I need it for the kids: Tall tales of stocking the house with treats 24/7

Okay first thing is first. I must acknowledge summer has turned me into the world’s worst blogger. I can only hope our loyal fans are too busy to read as we are too busy to write. That too would be an excuse because we all have time…working on that. Onwards and upwards.

It may be no secret that I am indeed a Registered Dietitian, an opinionated one at that perhaps. Today I am here to share, yet another, opinion. This even borders on a rant. Okay it is a rant. Can we all cut the bull shit and stop saying we, as adults, are struggling to lead a healthier lifestyle/lose weight/control diabetes/blood pressure/fatty liver/etc. because the biggest hurdle is that avoiding treats is hard because our houses are stocked full of them FOR THE KIDS. Okay what!?

I literally hear this weekly, and now that summer has thankfully graced our lives, I hear it almost daily. The thing is, if you are struggling to lead a healthier lifestyle and eating almost the same food as your children are, would it not make sense that they will fall into the exact same pattern where they struggle with your exact same health issues!

Please, for the love of all that is good, stop stocking your house with treats. Set great examples of how to eat healthy and lead a healthy lifestyle. I promise, when treat night rolls around both you and your kids will actually appreciate the treat that much more! So goodbye chips, goodbye 2 for 1 ice cream sales, fruit gummies, and sweet, sweet cookies. You too fudge sticks and ice cream sandwiches, you too.

Here are some ideas for what to replace them with to make your entire household healthier!

70 Healthy On The Go Portable Snacks

 

 

The Ten Year Old CEO

 James F. Peggs. Remember that name because he is bound to change the world.

He’s a CEO, he works hard, he runs his own successful business and he just had his 10th birthday.

James moved to Yellowknife a few years ago with his family and noticed that there was lots of litter around the city. Yellowknife does not offer roadside pick up of recyclables. There are recycling centers but people are responsible for bringing (and sorting) their own items. James thought that was something he could help change, not to mention put a little money in his newly opened bank account. He put together a business plan and set out to make his mark. He presented his plan to his parents, who were very pleased and were willing to help him get started. The Recycling Guy was born. Two years later business is booming.

The Recycling Guy provides an amazing service. He charges $10/month for weekly pick up of all recyclables (no, you don’t have to sort them),  he provides you the bin to put the recycling in, and replaces it with a clean one each week. He is reliable, friendly, and accepts e-transfers (talk about convenience)! 

James can be found walking around his neighborhood in his high visibility vest and Recycling Guy hat, pulling his custom cart on Saturday afternoons. His parents happily and graciously donate their time (and gas) to drive James to the houses he can’t walk to with his cart. Once he gets home the sort begins in the family’s garage, which according to his dad smells less than enjoyable on those warm Yellowknife summer days. When he has everything ready to go, he heads to the Recycling Centre in Yellowknife. Due to the fact that he is so well organized, the crew working at the center often show off his sorting skills to other, less organized ‘knifers.

I had the chance to sit down with the 2016 Yellowknife Recycling Award winner and ask some of the burning questions that I thought the world must know about this pint sized CEO.

Favorite Food?  Marshmallows and Perogies (but not together)

Hobbies?  Lego, Soccer and Comics

Favorite School Subject? Gym and Math

What do you want to be when you grow up?? Pro Soccer player or an Author

Do you have any employees?  Sometimes I hire my 13-year-old brother Sam

How do you keep track of customers and payments?  My mom taught me how to use spreadsheets.

What is a negative about the Recycling business?  When people put old food in the bin. One time someone put his or her leftover pot roast dinner in there.

What do you do with all the money you make?

  •    10% of my earnings go to charity
  •    10% goes to my retirement
  •    Most goes to my car savings account
  •    I tip the guy who helps me at the Recycling Centre
  •    I always have a few dollars of walking around money just in case I find something in my travels worth buying

Have you ever found anything interesting in the bin? I like to collect bottle caps and I use the wine corks to make Christmas decorations for my customers and one time I found a skeleton arm, which I used to scare my dad.

What kind of car do you plan to buy (6 years from now)?  A Camaro or a Mustang.

