You need to obtain your degree by 22 if you have any hope of a long career in corporate.”

“If you’re not married by 25, you can forget about having kids in your lifetime.”

“You used to be so skinny when you were younger, what happened?”

If you’ve heard any of the above statements, you know the pain of being judged because of your age or weight.

While ageism and sizeism are two constructs that affect all of us, it is often women who are the most impacted by specific, often unrealistic, archaic ideals.

Women who are not married by 30 and are childless are often judged and deemed as hedonistic and selfish. Women who are overweight are seen as lazy and unworthy of love and when they try to become healthy, they are mocked.

As a full-figured woman in her late twenties, I, too, have experienced the feeling of seeing myself as unworthy, both because of my age and weight. I often look back at photos of myself when I was 21 and wish I could be the size I was then, despite feeling old and fat at 21 too, and wishing I were 16 and trimmer.

While health enthusiasts promote balanced eating and exercise, being holistically healthy goes far beyond counting calories and running on a treadmill for 30 minutes daily. If you don’t do the inner work to become mentally and emotionally healthy, you will always be miserable, whether you weigh 120 kg or 60 kg, regardless of whether you’re 16 or 60.

Mental and physical health share an interconnected relationship. It takes a great deal of work to build your self-worth and realise that regardless of how society and the judgemental eyes of onlookers perceive your journey, your life is yours to live.

My advice would be to get your degree, regardless of how old you are. Run the marathon without thinking you’re too big to train for it. Get married and have children when you’re ready to. Start a business if you want to. Write your first book – whether you’re 12, 18, 21, 60, or 100. You have one life to live and allowing other people to steal your joy should not be on your bucket list. You are not too old or too fat to achieve anything. It is not too late for you to be emotionally and physically healthy. It is not too late for you to be fulfilled.

Experts weigh in
I spoke to three wellness coaches who shared their views on the importance of building a holistic health strategy at a slow and steady pace that will help your body and mind feel great and improve your quality of life.

Oona de Klerk, a Holistic Health Coach and Personal trainer, said that mental health is one of the most important facets to take care of on one’s wellness journey:
“Without a solid foundation of good mental health, it can be challenging to start and maintain any kind of healthy, balanced lifestyle. When your mental health is taken care of, you can achieve almost anything! If you only focus on the physical aspects of wellness and neglect mental and spiritual healing, it will catch up with you at some point.”

Anju Patel, a Health and Wellness coach, agrees that mental well-being is vital:
“Mental well-being influences one’s emotions, behaviours, and physical health. It plays a crucial role in adherence to one’s healthy routines and habits, maintaining a balanced lifestyle, and coping with stress. When embarking on a health journey, addressing mental well-being is thus essential for long-term success and holistic wellness.”

Anna-Eva Svensson is a mom, a producer in the film industry, and much more. At 56 she believes age is just a number, she loves working out and being healthy:
“I believe lifting weights is the best way to relieve stress and keep you mentally stable. It’s also a fountain of youth. I have been lifting weights since I was 12. I will soon be in Thailand to train in Muay Thai for three weeks.”

Believe in yourself and never think it is too late for you to change your reality, improve your mental and physical health, and transform your life. Love your body in the state it is now, at the age you are now, and in the form you’re currently in. If you want to improve your health, well-being, mental health, economic standing, education, or any other aspect of who you are, do it. Take action, and never allow the naysayers to hinder you.

What are some of the ways you’d like to improve your well-being? What goals would you like to achieve?