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My Acne Story (Part 2)

Before I get into how I permanently cured my cystic acne (and pretty much acne breakouts altogether outside of the occasional hormonal outbreak), I want to share with you some details about my general lifestyle.

Diet and exercise

Over the course of this 4-5 year timeframe during my acne struggle. My diet and exercise pretty much remained the same. Physically, my body was lean and able to withstand a good amount of physical endurance. I went to the gym or exercised outdoors anywhere between 4-6 days a week. Running 4 or 5 miles every couple of days was part of my weekly routine. I also loved the stationary bike, elliptical, HIIT training, and dabbling with some weightlifting.

For my diet, I ate plenty of processed foods, including chips, crackers, meats, foods doused in oils, Nutella, and let's not forget eggs, yogurt, and other dairy products. In high school, cookies for breakfast happened on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, as did fries and breaded spicy chicken bites for lunch. And while I've always preferred vegetarian dishes, and had no issue eating my salads and veggies, I did severely lack in consuming fresh fruits -- which I've now come to learn are a necessity to the human diet.

The life-changing book

It wasn't until a vacation to Jamaica in August of 2012 that I discovered a book that completely changed my entire outlook on eating. During this time I was entering my last year of college, interning and taking summer classes, had gained a few pounds (nothing drastic, but extra weight is always unwanted when you're not actually trying to gain and definitely noticeable when you're already petite), and was still struggling with acne. Needless to say, I was under stress, and after 10 years of absolutely no vacations, this trip was very much needed.

One hot, sunny day by the pool while browsing my Kindle for a new read, I came across Kimberly Snyder's The Beauty Detox Solution. What initially drew me in was that fact that this woman had traveled the world and wanted to share some of the natural beauty practices from different cultures. What the book really does is hone in on the idea that beauty starts from within and what you put on your body is just as important as what you put into your body. Little did I know that the information in this book would completely change my outlook on beauty and food consumption. A key concept in the book that continues to resonate with me to this day is the idea that beauty starts within your digestive tract. When we consume an abundance of fruits, greens, and other whole, plant-based, living foods, our bodies are designed to soak in all of those vitamins and nutrients and distribute it to our cells. When meat, dairy, heavily processed foods, and any other toxic foods or beverages (including coffee and alcohol) are introduced to the body, this significantly slows down the digestion process and our bodies must work harder and take more time to break those products down. Not to mention it also throws off our bodies' internal PH balance and sends it into a state of acidity, making it the perfect environment to host all different kinds of bacteria, diseases, and other issues that might otherwise impact you internally as well as externally.

While absorbing this information during my vacation, I began to implement some of Kimberly's suggestions from her book each day. I began breakfast with a big plate of raw, fresh fruit (jackfruit was my absolute favorite!) and ate smaller portions of whatever I wanted if I was still hungry whether it was a piece of toast, some eggs, or steamed greens, or some delicious Jamaican fried dumplings. I waited 5-6 hours before my next meal and began that with a big plate of salad, and again ate whatever I wanted afterward, but usually stuck with different forms of cooked veggies. For dinner, I kept it small either with a small plate of fruit, greens, or pasta. Nearly a week later, when I returned home, not only was I 6 pounds lighter, my skin was completely rid of acne and there were no signs of any newcomers. I felt amazing!

The transition

After seeing these immediate changes, I thought I found my cure. Just incorporate more fruits and veggies and eat from light to heavy during each meal. Not too long after, the acne came back. Not as severe, but enough to cover a small area of my face. The reason? I was still consuming dairy products almost on a daily basis whether they were egg whites, yogurt, or dairy additives in other processed/packaged products. I ate meat sparingly, but began to experience digestion issues when I did, so I rarely ate it. In addition, being my last year of college, I was stressed and anxious about finishing off the school year with good grades, interning 25-30 hours/week, and also going out with friends most weekends and consuming alcohol.

In November 2013, I completely cut out meat and became vegetarian after being in pain for almost entire day after having consumed some chicken the night before. And my acne? It was still coming back periodically, but I just continued to deal with it.

Over the course of the next year, I really started to learn more about the affects of consuming animal products and the treatment of animals within the meat and dairy industries. Another really influential book I read called the The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell discusses the link between nutrition and disease patterns. It led me to question my own eating habits and think about why eating is so important. Our bodies thrive when we feed it the proper nutrition it craves and was designed to digest. I began to think about long-term health effects and how I don't want to become another disease-stricken statistic nor have to suffer from any illnesses that might otherwise hold me back from all the things I want to do in life.

In July 2014, I finally ditched the dairy and all other animal products after truly making the connection between nutrition and health as well as the animal suffering that takes place within the meat and dairy industries. I no longer wanted to be a supporter of unnecessary cruelty. Since becoming vegan, incorporating more raw fruits and vegetables into my diet, and simplifying my skincare routine I have been cystic-acne free for over 7 years and have been able to keep minor outbreaks to a minimum. It took a lot of trial and error for me, but I hope that anyone suffering the same condition or even other ailments can take the tip to incorporate more fruits and veggies into their day-to-day lives as well was really tune into your body and listen to what it's telling you when you eat specific foods.

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