January 11, 2018
Did you know stress is one of the top 5 factors contributing to your acne?
Think about it. How many times have you had a huge breakout appear right before a special event? How about break outs that show up before a job interview?
When healing acne you must look at the whole picture and stress is definitely apart of it.
Obviously, it's important to reduce our stress levels. I don't think anyone would argue that going through life while constantly worrying is a productive, healthy way to live. The problem is it would be impossible to completely eliminate all stress from our lives. I don't care who you are you deal with stress to some extent on a regular basis.
Stress doesn't only revolve around big, life issues. Although that can definitely be apart of it. It's also the smaller things that lead to stress and sometimes I think these may be worse. These little issues are easier to ignore and therefore they can build upon each other until you have a mound of stress.
What exactly happens when we are stressed that would cause a breakout? There are a few factors.
Bottom line: You need a healthy gut to have clear, healthy looking skin. An imbalance in the gut leads to too much inflammation in the body and acne is a form of inflammation.
There's not much refuting this these days. I've even been noticing skin care companies that make acne specific products, discussing the relationship between the health of our gut and the health of our skin.
The irony here is the more acne you get the more stressed you become. I remember thinking when my acne was at its height, that if my face would clear, I could finally get a handle on my stress levels. Waking up everyday to a red, inflamed and pimple-covered face automatically put me in high stress mode.
Since it's impossible to eliminate all stress from your life, what can be done?
Stress affects your gut
70 % or more of your immune system lies in your gut
90% of your happy hormone, serotonin, is made in the gut
Stress leads to impaired digestion and optimal digestion is necessary for clearer skin
I believe there are three actions.
The first is, increase your resilience
-- and it isn't complicated. Three resolutions will immediately help:
The second action to eliminate stress is let go of things you have no control over
get adequate sleep each night -- 8-9 hours are recommended
eat a whole foods based nutritious diet
. Stressing over issues we cannot control makes us feel trapped; a victim mentality.
In situations you can influence for improvement, do so
In situations you cannot influence, either disengage, or release it from your emotional domain of responsibility.
Research has shown that changes take place in your brain that reduce stress and increase feelings of pleasure when you WRITE down what you are grateful for. Each day take a few minutes to write down 3 things you are grateful for. Research suggests doing this for 21 days straight in order for the changes in the brain to take place.
Here's the way I look at it. This gratitude exercise is simple. It probably won't take more than 5 to 10 minutes of my day. If it really can help why not give it a try? The worst thing that could happen is you notice zero changes in your outlook on life and you go back to your old routine.
I challenge you to 21 days of gratitude! Leave me a comment below & tag @h_stoffel on instagram with #gratitude4clearskin
The final component to increase your stress resilience is implement a Gratitude Journal.
Don't start throwing tomatoes at me just yet! Believe me, I was someone who always rolled my eyes at this type of thing. I feel grateful enough, what do I need to write it down for?
December 20, 2017
Have you ever considered the connection between stress and acne? If you're using quality skin care and your nutrition is on point but your acne still lingers, stress could be the culprit. In my own personal situation, my adult acne flared up because of a stressful event in my life. Chronic, unresolved stress leaves us with excess inflammation in the body which then leads to a weakened immune system along with an increased likelihood that the body will attack itself, as in autoimmune diseases. All of this will do nothing to help improve your acne and could be a contributing factor as to why your acne lingers. For me, I notice a direct correlation between stress in my life and the appearance of my skin. My acne easily flares up if my stress levels stay too high for too long.
How should you deal with this? Obviously, it's not possible to be 100% free of stress 100% of the time. Life presents challenges and unexpected circumstances do arise. I'd like to share with you a few key things I recommend you consider.
What are your thoughts? How do you manage stress? Please comment and share your ideas you may be an inspiration to someone else!
Have we connected on social media yet? I'd love for you to join me on Facebook and Instagram where I share more about nutrition and skin clearing tips!
What gets your thoughts gets you. What do you spend most of your time thinking about? Answer honestly. It may help to sit in a quiet area and journal for 15 minutes to really figure this out. Let your thoughts come out on paper and see what's in front of you. If you find yourself constantly being negative in every situation, it may be time for an adjustment. We have different personalities. Some people are more naturally upbeat and positive, while others tend to see the glass as half empty. It may not be in your nature to put a positive spin on things in life. That's okay. I do believe you can train yourself to change your thoughts and the way you speak and think. I read somewhere that it's easy for people to be negative. It's easy to see the bad things in life and dwell on those. It's easy to complain and sometimes it even makes us feel good to stew over a situation that upsets us. Here is where you may have to consciously decide to stop negative thoughts in their tracks. Like any new habit it will take time to develop but it's one that is worth the effort.
