I am staying in New York City for the holidays and get to hang out with some of my favorite people (back to that, "I'm a lucky bastard" scenario). Last night I had dinner with one of my favorite people and co-founder of the amazing New Work City coworking space in lower Manhattan. At one point, we brought up the topic of #themewords and discussed mine and his. Although I don't want to reveal his here as it's his own, I will say that it sparked something for me. His focus for the upcoming year around on prioritizing his health and personal well-being and it really resonated with me because, without really even thinking about it, I've been doing the same thing for the past 8 months...since I started getting back into shape. We're often told when we are younger that to put ourselves first is selfish, but in reality, I've found it to not only benefit me, but the people around me. Since I started prioritizing my fitness and health, I've become a much easier person to be around. I lose my temper less often, I have more confidence in general, I'm easier going when things don't quite go my way and I can handle much more stress than previously (which is good because I have more stress than previously!). That hour a day at the gym or on the running paths helps me focus on my work, smile while doing it and be a better co-worker. I used to sit at my desk all day being much less productive than I am now by taking that fitness break. My friends have noticed a difference. I get the 'you seem more content' observations quite often. So, focusing on myself is not selfish at all. It's good for everyone around me, too.
When my friends at the Make Yourself Movement asked me to write a post on my one secret to being/staying healthy in the New Year, I instantly thought about my conversation and said, "Prioritize ME".
That's it. Set a schedule of ME time and be ruthless about it. If you've planned to hit a fitness class or go for a run at a certain time, nothing...I mean NOTHING...gets in your way. If a friend just had a bad breakup with her boyfriend and needs to talk now, she'll have to wait. If your boss wants you to work late, you can't tonight. Even if your kids have a request or need a ride to a friends, they'll have to wait. Unless it is life threatening circumstance or an act of God (like a giant blizzard or an earthquake), that time is yours to go to your run or to your class.
Don't compromise. Because once you do, you will compromise again and again. Next thing you know it, you'll be doing everything for everyone else and you will feel stressed and awful.
That's been my secret to staying healthy - both in mind and body - prioritizing fitness. Prioritizing me. I only felt guilty about it for a couple of months...then I realized the major benefits and everyone who was put off by my rigidity in my exercise schedule did, too.
So...for 2011 and beyond, I recommend that everyone should make themselves the priority. It's not selfish, it's necessary.