When we are young and carefree, we mostly think that we are untouchable in a sense. We can eat what we want, party a lot, live on junk food and survive on only a few hours of sleep. Or, work excessively long hours, drink too much caffeine, hardly drink our vitamins and have exercise last on our to-do list. Even though, we don’t all do all these things in excessive form, the effects of these behaviours or habits really add up in the long run.
What I wish I took more seriously when I was younger was that the best time to start living towards a healthier future you, is today. I used to say, “I will start my diet on Monday” or “Look, it’s already 5:30 pm, it’s too late to go for a 20-minute jog now”, but I was purely just making excuses for myself. Why? Because I was still young and healthy at that time. I didn’t feel the need to worry about my health choices back then. I said to myself, “It’s fine, I will worry about it when the time comes”. I find that this is something that quite a lot of people say, even at different ages. Unfortunately, your life and health can change in the blink of an eye. So, here are a few things I want to share that I wish I took more seriously when I was younger. I want to encourage you that no matter how old you are now, in your 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s, it is never too late to work towards a healthy or even just a healthier version of you.
Taking your vitamins daily is more important than you think
The quality of the foods we consume these days unfortunately doesn’t contain the quality of nutrients it should to ensure that your body get all that it needs. Vitamins are important on a daily basis to help your body stay healthy, possibly help protect you against harmful toxins and free radicals and also to boost your quality of life. When we feel exhausted, fatigued, full of aches and pains, low concentration and even just surviving, we really can’t perform our best every day. Vitamins are there to support your health and body. Think about it, if you can boost yourself and possibly help protect your health, why wouldn’t you want to do that? We at IPS always say that “Prevention is much better and cheaper than cure”. Especially if you look at the medical costs and inconvenience that is caused in your life when something as simple as getting the flu happens. Continue eating a healthy diet but also supplement your health, brain, organs, skin, muscles, joints, heart, bones, immune system and energy levels by using a good vitamin supplement.
Smoking steals from a beautiful and healthy you
Being someone who smoked for about 8 years, I can see the difference in my complexion, running abilities and even just recovering from an illness these days. It is much better now that I’ve stopped smoking. Smoking is probably one of the ‘nicest’ habits to have. There is nothing like having a cigarette, especially when you are stressed or socialising, but there is damage being done with every single drag. Being a long-time smoker will certainly show on your complexion first, especially as you get older. The nicotine and tar cause wrinkles and sagging skin because the tiny blood vessels are damaged by the chemicals. This causes less oxygen and nutrients to circulate, reach and enrich the skin. The tar and nicotine, of course, are also detrimental to your lungs. When the damage is done, it can’t be undone. Maybe with your skin there are some things you can do to improve the appearance, but with your lungs, the damage stays.
Junk food will catch up on your health eventually
We all love junk food occasionally, if not every week. It’s a guilty pleasure but can also be the staple food for some people. The truth about junk food is that it contains high amounts of saturated fat which is left in the arteries and accumulates over time. According to research more than 90 percent of heart diseases are preventable. The crux is that you have to start taking care of your heart early on. My father-in-law would always say, “For a moment on the lips, but forever on the hips”. So, always keep in mind that the harm junk food does to your body isn’t going to disappear by itself. Try and make healthier choices, even when you do eat junk food. There is always a healthier option.
Bone density can only be built until the age of 35
For most of us, our bone mass will reach its peak between the age of 25-30. As we get older and reach about 40, our bone mass begins to reduce. There are ways for us to help slow down the process of bone mass reduction. The more bone you build in your younger years of 20s and 30s, the better your chances are to possibly avoid bone damage later. According to Dr Kay Kirkpatrick, many of her patients in their 50s are still active women but have unfortunately slipped and fell and ended up with a fractured hip. If their bone mass were denser, they could possibly have avoided the bone breaking. Reduced bone mass can cause a disease called osteoporosis. This is a metabolic disease that occurs when bones grow spongy and weaken. It is due to the small spaces between the bone tissue getting bigger (more air, less bone). Contradictory to popular belief, osteoporosis isn’t just a women’s problem. Roughly 30 percent of 2 million fractures that happen every year in America will happen with men. It’s also not just a problem that occurs mostly in elderly people either. Young people also get osteoporosis these days, which is why strengthening your bones up until the age of 35 can play an important role in your bone health later.
Your outlook can be improved through exercise
There is a reason why exercise is always on a list when it comes to physical, mental and even emotional health. The endorphins that get released with something as simple as a 20-minute walk have tremendous effects on our whole body. When you can add more movement or exercise to your weekly schedule it can help reduce the feeling of depression and anxiety. I usually start to feel more accomplished when I stick to my plan of action to get my endorphins released. Exercise can help you cope better mentally, see things in perspective, broaden your outlook on your own potential and even see the beauty around you, especially if you exercise outside. I know from experience that after some time of keeping up with an exercise routine, my life does become happier and my outlook on things in my life improves. Start trying to add more exercise to your life and see the results for yourself.
Choose commitments that will enrich your life
Too many of us get caught up in trying to keep up with the Joneses. We try to say yes to the big project at work, to help at the school recital and/or to host a family braai for the upcoming weekend all at the same time. During this continuous cycle we tend to get burnt out and wonder “How did I get here?” when we were the ones who put ourselves in that position. As I get older, I realise more and more that trying to impress everyone isn’t worth it. Your quality of life and family time will be what you look back on, not the amount of bake sales you hosted. Put yourself first from now on and really think about which responsibilities you want to commit to. If you can’t accommodate more on your plate or if you don’t want to participate in the commitment, politely just say “Perhaps a next time will be better” and leave it at that. Put yourself first or you won’t be able to commit to anything that will enrich your life or the lives of the people that matter the most to you.