I share the top health and wellness tips that make me healthier in my 30s. These are the secrets I wish I knew in my 20s!
I recently passed the halfway point of my 30s and it’s made me reflect a lot on life. The past few years have been incredible, and I don’t just mean money or career wise. Even though I’m out of my 20s, I have never felt more confident and at peace with myself. My body, mind and spirituality all seem to finally be in a really good place.
I didn’t get to this place overnight. It took working through anxiety, two pregnancies and battling an eating disorder to finally reach the balance that brings me peace. With that being said, I’ve picked up some valuable insight, as well as health and wellness tips that I wanted to share. If someone had told me these secrets in my 20s, I probably could have made it here years sooner!
Mental Health Medication
Honestly, this has probably been one of the most important action items that has impacted literally every area of my life. It’s more than a simple health and wellness tip because it was practically lifechanging.
I resisted psych medication for so long, despite suffering from crippling insomnia for years, in addition to an anxiety disorder, OCPD and as I recently learned, ADHD. Unfortunately, mental health stigma, especially around medication, is still extremely prevalent. I’ve talked about pill shaming before, but this did make me pretty scared to even consider medication due to the stigma. There is such a toxic narrative in the wellness community that food is medicine, and if you take drugs, you’re taking the easy way out.
It took a lot of inner work to understand that mental health medication can be the right decision, and taking medication for my sleep and anxiety has changed every aspect of my life. Sleeping better has helped improve my tolerance for stressful situations, improved my relationships, helped me be a more compassionate parent, and made me more efficient at my job. Health-wise, it’s helped improve my immune system, gut health, and helped manage cravings and even set point weight. The same goes for anxiety meds.
I’m not going to tell you whether or not to take medication – that’s between you and your doctor. But I want you to know that if you chose to, you’re not any less of a person.
Making Peace With Food
The second huge breakthrough for me has been making peace with not having a perfect diet.
My 20s were without a double my worst era, and a lot of that was due to my struggle with orthorexia. I spent way too much of my time in the past obsessing over diet perfection, whether that be meeting specific amounts of protein, omega 3s or calories. Eventually, it just became too hard for me to count up calories or nutrients in different meals every day, so I just ended up basically eating the exact same breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks every single day without any variation whatsoever. Not only did this take the joy out of eating, but it greatly reduced the diversity of my diet, likely impacting my health.
What I’ve learned over the past decade is that our diet doesn’t need to be perfect to be healthy. Our body is incredibly resilient. If we’re getting a variety of different proteins, fats, grains, fruits, and veggies over time, along with enough calories, we’re very likely to meet our needs.
A well planned supplement routine was also crucial in filling in those gaps, so I don’t have to stress about dietary perfection everyday. As a dietitian, of course we push for a food-first approach, but I’m also not afraid to have a protein shake if that takes off stress for a perfect diet and allows a more relaxed relationship with food.
Respect Your Body
The biggest health and wellness tip I learned how how to respect my body, something that 20 year old Abbey wouldn’t even be able to process.
In my 20s, not only did I hate my body (and by association hate myself), but I had zero regard for its needs. I was either eating pizza, wings, and an ice cream sundae to the point of sickness, or I was starving myself on a bowl of steamed vegetables. Nothing about my relationship with my body in my 20s was respectful.
Looking back, I wish that I learned what that respecting my body could look like eating dinner before a night out drinking, then to try to save calories for shots. Respecting that it felt better to have regular balanced meals throughout the week rather than to starve oneself and then binge.
Now, I respect my body enough to pay attention to how different foods makes it feel. If I avoid something, it’s out of self care and not restriction. This looks like intentionally not eating a huge piece of cake with sugary cocktails on a Tuesday night, because I know it will physically give me the ick. I also know that if I don’t have any vegetables at dinner, I wont feel great the next day. So I intuitively make more nutritious choices, without there being a sense of restriction and rebound binge- all because I respect my body.
Stopping Exercise I Hate
If you search for health and wellness tips online, you’ll come up with dozens of ab routines, treadmill workouts, and HIIT classes. I’m here to tell you that you actually don’t have to do any of that if you don’t like it. The health and wellness tip that will actually stick? It’s finding exercise and movement that you love.
In my 20s, I had a lot more time to kill. The result was an expectation where I would drag myself through a lot of hardcore exercise that I hated, like high intensity spin classes or running. This made me really hate exercise for a while, because it just didn’t feel good to my body.
These days, I have a much healthier relationship with movement where I literally have given up anything and everything I hate. Spinning, bye. Running, definitely bye. I’ve basically rediscovered all of the things about movement that I love and refuse to drag myself through exercise that I don’t. So I go on walks, do strength training sessions a week with my trainer, and have taken up tennis which is super fun. Not only has this been amazing for my mental health, but I’m in much better physical shape now than in my 20s.
Stop Living For Others’ Approval
My last health and wellness tip is to stop living for others’ approval.
Struggling with your self identity and confidence is a part of life, but a lot of my struggle has been related to being told I was “different”. Labels like anxious, too sensitive, unstable, weird, perfectionist, gladiator temperament, highly sensitive person, an orchid, neurodivergent, gifted etc. People didn’t understand me and would act like I was acting crazy.
This is partially why my ADHD diagnosis was so freeing. I finally felt like I understood my brain, how it can be used in unique extraordinary ways, and could look back on all of those years with compassion instead of shame. It truly opened the doors for me to do great things in my work, marriage, parenting and health. I feel like I can proudly say this is who I am, and I love that person.
This confidence means I’m not overanalyzing every interaction, or going down a shame spiral every time someone says something mean. It doesn’t mean I’m cocky or closed off to feedback, only that I know my worth and can love myself even through my imperfections and quirks.
Bottom Line On My Health and Wellness Tips
Most of these health and wellness tips may not have been what you were expecting. A lot of them were mindset shifts I had to learn, but they truly were instrumental in improving my physical and mental wellness. I’m in the best shape and health of my life, and I do attribute it to these life lessons.
Some say your 20s are the best years of your life, but I’d like to change that narrative. Life is what you make of it, and from what I learned? It just gets better as you learn more.
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What health and wellness tips would you tell your 20 year old self? Share them below!
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), regulated by the Ontario College of Dietitians. She is a mom, YouTuber, Blogger, award winning cookbook author, media coach specializing in food and nutrition influencers, and a frequent contributor to national publications like Healthline and on national broadcast TV shows.