Gradual Changes for a Healthier Life

wellness image

2019 has thrown our family some curve balls.  I’m not going to get into WHAT those are at this moment, but it has prompted my entire family (parents and brother included) to make some changes.  As a whole, we are pretty healthy peeps.  We are all pretty active and decently aware of what is good and what is bad.  For me personally, the past year I have really cleaned up my diet.  And I would say, in the past 3 years, I’ve just made minor changes that have become permanent.  BUT, hey……I know, You know, We all know….there is ALWAYS ROOM to improve.

I’ve always been this weird nutrition researcher nut; any opportunity I can get to put my blue light blocking glasses on and hit up my friend google into a deeper dive, I’m up for the challenge.  Only now days, I have more resources, like podcasts, blogs, audio books and documentaries to supplement my nerdy-ness with.  I’m not a doctor, but I did take nutrition courses my junior and senior year at IUPUI.  I mean, for a hot minute, I thought about being an RD.  But then, you know, I didn’t.  haha.  Regardless, over the past 20 years or so, I’ve always been a sucker for nutrition information and ways to lead a cleaner, healthier and “greener” holistic life.  No, I am not and do not want to be the lady wearing hemp clothes I made myself, while harvesting my own crops and beheading my own chickens, making my own soap and cleaning everything with said said soap.  Sorry, literally, I’m laughing at loud at that last sentence because I think I just described someone I can guarantee you I will never be, unless the zombie apocalypse happens.  In which case, I’m going to MI to live with my friend Andria who knows how to DIY everything out of virtually nothing.  I’m sure we could totally set up a bunker and survive with our families in tow! haha.

I do believe, however, that there are really crappy things in our every day lives that we could clean up a bit to be healthier.  I also believe that gradual changes are everlasting in the long run and that you will feel and look better when you adopt some healthier lifestyle changes.  I completely 100% believe that beyond genetic factors, our environment, and the foods we choose can play a big role in making us sick.  On the flip side, knowing that, we can do things to prevent those diseases sometimes by taking extra time to care for ourselves and our families.

Here are some simple swaps for a healthier life:

Household:

Laundry Detergent:  Swap out the Tide for Seventh Generation or Honest Co laundry detergent.  The “fragrance” in traditional laundry detergents are horrible to put on our bodies.  Anything that breaks my kiddos’ skin out immediately when they come in contact with it, is something I don’t want in our home.

seventh generation products

Dishwasher Detergent: Swap whatever powder or liquid you use for the lemon Seventh Generation liquid dishwasher detergent.  It smells great and doesn’t have all the chemicals!

Dryer Sheets:  Instead of chemical filled Bounce or Downy sheets, I use Method organic sheets (I buy them at Target).  You can also buy wool balls and put lavender essential oils on them and toss them in the dryer.

Home Fragrance:  DO NOT USE PLUG INS!!!  Swap them out (yes, even the Bath and Body Works plug ins) for organic candles and/or a diffuser and some high quality essential oils.  It’s hard, I get it.  I love the B&BW plug ins….especially in the summer time.  But really, they are just emitting chemicals we don’t need in our body.  My favorite thing to do in the summer now is to diffuse tangerine and lemon in my diffuser.  You can grab a diffuser on Amazon for 20.00 and they last forever!  There are several Etsy shops that carry natural candles as well, and the bonus is that you are supporting a local business!

Cleaning Products:  I mean, most of these are horrific and I think most of us know the chemicals in them are horrible for us to breathe in.  I’m not an expert, but I was brought up with my parents using white vinegar to clean most things; which made me want to use natural cleaning products for the most part.  In fact, before my OCD diagnosis in 2014, I never even used Lysol or bleach products, because I was scared of Brayden breathing them in.  Since then, I’ll admit, I’ve used Lysol more than I should and bleach bathroom cleaning products more than I care to own up to.  But, little by little, I’m going back to my old ways of using natural products when I can.  I mean, life happens and people get sick, so I don’t think it’s bad to have a can of Lysol or strong cleaning products on hand for that situation.  But, for the regular routine, I’m switching to more naturally derived products.  My favorites are Honest Co surface cleaner and Seventh Generation bathroom cleaner, along with good ol vinegar.

