Do You Put Yourself First?

By Debbie Koenig

For me, one of the hardest parts of being a mom is that I tend to put my own needs at the back of the line — definitely behind my son’s, and sometimes behind my husband’s, too. When I became a Lifetime Member (20 years ago this December!), I was single. I’d rejoined Weight Watchers for the umpteenth time in the wake of my first husband leaving me, and after three full years of effort and focus —dedicating myself to myself almost exclusively — I lost 100 lbs.

I suspect I’d have a hard time doing that now. For as much as I consider myself a feminist, too often I mimic the “It’s all right, I’ll just have the scraps” behavior I saw from my mom growing up. Which is why I found this video, from Weight Watchers’ series “Connecting with Oprah,” so inspiring. Samantha has three young sons, but after the third was born she joined and lost 45 lbs. She looks strong and happy (and gorgeous), and when she said toward the end, “I can conquer the world,” I practically stood up and cheered.

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Samantha talks in the video about how hard it was to start down that path. It feels like society doesn’t allow us to put ourselves first, she says. Telling her kids she’d be late coming home because she wanted to hit the gym after work, or miss breakfast on Saturday so she could go for a long walk — that stuff is much harder for many of us than it should be. But she also talks about the example she’s setting now for her three boys, the foundation of healthy behavior she’s providing. Which is a really good point. After all, what did I learn from watching my own mom’s martyr act? That I didn’t have the right to stake my claim. That I could only take care of myself once I was sure my family’s needs had all been met.

I don’t want my own son to grow up expecting a woman to sacrifice like that. I want him to see me making sure my needs are met. Sometimes that means we’re eating more vegetables than he’d like (we are), or we walk home from school instead of driving (we do). He complains, and I just point out that he’s doing it because I need to do it. No arguments accepted. I’m putting myself first.

Follow Debbie on Connect @debbieskoenig
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