Back to Basics: My journey to real health (Part I)

Back to Basics: My journey to real health (Part I)

For some time now I’ve felt like some sort of “in the closet” crunchy-granola, green-livin’, real-food-believin’ hippie. Sure, the people who really know me know that I believe in health. And if someone asked I’d be more than happy to share a DIY cleaning product recipe, or talk about why I love raw milk. But far too often I try to keep the things I do quiet. I don’t like making too much noise when it comes to how I live my life. Because, sometimes, I feel like a complete wacko.

Most days I think I live a pretty normal life. My house is nice and clean (just toxic free). My food is nice and clean (just toxic free). My body is nice and clean (just tox… you get the point.) I don’t have long unwashed hair that’s parted down the side with twigs or flowers in it. I don’t bob my head around like I’m in some sort of crazy daze. The truth is I just feel more grounded, relaxed, healthy, and energized by the very things other people think are “weird.” And if you are comparing my day-to-day living to that of a “normal” person… well, I am weird. Or at least different.

I’m okay with that. In fact, I feel pretty darn good about it.

Of course, I didn’t start this way. I grew up in a “normal” home with good parents and lots of processed foods. It’s not that we had a lot of “junk food” in our house. My mom was pretty diligent in doing her best. She followed society’s wishy-washy, back-and-forth ideals of what was healthy. In fact, I still remember the day as a young child when my mom switched to skim milk because, you know, “fat will make you fat.” (sigh.)

Even though I didn’t grow up in some sort of hippie community farm, I have always been interested in health. In my youth I would set goals to eat less candy, exercise more, and reach an “ideal” weight. I believed what society told me and purchased only the products that were “healthy,” “low fat,” and “made with whole grains.” (sigh, again.)

Despite my attempts at being healthy, I struggled with acne, digestive issues, and weight problems.  Even during my college days when I was dancing 8+ hours a day plus working out, I continued to feel trapped in someone else’s “not quite right” body. I wasn’t sick, but I sure didn’t feel at my peak.

During those years I had also experienced severe dry skin on my hands. Seriously, I felt like a leper. I would pour piles of lotion and frown as it just pooled in my palms, useless. This condition continued to come and go for four years. FOUR. YEARS. I finally went to a doctor to see what was wrong.

His diagnosis: Dry Skin.
His recommendation: Put some lotion on it.

(Head against wall.) *big sigh*

Frustrated, I went home and started researching. I spent hours online, reading chat forums, nutrition journals, and other people’s experiences. After a lot of consideration I determined I had an omega-3 deficiency. (Keep in mind this was several years before omega-3′s would be a “buzz” word. Nobody I knew had ever heard of omega-3 anything.)

I bought some flaxseed oil supplements and began my self-prescribed plan. Within a week or two my hands were back to normal. I soon traded the supplements for omega-3 foods (look at that, fat can be good!). It has been 8 years and I haven’t had a problem since. What I’ve learned over the years (and through countless hours of research) is that we must take control of our own health.

A shift in perspective: What is health care?

Image by Sharyn Morrow, Flickr

Let me be clear: Our health is our responsibility.

What does that mean to me? Does it mean never trusting my doctor or always going against modern medicine? No, not necessarily. But it does mean not necessarily putting my whole trust in them without trying to learn, research, and considering all my options. It means using common sense, seeing a bigger picture of health, trusting my gut, listening to all sides, and doing what feels best.

Image by Loren Zemlicka, Flickr

Any journey toward real health must start with the realization that our health is our own. Instead of waiting for answers from those who too often only cover up symptoms, we need to take the steps necessary to get back to basics. We need to see that health care is not the same as sick care. Health care is an ongoing and vibrant process, a personal journey.

Read Part II here.

(top featured image by  nicolette clara, Flickr)

This post is part of Fight Back Friday and Health and Fitness Link Up,.

NOTE: Due to an never-ending cesspool of spam, I have made the tough decision to close comments 14 days after the original posting of all posts. Sorry to anyone left out of the conversation. I just needed to spend less time monitoring spam and more time with my kids. Best wishes, Robin!

Think getting real food the table is hard? I used to, too. Well, my friend, let me introduce you to Real Plans. A brand new way to think about meal planning that makes getting healthy, delicious food to your table easy. I am absolutely in love with it, and I know you will be, too. Check it out here.

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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie

49 comments

  1. cassia

    oh my goodness, i started getting dry hands since i’ve moved… i wash my hands quite a bit, but not that much! robin i feel like i’m just a few steps behind you in this health-discovery about so many many things, haha. thanks for being willing to share all of your discoveries, it gives me more to think about as i try to help my family be healthier and toxic-free!

    1. robin

      Thanks, Cassia! It does seem like we have been on similar journeys. I love having so many inspiring people, like you, to help keep me pushing forward.

