my FACE: how I cleared my skin

The fact that I can actually write a post on this is mind-blowing.  I tried it all.  Proactive, birth control, clearasil, toothpaste, mud facials, chemical peels, oil-cleansing, tamanu oil, jojoba oil, almond seed oil, I cut out almonds from my diet, I cut out dairy, I put prescription meds all over my skin, I used special cleansers, soy cleansers, I artificially tanned (“tanning makes my acne better”), I tanned outside, I wore sun screen, I didn’t, I mediated, I ran, I compulsively washed my face, I exfoliated, okay you get the point.  But I’m sure most of my readers can relate.

But listen, I have the answer.  I found the answer.

Nutrition is interesting.  It’s not like a prescribed medication that you take to fix that one issue (and experience 85 side effects) Good nutrition prevents cancer, auto-immune diseases, obesity, clears skin, gives you energy, etc. etc.  With no wacky side effects, I promise.

So what I’m trying to say is, I ate a whole food, plant-based die and cleared my skin.  It was simple.  I’m going to give you a breakdown of exactly what I took out and incorporated in my diet.  My skin has an amazing glow, and I do not have to wear face makeup. (WHAT?) I also have scarring all over my chin and I’m noticing it going away now. Bizarre and beautiful what 10 bananas a day can do.

1.) I started taking a shot of wheatgrass everyday.  If you can’t get ahold of the juice, buy the powder at whole foods.  Mix it with some water and throw it back! Put it in your juices and smoothies, just get this amazing superfood in your body.  It’s equivalent to 1.5 pounds of vegetables!

2.) Green juice.  Start your day with a raw, unpasteurized green juice. I make sure I always have my green juice on an empty stomach so it’s like an IV of nutrients.  Yessss

3.) No no no no no no processed foods.  I stopped eating anything that comes packaged pretty much. No weird ingredients.  Just remember if you can’t recognize an ingredient your body won’t either! Which causes inflammation aka ACNE.  I won’t even drink almond milk that is bought at the store, try making it at home! Be aware of what you put into your body.

4.) Know where your food comes from.  How long has it been sitting on the shelf without going bad? What chemicals are they putting in the product to increase shelf life?  Think about that!

5.) Think seasonal.  And local.  Choose seasonal produce over produce that has to be shipped long distances. Why would we eat a mango/pineapple in the dead of winter on the east coast? Mangos are used to help cool the body in tropical climates.

6.) THROW OUT makeup that is bought at CVS, riteaid, etc.  I know buying organic/mineral makeup is expensive but your skin is worth it! And when your skin is clear you will save so much money on over the counter treatments, etc.  I was riding on NJtransit heading back to Philadelphia from New York back in the summer and I had makeup on and I just felt disgusting and weighed down by it.  I threw out every ounce of makeup that wasn’t bought at whole foods or origins.  I think this had a huge impact on my skin.  I get all my makeup from http://www.mineralfusion.com including the hydration spray! (My favorite)

7.) Biting nails. I stopped biting my nails.  Maybe because I wasn’t as stressed out once I left Manhattan.  But this stopped my hands from being around my face all the time.  Which I think caused some of the acne.  Gross.

8.) Reduced stress.  HUGE one.  I changed cities, left a job that I didn’t enjoy, and left a relationship that was no longer for me.  After I took one step in the direction towards happiness I noticed my skin clearing, I promise you.  Get rid of the things that don’t make you happy and bring you down as a person.  If you are miserable in your job, relationship, I don’t care if you make 1 million dollars a year and live in a beautiful mansion – fucking walk away.  What I have learned is that happiness has to be found.  Listen to your body and pick and choose what you want in your life.  How beautiful is it to have choices.  Don’t be scared because you can’t decide, be thankful that you have choices.

9.) Don’t over wash.  I wash my face to get my mineral makeup off and after I workout.  That’s all.  When  I wake up in the morning I just rinse with warm water and a washcloth.

Think happiness. Think simplicity. Think fruits and vegetables.

