For 1.5 years of my journey I fell victim to myself and the pressure of being everything to everyone. I was in my 20’s, living in an expensive Orange County, CA condo near the beach, was in a more than full time IT job, was in a band and had 2 side web development gigs, all while being a husband and father to 2 kids. I had lost a decent amount of weight but my focus was dwindling. I was being pulled in so many directions. Every day I was juggling everyone else’s needs that I talked myself out of my own. I can vividly remember calling 24 hour fitness and cancelling my gym membership while pacing outside my condo. I hadn’t gone to the gym in weeks and I didn’t see my schedule opening up anytime soon. Even the money from my high end job was going out faster than it was coming in so I thought I was doing my family a favor by canceling the gym.
Putting my needs aside was one of the worst mistakes ever!
For a short time I gave up. I started to gain weight again. I was running strong 18 hours a day serving everyone else but instead of it being a blessing, it was a curse. The lifestyle that was pulling me out of my addictions(to food, nicotine and alcohol) was pulling me right back in. Everyone encounters stress in life and everyone has to have a way to deal with that stress or one day we will collapse. I needed my release. Within days of canceling my gym membership I can remember sitting outside my condo bumming cigarettes off my neo-nazi neighbor(literally was a legit skinhead but that’s another story), I hadn’t smoked in years and if that wasn’t bad enough, I had an alcoholic drink in my hand. I started to have those old negative thoughts come back in. Thoughts like “why do I even wake up each morning”, “There has to be more to life than this”. I started treating my family with less respect and more like they were simply a responsibility. My fuse was getting shorter by the day. This truly is not the life we should be living, we only have one!
I realized clearly that I needed to take care of myself if I was ever going to take care of my family and have been teaching clients of mine that every week for the last 6 years.
The act of having self respect and taking care of our own health and needs goes so much further than ourselves. Our actions will be followed by our family, children especially. Our relationships will be stronger when we ourselves are in a good place.
Our family is our tightest “circle of influence”. Not only are we easily influenced with their actions but they are influenced with ours.
We must realize that our healthy actions will not only get us to our goals and bring back healthy living to ourselves but also show our children the healthy habits needed to NOT follow in our unhealthy influence.
While living with a spouse or partner that doesn’t support your goals is hard (Video on this topic), in many cases our spouse or partner will change their ways over time, especially when you see major results from your actions.
Our commitment might be great. We might need to stay strong in times of temptation , we’ll need to plan better, we may even have to use the word “no” once in a while but our healthy living holds more value in a family environment then just our own waistline. The effort and energy we invest in our own journey can shape the lives of those around us which makes our efforts much more important than we think. Find a way to remind yourself of your goals every single day and train yourself to focus on your goals when your family members (children included) desire or behave in unhealthy ways. You can literally shape the future of those around you.
TO DO: Create two lists today. One is all of your own personal behavior that is not conducive to your goals. This can be things like those daily flavored coffee’s, your choices when eating out, your lack of planning or meal prep, your night snacking, etc. Then create a second list of all the behaviors that your family in general have that need changed. For my family years ago it would have been the multiple “pizza nights” we had each week, spending our weekends sedentary, buying unhealthy snacks for our kids just because they were convenient.
I’d suggest you take the top item from each list and work on those starting NOW. Once you have conquered those two items, move on to the next item from each list and keep going. As you continue to clean up the lifestyle of not only you but your families you’ll likely start noticing additional items that can be added to the list, keep adding and keep working on the top item.
Rarely will anyone respond well with changing every aspect of their life overnight so knowing that true change takes time is important. Working on the top items, one or two at a time will make the transition from mediocre to nearly perfect easier and more attainable.
When you start to see the lifestyle of you and your family changing for the better, let that be motivation to keep improving! Throughout these actions don’t be surprised if you see changes for the better in other areas. Your days are more cheerful, your mood and behavior is better, your relationships flourish, you start to “love” life again. We’ve all heard that old saying, “How can you take care of someone else if you can’t even take care of yourself”. This is undeniably and incredibly true and once you start down this path you will see that life becomes so much more pleasurable for everyone.
Your partner in health,