  2. Megan Hardy

    Hey Robin!! (hope you and the little one are doing well!)
    I’m on a similar journey with severe digestive problems. After racking up too many medical bills and finding no answers I decided to take my health into my own hands. I did hours of research. And hours of praying. And through personal revelation and inspiration and following my intuition I’ve been slowly finding answers these last 15 months. I’m on a slow but steady healing journey. The most important (and most simple!) answers I’ve received have been to take out everything fake (especially food preservatives), eat more than 50% raw, and eat less. The last one surprised me because my weight dropped down close to 100 lbs (non-intentional!) but eating less, eating lighter, eating raw has brought my weight back up to my normal range, my stomach is healing, and I’m re-introducing many delicious fruits and vegetables that I’ve been missing. Also I’ve noticed a change by eliminating toxins in shampoo, toothpaste, etc. I feel like many people in our generation are having these types of reactions, all those bad choice we made a few generations back are catching up to us :( But people are becoming more educated and are making changes. Keep moving forward strong in your journey!

    1. robin

      Hey Megan, congrats on the awesome changes! I totally agree that it really is amazing what simple changes can make. I’m so glad you’ve found what works for you! That’s the key: doing what feels right and best for you.

      There really is no “one size fits all” life experience, although getting rid of all the fake stuff seems to be the one common thread in most people’s transformation. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Kirsten

    I love what Megan is bravly doing. I was once on that oh so right and natural path to whole and vibrant living. For most of my adult life, and i had never been so healthy and happy. This last past year, i completely fell off the healthy wagon, and i have suffered greatly. So i just want everyone that reads this, and i wish i could shout this testimonial from every roof top…i would give anything to rewind a time machine back a year, and redo the damage i have done to myself. So please, please don’t give up on yoursef and the process. Our bodies are truly temples that effect all aspects of our lives and the dear loved ones within them.

    1. robin

      Beautiful thoughts, Kirsten. The good news, of course, is that you can always work your back… even after a side-track. :)

  5. Kim

    I am just starting to see the light in all of this in the last month or so. I am no where near where we need to be, but I am realizing what I want for myself and my family. Thank you for your inspiration. I think you should teach a class, I would love to listen to your knowledge on the subject.

    1. robin

      You’re sweet, Kim. It’s definitely been a long road for me (and we still have a ways to go), but I love reading and researching this stuff. :)

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  10. Jamesa

    It’s good to see that I’m not the only “different” person in the US :). I’m disciplined and supported enough to eat 90% clean (I currently live with my parents, who are pretty indifferent towards clean eating). When I graduate from highschool and go off to college I want to improve this percentage by at least 5%. Thankyourbody.com seems like a really good start! :D


    1. Post author
      robin

      Thanks, Jamesa!

      I think it’s great that you are starting now. I wish I would have figured this stuff out when I was younger. :)

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  12. Katherine @ Green Thickies

    Your story sounds quite like mine. I struggled with my health, had no help from doctors so healed myself and lost loads of weight.
    I am now passionate about health but I am the only person I know who feels this way. So it’s great to ‘meet’ people like yourself online who share my passion. I love your website!


    1. Post author
      robin

      Nice to meet you, too! I love the internet for this very reason: Learning that there are so many people with similar experiences. Quite empowering. :)


    1. Post author
      robin

      Indeed! I’ve loved reading some of your journey. Your son is so lucky to have you as a mama. :)

  13. Amy

    Kinds late to be commenting, but I just found you (:. I so coulda written this post, history and feelings about being a wierdo are exactly the same. But my trigger was my children. Two (of 7 [!!!]) were out of control. Which led me to feingold.org via google (I searched “impulse control problems”) . Which led to baking and cooking from scratch so I’d know what we were consuming. And then all of the healthful things I could sneak into our food, etc. Life is SOOOOO much more peaceful now! I could cry to think of how confused their little brains and bodies were before. And it’s only been 4 months, although I could see a difference in only a week. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  14. Samantha

    I think I may have to try the Omega 3 thing out! I have always had severe dry skin, even as a kid. I have tried so many lotions and creams and none have worked. EV Coconut oil has been the only thing that has helped. But my hands are the worst. And when the weather gets cold, they feel like sandpaper (eww)and sometimes they even crack in spots (mainly on my knuckles). And washing my hands or doing dishes makes them even drier. One reason I despise winter. I went to the dermatologist once and he said I had “something that started with an E” and prescribed some chemical laden cream which I didn’t use after I read the label.


