(the ultimate) Healthy Homemaker Series ~ mental and personal wellbeing

This week I'm writing about what healthy-living looks like in our home, and in my life, and bringing you the best of the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle. An amazing resource packed with 86 ebooks, an online conference, and bonus products to help you in your healthy living journey.

Food is such a huge part of our lives and is, I believe, the dominant factor in our health. More so even than exercise. High level athletes still get heart disease, etc. But food and diet are not the be-all, end-all to health.

I spent the early years of our family life (it was right around the time we had our babies, in quick succession) overhauling our diet.

For many years my focus was on this part of my health. It took a lot of physical and intellectual energy, at a time in life when I was very engaged with raising babies and toddlers.

We choose to make diet a family health endeavor. It is something we do all together in support of each other. When the kids went through gluten-free stages (the four of us eat gluten a couple times a week now) none of us ate it. Man that was hard for me but I'm so glad I no longer depend on wheat like I used to.

Except for alcohol and small amounts of caffeine, which the adults get to drink and the kids don't (our oldest now drinks green tea regularly and Brienne is developing a taste for coffee), we follow the same food rules.

The adults aren't drinking sodas, daily Vente Starbucks, or have a secret ice cream stash in the freezer. (This doesn't mean we never eat these things but we don't make a habit of it. And what goes for our kids, goes for us.)

Bundle Tip: There are gluten recipe books in the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle and books on sugar detoxing and lots of recipes without refined sugars.

When you build a healthy diet as a team you are much more likely to succeed.

I think this is one of the most successful strategies for healthy living - do it together. This is one of the key strengths of family life, our ability to support each other.

But I'm finding there are areas of my health that only I can be responsible for. These areas are more personal and are mostly related to my mental health. No one else lives inside my head. Not even the people I spend all day with and sleep with at night.

We have built structures that support each other in our family. We have created a schedule that allows each of us ample time and freedom to take care of our personal health - exercise, rest, relationships, and of course all that work in the kitchen to eat well - we make time for these in our day.

Health is one of our core values.

In our family diet, Damien and I together, are the gate keepers for what comes in our home and what we feed ourselves and our children. But I am the only gate keeper for my thoughts and my mental outlook.

And what I've found is that my mental health can nearly sabotage the whole works.

I'm not sure how many years I've been at the edge of Seasonal Affective Disorder but last winter, if I had been hovering on the brink in the past, I crossed the line.

I am so stubborn and prideful (ouch) that it was hard for me to admit my weakness, but once I did there was a relief that followed. The relief that nothing was inherently wrong with me or broken.

Why are we so afraid of being broken, even when we're clearly hurting?

Naming my struggle (thank you to many of you here for your gentle pointing in this direction), similar to Damien identifying years ago that wheat gives him rashes, has helped me look for solutions.

It's ok to feel low in certain seasons of life. I believe in cycles and ebbs and flows of energy. But I think we all know where that line crosses for us individually, from cyclical, seasonal living to "I feel pretty low lots of the time and I don't want to."

Winter is always hard for me. I don't think that's going to change anytime soon and I keep talking to Damien about living somewhere else during March and part of April, but until that happens I'm being proactive about making my mental health a priority right where I am.

My strategy for this winter is pretty basic and I laid it out previously in this love letter I wrote to myself.

Winter/SAD Health Strategies

  • A "Happy Light". When the time came to order this I couldn't believe how hard it was to spend this amount of money (about $200 Cdn.) on myself. Am I the only one like this?
  • Daily exercise. Did I mention the daily part? This is hard to maintain, I will admit, but doing it with my kids helps. Even when I skimp on my health, I'm less likely to skimp on theirs!
  • Nutritional supplements, mostly lots of good fish oil. I'm looking into essential oils also.
  • Loving mental strategies and exercises. This includes meditative type stuff (I am not a yoga mama though who sits quiet with legs crossed), scripture, and honestly, a constant re-wiring how I think about myself. Again, this part is hard work.
  • Relationships. When I am tempted to withdraw too much that's when I need to move outside myself. It seems counter-intuitive and I'm still learning my threshold with this because too much "out there" does drain me.

I think there are a few things we need to do when taking responsibility for our health and wellbeing - mental, physical or otherwise.

We need tools and education

These could be ebooks (like from this bundle), courses (also in this bundle), high quality supplements, a visit to a naturopath or nutritionist.

A lot of information is at our fingertips these days but honestly, sometimes it's just too much information. Don't be afraid to limit your references to just a few you trust.

