Be Selfish

Are you selfish?

What was your answer? You said no, didn’t you? Nobody wants to be known as the selfish one. Nobody wants a reputation as a taker. For the next 900 words or so, be selfish.

Here. Let me ease your mind a bit. Instead of thinking "selfish," think "self-care." Think about taking care of you so you can take care of others. Does that help?

Sometime between 1806 and 1861, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote a sonnet that starts out, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.” One hundred and fifty years later, the intensity of that love illustrates how we should take care of ourselves, body, soul, and spirit. This topic, intense self-care, is of library proportion, so we are going to boil it down to just a few points.

  1. You can’t fool your body
  2. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are healthy habits
  3. Planning to plan is just a plan
  4. Approach with caution, but at least approach

You can’t fool your body. Your body knows what it needs. Sleep. Exercise. Water. Food. We often rationalize as these thoughts stream through our minds. We join a gym, buy flashy exercise clothes and designer shoes, but “My unused membership card has been lost for months.” We can say we exercise. “Didn’t I walk to the furthest coffee station six times today?” We can say we eat right. “Pizzas have a variety of meats and veggies – and mozzarella is low fat. Everyone knows that!” We can say we get enough sleep. “I had a power nap between the evening news and NCIS.”

We can’t fool our bodies. They know what they need. If you are no longer thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Don’t wait for thirst before you drink water. Don’t wait for exhaustion before you finally sleep. Don’t wait until you’re ready to gnaw on the furniture before you feed your body. Don’t wait until you’re going to crack before you ask for help. Don’t wait until your muscle tone is indistinguishable from other flesh before you tone up. Don’t wait until launching a set of stairs sends your cardio system into chaos before you decide to get off the couch and exercise.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are healthy habits. If you think you need 21 days to form a new habit, you have skewed thinking. Every day you do that new thing is a day you do that new thing. You don’t need 21 days. You need to start. Today would be a good day for that. Pick one thing.

Is it sleep? Set up your favorite shows to be recorded, and Go. To. Bed. Be the 9-year old for a change. Put yourself to bed so you get more sleep. Eight hours is optimum, but make up your mind to get seven or maybe 6.75 to start.

Is it exercise? Go now to your closet. Do not pass go. Do not collect anything on the way. Find your shoes, your socks, your workout clothes with the hang tags that say “You can do this!” Now, will you work out at home or the gym? Decide because a delayed decision is still a decision. Right? And look where that mindset has gotten you so far. “It’s gotten me clothes that are still new,” you might say. Well, there’s that.

Is it drinking more water? A good rule of thumb is one ounce for every two pounds of your body weight. So, divide your weight in half – and drink up. I don’t know about you, but I get cold when I drink cold water so I often drink hot water and put lemon slices in it. Your skin will thank you and so will your joints and muscles. Water is your friend. Everyone needs more friends.

Is it eating a healthy diet? Clean eating is all the rage, right? I could advocate for clean eating, all natural, sans chemical processing. As a first step, though, eliminate junk food and feed your body fruits, veggies, and lean protein. If you need a definition of junk food, think of it as a consumable product that bears little resemblance to the natural item it came from. How close to a potato is a chip? We live in America. There is food on every corner and in every place where fuel is found. When was the last time you went to fill your car with gas and weren’t at least tempted to pick up a bag of chips or super-sized candy bar? You know they get you bonus points on your rewards card!

Planning to plan is just a plan. You do it for your business all the time. You use it to keep your family on schedule. For work and home you don’t just write a plan then do nothing with it. You plan, you act, you do. Write your plan and stick it on your mirror, your TV, your fridge. Make a promise to yourself. Make a promise to your significant other. Make a promise where people can see it and hold you accountable. Not ready for that? Planning to plan is just a plan.

Approach with caution, but at least approach. Maybe all this sounds good. Maybe it even sounds appealing. What happens many times is that someone decides they need to jump into everything at once, like a cannonball. Have you ever seen the effects of a cannonball when it hits? OK, I’m talking about the movies, but you know what I mean. Even when you know you need to get more sleep, exercise, drink water, and eat healthier, don’t become so overzealous that you hit the ground running and only add more stress to your life. Approach with caution, but do approach.

Self-care says "I’m worth it. I don’t want to get up in the morning and feel like a slug. I don’t want to stall when getting out of the chair because my joints want to go one way when I need to go the other. Self-care says I was only issued one body at birth and I only have one chance to keep it going till the race is over." Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is essential.

Live a balanced life - learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work every day some. – Robert Fulghum in All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten