Transitioning to a Vegetarian Diet

I have officially cut all meat from my diet and committed to the daily practice of yoga. The major issue that I’ve encountered so far is finding/ learning how to cook vegetarian meals.

Im so use to meat being the main attraction on my plate that not having it seems weird. The sides are meant to complete what ever protein is on my plate not make the plate.

Now I have to figure out how to make an appetizing meal with just “sides”.

When I think vegetarian I think of salads for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I know that’s not what it actually is but that is what comes to mind.

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To help me kickstart my diet, I bought a bunch of Morning Star produce. In the words of a vegan friend “That stuff is disgusting”.

I actually think the food is pretty good, especially the veggie burger. I’ve been eating all of the patties with vegan spread & ketchup (mixed with brown sugar).

To start a vegetarian diet, I think Morning Star does the trick. Soon I’ll be chef’n it up!

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As for Yoga…

I run through a few asanas, engage in breathing exercises, and meditate twice daily. I go through this routine once in the morning before I eat and before I sleep at night.

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With these changes I have notice my mood has become much lighter and more jovial.

I plan to up my meditation daily by 1 minute. Im also using the book Yoga Mind, Body, & Spirit to help me learn the proper techniques for the practice of yoga.

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The Road to becoming a Vegan Yogi

Never would I have thought I’d be going vegan. I’ve always been big on cheese burgers, thanksgiving ham, baked macaroni & cheese, and everything else that is a meat/cheese lovers dream.

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I had one friend in high school who was a vegetarian and I thought that was just the most cringe worthy thing ever. I couldn’t understand why someone would give up the glory that is steak and potatoes, something I would make as often as possible. I once traveled through a snow storm to go to the supermarket just so my uncle could make me one of his infamous oven baked steaks.

Here I am in 2017 four years without beef, two years without pork, and one month without poultry.

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Since attending college I knew I wanted to start eating healthier, so cutting out red meat seemed like the way to start. After one month of no red meat, I decided I just really wanted to have a cheese burger to reward myself for making it one month without beef. I instantly regretted that decision. I was curled up in a ball the entire day because of all the work my body had to exert in order to break down the burger. That was the end of beef for me.

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After looking into alternative lifestyles, healthier living, and “happy vaginas” I started to learn about so many different things that we consume daily that are harmful to our bodies.

I knew that in order to change my eating habits I would also have to change my sleeping pattern as well as my physical activities (which were non-existent).

My interest in yoga began after my anxiety seemed to worsen. Practicing and studying (currently reading The Yoga Sutras) yoga is helping me to center myself, understand my body, understand my emotions, take better care of my body, and have a healthier daily routine.

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My interest in a diet change is due to my family’s history with high blood pressure and cancer as well as the many connections made between meat consumption and diseases. I want to lead a healthier lifestyle, extend my lifespan, and wake energized every morning.

I am currently practicing naked yoga twice daily, waking at 6am well rested & energized, eating a vegetarian diet although I will be heading to Bill’s Bar & Burger for one last shrimp burger. Consider it my farewell. I gradually weened myself off of meat and I plan to do the same with dairy & animal by-products.

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Please Don’t Put Soap In Your Vagina

As a child I was very curious. Growing into a pubescent teenager I became even more inquisitive, one of the main topics being hygiene. I’d ask as many questions as I could think of about the human body, mainly female, and if I couldn’t get an informative answer I would google it.

Going into college I figured certain things were common knowledge because of how easily accessible information is. It wasn’t until I heard some of the horror stories people told that I realized how heavily our school systems have failed us when it comes to knowledge as basic as feminine hygiene and anatomy.

The worst thing I had someone say to me at the time was ” I don’t know why I keep getting yeast infections, I clean my vagina with soap and a rag…. I twirl the soapy rag inside my vagina.”

I tried so hard to cringe internally but the thought of how that would feel showed on my face. This was the first time I had ever heard of someone doing this but soon after I learned that many other girls did the same thing.

