How To Ease Into A Healthier Lifestyle

Kenna was about 3 months old when I first stumbled across a blog about living “more simply.”  It would have been around January 2014. I read one post after another, completely immersed in this idea of eating “whole” foods and using natural products.  

As I mentioned this particular blog focused on a real food diet, which meant converting from the Standard American Diet (SAD) with processed products, spending more time in the kitchen, and making many of the “every day” home products that would typically be purchased in a store (and loaded with chemicals.)  

I loved the idea, but I was a sitting at home with a three month old, working a full-time night shift schedule, and wondering how something like this would ever work for someone like me.  I was also recently married, and we had just filled our home with inexpensive kitchen tools, chemical cleaning products, and I was still very much in the early stages of learning how to cook.

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Though I was intrigued by the idea of converting my home to a more “natural” haven of health, I was overwhelmed with where to start.  

And so… I didn’t.  

I made some of the more natural foods, I purchased some of the recommended kitchen tools, I made some of the DIY cleaning products.  But I was doing it all at once. I was investing my time in everything instead of focusing on one thing.

I was overwhelmed with just the IDEA of converting our lifestyle from what it was, into what it could be.  Not too mention the pushback I was most deservedly receiving from my husband. I had been cooking, cleaning, and keeping home one way ever since were were married - and now, I wanted to just scrap it all and start fresh (without any valuable explanation why!)

It has taken a lot of time, starting over, making mistakes, and trying again.  But more than four years later, I finally understand the beauty of enjoying the journey. In time, I’ve learned that I cannot do it all at once.  It’s not practical for my family, for my sanity, and most definitely not for my budget.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, (and a little broke!) you’re not alone. I’ve been there.  I’m still there in different ways. But at least now, I can enjoy the process, and I know where to start.

Start At The Beginning

The word simplify is thrown around a lot these days, and whenever I hear it, my first reaction is to think “easy.”  To make life easier. But the definition of simplify is a little more, it means to “make less complex or complicated.”  Yes easier, but also, to “clarify, cut down, streamline, make perfectly clear.”

What’s easy to one person, may not be easy to another.  So I realized, in order to simplify, I needed to truly understand what that meant in my life and for my family. For us, it meant simply starting at the beginning, focusing on the basics, and expanding from there.

1. The Essentials

  • Food, Exercise, Sleep, Stress Management, and Simplicity - These are the major areas in my life that I wanted to start focusing on in order to start drastically changing my way of living.

  • When I first started working on “simplifying” our life, I kept tossing around the word minimalist.  I felt that in order to simplify, I needed to minimize our life. I DID need to cut back on our possessions, but in today’s society with a family, trying to live a true minimalist lifestyle can be a bit tricky, and would definitely take some time to transition into.

  • I finally realized that simplify for my family, meant stripping away the extras, and knowing not just the essentials, but the things that bring us purpose and joy. It also meant doing more things ourselves and focusing our energy on activities that we enjoy, even if that takes more time and effort in the long run (for example, gardening!)

2. Habits

  • Routine has always been important to me, yet for a variety of reasons, I struggled to create one!  For the first three years of my married life I had anything but a “routine” work schedule. As a nurse, I worked a rotating schedule of night shifts each week.  As a respiratory therapist, my husband still works a rotating schedule and night shift, on occasion.

  • With our non-typical work schedules and lifestyle, I finally stopped using the term routine, and replaced it with habit.  I may not be able to be consistent with our schedules, but I can be consistent with our practices.

3. Education

  • Keep your education simple and stop expecting others to manage this responsibility for you. There once was a time, when health information wasn’t readily available, and we relied completely on doctors and nurses to educate us about our wellbeing. That time is no more.

  • Start with just a few valuable, reliable resources. Start with one small change. But take it upon yourself to obtain this information. Stop expecting other people to tell you to take responsibility for your health.

  • Find educational resources that point to REAL FOOD. As humans, we have deemed that our factory made, man made, altered food, is a better source of nutrition than full fat, nutrient dense, real food. Most importantly, educate yourself and then start taking action.

4. Time Management

  • There is no way around it, time management is going to play a major role in your new wellness lifestyle.  Meal planning takes a little time at first. Meal prepping takes a little time. Cooking, eating at home, clean-up, exercise - it all takes some time.  

  • There is a good chance that you can simply replace some wasted time such as researching “what” to make for dinner, Pinterest-ing new recipes that you will never actually make, Social Media, etc with new tasks that support your healthier lifestyle.

  • You’ll need to evaluate your current day, week, month, etc.  How are you spending your time currently? Is there a lot of wasted time?  What can you cut out? Remember - you’re cutting things out NOW to make room for a BETTER lifestyle.  If you’re hesitant to let something go, then remind yourself WHY you wanted to start this in the first place.

You are ultimately in charge of, responsible for, and the primary care taker of your own wellbeing. YOU have no excuses for not educating yourself, making time for yourself, and creating lifelong sustainable healthy habits. If creating a healthier lifestyle matters to you, then you’ll find a way.

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Changing your lifestyle takes time. It can be vastly overwhelming at first, however, remember to keep it simple! Think back on how your grandparent’s or even great-grandparents used to live and eat. We live in a period of time when we have to RE-LEARN how to live and eat because we’ve vastly overcomplicated it.

Seems so silly that we should have to learn the basics of self-care, but that’s where we are. So when you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember to take a deep breathe and start at the beginning.