What I Want to Tell My 20 Year Old Self About Health
Dear 20-year-old Jennifer,
Well, you are now 40 years old. I know 40 sounds ancient to you right now. Trust me, you will learn that 40 is young and you are a cooler person now.
Right now you are busy studying long hours of nursing, taking clinicals, and preparing for a wedding that won’t happen for 2 more years. You have no idea how your passion for health will play out 20 years later. But trust me, it is far better than anything you can imagine now.
Though you will only work as a nurse for five years after receiving your Bachelor of Nursing and passing that stressful NCLEX Nursing Exam, your studies and working as a nurse will prove invaluable later on in a non-nurse way.
Thanks to the influence - both good and bad - of family, you realize the value of your health and that being healthy is necessary to best serve others.
Over the next 20 years, you will discover five health myths you currently believe aren’t the truth. You will wish you understood what you know now sooner.
Let me break them down for you:
Because I don’t eat meat, I am healthier than those that do.
You became a vegetarian with good intentions. You want to be healthier, and you have heard how eating meat increases your risk for cancer. But your belief is incorrect. Your vegetarian diet has a huge portion of artificial and processed foods, like pastas, breads, cereals, cheeses, peanut butter with bad oils, and with just a sprinkling of veggies thrown in. You are not eating healthy just because you don’t eat meat. Someone who eats meats but only eats real food has a healthier diet that you do.
In general, realize there are real foods and fake (man-made) food. God created your body to digest real foods. The fake foods are foreign to your body.
Fat is bad. Low-fat or fat-free foods are the better option.
First, our bodies need fat, that is good fat, to function properly and even regulate weight. Good fats are found in nature as they are - olive oil, avocados, and nuts. Bad fats are those that are trans fats, man-made fats.
Second, any food that claims to be “low-fat” or “fat-free” is a chemical disaster as it can only hold that title because of some man-made ingredients. Stay far away. Your body doesn't like it. Which leads me to myth #3...
My digestive and skin issues have nothing to do with what I eat.
By now, you won’t be surprised to hear me say that processed and artificial food has everything to do with how you feel and how your body looks. Why? Because your body wasn’t designed for these foods. It isn’t sure what to do with these foreign items and therefore causes all types of issues in the body, such as your irritable bowl, adult acne, and increase weight gain.
Running is all I need to do for exercise, especially since I do it almost every day.
Running is great for exercise and it will continue to be a passion of yours for years to come. But too much of a good thing can be too much. Overuse leads to injury. So when you end up with plantar fasciitis in your late 20s because you ran too much all the time, don’t freak out when you are told you have to stop running for a while. You will learn that you can run faster by not running as much and cross-training with biking and strength work.
A good indicator I am the ideal weight is my thighs not touching.
Girl, God made you with touching thighs (small chest, too) and He only creates perfect things, so you are made just as you should be. Now yes, how much you eat or don’t eat can impact how much of your thighs touch or don’t touch. The primary focus should just be on eating healthy foods and not how you look physically. Everyone’s body is different.
Also, you will weigh more than what you think your ideal weight should be, but you will be healthier and fitter. Better to have more muscle that causes your weight to go up rather than less muscle mass with a smaller number on the scale. So ignore the scale for the most part.
Knowing and understanding these truths in your younger years would have helped you to not struggle so much in being healthy as you wanted to be an example to others. Yet, later on, you will understand why you didn’t know them. Your experience of realizing these truths has helped you to really simplify what it means to be healthy so you can better help others. It also really brought you to a career you are passionate about. So in that, you can be grateful for the myths you believed. You wouldn’t be where you will be in 20 years without them. And you can better understand others who struggle with the same thing.
Oh, another thing I will tell you, 20-year-old Jennifer, living in Virginia, the big “north” as you see it, being a southern raised girl, isn’t really that cold. The snow can even be fun sometimes.
Wish you nothing but the best,
(In your 30s, your gym buddies will start to call you Jen.)