Saturday, January 10, 2015

Healthy Changes for the New Year

Disclosure: Some of the links included in this post are affiliate links. That means that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Thanks for your support of The Purposeful Wife!

The year is new, the slate is clean, and January is the perfect month to reflect on lifestyle changes you might like to make in the coming days and weeks ahead.

If you're feeling lost or overwhelmed by the prospects, I'd like to underwhelm you: choose just one little change to make. A change that will create significant impact without killing your will power. As that one little change becomes a habit, pick another to make, and go from there. One little step each day, one day at a time.

If you're looking for ideas, I have a spring board here for you. None of these are definite prescriptions- I don't know your personal challenges, struggles, or family structure... they are only meant to be a starting point- to give you fresh inspiration for a healthier, happier day-to-day. Quite a few of them are changes I've already made, while another large chunk are habits I want to develop in my own life. No one has arrived yet, least of all me.

Here's to a healthy New Year!


1. Make your own yogurt. Probiotics provide excellent support for your immune system, among other things. The sugary stuff you find in the store is often expensive, and usually less than ideal for your health. This is my favorite recipe.

2. Make your own vegetable broth. One of my favorite life hacks, ever {thank you, Katie, if you are reading this...}! When your veggies are getting a little withery, throw them in a Ziploc in your freezer. When making salads or stir fries, add carrot peels, ends and stubs of veggie cuts, all of the parts of a vegetable that you don't necessarily eat {though they are still perfectly good} to your freezer bag. When your bag is full, simply throw the contents into a big stock pot, cover in water, add some seasonings, and simmer for a few hours. Strain the liquid, and voila! A vegetable stock you can use in all of your homemade soups. Freeze in jars and thaw out as needed. Now you are no longer throwing away vegetable scraps!

3. Make your own chicken broth. Another easy way to use what you already have to make something nutritious for your family's consumption. The next time you roast a chicken, don't throw out the carcass! Cover it with water, add seasonings and a spoonful of lemon juice or vinegar {to draw out the good stuff from the bones}, and cook for at least 12 hours. I often set this up in my crock-pot before going to bed. The smell isn't my favourite to wake up to, so I just plug it in on my covered porch. Freeze in glass jars or ziplocs after straining bones out.

4. Take a daily power nap. Lay down and set the timer for 15 or 20 minutes. I just close my eyes and try to shut down my brain. You probably won't want to get up when the timer goes off, but a few minutes after you do get up you will be surprised at the wave of energy that hits you. This is one of my top motherhood survival tricks!

5. Drink more water. Yes, we all know we need to. But how? Mireille Guillano {author of French Women Don't Get Fat} recommends taking one large glass before bed, and one as soon as you wake up. This will help your body to clear toxins, sleep better, and wake up refreshed. I love that this formula lends itself to an easily remembered and adopted routine! Although, if you are pregnant, you might want to skip that before bed glass ;).

6. Pick one thing to buy organic. Few people have the means to go on a totally organic diet. But most people could afford to change one thing! Maybe pick one of the dirty dozen to buy only organic from now on. Because my local super market has a great price on their store brand organic carrots and baby spinach, I buy them almost every week. It is very affordable, and very worth it!


7. Try the oil cleansing method of face wash. I began washing my face this way last January, and I am never going back! It is healthy, non-toxic, very cheap, and feels luxurious. So much of a pampering treat, you will hardly feel like you worked to change something!

8. Stop buying soda. If you don't buy it, you can't drink it. Replace it with sparkling water and limes, or something that makes you feel pampered and refreshed, without wrecking havoc on your insides. Modern Mrs. Darcy's post on quitting Diet Coke might be of encouragement to those of you who can't imagine a day without soda.

9. Start taking a quality multi-vitamin. True story- I started taking a Rainbow Light multivitamin several months ago... and my horrible PMS symptoms vanished all together. While I am no scientist or nutrition expert, there is something to be said for that!

