Buchu and other herbs

In the journey to healthy eating and healthy living, you soon realise that there are healthy options, but there’s also organic options. This, supposedly, means that it’s the healthiest option. Like any disciple to a new religion, you devote yourself getting the best out of your practice to ensure you get the results promised to you. Since I was introduced to that Nettle and Hibiscus tea fusion that fateful afternoon, in that little coffee shop in Observatory, I cannot count how many times I’ve noticed various teas I wouldn’t otherwise notice prior my discovery. It’s called “Law of attraction”. Now my healthy eating antenna is on high alert. I see healthy foods everywhere I go. Ingredients scream at me from product packages. I could easily spot them in the trash bin if they were stuffed in there.

My most recent found is buchu tea or leaves. I bought the leaves from the Rastafarian guys who sell sage and other natural herbs on the streets in Claremont.  It is bitter to the mouth but drinkable still. My friend also introduced me to the wonders of turmeric, mixed with cayenne pepper, black and white pepper and ground ginger. I drink this mix when I have an upset stomach. I also gave it to my neighbour the other time she had an upset stomach (not running stomach). She was so pleased with the results that she said she’d buy a pack and take   it with to the Eastern Cape during December holidays. I sometimes drink ground ginger alone. It tastes delicious with a little bit of sugar. I’m yet to quit sugar all together.

I also drink warm water with crushed garlic and apple cider vinegar regularly. I’m easy on apple cider vinegar as it can be harsh to the intestine lining. I make sure I drink a lot of water before I drink it. This is important. I drink all these for fun mostly, but I’m also aware of its healht benefits.

Healthy eating vs starving

We put too much emphasis on over eating and fatness. Rarely do we highlight the problem of low or under eating. Probably we think it’s a Holywood thing to not want to eat or have low interest in food. We hardly recognise this problem even in ourselves. A majority of people who go to gym go there to lose weight. In fact, I think the entire gym industry is tailored around weight loss. This begs the question: what about those of us who don’t necessarily need to lose weight, but want to maintain a healthy body?

I’m not a big meat eater, in fact, I always say, “I can easily become a vegetarian”, except that I love pork so much. In a quest to balance my anxiety, I embarked on a “healthy eating” journey, but without proper knowledge or plan. This meant that I didn’t eat properly and didn’t prepare my meals. Instead of eating healthily I almost starved myself. This was not intentional, of course. I didn’t realise that I had a problematic relationship with food. First, I don’t really like food. I often brag to people, saying that “I only eat so I won’t starve”. I even forget to eat at times, until my stomach starts grumbling. Then I would remember , “Oh, I haven’t eaten anything”. This is usually around 1 pm. What makes me forget eating also is my strong relationship with coffee. Drinking coffee often makes me believe I’ve eaten something. This was a common theme for me in 2019. This was not until July, when I hit an almost rock bottom. That’s when I became intentional with eating and the kind of food I ate. Soon my intentionality became neuroticism. I treated food like an enemy. This only intensified my warped relationship with food. I told friends and neighbours that I was becoming vegetarian. I even started planting my own food, which is now blooming nicely. I was proud of myself, thinking I was being good to myself by trying to eliminate meat from my diet. Thankfully, that was not hard work for me to do as I was already not eating much anyway.

In the beginning of 2020, I started feeling extremely exhausted with serious hunger pangs. I would wake up feeling like I haven’t eating for days. I would find anything I could just to keep my “breath”. That’s when I became intentional about eating breakfast. I make sure I eat something no later 10am. I bought oats and it only takes 10 minutes to prepare. It’s less complicated and it is also low in carbohydrates and rich in energy. I also do energy mditations in the morning, which include breathing exercises. These exercises help with digestion. Since starting this routine, my stomach is more peaceful now. On top of meditations, I do jumping squats as part of my excercise. This helps with my heart rate. I also eat a proper lunch, which includes 70% vegetables. I cook during the day, something I used to hate doing. I also snack on fruits and drink water.

20200310_112516

I came across an article, posted by a friend on her WhatsApp status update. The article talked about what is called Aryuverda.  The concept talks about a cluster of daily activities that a person can do to maintain a healthy balance of the body. It also explains different body types and how each body reacts differently to stress. This concept is based on ancient Indian philosophy which denotes that, “I’m a spiritual being having a physical exprience”. It makes sense that when we are stressed our bodies react because the two are interconnected. I’ve also incorporated some of these daily practices and the exhaustion is completely gone. The debilitating hunger is also gone. I’m freer and happier. My body is feeling healthier, too. I also went back to my morning runs. You can read more on the Aryuverda concept on Deepak Chopra website: http://www.https//chopra.com/articles Chopra is a trained medical doctor and a mind/body philosopher.

Simple home workouts

img-20200229-wa0037

When I quit my job, I couldn’t afford gym anymore. I had to come up with innovative ways to keep me fit and healthy. I joined a running club and ran each morning from 5a.m. to 7 am. When I started meditation last July, this interfered with my new found process and schedule. I recokend that feeding my spirit and calming my mind before starting my day was more important than being physically fit. However, I still needed physical activity.

