Are You Your Own Priority?

Woke up. Fell out of bed. Dragged a comb across my head. Found my way downstairs and had a cup…” and that’s where my life stopped being like the rest of the song today. I don’t smoke and I didn’t go into a dream. I did, however, read the news. Oh boy.

Today I’ve spoken aloud three times: to the clerk at the liquor store, the clerk at the grocery store, and a guy standing at the ATM. Our conversation:

Him: “It sometimes does an upgrade thing at 3:00. It usually only takes a few minutes.”

Me: “I’ll come back later.”

My conversations with the clerks were shorter. “Credit, please” “Paper,” and “Thank you.”

I’ve grown accustomed to days like this. Accustomed and desirous. I need days like this – totally disconnected from oral communication and human contact – in order to focus on school and my goals…daily or long-term.

The woman ahead of me in the grocery store checkout bought $194 of groceries. Said she’s feeding two sons and a husband. I used to do that. Feed kids and a husband. My weekly grocery bill was crazy, too. As she paid her bill, I looked in my basket: one nectarine, two plums, one leek, 10 ounces of mushrooms, a package of spinach, a head of red leaf lettuce, two crowns of broccoli, two bananas, a bulb of garlic, one mango, one red pepper, three plum tomatoes, a loaf of light whole wheat bread, a dozen brown eggs and a container of grated parmesan cheese. Total: $27.57.

This morning I took a 102-point exam in Foods and a 30-point quiz in Nutrition (got 29 out of 30!). I printed out all my assignments, wrapped my head around more math, watched another episode of “Mad Men,” and washed the dishes. Oh…and I steamed and ate broccoli with parmesan sprinkled on top; ate a piece of bread with jelly because it just sounded so darn good; sautéed snow peas, carrots, garlic, onion, zucchini and slivered almonds in a little sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger and red pepper flakes, and served it over quinoa; and I’m thinking a spinach salad is what’s for dinner. Maybe popcorn. I don’t know yet.

Right now I’m drinking a glass of Chardonnay and staring at my Dietetics textbook. Chapters 5, 6 and 8 need to be read by Saturday. Foods, Nutrition, and Assessment need my attention, too. So does my diet. So does exercise. So do my grandkids and my children and Colton and my plants.

You know what I mean. I have no doubt that all of you have similar responsibilities and priorities, all within a household of what seems at times to be a dozen people. You have my infinite respect and awe. I know what that’s like because I was there once myself. And I was rarely my priority.

So I ask you, how do you make yourself a priority amongst the chaos? How and when do you focus on your food plan? It’s not too hard when you’re one person, but when you’re responsible for two or five or more…it’s not just a matter of waking up and having a cup and catching the bus and going home. There are infinite other things tugging at you, wanting your attention. You have many more conversations within the day than simply, “I’ll come back later.”

I look forward to your answers.

14 thoughts on “Are You Your Own Priority?

  1. Unfortunately – I am not my own priority and why I am your 'before' picture and not your 'after' picture. This is the most difficult challenge I have faced in my quest to lose weight…making me a priority instead of the millions…oh maybe not millions but hundreds of other priorities I face each and every week.

  2. Oh, hmmm. Well, I don't, really. My kids take priority and even my dog seems to come before myself. I take down times, like today with a sick child, and also in the evening after the kids are in bed/busy, to focus on my food plan. That's when I decide what I will cook soon, what I will eat tomorrow, what needs my focus more. I also sometimes have 15 minutes of peace with coffee in the morning, but not always.

  3. When I changed my eating in 2005, everybody had to do the same! I was the preparer of food, and if they didn't like what I made there was always peanut butter and jelly….needless to say they usually ate what I made.
    I never was a priority, until I joined WW, now Fridays is my day, I don't do for anyone but myself. And my husband cooks Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, so I can have a break. The best changes I ever made.

  4. I read your entire thought-provoking post, and my first question to you is, what episode/season are you on in Mad Men? I just finished watching the entire thing – loved it! Oooh, Don Draper!!! 🙂

    OK, your post makes me once again know how lucky I am that I don't have a lot of distractions when it comes to my food. Just me most of the time, and when Jeff IS home, he's on board with whatever I'm cooking (or making him take me out for, lol).

  5. I think there's a time for everything in life. You're adjusting to a different schedule, so you need to give yourself some time to get into a routine. I bet you'll find some time to give to those you care about. It may not be as much time as before, but this is also YOUR time to do what you need/want to do. Those you love will be rooting for you and will understand.

