I’m Number One

Hey, my peeps, Suze here. Welcome!

Today I thought I’d talk about something a bit more serious than my usual offerings (What? More serious than giant pumpkins and my summer vacation? Yup!)

Do you make your health, both physical and mental, a priority?

As writers and readers we do A LOT of sitting at the computer. It takes time, large blocks of it, with our butts slowly expanding and fusing to the upholstery, to write and do all the other things associated with it: planning, plotting, storytelling, editing/revising, critiquing other people’s work, submitting (hopefully selling), reading widely, blogging, getting together with writer friends to share the journey, attending meetings of professional groups and serving those groups, attending conferences; the list goes on and on and on. And let’s face it–many of those things are fun!

But these “activities” are not very active, and they often involve copious quantities of caffeine, chocolate, Deep River Salt & Vinegar potato chips, and wine. What they so often don’t involve is … I’m gonna say a dirty word here, so get ready … exercise.

I know I’m guilty of living in my head and finding every excuse in the book (haha! “in the book!” Get it?) not to take care of myself. As women we are trained and ingrained to put others first. We care for our families, we reach out to help others, we volunteer, and we love/live to be needed.  That’s what makes us women and that’s great! But the flipside is that if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. And it’s hard to be happy when you’re overextended, out of shape, and out of time.

So today, I’m asking you to do something to take care of yourself. Just one little thing. Go take a long walk (if you load an audio book on your phone, iPod or MP3 player, you get to double dip!). Make one better food choice — a fresh, crunchy apple instead of a bag of processed (yet crunchy!) Fritos. Think about giving up an outside obligation (or at least give yourself a day off from it). Tomorrow, repeat.

And for goodness’ sake, if you haven’t scheduled your yearly physical and annual boob-squishing (mammogram), make that the one thing you do today and pick up the phone. The procedure is uncomfortable, but it won’t kill you. Not getting it done might.

Hugs and love to all of you out there.

Do you have trouble putting yourself first? How do you take care of yourself?

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17 thoughts on “I’m Number One”

  1. Hallajulah – pass the Kool Aid! Susannah – I couldn’t agree with you more. Taking time for yourself, for your mental health as well as your physical health can not be overstated as an important thing for us to do. It isn’t selfish to want a little time away from your family, for yourself, to focus on you. I truly believe that it makes me a better mom to have a little vacation from the demands of mom-dom. Just a few days a year, here and there. I come back refreshed – refilled with patience and excitement to see my family. I also think it’s a FABULOUS thing for Daddy to spend a few days walking in my shoes. It’s not all chocolate and bon-bons.

    1. It isn’t? Maybe it SHOULD be all chocolate and bon-bons! And pictures of Alexander Skaarsgard and Joe Manganiello. Heaven.

  2. Ooooh – I forgot one thing. Volunteerism is a wonderful thing, but sometimes you’ve gotta practice saying, “No.” Last year I took on WAY too much volunteer work and honestly, it all suffered. I wasn’t able to give anything the attention it deserved. This year, I’m cutting back but I’ve already gotten some flack for saying no. It’s tough, but sometimes, we really do know what’s best and we have to make the tough decision. I’m with you! :)

  3. You know you’re preaching to the choir, here, sister, but it’s so good to see other women adopting this philosophy of putting themselves first–not an easy mindset with so many demands today.

    I’ve always been a jock. Combine that with the type A personality and you’ve got a jumping bean who loves the active lifestyle. Writing (and dare I say, age) has curtailed that, and my body is feeling…and showing it. As hard as I try to keep active, the demands of the writing life have definitely slowed me down. When I’m not as active, I tend to eat more, make less healthy choices, and ignore the signs that things are out of balance–my tweaky neck and back are screaming louder every day.

    It doesn’t usually take some catastrophic frying pan to the head to get me back on track, but if I ignore all the little signs and symptoms of imbalance, the results can quickly grow exponentially–just like my butt. Paying attention to how my clothes fit, my energy level, and my general “happiness” meter are my checkpoints. If I’m over extended, feeling blue, and sluggish, I know it’s time to reassess my priorities. And saying NO is at the top of my list, no matter who might not like it. I’d rather disappoint someone than everyone because I’m not able to live up to any of my commitments. Keeping life manageable and keeping myself healthy is my number one priority. It’s the only way I can function at the high level I’ve set for myself and my life. High level living–living your life to its fullest potential–requires self care and self-awareness. That’s not the same as selfishness:-)

    Kudos, Suze!

  4. Suze, get this one. Just this very minute on Good Morning America, Dr. Richard Vesser, a regular on the show was interviewed, regarding the yearly physical. A study came out showing that having a physical once a year did not lower your risk of dying due to cancer, heart disease or any other cause. And in my own experience, my doctor father-in-law advised against having a physical once a year. But what everybody advises is don’t smoke, do exercise, watch your weight, check your blood pressure and cholesterol every two years. Isn’t all that interesting?

    1. That is interesting, Gail! So much conflicting advice out there — I guess we all have to find our own comfort levels when it comes to our health.

  5. Whenever I start to feel guilty about stopping to take care of my own needs, I think back to air travel. You know, how, if in case of an emergency and the air mask drops, you should put your own mask on first before tending to any young children. It’s a nice mental reminder that you can’t take of anyone or anything else without tending to numero uno first.

  6. Your post is very much the theme of my blog “Margarita Moments and Other Escapes.” We have to take care of ourselves if we expect to always be there for others. And as writers, we are especially at risk of poor health due to a sedentary lifestyle. May I link to your post this week?

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