You feel pretty confident that you make smart diet decisions, you go out to lunch and as you peruse the menu your eyes are drawn to light bites and salads. You choose a nice big salad and even though your friend ordered a burger and fries you feel pretty smug about your healthy decision.
Okay, so maybe you don’t floss every day, but at least you aren’t stepping on the scale every morning just to see. Heck, you even managed to get five hours of sleep last night.
Here’s the problem with your assumptions, a salad isn’t always the smartest decision, five hours of sleep isn’t enough, and even though your days run short – there is enough time to make the right decisions. It feels like it’s impossible to balance everything, though.
You work all day, you’re then supposed to deal with dinner, chores, kids, exercising, and socializing. I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
So, yes, doing the right thing all of the time has probably been shoved to the back burner and your focus has probably been closer to surviving instead of thriving. Even still, you should do your best to steer clear of the biggest health mistakes women make.
25 Worst Health Mistakes Women Make
1| A Lack of Sleep
You can’t remember the last time you had a good night’s sleep on a consistent basis, can you? You’ve fallen into the trap of fueling your days with coffee and energy drinks and then wonder why you struggle to fall asleep every night.
You’re not alone in falling into this trap, it’s happened to all of us at some point. Sadly, a lack of sleep leaves you more susceptible to stress (*), bad food decisions, and completely unmotivated. Not only does this leave you at risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, there are a whole host of other chronic conditions a lack of sleep can cause.
You should aim to get at least seven hours of sleep every night and you can do yourself a favor by creating a healthy bedtime routine to prepare your body for sleep, it’s all about winding down.
2| Wearing Heels
You have been wearing heels for so long you’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to walk in flats. Whether it’s a fashion decision or you feel more powerful when you work in heels – they are causing you long-term damage.
Not only are they damaging your bones and increasing the risk of osteoarthritis, they can even lead to spider veins and nerve damage.
If you’re a regular heel wearer, it’s time to scale it back to just a few hours at a time. The rest of the time you should stick to more comfortable, flat shoes. A heel of an inch or an inch and a half is the ideal – and there are plenty of stylish options in this category.
3| Poor Oral Hygiene
You brush them every morning and again before you go to bed and your responsibilities are over. That’s not strictly true, though. As you get older you will have noticed yellowing and very likely, a bit of aches and pains.
It probably makes you wish you’d looked after them better in your younger years – but it isn’t too late to start. In addition to brushing regularly, you should make a habit out of flossing every day.
The Mayo Clinic reports that gum inflammation can lead to gum disease, and believe it or not, gum disease (like periodontitis) can cause illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. So, at the very least you should be brushing twice daily (using a fluoride toothpaste), flossing, and using mouthwash. You should also check in with your dentist at least once a year.
4| Avoiding Exercise
As we get older we should go out of your way to exercise more often, yet we’re more likely to do the opposite. It makes sense, you have a career to deal with, families to attend to, and a million other items on your to-do list, of course, it’s going to be exercise that falls to the wayside.
Here’s the deal – you need exercise to stay fit and it helps you stay injury free, too. There’s nothing worse than spending every night sitting on the couch – make a point of getting in a walk each day. You should be getting at least 150 minutes of exercise weekly.
5| Avoiding Weights
There’s this idea that women should avoid weight lifting altogether. That’s patently false, you don’t need to throw hundreds of weights on the bar and indulge in the clean and jerk, but you should 100% do some strength training. It forms part of a healthy exercise routine that helps burn fat, sculpt, and tone your body. So, check out seated cable rows, try barbell squats, and don’t be afraid to dumbbell lunge either.
6| Forgetting The Sunscreen
Every time you go to the beach you slather on your SPF 30 and you feel good about your life choices. What about the rest of the time? If you want to avoid dry and wrinkled skin, as well as skin cancer, then you’ll learn to apply sunscreen on a daily basis, even if it’s cloudy out. The best way to proceed is by investing in moisturizers and makeup that contain SPF protection.
7| Emotional/Binge Eating
You just had the worst day at the office ever and you’ve arrived home to realize you didn’t plan dinner and all you want is junk. You open the freezer and there it is – that gallon of chocolate ripple ice cream you forget you had.
You grab a spoon, flip the lid off, and forego a bowl. 30 minutes later your stress-reliever has become the source of your stress and discomfort. You ate so much you feel sick. We’ve all done it, even if it wasn’t enough to feel physically sick – it can still have repercussions for your health.
