Why Hot Yoga – how Bikram Yoga is Changing my Life

I will never forget the sixth day of my 30 day Bikram yoga challenge. I felt a release in my back. A pain that I did not even know it was possible to exist without evaporated. I’ve had neck pain for a decade, and I am a little young for that.

The emotional release that came along with this physical relief of pain, tightness and tension was dramatic. I called my husband laughing and crying. I floated, not walked. I played the violin. “It sounds effortless, happy, fluid.” Nate reported. I cried tears of happiness while I played. I expressed myself, something I’ve struggled to do with the violin for years.

I did doubles sometimes (two 90 minute classes in one day) – the best of all. The second class was always euphoric. I ate and slept less those days. I didn’t need much of either. I drank a lot of coconut water though. Unwanted flab melted way, and so did the pain of painful memories, tension and false expectations of myself. While friends thought I lost weight, I actually gained through muscle.

On the last day of 30 my day challenge, I mourned. I didn’t want life to change.

I floundered for a few weeks after that. How often is one allowed to go to Bikram yoga? Isn’t that kind of time commitment irresponsible? Twice should be good for a responsible adult, right? I tried other yoga forms at home in the meantime. All good, but none so therapeutic. Pain crept back into my muscles, joints, tendons, mind. My work hours, the ones for the very job I said I had to do less yoga for, receded like a puddle on a sunny day. Last week I petered out at 20 hours, and pain plagued 10 of those hours. My going to yoga guilt was not working, for myself or anyone else in my life.

I don’t care how much responsibility I have, I said. I’m going to yoga. Today I finished my fourth class this week. I still have time for a fifth. I worked 38 hours this week at my desk, coding and designing, each day getting better, more creative, more productive. Happier. I hadn’t played the violin in a week, knowing how the old frustration might be there. It wasn’t today. The beauty I found in it on the sixth day of my Bikram yoga challenge was back.

I have never been to another hot yoga class. Chances are they would vary in effectiveness by how much they are like or unlike Bikram yoga. But since heat is a necessary part of therapy, I’m not parting with it, or a grueling 20 some postures, anytime soon.

I have found the key to everything else I love.

This is Kombucha

this-is-kombucha-4

I made my first batch of kombucha and blogged about it here. This is batch number 5. It’s much better than my first batch, which, in comparison, tasted like a mixture of sweet tea and vinegar.

now this is kombucha (batch 5)

This fizzy stuff tastes like a delicate white champagne. But better. I love it.

Contributing factors:

  • It’s the fifth batch, so each batch grows better with time. You have to keep mixing in a pint of aged kombucha with each new batch, and of course you can let your mushroom (scoby) grow.
  • I also switched to plain white sugar on batch number 3. This speeds up the kombucha fermentation and makes a much healthier brew. Feed that scoby! It can’t easily digest organic raw sugar as well for some reason. Feed it simple sugar. It’s a yeast, not a child. (It also eats the sugar so you don’t have to).
  • This was my first batch with green tea, which I’m liking. It has a more white champagne taste, rather than cider-y, fruity or dark.

now this is kombucha (batch 5)now this is kombucha (batch 5)

I would love to be able to share a cup of health with you my readers! I also would love to know what you think of the taste, even those of you who think this whole process is weird. And of course, I would love to know what those of you who are fermented food or kombucha fans think of it, too! 🙂

Nothing takes away that dizzy feeling from not having eaten the right things, or for too long, like a cup of home brewed kombucha. I down a glass before I go to the gym and it gives me energy while calming my stomach. It is chock full of enzymes, probiotics and vitamin B. For more kombucha health benefits, read this.

Trim Healthy Mama recipe – Dreamsfields Pasta with Turkey Meatballs and Steamed Salted Broccoli

trim healthy mama dreamsfields pasta recipe with turkey meatballs

trim healthy mama dreamsfields pasta recipe

This is my favorite Trim Healthy Mama meal. It was months, maybe years before I was truly able to enjoy my favorite favorite type of food, pasta, after the healthy changes I made to my diet a few years ago. Oh I had it sometimes, just never without guilt and a bulging stomach.

