Emotion. I eat. Boredom. I eat. Denial. I eat. A web of inflammation weaves its way through my tissue connections, starting viscerally and ever expanding. Pain. I eat. Sorrow. I eat. Stress. I eat. Joy. I eat. As night drags on, I thrash around my […]
Chip away at the unnecessary.
What do I mean by that? I mean removing items from my life that no longer serve me.
Whether my body is telling me that a food or beauty product item is no longer meant for me - through a negative reaction or symptom; such as acne, hives, rashes, indigestion, IBS or IC; I'm choosing listening to the signals from my body instead of finding ways around them by treating the symptom. I'm searching for the underlying cause and seeking permanent change.
Some examples: one issue I'm experiencing at present is breakouts under my eyes, but only when I wear mascara. Also hives around my stomach, mostly when I eat the wrong thing (anything even bread like, even if it's gluten free). My skin, it’s too dry even with moisturizing, and it is taken on a slightly yellow tint. My acupuncturist says that it is from my spleen and my liver fighting each other, which may be true. I wanted to believe that it came from using argon oil instead of coconut oil for skin. Likely it's because of a beta carotene overdose - I eat too many carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes and other high beta carotene foods. I was hoping to alleviate more dryness with using argon oil and make my skin softer and smoother, which it did; maybe instead of trying to change my skin I need to listen to the symptoms that my skin is using to tell me something - eczema, dryness, acne. These are all warning signs that a bigger problem lives below the surface.
The acne riddle seemed easy enough to solve, I stopped using makeup all together. I've noticed a severe reduction in breakouts around my eyes and maybe even less dark circles too. Almost like the repetitive blackening of mascara settled into my skin tone and made me look like a little raccoon. Am I happy with this decision? No. Whether it’s conditioning, or my own biased, I still believe I’m prettier with mascara. I know the purpose is to be beautiful inside first; I’m working on changing that mindset.
The dry and yellowing skin is going to be a much more challenging problem to solve. I am of the belief and am developing it further, that as long as I am giving my body what it needs in terms of nutrients it will survive and thrive. Food is the first medicine. Herbs are their aide. However living in a dryer, colder state like Colorado presents an extra challenge. My moisture is literally being drawn from my body faster than I can consume it. When we are born we are more water than most other things. Death is the act of drying out to some extent. I know hydration is important and I follow the rule of ½ my body weight in ounces as a guideline for the minimum amount of water I need to consume. Is it the water’s quality? Is some sort of protective oil barrier like argon oil, or coconut oil necessary? Have I aided my body so much for so long that the systems in charge of regulating dryness no longer function? I don’t have these answers, but I’ll continue to research and experiment.
There is so much information available out there on “why” you should use “what” for your skin. What I'm not finding is more information on my belief, your skin should be self-sustaining and a reflection of total body health. It shouldn't need consistent lathering. If every person on this planet went through the amount of oil I do just to keep their skin smooth and silky it's no wonder we’re often viewed as a wasteful species and bringing the earth’s resources down with us. I’m trying to cut back, oil every other shower. Somedays just a quick rinse in shower. Alternating a quick rinse shower with a deep clean shower is actually helping to some extent, or at least it was until COVID19 ransacked our ability to manage our own microbiome. Right now our current culture is more "kill is with soap, all of it, anything." This has me fearful on an entirely different subject, the microbiome. Our own little world of symbiotic relationships is on the brink with our constant disinfecting. There will be trickle down effects but all we can do in the interim is manage to the best of our ability right?
Trying new things, changing up the diet AGAIN, leaves me asking when does this end? I don’t think it does. I think it’s a process of constant tweaking and slight adjustments. Mindfulness in how your body feels, food logging and journaling, tracking symptoms when they arise, making note of how I feel after I eat and trying to eat only what energizes me. I have been told that on a cellular level female genes and hormones are altering every 5-7 years. Which means body’s will shift, change and adapt over time. Additionally, we can always strive to feel a little better, a little more achieved, a little closer to our endgame? Doesn’t de-cluttering our lives include thoughts, foods, habits and routines that no longer serve us?