Finally the most burning of questions……

What does the F in James F. Peggs stand for? My middle name is Fremont.

Speaking with James it was clear that his parents are doing a wonderful job of raising a respectful, polite and kindhearted young man. The world could use more kids like James, of that I have no doubt. If young Mr. Peggs is any indication of what the future has to hold for Canada I would say we are in very good shape. 

If you live in Yellowknife and would like to hire The Recycling Guy he can be contacted at the following email jamesfpeggs@gmail.com

He can also be contacted for one-time pick-ups after that big summer BBQ or backyard wedding.

Photo credit: Riley Veldhuizen

More of Rileys (amazing) photos can be found on her Instagram and Flickr pages!

why ya gotta be so critical, self?

 We have these rock star friends who recently moved north and turned their hobby (photography) into a business (MT Photography). We knew they would be great since they are our friends, but on top of that they were professional, funny and didn’t make it awkward at all. They had their work cut out for them as both Jeff and I are mega squinty smilers at the best of times, let alone the near blinding sun that still shines bright at 6 pm up here, in the land of the midnight sun.

Anyway. We wanted to have some engagement photos taken and seeing as its less than 8 weeks until our wedding, we had to get cracking. So, we made it happen. It was really fun. Before I knew it, we got our photos back and yay! we had our engagement photos.

As I showed them to people, the response was positive. (I mean, who is going to tell me to my face that I looked like garbage in those photos anyway ?!) At first I struggled to see what they saw. I totally and completely zoomed in and focused on all my flaws. Correction, what I saw to be my flaws. Why didn’t I initially see all the positives? Or the bursting happiness from two people about to be married?

Fast forward a day later. I had looked over the photos millions of times. And I started to realize I liked more and more of them. I began to see the positives over the negatives.

 But then I felt something…. guilt?….. for not being grateful and appreciative of the photos the first 100 times through. I still don’t understand it, but I know I love these photos and will be happy for a lifetime to have them. Thanks again MT Photography. Not only did you capture love and memories, but also for unknowingly giving me a harsh lesson in self love.

Next stop of this journey- wedding photos! J

school thoughts in june

 

As we wrap up the 2016/17 school year, it is time to countdown reflect. Let’s review the highlights….. (lowlights?)

Fidget spinners.  Assume all teachers hate them. Self regulation is big in schools these days (and it’s a good thing) and yes, fidget tools do exist. But, they are introduced as tools, not toys, and they come with certain expectations and rules. Fidget spinners on the other hand….. not my favourite. I’m hoping the buzz will be over by the fall. It has to be, right? 

Slime. I’m not sure when slime decided to take over as the ‘it’ thing to have at schools. Mixing random ingredients like glue, corn starch, glitter, conditioner, etc together and bringing it to school as a toy has also been hard on the head. I’m ready for the next DIY toy phase.

Donald Trump. If there is anything good that has come from American politics, it is this: kids are talking politics. They are asking questions that spark conversation: how did he get it? why don’t people like him? what were the other options? It’s been interesting to see students curious about politics. I’m digging that, not Trump. Let’s be crystal clear.

Hockey cards. One of my favourite things that my kiddos (aka my students) are currently into is hockey cards. They organically require skills in literacy, comparison, conversation, and on and on to ‘play’ hockey cards. I love watching them play, chat and discover cool things about their favourite players. It’s also a step up from Pokemon cards in my books!

home made slime…

THE END! And finally, how much I am going to miss them over the summer. Despite the craziness that is June, I will miss their stories, hugs, and inquisitive questions like why can’t we leave caterpillars in our hair? Why can’t we all come to your wedding? Do you think I can design your wedding dress?

Happy June everyone ! -J

 

 

To Carb or not to Carb, that is the question.

Low carb diets have been coming in and out of the dieting fad world for decades and there does not appear to be any sign of this trend slowing down. Although we may have learned little pearls along the way about what eating patterns sort of work and sort of do not work, social media of all types would prove we are still super dumb in the world of eating. The worst part is that the people with the loudest voices cheering for what does work are those with the least knowledge and education: The MLM’ers. That is, the multilevel marketers. Do what they do to look like they look. Buy what they are selling because it is going out the door like hot cakes. Sigh.

