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?

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EVIE4NOW 1/7/2021
Thank you Report
JILLIAN0216 10/28/2020
I would love to tell my younger self these things and more. Report
BOLEBRON 10/28/2020
Good advise. The one about starting over hit me the most because I waliam always doing that. Report
CECTARR 10/28/2020
Thanks!!! Report
AQUAGIRL08 10/28/2020
When I was younger, my self image was warped because of my mother comments about how "big" I was. In looking back at the photos of me back then, I was slim but much taller than the other women in my family. Learning to love yourself as you are is 75% of the battle. Report
CECELW 10/28/2020
I wouldn't change a thing to be honest. In all actuality, teaches us valuable lessons Report
I would tell my younger self to swap french fries for a veggie side when eating out and to pay more attention to the quality of the food I eat each day. I'd tell myself how delicious fruits and veggies really taste compared to all that fast food. I would also tell myself that if I'm having a bad day, find other ways to vent the stress that don't involve eating comfort foods. Report
MARITIMER3 10/28/2020
- don't take yourself so seriously...
- have more fun...
- be the best person you can be...
- don't try to change yourself into what someone else wants...
- remember to help others Report
Thanks! Report
ROBBIEY 10/28/2020
Never stop learning and trying new things Report
LEANJEAN6 10/28/2020
SO much to learn as we age--- Whatta great Blog!-- Report
NEPTUNE1939 10/28/2020
ty Report
AZMOMXTWO 10/28/2020
thank you Report
GRANDMOTHER20 10/28/2020
Great article. You are never as young as you are at the moment in time so live life to its fullest for you no one else. Report
SEDONACAT 10/28/2020
Calcium, calcium, and strength training for life. Otherwise, you'll have a fracture from osteoporosis that will change life as you know it. He has.. Report
LIS193 10/28/2020
Great article Report
RCLYKE 10/28/2020
Love this article Report
JANIEWWJD 10/28/2020
Loved ths article!! Report
Thanks Report
_CYNDY55_ 10/27/2020
Thanks! Report
thanks Report
Finish college, stay away from tobacco, booze and pot, and first and foremost - LOVE YOURSELF. Report
Thank You for a great article. Report
1) It doesn't matter what others think about you, just be yourself because you are AWESOME!...
2) Listen more than you talk, sometimes others have some really good advice...
3) Don't follow blindly, think for yourself...
4) If you start something... FINISH IT! (unless it is bad for you, then don't start)
5) Procrastination is not your friend, get things done early whenever possible...
6) Life will through you curve balls it is how you react to them that matters...
7) A positive attitude makes all the difference Report
1. Find time to exercise--you are your girls' best role model! 2. Don't worry so much about work--they will decide they don't need you in the future! 3. Less is better--less stuff, less TV, less food. Spend the time experiencing things with your family. Report
10 minutes of exercise a day sometimes is enough & it is always better than no minutes of exercise. Loved reading all the comments. Report
Be in the moment and learn from ydour mistakes as everyone makes rhem.
Love yourself enough to say no and mean it.
Make time for what’s important, family, friends and what you enjoy doing.
Live your passion.
Take more risks.

My parents taught me about eating healthy although, at the time, I really didn’t know what that meant and I discovered a passion for fitness. Report
Take more chances--and do what YOU enjoy! Exercise more--and take the girls with you! Buy stock in _____________--fill in the blank with whatever stock you WISH you had bought and held on to! Report
I would tell my younger self to...
1) Study harder/complete ALL homework assignments in HS/college
2) Major in Environmental Science rather than liberal arts
3) Join the college's equestrian team
4) Keep my first mare; DON'T sell her (lease her out, maybe)
5) Not to get romantically involved with a particular someone; it ruined a perfectly good friendship
6) Be less self-absorbed and more compassionate & patient
7) Be more diligent about caring for my skin to avoid wrinkles

