HAWMC: Dear 16-year-old me

For the month of April, I'm participating in the Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge from Wego Health. Each day I'll be writing a health-related post based on the HAWMC prompts, aiming to challenge myself as a writer and health activist. Thanks for following!

Dear 16-year-old Molly,

What's up? How's school? How's that older boyfriend of yours treating you? Are you loving your new drivers license? Did you have a good time at your Sweet 16 party, even though your dress strap broke and an ice storm almost forced you to cancel?

Enough with the small talk, let's cut to the chase. You need to stop eating the same thing for lunch every day  and cut the Pop Tart habit. I'm serious. As much as Millie the lunch lady is a sweet and wonderful woman, you're doing yourself no favors for the future by consistently ordering a turkey sandwich with mayo, provolone, lettuce and tomato and finishing up with a Tastykake Cookie Bar. Come on, girl! I know that making good food choices is the last thing on your mind, but I promise it will make a big difference later. In about 4 years, you're gonna wish you mixed it up every once in a while, ate some fresh fruit and vegetables (and no, the shredded iceberg and mealy tomato slices on your daily sandwich don't count).

While you're busy working at American Eagle after school, listening to pop punk with your favorite girls, and crushing on Gavin Rossdale, try to remember that these are some of the best times of your life. The un-special days where you hung out with your friends in town, got a slice of pizza at Renato's, had a weekly date with Dawson & Co, went out dancing every once in a while in Philly, took regular road trips to see your Dad - these now seem like the most fun to your 29-year-old self.

The stupid fights you might get into (and you will, you're a teenager after all) won't last and your friendships will continue to grow stronger as you get older. I know it feels like you've only just arrived in one city but there will be plenty more moves to come. You're great at adapting, though, and these big transitions will be met with excitement rather than worry.

The only regrets I have for you have to do with your health. You could save yourself several years of pain and suffering if you ate a raw carrot every once in a while. Don't freak out: you're not overweight or in bad shape (despite what your boyfriend might have said). All that tennis and danceline kicking was worth it. But one day, that processed food you love so much will catch up with you and make you feel awful inside. Instead of getting your pasta sauce from a jar, follow that recipe your best friend's Italian-born mother wrote down for you, using fresh tomatoes and garlic. Rather than eating Nutella on white toast for breakfast, try a bowl of fresh berries with yogurt and granola. Your 16-year-old metabolism needs good fuel! And maybe ask Millie for a whole grain sandwich with extra veggies next time? She never remembers your "usual" order anyway, despite your best efforts.

Don't obsess about it though - there's more important stuff to think about, like what you're going to wear to the Soph Hop, whether you should try smoking or not (you definitely shouldn't), and what you'll get on your SATs (you'll do fine).

Lots of love,

29-year-old Molly xo