It’s no secret this whole, clean living thing is stressful, especially at first. There are so many things to read, so many things to try, so many things to buy, so many things to make you overwhelmed.
Most of us are so engrained in a fast, food-in-a-box living, that going back to the basics really is hard. This isn’t a judgement, it’s a reality.
It took me about a year or a year and a half to really get a handle on things. If I would have had a blog back then, you wouldn’t have seen enthusiasm and a passion for real food–you would have seen frustration and crying and defeat.
But here’s the thing. Doing ANYTHING against our grain or something we aren’t used to is HARD (yes, it deserves capitol letters here). It takes education, determination, support, and discipline to make it work and last. I firmly believe all of things need to be present in order for you to not only succeed, but more importantly, to not give up.
So ask yourself this: Do I have all of these things?
- Do I know where to educate myself? What websites help me on my journey?
- Do I know the “why” behind what I’m doing? I’ve found if people don’t know WHY they are doing something, they never develop an attachment to it, and it’s much easier to give up. (Posts like our Organic vs Industry post and a lot of Food Babe’s research help me!)
- Do I try to learn something new each day? Even something small, like the difference in tap water and filtered water or the benefit of an avocado, will all add up in the end!
- I think DETERMINATION has a lot to do with encouragement. Some of us are made with an intrinsic motivation and some are very motivated by outside sources and encouragement. So here’s my question: Where do you get your encouragement from? I say first of ALL, it should come from our relationship with Jesus Christ and His word, and then from outside sources.
- Figure out what motivates you: results, encouragement, health, etc and do THAT.
- Block out negativity the best you can. Block people, don’t engage or respond to it. Negativity is a huge stumbling block to your determination. Figure out who is blocking you, and do something about it (peacefully, perhaps? 🙂 )
- This one ties very closely to determination. If you feel alone, you’ll most likely give up unless you are one crazy determined person! Don’t talk to people about food who make fun of you or make you feel stupid. Just do your thang!
- Who encourages you? Tell them about your journey and ask for specific encouragement.
- The opportunity is there for our Thrive to Live Facebook page and the comment section of the articles on the blogs to be that place because people who are coming here probably have the same interest as you. So I’m asking YOU to get involved. Feeling down? Post for encouragement! Need help with a recipe? Ask! Need an idea for a snack? Ask! Did you make a Thrive to Live recipe & want to say something about it? Do it!
- So many times we don’t get the support we need because we don’t seek it out. Be strong and courageous!
- Ok, who REALLY likes discipline? I mean, come on. It’s probably the toughest part. In these times, we are our own worst enemy.
- I think if you find what motivates you, then in times when you feel like stopping, and you back to your motivation and reach out to your support, then you’ll make right choice. Eventually, the right choice will end up being the easy choice, I promise. It will take time, but it can happen.
- Preparedness has a LOT to do with discipline (in my opinion). If you have a PLAN, it’s easier to stick to that. If you have no plan for the week, it’s easier to justify stopping for food.
- Work hard, stay focused, find motivation, be prepared, and make the right choice. That’s how I do it 🙂 Oh yeah, and letting God be my guide 😉 THE most important step, to anything really.
So let’s talk about this. I honestly believe that most stress is caused (in my life) when I’m not prepared. I CHOOSE something else (like a TV show, downtime, Facebook, etc) over spending those minutes making a plan. If you reallocated even just 30 minutes a day, or 10 minutes a day to getting a plan together, it would drastically change your week.
The biggest kicker is this. You really, really need about an hour or two on the weekends (or whatever day is easiest for you) to get your meal planning together. I know we THINK we don’t have time. But we do. We actually choose not to have time.
And I’m with you. I will find any excuse not to do something I don’t want to do (I actually love meal planning, but I do this with chores!), but once I actually do what I’m supposed to do, I feel refreshed and satisfied!
What to plan for:
When you are planning, you’ll need to plan for every single thing you need for the week. That sounds so simple, but sometimes we need to hear it.
- First, you’ll want to look at your calendar and see what nights you need to cook. If you already know you are going out for a celebration or date night, then you’ll leave that night off or just adjust for the kids, etc.
- Then, look at your calendar and determine what days/nights are going to be busy and will require quick meals. Find resources to help with that, or ASK for help. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to ask. Nothing is a stupid question.
- Once you’ve determined what your week looks like, you’ll need to start your plan. Yes, eventually, you will want variety, but I really think that it’s important to go with a few things that you love (while you’re learning) and stick with that so you can build routines. Once you’re ready to move forward, try one or two new recipes each week to start building variety.
- You will be planning Breakfast, Snacks, Lunches, Dinners, and Desserts.
Can I help? 🙂
It will take time for our site to have all of our recipes up, but until then, you can build great menus from what we have plus other sites you love! Some of my favorites for recipes are 100 Days of Read Food, Food Babe, and The Detoxinista. There are MANY more, but sometimes all the information even overwhelms me, so I stick with what I know I love, especially with the limited time I have!