So here I am, simply a person with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, a year long internship alongside amazing dietitians, a Masters of Applied Human Nutrition, and 5 years of working in the nutrition trenches (#humblebrag) giving my two cents on whether or not low carb is the way to go. (PS if you aren’t sure what the eff a carb is, you can read my article on it here)

Defining low carb

So this is the most misunderstood component of a low carb diet I am sure, backed by nothing other than my personal opinion. To one person low carb may mean that they no longer eat bread and potatoes and to another it may mean they are in complete ketosis at all times. So, for the purposes of this article, I will create some definition:

Ultra Low Carb (Ketosis): Carb intake generally less than 50g/day

Low Carb: Carb intake generally  between 50-100g/d

Moderate Carb: 100-150g/d

Why would people want to eliminate carbs?

Great question. There is great merit in lowering carbohydrate intake as a strategy to lower weight, triglycerides, and insulin resistance. After all, if you consider that a person trying to lower their carbs also would significantly reduce their intake of all sweets, chips, cookies, granola bars, cereals, sugary beverages like juice and pop, french fries, and battered everything. So yeah, lowering carbsis definitely a bonus in that respect. But is their value is also tossing out all your fruit, milk, yogurt, starchy vegetables, grains, beans, and lentils?

That is where I get stuck, mostly because I love all of those foods but also because that is a lot of food and a lot of nutrients to eliminate. A ketogentic (or keto) diet would in fact remove all of those foods. The low -moderate carb would definitely create more variety but it is difficult to say if the weight loss results would be as dramatic in the short term if you are not in a relatively permanent state of ketosis.

What is ketosis you may ask…

Okay so here is a quick lesson digging back into the physiology books. Anytime you eat carbs they are broken down into glucose and stored as glycogen. These are considered your fuel tanks. When those fuel tanks are empty you would naturally shift to using fat as your main source of fuel. This shift essentially will produce ketones to do the job that glucose would have once done. Your body is very quick at using glucose as fuel and not so quick at using ketones, so there is an adaptive phase that needs to take place that will often take at least a few weeks.

Is it safe to lower carb intake?

All levels of carb intake -ultra low, low, and moderate- appear to actually be quite safe. Various studies have been done to check out if would negatively effect the kidneys or any markers related to heart health and it appears as though low carbs get the all clear. Some studies have shown that the ultra low carb diets can raise your LDL (or bad cholesterol) as one of the more negative outcomes. As with any new diet, check with a professional before starting it to make sure there will be no negative outcomes based on the medications you are currently taking and health conditions you currently have.

Is it effective long term?

Well, research is a bit unclear on this one. Several studies look at the comparison between people following ultra low carb diets compared to people who eat regularly but are consuming 500-1000 calories less than they used to (ie. the attempts to lose 1-2lbs/wk). Where the low carb diets tend to win is with the 4-6 month studies which mostly showed better outcomes. However, several studies actually had very similar weight loss outcomes after the 1-2 year mark which gives more of the idea that it is not super sustainable. Which really is not surprising, hence the question, can I give up carbs for life? I struggle to believe the answer is yes for the majority of the population. Fewer studies focused on the low to medium carb group and how they faired out after 1-2 years which is actually the population I am most interested in!

Low carb diets sound hard. Is there a pill I can just take instead?

Well, for every one person trying to lose weight the healthy way there are at least 10 people looking for the pill form of that hard work (that statistic is mostly made up. Okay entirely.) We all know that person who does the cleanses and takes all the vitamins and supplements in hopes that healthy eating and exercise will someday be a thing of the past.

So we have established that ultra low carb diets are well studied in the weight loss world, but giving up carbs is the absolute worst! What if you could somehow be in ketosis and use fat for fuel without actually giving up carbs? In comes Pruvit Keto/OS. An overly priced garbage drink that is supposed to put you in ketosis without doing the work of actually cutting out your carbs! Here is a great review of this product So apparently you can have your cake and eat it too, literally. But, before you jump on this bandwagon please know that this too shall pass, and this supplement will be another one for the ‘that was a gross waste of money’ books.

