Monday, November 17, 2014

Why Acne Turned Out to be a Blessing

Museum Of Fine Arts, Boston Nov. 2014 -clear cheek baby!
"Acne" and "Blessing" are not two words I ever expected to pair together. In high school my skin was okay. I had some blemishes, but they weren't too terrible (though at the time it felt like the end of the world). I figured (and hoped and prayed!) that as I got older things would clear up and go away. In reality, my skin was getting WORSE as I got older. By the time I reached age 21, and things weren't getting better (and my anxiety was simultaneously getting worse) I was at wits end.

I had literally tried every conventional means to clear my skin, short of going on the birth control pill or taking accutane (though I was VERY tempted, ultimately I didn't want to go on meds- especially the pill, I'll write more about that another time). I mean every lotion, potion, "hair skin and nails" vitamin on the market I tried. Nothing helped.

Meanwhile my diet consisted of McDonald's french fries, McDonald milkshakes, chocolate, ice cream, chips, yogurt, I dont even remember specifically anymore, but I do know there were minimal (if any) fruits and veggies. But, I had read in the Proactive handbook that diet has no effect on our skin! So that didnt matter anyways (which I later learned is a load of hogwash).

Right after turning 22 I made drastic changes to my diet. I was already gluten free, and had been for years. At this point I got off of white sugar, for real this time. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I also stopped eating meat, dairy and eggs. Started leaning into fruits, vegetables and plant based foods and away from processed foods. These were my first staggering baby steps and since then I have evolved in so many ways. Physically, mentally, emotionally I am a completely different human being. I also have learned SO much about the healing (or poisonous) effect food has. Nothing has a greater impact on our lives than what we put in our mouths three times a day, every single day.

February 2013 -look at that cheek!
Which brings me to the whole acne being a blessing thing.

At one point in my journey I made the connection that the body is one whole until. We live in a society that treats every ailment separately. For high blood pressure there's one medication, for diabetes another, for erectile dysfunction another, and for depression another.  Always treating the symptoms rather than healing the problem. In reality if something is wrong with one aspect of our bodies, something is out of balance everywhere.

Acne is a blessing because it is a very clear signal to me that something is out of balance in my body. I never would have had the motivation to change what I feed myself if it hadn't been for initial vanity. It is a second blessing because when my body is overloaded with toxins (I'm making naughtier food choices) it works to get them out of my body ASAP (via my skin). There are people who are slim, have porcelain skin, and eat whatever they want. That doesn't mean that body is balanced and healthy. Illness festers where we cant see it, only to show up 10-15 years later after fully incubating.

So today I am still in progress to having that porcelain skin I have dreamed of.. I still get breakouts, but not as severely. Plus I usually know exactly the cause (PMS, a dairy consuming slip up, a few too many organic gluten free treats, etc).

The picture from 2013 you can see how agitated my cheek was. Though I wasnt eating animal products, I wasn't in a happy place in life, and remember eating more processed foods than I should have to cope.  The other picture was from last week, under bright museum lights. This is the exact photo angle that would have horrified me before (because I break out on my cheeks), and now is perfectly clear.

So I guess at the end of the day our "ailments" are our friends. Our bodies are always talking to us, and sending us feedback. If we listen, we can have a good, strong, happy and healthy run here.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Falling Off the Wagon

Here is the deal: whenever we are making a positive change in our lives chances are we will have some slip ups. Lets just accept that more likely than not its going to happen, so we can stop stressing about it. We will fall, slip, slide, jump off the wagon, until one day we don't anymore. My mom says she quit smoking many many many times, until she finally quit (15 years ago now). My sister "cut back on drinking" alcohol many times until she want cold turkey a year and a half ago now. I went "sugar free" for 5 years before actually getting off of white sugar for good. Whatever it is, cutting back on drinking, saving money, quitting smoking, eating more greens, giving up white sugar, going gluten free, exercising more, stepping away from drinking soda, etc, its going to be a bumpy ride.

I dont want to shock anyone here, but Im not perfect. My ideal diet is gluten free, no white sugar, vegan (no dairy, eggs or meat), plant based diet, rich in leafy green vegetables. Lifestyle wise I try to get at least 30 minutes of cardio in at least 5 days a weeks. I'm not a perfect vegan. If I'm out in a social setting, and eating options are limited, I will have a little dairy or eggs (meat, gluten and white sugar are where the line is firmly drawn). Though I have a bit of an internal moral battle over it, I try not to stress too hard. The problem for me is that dairy is fricken addictive. Once I have a little I want more (temptress that she is). There is a reason for this- dairy is meant to be addictive, so baby cows come back to their momma for more and more milk, so they will survive. Dairy and eggs aside, sometimes I find myself in a slide where Im eating more processed food, and hardly any vegetables are passing my lips. Or, I go days and days without any exercise.

So, what to do? Instead of focusing on what we DON'T want, its best to try  and  focus on adding in the good stuff. Instead of telling myself that I cant have that gluten free pizza, I say that I can have it AFTER I have an organic green salad/juice/smoothie. Instead of stressing about the big picture of my exercising laziness, I tell myself to go for a run or jump on the trampoline for just 20 minutes (20 minutes is better than nothing).

MOTIVATION is also really helpful for me. Watching one of my favorite plant based pioneers on YouTube talking about the health benefits of a plant based diet really helps to get my head back in the game.  Watching a video on how dairy cows are treated will bring tears to anyone's eyes, and keep me the hell away from dairy. The "fitness" page on pinterest has kicked my booty into gear on more than one occasion.

Alicia Silverstone on Vegan Diet (she is one of my go-to's for motivation!)

Taking a few simple steps, and keeping positive, is the key to getting back in the groove. The one thing that is not helpful is to beat ourselves up or shame ourselves. That only creates more negativity, and will stagnate us from making those positive moves.

Straight from the spiritual doctrine I study, A Course In Miracles, Jesus says that when we make a mistake to simply:

 "Choose Once Again."

<3 Kelly