Simplify Food Choices: Not So Simple

Simplifying food choices is proving to be not so simple. I was pretty strong until now. I’ve stocked my pantry with rice cakes instead of bread, I hadn’t wanted sugar in days, I don’t even think about dairy anymore… And then Valentine’s Day happened.

My two oldest boys came home from school with a bag full of goodies. Today all 3 boys came home from church with another bag full of candy… and chocolate. I do miss chocolate, y’all. And then I did it. I bypassed my usual routine I do to fight sugar cravings, and I ate a pink heart shortbread cookie. Then I ate a chocolate candy (to which I thought, These aren’t as good as I remember), and then I ate another chocolate candy hoping it would be as good as I remembered. It wasn’t.

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Then I was mentally beating myself up the rest of the evening. Y’all, I can’t do that anymore! And I’m not talking about the chocolate candy here… I’m talking about beating myself up for eating the chocolate candy. I am not a failure for eating the cookie and candy. I made a poor choice. So what? Move on, sister. By all means, don’t degrade yourself for it!

Why is it so easy for me to criticize myself for making the wrong choices, and yet it’s so difficult to give myself a pat on the back for making the right choices? Geez, I conquered the temptation yesterday of eating all the sweets, I haven’t had a flour tortilla in 17 days (which is a miracle in South Texas. Tortillas are life, y’all), heck even making the choice to eat fruit this morning instead of the cookies that were mocking me. I didn’t give myself a thumbs up for that. I need to do that more often. Focus more on the positives, and less on the negatives.

As I get ready for bed, I am excited for a new day. A new day where I can make one healthy choice after another. That’s how change happens. One step at a time. One choice at a time. One small action at a time. This time I will recognize the change taking place, and I’ll give myself a mental fist pump, high five, or chest bump with each nourishing bite. Because I’m worth it.

Let’s encourage each other. What changes are you taking to better your health?

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Simplify: Food Choices

I need to be honest. I’m not really looking forward to this portion of my Simplify series. I actually intended on waiting until later in the year to this, so I could just keep on eating the crap I’m addicted to. But, part of my team is doing a cleanse right now, which really just includes clean eating and a few doTERRA supplements. I know these things are usually easier when done in a community, so I wanted to jump on this opportunity.

Now, I’m not doing the “cleanse” part. Even though doTERRA provides a very gentle and safe cleanse, it’s not recommended while pregnant or nursing. Your body already has a high demand during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so there is no need to cause any additional stress. Although, I do have to say, I take doTERRA’s Lifelong Vitality pack as my pre and postnatal multivitamin and I’ve had amazing results.

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So, what does this month look like for me? Basically, I’m going to simplify my food choices. If I can’t pronounce it, I won’t eat it. If it came from a cow, I won’t eat it. If it’s made in a lab (think: refined flours and sugar/sweeteners), I won’t eat it. BUT what I will do is eat more vegetables and fruits. I will eat more Godmade food, and take out the manmade foods. I will explore different grains other than flour. I will try new recipes, and create new habits.

I actually started this on January 29th so I could make it a solid 30 days, instead of a random 28. Why does February only have 28 days? I just liked the way 30 sounded better than 28. I know, I’m weird. All that to say, it’s been 10 days of clean eating.

Giving up sugar was the most difficult during the first 3 days. After that, my mind just switched to FEED ME ALL THE BREAD. I’ve realized much of what I eat on a daily basis is just habit. Normally when I make the kids’ sandwiches, I’ll eat a bite of it. When I put pretzels in a snack bag for them, I’ll take a couple for myself. (I may have spit one out the other day when I realized what I was doing!) I eat pasta at least once a week because it’s convenient and I have a homemade tomato sauce we all love. I got used to eating a flour tortilla while cooking tacos. I made a habit of always eating a bowl of cereal at night because I felt like I deserved it at the end of the day. So much refined flour. Hello, my name is Amanda, and I am a bread junkie.

I’ve made some changes now that are becoming my habit. I’ve stopped packing as much grains for my kids’ lunches. Now it’s not a sandwich and pretzels, it’s a sandwich and an apple or orange. I make zoodles for myself instead of traditional pasta noodles. Instead of eating flour tortillas, I eat the clean taco toppings (ground turkey or black beans, pico de gallo, and guac… so good!) on a bed of greens. They’re small changes, but that’s how change happens. I’m creating new habits. It’s not perfect, but it’s progress.

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Cutting out dairy has not really been a challenge, although I totally spaced during the Super Bowl and put cheese on my chili. I also forgot last week and tried a sample of Fro Yo, then thought Why does this taste like heaven? Then I remembered I hadn’t had sugar or dairy in days. Don’t worry though, I didn’t eat a cup! I threw away the unfinished sample, and tried to ignore my mind screaming at me to eat the freakin fro yo while everyone around me enjoyed it.

I’m pretty excited to see what’s to come. I’m already noticing small changes for the better. I’m not craving sugar nearly as often. Usually I don’t want it unless I see it. My mind is still obsessed with bread, but I’m hopeful that this will change as well. I’m excited to try different grains and create new habits. Stay tuned for another update soon!

