We are a nation of exhausted and overstressed adults raising overscheduled children.

This is how I started every one of my Facebook posts on the You First this week. And for good reason. I have been a parent for a little over one year and I certainly would not deem myself a parenting expert; the problem is, this statement still stands true if you have no children - we are a nation of exhausted and overstressed people. Your life was never intended to be lived on a hamster wheel. So how do you get off? How do you stop being exhausted, overstressed and overscheduled? 

Step One: Saying No & Overcommitment

"No" is one of the most important words a person can learn to use and learn to respect. It's something I will adequately spend time teaching my son, as I hope you do with your children. If you haven't learned to utilize the word no or you've forgotten how to use it, it is time to start practicing.

A Mayo Clinic study found that LESS THAN 3 PERCENT OF AMERICANS MEET THE BASIC QUALIFICATIONS FOR A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE (yes, that is me yelling). What I have found was that we don't have time to.... because we are overcommitted... and we don't say no.

Forbes offers three key questions to ask yourself before making a commitment and then I shall add a fourth, because, well because it's my post.

1. Is this aligned with my top priorities, goals and values?
2. If I say yes to this, what will it mean, by default, I must say no to? (time away from family, fitting in exercise, etc)
3. Do I realistically have time to fulfill this commitment properly and on time? (If you don't you run the risk of disappointment, damaging trust, burning out, etc.)
*4. Am I doing this for the right reasons? (When you want to do something just because it fits into society's popularity repeat the sentence at the beginning of this post. Make sure what you are signing yourself or your child up for will bring continuous joy throughout the project/process/season and not just in signing up).

Here are a couple articles to drive the point home: 

5 Ways To Stop Overcommitting Yourself, Because It's Totally Ok to Say "No"

How To Say No And Stop Overcommitting

What can you ditch? How will you practice saying no? Are you happy with your four answers for all of your commitments? Tell me your story, are you overcommitted?

Step Two: That which is vital.

Something above is worthy of being repeated: LESS THAN 3 PERCENT OF AMERICANS MEET THE BASIC QUALIFICATIONS FOR A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE. That means the odds are you are not meeting the basic qualifications for a healthy lifestyle.

Here are the four qualifications Mayo Clinic uses:

1. Moderate or vigorous exercise for at least 150 minutes a week
2. A diet score in the top 40 percent on the Healthy Eating Index (check the links in the comments)
3. A body fat percentage under 20 percent (for men) or 30 percent (for women)
4. Not smoking

That means that less than 3% of Americans are:

1. Working out for at least 2.5 hours a week.
2. Eating BASIC FOOD GROUPS.
3. Not obese (according to body fat percentage)
4. Not smoking

Ummm… what?!

When did we start wanting so little for ourselves?? How do we not have time for VITAL aspects of our life? How will you be more successful in your career, be a better friend or be the best parent IF YOU ARE NOT HERE TO DO IT?

We have forgotten our WHY. Why do we do what we do? We don't have time to workout because we think the point is to work towards the perfect body, THE POINT OF WORKING OUT IS TO STAY ALIVE! Your body was designed to move, whether you feel like it or not. Your body has an innate need to use its muscles, NATURAL processes that it can only perform if given enough water, and nutrients needed to function that way it was designed to!

Step Three: BE THE EXAMPLE.

Now here is where the real confusion begins. When I talk to people about being the example for their friends, families, partners, children, coworkers, acquaintances, their uber drivers... they believe they need to live a life of perfection.

I need to pause for a moment for another truth bomb from Brene...

Perfectionism is NOT the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is NOT self-improvement. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it's often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction and life paralysis (which refers to all of the opportunities we miss because we're too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect).

When I say BE THE EXAMPLE I mean by putting YOU FIRST. Self-care and self-love, things we have forgotten to strive for, are the keys to being a good example (and a better, happier and healthier person). If you want your children to be kind and respectful to others, teach them by being kind and respectful TO YOURSELF. If you want your children to give everything their best effort, GIVE YOURSELF YOUR BEST EFFORT. If you want your children to have healthy habits, CREATE HEALTHY HABITS FOR YOURSELF.

BE THE EXAMPLE.

Sweat & Smiles,

Melissa

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