Thursday, June 11, 2015

Making the Transition to Health{ier}, Where Do I Start?

Today I want to talk about 7 steps to begin the transition into a healthier lifestyle. Approximately 20 years ago I took my first steps towards a more self sufficient, more healthy and less expensive lifestyle.  I have found, on my journey of recovery from emotional trauma, that self care is very important. Good nutrition and better sleep will do far more for your recovery than you may realize. Bit by tiny bit, I have been able to discover what works for me and change many things about our daily routines that add to our health, save our money, and create less dependence on the factory food system. When my body feels better, so does my mind.

Some people seem to have the idea that adding in tons of expensive, barely pronounceable, organic food, cooked in a gourmet way, is the first step to good health. I disagree.  The following post lists some of the steps that I took for our family and will give you an idea of easy things you can do.

Please understand that we are not "religious" about our health choices. In fact, I think that's just silly. Why risk losing friends and family over something like this? Definitely not worth it. Relationships trump everything. We just try to make our regular daily habits better, so that any deviations along the way will have less impact. If that makes sense.

1. The first thing I remember doing was ditching margarine. ALL of it. It has been shown in studies to cause cancer. Research it for yourself. Margarine is NOT butter, Does not taste like it. Does not cook like it and is a chemical substitute for the wholesome real deal. Butter, baby. Just do it.

2. Another easy peasy thing you can do is ditch the plastic bottles in favor of reusable glass ones. Water bottles, tea bottles, soda bottles. you name it. Stop drinking out of plastic as often as you can. "But what can I use?" you may be asking. I found a fun way to make the switch to glass. We bought Starbucks Frappucino bottles in the grocery. They are a good size. Easy to slip into a purse and the top is wide enough to put ice through. You can be a purist and dump out the sweet sugary coffee goodness before reusing the perfect bottles...or you can do like Frizzle and I did, and enjoy drinking them first. Ha! Delicious excuse, right? Just because you make healthy habit changes doesn't mean you can't enjoy a treat along the way. I know that a lot of companies are claiming to have BPA free plastics, but newer studies have shown that there are other problems with plastic besides the BPA. We prefer glass when possible.

3. Buy as many of your fruits and veggies as possible from the local market. Stop at the local fruit and veggie stands or go to a farmers market on a Saturday morning. For one thing, you will be supporting the local economy. For another thing, you can discuss the farmers growing practices with the farmer, or his family. Bonus: You will make some new friends. You don't have to buy anything exotic. Stick with the good ole tried and true, that your family already knows and loves. Try not to introduce more than one or two new foods into your home per month. Give yourself time to learn how to cook and season the new stuff, and your family time to learn to enjoy the taste of it, before adding more.

4. Try your hand at growing your own. The simplest way to do this is to grow one or two plants in pots on your porch or patio. If you've never gardened before you probably shouldn't jump in head first. It's a ton of work. Just get yourself a tomato plant or something you like and put it in a fairly large pot. Keep it  in a mostly sunny spot and water it well in the evenings. A dose of organic fertilizer wouldn't hurt either. Don't stress about growing an acre. Just enjoy the fruit of your one or two plants. You can grow a garden after you practice.

5. Stop eating sugar as much as possible. This one is huge and difficult for most people. Sugar has become like a drug and we barely know how to live without it. Here's an idea, if it has sugar in it, it can be rationed out. We try to limit our sugar intake to once per day...sometimes we go longer than that. It's amazing how much sugar is in our foods already. Read labels and be informed. The idea that you can still have sugar makes this much easier. Just make your choices carefully. Do I want sugar now or after dinner? Is the taste of this cookie really worth giving up my daily sugar ration? Etc...

6. Take walks. Not looooong walks, unless that's what you feel like doing. Not huffy-puffy-out-of-breath walks, either. Be gentle with yourself. Take walks in the mornings or evenings when the air is cooler. Go one block or 4. Go one mile or go 3. It's up to you and what your body says it can handle. Listen to your body.  Don't use a pedometer. Don't use a timer (unless you have an appointment). Just go and look around you. See what flowers the neighbors are growing. Watch a sunrise. Have a creek or lake nearby? Go there! Breathe in some fresh air and let your mind rest. You get the idea. These walks can be taken by yourself or with a friend or even with kids in tow. Grab a wagon and pile them in or push a stroller. While you walk, teach the kids how to observe. Let them bring home some leaves or a pretty pebble...

7. Stop cooking with vegetable oils. Just use butter or coconut oil. Most veggie oils are horrible for you, and butter and coconut oil are available in most grocery stores now. It's a bit more expensive, but it saves on doctor bills later. Totally worth it and not complicated at all. I keep a bottle of veggie oil for starting fires in the grill or for a back up emergency for the financially lean weeks. But, if I had my way, we would never have to use it for consumption.

So, there you have it. Seven ways to begin the transition to a healthier, happier you. None of them are expensive. None of them are complicated. None of them require special equipment or exotic ingredients. And all of them will make you feel better physically as well as emotionally. It's nice to know you're being proactive in your family's well being.

I hope these tips have you given you some good ideas. I would love to hear your simple ideas for becoming healthier. Please share your ideas in the comments!

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