Why Health Should Always Come First
“I want to be healthy, but I just don’t have the time.” This is probably one of the biggest lies you tell yourself. Most of you know what being healthy consists of. You know you should eat healthy and exercise, but you tell yourself you don’t have time for it. You probably have a busy schedule whether it’s career, family life, or school. It seems unreasonable for a coach to insist you get 7 hours of sleep every night, come to the gym 3 times per week, stretch and mobilize at home, and on top of all that somehow find time to follow a meal plan and cook healthy meals. But as unrealistic as it may seem, there are countless people who choose to put their health first and still manage to make time for everything else life demands. It all comes down to priorities.
The question you must ask yourself is, how important is my health really? Again, most people would agree that their health is very important and yet somehow it still ends up being the first thing to go when the schedule gets busy. If your health really is important, then why does it always get brushed aside?
Take for instance the single mom with three kids who is trying to work full time and take care of her family. She is so busy working and taking care of her kids’ needs that she only has time to go to the gym if she can somehow squeeze it in. She rarely gets a descent amount of sleep and is lucky if she has time to cook at all. It may seem she has no time to “be healthy,” but this is rarely the case. The problem isn’t that she has no time for healthy habits, it’s the fact that she is trying to fit the healthy habits into her already filled up schedule.
The key to finding the time for a healthy lifestyle is to make your health your number one priority. If you see it as the most important aspect of your life from which everything else flows, you won’t have trouble squeezing it in, because everything else will revolve around your predetermined healthy lifestyle. This may seem selfish or impossible on the surface, but to the contrary it is neither selfish nor impossible.
Consider the single mother once again. If she doesn’t choose to make health a priority, she is going to be headed down a dangerous path. If her excuse is that she needs to work and be there for her kids, what happens when her health deteriorates to the point that she can no longer work and struggles to find the energy to really be there for her family? Even if she does manage to continue to drag herself to work day after day and somehow finds the energy to keep up with her kids, what kind of example is she setting for them? If she chooses to neglect her own health, she is teaching her kids that this is okay. If she wants her kids to have healthy, happy lives, she cannot raise them to believe that health does not matter. Ironically, by choosing to sacrifice her own health by putting her family first, she will ultimately hurt them.
It is not selfish to put your health ahead of everything else because to do everything else you need your health first. You need health to go to work. You need health to raise a family. You need health to go school. You will be more successful in all these areas and any other area you pursue if you put health first.
Now the question is how to realistically do that. Once you have decided that health is your biggest priority your next step is to plan your week around the healthy habits you need to incorporate. As you plan your week, first put in your weekly schedule anything that you absolutely must do at a certain time. For example, your work schedule and any appointments you cannot miss. Next block out your workout times and resolve to consider them a must. They are just as important as your job and any other appointment. Plan out your meals each week and set a goal to get to bed by a certain hour each night so that you can get as close to 7 hours of sleep as possible. Again, tell yourself that you are not allowed to schedule anything past that time, because you already have it blocked out for sleep and nothing is more important than your health. Set aside at least 10 minutes each morning to meditate or simply sit in silence and prepare for your day, because your mental health is as important if not more important than your physical health.
These and other habits must be scheduled, or they will not happen. If you tell yourself you will meditate in the morning if you have time, you will never have time. If you tell yourself you will workout after work if you get off early and feel up for it, you will rarely show up at the gym. If you tell yourself you are going to cook a healthy dinner for the whole family at the end of the day after a long shift coming off 3 hours of sleep the night before, it’s not going to happen. You get to choose who you will be in this life. If you tell yourself that you are the type of person who gets up and meditates every single morning, that is who you will be. If you tell yourself that you are the type of person who goes to the gym every single day no matter what, that is who you will be. If you tell yourself that you are the type of person who meal preps and gets quality sleep every single night, that is who you will be. The choice is always up to you. Living a healthy lifestyle will not happen by accident. It is an active choice you must make every single day. Once you create the habits it will be easier, but the time will not magically appear unless you carve it out, make a plan, and choose to put health at the center of your life.
Author: Rhoda Christenson