It was then that I realized how important it is for these type of discussions to be had. People need to know that the vagina is self cleaning, should not have soap in it, and doesn’t need internal cleaning.

If there is ever something wrong  like discomfort, weird discharge, or smell, you should visit a doctor. Please, please, please do not put soap in your vagina.

If something burns your vagina (from a childhood experience playing slip-n-slide in the tub with soap I know it does) it does not belong. If ever you don’t know, aren’t sure, or are just curious ask someone( doctor or educator) or google it. Google is your friend (use reliable sources).

No, You Cannot Lose Your Virginity to a Tampon…

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Using Disposable Pads

I feel like the first menstrual product every girl starts with is a pad. It’s seen as the safest, widely accepted menstrual product to use. For three years I was using pads, uncomfortable and annoyed for 5-7 days every month.

Pads are/were my least favorite menstrual product. I don’t like that you can feel the blood sitting against your skin or that you can feel the gush of blood when you laughed or did anything strenuous.

On top of that pads were irritating  (itchy, sticky, and just plain uncomfortable). My go to brand was Always Infinity because the memory foam gave me the most comfort.

I wanted to try tampons but people kept telling me that virgins shouldn’t use them because you could lose your virginity to a tampon and out of naivety I believed it.

No, You Cannot Lose Your Virginity To A Tampon!

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Using Disposable Tampons

Once I started using tampons (no longer a virgin) I never looked back. I didn’t have to worry about bleeding through my clothes, vaginal discomfort, or feeling that gush of blood every time I laughed.

Now I had to worry about toxic shock syndrome but it was a risk I was willing to take and with U by Kotex holding me down I didn’t have a care in the world. For seven years tampons were my go to and it wasn’t until I ended up on the alternative side of YouTube that I found out there were so many other options.

Things like reusable/organic tampons & pads weren’t even a thought on my mind until I saw product reviews.

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Using Menstrual Cups (Silicone)

After a few months of debating, I decided to give the Sckoon cup a try. This is when I started to become more familiar with the structure of my vagina.

When using a menstrual cup you need to know where your cervix sits (anteverted or retroverted), how it sits (high or low), how active your pelvic muscles are and how heavy your flow is.  So far I’ve tried three different cups.

The Sckoon cup size A (the size suggested for women who’ve never given birth) was too short and too malleable. The DivaCup cup size 1 ( suggested for women who’ve never given birth) was the right size but still too malleable.

I now use the MeLuna Sport size large. I have only used it once but the firmness works so much better for me.

After using menstrual cups for about 7 months (and not being on birth control) I have noticed that my periods are much shorter (usually 3-4 days), I have less cramping and bloating, and my irritability during my period are at an all time low.

Birth Control: My Horrible Experiences

Youtube- Birth Control: My Horrible Experiences

People have many different reasons for taking birth control. Some take it to help with cramping, lighten their period, or remove their period altogether.

My only reason for taking birth control was to prevent pregnancy. Each and every form of birth control that I have tried had the most bizarre side effects on me.

Depo Provera

The first birth control I tried was the shot (Depo Provera ). A few of the side effects are weight gain, light to no period, and nausea. The side effect that I had was an extended period (a never ending menstrual).

One shot works for approximately three months and I took a total of three shots. For nine months I had my period. I would bleed for about 12 days then have TWO days without blood.

So it effectively did what it was suppose to do, prevent pregnancy, because I was bleeding all the time. Why didn’t I stop taking it after the first three months? I truly believed my body just needed time adjusting.

Nuva Ring

The second form of birth control I tried was the NuvaRing. It worked fine but I noticed that every time I wore it the back of my knees would hurt.

When the pain got to the point where I couldn’t walk I decided to check for other side effects it could have (I know, I waited too long). Of course the first thing I saw was “blood clots” and “knee pain”. After seeing that I immediately removed the ring and explored other birth control options.