Let me know if any of my tips worked for you!

xxx

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feeling: can’t stop won’t stop (day 18)

Hi all! So for my last week I decided to eat fully raw and incorporate more raw fruits and vegetables.  On Sunday night I was craving a huge kale salad, so I went with my gut and made a huge salad topped with a low-fat guac! (1/2 Avocado, 1 zucchini, handful of sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, lime)

Well, now after eating raw for the week  –  I don’t think I ever want to go back to cooked food/caffeine/alcohol.  But this is where it gets tough.  How can this work socially? I love going out to eat, so I have to find a good balance. Which can be tricky but I’m up for the challenge.  Life is about living to the fullest – and if going out to eat and eating a cooked vegan meal makes me happy, that’s what I will do.  What will I cook at home now? Raw vegan.  I’m working on some awesome recipes! So stay tuned to see what I’m doing in my kitchen.

On Christmas, while drinking my morning coffee, cutting out caffeine for 21 days seemed so so hard.  And now, I don’t even think I need coffee anymore.  Insane how our bodies work and what seems impossible to change, our bodies adapt.  Challenge yourself to cut out something that you never thought you would be able to live without – I bet you can do it.

first interview sneak peek

Recently I was asked to do an interview for a well-known blogger in Philadelphia!  She has such a great spirit and I love reading her blog  – and I can’t wait to meet her on Monday for my interview. (!!!) She asked me to answer a few questions which I emailed back to her today.  I thought I would share some of my answers – i’ll post where to see the full interview later this week!

Why did you choose this path/career?
A: When I was 16 years old I asked for a juicer for Christmas. And ever since then I have been on the same path – a path to reach optimal health and to be my best self by eating healing foods. All throughout my childhood I knew my mom as having multiple sclerosis. I never once thought to myself I would be diagnosed with the same disease, but I often wonder if subconciously I was taking preventative actions. Nine years later, I am still on the same path. After my diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis in 2013, I am so thankful my journey started at 16 years old. I am now equipped with all the knowledge I have gained over nine years to eat the right foods and live a lifestyle that can keep me healthy. I feel so confident in my knowledge I chose to not be on any medication, even though my doctors give me disapproving looks. After leaving New York City, where I studied Communication Sciences I found myself in Philadelphia as the GM of Animo. I am so thankful for this job. It allows me to be surrounded by raw juice and organic produce. (People often tell me the hardest part of eating healthy is eating healthy at work – which is not the problem for me. Thank goodness!) So yes I chose this path, but I don’t think I chose this career. This might sound cliche, but I believe this career chose me. I never thought I would be returning to school to study holistic nutrition. But when it comes to your body, life, and health especially when dealing with an incurable disease, I take it seriously, and I urge everyone else to as well.

What is your journey?
A: My journey is to maintain how I am now. I am in good health, active, and thriving. I want to still be walking and be able to run my children around one day. If I can lead a healthy, strong, active life for the rest of my life, I have reached my goal.

Who are you trying to reach?
A: I often feel that as a society we have set the bar to low for feeling “fine”. We are often weighed down by ailments, feel sluggish, and are unhappy at our weight. My audience are people with “incurable” diseases chained to medications. My audience are people who always have headaches, feel tired, and don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning. My audience are people who have ever said “I should eat healthier.” Believe it or not, our bodies are designed to feel good.

What have been the highlights and challenges along the way?
A: My first MRI was done and on my brain, I had three lesions that correlated with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. The last MRI I had done I had one lesion that was stable and the other two were gone. No progression.

Challenges. Hm. Well, I must say it is a constant challenge. Living a plant-based whole food vegan diet differs dramatically from the Standard American Diet. I don’t crave non-plant based foods, but socially it is difficult. Even my parents will make remarks about how my lifestyle is difficult to deal with. Someone once said to my best friend, “Monica is perfect – except for the whole vegan thing, I don’t know if I could look past that.” That breaks my heart. No one would say a word if I injected myself with disease modifying drugs and constantly drove through the McDonalds drive through. That’s a big challenge, especially when you are single, 24 and living in a new city.

Tips or Advice for our readers?
A: It took me 9 years to get where I am today. It started 9 years ago with some green juice. If you can have ONE meal a day that is nutritionally dense and filled with plant-based whole foods, you are on the right path. I’m telling you, your body will react so well to that one healthy meal you will want to keep going. LEARN. Read books, documentaries, youtube, blogs, etc. Educate yourself.

the morning of day 11

I’ve been holding onto something for 9 months now.  I’ll be honest.  Something I was supposed to leave  in New York City- i’ve been dragging it around Philadelphia. It’s kinda heavy and it hurts from time to time.  I am not sure why i’ve been holding on.  This thing doesn’t do me any good.  It doesn’t hurt all the time, but it definitley doesn’t help.

