Friday, 27 December 2013

What did you get for Christmas?

What did you get for Christmas?

I’ve had a few people ask me this question over the past couple of days. Maybe you’ve been asked this recently, too.

It’s often framed as: “So, did you get spoiled this year?” or “Was Santa good to you?”

It’s a pretty common, innocent question. I mean, most people’s Christmas’ are filled with gifts – and I’m no exception. My family and friends bought me a lot of great, beautiful and thoughtful things this year and I spent a fair bit of money on them, too. But for some reason, no matter how many times I’m asked what I got for Christmas, that question always strikes me as a little bit odd.
Maybe because it reminds me of conversations I used to have with my girlfriends when we were 12. We’d call each other on the phone and rattle off our favorite gifts.
“Eeek! You got a new electric keyboard too?!”
“How many Lip Smackers did you get in your stocking?”
It was fun. And not that, as children, we ever meant to compare, brag or make our parents feel inadequate to other parents; it’s just that we were excited about all of our new THINGS.
But we’re adults now. I’m almost 30 years old. And to me, Christmas isn’t about gifts or presents.
I don’t mean to put anyone down who asked me or anyone else what they got for Christmas. I don’t think they are shallow or materialistic. I know they love their families and friends. I know that question is typical for this time of year and a great conversation starter. But all I’m saying is why does that question have to be asked before: “So how was your Christmas?” or “What did you do?” or “How’s the family?”
The first time I was asked this year what I got for Christmas, all I could think about was how my sister and her husband travelled up from Edmonton to spend some time with me and my parents.
The second time I got asked, my mind instantly went to the delicious, lavish meal that my mother whipped together in less than two hours.
The third time I was asked, I thought about the walk I went on with my mother in the afternoon.
I could hardly even remember a damn present that I got. I would just answer vaguely, “Oh yes, a lot of nice things.” “Yes, I got a lot of stuff.”
I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s becoming more and more apparent to me that Christmas is not about the gifts at all. This sounds so obvious and cliché, but it’s true.
I know gifts are special and thoughtful, and I love giving them to people. But Christmas is really about the time people spend together. It’s about the memories.
For now on, when people ask me what I got for Christmas, I think I might say: A lot of family time. 
What more could I ask for?
I challenge you take this Christmas message into the New Year with you.
Why do we have to have special dinners and gatherings only during the holiday season? Why wait until December 25 to tell someone special that you love them? Try to do this more frequently. The gatherings don’t have to be lavish – order in some pizza. Rent a movie. Play some card games. Does travel make this impossible? Try Skype.
In 2014, don’t let special gatherings happen in-frequently. Spend time with the people you love.
Remember: Everyday is a gift, that’s it’s called the present.
Don’t take time and people for granted.
Thanks for reading.
With love,
Lisa
My Christmas tree.
You can tell by all the bare spots where my cat camps out in it during the day!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

How to fight your way out of a situational depression

A couple of months ago, I found out my boyfriend was cheating on me. I think it was more of an emotional affair than a physical one, but it doesn’t matter. No matter what the person you love is lying to you about, it hurts like a bitch.

Being lied to by your one and only is a very confusing time, and your heart is not only shattered, but wrenched up into a tiny little ball, twisting and turning so much that you can physically feel both love and pain being squeezed out of it and dropping into a little messy puddle at your feet. You’re left staring down at this mess, feeling like an outsider looking in, and thinking: WTF.

I had never been treated like this before, and I had no idea what to expect.

I couldn’t cope.

I couldn’t get off my couch and didn’t even shower for a couple of days. I didn’t eat, watch TV, or answer my phone. Occasionally I would open my red, swollen eyes to stare at the wall.

Sounds pretty sad, doesn’t it?

It was.

But at the time, I didn’t realize what a deep, dark, depressing hole I was sinking into.

This behaviour didn’t last for just a couple of days or a week. It went on continuously for almost a month. I finally became aware of my behaviour when a friend stopped by unexpectedly on a Saturday afternoon around 12:30 p.m.

Friend: “What are you up to?”

Me: “Nothing. I was just in bed.”

Friend: “Oh, were you sleeping?”

Me: “No, I was lying in bed.”

Friend: “What were you doing? Reading?”

Me: “No. I was doing nothing.”

Friend: “How long have you been awake for?”

Me: “I don’t know. A while.”

Friend (surprised and concerned): “So….you’ve just lying in bed all day?”

Me: “Yup…”

It was shortly after this wake-up-call conversation that I burst into tears.

Omg, I thought. All I ever do is lay around.

Getting up to do the dishes felt like an insurmountable task, and leaving my house was not even an option. I dwelled on my broken heart and couldn’t see myself or my life as anything else but just that: broken.

Me: “I think I’m depressed.”

I knew from that moment on that I had some work to do. I needed to get my life back on track and force myself to start living again. Here are some steps that I took to begin to climb my way out of a dark hole some people call depression:

Admit it

It’s been said that admitting you have a problem is the first step to getting help. This is true. I didn’t even realize that I was so unbearably miserable until I finally took a step back and realized that I wasn’t myself anymore. It took me a while to acknowledge this, but when I did I immediately felt a little bit better. And then I told my friends and family. They now had a better understanding of what I was facing, and continued to support me.
Move

Not to a different town, city or country – although the thought of running away from your current life may sound tempting, it won’t help things in the long run (trust me on this, I’ve been there).

I mean physically. Get outside and go for a walk. Even if it’s around the block, it’s a start.

Ask your friends and family to make plans with you to do something healthy. Go to a yoga class together or try something new. Maybe go play a game of badminton.

Not only does being active improve your self-esteem, help you sleep better, and strengthen your body, but it also releases natural endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body. These endorphins are sometimes called “happy hormones” and help you feel better from the inside out.

Stay busy

Start filling up your calendar.

Look for things to do. Make plans with friends. Sign up for a new course. Volunteer. Try making a
list of things that need to be done every day and every week. Reach out to others. Do favours. Call your parents. Make time for old friends you’ve been meaning to catch up with.

In order to start feeling fulfilled again, you’re going to have be productive and get things done.
You’ll soon see that people love your company, and you’ll be too busy to think about how sad you are.

Don’t get drunk or high

These are depressants and you’ll only feel worse. Stay clean and sober for a while. If you’re out at a party and want to have a drink or two, fine. But now is not the time to be getting wasted. Wait it out. Trust me on this. If you think getting out of bed is hard now, try doing it when you have a raging headache from drinking too much red wine. It’s not fun. Don’t do it. Stay sober.

Talk to a professional

Your problems may feel like they are just too much to take on by yourself. Speak to a professional. There is no shame in this. In fact, you should be proud that you are taking the steps you need to live the best life that you can. There are people trained to help you, and they want to help you. Let them.

Seek out a therapist referral from your family physician, call a helpline, or speak to a pastor at a Church. There is help available to you everywhere. Take advantage of this.

Remember that you are wonderful and deserve to live a great life. Tell yourself this every day, until you believe it.

Also remember that I’m not a doctor or a professional! This is advice I’m giving based on my personal experiences. Take it as only that, please.