The Pill

The third form of birth control I tried was the pill. Im not sure of the exact name. I thought I would have a difficult time remembering to take it on time not even realizing that that would be the least of my worries.

The first day that I started the pill I was  sick, throwing up constantly. The next morning I woke up with a metallic taste in my mouth (the birth control contained iron(Fe)).

I tried to put on chapstick and realized that the left side of my mouth was numb. I thought I just slept on my face wrong. As the day progressed I realized that I couldn’t feel the entire left side of my face.

I immediately went to the emergency room to find out that the left side of my face was paralyzed and the doctors had no idea why. They completely dismissed the fact that the only thing that changed within the past month was me starting the pill the day prior.

I had to use a sleep mask to effectively close my eyes when I slept. It took months for me to gain full control of my face but one side of my face still tends to droop( you can see the effect it had in the difference between my eyes).

IUD

The fourth and last form of birth control I tried was the  IUD (Mirena). I figured this was the best option because it lasts for five years and the hormones go directly to where they are needed. Boy was I wrong.

I began clotting constantly, which means my cramps were out of this world. My period would last for weeks, be gone for weeks, then come back at the worst moments like when you’re a cashier at an arena with a line of 50 people waiting impatiently to order before they miss something exciting.

After a year of sporadic periods and terrible clotting, I had the mirena removed.

Now….

I’ve come to the conclusion that mainstream birth control just isn’t for me. I am not currently on any birth control and I’m celibate (so no worries about pregnancy).

I can say that removing birth control and using a menstrual cup have been the best decisions I made. I no longer cramp plus my periods are short and sweet (smooth sailing).

As for when I decide to have sex again, I’ll try the Femme Cycle and Lady comp. This form of birth control is non-hormonal and all natural which means it wont interrupt your body’s equilibrium.

Dealing with Anxiety & Depression

Now I haven’t been clinically diagnosed with any mental illnesses, but that’s most likely because I never sought out professional help.

I’d much rather have an internal argument with myself, wait months and become content with my issues. I know this isn’t the best way to deal with my problems but I’ve never been taught that there was any other way.

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I barely gave my internal battles any recognition until they became to heavy for me to push aside. My anxiety went from a snowflake to an avalanche.

Feeling as though my world was coming to an end internally even though, externally, everything seemed perfectly fine. Hyperventilating until I became lightheaded, heart racing so fast that my breathing couldn’t keep up, and the feeling of impending doom.

My depression went from not cleaning as often to not being able to get out of bed. I’d wake up with all of the tasks I need to complete in mind but for some reason getting up felt like the biggest task of them all.

Then at the end of the day I’d feel guilty for wasting a day in bed. People often thought I was a happy person because I was able to put on a smile but I just didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer.

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One day I tried to bring forth the last moment when I was genuinely happy and I couldn’t recall it; this was when I knew something had to change.

At first I didn’t know what was going on with me. Growing up in a black family, visiting a doctor to talk about feelings weren’t exactly an option.

Mental illnesses are so easily dismissed within the black community, but I knew that I couldn’t continue with my normal methods of dealing. My first step to dealing with my anxiety was doing research.

I searched the internet, spoke with various people dealing with similar symptoms, and gathered as much information as I possibly could about all the various mental illnesses there are.  My next step was combatting anxiety and depression.

The most beneficial thing I’ve ever done to combat mental illness was planning for the future. Being able to see the future I wanted gave me the necessary push I needed to make changes.

Rather than turning my alarm off in the morning and rolling over, I would kick the covers off and sit up. Just that action alone had a domino effect on the rest of the day as well as the following days.

Just knowing I had the energy to get out of bed changed my mentality. I now eat healthier, do yoga daily, and complete all of my day-to-day tasks. I’m not completely rid of anxiety and depression but I no longer feel helpless.

If you are dealing with a mental illness on your own, know that you aren’t alone and there are healthy ways to deal with it. Think of the future you want, no matter how impossible it may seem and think of it every morning. The thought alone changes your daily actions.

Dealing with Anxiety & Depression