The morning of day 11, I let it go.

With a clear mind (and super clear skin!) I can easily let go of things not meant for me.

feeling: fantastic (day 8&9)

Things i’m not embarrassed to discuss:

1.) I feel amazing. I lost about 5lbs effortlessly. (I didn’t want to lose weight at all.)  I drank my smoothies/juice whenever I was hungry, noticing when I would impulsively want to reach for food for comfort.  I never EVER was able to distinguish between hunger/comfort eating/stress eating, so this is a huge deal.  I often would be making a juice or smoothie and think to myself “i’m not even hungry” and stop completely.  This never happened before.

2.) I can do mental math better.  My mind is sharper.  I noticed that I can think more quickly on my feet and do math I would normally have to write down, right in my head.

3.) I have so SO much energy.  I jump out of bed at 5:30am for work and I don’t get tired til around 9:30pm.  No mid-day crash.  No headaches. NO caffeine. (what?!)

4.) Improved balance. I always thought I had absolutely no balance and holding tree pose in Bikram was a huge struggle.  No more.  I hold poses so steady and strong.  I think this is linked to increased concentration.  I love it.

Things i’m embarrassed to discuss:

1.) Sweat.  Bikram yoga takes place in a room that is 105 degrees. Normally, I am drenched.  Dripping all over my mat and the people next to me. (Sorry.) Sweat no longer drips out of me.  I just kinda, glisten.  (Snob)  We sweat out toxins, and when the body is fueled properly (Fruits and Vegetables only!) we don’t have as much to sweat out.

2.) Body odor.  None.  I honestly, don’t even have to wear deodorant. That is all.

3.) I deleted this sentence over and over because I really don’t wanna write about what you think i’m going to write.  I’ll just say the whole digestion process is how it should be.  And my stomach is flatter than ever.  (Bananas)

It makes me never wanna end my cleanse.  I feel full and nourished.  I feel as if this is how we should live.

I’m not sure what can improve in the next half of the cleanse.  But i’m excited to see!

xx

feeling: …. (day 7)

Sometimes I ask myself over and over and over …and over again why I do this.  I could just eat like shit and it would be easy.  No one would question me if I went to a McDonald’s drive thru and ordered a big mac. Yet, somehow, its bizarre and odd and weird that I eat a plant-based, mostly raw, vegan diet. They see my skin glowing, my hair more blonde than usual, my eye whites bright, yet, i’m weird.  And extreme.

It’s hard.

I don’t wanna complain, because the truth of the matter is, I’ve read a ton on this subject, watched a million documentaries, and have been living this way (off and on) for 7 years now….of course ignorance causes people to reject a certain lifestyle.

It would be easy if it was just me in my little garden picking vegetables without people who didn’t question my motives.   I often feel isolated socially when living this type of lifestyle, especially now when I’m cleansing.

I love the food I eat and the lifestyle I live.  But MOST people just have no clue.  They don’t understand why I eat what I eat and why I am cleansing for 21 days.

I’m learning how to deal with this.

What I tell people is that I would never push my ways on them, and I would never think poorly of them for eating meat, dairy, etc.  It’s just a decision I made and the life I chose to live.  I am cleansing because I am curious of how the body reacts to a fully raw fruits and veg only diet for 21 days.  I wanna see the process my body goes through and the thoughts and emotions I feel.  (All while blogging about it.) Plus 21 days without alcohol and caffeine is definitely not bad for you – and I’m curious that after 21 days if I will adopt a raw vegan lifestyle, or if I will miss my hemp milk cappuccino.

1 L of filtered water infused with lemon + basil

#1: 2 bananas, 4 dates, filtered water, mint, kale, romaine, 1 avocado

#2: Celery, cucumber, rainbow chard, apple

#3: leftover savory smoothie: Green pepper, jalepeno, avocado, celery, romaine, kale, parsley, basil

#4: leftover of smoothie #1

#5: Cherries, 2 bananas, 2 dates, kale, filtered water

feeling: hANGRY (still.) (day 6.)

Day 6 was great until 1pm.  Then I was f****** hungry.  Hungry for an apple. Something to chew. I wanted to chew more than anything.  Hungry for a huge romaine salad with avocado and a huge vegan pizza.  I also wanted sweet potato fries. And peanut butter.  After my last raw smoothie, I felt better. I filled my last smoothie with 4 bananas and 1 avocado.  Didn’t care. Give me all the bananas.  I’m also a little PMS-y and I think this is why I feel so hungry today.  So what I did was 1 juice, and 4 raw smoothies.

