If I could pick one theme that seems to be recurring on my blog, throughout the comments and the wonderful emails I receive, it is that so many women really, truly want to make changes for the better in their lifestyle. They want to eat more nutritiously, make more of their food from scratch, manage their budget more carefully, use more natural products in their home, tread more lightly on the earth, and bring glory to God through greater stewardship of what they have been given. The dilemma seems to be in knowing where to start, how to do it, and how not to get overwhelmed in the process.
For those who haven't heard much of my journey into this realm of natural living and nutrition, let me share it in a nutshell. In my childhood, I was always an incredibly picky eater, and was permitted to eat a lot of things that were less than the best for me (I even worked at McDonald's for 2 1/2 years- enough said). By my young adult years, I was not healthy.
I had some extra weight, my digestion was awful (I would have been diagnosed with IBS and lactose intolerance, most likely), I was often tired, very addicted to caffeine and sugar, and I ate a lot of white carbs, processed foods, and very little fresh fruits or vegetables. I might have continued on like this for some period of time, except that God intervened in an unexpected way.
In my senior year of university, I went for six months without having my cycle. Realizing this was a bit strange, I went to a doctor who referred me to a specialist, who proceeded to give me the bleak diagnosis of Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). At the tender age of 21, I was told that I was most likely infertile (probably one of the most devastating things she could have told me), and would need medication my entire life to regulate my cycle and help to stave off conditions such as diabetes and uterine cancer.
For the first time in my life, I reacted by refusing to accept what this doctor told me and began to research what I could do to prevent these outcomes. I went to an on-campus nurse, who photocopied a few chapters on nutrition from some books on women's health, and thus began my journey. It was elementary, to say the least. I was reading with great interest about the fact that my body needed certain amounts of a wide range of nutrients-- fiber, vitamins, minerals, even water... who knew food had a more specific purpose than filling me up and providing taste bud enjoyment?
And so, the past 5 (almost 6) years began with that humble step towards being educated and informed about my body and it's needs. As eager to learn as I was, the road was slow and painful at times. It took a year to break my addiction to pop, slurpee's and flavored Tim Horton's coffee (I still struggle with coffee a little bit, my last remaining comfort food). My diet slowly evolved past Lipton Side Noodles, white-flour quesadillas, and canned soup. I began to introduce new vegetables and fruits, just one or two at a time. I started drinking more water. I started to read the ingredients on packages. And I kept reading (oh, did I read)...
I remember when I was in those early years of my journey, I often felt so discouraged and exhausted by it all. I wanted so badly to put everything that I was learning into practice, but it was all so new and there were only so many hours in a day. I didn't want to be consumed by it. Nor did I want to (or even have the ability to) blow a lot of money to just buy everything from the health food store (and I came to realize that that wasn't even the point- not even close!).
Sometimes I would talk with my mother-in-law about it, and express how I wanted to do so much more than I was doing, but I didn't know how to make the full transition. Her response was such a positive one- she reminded me that I could not possibly do it all at once. It is a process, and it takes time. Each step in the right direction is a victory and is one step further ahead than where I was before.
One of the things that I love about Fly Lady (this seems like a major topic change, but it really isn't, so stay with me!), is that she starts you out with baby steps. Here is a great quote from her site:
Keep in mind that your home did not get this way overnight and it is not going to get clean in a day. We are going to teach you how to take BabySteps and establish little routines for getting rid of your clutter and maintaining your home. This system will work for anyone; it doesn’t matter if you work outside of your home, stay home with children, retired or work at home. You can do this, you have just needed someone to pat you on the back and give you a great big hug to get you started.
Here is my own little twist on her concept:
You did not get to the place you are at nutritionally or otherwise in a day, and you will not suddenly learn to cook nutritionally, shop frugally, and live more naturally and sustainably overnight. I am going to teach you how to take baby steps, and slowly implement small, positive and manageable changes into your cooking, meal planning, shopping, cleaning, beauty routines, thinking, and day to day living. This can and will work for you- in fact, this is the only way to really do it without becoming overwhelmed in the process. You can do this, all you need is a little encouragment and direction, and some reminders of why you are doing this at all!
Introducing "Baby Steps towards more natural, healthy living".
Once a week, I will be posting one simple change that you can make in your family's diet, in the way that you cook, a shopping tip, a way to be greener, or an area where you can make a change for the healthier. It will always be practical, and will offer a brief explanation of the research, thought or information behind what I am suggesting.
Ultimately, this series will help me to flesh out some of the topics I have planned for my upcoming ebook. I hope to "publish" it in July, and the book will include one suggestion per week, for 52 weeks, to help you move towards better nutrition and more natural, sustainable living one baby step at a time.
Why am I doing this? Because I believe that anybody can make small, simple, positive changes towards a healthier lifestyle for themselves and their family. I believe that it honors and glorifies God when we honor the bodies He has blessed us with, the earth that He has given us dominion over, and the resources He has given us to steward.
Would anyone like to join me in this journey?