Baby Steps towards more natural, healthy living
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?
Yay! I really appreciated this post and look forward to learning more through your baby steps. What you described is so often the case with me–I feel so
overwhelmed that I don’t know where to start. So then I don’t. Thanks for your work on this, Stephanie!
Love the idea. I’m with you! Thanks for sharing your passion.
I am excited to see what you have to say in this series. Our family has made some changes, but still have more to do and we are using the baby step approach. It is far less overwhelming this way.
I would love to take the journey with you! I look forward to reading each new change you introduce each week. I have changed a lot over the past few months and the Maker’s Diet was my first book to get me started. It’s been a few years so I have actually just started reading it again and hope to implement more of it in my family’s lives. Look forward to this journey and also your e-book!!
I have so been there–in my case after being sick for years and dealing with depression, endo, and other things I finally realized the cause, went on a Candida diet, eat all natural, later started taking enzymes which dealt with the remaining food allergies. In a very different place than I was in my junk food eating McDonald’s working (where I met my husband so it wasn’t all bad) self.
I am so excited for this series!
We made many changes in regards to preservatives, but at that time went on a mostly raw diet, which didn’t work out well for me long term. I need to find ways to cook healthy with whole grains in addition to consuming raw veggies and fruit.
I am looking forward to learning more, especially about soaking and grinding grains, using kefir and sprouting.
I’ve been reading your blog for a while but this is the first time I’ve made a comment. I am trying to eat healthier and am looking forward to your future posts and ebook!
I love the baby steps concept. Will look forward to reading more and implementing your ideas. Thank you for sharing!
Hey, I love Fly Lady too! And I have an incredible mother-in-law. And I started my health journey at 21. And I’m concerned about honoring God with the way I dress, how I handle our finances, and how I steward the environment. I am absolutely amazed by our similar interests and stories! I found your blog last week, and I’m enjoying it so much. My health journey started in earnest a little over a year ago, and I’m steadily moving forward. I love the Body Ecology/Maker’s Diet/Nourishing Traditions approach to health, and I’m reading everything I can like crazy. I’ll definitely be coming back to your site regularly. If you’re interested, I’ve been keeping a blog myself for a few months on many similar topics to what you write about here: http://www.pennythoughts.wordpress.com. Thanks so much for your great website!
I am definitely looking forward to learning babysteps! My current baby step is trying to go “no poo”. If it works for me and my hair (I have a lot of it), then the next “step” is to try it with the rest of the family. (So far I’ve had good results. The reaction I’ve been having to shampoos and conditioners for over a year seems to have become minimal already!) ;o).
I am so excited about this!!! My journey started a couple of years ago. I read the makers diet and felt completely overwhelmed, but liked a lot of the concepts. I also read nourishing traditions last year and have gone back and forth through these books and since I have been taking baby steps they no longer seem as overwhelming. I think that’s the main thing is to start slow. I have also started “no poo” and it seems to be going pretty well. I have wanted to try it for awhile but just haven’t. We will see how it goes, even though I still do like to shampoo my hair!!
This is such an encouraging post. I often feel overwhelmed by how much I “should” be doing and therefore don’t do anything at all. I’m looking forward to the series and know that it will work very nicely into an ebook. Thanks for the encouragement.
I’ve been working on my own post like this and it’s such an inspiration to hear someone else’s story. Especially someone else that’s been diagnosed with pcos. Through diet alone I’ve been able to do what doctors told me I’d only be able to do with lots of medication….. have a baby! I’m still working on a few things (like baby #2!), with soaking grains next on my list of things to learn to do. It has been a seemingly slow journey into the world of natural foods, but when I look at how far I’ve come I really see how much has changed.
I think this is awesome Stephanie! And I am so excited to try to be a healthier me…but it’s not only hard to know where to start…but how to do it in little time on a budget. When working outside of the home, it takes a lot to figure out how to get organized enough to be able to complete Baby steps…and which are really worth it?
Thanks for your work on this and I am so excited to become a baby step member!
I’m excited about this. We’ve definitely discovered baby steps is the way to go otherwise it is very overwhelming. Look forward to journeying with everyone!
I’ve been reading your blog for awhile, but I think this is the first comment I’ve made. I am really looking forward to this series. I am hearing more and more about natural and healthy living and I’m just not sure where to start–so this will be very beneficial to me.
I think that this is a great idea.
After reading Nourishing Traditions last year, all I could think was, oh my goodness, where do I even start.
I like the idea of babysteps, and I’ve been trying to work on making small changes here and there on my own.
It will be nice to do it as a group.