Basically less-is-more is what I'm testing and I'm using myself as the experiment. I don't know what's right for anybody else, but I do know I'm trying to listen to my intuition, the messages from my body, and try new approaches. The "try new things" part is the scariest, but without stepping out of my comfort zone there's never change or growth, and without growth there's no happiness. No time like being locked up at home, close to my favorite toilet, to really see how different foods effect me right?
Chip away at yourselves apples, find your core and support it.
I have found myself obsessing with an image
I don't see myself as. I took on fitness training in a functional fitness gym this last year. As a trainer, I gradually became more and more focused on changes I saw and those that I didn’t see fast enough, in my body. I know trying to come back from complete lack of movement and likely total body atrophy to a more athletic, strong physique isn’t an overnight process, and I get that.
That doesn’t change the obsessive, negative mantra my brain tells me, “it's possible for me to have the fitness trainer body and I must be doing something wrong to not have it yet.”
I eat clean. As clean as I can considering my autoimmune conditions force me into a very specific dietary regimen.
I work out most days, at least 30 minutes of functional movement.
I put in all the gym time effort for over a year, though truthfully I’ve only been focused on daily movement for the past 4-6 months. So why do I still have a tummy? A little extra around the edges?
Exactly 6 years ago I was well over 200 lbs and wearing a size 16 dress. I’ve now spent the last 2 years in a size 4 dress. I have seen multiple, wonderful changes in my body through all my efforts. (Less IC Flares, Less digestive flares, toning in my arms, stronger legs etc…)
Two questions linger
Why do I still hold all my weight in my midsection? And why do I still obsess about it?
I’m working on changing the conversation I have with myself surrounding this topic. I know I need to give my body and my mind the time it takes to heal. But dammit if I’m not so impatient! I want to get there. I want to believe it’s possible, an aesthetic goal I’ve always wished for and never believed was “genetically” for me. Does some part of me believe I deserve to be ugly and fat?
I know I’m working through healing. I spent years inflamed and fueling it before I stopped the process in its tracks and started the long road towards healthy. I know there’s still a raging war internally and it’s why I flare. I have moments where I experience unpleasant symptoms and it’s difficult not to fall apart in the, hopefully, temporary backslide. Frequent whole body pain, headaches, terrible menstrual cycles and the ever looming interstitial cystitis monster, Frank linger, but they come and go. I believe I have more good days than bad days and all of this progress is amazing.
Why can’t it be cookie cutter easy to come back from the brink of the most toxic unhealthy body you've ever encountered? Can I give myself a break?
There’s more thoughts that stick and plague me: How can I train other people looking bloated, or pregnant, or swollen, or fat? Is there some body dysmorphia? Do I really see what others see? My therapist says she’s never noticed a tummy in body rolling classes but, I can’t unsee the negative perception I holdin my mind.
I think I have a funky shape and maybe that’s everyone. My perception of me is skewed by my history of staring at myself in the mirror. I have been 100 lbs heavier. I have been 20 LB lighter.
I sit around 140 at 5’6” with an active job and lifestyle I had to claw my way into. All of it’s received criticism from myself and others. What I haven't been, is happy with where I'm at.
What do I want to focus on next?
Being okay with where I'm at in my journey, wherever that currently is. Knowing that I might be working hard on any number of perceptions I see, or physical things I’d like to change about myself, as long as I’m working towards my goals. I want to be content with where I am.
Whether that be in my IC and gut healing journey. With strengthening my core and how I perceive this part of my body. I want to find a more helpful, optimistic and positive way to look at my progress and my body. I want to be viewed as strong, capable and knowledgeable. Other aesthetics shouldn’t matter. I don’t want my step-daughter to see me obsessing about my figure in a way that makes others insecure or me insecure. I want her to see me as strong. I want her to see me is capable. I want her to see me as determined. But mostly, I want to see myself as these things.
