Kamis, 09 Februari 2017

Delicious Chicken Dinner

Just wanted to share my dinner from last night!

1/2 avocado
1 serving of my fermented vegetable dish (carrots, garlic, chives, turmeric, hot pepper and cabbage--4 days fermented)
Baby greens tossed in raw apple vinegar and organic olive oil
4 olives
Spinach, garlic, and purple kale, lightly cooked in coconut oil
2 chicken tenders, skillet-cooked
fried onions

It was good!

One Year of Dreadlocks

Hello! Just a quick post to share that tomorrow will be my official ONE YEAR anniversary of having dreadlocks! In perfectly poignant timing, the other day was the first time a random person on the street (or rather, the grocery store) stopped me and complimented them. I've received many compliments on my tumblr, but never in real life. So that was nice.
This has definitely been the best year of my life, hair-wise. I highly recommend dreads to anyone who wants a low maintenance, fun and beautiful hairstyle that will make you feel good about yourself. For me, my dreads share who I am with the world. They represent the fact that I'm a bit counter-culture, that I believe in living in balance with nature, and that I treat my body with kindness, patience and good foods.

They make my outsides match who I am inside. And I like that.

Go dreads!


ps. I want to get back to making more posts about makeup and skin-care again. I've been using a lot of new makeup lately and am finding a lot of great stuff! So stay tuned for more.

Acne and Determination: Knowing When to Change Your Path

If you've ever watched the show Seinfeld, you may remember the episode where George becomes more successful than he's ever been by doing the opposite of what he's always done. Lately, I've been wondering if that strategy is actually more intelligent than it seems. 
A few months ago, I made a post about my battle with acne and my plan to fight it using only natural ingredients and foods. I made this post after already struggling for a very long time with terrible breakouts.

For over a year, I avoided every food that I thought may be inflammatory or damaging to my skin, I refused any and all chemical acne treatments, medications, makeups and skin-care products. I did cleanses, fasts and nearly wore out my juicer making more green juice drinks than you could imagine. I worked hard to rebuild the natural flora in my intestines using fermented foods, drinks and probiotic supplements. I focused on relieving my stress using EFT therapy and other relaxation techniques. 
I did all of this, and yet there I was, still suffering. My acne was getting worse than ever, and I knew I'd reached a point where I just couldn't continue like this anymore. Despite my determination, I was sadly forced to admit that the natural path, which I had such high hopes for, was failing me. 

That was when I remembered that episode of Seinfeld. I had to think, if being completely closed off to the idea of anything chemical led to one of the worst periods of acne of my life, then maybe I should change my ways. Maybe it was wrong of me to reject all chemical medications because a few of them failed me or damaged my skin. Maybe the chemicals in certain makeup formulas are there for a reason--making the product feel smoother and nicer on our skin. Maybe there are some excellent products out there that I just haven't tried yet.

So, as embarrassing as it is to admit failure, I've made a decision. I'm going to be open to any and all solutions for my skin issues.

As soon as I made this choice, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, as if my body itself was relieved. Just by giving myself permission to break away from the limited path I was on, I freed up a ton of energy.

Since then, I've been trying a number of new things, from chemical peels to BB cream to new makeups and powders. I feel like a whole new world is opening up to me, and it's been there the whole time. I was locked in a prison by my own choice. Now I have let myself free, and my skin is better than it has been in a long time. 

I just wanted to explain this so you all weren't confused when I started doing reviews for some less-than-natural products coming up pretty soon here. Although the majority of my efforts are still focused on natural solutions such as diet and exercise, I am officially taking back my all-natural position in favor of a more balanced approached.

Stay tuned for reviews coming within the next week or two! 

Product Review: Perfect Image Lactic Acid Gel Peel

I found out about this product when it was reviewed by daiserz89, a beauty and skincare vlogger on Youtube. Just like me, she is a long-term sufferer of cystic acne, and from what I could tell from her videos, her breakouts look somewhat similar to mine. For this reason, I was excited to try out any product that she claimed help her skin.

This peel is made by Perfect Image, a company that makes a variety of skin peels. I'm using the lactic acid gel, which comes in a 50 percent strength and is infused with a lot of good botanical extracts and antioxidants. It comes in a small bottle with a dropper and is really easy to use. The gel appears to be of a consistency similar to honey, but I was pleased to discover that it actually is more like aloe vera, very non-sticky and easy to spread around the skin.

