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Heavy Metta Link Round Up: “I Am More Than Numbers On A Scale”

5 Oct

 

 

I just spent the weekend at a recovery event for people with food addiction issues. It was an absolutely amazing weekend that brought me to tears on more than several occasions. I have great appreciation for the process of recovery and for the days and sometimes even weeks where I don’t think about my size, appearance, weight, food or dieting.

I also have a new found, great appreciation for my plus-sized body and the things it can do. In spite of the many ways I have abused it over the years, I can now do these things: I can walk long distances (with a limp!), hold myself up in chaturanga, get my ass an inch off of the floor in tolasana, actually do navasana (!! this just happened recently) and finish an Ashtanga Primary Series workshop without dying. The strength, endurance and forgiveness of my body amazes me.

 

picture courtesy of yogapaws.com

 

I am grateful for the gift of being able to eat healthy, balanced, plant-based meals that are nourishing as well as tasty and aesthetically pleasing. I did not have this ability two years ago, and I spent my time lurching from fast food drive through to crazy workout regimen to insane diet plan and then always back to the binge followed by the starve.

Life is too short to eat ugly food. I spent the majority of my life bolting down ugly, greasy, brown and extremely unnaturally colored food from bags and boxes in secret; sometimes purging it, most times not.

Life is too short to restrict my food unreasonably, to be scared of carbs and fat grams and calories, to demonize some foods while forcing myself to choke down others that I can’t stand.

Life is too short to spend it living a lie; drinking and drugging myself into oblivion because I couldn’t tolerate the body I live in or the thoughts in my head, spending so much energy putting on a false front of “fuck it” and “I don’t care”.

Life is also too short to spend it chained to a treadmill, barbell or exercise bike; I spent endless hours, sometimes most of my waking hours, choking down “legal” speed and “energy” drinks and exercising like a maniac.

Life is ultimately too short to live it without purpose, appreciation, love and service. I don’t get to embody or enact those things when I am caught up in my addictions.

I came across this video on my Facebook feed this week and I found it to be really moving. The only bully worse than the ones I faced as a fat kid growing up in uber-weight-conscious 80’s South Florida is the voice of the Eating Disorder Bully that still rents space in my head. I need to evict that bitch, stat. Kudos to Jennifer Livingston for eloquently speaking about against bullying and fat-shaming:

A  link from Huffington Post on Yoga and an amazing recovery from anorexia by Chelsea Roff. Her plus-sized power yoga teacher was an integral part of her recovery story> I really want to buy this book just so I can finish her story!  Very, very moving stuff:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/intent/anorexia_b_1928891.html

An article I really related to by Erica Cheung: “Fat for an Asian, Flat for a Latina”. Ether cultural standard is oppressive; if you’re not svelte like Lucy Liu or “bootylicious” like J Lo, well then—you’re just fat:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erica-cheung/fat-for-an-asian-flat-for-a-latina-body-image_b_1910972.html?utm_hp_ref=eating-disorders

From the Curvy Yoga blog (gotta give them a shout out!)–what happens when more curvy peeps practice yoga? “Body diversity becomes the norm in yoga classes, not the exception.”:

http://www.curvyyoga.com/yoga/when-more-curvy-people-practice-yoga/

The Mysterious Ashtanga Oil Bath

17 Sep

It’s Saturday and it’s a Moon Day and that means as an aspiring Ashtangi I get to sleep in, rest, and attempt to perform an Ashtanga Oil Bath. I will admit, I have been avoiding this…probably because it means that I am taking this Ashtanga “experiment” very seriously. I also had a very bad experience with hot oil treatments when I was a teenager–I ruined my hair before my confirmation party and had a meltdown of epic proportions which in retrospect was *hilarious*. I looked like an extra from the set of Grease, and I’m not talking one of the Pink Lady extras, either.

I used almond oil instead of Castor Oil, especially since the drains in our house are already a little wonky. I started with my head and really massaged the oil in well. I have really long hair, so this took quite awhile. I’ve read that you should only leave the oil on your head for about 5 minutes the first time. It’s suggested that you slowly increase the time to up to two hours over the course of six months or so.

After 5 minutes I greased the rest of my body up, following the suggested instructions to massage any of the areas where you have pain in particular. That would be everywhere, so there was a lot of rubbing going on! I could NOT believe how much oil my skin sucked in! It was crazy. I used up more than half a bottle!