In Sum…

Eat carbs, or don’t eat carbs. But eat healthy. And ideally do some sort of physical activity reguar
ly. Low carb diets are not meant to be interpreted as an unlimited bacon (that originally said sausage but I changed it cause, you know) party and moderate or even high carb diets are not meant to consist of doughnuts and pastries. The key to either methods of healthy eating is to do them forever because that will be the only way to make the weight loss sustainable.

H

Lately

Here are 8 things that have been happening lately and I deemed share worthy news.

 Blendtec– We recently purchased a refurbished Blendtec blender and it has been awesome. It is much more powerful than our trusty magic bullet ant it’s been a thrill to make bigger, bolder smoothies. My favorite thing is the smoothie button with a 60 second countdown on the display. It’s incredible.

Riverdale. This TV series was interesting. I loved the drama, the sassiness and the straight up craziness from some of the characters. Yes, that’s you Cheryl Blossom. But some parts were so cheesy, I couldn’t help but eye roll. ie- Betty’s constant high pony. Have you watched it?

Wedding planning. Less than 80 days to go until the big event. I am really starting to get over-the -moon giddy with excitement for the whole wedding week. We can’t wait to show off our city to our guests and really look forward to being married! Dress has been picked up and it’s all starting to feel very real!

 Books. Similar to how I re-watch Friends and The Mindy Project millions of times over, I like to re-read my favourite books over and over. I have been re-reading three of my favs and I KNOWWW there are other books (and shows) out there that I would love, but something about re-reading a good book that just makes everything right in the world.  Lullabies for Little Criminals, Random Family and The Glass Castle are some of my favs. What can I say? I like what I like ! I am branching out and reading You Are A Badass which is very motivational and I like it.

 Lion. The movie, not the animal. This movie was so incredible, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for three days. It made me cry allllll the tears and feel so many feels. I can not properly describe how amazing this movie was. Go see it!

Birch Camp. One of the (many) amazing things about working at my school is the culture camps. We recently went to tap birch trees and learn the process of making birch syrup/birch butter. So cool and it was a nice sunny day. Perfect class field trip. 

Weekend getaway. Our friends  recently got married in Banff and it was oh so beautiful. It was such a nice weekend in the mountains. Banff/Canmore is a wonderful location for us northerns to get our mountain fix and just relax and unwind.

Chrissy Teigen. To know me is to know I loveeee Chrissy Teigen. She is the best. So when she paired with Becca Cosmetics to launch a glow face palette, I was all over it. It’s beautiful and I love it as much as I knew I would.

That’s an update from my northern world. Sending lots of love to all our wonderful followers! Happy Spring ! xo Janna

 

 

 

 

 

10 Food Rules To Live By or….well….Death Likely.

There is a lot of misinformation out there about healthy eating, dieting, and weight loss. Here are 10 simple rules to help clear that all up.

  1. Eat a diet balanced in fruit and vegetables, grains and starches, meats, legumes, and dairy.
  2. Try not to eat too much red meat or pork and focus on chicken, fish, and veggies to get the youthfulness of those in the Mediterranean. Replace butter with healthy olive oil.
  3. Add butter to your coffee to truly be healthy.
  4. When eating grains and starches, avoid gluten. Always choose gluten free.
  5. Avoid eating grains and starches, legumes as well as dairy to successfully go Paleo. Eat a diet balanced in meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fats.
  6. In addition to avoiding starches, legumes, and dairy, also cut out fruit so that you can follow a low carb, ketogenic diet.
  7. Avoid eating eggs, meat, dairy, and anything that comes from an animal, but feel free to include dairy alternatives such as almond or coconut milk, lots of fruit and vegetables, beans and lentils, grains and starches to properly follow a vegan diet. Don’t even look at honey, what are you some kind of animal!? Sorry, that was offensive to the animals probably.
  8. The grains and starches should not be starchy or processed. Focus on tubers, potatoes, corn, squash, yucca, etc. as part of the Whole Food Plant Based Diet.
  9. Do a juice cleanse often to help pick up the slack for your ill functioning liver and kidney. If it is not expensive, it aint working. Consider organic juice.
  10. Lastly, make sure that your food is clean. Eating dirty food is the absolutely worst of them all. With your clean food, drink kombucha.

