am I saying you should do these same things and will get the same results? NO!!! The secret to losing weight and getting toned aren’t what I do. The secret is: I love this diet and exercise program.
I don’t eat this way or exercise this way in order to change the way I look. If these activities made me fatter, I would probably reduce them, but I would still try to find a way to keep doing what I’m doing. I look forward to them.
I mean, I generally have excellent self-control, just not for diets. I have only ever been on 2 diets and I quit both early. Gained back the weight. And you know why? Because people aren’t great at making themselves miserable. People hate telling themselves they can’t have what they want. And you know what? That’s ok!
It’s ok if you want to be happy.
Don’t learn how to deal with a life of misery. Find a path to get to your goal that you love and are addicted to.
Why Simple and Lovely Works
I have a friend who preferred the treadmill to the elliptical, because the treadmill made her feel like she was working harder. And it’s true that running creates more sweat, but that doesn’t mean that the elliptical can’t get you to the same destination (which, obviously, is nowhere because both machines are stationary).
If you like the elliptical, don’t let the hard work showoffs shame you! Happily using the elliptical everyday is way better than unhappily running intermittently. What you do everyday is more important than what you do intermittently, and if you are happy doing it, it’s more likely you’ll do it regularly. Working out once or twice isn’t going to give you a rocking bod, not matter how hard you try. Eating one healthy meal doesn’t negate all the junk food you consume regularly.
If you find something healthy that you love, eat that. If you find an exercise that you love, do that. We need to all incorporate more happy activities in our lives and not feel guilty about it.
How to Become a Rock Star
I read an anecdote once about a famous rock guitarist. He loved tinkering with his guitar and even if he hadn’t achieved massive fame, it’s likely he would still be playing in a band tinkering with his guitar. It wasn’t the crowds he was chasing, but the everyday work.
When you love what you do, you will have a good outcome. When you hate what you do, does it even matter if you someday achieve the fame and the recognition and the money?
Don’t chase the body you want, chase the exercise you want. Don’t chase the job title you want, chase the everyday activities you would enjoy doing for free.
Why It’s So Hard to Do Fun Things
Sometime when we became adults, we got this idea that we had to become serious. I see this all the time when people are doing “important” things that they hate – like reading Facebook, following the news.
This is doubly true for women. So many women tell me to do voluntary things I don’t want to because “I should.” Like baby showers, crap work, toxic friends. Men don’t have nearly as big a problem at saying “no.” There’s also a huge tsk-tsk-ing when women do things that are fun like taking time for themselves. Men don’t have a problem saying yes to fun things.
I think women have a lot to learn from men in these situations. When men go to baby showers, alcohol is allowed. When the opportunity to volunteer for extra work with no advancement opportunity comes about, men don’t volunteer. Men won’t do things that they hate where they won’t benefit. Women should do the same. There’s nothing wrong with having fun – in fact, it’s necessary and it’s wonderful.
The Urge to Define Ourselves by What We Are Not
So much of dieting focuses on what you can’t eat. Exercising seems to focus on the pain and discipline needed for results. We are not just seeking results but the virtue in achieving them. But there’s no shame in defining ourselves by what we eat, how we prefer to move our bodies, by what brings us joy rather than how tough we are. I love this line from the movie Chocolat:
I think that we can’t go around measuring our goodness by what we don’t do: by what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think we’ve got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include.
The Secret To a Healthier Life
If you love binge eating, as I do, and hate restricting yourself from eating certain foods, maybe intermittent fasting is for you. Or you could try the Olympic swimmer diet – working out so much that you can eat as much as you like and still have a killer bod. Maybe you need a moderate path that involved physical movement. The point is there are many methods that work. Focus on finding a path you love as opposed to forcing yourself into a path you don’t.
If there’s a healthy food you love, focus on incorporating more of those into your diet rather than what you “can’t” eat. Make the healthy thing you love the appetizer and it turns out, you’ll end up eating a delicious craveable healthy food and there will just be less room for the unhealthy. If there’s a physical activity you love, or one that you can start loving if you add friends or music or time to yourself, focus on doing that activity rather than the hot boutique fitness craze.
The Secret To a Wealthier Life
The secret to being frugal is not to deny yourself but to concentrate spending on the things that you love. As an obvious first step, stop paying for stuff you hate. Stop paying for the gym if you hate going to the gym. Don’t give money to people you hate (this largely includes relatives). Ruthlessly reduce anything that’s only ok or that you just do on autopilot.
And then spend extravagantly on things that you love. Focus on travel and then it becomes easier to stop shopping. If your true love is loved ones, it’s easier to start bringing your lunch to work. Focus on getting your company off the ground and it’s not a sacrifice at all to cut cable.
The Secret To a Happier Life
Whatever it is, the secret to being happy and being healthy is to make it consistent. And to make it consistent, think about adding more pleasure instead of adding more pain.
Too often, people are spending time and money on so many things that don’t make them happy. And then they think, well there isn’t any time or money for me to do the things that I want to do.
The problem is not with you. It’s not that you lack willpower – it’s that you shouldn’t use willpower except as a last resort. Lean in to what you love – that’s the secret to health, wealth, and happiness.
Conclusion – The Secret to Health, Wealth, and Happiness
Too often, we want to pat ourselves on our backs for our self-control. But there are no gold stars for misery.
What craveable healthy or frugal habits can you incorporate into your life?