What if you never again had to use the word "cheat" when it comes to food? FREEDOM!
It's sad that over the years we've forgotten how to eat. We seem to know nothing about listening to our own bodies.
It's January and, as I expected, I'm noticing a trend on my social media accounts. I'm sure you have, too. It seems everyone is excited to share their latest diet endeavors and how they plan to shape up for good in 2018. The intentions are good but the way I see some women going about it is not.
There are so many methods of eating available: paleo, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, and perhaps the most disturbing, keto.
Apart from food camps there are numerous diets available that promise quick, yet lasting results. Cabbage soup diet (been there, done that and it was SO incredibly disgusting), apple cider vinegar and maple syrup fast, carb cycling (who can keep track?), counting calories, counting macros, etc.
I've tried a few of these myself. In fact when I first began healing my body through nutrition I classified myself as a vegan. I'm the first to admit I've fallen into the trap of forcing myself into a food camp, and I've had my fair share of dieting.
As a health coach and being passionate about nutrition people ask me, "What diet do you follow?"
My answer is, "I listen to my body."
"Huh?" with a blank stare is a typical response.
It's hard for women to believe that I don't follow a specific plan. What rules do I follow? How do I know when to eat or what to eat? I understand their questions because I had these same questions a few years ago. It's what led me to where I am today. Chasing weight loss, looking for quick fixes and miracle cures led me to a place of gut imbalance and chronic inflammation in the form of cystic acne. I had to find different answers.
Before jumping into a new diet plan or finding yourself feeling trapped by a food camp I encourage you to consider these few things.
Everyone is choosing a "Word for the Year" -- everyone except me.
So much can change in your life in one month, one week or even one day, much more over the course of one whole year.
Some words I've seen chosen are: joy, trust, slow, rest, yes, brave, etc. You get the idea the latest fad is to choose a word that represents the type of year you want, and then make decisions based off the word. One major change in your life will sabotage everything, if it all rests on one word. I plan my year for vacations, school schedules and big projects for my business, but for all the other things? Monthly. My approach is more realistic, and healthier. Therefore, instead of adding stress when life goes crazy, I am able to adjust.Flexibility facilitates your wellness journey.
So often we view the month of January as setting the tone for the year. If we are successful with our health in January then we can assume we'll be successful for the rest of the year. I'm sorry but this is faulty thinking. First of all what if January is an incredibly challenging month for you financially, emotionally, or physically? What if you feel "unsuccessful" this month? Does that mean the rest of your year is shot? I sure hope not!
On the flip side of this, what if January is a highly successful month for you? You hit your fitness and nutrition goals you're on your way to your summer body and then reality hits and you find yourself back where you started. Does this mean you need to wait until next year to start over? Of course not! It would be silly to even think that. This is exactly why I enjoy the new year but I don't place too much pressure on myself to make the month of January "perfect."
A key element that is overlooked when it comes to New Year's goals is how to implement new habits to accomplish those goals. Goals are set with good intentions but, without a clear plan, it is likely you will fall short. This can leave you feeling like you failed. The remedy is to develop some new habits.
The greatest success I've seen with creating new habits is planning out and implementing one or two at a time. Focus on those few items and really perform them well for six weeks, at least. Then it will become an organic part of your day. After that, add another new, healthy habit.
For example, let's say this year you want to implement a new exercise routine, cut out all processed foods, get 8 hours of sleep each night and implement a quiet time into your day for reflection. Wow I'm tired just writing all that! That's A LOT of pressure, and too much to handle all at any once.
The key is to choose one or two of these new habits, decide how you're going to implement it and then get to a point where it's second nature. Let's say you choose to focus on getting adequate sleep each night, but you're also eager to start working out. Determine what time you need to go to bed by to get the sleep you need. Then decide what you'll do to ensure that your head hits the pillow at the time and do those things.
To begin your new exercise routine start slowly. Plan to commit to 20 minutes a day to start. Work your way up from there. If you currently don't exercise at all, but set a goal to workout for one hour, 6 days a week, you'll probably revert back to your old ways. It's just too much pressure on the body. Will this take longer than implementing all the goals at once? No it will not, because it will work.
Whatever you do to inspire yourself for the new year I encourage you to remember this, one critical truth:
Taking care of your body is lifelong commitment.
There is no quick fix, trendy diets or fad exercises are never a miracle cure. I encourage you to view good health as a way of life. Adopt that way now and stick with it forever.
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.
