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We all have done it, watched our little sibling fall down and get back up like nothing happened, a smile on their face and instantly dried up tears. We laugh with our family and marvel at how young bodies bounce back so easily. I remember older friends and family saying the same thing to me as a teenager, “You’re young, you’ll be okay!” or “My stomach can’t handle that anymore but you’re stomach can.” I began to feel invincible. At one point I was certain that I was invincible because I ate 5 pieces of pizza, chicken, fries, and soda without my stomach even making a grumble. I danced on my knees and felt sore in all the wrong places after practice but eventually it would fade, or it wouldn’t and I would be too lazy to go to the doctor waiting until it was an emergency to make an appointment to the doctor. But my body proved time and time again that I was a living fountain of youth and nothing could stop me!
Fast forward to 22 years old (still pretty young). My tune has changed immensely. I don’t know if it has to do with having a vegan boss as an example, my parents changing their diet back home, or a good friend, who is the same age as me, telling me that she has diabetes, but the wake up call was loud and clear. I shouldn’t wait until 30 to start taking care of my body. In reality, I might not have until 30 before the consequences of years of self-righteous neglect kicks in. All of a sudden I remember the soreness around my lower-back during belly dance practice that never quite went away; I remember how my knees are double jointed now, one more so than the other when they weren’t before; I remember how Five Guys didn’t go down as easy last time I ate there (neither did McDonald’s or those 50 cent Honeybuns); I remember how fast I eat candy, almost like an addict not even thinking, just placing gummy bear after gummy bear in my mouth until I am nauseous and the bag is empty; I remember those moments of sugar cravings I can’t fight so I have to run to the corner store for an Arizona; I remember my lactose intolerant self having Frappucinos twice a week sometimes; I remember the acid reflux, the hypoglycemia, and the blood sugar irregularities, which all started before I was 30 but actually between middle school and high school.
If my body is truly a temple that means it was a temple the moment I was born. Some of us young people got to ask ourselves: How am I treating my temple so far? Am I dumping garbage in it thinking that somehow it’ll get taken care of? Am I postponing much-needed maintenance on my temple? Am I being kind to this temple? Have I even prayed in my temple? In asking myself these questions, I was not pleased with the answers. However, if yoga and meditation taught me nothing, they taught me that the present is everything and change can happen at any moment. Do I practice veganism and only eat raw foods now? No, not all! Operating on extremes never served me. I am making changes for the better one day at a time by cutting sugar, caffeine, and processed foods from my diet. I am making the conscious choice to treat my body well no matter how resilient she is. I am upping my exercise, meditation, and treating my habits as a human being as an extension of me. Do I get it perfect all the time? No. But I know for a fact that my temple needs love and care in the present, not when she is in ruins.
Age should never be an excuse.
Look after yourself.