Your thirties are often the “juggling act” years, as you strive to keep all of your life’s responsibilities under control. For some women, their thirties involve a growing family; for others, a career; and for many, both things at once.
Finding time for yourself during this decade may seem as futile as wishing on a star, but it is precisely when your to-do list is reeling out of control and chaos surrounds you that it is most important to take care of your inner world.
Psychologist Gail Brenner believes that taking time to look after you is a vital factor in good parenting: “Maybe you think that taking care of yourself is selfish. This is a common misconception that is patently untrue. Start with you, and you will experience great freedom from being open, peaceful and awake to your life and everyone in it.”
Eat to live
Your thirties are a critical age to nourish your physical self. You demand a lot from your body, so fuel it well and with respect and it will repay you. Grabbing convenience foods on the go or just getting by on grazing on your child’s leftovers are both habits you need to kick.
Throwing together a quick salad or evening meal needn’t be a time-consuming task – just stick to the correct portions, and you can’t go far off track: 1) Picture your plate, 2) fill one quarter of the plate with lean proteins like fish, poultry, meat or eggs, 3) load up one half of the plate with vegetables, and 4) use the remaining quarter for complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain rice.
Now is also the time to help prevent disease development through healthy lifestyle choices. Keep inflammation in check by eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as oily fish and seeds.
Sugar and alcohol both feed inflammation and depress immunity, so think of them only as treats. Adopt an 80-20 philosophy: eat a clean diet of lean proteins, lots of veggies and complex carbohydrates 80 percent of the time, and allow for a little indulgence 20 percent of the time.
Move your body, soothe your mind
Hitting your thirties can make staying in shape a struggle. Part of this is because your basal metabolic rate drops 1–2% with each passing decade, stealing away lean muscle mass and leaving you with a parting gift of increased fat pockets.
Author and fitness expert Jillian Michaels claims that exercise is the number one preventative medicine: “You won’t see a huge difference between 31 and 39 if you’ve been living a healthy lifestyle, but if not, then you’ll see a massive difference in muscle tone, weight and shape.”
A strong, fit body in your thirties plays a pivotal role in how gracefully you will age. Take care of yourself now, and your heart, bones, lungs and muscles will all thank you for it down the line.
Long drawn-out exercise routines are generally out of the question for the busy thirty-something woman. Thankfully, fast, high-energy workouts can be just as beneficial, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
In addition to resistance work, pay attention to your core. Attending a Pilates or yoga class just once a week can prove invaluable when it comes to shaping up your body and your future. Also, walk everywhere you can, and pick up the pace – move as if you’re late for a meeting. (Chances are, you probably are!)
And don’t forget your mental well-being. Get into the habit of meditating – studies show that 20 minutes of meditation helps decrease tension, reduce anxiety and lower blood pressure, as well as enhancing sleep quality and cognitive functions.
These self-care measures are all especially vital in your thirties, when you are likely to be frantically scrambling up career ladders, nesting your family and nurturing others.
Health (always) matters
You may still look and feel young, but your body can start edging into dangerous territory in your thirties, so keeping tabs on your health is essential during this time.
Check your breasts regularly for any lumps or unusual tenderness. Most lumps in younger women are caused by benign cysts, but there are no guarantees. For excellent advice on performing self-examinations, check out www.cancer.org.
A clinical breast exam is recommended every three years for women in their thirties. Ask your doctor for more information. According to Dr. Rosemary Leonard, “Breast awareness is all about getting to know what’s normal for you. Some women naturally have lumpy breasts, which is fine. The important thing is to look out for any changes that occur over time.”
You should also get your thyroid checked by the time you hit 35. An underactive thyroid can lead to a number of health complications including unexplained weight gain, whereas an overactive thyroid can be a sign of autoimmune disease.
Finally, keep tabs on your blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to heart failure, kidney disease or stroke – so get yourself acquainted with the arm cuff and pump!
Please join us next week on our continuing journey through the ages of woman, as we boldly enter our 40s and beyond!