When it comes to healing acne with nutrition, there is a lot of talk about what you can no longer eat. The first things to leave your diet are gluten, dairy, processed foods and refined sugar. To a lot of women that is a bit overwhelming. However, it is true that these foods are inflammatory in the body, especially when eaten in excess, which we tend to do. While it's important to reduce our intake of inflammatory foods, it is equally as important to increase our intake of foods that reduce inflammation and are full of antioxidants.
When I first began changing the way I ate to heal my skin, I almost fell into a state of depression around food. I knew the foods I shouldn't be consuming, but I didn't yet have a strong taste for the foods I needed to be eating. I longed for the comfort foods I grew up with. Because of this I oftentimes felt hungry, but didn't feel like eating. This struggle left my body lacking a great deal of nutrition. In fact, my body was so nutrient deficient that my hair started falling out. Hair may be our crowning glory, but our bodies don't recognize it as being necessary for survival. Therefore, it's a go to place for the body to stop sending nutrients when necessary. It wasn't until I visited a Naturopath (although not before I ended up with a bald spot on the side of my head) who informed me that I simply wasn't nourishing my body well.
The amazing thing about your body is you can teach it what foods you want it to crave! How? I'm glad you asked! The concept is simple. Feed your body the foods it should be having and thanks to metabolic reprogramming you'll be craving those foods in about 30 to 90 days. So cool, right? The old adage, 'you are what you eat' is correct. Your cells are literally made up of what you feed them! Now that you know, the next step involves making a decision.
Do you want to keep eating the way you are and look the way you currently do OR do you want to change the way you eat and kick acne to the curb? Making this decision was one of the smartest moves I ever made. You can read more about that here.
For now though, let's talk about what we want to be feeding our bodies to support skin health. Finally, we're going to talk about what we can EAT!!
This list is in no way exhaustive, but if you're struggling with where to start it's a good jumping off point. Take small steps. Don't go buy a ton of produce you've never cooked with before. Start with the fruits and vegetables you know and are comfortable with. Find a few recipes that suit your tastes and build from there. I often eat the same few dishes for several weeks before I tire of it and find something different to add in the mix. I recommend you do the same.
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:
I just saw an article discussing the relationship between indoor air quality and acne. Contrary to what you may think, indoor air can be five times more polluted than outdoor air. Common culprits can be dust, candles, cleaning supplies and also the particles that travel inside with you on your clothing.
"These are commonly known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs."
Frequently, these tiny, invisible particles lurk in things like paint, cleaning products,
candles, and air fresheners--and they can have all sorts of repercussions for your skin.
It's easy to think of acne as an external skin issue that can only be treated with expensive creams or harsh medications. I have found that to be largely ineffective for the long haul. Acne is a deep rooted problem, and it's important to get to the real source. Digestion, quality of nutrition, stress levels and quality of sleep all affect the appearance of our skin.
What about air quality? It's probably safe to say that many of us aren't focused on this part as much. However, there does seem to be a natural progression between improving nutrition and improving the quality of household cleaners, soaps, shampoos and makeup. Once we start changing the foods we put in our body, it's natural to begin examining the things our skin comes in contact with as well as those things we breath in.
I have made the switch from toxic cleaning products to safer alternatives. Before that I remember shooing my children away while cleaning the bathroom. On the days when I had to go in and scrub the tub, I'd come up coughing and eyes watering. Pretty sure that's a good indication that what I was breathing in wasn't great. Not only that, but the chemicals we use come into contact with our skin and may end up in our bloodstream.
Where to start? First, don't panic. Take care of what you can, and save the rest for another day. For example, you may not be able to do anything about the paint you used on your walls. However, you can toss the air fresheners you have plugged in.
Second, read the labels on your cleaning products. The Environmental Working Group's website is free to use and gives products a score based on how "clean" they actually are.
Third, check out a quality air purifier. One thing to look for is how much square footage the unit covers. If you live in a small space one air purifier may do it. If you have a large home take that into consideration. If you cannot manage to cover the entire house, focus on the rooms in which you spend most of your time, including the bedrooms.
Another way to help clean the air is by having house plants. Here's a helpful article on that topic.
Awareness is the first step. It's easy to go through the "day-to-day" and not think about what comes in contact with your skin. If you have persistent acne it's certainly worth looking into.
It's said that the average person gains 7 to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That's a significant amount of weight. How accurate these numbers are, and whether this actually starts around Thanksgiving (I personally believe it to start in October with Halloween), the fact is the holidays can present a struggle.
