The ups and downs of managing health and lifestyle changes

I’m trying to be one those healthy people. You know the ones you kinda want to punch (in the nicest way possible, of course). They make this healthy deal look easy and fun and so attractive. They make green smoothies for breakfast and dinner that actually look like a luxury my tongue doesn’t know how to indulge in.  Forgive me for being honest when I say, this doesn’t come natural to me. Running miles upon miles is not natural to me. Baking muffins with coconut flour and bananas is not natural to me. Switching this for that is not natural to me.  Cooking all the time is. not. natural. to. me.

You know what is natural to me? Convenience, eating out with friends, working out occasionally (instead of obsessively) and the Monster trail mix from Target. Because that stuff is my jam.

Here’s a pic of it in case you want some, cause FOR REAL you need that in your life too.

If Archer Farms wants to send me some free bags for advertising I WILL NOT REJECT THEM. I repeat, I will NOT reject them.
If Archer Farms wants to send me some free bags for advertising I WILL NOT REJECT THEM. I repeat, I will NOT reject them.

BUT, I still find myself in this rat race of health. Which is good, don’t get me wrong. If I didn’t think establishing healthy, non-American habits were important I assure you I wouldn’t subject myself to it, but I do believe it’s important. Not because I want to be a health nut, but because I  REALLY  DO  NOT  WANT  TO  BE  UNHEALTHY.  That’s actually my main motivator. It’s not to be a picture of perfect health, it’s because there are way too many sick people around me for me to think I’m invincible. I want to fight today through inconvenience and awkwardness of learning what is good for my body, how God made it to function properly, and what I can expect from it for myself and my family, so that TOMORROW we can enjoy life together. Life is a gift and I refuse to spend it sick. I know I don’t control everything, but the elements I do play an active part in I want to be a wise steward of.

But, here’s my American girl dilemma –

Seriously, this is how I feel sometimes

  • I don’t have time to cook veggies all the time,but I also do not have time to be sick. 
  • I don’t have time to work out everyday, but I also do not have time to go to the doctor regularly.
  • I don’t have time to read labels and consciously avoid a long list of unhealthy additives and ingredients that are slipped into the most convenient of foods I use to eat, but I also don’t have time to live my life doing organ cleanses and taking supplements to correct that which I’ve wronged so my body can properly function on its own without the assistance of prescriptions drugs recommended to me when I was 22.

So here I am, in the midst of the rat race, trying to find the healthy balance in my pursuit of health. If only life could just be easy.  I don’t want to obsess about my body, which is so hard. And I don’t want to give up because it’s too much work today, when I KNOW the truth is taking care of a sick person is more work than being proactive and being healthy today. But it’s a lot to juggle sometimes and I’ve often felt like a surfboard caught in a tsunami inundated with endless things I need to think about and change. I hope you can relate?

The last few months I felt like I was drowning and I’ve had to stop and reevaluate a few times so I don’t drive myself crazy with my own goals/wants for myself.  Finally (or maybe desperately), I decided to create a few mental filters to navigate the constant flow of new information, research, findings, pinterest recipes, and instagram pics of ridiculously attractive and healthy workout girls (these are the ones I want to kindly punch) that drive me mad. These tips might help you, or they might fall shockingly short of your expectations, either way, I’d love to hear how you juggle it all too. We’re in this together, right?


1) Don’t be too hard on yourself, Renee. (repeat as often as necessary)

NO ONE IS PERFECT. No matter how awesomely easy their online life looks, yours probably does too. We all have that moment when it’s just you and your less-than-perfect self and you realize you just don’t have this area of your life figured out (forgive me for assuming you have them too, it makes me feel better to think you do so for my sake, you too have these moments) Why are we always our worst critic? I’ve heard friends say to me quite a few times “Renee, you’re too hard on yourself. That’s not true” in conversations about losing weight or making more life changes all while my inner voice is yelling, “BUT NO IT REALLY IS TRUE. You just don’t see what I see or know what I know.” Hopefully you don’t mind my honesty, I’m working on this.

I’m all about having a vision and goal, but the same way we love people to Jesus we should love ourselves to a healthier place. Critiquing other’s and their actions doesn’t disarm and motivate them, so why on earth would critiquing my every flaw motivate me? I need to love myself today. I need to respect myself today. And truth is, at the end of the day there is no healthy judge showing up at my door step to tell me everything I did wrong that day. (thank god or I’d probably want to kindly punch her too!)


This is a big one for me. I’ve come a long way, people. You don’t even know. I use to obsessively drink coffee, diet cokes, eat fast food, and never for a moment paid attention to ingredients, medicine, side effects, etc. I was living unhealthily in the land of convenient oblivion all while it was all eroding the pillars of my life (and insides) behind the scenes- physically, emotionally and spiritually. I just felt unhealthy, because I was.  A big health wake up call came screaming when I turned 22 and I had to make changes.  At first I tried to change everything at once…and let’s just say that was a big ole fail. The last few years I’ve adopted a progressive change plan which has made things so much easier!

Starting with, define your overall goals. Here’s mine…

1) Live a healthy lifestyle that aids in building a healthy immune system (cause I don’t have time to be sick)

2) Lose weight (Will I ever not need to lose 10 pounds? God help me. This involves what I eat and working out)

3) Begin swapping out foods and daily usage items for new healthier options, if available. (Food, cleaning supplies, etc)

4) Be a learner and understand how my body works, so I can help it be all it can be. (Again, I do not have time to be sick)

I started by picking one or a group of things to change at a time. It’s just easier for me to tackle it one thing at a time. I’d prefer to do life overhauls and just change everything in 30 minutes, but that has never worked for me.  For me, my realistic goal setting started a few years ago with me eliminating diet drinks. One thing at a time…

1) I started with D – R – I – N – K – S  (eliminate diet drinks and other drinks with artificial sweeteners) All the diet drinkers out there know this was no easy addiction to give up….and it took quite a while.

