Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Organic on a budget?

eating healthy on a budget can sometimes be a challenge. it is often the biggest excuse people make not to eat healthy, "i don't have the money", "i can't afford organic". and i'll be honest, i have made that argument many times especially when it comes to buying organic. a lot of people think it's overrated or a waste of money. and when you don't really think about what you are really eating, it's easy to turn the other cheek and eat whatever is the cheapest. and we have been guilty of that for a long time.

with our new lifestyle we are eating lots of fresh fruit and veggies which has been taking a toll on our budget. we avoided buying organic by planting a small vegetable garden and have been washing our non-organic produce really well(which reduces but doesn't eliminate pesticides) but our small garden hasn't produced much crop yet and it probably isn't big enough to sustain us through the summer. so we have skirted around buying organic, trying to hold on to as much of our money as possible. we shop at our local farmer's market whenever possible, but we have found it so hard to spend extra on local and organic produce sold in stores and pass up non-organic strawberries for 99 cents in the grocery store. i am slowly realizing that strawberries for 99 cents might be easy on our pockets now, but in the long run we are only hurting ourselves. the pesticides that soak into the produce we eat on a regular basis is so harmful.

Dr. Axe has a great article i just read which has helped convince me to grow more of our own food, buy organic for certain foods, and eat more local produce. Dr. Axe has included a list in this article provided by the Environmental Working Group of the "Dirty Dozen" & "Clean 15". this is a condensed list of the top foods that you NEED to buy organic and 15 foods that are "okay" to consume non-organic in order to save money. therefore you can still stay on a budget while eating healthy. you can read Dr. Axe's article HERE, and check out more info on the dangers of pesticides and why you should avoid them HERE for more in depth info, but here is the list:

WORST(buy these organic): celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, kale, cherries, potatoes, grapes(imported)
BEST (lowest in pesticides): onions, avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, mangos, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potato, honeydew melon

another option for eating healthy on a budget is becoming a member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). basically you pay a membership amount generally $400 - $700 for the growing season and in turn you will receive fresh produce from a local farm once a week. some CSA's offer weekly programs so you don't have to pay the whole fee upfront. we have looked into them before, but in the past they seemed too expensive. this of course is before we realized the dangers of what we were eating. when it comes down to it $400 for a weekly supply of fresh and in most cases organic produce over a 6 month period is a great deal. you can find out more info about CSA's and how to join one in your area HERE. we are considering doing a weekly payment option and getting produce, meat, and eggs. this in combination with our little garden should help us get through the growing season more healthfully.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Vitamin D and you

more then anything, I think what helped me (Colin) to start thinking about my own health was not having health insurance. Before it was so easy just to leave my health up to a guy in a lab coat that went to collage for about as long as I did, but came out with more then a bachelors (I was never a very good student). Then me and my wife decided to move to Nashville, that meant quitting my job. It's OK I thought, I will get another one in like a week, no problem... not quite how it went, I found a job after about a month of looking, but it did not have any benifits and I thought I did not make enough to get my own insurance, so I did nothing for a long time. after a while I started to look into my health on my own, reading everything I could and I came across an article on Lew Rockwell's website that talked about not trusting doctors and looking into your health for your self and not trusting pharmicutical companys either. seemed like a lot of distrust to not take him seriously, so I read the article I decided to give vitamin D a try. If you don't feel like clicking on the link, it basicly says that vitamin D is one of the most important things for you, and the US recomendation does not even cover what your body needs for calcium convertion alone.
  So I went to the store, and found that most shops don't sell you the 5000 IU's that guys like Dr. Axe and the Vitamin D Council recommend, so I went on-line and found Vitamin D-3 on Amazon's website. This is the best price I have found so far. It is amaxing how many functions of the body are controled by vitamin D.
During the summer you can get most of what you need by the sun, but during the winter, you really need to take supplements.

Friday, April 23, 2010


i mentioned debt before and how we got our motivation to get it out of our lives. i wanted to share the thought process behind being free of debt as well as some tools that have help us get our finances in order. we are FREE of consumer debt and are tackling education debt now. we used to think we were good with our money, but quickly realized the way we were going about paying things off by paying the minimum or sometimes a little more wasn't helping us get out of it.

Dave Ramsey is a big believer in paying the smallest debt first and paying the minimums on everything else. so when you do your monthly budget and you figure out how much you NEED to spend on the basics, whatever is leftover should be applied to debt. You should pay the minimum on everything except your smallest debt which should get the remainder of everything leftover for the month. this method will help you to see a quick reward of paying off a small debt and once that is gone you take what you were paying towards that combined with what you are paying toward your second smallest debt and put it all toward that. Dave Ramsey goes into more detail on this on his website and has plenty of free tools and information that are worth checking out.

