Putting yourself first isn’t being selfish
What this article is about
In today’s busy, over-worked and under-rested society, the mere thought of doing things for yourself can, for some, bring out thoughts of selfishness. This can create needless feelings of stress anxiety.
Whilst it’s important to make time for loved ones, putting yourself first should be one of your main priorities, especially if health and longevity are things you value.
Why you need to put yourself first
The phrase “fit your own oxygen mask first” is what you hear on all aeroplane safety briefings. Implying that if you look after others first, then you are putting yourself at risk.
And the same rule applies in our daily lives, not just when departing the runway.
People often prioritise family first, which I completely understand. Time is precious and there is nothing closer to home than family. Work or occupation usually follows, which leaves looking after yourself coming dead-last.
But is that really the right order of priorities?
What about if I said self > family > work?
Is that really being selfish? I don’t believe it is, and here’s why: if you can’t look after your family, then who will? Let that sink in for one minute. If you’re not there, maybe due to illness or poor health, who is going to look after your loved ones?
“I don’t have time” is one of the biggest excuses people make when it comes to exercise. I’m calling it an excuse because there is always time.
If you don’t believe me, just try saying “it’s not a priority” and see if that feels any different.
Whilst we all have the same 24 hours in a day, it’s how we choose to spend those 24 hours that makes all the difference.
According to research conducted by the Sleep Council, the majority of people in the UK (52%) sleep between 6-8 hours. 8% of the population sleep more than 8 hours, with the final 40% having less than 6.
So, with this data, I can surmise that it’s likely that you will have around 16 hours of your day “awake”.
Now, taking into account the average working week of 40 hours means the majority of employees work 8 hours a day, and I’ll give a commute time of 30 mins each way which leaves 7 hours of your day left over.
Depending on whether you’re a glass-half-full or half-empty type of person, this is either a ‘lot of time’, or ‘not much’. Either way, there is the time in the day in which you can perform some form of activity or exercise.
And here’s why you should:
In 2018, a 15-year-long study was released which looked at the effects of replacing sedentary time with light-intensity physical activity or moderate-vigorous physical activity on all-cause-mortality and cardiovascular disease (CVD )mortality.
The findings were that replacing 30 minutes/day of sedentary time with light-intensity physical activity was associated with a significant reduction in all-cause mortality risk and CVD mortality risk. What’s more, replacing 10 minutes of sedentary time with moderate-vigorous physical activity was associated with a reduction in CVD mortality risk
In short, replacing 30 minutes of sitting down watching TV in the evening with some form of light activity such as walking shows a significant reduction in your risk of dying.
If you spend the majority of your day sat down at a desk at work, take note.
Who takes priority?
As I alluded to in the first part of this article, you need to make you a priority. Which means giving yourself time to do the things necessary to benefit you and your health.
If weight loss is a goal, then you’re going to have to create and maintain an energy deficit. This needs to be by a reduction of calories (food and drink), an increase in energy expenditure (walking, exercise), or both.
And it’s the consistency over time that will bring about the results.
Monday-Friday dieting won’t cut it if your weekend is filled with alcohol and takeaways.
Skipping breakfast and eating salads for lunch won’t help if you’re stuffing your face with biscuits and crisps in the evening.
Doing an hour’s cardio 5 days-a-week won’t cut either if you reward yourself afterwards with something ‘naughty’.
Find a way that works for you, whether this be tracking your intake by using an app like MyfitnessPal, or, by calorie counting using the information on food labels. Either way, find a way that you can consistently stick to, then be patient.
Care less about what others think
Action offends the inactive. This is one thing I learned around 6-7 years ago when I first started to really take note of my calories. It was when I was still working as a police officer and, after spending a lot of time just ‘spinning my wheels’ in the gym, I decided that if I wanted to get results, I needed to take action.
I started to train more regularly which meant going from sporadic bursts in the gym to a regular 5 sessions a week. I also started to prepare meals to take to work – this alone raised a few eyebrows and brought about a lot of ‘mocking’.
What people couldn’t understand is that I knew what I wanted to achieve. I wasn’t happy with the way I looked and knew that the only way I could change that was to change what I did. This meant that I ditched the habitual cans of beer or glass of wine in the evening, ate fewer takeaways and didn’t always join in on the team takeaways at work.
“Boring”, “miserable” or “sad”; whatever the chosen insult was that day didn’t throw me off course. I knew that I could eat those foods if I wanted to without any need for justification. But my goals were fixed and I didn’t feel that I wanted to sacrifice a week’s hard work for the sake of 30 minutes’ gratification.
My colleagues didn’t want me to succeed, because it made them feel bad in the fact that they weren’t doing anything about it, but probably needed to even more than I did.
“I made them especially”
“Just one won’t do any harm”
“You need a bit of meat on you”
Are all phrases people use in order to get people to comply, especially in the workplace.
You do not have to eat cakes or food that people have brought into work. They didn’t make them for you, let me make that clear. (Well, unless you asked for them to, in which case declining would be rude!)
The fact is people who often bring cakes into work like eating cakes. They enjoy baking, but they enjoy eating them even more. And while it’s quite easy to feel guilty about consuming such foods alone, by sharing the ‘guilt’ with others, it makes that guilt far easier to manage. So, if the office baker persists with the whole “I made them for you” approach, just reply “Can I just have the money next time?”, I guarantee they won’t ask you again!
Being active is the simplest and most effective way to have a healthier future. It reduces the risk of disease and premature death in adults and can also help to improve cardiovascular health and fitness.
Whilst it’s very easy for us to fill time in our day with non-urgent activities, it’s just as easy to make time for the things that will benefit us in the long term. If having a long and healthy life is a priority, then it’s important that you ring-fence and prioritise time in the day for the things that will make a difference.
In short: fewer box-sets, more exercise.
If you feel ready, you’re committed to change and you want to achieve a set of results you never though would ever be possible, head on over and apply for our #Leanwithalife The 12 Week Online Coaching Programme.
If you’re a little unsure but still feel like you need a helping hand and some guidance to get you started on your transformation journey, head on over and start our LeanWithALife FREE 7-day trial.
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