I am completely on board with the concept of baby steps as small changes seem to be the only ones that last around here. We’ve been “baby steppin'” toward a more natural way for about 5 years and still there are pockets of resistance. 🙂 I am very interested in reading your suggestions.
Thank you! This is exactly what I have been looking for!
I can hardly wait for more in this series! I’ve really enjoyed all that you share on your blog and look forward to more practical tips for healthy changes. We’ve made quite a number of changes but are not there yet.
I am looking forward to your new series. I just love your website. I continue to learn new things each time I visit.
Would you mind if I link to your blog from mine as you make your posts? I’ve been discussing small steps toward a healthier, self-sustainable, lifestyle on my blog too. I’m on a similar journey but some of the young mom’s who read my blog cannot comprehend making changes because they are knee deep in diapers, nursing, and toddlers. You are a wonderful example of how to be a frugal, healthy, loving wife & mommy. Let me know if it is ok for me to link to your blog from mine.
Sounds good! I look forward to reading!
I’m so excited! I’ve been wanting to make a lot of changes, as I have Grave’s disease and can’t find a dr. to treat me naturally. People have given me all kinds of info about supplements and diets but it’s all so overwhelming at this point. One wants me to do the Hallelujah Diet…but I’m just not sure that that is the right thing since it completely avoids meat or ANY dairy product and I’m just not sure that’s what God intended for us. So I’m soooo excited for someone to break it down for me!
This is beautiful, Stephanie! Thank you for taking the time to share your background with us.
I am thrilled to hear about your weekly baby steps! That’s one of the things that has drawn me in to you what you share here – you always make thing so accessible and realistic. You are humble in your approach and uplifting with your encouragement.
Congrats on working towards an e-book! Obviously, there are many of us who are always wanting to learn more!
Absolutely! I can’t wait to read what you have to share. We already do a lot but I’m always looking for some new ideas. I’d love to hear how you broke your sugar habit! That is something we still struggle with. Every once in a while we will still pick up ice cream or buy some cookies from the fabulous bakery in town.
I will be following this series. I recently lost about 30 lbs, but still have a long ways to go. I feel tired a lot, too… I like fruits, veggies, but don’t really think much about what I eat often. Seem to have cravings for carbs alot.
Thanks for taking us on baby steps. I am completely overwhelmed by the thought of learning to use organics, gardening, shopping for whole foods, cooking from scratch (although I do that one a lot already)–as well as nurture and care for my home, my 3 kids and my husband.
Thanks again for taking the time to teach us…
I’d love to join! I found you just today from Kimi at The Nourishing Gourmet. I am not a total beginner, but always love reading how others do things. I am bookmarking your site now!
I have been trying to babystep my way over the last 3 years. Sometimes my head starts spinning and I lose track of everything because I get so overwhelmed. But in all actuality I have made a lot of progress, because I have managed to implement many babysteps that are just now a part of my everyday life, and until I stop to assess all the progress I have made I didn’t see it!
I have been No Poo’ing for almost 2 years now. I love it! My hair has never been healthier, and I have always had long hair that was in desperate need for conditioning…but not any longer. I use the baking soda, and rinse with 50/50 vinegar water mix. Sometimes I use a little of my shea butter bar soap first to lather a little then use the above. The rest of my family still feels like they need shampoo so I buy some naturals for them that doesn’t have the parabens, SLS, etc. I tried them but went back to my no poo routine.
@ Heather: My story sounds the same…also met my DH while we were both working at McD’s. Now my 4 y/o son says (as we drive by it on the way home every day) when are we EVER going to eat at McDonald’s ? I think he has been in there 3 times –a fact that I am proud of!! We got free food for our lunch breaks…but oh how I have been paying for it since!
I am trying hard to get my picky eaters to “see the light” and realize that they need to build their bodies from good whole natural foods, and I definitely need all the help I can get!
Hi. I am enjoying your blog. I can relate to your story here of baby steps. When we made changes towards better health 3 years ago (because of health issues), I was so overwhelmed. I felt like I had to change it all right then. My husband would remind me all the time, that my body did not get in this shape overnight, and I couldn’t change it all overnight.
Sounds like you really are on the right track and I am so glad that you use this blog to help encourage us readers in our journeys!
I can’t tell you how happy I am to have found your blog/site. This is the answer to my prayers. Funny how I have started following FlyLady just a few months after my interest in natural, old fashioned living (like Nourishing Traditions) spiked. I just got married 3 months ago and I am a Christian as well. I’m just so happy and relieved to find your blog with these baby steps… exactly what the doctor ordered… Thank you so much for doing this.
@Niki, You’re so welcome, Niki! Welcome! 🙂