2016 Word

A new year full of promise, hope, new adventures, and dreams.

Not exactly…

Just more of the same-old, same-old.

I’m not one for keeping New Year’s resolutions. I’ll let the fitness hype go this year. But, now that we are getting settled in the new house I’ve returned to working out a bit. My youngest loves Wii dance games and I like to join him. I try not to think about how awkward my attempt at dancing (especially to some of the hip-hop songs) must appear. Sometimes I jump (not literally) on the treadmill and walk a bit. New songs on my iPod would be motivating…but every year it seems the learning curve for iTunes grows exponentially.

Progress in healthy eating of the slow and steady variety is coming along nicely too. Not out of desire for health though. Mostly to escape pain. So many foods (the stuff that actually tastes good!) aggravate my stomach or ignite my inflammation troubles. I quit trying during the move but time to get back to taking care of my health. The joints in my hands and wrist are so painful. I expected the pain but not the weakness or the crunchy gritting sound in my wrists. I’m back on my ginger now that all of the holiday travel is over so some of the discomfort is already starting to ease up a bit. Sadly, the strength doesn’t come back…I’ve learned that sad fact this year.

I wanted to choose a word this year. A point of focus. Originally, I had clarity or perceive in mind. But as I spent time meditating, praying, reflecting and remembering my reaction to this year’s trials…well, those chosen words were without meaning.

my childhood in a picture

my childhood in a picture

Fear beat me down this year. Fear brought on by rejection. My wee little black hole, you know, the one in my soul? The core center of my very self. (Please see my series on Made To Crave if you are interested). As this year’s events unfolded my black hole began to grow in strength. My deep sense of unworthiness threatened to overwhelm me as I felt discarded…again. I’ve broken down and cried many, many times since July. All of the fear from my abusive childhood returned. I felt like an unwanted little child all over again. Unloved and not even worthy of being loved.

I’m wise enough to know that I’ll never be rid of those feelings…not entirely. I’m blessed to be loved by an ever patient man. My husband is the warmth that keeps those old demons away. I should have been a pillar for him this year but he supported me instead. Only out of love for my husband did I not torch and burn a few bridges to lifeless ash. I am consumed with fear.

I do not want to be ruled by fear. I do not want to be that nearly lifeless child pleading to be loved.

My word is brave. My word terrifies me.

Let me be brave…

 

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Sophrosyne: Ginger for Mum

My sweet bloggy sister across the grand pond wanted to know how I take enough ginger to keep the arthritis pains at bay but not get heartburn from ginger tablets. I do not take any vitamins or pill form supplements. I’m not really opposed to vitamins and such…I just don’t like how much they cost and all the research involved to know which brands are actually useful to the body. I looked into it a few years ago and just got overwhelmed by all the conflicting information. I’ve chosen to avoid all that confusion by learning which foods contain the nutrients I need.

Learn how to process ginger here.

Ginger is an amazing little plant and for me it does wonders in battling the effects of inflammation. It takes about three weeks before I really noticed the effects. At first I added ginger to my smoothies but you need a much better machine than mine to get it blended properly. I would like to experiment juicing with it but I have to save for a juicing machine first. My family does not like the taste of ginger so I cannot cook with it. But I have found a few ways to enjoy ginger without assaulting my family’s taste buds.

Everyday I enjoy a cup of masala chai. I make a big concentrated batch on Saturday or Sunday and enjoy a nice warm cup after a hectic and busy homeschool day. I collected several recipes from online and played around with them until I found the combination I like best.

My Chai

6 cups water, four inches of ginger (peeled and sliced), 1 cinnamon stick, 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of anise seeds, ! tablespoon of peppercorns I give them a few whacks to bust them up), I/2 tablespoon ground cardamom, 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, I sliced orange (peels and all).

I bring all of this to a boil and then simmer for about thirty minutes (I love how my kitchen smells when this is simmering) before removing from heat. One time I had a used vanilla bean pod that I had used to make extract and put it in the pot to simmer with the other spices. That was my very favorite pot of chai!

I then add 10 tea bags to the pot and just two tablespoons of sugar. Sometimes I add a bit of vanilla extract. I let the tea steep about thirty minutes or so. I then squeeze out the orange and strained the liquid. This is my tea concentrate and I keep it in the refrigerator. I plan to experiment with different teas like green or rooibos in the future.