We need an "I matter mentality"

This is where women often start talking about self-care and all that. I'm not going there in this post. It's been written about ad nauseam in blogs and women's magazines.

All I have to say on this topic is this: when I am healthy and well, in all respects, my husband and family benefit as much as I do. It's in everyone's best interests for me to take fabulous care of my wellbeing.

We need loving accountability and support

It is so hard for me to vulnerable about my health, because I'm really healthy in many respects and I "pride" myself on that. Therein lies the problem.

I think my battle with the winter blues was a good "brokenness" experience for me. It has given me so much more compassion for people and has opened up compassion for myself in ways I've never experienced.

We don't need a lot of people in our lives to be accountable to but we need a few. Sometimes they are people really close to us and other times they come into our lives for a short season - a health professional (doctor, nutritionist, yoga teacher), neighbors, online friends.

I learned last winter that there were people in my life, both relationally very close and not-so-close who had something to offer me in my pain. This was really humbling and necessary for me.

I've wondered this past year why I am struggling with SAD now, of all times. It wasn't this bad when I had wee small children and I hadn't been sleeping well for over five years.

Maybe our health, like everything else, is a refining iterative process.

At this stage in my life lot of the distractions of modern consumerism and consumption, the striving for perfect motherhood of my twenties and early thirties, and the "someday I'll arrive" falsity have been flensed (thank you Kelsi - google it).

And I am laid bare, and open even, to a mental refining process - the next stage of my healthy growth and evolution.

And here's the rub for me - I don't get to arrive at perfect health. After changing our diet I thought I had arrived, for a time. And that brought on pride. Do I have to even say what comes after pride?

I must always be open to learning about myself and taking charge of my health - all parts of it.

Get the Bundle

The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is, like the title says, about healthy living. Not just healthy recipes.

Here's the complete shelf of healthy lifestyle books:

And also the fitness books:

The Five FIMBY Favorites.

  • 31 Days to Great Sex ($4.99) - My mental health is related to my sexual health. I don't want to make FIMBY readers uncomfortable (ok, my daughter). This isn't a topic I usually write about, but the hormones that are released during sexual intimacy and orgasm are more than feel good for the moment. They are part of your overall mental and physical health as an adult woman.
  • 7 Days to Calm: a guided video course ($37.00) - You know how much I love Lisa's teaching and courses for women. The value of this video alone is worth the whole Bundle. I am very eager to download these videos from Lisa. I need these in my toolkit going into this next season.
  • Find Your Balance ($4.99) - I usually avoid books like this but Bernice's book has some really good workbook pages that are very useful tools for nailing down what is important to you in your life, allowing you to achieve something better than balance - a clear understanding of yourself and your priorities.
  • One Bite at a Time ($5.00) - Tsh's book is a well-known in the internet world, for good reason I believe. Our outer world, the one in our domain at least - our kitchens, basements, closets, desks, homes, etc is a reflection of our inner world. And these inner and outer domains feed off each other. One Bite at a Time is a great how-to book for critically evaluating and dealing with the outer world stuff, which significantly impacts our overall health
  • Personal ePlanner ($5.00) - If you like lists or feel the need for some list templates to help you sketch out your personal health goals, and even life goals, you might appreciate this resource.

A lot of the personal health and wellbeing books in this bundle are written from a Christian perspective and I know not all FIMBY readers share this world view. The books I highlighted above do not dwell on this with Jesus talk and Bible verses.

31 Days to Great Sex is explicitly Christian, which I appreciate for a topic like marital intimacy.

The health books above are valued at $56.98. The whole bundle, including 80 more ebooks, an online conference, and real product bonuses is available this week for only $29.97.

A Bundle Tip & Bonus

I am going to writing about this bundle all week. Five posts. I'm going to be blogging about all my favorite parts of this bundle. Your favorites will be different.

The thing with a bundle this size, and with this many bonuses, it doesn't matter if you dismiss half the contents as irrelevant to your life, you still get a great deal.

When you download the bundle (which is a breeze), sort and file the books immediately into a toolkit that makes sense for you.

A special bonus for you if you buy the bundle through my website.

You probably are familiar enough with bundles to know that the sites you purchase through (ie: my blog or someone else's) get a cut of that sale. Which means I would be super pleased if you are considering purchasing this bundle that you do so through the links on my blog.

Any link from my site counts, not just the buy button below.

To thank you for purchasing the bundle through my blog I will be giving anyone who purchases the bundle through my site my ebook How To Start a Food Buying Club 101.

