Stuck in between being a child and an adult, our 20s are the weirdest, awkward, most amazing times of our lives. (Well, I can’t really compare it to any other age since I’m stuck right in the sweet middle of my 20s).
There’s a lot of things that we expect to happen in our 20s. We should figure ourselves out, start somewhat of a career, travel the world, meet a lot of people, date, adopt an animal, recycle, vote…? You name it. The 20s checklist is pretty jam-packed. It’s almost like we forget about the fact that they’re actually just a tiny portion of our lives (God forbid something terrible to happen to us before we hit granny age).
As we’re juggling our world travels and starting our careers, there’s one extra important thing that we should focus on but that often gets ignored. This is creating healthy habits and laying the foundation of a healthier life for our future selves. Our future selves, not really the one you have in mind in your 20s. Eating right, starting an exercise routine, and getting enough sleep is more important in your 20s than you might think.
Okay there mom, you might think. “I’m feeling perfectly fine”. And that’s the point. We are the most healthy, young, and carefree in our 20s. The late nights of partying are what we live for, and that 2 am McDonald’s meal after a few too many drinks isn’t more than just that, a freaking delicious meal. In our 20s, nothing of this matters because our bodies are young and able to handle most of the shit we put it through. But, we won’t be this young forever, and the choices you make in your 20s do lay the foundation for your future self. The poor choices you make today will, unfortunately, catch up to you and bite you in the butt in the future.
We pretty much have the shape of our life in our 20s, especially our early 20s. With a fast metabolism, we can get away with not having a steady exercise routine. At least it doesn’t make any major changes to our figure. As we grow older our metabolism slows down, and exercise is crucial to keep the extra pounds away.
Not only is creating a good habit of exercise important for your shape, but it directly affects your health. The earlier you create a healthy exercise routine the more resistant your body will become to fighting off disease, which honestly is the main focus we should have when exercising. That we get a lean and strong body is just a bonus. Besides fighting off disease, exercise also gives you more energy, makes you mentally clear, and lets you age more gracefully.
Exercising is one of the most important things we can do. As humans, we evolved from movement. We are not built to be sedentary for long periods of time. It makes us weaker, a target for disease, increases our chances of depression and anxiety and lowers our productivity.
Eat your veggies
Do you get your 5-6 servings of fruit and veggies every day? If not, we’ll get to it damn it!! Fruit and vegetables provide us with so many nutrients. This doesn’t come as a complete surprise I’m sure, we’ve all been told from a young age to eat our fruit and veggies.
Antioxidants, that one miracle nutrient that protects our skin from premature aging can only be found in plants, such as fruit and vegetables. Not only are they packed with antioxidants but they give us the full range of vitamins from A to Z. Okay, not that we have that many vitamins, but they provide us with potassium, folic acid (vitamin B) fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Make it a habit to end your meal with a piece of fruit and make sure to always have something colorful on your plate. The goal is to eat the rainbow, but something is always better than nothing.
Sleep, that one thing we know we desperately need more off, but also the first thing to get deprioritized during stressful times. Honestly, I feel like sleep gets deprioritized by even the most useless things, such as binge-watching Netflix until 2 am for example.
Getting enough sleep is as important to our life as food and water. Our sleep is the only time our bodies have the chance to recover. Everything from muscle recovery after a workout to our heart, blood vessels, metabolism, lungs, pretty much every tissue and muscle in our body. For our brain, sleep is a major key. It’s during sleep our brains are able to process new information and create new pathways that let us learn new things and create memories.
It’s very individual how many hours of sleep each person needs, but the magic number lays somewhere between 7-9 hours for adults. Of course, some people might need more and some people do fine on less. What’s important in your 20s is that you start to prioritize sleep. Make it as important as your newly found exercise routine or your tasks at work. Think about it like this. With the lack of sleep, you won’t be able to perform as well in your career, in sports, in social gatherings, well, in anything!
Some tips for getting better sleep is to make sure you sleep in a dark room with a cool temperature and no loud sounds. Exercise or move every day for a minimum of 20 – 30 minutes, and stay away from electronics close to bedtime. Easier said than done, trust me I know…
Learn new things
Keep your body tight, but your mind tighter! Our brain is this strange, complex, totally amazing structure that controls everything we do, yet it’s such a mystery to us. Noone does fully understand the brain, but what we do know is that a strong brain is important to our health and our overall function.