Have you gone gluten free? Sugar free? Dairy free? Share some success tips with us!

Simplify: Garage Sale

Our garage was full. It was overflowing. Overflowing with the clothes I had gone through, the books that hadn’t been read in years, a jogging stroller that hadn’t held babies in months, and just your typical clutter that piles up when you live somewhere for 5 years with 4 kids.

That’s when I decided it was time. It was time for a good ol’ fashion garage sale. I have to say, it was really successful. I knew I didn’t want to have one of those all weekend garage sales; I wanted to do a one day 4 hour garage sale and be done with it. So that’s exactly what I did. Now, I’m going to give you a few tips to help your garage sale be successful and relatively painless.

1. Get your kids out of the house: My husband and father in law were gracious enough to take the boys to the aquarium while we held the garage sale.

2. Call in reinforcements: We happened to have the garage sale while my in laws were in town, so my mother in law stayed behind to help me with the garage sale, and help out when baby Sarah needed to be fed. Also, my sister Sarah (not to be confused with my baby Sarah) helped to man the garage sale. They were a great help, and we got to get in a little girl time, which is always nice!

3. Pick your day wisely: If there is a big, local event going on in your area, it’s probably not a good idea to have a garage sale at the same time. Try and see if anyone else is having garage/yard/estate sales in your area, because that will generate some more traffic for you. We happened to also have an estate sale going on in my neighborhood, which brought in a lot of traffic.

4. Advertise: You can kind of run with this as much or as little as you want to. I posted on some local Buy/Sell/Trade Facebook pages in my area, I posted on my own social media pages, and I put signs in my neighborhood directing them to the house. To me, that was all a quick and cheap way to advertise. I didn’t post pictures or prices of anything, mainly because I didn’t want to spend my time snapping and uploading pictures.

5. Price it Right: People are going to haggle with you at garage sales. It’s part of the game. You have to know what you’re willing to let something for go. If it was something I knew I’d have multiple people interested in (like my cloth diaper stash) I didn’t really do a lot of discounting there because I knew there were moms coming specifically for that. Other things like books/clothes/shoes I was willing to part with for a cheap price because I just wanted it gone. Also, we slashed a lot of prices the last hour of the garage sale because we just didn’t want to move it again!

Overall, I consider our garage sale a success. We made more than what I was projecting (woo hoo!). We got rid of the majority of our stuff. Mainly the only things we were left with were clothes and books. I loaded the trunk of our Corolla up and went straight to Goodwill with it. And now, we can actually fit that Corolla in the garage! Imagine that, using a garage for a vehicle instead of stuff.

Your turn! Have you had a garage sale before? What are some tips can you to have a successful sale?

Simplify: Books and Toys

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As a mom of 4 kids, we have a plethora of books and toys. I decided that would be the next place to start purging. I began with my own book collection. I didn’t attach a number to them, and I probably never will, but I did tell myself this: If I never went back and picked up the book again, don’t keep it. I had 10 books left by the time I was done. And y’all, I’m a reader. I’ve always loved to read. So, previously, I would hang on to books I thought were okay or books by famous authors that I thought maybe I’d appreciate later. Not anymore! I had also been hanging on to books from my psychology program that I’d never gone back to read. I only kept 1 of my psychology books, and again it was one I enjoyed reading. I said goodbye to Freud, Skinner, and behavioral therapy, and I kept Jung. I filled up an entire plastic tub of books. It was pretty liberating.

As far as my kids’ books, I decided to leave room for 2 bookshelves of books. On the top shelf we have books for the “older” boys, and on the bottom we have board books. It still looks like quite a bit, but I know in a couple of years those board books will be gone. I currently have a large box filled with kids books. I’m wondering what the best option would be now. Should I sell them? Or donate them? I’d like to donate them, but I haven’t done much research on that. If anyone has any insights on this, please comment below and share your knowledge!

My boys had so many toys they forgot about half of the toys they did have in their room. My goal was just to keep enough toys where I could see them all. I got all their toys out of boxes, put their favorite ones on the shelf, and got rid of what couldn’t fit. Also, I did put some of the noise making toys in the garage sale, because there’s only so much this mom can take. Bulky items like Halloween costumes that they still play with, we put in clear plastic bins on the floor in their closets. Then they can see them and easily get to them when they decide they want to turn into a dragon, giraffe or Paw Patrol character.

If I’m being honest, my boys still have what seems to be an insane amount of toys. Against their bedroom walls are bins of Legos, Mega Blocks, wooden blocks, alphabet blocks, and squishy cloth blocks. I really don’t think they need that many blocks. I could probably do another sweep in their room and come out with more stuff, but for now I’m done. Mainly because this purge has taken up a lot of my time these past couple of weeks!

We did have a garage sale, which is an adventure in and of itself, but I’ll post more on that later! In the meantime, live simply and contently my friends!

I must know: What tips can you share with parents on how to decide what toys to keep or what toys to toss?