It fuels a nasty cycle that becomes incredibly difficult to break. You continue making the wrong dietary choices and as you gain weight you become more upset about those choices, so you turn to food for comfort. The first step in breaking this habit is identifying the triggers and learning how to manage them without the aid of food.
8| Shrugging Off Stress
We have become a society so obsessed with showing off our multi-tasking skills that we have lost sight of how stressful it is to juggle so many things all at once. The only thing that comes with multi-tasking is stress and we are too guilty of ignoring the signs of stress. Do you constantly feel fatigued, struggle to sleep, and are you plagued by a headache that you just can’t shake? It could be stress, and it doesn’t take long for it to take over. Left unchecked, stress can lead to anxiety and depression.
Identify the stressors in your life and learn how to manage them. Most importantly, learn to practice self-care, you’re no good to anyone if you can’t even look after yourself.
9| Skipping A Check-Up
Sick days are a no-no and who has time to make an appointment at the doctor’s office for an annual check-up? Make time, even if there aren’t any obvious symptoms and you feel fine. If you have a check-up due make the time to attend, whether it’s a pap smear, mammogram or your annual physical. These are things that you cannot ignore as early diagnosis is the key to pretty much every condition.
10| The Wrong Bra
You have probably heard about how often women wear the bra size, it’s something we all laugh at and assume that we’re not a guilty party. There’s a good chance you are guilty, but that’s not important – what is important is how wearing the wrong bra size can impact your health. Yes, not only can it cause skin irritations, it can also affect your posture leading to a lifetime of pain in your breasts, neck, and back.
11| Skipping Makeup Removal
When you get home late and go straight to bed without removing your makeup you probably tell yourself you can deal with the impending acne breakout. That’s the least of your worries, okay, no one likes the thought of pores clogged with oil and dirt but leaving your eye makeup on can cause eye infections.
12| Ignoring Pain
You have a job, you have a family to look after, you have errands to run, chores to do, friends to see, family to visit, and it is never-ending. So, when you can’t get over that cough, you have a backache that won’t quit, and you’re so used to indigestion you walk around with antacids in your pocket… you ignore it.
You’re so used to these aches and pains that you’re convinced it was just always this way. That indigestion could be a heart attack, that pain in your jaw could be the same. Pain is a symptom and if it’s persistent you shouldn’t ignore it; your life may depend on it.
As a starting point, you should know the major symptoms of the most serious illnesses, understand your risk factors, and deal with anything as soon as it becomes a problem.
13| You Operate The Assumption That Cooking At Home Is Healthy
You are the best cook you know and while your friends are hitting the drive-thru four nights a week, you’re in the kitchen going Martha Stewart on a whole chicken. Yes, cooking at home should be healthier, but it isn’t always.
Part of the problem is our inability to exercise portion control, and the other issue is that we choose rich, comfort foods that cause a calorie buildup. Don’t get caught up making the same old recipes, like mac and cheese. Learn to use healthy ingredients and get your portions right.
14| Your Social Circle Has Bad Habits
We truly do surround ourselves with people just like us and bad habits rub off. So, if you have friends with bad habits you are more likely to exercise poor decision making when it comes to making healthy life choices.
People who surround themselves with overweight people tend to gain weight. A Harvard University study suggests it is because we allow our view of acceptable body size to shift by who we spend our time with. The same can be said for drinking habits and more. The best way to handle this type of issue is truly understanding what is healthy and being strong in your decision- making process. Don’t let others decisions sway yours.
15| Your Salad Obsession
Yes, you knew we would circle back to this point from the first paragraph. If you make your salad at home and create it using healthy food items then yes, a salad is an excellent choice. However, if you make a habit of ordering them while you’re out then you might just have a problem on your hands.
Croutons, unhealthy dressings, fried chicken, and all the accouterment that makes for a delicious salad only increase the calorie count and fat intake. By the time you add up all those calories, you would have been just as well ordering the burger and fries.
If you’re eating out be wise about which salad you choose – avoid creamy dressings and have the dressing you do choose on the side.
Don’t choose bacon, fried chicken, cheese, and croutons as toppings. Stick to the basics. Your best bet is to check out the menu online before you go eat anywhere, that way you can choose the healthiest meal possible. Remember these tips for salad creation at home, too.
16| You Never Weigh Yourself
While it isn’t a great idea to step on the scale every day of your life, it’s not healthy to avoid it either. It’s a typical avoidance tactic that allows us to remain blissfully aware about how far we’ve let ourselves go… if you don’t weigh yourself you don’t really know if you gained weight and have a problem, right?