As soon as the weather begins to turn cold our bodies begin to crave more nourishment. Unfortunately, our first thought is not of dark, leafy greens tossed in a vinaigrette. Warm, cozy, comfort foods are a more tempting choice and, during the holidays, they abound. That is not necessarily, however, a bad thing. There are plenty of delicious foods that are great options to eat over the winter. The problem I've seen in my private coaching sessions are the number of events that surround the holidays: office parties, family gatherings, cookie exchanges . . . you get the idea. The trouble all begins with the onslaught of your kid's Halloween candy that bag can be SO tempting!
As the holiday season comes to a close with Christmas and New Year's I'd like to share a few thoughts with you on how to manage the holidays.
The Bed and Breakfast we stayed at last week was wonderful. Breakfast included pancakes, waffles, sausage, potatoes, and tons of fresh fruit. It was SO delicious and the best part? I lost three pounds!
From the time I was a teenager until most recent years, preparing for vacation meant a period of dieting. I would exercise harder and try to cut calories (I knew shockingly little about nutrition then) in order to get a flatter tummy for my trip. Once on vacation I would throw caution to the wind when it came to food and overindulge. Shortly into my trip I'd be bloated, tired and sluggish. Good times, right? Upon returning home I'd discover that I had gained a few pounds and had to work all over again to lose it. This was my pattern for years. Does it sound familiar?
When I changed my approach towards food several years ago it also changed the way I view dieting in general and how I eat when I am on vacation. This surprised me on my most recent trip because some of the foods I ate were less than stellar and I definitely indulged a little. While I didn't completely stuff myself, I certainly ate to my heart's content each morning. Lunch and dinner consisted of local fare from restaurants in the area. Some were incredible, others not so much and one in particular is definitely getting a negative mark on Trip Advisor. One thing I kept noticing was I didn't at all feel tired the entire time and my tummy was never bloated, which are two common areas of struggle, especially for women.
As I reflected on what I was doing differently and what I might be doing right I came up with a few tips to share with you. These go beyond the "pack healthy snack options" tips.
How To Eat on Vacation:
I've never had great skin. Visits to the dermatologist were a regular part of my years as a teenager. But as a teen, I never would have imagined that I would be battling the same cystic acne during my 30's. But here I was, 33 years old staring in the mirror with an acne riddled face staring right back at me. Why was I plagued with this problem and what on earth could I do to fix it? Nothing seemed to be working for me.
I remember the moment vividly. I gave myself a long look in the mirror and the thought occurred to me, could this be the rest of my life? Might I suffer with acne forever?
Here it is; the most important thing I did to help rid my face of acne. I made up my mind that I could not, would not live this way any longer. I no longer saw myself of a helpless victim. I shifted my mindset and viewed myself as a woman with a decision to make. This was the catapult that propelled me forward.
At this point I recognized that my acne was stemming from my poor gut health. I knew that's where the answers lied, but I didn't really know what the specific answers were. So I prayed and asked God for guidance. It immediately became clear to me. Now it was up to me to put it all in motion...and that's just what I did.
My entire diet changed. I had to shift not only what I was eating, but also how I was eating. My relationship with food completely changed. For me this meant not quite fitting in in a few social situations. It meant carrying a small lunch bag with me everywhere I went so that I was never without something that was suitable for me to eat. I never wanted to be caught with an excuse to eat something that wasn't going to help me reach my goal. I prepared for every situation and I stuck to my plan.
Today my skin is much clearer without the use of acne medications. When I do get a breakout, it's usually not a surprise to me and is typically a result of excess sugar, too much stress, or lack of sleep.
What's staring back at you in the mirror? What is your "I can't live like this the rest of my life"? What is your current mindset about it? Helpless victim or a woman with a decision to make?
Everything is connected: mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. You can teeter totter if one of these legs is broken, but what happens when two are broken? The table comes crashing down. Our minds are powerful! The number one reason I see women not looking and feeling their best is they haven't made up in their minds 100% to commit to it. They want the results but they aren't fully there yet with the changes that need to be made. I get it because I was there myself sometimes the comforts we're used to are more comfortable than the pain in our life is painful.
Are you ready to shift your mindset? Are you ready to toss out the excuses and propel yourself forward? I offer a complimentary consultation to see if we're a fit to work together. No obligation to buy. I look forward to helping you look and feel your best!