Despite young people’s tendency to think they know it all, some lessons you just have to learn the hard way. Here are a few of the many things you probably wish you knew before turning 50.
Your fast metabolism won’t last.
Those late-night pints of ice cream may not have made a difference when you were 25, but they’ll catch up to you later on. You will no longer be able to eat whatever you want without it affecting your weight; and you’ll have a harder time losing weight, too. Many end up wishing they had started exercising and eating right when they were younger to keep the pounds off.
Fortunately, we do have ways to boost our metabolism after 50, including getting enough sleep, eating enough protein, and being more active.
Sunscreen isn’t a joke.
The sun may endow you with a glistening bronze tan when you’re young, but those rays can lead to wrinkles, saggy skin, and age spots down the road. You’ll wish you had considered these long-term negative consequences before skipping the sunscreen.
Flossing really is important.
When your dentist told you that you needed to floss more, he meant it. As one blogger puts it, “your gums really do recede, a root canal is more painful than childbirth, and you don’t even get all those good hormones afterwards.” Adopting proper oral hygiene practices early on in life can save you a lot of misery.
Bad habits get harder and harder to break.
It really is hard to teach old dogs new tricks. One study indicates that bad habits evolve into automatic behaviors over time. And because aging can cause the parts of memory that require control (such as learning new, good habits) to deteriorate over time while automatic behaviors remain intact, breaking bad habits gets increasingly difficult as you age.
Bet you wish you had quit smoking years ago.
Relationships are the most important thing you have.
You may be proud of all of the things you have worked to accumulate over the years, but at the end of the day, they’re just that — things. Given a second chance, many would have spent more of that time and energy with family and friends, especially with those who are no longer around, such as parents and grandparents.
Good health isn’t a guarantee.
Even if you do everything right, your health probably won’t be perfect. Proper diet and exercise can go a long way toward keeping you healthy later on in life, but you may still have to deal with unforeseeable health complications. Coming to terms with this lack of control is something that many people struggle with.
Life is short.
When you’re 20, it seems like you have unlimited time to do everything you could ever dream of. At 50, the foolishness of this assumption really sinks in, and you realize the importance of making the most of the time you have. Part of that means knowing that it’s okay to say no to people and things that aren’t worth your while.
Being 50 is awesome.
Being 50 isn’t all back pain and receding gums — many people spend years dreading what turns out to be the best period of their life. At 50, most people have worked out what’s important to them and what’s not, allowing them to focus on what really brings them joy. Those over 50 also tend to be more comfortable in their own skin and confident in their views, so the insecurities of the past are less of an issue.
This is your time to be who and do what you want, so enjoy it. And remember, you won’t be 50 forever!
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