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Why We Need To Make Health A Priority In Our Twenties

We’ve all heard it before: Eat right. Exercise. Drink more water.

But in our twenties, most of us don’t have pressing health concerns. We’re not at an immediate risk of a heart attack, or suffering from arthritis, or high blood pressure or cholesterol.

And on top of that, we’re not exactly rich. We have entry level salaries and big dreams. We want expensive cars to show off, nice houses, or even just a night out. We want to travel and go to exotic locations, experience life, and have fun.

All of which cost money. And when we face the crossroads of health versus something more fun, we’re really put to the test.

A lot of us in our early twenties (college age especially) would rather spend $5 on food so they can spend $50 on alcohol (this is actually something I’ve heard from some classmates). Five dollars of food means it’s a big greasy burger from McDonald’s, already filling up your system with unhealthy substances. On top of that, $50 worth of booze is empty calories that is making your brain mushy and forcing your liver into extreme overtime. If you throw up, your digestive system is wearing out and your teeth are suffering.

That’s not even including other potential after effects of a fun night out.

So far, the best stories I’ve heard include a scar on the leg that nobody can explain, and a chipped tooth that wasn’t remembered until the morning after. Other stories I hear periodically include falling or the occasional fight, leading to bruises and cuts and scrapes.

How much is your smile worth? Or the lack of scars on your body?

Or the simple peace of mind that you know what your body went through the night before?

That friend that woke up with a chipped smile had to pay $300 for a temporary crown to salvage her smile until she could get a more permanent solution (which will cost even more).

Her estimated $50 night out became a $350 ordeal in 24 hours. In addition, she had to eat lukewarm foods and soft foods for a week until she could get to her primary dentist and pay even more for a permanent smile.

All for a night out.

And let’s say that you are one of the lucky ones that don’t wake up with injuries or scars or a chipped smile.

How much is your liver worth?

Or your brain?

Yes, it is expensive to eat healthy, and I’m not saying that we don’t deserve the occasional cake or night out. But while taking several shots or downing your tenth long island, think about how your much body is worth.

Is your liver, brain, and potentially your digestive system, lack of injuries, and your smile worth that tenth long island or that eighth shot?

Being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean we have to completely give up a social life. Maybe it just means stopping at the second drink instead of the twelfth, or buying the more expensive healthy sandwich as opposed to the cheap, greasy Big Mac.

I know exercise is time consuming as well, and it’s a lot easier to watch TV or hang out with friends. The effects may not be as extreme or evident as those wild nights out, but your heart and body is suffering. This doesn’t mean we have to run marathons or train like professional athletes (and all props to those that do, it’s tough).

But maybe taking the stairs instead of the elevator, especially if you’re only going to the second or third floor. I’ve even heard of middle aged women walking to the 9th or 14th floor after some practice. All respect for those ladies, the thought of that makes me tired and I can run 3+ miles.

Or start with some light stretches in the evening before you go to bed. Many yoga stretches help your spine and back, and your spine is definitely worth ten minutes of stretching.

If you want to challenge yourself more, go for a run on a slow day when you don’t have to work and the weather’s beautiful. It doesn’t have to be far or fast, as long as you’re doing it. Twenty or thirty minutes is already an accomplishment. If that’s a challenge or you haven’t been running for a while, start with outdoor walks.

I’m not saying it’s easy to live healthy. It is time consuming, and it will be more expensive than living off a McDonald’s diet (please don’t do a McDonald’s diet, how many of you remember Super Size Me?)

But I read a quote that changed how I looked at staying healthy:

“If you think the pursuit of good health is expensive and time consuming, try illness.”

Because if you don’t take the time and effort to stay healthy in your 20s, take care of your body, your brain, your liver and your heart among others, you will have to make time later in life in the form of medication and even possibly surgeries.

Your body is worth the time, money and effort to stay healthy.

Make sure you treat it that way, even in your twenties.

About the Author

Lindsey Zawila

Lindsey graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015 with a B.A. in Global Studies and Communications. She studied abroad in Austria (Summer 2013), Switzerland (Spring 2014), and India (Winter 2014). Her previous internships include the World YWCA in Geneva, Switzerland, the Foreign Service Institute at the U.S State Department in Washington, D.C., and CNN International in Atlanta, GA. In her free time, you'll find her reading, writing, making jewelry or friendship bracelets, sewing or refining her photography skills.