Outside:  Please don’t use Round Up or like products to kill weeds and “treat” your lawn.  The end.

 

Foods:

Meats:  Limit red meat.  No, I did NOT say exclude it.  Just limit it.

Also, beef should be organic, pasture raised, not just grass fed.  Grass fed can actually mean a plethora of things.  Google it.

Turkey and chicken should be organic and free range, cage free.  Local is even better if you have access to it, but just because it’s local doesn’t mean it’s not pumped full of antibiotics, so make sure it’s all the things listed above as well.

PS–just as a side note for ya…organic bison is actually really really good.  Keep it in mind when shopping next time for your red meat fix.

Dairy:  Keep it organic.  Local organic if possible.  Yes, milk delivery still exists in some places.  It’s really important to keep meats and dairy organic because of all the growth hormones, grains and antibiotics that are fed and injected into animals.  I know so many farmers and have picked their brains (would you expect anything less?) and they swear up and down the reasons for doing what they do (as far as raising beef and chickens), but I know there’s a cleaner way.  I mean, most of us have seen it and know it IS possible.  Is it traditional?  No.  Is it possible?  YES!  All I can suggest is to keep asking around.  I think if you are local, you can order from Tyner Pond in the Fortville/McCordsville area and they deliver for free!

Tyner Pond info

Fruits and Veggies:  My thought on these are to make sure to buy organic if it’s grown in the ground.  Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, root veggies etc.  I personally do not buy potatoes of any kind at our house…which is totally a personal choice.  Starchy carbs…not a fan.  But, that’s for another day and another post.  Also, I like to buy organic for all of our berries, lettuces, and apples.  Oranges, bananas, peaches, lemons, limes, pineapple, tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and avocados I usually buy non organic.  I mean, I probably should be buying organic peaches, but I don’t buy them often and when I do, it’s usually at a local orchard, so I just wash them with a natural fruit and veggie cleaner really good before I peel them and eat them.  As far as canned fruits and veggies go, I buy organic because of the coating on the insides of the cans.  I just always have, and always will.  As far as frozen fruits and veggies…I usually just buy organic green beans, corn, spinach, and berries.  I dont really buy a ton of frozen fruit and veggies only occasionally since I really prefer fresh.

 

Beauty/Hygiene Products: 

If you use nothing else organic on your body, USE ORGANIC DEODORANT!!!!!  Especially if you are a woman.  Think about it.  It’s literally right next to your boob.  With breast cancer as popular as it is in this world today, why would you not use something as natural and organic next to that area of your body, knowing it soaks into your skin/bloodstream.  My favorite brand (and I’ve tried about 5 kinds) is called Native.  I can work out, I can be outside all day….I can do all the things with it on.  I love it.

We also have always and will always use organic body wash/shampoo/conditioner.  I use Honest Company body wash/shampoo for the kids.  Yes, even my almost 11 year old uses lavender or orange vanilla body wash/shampoo, because, well, those are basically the only scents they have right now haha.  If Honest is not available, I will pick up Burt Bees.  I just have never, ever even thought about buying the boys something that’s not naturally derived.  I also use the Honest Co lavender body wash myself.  When it comes to shampoo and conditioner, I will use paraben and sulfate free brands.  Not organic, but much better than “the usual”.  Some of my favorites have been Living Proof and certain types of Biolage.  I also use some Alterna Caviar products as well.  I’ve been eyeing a new brand called Navy that I may try out soon, since their finishing spray looks like a life changer!

honest co products

When it comes to sunscreen, I will use 2 brands.  I use Rodan & Fields on myself because it does not contain the ingredient oxybenzone, which is very harmful because it’s a hormone interrupter, or vitamin A (while good for skincare, very bad for sunscreen).  While not a “natural” product, R&F sunscreen proves year after year to provide excellent coverage and protection.  The kids use Kiss My Face natural sunscreen.  It may seem strange, but there are some REALLY bad chemicals in sunscreen.  Not just bad for us, but actually bad for the ocean and little critters in the ocean.  I say no thanks to putting anything on my body that could not only harm me, but also the fish swimming around me in the ocean.  How crazy is that?  Just remember, oxybenzone.  Stay away from it.

