Self-care is not selfish.
I believe that the foundation to a thriving and joyful life is health. Without it, we cannot excel at all of the roles we play on a daily basis – a partner, a parent, a CEO, a friend, or any other title we may hold. Optimal health is necessary to not only feel well and look good, but to have the energy and focus to be the person we want to be. Health is more than just diet and exercise. Yes, it includes these things, but it also encompasses mindset, spirituality, and relationships… with ourselves and with others. Without a strong foundation of health, the things that are important to us in life are more likely to fall apart when encountering outside resistance. Building a body, mind, and soul that is strong, resilient, and thriving can withstand whatever life throws our way.
This may ruffle some feathers, but… I don’t believe in balance. I think we have fooled ourselves into believing balance is possible while trying to be successful in life. The reality is, to exceed at anything, it takes 100% effort… not a fraction of effort. The result you get is solely dependent on the effort you put forth. Yes, focus and attention changes to different areas of life from time to time, depending on what our priority is at the time, but the idea of balancing everything while being your best at anything is an unattainable goal in my opinion. I feel that we do ourselves a disservice by trying to achieve “balance” because when we half-ass everything, we become mediocre at everything. It gives us an excuse to not live up to our full potential, because we do things that don’t really serve our purpose… often times these behaviors are a result of people pleasing, or an attempt to just be “normal”. When we never really accomplish things that are important to us because we’re spreading our attention to other distractions, it leaves us with a feeling of “never enough” because deep down we know we’re not doing anything at our best. This doesn’t mean that we neglect our responsibilities, and it doesn’t mean we strive for perfection either… as there is no such thing as perfect. It’s about being “enough” while pursuing more. It’s about living confidently in who we are and where we’ve been, while knowing we can continue to improve ourselves… move to the next level. Living this way doesn’t have to be restrictive or difficult. Instead it’s making intentional decisions that align with our purpose or goal, as opposed to doing something because it’s what we’ve always done… or because it’s what everyone else is doing. It’s about identifying how we want to show up in life, and then being that person.
So, what does this mean? It means to have the life you truly want, you’re going to have to take the actions necessary to achieve it – day in and day out. I know this is not the “quick fix” approach that is sold by most people, but I’m here to be honest about what it takes. It takes work. It takes mindfulness. It takes finding your purpose… your why. It takes shifting your mindset from scarcity to abundance. By doing this you begin acting out of intention, instead of reacting to your surroundings. It puts you in the driver’s seat of your life. It takes valuing yourself enough to believe that you, and your health, are worth the effort that it takes to live your best life. When you begin to truly value yourself it takes the act of willpower out of the equation. Instead, it makes the actions necessary to be healthy something you enjoy doing. Think about it… if you love someone, such as your kids or spouse, you want to do the things necessary to take care of them. It’s not a chore or a burden… it’s something that brings your heart joy. To serve them. To love them. To provide them with everything they need to thrive. But, when you do things for someone that you don’t like or someone you don’t value or deem worthy of your time and attention… you may do the work for a while out of obligation, because you’re “supposed” to do it, but eventually you resent those actions, and you stop doing them. If you don’t value yourself, you will give up long before you ever reach your goal… the key to lasting change is the shift in mindset BEFORE you achieve your goal. It’s not something that you earn afterwards. This can be challenging to do, but it is a critical component. I believe because most people don’t value themselves enough, this is the reason for the dieting roller coaster that is so common. Yes, we all tend to think highly of ourselves in certain ways, but we all struggle in certain areas, and those are the areas where we don’t feel “enough”… somewhere along the line we were told that we were not enough, and poor habits were developed as a way to cope in an attempt to comfort us or make us feel like we’re in control… but often times these habits are controlling us. By changing the inner dialogue we have, we are able to establish new habits that can change our lives. The reality is the only control we have in life is our actions, our thoughts, and our attitude. So, those are the things where we can take charge… Change of any kind is hard. Even when it’s good change. It’s hard to be consistent long enough to establish those changes as permanent habits. Without the foundation of worthiness for the work, the energy and willpower we expend will run out before we see the end result.
I believe one of the most important decisions we can make on a daily basis is what we put on our plate. A healthy (and lean) body is dependent more than just Calories in vs Calories out. Yes, Calories count. Macros count. But, for true health it goes way beyond numbers. Did you know that every organ system in your body is constantly in a state of removing old, damaged cells, and replacing them with new cells? Some of these organ systems & tissues have a very fast turnover rate, while others are slower to die off and regenerate, but it’s estimated that every 7 years every cell in our body will have died off and regenerated… this means that we have the potential to create a completely different body than we have today. How are these new cells produced? From our diet. The food we eat is broken down into molecules for our bodies to use as energy, hormones, as well as tissue repair… we literally are what we eat. The body we build is completely dependent on the materials we use to build it. Food is a signal to our body… not just something to fill our bellies when it’s growling, or to comfort us. Yes, food is pleasurable… as it should be! It’s delicious! Food also stimulates hormone responses in our bodies that affect everything from our mood, our energy, our sleep, and more. Food can be satisfying as well as serving a purpose for our health, simultaneously. This doesn’t mean that we need to strive for perfection, it simply means that when we do eat something purely for pleasure that doesn’t have a health benefit, we simply make an #IntentionalIndulgence… this simply means that we choose it consciously, we savor it, and we don’t feel guilt about it… this practice gives us the power to enjoy a healthy body, healthy life, and healthy relationship with food. A healthy body and enjoyment of life are not mutually exclusive. They are one in the same.
I believe that life should not revolve around a gym schedule. It is not necessary to spend hours in the gym working out to have a strong, active, attractive, and healthy body. Yes, it requires work. There are no shortcuts, but for workouts, my philosophy is work smarter… not longer. This means hit the appropriate intensity to stimulate a physiological response, and then rest, recover, and then spend time doing the things that feed our souls and make us happy.
I believe that “play” is important. We need to do things in life that take us out of our comfort zone from time to time… to challenge our minds and bodies. Otherwise we become stagnant and unsatisfied with life. It feels as though we’re beyond our prime… that life has already peaked, and we’re on the down slide. This can lead to resentment of other areas of our lives – work, relationships, the day to day…. we start to look to outside sources for our happiness, but the reality is… we aren’t being the person that makes us happy. We aren’t living up to our full potential. We are playing it safe, and by doing so, we are missing out on experiences that help us become better. Instead we have to be intentional about creating a fulfilling and purposeful life. I believe that we should always be learning, always challenge ourselves to expand beyond what we believe we are capable of… the only thing holding us back from the life we want, is us.
It is possible to live a healthy life consistently. Everyday we have a choice as to how we feel, how our lives will be, how we show up in this world, and who we become. We can be the status quo – unhealthy, mundane, unsatisfied, lethargic, etc… or we can be healthy, happy, fulfilled, energetic, loving and more. The life we have is 100% dependent on the actions we take.
The choice is up to you. Don’t just exist in this life… THRIVE.