A Body at 26

I should have known that trying to build up routines around my diet, fitness, skincare, mental/emotional development, etc. would lead me down a rabbit hole of Pinterest research and near-blind google searches.

My 26th birthday in 2017 came with a sudden appearance of fine lines between my eyebrows and little wrinkles under my eyes and–wouldn’t you know? My maternal genetic heirloom of varicose veins are also beginning to bloom.

Heading towards 30 feels a lot like a second puberty.

I know it’s natural and wonderful for my body to change, aging is a beautiful process and I’m lucky to continue living in this mortal shell for as long as I can, especially in the relative good health.

I recognize I’ve been dealt a really good hand. My body responds quickly to new, healthy routines by tightening up and perking up without too much effort. My skin is predisposed to being clear and unproblematic. Besides my pesky anxiety disorder, I have no chronic health conditions and even my periods are pretty manageable. I don’t love my hair, but it’s really fine, all considered.

All of that to say, I know I’ve got plenty of privilege already, so I’m not here for a “woe is me” session.

In fact, it’s the deep knowing that I am not dealing with any of the challenges so many other people (specifically women) face that has made me pretty shy to ask for guidance or even go to the doctor’s office for the smallest things as I sense my body changing.

Really, I’m fine. I can manage. It’s not worth the fuss.

But, honestly, there are a lot of things I’ve half-assed in the forever-young and carefree ways of a 20-something millennial. Now at 26, it’s clear to me that if I want to continue this relatively low-maintenance existence into my golden years, I’ve got to start some preventative and preservative routines.

Since I’m sinking a lot of time and effort into the research, I figure I’ll take you fine friends/readers along for the journey, in case you too are inching towards 30 without a night serum or a daily stretching routine.

Where to Start

If you’ve been living life like it’s one long happy hour or weekend like I have been for the past five or six years, waking up to the realization that you won’t always be young and beautiful (a la Lana Del Rey’s hit song from the Great Gatsby) in the age of Instagram gurus and SELF CARE and Goop and Whole30 can be demoralizing at best, absolutely terrifying at worst.

Between being on Pinterest long enough to have seen it all already and my experience with one really unhelpful friend who tried to “coach” me into holistic wellness when I was just so not ready for that transition that I am, by default, paranoid and halfway over it already.

It took getting some distance from what I had been consuming on the internet and removing myself from unhelpful and unhealthy environments/relationships for me understand what I want to maintain about my youthful existence and how I want to age.

QUESTION: What would you be sad to wake up and realize you’d lost because you weren’t taking care of yourself?

ANSWER: My unproblematic skin and the current distribution of fat and muscle on my skeleton.

QUESTION: How do you want to age? What kind of beautiful would you like to be at 30, 40, 50 and beyond?

ANSWER: I want to stay strong enough to stay active. I’d like to age gracefully, meaning I don’t plan on dying my hair if (when?) it goes grey and I would rather spend my money on things other than cosmetic surgery (although I do not have anything against people who do spend their money that way!)

WHERE TO START: Skincare and exercise. Also, I need to read more books and look at screen less.

So that’s where I’m starting. Skincare. Exercise. Reading.

SKINCARE

Here’s my starting point for skincare:

  • Established good thing: I already wear sunscreen any day I plan to leave the house or walk outside. It’s EWG certified and budget-friendly. Proud of developing this habit in 2017. Also, I wear try to wear hats if I’m adventuring outdoors for long periods of time.
  • Habit to develop: taking my makeup/sunscreen off EVERY NIGHT before bed. I do it most nights but… not as often as I should. This is vital (or so I’m told.)
  • New stuff, phase 1: Toner before moisturizing. I stocked up on Pixi glow tonic because it’s cruelty free and budget-friendly. I also have a backlog of cotton balls to use up while I knit myself some reusable cotton beauty pads and face cloths.
  • New stuff, phase 2: night serum + silk pillowcase. Probably going with Moonlit Skincare because I trust CB and I love lavender stuff.  
  • Seeking expert advice: I want to make an appointment at a nice spa or a dermatologist to make sure I’m using the right kind of cleansers for my skin and that none of my beloved freckles are in danger of morphing into skin cancer.

DON’T GET CRAZY: I had to stop myself from buying an ENTIRE kit and kaboodle’s worth of AM/PM skin care. Why? It’s expensive and I have not done nearly enough research yet to know what would be the best choice for me. Besides, I have plenty of moisturizer and cleanser at home that I can use up in the meantime. I also have to routinely tell myself to CHILL when I start looking at jade face rollers or fancy face masks.

EXERCISE

Here’s my starting point for exercise:

  • Established good thing: I don’t follow fitness accounts that make me feel like garbage. I have basic mobility and understanding of fitness terms. I have a few go-to exercises that I can manage without much fuss. I am up to 3 workouts at home per week. I’m a devotee of Claire Fountain and her chill, no-nonsense approach to strength and softness and researching every damn thing before investing.
  • Habit to develop: I would like to move or stretch every day. Not always a hard workout (as was prescribed by some of my early attempts at getting in shape), but at least a walk or some sun salutations.
  • New stuff, phase 1: My planned reward for working out 4 times per week in March is getting myself Claire’s Built & Bendy 2.0 program. I’ve followed her for years and cannot wait to finally invest in her work.
  • New stuff, phase 2: Join a gym, probably the new YMCA, for weight access and cardio motivation. Also, I need to meet new people and it’s an easy way to spend time with my sister and brother-in-law.
  • Seeking expert advice: Going to a GP and getting some recommendations for generally diet and nutrition guidelines.

DON’T GET CRAZY: I’m not pairing this exercise ramp up with a huge diet change. I’m pretty happy with how I eat, I’m not trying to lose weight and I know that once I get moving more often, my body will tell me what it needs. I’m also not buying a cute new blender (even though I really want one) or stocking up on fancy protein powder. I’m going to use up the stuff I have already and make sure that my routine makes sense before I sink a lot of time and money into overhauling my kitchen.

READING

Reading is a much shorter process, but I’ll share it to.

  • Tracking screen time with Moment.
  • Made a goal for less than 3 hours of screen time per day.
  • Have to fill that mindless scrolling time with something, why not MORE BOOKS?
  • I try to read while I eat and before bed instead of scrolling.
  • I want to have a “phone free morning” eventually, but I think I’ll have to get a watch and an alarm clock to make that a reality. That’ll be the next phase.

I’m working on a worksheet/journal prompts for y’all if you want to investigate this weird phase of life for yourself! I’d love to talk about it with you if you need a sympathetic ear.

No matter what phase you’re in, you’re wonderful and I love you! Thanks for reading. xo