MY OVERALL GOAL
My overall goal for this year has been to little by little rid my life of environmental toxins. These toxins hide in everything from our food to our deodorant. Five years ago I started this journey by making major changes to my family’s diet and healthcare. Read more about my journey here. I pretty much stalled out and didn’t progress much beyond that. I kept thinking about gardening and making my own household and personal care products but I never really got there. In the spirit of New Years resolutions, I started crafting a 12 month map to insure my success. I focused this map around the concept of “habit investments.” This concept refers to the idea that making small changes over a period of time will increase your likelihood for success. Basically, instead of going cold turkey and deleting every toxin from your life, change one over a period of time that you can commit to and you will see better, long term results. With life being what it is—crazy–this makes complete sense. Balancing work life, home life, and personal sanity can be quite a challenge.
I got started with some of these changes in January and made about 6 of them in 30 days. It was totally insane but I was super motivated. Full speed ahead making bath salts, shampoo, conditioner, a dozen “real food” recipes. Then life happened. My grandmother passed away, family came for a visit, and I got a crazy head cold. Progress came to a screeching halt. I was still using what I made but I wasn’t progressing. It was a reality check for me…again. Baby steps, Kara. Take your own advice!
THE 12 MONTH PLAN
During my reality check period I created a 12 month plan that can be modified, stopped, and started at any time. It makes you think through your goals and prioritize them. It breaks everything down into THREE CATEGORIES; REAL FOOD, MAKE YOUR OWN, and GO GREEN. Every month I will post recipes and other blog posts talking about each topic. For example, as you see in the Month 1 column under Real Food, there is a goal named “Dirty Dozen”. I will post a blog for that month describing the Dirty Dozen and how to implement that change for the month. For some of you, a few of these changes may seem too simple or you might already be doing them. Good job! Feel good about crossing them off the list and focus on the other changes you need to implement. Maybe one month you are a few steps ahead. That will be helpful when “life happens” and you have a tough month.
Getting started is simple. I made a list for you of three areas; PROCESSED FOODS, NEW FRUITS, and NEW VEGGIES. Start by taking a look in your pantry and selecting 12 processed foods that you will delete from your diet over the next 12 months. I found a great list that I agree with from 100 Days of Real Food. Need some great recipes to get started? Check out 30 Days of Whole 30 Breakfasts, 30 Days of Whole 30 Lunches, and 30 days of Whole 30 Dinners from a Rachael over at Meatified.
REALLY want to learn more for FREE? Listen to 31 of your favorite health experts, authors, doctors, bloggers, farmers and activists from the comfort of your own couch! The New Year New You Summit 2014 is available for FREE online live from January 15th-19th! Your host, Ann Marie Michaels, is a leading advocate at the intersection of the real food movement and digital media. In 2008, Ann Marie founded Village Green Network -– providing the most cutting-edge information from the best bloggers on organic and natural food and lifestyle. Click HERE to learn more!
These are my general rules and personal goals throughout the day:
Breakfast: Avoid starting your day out with a meal where the main ingredient is a grain and focus on adding something green to the meal. Opt for eggs, all natural sausage, avocado, and a green smoothie is an excellent breakfast! If you really want a grain, buy local bread from a bakery like Great Harvest Bread Company and share a slice of toast with someone. (Don’t beat yourself up if you mess this up. Tomorrow is a new day, try again.)
Lunch: Think salad with protein. There are many greens to choose from so make each day a salad adventure. If you don’t like salad start with half a sandwich with a small side salad and work on acquiring a taste for it. If you read about my journey, you know that I didn’t even like bananas and berries at one point!
Dinner: Dinner is something you need to think about. Once you get some staple “go-to” recipes it will become easier to eat healthy. The hardest part is getting away from the spaghetti or pasta based dish default. It is just as easy to whip up Curry Cauliflower Sweet Potato soup and MUCH tastier! If you’re already meal planning, start migrating in Real Food recipes and replace the unhealthy processed ones. REMEMBER: BABY STEPS! I don’t recommend altering your entire diet immediately. Filter things out week to week, month to month. You want these to be lasting changes!
Fill out the form I created to organize exactly what you will be deleting from your pantry. When I first started, my PROCESSED FOODS list included things like Doritos, Hamburger Helper, Beefaroni, Jello, Honey Nut Cheerios, Rice a Roni, Shake n Bake, Freschetta pizzas, Oreos, and Quaker Oatmeal. Some items were hard to give up and I tried to do it all at once. I started by substituting Joe Joes from Trader Joes for Oreos. A better option but still not necessary. Eventually I didn’t want them at all and I started BAKING all of my sweets from scratch. I didn’t crave sugar as much anymore so this wasn’t as hard as it sounds. You have to break the habit and your cravings change. Apples start tasting sweet (almost too sweet) and junk food starts tasting like…well, junk!
NEW FRUITS can be anything you aren’t already eating. Explore new exotic options like mangoes, papaya, and pomegranate. I would even lump Goji berries into this category.
For the NEW VEGGIES, branch out and try new greens like kale and swiss chard. Maybe you haven’t tried eggplant or zucchini before. Browse this list from wikipedia of veggies or walk through Earth Fare or Whole Foods and take notes. I will write about how to buy fruits and veggies at good prices so you can save money and make this work.
I will provide several recipes to reference here and links to other websites that have recipes using natural ingredients. I don’t think it is necessary to worry about things like fat and calories when you are selecting recipes. If the meals are made with REAL ingredients then that is the most important thing. I was cooking meals with cheese, sour cream and butter and still losing 2 lbs a week. I was baking blueberry coffee cake and pumpkin bread too. I didn’t gorge myself on anything but I didn’t starve myself either!
The GO GREEN category is a fun way to implement some greener choices in your life. Many things are simple like strategies to remember your resusable shopping bags or turning off the lights when you leave a room. Some things are more involved like organic, environmentally friendly lawn care or plants with a purpose. Focusing on one green option a month will be just enough of a time investment to create a new green habit to replace an old less desirable one!
The MAKE YOUR OWN category is focused on replacing toxic chemicals in your household and personal care products with effective homemade ones. I’ve been testing out several recipes and creating many of my own.
I like to refer to this process as a journey. You are making an investment in your family’s health and habits. The habits you will learn will be ones that your children will adopt over time. Eating a salad or avoiding McDonald’s may be a challenge for you or your family at first, but over time the craving will disappear. I haven’t eaten fast food in 5 years. I would rather starve and wait for a grocery store off the highway than a Wendy’s drive-thru. I was never that person before but the more I learned about chemicals in foods the more repulsive those options became until I could not eat them. That same process has begun for me with deodorant, hand creams, air fresheners, and cleaning products. Once you head down this path there is no turning back. Your life will be forever changed. What you learn will be a catalyst igniting your desire to change the way you view food and the products you use. Who knows, maybe you’ll take it so far that you’ll become a homesteader or the next organic local farmer….or maybe you’ll just be a lot healthier and happier. I personally invite you to join my on my journey to a healthier, happier life. Life Sanity, that is what its all about.
Simply subscribe to my blog (in the sidebar on the upper right hand side or below) and I’ll email you all of the latest recipes and tips I come up with to keep you on track.
(Don’t worry, you won’t get anything from me but good info.)
A few more great articles to help!