During a run on a recent Saturday morning, I listened to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s podcast, Wiser Than Me (a great podcast by the way!). Her guest was the famous author, Isabel Allende, and Louis-Dreyfus asked Allende what her advice was for those contemplating the aging process. Allende wisely replied, “You have to prepare for old age; and you need to have good health.” Over my many years of “doctoring”, I’ve been struck by how many of us don’t prioritize our own needs, even though we manage to attend to the needs of family, friends, and work.
What Thoughts are Holding You Back?
There are several reasons why I shifted gears in my own career to focus solely on weight management. Perhaps the most important motivator came from my own journey toward improved health; I wanted to share insights and engender hope and optimism in others. Most of us know that the pillars of good health are nutritious eating, consistent physical activity, restful and restorative sleep, and stress management. When I started my own journey I had to reflect on how I had gotten to a place in my life where I didn’t exercise regularly and didn’t consistently make healthy nutrition choices. When I investigated what my thoughts were, I realized that I had been telling myself that there wasn’t enough time. I was frustrated with a medical system that required working early in the morning and late into the evenings. Who had time, I thought? Who had time to prepare food that would be ready for me when I came home hungry? Who had time for regular exercise? By the time the day was over, I was exhausted. I thought I had plenty of evidence for why it was impossible for me to engage in a consistent healthy routine.
How to Change Your Thinking about Self Care
Now, I exercise regularly, go food shopping, and do food prep. Every week, before I go food shopping, I carve out 15-30 minutes to think about the week ahead, planning for both exercise and meals. If I have a particularly hectic week, I put in an order with a healthy meal delivery service so that I don’t have to worry about food prep. Recently, when I realized that I was waking up in the middle of the night and turning to my phone to scroll through cat videos which interrupted my sleep, I removed social media apps from my phone. What changed? Well, the first thing that changed was my thinking about what I had time for. Instead of thinking, I have no time to take care of myself, I thought, what would it look like if I had all of the time I needed to take care of myself? And later, my thinking transformed to: I have all of the time I need to take care of myself.
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Prioritizing Our Own Needs
Part of this journey demands that we prioritize ourselves and our needs. I have learned that I take much better care of others when I care for myself. I have learned that if I was going to get healthier I needed to cultivate an improved relationship with myself. I needed to be more generous about the time I gave myself. Imagine saying to your children, your partner, your family members, your friends, your work colleagues: I don’t have time to attend to your needs. Yet, we say this to ourselves all the time.
How to Create Time for Self-Care
What would you like your self-care routine to be and what are the steps to implement one? The first step is figuring out how much time you’d like to give yourself and then creating the space for it. For some of us this will require an examination of how we presently spend our time. Are you doing anything that someone else could be doing or doing something that you could stop? Might you have more flexibility than you realize? I know someone who realized that she needed to create time and space in her hectic schedule to look after herself, and so she asked her mother and husband to look after the children so that she could get some exercise.
When we engage in self-care, we are attending to our universal, fundamental human needs of balance, play, leisure, relaxation, exercise, and health. We are ultimately responsible for meeting our own needs and moreover, when we do engage in strategies to meet our needs, we feel more alive and happier. The journey toward health and wellness can be a truly joyous one! A subtle mindset shift may be all that’s required to achieve your optimal health.
How FORM Can Help with Creating a Self-Care Routine and Mindset Change
A weight loss journey has many components to it. When you are ready to address a mindset that doesn’t serve your desired weight loss goal and to learn to develop a self-care routine that serves you, FORM can help! At FORM, all patients undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation, including a review of their medical history and laboratory tests. Patients participate in frequent visits with a doctor and Registered Dietitian, who will provide a personalized nutrition and physical activity plan, accountability, FDA-approved medication (if appropriate), and support for long-term behavior change, including building new habits and breaking old habits that don’t serve you well.
If you are interested in starting a medical weight loss program, schedule a call to talk with a Care Advisor or send a message to FORM today for more information. To find out if you are eligible, take our quiz online.