I have been on quite a few airplane flights recently which means that I have heard the safety speech enough times that I practically have it memorized. While the information is specific to air travel, there’s one line that has stuck out to me as a great reminder for people in the weight loss journey: Make sure your mask is secure before helping others. What happens if you don’t secure your own oxygen mask in an airplane emergency? You may pass out before you are able to help those around you.
And what does this have to do with weight loss?
The majority of my patients are women; they are daughters, wives, and/or mothers and they are givers. (Side note: Of course, men can be givers too! I just happen to see this more often in women). They give of themselves in their families on a daily basis. Additionally, several of them have giving professions such as personal care attendants, health care providers, and teachers. Over the years, they have always put other people’s priorities before their own. They worry about taking care of the needs of others and they neglect their own health needs, such as sleep, nutritious food, exercise, and relaxation. For example, I worked with a patient who took time to make lunches for her three children and her spouse every night but never made her own lunch. Instead, she relied on fast food during the day for herself which was contributing to her weight problem. If you are a giver, I’m sure you can think of similar examples.
It’s wonderful to be a giver but you can’t neglect giving to yourself. To achieve your health goals and live your happiest life, you need to prioritize yourself. If you don’t keep yourself healthy, it is going to impact your ability to give to those around you. Maybe you will be less patient or have less energy due to lack of sleep, or you maybe you won’t physically be able to help someone due to mobility or strength problems, or maybe your life will be shortened due to health problems you have neglected. You need to take care of yourself so you can be the best you, whether it’s as a spouse, parent, child, sibling, coworker, or friend.
In the case of the patient I mentioned earlier, I encouraged her to take a few extra minutes each night to make her own lunch. She did this and started losing weight since she was eating less fast food. Losing the weight gave her more energy and made her feel better about her body, and this made her a happier person and a happier wife and mother. Taking care of herself helped her to better take care of her family.
If you are a giver, tune into whether you might be giving to others at the expense of your own health needs. Remember to make sure your health is secure before helping others.