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  • Writer's pictureJamie Wuerthner

How I Became Selfish This Summer

I've traveled a fair amount this summer. I took several flights, thinking nothing of the preflight instructions. As I waited for the plane to take off the stewardess started her speech, "If needed, four oxygen masks will drop from the compartment overhead..." blah, blah, right? No one ever listens to those instructions. But then I noticed something she said "If you are traveling with children or anyone needing special assistance, put on your mask first." My first thought was "put my mask on first? Are you crazy lady, my kids are sitting next to me and of course I'm going to take care of them first!" I dismissed the thought until the stewardess walked directly up to me, looked into my eyes and said "ma'am remember to put your mask on first then help your children." It was as if she could read the expression on my face. I agreed.

During the dull 3 hour flight I started to think about this concept and connect the dots. In my head, "so if I pass out from lack of oxygen then no one will be there to save my kids..." That thought was like a gut punch.

As parents, spouses, employees, children, we have a tendency to forget about taking care of ourselves. We are concerned about making a dinner, driving three kids to three different sports, making sure all our work is done and well. We become consumed with taking care of others. That's a good thing, right? That's selfless, yes? Yes. I think taking care of others is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding jobs we can do but what I realized sitting on that plane was, if I don't take care of myself I can't take care of others.. If I put my "mask" on first I can be strong for others when they are in need.

As a gym owner, I can't tell you how many times I've heard "I just don't have time to workout, my son is enrolled in 3 sports and I have to drive him." Or "I can't eat right, I work 12 hour days." You can, you choose not to. Think of the energy and mental clarity you would have to do that long 'to-do' list if you cleaned up your diet and exercised for 45 minutes a day. You would be a more productive, happier (insert your role here). If you are exhausted, sick, depressed, what good are you to anyone?

Give yourself the permission to "put your mask on first" not because you're selfish, but because you want to be able to help the ones you love. Make a plan. Find an exercise and diet plan that you enjoy and commit. Make yourself a priority.

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