It’s a lot easier to lose weight when it’s just a few extra pounds, it becomes much more difficult when you reach 20 pounds of gain. Your weight will vary, so aim to weigh yourself once every week or two.
If you’re actively trying to lose weight, then make it a monthly habit – but do it at the same time and do it naked. You may want to delay your weigh in if you’re menstruating.
17| You Carry A Heavy Purse
Are you plagued by neck and back pain? It shouldn’t come as a surprise, as you carry a purse on just one shoulder and if it’s a heavy one it could be straining and pulling your ligaments, muscles, and joints. You have a couple here – you can lighten your load or redistribute it more efficiently.
18| You Try To Keep Up With Your Friends When Drinking
Whether your gal pals hit the bottle hard or you surround yourself with 24-pack drinking guys, don’t try to keep up. We all process alcohol differently, know your own limits and ensure you stick to them, no matter who is egging you on. Women are supposed to stick to a single drink a day, that’s the equivalent of a 12 oz can of beer, a 5 oz glass of wine or a 1.5 oz of 80-proof spirits.
19| You Don’t Know The Signs
Men experience more dramatic symptoms when they have a heart attack, so most women expect the same experience if it happens to them. That just isn’t the case, though. Women are more likely to experience fatigue, shortness of breath, pain in the upper stomach, back, and jaw (*). There are also frequently signs and symptoms in the month before a heart event occurs.
20| Ignoring Fertility
Age is a factor when it comes to fertility, so if you’re in your 20s or 30s and you haven’t started your family yet, you will need to think about your fertility now. It becomes more difficult to conceive the older you get and the decline in fertility starts around 32 and at 37 it takes another steep drop.
If you have future plans for a family, but if it’s in the distant future you may want to consider freezing your eggs, so you still have that option in your mid to late 30s and beyond.
21| You Forget About Eye Health
They help you see, but how often do you consider their health? If you can’t remember the last time you had an eye exam, then it’s time to schedule one. It isn’t just about making sure you don’t need glasses or that you’ve got the right prescription, your doctor also looks for signs of glaucoma, cataracts, and more. Women often start to experience dry eyes in their 40s and this is due to changes in hormones.
22| You’re A Sucker For A Fad Diet
There is nothing wrong with making dietary changes for the benefit of your weight. The problem arises when you get suckered into every fad diet that crops up and you fall into the trap of yo-yo dieting.
You are better off eating a healthy balanced diet because fad diets generally cause you to miss out on nutrients that your body needs. This is especially dangerous for women, as we’re more prone to osteoporosis.
23| You Don’t Consider Diabetes A Risk
45 is the magic birthday – when you reach this milestone you need to talk to your doctor about diabetes screening. Once you’ve had the first one you should have one every three years, provided your results are negative.
24| A Lack of Hydration
How drink beverages do you enjoy a day? What is the most likely drink to be found in your hand at any given time of the day? If your answer isn’t water, then you’re doing it wrong. As delicious as fruit juices and soft drinks are, they aren’t providing you with adequate hydration. Your body needs water, it’s crucial to the function of your organs.
At the very least, women should be drinking 2.7 liters of water each day. To put that into easier terms, that is almost 12 cups or the equivalent of 7.6 12-ounce cans of soda. It’s easier than you think to fit that in, you can start your day with a glass of water and then enjoy two glasses before each meal. You’re over halfway there, now you only need to enjoy a glass between meals and sip regularly throughout the day.
Despite everything we know about cigarettes, it’s still a popular habit across America. You knew that it could cause cancer when you lit your first one, it can also increase your blood pressure, lead to heart disease, and age your skin dramatically. Quitting won’t be easy, but it’s one of the major risk factors for a whole host of diseases. The biggest step you can take to improve your health is quitting this nasty habit.
How many of these health mistakes are you guilty of making? Now is not the time to beat yourself up about them, they’re in the past. Now that you’re more aware of the mistakes you are making it’s time to make the relevant changes in your life to prevent yourself from repeating your mistakes over and over again.
Looking after your health doesn’t need to be overly complicated – you need to make healthy decisions on a daily basis – choose the right foods, exercise when you promised yourself you would, avoid bad habits and influences, and embrace a truly healthy lifestyle.
That doesn’t mean saying goodbye to your favorite foods, it simply means to enjoy sweets in moderation and make healthy decisions consistently.
Your health really is a matter of exercising common sense and learning how to curb the sneaky voice inside you that is trying to lead you into temptation.
Stay well and take care!