In your 20s, what are the top things that you should be thinking about?
Now is the time to start laying the groundwork for healthy habits in the future! It’s easy to think you’re invincible during this time, your body isn’t showing signs of aging, and generally, you are able to recover from the momentary lapse in judgment (drinking too much, binging on pizza, getting little sleep) fairly quickly and with ease. But just because it doesn’t hurt now, doesn’t mean you won’t pay for it later. Start trying to get on a good sleep schedule, unplugging at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. Turn fitness into a social activity by experimenting with different classes on Saturday mornings with friends and reward yourself with a healthy brunch or fun coffee. Play around in the kitchen – try to learn how to cook. Test different recipes using fresh seasonal produce, lean meats, and complex carbohydrates. Trust us – when you’re short on time later due to work, kids and other commitments, you’ll be glad you took the time to learn now!
In your 30’s, what are the top healthy habits to employ?
Typically in your 30’s you’re stretched thin, whether it is due to kids, professional obligations or both. Sleep falls by the wayside, along with exercise and sometimes even diet. Now is the time to be nice to yourself. Kick the guilt to the curb and allow yourself to celebrate the fact that you’re trying your best. Squeeze in exercise when you can (remembering that it can come in unconventional ways) run around outside with your kids, take the stairs to your office on the sixth floor, park at the other end of the parking lot, walk home on a nice day, during commercial breaks of your kids favorite show hold a plank pose – whatever you can fit in, whenever you can fit it in. It’s also a good idea to try to get organized. Plan your meals in advance and get a grocery delivery service like InstaCart, PeaPod or FreshDirect to help take the stress of the shopping trip off your plate. Instead of buying unhealthy but easy snacks for your kids, get inventive. Hummus and carrot sticks are just easy as goldfish crackers, and way more nutritious. If you find that you’re traveling a lot for work and therefore eating most of your meals out, ask your server to put half of the entrée in a to-go container for later, or find a coworker who is traveling too and ask her to split. Your 30s are the decade where stress is at an all time high, so remember to make time for you. Try downloading a meditation app and listen to it for five minutes before bed to help keep tension at bay.
In your 40’s – things change. What should you do now?
What worked for you before may not work now, so check in with your body and see where you might be able to improve, adjust and rework. Don’t be afraid to shake things up! Incorporate some core strengthening and weight training exercises into your workout routine. These will help stave off back and joint issues. If a pilates class or heading to the gym isn’t realistic due to scheduling, invest in some hand weights or a resistance band to use at home. (The resistance band is particularly great as you can also toss into your bag for travel!) Download a pilates or yoga episode on your laptop, kindle or iPad and try to fit in some time three times a week to practice. Add anti-oxidant rich foods like leafy greens (kale, swiss chard or spinach), berries, and root vegetables like sweet potatoes and squashes.
And what about in your 50’s and beyond?
50 is the new 30! Work commitments have likely settled down slightly, the kids may be out of the house, and now is the decade to have fun and give back to yourself. Take up a new healthy hobby like hiking or biking. Challenge your partner or some friends to participate in a 5k walk or run with you. Go to a yoga class to help with flexibility and strength. This is also the time where you might experience some hormonal changes, so talk to your doctor if you start to have any symptoms and she may advise you to take supplements or prescribe you something more. Incorporate more good fats in your diet to help with cholesterol like salmon, avocado and cook with extra virgin olive oil. Indulge in one glass of red wine every couple of days as it can be good for your heart! Reconnect with friends and your partner socially to ensure you’re emotionally fulfilled, and try to get at least eight hours of sleep a night to ensure you wake up feeling refreshed and recharged!
Is there any advice that stays the same through every decade?
Yes! While your health goals may be a moving target over the years, one thing that will ALWAYS help you create the body you want is the help of professionals. Look for a seasoned and highly-trained health coach (or become one yourself!) to support you and lovingly kick your butt when you need it, so you can follow through like never before and feel great at every age!
Stacey Morgenstern and Carey Peters are health coaches and the founders of the Health Coach Institute. For more information about Stacey, Carey and HCI, click here.