    1. Post author
      robin

      Sounds like eczema to me. Diet is definitely one of the biggest factors for skin issues. You should check out the Eczema Cure by Emily Bartlett (it’s the book currently featured on my right side bar). Omega 3′s are definitely important for skin. Good luck! :)

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  16. Debbie Lewis

    Robin,
    I would like to make your homemade mascara – my question is, can I use fresh aloe gel instead of purchased?
    Thanks,
    Deb

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  18. Stacey

    Can I ask if you recommend any specific omega-3 supplements? And foods I should be eating?
    I’ve got horrid cracking scaly skin on my hands.. It hurts and its kinda nasty, especially when they bleed:/ I’ve tried changing soaps to Dr Bronner’s and that has helped a little but I know its something that has to be fixed from the inside out. Thanks for all the great info. :)


    1. Post author
      robin

      I actually don’t take omega-3 supplements anymore, but try to eat more fish. I also found that just eating more quality fats like whole raw milk and butter (instead of margarine like I grew up with) and coconut oil helped a ton with my dry skin.

      1. Stacey

        I don’t like fish.. I wish I did but I have a hard time eating it. :(
        Can’t really get raw dairy in my state either.. but I love coconut oil and butter!

  19. Franceislovely

    I know this sounds weird, but I get so overwhelmed with changing every little thing, but I want to be healthier for my family and me of course. I have started getting rid of chemically cleaners and use either Method or simple vinegar and baking soda. Sometimes I will buy organic food, bi put to be perfectly honest, we order pizzas, eat tons of processed food, drink pop, use hairspray and Pert Plus(gasp) and everything in between. I want to be a healthy mommy for my baby and a wife for my husband, but I get so overwhelmed to have to change every little aspect of my life because that’s a ton of changes!!


    1. Post author
      robin

      I totally get what you are saying. Don’t focus on everything things that needs to be changed. Start with either the thing that feels the easiest or the most important. And stick with it until it’s just a part of your life. THEN try something else. Every good change will affect your life for the better, it’s about progress… even if it’s slow.

      Also, know that you are a good mom… life is about balance. Don’t let the stress of healthy living affect your health or your relationships. You can do it!

      1. Franceislovely

        Thank you so much. Your words make total sense and it makes me feel less overwhelmed to change a little bit at a time. Phew.

  20. Colleen

    hello! i stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago. The more i read, the more i LOVE IT! I have two questions.

    1. i am into making some non toxic kitchen cleaner, however, as i research, it seems the non toxic stuff wont kill off any meat or animal related germs. The vinegar and baking soda kills flu and cold bugs, but not meat bugs like salmonella and those fun ones. Any suggestions for natural non toxic cleaners that are proven to kill these types of germs?

    2. What type of mattress do you use? And for your little one? As well, do you know of any mattress covers i could get that are safe? Buying a new infant mattress is out of the question so perhaps a protective cover could work? My babe is now 10 months. I had no idea toxins in mattresses were even a thing. Wish i knew!


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      Hi Colleen,

      Great questions. I personally use vinegar in my kitchen after a good scrub with soap and water. This resonated with me:

      “When it comes to cleaning house we need to remember to keep it simple, says Professor Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician at the Australian National University’s Medical School. Rather than concentrating on disinfecting or killing the bugs, we should focus on cleaning with hot soapy water and good old-fashioned elbow grease to physically scrub away organic material. “You’ve got to clean the surface first and that’s usually enough. Then you have to ask yourself whether you need to disinfect at all,” he says. “For the kitchen sink, for example, you probably don’t need anything except cleaning.” However, that dirty chopping board might warrant disinfecting – but only after you’ve given it a good scrub with hot, soapy water. It’s only the act of rubbing and scrubbing a dirty chopping board that can break down the slimy matrix around certain types of salmonella, allowing the disinfectant to then get to work. As for commercial cleaners, Collignon says we don’t always need the level of disinfection in the home that these products provide. “We over-use chemicals,” he says. “Instead of using one unit, we use 1000 units, and the benefits are marginal.” “All of us would like to use a magic potion so that we don’t have to use the elbow grease. But that’s a false premise.” -http://www.abc.net.au/health/talkinghealth/factbuster/stories/2012/02/02/3407024.htm#.UbIN-kCTh8E

      I don’t stress too much about germs and focus rather on a clean home, clean food, and nutrient dense food to build an immune system.

      As for the mattress: Right now we don’t have anything too special. We “air” out mattresses when we get them on our deck for a couple days to help gas-off the major stuff. There are covers to help. Mommypotamus had a great article that broke down some options. Go to mommypotamus.com and do a search for toxic mattresses.

      Good luck!

      1. Colleen

        You are so kind and helpful. Thank you. Keep it up! Im learning so much (ill be hitting up your baby food stuff here in a bit as Pearl reaches 10 months and is getting board with the same old fruit and veggies ive been giving her).

        We didnt put out Daughter (Pearl) in her room for a few months so, im thinking (hoping) the major gas toxins were gone by then.

  21. pipin

    recently found your website. you have shared many useful and important health knowledge as well as many good natural recipes. truly love them. awaiting for your next articles :)

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