Simplify: Clothing Choices

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I wasn’t expecting this. I was expecting to watch a documentary on Netflix that would lead me to question the way I buy clothes for my family… But I did watch the documentary, and it did cause me to rethink the way I buy clothes.

Like most families, my family is on a budget. So much so, that we don’t even have a budget line for clothes because there are other things we prioritize putting in the budget: like food, and paying off debt… and tacos. Seriously we have set a budget to get breakfast tacos on Sunday morning. Priorities, y’all.

Ok, back on track. So, I’m looking on Netflix for something to watch, and I like to learn new things, so I’m usually watching a documentary on Netflix when I choose to watch something. After watching every single food documentary on Netflix, I picked The True Cost. It was something different. Something to take my mind off of the fact that I’ve considered adopting a vegan lifestyle about 1,017 times but haven’t taken the blunge yet. This documentary caused me to think about another lifestyle change.

It opened up my eyes to truly see how our demands for cheap, fast clothing has caused so many others to lose out on a fair wage, decent working conditions, and in some cases their own lives. I urge you to watch it.

I was also enlightened about everything involved in the different materials of clothing. I’m pretty careful about the foods I purchase for my family, the products I use to clean our home, and the way I care for my family’s health. I try to stick with organic and nontoxic products, but I never considered my family’s clothing to be a source of toxic material. I mean, it’s cotton, right?! What could be wrong with cotton? I never knew that the majority of our clothes are made from GMO toxic cotton. I never knew the amount of pesticides used to spray on the crops and the surrounding areas affected by the residues of those pesticides, seeping in their water supply, in the air, and in our clothes.

What does this mean for me? I don’t exactly know, I can’t answer that right now. I do know that now I’m asking questions like: What’s in the material of this cotton? What country was this shirt made in? Were the workers provided a fair wage and a safe work environment?

Now I’m looking at much more than just the price tag. I know now that when I’m “getting a steal,” I really am getting just that: a steal. Someone worker, probably a woman in Bangladesh was robbed out of a decent wage. She is most likely struggling to survive and care for her children.

Realistically speaking, it’s not in my budget to buy only organic made/fair wage clothing. But do you know what is in my budget right now? Wearing hand me down clothes from friends instead of buying new clothes often, borrowing a dress for a special occasion rather than buying a dress I’ll only wear a handful of times a year, I can reach out to my talented friends that make clothing and ask them to sew items I need… and I can spread the word. Let’s look at more than just the price tag. Let’s look at the material, look at the country our clothes are made in, and look at the lives impacted.

Let’s help each other! What companies do you know that provide a fair wage to their textile workers? Do you know companies that use organic materials in their clothing? What are your thoughts?

Simplify: My Wardrobe

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Our Christmas break was a blur. We moved over the break, and we’re working on getting our house show ready for the market to sell. I learned a few things while moving:

1. Moving with kids is near impossible. I basically kept the kids from getting in the way, while everyone else moved our crap. (Big shout out to all our friends and family that helped! Y’all rock!)

2. We have a LOT of stuff. Clothes, books I haven’t read in years, kitchen gadgets, toys that were lost and forgotten about, just a bunch of stuff.

This first month of the year I am tackling just that: stuff. I know it’s a broad category… But we’re having a garage sale soon, so I might as well document this as I go, right? The first week of January I worked on going through our wardrobes.

I first wanted to tackle the kids’ clothes. They seemed to have so. much. clothes. I had this philosophy: If I don’t love it, get rid of it. So that’s what I did. Y’all, they had boxes of clothes that were too small for them, too big for my oldest, and everything in between. I kept enough in their dresser to get them through a week without having to do laundry, and then headed to a second hand kids’ clothing store in town.

This was so liberating. It was almost like the kids had so much clothes that I didn’t really know what clothes they did have in their closets! And honestly, my boys pick out the same 4 T-shirts to wear on a regular basis anyway, so they aren’t missing a thing.

Next on my list: my closet. I have gotten so used to hanging on to maternity clothes, nursing tanks, jeans that are a size bigger than my normal size for that awkward post-baby time period when nothing fits right… I got rid of it all. The same philosophy went through my mind: If you don’t love it, get rid of it. Why would I want to hang on to a top that I don’t feel confident wearing? It makes no sense cluttering up my closet thinking one day I’ll wear it when I haven’t worn it in 2 years!

Now, my magic number is 5. I decided to keep 5 of everything: 5 short sleeved tops, 5 long sleeved tops, 5 tanks, 5 dresses, and 5 pairs of shoes. As far as jeans go, I currently only have 2 pairs that fit me and 1 pair of shorts so that kinda worked out on its own.

Again, it felt great. I know I’m going to love whatever I put on, because I didn’t bother to let anything else clutter my side of the closet. Even now, when I look back on my newly simplified closet, I still feel like I can empty it a little more, but I’m comfortable with where it’s at for now.

I’d love to hear about some of your journeys to simplify your closets! Share some of your tips on how to you keep your closets free of excess and and full of abundance!