What the Product Claims to Do

According to the manufacturer, it's supposed to improve "fine lines, wrinkles, acne, oil skin, uneven skin tone, scars, dry skin, blackheads, enlarged pores, whiteheads, hyperpigmentation, rosacea, melasma, warts, enlarged pores, age spots, sun spots, eczema, seborrheic keratosis and keratosis pilaris."

What This Product Actually Does

Generally speaking, on the night of the peel you will experience a bit of a burn. Your face will sting and feel very sensitive, even after you've rinsed it in cold water. Surface acne will probably pop and drain up from being eaten away by the acid, and deep cystic acne will likely remain but may also begin to surface.

Then, in the following few days, your skin will probably look a bit weird. There may be a lot of scabbing, flaking and roughness as the dead skin peels off. During this phase, it's very important not to touch, scratch or pick at your skin. The first protective layer of flesh has been removed and you are more vulnerable to damage than usual.

A few days later, the magic happens. The dead skin will be gone, revealing brand new skin underneath. Aside from any active breakouts, your face will be baby smooth. Another thing I've noticed is that some of the freckles I've had on my face since childhood have completely vanished. They aren't just faded, but GONE. I wasn't exactly on a mission to get rid of freckles, but this is a good sign about the lightening power of this product. It also helps fade the red marks left after acne, but for whatever reason, it seemed to have the biggest effect on freckles.

What This Product Does NOT Do

Unfortunately, after using it for over a month, I can say that this product does not clear or affect my cystic acne in any way. It's such a bummer, especially because it has the power to make the non-inflamed parts of my face look so smooth and lovely. But I have to be honest: If you have serious cystic acne before using this product, you are probably still going to have it after. The last thing I want is for anyone to get their hopes up for nothing.

Why it Isn't Going to Work For Me

In my case, healing and clearing my cystic acne is my biggest concern. Therefore, I have decided to go back to the only thing that has ever helped me in the past: The Dan Kern Regimen from Acne.org. I was hoping I could do the Regimen and chemical peels at the same time, but after trying it this week, I've decided that doing both is too irritating, at least in the beginning while my skin is still getting used to the medication. My hopes are that I can stabilize my skin with BP, then slowly lessen how much I need per day and begin doing chemical peels again once per month. I'm also planning on buying the Regimen brand of AHA glycolic acid lotion to hopefully gain some of the effects of the chemical peel in a more gentle way. When and if I try it, I will post my review here.

In Conclusion 

If you have severe cystic acne that is very painful and inflamed, you may be better off focusing on using something anti-bacterial to help your problem. Acne that is so inflamed can sometimes become infected with Staph, and you don't want to be using chemicals to peel off the top layer of your skin when you are already in such an irritated situation.

However, if you have mild to moderate acne that isn't painful and inflamed, plus you have scars or red marks that you'd like to get rid of, definitely check out this product. I believe that it will do great things for you!

Stay tuned for more updates about how the Regimen is working for me, as well as reviews on my favorite new BB cream and other cool makeup products that I've recently found.

Product Review: Skin 79 BB Cream

Hey everyone! I'm super excited because today I finally get to review a product that I really love. I like the chemical peel product I reviewed in my last entry, but it isn't something I'm currently able to use due to my acne. This product, however, I use almost daily.

I began looking into BB creams because I kept hearing people rave about them. I was highly interested in a product that could apparently provide some amount of coverage without feeling heavy on my skin like a foundation. I don't mind foundation, but I don't like to wear makeup every single day. Still, when I'm home, I want to have something on my face, just to increase my confidence, minimize my acne a little, and protect my skin from the sun.

I chose this particular BB cream after seeing it mentioned on a number of "Best BB Creams of 2012" lists. There are also a few different beauty vloggers I follow on Youtube that recommended it.

What This Product Claims to Do

The product is supposed to be long-lasting. They claim it can control shine, whiten, improve wrinkles and help acne breakouts.

What This Product Actually Does

Well, I do not believe that this product does anything to help acne, but then again, I clearly have one of the most persistent cases of acne ever (feels like it, anyway). Therefore, I can't really say whether it would help someone with more mild acne. It does helps to control shine, although I don't have very oily skin to begin with, so if you do, your results may vary. I can't really speak on its ability to improve wrinkles either, as I've only been using it a couple of months and I'm also now on a semi-harsh acne medicine that can dry out skin.

Now, the good stuff. This product, while not able to entirely cover acne, does make it look much better. I took a couple pictures so I could show you the results. I'm aware these are terrible pictures, I wasn't wearing any other makeup besides the BB nor was I posing or doing anything else to make myself look cute.

 Bare skin (AAHHHHH!)