Here is a peek into a week for me:
I keep breakfast simple. Here is a sample of what I typically do:
- Avocado toast: This is very simple, and you can buy one loaf of bread (see recipe for suggestion) and a few avocados and you are good for several breakfasts! (I usually have this 2-3 mornings a week)
- Smoothies: I usually do smoothies for 3 or 4 mornings. We have a great selection, and so does Detoxinista. Find a couple to try and work them into your schedule!
- Hot breakfast: I don’t have much time to do a hot breakfast most days, but about once a week I do. My husband will make bacon and eggs (all local of course) and I’ll make an oatmeal like our Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal or pancakes (recipe coming). This oatmeal only takes about 10 minutes, but since I have to make 4 different breakfasts, my breakfast routine takes about an hour. You could double or triple this recipe for the whole family and still have it ready in 10 minutes!
Most times, we overthink lunch. Just keep it simple. Salads are my go-to for lunch.
- Salad dressings: At the beginning of the week, I typically make two salad dressings. I love our Mustard Vinaigrette and Lemon Basil, but I also use lots of Detoxinista’s as well. It is best not to buy them in the store, as they are full of bad ingredients (even some organic ones). If you make them, you can avoid unwanted ingredients like sugar, bad oils, & GMO’s. I use whatever veggies I have in the fridge (that I’ve bought for other recipes) to top the salads. I get local greens when I can, but if not, then organic pre-washed lettuce or spinach is easiest!
- Cold Salads: I make one cold salad a week, like our Asian Buckwheat Salad or Cranberry Quinoa Salad. They can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge all week. It’s very, very simple when packing lunches. **Feel free to add some organic chicken or meat of choice to these recipes if you want/need it 🙂 I usually pair this with some fruit or gluten free crackers and soft goat cheese.
- Soup: I make at least one soup a week for lunches. We have a great selection of soups, and others are easy to find out there. 100 days of Real Food has some great ones, too.
- Random stuff: Yes, this is a category! Some days I might have a Hummus plate with veggies & crackers, and some days I make lettuce wraps with a Lettuce leaf, tomato, mustard, & goat cheese with a side of fruit or soup. Random days are fun, and helps cut down on waste!
Here’s another example of where we overcomplicate things. Do you see a trend?
- Smoothies are GREAT for snacks. They are nutritious and filling!
- Fruit: Really, it’s that simple. An apple. A banana. A handful of berries.
- Bars: You can make some snack bars like ours, or you can buy some Larabars at the store for an easy, nutritious snack. I love keeping these in my purse for when I’m out and about and needing a quick treat. These Banana Chocolate Drops are easy, too!
- Almond Butter: Quick & easy–protein punch. Top a rice cake with almond butter or put some on the side of your banana or apple. Great pick-me-up!
- Hummus with a side of veggies. I love our Roasted Garlic version, but there’s lots of versions out there, even if you don’t eat legumes (Lentil Hummus, Zucchini Hummus)
We are pretty systematic with our dinners. Soup night, pizza night, chicken & veggie night, spaghetti night, Mexican night. Then each week, we change out the soup, the veggies, etc. Very simple!
- Soup: Pick a soup from one of ours or another you want to try, and pair with a salad!
- Pizza: I love this pizza recipe for many reasons. It can accommodate lots of different eaters, is inexpensive, and gets the family involved!
- Chicken night: Grill some organic chicken and pair with some roasted or steamed veggies. I love our Sweet & Salty Carrots. You can always start dinner out with a salad to get some extra greens!
- Mexican Night: You can make easy burritos with a few ingredients. We start with this easy refried bean recipe on Ezekiel tortillas, then add lettuce, tomato, corn, black beans, homemade guacamole, and some goat cheddar cheese. Easy & wonderful.
This is pretty much our routine, but I try out new recipes about two times a week to keep things fresh. What do you want your routine to be?
*Remember the goal is to create a routine so it’s easy for you. That’s why you start with simple things…and slowly add more!
Ok this is a necessary category. It’s just gotta happen. Some night a small handful of Enjoy Life chocolate chips is enough, and some nights I need more. I like to keep some things in the freezer, like our Strawberry Tarts or pretty much anything by Detoxinista, especially this Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie. Keeping things in your freezer, really, really helps with portion control and accessibility. When I like a hot treat, I usually make Chocolate Chip cookies or Almond Butter Brownies. Plan to make one or two desserts for the week, and that’s it. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Use self control here!
**A note for kids: I realize kids won’t love everything I suggested. This is not my area of expertise and will not reinvent the wheel here. Refer to www.100daysofrealfood.com for this area! She is doing an amazing job helping with those resources!
Questions for Reflection:
- Do I have a support system for my new health goals? Why or Why not? How can I use this site (Facebook & blog) for help?
- What “voice” do I need to stop listening to or let go of so I can move forward with my goals?
- What day is best to do meal planning? How can I get one or two hours of time to work and plan on that day? What will I need to give up?
- Am I allowing God room in this aspect of my life? Do I ask for help?
Verse for the Week:
Read my complete thoughts on these verses here