What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
The older I get, the faster time goes. As each year passes with the blink of an eye, I try to learn from my mistakes and am constantly striving to be a better version of myself. Let's be honest, sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. Either way, I still keep trying.

When I think back to my health and fitness habits 10, 15 or 20 years ago, a lot has changed. I've become much more aware of the food I put into my body. Gone are the days of "diet" cookies or fat-free chips, foods that used to be part of the healthy food section of my grocery list. I've become a conscious label reader, and while my diet is far from perfect, I try not to eat too many foods with ingredients I can't pronounce. My exercise routine has changed considerably, as well. I used to feel like any workout under 60 minutes was a waste of time, and 90 percent of my exercise routine involved running. These days, I focus more on quality over quantity and try to add more variety—including challenging strength exercises and new forms of cardio—into the mix. As a result, I've uncovered muscles I never knew I had and have even discovered new exercises that I love just as much as running. Hello, Muay Thai kickboxing!.

There are so many things I wish I could tell my younger self on the topic of being healthy. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, right? Which is not to say that this sense of "infinite wisdom" means I do everything right. I make mistakes every day, just like anyone else. But now I recognize a better way to think about my health and my body. Given the chance, I would tell 25-year-old Jen:

1.    Healthy and fit doesn't have mean a size four.
2.    Constantly comparing yourself to others won't make you happy. 
3.    It's important to embrace your differences instead of constantly fighting them.
4.    Don't underestimate the power that lack of sleep and stress have on your body.
5.    Realize that your body changes naturally with age and with each child you have.
       You can still be fit and strong, even with that baby "pooch."

I tend to have high expectations of myself, but through experience, I’ve learned to push myself while still being realistic. I also asked members to share their best advice to their younger selves and here were some of the great responses:

Use every resource available to get your emotional eating under control. Stop starting over and pushing healthy habits off until tomorrow, next week, next month. You don't have forever like you think. You feel like you're invincible now, but you will have health problems from the excess weight. And not when you're old - it will sneak up on you quickly. Do exercise that you love, not what you think you should do.  ALLTHECUPCAKES

Do your research. You know yourself best. Just because it's on the Internet doesn't mean it's true. Don't be afraid to question things—you may turn out to be right! 1CRAZYDOG

Learn to love yourself. Learn to accept who you are and be glad. The biggest thing I wish I could tell myself is "This, like all things, will pass. You will survive and grow. Don't worry about the things you can't control—accept it and move on.FRANNIEDID

I would definitely have wanted my kids to be part of the exercise and activities at home. They played sports every season, but quality family time is a blessing. It could have been the factor that I was missing with my kids, since I had to work 24/7 when they were in junior high and high school. Having activity time just for the family would have been a great way to bond further with my kids and to help know where their heads were at. DEBTEVELDAHL

When you hit a roadblock or obstacles in your way, or things get hard, don't accept defeat. Commit to making your health and your life better—you are the only one who can make that choice for you—and learn what you need to do to accomplish that. Respect yourself, be good to yourself and treat yourself the same way you would someone that you love. WARRIORGIRL121

Don't have an "all or nothing" frame of mind. Some healthy decisions are better than none. You can always add more later. STLOUISWOMAN

A mistake does not give me license to berate myself. Mistakes are an opportunity for learning and growth. Embrace them. Although you are unique, others have likely had similar experiences. Dare to reach out to others. You are not alone in your struggles. Seek support and fellow travelers. Establishing and maintaining a healthy weight is possible. Don't let anyone tell you that efforts to lose weight are pointless because no one loses weight and keeps it off. Believing such lies will deprive you of the deep and abiding joy that comes from being at home in your right-sized body. JEANKNEE

When you are walking in public, no one is noticing you. You don't have to feel embarrassed, instead feel virtuous because you are doing something good for yourself. One cookie is okay, two cookies is too many. There are no brownie points for working 70 hour weeks. Make sure you get adequate sleep and eat a sensible diet. Listen to your body, it knows better what it needs than your mind does. Habits are easier to make than to break. Sugar doesn't solve problems.  TOWHEE

So much of my self-esteem issues and weight were because I was afraid of the people around me and how they were judging me (whether they were actually judging me or not). If I'd learned to love myself and care about my own opinions, I don't think I would have waited until I was almost 40 to start getting healthy. MINATHERED
What advice would you give your younger self? What do you know now that you wish you would have known then?