Funny; NOTHING about diet/weight loss. But then, I maintained a fairly consistent weight back then. Report
I should have continued my education. I should have rebelled against my family and pursued my goal of going to college. Report
don't eat just because you are lonely. Report
OHHHH my younger self so confident that life stays the same as far as weight goes !!! I was super thin until the age of 38 (after a car accident which disabled me, ) I didn't realize I was so thin because I was ALWAYS on the go !! I would of listened to the trainer (at work they provided this) who told me I had a large number of fat cells, that I NEEDED to take care of myself. My thought was "he's crazy ! I weigh 113 and HE's TELLING "ME" THIS"? I thought he was NUTS ! I SHOULD of listened but yeah when your young (I was 28) you figure you KNOW everything,,, Mom you KEPT telling me I DIDN'T ! I SHOULD of listened ! I would of only benefited. Ahhh yes the 60s and 70s when we were "TOLD" we should NOT TRUST ANYONE over 30 ! UGHERS how FOOLISH !! Instead we should of ONLY TRUSTED THOSE OVER 30 !!

Thankfully when my GD started to mouth off quite a bit,,,,, I responded differently and wisely,,, she learned she was ONLY smarter with electronics ,,, not in life and for her LOL not even with schooling, but did so in a way that respected her so she didn't get eye rolling (Didn't WE invent the eye roll? ) Report
Love your family as they will not be there forever;
Overlook a persons shortcomings and love them because you can;
Take more pictures;
Listen to your friends and family;
Think about your choices and where they will lead you;
Don't marry him!
Live your life for YOU! Report
Never play poker with two brothers from Texas.
Never believe anything a recruiter says. You don't have to live in a coastal State to join the Coast Guard.
You don't have to marry her just because you saw her bloomers.
Check with your family to make sure she's not your cousin BEFORE you say, "I do". Afterwards it's too late.
'Beer & Girls" isn't a college major. Getting kicked out by the Board of Regents for 'Moral Turpitude" is bad for your résumé.
Cut the GREEN wire.
Keep your booger-flicker off the bang-switch.
Buy GOOG IPO at 85. Ride it to 600 and dump it.
Don't live North of the Mason-Dixon.
Never play Five Finger Fillet with a guy called Stubs. Report
Great blog. Thanks Coach Jen and fellow sparkers for your words of wisdom. Report
I would let myself know that mistakes are learning experiences, not the end of the world. Instead of beating myself up - remember I didn't fail, I just learned 1 way that did't work. Report
I would tell my younger self to listen to my mom, get an education so I can have a career instead of a job. I would save my money instead of helping people ( who will never appreciate it) solve there problems. I would tell the younger me that it is extremely important to have a good primary care Dr, that listens and helps me. I had PCOS probably since age 13 and no Dr ever diagnosed me with it, instead I took every birth control they handed me and had horrible side effects as a result and wasted many many years stugglin with my girlie issues and my gaining weight so easy. Had I been told I could have educated myself like I did the past few months and been health and not so overweight!! I have felt 100 times better since getting my insulin resistance under control and educating myself on what I can and can't eat. So far from April 14 til now i am 34 lbs lighter and I have less pain in my knees and hands Also, my PCOS symptoms have go
t much better . My younger self would have loved to know that if i changed my diet that my hair wouldn't have fell out and all the years of rude , hurtful people making fun of me could have been avoided. But all that being said it is our adversity that makes us grow and get wiser . So as bad as i would have loved some insite into my future all the struggle and growth has made me stronger and smarter. Report
Taking care of yourself should be your first priority. Learn as much as you can about fitness and nutrition, then live what you learn. Jump outside of your comfort zone and try something new, tweak away as you discover what does and doesn't work for you. What works today just might not cut it six months from now. Realize that life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, don't wait for tomorrow...bad habits only become deeper ingrained as you grow older. You matter and the choices you make matter...choose wisely! Exercise your strong each and every day, and appreciate the strength that comes from finding your fit and eating mindfully. If your focus is solely on losing weight, you have already taken yourself out of the game. Lastly, for any of this to become your lifestyle, make changes you know you can live with. Report
I would say relax, everything is going to turn out okay. Work turned out to be meaningless to me, being a mother turned out to be everything to me. Be kinder to yourself and rid yourself of the mean people you surrounded yourself with. The first one didn't love you and it's okay to admit that. You became addicted to food for many, many reasons and eventually you will figure it out. There will be 2 people who enter your life in your old age who are there to help you. Try not to be so angry about things you can't control. Don't feel like you have to do things the way others do. In fact, you seem physically and emotionally incapable of doing that. Love yourself as much as you do others. Report
I would tell myself that I am ok just as I am. I don't have to be perfect in someone else's eyes. Thanks for the great blog. Report
Get your A** off the couch and start working out more and don't listen to people when "they" say you are too thin, F*** them its you who will pay the price - oh and stay in school and DON'T let ANYONE tell YOU what to do for a career (FOLLOW your dreams or you will set yourself up for a life of regrets and disappointment). Oh and don't buy a car save your money. Report
I wish I had known how awesome I was as a younger woman. I feel pretty good now, but I think I wasted a lot of years trying to be someone else. Report
Don't sunbathe... ever!
I would say 1. Don't diet. You'll still be doing it at 70 like me. 2. Use sunscreen and keep your face out of the sun. 3. Be kind. Report
1. You are NOT invincible! Health can and does go downhill without self care! 2. Remember progress NOT perfection! Give up the all or nothing attitude! 3. The scale does not define me! 4. Skinny is not necessarily healthy! 5. Give me a break! Listen to your body and give yourself a break when you need it! ~~Thanks Jen! Great article! Report
Stop the negative self talk. You have so much to offer, many talents. Accept that your feelings may be affected by chemicals and try different things to address them. Life is so great! Live out loud. Report
Your job is not more important than your health and your relationships are. You DO have time to take care of yourself, and it will pay off long after you've left that job. You just need to claim that time. Don't be afraid to. Report
Stop waiting to start living! Nothing is ever perfect, so stop putting off healthy choices because you can't do everything "just right" or you don't have enough time or enough. A little bit every day adds up!