Skincare.  I know what you’re thinking…how can you publish a post on using natural and organic items and sell a non-natural skincare line as a side hustle.  Welp kids, because it’s really super simple, Rodan & Fields Unblemish is THE ONLY PRODUCT that has worked for my acne and cleared my skin up and I’m forever grateful to those 2 superior Dermatologists that created the entire Rodan & Fields product line (there’s actually 4 main types of regimens and several other types of amazing products, I just use the acne regimen called Unblemish, for those who aren’t familiar).  Here’s the thing, I’ve looked at the ingredients in Unblemish and several other R&F products I use.  The Unblemish does not contain parabens or some of the other harmful products out there that are commonly found in most brands on store shelves.  R&F also does NOT test on animals and is considered safe by dermatologists in the USA, Canada and Australia where we have expanded our line thus far.  (PS…we are expanding to another country very soon…lips are sealed right now though).  Also, as a side note, this will probably come as no surprise, but other countries are a lot more strict on the products they use than the US…unfortunately.

The bottom line is this….while I do not owe anyone an explanation for this, I choose to explain, because I want people to know it’s very important to do your own research.  I look at it like I had spent so much time and money on natural and organic lines that didn’t work on my acne or skin tone at all.  So if I use a brand of skincare that works, and yet doesn’t contain a lot of the harmful chemicals listed out there, I’m winning; whether it says natural or organic on the label or not.  And also, have you read all of the above that I am doing, and am using organic for?  As for the kids, they don’t use a separate skincare line yet.  The Honest Co body wash/shampoo works great for their little faces right now.

Makeup: I’m a big Tarte Cosmetics user.  I love their eye shadow so much, their eyeliner and Shape Tape are also a few faves.  I think Tarte may be a cleaner option, though not 100% natural by any means.  I actually want to try some eye shadow palettes from Beauty Counter though, as I think they seem pretty clean.  I think cosmetics are kind of hit and miss.  Some of the products in a line can be “safer” than others.  Again, I think it’s important to do your own research.  Don’t be fooled by words like “bare” and “clay” and “naturals” or “minerals”.  While these are all words we may associate with nature and association with nature may be “clean” and “natural”, it’s just simply not true.  Watch out for ingredients like talc.  Talc used to be very popular back in the day, but it’s very dangerous to our body.  PS, don’t use baby powder that lists talc as an ingredient either.  I think it comes down to what you feel comfortable with using because there will be probably more bad than good when it comes to cosmetics.

 

Misc Items: 

Sheets contain high levels of formaldehyde….did ya know that?  So I try to shop for organic bedding as much as possible.  Also, think about next time you have to spray for bugs outside.  I mean, I feel ya sis, I don’t want a spider infestation or bees swarming me when I walk outside either, but just do some research and see if there’s a “cleaner” way to get rid of them.

 

There ya go, friends.  Those are the main items I choose to swap for (hopefully) a cleaner, healthier lifestyle for our family.

I’m no chemist.  I can’t tell you why harmful ingredients are harmful and so common with certainty.  But, I can tell you what I’ve researched and what I’ve learned along the way; and I can also say with some certainty that no one is going to be perfect and sometimes you just have to do the best you can.  You notice that I used the word gradual in the title of this post, and there’s a reason.  If this all seems overwhelming to you, just try to change 2 things a month.  These are pretty easy changes, but they do take time to incorporate and probably a little more money.  Cheaper than doctor’s visits though! 🙂

I hope you found this helpful!  If you make different swaps, comment and let me know!  I would love to hear from you.

Have a great day, all!

xoxox

Mary

 

 

 

 

 

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My Favorite Books

I’m starting this post with an asterisk.  It’s never good when a post starts with an asterisk, right?  But, I’m starting it that way because although I love to read and learn new things from books, I don’t have a lot of “extra” time and I don’t really dig listening to books on Audible.  I like to have an actual book in my hand to read.

