People ask me quite often what I do to stay healthy, and what we do to keep our kids healthy. This is such a personal question because there are so many ways to take care of your health. Some people believe that eating a dairy-free diet is the key to good health, while others believe that vegetarianism is the key to staying healthy, and some people believe that cutting carbs alone will keep them healthy. “What do you do to keep healthy?” is a loaded question and the answer on the tip of my tongue could, quite literally, offend someone if my beliefs vary significantly from theirs.
It’s a lot like discussing parenting. 😉
But – because I keep getting the question of, “how do you do it?”, well, I’ll tell you!
I think it’s probably obvious by now that I am a “fitness junkie.” Friends describe me as an obsessive person who throws myself 100% into whatever it is I’m focused on at the time. I think they’re right. What really works out in my favor is that I like to focus on things for a very long time – years – which makes for long-term health success. Whether it be saving money, fine-tuning my fashion sense, feeding my family, or working out – I make a project or a game out of these things and focus on fine-tuning them until they’re just right for me.
When our son was about to be born, my husband and I talked a lot about how we were going to feed him. We were both pretty healthy eaters and had done lots of research on different lifestyles and diets and were pretty sold on the paleo lifestyle for many reasons. We truly believe that gluten and processed foods are not meant for our systems and that it’s probably best to limit those things and focus on a whole-food approach to eating. We chose to raise our children as close to this diet as possible and for the first two years of our older son’s life, he ate nothing but whole foods that were prepared by me – I made his baby food, which was actually really fun, and he ate only dairy that was made with whole milk (we did buy his dairy products). We were very strict with him, to the point of aggravating our parents. Our son is still a terrific eater who yes, eats his fair share of unhealthy food, but has still to this day never had a fried chicken strip/nugget, macaroni and cheese, PB&J, or grilled cheese sandwich. We’ve offered these things to him, but he has no interest. I consider that winning. Our younger son, well, we lost the battle early when his grandparents fed him nothing but toast for 4 days while we were in Colorado. You win some, you lose some, and you move on.
At home, we cook nothing but whole foods. We buy nothing that is processed (besides broth, black beans, condiments) and we cook fresh vegetables every night. We have never brought white potatoes into our house and we only buy bread or crackers on special occasions (for fancy cheese – we love good cheese!). We use onions, apples, and pears as fillers instead of bread crumbs when mixing up ground meat and butter lettuce is our go-to for buns. It sounds quite complicated, but it’s very simple – because it’s just how we do things. I enjoy cooking and I really enjoy presenting my family with home-cooked meals. We did something different this year and purchased a quarter hog from my friend who raises free-range hogs and chickens. It is amazing how different the free-range pork tastes, and her chickens are fantastic (we buy 10 whole chickens every 6 months or so). For beef, we almost always buy grass-fed beef and we really enjoy using ground bison for a change of pace.
I came home from the grocery store the other day, thinking about this post, and started sorting my groceries when I noticed how unbalanced things were. Mostly fresh foods, just a few prepared foods as basic ingredients, and no chips or crackers. That’s pretty much how it always is when I run to the store. I took photos of my refrigerator and pantry without organizing them – I just opened them up and snapped photos so I could evaluate them for myself. I was pretty happy with what we have going on.
It’s really important to us that our kids grow up healthy and strong. My husband and I met in an extreme fitness class and working out was a major pillar of our relationship. We really want our kids to grow up active and healthy and we believe it all starts with setting a great example for them. We talk about exercise with them almost daily and my younger son enthusiastically goes for runs with me in the BOB stroller. They both love to watch me run on the treadmill and they’ll jump in and do workout videos with me. I think our focus on health is working out because they both ask to go for bike rides on a daily basis “to get some exercise” and they work until they’re winded and I need to push them home. 🙂
To keep myself healthy, I do one major thing – I keep changing it up! When it comes to exercise, I cannot let myself get bored so I set out my goals for 8-10 weeks at a time and get to it. Sometimes I focus on my running, other times I focus on variety. Right now, I’m focusing on bringing more strength and flexibility into my life while not decreasing my weekly running distance. I do whatever it takes to keep things interesting. I hold myself accountable by checking in daily on my blog and updating the important stats. It’s really important to me to record everything because there have been times when I’ve looked back to see what was working for me at a particular time that maybe I should consider doing again if I get into a slump.
There are things that I should be doing to further improve my family’s and my own health. There are so many toxins in our air, so many pollutants that we come into contact with that we don’t even think about. I think of things like second-hand smoke and carbon monoxide and I protect my kids from those on a daily basis, but radon has never been on my radar. I hadn’t even heard about radon being a concern until my friend was selling her house and the inspectors got after her about some barely elevated levels. We laughed about it, but it turns out it’s not something to laugh about. Asbestos, which is so deadly and causes mesothelioma, also known as “asbestos cancer,” was quite important to us when we were buying this home and is the main reason for us choosing a home built after 2000. We will never live in an old house for a lot of reasons (oh the maintenance!) but asbestos is at the top of that list. I do wonder what other materials were used in our house that will be determined to be toxic in a decade or two.
Being healthy is a choice, and it’s an individual choice. How I choose to be healthy is what works for me and for our family. I hope that maybe you found a little nugget in this post that can help you be a healthier you!