“I am so busy, I just don’t have time for that.” “As much as I want to, I can’t add anything else to my plate.” You know the drill – you decided it was time to make a healthy change, but you failed. Maybe you got overwhelmed with all the information because you just had to “know it all” before you got started. Maybe you didn’t actually believe it was possible, so you talked yourself out of it. Or maybe you didn’t actually want to make the change – you just said you did. 😉 #beenthere Today, I want to work through some ideas and tips for how to make healthy changes that will actually last!
About 7 or 8 years ago, our family jumped on to the “try to be more natural” train.
But here’s the problem – when I jumped in, I jumped ALL THE WAY in. And I’ll be completely honest…it was not smart. When I decided we were going to eat healthy I went hardcore into it. And I drove myself and my whole family crazy.
This isn’t all about food, but let’s use that as an example: I wouldn’t go out to eat. I was literally afraid of high fructose corn syrup. I felt like I had to be in control or something horrible was going to beset us…like a serving of MSG might touch our lips or a bite of artificial sweetener might make it into our dessert. It was bad, and now that I look back on it, it was also funny…and sad.
Approaching things that way leads to burnout, and it isn’t healthy at all.
I didn’t stick with my healthy changes because they were not sustainable. I couldn’t possibly spend my life in the kitchen cooking and making every single thing from scratch. I was burned out in a bad way and I did a complete 180. So what happened? I went to the total other end of the spectrum. I guess you could say I went from relatively normal, to totally “healthy”, to all “aboard the Twinkie train” unhealthy.
I saw our health deteriorate and decline quickly.
Your body is pretty good about telling you what is good for you and not. Only you know what’s good for your body – and keep in mind it will vary from person to person! Don’t ask Google what are the 10 healthiest foods, because they might not be the best foods for you! I’ve seen people say everything under the sun. One person will tell you something is good for you – someone else will say it’s bad. Who do you trust? Seriously – think about that for a moment…who can you trust? Someone is always going to disagree with you!
To complicate matters, I wasn’t just targeting food.
We decided to do away with conventional cleaning supplies. I’m sure for a while the people at Sam’s Club thought I had a vinegar store I bought so much. From top to bottom, I was scrubbing and cleaning everything with white vinegar. But then I realized that I couldn’t stand the smell of vinegar!!! It was actually causing me to put off cleaning because I didn’t want the smell of vinegar in my house. So I jumped off that train too!
When I finally made positive changes that stuck, it was because I made one manageable change at a time.
If you can tackle one thing at a time and learn that thing well, you have the best chance of your new habit sticking. Just one thing at a time, y’all. You might think you are so busy that you can’t add one more thing to your plate. Maybe you may think you don’t have time for healthy eating right now, or to learn how to care for yourself more naturally. But guess what – you’ll make time if it is important to you.
Maybe you decide it’s time to give up soda (or pop, or Coke, or soft drinks…or whatever you call them where you are). Or maybe you want to take up jogging. Maybe your goal is to stop smoking or drinking. Just pick the one thing you 1) think you can actually accomplish and 2) believe will have a positive impact for you.
When I figured out this simple strategy, my first healthy change that I felt would do us the most good was making my own Kefir. (If you aren’t familiar, kefir is a fermented milk that’s loaded with probiotics.) Once I had that process down as a part of my routine, we next bought a Berkey Water Filter. Then I got a Nutrimill and started grinding our own wheat for flour. Doing all of those at once is overwhelming (and maybe even one of those from my list is overwhelming to you). The point is to make one healthy change, and do it consistently until it becomes a habit.
And I am here to tell you that you CAN make one small change!
People always overdo their New Year’s resolutions and end up not sticking with anything. I encourage you to pick ONE THING and stick with it. As soon as you get something under your belt and get good at it, then you can add something else. But if you try too many things at once, you’ll likely burn yourself out.
Simple Tip: Transfer Buying
We try to make things harder than they need to be. “Transfer buying” is a simple way to make one healthy switch at a time. Transfer buying is simply deciding that when you run out of something (soap, cleaning products, a particularly unhealthy food, etc.), and there is a better alternative available, buy the better thing instead of what you were previously buying.
Let’s take a simple example: when you’re running low on shampoo, search and find a product that is better, healthier, and less toxic. Buy a small bottle of that better product and give it a try. Running low on deodorant? Buy an aluminum free option instead! See? Simple! Don’t make it complicated.
We are at the point now where I have gotten rid of all the unhealthy cleaning products in our home – and that change has lasted.
I actually only use e-cloth and a single, plant-based household cleaner to clean everything in the house. And bonus – it doesn’t smell like vinegar around here anymore! So when you run out of Product X, buy a healthier version than you previously had. And then move on to something else.
Whether it’s in your kitchen, your bathroom, your cleaning closet – read your labels! Make educated choices on what you are buying. Don’t just go to what’s on sale or what you’ve got a coupon for. Take the time to see what ingredients are in the products you clean with, eat, and rub on your skin and hair!
Each healthy change we make builds on top of all the others. Each healthy choice that you succeed at helps you find the motivation to keep going. And that, my friends, is how to make healthy changes that will actually last.
I’d love your input: What healthy improvements have you implemented that you’ve been able to maintain?