Seeking My Best Self

trying to make sense of my life – and lose some weight

Kombucha? Again?

kombuchaI’m back to square one with the great Weight Loss journey. Well, that’s not quite true – I’m 10 pounds lighter than when I started, but I’ve regained 7 from my lowest point.

So. Starting again. Measuring and recording every bite of food. Making a new batch of kombucha. Exercising. Meditating.

Plus a new idea: I’m wearing my jeans, because their *tightness* will remind me to eat less. I tend to wear leggings, yoga pants, jammie pants, and other clothing with very forgiving material. Wearing clothes with less stretch has been reputed to help with weight loss, and I’m willing to give it a try.

I’ve mentioned kombucha over and over, and I thought I’d talk a bit more about it. Technically, kombucha is a fermented tea. It’s been around for centuries, originating in China, then spreading to Russia and beyond.

It’s made from sweetened tea (black, green or other) fermented with a bacteria/yeast culture. There are few scientific studies regarding its efficacy, but it’s rich in probiotics, antioxidants, glucaric acids and glucosamine. That means it can reasonably be assumed to balance gut PH, have detoxifying effects, boost the immune system and be good for joints.

From personal experience, I can say that it results in a drastically reduced appetite and greatly increased energy. Perhaps it’s a placebo effect. That’s OK. The placebo effect is a ‘thing’, and it shows how much health can be influenced by thought.

Kombucha is fairly safe to make at home because the high acidity keeps bad germs away. If the acidity is weak, mold can grow (as happened to me) and then it’s time to ditch the whole thing and start fresh. I got my new starter from the local health food store. Brewing supply stores often carry it, too. You can also get it from Amazon:  kombucha starter kit

Some websites warn against drinking it because illness can result if it’s not prepared properly. I think that’s a little excessive. Botulism can result if vegetables are canned improperly, but I see no medical sites warning us away from eating veges.

The point is that I need to do it properly. It’s easy – I keep my prep space spanky clean. I think my kombucha molded because I skimped on the sugar, so I will follow the recipe exactly from now on. And I will enjoy the benefits!

 

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Work in Progress

orangeMy kombucha molded. I can’t help feeling it’s symbolic of my whole ‘healthy me’ kick. True confession time: I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. I’m afraid to get on the scale, because I know I’ve gained weight. I’m not exercising – well, unless 10 minutes every week or two counts. My focus has been on other things, which is fine, but I really need to be able to focus on those other things without losing the vision for my physical, emotional and spiritual self. Bottom line, I’m disappointed in me. I know I can do better.

Deep breath. Now I’m going to reframe everything I just said. Here goes.

When I moved from my house a year-and-a-half ago, I sorted through the boxes in my basement. (You know the boxes I’m talking about. THOSE boxes. The stacks and stacks and STACKS of boxes that accumulate over a lifetime. The ‘I’ll get to this later’ boxes. The ‘oh, I can’t bear to get rid of it though I don’t know what I’ll ever do with it’ boxes. The ‘I don’t want to deal with it, and out of sight is out of mind’ boxes. Yeah, those.) I reviewed, reorganized, and let loose the myriad items that no longer served me.

Fast forward to the past few weeks, where I’ve been sorting boxes that have accumulated in the basement of my life. This time, I’ve reassessed what I do and why. I’ve reorganized my time. I’ve given myself permission to quit focusing on that which I felt I ‘had’ to do or was ‘supposed’ to do. As a result, my life is larger. My vision is clearer. And I’ve acted on that vision.

I’m becoming more realistic about my health goals. Bryan and I were watching Orange is the New Black last night. I looked at the leading actress, Taylor Schilling, who happened to be naked at the time, and said, “Wow. Look at that flat tummy and firm everything.” And Bryan responded, “Yes, and it’s a full-time profession to look like that. She has to spend at least four hours in the gym every day to maintain it.”

Right. (And by the way, I’m married to the best man EVER. I’m just sayin’.)