Look at who you surround yourself with. Speaking of your thoughts, what are the thoughts of your friends and co-workers? Are you surrounded by positive people, or habitual grumblers and complainers? First recognize you can't change the way those around you speak and react to situations. The only person you can control is yourself. However, when you speak positively and keep your cool in stressful situations, it has the potential to spill over onto those around you. Negativity breeds negativity just as happiness breeds happiness. If you have a friend who is particularly negative all the time consider approaching the person about it. They may not realize what they are doing. If you're not comfortable having the conversation you may want to consider limiting the time you spend with that person. Remember, you are in control of yourself and your time. It's your choice who you surround yourself with. Choose wisely.
Grieve it, be angry and move on. Things happen in life that upset us. Things don't always go our way. Someone at the bank may cut in front of you in line. Another driver may cut you off. Someone may make a comment about your clothes that hurts your feelings. There is no way to stop these inconveniences and hurts from happening. Again, the only part you can control is yourself and your response. How much energy do you put towards the guy who cut you off in traffic? If you need a few minutes to stew, take it. Set a timer for 10 minutes be angry, call a friend and complain and then when the timer ends let it go. I'll admit this is a tough one for me. When something upsets me I want to be mad for awhile. I realize this does nothing to help me or better my health, and it only gives more power to the person who wronged me. Learn to let the little things go!
Don't worry about that over which you have no control. I confess, this isn't my strong suit. I tend to dwell on things even when all my worrying won't change the outcome. The truth is many situations in life are this way. No amount of worrying will change anything. What will be, will be. When a situation arises that has got you stressed, ask yourself, "How much control do I have over this circumstance?". If there is something you can do to better the situation then create a plan and put it into action. If the answer is that you have no control over it, then it's best to put it out of your mind. I find the only way I am ever successful at this is to leave it in God's hands through prayer.
November 20, 2017
For optimum health it is better to avoid processed foods. But it's difficult these days to do that.. Life seems to be busier than ever and it seems we have less time to dedicate in the kitchen than in years past. It's no wonder women resort to picking up boxed packaged items, and foods in the freezer section.
I'm all about balance nutrition shouldn't be viewed as all or nothing. When clients come to me for coaching I make it a point to meet them where they are. It's all about giving yourself grace. Do what you can with the knowledge, information, budget and time you have.
While I do cook mostly from scratch there are a few things I purchase prepackaged. However, there are KEY things I look for before buying a processed food; and there are certain factors I won't compromise on.
In order to manage acne it is best done from the inside out. Focus on nutrition to bring your skin to an improved state of health. Examine all facets of your diet.
If, for example, buying jarred marinara sauce works for you right now, great! That's what works in my house as well. Let me share with you some key things to look for in any packaged food you buy.
Become a label reader. Take the extra 15 seconds needed to read the ingredient list on every packaged food you buy. I even periodically re-check the labels of foods I buy. Sometimes manufacturers change ingredients, or start using GMO's where they had not previously.
Know what you're putting into your body! For healthy skin, avoid too many processed foods.
INGREDIENTS: This is an instance where less is more. The fewer the non-food ingredients (such as stabilizers), typically the better the food is for your body.
WORDS: This one is simple. If you read the ingredient label and you don't recognize half the words, or it sounds like something you'd be reading in chemistry class, look for an alternative.
SUGAR: Here's where it can be a bit tricky. One of my favorite packaged foods Larabar ® - has a sugar content of around 16 grams per bar. However, the ingredient list is short and it's all REAL foods. The sugar content comes from whole foods not highly processed, refined sugar. Also, they contain some dietary fiber and protein which brings me to the next item.
PROTEIN and FIBER: Look for items that are high in protein and high in fiber. These foods will help slow the release of sugars into your bloodstream and will help keep you fuller, longer.
MSG (monosodium glutamate) and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup): Honestly, I could write an entire paper on why these two should be avoided but for now let me keep it simple. MSG is used as a flavor enhancer but it's linked to respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardio vascular, circulatory, muscular, visual and urological conditions. Should I say more? As for HFCS this is a sneaky little devil. HFCS is a highly processed sweetener that (studies indicate) interferes with your body's natural ability to recognize when you are full. It may, in fact, "tell" your brain, "You're not full. Keep eating." If true, there is little wonder why it would be added to processed foods.
