What sounds better: an ice cream brownie sundae or a few carrot and celery sticks? We all know what we want to choose, but what happens when the sundae is gone? Short-term happiness often comes at the expense of long-term joy.

What sounds better: an ice cream brownie sundae or a few carrot and celery sticks? Your favorite adult beverage or a glass of water?

How about this one: an hour working your legs with heavy squats, lunges and deadlifts or an hour on the couch watching your favorite TV show?

They seem like pretty obvious choices, and they are, if you consider only the immediate satisfaction each selection gives you.

A sundae (or some other favorite dessert) would surely taste better than celery sticks. A glass of water can’t compare to a frosted mug of beer or a glass of chardonnay. And leg day at the gym, if done with the required intensity, is about as pleasant as a root canal.

But what happens when the sundae is gone? When the night of drinking is over? When the TV show ends?

Unfortunately, what happens is the “happiness” that those things bring us disappears as quickly as they do. There are no long-term benefits, no ongoing satisfaction, no lasting “joy.”

That’s why you may want to consider the other options the next time you’re faced with the decision.

Carrots, celery and other vegetables combined with fruit, lean protein and healthy fats energize, repair and nourish your body. A healthy diet helps ward off illness and disease. Talk about long-term benefits!

Other than breathing, drinking water is arguably the single healthiest thing you can do for your body. How important is it? Consider that the average human can survive weeks and possibly months without food, but could only survive three to five days without water, and then you get a better understanding of how desperately we need water.

And the leg workout, combined with other regular resistance and cardiovascular exercise builds strength, endurance and flexibility. More importantly, exercise enables you to physically do what you want to do. And like the healthy diet, exercise can lessen the likelihood of illness by lowering your resting heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

So, with all that knowledge, why would anyone choose short-term satisfaction over long-term benefits? Two reasons:

1. They are physically and emotionally “addicted” to the short-term pleasures. That’s why some people don’t just have one sundae; they regularly consume one unhealthy meal after another. That’s why some people don’t stop at one drink or one night of drinking, but do it night after night. That’s why some people never leave the couch and the TV remote. Their lives are dependent on constantly finding the next short-term pleasure.

2. They are too lazy or too scared to change. These are the people who stay in their comfort zone and never become more evolved physically, intellectually or emotionally.

Does the person who lives a healthy life never have dessert or drink a beer or watch TV? Of course not. They enjoy a good time as much as the next person. But the healthy person does not let those occasional pleasures control his or her life. More often than not, they choose long-term joy over fleeting happiness. Not because they don’t enjoy a sundae or a drink, but because they know there are pleasures and rewards in life far more satisfying than the taste of ice cream and beer.

Frank Shelton is a certified fitness trainer and owner of The Village Gym. He can be reached at (302) 376-3060 or thevillagegym@aol.com.