I don’t have that time. Wait. That’s not true. I absolutely do have that time. I have exactly the same amount of hours available to me every day as she does (Twenty-four, last I checked.) It’s just that, for me, spending hours in a gym doesn’t interest me. And that means I need to readjust my ideas. Quit making ‘flat tummy, firm everything’ my goal. I can’t reach that goal, because I don’t really want it, not enough to discipline myself to do it. That means it’s really not that important. To continue the analogy, I can get rid of the contents of that particular box.

What IS that important to me is writing and photographing, using my images and my words to enrich the world. What IS that important is speaking to individuals and to groups, encouraging them until I see the SPARK that tells me their fire is lit. What IS that important is being a conduit of the Divine into the world through word, sacrament, and image.

Wait. This isn’t new. I’ve already sorted this stuff. Where is that box? Oh. It’s here, under my nose, where it’s been all along.  In it is my candidacy for the Episcopal priesthood. So I’ve re-engaged the process. There is ongoing discernment needed (by me and by others) and that takes a lot of ROOM to unfold. I’m glad I’ve created the space. I did it partly by refocusing my business vision, which meant engaging others to pick up the pieces I needed to let loose.

That’s not easy for me. I am a CONTROL FREAK extraordinaire. What if they don’t do it *right*?

The answer came as I was driving home from church. “It is better for things to be done in a messy, sloppy, joyful way than to have flawless results and a miserable, rigid attitude. Besides, how are you doing at getting it all done?”

Fair enough.

So. The past two years have been about clearing my external space. The last two months have been about clearing my internal space. I’d love to think I’m done and ready to move forward without further delay. But we all know how that works. We are ever and always a work in progress. So, I don’t need to worry about ‘doing better’. I just need to keep on doing.

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Masque!

My kombucha is happy. Very happy. My starter has been busily making babies, and today I realized that almost half my jar was filled with SCOBY*! That’s a little too much of a good thing, so I lifted it out and separated each layer, leaving only one in the jar.

Despite repeated offers, I haven’t gotten any takers for free starter. I hate to waste a perfectly good organism (O-R-G-A-N-I-S-M). What should I do with this bowl of rubbery rounds? (It’s not getting any better, is it? You guys have gutter minds. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, well, then I didn’t mention anything. At all.)

In earlier research, I’d read that SCOBY makes a reasonable calamari substitute. So I took a little experimental bite. Yeah, no. But another purported use was as a face masque. That sounded more promising, so I tried it.

kombucha facial

Not bad, huh?

Here’s my recipe:

  1. Take the SCOBY.
  2. Put it on your face. (Yep. Just slap it on. I had a lot, so I covered my face AND my neck.)
  3. Wait 15-30 minutes. (I rinsed mine before using it, to lower the residual acidity.)
  4. Remove.

That’s it. I didn’t look in the mirror while wearing it, because I’m sure I would have screamed. Instead, I laid back on my bed and enjoyed a TED talk. Then I removed the SCOBY, and ran to the mirror.

Holy cow! My skin looked GREAT! Plump, peachy, plus my ever-present pores were almost invisible. That’s a win.  It turns out, SCOBY increases circulation on the surface of the skin, which rejuvenates the cells. Because it’s acidic, it also works as a mild peel, sloughing dead cells. FYI, I followed this up with a 15 minute honey mask to soothe my skin.

I also noticed it had a marked tightening effect. Women *of a certain age* start to suffer from slight skin sag. This treatment tightened my face and neck right up! Now if I could only apply it to my memory…

PS: I experimented with my kombucha recipe today. I used Earl Grey tea, then added a little coconut and fresh strawberry to the boiling mixture. I strained it all out when I put the cooled concoction into the jar. I’ll be eager to see how it tastes next week. I hope it’s good. Fingers crossed!

* SCOBY – an acronym for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. AKA ‘culture’, ‘mother’, ‘starter’

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Hodge Podge

Today’s post is a hodgepodge of unrelated bits I’ve been meaning to share for a couple of weeks now. Short and sweet – here they are!

No retouching

No retouching

1) Remember the frown remedy I shared earlier? I thought you’d like to see the update. Honey & sports tape really works!

Time to remove some SCOBY! Anyone need starter?

Time to remove some SCOBY! Anyone need starter?