I left the oil on my body for a little over 5 minutes, not including the time it took to massage it in. I chilled out on the bathroom floor on an old towel. Then I started to feel really nauseous! I was very shocked by this, as I’ve slathered myself in oil a million and one times–I live in Las Vegas for chrissakes. It was very odd. I hopped in the shower and it wasn’t that hard to get all of the oil off with my regular shampoo and good old Chandrika soap.

courtesy of veggiefitness.wordpress.com—check them out!

Unfortunately, the nausea continued for a while even after I was lying down in bed. I grabbed some crystallized ginger and rode it out. Quite odd. Obviously, there was something going on here so I will be trying the oil bath again when I get back from my trade show in Baltimore. I don’t want to chance taking a oil bath and then having to work the trade show sales floor while I’m sick as a dog!

I know that oil baths are used as a treatment in Ayurveda (especially for Vata dosha), but I’ve always been hesitant to take one because of my Kaphic ways. Oil baths are supposed to be excellent for dissolving ama, excess gnarly toxins. Kapha doshas can use mustard oil, but I don’t even know where the holy heck one finds mustard oil. Traditionally, the oil is “cured” before it is used. Curing basically involves heating the oil on a stove on a very low heat for about 15 minutes. I did not do this step, but I think I will next time. I found this lovely paragraph on Banyan Botanicals website:

“The Sanskrit word sneha can be translated as both “oil” and “love”. It is believed that the effects of abhyanga are similar to those received when one is saturated with love. Like the experience of being loved, abhyanga can give a deep feeling of stability and warmth. Sneha is subtle; this allows the oil/love to pass through minute channels in the body and penetrate deep layers of tissue.” 

Oil=love. Don’t tell that to the Engine2 or Forks Over Knives people!

Any of you more experienced Ashtangis have any particularly interesting oil bath stories? I am very curious about this as far as long term effects, or lack thereof.

Acid Reflux and Ayurveda: Pitta Party

15 Sep

When I was in my 30’s and drinking like a fish with a death wish, I had HORRIBLE acid reflux. My alternative doc sent me home with Mastic Gum capsules, probiotics and DGL lozenges and it worked like a charm. Behold, Pistacia lentiscus AKA the Mastic tree (thanks, wackipedia!):

I actually can’t remember the last time I had reflux, but I have many friends who struggle with this. I was curious about what Ayurveda would have to say about acid reflux, so here are some links and videos if you are interested. Of course, I am not a doctor; I’m just a very curious layperson who loves Ayurveda and who happens to do a lot of nutrition-related research for a living at my day job. I don’t advocate any particular kind of treatment, but information is always helpful. And where else will you get Ayurveda, health and heavy metal in the same blog? Freaking nowhere, man!

Dr. Partap Chauhan on acid reflux–a little more nuanced discussion of the possible combinations of problems that cause acid reflux and dosha imbalances. The first part is cheesy, but the good stuff comes starts at 1:10 :

Simple Ayurvedic home remedies for reflux–I’m a (shhh don’t tell anyone) vegan, so I can’t vouch for the milk cure. However, I bet you could just substitute almond milk for all of you Pittas out there:

John Doulliard, MD and Ayurvedic practitioner, with a few videos on acid reflux and digestive imbalances. He has some good books about Ayurveda (including co-author of The Yoga Body Diet). He also has a few DVD’s about Ayurveda for Gaiam that are simple and straightforward:

Vasant Lad has a PDF document that talks about food combining from an Ayurvedic perspective; there’s all kinds of helpful things on this page: http://www.ayurveda.com/online_resource/index.html

Your Body Is Not A Wonderland, It’s A Wasteland

9 Aug

I’ve been thinking a lot about the very Western fascination with “detox” lately and way it intersects with yoga practice. I have mixed feelings. The health food freak in me (hey, I worked for Whole Foods Market for 17 flipping years—I can’t help it!) likes the idea of organic produce, lots of water and green juices/smoothies. Then part of me is like, why not all of the time? Why do I need to “detox” just so I can “retox” at a later date? My biggest so-called-“vices” are the occasional bag of Pop Chips, vegan pizza and coffee. If I’m in a situation where other people are drinking “festively”, I have been known to drink Diet Coke. Burn me at the stake! I saw an article on Elephant Journal the other day with a pic of what happens to your innards when you drink soda that nearly made my eyes bulge out. I got this image from the blog littlebitbetter.org:

It’s obvious that eating, drinking and slathering your body with lots of toxic crap is not practicing ahimsa. Hurts you, hurts the environment, hurts other animals and humans. But the hysterical prudishness and rhetoric behind most of the “Detox” diets, websites, books and e-books just leaves me with a bad, toxic taste in my mouth. A lot of it just seems like thinly veiled anti-fat, “obesity epidemic” hatred.

