The promise of happiness and contentment can feel very allusive, yet it can be found in the one thing that many people resist: regular exercise and healthy habits. Think about it, of all the people you know who is the most upbeat, energetic and content?

I have found they are primarily the ones that feel good physically and emotionally because they take care of themselves and feel invigorated and fantastic. These are the ones who have gained confidence and self esteem and understand that it is alright to put themselves first. They aren’t selfish. They know when they take care of themselves there is more energy and ability to give to others, and they can do it without feeling they are giving anything up. When you take care of your own needs first, you feel rejuvenated and can more fully give to others in your work or personal life and reap greater pleasure in doing so.

Is this a conundrum for you? On the one hand you like how that all sounds but on the other hand it may seem too difficult to change what you are doing or get started with an exercise routine. That is understandable if you have been resisting it for a long time or if you have felt too stuck or lethargic to consider it. So ask yourself this: are you happy with how you feel? Do you want to feel better and have more positive, uplifting days than you have now? It really is possible.

The Holy Grail to fully enjoying life doesn’t have to be a tortuous hike on a winding and formidable path to health and well being. It can be just the opposite. It can seem more like a stroll by the river, because you can start wherever it feels best to you and do what you enjoy most. The key is consistency and stretching yourself just a bit to explore your abilities and options. Very quickly you will discover that the more you do, the more you can and want to do because it feels good to move, eat well, get enough sleep and reduce your stress level.

Everyone is different as to what works for them, so pay attention to what you are feeling when you consider your options. If you are feeling that what you are doing isn’t enough, focus instead on what your body is telling you. If you feel that more is better, consider that doing too much too quickly often leads to injuries, frustration and giving up. Only you know how much you really can do and how hard you can push yourself. It isn’t a race when you first start a new healthy habit, it is a behavioral change that takes time to fully adapt and incorporate into your lifestyle.

What is different about having a healthy lifestyle that feels wonderful as opposed to doing a diet or intense program is the realization that the focus is creating a healthier way of living and not a one-time or short-term event that is focused on achieving a set goal. When you focus on the goal and stop the new behavior once it is reached, you will soon lose what you gained from the program. That is frustrating, disappointing and impacts your self esteem and your happiness. Many of us have experienced this. It is so hard to get a taste of feeling better about ourselves and our bodies only to lose it, especially if doing it in the first place felt like a lot of effort.

This time around, allow yourself time to ease into a consistent healthy routine at a pace you can handle. You don’t have to try to do it all at once. Start off moving your body, then introduce healthier foods and later add in some quiet time. Or do the reverse. Listen to what you really need to do first. Or if you are already active and eat well, see if you need more sleep, relaxation, fun or personal time. Soon you will get a taste of how good you can really feel. You may surprise yourself and feel happier than you have felt in a long time.

Author's Bio: 

Alice Greene, founder of Feel Your Personal Best, is a Healthy Lifestyle Coach, who has helped many people feel great. Alice is co-host of Living Your Personal Best radio show. She provides a unique perspective on how to succeed at making lifestyle changes that facilitate making all your life dreams come true. Sign up for her free report, "9 Life-Changing Secrets Every Woman Must Know" and confirm what you already know deep in your soul to be true. Ignite something in you that changes your perception of yourself and gives you permission to put self care on equal par with the other priorities in your day and week. To receive your free copy, visit .