Another tool we utilize is the envelope system. several financial folks recommend this method as a way to have a clearer picture of what you are spending. when we do our monthly budget we use an envelope system for items that can be paid for in cash such as: groceries, entertainment, gas, clothing, etc. for example if we have budgeted to spend $200 a month on groceries, when we go to the store we pull cash from the "Groceries" envelope. when the envelope is empty we don't have any more money left to spend on those items. so instead of just going out and buying things we may or may not need we think about what we are purchasing and if we need it right away or at all. since we have started eating more healthfully, we have noticed we have needed to spend more on food during the month. so when we do our budget we adjust it accordingly, shifting money from other things that are of lower priority.

even though we still have a little ways to go we feel so much lighter knowing we have already accomplished so much. it helps us to really think about what we are spending our money on and what we really need not what we think we need. there are more people who are out there giving financial advice aside from Dave Ramsey, we just trust and respect his advice, which is why we refer to him on here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sun Protection & Coconut Oil

i have changed the way i think about sun and sun protection. i used to love lying out in the sun. when i was younger i would slather on a thick coating of sunscreen and spend hours outside. as i got older i would worry about cancer and put on even more sunscreen and limit my time in the sun. i bought daily lotions that had SPF in them so whenever i was outside i would be protected.

as my view on health has changed i have been thinking more about not only what i'm putting into my body but what i'm putting on my body. we have started to use coconut oil for everything from cooking to skincare. coconuts are one of the most incredible super foods and i am discovering more each day on the benefits of coconut. we have replaced all of our cooking oils with coconut oil. and have started to use it as a skin moisturizer as well. Benefits of coconut oil include: improving digestion, reduced inflammation, supports thyroid function, promotes healthy hair and complexion, etc. we get the bulk of our coconut products from Tropical Traditions, they have a lot more info about the benefits of coconut oil on their site as well as great recipes! another incredible benefit of continuous coconut oil use is providing protection from the damaging effects of UV rays from the sun. If you ingest about 3-4 tbsp of coconut oil a day as well as apply it to your skin after 6 months to a year you can start using it as a sun protector. we tested this out the other day, we were out in the sun for 30 - 45 minutes at the pool and we didn't burn.

Dr. Axe posted an article on his site the other day about sunscreen which drove this point home for me even more.

we'll continue to try the coconut oil as our sun protection throughout the summer and report back.

a note on coconut oil: you can purchase the oil in stores but it's pretty expensive. Tropical Traditions has the best prices and different variations of the oil. more on coconuts and coconut oil later.

The Journey

it all started about a year and a half ago, this shift in thinking. it crept up on us as we were in the process of buying our first home. and it hit us hard when we got said house, moved in, and starting living our new lives as homeowners. DEBT. the house, school, some stupid decisions, etc. we were determined to live debt free lives and enjoy the things we had rather than see them as a burden. i started listening to Dave Ramsey and getting serious about debt. i shared what i was learning with my husband and we decided to make some changes in our lives, get a "real" budget and start paying it all off.

in the process of paying everything off we began to see how important this new lifestyle was in relation to our relationship with God. we have been Christian's for a while now. my husband for 13 years and me for almost 8. we were quickly beginning to see how a cluttered life is distracting. when you are worried about paying off debt you become obsessed with it. we wanted to be better off for being debt-free and find a healthy balance between hating debt and obsessing over it. i should mention we were not in a terrible place, we weren't struggling to live, or pay or mortgage or anything like that. and if we continued down the route we were on we would have probably just ended up like most Americans with a balance on a credit card or two not thinking too much about it. but the point was we didn't want a balance on a credit card, or school loans, we wanted to have the freedom that comes with being debt free.

So we began the journey and started dreaming of a future sans debt. more time to do the things we loved, more money to do it, a future, more to give to causes we wanted to support. along this journey that we are still on (but we see the light at the end of the tunnel) we have learned that as we started shedding these small debts we were understanding more about God and ourselves. if we were responsible with the things God had given us, how much better and more rewarding our lives could be.

that journey in part lead us to a new one. a little over a month ago i went to a women's wellness conference. I've been to conferences before but most either focused on health or spirituality alone, but this conference brought both topics together. it only echoed what i had already been thinking, that every decision we make, or don't make, all these things are tied together from where we spend our money to how we treat our bodies. what if we could be debt free, healthy, and spiritual. what if being spiritual is already encouraging those things in us, and therefore it is God's plan for us to live that way.

So again we have expanded our thinking. past getting out of debt to encompass healthy living. and realizing that healthy living to us was is having no debt, treating our bodies as temples, and having a relationship with God. we started seeing a "natural" doctor. one that didn't want to put my husband on medication because his cholesterol was slightly elevated, one that thinks there is a better fix for problems than swallowing a pill and moving on. just like how we learned to see paying for something with a credit card is not a solution. it's just a big band-aid.

so here we are now, a few weeks into our new nutrition lifestyle which our doctor calls "12 weeks to wellness". we are in the first phase of the process which helps to get all the toxins out of our bodies that we have been accumulating for years with medicine and heavily processed foods. Our food options are a little limited right now, but it is forcing us to think about what we are putting in our bodies. we'd like to use this blog to talk about our journey to a less cluttered life. we want to share articles we love, the food we're eating, tips, observations, frustrations, decisions and anything else we may encounter along the way.