I would like to dedicate this post to my late mother, who passed away four years ago on the 10th. She was a person who gave of herself to everyone, but made little time for herself. Unfortunately now, she is not here for us. So as I write this post, I find this topic very near and dear to my heart:
For over thirty years, I’ve been an excited member of the fitness industry in some form or fashion. Working out has changed my life, so every day I try to help people understand how they can change theirs. But even If I do that every day, I will never be able to give it what it has given me. Fitness has been such a valuable part of my life that I don’t understand why people make the ultimate sacrifice: to not work out or to fail to take care of themselves. I hear the excuses all the time: "I’m too busy," "I have kids," "I have too much work," or "I’m too far gone." Some of these things I’ve even said myself. At the end of the day, we all seem to miss the fact that we end up sacrificing the thing that ultimately makes all the other things in life work because we "don’t have time for it." We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day to work with; it’s what we do with it that makes the difference. Other people with the same set of obstacles as you somehow find the time to spend time each week focusing on them and making themselves better. They tend to look like super people because of what they get done in a day.
I don’t just write this stuff, I have lived it. When I got my first management job, my body fat was at 10%. Within two years, it had doubled.
This happened because I had stopped doing a lot of the things that were part of my lifestyle before I got this new job. I was only working out sporadically and I was no longer eating every three hours. When I did eat, I was eating mostly fast food because it was convenient. I had given up control of my life, but I blamed it on my job. In reality, I had made a choice. I chose to give up the body that I had worked so hard for. Giving up the time I spent on maintenance and upkeep seemed like the obvious thing to do. It gave me more time to focus on the endless list of things that I had to do at work. By choosing to cut out fitness, not only did I give up my body, I also gave up the mental focus that I usually gained from working out. Working out was the juice that I ran on. It was kind of the juice that made me believe, it made me rise up when things got tough, because I know I could. So it turns out, cutting out fitness meant cutting out the focus, energy, and drive that I needed in other aspects of my personal and work life to do what I needed to do and to go forward. This was my ultimate sacrifice. Trust me it was not worth it.
I tell you this story because it may not seem like we are making this ultimate sacrifice initially, but when we don’t take care of ourselves in order to take care of everybody and everything else, everyone loses. Most of the time, this sacrifice is unneeded. For example, kids are often a big reason people quit working out, missing the point that most kids like having the cool in-shape parents. It's even better when they get to go to the gym with you. And who doesn’t want the grandparent that has the energy, stamina, and the strength to keep up with the grandkids? Or the highly productive employee that has the energy and the focus to get the job done, no matter what? Outside of all of that, sometimes it’s just nice to be able to look in the mirror and like what you see, or to put on clothes and be happy with the way they fit. No matter how we rationalize it, most of us would like to look young and fit and feel good doing all of these things for as long as we can. Instead, we often sacrifice ourselves.
Isn't it time to start allotting time to take care of you?
My hope is that you will see how making an investment in yourself will pay off, and that there is no more need to sacrifice you. You can have it all. Make sure that you are working at optimum so that you can live life and perform at optimum. Stop just trying to check off the boxes of life, moving from one thing to the next. I want to see you living your life at its fullest—whatever that means for you. If you don’t take care of you first, the rest may happen, but it won’t happen at optimum. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about being selfish—I just want to make sure that you never forget to include yourself as part of the equation.
Sometimes we need help coming up with a plan that will help us fit everything into the day and still have time for ourselves. It may just take another set of eyes to find the wasted time in your day. Often, when someone else looks at your day, they can help you to fit more in and have more free time too. Keep an open mind—it may not feel OK at first, but just stay with it. The people around you will support you, and should respect what you’re trying to do. Who knows? You may influence them to take the leap and make a change also.