January’s Challenge – 21 days of kombucha

To start off my year of monthly challenges, I started with 21 days of kombucha.  What the what is kombucha you might be asking yourself…and the answer is fermented tea (and when you tell people what kombucha is, emphasis the “T” otherwise it could make for awkward, but hilarious, misunderstandings).  Kombucha is made from either a green or black tea base (or both) to which white sugar is added.  It ferments with the aid a type of “tea fungus” called a symbiotic culture of acetic acid (vinegar) bacteria and yeast, or SCOBY, for one to two weeks.  Sounds delish, right?  Well, to be honest, I had tried kombucha before but I didn’t really like it; it all tasted too much like fancy apple cider vinegar to me.  For New Year’s Eve, my yoga studio had a thing and afterwards was a reception with food and a kombucha bar.  So I tried it.  And I liked it.  After finding out the name of the kombucha brewery (Happy Belly Kombucha, located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada), I decided to take a friend kombucha tasting with me at their taphouse/brewery.  I had heard all about the benefits of drinking kombucha but I did some research to see the potential pros and cons of ingesting kombucha.  This is what I found:

Potential Benefits:

  • Rich is probiotics
  • May provide same benefits of black and green tea (depending on the tea it is made with)
  • Contains antioxidants
  • Kill bacteria/boost immune system
  • May help manage Type 2 Diabetes
  • May help protect against Cancer
  • Detox the body
  • Improved digestion
  • Arthritis prevention
  • Reduce cholesterol
  • Energy
  • Weight loss
  • Contains B vitamins/mood enhancement
  • Could promote positive mental health
  • Liver detox

Potential Risks/Side Effects:

  • Excess calorie consumption/weight gain
  • Bloating
  • Digestive distress/upset stomach
  • Excess caffeine consumption
  • Could contain alcohol
  • Contamination (fungus and mold), especially when home brewed
  • Nausea
  • Lactic acidosis (buildup of lactic acid in the body)
  • Allergic reaction
  • Can irritate existing conditions, such as IBS

I committed to taking approximately 2-4 ounces about 30 minutes before I eat my meals.  My body later let me know that 2 ounce was quite enough per dose. Now I’m going to summarize my kombucha experience, and I won’t be sugar coating it.

For the first few days, I did experience some bloating.  It wasn’t too bad and it went away after three or four days.  Along with the bloating came gas.  I don’t drink a lot of carbonated beverages so when I do, I burp.  I was expecting some burps due to the carbonation, a natural byproduct of the fermentation process, but holy cow!  Kombucha is not a good first date drink – fyi.  In case you were wondering, yes, I started to fart more too but not as much as I burped.  

Before I started on the kombucha, I had been experiencing some heartburn, or indigestion, or GERD, or something.  I was going to make an appointment to discuss it with my doctor.  However, about day two or three, I noticed that I wasn’t getting the symptoms nearly as frequently or for as long.  I went from discomfort every day for hours to a few minutes maybe twice a week.  Nothing else changed; just the addition to kombucha to my diet.

For those of you who have weak tummies, you may want to skip this next paragraph – it involves poop.  You’ve been warned. 

The next thing that I noticed was how my poop had changed.  One of my medications pretty much guarantees that constipation will not be an issue.  However, after a few days on the kombucha, I noticed that it appeared that there was more output than input, if you know what I mean.  I wasn’t going to the toilet any more often but when I was there, I left more behind.  It seemed as though the kombucha was giving my digestive system a good cleaning; scrubbing the “walls” to get the gunk off, deep cleaning the “floors” and “ceiling”.  The absolute funniest part was the day I had green poop.  Not the mild green that you sometimes get when you eat too much spinach or broccoli (which, to be fair, I was at that point) but bright, Lucky Charms leprechaun green.  So, after a moment of panic and a visit to Dr. Google, I calmed down.  Apparently any shade of green poop (although I wonder if anyone had seen this particular shade of green) indicates you are eating a lot of green foods (check) or that you had an excessive amount of bile in your digestive tract.  That actually made sense.  Your body usually stores excess bile in your gallbladder until you need it.  I bid my gallbladder adieu nearly 20 years ago when it tried to kill me.  It’s a story for another time if you really want to hear it.  So, yes, bright green poop made sense.  It didn’t last long so, clearly, there is no health concern and now it’s just the funniest side effect of the kombucha.