Focus on health, not on your weight! Weight is just a number on the scale and not the total indicator of health; size is just a number too. Do you feel strong? What fuel do you give your body? Do you get enough sleep? Do you laugh every day? That's what healthy feels like.

Your body is amazing! Even though it's larger than many, it keeps going and going even when you push it hard. It can carry the groceries & the baby in at the same time. It stays awake late and gets up early. It lifts, bends, twists, and walks with ease (many bodies don't) and rarely gets sick. It knows how to keep your husband happy :) Don't discount how amazing your body is just because it's a different size than others!

Eat REAL food! If you eat healthy sized portions of real food, it doesn't really cost more than nutrition-free processed foods & fast foods. And by the way, you aren't starving, and you won't starve... you might feel uncomfortable for a few minutes but if you distract yourself, it will go away. You probably are thirsty and should drink some water.

Enjoy now because tomorrow isn't promised to us! Be kind and go out of your way for others sometimes, especially your loved ones, because you don't when it might be the last time you get to see them.
1. Be PRESENT! Learn to love where you are instead of waiting "until" you're thinner, have more money, or your children are older. There is no rewind button to go back to yesterdays so make your best decisions today!
2. Eat more of the fresh healthy foods, eat single portions of food, reduce your intake of processed foods, take home half of your restaurant entrees (have them for lunch the next day), and if someone in your family has diabetes, do not wait until you're diagnosed with it to change your eating habits for the better.
3.Find a healthy way to handle stress! Meditate, walk in the park, play with your pet, practice yoga or tai chi, exercise, lift some weights.
4.Don't listen to anything at the highest volume! Sure your speakers are awesome, but your hearing will get worse as you age and good hearing aids are expensive.
5.Practice "prevention"! I know you think it won't happen to you, but seriously, every negative action on your part claims a part of your body. Wear sunscreen, don't smoke (anything!), always wear your seatbelt, don't drink and drive, don't text and drive, don't drink to get drunk, be careful what you tattoo onto your body, all piercings are NOT attractive (and those great big holes in your earlobes will not close up), moisturize your skin (yeah, even you guys need to moisturize and all lotions do not smell "girly").
6.You get only one body per lifetime so treat yours with respect and love.
7. READ! Read to learn, read for fun. Just. Read.
8. Take some part of each day for "me time". You are important, so take at least 15 minutes each day that are just yours.