20 Things I’d Tell My Future Self + WIN A $200 Platinum Sports Gift Card!

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I started writing this post, and before finishing it, I went on a wholeness retreat, to Te Atawhai located at the base of Mt Te Aroha, and it changed everything.

On retreat I learned so much about me and about others that I am bursting to share it with you here. I also met an incredible, inspiring woman who had survived breast cancer and she shared with us what actually happens in a double mastectomy, a process that continues for more than a year after the first surgery!! This woman also happened to be a personal insurer for health and life insurance, and she couldn’t impress on all of there enough the importance of having both, and I am sharing this below.

So with a whole new vision and insight gathered over a weekend of challenge, relaxation and celebrating being alive and taking charge of our destiny, here’s my new and improved post. I hope you get something special from it.

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Image credit: Maiko Nagao on Instagram

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One quote that emerged in the weekend and that stuck with me is this:

“Comparing yourself to others doesn’t change anything.”

Not only that, but it diminishes our individual sparkle. Every single factor of all of us is unique and special. Not one single other person on this planet sees the way YOU do. But it’s up to you to recognise and celebrate this every day.

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Image credit: Maiko Nagao on Instagram

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Imagine knowing at 16, or 18 what you know now. I wish my 18-year-old self could have known her future self, so this note is also a letter giving younger me everything she needs to know to create my better, healthier future me.

And you can do this too. If you share your own thoughts for your letters below and use the hashtag #lettertomyfutureself and tag in @sovereignnz, you’re in the chance to win an epic prize (details at the end of this post).

Without further ado, here’s my 20 Things I’d Tell My Future Self!

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Image credit: Maiko Nagao on Instagram

1. Do strength and resistance training  Cardio is excellent fitness but we need to create a strong, effective, functionally moving body and this can only be achieved through strength training. Get to the gym, or book a personal trainer and learn what you need to do. Then when you know, buy some weights and do reps at home. From age 40 muscle mass reduces year on year, (10 per cent each decade!), and to keep your body mobile and strong so you can live a full life, you need to build strength training into your life before your muscle becomes useless fat and you can’t do what you want to do. Think core strength to hold your spine, neck agility to hold your head up, back strength to pull, chest strength to push, thigh and calf strength to walk up and down hills. You need it; it’s important, so prioritise it.

2. Drink a shot of cider vinegar when you wake up  The benefits of taking a single small dose of cider vinegar as you start your day are endless (here are just some). From reducing cholesterol, weight loss, balancing your inner body pH levels, controlling blood sugar levels, reducing heart burn and indigestion, banishing bad breath, whitening and removing stains from teeth, fading bruises, clearing a stuffy nose, relieving a sore throat and lessening leg cramps at night. It really is the cure-all you’ve been looking for.

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Image credit: Maiko Nagao on Instagram

3. Go somewhere new at least once a year – Visit somewhere new at least once a year. This can be as simple is visiting a village or town near you that you haven’t been to. From Auckland, this could be Clevedon, or Pokeno, it doesn’t have to be far. If you want a bigger, longer adventure, start the practice of saving for what you really want. Mine is Vietnam, San Fran, New York, and Buenos Aires. Start by setting goals, and end petty spending for something bigger and better. Plus it’ll give you a more exciting view of the world you live in, making you a more caring, empathetic, and interesting person.

4. Face up to the serious stuff – If you have left home, you need a will. If you’re in debt, you need a will (those debts can be transferred to your family if you don’t pay them). If you’re in a relationship, you need a will (or else your parents are the automatic estate beneficiaries). Sad stuff does happen. One of my best friends was killed by a recidivist drunk driver and she needed that will. We needed that will. Talk to the experts, talk to your family, ask your colleagues, just get a will. Everyone you leave behind will thank you for it.

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Image credit: Maiko Nagao on Instagram

5. Learn about the hard stuff – There are simple facts about growing up that you need to know so you can run your life better. You need to know how to budget, how to navigate getting a mortgage, you need to understand and get insurance. Your future self will thank you for getting on top of this as soon as you can. You are in control of your destiny and need to be prepared when life happens. I have car and home and contents insurance, and I am a firm believer in life insurance, which you can read about here. Plus I have disability and income insurance. But what I don’t have and am (finally) getting is health insurance. Sovereign is all about empowering you to build a future that you will thrive in. They want to look after your health today and in the future if your health takes a turn, or your ability to earn is interrupted by an accident or a serious illness. Your future self will thank you for sorting out the tricky issues now.