I downloaded YouTube videos on different forms of exercises, ranging from cardio exercises, to breathing exercises, yoga, etc.

1. Full body cardio excercise

I downloaded a 10 minute full body workout video. This video consists of deep squats; wide squats; plans; mountain climbing; kick squat; jumping squats this work out involved the whole body.

2. Focused breathing

In the afternoons, I do a 13-minute breathing called prana yama. This breathing is made up of passive inhaling and active exhale. The purpose of the breathing is to stimulate and strengthen the lungs. It is said that as humans we’ve been breathing incorrectly. This breathing focuses mainly on the navel: you isolate the navel in order to bring energy into the skull (also known as illuminating the skull). The benefit is that if your skull is illuminated, you have more oxygen in the brain, which is good for your overall health.

3. Body stretch yoga

I have different types of yoga vidoes on my phone, which target different body parts. Sometimes I do lower back and neck pain relief yoga. The stretched are focused on  easing pain on these targeted areas. Other times, I do anxiety and stress relief yoga. I realised this type of yoga is mainly about self soothing. The focus is to be kind on yourself and be mindful of your body as you do the practice.

4. Mindful eating

As much as eating is not a physical excercise, I realised that you cannot exercise without being mindful of what you eat. I call this mindful eating. It involves watching the amount of sugar I consume; how much vegetables and fruits I consume on a daily basis. I make sure I eat a banana before I eat breakfast. I eat my breakfast at 10:00. Eating banana before I eat my breakfast helps me my eat early. This is good for digestion. I also eat foods, which are rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants such as spinach. I feel energetic each day and my body feels strong and agile. I’m also mindful of beverages I consume. I’ve increased my water consumption and drink less coffee – and more tea.

Grounding for productivity

brendan-church-pkef6tt3c08-unsplash-scaled-1-1

I love being spontaneous or going with the flow as the saying goes. When I was still employed, I used to boast that I’m a morning person. I lied. I am not. I still wake up early though. My alarm is set for 5:00 each morning. Sometimes I wake up before it goes off. I run my own business from home. I have no boss to answer to. So, this means I don’t need to set my alarm for 5 am, but I do. Working in corporate gives you stability, not only financial stability, but a foundation for productivity. When I was still employed, I started work at 7:00. I was the first to arrive in the office. This gave me time to ground myself before people came in with their energies. It helped set my day. If I happened to be late, I would feel flustered and would spend half my day trying to ground myself. This was time lost that I could have used to be more productive. Grounding is more important than rushing to tasks. The first year after quitting my job, I woke up aimless. It took me a year to develop a daily routine that works for me. This routine includes waking up to meditate. I use guided mediation audio to help me with my practice. I then open my business at 7:00 and expect customers to start coming in. I water my plants before I make myself a cup of coffee or tea. I then do my daily squats of 50. I then proceed to make my bed, clean the house so that it’s clean when customers come in, to drop off their laundry. I eat my porridge at 10:00. From then on, I’m free to just cruise through my day because I’m settled in my grounding. This helps me handle anything that comes my way, including rude or difficult customers. I’ve also noticed that I’m generally in a happy mood when I do this grounding. If I don’t, just like when I was an employee, I get flustered and sometimes grumpy. At the end of each day, I journal. I reflect on the day. I also do gratitude journaling, which helps me recognise what’s good in my life. These little things help increase instances of joy. Since I established a routine, I’m less anxious and more joyful and energetic. They also give me direction for the day, showing me which way to take – what tasks are more important and which ones aren’t.

Social media and beauty

img-20200306-wa0025 My relationship with my face got complicated at age 25, when I started working in corporate. I never had acne growing up, unlike my sister who was prone to break outs. I started straightening my hair with chemicals when I started working, in an attempt to look ‘professional’. I thought this was expected of me. Well, it was implied as many people did it. I also started experimenting with make up for the first-time. Needless to say, with my limited knowledge of make-up, I did a lot of trial and error with both facial products and make up. The most frustrating thing was never getting the right foundation, which matched my skin tone. Also, my skin started breaking out in pimples. These pimples would leave black spots because I couldn’t stop poking them, something beauty technicians at beauty stores advised me not to do. That was the beginning of my roller coaster ride with my skin problems. This became a war I would dedicate my entire life into winning.

In a quest to have a clear skin that I would be proud to show to the world, but more importantly, to myself, I searched for products that would yield these results. Unfortunately, it was an elusive dream. The more I searched, the more unattainable the dream was. I spent a lot of money trying it different products at the advice of beauty technicians at the stores. I also followed the three step formula: wash, cleanse and tone. I tried to be consistent with the daily routine, still, no results. I got more frustrated and to make matters worse, my skin under the eyes became black. I went back to beauty technicians to seek advice: they told me to drink more water and sleep more. They also advised me to use some under eye creams, which meant spending more money. Nothing worked. This was pre-smartphones, which introduced the concept of selfies. I’ve had a complicated relationship with smartphones from the day I first owned one because of this small feature. This feature amplified my insecurities about my face, thus my overall beauty.