Skin 79 BB Cream (about 2 hours after application)
You can't really tell from the pics, but this cream does great things for the texture of your skin, aside from just lessening the redness of acne. It gives you a really dewy, glowing finish. I like. :)

What This Product Does NOT Do

This BB doesn't entirely cover acne (I'm not sure anything can hide a big bump). It also doesn't do anything to clear or heal acne, but it doesn't clog pores or cause breakouts, and that is enough for me.

Other Details

A few other things worth mentioning:

-I love the pump. It's very easy to use and squirts out a perfect amount for each section of my face. I typically start on my forehead and gently spread the cream down my t-zone and outward on my cheeks and then do my chin.

-I love the hot pink bottle. It looks so cute and girly on my bathroom counter.

-Although I would prefer an unscented product, I don't mind the smell. It reminds me of the various sunscreens my mom would slather us in as kids. :)

-I dislike that you can't see through the bottle to know when you're running low. But you can remedy that by purchasing two at once and then always buying a new one with the first one runs out.

-This BB only comes in one shade (that I know of) and is only suitable for those with light skin. You can see how light I am from my pictures, and it perfectly matches me. The tone of the BB is sort of a grayish-beige color, but once blended and soaked in it seems to take on the exact color of my skin. I imagine it would work for any light skin tone, but if you're much darker than myself, you may need another BB. Skin 79 does make other creams, but I haven't looked into them to see if they come in darker shades or not.

In Conclusion

I will definitely be buying this BB cream again. It has everything I want and I'm very happy with my purchase.

Rabu, 12 Desember 2012

Acne and Self Image: The Reality in the Mirror

Hello everyone. I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving holiday and that you survived your family get-togethers without any fights, food guilt or other disasters!
In my last post, I shared something that I've been dealing with for many years now: my struggle with cystic acne. Since then, I've been continuing my work on healing my body. But as I already mentioned, I don't want to get too detailed about the plan I'm doing until I have a fair view of how well it's working for me, and I believe that this process is going to take a little more time.

Instead, today I'd like to address a different part of my struggle, one that I feel has gone ignored both by me and many other people for far too long: the emotional issues surrounding acne.

When we have acne, we become masters of physical experimentation. We try every cream on the market. We mix up our own potions consisting of just about every ingredient that exists, from egg whites to avocado to honey to mud. We control our diets down to every last ingredient. We fast, we flush, we attempt to cleanse our body with herbs and soups and tonics. We develop the strength to abstain from many of the foods we once loved in a desperate effort to fix our terrible problem.

I have, anyway.

Not that any of these things are necessarily bad. I've developed an incredible amount of health and dietary knowledge (not to mention self-discipline) thanks to the pursuit of freeing myself from my skin problems. But like me, how many of you are ultra-focused on the physical while completely neglecting the emotional side of things?
read also : Acne Treatment: Types, Side Effects, and More
You may have heard of something called body dysmorphic disorder. The Mayo clinic website defines it this way:

"Body dysmorphic disorder is a type of chronic mental illness in which you can't stop thinking about a flaw with your appearance — a flaw that is either minor or imagined. But to you, your appearance seems so shameful that you don't want to be seen by anyone. Body dysmorphic disorder has sometimes been called "imagined ugliness."(1)

Now, I know what you're probably thinking. Acne isn't imagined, right? Of course it isn't. And I'm not saying that anyone who is concerned with their skin has body dysmorphic disorder (or acne dysmorphic disorder, as some call it). But a line is crossed when our desperation to heal our skin becomes a full-on obsession. This is something I have battled in the past. It's something that I still battle today.

Years ago, when my acne was at its worst, I developed anxiety so severe that I had difficulty leaving the house. I began compulsively checking my skin in the mirror, at first every hour or two, but soon every half hour, and then every fifteen minutes. It quickly developed to the point where I couldn't even make it five minutes without running to a mirror (or any other reflective surface) to see if any new spots were forming. Even getting through a day of work was extremely challenging for me, and most nights, I cried myself to sleep.

After a while, my anxiety and depression reached a point where I began contemplating suicide. My skin was not getting any better, and I couldn't live this way anymore. The possibility of a happy future was completely riding on the seemingly unlikely hope that my skin would get better, and I had long since decided that I was nothing if I was ugly. Because good things only happen to people with beautiful skin, right? No one ever falls in love with an ugly person, or gives them an award, or a great job, or a role in a movie, or a publishing deal, or anything else that could possibly be good, right? We are taught from a very young age that good things only happen to beautiful people, because that's what we see in the media and all around us: unrealistically, impossibly, flawlessly beautiful people.

At least, that's what I saw.