Recognizing that I am at the place where I am mentally is the first step. I know I am capable of doing so much more than I was this time last year. I’m working on a daily gratitude journal that includes one strength I’ve progressed and one weakness. One person in my life I’m grateful for and one event.
I will track with pictures and measurements, but only so I’m not obsessing about a scale. I did track my weight daily for a month to get a feel for where I really sit throughout my hormonal cycle, but I won’t weigh in except for the first of every month going forward. I might still be obsessing, but I’m trying to track health and not so much focus on the aesthetics. I think it’s a great place to start.
I have been telling people this is the best I've felt in a long time, which is true, but I am still fighting for survival here.
I so have a love/hate mental and digestive struggle with food. What I can and can't eat are still very restrictive and sometimes maddening. I have flares of my interstitial cystitis which leaves me crippled and anxious and desperate feeling. However, I am growing, and have grown. I am changing, and have changed. I see light in the tunnel; maybe no end, but at least it’s not dark.
Interstitial Cystitis -an autoimmune xxperience, I flare, pelvic floor tension, low back and hip pain – all engulf my body much more frequently than I’d like. Some days I am able to manage symptoms, but at other times they are terribly unbearable. Sensations to the […]
You see it in grocery stores and gas stations, you hear it floating around as a healthy.
It’s a fermented food option to help restore good gut microbes; it’s Kombucha.
My experience with making my own Kombucha:
I’ve spent the past year immersed in listening to Montreal Healthy Girl and Naturopath Brittany Auerbach on her youtube channel (link). She highly recommends fermented foods, water kefirs, homemade kombucha and the like for restoring gut balance. My own Functional Nutritionist from Zen Functional Wellness (link) has recommended fermented foods to me several times. My Mom’s had tremendous success brewing her own kombucha and adding it to her dietary routine. She believes it’s helping her heal her ulcerative colitis. Store purchased kombucha options frequently have additives, sugar and other ingredients I react too, like most of them are made with black tea.
Additionally I’m broke - which means I can’t afford every healer, test, fancy resolution I’d like. It also means tons of self education, reading, YouTube channel learning and internet research. Ideally I’d like to avoid antibiotics because of the damage they cause to the gut microbes and starting from scratch is never easy. I know from my last gut panel test, done through Rocky Mountain Natural Medicine (link) that I wasn’t nearly as high in bad guys, but was certainly lacking good guys needed to aid in the natural digestive flow. Additionally the test should high levels of gut inflammation which is further indication of celiacs. These could be reasons why I’m still experiencing IC like symptoms. My healers proceeded to tell me, try probiotics and fermented foods, get your gut inflammation down and treat your gluten allergy like extreme celiacs.
This is really solid advice, but how do I implement it? Having thought myself to be gluten free, with regular attempts to take allergen safe probiotics I decided it was time to try something new.
Before I had done my research, my Mom was beyond on board and excited for me. She sent me home almost immediately with 2 ½ gallon jugs filled with Green Tea Kombucha. I knew there was bacteria. What I didn’t realize was the brew consisted of something called a scoby. My mom called them her little friends which I thought was cute until it came time to play with my little friends. The child within panicked when I’d brought this concoction home. How do I touch it? What does it feel like? Is this really something I should try?
At first thought of making my own I was optimistic. My mother has had tremendous success by adding a daily kombucha tea to her diet.
That first night when I attempted to do a continuous brew transition, start a new batch while flavoring the current batch and sending the current batch into a second fermentation state for carbonation, I cried my eyes out. I panicked when it came time to do it. Did I wait to long to add the sugar? Should I have added it right after making the tea? Will it be okay if I didn’t add the sugar until later? Did I do enough sugar? Did I do too much? The negative self talk then kicked in. “This is stupid, you’re stupid, you ruin everything, you’ll never heal.”
