Why do you go to the gym? Or hike? Bike. Play a sport. Eat well. Eat right. Eat smartly. Why do you stay with these pursuits when it would be easier to give up?
Time, money, effort. It all adds up. So, what drives you to take care of yourself?
Some folks say they do it for their kids or their spouse or their health — and that’s fantastic! Some folks will say they do it to live longer, to stay productive, to have fun. These are all great answers.
But I have a secret: if you want to be healthy for your entire life, you have to do it for you. Someone else or something else can be the push to get you started (or the push to make you dive deeper into something — or a pick me up when life gets rough) but fundamentally, at the core of these behaviors that are good for you (even if they don’t always feel good at the time) must be you.
Why? Because if you’re not intrinsically motivated to stay the course, you’re more likely to abandon your plan. Or resent it. Or do it at a lesser frequency or lower intensity. And we don’t want that. And your loved ones don’t want that.
See, as much as we like to extol the virtues of selflessness in our society (and we do this in particular to women, who really feel the pressure to do everything for everyone else first), the truth of the matter is that each of us is a self first, before we are a self in society. The only person with us our entire lives, from first breath to last, is us. And so we need to be happy with ourselves, we need to be motivated for ourselves, we need to be satisfied with ourselves.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
There’s an old saying: “If Mama ain’t happy, then nobody’s happy.” Maybe it used to be enough to clean the house to make Mama happy, but those days are gone. Mama wants to power clean. Momma wants to deadlift. Mama wants to eat Paleo. And so does Daddy. All of these are valid pursuits, not hipster fun or short-lived fads. Eating clean is nothing new, when you think about it. We just do it in a new way.
But, make no mistake, I am not here extolling the virtues of selfishness, but merely clarifying that caring for yourself is not the same thing as being selfish. You have to care for yourself if you want to care for anyone else. You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else. These are simple and basic truths that we have to remind ourselves again and again. If you feel fulfilled, then it’s easier to help fulfill others.
So, snatch without regret. Hike with a clear and full heart. Take the extra time to put a healthy meal on the table. These moments are far more important than you realize.
*Go for max load. Rest as needed.