OIL: Cheap, highly refined oils to avoid include corn, cottonseed, palm kernel, partially hydrogenated, safflower, sunflower and soybean. It can be really tough to find products that don't contain those oils. Most processed foods use cheaper vegetable oils for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately they do nothing for the beauty of our skin (or our insides). These oils are found in obvious places like potato chips but they also hide in sneaky places like jarred sauces and salad dressings. Instead look for oils and product-containing oils made from coconut, flax, olive, avocado and nuts.
NON-GMO: Genetically modified organisms (GMO) have altered DNA, changed by genetic engineering. 75% of all United States processed foods contain a genetically modified ingredient. The concern is genetic engineering hasn't been around long enough for us to know its long term effects. Dr. Sear's motto is "When in doubt, leave it out". I have adopted this attitude as well.
ORGANIC: This last one I don't adhere to 100% of the time because organic isn't always an available option. If it is available, I typically choose organic over conventional. Organic foods eliminate your consumption of pesticides and herbicides, which is a plus.
Note food labeled organic are also non-gmo. However, any food labeled non-gmo doesn't necessarily mean it's organic
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links I earn a small commission that helps keep my pantry stocked with chocolate and coffee. Any purchase is greatly appreciated.
November 14, 2017
We live in a world of quick fixes. It seems like everywhere you look there is an advertisement for something that will help you to "look good and fast." This can be tempting and many of of us fall prey. After all who doesn't want to look good in a bikini by Friday or have perfectly clear skin in only one month? I know there was a time in my life when I fell for this stuff all the time! And guess what? Some of it worked! The problem was nothing worked for long and then I was right back where I started.
Today I want to talk to you specifically about treating acne and how those changes may look.
We tend to think of acne as being only an external issue. After all, it's clearly visible on our skin so a really good face wash should clear that up, right? It's not that simple. Acne is often a sign of a deeper internal issue. Where I see women face trouble is they only address the visible signs the acne. By failing to look deeper their acne continues to resurface causing them to move on to the next greatest skin care.
Our skin is an organ. In fact, it's our body's largest organ! When we view our skin this way, instead of simply an outer barrier, it's rather silly to think our skin doesn't paint a larger picture.
For years I was on an acne skin care line. My face remained clear as long as I continued using the product and it worked for 8 years! This led me to believe my acne had been eradicated. I thought it was gone and all I had to do was continue to buy this certain face wash. I could not have been more wrong!! The acne skin care line was simply a band aid, masking a much bigger problem. All at once the product failed to deliver it's usual results and I was left with an enormous mess my skin had never looked worse. I was devastated.
For the first time in my life I was forced to look at other options. I naturally tried a few other skin care lines all to no avail. After a bit of research I learned there was a holistic side to healing acne. What?! I had never before even considered that there was a root problem to my acne, never mind addressing it.
The most important shift I made was my mindset. You can read about that here. The second shift was changing the way I ate. I created a plan and stuck with it for a solid 6 months no cheating, no slipping. What I noticed were slow changes and sometimes the healing was cyclical there were a few times my skin 'purged' during this period.
Because of this, some people thought I was nuts. Some questions I received:
Shouldn't your skin be completely clear with all the dietary changes you've made?
Is your body getting proper nourishment?
Why are you doing this to yourself? Aren't you miserable? You know I have a friend who sells acne skin care. You should call her.
Maybe you've heard a few of these yourself?
I do believe all these things were said with good intentions. Spoken by those who cared about me, it really was an act of love not malice. However, I knew deep down inside that I was on the right track and I had to tune these voices out.
I have seen this same scenario with my clients who are working so diligently to get to the root problem of their acne. Family members and friends think they are nuts! I think the two main reasons why are:
People still largely view acne as only an external problem and one that can only be treated through skin care.
Healing acne holistically from the inside out takes time and results don't always come quickly.
What do you do when you face these roadblocks?
It's important to remember who you are doing this for. You! You deserve to look and feel your best.
It's important to remember that external remedies are only a band aid. It's not that you can't use them, it's that you have to also address the underlying issue or you will never truly be free of your acne.
It's important to quiet the external voices. Don't try to argue or reason with those who find your new dietary lifestyle to be crazy. You'll never win the argument! It's better to smile, thank them for their concern and move on. Which brings me to my final point don't overshare!
