By Craig Lovelace, Resonate Pullman

In the first post in our series on how to maximize your 20s and leverage these years as a defining decade we talked broadly about some of big ideas that can transform the way you approach adulthood and responsibility in the transition from college life to post-college life.

Today, I want to focus on the category of health and the ways we can thoughtfully steward it, even when we’re young. First, you should periodically revisit your vision for your future self. I often want to ask myself if the way I’m living today is true to the vision I have for myself 10 years from now. Am I making choices at 28 that are going to be loving and beneficial to me at 38?

Much of our life is determined by our habits. Social scientists claim that 50% or more of what we do in a day is habit based. Habits are largely formed through very small actions that we do consistently enough that our brain does them without calling on our will power or conscious thinking. In each of these areas, don’t beat yourself up when you don’t see rapid change. Break down the life of your future self into bite size chunks. Maturity today might start with something so basic you can do it in just a couple minutes. This is especially relevant in the topic of Health.

Here’s what we know about health in your 20s: Your habits today determine your health tomorrow. The decisions you’re making in your 20s about diet and exercise are setting a course that will determine much of your health reality in your 50’s and 60’s. As the responsibilities of work, family and finances settle in, it gets more and more difficult to shake us out of established ruts and into new ways of stewarding our bodies. So, while it may feel like you’re invincible and you can eat whatever your want with minimal exercise, that won’t always be the case. Don’t wait for your metabolism to quit before you start taking better care of your body.

When investing in new health habits, it can be discouraging to say the least. I recently read a quote from James Clear’s new book Atomic Habits that said, “the cost of your bad habits is in the future, the cost of your good habits is in the present.” That is so true! It costs to work out. It’s painful and never fun at first. It costs to not eat sweets. Eating french fries always feels better than not eating french fries. But, the cost of those choices in the future can be much more painful than the cost right now.

Here’s the good news: while it’s difficult to change our habits, it’s not impossible. If we’re going to change at any stage of life, we have to start small. We need to learn to celebrate small changes we can later build on rather than get disappointed with ourselves when we don’t see complete overhaul in a week or two. In Atomic Habits, James Clear shares a story about a reader who lost over 100 pounds by slowly building on his habits. His starting point was driving to the gym four days a week but only allowing himself to stay for five minutes. Seems pointless right? Wrong! He began acting like a person who shows up. He established the habit of going to the gym. That small change transformed the way he saw himself and allowed him to believe he could do more and change more.

Here’s what you can do today: Find a micro habit you are sure to succeed in. Below are some examples of micro habits you can try start establishing today.

Exercise

Put your exercise shoes next to your bed and put them on first thing in the morning.

Ask a friend to partner with you and commit to meet them the night before you want to exercise so you aren’t just quitting on yourself.

Diet

Identify the “trouble aisle” at the grocery store and avoid it when you shop.

Put junk food in a cabinet that is out of sight and difficult to access.

Sleep

Put your alarm on loud in another room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.

If getting to bed at a decent time is hard for you, set an alarm to remind yourself to call it quits for the day.

God gave us bodies to steward. He cares how we treat them. May we be people who establish healthy habits and view even our health as a under the lordship of Christ.


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