6 Things I Learned About My Body in My 20s

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos
by Makeda Vaughn

As a November baby, this month signifies another year of life for me. Thus, every year during this month, I cannot help but to reflect on lessons I’ve learned about life, dreams, relationships, and especially my health. The things I once took for granted, I now must stay mindful of, as I’m learning how to take better care of my body for the long haul. Here are some things I’ve learned about health, wellness, and my body in the last decade.

Don’t run away from healthy foods
For the longest time, I tried to avoid eating healthy at all costs. I just didn’t find it delicious. Once I realized the positive effects of healthy eating and unique ways of cooking them, it opened up a whole new world. Plus, when you really sit down and research how unhealthy foods affect certain parts of your body, you think twice about what you consume. My body is grateful.

Exercise can ease the pain
Exercise was never really my thing in my early twenties. At least not on a consistent basis, but I tried. Now that I’ve taken my fitness journey seriously, I have discovered that exercise can relieve so many pain areas. Exercise can be helpful for creative blocks, menstrual cramps, mood enhancers, heart health and much more.

You’re not Superwoman
I grew up seeing my mom and my friends’ moms being everything to everyone. These women hardly ever took time for themselves. Instead they were the listening ear, shoulder to cry on, a few extra bucks, a free meal. They were a career woman, mother, wife, sister, aunt, friend, devout church woman, and community leader. I’m sure I missed a few other titles. I took on that same role in my early 20’s and it got old real fast. I understood the need for balance and reducing stress, as well as the importance of taking time out to focus on self-care.

Get rest
You have sick days and vacation time for a reason. Why on earth did I spend so much time trying to prove my dedication? We all earned those benefits so why not take advantage? The worst thing in the world is to allow your job to kill you slowly through stress, which can bring on serious illnesses. Again, take time to yourself! We are able to be much more present and productive when we’re well-rested.

Add a psychologist or therapist to your list of regular, trusted doctors
African-Americans often ignore how important it is to keep your mental health in check, though we have face extreme social, economic, and cultural challenges. If any group needs emotional and mental support, it would be us. Luckily some of our religious institutions provide a shoulder to cry on or a prayer to send up. But for many of us, we still need to seek professional help to assist with the unique and difficult situations we will face in our lives… especially Black women. I now periodically check in with a psychologist who is also a career and life coach. I need it. I love my friends, family, and church but sometimes I need professional advice to help navigate in a world that’s often against me.

Understand your sexual and reproductive health
I never really cared to know too much about my reproductive health outside of my annual check ups. I wasn’t really interested in having kids anytime soon so I didn’t think it was necessary. When I turned 29, I decided to do more research about reproductive and sexual health. This was brought on partly by the fact that I was dating in a new city. I now have a better understanding of how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. But I also have a better understanding of how I feel about dating. I’m very selective on who makes it passed the 2nd date. I’m extremely selective on who can get the “cookies”. In my twenties I was willing to commit to men who I knew good and well didn’t deserve my time or attention. The result was too many broken hearts and unnecessary stress. Once I reached 28 or 29, I had a new approach to dating. I know what I like and what I’m willing to put up with.

Researchers believe that the body replaces itself every seven years. I’m looking forward to this new decade of life with my new body, mind, and spirit. Looking back on the twenties makes me grateful for the lessons learned. Naturally, I wish that I knew then what I know now, but my thirties will bring new experiences for me to use my hard-earned wisdom.

Makeda is a blogger that can be found on her website SkinnyGotCurves.com. She can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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