Thanks for reading,
Lisa

Monday, 11 November 2013

The day my boyfriend's girlfriend emailed me

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, and while it still causes me some pain, I think I’m in a healthier place to be able to share it now. Here is what happened when I found out my boyfriend was cheating on me:

I had a feeling in my gut I couldn't ignore.

They say there is nothing quite like a women's intuition - and maybe this was mine speaking to me.

I could feel something coming from behind me and through the back of my spine until I finally felt a nudge deep in my stomach.

"Don't trust him," it said in a soft voice.

It didn't speak to me necessarily in a quiet whisper, but it wasn't a slap in the face, either. It was just something that was there.

"Don't believe him," it kept saying. "He's not telling you the truth."

We had recently officially declared ourselves an item again after a few days of a treturous, drawn out, painful "break" that he had said he wanted.

I knew we were having problems - I mean, I was in the relationship too - but I didn't know it was to the point that he didn't know if he wanted to be with me anymore. After all, we had looked at engagement rings together and had built a life of hopes and dreams together. We had gone on trips and integrated our families and friends into each others lives. We had been dating seriously and steadily for about a year. We were going to have a family and get married, and I was going to adapt to life on the farm and live happily ever after in the romantic seclusion of an organic, peaceful, simple life with my true love.

Until these words finally came out of his mouth:

"Yes, there was another girl. But I only talked to her when we were on our break and met her for coffee once."

The story didn't add up. We were hardly on a break. And why didn't he tell me earlier? We were supposed to be starting over. I had poured my heart out to him and pleaded for him not to give up on us. Had he already?

I did something everyone told me not to do - I found her on Facebook and sent her a message. I felt a little bit crazy, but I needed to know. And I felt she needed to know, too.

Had he played us both as fools?

The truth comes out

Four days later she got back to me. Sorry for the late reply, she said. He and I have a complicated history.

Uh-oh. I thought. Who is this girl? They have a history? I had never heard of her before. I didn't know this girl existed. I thought I knew who all of his ex-girlfriends were?

He and I have been talking every day for about the last month, she wrote. He told me you two were done. I was even staying at his house when I was in town for the weekend. He told me he loved me and wanted to marry me and live happily ever after on his farm and start a family together. Sorry, I should have known he was playing both us.

Thanks, my boyfriends-other-girlfriend, for getting back to me. I'm glad we were able to connect.

Feeling dirty

The feeling of being cheated on by the person I loved left me feeling physically sick - and really, really tired.

I had to take time off work. My house was a mess and I didn't even shower for a couple of days.

All around, I felt gross and dirty.

This man had been leading a double life and I was half of it.

Moving forward

I can forgive him for lying to me and cheating on me. And I can see that each day, the sun is shining a bit brighter.

I'm cleaning up my house.

I'm cleaning up my life.

I'm taking out the trash and am throwing away things that no longer serve me. So far, I've gathered two bags of clothes - and an ex-boyfriend.

It still breaks my heart, but it has to be done.

I can only hope that everyone involved learns from this experience. I hope that we can eventually all live a good life that we are proud of, and that we can chalk this up as an experience. Not only a painful, heartbreaking, unfortunate experience, but a beautiful one, too.

A new start.

A hope for something better.

A hug and a wave goodbye.

Thank you for the year we had together - the good and the bad. Thank you for apologizing for the way you treated me. And most importantly, thank you for helping me realize my self-worth.

I am a great person and I know I deserve better than the way you treated me.

I deserve to be with someone who will want to be with me, accept me for who I am, and not date another women on the side.

I can't wait to start fresh. I can't wait to slowly pick up the pieces of my broken heart, one-by-one, and be myself again. Happy and free of these pains.

I believe that you are sorry. I also believe that you are sorry you got caught.

I will pray for you. I will pray that you don't stray again when things get rough, and that you don't ever have to live a sad life full of lies again. I will pray you find strength, security and will power in yourself when faced with temptation.

And I will pray for me. I will pray for strength to walk away, look ahead, and find better.

Thanks for reading,

Lisa

Monday, 28 October 2013

Walk This Way

There’s a reason why your feet face forward, your arms reach out in front of you, and your legs extend straight out ahead of you.

This is the way all humans were made – to go forward, not back.

Think about that for a minute.

How much time have you spent turning around, obsessing about the past, and dwelling over what has already happened? Let me tell you the answer: too much.

Yesterday has happened, and if you are reading this, you have been given today to live another day. And you can look forward to tomorrow, too!

Remember the positives and learn from the negatives, but don’t forget to keep looking forward.

Even if you are moving slowly, it is better than standing still.

If you’re feeling discouraged, frustrated, or unsure about something that’s already happened, here is a list of things you do to help you focus on moving forward:

Make a list of what you are looking forward to

This list doesn’t have to be big or a lot of work to put together. It can be as simple as making a mental checklist each morning before you leave the house about things that you are looking forward to that day. For example, this morning mine was:
  • Having lunch with my sister who is visiting from out of town 
  • Buying a new book that I've been looking forward to reading for a while now  
  • Going to yoga school tonight
These are all great things that make me happy! They are simple, but serve as a reminder that life is good. No matter how bad you are feeling there is always something to look forward to.

Don’t expect every day to be the best day of your life

The truth is that some days are harder than others. But if you learn from them, these bad days are never wasted. Live through them in a way that when tomorrow comes, you can be proud and happy of who you are.  

Some days will be harder than others, depending on what you are going through, but just do your best. All days are precious - the good ones and the bad ones - and if we are lucky we have many more days them to live.

Accept the bad times, do your best, and they will pass.

Remember that you are responsible for your own happiness

When things aren’t going well, take a deep breath, look inside yourself, and ask what you can do differently as a person to be truly happy, satisfied, and gracious.

Do not look for the answer in other people or things. Do not place blame or point out other people’s weaknesses – this is personal. It’s your journey.

The answer isn’t always the one we want to hear, so sometimes it’s hard to find - but it’s there, and it's going to take some work to find and work towards. You will have to be dedicated and it will not happen overnight.

Be open to change and embrace it

The only thing constant thing in life is change.

Life changes without your permission and you have to be open to trying new things.

Accept the fact that as life changes, and as your grow forward, your dreams may change too. Don’t resist this. It’s ok to be a different person than you once were.

Whether it is alone or with someone you love, always remember to keep your head up, eyes open, and walk in the direction you were born to: forward.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Letting Go

I think it is human nature to want to have things our way, be in the know, and decide next steps. But the truth is, nothing in life is guaranteed.

We have to accept that life is not in our hands. 
We can take certain steps and make decisions about ourselves that will help us achieve our goals and work towards where we want to be, but sometimes, the universe just has other plans for us.

I’ve been learning more and more about this over the last couple of years, particularly after my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. And let me tell you – I did not see that one coming. But what may surprise you is that my Dad’s cancer diagnosis was the single best thing that’s ever happened to me in my life. Not a lot of people can say that a brain tumor was the best thing that’s ever happened to them, but I believe my family can.

