I didn’t start taking proper care of myself until I was in my 40s.
This was a recurring theme on my old blog, which I started in my late 30s and continued into my mid 40s. During that time, I finally learned what it means to take care of oneself, sharing my journey of discovery along the way. Apparently, having two college degrees does not guarantee knowledge or wisdom.
Here’s a partial list of things I have learned in my 40s that I wish I had learned much, much earlier:
- How to eat properly. As in, what to eat and how much.
- How to find balance and moderation in one’s eating habits. It’s not all or nothing. You don’t have to deprive yourself, but you also cannot out-exercise a shitty diet.
- How to lose weight. This should be obvious, but it wasn’t because of my lack of knowledge of the two bullet points above.
- How to take care of my skin, including cleaning, moisturizing, exfoliating, and issues related to sensitive and mature skin.
- How to dress in a way that flatters my body and makes me feel good about myself.
- How to move my body for health. It’s not just about cardio; strength and flexibility are important too.
- How to pay attention to my body’s cues, take care of minor issues, and get help for larger issues.
- How to love myself as I am.
How ridiculous is it that I didn’t know any of that for so long?
Part of the issue was general ignorance and part of it was the judgemental thinking that self care was vanity, when in fact, self care is necessary if one is to live a happy and healthy life.
To all those people I judged for, say, getting massages or spending money at the salon. I was wrong and send my mea culpas out into the universe. I know better now.
Now I understand that self care is vital to being as healthy as I can be. That by using a vitamin C serum on my skin I am not being vain, I am helping my epidermis heal. That well made, supportive shoes are necessary for foot health. (And also that they can still be cute.) And that time for yoga is essential to helping me be stronger, more balanced, and more limber.
When I was in my 20s, I was thin and thought I didn’t need exercise or proper nutrition. I thought I would be young forever. I didn’t take care of myself properly but my body covered for me.
When I was in my 30s, I felt old and fat. I thought I would never young, thin, vibrant, or attractive again. I gave up.
When I turned 40, I was at my heaviest and I was deeply unhappy for a variety of reasons. But that birthday weekend was a catalyst for me. I finally decided to take charge of my health. Honestly, 40 was liberating for me in a lot of ways.
Now that I am approaching 50, I am happier than ever and probably the healthiest I have ever been as an adult.
Taking care of myself is not vanity, it’s necessary. I am so lucky to finally know that.