When I want a cup of chai I bring 3/4 cup of the concentrate to boil in a small saucepan. I remove it from heat and whisk in 1/4 cup of half and half. I like to get it a little frothy. I pour it into my favorite cup and enjoy.

The last time I made it I forgot to add the sugar. I loved it without the sugar so I won’t be adding it to any future pots. I have tried some of the spice mixes available on the market but they are always too sweet for my taste or have way too much cinnamon.

Easy Ginger Salad Dressing

I’ve been trying to have a salad everyday for lunch and this is my favorite dressing.

1/2 cup olive oil, I/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of grated ginger, I clove diced garlic, a pinch of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper. Keep it in the refrigerator and give it a good shake before using. If you like your salad dressing a bit on the sweet side then add a tablespoon or two of honey.

Crystalized Ginger Salad Dressing

One time I was out of ginger but I had some candied (or crystalized) ginger on hand. It is the same recipe as above except I diced up about a tablespoon of crystalized ginger slices. My kids thought I had lost my mind but it is tasty.

I have never made crystalized ginger since I can get it fresh for a good price from the Mennonite shop. If I decide to make it myself sometime I would use this recipe from Alton Brown.

Beef and Ginger Broth

I usually buy beef broth for this but I plan to start using steak bones to make my own beef bone broth in the crockpot.

4 cups beef broth, 2 cloves diced garlic, 2 tablespoons grated ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of salt (check to see if it even needs salt first!) Bring this to a boil and then simmer about fifteen minutes or so. I like the broth by itself but it is also good with rice noodles and any vegetables you want to throw in. If you cook the vegetables in the broth you may have to simmer it longer until the veggies are the way you like. I prepare any noodles separately and ladle the broth over top.

Those are all of my current ginger recipes. I found two more beverages on-line that look interesting: Golden Milk and Turmeric and Ginger Iced Tea. I haven’t tried them yet. I plan to make a ginger syrup next for making a ginger fizz.

 

 

 

 

Sophrosyne: A Study in Ginger

Just because I haven’t posted about my healthy living adventure doesn’t mean I gave up…just crazy busy! I even forgot to weigh-in this month!! May is already right around the corner so I will wait until then. I am expecting my numbers to be about the same as the beginning of March. However, now that my life has calmed down a bit and I no longer have daily commitments eating up my time I can and have been walking at least a half hour each day. I also plan to add some light weightlifting to my routine in a week or two.

During this past month I did an experiment with ginger. I’ve been taking ginger for a few months and I believed it was helping me with my finger and knee-joint pains. I told everyone about it. As I felt less pain I wondered if it was really due to ginger or to my new exercise and eating habits. Maybe I was delusional and had psyched myself to believe in ginger!? I was beginning to doubt myself and feared that I sounded like some sort of convert to the ginger religion. Maybe it was all in my head! So I decided to test the healing benefits of ginger and removed it from my diet.

I didn’t notice any difference the first week or so after quitting ginger. By the second week without ginger I felt the pain. I never knew how useful my pinky finger was until everything caused it pain. The inflammation in my hands became so painful that I had trouble holding a cup of tea with one hand. My knees began to ache and I became aware of a weakness within them while trying to exercise. I started having trouble with my hands and noticed a loss of strength. After two weeks without ginger I hurt so much that I took ibuprofen and wanted to cry.

I’m not crazy. I wasn’t psyching myself out. Ginger works!!! I restarted ginger this week. I know it will take time to build its effects back up in my body and begin working again. Which is why I am waiting a week or two before beginning a weight lifting routine. Ginger takes away the pain and swelling in my joints. It helps me recover the lack of strength in my knees, fingers and wrists. Ginger is now, and likely forever will be, a constant in my diet. I’ll start sharing my favorite ginger recipes with you next week. I can’t cook with it since the rest of my family despises ginger. I drink chai every day and have a lovely ginger salad dressing recipe I’ll share with you next week.

I chat on here a lot about the physical side of choosing a healthier life style. The truth is there is more spirituality involved than I write about. My friend Claire writes about the spiritual side of seeking a healthier lifestyle. She has two honest and amazing posts you should consider reading here and here.  Her honest and candid posts speak directly into my heart. She is the reason I share and write these healthy living posts.

Also, I personally believe that when God created all plants that Jesus personally kissed and blessed the ginger plant. If you run into me I will extol the blessed benefits of ginger till the day I die.

