Monday, January 31, 2011

Are you skinnier and more organized yet?

It's the last day of January. How many New Year's resolutions did you make and break? My record is perfect - zero made, zero broken. But, I've made changes! The following is a re-post of an entry I did earlier this month on my local support group's blog. I thought I'd recycle this one for the Caffeinated Autism Mom crowd. Find out why I don't make resolutions anymore. Enjoy! 

Well, here we are. It's 2011. Once again, it’s time to plan how we will fill the blank pages of a new year. I went out to shop some of the after Christmas sales and found that a majority of the stores already had made the move from Santa’s red and green Wonderland to the Pepto-Bismol pink glow of Valentine’s Day. Besides the change in holidays, I repeatedly saw items related to fitness and organization. There were stacks and rows of plastic storage tubs and boxes, wicker baskets, yoga mats, water bottles, heart rate monitors and more. Does everyone in the US resolve to the do same thing year after year? Get fit! Get organized!  Are we that predictable? 

I think so. I was one of those people. Every year I would resolve to be healthier, among other lofty and unattainable goals. Inevitably, I would disappoint myself. My resolutions were typically busted by the second week of January. What can I say? Willpower is not my forte.

Things changed for me about 5 years ago when my husband was diagnosed with lymphoma. For his 30th birthday, the gift he got was recuperation from surgery and the anticipation of chemotherapy and radiation. Needless to say, it was not a banner year for us. However, something happened to me that changed me forever. In my quest to help my husband, I opened my eyes, ears, and mind to things I never gave a second thought to before.

It was this forced awakening about things like toxic load that prepared me to make significant changes when we received the diagnosis for our boys. In learning about autism and changes I might need to make for our kids, I realized I’d done this before. It wasn’t as overwhelming the second time around. Yes, it sucks and it’s really hard, but I’m a combat veteran from cancer. I got this! At least I hoped I did.

Where to begin? Clean up your environment. What do you eat? What do you drink? What do you put on your body? What do you allow into your home? Changes are needed in droves! Cue the resolutions!

As I mentioned before, resolutions and I don’t usually get along. So instead of resolutions, I now make an agreement with my husband about what issue we want to take on over the course of a year. Then we set out to do the things necessary related to that issue. You know, accountability. Two heads are better than one. That kind of thing. And, these ideas are permanent changes that we incorporate into our lifestyle. Resolutions don’t work for us, but tangible planning in unison does. What does this look like in action, you ask? Well…

Three years ago we dealt with the air we breathe. We installed a hospital-grade whole house air filtration system. We also bought in-room air ionizers and several Himalayan salt lamps.

Two years ago, we tackled food and chemicals. We had already made the switch to mostly organic produce the year before, but then I made a newly concerted effort to buy exclusively organic products whenever possible. We’re talking organic grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, free-range organic poultry and eggs, replacing all of my spices with organic ones (which aren’t irradiated!), etc. We switched out all of our cleaning products, detergents, beauty products, etc., to ones that are plant-based, non-toxic and non-chemical. I even went so far as to carry the new standards over to my lawn and yard care products. Chemicals be gone!

Last year we focused on water. We installed charcoal filters on our shower heads to filter out the chlorine that our body was exposed to both topically and as a gas when we took a shower. We had already made the switch from tap water (chock full of fluoride and chlorine!) to spring water with naturally occurring minerals and a pH just a hair on the alkaline side of neutral. We used spring water for drinking and cooking, and typically went through a gallon a day, sometimes more. That gets expensive, especially when the government enacts a water tax on every ounce of bottled water you buy. As a result of the tax, something we’d talked about before as a “wouldn’t it be great?” item for the house became much more reasonable to entertain. We ran the numbers and decided to buy an atmospheric water generator. Yes folks, we make our own water from the air. It’s filtered in a multi-step process (reverse osmosis, UV, etc.), it adds minerals back in, and it has instant cold and instant hot spigots that you can set to whatever temperatures your heart desires. No more tea kettle for me! Now I water my plants with this water, we cook with it, we drink it, and not only is it good, we know it’s safe.

Now, we’re here at the dawn of 2011. What’s the plan for this year? We’re changing how we cook. I just bought some frying pans that don’t release PTFE when heated. The old non-stick pans are gone! I already acquired some cast iron and stainless steel pans over the past few years, and we’ve switched our daily usage containers from plastic to glass. We also took a big risk to our sense of convenience, and unplugged the microwave. I bought a toaster oven that has convection, and will use it to replace my dying toaster and my food-destroying microwave. It’s also large enough to replace my oven on most things (which will save energy). There will definitely be a learning curve here, as we’ve come to rely on the ease of tossing something into the microwave at the last minute. This change will require a little bit more planning and time, but we agree that it’s a good change and we’re willing to take the plunge.

The kinds of changes we’ve made at our house are much too intense to take on all at one time. By breaking things down into steps we can manage, we continue to better our household without incurring major sticker shock. It’s much easier and less overwhelming that way. I wonder what we’ll change for 2012? Who knows? I’ve got a whole year to think about it, and besides, I need to become an expert with my new style of cooking first.

Here’s to resolving to make permanent changes! Happy New Year!
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