My bestie turned 25 the other day. I was thrilled I was able to celebrate with her (she lives in Dublin) but I also had a semi-panic attack at the realization that I too am turning 25 this year. Not only does this mean that I have exactly 4 months to complete my 25 by 25 list (i’m nowhere close), but I am also mid-way through my 20s.
I’ve learned a lot in my almost 5 years as a “twenty-something” and I am certain 5 years from now I’ll look back and think I knew nothing now. Regardless, I wanted to share my thoughts on what I’ve learned and what I hope to experience.
The idea of living healthfully did not occur to me until I reached university. At 21 my idea of health was an obscene amount of running and special K bars. Thankfully that was a relatively short phase and eventually I figured out Fructose Polydextrose (an actual ingredient in special K bars) is by no means healthy.
Then I moved onto the “omg where is my food coming from?” phase. I admit to getting a bit obsessive over whether my food was organic, locally grown, grass-fed yada yada yada…and it sucked. It also made eating out a total nightmare and for a foodie this was incredibly sad.
Ironically, it took seeing other people behave in such a manner to snap me out of this extreme mentality. Seeing the recipe substitutions, refusal to eat out and annoyingly neurotic tendencies of my fellow “health-freaks” made me realize that this was everything I didn’t want to be.
I am only going to be in my 20s once. I am in a unique position where I finally have enough education and experience to make relatively smart decisions but have little to lose if I don’t. Health is important to me, I want to live a long and healthy life, but not at the expense of my present.
I think an often ignored facet of healthy living is the idea of having a healthy mindset. Sure, you can make “eating clean” and working out your #1 priority, but I promise you will find yourself isolated from your friends and family and wondering why you spend so much time planning for a life you aren’t even living.
I want to respect everyone’s life choices, I really do, but when you insist we eat at your house instead of going out because you want to “know what’s in your food”, cancel plans with me for your “long run” or turn down a glass of wine because you don’t want the calories, I can’t help but judge.
I make smart, healthful choices most of the time. I keep clean and fresh ingredients in the house although I may or may not have eaten nachos two days in a row. I get a little too drunk and finish the night with poutine, I genuinely love kale salads and if my iced tea comes sweetened, I drink it anyway.
Being “healthy” is more than just eating the right foods and exercising. It’s about being open-minded, flexible and doing what you can, not trying to do it all.
I’m not saying my way of living is better than yours, the hangover I had on Friday is a clear indication of that! BUT be weary of that fine line when your healthy choices are starting to stress you out and are consuming your thoughts more than they probably should. Stress is after all is the #1 predictor of future health problems…
So kick back, drink a beer (or eat some ice cream!), enjoy good company and remember that you can always eat your veggies and workout tomorrow.
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