Another thing I noticed is that my appetite didn’t seem as big.  I still got hungry but I felt “full” after less food.  This is probably why they say to take it before meals to aid in weight loss.  I didn’t find that I was snacking any more than before; just that I didn’t need as much food in general.  I also didn’t crave sweets nearly as much as I did before.  Now, I inadvertently timed this so that my menstrual cycle would start (and Aunt Flo would visit) right in the middle of my 21 days.  Normally, for a few days before and the first day of, I will eat chocolate like it’s going out of style.  I’m talking a 12 piece box of chocolates a day if you let me.  This cycle – if I didn’t see it, I didn’t want it.  We had a few bits of chocolate left over from Christmas but once they were gone, I didn’t feel the need to buy more.

You coffee drinkers may want to approach kombucha with caution:  I found that after a few days, I didn’t need or want my morning coffee.  I was taking my first dose of kombucha first thing in the morning so I could let it “sit” for 20 – 30 minutes before I ate breakfast.  I found that I had more energy in the mornings and was a bit more focused.  I also found that the combination of kombucha and coffee too close together upset my stomach.  Even now, at the end of my 21 days, my stomach is still a bit touchy if I have too much caffeine.  So, if you are looking to cut down or break the caffeine addiction, this might be an idea.  I also noticed that just over two weeks, my belly seemed flatter.  I haven’t lost any weight (that I’m aware of) so I wonder if that is the end result of the “detox” of my system. Less crud in my digestive track to break down and cause gas/bloating. 

So, after 21 days of kombucha, how do I feel?  I feel good.  My body feels mostly balanced, if I little dehydrated.  The one thing I noticed that concerns me is that I feel like I’m drinking less water.  I guess it’s a good thing February’s challenge will be to drink more water.  Will I continue to take kombucha?  Absolutely.  I have a doctor’s appointment in a few weeks and part of it is bloodwork.  As kombucha is supposed to be vitamin B rich, it will be interesting to see if my vitamin B levels are higher (it get checked regularly because of one of my medications).  It will be interesting to see what my doctor says about my kombucha use.  As always, I will be monitoring my body and if it seems I need to decrease or stop the kombucha, I will.  But as long as it agrees with my body, I will continue to drink it, maybe not always daily.  Depending on how my body responds to it, maybe sometimes it will be a treat drink; something refreshing on a hot summer day or instead of soda.

Join me next month as I commit to drinking a little under half of my weight, in ounces, of water each day. This commitment will double my current daily water intake. It’s a step toward drinking half my weight, in ounces, of water each day, which is a challenge for later this year.

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Welcome, 2019!

If you have read some of my other posts, you will know that I don’t normally celebrate the New Year the way most do; I celebrate January 1 as new calendar day.  I don’t understand why we celebrate the birth of a new year in the middle of winter, a dead season, rather than in Spring when everything blooms. Anyway. This year I decided that I would use the calendar year to help me achieve some long standing goals.  But instead of creating a “New Year’s Resolution”, I decided that I would challenge myself to do something different each month. I took a look at what I wanted to achieve, create, ditch, or maintain in my life and broke it down into little steps. For example:  big goal – live a healthier life. Smaller goals: drink more water, move more, eat better.

They say it takes 21 days to break a habit and 30 days to make one.  The idea behind each monthly challenge is to make a small change in my life and by the time the month is done, it will become habit (or no longer be a habit) that will carry forward.  I think it will be easier to make lifestyle changes this way. I hope, anyway.

I have come up with the following challenges so far:

  • January    21 days of kombucha
  • February     Drink at least 5 bottles (2.5 litres) of water each day (I’m chronically dehydrated)
  • March        Walk at least twice a week
  • April        Mediate for at least 10 minutes every day
  • May        Eat mindfully and make better food choices
  • June        Wake up early and write down at least 1 thing I am grateful for and why
  • July        No watching television or movies while at home
  • August        Drink half my weight (in ounces) of water each day
  • September    Do something active (like walking) for 30 mins each day
  • October     De-clutter my closet, dresser, books, and movies
  • November    ?
  • December    ?

I haven’t really planned the last two months so that I can re-evaluate how I feel and how the year has gone.  Maybe I will repeat a challenge. Maybe something new will come up. Who knows? Some of the challenges (like the no tv challenge) might not carry forward entirely but maybe it will lead to less tv time and more time doing something else.  I’ve tried to do a challenge in a month that it makes the most sense (waking up early coordinating with the days beginning to be noticeably longer) based on the time of year or based on the previous/next challenge. My intention is to write a blog entry each month to chronicle my experiences during the challenge: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  

Now that I’ve told you what my goals and intentions are for this year, I want to know what yours are.  I want to know what you want to achieve, accomplish, ditch, maintain, or bring into your life. Let me know in the comments.  Put it out there to help hold ourselves accountable. Let’s celebrate our successes together.

Tired

Im tired.

The kind of tired that seeps into your soul and robs your dreams. The kind of tired that makes you wonder if it’s worth it in the end.

