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Pay Yourself First

If you read the ending first, you would get the opinion that Angela Ann Murphy has always been focused on her success. She’s well thought out, put together and focused on what she wants to achieve.

Angela makes time for herself, first. She works in the family business with her husband and they are often going on calls together. “No appointments before I get my workout in” she states with a smile. It is as much reinforcement in her own brain as it is a truthful statement. Her emotional and physical health comes first. Not knowing who she is or where she came from you might think she is a tad greedy or self-indulgent. As we listened and understood her story, we realized how many of us are on this same road. A road of self-discovery, self-worth, and self-knowledge that she has come to realize.

Tried and True

Most of us have heard the old financial tip to pay yourself first. To save and invest before paying any bills. If we don’t, the money will find a way to leave the account anyway. I love this quote from John Maxwell about money:

“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”

As I reflect on this and Angela’s story, I realize a few takeaways. Many of us have financial budgets, but how many of us have time budgets? Meaning, if you don’t pay your emotional health first, it will go elsewhere. Further, how many of us are doing it like Angela by focusing on ourselves first? We need to love ourselves first. It’s not that we love others less, but realize that to give more, we need to be more. More time to ourselves. More dedication to our health. More me-time. And definitely more self-knowledge and love.

Caring Heart From the Beginning

Angela was born one and a half months premature and weighed only 4.5 pounds. But after that, she was "incredibly strong" as she puts it. “I hit every milestone after that. I was an inquisitive, energetic, and intelligent child that always gave my mom gray hair.” She was athletic in middle school and ran track until the eighth grade. She once even broke her ankle and still managed to finish second.

Angela had two loving parents that were trying to give her and her sister the American dream. Her dad was a police officer and her mom was a teacher. Her parents would go to work from 6:30 am till 7:00 pm, leaving Angela caring for her younger sister most of the time. She was always cooking and cleaning and caring for her. She didn’t mind, but it left little time for herself after school.

Angela also loved cats. She began fostering kittens and even bottle feeding them to health. In high school, she often brought her kittens to school which earned her the nickname “Mama Kitty”.

In high school, she quit athletics and began dating her future husband and started focusing on her academics. She graduated with honors and in the top 20% of her class. After high school, she continued on to college. She was later in a car accident where she suffered head, knee and back trauma. She became pregnant with her first son at age 20 and she and her boyfriend chose to get married and work it out.

Married Life

Married life for Angela with her first husband was rough. She suffered constant abuse (physical, emotional and verbal). She said, “I often turned to food for comfort and the pounds began to pile on.” “My husband separated from me and wanted a divorce and one of the reasons was because I was fat.” During this hard time in her life, Angela often turned to binge eating and self-harm. She stated, “If not for my cats and kids, I would have probably committed suicide on multiple occasions”. She would eventually divorce. “As a single parent I struggled and money received only paid the bills and I felt like I was existing to raise my kids, eat and sleep.” “I rarely left the house and I felt like I had little purpose. I spent most days eating coupled with excessive sleeping.”

The Roller Coaster

In 2009 Angela remarried. She became pregnant with her third son. She suffered severe postpartum depression and began binge eating again. “My husband didn’t care about how large I was and stated that I was beautiful no matter how much I weighed”. From 2011-2017 the weight went up and down with fad diets, pills, shakes, and the like. She had extreme mood swings and bouts of depression. In late 2018, her husband found out that she was hiding food and became concerned. He suggested she see her doctor again and was then diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder. The doctor referred her to a Bariatric surgeon and requested she sees a certified nutritionist.

“In January 2019 I finally decided that this was it. I was going to get surgery and start walking at least 5,000 steps a day. No more excuses, no more self-pity, no more going through life with no enthusiasm and goals for myself.”

“You are Your Own Worst Enemy and Biggest Supporter”

It’s one of Angela’s favorite quotes. It means that this life is about you. To give to others and care for one's community, you have to start by giving to and caring for yourself.

I am reminded of the pre-flight lecture that most of us ignore. When the flight attendant tells you to put on your mask before the mask of a child or other person in need. They know that in high elevation/low oxygen situations, the chances of blacking out fast are real. They know that unless you take care of your needs first, you have no chance of caring for another. It is impossible.

The Bible tells us to “Love thy neighbor as yourself”. It doesn’t say love your neighbor in spite of yourself. One cannot exist without the other and be fruitful.

The Transition

Angela began allocating time for herself first. She starts her day focused on self, in a healthy way. Since the beginning of this year, Angela has lost over 100 pounds. She has gone from wearing 20W pants to size 7/8 pants. Her shirt size went from a 2XL to a ladies small. So not only has she improved her physical health but she has also changed her mood and energy towards her emotional health.


  1. What kind of physical activity are you doing? Orange Theory Fitness as well as Yes.Fit races. Yes.Fit gave me the motivation to increase my steps to 13,000+ per day, I bike around 10-15 miles a day and I do 3-4 live races a month.
  2. How are your eating habits now that you did the Bariatric surgery? I am a binge eater and I love to eat. I will always have that problem. I try and divert my attention to do more races and miles. Get my mind off eating.
  3. Do you get scared that you might go back to your old ways? Yes, there is always a scare factor. I’m watching my weight but I’m not too picky. I realize muscle weighs more than fat so I give myself a range. The other day I was going to skip Orange Theory because I was doing a live 5K the next day. I wound up doing them both because I didn’t want to get out of the habit.
  4. How is your support system now? It’s good. My husband is very supportive, but what is different is that I take pride in myself now. However, recognition is important.
  5. When you were in your bad spots, what was your mental health state like? I didn’t care. I was lying to myself that I was happy. I was trying to give myself an excuse and that it was okay to eat badly.
  6. What would you tell a younger version of yourself about your life? I would say write down for yourself what you want in life. Write down the steps you need to take. Write down your goals. Get away from stress. Go and do for yourself. Everything will be okay without you doing it all the time. You need to take time for yourself. You are your own worst enemy or your own best friend.

What an awesome job Angela. We are very proud of you, but what is most important is that you are proud of yourself.

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