With these 10 easy steps you’ll be the worlds healthiest person and all health issues should be cured permanently.

Bon appétit!

Naturopathic Medicine

We feel so grateful here at Ladies that Life to access to so many incredible people, including this amazing guest blogger. Cassandra Goodwin is a licensed naturopathic doctor and taking PEI by storm! I wanted to share my incredible sister with you all, so here is an interview we had recently.  Side note- if there are any specific topics you would like covered by Dr. Goodwin on our blog, please let us know. Stress management? Sleep hygiene? What is acupuncture? An intro to Traditional Chinese Medicine? Fertility help?

Let us know in the comments below or email ladiesthatlife@gmail.com   Enjoy! 

Cassandra Goodwin is a licensed ND on Prince Edward Island, working both in Charlottetown and Summerside. She is smart, honest and shedding a wonderful positive light on naturopathic medicine.

 

One of my favourite herbs- Passionflower!

How did you decide on naturopathy as a career?

I grew up with a physician and a registered nurse as parents, and got to see first hand the positive impact health care providers can have on our community. I travelled for two years after my undergrad, and got to see how other cultures view wellness – it blew my mind, and I began exploring options once I was back on Canadian soil. Naturopathic medicine is perfect for me, as I love the blend of evidence and tradition, of science and the art of listening, and the luxury of time I get to really take a through health history from a patient. At times, it is like I am a health detective, diving deep into a case to find out the root cause of why symptoms or disease processes are happening so that we can address the ‘why’ and eventually lead to optimized health.

What are your favourite parts of the job?

I love many things about my profession – each day is different. Since I work in a smaller city, I see a wide range of cases. I also love the fact that the field of naturopathic medicine is constantly evolving. I spend a lot of time reading research and prepping for my patients, which generally involves learning a lot each day. My favorite part about my work is how simple things can have really big effects – for example, simply focusing on being present while eating can really improve digestion verses eating on the run. I always focus on sustainable changes that create lasting impacts, which guides the patient to thriving in their lives in a way that’s maintainable. This is why I do what I do – to help people identify and remove barriers to living optimal lives.

 There is some confusion and misleading information out there about ND’s. Can you clear up a few rumours for us! 

There are some strong misconceptions about naturopathic medicine and naturopathic doctors, especially in an unregulated province like PEI. The most frustrating thing for me is likely that the terms ‘naturopathic medicine’ and ‘naturopathic doctor’ are not protected terms on PEI. This means anyone can claim to be a naturopathic doctor, even if they haven’t graduated from an accredited school or passed the North American board exams. To ensure you are seeing a licensed ND on PEI, make sure she is listed here: www.peiand.ca. Another misconception is that a patient shouldn’t seek care from both a medical doctor or nurse practitioner and a naturopathic doctor. This is in fact the ideal situation, as I can support the care you receive from your primary care provider.

 Final thoughts? 

Overall, running a business and being a naturopathic doctor is a challenging professional life, but I wouldn’t change it. I love seeing patients evolving and progressing, and helping facilitate lasting impact. I know I get better at my work with each passing day, and there is always more to learn. If anyone has any questions about naturopathic medicine, or is interested in learning more about how to become a naturopathic doctor, I’d love to help. I can be reached at drgoodwin@vitalnm.com

Mental Health Nursing

Our post today is another (incredible) guest blogger. She is talking education, communication and understanding when it comes to mental health and her role as a nurse. It is anonymous to protect her privacy. As mental health week comes to a close, let’s keep talking mental health and continue to take care of each other! Happy Friday!

Happy mental health week!

