When people say, “I can’t make the time to exercise. With work, family and my job there’s just no time,” they are saying just that. They aren’t making the time!

To exercise and be healthy, you have to make the time. What does this mean? Well, before we get to that, take a minute to rank the following subjects: family, friends, job, health, wealth.

If you are like most, you put family first. You love your family. They need and depend on you. Well, what if you weren’t around anymore? We have all had a bad cold or flu. How much help were you to your family when you were sick? What if it was a major illness?

The fact is, if you don’t put your health first, you may be risking all the other facets of your life.

When your financial planner says “Pay yourself first,” you don’t find it strange at all. It is good planning. But when someone says, “Before you do anything, plan your exercise and your ‘me’ time,” many of us would say we are just too busy. This is the Catch-22 of our demanding society.

We need to break this mold, especially here in Atlantic Canada. People may think: If you put time into yourself, you are selfish. This is wrong! If you don’t look after yourself first, you won’t have the resources to look after anyone (yourself included).

You need to plan your health and “me” time first. Mark it off now. Don’t wait for tomorrow or next week. Mark it off and make the time.

You need to change exercise from an option to a preference, to a way of life. If you already work out five times a week, you can still set new goals. We all can improve. We can all be pushed that little bit more.

If you can only spare 20 minutes twice a week, do it. It will gradually become more. You will become addicted to taking care of yourself. When you do spend time with family and friends, it will be even better. You will be more relaxed and confident. People will see it in you. You are allowed to love yourself without being narcissistic.

I have a friend who is in superb shape. Sometimes in warm weather he likes to wear a tank top. When he walks around in Moncton or Halifax, people look at him like, “Show off, put your shirt back on.” When he was in LA, people came up to him and said, “Hey, you look great, good job.”

It’s all about attitude. For years in Atlantic Canada, people with money didn’t show it for fear of drawing negative attention. This attitude is gradually changing. Now successful people are comfortable driving luxury cars.

The tide is turning, Atlantic Canada. It’s okay to take care of yourself and feel good! It’s okay to love myself and to “optiMYz” your life.

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