And the media is only one source that teaches us this distorted approach. Maybe it came from an abusive mother, or the father who abandoned you, or an ex boyfriend that was cruel to you and called you ugly over your skin. Maybe it came from the bullies at school that you dealt with when you were young. I still clearly remember the girl who stood in front of me in the third grade and listed out all of the girls in our class who she thought were prettier than me. Or the popular boy in the seventh grade who came up to me and "asked me out" as a practical joke while all of his popular friends laughed at me from a few feet away.

It doesn't matter what the source is, these types of experiences all come together over a lifetime to teach us one thing: we aren't good enough to deserve happiness or compassion. So it isn't surprising that coming down with an illness that destroys the skin on our faces will often times, make us feel worthless.

These are feelings that many of you may relate to. They are feelings that I am still dealing with to this day. In the past, when my anxiety over my skin reached a breaking point, I ended up deciding that I did indeed want to live and the only way that I could do that was to seek some sort of help. I ended up being guided toward something called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). It helped a great deal at the time, but then I was lucky enough to move into a period of clearer skin. During that time, it was easier to forget about these bad feelings and lock them up inside once again. A healthy self image is an ongoing work in progress, whether or not the physical condition that we loathe ourselves for improves. Perhaps my mistake was thinking that I had healed my self esteem when I clearly had not, since now that I've been dealing with acne again, the anxiety and obsessive thoughts have come back to bite me.

But how do we stop obsessing over our skin when it causes us physical pain, emotional discomfort and a lowered self-image?

That is a difficult question, and there is no easy answer. But there are a number of things that can help.

-EFT is an excellent tool for harnessing control of your mind, especially when it comes to managing anxiety and obsessive thoughts. This post isn't about to be about EFT itself, but there are plenty of resources out there on the net to help you learn about this wonderful therapy. I will list some links with more information, including the exact video from which I learned the process of this therapy, at the bottom of this post.

-Reaching out to others who understand just what you're going through and offering strength and support to each other is another great way to stay positive on your healing journey. There are forums for body dysmorphic disorder, forums for anxiety disorder, and forums specifically for acne sufferers, all of which are wonderful for this.

-Avoiding mirrors is another thing that can help, although it may be difficult. If you've been obsessively looking in the mirror, try challenging yourself to only checking your skin a few times per day instead of twenty. Reward yourself with something that will bring you joy each day that you do well. Forget about your setbacks.

-Focus on what you like about your body, even if you can only come up with one thing. If you can, make a list and post it somewhere you will see it every day. Every time you catch yourself obsessing over your skin, go read the list!

-Go be with friends when you are having a hard day. This one is also tough, because when most of us are feeling bad about our skin, we just want to stay inside our house and hide. If you can, force yourself to go and visit a close friend. There have been so many times where I have almost cancelled on friends because I felt bad about my skin, and every time I went out anyway, I was glad that I did. It helps so much to remember that you are cared about and that your true friends think you're lovely despite the state of your face.

-If you are still struggling and feel suicidal or otherwise unable to cope, don't be afraid to seek professional help. Obsession and anxiety over skin problems are extremely common and you are not alone! There are many caring therapists who will work with you to help get your life back on track.

Despite this all being quite personal, I am putting it out there because I think it's something that so many of us are dealing with. Finding acceptance over being imperfect doesn't mean that we will give up on the fight for clear skin. It just means that we are choosing to love ourselves enough to decide that we deserve happiness, peace and relaxation. It means that we aren't going to sit around and wait for clear skin so that life can finally begin. It means that even if our skin never clears completely, we will still stand up and shout that we are worthy of all of the love and success that is possible in this world.

Healing, growing and maintaining a healthy self-image is an ongoing process. I'll keep at it and I hope you will too.

BDD, Anxiety and Healing Resources

(1)Body Dysmorphic Disorder Information
Body Dysmorphic Disorder Forum
Another Great Blog Specifically About Acne Dysmorphia
EFT Information
More EFT Information and Cheat Sheat
The Video That Taught Me EFT in Eight Minutes (And Changed My Life!)
Emotional Support Forum for Acne Sufferers at Acne.org

Rabu, 10 Oktober 2012

The Last Few Roadblocks on My Path To Perfect Health

Hey everyone!*waves*

There is a lot I haven't talked about on this blog just yet, and I was hoping to get into some of that today.

