I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of hearing that these are the “best days of my life”, and that my college years and my twenties are going to be the “glory days”.
Because what the heck is so glorious?
If you’re like me – and if you’re a millennial, chances are you probably are a lot like me – then you’re working your butt off to get a degree that’s throwing you tens of thousands of dollars into debt (no doubt because college tuitions have grown 171% PAST inflation in the past 13 years), only to make about 20% less in your first few jobs than generations before us.
You’re also probably not feeling great about yourself and your body.
You probably spend way too much time thinking about how you stack up in a culture that idolizes airbrushed beauty standards, only to scroll past a never-ending stream of food porn and surprisingly un-inspiring fitspo.
AS A TWENTY-TWO YEAR OLD, I CAN SAY IT’S NOT JUST YOU.
Pretty much all of your friends (and enemies) are struggling with this too – the lovely combination of uncertainty about how our lives will turn out, swirled with the absolute certainty that our bodies aren’t good enough.
Like life’s least-satisfying ice cream cone ever.
These struggles may seem independent from one another, but any girl struggling with food and body image will tell you nothing can separate our feelings about ourselves from our feelings about the rest of our lives.
Simply the number of hours we spend thinking about how our stomachs roll when we sit down, or our missing thigh gap, causes these feelings to permeate into both the most intimate and the most public aspects of our lives.
And until we learn to accept ourselves and live in a healthy, loving way, we will never live the successful or fulfilling lives of our dreams.
So from one young woman to another, listen to me when I tell you that yes, you should work hard in college and do what you can to make yourself an eligible candidate in the workforce.
But at some point, it’s out of your hands and – as many of my employed sisters can tell you – even a great job isn’t going to make you any healthier or help you feel better about yourself or your body.
The only way to do that – and probably feel infinitely better about life in general – is to connect to your body, listen to it, and do YOU. Here’s 5 tips to help you do just that.
5 TIPS FOR YOUNG WOMEN TO LIVE HEALTHY, FULFILLING LIVES
1. Nurture a healthy relationship with yourself & your body.
We all have an inner mean girl that seems to always tell us the opposite of what would make us feel better in a given situation. Usually along the lines of “you’re not good enough.”
But you know what? She’s wrong!
Try talking to yourself like you’d talk to your BFF, more along the lines of “you’re MORE than enough!”
It’s definitely a practice, but try reminding yourself to be kinder whenever you notice your inner Regina George – the more you do, the more she’ll turn into your inner Brené Brown. (And believe me, we could ALL use an inner Brené Brown!)
2. Discover how to manage your stress.
Does stress eating sound familiar? Like, maybe a sleeve (or 4) of Girl Scout cookies the night before your first final of the semester? I thought so.
Life is hard – especially with a full course load, part time job(s), internships, and trying to actually enjoy your twenties.
Plus, you probably never learned about healthy coping strategies (because none of us did). So naturally, we turn to food to help us cope.
But let me tell you a secret: you don’t have to feel captive to your stress.
And when you stop feeling captive to it, you open yourself up to choosing how you want to cope with it. Just because it tells you to choose food doesn’t mean you have to choose food. Explore different ways of taking care of yourself.
Personally, I need yoga, my favorite TV shows, a pen-to-paper, and walks outside on the regular, or else I immediately turn to potato chips and French Onion dip.
3. Free yourself from dieting, “clean eating”, and restricting what you eat.
Because when we tell ourselves what we “can” and “can’t” eat, we just want the can’ts more and the cans less.
Think about it like this: did your mom telling who you could and couldn’t date ever work? I didn’t think so. And your relationship with food goes way deeper than bad-boy attraction.
When you eat mindfully, listening to your body, it will actually tell you what it wants you to eat. Sometimes that means salad, and sometimes that means pizza. And that’s okay.
Plus, this will help you prevent overeating as a response to stress, too!
4. Explore exercise and only do the stuff you enjoy.
Do you prefer long walks to 30 minutes on the elliptical? I don’t blame you!
While college gyms are super convenient, they’re also kind of the worst. And gyms are way too expensive for most of us to afford after graduation, anyway.
If you do like the gym, that’s great! But the reality is, most of us pretty much dread it.
Instead of forcing yourself to the gym, or to high-intensity fitness classes where you feel like you might die, try exploring other (possibly lower-intensity) exercises you may actually like.
Such as Zumba®, yoga, drumming, swimming, running, spinning, biking, even walking. Any physical activity is good physical activity – and you won’t keep doing it unless you like it.
It’s way healthier to do something that may seem “lower intensity” consistently than it is to go to a HIIT class for a week every other month.
Give yourself permission to enjoy exercise in a way that feels good – because seriously, we already have way too many things to do in our lives that we don’t enjoy.
5. If this sounds totally intimidating, get help.
I may have made all of these changes sound really easy, but in the chaos of our lives they really aren’t.
If you think a retreat from “the real world” could help you overcome the challenges you face with your health and body image, consider visiting us at Green Mountain at Fox Run.
Here’s what we have going on for young women this summer!
May – August, 2016
There is never a good time to worry about weight loss. Especially when you’re young. We get it. That’s why we developed a program just for you. Join us this summer for a series of special classes developed exclusively for young women.
June 17 – 19, 2016
Do you feel out of control once you start eating certain foods, like you just can’t stop eating? Do you find yourself eating a lot when you’re bored, sad, or anxious? Join us for a binge & emotional eating program just for young women.