There comes a moment for every woman when she realizes she's not 22 anymore. While it may be tough, we all have to stop comparing our current selves to our younger selves. We have to learn what health and wellness are during different stages of our lives, and why each and every one should be embraced.
First, let's talk about our 20s and 30s.
Most of us are at our physical peak in our 20s and 30. You feel great, our skin glows, our energy is limitless. You're probably living on your own for the first time and enjoying that freedom. It almost feels like you can do no wrong.
But what IS a mistake is to act like you can eat and drink anything just because you can still fit into your skinny jeans the next morning. Get real: it ALL matters! Why? Because during this phase of your life, you're laying the foundation for how your body will function in the decades to come.
Don't believe me? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently published a study on how the more red meat women eat between 18 and 30 years old, the bigger their risk for high blood pressure when they're older. Women in that same age group who ate more fruits and veggies reduced that risk.
It's still important to get enough iron though, so go ahead and eat some meat if it suits your body, but be sure to get it from organic, wild and free-range sources if you can. If your'e vegan, legumes like lentils or kidney beans will give you iron and protein.
Did you know that your body is still creating your bones in your 20s? You might not be thinking about osteoporosis when you're out clubbing, but make calcium a habit. Think outside the milk carton; kale, spinach and other dark leafy greens, as well as fish like salmon are great sources of calcium.
In your 30s...
...you're either trying to get pregnant or trying not to get pregnant. Either way you need vitamins. If you're on birth control, it can rob your body of zinc, magnesium, B2 and other nutrients. If you're pregnant or trying to be, nutrients are essential.
Vitamin B2 helps your body produce new red blood cells and break down calories. And if you're going to be hosting another life in your body, vitamin B2 plays an important role.
In your 40s...
...don't completely freak if you reach 40 and realize you've been abusing your body. There's still time to change the future and thankfully when you reach your 40s, you're probably starting to think about what your life is going to be like in your 60s, 70s and beyond.
The most important advice I can give you here is portion control. You really need to watch it because your metabolism is about to experience a major slowdown and you don't want to be in the middle of that Twinkie when it happens. If you haven't already, it's time to cut out the fatty foods (aka most processed foods) and cut way back on dairy and red meat.
By your late 40s, you're most likely in perimenopause with irregular periods and hair sprouting up in new places, telltale signs that the mood swings and hot flashes of the big "M" aren't far behind. One way to prepare yourself is to seriously cut back on your sugar intake.
You also need to start listening to your muscles and joints when you exercise. Most of the pains you're feeling are actually your body telling you to cut back. Maybe now's the time to evaluate if the same ole' exercises are really the best for you, before you injure yourself.
In your 50s...
...you'll start to have new physical concerns like Arthritis. Not to sound like a broken record, but if you start being active at a younger age, your body will accommodate that as you age — start young and stay active, and your body will keep up with you.
You'll also want to reduce your sodium and caloric intake by 10%, and make sure you're getting plenty of magnesium (stock up on avocados, cashews and whole grain cereal).
Your 60s and beyond?
Well, I'll let you know as I get closer to those milestones!
The older you get, the harder it's going to be to correct the mistakes of your youth. When you're 22, thinking about your knees blowing out when you hit 55 is a stretch. My best advice to you, whatever your age, is to start building the foundations of good health today.