This past weekend, when we took a spontaneous trip to the beach, I was itching to get into the water, which is unusual for me. I’m typically like a cat, not terribly fond of water (nor of sand, or salt water in my eyes), but it had been a while since I’d been to the beach, and the waves were irresistible.
We staked out our spot on the sand, and I whipped out the sunscreen and made sure the kids and my boyfriend were doused in the stuff, issuing reminders like “Make sure you get your ears” and “Add some more to the back of your neck”. I checked to make sure everyone had put enough on so we wouldn’t be heading to the ICU with third degree burns, and when I felt assured that no one was going to fry like bacon, we headed to the water.
There was just one problem. I spent so much time making sure they were properly doused in sunscreen, properly protected, that I got distracted and never applied sunscreen to my back. It dawned on me later, and one of the kids helped me put sunscreen on my back, but it was already too late. The backs of my shoulders and across the top of my back are a lovely shade of red, painful and itching already.
The other day, it struck me that the sunscreen story is like an analogy of my life and my weight struggle. Without realizing it, I put aside my needs to make sure others were taken care of. I didn’t realize I was doing it, and I didn’t choose to do it, but I paid the price for it. It wasn’t the kids’ faults, or my boyfriend’s fault, but it is a pattern and a behavior that I need to pay more attention to if I want to be successful in losing weight and taking care of myself.
Lesson learned: there is nothing wrong with taking care of my family. But when I do it at the expense of taking care of me, there is a huge problem. Taking care of me needs to be as much of a priority as protecting and taking care of the people I love. I am reminded of that every time I rub aloe gel into my crisply-burned, well-done back!