In my early 20s, I was a divorced mom with two young boys. I was just beginning my self-improvement education and read that single moms should make themselves a priority. I remember telling my own mom about this.
She grew up during the Great Depression, eating only what was grown in her backyard and going without shoes during the summer because they could only afford one new pair at the beginning of the school year.
“Mom, I have to make myself a priority. My needs are important. If I take care of myself my kids will be happier.”
This message didn’t resonate with my mom, and it must not have resonated with me either. I practiced for a few years but with a new husband and three more kids, I was on the back burner again.
What did that get me?
Rheumatoid arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s disease, liver disease, insulin-dependent diabetes, and morbid obesity. Now I’m in remission from all of them. But having weight loss surgery was only the beginning. To maintain and even continue to improve my health, I choose to make myself a priority. Am I always great at it? Ummm, no. But I practice, everyday.
How about you?
On the list of things you HAVE to do today, are you in the top 5?
And I don’t mean…
“Sure, I plan on exercising at some point,” or “If everything else gets done I might read for a while.”
I’m asking if you have specific things listed as priorities to take care of yourself today.
What are your boundaries around those priorities?
Have you practiced what you’ll do or say if your boundaries are challenged?
Boundary challenge #1:
Tuesday, 6 a.m. – planning my day.
Me: “I’ll workout tonight between 6-8 p.m. while my daughter’s at dance class.”
Tuesday, 5:30 p.m. – getting dressed for my workout, friend calls:
Friend: “Hey, we haven’t see each other in a while and I’ll be near your house tonight around 6:30. Let’s have coffee!”
Me: “I’d love to, but I’ve already made a commitment to myself to workout tonight during that time. But I’m available after 8 p.m. if that’ll work for you. If not, let’s plan a date for next week.”
To some, and maybe even to you, it may sound selfish to put your workout before coffee with a good friend. But turn that thought around. How does it feel to put yourself last? To blow off your commitment to yourself? My guess- that doesn’t feel very good.
Boundary challenge #2:
Saturday, 7:30 a.m. – planning my day.
Me: “I’ve got vegetables in the refrigerator and I really need to use them. I’ll make grilled chicken and roasted vegetables for dinner tonight.”
Saturday, 4:00 p.m. – getting ready to make dinner, kids enter the kitchen:
Kids: “Mom, we don’t want chicken and vegetables. Come on – let’s go out for pizza and then get ice cream!”
Me: “I love pizza and ice cream too. But tonight we’re having grilled chicken and roasted vegetables. But, we can go for frozen yogurt after dinner.”
And of course there CAN be compromise. You don’t live in a bubble, so there will be times when you choose to be flexible. But make sure it feels good to you.
Boundary challenge #3:
Sunday, 3 p.m. – enjoying a family celebration:
Me: “Oh my gosh they’re serving Aunt Jenny’s homemade lasagna! I haven’t had that in forever! I’m sure if I eat slowly maybe I can have two servings throughout the day if I pace myself.”
Sunday, 3:15 p.m. – eating first serving of lasagna:
Me: “This is delicious, but who am I kidding? I’ll be lucky if I can finish half of this. I’ve enjoyed it. It brought back some wonderful childhood memories, and I’m done.”
Setting boundaries with friends and family takes practice but eventually most people will learn to respect your choices.
Then there’s you and me.
Our biggest priority practice…is with ourselves.
Sweetheart, you’re not lazy. And you don’t lack willpower or determination.
Life can feel complicated. Without the skills to navigate our way through the twists and turns, we tend to return to the same habits that got us to the point of needing weight loss surgery in the first place.
But you can start fresh right now. Wherever you are in your weight loss surgery journey. You can begin with awareness and self-compassion, you can practice a new way of looking at your thoughts about situations, people in your life, and yourself.
You can practice.
You can choose a fresh approach to health and happiness after weight loss surgery.
Love light and peace to you.