The tumor was affecting my Dad’s right frontal lobe – the part that manages his emotions, and what he would say. It was a nightmare.

The type of cancer that affected my Dad has the ability to change within itself – so the doctors don't know how long it could have been there before they found it. It could have been benign for years before it turned cancerous, and then aggressive. I thank God every day for the amazing recovery he’s had.

Since then, I've been able to actually get to know my Dad. And it's been really nice. Because of his cancer and surgery, he is a completely different person. We all are. And its for the better. 
One of the biggest lessons I learned from this is that sometimes the shittiest things really do turn out to be the most beautiful. This is hard to see in the thick of things – in fact, it’s pretty much damn near impossible - but then comes the day where you look back and realize you made it through, and life is better because of it.

Try as you might, you can't control others, and you certainly can't control what the universe has in store for you.

There is a great book that a person gave to me read to help learn to accept this truth, and learn how to let go. She is a relative, a friend, and a mentor. She is a daughter, a mother, a sister and an aunt, and she is beautiful. She has been through some of the most trying times, yet she stands strong, with a smile on her face and love in her heart. I've learned a lot from her, and if she is reading this, she will know I am speaking to her right now. 
The book that she gave me is called "The Language of Letting Go," by Melody Beattie. It's almost like a daily devotional book. It is uplifting and empowering. I highly recommend it.

Today's affirmation of the book is this:

"Today, I will trust my truth, my instincts, and my ability to ground myself in reality. I will not allow myself to be swayed by bullying, manipulating, games, dishonesty, or people with peculiar agendas."

Everyone in this world has issues, struggles, and their own battle to fight. 
All you can do is your best, and take one day at a time.

Remember: life is not in your hands.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Why wait until the New Year? Make a resolution now.

Thanksgiving was last weekend. I ate a lot of food. I had gravy on my potatoes and a piece of cake for dessert – two days in a row. 

Afterwards, I kind of felt like garbage. I felt heavy and my shoulders were slumping. But I tried not to be too hard on myself. After all, it was Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving dinner at my parents -
before the spread of food was served!

And then I started to think about Christmas, and all the baking, treats and big meals that come along with it. ‘Tis the season; have some eggnog.

We all know that after Christmas comes January, when everyone gets on the “time-to-change-my-life” train.

But I don’t want to wait until Christmas. I don’t want to be in slump from now until January. I don’t want to over-eat, make excuses, and just have more work to do come January.

I’ve started thinking about where I want to be next year and what 2014 looks like for me. The truth is I have no idea. No one knows what the next year will hold for them but we can all set goals and have aspirations, whether they be internal or external. For example, I know that I want to complete my yoga teacher training and lead a couple of classes, but mainly, I want to be happy and accepting of myself for who I am, no matter where I’m at.

So why wait?

Maybe your New Year’s resolution for this year wasn’t weight-related, but whatever it was, now is a good time to check in with yourself. 

What steps can you take today to help meet that goal? If you’ve met it, what can you do further it? There’s always room to grow.

Set goals and visualize how you want to live your life for the last couple months of 2013. Make a plan for how you’re going to cope with the holidays.

You know changes are coming, you know January will be here soon, but face it strong and with confidence, knowing that you’re going to get where you want to be. 

There is a light at the end of every tunnel, and quicker you start moving, the faster you’ll reach it. 

Start today.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Favorite Thing Friday: DIY Floor Cleaner

I like to try new, home-made, natural, green-cleaning recipes. So when my Swiffer West Jet ran out of cleaner, I thought I would try making my own.

I love the Swiffer West Jet mop itself and just wanted to re-fill its container with my own concoction.

It worked really well! I am impressed with how easy it was to make, and it cleaned my floors nicely.

First of all, the lid doesn't come off of the Wet Jet containers very easily. So I boiled some water, and stuck the bottle upside-down in it for about 10 seconds.



With the help of a towel around the lid, it twisted off nicely. Ta-da!



Then I mixed:

- Equal parts of warm water and vinegar (I used two cups of each)
- A couple drops of dish soap, to help get the floors extra clean
- Five drops of eucalyptus oil, for its scent and anti-bacterial proprieties
- Ten drops of peppermint oil, also for its scent and anti-bacterial properties
- And a couple drops of baby oil, to help get that extra shine

It worked great!

I am really impressed at how easy and cost-efficient it was to make. It smells nice, too.

I think next time I going to try it with lemon essenial oil to get that fresh, clean smell.

If you try it, let me know how it works out for you. Or if you have any other green-cleaning recipes, I would love to hear them.

Thanks for reading!

Lisa

Friday, 11 October 2013

How an ill-fitted windbreaker changed my life, by guest-blogger Scott Seymour

Introduction message by Lisa:

I started this blog a few months ago as an outlet to express myself. I’ve always enjoyed writing (which my boyfriend thinks is the weirdest thing) and since the age of 8, one of my goals in life has been – and still is – to be an author.

This blog is new to me. I think it's fun and it challenges me.

Not a lot of people read it (I haven’t even had one comment on it) but I don’t widely share it, either.

In search of new content and out of my own interest, I asked a colleague and friend of mine to be a guest-blogger.

He’s a great writer. He’s also funny, smart, and a true inspiration when it comes to life changes and trying to improve one’s overall wellness. Over the last couple of years, he’s worked his ass off - literally - and I wanted to share his story on my blog to help inspire people, and to give him some the recognition he deserves.

I’m excited to introduce Scott Seymour as my first-ever A Wellness Way of Life guest blogger.

I hope you enjoy his story!
At the Fall Classic, September 2012.
Scott is third from the left, I'm on the far right.

As jackets go, it’s pretty ordinary.

It’s a navy windbreaker that rolls up into a little nylon pouch. It’s light and has a built-in hood that’s great for sudden showers. It’s a decent spring/summer/fall jacket.

And, in the late-winter of 2012, it became the last straw – the final kick in the pants I needed to get an important part of my life back in order. And now, it’s come to symbolize the success I’ve enjoyed so far.

I bought the coat through catalog-order at a local sports/promotion store. That meant I never had a chance to try it on until it arrived two weeks after I ordered it. And when I tried it on that day, it wouldn’t fit. It should have fit. But it didn’t. It was tight around my midriff.

I could zip it up, but it looked exactly like a jacket that’s one-size-too-small should look. It didn’t look good at all.

But I didn’t return it. Instead, I decided I’d try to find a way to fit it.

Right around then, our office was offered a good deal on an annual membership to the brand-new recreation/workout centre that had recently opened. The jacket was the last straw to pushing me to buying a membership.

Since then, I’ve been a regular at the facility, working out in the gym, swimming in the pool and, in winter months, running on the indoor track.

I really remained committed to it and one day in May or June, I tried it on and it fit and looked WAY better. An early win.

I haven’t looked back.

Over the summer of 2012, friends at work (including Lisa Peters of this blog) talked me into giving running a try and I ended up doing some events in the fall. A year later, I’ve already done the 10K Fall Classic in September and, last weekend, I did a 10K event in Sexsmith. Later this month, I’ll be doing 10k in Edmonton at an event that raises money for pancreatic cancer.