As I've said in previous posts, it's difficult to explain my entire health history because it's been a long--and sometimes maddening--journey. I have suffered from a lot of different symptoms over the years, from terrible depression and anxiety, to painful and disfiguring skin rashes, to constipation, to hormonal issues. A variety of things have helped me climb the ladder towards health, especially cleansing my liver with liver flushes, iodine therapy (which I no longer do but am interested in trying again in the future), fasting, and a high-raw, grain-free diet based around salads, veggies, fruits, meat, eggs and certain nuts and seeds. I've come a long way. I no longer have depression. I can now use the restroom more than once every 2-3 days. I no longer have chronic psoriasis all over my body.

However, there are still a few things I am battling, and I'm sure they are related in a number of ways. They are:

1) Acne
2) Hormonal issues (severe PMS, fatigue, bad breakouts around my period, extremely heavy bleeding and horrendous cramps that interfere with my ability to work)

Like I said, these two things are most definitely related. I have some theories about what exactly is going on in my body but I think I'll save that for another post because I want to explain it in greater detail. In this post, I just wanted to open up about my skin issues. I know you can't tell from any of my perfect-lighting pictures, but for about 10-11 years now, I've been battling cystic acne. I wouldn't even necessarily call my skin condition "acne," but I'm not sure what else to call it. I get cysts and lesions on my face that go very deep down into my skin and are extremely painful. During periods of my life, they have taken months to heal. At the level of health I've achieved now, they usually heal in a week or less, but they are still very painful and often leave dark red scars on my face.

This is something that is hard to talk about, especially on a blog where I show my pictures and true identity. People who have never suffered from skin issues just don't understand how traumatic and upsetting this condition can be. Acne sufferers remain lost in a sea of suggestions and theories, constantly trying new things, getting our hopes up, getting let down over and over again... I have been suicidal over my skin condition at times, and I know others have as well.

I have also, in the past, experienced times where I healed my body enough to clear my skin--with medication. I was coating harsh benzoyl peroxide based acne creams on my face 2x per day for many, many years. It helped, and along with an absolutely perfect diet and lifestyle, my skin was clear. But the medication has side-effects and after many years of using it I began to notice it drying and aging my skin. It also is expensive, and I hated having to rely on a chemical in order to look and feel relatively normal.

So, about six months ago, I decided to say screw it. I'm going to quit using chemicals on my face. I'm going to fight this my way. I want to truly heal my body and skin, not just medicate the symptoms of an imbalance. I'm going to commit to a natural, chemical-free path.  And I'm going to resist going back on the medication, no matter how bad my breakouts get. Breakouts are a sign of something happening in my body, and I want to be able to read those signs. When I achieve clear skin, I want it to be real.

I am proud to say that throughout this year, I have stuck to my commitment. Coming off the medication (along with straying from my diet) also led me to experience some of the worst breakouts of my life, but I've remained strong. I've only used natural things on my face, such as organic oils, honey, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, organic soap and clay. I don't think any of those things will heal acne on their own, but I have fallen in love with using natural products to pamper my skin.

As far as the internal treatments go, I am now following a regimen that is working better for me than anything I've done in a long time. However, I think any acne sufferer will be able to testify to the fact that often times we try new things that seem to work at first--and then we are incredibly disappointed when the acne starts returning. I don't necessarily think that is going to happen in this case (I really think I'm onto something here) but at the same time, I don't want to get my hopes too high. I can't say that I've cured anything just yet, but as of now my skin is looking better than it has in a long time, and I'm feeling better too. If these theories I'm following turn out to be right, it could possibly help many people who are suffering from this and other conditions.

I know that I could have been fake with this blog. I could continue to post pictures of myself with makeup and perfect lighting and pretend to be this clear-skinned, healthy, happy hula-hooping girl. None of my readers would ever know how much I've suffered in private. But I want to be honest. I want this blog to really document my journey towards health and help others do the same in their lives. To do that, I have to open up about my problems.

I refuse to accept acne. I refuse to accept menstrual cycles that leave me feeling psychotic, drained and in severe pain. I don't think these things are signs of a healthy and normal functioning human body, and I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that I no longer have these issues in the future.

On that note, I leave you with a picture of me. A real picture with all of the makeup and flattering lighting stripped away. This picture was from back in August when my skin was a bit worse. I know many of you will think I don't look that bad, but I still hurt when I look at this. I remember those breakouts on my cheek and how deep they went, the aching pain they caused in my teeth and jaw. I remember crying because I felt so ugly and horrible. But despite how bad I feel when I see myself this way, I am going to care about myself anyway. I deserve love, peace and happiness, no matter what my skin looks like.

So here goes... *raises glass* To honesty and being real.

Thanks so much for reading. To all my fellow acne sufferers, I am with you on this journey. Please don't give up. We are in this together and we will find our answers.