Does it make a difference?

I don’t need a nap. Or a good night’s sleep.

I need something to rejuvenate my heart. I need something to revive my spirit. I need something I will only find in myself, down deep in my own core.

There is no map. There are no signs. There is only me, my demons, and the ghosts of my past.

And a little soul’s whisper: keep trying.

Sandman

In darkness and in light, I seek you
The haunting recollections of things that are not
Wishes unfulfilled
Love unrequited
That carry me into the relm of the sandman, who holds my heart

Seek in the darkness in my light
And find there my core and centre
Murky depths, not yet explored
And secrets undiscovered

X

In the dark and stillness of the morning, I seek you.
Vestiges of your past and little insights into you
Surrounded by quiet, I wish to experience your voice
To get to know the soul behind the face and the spirit behind the work
To see the world through your eyes, to hear it, to taste it.
To notice the difference and any similarities between your interpretation and mine
To discover the joys you show and the sorrows you hide, which give such strength and reality
An exchange of thoughts and ideas, not banal words
Of death, passion, love, mourning, expression, sex, and blood
Of the things that the heart carries but the mouth holds back
What makes the soul fly and crash and laugh
To take intensity and seriousness and to see the humour and glee
For perspective, and growth and balance.

 

Sing to Me

sing me a song of blood and sex
history’s most notorious foes
sing to me of peace and love
history’s greatest dream
sing to me of marches
demonstrations
shackles
torment
sing to me of a King
who lonely wanted
to be human
sing to me of gender
not recognized
sing to me of pleasures
praise
love
and a utopia that can never exist.

In Dreams

I miss him so much it hurts
I’ve never met him but in dreams
So Real
And waking brings sorrow
That fun shared, we two, and three, are only dreams

My heart breaks
Not for missing fame
But for missing friends

She

You know the girls who start something new
Or feel a new romance, or start a new relationship
And they enter in cautiously, carefully, testing the waters

She is not one of those

She is the girl who takes a running start, jumps, head first
and only then does she remove the blindfold
on the way down

She is born of water
who will use it to support you
nurture you
guide you gently and keep you afloat when you are too tired to tread anymore

Break her heart,
or worse, her trust,
and she will freeze you,
spit ice, and encapsulate you in it.

She is also of fire, passionate, and will warm you,
inspire you
protect you, use her fire to help you rise from ashes.

Beware: she can also burn you
and destroy whatever bonds where there.
Leave you with scars.

Make no mistake: for every tear you see, thousands are shed.
For every bit of anger, vitriol, a river flows underneath
For every deep breath, a passion is straining to be freed.
Her laugh is genuine.
She’ll hug you like she’s trying to take your pain and leave only love and light.

If she claims you as hers, she will forgive nearly any sin.
She’ll not judge you.
She will listen and hear, even when you don’t speak.
She will defend you, protect you.
She will breath your pain with you.
If she loves you, you have the power to ignite her.

She is crazy. Bruised. Broken.
She is a warrior. Lover. Secret-keeper.
Raw. Angry. Understanding. Mercurial. Closed Off. Tactile. Self-destructive. Re-inventing. Quiet. Sad. Lonely. Lustful. Afraid. Fighting. Restoring.

And if you listen carefully, you can hear her heart.
The whispers
The singing
The crackle as it fractures.

Gone

If I disappeared
would you notice
How long would it be before you noticed by absence
if ever

would you miss me
would you reach out
or would you simply forget me as if I never was
and dismiss any memory

would i become a person in your life for just a period

am i even in your thoughts now?

I See You

“It’s not hard to find someone who tells you they love you. It’s hard to find someone who actually means it.” – Anonymous

I will not tell you I love you because I do not know you.
To love you means to know you, to see you, to be seen by you. To kiss you, to touch you, to fight with you, to be called out by you, to forgive you, to be forgiven by you.

I do know you, but I see you.
I see your kindness and empathy.
I see your giving and sharing and patience.
Your craft shows the cracks in your façade
little pieces of your soul slip out
to form words and actions
a reminder of your humanity
which often is replaced with divinity in some eyes

I want to see your darkness and invite you into mine,
to share a soul’s touch and let it leave its mark
the emotions
the nightmares and the dreams
the intellect and wisdom

Imperfections and flaws to create balance
Mistakes made to learn from
Disappointments to keep hope in heart
Ability to reach and grow, improve and cast away the former self

To talk of the stars and mystery
history, romance
of music and movement and death
of sex and numbness and wisdom
numbness, rawness, and value

I want to touch you
your face, your fingers, your heart
full body hugs and light touches of affection
reassurances that we are worthy

No, I do not love you. I do not know you. But I see you.