*When I say I don’t have a lot of time, I mean that.  I work over 40 hours a week away from home, have 2 kids, work a side hustle with Rodan & Fields, try to schedule blog posts (I promise I really do), spend time on starting my own personal growth/development journey, have a 10 year old in travel sports, have a very needy (although also very cute) 5 year old in tee ball and try to keep up with a house, a 7 month old puppy and occasionally laundry.  On a good week, I can get a walk or two in on the treadmill.

So, without further ado….my FAVORITE books that I continuously come back to, year after year.

Reshaping It All, by Candace Cameron Bure.  This book is G-O-L-D!  She wrote this book back in 2010 or 2011 I believe, when she was starting to come back into the spotlight, and I’m telling you; it’s relatable, down to earth, HONEST and something every woman and mother needs to read.  It’s no secret that Candace is, and always has been one of my favorite people in the celebrity world.  I love many of her books, but there was something about this one that clicked with me instantly.  I refer to it all the time, 8 years later!  It contains ways to mindfully eat, a handful of very simple recipes, scriptures related to each chapter’s subject and even touches on getting back into a workout routine and getting your mind back to what’s important.  Go get it or download it!

The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin.  I was reading Self Magazine one day in 2011 while eating breakfast (side note: this only happened because we only had 1 kiddo at the time, obviously haha) and saw the suggestion for this book.  At the time, I wanted to read something new and different, and what’s better than a book called with this title?  Right?  I walked myself into Barnes and Noble and bought it a few days later.  We were living with my parents at the time while our home was being built and the only piece of workout equipment they had was a stationary bike.  So I took the book with me every night while I was on the bike.  I was hooked.  What an amazing book!  And, at the same time, my workout went from 30 minutes to 60 minutes because I literally couldn’t put the book down.  The idea that every month Gretchen implemented something that sparked happiness in herself and in others made me happy as well.  The notion that if you just change things up, start some new habits that are good for your soul and change your perspective on every day occurrences was a little mind blowing to me.  It made me think about what my habits were at the time and how I could change them ever so slightly to become a happier person, and/or make someone else happy.  It’s a book I’ll never forget or get rid of.  Every time I even see it in my book collection I think of happy times.

The Frugalista Files, by Natalie McNeal.  I can’t even remember how this book fell into my lap.  Maybe another magazine suggestion?  Maybe my friend suggested it?  Regardless, it was funny, insightful and enlightening!  Ironically, I remember reading this book while watching the Royal Wedding (William and Kate)…so I mean, basically this concept sums up my life, haha.  As I’m reading a book on how to save money and how this amazing woman paid off over 30,000 in debt, I’m watching a million dollar wedding and getting googly eyes over Princess Diana’s massive diamond ring on Kate’s finger.  All joking aside, this book was awesome!  Natalie, the author, is so funny and honest and gives realistic goals and tips for cutting back on expenses, while being a woman in the workplace that still has a great social life.  It was a fun read and would be good for anyone looking to change up some of their financial habits. Check Natalie and her hilariousness out!

Do you guys notice the word habit keeps coming up?  It amazes me, that even in 2011, changing habits was something I was not knowingly gravitating to.  Habits are obviously the HARDEST thing in our lives to change.  You don’t even realize how hard it is to change them until you try to be consistent to make a change.  Now that I’m slowly stepping into the personal growth/development world, I’m realizing how naive I was before, when I THOUGHT I had good habits.  Friends, let me just tell you, I have a looooooong way to go.  Sorry for the side step from the book reviews, but it’s amazing to me that even 8 years ago…personal development was there, under the surface, screaming to be heard.

