Friday, January 27, 2012

Healthy food, healthy skin...

Growing up, I had awful, terrible, horrible skin. Here's me at 17-years-old.

I'm just going to throw it all down right now. I was completely embarrassed by it. Up until probably the last year, I wore make-up everywhere. I wore it to bed, I got up early when I worked at camp so I could sneak it on my face... I hated (and am still getting over) when anyone touched my face or got it wet. And everyone else in my family had wonderful skin; blemish-free, healthy looking. Me? Well, based on my skin and other pieces from my hormonal puzzle... I was just a mess. I could barely look in a mirror.

I tried every skin care line on the market. I seriously think I've tried everything you can buy at a Walgreen's or Target: Clean and Clear, Aveeno, Oxy, Noxema... the list goes on and on and on. I even tried stuff meant for babies, thinking, "Hey, maybe I have sensitive skin!" Then came the Proactiv.

I become particularly incensed when I see commercials with smiling celebrities ("It's soooo hard being so famous when everyone is looking at your skin!" Sorry, Katy/Avril/Julianne... I've never looked at your skin and thought, 'What a worthless troll!') and newly rejuvenated college kids who can't believe how much Proactiv has turned their lives around. Did Proactiv work when I used it? Depends on how you look at it. It was kind of like a band-aid on a corpse situation: it didn't clear up my acne, but it made it seem somewhat better. What I definitely know from my three or four year stint with that junk is that it BLEACHED EVERYTHING I OWNED. Towels, washcloths, t-shirts, sweatshirts, pillows, sheets... everything. I ask you: do you really want to put something that bleaches your pillows on your face? Really?

Now here's the real deal, and maybe it's a coincidence, but I don't think so. I made the decision to get healthier a few years ago. I started drinking more water, getting more exercise. My skin was a tad healthier, but still prone to break-outs. I was still using chemical-laden products on my skin (although not the bleaching kinds), still eating some processed foods.

Then I started weaning off of the processed foods (which of course I still imbibe in sometimes)... started switching out the chemical beauty products for more natural and organic ones.

And one day I suddenly realized, I just wasn't having the same problems I had as a little as three or four years ago. I didn't need to lacquer on foundation and concealer and everything else in my huge arsenal. My skin was just... better. Good even. It felt smooth, it looked clear, it seemed happy instead of angry. Today, a typical face day is tinted moisturizer, lip balm, and blush. Maybe mascara if I'm going out. But even that stuff is generally the more natural cosmetics (I'm a fan of Tarte and sometimes Korres... or even Physicians Formula Organics if you're on a budget). One recent night, I went to a friend's house without any make-up on, which was a huge step for me. Do I still get a pimple here and there? Of course. But nothing like what plagued me for a good 15 years.

Exercise. Water. Clean eating. Living a little simpler. Is it possible that this was the key to freeing those hormones that kept me sad for so many years?

It's also possible that all the swimming and running I do has made me more confident. I've had to take a step back and knock my pride down a peg, because you're going to get wet. You're going to get sweaty. People are going to see you looking filthy and gross. But they're also going to see you at your best; they'll see you striving to for awesomeness, they'll see you working really hard. A job well done, a feat that you're proud of? So much more than skin deep.

me, make-up free in 2012...

Want to check how dangerous your soaps, sunscreens, and make-ups might be?

until later...

"Beauty is a short-lived tyranny." ~ Socrates

Monday, January 23, 2012

Do something.

I went out earlier for a much needed jog around the neighborhood. I confess that lately, running/working out has seemed like a chore more often than a joy. I couldn't quite pinpoint the source of that fact; but I knew I'd come up with a long list of "reasons why".

My knees have been achy.

I'm tired.

It's boring out there alone.

It's probably icy.

I just ate.

I wasted all that time watching recorded TV, and now it's pretty close to work time.

It's raining.

I could use a day off.

I just don't feel like it.

The more I write down reasons and think about reasons, the more I realize that my reasons aren't so much reasons as they are excuses. Excuses are a pain in the ass. We come up with all of these crazy ideas of why we can't do something, and why? Because we're lazy? Because we're scared of the result? For me, it's a combo. I often find myself feeling lazy, but even that is an excuse. It may have more to do with fear. I have a fear of not living up to my potential. A fear of being beaten in races by others who are faster than me. A fear of not meeting my goals.

And greatest of all, the fear of sliding back into old habits. Does fear channel me into laziness, a sort of "self-prophecy"? "It might happen, so I'll just sit here and let it?"

Fear is a powerful inhibitor. It helps us create excuses. It marinates self-doubt.

As I was out on my run, it started to drizzle. I didn't mind too much, rain is better than ice in my book. The drizzle turned to full-fledged rain, and I came across an elderly man out getting his exercise. Hunched over, speed-walking, wearing a neon jacket and running tights, he was braced against the rain as though he didn't give it a thought.

"Here comes the rain," I shouted to him as I passed.

"Have a great day," he returned. "Still another mile to go for me!"

Here is this guy who is in at least his 70's, if not older. He's out circling the neighborhood any way he can, despite the rain and the chill. Why am I coming up with excuses to not get a simple half an hour of exercise in? Our day is made up of 24 hours, generally 16-18 of those hours are "waking" hours. If we got in 30-60 minutes of any exercise, be it running or swimming or yoga or walking, we still have SO many hours left to work, to enjoy with our family, to veg out with "Teen Mom 2" if we want. Instead of coming up with these negative self-prophecies, we should be pumping ourselves up by doing anything we can. It doesn't have to be a marathon every time. It can be walking the dog. Nothing is too small, because something is always greater than nothing.

We don't have to be the best of everyone out there. We just have to do the best we can do. Cut the excuses. They are not the reason.

until later...

“I am doing the best I can given what I have today.” ~ Jillian Michaels

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Transparency in our food choices...

I came across this interesting article today and wanted to share it. One of the most popular questions I seem to get from people is whether it is more important to buy "local" or buy "organic". Here we see that it's both important to buy food with strict regulations, and important to buy food that travels less distance for the sake of our carbon footprint as well as nutrition in the food... but what is probably most important is to be informed. Know where your food comes from, know your farmers' values and practices, know what's in the food.

Read on...

Until later...

"You have to ask yourself this: Do you know your local farmer? Do you know whether or not he or she uses a lot of chemicals? If you’re not sure, then you have to decide what’s more important, knowing that your food does not contain any artificial or chemical substances (certified organic) or being able to eat seasonal, fresh food harvested close to home with a smaller carbon footprint (local)?" ~ Alberto Gonzales