Do a mental check for how many of these you’re NOT already doing.
Your 20s is a splendid time – you’re a beautiful, blossomed flower who’s gotten to know herself better and who’s finally half-mastering the cat eyeliner. You never really graduate from that second one.
Your aunties, older sisters, and that one lady at the hair salon tells you to appreciate your youth. It’s a time when you can pull all-nighters, drink coffee like your life depended on it (it does), and stuff your face with obscene amounts of Chicken McNuggets with no repercussions.
You look good and you feel good, and you don’t even exercise! But guess what, all these magically comes to a halt at 12am on your 30th birthday.
Okay, not really, but almost kind of something like that. So read up, and start treating yourself so well that future you will travel back in time just to thank you.
Eat Grownup Food
We get the lures of nuggets and keropok fried 8 ways from that stall across the office, but you need to lay off…in moderation. Grownups eat grownup food because they make them feel and look better!
Healthful foods don’t have to taste like grass – just get in your proteins, fibres, and grains and get creative! Instead of nuggets, lightly batter chicken breast, grill it, then throw in some carrots and potatoes for dinner. You’ll still enjoy the crisp and crunch without the artificial junk and carcinogenic ingredients that come with processed food.
Eating well isn’t just choosing better foods, but also making sure to eat all your meals at appropriate times. It’s easy to get caught between two proposals and one angry supervisor, so pack a meal or 2 to work to ensure that you don’t put on excess weight that’s harder to trim off as you get older.
Limit your sugar intake by choosing water or tea over sodas and energy drinks. Excess sugar breaks down the collagen in your body – that’s the stuff that gives you the natural face lift you were born with. To limit is not to lay off completely. Treat yourself once in a while with your favourite chocolates (dark is always better) and cake.
In short, start making better, more deliberate choices with your food. You’ll feel less fatigued, enjoy brighter skin, and sport a better looking body – both inside and outside!
Old Habits Die Hard, So Kill the Bad Ones Now
There are so many reasons why you shouldn’t smoke, but here’s a compelling one: you die, faster. Smoking (even second hand) puts you at risk of heart diseases, lung cancer, stroke osteoporosis, cervical cancer, and more. Also, what about premature ageing and yellowing teeth? No, thanks.
It’s hard to kick an addiction, but it gets harder later, and you’ll really start to feel the effects – respiratory and health problems that might get in the way of things like travel, work, sleep, and completing marathons for your Instagram followers.
Speaking of things to do on a Saturday evening, drinks. Go ahead and enjoy a wine, beer, liquor or two with friends, but do it in moderation: about 1 – 2 drinks a day. Excessive drinking leads to liver problems, high blood pressure, and drunken texts to exes. So try easing up before bad habits turn into irreversible addictions.
Keep an Eye on Your Ears
We all have about 18,000 inner ear hair cells to start. These cells help us hear by converting sound vibrations into electric signals that are sent to the brain.
Once a hair cell dies, you don’t get a replacement. This means that the wear and tear of age and very loud music or noise gives you poorer and poorer hearing every day.
You may still be able to overhear your next door neighbour’s evening arguments with the newscaster, but you won’t be able to if you keep turning up those headphones. If you’re using earphones at the office, instead of turning it up to drown out the noise, get noise cancelling headphones so you won’t have to blast your speakers.
Other activities you might be doing to accelerate the damage to your hearing: clubbing, raving, karaoke-ing, using firecrackers, and attending motorsports events. Use an ear plug when you can, and like most things on this list, moderation is key.
Build Your Bones Because Soon You’ll Lose Them
Once you turn 30, you’re pretty much stuck with the bone density you had at 29, and the density decreases as you age.
“So what?”, you ask. Your bones are the foundation of your body – weak bones easily break and fracture, and eventually, osteoporosis.” These are pesky in many ways including limiting your ability to do things like lift weights, play badminton, go backpacking, and stand up straight. So start building your bones by taking enough calcium and vitamin D found in foods like milk, cheese, tofu, broccoli, and beans.
Again, eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. Add cereals to your milk, or cheese to your baked broccoli – making healthy foods interesting is a win-win. If you can’t muster the discipline to ensure sufficient intake of calcium and vitamin D, then get supplements! Ask your neighbourhood pharmacist for recommendations.
The Sun Gives You Cancer
The sun gives you vitamins and good feels, but soaking it up without UV protection puts you at risk of skin cancer, which is a leading cause of death amongst young women.
Get protected by using sunblock with a minimum of SPF 15 daily. If you don’t wear sunblock because of how sticky it feels on your face, then look for one with a non-oily formula like Olay Regenerists’s Micro-Sculpting Cream With Sunscreen.
This is doubly important for our baes living in tropical countries with year-round summers. For other ways to get a good tan on without the risk of skin damage, read our article here.
Make Friends With Your Doctor
Once you turn 21 (and if you’re sexually active), you should be doing annual pap smears and pelvic exams to ensure the wellbeing of your woman parts. Based on this test, your doctor may or may not recommend a HPV test, which checks if you have HPV, a virus that is linked to cervical cancer. Ask your doctor about a HPV vaccination while you’re at it.
Typically, during pap smears, doctors also do breast checks to look for early signs of breast cancer. Otherwise, do it for yourself every month! Look for abnormal growths or lumps a week after your period ends.
Here’s a piece of info that might motivate you to do those checks: while breast cancer is more uncommon with young women, the survival rate for young women with breast cancer is also lower.
By now, you should familiarise yourself with your family medical history. Does anyone from your maternal side of the family have breast cancer, does anyone related to you have diabetes? All these are important information to tell your doctor as genetics play a big role on your health.
If you’re sexually active, get periodic checks for STDs and ask your doctor for a birth control method that’s suited to your lifestyle.
Make friends with a gynaecologist and get regular check-ups. The doctor can advise you on how often you should be doing the different health checks based on your lifestyle as it differs between individuals.
Get Some Sleep Already
Clock in 6 – 8 hours every night. A severe lack of sleep leads to diabetes, weight gain, diminished learning, poor motor skills, depression, dull skin, and dark circles.
So skip the occasional late night at the bar or leave tomorrow’s work for tomorrow. Some things you just can’t revisit another day.
Start Exercising Yesterday
Did you know that heart disease is the number 1 cause of death amongst women? Exercise drastically reduces your risk of heart diseases and other illnesses like diabetes, bone loss, and depression.
Plus, exercise keeps you in shape so you can rock real grey hair (not the kind people order at salons) in the future and look good doing it.
Tl;dr: exercise helps you live your best self for longer.
Try getting in at least 1 hour of exercise a day, at least 3 – 4 times a week. The trick is to find a form of exercise that you can enjoy. Whether it’s a run in the park with a bestie (human or otherwise), dance classes, or swimming; find something you can genuinely look forward to a few times a week.
Mental Health Counts Too
You know what else exercise and good food helps with? Mental health. Exercise releases serotonin (happy hormones), relieving stress and boosting your mood. Foods like dark chocolate and fruits do the same.
Unfortunately, Asian societies don’t give enough credit to the seriousness of mental health.
Depression isn’t just sadness, anxiety isn’t just nerves, and bipolar disorder isn’t just mood swings.
That’s why it’s doubly important to keep a keen eye out for signs of mental health issues. If you feel like something isn’t right with you, talk to a trusted friend and/or a professional: seek out a counsellor or therapist.
Speaking of friends, surround yourself with ones you can rely on, and ones who can add value to your life. The friends you make today are your future spouses, bridesmaids, baby’s godfather, and more. So choose the ones who encourage you to make good decisions – those are real #squadgoals.
Do a mental check for how many of these you’re NOT already doing.