Your Beautiful Body

Five Healthy Habits to Start in Your Teens, Thank Me Later

Take care of yourself, we insist.

When I was growing up, I had a wonderful mother who encouraged, ahem, insisted upon a handful of healthy habits. I didn’t mind, because that’s all that I knew. Habits like clean eating and good skin care enabled me to thrive in college, feel great about myself, and continue to feel fantastic as an adult.

Now I’m here to encourage, ahem, insist that you start to practice healthy habits now. Sure, everyone’s family situation is different, and we’re all crazed with school, sports and busy social lives. Adding one more thing into your daily mix may be the furthest thing from your mind! But starting in your teens is the best gift that you can give to your adult self.

As a teen, everything that you’re currently doing is setting the stage for a successful and vibrant adult life, right? Studying hard gets you into a good college. Graduating from a good college helps you find a great first job, and so on. So try to think of healthy habits as another important level of preparation for adulthood, because in addition to having a great job when you get older, you’re also going to want to feel great about yourself. Adding smart habits into your daily life will do just that.

I’ve created this list of five healthy habits that are easy to do, and that you can start today.

Make FACE TIME a top priority!

No, not FaceTiming with friends. I’m talking about washing your face in the morning and at night. Night time skin care is especially important for those of us who wear makeup because makeup can clog pores which leads to blackouts and breakouts. Find a face wash that’s appropriate for your skin type (oily, dry, normal, etc). and use this in the morning and at night.

I highly recommend taking this a step further at night by adding a toner and moisturizer to your night time routine. After washing your face in the morning, apply a moisturizer (preferably with SPF). By practicing this habit every day, you’ll reap the rewards of glowing skin and help protect and preserve your beautiful skin as you age. Check out these options from MacKinley’s WorthIt series.

healthy habits washing face

Minimize processed foods-  eat fruits and veggies daily.

“A Twix bar a day keeps the doctor away” said no one ever! If your diet consists mainly of items that come out of a package, then it’s time to acquaint yourself with the produce aisle. Learn to love fruits and vegetables now, because they are the cornerstone of good health.

If you don’t have a steady intake of produce, and instead feast on things that come from a manufacturing plant, your future health could be in jeopardy. Packaged and processed foods are filled with additives, sugars and chemicals that do nothing to promote good health. In fact, too much of these foods over time can lead to all sorts of nasty things like weight gain, acne, heart disease, diabetes.

We can never blame broccoli (or any of its brothers) for a heart attack! If you don’t currently eat fruits and veggies, try adding one new veggie and fruit a week to your diet. Start with the basics and keep adding a new one each week. After a few weeks, your taste buds will respond to the pure goodness and recognize that the packaged stuff tastes a little funky. There are some great healthy options for you, straight from your Metiza community.

healthy habits
Don’t snack unless you’re hungry.

And if you’re going to snack, make it an all-natural one like an apple, a scoop of peanut butter, a handful of nuts, a hard boiled egg or even popcorn with a little salt. Over the past 20+ years, snacking has become too engrained in our culture. Sure, snacking has its place, especially for athletes who need the extra fuel.

But if you’re just snacking out of boredom, beware. Snacking calories can quickly sneak onto your waistline and slow you down. Think that daily handful or two of chips isn’t going to impact you over time? Think again.

If you are hungry, remember, typical packaged snack foods are usually empty calories because they’re devoid of real food that won’t satiate you. If you must snack, choose wholesome foods that can help you feel balanced and full and try to limit yourself to one snack/day if you’re someone who typically eats three balanced meals. If you know you need a snack after school, then make that your designated “snack time” and enjoy a healthy treat when you need it most.

 Get moving!

If you don’t play sports, then this healthy habit is incredibly important. Identify time slots in your schedule a minimum of three times per week and make it your mission to move for 30 minutes to an hour. Walk, run, lift weights at the gym, dance… find something you love and make it happen!

If you have a hard time motivating, find a workout buddy, because that person will hold you accountable and time flies when you’re having fun with a friend. While it might be hard to get moving some days, you’ll never regret doing it, as the benefits of a workout are manifested in the mind and body.

healthy habits exercise
Practice kindness.

Being kind and good to others is one of the healthiest habits you can adopt in life. When you do something good for another person, how does that make you feel? It’s kind of a natural high, right? The opposite actions, such as bullying, carrying around anger, or harboring negativity and hatred towards others can in turn make you feel unwell.

According to an article published by David R. Hamilton, Ph.D., being kind to others actually produces chemical side effects in our body which promote overall happiness and even heart health. So start young and be the person who takes the time to do for others. Take a leadership role as the anti-bully, defend others in need and support someone who needs a helping hand. No one will ever fault you for being too kind. Check out Metiza’s Making Kindness Cool series here for some inspiration.

So think about adopting healthy habits now like this: you are an adult most of your life and a teen for only a few short years. Make this time count and work in your favor. Essentially, invest in your own healthy habit portfolio now to enjoy a rich livelihood for the rest of your life.

Cheers to your health!

Michelle Cartmel is a certified health/nutrition coach,...