I just had my 34th birthday almost two weeks ago. Birthdays always cause me to reflect back on the last few years. Things I learned, things I loved and brought me joy, things I wish I had done differently, and things I wish I could forget!
A friend of mine and I were talking tonight about our youth. When I came home and worked on dinner, I kept reflecting back on that convo. I have two young daughters and there is so much I try to teach them about being a woman. Not just any woman, but a strong, loving, healthy, responsible, Christian woman. I know one day they will read my blog and I hope they come across this post and learn something or even better are already living these principles because of how we raised them.
In no particular order here are 34 things I wish I knew before the age of 34.
- Health before looks. ALWAYS. In our life we will come across so many influences that tell us skinny is best. I don’t agree and my body that suffered a health crash definitely doesn’t agree. There is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING in this world worth starving yourself for. Pick being healthy over wanting to be skinny. Save yourself from the torment and regret of this. I did it once and deeply regretted it. I actually wrote a whole blog post about this. I’d encourage you to read it if this is something that strikes a chord with you. I Changed My Focus To Change My Life
- Tying in with number one…Stop counting calories and start counting nutrients. If you really want to feel good and look good, then this is where it’s at! Focus on foods that nourish your body. I wish, I wish, I wish I had done this at a younger age. I wish I had done this when I was pregnant with both my daughters and I wish I had fed them this way when they were babies and toddlers. Our bodies can’t function on cheap food. Think of a high performance race car, they use race fuel, not cheap gas. Your body is a high performance machine, give it the high quality fuel it deserves and watch it perform.
- Stop eating so much sugar, you’re sweet enough already!! This is perhaps something I struggle with still. I love sweets. I mean LOOOVE sweets!! I’ve really cut back since switching to paleo and I try very hard to pick better options with my desserts. When I was younger, I would eat so much sugar, it was no wonder I lacked energy and couldn’t focus in school! New research is showing that sugar could be the biggest influencer on triggering cancer. Cancer is no joke guys. It is a horrible, violent disease. No cookie in the world is worth a lifetime of illness or shortened life.
- Take probiotics. Healthy gut=healthy human. Period.
- Pick your friends wisely. If they don’t build you up then they are tearing you down and nobody needs that in their life. It’s ok to not be friends with everyone and it’s definitely ok to let go of people who no longer make a positive impact on your life. I definitely learned this the hard way…multiple times!
- Pray more. Then pray some more. I get that not everyone reading this is religious, but I am and this is an important key to my happiness. I’d be bold enough to say, the most important key to my happiness.
- Drink more water and less wine. Did I just lose half my readers? LOL! I know, it sounds crazy but alcohol is very destructive to gut health and the gut is the key to all health. I still enjoy a glass of wine now and then but nothing like I used to.
- Stop using so many chemicals on your body! By that I mean ALLLL the countless beauty products I subjected my body to! UGH! Toxic overload. Study after study proves that anything you put on your skin gets absorbed into your bloodstream and so many products on the market are loaded with known carcinogens, hormone disrupters and so much more crap. I now use apps like Think Dirty and the EWG app to look up scores for products. There is also an amazing brand that you may have heard of called Beauty Counter that is very high quality and won’t harm your body. Here’s a link if you want to check it out. Beautycounter.com/tarawoodland ❤️ Tara is a friend of mine, she’s just as passionate about healthy living as I am, and extremely knowledgable in this area! So hit her up if you have any questions!
- Tagging on to number eight, quit using antiperspirant and deodorant that has aluminum. It has been directly linked to breast cancer. Our bodies sweat as a means of detoxification and by using an antiperspirant we are blocking a pathway to rid our bodies of toxins. I get nobody wants to stink like B.O. but there are tons of natural products on the market that work just as well without the health ramifications.
- Make time for those who matter most to you. I get it life gets busy, but before we know it time flies by. I will always regret not spending more time with my grandparents before they passed. I grew up living across the street from them and saw them daily. As I got older and moved out, I didn’t see them or talk to them as much. Then one day they’re gone. They were two of the most influential people in my life. So pick up the phone and call and set a date to spend time with anyone who makes you happy. If they bring you joy, peace and show you love then MAKE TIME to see them.
- Grow your own food. Even if just potted herbs on your windowsill. It’s gratifying and good for you! And the Earth.
- Quit using air fresheners and scented candles. Now that I have detoxed from all artificial fragrances, if I come into contact with them I get raging migraines, stuffy nose, and just a general sense of blah. I now use a diffuser and essential oils for my home and for perfume…well, I don’t think I need it but I do occasionally dab on some essential oil.
- Do no harm but take no $hit. In my younger days I let people walk all over me. Everyone. I was an equal opportunity doormat. I had loser boyfriends, crappy friends, horrible bosses, family that didn’t act like family and people who were just straight up nasty mean impact my life. Looking back, yes it made me who I am, but I also wish that I had learned at a younger age to defend myself. It’s not only OK to say NOOOOOOO it’s VITAL to your health and happiness. It doesn’t mean I had to be royal b!+ch. A person can be assertive, looking out for their own best interest and still be kind. Learn to defend yourself without doing harm.
- Stop taking so much Advil and figure out the actual cause of all those migraines!!! This is a big one! I took Motrin/Advil almost daily for a good solid 10+ years of my life. UGH. Doctors would prescribe prescription migraine meds for me and send me on my way telling me my migraines were just genetic. WRONG! SO WRONG!! You know what did work?…Eliminating gluten and dairy. So shocking that food has an impact on your health, right? NO.
- In line with number 14: Find a great doctor!! But still listen to you gut instinct! Nobody, I repeat nobody knows your body as well as you do! I was told by countless doctors that gluten was not the cause, that my thyroid was fine, that I was perfectly healthy. They were all wrong. I fired them all. I listened to my body and discovered that yes I do have a thyroid problem, gluten and dairy problem, and I was far from healthy. My body was a frickin mess!!! Just because my BMI was normal, didn’t mean I was healthy. Go back to #1 &2 and reread them.