No more, thanks to Dreamsfields Pasta. This is not weird-tasting pasta. This is pasta where some of the carbs have been blocked. (And if anyone has anything to say against the healthiness of this pasta, I don’t want to hear it. I make enough sacrifices as it is). No seriously, this is THM approved!

This is a deceptively complex-tasting recipe – it’s really so simple to make!

Mix

  • 1 cup of ground turkey with
  • 1/2 tsp of oregano flakes,
  • 1/4 tsp of Thyme
  • 1/4 tsp of Salt
  • sprinkle with pepper.

Knead with hands.

Form into balls and fry in 1 Tbsp of Olive oil.

Cook dreamfields pasta according to instructions on box.

Serve with your choice of low sugar pasta sauce. Less than 5 grams of sugar per serving. This is an important part. If you think 9-10 grams is no big deal, you’re missing out on the waste-healthy benefits of this dish. Sugar is EVERYTHING when it comes to losing belly fat.

Steam and salt the broccoli.

That’s it!! Enjoy an amazing pasta dish guilt and belly fat-free. 🙂

trim healthy mama dreamsfields pasta recipe with turkey meatballs trim healthy mama dreamsfields pasta recipe with turkey meatballs

Make your first batch of home brewed kombucha

brew your own kombucha

This is how I made my first batch of kombucha. If you’ve caught me on facebook or instagram lately, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’ve been totally psyched about my kombucha experiment.

What the heck is kombucha? It’s a fermented tea. Much like wine, sourdough bread or yogurt, it is a “cultured” food that has friendly bacteria that is good for your digestive system, immune system, and overall health. It should taste slightly tart, but also sweet and flavorful. Carbonated, it’s like a healthy fizzy tea soda! The sugar in it is partially digested by the living culture, so this should not be much of a problem to drink for those of you who, like me, avoid sugar. My store bought versions claim “2 grams of sugar,” even when they tasted quite sweet. I’m not an expert and I’ll admit I’m not sure exactly how this works, but I do know that simple carbs, when introduced to living cultures, lose their insulin spiking power.

Ingredients:

3 quarts water

10 teabags (black, green or oolong are best)

1 cup sugar

1 cup vinegar for first batch (all other batches use 1 pint of your brewed kombucha)

1 scoby (I purchased mine on amazon).

Process:

I brewed 3 quarts of tea. 3 quarts water + 10 oolong teabags. You can use black, oolong, or green, anything that’s actually real tea (not herbal) White teas are best used in combination with black or oolong or green. The brewing process was as follows:

Boil 3 quarts water. Throw in 10 teabags. Turn off and simmer for 10 minutes.

your first batch of kombucha

Go ahead and add 1 cup sugar, not honey, not agave, just white organic sugar.

Then I let it cool off to room temperature. This is the most annoying part of making kombucha. Waiting is hard. An ice bath will speed things up next time.

Also add 1 cup of vinegar. The vinegar protects the kombucha from bad bacteria, while the white simple sugar feeds the scoby (good bacteria).

Here is a really great list of ingredients that are ok and ones that are not if you like to experiment, with explanations: Choosing Ingredients for making Kombucha. This article saved me from ruining my first batch.

your first batch of kombucha

Slide your scoby into the mixture. I got mine from amazon. It worked great. It’s like a squishy mushroom. Better pictures in the video below.

what does a kombucha scoby look like  and where do i get one

Cover with breathable cotton or muslin, with a tight rubber band around the jar. Do not use cheesecloth, as it’s too holey.

Wait for 7-13 days. You can taste the kombucha starting at 7 days to see how you like it. The taste is totally up to you. The more it develops, the more sour it will taste. (Future batches will be made replacing the vinegar with two cups of your own brewed kombucha, so each batch should taste more refined!)

This was my kombucha with new scoby on top after 13 days. I was thrilled to see a healthy mushroom (scoby)!

brew your own kombucha

This looked like spots, but it wasn’t. It was a nice 1/8-1/4″ thick film. Some parts of it just happened to be transparent.

brew your own kombucha

Remove scobies, both the mother and the baby.

