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Tiny habits catch up to us eventually

I spent last week hibernating and healing from a minor dermatological facial treatment to eradicate pre-cancerous cells. Temporarily uncomfortable and unsightly, I uncharacteristically spent the week indoors.

A few days prior, I attended my high school reunion for the first time in thirty-five years (lovingly peer-pressured by two childhood friends).

Timed consecutively, these two events got me thinking about aging and how simple daily habits eventually catch up with us, for better or for worse.

As a teen, I happily lifeguarded through the summers, slathered in baby oil, literally baking myself in the sun. Throw in a naturally fair complexion and you’ve got yourself a recipe for trouble. (This was the ’80's, people. Don’t judge.) If you’ve read Breathe Mama Breathe, you know I’m well-acquainted with skin cancer.

Sure, I could judge myself for, and be frustrated with, those poor younger-me choices, but to what end? The only impact I can now have is how I proceed going forward. And so, though I still adore the warmth of the sun and just about any outdoor activity, I now also diligently don a protective hat and sunscreen.

The Reunion. After not seeing former classmates for three and half decades, what struck me was the sweeping disparity in observable aging—a handful were vibrant and could easily pass for forty; a few looked to be in their sixties; the majority somewhere in between.

Of course, genetics, life events, and responsibilities play a large part and are not often under our control. Our habits, however, are. And they matter. A lot.

By middle age, our lifelong habits have absolutely informed our health, energy, and vibrancy. I’m not just talking wrinkled skin and beer bellies, but mobility, diabetes, heart disease, and dementia.

Thankfully, it’s almost never too late to change up our habits. We can’t always reverse the damage, but we certainly have control over preventing, or slowing the progression of, more.

Simple healthy habits might, at first glance, appear superficial in nature. Over time, however, they will provide indisputable benefits.

My PSA for today: Pick one tiny habit to change. Make it stick. Then add another. You know, the basics—Move your body. Walk. Stretch. Jump. Lift some weights. Eat reasonably healthy eighty percent of the time. Do your best to get enough sleep. Maybe, start with the sunscreen ;).


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