Let me start by saying that I am all about helping others.
It’s why I have dedicated my life to helping people take control of their fitness and love the lives they have built.
But there is a difference between helping others and putting others first.
When you put others first, you put yourself last. And I say last because if you’re someone who always puts others first, then there will be a constant stream of people who will be in need of your service.
You will give and give and give, and never have time for you.
How "Other's First" Leads to Poor Health
Let’s look at a few common examples that show just how destructive the “others first” philosophy can be.
One that I hear all the time is from moms who, in an attempt to keep everyone in the house happy, will cook what their kids want vs what they want/need.
They have the best intentions, but this leads to a few negatives:
1) The mom, who needs to eat differently to improve her health, feels overwhelmed by the situation. She doesn’t want to have to cook two meals, but doesn’t want to let down her kids.
2) The kids are learning bad eating habits. They are learning that food choices should be made around what they WANT to eat vs what is good for them to eat.
3) The kids then see Mom as the person who will give them whatever they want, leading to more requests and less time for Mom.
As you can see, “others first” is causing harm to all involved in this situation. The alternative approach is what we might call a “health first” approach: Mom cooks what she feels is best for her and the family. .
The kids will complain for a while, but taste buds adjust, and soon the family is not only eating better, but Mom is feeling better and is not seen as the family servant.
Let’s look at another scenario...the person who works too much.
They justify to themselves that work is important and that without money, they or their family will not have what they need, so they forgo their own health so that they can work longer and harder.
Here are just a few reasons why this too results in negative outcomes:
1) Overworking is actually counterproductive. The more you work and the more stressed you are, the less your brain is able to function, so you do less in the same amount of time.
2) The older you get, the harder it is to turn back the clock on your body and health. People who wait for retirement to start taking care of themselves are often hit with the harsh realization of how far they have to go to get back into shape.
3) Overworking is not just bad for your health...it’s bad for your relationships. You start losing touch with the very people who you are trying to support.
Again, “others first” has failed and in a big way. So what would a “health first” approach look like?
Start with dedicating time every day for the big three of health: exercise, diet, and mindfulness. And this does not have to take that much time. Just 30 minutes of exercise, 15 minutes of mindfulness, and some prep time on the weekend and you can set yourself up for success.
And like I said, if you really care about financial gain, you would be doing these things because healthy people make more money!
How to Take a "Health First" Approach
The first step in moving toward a “health first” approach is to work though your own limiting beliefs around self-care.
Some people think it is selfish. Some people think it is a waste of time. Some people have not really considered it an option.
Whatever the reason, you have to believe that it is good and right to care for yourself first. Because if you cannot take care of yourself, how can you be expected to care for another?
Once you get to a place mentally to start a “health first” approach, it’s time to set aside time for yourself.
Here are the 5 things that I would consider part of your self-care plan:
There are two types of exercise to incorporate during the week: low intensity and high intensity.
Low intensity includes things like walking or working around the house.
High intensity is your structured strength training or cardio workouts.
2) Meal planning and prep
Taking time each week to think through your plan for the week is huge. We usually eat similar things for breakfast, lunch, and snack, so those are easily planned.
Dinner can be trickier, but I recommend picking 3-4 meals that you know you and your family will enjoy and are healthy and make those weekly staples.
3) Rest / Sleep
Getting enough sleep is critical for overall health. You ideally should be getting between 7 and 9 hours per night.
But even if you are not ready to change your sleep routine, giving yourself time to just relax is very important for your short term and long term health.
Quieting your mind is one of the most powerful health tools you have. It not only makes you a better person, but it makes life feel easier and lighter. It cuts through stress and allows you to be present in your life.
Mindfulness could mean mediation, yoga, or just spending time in nature.
Doing things you love and spending time interacting with friends is another great way to support your mental and physical health. When we take time to have fun, other parts of our life feel more meaningful too.
Each of these is best to incorporate daily, but if you are starting from scratch, even adding just one of these would be good.
While helping others is great, having an “others first” mentality will not only hurt you, it will actually end up hurting the people you are trying to help.
Because when you don’t take care of yourself, you are not able to be your best self. And when we are not at our best and try to support others, we can actually end up making things worse.
We bring low energy, resentment, or frustration instead of patience, love, and understanding.
2) Meal planning and prep
3) Rest / sleep
When you incorporate these things into your life, not only will you feel better, but you will have more to give to others.
And if you need help as you start to create your self-care plan, check out our 28-Day Kickstart Program.
This program is designed to help people start putting themselves and their health first again, and with the holidays around the corner, there has never been a more important time to take a “health first” approach.
In this program you will get:
- How to prevent morning stiffness
- Full fitness and goals assessment
- Personalized fitness coaching
- 1-on-1 success coaching (nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle)
So, if you are ready to make a meaningful change in your life and start taking care of yourself so that you have more to give to others, click here to learn more and take back control of your health and fitness today!
Mint Condition Fitness is the leading fitness coaching studio for men and women over 45 to lose weight, build strength, and stay active for life.