You can keep them in the fridge for a couple of days in plastic bags, feeding them with plenty of kombucha liquid (like 1-4 to 1-2 cup). Don’t let your scobies dry out! Don’t keep them there very long; you’ll want to start brewing your second batch as soon as possible with the new scobies – one for each batch. You can give scobies away to friends because every time you brew a batch, you’ll have a new one.

Bottle kombucha. You can drink right away (kombucha tea), or let carbonate 2-3 days before refrigerating (kombucha soda).

Two of my bottled kombucha drinks. I thought it tasted wonderful.

I had these bottles from when I bought GT. Perfect for bottling but it took 10 minutes to get the first label off so I gave up. My own kombucha, just recycling GT’s bottles! 🙂

your first batch of kombucha

brew your own kombucha

Kombucha soda is obtained by letting the bottled drinks be unrefrigerated for a few days in a room out of direct sunlight. You can see from the picture of the single bottle that some carbonation has built up (that photo was snapped after two days).

I immediately started brewing my second batch of kombucha – two batches this time! So exciting! A friend of mine is going to be home from a trip in about a week and wants to start brewing, so I’ll have a third scoby for her shortly thereafter. The only difference between first batches and all batches afterwards is that you replace the cup of vinegar with a pint of your own brewed kombucha – it will taste better.

I’m happy I’ll never have to pay $3.50 a bottle for kombucha again. I love drinking my own home-brew.

Kombucha, organic and home brewed like this, has amazing health benefits. I’m brewing it to balance blood sugar, get rid of any lurking candida symptoms (I’ve struggled with candida – probably a reason I have hypoglycemic symptoms), and counter bad bacteria. Drink to better health.

For a video demonstration and what Nate thinks of my kombucha, check this out:

Baby Steps

I love taking my dog on a walk. I dread taking my dog on a walk.

The weather is different all the time, and I fear being either too hot or too cold.

I feel guilty that I haven’t walked her in too long, so the thought of walking associates itself with guilt.

I took her on a walk today and it was the best part of my day. The weather was gorgeous – it made me feel as if I were in London. Overcast but beautiful. Fall but warmish-cool. Like the ending scene from Les Miserables.

Temperature:perfect.

photo from everythingweird.com
http://www.instablogsimages.com/images/2008/09/27/walking-the-dog_oaXLs_1333.jpg
I do not walk my dog this way.

My outfit:: perfect, if a little bit on the warm side. Matching my waifish mood today. Boots, leggings, short dress, grey sweater.

Holly, a bit spoiled and temperamental, but who can blame her?

I did some thinking, and some writing in my head, and some goal-organizing and prioritizing, and I thought why don’t I do this more?

Because I fear that once around the block isn’t enough for her, and so I avoid it all together.

Well once around is better than nothing.

It’s better than not doing it at all. And so for the bit of joy and exercise it brings us both, I will do it.

Wear Your Vitamins

Check out my beauty blog – Wear Your Vitamins. Please like and follow if so inclined! Thanks. 🙂

Retraining Muscles – Retraining your Mind

I’m awake long before my alarm usually goes off. This never happens. I’m always tired. And I’m beginning to understand why people like Bessie Blount and Michael A. Keropian achieved fame. I think they should be more famous.

“Muscle memory,” my physical therapist explained, is what makes your muscles tense up when you’re tense. Other people may have learned a different reaction to stress. Mine is always the same – a certain few muscles around my neck and right shoulder tense up.

She said she cannot help me manage stress – and though this is probably true of her it is not true of the therapy itself. By training my muscles to not tense up, I’m forcing my psyche and my body to deal with stress a different way. This even gets my spirit involved.

C.H. Spurgeon said something about how our bodies can affect our spirits, but I cannot find that quote now.

When something overwhelmes me, I tense up, and then resent the source of the tension. The last time a situation threatened to destroy my physical well-being, I reacted a different way. I didn’t let it control me. I took charge and controlled it. I’m guessing this is because I had not already started the downward spiral that takes control once the muscles on my neck and right shoulder are so tight it feels like I’m in someone’s grip. The “situation” seemed surprised. So was I.

I feel like I’m floating when I come home from appointments. In combination with other victories I am experiencing in my life, I feel like I am beating the monsters in my life. My mind is actually clearer and I can think through situations.

What are your default reactions to stress? How have you learned to deal with them or experienced healing?