As women move through life, our physical and emotional needs change. To help make the best of every decade, there are simple things we can focus on to live our best lives at every stage.
You may think you don't need to do much in your 20s other than wear sunscreen. For those of you still slow to that party, know that New Zealand's UV levels in winter are as strong as Italy's in their summer.
This is the decade to take ownership. No longer under the stewardship of Mum and Dad, your 20s are a great time to change what you're not happy with, from relationships to your career to how you live your life.
Take ownership of your health by treating yourself each birthday to a physical with your GP, having a skin check and a regular dentist visit. Your 20s are about fun and frivolity but it's an easy time to put health practices in place for your future.
Nutrition is key in this decade. Most women are preparing for pregnancy or have young children, both of which require you to fuel your body with quality nutrition. Nutrition will assist in getting pregnant and will help you find the strength to carry on once kids come into your life and you are a whisker away from exhaustion at all times. Post-natal depletion is real, and a mostly whole foods diet with quality protein and fat sources will help you through.
With a busy career, family and friendships, stress can be a killer. If you do things like drink coffee on an empty stomach, it's time to stop. Caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline which perks you up, but this releases insulin and so the blood sugar roller-coaster begins, adding to the stress on your body.
Pay attention to your liver. In your 40s, your body embarks on its potentially greatest challenge, perimenopause, and our liver can help make this a less terrible time than it needs to be. By eating healthy whole foods, leafy green vegetables and reducing alcohol, your liver can focus on its intended purpose of, amongst other things, filtering your blood and altering toxins ready to release from your body.
Most women ask too much of their livers, indulging in too many wines and gins, making rushed and poor nutrition choices, and by being stressed. If the liver is busy processing alcohol then hormones, trans fats and refined sugars are put on hold, delaying them being altered by the liver and eventually excreted from the body. When toxins, including oestrogen, build up in the liver or are recycled within the body because they can't be altered and excreted, problems occur.
Some symptoms of perimenopause can be positively influenced by healthy liver function, including night sweats, hot flushes, headaches and irritability. Easy starts include reducing alcohol, refined sugar and trans fats.
By now, women's bodies have changed in so many ways that some women find them unrecognisable. While the benefits of walking are undeniable, too many women rely on this as their sole form of exercise. Women need to hit the gym, and they need to do it hard. Our bodies have been losing muscle mass since our 30s, and our bones get weaker too.
Lifting weights will not make you look like a bodybuilder, instead, it will put beneficial stress on your bones to help keep them strong, it will help our posture, metabolism and, yes, our appearance. Joining a gym can be a rewarding social occasion and using the expertise of people working there will help you achieve results faster.