2) Kombucha’s made ALL the difference for me. I have noticeably more energy, and noticeably less appetite. Everything I’ve read states its chock-full of probiotics, and it’s ridiculously easy to make! I don’t know if it’s responsible for the redistribution of weight that I’ve been experiencing (tummy and hips are shrinking, while weight remains fairly static), but I’m not messing with a good thing. Love me some kombucha! Get Kombucha starter HERE (cheap!) Also, I highly recommend Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. He explains how to make kombucha and MANY other fermented foods.

 

From my favorite boutique, http://twillclothing.com/

From my favorite boutique, http://twillclothing.com/

3) Sometimes bribes work.

This dress has hung in my bedroom since I purchased it two months ago. I knew it would look great on me once I lost a bit of weight, so I bought it, then put it where I would see it EVERY time I entered the room.

As you can see, it’s a summer dress, so if I was going to enjoy it this year, I needed to remain dedicated to my exercise and diet plan. Many times I wandered into the bedroom, forbidden food in my hand, saw the dress, and put the food away.

I’m pleased to announce that I wore the dress this weekend! I felt very pretty, though I still have some ‘redistributing’ to go before it looks PERFECT. Putting my *reward* where I could see it all the time was a good ploy for me.

Now we all know, Cherie can be bribed. 🙂

In my next post, I’ll be talking about the medical effects of obesity. It’s pretty sobering. As a woman approaching her third ‘time trimester’, I am oh-so-aware that how I treat my body NOW will hugely affect my future quality – and quantity – of life.

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Fermented Drinks and Spoiled Relationships

kombucha

Courtesy of Everyday Paleo. http://www.everydaypaleo.com

I promised I’d share recipes for kombucha and probiotic lemonade. They are both really easy!

I get great satisfaction from making my own healthy foods.  Hey, I get great satisfaction from making my own unhealthy foods. Truth is, I’ve had a love affair with my kitchen since age seventeen, when I moved into a tiny studio apartment in downtown Portland (on the third floor of a building, no elevator, with a shared bathroom down the hall.)

For the first time, I was free to explore the culinary arts. Growing up, my mother barely allowed me in the kitchen, except to clean. I certainly wasn’t allowed to cook. She was obsessed with the fear that I would ‘make a mess’. In fact, that was pretty much her focus for my entire childhood – that something (including me) might be dirty or disheveled.

Five years ago, I suddenly realized that my mom has obsessive-compulsive disorder. I mentioned it to my sister-in-law, who rolled her eyes and said, “Well, duh.” It wasn’t ‘duh’ to me. Until that ah-ha moment, it felt normal – just Mom being negative and unreasonable. My relationship with her has improved markedly since. I don’t take her actions and comments to heart. It’s not me, it’s her. And she can’t help it.

In fact, it’s helped my relationships with everyone. It’s not just my mom who can’t help it. We all can’t help it.  I find it much easier to be patient with people’s quirks, including my own.

I’m also more bold about withdrawing from those whose traits I find damaging. My no-go is people who back-stab, bully, yell and swear at others. No matter what wonderful qualities a friend or family member might also possess, hostile behavior is a relationship deal-killer. Bottom line: while I may love that person, I also love myself.

So I draw my boundaries. Explain them. Give multiple chances. If the objectionable behaviors continue, I withdraw. I understand that they can’t help themselves. I hope they understand that I can’t help myself, either. There are some things I just can’t tolerate. Call me quirky.

While bubbling, fermenting relationships might be bad, fermented drinks are good. (Smoothest segue you’ve ever seen, right?) I promised you recipes. Here are links:

KombuchaHow to Make Kombucha, by Katie of Wellness Mama. Try a beer brewing supply store for the SCOBY. That’s where I found my starter. Then prepare to share yours. That mother grows BIG!  Recerntly, I started a continuous brewing system. The how-to is here: Cultures for Health

Probiotic Lemonade:  Fresh, Natural, Healthy Lemonade, by Kristen of Food Renegade. Note: Because I don’t have a cup of whey on top of my yogurt, I just add some of the runny yogurt. It seems to work fine)

PS: Psychology Today recently had a great article about identifying and dealing with those who are difficult. You can read it here: The High Art of Handling Problem People.

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