Growing up, I’d always considered myself to be a mix of healthy and unhealthy. I wasn’t particularly good at anything athletic, but my mom also never really let us eat any junk food. In college, I became more in charge of my life, but between typical college habits and the fact that I really didn’t like college, I moved more into the unhealthy camp.
It takes most people a while to figure out that the college lifestyle does not translate to adult life. They’re separate and different for a reason, rather, many reasons. In the last year or so, I slowly started making big changes to my lifestyle, and I’m a much happier and healthier person.
Here’s what I said bye to:
1. Drinking. Mostly. I’m very grateful to have never had any substance abuse issues. But I realized pretty quickly that drinking wasn’t something I wanted or needed to do. The side effects of alcohol consumption are many, including weight gain, infertility, liver and heart problems, and you only become more prone to them as you get older, so it’s best to get responsible when you’re young. I don’t say no to the occasional glass of wine or sangria, but my waistline and wallet are happier without regular alcohol consumption.
2. Not working out. I worked out sporadically in college and didn’t play any sports. Now I love working out, but when I disrupt my routine, I have a hard time getting back into it. This year, I started going to yoga with my mom. Having a workout buddy is great motivation, and you’re less likely to bail on another person than you are on yourself!
3. Having a college diet when you’re no longer in college. I’ve been a pescetarian since I was a little girl, but in the past few years I’ve also given up a lot of food groups in favor of a diet that is mostly legumes, vegetables, and fruit. Recently, I’ve indulged in a lot of dairy, gluten, and sugar, and I’ve felt like crap. Time to get back to the greens!
4. Eating late at night. I used to love heating up a frozen pizza to pair with some nighttime Netflix, but your body doesn’t break down food well late at night, which is a recipe for weight gein and also makes it harder to get a good night’s sleep. Now I do my best to eat my last meal well before 8 pm.
5. Not taking off my makeup before bed. Sleeping in makeup is one of the worst things you can do to your skin, and I was so guilty of it for years. You don’t have to have a long, complicated routine, either: just cleanse and moisturize. Now that I’m in the habit of cleansing, I can’t fall asleep with a “dirty” face! Check out my favorite cleansers and clean up your act. Your skin will thank you.
6. Not walking. I love to drive, and I think that taking long rides for no reason is a lost pastime. But walking has so many health benefits, from weight loss to the old “get some fresh air,” and I do love it. It’s hard in the winter, so I try to make up for it in the warmer seasons by walking everywhere I can.
7. Not keeping a regular sleep schedule. This is still something I struggle with because I need a lot of sleep, but I’m also a night owl who does some of her best work late at night. Now I try not to nap anymore because it always throws off my sleep routine. I’ve also been putting my laptop away in favor of reading at bedtime, and sleeping with the blinds open helps me wake up with the rising sun.
8. Not having a routine. I’ve become an organized person who schedules her workouts, blog posts, and everything else in advance. And then I stick to it.
9. Not staying hydrated. At every age, drinking water is one of the constant requirements for a healthy life. I carry a water bottle with me in my work bag and drink tea at my desk throughout the day.
10. Doing things I don’t want to do. Not things like paying taxes and going to work, mind you! But I used to go to nightclubs and bars every weekend because my friends wanted to and I thought that it was what young people are supposed to do. I’m so much happier staying in, relaxing, and having Me Time. All the money I save doesn’t hurt, either!
You don’t have to do everything I do, and you can always make changes I didn’t make; my list and lifestyle aren’t for everyone. But what’s universal is this: it’s important to form good habits early on, and stick with them in order to have a long and healthy life. So start with small changes. The most important thing is to pick a place and start. Why not this week? Happy Monday!