I still can’t believe I’m a runner. It’s so far off of what I used to consider as a “recreational” fitness activity. I hated running when I was a kid and adult.

But here I am now – regular gym workouts, swimming, yoga … and running.

Although I haven’t weighed myself, I figure I’ve lost somewhere between 50 and 75 pounds since the spring of 2012. I’m down three pants sizes. I know fit a couple of shirts and a couple of jackets that I wore 12 years ago and I kept in my closet even after I got too big for them.

I’m not a finished product yet. Far from it. But people have been saying nice things about how much weight I’ve lost and that feels good. Positive comments are great motivation to keep up the momentum.

The other day at the 10K run in Sexsmith, the weather was cold and rainy. But I stayed nice and warm – thanks a long-sleeved T-shirt … and a loose-fitting navy windbreaker.

Monday, 7 October 2013

What happens when you get angry?

One of my homework assignments from Yoga School last week was to practice Himsa.

Himsa means to injure or harm.

Our teacher asked us to observe a moment when we were feeling angry, and embrace it. He did of course ask us not to hurt anyone or be physically violent, but we had to get angry, and then take notes about it.

Photo retrieved from http://bit.ly/19bzqsH

I don’t think this is really great news, but I usually have several opportunities in a week to get angry - and when I do feel angry, I’m always trying to hold back. So when I was told to go full-force and get angry, I thought it would be no problem.

There were a couple of notable times last week that I was feeling upset. Once was at work and another was at my boyfriend. But the most explosive, notable time was towards my beloved sister. Unintentionally, this is the time I choose to reflect upon.

I was frustrated with her. The family wanted to plan our Thanksgiving weekend, so we needed to know what her plans were. She didn’t know. She had to think about it. She needed to discuss it with her husband. That’s all fine and reasonable, but it had been a couple of weeks now and time was running out. On top of that, we needed to pick a date and plan our cousin’s baby shower that we are hosting together.

Unfortunately for my sister, I did my homework.

I lost my patience and practiced Himsa.

I lost my temper, raised my voice, and hung the phone up abruptly on her.

My body became agitated. I was standing outside at the time, and picked up my pace as I walked back towards the house. I fiddled with a lot of things, and lost sight of what I was actually trying to accomplish. I dwelled on it. I couldn’t let it go. I vented about it to my boyfriend, and then I felt like shit.

I wish I hadn’t done my homework.

For me, this was the worst part about Himsa: How I felt afterwards.

Sure, it felt right at time, and I did it with purpose. But it was after all things were said and done that I realized what had truly happened: I had hurt myself the most.

It was interesting to observe how I physically reacted, but what resonates with me is how I emotionally reacted. I don’t like to be angry. I know sometimes we all need to vent - in fact I’ve read before that it’s good to get angry, let it out, and then get over it. But in this particular case, I don’t think that worked very well for me.

My sister was probably offended. I don’t think raising my voice and hanging up the phone on her made her feel great, but thankfully we love each other unconditionally and are both very understanding people. But these sorts of events don’t happen too often between us, so when they are do, I feel they are significant.

Next time I get angry, I will recognize the physical cues that my body is giving me. Then I want to breathe through them. I want to stop talking, and deal with the situation like the person I want to be: patient and mature.

I pray that those in my life can give me the time and space to learn how to do this.

Overall, I’m happy that we did this assignment. But I’m also happy we don’t have to do it again.

This week, our homework is to purposefully put ourselves in a situation that makes us feel uncomfortable. More to come…

Thanks for reading,

Lisa

Sunday, 6 October 2013

How to practice yoga at home

I remember the first time I tried to do yoga at home by myself in my basement.

It was awful.

I hated it and shut of the DVD I was following within 10 minutes.

Then I tried it again, probably about a month or two later. I opted for a different video this time, but still hated it.

I was feeling defeated.

Being in yoga teacher training, I need to practice every day - but there are days that I just can't make to the studio.

One of the five Niyamas of yoga is Tapas – which means being enthusiastic, committed to practicing, and being attentive to our body, breath, heart and mind.

When I first read this, I knew that if I wanted to stay home and not go to a studio, then I would have to find a way to practice yoga at home.

After more trial and error runs, I finally found a way to do it that works. Here’s how:

Find the proper guidance

If you can free-flow and do yoga on your own, then all the power to you. I’m not quite there yet. I enjoy being led by an instructor.

A friend of mine recommended Eckart Yoga. It offers many different online yoga courses. It’s professional, easy to follow, and motivational. I signed up for a month for only $12. If you do even just one class, then the subscription has paid for itself. It’s even cheaper if you sign up for a year, which I will definitely be doing after this first month is over.

There are many other organizations that offer online yoga too. I haven’t tried any others yet, but many will turn up in a quick Google search.

Set up space

I was trying to practice in my basement, like I used to do when I followed Jillian Michaels videos. But my basement is cold and empty and it was hard for me to flow nicely is such a grey space.

When I moved my mat and laptop upstairs to my living room, it was easier for me to want to do yoga at home.

I suggest finding a space that is relaxing and comforting, and that you enjoy being in. It can be a spare room, computer room, living room – anywhere that’s easy for you to roll out your mat and stretch your arms out to the sides. That’s all you need.

Treat your space with the same respect that you would a yoga studio

When you’re doing yoga at home, turn your phone off, along with all other electronics. Find some peace and quiet. Shut the door. Do your best to get the privacy you need.

Wear clothes that you are comfortable in, but don’t totally grub out just because you’re at home. You still need to be able to move freely and comfortably, without being self-conscious. If you get into more serious yoga clothes that you may typically wear to a studio, it might help you take yourself more seriously when practicing at home.

Treat your home practice like you would your practice in a studio.

Don’t be afraid to try something new

Of course, you always want to be safe and gentle when practicing yoga. Especially if you are at home trying new yoga poses.

That being said, I really enjoy trying new things and experimenting with challenging poses at home. Sometimes, I get a little nervous or intimidated when I’m at a studio with other yogis. Practicing at home is a perfect opportunity to work on a new pose or take one to a different level.

This is a perfect opportunity to make mistakes and to try, try, again.

But always remember – be safe!

Be realistic

It’s great to be able to do 90 minutes of yoga a day, but if I’m being honest, I don’t always have that kind of time.

Just do your best. You can do 20 minutes of yoga and still benefit mentally and physically from your practice.

Remember that yoga is about honouring yourself – mentally, physically and spiritually.

This is your time.