- Learn to listen to your body. I mean really listen. Sure we all know what pain is, but can you tell the subtle difference in your digestion if you eat something that may not cause total distress but yet is still causing inflammation? It takes time to really get in tune with your body. I think a big part of this is learning to not push past pain, or problems and let your body tell you when something is off.
- Get more sleep. I could list a crap ton of reasons why this is vital but just trust me, it is.
- Save money. Pay bills off, don’t go into debt, don’t get credit cards, and be frugal. Money problems are one of the biggest stress triggers. Be wise with your finances. Being debt free is such an incredible feeling!!
- People change and so will you. And that is ok, actually it’s usually a good thing!
- Give grace. We never know what goes on in other peoples lives. That person who snapped at you at work could’ve just found out that a loved one was diagnosed with cancer. The woman who hovers over her child, could’ve suffered multiple miscarriages and feels the pain daily of infertility and losing a child. The child who acts like everything is fine but one day breaks down crying that they hate school, could be having a really rough year. Give grace.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things! All kinds of new things! New foods, new sports, new activities, new and scary opportunities. They can all lead to something great! But you will never know unless you try!
- Listen to your instincts. They will never steer you wrong. If something is making the hair on the back of your neck stand up, there is a reason! ABORT! Run for the hills and don’t look back! Ok jokes aside, I’m actually very serious about this. My gut instinct has never been wrong and the times I didn’t listen, I deeply regretted it.
- Be your own biggest cheerleader. Pretty self explanatory. Give yourself that high five for a job well done! Be proud of your successes.
- But not too proud…Pride is the devils greatest sin. It happens to the best of us. We think we are doing so great, nothing can take us down! But then pride walks in and knocks you down a few notches.
- Stay humble and stay true to who YOU are. People will always try to change you into something you’re not. Friends in high school, boyfriends, girlfriends, family. You name it. Everyone thinks they know what is best for you. But the only person who knows how to make you happy, is YOU! Don’t try to become something you’re not just to make someone else happy. Been there, done that, it always ends in misery and pain. (bye loser ex-boyfriend)
- Never compromise your values and beliefs. NEVER. I had a friend in high school for a few months who was always getting me in trouble. Skipping classes, sneaking out of my parents house at night, she even had me smoke a cigarette (GASP!). I was so stupid for 1) not trusting my instincts and 2) not sticking to my morals, values and beliefs. To this very day, almost 20 years later, I still remember when she said to a boy I liked “Oh she’s one of those God freaks!” I turned and said “no, I’m not!”. The pain it shot through my heart from hearing those words come out of my mouth stung deep. To this day I regret saying that but I know I’ve been forgiven. It was a good lesson for me though. It taught me to stop caving in to so-called friends. It wasn’t long after that I ended the friendship.
- Don’t suck up to people who don’t like you. It’s their loss. Just be you and don’t worry about the rest. I had teachers who for one reason or other just didn’t click with me. I would bring them presents, always go out of my way to be extra nice to them and no matter what I did they made my life hell. They say you have certain teachers you always remember, some good, some bad. Many forgettable ones, but the mean ones, yeah I remember them. Same can be said about co-workers, fellow parents at school, neighbors, you name it.
- Take time to read. Anything really. Books, magazines, blogs, whatever! Reading is good for your brain, your soul, and your body.
- Stop sitting so much. Go for a walk, go for a bike ride, go for a run, just go! Get up and find a way to move. For the last year I have fallen in love with yoga and its truly been transformative. I am amazed at how much better I feel when I consistently make time to exercise. The thing with yoga is it isn’t just exercise for the body, but also the brain. It has helped me heal from adrenal fatigue and taught me how to breathe properly. Find some form of exercise you love and stick with it.
- Don’t get sucked into other peoples drama! There is a big difference here between being a supportive friend and getting sucked into a downward spiral with a person who is a walking disaster. Going along with this is something called FaceBook. I reopened an account a few months ago, then two days ago closed it. I. Just. Can’t. Do it! It is utterly painful to me to watch and read the cattiness, and the drama among grown adults. Noooo thank you! I will gladly stay out of that and go back to my own happy little world. So ask yourself, is something serving you well or is it causing undo stress in your life?
- You will get your heart broken, probably more than once, but you’ll survive. It’ll happen, it’s bound to and in the end it makes you stronger, smarter, and a better you. Every relationship in your life teaches you something about yourself and others. So take this experience and learn from it. Pick yourself up and keep going. You’ll be ok.
- Don’t dwell on the past. People say this all the time and it’s true. We all make mistakes and have things in our past we cringe at. I chose to realize that is not who I am anymore and it’s not what defines me. Don’t forget the lessons learned but don’t make yourself a bed and stay there forever.
- Take time to spend outside. This is actually something I’m still working on. Being outdoors is incredibly healing and mood boosting. My problem is I live in Michigan where is like a tundra for what feels like half the year. I get cold easily and it’s difficult to warm up so you see my problem! But now that the weather is changing I’ve been trying to get outside more.
- You are not invincible. Some days I still think I can do it all and then life steps in and laughs at me. As a teen I thought I knew everything! In my twenties I realized I didn’t know anything. Now in my thirties I threw it out the window to realize, yes I’ve learned a lot and I’m STILL learning. I also learned that my body isn’t indestructible. If I want to feel good at 40, 50, 60, 70+ I have to take care of this one I have because I don’t get redoes.
I’m sure I could make this list longer but hey I’m only 34 this year SOOO you get 34 things! Tell me though, are there any things you wish you knew when you were younger?