And, quite frankly, some of it just doesn’t make any damn sense. There’s a lot of woo-woo BS that gets touted as nutritional fact and I am just not down with that. Just disregard my love of Ayurveda and TCM here for a minute and bear with me, OK? I recently picked up a copy of Kimberly Snyder’s The Beauty Detox Solution at the lovely Las Vegas library (our library system ROCKS!). Part of me wants to buy what she’s selling hook, line, and vegan sinker. She’s so cute and healthy looking and I like the color of her book. And the green smoothie recipe looks really good! But then I had to dig a little more and look at what she actually wants me to DO.

For Phase One of her plan (“Blossoming Beauty”), she wants me to drink hot lemon water and take some probiotics when I first wake up. WTF is the deal with all of these alternative health gurus and lemons? There are 2.4 million studies on Pub Med alone. Do any of the studies reference the miraculous alkaline power of an acidic citrus fruit? If you find this information, please email me immediately. I did find some interesting studies on Citrus species and a drug made from them for sickle cell anemia, however. Very interesting. I will have to do some more digging on this topic because it has been seriously nagging me for years.

Next on this phase, I get to eat “two or three” celery sticks and dry toast for breakfast. But only if I am hungry. Seriously? Lunch is kale salad and soup (rice crackers optional) and snack is, you guessed it, raw veggies. Yay! Dinner is more salad with oil free dressing and either fish (ewww) or a alkaline grain veggie burger. Then, this is the kicker: “LATE NIGHT: if you experience cravings, have herbal tea with stevia or more veggie sticks dipped in Sally’s Salsa or Green Bean Miso Dip.” “If” I experience cravings? It’s more like when. All I have to say is that someone would be getting HURT if that was how I had to eat every day. Cravings? Ya think? Just writing this made me hungry!

I’m sure there’s plenty in this book that is useful information. I just can’t get past the starvation part. The total caloric content of the food I listed above? 913 calories, with the optional extra carrot sticks at night. I would be diving head first into a vegan pizza followed by a bag of Uncle Eddie’s, I can see it now. So I will continue on my merry way, making my body toxic in the morning with coffee before my Ashtanga practice and eating lots of healthy vegan stuff for the rest of the day. In the meantime, I do not feel like my body is a wonderland (screw you, John Mayer) or a wasteland. It’s just my human, imperfect, and awesome body. I try to honor the temple as much as I can and treat it with gratitude, respect and love.

Off With Their Heads! Heavy Metta Link Round Up

8 Aug

Today I noticed on my wordpress blog stats analyzer thingie that apparently if you search for “yoga made me skinny”, my blog pops up. Not sure how I feel about that! I do not practice yoga to “get skinny”. I practice yoga as part of my spiritual, emotional and physical recovery from alcohol, drugs and a raging eating disorder.

Do I think that every single person who is overweight or morbidly obese has an eating disorder? No, just like I don’t think every single underweight person is anorexic. I don’t think that every person who “wants to get skinny” has an eating disorder, either. The difference, for me, was that I had an insane mental compulsion to binge eat and then “compensate”/punish myself through compulsive exercise, starvation, diuretics, laxatives, diet pills and sometimes even vomiting. It went way beyond “watching what you eat” or “trying to lose weight” into being The Mayor of Crazy Town. At some point, I crossed the line and things just got ugly. It resulted in surgery and me being in a wheelchair for six months because I pushed myself to such an extreme with my binging and compulsive exercising. It resulted in me being pre-diabetic, exhausted, injured, severely asthmatic and suicidal. I began having liver problems and PCOS/hormonal problems and existed in a general state of incredible unhealthiness. I also have a sneaking suspicion that my years of abusing diet pills that contained ephedra could have possibly contributed to the thyroid condition that I now have.

No yoga = no prana. No sanity. No serenity. I need a spiritual connection today or I cannot live a sane and serene life. Yoga gives me that. Yoga keeps me honest. I cannot engage in my compulsive exercise behavior within the scope of my Ashtanga practice. My body can only do what I can do at that particular moment, and pushing will result in injury pretty quickly. The bandhas, drishti and breath keep me spiritually connected as well.

