You might think you already know your body pretty well, but you'd be surprised that's always something new to learn. Once you find out everything there is to know, you'll be more appreciative of the body you have and all of the great things it can do for you. That's why the experts at seventeen.com put together this fantastic list of all the things you should know about your body. There is a ton of great information on this list and you're going to be soulmates with yourself once you've learned it all. Yay!
There is no one "ideal" body type. Your body is beautiful just the way it is. Whether you have curves, no curves, six-pack abs, rolls, big boobs, no butt, stretch marks, muscles, or no muscles — it doesn't make your body any less "perfect" or amazing. "Everyone has different body types," says Sarah Gaines, a fitness instructor and founder of Fit University. "Your body is beautiful, strong and yours — own it!" Focus on what your body can do, and not what you think your body "should" look like.
The sleep-when-I'm-dead thing is overrated. "Lack of sleep affects how you look, feel, and perform," says Steve Orma, PsyD, a clinical psychologist in San Francisco. "Sleep is vital for recharging and restoring your mind and body." Sure, a million things can mess with your sleep habits — homework, stress, sports, late-night Netflix binges, scrolling though Musical.ly one last time before bed, an alarm that goes off at the crack of dawn — but make it a priority to get the zzz's you need. (That's 8-10 hours, btw.)
Break a sweat because you want to get stronger, not smaller. "Too many workout programs want you to be less," says Kristy Stabler, a certified personal trainer and nutritionist in Arizona. "Remember that your main goal is always to be more — more energetic, stronger, healthier, and more you." Regular exercise not only keeps you fit and healthy, it's good for your mental health, too.
Friendly reminder that a "healthy glow" from sunbathing is actually sun damage, which can lead to wrinkles and saggy skin down the road, and put you at risk for skin cancer. Spending time in a tanning bed is even worse — it can boost your risk of melanoma, a potentially deadly skin cancer, by 75 percent. "There's no such thing as a safe tan," says Shelby Moneer, director of education for the Melanoma Research Foundation. While pale is gorgeous, if you swear you look better with some color, there are tons of self tanners that can give you a gorgeous glow without damaging your skin.
You can't judge your health (or anyone else's!) based solely on body type. You can be thin and unhealthy, or thin and super-healthy, or an overweight marathon runner. Even BMI isn't really a foolproof indicator, since it doesn't factor in things like muscle tone.
Slashing calories, banning carbs, and cutting out entire food groups can wreak havoc on your body and lead to disordered eating and eating disorders. "Fad diets can really be harmful to your health and should be avoided," says Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, a physician and wellness expert at NYU Langone Medical Center. Skip the weird lemonade cleanses and fuel your body with balanced meals.
It keeps your body running efficiently. Aim for around 8 cups a day.
Let your gyno know if they do. "If you find yourself missing school, unable to drive, or having to cancel plans because of debilitating pain, start tracking your symptoms and talk to a healthcare provider because you might have endometriosis," says Jhumka Gupta, ScD, an Assistant Professor in Global and Community Health at George Mason University.
Pits, pubes, legs, brows — wax whatever you want to wax and and grow whatever you want to grow.
Whether you're writing a term paper or just watching #dogfail vids on YouTube, spending too much time in front of the computer or hunched over your phone can mess with your spine. "It puts stress on the muscles, joints, ligaments, discs, and nerves of the spine," says Dr. Jason Loth, a sports chiropractic physician. Staring at your phone can do it too — literally, spine docs call it "text neck." Sit upright and keep your screen at eye level so you don't have to hunch.
Don't skip any meals, actually — it can screw up your metabolism. But breakfast is especially important since it kicks off your day. If you run out the door without eating, you may have trouble concentrating in class, and you'll probably be hangry by lunchtime. "Breakfast helps your body get going," says Tava Sternberg, RD, a registered dietitian in Boston. "If you're short on time, grab something to go, like an apple and yogurt."
As long as you feel healthy, stop stressing about what you think you should weigh — especially while you're still growing. "Ditch the scale," says Megan Faletra, RD, a registered dietitian and founder of the Well Essentials. "Rather than focusing on a number, focus on how foods make your body feel."
"Oh, I'm an XS at Old Navy but a large at Target and an 8 in UK sizes but otherwise usually a 6 except in swimsuits when I wear a 10 or a 12..." Sound familiar? Even the clothing companies can't seem to agree on WTF sizes mean. Just wear what makes you feel amazing.
They're all different, and chances are, whatever you're self-conscious about is totally normal.
Your doctor should be the one person you can ask literally anything about your body — no matter how TMI. (If she makes you feel guilty or uncomfortable, time to shop around for a new doc.) "Your doctor is someone who will never judge you, and the information you share with them is completely confidential," says Mira Kaga, MD, a physician specializing in women's health. No one knows your body better than you, so if something feels off or you have any concerns or questions, don't be too embarrassed to talk to your doctor.
Sure, it can be hard sometimes with so much on your plate (school, sports, friends, PLL...) , and it's easy to let yourself get rundown, but putting your health and wellbeing last can take a serious toll. Love your body the way it is — remember to take care of it and never feel bad about wanting to keep it strong and healthy. "Your body is beautiful and important enough to take care of," says Deborah Dyer, PhD, a licensed psychologist in Arizona. "Make your health a priority — eat healthy every day, exercise several times a week to keep your body strong and flexible, get enough sleep, and don't forget to have fun."
We all have hang-ups. And that means most people are way too worried about their own body to scrutinize yours. (And if they do, they suck and they're not worth your time.)
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