6. Sit on a Swiss Ball at work  There is no surer way to maintain both core strength and your posture than sitting on a Swiss Ball at work. Seriously. There’s not possible way to slouch on a Swiss Ball. And the added bonus is, you can use it for your strength and muscle resistance exercises too. Double win!

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Image credit: Maiko Nagao on Instagram

7. Dress however the hell you want Fast fashion can dominate and while lots of it is super fun, don’t forget to create your own style and rules around what you want to wear no matter what’s “in” and what’s “out”. When someone says “no crop tops over 35” just decide for yourself if that’s true. If you want to show off that flat or curvy tum, it’s yours to show. And short hair after 40? Pu-lease. Your hair, your rules! If you want dreadlocks down to your butt at 50, then do it! Your style agenda is set by you and no one else, so embrace it. And for inspo as you get older keep your eyes locked to Ari Seth Cohen’s blog Advanced Style. Ah-May-Zing!

8. Swap coconut oil for pretty much everything  Coconut oil is incredible. The lauric acid that it contains supports your immune system, can regulate your metabolism and keep weight under control, which stimulates better sleep, enhances athleticism and lowers fatigue, supports a healthy thyroid, increases cell regeneration, contains natural agents that reduce fungus, bacteria and viruses such as herpes and the ‘flu, and protects from free radicals that cause disease. Used topically, coconut oil is an amazing eye makeup remover, improves skin, hair and nails, and promotes skin elasticity. That’s a lot. So get some.

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Image credit: Maiko Nagao on Instagram

9. Create sanity gaps I just heard this idea and I LOVE it. We fill our lives up with “busy” and make no space for us. So what happens? We hit a wall and everything and everyone suffers. So schedule – yes, book it in – regular sanity gaps. I’m talking weekly sanity gaps, like a half hour coffee with a friend, a half hour walk to a park, a half hour book in a cafe with a coffee… whatever floats your boat. A weekly sanity gap could be a drive to a beach, or a walk in the bush. My new monthly sanity gaps are going to be regular massages on pay day, and I cannot wait! As for yearly, why not go on a retreat… there are so many around, like yoga, meditation or wholeness retreats like I just did at Te Atawhai. You’ll meet new people and learn so much more about being a vital and happy you!

10. Go to bed early, get up early – Yes, this sounds a bit dull as far as life advice goes, but adopting this lifestyle creates a lifelong habit that creates enormous ongoing value to health and wellbeing. You can get so much more done in your day plus you’ll ensure at least 7 hours of quality sleep enabling your body to restore, revive and regenerate. Create a calming bedtime routine and aim to be lights off at 10pm, if not before. It’ll change your life!

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Image credit: Maiko Nagao on Instagram

11. Be nice – You don’t necessarily know this in your 20s but by the time you hit your 30s you will know that relationships – good OR bad – will follow you everywhere you go. That person you were mean to when you had to share a desk space with…? Yeah, they’ll turn up at an important client pitch, or as your child’s best friend. People you weren’t nice to don’t disappear, they keep going and your lives may intersect again. Everyone is worth treating like you treat yourself: with empathy, kindness, generosity and respect.

12. Change your hairstyle  Point no. 1: hair grows back. Point no. 2: you are not defined by your hairstyle. Remember these two points next time you book a hair appointment. After years three years of being balayage, our girl Ash went platinum blonde. And why not? Life’s short and your hair can be too. Step outside your comfort zone and let your hair play in the fun space.

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Image credit: Maiko Nagao on Instagram

13. If you don’t like it, chuck it!  You’ll move out of home and well-meaning people will give you all sorts of hand-me-downs, which will be useful for a while. BUT… don’t feel bad about chucking them (as in, getting it to the op shop) when you no longer need them. “Stuff” can be the noose around our necks as we get older. There are just three rules of thumb when it comes to assessing your things: 1. Do you love it? Do you want it? Do you need it? If the answer is not yes to two of those things, just chuck it and make space for the items you’ll truly cherish.

14. Detox I’m talking mind, body and spirit. Book a weekend Bach with a couple of friends and turn of all your devices. Every six months or a year, have a week free of coffee, sugar and processed foods. And of course take yourself on holiday. Even if this is a staycation, explore your town or city, make time to read, take afternoon naps and walk everywhere. Or even hire a bike for the day and explore a new place. Just decide and do. You deserve it and you’ll love yourself for it.