You deserve it, and only you can make it happen.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

Friday, 27 September 2013

A letter to my 25-year-old self

I see these types of letters all the time. People share their new-found wisdom with the person they once were. I thought I’d give it a try:
Dear 25-year-old Lisa,
You’re really good at drinking a lot and doing productive things the next day. Keep it up! These days are numbered. They won’t last forever. Soon you’ll be stuck having to choose between a bottle of wine the night before or getting out of bed and leaving the house the next day. When you have a mortgage and a muffin top, the bottle of wine isn’t so much fun anymore.
Enjoy the partying days while they last. You won’t regret it. Ok, you’ll regret some things – actually, you’ll regret a lot of things – but that’s ok. Make stupid mistakes now and learn from them (or learn how to live with them), so that years down the road when your choices affect other people in a strong way, you’ll know how to make the better one.
He’s not going to call.
And if he does call, you probably don’t want him to. Chances are, if you met at a bar, got really drunk, maybe smoked some weed together and walked down the block for 2 a.m. street-pizza, he’s not going to be that great of a catch. You’ll be fine without him, I promise. Maybe next-weekend you’ll upgrade to someone who will take you out for 2 a.m. Chinese food.
High school is over – thank god! Maybe you thought you were cool in high school and wore a size or two smaller jeans, but you were actually a total loser. You’re not the same person and you never will be again, and that’s a good thing. You’re meeting new friends each and every day. Cherish these people. They will be some of the most real, honest, hilarious alcoholics you’ll ever meet in your life. They’ll love you no matter what and will put in equal amounts of effort to ensure you stay friends.
Your high school friends are great, too. Stay in touch with them. They are people that have known you your entire life and you don’t want to lose them. Just because they are going in a different direction than you doesn’t mean you can’t respect, admire and love each other. Be happy for them and let them be happy for you. Everyone has their own journey to live.
Omg. Dump that guy! He’s a total loser and there is no potential of you two having a bright, happy, forever-after future together. Just cut the cord already.
Good for you for getting scholarships and being on the Dean’s Honour Roll! You probably won’t win very many other awards in your life, so frame the ones you’ve got now.
When you go home for the holidays, hang out with your parents a little bit more, even if they drive you nuts. Your parents miss you every day and worry about their baby girl working in a bar in the big city to put herself through school and pay for the full-time smoking habit she’s picked up. When you go home, pack some Nicorette, some nice clothes, and rent a movie with them. Stay awake and off of your phone. Show interest in what they do on their spare time – and by spare time I mean when they are not virtually stalking you and booking flights to come see your new, rented, ghetto, basement apartment that you are paying way too much for.
Try to save a little bit of money. I know you’re in college, living on your own, working two jobs and going to school, but you really don’t need to buy that fake Coach purse, do you? Just stick with the one you have. Rip-off designer stuff isn’t cool anyway. Put that $80 right back into the bank where it belongs.
You how how they say the older you get the harder it becomes to lose weight? This is true. It sucks. Enjoy being able to drop 10 pounds in a month before you go to Jamaica with all your friends! Either of those things are probably never going to happen again.
Take more pictures. There will be a lot of nights you won’t remember – and sometimes you may want to keep it that way – but this is a time of your life that one day you’re going to reflect on and miss.
Overall, you’re doing a lot of great things. You’re getting yourself an education and life experiences that will benefit you immensely in the years to come. Don’t worry, someday you’ll have everything you’ve ever wanted: a lot of bills coming in your name to the first permanent address that you’ve had since you were 18; a nice, good looking, down-to-earth man that is going to have goals in life, treats you like a queen, and doesn’t party like a rock star at the age of 30; a great career that you’ve worked hard for; your health, your family, and a community of eclectic friends that bring a smile to your face every day.
You’re doing everything that your 25-year-old self is supposed to do, and it’s ok. Stop being so hard on yourself and enjoy the ride.
Love,
Yourself, a few years older and maybe wiser…
Lisa
Some of my friends and I in college at one of our favorite watering holes. I'm on the far right.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Five ways to have a healthier relationship with your Smartphone

If you're like most people, you probably use your Smartphone too often. Maybe you're even addicted to it.

Do you feel it vibrating in your pocket when it's not actually there? Do you have anxiety when it's not with you? When you have it, are you checking it impulsively? Has your phone usage ever caused problems in an important relationship? If you answered yes to any of the above, you're not alone.

I have a love/hate relationship with my Smartphone, and recently I've had to put effort into changing  the way I use it so I can have, what I consider to be, a better quality of life.

Here are five, simple, effective and realistic tips to help you have a healthier relationship with your Smartphone:



Ditch the data plan
I used to be checking web updates and Apps all the time, even while walking from the parking lot to my office building first thing in the morning. My data usage was going up, and my phone bills were getting more expensive. People kept telling me to change my phone plan and increase my available data, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

I turn off my data (on an iphone, go to Settings, General, Cellular, and hit Off on the Cellular Data option). So when I want to use the Internet or check out my Apps, I do it when I have access to Wi-Fi Internet. Wi-Fi kicks in automatically as soon as I walk in the door of my house and the Internet is free to use on my phone, so if I wish to use, it’s there. If I need to use the Internet while I'm out and about, it's only three easy steps to turn my data on for a minute, and three easy steps to turn it off again when I'm done.

I've found myself reaching for my phone to look for something on the Internet when I'm, for example, in a car with someone, and when the Internet doesn't work automatically it's a nice reminder that I probably shouldn't be using it at that time.

Don't carry your phone around with you everywhere, all the time
I know you probably like to have it with you when you leave the house. But around the house? Really?

Leave your phone in another other room. It doesn't need to watch TV or have dinner with you. If you're waiting for a call or want to get back to someone if they text you, leave the ringer and the notification alarms on so you'll hear it.

Carrying it around the house will lead to unhealthy habits, and you'll be on it non-stop.

Make it useful
I was checking Facebook often - reading so much of people's crap and creeping on random pictures, that I was annoying myself. I deactivated my account for a while and it was glorious - for the time-being. But I need to use Facebook for work (I manage social media at my office so I need to be on Facebook and up-to-date with things) so instead of deactiving my account altogether, I changed the way I use it.

I 'like' more companies and organizations that interest me, including news channels and different yoga pages. This has helped fill my news feed with interesting information and updates, including blogs, and I enjoy it much more. While it's probably just curbed my Facebook addiction and not completely cured it, I don't have as much anxiety or jealously that I used to when I spend time on Facebook, because I hardly look at other people's information anymore.

Have a purpose
Only pick your phone up to do something specific. Don't just pick it up and start browsing or playing with your Apps. Before you know it, 45 minutes will have passed and you will have probably accomplished nothing. You're time is worth more than that! Know you're value, and only spend time on your phone when you have to. When you’ve done what you needed to do, put it down and walk away.

Increase its font size and put it on speaker phone
I’ve read that more and more people these days are needing glasses because of the amount of time people spend in front of a screen. I’ve also heard we are more prone to wrinkles (gasp!) from all the squinting that’s done from using a phone all the time. Increase the font size of the text on your phone for the sake of your eyes, and your skin!

When possible, put it on speaker phone or use headphones. There's all this talk about increasing our risk of developing cancer because of the radiation from cell phones, and the increasing amount of time we hold them to our heads. Some people may believe it and some may not, but let’s not take the risk. Hold it away from your head as often as you can by putting it on speakerphone or using headphones with a microphone in them, and don't keep it in bed with you.

I hope these tips are helpful for you – I know they’ve been helpful for me. Just beware though: Once you cut back and start to manage your time with your phone, you may realize how often everyone else uses theirs! This can be somewhat disheartening and discouraging at first. But you'll get used to it, and who knows, you may even have a positive influence on their life and their relationship with their phone!