Girl Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis.  If you haven’t heard of this book, you are living under a rock.  If you haven’t read this book, you are missing out.  So listen, sometimes we search for something to grasp when we go through hard times.  I was doing this last spring/summer when panic disorder was ruling my life at the time and my anxiety was spiraling out of control.  I was desperately looking for something and someone to relate to.  I would google anxiety help and all kinds of crazy stuff would come up, I would search and search for books on anxiety and OCD and panic disorder and only clinical type books would come up, no matter how I tried to search.  Then, deep, dark in the rabbit hole I had gone down in, I came across someone recommending this book.  Here’s the thing, this book is NOT a book on how to help anxiety.  I think it was more like a red blinking light sent to me from God that I needed to do a deeper dive into the world of all things Rachel Hollis.  When I did this, I found her podcast called Rise.  I had never listened to a podcast and didn’t even know how to work the podcasts on my iPhone.  I came across her podcast from April of 2018 about how she dealt with her debilitating anxiety.  I felt like the world sat still for just a minute….I had FINALLY found someone I could relate to, someone my age, that was a mom, that had been an event planner, that wanted to work, but had bigger plans no matter the struggle with anxiety and that was honest about her successes and failures.  Are our reasons for anxiety the same?  Somewhat.  But, I took the TOOLS in that podcast and in the book that I found and applied them in my day to day life.  Game-changer.  As I mentioned above, the book is not about how to deal with anxiety, but if you are struggling with anxiety and know the red flags associated, then you will find the tools in the book.

This book is about lies we tell ourselves as women, moms, sisters, daughters, co-workers etc. that we have started to believe.  This book is about ENCOURAGING you to live the life God created you for.  Will it happen overnight?  Heck no….God wants us to work for what we want, ya know.  It’s about using our gifts God blessed us with, to their greatest potential.  It talks about getting out of your own way and not caring so much about what people may think of your goals!  It opened up a lot of doors for me; for example, I felt led to talk about my anxiety struggle and knew so many others around me dealt with similar issues, but I just didn’t know how to display it.  Now I use my blog, yep…this little sucker here, to be completely 100% honest about my anxiety battles.  Do you know what that did?  It, in turn, helped other people, which in turn, helped me feel better, helping others.  Then I thought, as silly as it sounds, I’ve always wanted my own platform, and it’s giving me one…albeit a very small one right now, but it’s something.  It encouraged me to keep going, through the panic, through the OCD, through the anxiety and get my story out there.  I have no idea where all of this will lead, but I know where I would ultimately LIKE for it to lead….anxiety and all.  So, stay tuned and please please please, go get this book and subscribe to the Rise podcast!!!

The 5 Second Rule, by Mel Robbins.  I’ll be honest, this was another find on my quest for all things anxiety help last summer.  I didn’t find out about this book until last fall when I had come across something of Mel’s on You Tube.  I, again, like many times, fell down the rabbit hole of listening to her Ted Talk on the 5 Second Rule, then going on to listen to her give interviews with several personal growth gurus and before I knew it, I was following her on social, subscribed to her You Tube channel, ordering her book and listening to her morning coffee talks.  The book is not all about how to get past anxiety.  It’s about learning how to change your brain’s thoughts.  We can retrain our brain, ya know?  It’s about developing habits and staying consistent and doing them anyway even when you don’t.  You hate working out, welp, 5-4-3-2-1- DO IT ANYWAY.  You can apply this teaching to basically any situation in life.  It takes work.  Don’t let the simple concept fool you…because trust me, I’m still working on it.  I have a long way to go before my brain adjusts to accept different thought.  Here’s something to take away though, Mel is one smart woman.  She is a lawyer and is one of the most sought after speakers in North America.  All of her research is backed by science, generally from Harvard or Yale studies and she is hilarious!  Also, she’s a busy mom with an even busier life that still manages to be present and open to new thoughts and ideas.  And yes, she’s an anxiety sufferer as well, but has self taught her way around it.  It’s a great read guys, you should definitely check it out!

Well, there ya have it!  My top reads!  I really hope you will hit up your local library or Target, or hop on Amazon to give these books some love.  I have several others that I have read that are definitely some awesome reads, so I may include them next time.  As you can see, I’m not a big fiction reader.  I really don’t have an answer for why that is.  Maybe because what little time I can devote to reading, I want to read about ways to make my life the best it can be?  That sounds right.

(Side note: I’m 100% positive that Rachel Hollis’ new book Girl, Stop Apologizing will be on the next list, but I just haven’t finished it yet.)

I hope you all have a great day and if you have read any of these books, drop me a note and let me know what you thought of them!!

xoxox

Mary

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