Monday, 3 December 2012

Crunchier by the Day

The word 'crunchy' gets tossed around a lot these days.  Especially in this little town we live in, people seem to gravitate towards healthier lifestyles, more natural diets, and living green.  It's nice to see the effort the whole community puts into these endeavours.  In the big city sure there are crunchy people, but there are just as many non-crunchy people so it's easy to blend in with the pack and get away with not trying so hard.  It doesn't make you feel so bad to not live healthier and greener when so many people around you aren't doing it either.  Here on the other hand, there's almost like a bit of 'pressure' to live a crunchy lifestyle.  It's not a bad thing in many ways, though I'm not a big fan of being pressured into anything.  Still, seeing the people around us make positive changes has helped us get on the bandwagon as well, and make more positive changes in our own lives.
When I look back to how I have lived my life over these past 31 years, I can see a definite upwards slope in the right direction.  It has been gradual though, the change has not happened overnight.  I think back to how much fast food we used to eat, and how much we used to eat at restaurants.  Then I think back to how much processed food we used to buy, and I would tell myself that we were 'eating healthy' because we were eating at home and not out at a restaurant, but the truth is all that boxed and packaged stuff was just as bad. 
It's hard to pinpoint such changes when they happen gradually, and only looking back can I really see how far we've come.  I know the first thing many people think of when they're faced with making  huge lifestyle and diet changes for the better, is that it is too overwhelming.  And so they do nothing at all.  I have felt that way too, I have felt that it is easier to stay on the path I'm already on than to tackle all these changes.
The thing is, you don't have to change everything at once.  Start small with just one thing, whether it is changing your household cleaners from chemical to natural ones, or cutting out one item of junk from your diet.  Then when that becomes second nature, make another change.  You'd be astonished to realize how much change can happen in a short period of time if you just take it one step at a time.
For quite awhile now I have been wary of calling ourselves 'crunchy'.  There are so many variations and levels of crunchiness out there, and it seems that the extreme people who run the pack set very high standards.  While we had done so many things to improve our life and try and leave the world a little greener, it always seemed like we still could not match those who went all out.  It can be a little discouraging to be trying as hard as *you* can and yet someone else is still doing so much more.  I have learned to use those people as a motivation to keep striving to be a better, healthier, greener family but not be setback because I'm not doing all the same things as them.  I am also happy and comfortable with all the positive changes we have made as a family, and I know there are still lots more to be made but like I said we are making them one step at a time.  Rome wasn't built in a day, as they say.
So I am going to do it, I'm going to officially say we are a 'crunchy' family.  And I'm proud of it.  We may not be able to tick off every single checkbox yet, but we can tick off more than most.  I'd put us on a 7 out of 10 on the crunchy scale.  Hey, that's not half bad!
I don't really believe in living in extremes, so we may never be there 100%, but I'm ok with that.  Extreme diets, extreme opinions, that kind of stuff isn't for me.  I just want to do what's right for my family.  And we'll continue to do more.  Like I said, when I look back at how our lives used to be, even just a few years ago, I can't believe how far we've come. 
We use cloth diapers, which I wish I had done from the start because I now cringe at the thought of all those disposibles lying in a landfill.  I try to hang all my laundry year round to reduce the amount I have to use the dryer.  I am very conscious of energy and water use.  We're working on buying more locally, and buying healthier food.  The amount of food that we buy organic has increased a lot over the years.  Most recently we have cut out about 95% of packaged and processed foods we were buying.  We have been doing well with avoiding junk food in general but were still buying a lot of packaged snacks like cereal bars, granola, crackers, and chips (sticking to natural and organic brands, but the bottom line is organic junk food is still junk food).  Now we are making much of this stuff our own.  The only thing I am still really buying in a box is cereal, just to have something on hand.  But I am ok with that. 
Next step is I want to look into the Collingwood Food Co-op that has been in the works here for a few months.  I've kept an eye on it with interest and I think it's something we will join in the not too distant future so that we can continue to buy locally.
And of course we have been growing a lot of our own food, and continue to do so with winter crops in our hoop house.
Let's not forget my ongoing mission to lead a more active lifestyle through daily fitness.  I want to be a role model for my kids so that they see how important exercise is to overall health.  I want them to grow up enjoying being active, and not being couch potatoes. 
Another aspect that has really brought us around to this whole crunchy lifestyle, is taking a very holistic approach when it comes to our overall health.  Over the past few years we have started using more natural health practitioners like chiropractors, osteopaths, and naturopathic doctors to help us with our goals of becoming healthier individuals.  We have learned so much about what it means to be healthy from the inside out, and now I am such a firm believer in taking care of your body and treating it with respect.  Too often we see the situation of people going to their doctors with problems and the doctors are treating the symptoms and not the causes, and therefore people's health issues are never really resolved.  This is what happened to Tyler with his digestive issues, for years doctors dismissed him and treated the symptoms, when the solution really came from within:  a better diet and taking better care of himself altogether.  And too often still I see people who suffer from multiple issues that they treat as separate problems, when really it is one big problem, for example a food allergy or intolerance.  But they refuse to believe that the problem could be the very food they are eating, and still seek medical advice and then are given medication after medication to treat the problems.  It actually makes me quite sad.
We love our chiropractor.  We really believe it is part of helping our bodies be healthy.  A healthy body doesn't need medicine to heal itself, it is perfectly capable as long as we take care of it and let it do it's job.
I'm so happy to say that since we have started living this way we have had far less sickness in our house, and when a bug does pass through it passes quickly and without much issue.  My kids get the sniffles and that's about it.  None of them have every had a vomiting or gastro bug.  I know kids that are sick all the time, and even Tristan's teachers have commented on how he is rarely sick compared to other children.  Some people may say we are lucky, I say luck has nothing to do with it.
When it comes to products in the home, whether they are cleaning products or health and beauty ones, I used to feel so overwhelmed at the thought of changing over to more natural brands, especially because of the cost.  But again, we started changing one thing at a time and now we pretty much exclusively use natural products in our home.  When it comes to cleaning, I am far more afraid of chemicals in cleaning products than I am of germs.  When it comes to beauty, I believe less is more.  I used to buy and wear so much makeup, and buy so many skin care products.  Now I have hardly any.  I have stopped using nail polish because I can't see how having that toxic stuff around is any good.  I use very few skincare products compared to the past, and rarely wear makeup anymore.  And I'm ok with all of this, I'm comfortable in my own skin.  Even for my children, I put very little on their skin.
I think I could sit and think of lots of little changes we have made that I am proud of but I'm just about out of time for now.
Obviously I've had a lot to say on this topic, and I say it not with the intention of trying to change other people's minds (I actually don't care for people who go on and on about their healthier choices with the obvious intent of guilting others into doing the same), but because I am proud of what we have done for ourselves.  And I look forward to more 'crunchy' choices that we will make in the future.

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