Thanks for reading,

Lisa

Friday, 20 September 2013

Do you know you are wonderful? Read this:

I think most of us struggle or have struggled with self-confidence at some point in our lives.

It always breaks my heart to hear people that I love put themselves down. Some have told me they have a hard time even looking in the mirror they feel so down about themselves.

Whether it be mental or physical, we are too hard on ourselves.

If you've ever been in this position, I wrote this letter to help remind you how wonderful you are. I hope it helps you learn to love yourself, and to find peace and acceptance in all that you are.

I  also hope it reminds you that your not alone in feeling this way, and that it doesn't have to be like this.

Take a deep breath and read this letter to yourself:

You're wonderful.

You are great, and everything about you is perfect. You are an amazing human being, and you are just the way you’re supposed to be.

You have great features, an amazing personality, and a heart that shines.

You bring joy into people's lives without even realizing it. You've changed people's lives for the better.

You have a great laugh, and a beautiful smile. Be sure to use it every day.

You give great advice and are insightful. You are wise, and offer things to this world that no one else can.

I know you've been hurt, I know you have scars, and I know you feel pain. This is all a part of what makes you beautiful.

You've fought battles - some you have won, some you may feel like you have lost, some are not over yet. But they all serve you a purpose, as you serve a purpose to this world and the people in it.

Trust me when I say: You are perfect. All of you.

Now, the key is to believe me.

And because you are here, reading this, being you, and taking the time to reflect on how wonderful you are, you are the highlight of my week!

Thank you for being you!

Monday, 16 September 2013

A Tribute to my Friends

I attended a funeral earlier this past weekend. It wasn’t anyone’s I knew personally; I was there to provide support to someone who was attending.

This funeral was huge. A lot of people attended. It was beautiful too, with soft, touching, live music and never ending arrangements of beautiful flowers. But this isn't what I remember about the funeral. What struck me the most about this funeral was that so many of the honorary speakers were friends of the deceased.

They spoke about their friend with a broken heart, mourning her absence, sharing memories, and praising her person. Even without knowing this person personally, it was all very powerful to me. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

It reminded me that friends really can be your family, that they can love you with all of their heart, and would do anything for you. Most importantly, it reminded me that I am lucky to have so many friends in my life, and because of this, I feel truly feel rich.

My friends are people who I can be myself with, share my secrets with, and improve my quality of life with. People who I can count on, and vice-versa.

I’m blessed that I’ve had some friends for years – some of my closet friends I’ve known since I was five years old. This means they've been in my life for over 20 years. Some of my other friends have come into my life more recently. I have some that I don’t keep in touch with as much as I used to, some that have really hurt me, and some that I’ve hurt, too. Some live in different cities, provinces or countries. But all of them inspire me, and bring significant value to my life.

I would not be who I am today if it wasn’t for my friends. These are the people in my life who have stuck by me literally through thick and think, through my best and my worst times, and who continue to do so.

I’d like to think that my friends and I ­all flatter each other in different ways, and hopefully I enrich their lives, too.

Friends: Thank you for loving me for who I am. For answering the phone when I call. For asking questions about my life, and caring about me and those who I love. Thank you for your honestly, your patience, your humour and your insight. Thank you for being a part of my life, but most importantly, letting me be a part of yours.

Love,

Lisa
Photo retrieved from http://bit.ly/197PMyR

Friday, 6 September 2013

Favorite thing Friday: Dirty Hair and Dry Shampoo: Why you need to stopsoaping your scalp

As of today, I haven’t washed my hair in five days.
It’s not gross! I promise. It’s awesome.
Let me tell you why you need to stop washing your hair every day:
You’ll have stronger, healthier hair
I almost never use a blow dryer anymore. On the days that I do wash my hair, I sleep with it in a wet braid so it dries over night.
It makes such a difference using a hairdryer only once a week compared to every day! My hair is shinier, stronger, and grows significantly faster now that I don’t use so much heat on it every day.
It’s a time saver
I can cut back on about 45 minutes of my daily morning routine when I don’t wash and dry my hair.
Showers only take about 10 minutes now, as opposed to 20 - and we know that every second counts in the morning, especially on a Monday. Not washing your hair is a huge time saver. 
It's a money saver 
I hardly ever have to buy shampoo and conditioner anymore. It literally lasts me three times longer than it ever did, so I don't feel so bad when I splurge every now and then on nice expensive stuff!
Your hair is easier to style when it’s dirty
Teasing, braiding and twisting are all easier to do when your hair is dirty.
When your hair is dirty, you can get really creative with all sorts of styles – half up, half back, messy/romantic…the possibilities are endless.
Check out a couple of my favourites that I put together in literally under 10 minutes:



Now, don’t just wake up tomorrow and stop washing your hair for a week. Living with dirty hair is a little trick that takes some training and patience.

Here's how to do it:

Buy dry shampoo

There's lots of good kinds out there, but Alterna is my favourite. I buy it at Peppermint Twist but you can also get it at Shephora.


It’s about $25 a bottle, but it’s well worth it. It lasts for months.

It’s similar to baby powder, so you have to be careful with putting it on dark hair. I’ve been using this product for about two years now and used it even when I had the darkest of brown hair (it was almost black), so don’t worry, if I can do it, so can you. Just be sure to rub it all in. If you have blond hair and are on a budget, you can try using baby powder instead. I’ve tried this on my lighter-coloured hair, but I still prefer to use dry shampoo.

You’ll want to sprinkle a little bit in the roots of your hair where it gets oily. I need to use it mostly on my hairline, by the sides of my face and neck. This will help lift the grease and add volume to your hair.

Take it a day at a time

Depending on how often you currently wash your hair, try skipping a day. Either wash it every-other day or every-third day. Just don’t wash it every day.

At first, it might be hard to get used to, and you’re hair will be screaming: “Wash me!”

It's at this time that (after you use dry shampoo on it), you’ll need to invest in cute, stylish headbands to help dress up simple ponytails. Just keep your hair off your face. Two weeks later, try skipping another day of washing it.

Your hair will get use to this new routine in no time. Just be sure to apply dry shampoo as needed.

You have to keep working at it. Within a few months, you should be able to go about 4 days without washing your hair.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: How can I go to a hot yoga class, sweat my ass off, and then not wash my hair?

Well, it’s harder when you’re really active and sweat a lot. Sometimes, you just have to wash your hair. But if you go for a bike ride and only sweat a little bit, there are ways around it:

Steam it

When you have a hot shower, put a towel under the door and let the steam rise. This will help freshen up your hair without giving it a full wash.

Spritz It

Chances are, you already use hairspray on a daily basis. If you don’t, be sure to use some on that you like and smells nice.

Dry Shampoo it

(See above!)

Find other creative hairstyles to play with

Get your hair off your face. Braid it, wear headbands, do whatever you have to do. Look for new, creative styles on YouTube.

If you get to this point, I promise you you’ll never go back!


