Friday, December 1, 2017

30 Healthy Habits to Start Before 30

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, aka sponsored links that help keep Haley Marie Blog alive. But don't worry - all of the opinions in this article are still my own!

Hello, beautiful! Happy December 1st - which, coincidentally, is also the first day of Blogmas 2017. 

In case you haven't heard of Blogmas, it's when bloggers post every day from December 1 - December 25 as a way of counting down to Christmas. I participated in it last year when my blog was first starting out, and a year later, I'm excited to say I'll be participating in it again!

That being said, one thing I want to do differently this year is writing posts about more than just Christmas. I also want to keep going with my usual content about beauty, health and happiness in college all at the same time.

So, the post I'm bringing you today is all about the 30 healthy habits you need to start before you turn 30. As I've probably mentioned a million times already, I've been having a bit of a crisis knowing I'm about to turn 20 this summer. To cope, I'm trying to learn as much as I can about all the healthy habits I should start in my 20s - and today, I'm sharing all those secrets with you. And here they are! :)

  1. Drink half your body weight in water. First thing's first: I'm 99.99% sure that, if you're anything like the rest of us, you're definitely not drinking enough water. Experts recommend you drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day to stay healthy and hydrated - for example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should aim for 70 ounces of water every day. (That's a little bit more than the 8-cups-a-day standard.)
  2. Make your bed in the morning. This is a habit I definitely need help on! However, I'm a big believer that making your bed signals to your body that it's time to wake up. Not to mention that a neat and tidy life = a neat and tidy mind. So, tomorrow morning, I challenge you to make your bed (or at the very least, straighten out your comforter a bit) before heading off to work or class. I guarantee you'll feel the positive effects almost instantly!
  3. Evaluate your finances every week. While this may not have to do with your physical health, your financial health is super important! After all, having healthy finances lifts a tremendous weight off your shoulders. So, even if you know you have a lot of debt on your shoulders, it's important to take the time to sit down with a cup of tea (or glass of wine) once a week and go through all your bills, bank statements and credit card accounts. Though it might be a bit painful at first, doing this will help you get your finances on track faster than you could imagine.
  4. Practice safe sex. Hopefully, if you became sexually active before age 20, you've already adopted this habit - but it's never too late to start! To me, "safe sex" doesn't just mean using birth control - it also means protecting yourself from STIs by using barrier methods (like condoms and dental dams) when you engage in sexual activity. Additionally, you should be screened every year for STIs like gonorrhea, especially if you're sexually active with multiple partners and don't use barrier methods religiously.
  5. Get screened for breast cancer. Learning to perform a breast self-exam is a skill every woman should have by eighteen - or, at the latest, in her twenties! Even though you're at low risk for breast cancer at this age, getting to know what your breasts normally feel like will help you identify potential problems more easily down the road. Additionally, if you have a history of breast cancer in your family, you might want to head to your local breast center and have a test for the BRCA gene. If you have it, your risk for developing breast cancer before age 70 is about 55-65% - so, you might want to consider your options such as mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Talk to your doctor for more info and, most importantly, be proactive about your breast health! 
  6. Know how to pour a standard drink. If your college is anything like mine, you probably had to take an e-course on alcohol before coming to university. When I took it, I learned the importance of knowing what a standard drink is. A standard drink contains approximately 14 grams of pure alcohol, and looks completely different depending on what you're drinking. For example, one shot is a standard drink of hard liquor - but a can of beer or half-a-glass of wine are also considered "standard." To drink as safely as possible, you shouldn't exceed more than one standard drink per hour...but since, as we all know, sh*t still happens, the bottom line is this: just know what you're drinking and how much! (And don't be the friend who's known for over-pouring.)
  7. Take a multivitamin. It might seem simple, but many Americans are deficient in important vitamins and minerals. For example, most of us are at least a little deficient in Vitamin D. Not to mention, if you're thinking about having kids, you definitely want to start taking a supplement containing folic acid. Most standard daily women's vitamins contain at least 100% of your daily value of these and other important nutrients, so as long as you're taking something, you're probably good.
  8. Eat intuitively. Intuitive eating, aka "normal eating," is the complete opposite of crash dieting or binge-eating. Instead of following a rigorous or uncontrollable eating pattern, you simply follow two simple rules: eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full. It's that simple! And the best parts? No foods are "bad" or "off-limits" when it comes to normal eating. So, enjoy a little bit of everything in moderation and quit those fad diets, girl. You deserve it!
  9. Start getting Pap smears at 21. Guidelines say you should visit a gynecologist as soon as you become sexually active - but you won't get a Pap smear until 21, and you don't need to go every year unless your Pap smear comes back abnormal. So, get your first Pap smear at 21 and ask your doctor's advice on when you should schedule your next appointment. For a healthy young college girl, you probably won't need to get another for the next three years or so - but better safe than sorry! 
  10. Throw away your scale. That's right - throw it away! Weighing yourself is an unrealistic evaluation of how much weight you've lost or gained. As a woman, your weight fluctuates with everything from what you ate to what day of your menstrual cycle it is. So, toss the scale and worry about how your clothes fit and how you feel instead - your mental health is worth so much more than that Victoria's Secret body, anyways.
  11. See a therapist at least once. Though this might be a bit controversial, I think everyone should visit a therapist at least once for a mental health check-in. After all, you go to your doctor, your dentist, your eye doctor and your gyno all for preventative visits - but most people don't even bother to visit a therapist unless something's wrong. The better strategy, in my opinion, is to see a professional at least once to discuss any potential concerns. That way, should you ever find that something serious arises, you'll already have a relationship with a professional who can help.
