Last year, I took my time and gradually implemented some small changes that made a significant difference. I wanted to share my Top-5 with you. Maybe you’d like to implement some of these changes, or maybe, this will inspire you to take your time and be okay with gradual improvements in 2021! Here’s one of the most important things I’ve discovered that has contributed to my success: When trying to implement lifestyle changes, replacement works better than elimination. If you’re reaching for something on a regular basis, or if there’s something you’re doing (that you’d rather not do) there’s a reason for it. Seek to replace what you’re doing with a better option and you’ll be more likely to see long-term change in that area. Here’s my top 5 changes I implemented:
1.) Switched to cast-iron skillets
This was a top priority for me last year. Mainly because I knew I was getting to the point where I needed a new set of cookware. But I wanted to make a different choice. I slowly let go of any non-stick cookware and instead, starting using cast iron. There’s lots of research out there that shows that even the better-quality non-stick can release unhealthy toxins into food. I just didn’t want any of that. I did have to re-learn how to cook and care for cast-iron, but surprisingly, it wasn’t that difficult (and hasn’t been that difficult or time-consuming to sustain). Neither did it cost too much to invest in good pieces that I’ll actually use. Instead of purchasing a full set of cookware, (like I would normally do) I bought one piece at a time. I went with Lodge brand, just because it’s easy to find and very affordable. Here’s the pieces I bought and use on a regular basis:
Lodge 12″ Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge 10″ Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge 8″ Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge Griddle Pan
Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
2.) Switched to ceramic bake-ware
Similar to the first choice, I let go of all my old non-stick baking sheets, muffin pans, and cake pans. Anything that was aluminum or steel too. All for the same reason, I wanted a non-toxic, lightweight, and easy to use/care for replacement. After some research, I went with Casaware, a ceramic-coated, non-stick option that is free of toxins. It was super easy to make this switch and quite fun too with their colorful options. I may continue to expand my collection (I bake a lot) but these few pieces helped me get started:
Casaware Muffin Pan
Casaware Baking Sheet(s)
Casaware 9 x 13 Cake Pan
Casaware Bundt Cake Pan
3.) Switched to aluminum-free deodorant
I’d been wanting to do this for years, but was concerned it wouldn’t work. After watching a few videos and reading some articles of what to expect (this is a process of transitioning, not just an overnight flip-of-the-switch) I went with Native brand because they had such a wide-range of options and it’s available pretty much anywhere I shop.
My favorite scent happens to be Cypress & Ginger (which apparently, is in the men’s section, oh well) but their coconut-vanilla and eucalyptus and mint are two very popular options. I bought two to get started. One to use at home and one I would take with me for touch-ups throughout the day (just in case). Honestly? I never had to use it on the go, it worked so well. I’ve enjoyed making this switch and really don’t see myself going back.
4.) I stopped frequenting nail-salons
At first, this was not by choice. But after all the nail salons closed towards the start of the year, I had to come up with my own backup plan. Eventually, I began to realize that it was probably best for me to not have all those chemicals/toxins added to my hands and feet on a regular basis. I began caring for my nails by applying almond oil on a regular basis and using a non-toxic polish such as Zoya. Now this is not to say that in the future, I won’t go back and have my nails professionally done (let’s not get crazy) but I can tell my nails have benefited from the break. If and when I do go back, I’ll probably take my own polish(es) with me and bypass on the gels, dips, tips, etc.
5.) I reduced my intake of sugar, significantly
Of all the changes I made in 2020, this was definitely the hardest, but the best choice I made. I physically felt the difference immediately, and I know my body will continue to respond and improve as it rebuilds.
The hardest part was making the switch with my morning coffee. You’ve got to first recognize where lies the greatest culprit and work from there. I was accustomed to starting out my day out with a 20oz cup of coffee loaded with 2TBSP of sugar and some half-half. So I tackled this big rock first. I swapped out the sugar with a tiny bit of Stevia and it took me a solid 10 days to get used to it. I’ll be completely honest with you, at first, I hated it. But I was committed to giving it some time and making the switch. I simply did not want something like sugar ruling me. After I got adjusted to the taste, I began to notice I didn’t need as much cream in my coffee. So I cut back on that as well. I’m now fully adjusted and enjoy my coffee with just a tiny bit of Stevia and a splash of half-half. Even when I travel or am out-and-about, I have it the same way.
From there, I began watching for other ways sugar sneaks into our foods. Spaghetti sauces, salad dressings, other condiments and even things like basic crackers. I am slowly replacing those with better options as I go.
As for the Stevia? Here’s the brand I use at home (and I carry packets with me just in case I need them when I’m on the go):
Whole Earth Stevia & Monk Fruit
These were my top five health-impacting, health-improving changes of 2020. What changes do you want to make in the New Year?
The main thing I would say that helped me succeed is that I gave myself time. It was all gradual and before I knew it, I was at the end of 2020 and I had made a lot of changes (in addition to the ones I’m sharing here). I took my time to research and see which products were easily accessible and affordable and that I’d truly feel comfortable working with. Again, I sought to replace instead of just eliminate. I also didn’t really hit myself with any large investments. I worked them into the year (not to mention that cutting back on the nail salon freed up a lot of funds). Bottom line – I enjoyed the process. So much so, that I’m making a new list for this year!
I encourage you to jot down a few things you’d like to implement. Some may be as easy as switching out a better option for something you regularly use. Others may feel more like a mountain to climb. But if you know what you want to change and start taking steps in that direction, you’ll get there! Don’t give up. Don’t get overwhelmed. And just take one step at a time.
Happy New Year friends! Thanks for reading.
Linda G. Riddle