Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it. --Hardy D. Jackson
But you must also listen to yourself to know what it is your heart needs to be in, and then have the courage and commitment to move towards that.
Every day, we are pulled in so many different directions; from your kids to your boss, the pulling rarely ceases. Sometimes I daydream about what it would be like to throw in the towel for a week and hibernate until I got some away time and recharged my batteries.
It’s mentally draining. It can suck your lifeblood and leave absolutely no time for anything else. Forget working out, eating healthy or even just sitting down to read a book that interests you. Basically, there is no time or energy left for putting your needs into the equation.
I’m going to cut straight to the chase without sugar fluffing reality: life isn’t easy but we have to find ways to adapt and be happy. It all comes down to these THREE words: putting yourself first.
Putting Yourself First
You are an actual being that needs to be loved with great care, just like everyone else. You deserve to be loved as equally as you love others. You may say, “but I’m a caretaker, an employee, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend.” And I’ll reply, “you can be all these things and still be your own self.” In fact, if you’ve lost yourself in the hustle and bustle of caretaking for others, then you must make it your mission to go out, hunt yourself down and care for yourself like never before.
I can say from personal experience that the ONLY way I was able to lose 40 pounds, to be an author for Muscle & Strength, to become a transformation story for an international ad campaign, to make it to the finals of NBC’s Biggest Loser trainer auditions, to begin my own company and then start another one that is touching people’s lives in a healthy way, to be happy with myself, was and still is by putting myself first.
The power to do this is within each of us. It took a lot of practice to learn how to put myself first. For so long, I was putting myself last and that’s how my life began spiraling downward. It wasn’t until I realized I had a choice, that I made the choice to begin moving forward healthfully.
We’re all different people in this world and we all play different parts. What we have in common is the ability to feel, the ability to move mountains and the ability to choose how we will live our lives. If you want to move forward towards a healthy body and mind (and yes, the two most definitely connect) then you must begin moving in that direction and here’s how.
You have a choice. The choice is yours to make: will you go out, hunt her down and do what you need to do to regain your happiness or will you continue serving everyone else but yourself.
Prioritize yourself into the equation. You wake up and make your daily to do list which is usually 20 items long, and most of them are centered around other people or things, not you. I say put yourself first on the list. This will be a challenging change to grasp at first, but everything mastered takes practice.
Part of being healthy is working out physically. So put your workout first thing on your list. Get your workout in, because when you’re finished with putting you first for the day, you’re going to feel on top of the world, like you can conquer anything before you and you will. You will also feel a sense of empowerment and self love for giving yourself the time and energy before you gave anything else that energy that you needed for you to be happy. Then, you’ll be able to give more to other things and people.
Making the time work for you. To be prepared, you must prepare. You hear it all the time: your friend or inspiration announces on a Sunday night on Facebook that she’s prepping her weekly meals and you think, “pssshhhh, if I only have the time.” Well, you do. Those other people are “making the time.” They have figured out HOW to make health and themselves a priority.
This may be a hard pill to swallow, but have you figured out yet that the source of your unhappiness centers not on everyone and everything you’re caring for, but instead...you. Three years ago, I was lying on the floor of my apartment listening to Sarah Mclaughlin. I was looking at pictures from New Year's Eve and I just fell apart. I laid back on the ground and began sobbing.
After 5 minutes of balling my eyes out, I got up and went into the bathroom, leaned over the sink and into the mirror and saw and realized two things: I didn’t know whose sad, green eyes I was looking into and that after that moment of me vs. me, I realized: I have a Choice. It dawned on me so hard I just stood there looking into my eyes until they opened wide, I stood up tall and was just shell shocked. I said it again to myself, “I have a choice…” And then I thought of my past and my future and what I wanted for myself in my life and thought, “I always have had a choice and I always will.” The choice was mine for the past 2 years I let my body and self go. I didn’t know who I was anymore and that was the result of me letting go and that was a choice. Everything we do is a choice and every choice has an action and every action has a reaction and over time it builds up. It doesn’t happen over night but it happens, slowly and then one day you realize what you have created from your choices. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes bad…
8 Tips For Health and Happiness
So let’s get down to business here in this final section. If you want to be happy, healthy and love what you’re doing and giving to the world, then you must choose to do so.
Tip #1 - Listen To Your Heart
“Be faithful to that which exists within yourself.” - Andre Gide
Listen to your needs, your desires, to what your heart is telling you. If you are out of balance, if you feel something isn’t right, if you know you are not giving yourself enough, if you know you want to lead a healthy life but don’t know why you haven’t started or can’t stick to it, this is your heart telling you you’re not going down the path it honestly wants.
So what do you do, how do you answer these feelings and questions…you start. Listen, then act.
Tip #2 - Find Your Purpose
Write down what you want for yourself. Whatever it is, write it down.
Tip #3 - Outline The Path To Your Success
Write down the steps it will take, even if it requires a day by day analysis, to get to each desire you have. You can also call these goals. Don’t finish writing until you have thought about them all. You may even add an additional desire after thinking about it more.
Tip #4 - Prepare Like You Mean It
This is yours. You are in this game. Prepare yourself in the way you know YOU need to so that you can take that first step.
Maybe it’s planning your meals so that you can be on point with a healthy diet. Then tell your family, or write down on your Sunday to do list, that you will be prepping your meals from 4-5pm and need to do your shopping at 2pm to hit this deadline. Tell them all, and tell yourself you will do it. It’s a date.
Tip #5 - Re-ignite Your Motivation Daily
Bring energy into the game and do what you have to do to keep that energy burning high. Never stop finding ways to keep your training and diet motivation at the ceiling. Remember your purpose, why are you doing this and what is it in turn doing for you….
Tip #6 - Balance Is Everything
Remember that if all of your energy is going away from you and nothing is coming back, you will not be happy. Balance is everything in life. Yin/Yang, Sun/Moon, Positive/Negative, Light/Dark... Without one, there cannot be another. If you are always giving and not giving back to yourself, there is and always will be something missing.
Seek Balance and you will find balance.
Tip #7 - Remember That You Are Important
Your happiness is important. You are important. Yes, you are. Remember to cut yourself slack. You don’t need anyone else to tell you that it’s ok to put yourself first…because it just is. It’s that way because it’s what you have to do to be happy. This is more important than anything else, now and forever.
Let’s twist this in favor of others and take the burden off you. If you are unhappy, you will be less likely to joyfully do other things for people. If you are happy, then you will have more heart, soul and energy to give to other things and people.
Tip #8 - Put Yourself First
Stop living for other things and other people. Live for You. Don’t ever forget the power, strength and passion you have. Sometimes it’ll be buried by all the fog of the day to day, but don’t ever stop unburying or moving towards the path you know you must travel.
OMG.. This is what i was looking for for years, putting people first has hurt me like shit and i am so grateful for " the 8 tips" because am so going for it.. I am already seeing myself on the other side of the bridge because am so crossing it. Thank you
So true as a single mum of two I really need this and this will no doubt be a great guide to start me on loving n being true to myself
Wow, this article is great...This is what I needed... I always put everyone else first...I really need to put myself first to be happy..Thank you for this article Ashley....!!!!
Omg I just had a moment! Everything you said was right on point! Thank you! I feel so refreshed..
Wow is all I can say! I have found answers I have been searching for for years in this article! I wonder how much $ I could have saved on therapy had I read this years ago!! Lol. But seriously, I have been leaving myself out of the equation. Thank you for writing this Ashley!