November 25, 2013

Living According to Our Values: Our Health (The Grand Dream, part 5)

This value differs somewhat from the others that I have talked about so far. While the others (a feeling of responsibility towards nature and family & community relationships) are idealistic, our last value is more practical in nature: our health. However, Nathan and I both understand how important our health is in order for us to continue giving our energy towards our other values. So many of our decisions are made with our health in mind.

Talking time to walk together in nature is an important part of
restoring our mental health as well as keeping us active!

Throughout the blog I will talk more in depth about specific things that we do to support our health, but they can be categorized broadly into maintaining an active life style, eating real whole foods, and trying to minimize our bodies' exposure to toxins & stress.

The active lifestyle

Nathan is a self-acknowledged exercise-nut. He wakes up every morning to make sure that he gets in at least some form of exercise before the days starts. He is also an avid runner and runs at least a couple times a week. He also enjoys running ridiculous trail runs up sides of mountains and dreams of running an ultra-marathon. Nathan finds that his mental health especially suffers if he misses a day.

I take a less fanatical approach to exercise. I walk to work ever day and also try to take a longer walk after work with Nathan. I also have become a bit more of a runner since Nathan and I started our relationship. However my running journey has been plagued by injuries that have prevented me from ever reaching Nathan's level. However, in the last year I have been regularly seeing a wonderful chiropractor and I have been injury free for a year. I now try to run at least on the weekends, although I still prefer my runs with less distance and fewer hills than Nathan!

Eating real food

If you were to look through our kitchen you would see very little processed food and no meat (except occasional fish). We have chosen to eat a diet that consists almost entirely of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and some eggs/dairy that we prepare ourselves. We rarely eat out and cook all of our meals from scratch. For us it is worth the extra time to make high quality food that nourishes our bodies. We also enjoy spending time together cooking every night. As an added bonus whole foods can be much less expensive than processed food if you buy in bulk and grow some of it yourself.

Whenever I make hummus I now try to sprout my chickpeas!

The quality of our food is also important to us so we try to pay attention to where our food comes from. We are able to grow most of our own vegetables and we buy most of our fruits from local no-spray farmers. (I don't say organic because organic is just a USDA label that many farms cannot afford. We choose our produce based on farmer's practices rather than their marketing.) We get our eggs from a local woman who delivers her pasture-raised eggs every week. Our biggest weakness is the quality of our dairy. Right now, I cannot justify spending the time and or money to track down and buy pastured-raised milk. For now, I just find the best organic source that I can and dream of a day that we can keep our own milk goats.

More recently I have begun to learn more about traditional food preparation to maximize our health. I now make yogurt and lacto-fermented vegetables to help support our gut health. I also am beginning to soak or sprout more of our grains, seeds, and nuts to neutralize the physic acid and enzyme inhibitors that can damage your teeth and cause digestive problems.

 Reducing stress: both mental and environmental

Finally we also take steps to minimize the stresses that the modern world exposes our bodies to. We do this by finding ways to minimize and combat mental stress and by reducing our exposure to environmental toxins.

Spending time in nature is important for combating stress.

We are both very lucky in that we don't often have many stresses in our lives. Our jobs are usually decently enjoyable these days, we don't have to worry about money or family stresses, and things are really going quite well. But for those harder times (such as when we are caring for sick rats) Nathan and I find comfort in spending time with each other. Our daily walks, spending time in nature and cooking can be very grounding. Staying in touch with and visiting family also helps. Other times it is just nice to curl up with a warm cup of tea and a good documentary.

On the other side, it is more difficult to avoid environmental toxins, especially living in a city. However since most people's exposure comes inside the home we try to made small changes that will hopefully make a difference. We take our shoes off at the door, we don't buy new furniture (which off-gasses formaldehyde), and we have started to make most of our own cleaning and cosmetic products. For those products that we don't make we use the Skin Deep database to help us choose healthier products. By doing this we hope to limit our exposure to all the chemicals in these products. Next on my wish list is buy Berkey water filters for both drinking and shower water.

In Conclusion

We would be the first to admit that we are in no way perfect and that we still slip up and make decisions that don't align with our values. However, we strive every day to work towards a life that reflects these values! Stay tuned next week when I will start talking about how we are budgeting to work towards our homestead dream.

And catch up on the rest of the story:
The Grand Dream, part 1
Our Goals and Plans (The Grand Dream, part 2)
Living According to Our Values: Family (The Grand Dream, part 3)
Living According to Our Values: Nature & Community (The Grand Dream, part 4)
Criteria for a Place to Call Home, Part 1
Criteria for a Place to Call Home, Part 2
Criteria for a Place to Call Home, Part 3

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