By the time you hit your 30s, there might be a feeling that you "should" have it all together. In reality,
though, you're probably still trying to figure out how to balance everything and take care of mind and body at the same time. The good news is that you don't have to become a fitness guru or nutrition expert to live your best life! Developing some easy, healthy habits while in your 30s will make your life easier and help you stay on a healthy path in the years to come. Keep reading for some expert advice on eating, mindfulness, and more!
1Proportion Your Meals Correctly
Figuring out how to eat healthy can be overwhelming at times, especially when there's a constant stream of fad diets creeping into your Insta feed. But Christy L. Alexon, PhD, RD, tells POPSUGAR that eating right isn't that hard when you think about it as a game of proportions: "If you divide your plate into fourths, half your plate should be fruits and veggies — mostly nonstarchy veggies — one quarter should be lean protein, and one quarter can be a healthy carb source." By filling up on what your body likes (nutrient-rich veggies and energy-filled lean protein), you'll be less tempted by unhealthy combinations.
According to Alexon, this proportion rule also applies to breakfast: stick with lean proteins, fiber-rich fruits, and even some veggies (perhaps in a smoothie or an omelette). Even on rushed mornings, she says, you can do better than sugary dry cereal or freezer waffles: "We don't always have time to make a nice egg white omelette every morning. I like to take some fruits and veggies and throw them in the blender with some protein powder." She suggests finding a combination of fruits and greens you like (or even several options to mix it up) and combining it with a whole protein, like whey isolate, for a filling, energy-packed start to the day.
"Weight cycling" is what Alexon defines as that frustrating up-and-down that tends to accompany fast-fix or trend diets. While following the latest trends might seem appealing and produce quick results, Alexon cautions that it's not actually a habit you should get used to. "The problem with some of these trendy diets is that if it's not sustainable, it basically leads to weight cycling, which has a lot of potentially negative health concerns," she explains. "If you're doing something short-term like this, it's not a great approach and often leads to weight regain." Instead, build sustainable habits, and eat balanced meals.
In your 30s, you might not be thinking about muscle loss yet, but Alexon suggests you should start. "Once you hit your 30s, we start to see age-related muscle loss a little," she says, adding that, without the help of diet and exercise, your muscle mass will continue to decline slowly but steadily from that point on. So what should you do? Alexon suggests a dual approach: "lean protein spaced throughout the day [and] resistance activity, not just cardio."
We've all been there: gotten so busy with work and life that you look up at the clock and realize you haven't eaten in several hours. It happens, but stopping it is a small but crucial healthy habit you can develop. "Try to not go more than three to five hours without eating," says Alexon. Not only does your body need the fuel, she says, but being hungry makes you more susceptible to cravings for high-fat, high-sugar foods.
Contrary to what some diets would have you think, carbs can actually be a good thing — provided they're the right kind. Alexon lays out what most people get wrong about carbs and how you can get it right.
"Your body loves to burn carbs! It's when you have food that's high fat AND high carb together that you run into trouble," she says. The best carbs to choose? Relatively low in fat and high in fiber to fill you up. "Women need at least 25 grams of fiber a day," she explains. "So look at the fiber content — a good carb should have at least three grams in a serving." Grains like quinoa and oats, as well as certain fruits and veggies (sweet potatoes and bananas rank high on the list), are healthy choices.
8Make Self-Care a Priority
According to Kristi Stuckwisch, counselor and instructor at Arizona State University (MSW LCSW LISAC AVP), your 30s are a time when women tend to get so busy that they put everyone's needs before their own and when routines get stale. It's important to address all of this before it impacts your health. "For many women, there are multiple roles that are played, so it's easy to lose healthy habits and push aside personal needs for the sake of others. Incorporating creativity or 'play' into routines is vital for keeping brains stimulated and moods balanced."
Taking time for mental care also affects your physical health, she explains: "Stress to the body caused by emotional problems or traumatic experiences causes the nervous system to take action, numerous hormones to be released, the "fight or flight" response to ignite, and various other biological symptoms to kick into high gear. We do know there's a higher likelihood that these physical health issues may surface in someone whose body is exposed to chronic stress."
At some point, we all have that moment where our bodies just don't seem like enough — not thin enough or strong enough or fast enough or energetic enough. It's easy to get sucked down the path of self-loathing or hating your own body. and Alexon both, however, emphasize the importance of building a good relationship with your body.
Alexon focuses on what she calls "intuitive eating": "It's about helping people heal their relationship with food and learning to be understanding and kind to themselves and appreciate food for what it does for your body." Stuckwisch, meanwhile, recommends self-care as a means of "refilling your cup": "Life is not simply about giving to others but also about receiving, and self-care is a receiving action. Self-care is not about being selfish and disregarding others. On the contrary, it's about recognizing that your cup needs to be filled up in a way that will help you be better for others that you are doing life with, in both a personal and professional sense. There's only one you in this world. Take good care of her, all of her — she deserves it!"
If you weren't big on resistance training in your 20s, now's the time to add it, says Mauro S. Maietta, AFAA Certified Personal Trainer and District Fitness Manager at Crunch. "Women especially need to be aware of the risk of osteopenia and sarcopenia as they age, and resistance training is essential to stave off these common effects of aging," says Maietta.
No one likes to hear that they need to do more of an exercise they hate, but according to Maietta, that's something you really should be doing. "I recommend spending more time on the things you've been avoiding," he says. "If you're cardio centric, shift gears to resistance training. If you're weights focused, add in some cardio to round out your skill set. In each age range, I would [focus on] your weaker areas."
Mornings are a great time to include positive health habits, and that includes your mental and emotional health. Stuckwisch recommends using the early minutes of your day to identify and strengthen your goals: "I encourage women to have a morning routine that includes identifying one quality each month that you desire to grow or strengthen in your life and to begin speaking that quality to yourself as you get ready for the day. For example, if you want to be more courageous, tell yourself things like 'Just show up and be courageous today' or 'It's going to be a courageous day' during your morning routine. Focus on what you want to grow."
This article originally published on PopSugar.com by Amanda Prahl