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Image credit: Maiko Nagao on Instagram

15. Find your dream It sounds impossible but think about what sustains you. About what you absolutely cannot live without, and pursue it relentlessly. This is not about talent, this is about fulfilling your soul and life purpose. What makes you, you? Find it and create it into your life, and make the world a better place.

16. Keep your CV up-to-date on LinkedIn  You never know when you want a change or need one. If you keep your CV current, and take the time to network on LinkedIn with authenticity, curiosity and kindness, you’ll always be in a more powerful position when the time for change comes. You never know when you’ll need to call on your networks, so make sure they’re there when you need them!

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Image credit: Maiko Nagao on Instagram

17. X-Ray your food – You’re in your body a long time and you don’t want it to fall apart while your mind’s still sharp as a tack. So to keep healthy, I like to think about food as being not “good” or “bad” for me, but what adds to my body and what subtracts from it. In other words, is what I am eating anti-inflammatory, is it detoxifying, is it loaded with nutrients and antioxidants? If it is, it’s enabling my body to function better, healthier and younger. If it’s not, it’s making all my organs – liver, kidney, heart, pancreas, skin, adrenal glands, intestines and more – work so much harder to keep me healthy. The result is anything from wrinkles, high visceral fat (that sits around the organs), a low metabolic rate (which means you retain fat), all the way to lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, crohn’s disease and some cancers. But remember being healthy all the time is not always realistic – we all love a beverage from time to time – so just make sure your body is treated like a goddess 80% of the time and a best mate the other 20%. And enjoy it!

18. Don’t smoke  Did you know that an estimated 5 trillion cigarette butts go into the ocean every year adding arsenic into our food cycle, among other things? Even Auckland harbour alone has 1 million cigarette butts run into its waterways each year. So yes, not smoking is a given for health, to avoid that tell-tale croaky laugh and wrinkles when you hit your 30s, but if you smoke, you’re part of the planet’s worst polluters. Forget that just your health is impacted, remember that if you smoke, you’re contributing to the future health of every generation that is living after you.

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Image credit: Maiko Nagao on Instagram

19. Give to charity  It doesn’t matter which charity, how or when you do it, or how much you give, but give up some of your cash to people who need it more than you. No matter how poor you feel, there is someone who’ll appreciate your dollar more than you. From funding wells in Indonesia, building houses in Fiji, cycling for cancer, helping out your local City Mission, or giving to someone who’s doing those things. Make an effort and even set targets to give, say, $10 a month. You really won’t miss it at all.

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Image credit: Maiko Nagao on Instagram

20. Tell the people you love that you love them  It wasn’t until my Dad was terminally ill that I told him everyday that I loved him, and it wasn’t until after he died that I told my Mum. Now I tell everyone that I love them when I do. And love doesn’t mean the same love for people. You can love and cherish, and you can love and admire. And you can love intimately. But it’s still love. Keep your eyes and hearts open to things you see around you and look for “gifts” for other people. Take a photo of a flower and send it to them, or get it printed and turn it into a card. It’ll mean the world to them! Or if you see a cute something, and it makes you think of someone, just buy it and get it to them. The difference you’ll make to that person’s year can’t even be measured!

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Image credit: Maiko Nagao on Instagram

Right… it’s Christmas, so time to pat yourself on the back for another excellent year of you being you, and beautiful at every age! Now… to WIN this fab prize

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PRIZE DETAILS: The peeps at Sovereign are all about empowerment and putting YOU in the driver’s seat. They want you to be the healthiest, happiest and wisest you possibly can, and have given us a Platinum Sports gift voucher worth $200 for one of you amazing nzgirls to WIN to help make your journey happen!

HOW TO ENTER: Tell us what YOU would tell your future self in the comments below using the hashtag #lettertomyfutureself, and you’re entered for this incredible prize, thanks to Sovereign.

Competition closes 11 January 2017

Huge thanks to Sovereign for making this post possible and believing that people are in control of their own destiny. The ideas and content are entirely my own!

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Image Credit: Calligraphy art images with permission from Maiko Nagao on Instagram

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Belinda has a thirst for life that just won't quit. She's crazy in love with writing and discovering new things to share, from fashion, beauty, style, to food, lifestyle and #nzgirlhacks. Connect with Belinda at belinda@nzgirl.co.nz. LIVE MORE AWESOME!