Dirty hair don't care


For more hair tips, read one of my Favourite Thing Friday posts:

How Flaxseed helped my hair - along with the other major benefits this little seed gives you.

Thanks for reading,

Lisa 

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Why you don’t need to step on a scale to manage your weight

Ugh, the scale. It seems to always be associated with a negative connotation of failure, discouragement, insecurity and anxiety…at least it for me was, anyway. That’s why I threw mine out years ago, and haven’t looked back.
After living without one, I encourage everyone to do the same.

It’s not what size you wear, its how you fit in your clothes.
These are words of advice that still ring true to me since I first heard them in High School, over 10 years ago.
One of my friend’s mothers who was (and still is) smart, successful and beautiful said these words to a group of us girls one day when we were sitting around obsessing over our bodies and comparing ourselves to “perfect” celebrities.
This women would always come home a bit late because she would go to the gym after work, and I remember she always took a lot of vitamins with her dinner. She valued a healthy lifestyle, and lived a great example of it.
I think this is why I took her advice so seriously, and still apply her words to my life today.
When I’m shopping for clothes, I try not to obsess over what size fits me, but what size I look and feel comfortable in.
I also try remember that most sizes are different at each store. At The Gap, I wear a size 28 or 29, and at Aritzia, it’s a size 32. So why should I let what size I wear bother me?
I could buy a size 28 at all the stores I shop in if I wanted to, but I wouldn’t look or feel good in them if they didn’t fit properly.
So instead of weighing yourself and focusing on what size you buy off the rack, why not measure your size by how you fit in the clothes you wear? Are they feeling a bit more lose? Tight? The same?
Weight isn’t everything, and neither is the size that fits you.
Your weight fluctuates all the time
You’re happy you lost three pounds? Weigh yourself in a few hours and read what the scale says. 
The number on the scale can fluctuate based on your hormones, how much water you’ve drank or if you’ve just ate a big meal.

True weight gain or loss occurs over a longer period of time. Don’t be a slave to the scale. If you are going to weigh yourself, try doing it only about once a month.
Muscle weighs more than fat
You probably already know this, but it’s hard to remember when you’ve been watching your calorie intake and working your butt off (literally) for weeks at the gym, only to see that you’ve gained weight on the scale. 
Then what happens?
Personally, I used to get discouraged and binge eat.
“Whatever,” I would think. “It’s not working anyway. I’m never going to lose weight.”
And a pan of lasagna later, I’m right back to square one.
Numbers don't mean everything. 
To help put this into perspective, I trained for and ran a half marathon about seven months ago. During my training, I ran a minimum of four times a week. I incorporated strength training, too. I felt great. I was confident, my legs were toned, and I was so proud of myself…until I stepped on the scale and read that I had gained 20 pounds.
I was devastated. I was so discouraged that I actually quit running.
But why? Why couldn’t I be happy with the fact that I was healthy and had gained muscle, not fat?
I let the scale ruin it for me. Don’t let it do this for you.
Focus on how you are feeling, not what the scale says.
It’s really about being healthy, from the inside out.
A year before I ran my half marathon, I was celebrating being newly single in the only way I knew how – by drinking, a lot. With that, came the occasional cigarette too, along with lack of sleep, routine, and healthy meals. Looking back at photos, I can see how much thinner I was then than I am today. But I have to remind myself that’s not a good thing. Just because someone is thin, doesn’t mean they are healthy.
Focus on now you feel from the inside out. Don't be a slave to the scale.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

How to Get Inspired

Ever feel stuck in a rut, board, or just plain lazy? It happens to the best of us.

And what about the days when you feel like you go, go, go, but when you have a moment to yourself you either don’t know what to do with it, feel guilty about it, or make something up for myself to do to occupy it?

When I do this, I often feel busy, yet unproductive, and I’m left looking back on my day thinking: “Did I really do anything that I wanted to do?”

I’m not thinking this to be selfish. I’m thinking this because I want to enjoy every day that I am given and make the most of life.

Its days like these that I need to put in some effort and seek out some inspiration.

If you’re anything like me, here’s how to do it:

Identify what your favorite part of your day was

This is a little game my boyfriend and I play at the end of the day. We’ll ask each other what our favorite part of the day was. Sometimes, the answer is “Right now” or “When I saw my nephews” or “Having lunch with my Mom.” Every day is different. This is a simple way to reflect on your day, count your blessings, and remind yourself of what truly makes you happy.

If you don’t have someone to talk about this with, right it down. Or just identify it, think about it for a moment, and give thanks.

Read

Get some new information into your head. This can be from a newspaper, a blog, or a book. I prefer to do most of my reading away from a computer screen, but do whatever is best for you. Read something. You will stimulate your brain all the while taking some time for yourself and enjoying something just for you. It can be mindless or intense, but make sure you enjoy it.

Research

Seek it out. What do you like? Where do you see yourself in five years? Who is someone that you admire?

Learn something new.

Don’t know where to start? Anywhere. Literally, start anywhere. Look on your phone or pick up a small publication you don’t typically read. Ask questions. Learn something new about a person you admire. Make notes. Listen to music and reflect on what you are enjoying about it.

We are fortunate that in today’s world that there are hardly any limits to seeking out new information about something we are interested in. Take advantage of this.

Get moving

Get outside! Do some jumping jacks! Do anything - just don’t sit there.

Go for a walk. Stand up if you’re sitting on the couch watching TV. Better yet, go to a yoga class.

Exercise releases what they call “happy hormones” and you will be guaranteed to feel better than you did before. It will also help you clear your mind and leave you feeling refreshed.

Get rid of the negativity

Life is hard. Each person faces their own struggles and has their own ways of coping with things. If you are having a hard time getting out of a rut, cut the cord from people who are bringing you down (or at least take a break from them!). I know this is easier said than done – sometimes, it can be a parent, best friend or main confident who is bringing too much negativity into your life - but this has to be done.

Always be gentle and respective of others, but the bottom line is, if you don’t feel BETTER about your life after spending time with someone, then forget about it! You deserve more than that. It’s better to be alone than with people who bring you down. A lot of the time, they are not doing this intentionally, but it’s still happening. The power is in your hands.

Bring something positive to the table

Make sure you are not one of those people I just mentioned above (ahem…negative)!

Be positive! Smile.

Ask questions. Turn a conversation around and make it about the other person. Ask a friend how they are doing, and listen. Talk about their day and their plans for the next. Ask about their family. Do something for someone else.

Spend a week focusing on these tasks, and let me know if they’ve helped you! They always do for me :)

Thanks for reading,

Lisa

Thursday, 29 August 2013

If I can beat adult acne, so can you. Here's how:

Growing up, my skin was always soft and clear, and like my size 28 waist, it's one of those things I wish I had appreciated more at the time.

I was lucky. In High School, I could pile on the makeup, go out drinking all night, work up at sweat from dancing my heart out, eat McDonald's on my way home in a cab, pass out on my friends couch as-is, and wake up in the morning with not even the hint of a blemish.

If only life was still that easy.

After my 25th birthday, I noticed a lot about myself that started to change. It became harder for me to lose weight. I didn’t go out drinking all night or eat McDonald’s that often, but when I did, there is no way I felt good the next day.  

