I find it hard to understand why in today’s society we are deemed selfish for doing something for ourselves. In all honesty, most of the time it isn’t even society doing the judging, but ourselves. Then you have the moments when you want to do something “selfish”, but talk yourself out of it and later regret the decision. This is something that I find myself guilty of: I convince myself not to do something because it would be selfish, and later regret it and feel guilty. For example, I’ve found myself feeling like I should be playing with our little #dictator, or hanging out with family and friends rather than working out. Working out in these situations feels selfish because of the pressure to be present with someone else, but you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking care of yourself!
I’ve had many clients tell me they missed their workout or didn’t do any food prep because they HAD to do something else. Upon further discussion, it usually comes up that they didn’t HAVE to do anything, but they felt guilty about working out when they had other things they could be doing.
Let’s explore some situations you may be faced with and some possible solutions.
1. Little Suzy has soccer practice, and you feel guilty for not watching in order to get your workout done. So you sit there and feel guilty about not doing your workout and watch Suzy at practice instead. I see two possible ways to turn this situation into a positive:
a. You ask your trainer for a program that you can do at the park while you watch Suzy. Heck, you could even ask some of the other parents to join you.
b. You leave Suzy at practice and go for a quick run or a quick workout at your nearby gym. Yes, you would be missing Suzy’s practice (we aren’t talking about a gold medal game here), but you would feel great for doing something for you (call it selfish if you want), and your time spent with Suzy post-practice will be of better quality because you will be present with her and not dwelling on the workout you missed.
2. The guys or gals want you to go for beer and wings. They harass you, saying that you never make time for them. Maybe they even throw in the “you are controlled by your workouts” card. So off you go for wings and beer because you don’t want anyone teasing you about what controls you, and you sit there feeling bloated, gross and guilty for not doing your workout. The best solution in my opinion would be to invite the guys or gals to a field and play some soccer, or put on your helmets and jump on your bikes and go for a ride. Since I am all about balance, I suggest you go for some wings afterwards. Now, that’s a win-win!
3. You have a deadline to meet at work, but you have a planned lunch hour workout. While you know that skipping your workout will leave you feeling guilty, you decide to stay at your desk to work through your lunch anyways. You now risk errors as a result of the distraction of a guilty conscience as well as the lack of mental clarity from being a blob at your desk.
The more you move, the sharper your mental clarity and productivity will be, so there are a couple scenarios I see as winners for while you are at work:
a. Get up and walk around your floor, or up and down a few flights of stairs. Set an alarm every hour to remind yourself if you have to. Oftentimes work deadlines are important, but so is your health and the quality of your work. The 1-5 minutes of movement every hour is only going to make you more productive and have you feeling better by the end of the day. This will leave you with the mental willpower to get a workout in after work, and make a healthy dinner instead of ordering pizza.
b. You get up and go for your planned workout. It’s okay to be “selfish” and not feel any guilt. It is your lunch hour after all. There is a good chance that your deadline “that you aren’t going to make if you so much as glance away from your computer” is in your head, so it’s time to re-prioritize. Yes, an hour away from your desk is an hour you aren’t working, but when you get back to your desk, you will be much more productive and mentally sharp which equates to higher performance.
All of these situations can be considered when it comes to healthy eating and food preparation. Instead of feeling guilty about not eating any vegetables or having pizza for dinner, why not re-prioritize your day to day so that when you reflect on your day you can say that you made the best possible decisions you could.
You can do your food prep with your kids or friends, you can walk the extra block to the whole food restaurant versus the burger joint, you can pack a healthy bag of snacks when Suzy has a tournament weekend that leaves you surrounded by concession stands. These are just a few examples of ways to re-prioritize and alter your food habits.
Be the best version of yourself by taking the time for yourself. Call it selfish if you wish, but I want to be the best version of myself and if that means I have to be selfish to not feel guilty then so be it! I’m fortunate to have developed the attitude that if you want to hang out with me, we can do something active instead of going for a drink. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an easy attitude to have. It takes work, and not all friends and family understand, but I have developed this attitude because it helps me to be the best version of myself I can.
I also schedule my workouts around naps and mealtimes so that even if the #dictator is in the gym with me he can happily play while I focus on myself. Does it always work out in my favour? No, absolutely not. But I can be content and avoid the negative guilty emotions because I know I actually tried versus hiding behind an excuse.
If you truly want to be the best mother/father/wife/husband/employee/employer that you can be, it starts with taking time for yourself. Throw guilt and the feeling of selfishness out the window and focus on your daily routine and priorities with a positive attitude.
Try sitting down today and prioritizing your time for your workouts this week so you can feel in control of your world because you choose to (not because you are guilty)!