I have been avoiding the news lately because it makes me feel like a crazy person. It seems like every time I turn around, there’s some special sound bite on The War On Obesity with headless pictures of fat folk. Trust me, I have fought my own War On My Obesity and I was a casualty. Waging war is a losing battle. Ironically, I wrote this before I found the Christina Sell video that I linked to above. If you haven’t read her books, do yourself a favor and get them.

The yoga world doesn’t exactly embrace plus sized brothers and sisters, either. “Core Strengthening Yoga”? I know what your shorthand means! And vegans? Fuggadabbout it! If you are a “fat vegan”, let the shame and blame begin. And often if you are overweight even by a little bit, no one thinks that you have an “eating disorder”. They feel free to say the most triggering and fucked up comments imaginable that quite frequently send me into a total tailspin. I have to guard my recovery and sobriety very carefully. I spend a lot of time on my yoga mat and a lot of time meditating. I go to 12 step meetings, surround myself with positive and loving people and read lots of spiritually uplifting books.

Yoga is so much more than a workout or a weight loss strategy.

Here’s some links that got me thinking recently:

Fat “papping”—how do they get those annoying Headless photos of us fat people anyway??

http://www.obesitytimebomb.blogspot.ca/2012/07/i-got-fat-papped-for-daily-mail.html

“Assana” my fat ass! Who makes a line of yoga pants called “Assana” and then sizes them only in SMALL and MEDIUM? Seriously? I call shenanigans! Things like this really grind my gears, thus proving I need to avoid most media lately.

http://assanas.com/firefly-yoga-pants/24-firefly-boot-cut-pants.html

Natala Constantine is one of my vegan heroines; this is another post from her. She now is an Engine 2 team member.  A post on being vegan, still being 100 pounds overweight and how she feels about that. As to whether you agree with the dietary suggestions part, take it with a grain of salt:

http://engine2diet.com/the-daily-beet/should-you-feel-bad-for-being-overweight-plus-12-tips-for-losing-weight/

Laura Dunn on what happens when yoga becomes 100% practice and 0% theory. It’s a fine line between “healthy” and “restricting”:

http://lauradunnyoga.com/2012/04/22/yoga-and-body-image/

Engine 2 Snack Attack: White Bean Artichoke Dip Recipe

5 Aug

 

I’ve been trying some new snack ideas out lately. When healthy, plant-based eating starts to seem very boring and complicated, it makes me feel trapped and restricted. And then the evil little voice in my head tells me to go get vegan chocolate chip cookies and vegan mac ‘n’ cheese from Red Velvet Cafe because who is going to know? *I* will know, and my body will know when I feel like I have cement in my stomach when I am on my yoga mat. Not worth it! I know that many diet gurus (and even Ayurveda!) will tell you that snacking is bad when you are trying to lose weight. I’ve tried it both ways, and I stick to what my Eating Disorders Specialist Registered Dietitian told me and I have my snacks. Otherwise, I am an angry hungry vegan and I want to ATTACK. End of story.

Clearly, the ideal snacks are fresh fruits and veggies. Sometimes that is exactly what I want, and sometimes it seems like The Ghost Of Bad Dieting Past is visiting me and shoving carrot sticks in my face. No bueno. Since this is all about progress, not perfection, I need to have alternate snacks to nosh on when I am in the mood for something more substantial.

Here’s my new snack action—take it for what it’s worth!

1. Edward and Sons Rice Crackers

I hate rice cakes. They make me think of dieting and starving and they make me mad. These are, well, technically similar to rice cakes but very crunchy and with flavor. There are several different kinds—some are vegan and some aren’t, so read the labels. Also, some have oil and some don’t. I mainly buy the Tamari Sesame and the Tamari Seaweed. These are the same people who make the Chreeze sauce that I mentioned in my E2 cheese post. I think these might be mentioned in the E2 book as well.

2. Oskri Quinoa Bars

Due to the sesame seed content, this is one of those things that skirts the line as far as E2 is concerned. But there’s no added oil, and they are sweetened with brown rice syrup and date syrup. And they are sooooo crunchy! Yum! I’ve been experimenting with making homemade “granola” bars without oil and refined sugars, but my experiments have either been awful or waaaay too tasty. I like things to be in the middle: tasty enough that I am not pissed off that I have to eat this crap but not so tasty that I want to eat the entire batch, now. Until I can find the perfect recipe, I have these very crunchy Oskri bars. I usually eat them with an apple or a glass of unsweetened almond milk and they hit the spot.

