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I’m just now paying for some of the damage I caused my body in my twenties. In fact, I’ve had two doctor’s visits over new symptoms in which my doctor pretty much pinpointed old habits as the cause of my current problem. Sometimes, it takes a while for the consequences of our neglect to show up but it will show up. Your twenties are particularly sneaky that way because your body is so resilient…or so it seems. You may not pay the price for unhealthy choices the next day or the next week, but some habits slowly add up and then—bam—hit you with some terrible symptoms years later. Some don’t even build slowly. They give you no notice at all, going from zero to 100. If you are in your twenties, and making decisions about your health, don’t ask yourself, “How will I feel about this tomorrow?” Ask yourself, “How will this affect me in 10 years?” Because it will. Here are health choices you make in your twenties that you’ll either be grateful for later, or regret.

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Regret: Excessive weeknight drinking

It seems in your twenties, the very fact that it’s 5 o’clock serves as a reason to drink. You mindlessly blitz through a few beers between pre-dinner snacks and your after-dinner TV shows. But that will show up in your skin later, making wrinkles speed up and prematurely aging you. It could also set you up for mild alcohol dependency.

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Grateful: Learning to cook a few basic things

A frittata. Baked salmon. Spaghetti squash. If you stick to frozen food and delivery throughout your twenties, the idea of finally learning to cook becomes more and more daunting. But if you ease your way into it in your twenties, then you actually become eager to learn new healthy recipes as you get older.

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Regret: Going with the cheapest health care

You may want to save a few bucks by getting the cheapest healthcare plan, but remember that, if you’re loyal to one insurance company for years, you could get discounts down the line as prices increase. And as you get older, problems will arise, and you will want a better plan.

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Grateful: Made exercise a habit

Even if it’s just a few short power walks a week, if you exercise regularly in your twenties, it will be in your bones the rest of your life. You’ll set your internal clock to getting in a little cardio each day, and you’ll actually miss it if you skip it. Waiting to exercise later in life just makes the concept seem all the more daunting.

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Regret: Not cultivating a friend group

Friends aren’t just fun: they’re also good for your health. Women need social interactions for a proper chemical balance that will keep us feeling happy. Don’t always let work (or your boyfriend) come first in your twenties. Make time for those girls’ nights.

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Grateful: Limiting sun exposure

No matter your ethnicity, sun exposure does take a toll. Even if skin cancer isn’t a risk, those unsightly sunspots and freckles will creep up later if you’re big on sun bathing when you’re young. As a matter of fact, you can develop sunspots in your thirties from sun exposure in your teens.

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Regret: Over-dying your hair

You may still be discovering your identity and that involves playing with your look, but see if you can do so without all the hair dye. Your locks will only be so forgiving, and one day, they’ll just become permanently frail and damaged from all the coloring.

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Grateful: Seeking out positivity

Surround yourself with positive individuals and cultivate a positive mindset young. It’s easy to be a complainer and be negative in your twenties because it seems “cool,” but you’ll train your brain to be negative for a lifetime if you do that.

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Regret: Tolerating bad shoes

Yes, they look gorgeous and yes, all of your friends are wearing them. But those super high stilettos will give you back problems later. Plus, you could just trip and injure yourself in those things.

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Grateful: Learning to bust stress

Learning to take stress seriously from a young age will set you up for a healthier, happier life. Ignoring it can cause everything from stomach ulcer flare-ups to migraines. From a young age, find healthy ways (read: non-alcoholic) to bust stress so you make a habit of confronting it.

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Regret: Not flossing

Skip flossing and regular teeth cleanings today and you’ll pay for it—literally, with a lot of money—later. Those deep cleanings can cost thousands of dollars and replacing the fillings and crowns you’ll have for a lifetime is even more expensive. Don’t take oral hygiene lightly.


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Grateful: Sexual safety

Just because someone looks clean, promises he’s been tested, or says he’s loyal, doesn’t actually prove anything. Those are not good reasons to skip the condoms. Remember some STDs never go away.

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Regret: Smoking

You may start casually smoking in your twenties just when you’re drinking at bars with friends. Then it becomes when you’re drinking at home with friends. Then it becomes when you’re drinking at home alone. Then it becomes when you’re just…having a lunch break. If you don’t pick up the habit at all early, you’ll be less likely to start later.

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Grateful: Healing an eating disorder

While you obviously cannot do this at will, if you suspect you suffer from an eating disorder, seek help today. The longer you let this go on, the harder it will be to admit you have an issue to find help. And some eating disorders can cause permanent physical damage.

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Regret: Raging hard while you “still can”

Don’t think, “I should party tons while I’m young and can still handle it.” You can’t handle it. Nobody can handle barely sleeping and drinking plenty. Your body just won’t tell you you did a bad thing until later.

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