A Powerful Analogy: Put Yourself First

planeI recently did a blog post about my 1-3 year plan and man am I excited about it.  I talked about my vision and mission statement for what I see happening in the very near future.  I received awesome feedback from you as well that I will be using to further narrow down everything.  Click here to read the entire article and comments as well as add some additional thoughts.

flight-attendant-fridayOn common theme I have been hearing is that it is hard for some moms to grasp or be ok with the “put yourself first” theme.  At the surface it does sound very self-centered and selfish.  But I believe that couldn’t be further from the truth.

flightLater on this week I will be in Charlotte, NC attending a conference and then in two weeks I have the honor of speaking at one of the top fitness conferences in the world in LA in front of about 400 fitness professionals.  The past two months I have been blessed to travel to NYC, CT, Miami, Caribbean, Vegas, and Vancouver.  With all the flights I have been on I always am aware of a perfect analogy for this whole “put yourself first.”

I am sure everyone who is reading this has flown quite a bit know that before the plane takes off the, boring, (yet important) safety talk is played over the intercom.  I will try to remember the exact words of the part that hits me every time.

“If there is a sudden drop in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling.  Take your mask and put it around your face and begin breathing, then attend to small children or those around you, don’t first help your children.”

Do you see how powerful that is?

How often have you failed to put your oxygen mask on first and are desperately trying to put the oxygen mask around your kids, your husband, your friends, all the while you are slowly dying of lack of oxygen?  As you fumble around longer and longer, your ability to help those you love the most becomes harder and harder and less effective.  If only you would have taken the time to FIRST put your own oxygen mask on before helping those around you.  If you would have done that, you could be in the position to be there for everyone and give 100% of yourself.

I hope that really sunk in for some of you and take it to heart.  It can help make a statement like “putting myself first,” into a much better light.

I am curious what you think of this?  Have you done this before?


  1. That is, indeed a powerful analogy, Dustin. You’ve hit the nail on the head for me, anyway, as putting myself first is one of the most difficult things for me to do. Because of my MS and depression, I already feel like I’m a burden to my family, so for me to do something for myself seems extremely selfish. However, in order to maintain the health I have, AND improve on that, I do have to put myself first. To add to this difficulty: since I was a little girl, I always felt it was MY responsibility to make everyone around me happy, and to take care of all of their problems. While it is nice to be able to do for others, it can be taken so far that there is no longer any “you” left. I will remember your analogy, and keep working on getting my SELF back! Thanks!

  2. There is a difference in putting yourself first in order to maintain your health (both physical and mental) and in being selfish. That is why people who don’t know you and your programs need this analogy or another clarification instead of just “Put yourself first.” When I workout I do put myself first. I limit the amount of time my kids watch television, but when I exercise, I let them watch an extra show. I believe that the trade-off for them is wonderful. Even though they are watching another show, I am able to be a better mother to them the rest of the time because I am stronger and healthier as a result.

  3. It’s also important to recognize the cycle you are perpetuating when you don’t put yourself first. Day in and day out are you allowing your children to see an example of a well-balanced adult? Or are you setting them up to feel obligated to abandon themselves once they become parents? Is that the kind of parent you want your grandchild to have? Be the change you wish to see, folks! What a confusing world we live in when we allow our children to think they are the most important thing in the world and then turn around and call them selfish when they carry this same belief into adulthood. It’s a miracle any of us are sane. Great analogy, Dustin. Thanks!

  4. Great analogy! I really like it!
    Recently I started posting interestnig analogies I found on the web on blog.ygolana.com. I thought it could be a good idea to create a place where people can share useful analogies.

  5. I have been experimenting on health drinks. What ones do you think are better? I heard that anything with any kind of sugar is not. I agree, one must put oneself first to be strong and to be able to be a good influence on others. I hate going to a doctor who looks unhealthy. On the other hand, Dustin does look pretty, darn good. So, he would be considered a good influence. Keep up the good work, Dustin. Shalom, Esther

    • Esther,

      I am not a fan of any health drinks… Sure you can juice fruits and veggies, that is fine. But any commercial drink is going to have lots of sugar and many times high fructose corn syrup. I would stay away from them all together.


  6. I completely agree with the putting yourself first. I am a mom of three, and I think everyone in my family knows the days I don’t work out. It is MY time. It is my time to myself, to clear my head, and to worry about myself. Does that sound selfish, yes, maybe in a way–but I think in a good way. It is my stress reliever, which calms me down. It is my time alone, so I can be there for the family when I’m finished. I make a point to get up early to get it out of the way so it doesn’t take out of “family time,” but I make the time for ME because I know it is good for everyone. Plus, as another comment stated, you are teaching your child that exercise and being healthy are important. My girls have been known to pretend to make up exercise videos and pretend they are the “stars” on TV! I think it is influential in a completely positive way!!!!! Keep it up Dustin, your encouragement and teaching will show moms and women that they are worth it and NEED to take that time for themselves and their families! 🙂

  7. Dustin-This is one of the best analogies ever! I recently took a trip to Miami so those words are fresh in my mind. Some people practically ruin themselves trying to take care of others and make other people happy. If we just focused on ourselves a little more, our impact on/with others could be so much greater! I am going to share this analogy again and again. Going off what Julie said, I was that child that made exercise videos with my friends, a boombox, and the family video camera. My parents were very active when I was growing up, and they still are, and I credit my love of exercise and sports to them. They instilled a love of being active and eating healthy in me and I think more parents need to realize their role in their child’s lifestyle choices and health.

  8. Margaret, your sentence: Some people practically ruin themselves trying to take care of others and make other people happy.
    This sums up what I was needing to face/say in my comment. It has been difficult for me to learn that I’m not responsible for the happiness of others. (I’m getting there, though.) Thanks!

  9. Very good analogy!! A good reminder that it is NOT selfish to take care of yourself first. Then you have so much more to give to your loved ones.

    Thanks Dustin!

  10. Bethany M. - gourmet goodness says


    Thanks for the numbers on the workout, even if they were general.
    I usually don’t rely on my workouts to achieve my desired caloric goal, but it helps to have a more full picture.

    I was watching the nutritional segment on FML 3 and at the end, you mentioned deli meat as a good snack. I know iceburg lettuce doesn’t have a lot going for it nutritionally, but many people eat it. I usually have both a deeper green and iceburg in my fridge, but I love to take out a leaf of iceburg and put 2 slices of deli meat in it for a snack. My fingers don’t get yucky and it adds a great crunch!

  11. Bethany-what are the numbers you are talking about? Did Dustin talk about how many calories burned per workout? I would be interested in knowing if that is what you are referring to. Thanks!


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