10. Stretch daily. Even just for a few minutes. When you get out of bed, touch your toes, then reach up to the sky. While I no longer regularly practice yoga, I try to incorporate several of the stretches into my day-to-day. They quickly energize me, and my back is so much happier when I stretch it semi-frequently.


11. Eat more veggies. Try to incorporate something green at every meal- a little bit of chopped bell pepper in your eggs, a small salad with lunch, steamed veggies at dinner. Nothing major- just be mindful about it.

12. Cut sugar. Back in 2012, my homeopath sister-in-law informed me that this was the number one, most important thing I could do to turn around my health. Three years later, I think I am finally ready to do something about it and take the plunge.

13. Walk every day. Another recommendation from French Women Don't Get Fat. Try to walk for at least 30 minutes every day. Throw your kiddos in the stroller, or go for a family walk after dinner. This is a habit that I struggle with- sometimes with great success, and other times not so much. Winter can be especially hard. Hit up the mall or the supermarket... just try to get those steps in!

14. Make your own cream soups. One of the last fake-food hold outs in my kitchen, cream of mushroom and cream of chicken have got to go this year.

15. Try oil-pulling. Trina has heavily influenced me on this one, and I would really like to try this alternate tooth care approach. My faith in modern dentistry has faltered over the last few years, so this might be the way to go.

16. Switch to a healthier deodorant. Homemade just didn't cut it for me, so at the suggestion from many of you on Facebook, I gave the Crystal deodorant stick a try. I've had mixed results, but I'm strongly considering this armpit detox to see if it boosts my success. Crazy, or no?


17. Get fresh air every day. It's amazing the difference a little bit of fresh air and sunlight can make. Even if its only for a couple of minutes, step outside and walk around a bit, drinking in the view. Make sure your kids are getting fresh air daily too!

18. Have healthy snacks on hand. I love this idea from Pinterest for stashing healthy, ready-to-go snacks. Great ideas include nuts, fruit, pre-cut veggies, and hard boiled eggs.

19. Say no to kids screen time. I don't know about you, but after just a little bit of time in front of the t.v, my kids are super cranky. When kids are watching television, they are missing out on creative play time and exploration of their world. After a long, nasty illness, and our overseas Christmas, our t.v. time has gotten a bit out of control. I plan on majorly scaling back as soon as we get home! Art projects, reading books, playing games, and going outside are all great alternatives.

20. No eating after dinner. This has become such an entrenched habit for me. Instead of snacking right before bed, I plan on drinking water to fill me up, and just going to bed early. Speaking of...

21. Go to bed when you feel tired. So hard to do, but so important! Instead of waiting for that second wind to keep you up all hours, just tuck in early. Getting good rest makes us better, happier moms who are better equipped to handle the stresses a day can bring.


22. Read a book instead of your phone. Number one from this article, "How To Read More Books," hits the nail on the head- "Throw your phone in the ocean." Ha! While I don't necessarily recommend such a drastic measure, putting your phone down is almost always advisable.

23. Memorize Scripture. The Bible is full of commands to meditate on God's Words. Scripture is our first defense against sin and temptation, and our encouragement and hope for each day. If you are looking for a system to help you memorize, I have used this one in the past with success.

24. Try grain soaking. Grain soaking is a great way to make bread products easier for your body to digest, and it helps to make the nutrients more readily accessible. To my shame, I've only attempted one of the recipes on my grain soaking list. This year, I hope to make greater traction!

25. Read the Scriptures daily. If reading the Bible isn't a usual part of your daily life {if we're honest, most of us probably miss a day here and there}, can I encourage you to make this habit top priority in the New Year? God's Word contains everything that we need for life and godliness. It teaches us all about the God who created and sustains us, and helps us to grow in relationship to Him. Find a Bible reading plan and start working through it- I personally use the McCheyne plan, and have enjoyed using the ReadingPlan App.


Also, if you'd like to start reading the Bible to your kids, I've designed the perfect resource for you- a year's worth of topical plans with passages from both the Old and New Testaments. The passages are short, selected with toddlers and preschoolers in mind {though older kids can certainly benefit too!}. You can check it out right here.

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