Raw Smoothie 1: Kale, 3 Bananas, Basil, 1 Grapefruit, filtered water, 2 dates

Raw Smoothie 2: Spinach, 2 bananas, 1/2 Avo, Filtered water

XS raw smoothie 3: Celery, Blueberry, 1 Banana, Filtered water

XS raw smoothie 4: (leftover savory smoothie) Avocado, Basil, Parsley, Jalepenos, Celery, Green pepper, romaine

Juice 5: Rainbow chard, cucumber, celery, kale, light apple

XL raw smoothie 6: Filtered water, 1 avocado, 4 bananas, Blueberries, kale, romaine, 2 dates, filtered water

So that was a LOT. A TON of Fruit/Veg

an hour ago I felt awful – so starving. and I got a text message that made me cry. (for no reason.) But now I feel super full and filled with amazing nutrients!

Bring on day 7.

xx

feeling: like an asshole (day 4&5)

“DO NOT BRING THOSE DOUGHNUT HOLES AROUND ME.”

I was a bitch.  I was a snob.  I was a mean boss.

I’m super confused as how I was perfectly “fine” and now I feel hangry all the time.  I’m not necessarily hungry, I just feel crabby.  Snobbish.  Food-snobbish.  Anti-Doughnut hole. Juice Activist.  Juice cleanse talk show host.

I am hoping I mellow out a little bit.  I can’t believe I came this far- I actually feel annoyed I have to go any further.  But I know this is part of the process.

Day 4 Breakdown:

Juice #1: Kale, Spinach, Ginger, Pear

Juice #2: Beets, Apple, Lemon, Greens

Juice #3: Greens, Cucumber, Lemon, Ginger, Celery

Raw smoothie #4: Blueberry, Kale, 2 Banana, 1/2 Avocado

Day 5:

Juice #1: Kale, spinach, Rainbow chard, lemon, ginger, celery, cucumber

Juice #2: Beets, apple, Carrot

Raw smoothie #3: Spinach, 2 bananas, 1/2 Avo, filtered Water

Raw smoothie #4: (I went savory on this one) Green pepper, 2 jalepenos, basil, parsley, 1 avocado, celery, romaine, kale, fltered water

I couldn’t even finish the last smoothie.

This is the biggest difference i’m noticing…

I’m noticing when I would compulsively grab food for comfort. Because I’m anxious, sad, happy, etc.  I’m noticing those urges and letting them pass and only truly juicing when I feel hungry. For me that is a huge deal. I’m a very emotional eater – and to feel those urges and working through them is huge.

So even though i’m acting like an asshole, I can see this journey being beneficial to my overall well-being.

XX

15 more days to go.

feeling: funky (day 3)

I slowly opened my eyes and my friend was staring at me from above. I shook my head and got out of shavasana, after experiencing the deepest meditation i’ve ever been in.  I’ve been doing yoga for many years, and always had a decent amount of trouble in meditation.  I would fidget, think of my grocery list, and regret over and over kissing that boy at the bar two nights ago.

During day 3 something weird started happening. I looked at “regular” food and didn’t want it. I craved juice.

I laid in meditiation completely still. This might sound absolutely insane but I heard the spray bottle of people washing their mats, and I thought it was a bird.  I pictured myself in South Africa, sitting in the grass, and I could taste the cigarette I was smoking.  I could feel it between my lips.  I could hear the sound of birds and see the barbed wire around the houses.  It was the weirdest thing I may have experienced.  I felt very present during day 3.  I got onto the bus to go to work in the morning and I felt compassion for the bus driver.  Every time that door opened the cold air blew in, yet he was so kind at 6:00am.  I noticed things clearer.  The snowflakes on my scarf, the colors of my smoothies, things were vibrant.

DAY 3 breakdown:

Juice #1: Kale, Spinach, Chard, Celery, Cucumber, Lemon, Ginger

Juice #2: Carrot, Chard, Beet, Apple

Smoothie #3: 2 Bananas, Blueberries, Kale, Apple, Celery

Juice #4: Cabbage, Pineapple, Mint

Smoothie #4: Filtered Water, 2 Bananas, 1/2 Avo, 2 Dates, 2 BIG handfuls of kale

I can’t believe im on the morning of day 4, time is flying by.