And my face started to break out - badly.

I am not exaggerating when I say it was awful. It got to the point where I didn't want to leave my house. I explained this to my friend one night when she wanted to meet up for a beer and I wasn't feeling confident enough to leave the house. She reassured me it would be OK if I did.

"I'm sure it’s not that bad, Lisa. Besides, it’s just me! Lets catch up, it has been too long."

I was doubtful, but wanted to stay optimistic. Besides, it was getting depressing staying indoors all the time, so I headed out to meet up with her.

This is one of those moments that I don't think I'll ever forget.

I still remember what restaurant I met her at (Original Joe's in Marda Loop), what table we sat at (a small two-person table against the font window) and what I was wearing (a black hoodie, jeans, and my Blue Jays ball cap). But it was the look of shock and pity that washed over my friend’s face as I sat down that rings most true to my mind.

"See," I said, "I told you it was bad."

"It's...it's not that bad...I've just never seen you with even one pimple before...so..."

"It's OK Charlotte, I know it’s bad."

My friend is lovely. She is very sweet and nice, and I know she would never want to hurt my feelings.

Still to this day, I appreciate her honesty.

My face really was awful.

I was so embarrassed.

Adult acne stressed me out, big time.

I never really had a zit before, so I didn't even know what to do with them! To pick or not to pick? Aren’t I supposed dab toothpaste all over my face every night something? How am I supposed to wear my makeup?

And oh the pain...my face hurt so much. These were deep welts under my skin, mainly around my chin and jaw line. I could hardly smile without grimacing in pain.

In a desperate attempt to fix this immediately, and because I didn't really know of any other option, I bought Proactive. Hallelujah, my face cleared up! ...For a while.

After using Proactive for almost two years straight (and bleaching half of my towels, staining my sheets and pillow cases, and burning off who knows how many layers of skin) I thought I would be ok to stop using Proactive all the time. But I wasn’t.

When I stopped using Proactive and tried something new, my skin would break out horrendously again, within a matter of days. WTF! So now my skin was dependent on this bleach-filled stuff? How was I ever going to get rid of it? What was going on with my face? Will I have use Proactive for the rest of my life?

I was stumped. So I kept using it.

Fast-track to three years later, I decided that I was going to get my skin problems under control for once and for all.

I saw my family physician and he referred me to dermatologist. The dermatologist told me I had to go on Accutane. She said it was the only thing that would cure my acne.

Accutane? Isn't that supposed to be some chemical that eats your body from the inside out?

Side effects of this drug include dry flaky skin, joint pain, depression, nosebleeds, sores and ulcers in the mouth, increased sensitivity to sunlight, trouble sleeping…and that’s just to name a few.

That’s not to say nobody should ever go on this drug, I’ve heard it works great for some people, I just didn’t know if it was for me.

I didn't like the sounds of it. It gave me anxiety just thinking about taking this stuff, but I felt I had no other choice.

Finally, at the last hour, I decided against it and opted for some temporary medical relief by taking anti-biotics instead. I took them for a month. They helped a bit, but I was still breaking out. 

At this point in my life, I decided that I was going change my approach and try to manage my acne on my own.

That was about a year ago now, and since then, I've done a lot of my own research and tried a lot of different things.

Miraculously, I’ve been able to maintain clear skin, for the most part, over the past year.

This is what I do, and I hope helps you too, to manage adult acne:

Watch for behaviours and patterns that make you break out

Unfortunately, I noticed that a lot of my breakouts would happen after having some red wine. One glass or four, it never failed: A new pimple would surface. So, no more red wine for me. OK maybe one, on special occasions, but otherwise I stick to white or none at all.

Maybe your trigger is sugar or gluten -  everyone is different, but in order to know, you have to consciously track what you are putting in your body and notice if you get new pimples or if the ones you have are getting worse after eating or drinking certain things.

This takes some time and patience, because you have to stick to monitoring how you react to one product at a time.

Always try to eat organic food that either come from the ground or has a mother. For example, cheese puffs are a no-go. But eggs come from a chicken and spinach comes from the ground, so they are ok to eat…do you get where I’m going with this?

And as always, drink a lot of water and get enough sleep! These are key to having not only good skin, but great health overall. 

I've also quit eating sugar (for other reasons), but I’ve noticed a difference in my skin since I cut back on my sugar intake, too.

Less is more

Remember that Full House episode where Aunt Becky teaches DJ how to put on makeup? Just in case you don’t, this is the moral of the story:

"The trick to wearing makeup is to make it look like you aren't wearing any at all."

It’s true!

I only wear powder now. It's a lose powder that I bought a couple of shades darker and wear it as bronzing powder. I brush it across my cheeks and my t-zone area.

Find something light that works for you. You still want to feel confident, but don't wear it all: concealer, foundation, powder, bronzer and blush. It's too much. It doesn't let your skin breath and it’s hard to wash it all off every day.

Try to save makeup for special occasions only. On a day-to-day basis, wear minimal makeup. As a touch up throughout the day, I'll blot my skin with Clean and Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets - I can’t live without these things. They leave you looking fresh without having to add on any additional layers of makeup to your skin.

I think you'll notice that once you start to wear less makeup, not only will the quality of your skin improve, but you'll really start to enjoy your new routine.

Always use fresh, clean face clothes

In addition to having a healthy skin routine (washing your face every morning and every night) replace the towels that you wash and dry your face with every night, or at least every other night. I used to replace mine once a week, but now I switch them out at least every other night. Since I started doing this, I have noticed that I break out less.

Make your own skin cleansing products

The most effective over-the-counter skin cleansers that you can buy for acne is Clearasil. It's available at most pharmacies. But this still isn't the best for your skin. It’s full of chemicals, and it can be a bit expensive. With a little bit of effort, you can make your very own, effective, skin cleansing products at home.

This is what I do:

Simply mix a cup and a half of coconut oil and with a cup of baking soda in a jar. Every night, I smooth some across my dry face - you don’t need to wet your face before putting this on. I let it sit for a couple of minutes as I floss and brush my teeth, and then rinse it off. It works as a face scrub and a moisturizer.

After washing it off and patting your face dry, it may feel like there is still some product on your face. Don’t worry: it’s the coconut oil soaking in.

My home-made face cleanser

I then apply some skin toner with a cotton ball. This is simply a mixture of half apple cider vinegar and half water.

The smell goes away quickly, and it leaves you feeling fresh and clean. This helps to remove any access dirt left on your face.

Trust me when I say the next morning, you skin will feel baby-smooth.

Practice hot yoga

Wash your face prior to and sweat it out at hot yoga. Hot yoga will leave you feeling cleansed from the inside out - sweating is so good for your skin. I try to do hot yoga at least twice a week.
Not only does it help you get in shape and de-stress, but it also detoxifies your skin.

Again, this is what worked for me. I found the coconut oil, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar combination to be the best way to care for my skin. I’ve shared it with a couple of my friends and they all love it.

I hope you have found this helpful, and best of luck!

Thanks for reading,

Lisa