As we age we start to lose neurons which are the ones responsible for our memory, and our ability to learn new things. We actually start losing neurons as early as around age 20, yup you heard right!
Keeping your brain healthy is as important as keeping your body healthy, if not even more important. Exercise is again, a magical formula for creating new neurons and boosting our brain with the feel-good hormone serotonin. I also advise you to pick up a book, learn a new skill, take some online courses, stay curious and keep learning new things every day! Our brain needs challenges to form new neurons and make new pathways in the brain structure, which in turn keeps it younger and healthier for longer.
Check yo self
Just as Ice Cube says it, “check yo self before you wreck yo self!”. He knows what’s up, and that regular doctor check-ups are crucial to your health. That song is actually a subliminal message to remind young adults to schedule annual doctors appointments. It’s true. I’ve asked him myself.
It’s a good idea to take a blood test every year to make sure your levels and vitamins are acting right. Also, make sure to practice safe sex. Wrap it up, people! Not only to prevent early pregnancies but to stay away from diseases. If you do have unprotected sex, make sure to, again, check yo self to make sure everything is alright down there.
Even though the sun is the biggest source of vitamin D, getting too much of it makes you walk funny for days… Okay, I’m sorry, but I just can’t resist the urge to pull a dirty joke when we talk about vitamin D.
Besides vitamin D, the sun has a lot of harming UV rays. The exposure of these rays is very dangerous to our skin. Make sure to always, let me emphasize on A L W A Y S, wear sunscreen. At least on your face. Even during the winter and cloudy days. Those strong UV rays are always peaking through and they are the main cause of premature aging in our skin. So get out and get yourself a good sunscreen. You should use at least 15 SPF on your face.
Keep doing this and you’ll live forever.
If you know how to do the “Floss Dance” you’re not only extremely coordinated, but your neurons are having a great learning party up there in your brain. Alright, this is obviously not the kind of flossing I’m talking about, but I mean real flossing, threat between your teeth kinda flosses.
Our mouth health is actually way more important than we think it is. Infected gums directly affect our hearth and vessels, since our veins are connected throughout our body, including our mouth and teeth. Make sure to floss regularly! Your breath and your health will thank you.
Let’s not get away from the fact that partying still is fun, and that having a healthy social life is extremely important to our health. Some nights you will go on a bender and might sip a few too many drinks then you anticipated, and that’s fine, as long as it’s not a daily occurrence. What’s important to think about is how you handle your hangovers.
Sleeping to one o’clock in the afternoon, ordering fast food, and not leaving your couch is a pretty usual hangover scenario, and this is where we can make a crucial change.
A hangover is a sign of dehydration which means that you should drink water like your life depended on it. A healthier way to deal with a hangover is to eat water containing foods, such as watermelon, cucumbers, bell peppers, apples, berries, pretty much any fruit or veggie you can think of. Hangovers usually give us a carb and fat craving, so instead of slamming an unhealthy Pizza in your mouth, which will make you feel even worse, is to make your own pizza with a lot of veggies, cook a delicious pasta dish, or make a hearty sandwich on fiber bread.
If you’re thinking, “girl, I’m not about to go cook food when I’m hungover”, you can still get healthier delivery options. Ask for more veggies on your pizza and less or no cheese, and instead of ordering from the worst fast food chains you can choose better options. You can also go to the grocery store and pick up ready-made food, then again, you have a lot of healthier options.
Our 20s are a big swing of ups and downs, and it’s easy to forget that the choices we make today will impact us in the future. We have this “invincible” thinking when we’re 20, which is great. It lets us live fearlessly, take more chances, and actually, experience life in the best ways. But, we also need to think about our health, so we can keep being courageous and fearless even when we’re in our 90s.
ALSO, if you’re in your 30s or 40s, or even 50s don’t think that it’s “too late” for you to start adopting these habits as well. It’s never too late to start caring about our health and improving the years we have ahead of us.