Sophrosyne

Sophrosyne [suh-fros-uh-nee] is my new word for the year (with fandabbydosy coming in a close second…love the feel of those syllables!)  I know it is March…nearly April and I should have chosen my word for the year in January. For the past few months I have toyed with the word “nourished” because I thought it filled my current need for seeking spiritual and physical…want or need. I can’t find the right word for this…loss of true harmony. Turns out there is an amazing ancient Greek word that embodies all I lack and seek…sophrosyne.

I found this word while skimming some of the works of Plato (Charmides if you want to read for yourself). In my little spare time I am reading about the influence of humanism from the ancient Greek philosophers on Thomas Aquinas and how this affected the course of the Christian church and Western history (yeah, I need a hobby). Since I am not all that clever I have to look up many words I stumble on in my readings…Anyway, one of the words I encountered was sophrosyne. A word with no clear equivalent English translation. In my quest for physical, spiritual, and mental (that one may be a lost cause!) health this word…sophrosyne…is what I seek!

Sophrosyne is expressed by an abiding awareness of one’s true worth, a healthy state of being dominated by orderly behavior leading to harmony within one’s self and with the Divine. Isn’t that an amazing word! I want to be healthy both within my spirit and within my physical being. I truly believe there is a connection in how I care for this earthy home of the Hold Spirit and my relationship with Christ. I cherish this gift of life and I believe that if I honor this gift then I will find a deeper connection with my Lord. This word expresses my belief in how to achieve this harmony.  It is a continuous process of self-knowledge and self-restraint leading to spiritual harmony.

It means eating healthy foods in healthy proportions is something to rejoice in not feel miserable about. Overindulgence (in food or things) leads to guilt and bondage (a lack of health from over-eating and an unhealthy life-style) and self-discipline (proper and healthy food and activity) points to freedom and joy. If I quit abusing this body and seek the Lord with all my heart then sophrosyne is my way of life…true harmony is mine. Perusing a healthy lifestyle is part of achieving sophrosyne.

My wibbly-wobbly posts about achieving fitness and a healthy lifestyle are now under the name of sophrosyne.

Wibbly Wobbly: Just Plodding Along

I think it might be easier to understand theoretical particle physics than to lose weight. I’m not giving up but simply acknowledging this process is going to take a wee bit longer to see measurable progress. I was down about hitting this plateau a couple of weeks ago. Instead of turning to a box or two of chocolate I’ve kept trudging along. No fun, but I know if I just persevere I will succeed. So, oddly enough, I was rather amused to discover this week’s chapter (Life’s Too Short to Eat Bad Cheese by Ellie Marrandette) was all about persevering!

So the scale and body measurements haven’t moved much. Once I quit beating myself up I realized that I am not in a race to lose weight. It is okay for this process to take time. Also, I do feel better. Since I started exercising my hip doesn’t hurt as much. My aching hip no longer wakes me up at night (wish I could say the same about my four-year old!). Turns out I am making progress…just not the measurements I considered to be successful. Honestly, I’ll take less pain and better sleep over pounds lost any day.

I’ll just keep plodding along at my slow pace. Eventually the progress I want will manifest.

I need to get past this plateau so I need to change a few things. I’ve added some weight lifting to my workout. I’ve only gone through the routine twice but I plan to use weights three times per week. I also plan to increase my workouts to six times a week instead of just four. Now that the weather is getting better I will most likely walk in the evenings outside with my husband. So some days I will get two workout sessions. Maybe I’ll even be able to keep up with him one of these days! I’ve added a few dances and workouts to my YouTube page. I always start out with Good Morning, Do Life Big, and Gerinomo from Refit Revolution. After those three songs I am ready to grab life by the horns and win! Sometimes I even repeat! Toward the bottom of my list is a Jessica Smith walking workout with weights that I like and plan to use three times a week for now.

The next change I plan to make is with my diet. I think I will do better fighting cravings throughout the day if I begin with a big breakfast. I like my smoothies but I do not love them. So I am going to have a yummy big breakfast, my premade soups for lunch and a very small dinner. I have always envisioned that we should have a huge yummy dinner in the evenings but really I think a small supper would be better. So I am going to try out the old saying of eating like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch, and a pauper for supper. I’ll let you know how that goes the next week…

Wibbly-Wobbly: Bye-bye February!

Snow!

Snow!