Fast forward to 2018, I quit my fancy job, which paid me enough for me to afford those fancy products that kept my insecurities at bay. The stress that comes with the uncertainty of entrepreneurship took a toll on my skin. I became obsessed with my skin in a way I’ve never been before. The more I stressed about my skin, the worst my skin became. Towards the end of 2019, my stress and anxiety levels had reached high proportions that leaving the house became a mission. It’s March 2020, it’s better. I leave the house more frequently now. Sometimes I stay the whole day without my foundation on. Because my face is extremely oily, not washing it is better if I want to stay foundation free for the day. I’m able to stay the whole day without covering my black spots, but only at home. This is major progress for me.

I’m often in Observatory, at the Drawing Room, which is owned by a friend. The photo above was taken by him last Friday. I posted this photo on my Instagram. I got more likes than any other photo I’ve ever posted and even got a few compliments. I was hurt by this overwhelming love. I even wanted to remove the picture, but waited to see how many more likes I would get just to prove my point. I replied to those who wrote their compliments, who happen to know me personally, or have seen my face in real life. I told them that’s not how I look in real life. I bought my phone in 2016 and it takes crappy pictures. This phone camera quality adds to my anxiety. Every time I take a picture, I’m never happy. I often use filters on my photos before I post them on social media. I still haven’t yet had the courage to post my pictures make-up free. I will get there, but I’m not in a hurry to get there.

Posting that photo allowed me an opportunity to publicly address this problem I’ve had for so long. Also, I’m working on building my brand as a lifestyle blogger and influencer. Most influencers are picture perfect and don’t seem to have skin problems like I do.

What confidence issues do you have? I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Why caring for my hair is loving myself

I’ve had my hair cut short since 2011. I braided my hair for the first time last July. This was purely by chance. My friend Luso gave me her left over synthetic hair. I decided that I’ll use it to plait my hair. It was just a silly idea because my hair was short. This became a welcome change. I fell in love with my braided hair. So my hair planting journey began! Whenever I took off my hair during a breather period, when I was still putting money together for the next round of braids. During this period, my hair came out in its full glory and I fell in love. This is when I decided to grow my hair. I still hadn’t made an intention to take care of my hair. I was just growing it because it looked cool long. I can’t remember the last time I had long  hair, my own hair.

 

Prior to braiding my hair, I cut my hair in a nice cut, sometimes with a hair colour. I took the colouring to the extreme by using bleach. I would take out another colour with a different colour. A terrible thing to do to your hair. My hair was resilient enough that it never broke or fell off. I continued with this behaviour when I started braiding my hair. I took out braids and didn’t wash my hair, but I’d  put another round. I did this for a few months until the last set of braids. This particular style damaged my hair. My hair line was pulled back for the first time. That’s when I got a wake up call. It was then that I decided that growing my hair was not enough, but that I was going to take care of my hair.

I set myself a budget to buy products that will help me take care of my hair. I went to Clicks and found Afrobotanics products on special. I bought a leave-in conditioner and a twist, curl & define cream. Both products help with the detangling process, especially after taking off braids. It also helps soften my hair before I twist it at night when I go to bed. I’ve also learnt about other homemade recipes to grow healthy hair.

I realise that this process not only forces me to take care of my hair, but that it forces me to live my hair. Because loving my hair is loving myself.

Hiking is a collaborative effort

I love hiking and my aim is to hike every month. I hike for fun and for the love of nature. But I also hike to keep fit and healthy.

Last month, I hiked Lion’s Head with my running club members. Saturday I went hiking Newlands forest with my friend. It was his first time to hike. We were supposed to be a group of four, but the other two didn’t show up. As much as I love hiking, one thing I haven’t yet mastered is remembering routes. So, it’s always a guessing game and a ‘figure it out as we along’ approach. Saturday was no different.

img-20200229-wa0076

I’m generally healthy and in good form because I run every now and then, and I also do yoga at home. I chose Newlands forest because it’s not hectic, but it’s also not as easy as Lion’s Head. I wanted my friend to have fun that he wants to go back again. As we were starting out, we weren’t sure which direction to take. There was an elderly couple who were walking their dogs in the forest. They generously gave us directions. We followed their instructions until we found ourselves inside Kirstenbosch Gardens. We sat down for breakfast and took a lot of pictures.

I realised that hiking is a collaborative effort between the hikers and nature. The nature gives us shade while we admire and marvel at its beauty. I also realised it’s a collaboration between myself and my friend I was hiking with, my fellow hikers and the strangers who gave us directions.

This collaboration exists in every aspect of our lives. We collaborate in business, in friendships and in our romantic relationships. We also collaborate with our neighbours by sharing space with them, as well as strangers we share traffic, bus or taxi with. Life itself is a massive collaboration.

What if we viewed our lives this way instead of trying so hard to be diffrent; better than the other?! What if we abolished this idea of ‘otherness’?! The truth is that we are one whether we like it or not. We share the space called the Universe.

I think if we slightly altered our view we would have better relationships with all those we interact with, including nature. A friend reminded me recently that I cannot do everything by myself. He said that “others are needed here and there”.

What are your thoughts on collaboration?