I know this may seem odd because when we're trying to lose weight or step up our fitness game, we're often encouraged to tell lots of people so we hold ourselves accountable. Treating acne is a whole different ball game; one that is often misunderstood. Because of that it is better to not overshare with too many people. Having one or two people close to you who you trust is the best option. They can help hold you accountable and offer encouragement and support. This support may not come from immediate family. It's nice if it does but it doesn't always happen that way.
Where are you on your journey to healing your skin? What approaches have you tried? Do you feel you have proper support? Leave a comment I'd love to chat!
March 31, 2017
What raises your blood sugar levels more? Whole wheat bread or table sugar? Read on to find out.
"I could never go gluten free. I like bread too much."
"I've tried gluten free bread and I can't stand the taste."
"It's too hard to eat in a restaurant if you don't eat gluten."
"I don't have a gluten intolerance. I never have to run to the bathroom when I eat it."
Do any of these sound familiar?! These are among the top comments I hear when discussing gluten. There's a lot of buzz out there among the word gluten and there seem to be three camps of people: Those who are gluten free and are completely sold that it's improved their health, those who feel it's fine for other people to be gluten free but it's not for them, and lastly, those who believe that gluten free is a trend and will soon die out.
What is the truth? Is gluten bad for your health? If you're not intolerant should you be eating it?
I first discovered the concept of a gluten free diet when I read the book Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD. This book opened my eyes to an entirely new concept and much of what he wrote seemed to be written directly for me.
A few things I learned:
The wheat we eat today is not the same wheat our grandmother's ate.
Even if you have a seemingly perfect diet, you may still hold on to body fat if wheat is in your diet.
Wheat is the dominant source of gluten protein in the human diet. There are other grains containing gluten but as a general rule we consume those much less frequently.
Whole wheat bread increases blood sugar as much or more than table sugar.
This last one was a real eye opener for me. I've had blood sugar issues my whole life. It's one reason it's hard for me to ever feel full for long. Up to this point, wheat made up a large part of my diet. I consumed pastas and breads without thinking twice. I exercised really hard so I figured, why not? After reading this book I learned exactly why not. I chose to remove gluten from my diet to see if there was some truth behind what I'd read. At this time I really didn't understand all the in's and out's of gluten. I now know that I had not removed 100% like I thought I had. Despite this, I still lost some weight, my tummy was flatter, and my blood sugar levels were much more stable than they'd ever been.
Of course, it was difficult living without gluten so this new lifestyle quickly dwindled and I went back to my old habits. Until I experienced a great loss
in my life, which spurred on my cystic acne (which I had fought off and on since my teen years). When creams and face washes weren't doing the trick I decided to take a more holistic option. I began researching on the internet what worked for other women with adult acne. A common theme kept recurring; Remove gluten and dairy from your diet as the first step.
I battled and struggled with this. I remembered how great I'd felt when I gave up gluten before, but truth be told I didn't want to do it again. It was too difficult. It was easier to eat in a restaurant if I was able to eat gluten. I didn't really have a problem with gluten, right?! There can't be that much truth to this idea. Long story short, I went back and forth A LOT before I finally realized I wasn't doing myself any favors and cut gluten from my diet 100%. No longer was I allowing a once a week treat of regular bread or cutting myself slack when eating out. I realized to see the changes I wanted it had to be all or nothing.
Here is the truth about identifying food intolerance and identifying foods that cause inflammation in your body. After all, too much inflammation in the body is where illness begins. If you want to know if eliminating gluten will make a difference for you, you have to completely eliminate it 100% no exceptions. The length of time you do this for really depends on your symptoms. If you have acne, eczema, rosacea or any other skin ailments then the longer the better. My acne clients do it for six straight months. If you're having GI discomfort you may notice a difference within a few days.
Here are other symptoms related to gluten intolerance:
ADHD like behavior
Bone or Joint Pain
You can read more about it here: Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity
For some clarification, a gluten intolerance can exist even if you don't have Celiac disease or another type of autoimmune disorder. The problem with the bread of our grocery shelves today is it was made to be shelf stable. This equals a higher gluten content. Also, when you see the word "Enriched" on a label it often means "deprived of nutrients." Enriched means some of the nutrients that cause the food to spoil faster have been removed and replaced with chemical ingredients so the food will be shelf stable. (Dr. Sear's, The Inflammation Solution
Does cutting gluten from your diet seem scary or unmanageable or simply something you just really don't want to do? I get it. I once felt the same way. It's important to remember that you can always introduce back into your diet. If you eliminate if for two weeks and feel zero changes, start eating it again!
I highly encourage you to give this a try!
Tell me, have you ever eliminated or considered eliminating gluten from your diet?