I was scared of messing it up. I was scared of trying something new. I was also scared of making myself more sick.
My boyfriend attempted to offer solace and recommended I scrap it, saying “Don’t do something that makes you this uncomfortable.”
I am desperate for healing, but also up against a wall of my own inner ick and a belief I’m not competent enough to heal myself. I’m working on changing that so I decided to face my fears and try something new.
The following day, I pulled on my big girl pants for a second attempt, hush child, let the adult handle today’s tasks. Grabbed some tongs, woman’d the fuck up and I brewed my fucking kombucha tea. (See below for the continuous batch process I’ve been following).
The feeling of success was short lived as another obstacle appeared in my mind. To drink it. It’s bacteria, freaked me out for a couple reasons:
- A hesitation with the type of yeast because my food sensitivity testing said I was reacting to baker’s and brewer's yeast (but that’s not really what kombucha is and I know that now).
- I could see the little bits of yeast like bacteria floating around in the master brew.
This should be good for me, a phone call to Mom and she told me she drinks it all right up. Why am I always in my own damn way?
Maybe my imagination pictured them more lively and swimming around. You don’t see shit like that at all, maybe some stringy looking yeast, but nothing to be afraid of. Why is brewing and drinking your own so different than buying something at the store? Well the store bought brands generally flavor after the fact with sugar and other natural flavorings but in a way that’s strained out any visual bits so it’s more aesthetically appealing and sugar filled addicting.
When you’re making your own, you see the scoby. The Scoby is the live culture and it’s a good thing but it’s gross looking and weird for me to think about. You don’t have to but can touch it with super clean hands(not antibacterial soap, just hot water and vinegar clean). I couldn’t do that so grabbed the tongues.
I started drinking one bottle. They spent the night in the fridge. OMFG it’s not carbonated. Should it be? Is this bad? I turn to my mothers expertise and trusty youtube. This is when I find out there’s a 2nd fermentation process Mommykins skips because she doesn’t like the bubbles. Luckily several videos said either way is good I decide to take my friends out of the fridge and leave them on the counter overnight. We will see what happens.
After the first batch attempt, I learned that if you skip a second fermentation, the flavoring fermentation it’s not bubbly like store bought. However, if you flavor it and leave it out on your counter for 2-3 days it’ll start to produce bubbles.
Batch 2 was much smoother.
The second batch I attempted to leave out your air tight jars to make it fizzy. It’s drinkable either way, but carbonation is something I often miss so I’d love a fizzy drink option that won’t have negative side effects on my bladder.
A word of warning I’ve heard but not experiences is to be careful if with a second ferment and learn the process over time because the carbonation can cause glass bottles to explode, however frequent checking (every 24 hours for me) can keep pressure from building too much.
Another warning I learned was to be careful about the water and how jars are cleaned. So I’ve taken to cleaning all my kombucha supplies with apple cider vinegar and hot filtered water. I have an Auasana filtration system setup in my home.
I did it! I bottled the Kombucha, I got a new batch going, I’m letting it ferment in the pantry. I marked 1 week out from my calendar for a new batch and 3 days for the current batch in the 2nd fermentation process to go from counter to fridge. (I’ll be straining chunks out first.)
Batch 3 started to feel like routine, until I left it in each of the two fermentation stages for too long. Everything got a vinegar taste so I’ve scrapped that batch and started fresh. This entire process has been a learning experience. One that I’m grateful I took. I do believe I’ve had some positive changes in my IC symptoms. My body’s been spasming less, there’s been less uncomfortable pelvic swelling and pain. I’m not saying it’s a cure, but I do believe for me it was another, necessary step in my natural healing journey.
........(cont'd in Part 2)
Loneliness can stem from rejection, from feeling isolated in our choices, our needs, and desires. At some point during the surrealism that is getting an Interstitial Cystitis (IC) diagnosis I began to loathe small talk. “Hey how are you?” became an insult to me as […]