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HEAL

Living well in your 30s, 40s and beyond

If I could get one message across to all women, it would be this: Love the body you've been given. The more you appreciate your body as it is, the more likely you are to take care of it. 

It's easy to focus too much on how we look. Instead, we should be thinking about what's next in our life's journey. How can we best go through life, remain content and do the things that are most important to us? 

Part of the answer may be in how we see aging and different stages of life. Some women look at this as something to fear. I encourage women to embrace each stage and learn to look forward to what's ahead.

Each stage of life comes with different priorities and challenges that affect your health and well-being. Here are some ideas for living well, no matter what stage of life you are in.

Twenties and thirties

  • Finding balance. Whether or not you have children, this is a time when finding balance in your life can be a challenge. Know what it is that fills you back up, and be deliberate about making time for it.
  • Thinking about pregnancy. Check in with your doctor to see what you should do to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Ask whether you need any vitamins or supplements, and discuss any pregnancy risks you may face.
  • Being a role model for your kids. How kids eat, how physically active they are, and how they respond to stress is reflected in what they see in you. Give your kids the gift of modeling a healthy lifestyle.

Forties

  • Changing hormones. Perimenopause can mean changes in your menstrual cycle and mood. These changes are easier for some women than others, but most women do better with regular exercise and a plant-based, whole food diet.
  • Losing muscle mass. If you are not already doing so, add strength training to your exercise routine. It can help you stay strong and prevent weight gain.
  • Refocusing on yourself. Don't overlook the emotional and spiritual components of health. Social connections and a sense of purpose matter. If your focus has been on your kids or job and that's changing, you may need to cultivate new interests.

Fifties and beyond

  • Increasing health risks. After menopause, the risk for some diseases goes up. At the same time, we are living longer after menopause than previous generations. These are two important reasons to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a healthy weight. Heart disease is actually a bigger threat than breast cancer, and as much as 80 percent of heart disease can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle.
  • Reaping the benefits of a life lived well. If you're going to live longer, you want to enjoy it. Eating a healthy diet, staying active and learning how to handle stress will reap benefits as you get older.

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