Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Health Journey

It's been a while now since my family and I have started on our journey to a more happy and natural life. It really has been a journey, with big changes and small changes, with a lot of trial and error, hits and misses, wins and losses, and with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. It can feel overwhelming and all consuming at times because for the most part, I don't know what the heck I'm doing. I know what I want to do and what changes I want to make, but not always how to go about it. It's all part of the journey. As long as we just keep chugging along, growing with knowledge, making changes here and there when we can, I'm happy. 

My first step to a more happy and natural life started with Timothy's home water birth. That was an amazing experience that I would do again in a heartbeat were we to have another child. From there, joining the farmers market with that community of people sharing their knowledge of fresh produce and homemade products....it really started to open up our eyes to some of our not-so-great decisions. As our knowledge grew, so did our ambitions to do better.

Food wise in our home, over the past few years, it's slowly been out with the bad and in with the good! We've really worked hard on this this past year. Definitely still a work in progress and we're not perfect, but we have done well to overhaul what is in our home. All good changes take time and I'm happy with the progress we have made! Fruits and veggies are always in abundance here. We purchase organic when possible. We get our eggs from our neighbors when we can and purchase our beef from my friend and her family who raise cattle. A garden is on my long to-do list, I just feel swamped with getting that going. At least I've got raspberries growing in there! Thankfully our friends and neighbors share their bounty with us when they have surplus and we truly appreciate their produce going towards all of our canning fun! 

We purchase far less pre-packaged foods than before. We have replaced a lot of items with healthier versions and have just done away with some things all together that were just poor choices to start with. I've replaced the boxed and canned lunches with homemade versions; like my homemade stove top mac and cheese and my homemade spaghettio's.  We try for more full, healthy fats and less refined sugar. We never eat fast food anymore. We plan accordingly and pack a lunch or make the time for a proper sit down meal at a restaurant. Soda and juice are completely gone from our home, though those were things that were very limited in our home anyway, even before Timothy was born. Water and hot brewed tea are the house favorites. 

Of course, we still love our treats and sweets. I don't go without my dark chocolate, and my kiddos get my famous chocolate chip cookies on special occasions, but in general, we are doing better with limiting the sweets. We talk openly with the kids about making good choices and I'm proud when I see them make a good choice at home and even while out and about! Yahoo! 

All in all, I'd say we're doing mighty fine!

After making changes to what we put in our bodies, I wanted to make changes to what we put on our bodies. My adventure with diy beauty and toiletry products all started with foaming hand soap and essential oils. A year ago I attended an essential oils class with two friends where we made our own foaming hand soap.  That led to making my own toothpaste, deodorant, armpit detox, Epsom salt bath soaks, and sugar body scrubs. I've tried my hand at lotion and body wash as well, though I haven't been able to find a recipe I like for those that work for me the way I'd like them to. Ideally, in time, I would like to make the majority of our beauty, toiletry, and health items, but finding the right recipe, or the right combination of ingredients that works with your body and suits your needs takes time and patience. It's a trial and error process, taking lots of research, time, and the initial investment of proper, healthy ingredients. You can find the homemade toothpaste recipe here. It's my top favorite diy product. It's done a great job with whitening my teeth, I love it! 

Shortly after my first round of diy's, I progressed to other aspects of natural body care....

Every morning I wash my face with local raw honey I purchase here in Goldendale at the Gristmill. Every night I wash my face with an olive oil and castor oil mixture. This is the method I use. I have "combination skin," on my face, which means my face is dry and itchy, but I get oily quickly at the same time. Weird. You wouldn't think that using oil to wash your face would help with this issue, but it does! The oil mixture is super moisturizing, helping with my dry skin. For whatever reason, over time, I saw a decrease in the amount of oil my skin made throughout the day. So now I have well moisturized skin with significantly reduced oil. Nice. Witch hazel is also worked into my facial routine every now and again. I go sans makeup when I'm not leaving the house....which is most days. If the money ever flows in, I've found a line of natural makeup I'd like to try, since I do enjoy wearing makeup when I'm out and about.