What do you think of when someone says, “I’m a nurse”? I know that before I went to nursing school I thought of the classic Florence Nightingale, a caring woman who holds hands, gives out medication, changes bedpans, helps people stand, etc. I think it is understandable then, that when people ask me what I do, I feel the need to elaborate. There are so many kinds of nursing, so many designations, specialties, and region specific roles that it’s hard to keep them straight. I am a registered nurse who works within the field of psychiatry. I have a BScN (RN) in Nursing, a post graduate certificate in mental health nursing, and a Canadian designation as a Certified Mental Health and Psychiatric Nurse – CMHPN©, and currently am pursuing my masters in program development in nursing and health care; ridiculously complex, right? And given that this is just one person’s career, it’s hard to wrap your head around the many kinds of nurses out there.

I work primarily with children, adolescents, and their families; I have practiced in the community, forensic units, inpatient psychiatric units, and emergency. I complete biopsychosocial psychiatric assessments, emergency follow up assessments, injections, medication check ins/follow ups, as well as a number of other functions which are consultation/administration/case management of clients.

What are all of these assessments? They are discussion, I need to be what the client needs in that moment. Sometimes I refer to it as acting, after introductions and pleasantries are exchanged you feel the room and you respond accordingly. One teen may need someone empathetic, soft spoken, who provides gentle encouragement, while the next may need someone who is firm, straightforward, and not afraid to redirect the conversation when required. When completing these assessments, I’m gathering information about all of the domains of life to find out how well the person is adjusting to whatever is causing them issues, and if it is causing them problems with their basic functioning (ie. sleeping, eating, school, work, relationships). I’m assessing if someone is suicidal, and if so what that means to that person, are they pondering or fantasizing about death, or have they decided that it is time to die and they know how they will do it. How are they handling this? How are they coping? Are they utilizing health outlets like positive social relationships, or do they have maladaptive coping skills like self-harm or drug use? 

This information collecting isn’t just a question and answer, it is a conversation, an easy and logical flow of dialogue between myself and the person which should result in them being heard, validated, reassured, or, when necessary, called on for inappropriate behaviour. Further, it’s about educating parents so they can understand why their child might behave the way that they do. I have counselled parents during the middle of the night, after their child attempts suicide, and I’ve also counselled distraught parents when they learn that their child is cutting, or was arrested, or was intoxicated. Most importantly, I must relate, and I have to speak clearly and provide hard copies of information for parents as the next day they are likely to have forgotten everything we discussed during their time of high stress.

I think one of the most important parts of my job, which is never in a job description, is increasing education and understanding of mental health. The more people understanding that cutting may be a teenagers way of coping, or that depression and anxiety aren’t something that can just be ‘turned off’, and that someone with psychosis is not actually dangerous, then I am doing my job no matter where I’m working. Lastly, never be afraid to ask someone if they are thinking about suicide, it won’t cause any detriment to them, and they will be so thankful you asked.

Happy mental health week all, take care of yourself and listen to the people around you.

Minimal Living

The idea of living as a minimalist is so interesting to me. We are lucky enough to have a guest blogger today, Keith Lawlor who lives (and loves!) the minimalist life. Enjoy the article below as he gives us an insight into his world! 

Minimalism is everywhere, and it’s awesome.

 

People often tend to envision minimalism as an empty space – white, bright and sterile. This is the image that is hash-tagged and tweeted. It’s the one we see from minimalist bloggers, and the one that naysayers love to challenge. But minimalism is so much more than a blank emptiness. It’s a form of freedom that we never knew we needed.

I found my way to minimalism from a desire to simplify my physical life at home. In the living room, I have a shelf under a wall-mounted TV which would gather layers of dust because moving all the items to clean it became too time-consuming. I ignored and avoided the chore at all costs. Yet I knew it was dusty and that irked me. It was a display of my things, but was also a source of dissatisfaction. I had brimming drawers of unused bathroom products, a closet full of rarely worn clothes, and kitchen cupboards with duplicates for no reason; two salad spinners, two can openers, two colanders. It goes on. For a long time, I never even consciously realized how often I had to dig to find something, or was pushing things aside in pursuit of something else. I’d explored some other areas of intentional living – personal finance, zero waste – and quickly realized the benefit of minimalism.