3. Zen Bakery Peanut Butter Carob Chip Cookies

I get these in the refrigerated bakery section of my favorite Whole Foods. They are more like a severely healthy muffin than a cookie, honestly. But they taste good and fill me up, especially if I have a long time between when I leave work and dinner. I like to warm them up and have them with almond milk. And anything Zen is always A-OK with me!

4. La Reina Baked Tortilla Chips with Salsa and/or Vegan Queso

From http://www.thehealthyvegans.com, very cool oil-free plant-based eating website!

La Reina is the only tortilla chip that I can find that does not use oil. Guiltless Gourmet has started using oil so I leave those alone now—they used to be my old stand by. I don’t eat this very frequently since my body doesn’t like corn (no matter what Ayurveda says about it being good for Kapha dosha) but when I do, I really enjoy it. If you are not able to get this where you live, you can bake your own chips at home. Set oven at 350 degrees and put the tortillas directly on the rack. You have to flip them several times until they are crispy. I can never remember exactly how long it takes! Probably depends on your oven.

5.  White Bean Artichoke Dip

I really get sick of hummus really fast. When I first started exploring vegetarian eating in the late 80’s, early 90’s, that was frequently all there was to eat. Hummus and lentils. Lentils and hummus. Hummus with a side of lentils and…rice cakes! Needless to say, I still sometimes associate hummus with deprivation and struggle. And I just can’t be down with the new Cedar’s fat free hummus. It tastes like…beany snot. Sorry. So I came up with this instead, and for some reason I like it much, much more.

Mo’s Engine 2 White Bean Artichoke Dip 

Ingredients:

1 can drained, rinsed Cannelini beans

1 can drained, rinsed Artichoke hearts (set aside the water to use to thin the dip)

1 lemon

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tsp salt

1 dash cayenne pepper

Instructions:

Put everything in the Vitamix or food processor except for the artichoke water and the lemon. Squeeze the lemon (really get all of that juice out) into the mixture and then blend until it’s smooth. If you’re really motivated, you can add some grated lemon zest, too. Use the artichoke water to thin the dip as needed. Chill overnight to let the flavors marry and then eat up! Great with crackers, tortilla chips or (gasp) veggies. I had it last night with celery sticks as a side for my veggie burger.

6. Amande Almond Milk Yogurt

From the amandeyogurt.com website.

I think I heard Rip mention these when I heard him speak here in Vegas. These are almond milk yogurts that are sweetened with fruit juice instead of refined sugar. I have a serious problem with refined sugar (it makes me act like a junkie) so I avoid it. It also makes PCOS way, way worse. It is not my friend.

Happy E2 snacking!

Engine2 Recipe: Smoky “Bacon” Beans, Broccoli and Cheeze Stuffed Potato

23 Jul

One of the things I love about eating a plant-based diet is that I can freely worship at the Altar of the Divine Spud:

Worship at the E2/McDougall Potato Altar!

 

Under $3.00 for a LOT of potential meals.

One thing I always loved before I started eating this way was loaded baked potatoes. I was a bacon, cheese and sour cream junkie. When I first transitioned to being vegan, this meant lots of vegan sour cream, green onions and Fakin’ bacon:

Last night I realized that I had a dilemma: no Fakin’ Bacon and I needed to eat *now*.  Hmmm…what if I could make beans taste like bacon? Problem solved!

Smoky Vegan Bacon Beans Recipe

Ingredients:

1 can Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 1/2 tsp. Liquid Smoke or hickory smoke seasoning

1 tsp tamari

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 /2 tsp onion powder

Instructions:

Mix it all up and let it marinate for at least an hour. You can cook your potato while it you are marinating the beans.

 

 

I steamed the broccoli, warmed up the beans, threw everything together on top of the potato and used Road’s End packaged vegan “Chreeze” sauce. The Cheese sauce recipe from Happy Herbivore is really yummy on potatoes, too. Check my blog entry on vegan cheese substitutes if you are curious:  https://heavymettayoga.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/it-aint-easy-being-cheezy-vegan-cheeses-for-the-engine-2-diet/

 

This version was actually much more filling than using the Fakin’ Bacon. I think I have a new favorite, although Fakin’ Bacon will always be near and dear to my heart. I’ve been eating it since 1990 or 1991!

It feels good to be back in the kitchen again. I haven’t wanted to cook or even be in that room since Enzo died. Enzo didn’t really like potatoes or beans, but he sure did like tempeh bacon, tofu scrambler, pancakes and vegan sausage. That dog was a vegan breakfast eating machine!

Did you say, “Vegan Sausage??”

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