Most recently, I've started dry brushing my body and face, which I've read is super good for softening skin, circulation, and lots of other things. I'm enjoying that and excited to see what, if any, benefits come from that. You can read about dry brushing here. And this is the body brush I have. 

When I don't have what's needed to make something or when I'm not sure I could pull it off right, I try to purchase homemade from others. Like the healing salve I use for cuts and burns, soap, bug spray, sun screen, and lotion bars. I've also got some magnesium spray my friend made me.

When I can't make it and can't buy it from someone, I at least try my best to buy as all natural and chemical free as possible. I've changed up our soap/body wash, shampoo, conditioner, baby powder, baby butt cream, eczema cream, kids' toothpaste, mouthwash, lotion, hair de-tangler, and switched to all cotton feminine products. I've had good luck with The Honest Company and their products and I really like Dr Bronner's products as well!

Physical health wise, Sam has been smoke free for almost a year now, has dropped a ton of weight, and has become a kick-ass runner. Even the kids run with him for a short distance, which is super awesome. As for me, I've gotten into yoga and most recently have started following some home work-out videos that I'm really enjoying. My biggest goal is to reduce stress, reduce pain in my back, shoulders, and neck, and gain energy so I can feel less fatigued. I'm enjoying the little changes here and there with my body that comes along with it too. 

I also made it a point to get to a physical therapist for my wrists. I was taught wrist exercises/stretches and things I can do when I have a flair up of pain from too much camera time, computer time, or time spent painting. Along with that, it's been stressed to me the importance of saying no when I honestly feel like I can't do something because of my wrist pain. I hope to get better with saying no....because that two letter word is pivotal to my mental and emotional health as well!  

As far as the home goes, there's been changes there as well. We have a Himalayan salt lamp in every room. They are suppose to cleanse and purify the air, among other things. You can read more about them here or here. Whether they do all they claim to, I'm not 100% sure, but I do love the ambient glow they give off and they make the best night lights for the kids. I also invested in an essential oil diffuser. I use this instead of candles and I love it. Lavender is my favorite essential oil to diffuse and I can feel my sour mood lighten and myself chill out when I have it on. I purchased the Green Air Aromatherapy Ultrasonic Essential Diffuser and love it!  Most recently that one in particular has gotten some bad reviews saying that after a while the bottles don't stay put up in the diffuser, and I'm having the same issue with my smaller bottles of essential oils, but when that happens, I just put a flat rock under the bottle to leverage it up and all is well. Nothing to freak and complain about when the product as a whole is wonderful and is the type of diffuser you want, not the one that uses water to dilute the essential oils. 

For home cleaning, I decided to try my hand at making some of my own cleaning products, like an all-purpose cleaner, a window cleaner, and an air freshener. I purchase greener versions of dish detergent, laundry detergent, and toilet cleaner....though making them myself would be awesome; I just haven't taken that leap yet. For Christmas I got wool dryer balls so I could get rid of the dryer sheets and I love them!

We've gotten rid of all of our plastic storage containers and made the switch to glass and metal. I also overhauled the kids' lunch gear and switched to stainless steel drinking thermoses, lunch containers, silverware, and cotton reusable napkins and sandwich bags so I don't have to use throw-away plastic bags. I also purchased a few hot-cold thermoses so they can take hot items to school and still have them be hot for lunch! This opens up a whole new lunch menu for them which I know is greatly appreciated. 

Well there you have it! Those are the changes we have slowly made food wise over the course of 3 years and the beauty, home, and physical changes we've made over the course of 1 year. There is still so many things I want to do, products I want to make, and changes left to be made, but I am very pleased with the changes my family and I have made thus far. It's a journey I'm glad we started and I'm excited to see where it leads us in the future! Upwards and onwards. I couldn't be more proud of my family! 

With love,
Mama Hauck

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