  12. Pay yourself first. By that, I mean save at least $20 from every paycheck before you even address your other expenditures. This technique is known as "paying yourself first" and will help you prepare for financial emergencies - so even if you're in debt, you won't have to fear for what might happen if you lose your job or default on your student loans.
  13. Stop seeing your pediatrician. Ladies, there's no reason to keep seeing that doctor you've been visiting since you were in diapers once you hit eighteen. Your family might still see you as a little girl, but the fact of the matter is that you're never going to feel comfortable discussing uncomfortable (but important!) health topics like birth control and breast exams with a doc who's known you since you still wore your hair in pigtails.
  14. Invest in a good resume and business cards. These two investments are simple and cheap, yet make a world of difference when it comes to impressing interviewers! Even if you're not in the market for a new job right now, you should still keep these things up-to-date - after all, you never know what's going to happen or when inspiration might strike.
  15. Master at least three healthy dinner recipes. You don't need to be a gourmet chef to keep yourself trim and well-fed - but as an adult, you should at least have a few go-to recipes for at-home dinner dates, work potlucks and visits from the 'rents. (And knowing how to make boxed macaroni and cheese doesn't count!)
  16. Get six to eight hours of sleep every night. No exceptions! Your body might be able to handle all those late-night study sessions in college, but by the time you hit 25 and have a real job, there's really no reason to stay up past midnight on a weekday - period.
  17. See the dermatologist. Skin going haywire in your 20s? It might be time to swallow your pride and schedule a visit with a dermatologist. After all, why waste any more money on experimenting with expensive lotions and potions that could go either way when the dermatologist could tell you exactly what's going to work for that adult acne? 
  18. Learn to read a nutrition label. Even if you can't cook from scratch every night, you should at least know what you're putting into your body when you unwrap that Panera sandwich (or package of gas station Pop-Tarts). Here's a handy guide to deciphering what all those numbers and percentages really mean.
  19. Wear sunscreen. Cloudy or sunny, rain or shine, your skin is depending on you for its protection from those harmful UV rays - so what better time to start wearing sunscreen than in your 20s, before most of the damage has set in?
  20. Break up with emotional vampires. If you haven't heard of emotional vampires, now's the time to learn to recognize them - and then run like the plague. An emotional vampire is one of those friends, boyfriends or family members who sucks the life out of you and leaves you feeling empty and negative every time you see them. So, if you've got a friend who's constantly complaining or an aunt who makes you feel like crap, cut off all contact ASAP. You're an adult; you can do that now!
  21. Stop going to bed with makeup on. There's no simple trick to getting clear skin that works for everyone - but there's one clear predictor of bad skin, and that's going to bed with a full face of makeup on. Always stock up on makeup wipes so that you can still wash off that grimy foundation before falling into bed, even on the latest of drunken nights.
  22. Set long- and short-term goals. One of the most important things you can do for your mental and physical health, in my opinion, is to always be working toward something. So, whether your goal is to run a marathon or a 5K, to travel to Paris, Texas or Paris, France, don't be afraid to get honest with yourself about your deepest desires. Chasing after your dreams will make you so much happier than anything else ever will! 
  23. Start a 401(k). Um, what? If you're still in college like I am, this doesn't exactly apply - but pay attention, because after graduation, this is advice you'll want to follow! Take advantage of your work's 401(k) program as soon as you land your first job, because the earlier you start saving, the more you'll be able to save. Even though you might not get to reap the benefits of this money right away, I promise you won't regret it down the line.
  24. Use anti-aging skincare products. Using anti-aging products might make you feel old, but think of them as preventative measures! Once the wrinkles are already there, all those acids and serums won't be able to do much to prevent something that's already started - but when you're still young, you can do much more to delay and even prevent the onset of those unsightly wrinkles. My advice? Act now and thank yourself later, rather than switching up your skincare when it's already too late!
  25. Ditch sugary drinks. I love Starbucks and Coke as much as the next girl, but if you wan't to stay #foreveryoung, you should keep your intake of sugary drinks as low as humanly possible. While one tall latte or one can of soda a week, in the long term, your thrice-daily Starbucks habit probably isn't helping you much in the long term. Better to start sipping on coffee with almond milk in your 20s, before the addiction gets that much worse...
  26. Learn to say no. Nothing is a better predictor of stress, in my opinion, than being a yes man! If you don't want to go out with your friends because you'd much rather stay in with a glass of wine and a good book, make like Nancy Reagan and just say no. Good friends will understand - or better yet, they'll offer to join you. But piling on commitment after commitment in the hopes of protecting everyone else's feelings just means you're sacrificing your own.
  27. Get a pet - or borrow one. Having a furry friend is great for your mental health, especially if you live alone or suffer from chronic stress! Petting bunnies and turtles alike has been proven to soothe the nervous system - regardless of whether or not you love animals. So, even if you don't have a pet of your own, take up volunteering at a local shelter or petsitting for your friends to take advantage of the anxiety-reducing effects of puppy love.
  28. Get spiritual - whatever that means to you. Whether it's going to church, reading a book of worship or getting in touch with your witchy side, spirituality (note: not religion!) of any form enriches everyone's lives. Regardless of whether or not you believe in a higher power, simply acknowledging those mysterious forces in the Universe can help you depersonalize your problems and cope with the difficulties in life.
  29. Buy less, buy well. Adopting an attitude of minimalism over consumerism will make your mind and finances both healthier in the long run. It's a simple formula: less stuff cluttering your room = less stuff cluttering your mind. Plus, the less you buy, the better quality items you can afford to buy and the longer they'll last you for. Interested in learning more? For a great introduction to minimalism, I highly recommend the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.
  30. Eat fermented foods. Last but not least, pay attention to your gut! Your gut health is closely linked to the rest of your body - and even your mind - so eating foods rich in probiotics (such as yogurt, kombucha and sauerkraut) will improve your overall health in the long-run.

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