2) Fast Food (Just stop eating it) This mostly involved me being ok with planning farther in advance and learning the why’s behind the choices I was making?

3) Organic vs Non-organic (I’ve accepted I’m no natural hippie and I can’t do everything but I do want to do the important things. Fruits, veggies, cooking ingredients, etc)

4) Medicinal items (cleanses, supplements, natural remedies, essential oils) And we can all just praise Jesus I found natural/healthy ways to avoid getting on the pills the doctor suggested. My doctor was proud of my hard work to try what he considered the harder route and I quote “Most patients just want a pill to fix their issues, they aren’t willing to change their lifestyles”. I so appreciate his advice and support to heal my body. It makes that yearly woman exam not as dreadful. I know I’ve asked him to do things that aren’t his first recommendation, but I’m so thankful he supported me and we both got the end results. Happy doctor, happy patient!

5) Household chemicals (Thank you pinterest for easy ways to make this happen!)

6) Baking ingredients (Recipe hunting and tastebud changing is currently in process)

That’s my list for now. Your list could be 100% different. This is the order I’ve taken it in to address my goals over the last 5 years. You’d think 5 years into something I’d be SO MUCH FARTHER along than I am. But I’m not. I kinda still feel like I’m at the starting line, but by taking things group by group and number by number to fit my lifestyle and season, it’s been doable. Slow and steady wins the race. It really is pretty amazing when I look back and see approaching each of these 6 items in the last 5 years, I’ve actually made a lot of life adjustments over time. I’m happy to report today some even feel like a normal part of my life now. **Jumping up and down for progress**

3) Support. Support. Support. Don’t be afraid to talk to a professional or someone well informed in the area you are working on.

Support in this area of your life can make or break the journey. Don’t be too prideful to ask for help or to include those around you in your journey. The people closest to you love you as you are, but also want to see you healthy and indulging in the best of life moments as a healthy version of yourself. Let their support and encouragement motivate you on your journey. It’s ok you’re not perfect. They are probably pretty thrilled you aren’t, since they are not either.

If you want to lose weight, hire a trainer or a nutritionist. My bestfriend Emily Manders runs Pure Life Wellness and creates goals, meal plans and provides supplements for people with health and weightloss goals. I’ve had to call and ask her for advice and help quite a few times. Can we all just say an amen for bestfriends who can help!! I learned in the beginning of my journey, I was either going to be spending money on medicines or I was going to be spending money on getting healthy. I’m so glad I was encourage by those around me to invest in myself. I hired a trainer and began changing my lifestyle habits one by one!

If you want advice on a specific topic, start researching and seek out people who have a knowledge base about what you are pursuing and who can encourage you! It’s always easier to do something when you’re doing it with others. I’m really so thankful all of my bestfriends have similar goals and lifestyles.  We learn from each other and each provide a different kind of support. None of us are rockstars, but collectively, we’re a pretty smart and fun group. Our girls nights now involve delicious healthy version of all the foods we use to love. We’ve created a new normal for fun and parties!

4) When you mess up, get back up again

The reason I said “when” instead of “if” is because it’s been an inevitable part of the journey for me. I set goals and I don’t always reach them. Sometimes I seem to get in a great healthy groove, then my schedules swoops in and messes it all up for me. Just get back up and start again! If you workout everyday then stop for a few weeks, just start again. If you’re doing great with eating healthy, then life takes over…stop and start again! If you lose weight, then find that it’s found you again (so weird how that happens) then take control again!

Don’t let the mess up moments keep you from getting back on track. You might not be the cool athletic girl on instagram who looks fabulously hot and makes smoothies look delicious, but that’s ok. You’re you. People like real people better anyways.

5) Reevaluate your definition of HEALTHY, often. Am I pursuing an attractive facade? Or am I pursuing health and wholeness.

I know I keep bringing up the instagram healthy girl deal, but seriously, it’s what drives me the craziest. Have you seen the girls on the health section of Pinterest? I’m positive if I wasn’t a real human, with a real job, living with a real family, in a real world and I could just work out and take pictures of myself all day, I’d look pretty dang good, too. I more than not have to remind myself that creating a picture of health and wholeness is not my goal. My goal is that my body, mind and soul all operate in wholeness. Jesus didn’t die, so I could live a life broken and in pieces. He paid for my healing and I want to live a life that is a reflection of the price he paid for me. I want to be healthy and whole so that I can love and be a better for the world around me NOT so that other’s can look at me and feel like they just died a little on the inside because they don’t measure up.

Don’t get me wrong, those poor girls probably never intend for that to happen, but if we’re being honest the world is constantly making us aware of how our current state doesn’t quite measure up. I never want people to look at my world and feel an instantly sinking in their heart because they don’t think they can measure up to those standards….but instead be encouraged we’re walking this journey out together. We’re learning together. We’re getting better together. We’re waking up together.

So how do you navigate and make decisions about your own health? How do you find the balance in your own pursuit of health? I could talk for days on this topic because there’s no way my own journey can be summed up in a single post, but I’d love to hear how YOU are walking this road out! We’re all real people with real struggles and luckily we live in a time where we can find real answers to help!

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