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You've Come A Long Way Baby (Switching to a healthier lifestyle)

I've come a long way, baby!

Healthy Living | Musings of a Modern Hippie
Original Photo Credit: James (Flickr)

10 points to anyone who can guess the title reference, You've come a long way, baby...without Googling. Actually, I will accept two difference references as both apply.

I'm generally not one to dwell on the past. At all. In fact I often forget my past to the point that I repeat my mistakes and it's very hard for me to make long lasting changes of any sort.

That being said, while making my breakfast this morning, I got to thinking that I actually HAVE come a long way.

You've Come A Long Way Baby (Switching to a healthier lifestyle)

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Let's go back to my college days. In those oh so totally oblivious - thought I was really self aware - days, I picked up a good many bad habits (sorry mom). All the usual vices of a worldly young 20-something. I even started experimenting with high dose herbs to assist in weight-loss and keep me awake. A little thing called Ephedra. Before the FDA made it illegal in the US. Yep, my friend and I use to buy it in bulk from the health foods store and make our own capsules. It's a wonder I don't have a heart arrhythmia after that. Oh wait. I do.

Healthy Living | Musings of a Modern Hippie
Photo Credit: Christian Kadluba

Healthy Living | Musings of a Modern Hippie
Photo Credit: Drug Free Homes

And let's talk about my diet. Oh boy. Fast food. Lots and lots of fast food. And pizza. And soda. And fried food. Food so processed that now days I don't even call it food. And it only got worse when I graduated, started my career, and moved about 45 minutes from my parents into my first apartment. Living alone shouldn't even be an excuse for not cooking. Neither should having a 12 ft square kitchen (my first apartment was 300 sq ft of adorableness). Take-out every night. If I did go for groceries, it was chips, frozen meals, microwave popcorn, bologna, hot dogs, boxed macaroni and cheese, cheez whiz on crackers, diet soda. So much fried stuff. The typical American diet.

Healthy Living | Musings of a Modern Hippie
Photo Credit: yum9me

While I did quit smoking (come on, you can't work for a top cancer research lab and smoke!), as well as the other bad habits, my diet continued this way for many years. The damage I was doing to my body...

Even when I was pregnant with my son, my diet was disgusting. I was SO very sick, 24/7, and the only things I thought I could keep down were processed foods. Pillsbury toaster scrambles and Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches were my absolute favorites. I'm still amazed that my son is so healthy. The guilt could be totally overwhelming if I let it. I don't though, because I just didn't know any better. And for that I don't judge my former self or anyone still living that lifestyle. Most people just don't know any better. (Incidentally, I made it a HUGE priority to make up for all of the prenatal damage I've done to him with clean living now.)

It was during my pregnancy that I started to educate myself. VERY slowly. And not even on purpose. I would Google topics of interest and learn about them. It helped to be very involved in a large online baby community, all those women with all of their opinions! It was very eye opening. I also had worked with my mom's herbalist to help me get pregnant in the first place.

I don't think there was any specific point that I remember deciding to get healthy. I mean every parent has that moment when they want to change their lifestyle so that they can be around for their children, age gracefully, and of course wanting to lose weight and look good were part of it as well.

Coming a long way doesn't have to be hard.

I made the changes slowly. Over the years. And still have a long way to go. Good health is something that I'll be working towards for the rest of my life. Even after I've repaired all the damage I've done in the past.

To help me with my changes and progress, I have a Pinterest board titled: To Do: Natural Life Makeover.

Most of my food changes involve switching to organic brands first. There at least I felt better about the processed foods we were eating. By processed, I mean anything that has more than 1 ingredient, comes in a box, bag, can, etc., and was made in a factory not a farm. We still eat some processed foods for the convenience on occasion. Next I focused on adding in more fruits and veggies. Especially fresh ones. We started with more cooked veggies, which are easier to digest, but have been working towards raw with the help of a good digestive enzyme supplement. The good thing about eating fruits and veggies? No labels to read! I still read labels on everything else though. Everything. All the ingredients lists. We now have a few absolutes in our house:

Only 100% organic dairy, eggs, and meat. Absolutely organic only of the Dirty Dozen. Organic when available of all other fruits and veggies. Organic whole grain (sprouted if available) breads. No food dyes. No nitrates/nitrites or cured foods. No pesticides. Nothing hydrogenated. No soda. No "diet" products. Nothing but full fat, organic foods. No artificial sweeteners: splenda, aspartame, saccharin, etc. Rarely anything with sugar (and it has to be organic).

My grocery shopping has gotten much easier. I spend most of my time in the produce. A quick stop to the cheese shop, and meat department if needed, the to the organic section. Our grocery store is wonderful in that they have a completely separate department for natural products. I rarely shop in the rest of the store. Occasionally the dairy department because they keep the organic yogurt there, and once in a while down the candy aisle for some Unreal chocolate.

Healthy Living | Musings of a Modern Hippie
This is how I grocery shop now.

Speaking of which, I've also worked hard to incorporate natural living into other areas of my life. I take herbs, vitamins, and minerals instead of medications. Herbs are healing. They go after the root cause of the issue and repair the body. Medications just cover up the symptoms and further damage the body. My mom's herbalist became my mentor, I attended naturopath school, and started my own wellness business helping the local folks with their own wellness journeys.

I switched to a natural shampoo and conditioner, fluoride-free toothpaste, and soap - all which are SLS-free. Ecofriendly dishwasher and laundry detergent. Chemical-free lotion. Aluminum-free deodorant. I use the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database to make sure the products I use are actually safe.

I rarely use the microwave, and never with plastic. No aluminum or tephlon cookware. I ditched our plastic storage containers in favor of stainless steel or glass. My son has organic bedding as well as an organic mattress.

Healthy Living | Musings of a Modern Hippie
Photo Credit: Powerhouse Museum

All these changes were made slowly. As products ran out, I replaced them with healthier choices. I haven't always like the healthier choices. But I keep trying different products until I find one that works. I research a lot of companies and follow a lot of natural pages on Facebook for suggestions. I do often have to shop online, but we are very blessed to have such a great grocery store for most of our natural stuff.

The change has been good. Detoxing from processed sugars and chemicals was tough, but gradual so I was able to stick with it. And wouldn't you know, I feel great! I still have a long way to go but the difference is really incredible. And the amazing thing is, whenever I eat the old junk again, I feel just terrible. It makes me so sick now. Talk about reinforcement!

You've Come A Long Way Baby (Switching to a healthier lifestyle)

For the future:

No processed foods. Only whole, real, organically grown food. Whole house water filter, including fluoride filter. Organic mattress for the adults as well. Organic, responsibly made clothing. No plastics. Purchase an ecofriendly car. Alternative energy sources for our house.

Healthy Living | Musings of a Modern Hippie
Original Photo Credit: Sonny Abesamis

Oh and in case you didn't guess the referred to an album by a techno DJ popular in the late 90's - Fatboy Slim, and was also the catch phrase for a particular brand of cigarettes.

How are you coming along on your journey toward good health?

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