December 12th, 2008
Want To Lose Weight And Keep It Off Forever? Be”Appropriately Selfish!”
I don’t want to beat the recent Oprah Winfrey weight re-gain news to death. However, since my recent post about yo yo dieting was one of the most read and 2nd most commented blog posts I have written this year, the subject of weight relapse clearly strikes a nerve. Oprah said something else in her O magazine article about why she gained the weight back: she said she took herself off her own priority list. That’s a common mistake, not just experienced by in-demand celebrities and busy executives. I’ve done it. You’ve probably done it. We’ve all done it. And if you keep de-prioritizing yourself, it will slowly but surely make you unhappy, fat and probably kill you.
You have to put yourself first.
Yes, I mean really first. When you set your life’s priorities and put your life values in order, your health MUST be #1. Everything else in your life depends on you being in good health and physical condition.
Some people go into a hissy fit when I say that their training should be prioritized above their business or their own health and well-being has to come above their family. They think it’s absurd. They think it’s selfish.
Your intentions may be noble. But how do you take care of your family without your own health? Taking care of yourself IS taking care of your family!
You want to know what’s truly selfish? Having a preventable and reversible health problem and doing nothing about it because you are too busy “nobly” taking care of everyone but yourself.
Let me remind you of something called the “rock bottom” phenomenon. I’ve seen it discussed in the psychology and behavior research as the thing that finally triggers a change, and I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes in the real world over and over again.
People will do almost anything to end pain or cure a disease after they have it, but they usually won’t lift a finger to prevent it. Only when debilitating pain or illness strikes them down or threatens them does changing their unhealthy ways even appear on their radar.
Of all diseases or “pains”, the most alarming thing about obesity is that it creeps. There’s plenty of advanced warning, but it’s not heeded. Each additional pound is “no big deal” so it never seems urgent… until it’s too late… until you have a physical or emotional rock bottom experience.
You have to put yourself first.
If you think that’s so selfish because your family needs to come first, then what happens when you’re so out of shape and out of breath just from walking, that you cant play basketball with your son?
What happens when you’re so obese that you can’t fit in the amusement park ride with your daughter? The safety bar wont close. Humiliated, you slowly get out in front of everyone and send her off on her own next to a stranger while you wait. I saw that very scenario play out at Universal studios theme park in Hollywood on a recent visit to Los Angeles.
What happens when you’re fired from your job because you’re sick or physically incapable of doing the job?
What happens when you drop dead of a heart attack in your 40’s and leave a widow and children with one parent? Who’s selfish now?You think I’m exaggerating or disasterizing? Not by a long shot. I’m describing reality. I hear these stories every day! Most people come to me for help only AFTER they hit rock bottom and that is a symptom of messed up priorities!
The most selfish thing you can do is not to take care of your own health. The most selfish thing in the world is not putting yourself first. You have to take care of yourself first. That means YOU are the priority above all else.
How does this translate into daily action?
You are stressed. I know. I am too. I feel like there are never enough hours in the day. I have more projects on my plate and new opportunities flying at me than I will ever be able to start, let alone finish in my lifetime.
There are fires burning all around you. I know. Kids are screaming, other kids need a ride to school. Spouses need attention. Bills must be paid. You’re late on your tax return. Clients need service. Your boss needs you there now. There are phone calls to return. Information overload is driving you insane – there are books to read, TV shows to watch, news to keep up on. And e-mail! You’re drowning in it! Life is moving faster than ever before. How will we ever get it all done? Where will you find the time?
I know, I know. Almost everyone is feeling the same way too!
Here’s what to do
In the middle of all the chaos! With fires burning all around you! Just STOP! Stop moving. Stop thinking. Take a deep breath. Take two more deep breaths. Center yourself. Now shift focus to what’s most important in life.
Then tell yourself. “None of this stuff that’s stressing me out matters – not one bit of it – if I’m sick, immobilized or dead. I want to look good. I want to feel good. I come first. I can only take care of my family and my business, and I can only feel good and look good if I’ve taken care of myself first.
Then calmly and quietly go take care of yourself. Go take a workout. Go take a stress relief break. Go calmly into the kitchen to eat a healthy meal or prepare your meals for the entire day, neatly pre-packaged if necessary, in anticipation of the hectic, fast paced day ahead. Go shopping and stock your kitchen with healthy foods.
If you can’t take immediate action, then do some immediate planning or goal setting.
While you are still centered and in a quiet mode, pull out your calendar or a blank sheet of paper and begin planning and scheduling. It’s remarkable how much stress is relieved when you are organized and you have a written plan because it redirects your scattered focus.
And make priority lists, not “to do lists.” To do lists are usually filled up with busywork that’s not that important. Priorities are the things that are most important to you that will provide the greatest happiness and tangible results for you.
Personal life values are important. They are precious. They include things like your family, humanitarian endeavors and even your spiritual beliefs. So I’m not going to tell you what your values should be. That’s your personal business. But I will tell you what ORDER your values should be in – your health goes first. Above all else.
Is that selfish?
But it’s appropriately selfish. Being appropriately selfish is not about bucking your responsiblities. It’s not about ONLY taking care of yourself. It’s about putting your priorities in the right order. And it’s one of the keys to great health, happiness and personal success.
Eat right, train hard and expect success
PS. Download a free copy of your priority list:Your priority list (PDF)
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Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural (steroid-free) bodybuilder, a certified personal trainer, NSCA-certified strength & conditioning specialist (CSCS), and author of the #1 best selling diet e-book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle (e-book) and The Body Fat Solution (Hardcover, Avery/Penguin Books). Tom is also the founder and CEO of the Internet’s premier fat loss support community, the: Burn The Fat Inner Circle.