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I must admit that living "naturally" has a certain appeal to me. Cleaner eating, a more healthy lifestyle, less toxins... it all sounds awesome. Like all of a sudden maybe my life will be filled with peace and harmony and yoga in the middle of a tropical rainforest? Maybe not, but maybe I'll have more energy and feel better and not pass out at 4 pm the second I walk in the door from school? Now that sounds like something I could get used to.
But the thing is that the steps to starting a natural health journey are very overwhelming for a regular gal like me. I think people who live an entire "natural" lifestyle might sway me more in the other direction, to be honest with you. It feels so intense! I want to try a couple of things to living naturally and then I see a natural living instagram and I think, "ah sheesh I'm never going to own chickens or spend $200 on an oil diffuser!" (And I'm sorry, but I will NEVER have it in me to use cloth diapers.) It seems too big of a commitment, too hard, too expensive, too, well... weird. But that doesn't change the fact that I do want a lifestyle with less chemicals, less toxins, less processed food for me and my family. So... I made some baby steps. Stuff that is getting me there without being too overwhelming. In case there are any regular joes out there like me who want to take steps to living more naturally, but don't exactly know how, I offer a few baby steps to get you in the right direction.
1. Drink more water. Duh! This one is a no brainer, but it is always difficult for me. I always want something sweet or something with caffeine so I tend toward a really gross amount of soda. For the past few weeks I have tried to limit myself to 1-2 diet cokes a day and the rest water. (Which I know doesn't sound that amazing, but for me it is quite the step up.) The trick to drinking lots of water for me is to always have an ice cold water with me. I fill my water cup up in the morning and carry it around with me for the day to get my H20 in.
2. Grow your own garden. Probably the biggest step I took this year to living more "naturally" was that for the first time ever, I grew my own garden! I did this in pots in my backyard- if you've got even a little bit of outdoor space (and lots of sun!) you can do it. I grew cherry tomatoes, regular tomatoes, green peppers, mini orange peppers, and zuchinni. I felt so proud of myself and the vegetables were fresh and delicious and had no toxins! No chemicals! It wasn't even that hard. I promise! Nothing tastes better than the fruit of your own labor. (Next year I am ditching the mini orange peppers and doing cucumbers instead. I'm also going to try to do a little herb garden in my upstairs window sill.)
Grown by yours truly.
3. Recycle. In Utah it can be kind of a huge hassle to try to recycle... I wish there was a little more emphasis on that here. A couple months ago I took an entire full of aluminum cans 25 minutes away to recycle them. I received a whopping $7 in compensation, and then I realized I certainly am not in this for the money! BUT I am thrilled that in the community where we live a recycling truck has started coming around every other Thursday. We've made added efforts to recycle our plastic, cardboard, aluminum cans, etc. All it means is that we put them in a separate can as our regular garbage and save them for recycling day. Something small, but something big too.
4. Get moving! A little exercise goes a long ways. If at all possible, we try to get our exercise outside. We love to hike and every day we take Maverick for a walk. When we are feeling more adventurous we play tennis, and I've even gone to a yoga class or two! These things are little and basic, but they do so much for making my body feel strong and healthy. And the vitamin D does wonders for my mood. (I'd love to get a fitbit and work toward getting 10,000 steps a day... I feel like this would definitely get me moving a bit more. But I'm too cheap.)
On a hike on St. Maarten's
6. Eat less processed food/ more "real" food. Since having June I have really enjoyed my days at home because they allow me to cook real food for my family a little more. We are nowhere close to 100% away from processed food, but we are leaps ahead of where we were two years ago. When I want a mid afternoon snack now I go for an apple instead of a bowl of sweetened cereal. Dinner always includes a fresh vegetable and healthy protein. Baby steps!
Fresh grown green beans and onions (from my mom's garden!) with bacon
Salmon in a cream cheese leek sauce
7. Make your own baby food. Some may consider this one a tad bit more on the "extreme" side of natural living, but to me it is one of the biggest and, surprisingly, easiest things you can do to live a more natural lifestyle. When June was six months my friend Sarah gave us a baby bullet and that changed the world for us. 95% of June's food from then on was natural. We'd steam and then blend all sorts of fruits and vegetables for her, oatmeal with bananas is a go to, and rice with chicken was a total fave. I promise you it is not nearly as intimidating as you think to make your own baby food and it saves you from the processed, not-that-yummy baby food in stores. It is much more healthy AND a million times cheaper.
8. Begin to sub out cleaning and hygiene products. This one may seem like a big step because you are purposely buying a "natural" product. The key is to start simple! You don't have to suddenly revamp your entire house with natural products, but start with something easy and something that you use often. For us, we started with toothpaste. At my last trip to Walmart instead of buying our normal toothpaste, I took a little extra time and spent one extra dollar to buy Tom's of Maine® natural toothpaste. (That's one thing I love about Tom's of Maine®- I don't have to go to a special natural food store, I can just pop on over to Walmart and get it while I'm doing my regular shopping. No hassle!) Tom's of Maine® products do not contain artificial colors, flavors, fragrances, preservatives, animal ingredients or animal testing. We loved the Simply White® Clean Mint Cavity Protection Toothpaste- tastes clean and fresh. And if toothpaste isn't your jam, Tom's of Maine® also offers other natural hygiene products like deodorant, bar soap and mouthwash. Seriously such an easy switch to start living a little more naturally.
(You can learn more about their ingredients, including their purpose and source, by visiting www.tomsofmaine.com.)
You can find Tom's of Maine toothpaste in the toothpaste aisle at Walmart. The Silly Strawberry® Anticavity Toothpaste variety that we will use for June when she turns two we found in the kids' toothpaste section, right across from the adult toothpaste.