February. Not a good month for me. I did not lose any weight but I didn’t gain any either. I lost all motivation to exercise or eat properly when arctic temperatures and snow hit our area. Sadly, another system is moving in later today and turning into sleet and snow by morning. Anyway, I may have lost nearly all of my motivation but since I didn’t gain any weight I did not lose my will power. For the most part I controlled what I ate. On the really cold and depressing days I just strived to control how much I ate of comforting foods.

Over the past three weeks it has been warmer on occasion in Alaska than Kentucky! In my book that is reason enough to devour all the chocolate in the house. I didn’t…of course I may have stood in the kitchen and stared at the chocolate.

I didn’t blog one word on these Wibbly-Wobbly posts for two weeks. The first week I missed I just didn’t realize it was Tuesday until I went to bed that night. All the bad weather shut everything around here down as well as my daily routines. Last week…well…I was having a bad day and would not have been able to post anything positive.

However, I wasn’t idle over the past two weeks. I solved a major hurdle in getting exercise time. I get up early to exercise and get showered before the rest of the family gets moving. Yesterday, I even had muffins baking in the over for the kids before getting them up for the day. I’m only exercising every other day at the moment but plan to start doing do more often next week. On the days I do not exercise I still get up and enjoy some quiet reading. I’ve learned that I am more consistent with getting up to exercise if I also get up at the same time on my non-exercise days. The other issue I was having in getting to exercise was washing-up without waking the rest of the household. Once the littlest one is up a lovely shower is not a possibility. We have a full bathroom downstairs in the basement and it had never occurred to me to use it! So I moved all of my things into the basement bath. Everyone sleeps while I exercise and get my day started.

I mentioned last time that I was thinking about trying out a detox. No. No. That is not going to happen. I’m not sure that I could handle the side effects and headaches and homeschool. We will shut down school for two weeks in July when two of the boys are attending Lego camp. Maybe I will consider one then but…maybe not. But why not a gentler approach to detox? I already have a smoothie most mornings. So why not some detox soups for lunch! Several of them looked tasty to me. I’ve pinned a few on Pinterest and this weekend made a large pot of the Anti-inflammatory vegetarian soup. The only thing I did differently from the recipe was add a tablespoon of turmeric. So far this week I’ve loved having a bowl of soup with some crackers for lunch. If I make this soup again I will just cut the squash in half and bake it…those are not easy to peel! I also have the ingredients on hand to make the creamy spiced cauliflower soup. Now that I have smoothies and soup everyday I think I am getting the required amount of vegetables and fruit for the first time in my life.

Chapter ten in Life’s Too Short to Eat Bad Cheese is on willpower. I liked this chapter. Ellie gives several examples of how to handle some diet killing food related scenarios without hurting someone’s feelings. She also gives advise on getting the body’s metabolism running and dealing with weight-loss plateaus. I’m going to add a cup or two of ice water each day to help get my body revved up each day.

I’m glad February is over. I’m a bit down that I did not lose at least one pound. However, I am glad that I’ve solved the problem of getting in my exercise for the day and having a sensible lunch already made for busy school days.

Please consider sharing any good soup recipes!

 

Wibbly-Wobbly: Detoxify?

My thoughts while exercising

My thoughts while exercising

This week’s chapter in Ellie’s book (Life’s Too Short to Eat bad Cheese) is about detoxifying the body and mind. I learned a few truths about the aging of the gut that I’d rather not know…yuck. Food, especially processed and unhealthy food build up in our digestive system and prevent our bodies from absorbing necessary and essential nutrients. In order to keep our bodies in optimal condition and to prevent gut rot (eeewww!) we need to eat the right foods and drink plenty of water. I learned in this chapter I need to take care of my digestive system and liver and also listen to my thyroid.

I’ve had my thyroid levels checked in the past and the doctor always says things are fine…or “operating within normal parameters” may have been his actual words. But every time I read about thyroid problems I can relate to some of the symptoms. So now I am thinking I should try one of these detox regimens but…research first. I’ll look into it and let you know what I decide to do. I will not put myself (or my family) through some crazy juice fast or whatever the fad is these days for detoxification. I’m fairly certain that I already know the answer…eat healthy, exercise and drink plenty of water.

I wish I enjoyed exercising…but I really do not. I haven’t exercised this week. Maybe tomorrow I will find the motivation…but it is February…the most depressing month of the year. Motivation is hard to find…but spring is right around the corner!