  6. Boy that's the question I always have. I just don't know how people do it with others in the house, especially when those others want to live and eat a different way.

    I guess I'm gonna have to check out Madmen!

  7. I am my own worst distraction when it comes to food. I like to snack and that is probably my biggest issue. Snacking when not hungry just because I like it.

    I do tend to stress snack and I have to start making lists to get my life in order and keep me from reaching for the cashews. I really always try to put myself first and find I do my best when I take 10 minutes the night before and pre-log my food for the next day in Daily Plate.

  8. By making my recovery my first priority I have become a better spouse, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and a kinder stranger. I have learned that I do have time for everything as long as I plan my time and roll with the punches that come each and every day.

    When I put my husband, kids, dog, parents, job, etc, first they all lost because I was not anywhere near 100% so they really got less than my best efforts.

    Your shopping list made me want to go out and buy mushrooms. 🙂


  9. Me? All I care about is sleep.


    Yes. The last few months have dragged me around by the collar to the fact that I cannot function decently without sleep.

    And I cannot be impatient or making mistakes.

    Food? Expendable. Sleep? Essential.

    love you girl, Val

  10. I am not my own priority other than in the very early mornings before the family is up for work and school or later in the evening when the kids are winding down reading before bedtime.

    I have so many good intentions and always say to myself there is always tomorrow…

    I look forward to a personal commitment of journaling my thoughts, challenges, successes and planning meals in advance. Exercise, well maybe that will come in time but it is unfortunately my very last priority ! 😦

  11. It's difficult when your priorities are suddenly blurred a bit, and you don't see those clear-cut lines anymore. School is your priority; eating healthy is your priority; keeping house, maintaining relationships, staying healthy, etc. I know it isn't easy, but make yourself a top 4 list of things that you cannot cut from your life – even in the least; then cut that down to 3. From those three things, create a routine and a time of day that will allow you to focus on them for a certain length of time. I think once you give this a go, see what works and what doesn't, you can then tweak it to fit your needs better. Sometimes it's all about trial and error; we just have to start somewhere. Good luck to you, Lynn.

  12. oooh, Mad Men. I'm with Shelley. Love that show. Can't wait for the new season next year.

    This is a super post. It is true that even though you don't have kids at home anymore, that you are still very busy, and it can be easy to let yourself slip into not being a priority.

    Have you heard/seen the religious movement called “I am second”? Every time I hear about it or see a billboard (there are several in my town), I have to laugh. I WISH I was 2nd. As if a wife/working mom of 2 young kids gets to be 2nd.

    My 5 year old son was whining the other day when I was doing a 30 minute DVD. I told him it makes me a better mommy when I get to work out. I don't get enough time for myself–does any mom? But I know it's temporary. They are going to be grown up before I know it and then I'll mourn these days. So, I'm okay with not being the #1 priority every day.

    That's not to say I don't do things to take care of myself on a regular basis. When I'm in a groove, I work out regularly. I just might not be doing THE gym class I want to be doing b/c it's at a time that conflicts with the kids' activities.

    I want my kids to know they have an active & fit mom, but I don't want them to grow up feeling like their childhood needs are neglected because I'm routinely putting MY needs above theirs.

    Only in the past 3 months have I gotten serious about feeding myself truly healthy foods. My husband eating this way, too, is helpful, but I still do all the grocery shopping and food prep. And yes, our food bill is $200 a week, easy. But we rarely eat out anymore, so what we don't spend at fast food places and restaurants we are putting toward fruits and veggies. I think ultimately we are saving $. And definitely saving $ in future health costs.

    thought provoking post. Thanks

  13. Prioritizing myself … big subject. LOL.

    Making myself a priority happens only when I plan for it daily. That means I plan my food, my exercise, my relaxation time, my grooming time, etc.

    Otherwise, everybody else and their needs (clients, pets, husband, mother with Alzheimers who lives with us, email, distractions) consume all my time and energy. THEY ask for my resources, and if I don't ask myself for some of my resources, I won't get it.

    That's what my daily plan is about — asking myself to do something for myself in ways that are specific — types of foods, food amounts, exercise times, exercise types, etc.

    Short version: Turning my good intentions into effective actions requires that I come up with specific plans. That's what's working for me right now.

    Good luck to all.

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