After you purchase the bundle just send me an e-mail and I'll send you the ebook.

Click here to get the low-down on the complete bundle.

Resource Library

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  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on Nov. 5, 2013, 2:49 p.m.

    It has been 3 years since I did not experience SAD (because as you know, we were in Costa Rica and then Utah/AZ for the last winters) and I am struggling a lot this year... I can't believe I feel it even more now than when I lived in the Yukon... I have all my tools too, but still, I feel the lethargy, the apathy, the depression taking over...


    • renee

      renee on Nov. 5, 2013, 3:05 p.m.

      Dear Catherine, I wonder if that's in part because of the "where am I and where are we going" questions you are struggling with right now. I don't remember how I felt last year at this time exactly, I do know I was pretty exhausted with some life stuff later in the month (last year that is). But this November, right now at least, I feel super energized, in part I think because of our thru-hike plans. We have a clear direction and purpose - for both our days and the near future. There are waves of change on the horizon - our hike, a new home when we return and after that home will be be embarking on another adventure. I am hoping this forward momemtum will help me through this winter.

      Also, Damien and I have been, with a quite a bit of frequency, trying some "feel good" strategies for overall health and wellbeing. Ahem. Perhaps this is helping also ; ) (publish that or not publish, publish or not publish, publish...)


      • Catherine Forest

        Catherine Forest on Nov. 6, 2013, 2:18 a.m.

        Hahahaha! I am sure JF will be on board for that suggestion!! And you are once again totally spot on! Not having a clear direction and purpose is really hard for me right now. You know that like you, I love having a plan, a clear, well laid out plan. This is what energizes me. I hope your winter will be great and that the plans that lie ahead will make things different from last year. Much love, Catxx


  • Chloe

    Chloe on Nov. 5, 2013, 10:31 p.m.

    Hey Renee, Could I ask how you decided on the HappyLite instead of blue lights? After reading this I am for sure making this investment in my well-being. I have put it off for too long because of the cost in my amazon cart freaking me out!


    • renee

      renee on Nov. 5, 2013, 10:44 p.m.

      Chloe, Damien did the research for me and when I asked him why he choose this (right now) he couldn't recall exactly without some mental gynmastics, trying to remember his original process of elimation. He did say he was looking for a light that gave maximum "light" for the shortest duration (within our budget) but myabe the blue lights do this also?


      • chloe

        chloe on Nov. 6, 2013, 12:59 p.m.

        Thanks Renee. I decided overnight that I was projecting my unease about spending $150 on myself into the decision about which light to get. An imperfect light is better than no light! Off I go to buy!!


        • renee

          renee on Nov. 6, 2013, 1:17 p.m.

          Exactly. I'm the same way Chloe. I will get hung up the details of something, re-evaluating etc. when I'm really just avoiding taking the plunge. Something is better than nothing. I also think in our day and age we obsess about making the most informed decision because there is so much information out there to make decisions with. Too much information really. And then we're paralyzed. This happens to me often. 


  • jane

    jane on Nov. 9, 2013, 8:04 p.m.

    Hello, I just purchased the bundle, was not going to up till now.  However, hearing from you convinced me it must not be a waste of money or time, as I know you do neither.  So thanks.


    Looking forward to the bonus from you.  I do enjoy your site.  Make my own soap, laundry soap and face creams now thanks to you.


    • renee

      renee on Nov. 9, 2013, 9:38 p.m.

      Oh, thanks Jane! yeah, I'm not big into wasting time or money. If you're into making your soap and skin care products you'll want to check out the books in the Natural Skincare Shelf. I made Wellness Mama's Smooth Lotion this week. It's not smooth like the lotion recipes I've share here, it has a salve consistency, but I'm wondering if I "whipped it" somehow if it would be more creamy looking (which I like). Having said that, I like the final result on my skin and not having to worry about water borne organisms growing in it. I made 4 diffferent batches from one recipe. I added 4 different essential oils after pouring into the jars. I'll be giving some for christmas gifts.

      anyway, thanks again Jane. 


  • jane

    jane on Nov. 21, 2013, 11:10 p.m.

    Hello again


    I was not able to download the bonus ( how to form a food buying club ).

    Please advise.

    Thank you



    • renee

      renee on Nov. 22, 2013, 3:06 a.m.

      Jane, the bonus is not included in the bundle. You need to e-mail me to request it, but since you contacted me here, I'll grab your e-mail from the comment form and send the book to you that way. (smile).


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