But the truth is, no matter how young your mindset may be, there are certain inevitable changes that happen to your body as you age—and experts agree that your workouts, diet, and self-care rituals need to evolve through the years if you want to stay glowy, energized, and injury-free.
“Through each decade of life, you’re going to have different issues to take into consideration, and it’s very important [not to ignore this],” says trainer Laurent Amzallag, who has gone on tour with Oprah Winfrey and was named one of the country’s top 50 trainers by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
Holistic nutritionist Elissa Goodman agrees. “Just when you think you have it all figured out, biological factors force you to reevaluate and change things up,” she says. “You’ll never have to give up kale, but you will have to find ways to meet your biological needs as you get older.”
Since the aging process is super complex—affecting everything from our bones to our brains to our hormones (and beyond)—we asked a group of experts to create comprehensive holistic wellness prescriptions for women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. (Of course, listen to your doctor if she gives you different advice based on any personal health concerns.)
Although your gym routine and your supplement cabinet may look a lot different from one decade to the next, one thing’s for sure: your ability to kick ass in life and wellness doesn’t have to change with it.
And to help you along the way, we’ll be rolling out decade-by-decade guides to your best health over the next few weeks. First up: the 20s! Scroll down for a full Rx.
On the surface, it seems like 20-somethings have it pretty easy—metabolism is still kicking, energy is still high, and you can still stay out late on a Saturday night and spring out of bed for an early SoulCycle class the next morning. But Amzallag insists that workouts shouldn’t be considered optional at this age. “Women in their 20s often don’t have responsibilities like family or kids yet, so this is the time to create healthy habits,” he stresses. “If you do that now, it will be much easier to keep them going in your 30s and beyond.”
For this age group, he recommends high-intensity conditioning workouts four to five times a week, for an hour at a time, with few rest breaks. (Think Orangetheory or Barry’s Bootcamp.) “Your metabolism slows down as you get older—especially if you lose muscle mass—so this is the time that you want to start building that muscle,” he says. “You also want your body to stay in that high aerobic threshold, which creates the afterburn effect and makes [your metabolism] more efficient at rest.”
The biggest food-related mistake Goodman sees women make in their 20s? Crash dieting. “If you want to lose weight in a healthy way, without causing future damage to your metabolism, it’s better to take it slow,” she advises. “Don’t follow extreme calorie restrictions and don’t fall for fad diets—these are two very common ways to cause a lot of issues down the road.”
Instead, she says, your 20s are a great time to load up on the basics of good nutrition: bone-building leafy greens, plant-based proteins, and healthy fats (omega-3s, in particular, since they “boost your levels of serotonin, the ‘feel-good’ chemical”). She adds that women in this age group should keep their cabinets stocked with chia seeds for fiber; maca powder to balance hormones and provide energy and PMS relief; and young coconut water, which is “full of the electrolytes you need to recover from a night out.”
“Final exams, internships, late nights, and a full social calendar all make it a little tricky to get your nutrients in,” says Goodman. If you’re not already getting them in a multivitamin, she recommends supplementing with vitamins D and K—a tag team that works together to help you absorb calcium and strengthen bones. Goodman also suggests adding spirulina to your a.m. smoothies. “Iron deficiencies are prevalent among women in their 20s, and 2 teaspoons of spirulina daily will provide more than half of your daily amount,” she says.
Yoga and meditation
According to Heather Peterson, chief yoga officer at CorePower Yoga, women in their 20s benefit from working more intense yoga classes into their weekly workout routine—including ones that involve weights. (These could be interchangeable with the HIIT workouts mentioned above.)
Since this is a decade when you’re constantly on the go, she adds that moving meditation is also key. “At this time of life, just 10 mindful minutes a day—or even every other day—can be a great start to a lifetime meditation practice,” she says. “Walk mindfully to a beautiful spot and sit for five minutes, absorbing the outdoors, then mindfully walk back.”
Your skin changes a ton in your 20s, says aesthetician and therapeutic skin coach Hayley Roy. “We can go from residual teenage acne to signs of premature aging in just a few short years,” she explains. “Consistency is key, so getting on a routine with a gentle cleanser, aloe or rose water toner, and a moisturizer with SPF is ideal.”
She’s a big fan of Conscious Coconut, which can do double duty as a cleanser and moisturizer, and she recommends using zinc as a physical sun block. “With mineral options like Ilia’s Moondance, it’s easy to dust on a light layer on your face, neck, décolleté, and hands,” says Roy. And to ensure your occasional pizza and beer binges don’t show up on your face, she recommends chasing them with The Beauty Chef’s Cleanse Powder.
Look out for our guide to your 30s, 40s, and 50s in the coming weeks. But until then, here’s a little extra skin care intel: what happens when you cleanse your skin with honey (or facial oils) for a month.