Products: Taking a Closer Look

Last month, I took my boys to Florida for a little sunny vacation. While I was there I got to see my cousin and his family, whom I haven’t see since I was planning my wedding 9 years ago. It was great to reconnect with such lovely family!

As a result of that visit, I have been truly inspired to take a closer look at the products I put both in and on my body. Michelle has been working with the company called Beauty Counter, whose mission it is to offer safe products. (No, I don’t get compensation for that link!) They also provide a “Never List” – a list of ingredients you will never find in their products and why could be harmful. I’m slowly going through my bathroom full of products and have been horrified to find out how many of them contain one or more ingredients from the list. Even from companies that I thought used “natural” ingredients!

So I am beginning to switch out my products for healthier options. It’s hard to chuck half-full bottles of creams, lotions, make-up, shampoo – even toothpaste! But it’s better than continuing to put harmful chemicals on my body.

At the same time, I am taking a closer look at the foods that I am putting in my body. For a long time, I shrugged off the idea of food having to be organic or I rolled my eyes at the thought of giving up processed foods. And to be honest, I don’t yet know just how far I am willing to go. There are some things I’m not ready to give up. And in a house full of picky eaters, it’s already challenging enough to feed us all without throwing another requirement into the mix.

Michelle told me when she talks to people, they sometimes say they’d rather not know what’s in things. And she says, why would you not want to know? Well, I can tell you: it’s a lot to think about! It’s a lot of changes to make! If I don’t think about it, I just keep doing what I’m doing. But once I start to look and to learn, I have a lot of work to do!

So I’m starting slowly, with the easy stuff.

I already get organic fruits and veggies delivered every other week from Door to Door Organics. (Again, no compensation for that link.) They have a lot of other products I can add to my order now, too.

Of course, “organic” is not really enough these days. I also want to know what’s in a product. So I’ve started looking at ingredient lists. It’s overwhelming right now. But I’m learning.

I’m trying to cook more instead of buying prepared or frozen foods.

I’m trying to replace the foods we already like to eat with healthier versions. For example, we already ate wheat bread. But now I’m looking for wheat bread that has ingredients that I can actually read!

I’m also thinking twice about other things in our house. For example, what kinds of containers do we put our leftovers in? What kind of water bottles are my kids using? What kind of chemicals does our pest control company use – maybe it’s time to switch?

There are SO many things to consider. When I get overwhelmed, I take a deep breath. I figure any healthy changes I’m making right now are a good start! And as I learn more, I’ll make more changes. I also thought I’d try to chronicle this part of my journey here, too. Maybe it will help someone else who is just starting out on this path.

Now? Or Later?

Recently I was looking for new strategies to organize my house. It still hasn’t happened, but I found a strategy that works for holding off food cravings, too!

I wish I could remember where I read this one. If I find it, I’ll come back and link it up! The idea was this: when you walk by clutter in your house, you ask yourself, “Take care of this now, or deal with it later.” Usually, it’s pretty easy to take care of it right in that moment. And then you have less clutter to deal with later.

When it comes to food, it works the other way around.

When I find myself having a craving, I stop and ask myself, “Do I want this now … or do I want to enjoy a thinner body later?” It’s nothing revolutionary, but having this little phrase is proving helpful.

I’ve shortened it to something of a little mantra: “Now? Or later?”

It doesn’t mean that I always skip the snack. Sometimes I do choose “now”. But it reminds me of my goal and the bigger picture.

Release

Something huge has just hit me.

I’m a firm believer in the mind-body-spirit connection. I believe (thanks to Louise Hay) that when our bodies are in any kind of “dis-ease” (as she calls it), it is trying to tell us something. (See her book You Can Heal Your Life.)

About four years ago I sprained my back lugging a suitcase out of the back of my car when I was 6 weeks pregnant. Ever since, I have lived with intermittent pain in my low back. It’s one of the reasons I continued to do yoga, see a chiropractor, and get regular massages. And then my chiropractor suggested I  try Pilates to strengthen my core and take some of the load off of my back. And then my Pilates instructor and my massage therapist suggest I go to physical therapy to find out what was really going on and get some more specific help. That was about 5 months ago.

I was also working with an essential oil blend called “Release” from Young Living. I had started using it to help release my negative beliefs that I believed contributed to my negative feelings about my body. But as I worked on my back, I realized how much I needed to release that, too.

Yesterday during Pilates, I did some of the exercises recommended by the PT. And for the very first time, they were easy, and there was NO pain. Now that’s not to say that it’s gone forever. I’m still going to do my stretches and strength exercises (also because they just feel good in general).

But here’s the connection: It is also the same day that I took charge and decided NOT to do the detox. Ever since that moment, I have felt a new sense of calm. And a stronger sense of empowerment.

Because I didn’t go on the usual emotional roller coaster to make the decision. I heard the old arguments in my head (“don’t be a failure” – “what will your chiropractor say?” – “you can’t give up, because you were so ready to brag about what your were doing!” – and on and on). The words were there, but the strong negative emotion was not. I took charge and made the decision that was right for ME.

And in making that move, there must have come a big release in my physical self, too. Which is why my back felt better than it has in years!

Taking Charge

After I got back from Florida, I was feeling really lost. When I mentioned to someone that I had been logging my food, she said I sounded so BORED. Huh. I hadn’t expected that. So I’ve been asking for some guidance. What to do? How to move forward??

One thing that has been crossing my path is the idea of learning more about what’s in my food. Starting to cut out processed foods. Looking at more whole, natural foods.

When I saw my chiropractor a few days later, I updated her on all this, and she said she thought I might be ready for a detox. I was so gung-ho about the idea, I decided to just go for it. (I really trust my chiropractor and her extraordinary intuitions.) As she worked on me during that sessions, one of the things she spoke of was taking charge.

So I started the detox this morning. It’s 2 shakes and a healthy meal from a list of foods.

OH, NO. She had warned me it might not taste good, but I was not prepared. It wasn’t so much the taste, but the texture. I was literally gagging on it. I somehow managed to get the whole thing down, but it was soooo unpleasant. And then I felt a little nauseated afterward. I thought if I followed a recipe for the shake mixed with fruit and almond milk instead of plain water it might help. NOPE. Same reaction.

As I sat there staring at the dreaded shake, I normally would have a huge battle within myself about failure and self-criticism. That popped up a bit. But what it really came down to: I can’t see how gagging over a drink is good for me. Even if the benefits of that shake should be great, it’s not going to do me much good if it triggers my gag reflex with every single swallow.

So instead of warring with myself and feeling like a failure, I decided to take charge, just like my chiro had said. This is MY life, MY journey. And I’m in the driver seat. Maybe this detox would have been good for me? I’ll never know, because I’m just not doing it. I am not going to put myself through that kind of torture. Right now, this simply is not the direction I want to take.

I feel empowered. I feel strong and confident. I do not feel like a failure.

So what next? Well, we’ll see. I still want to make healthy changes. Just using a different method….