I started with my living room shelf. I looked at every item and asked myself – Does this add value to my life? Does this serve a needed function? Does this spark joy? I got rid of knick-knacks from my travels, I cut my book inventory in half, I tossed the piece of driftwood from Cape Breton. I took the time to look at each item and make the decision to keep it or remove it. I even got rid of all my picture frames. I kept the photos in a box for future enjoyment, but framed on the shelf, they were mundane dust-collectors that I never paid attention to. That’s hardly a way to cherish the people in them. I get more joy looking at them twice a year than I ever did with them on my shelf all-day every-day.

Once I was done, the image of the shelf was lucrative. Bare by former standards, it could now be cleaned in half the time, and the items remaining were the ones that I am most proud of. Newfoundland fiction (my home province), a silver Kiwi bird that brings me back to a solo 3-months in New Zealand, and a ceramic frog that I occasionally slip into Bobby’s boots for an ongoing laugh. Here’s the best part – it was easy. Or at the very least, far easier than I expected it to be.

I was hooked, and kept moving through the home. The bathroom drawers were emptied of colognes, and shaving cream. I got rid of extra razers, old hair clippers, nail files and tweezers, tiny floss containers, partially full travel toothpastes, shabby floor mats and more. I can’t even remember most of the things, which is indicative of how much crap I had. I do recall finding a single-use face mask in a plastic package. How did this come to me? How long had it been there? I still don’t know.

The kitchen was a landmine of excess. Table cloths I kept for ‘someday’ were donated, and excess glassware for ‘just in case’ moments were removed. I had leaky water bottles, and a Bubba Mug for resort-vacations. I had wine bottles lining the upper cupboards, which were promptly recycled. Good bye to the duplicate colander, and the pizza cutter, and the loose-handled frying pan, and the olive-pitter, and the brie baker, and the chip bag clips, and the clunky coffee maker that brewed far too much and caused me to waste coffee every day. None of it was needed, and none of it has every been missed. Not once. Ever. I’m not kidding.

The bedroom provided some of the greatest relief. I donated a huge portion of clothing point blank. With my newly-found minimalism focus, I could easily determine 20+ items that were better suited to be introduced to the second-hand market. From there, I took everything I hadn’t worn in the last 6 months, plus about half of my stack of cheap t-shirts and put it in an empty bedside trunk. I made a deal with myself that anything remaining at the end of 3 months would be donated. I took just two items from the trunk – a pair of running pants and a pair of hiking pants. Everything else was purged. My closet looks close to empty, but the truth is, I still wear all of the same clothes I wore before and nothing more. There’s some stat out there that suggests we only wear 20% of the clothing we own. I donated my 80%. I also opted to get rid of Winners wall art, cheap accent pillows, an unused desk and chair, an unneeded dresser and more.

Today, our home has only the items that serve us regularly, and a strictly-curated collection of keepsake items that truly bring joy. And we eliminated more than clutter. We eliminated stress, cleaning time, decision fatigue, and the impulse to purchase every little thing that marketers tell us we need. I’ve learned that the one extra throw pillow doesn’t make you happier – it does the opposite. It occupies space, it robs your money and its power to build future wealth, and it becomes one more item to tidy, move, and eventually toss (likely to just end up in the ocean).

Minimalism has also led me to even broader areas than clutter. I’ve minimized relationships, cutting out the take-take-takers and the toxic ‘friends’ that I erroneously allowed into my space. I’ve cut social media use, realizing that 7 minutes buried in Snapchat videos I don’t care for, and 20 minutes on Instagram browsing filtered versions of other people’s best-moments, added nothing to my life, and only detracted from it. I’ve allowed minimalism to focus my goals into actionable items. I’ve reconsidered the trajectory of my life and realized that when we strip everything away, all that truly matters is our health and our relationships, and that’s where I want to focus.

We should also acknowledge that minimalism is fluid. My minimalism experience will likely vary from yours, and comparison is often unproductive. But experimenting with minimalism is a valuable exercise nonetheless, and I encourage everyone to take a few moments to ask themselves what truly compliments their life, and then cut out the excess.

Minimalism is so much more than another trend – it’s a cultural shift towards intentional living and freedom, and everyone can benefit.

Keith