HALT—Are you making commitments to everyone else and ignoring yourself? And how is that working for you?

I can tell you this, it doesn’t work for me.

Young woman holding a stop signI become this horrible monster you don’t want to be around. And yet, in the past, I would find myself pulled back there time and time again.

Many times I would stay up late to get a project done, snacking on unhealthy food, not taking time to prepare proper nutrition or get proper rest.

I wouldn’t go places with my family because I had a deadline. They would leave and I would be alone. After a while, I would be angry at myself for making this commitment that was overwhelming me.

I didn’t do this for myself. I did it for someone else because, of course, I thought everyone else was more important than me.

I put myself last most of the time. It felt a little selfish to say, “I can’t do that because it interferes with preparing supper or doing my exercise.” I felt they would think, “Surely she can do that another time.”

Here’s the truth, if I don’t schedule those kinds of things for myself they don’t get done and I end up Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. 

You are pretty smart. You know that spells HALT.  When I start feeling any one of these or all at once, I know I’ve gone too far.

I’m taking care of everyone else instead of me. The interesting thing is my most important job should be taking care of myself.

If I don’t take care of myself, I can’t help anyone else.

I have to set boundaries for myself. If I don’t, I will try to do everything, fill every moment with something I deem productive

I’ve begun to see that rest, play, down time and margin is just as productive as work time.

The old adage, “all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl,” is true. In my case, “dull” can be interpreted as unproductive.

I was not created to be productive every single minute of every day. I need time to recharge my batteries.

I have to admit, I’m not good at this.

One thing I do that helps me is my exercise routine. I look forward to mornings of walking in the water. I will move every meeting around so I can have that time. I’ve learned that hour in the water does more for me than six hours spent in front of the computer.

It’s my time of refreshment—body, soul and spirit. My body is moving while my spirit is communing with God’s spirit. My emotions are calmed by the peaceful rhythm of the water. It’s my time. I guard it carefully.

It would be nice if we came with some kind of auto-fill where we could get exactly the right amount of nutrition and never have to think about it or even stop to eat. Instead, we get hungry and have to make decisions about what to eat and more importantly what not to eat.

I keep some healthy snacks, gluten-free, sugar-free protein bars, turkey, chicken, lettuce, strawberries, bananas, nuts. These are my staples. I can exist if I have these.

I need to be with people. This is really easy for me. I live in a house that has people constantly coming and going. However, there are times I intentionally seek out friends just for some girl time. I need that as well.

This whole tired thing happens to me when the house is dark and I’m madly working away only to realize it’s 1 a.m. and I have a 7 a.m. meeting. I try to pull myself away before then. If I don’t I am prone to make a dash to the kitchen breaking my agreement with myself not to eat so late at night/early in the morning.

Good thing all the junk is gone from my house. I’d really be in trouble.

The point is, I am as important or more important as others I’m trying to work with or help. I have to take care of my needs and not put them last.

I have to take care of my needs. Here are some ways I remember to do that.

Hungry—Eat regular, healthy meals. Make sure I have the things I need on hand.

Angry—Get regular exercise to work off stress and frustration. Make sure I talk out concerns with the person who is frustrating me.  Schedule down time to read, watch a movie, take a date night with my husband.

Lonely—Take time to intentionally connect with family and friends.  Do some activities just for fun.

Tired—Get eight hours of sleep. Be cognizant of when my husband is going to bed and adjust my schedule if possible.

This is my agreement with myself. I will guard it carefully.

What’s your agreement with yourself?

Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.

Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach and speaker, who has lost more than 250 pounds. Her book, "Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor", is the number 1 Christian Weight Loss Memoir on Amazon. Her other books include: "Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy", "Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help", "Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation" and "Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God".

She also offers Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Academy and VIP one-on-one coaching program, both available under the weight loss tab. To book Teresa for your next event, check the Speaking tab on her website. Also check out her blog and Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast under the tabs by those names.