A Weekend Away with Friends Stopped my Acne – How is this Possible?

I recently got an email from a reader who told me that she had been concentrating on doing the paleo diet for a while now, and it didn’t seem to be working the way she hoped.

She seemed anxious, so I told her to give it some more time and try not to get too worked up during the process, as it will only hinder improvement.

She later emailed me and said that she had been away for the past weekend with friends, and sent all dietary caution to the wind. She ate deep fried food, sugar, refined grains – you know, all the real bad stuff. It sounded as if she had been breaking out every day prior to this… and lo and behold… no breakouts at all while she was away. Imagine that.

This phenomenon is something I experience frequently, and I’ve heard this same story from others many times. You look forward to your big weekend out, but you fear that a weekend away from your usual skin care routine, alongside some serious dietary misnomers are surely going to result in horrid breakouts.

Funny thing, it never seems to really happen that way. I find that I rarely, if ever, break out during a weekend away, even if I’m committing health crimes galore.

In fact, the same thing happened to me this weekend. I have been breaking out a little bit lately, but I spent my last weekend of summer camping at an outdoor party on Cortes Island. I can’t say it was the healthiest weekend, food or otherwise, but the trick is that I didn’t think about my skin, I didn’t look in a mirror once, and I didn’t wash my face. I even came home with my face absolutely covered in dirt because of how dusty it was there. No breakouts!

Okay, so I actually did get one spot, but whatever. With the amount of fear we tend conjure up about it, you’d think it would be a lot more, right?

So How Is This Possible?

It seems pretty obvious to me that the attention we give our acne is heavily contributing to the problem.

When we are home by ourselves, we have endless time to sit and think about our skin, worry over it, and stare at it in the mirror. Our brains are on acne alert at all times. Since we all hate acne and it makes us feel sad, our brains are constantly sending out electrical signals that trigger negative chemical reactions in our bodies and skin. This leads to more acne!

But when you are out with your friends, not worrying about it, having fun, and connecting with those around you in a meaningful way… well, your brain is sending out AWESOME signals which trigger positive chemical reactions that lead to LESS acne.

I’m sure this effect is more pronounced in some people than others, and for my reader who sent me these emails, it became obvious for her that emotional health was a big factor for her acne. She decided to eat well, but not worry about following a specific diet down to a T, and also spend less time thinking about and researching acne. Instead, she wanted to spend more time with her friends and doing things that make her happy.

To be honest, I never heard the follow up, but I hope that her skin is doing well, and most importantly, that she is less anxious about it.

Three things you can do to break the endless acne attention cycle:

  1. Cut down or completely eliminate the amount of time you spend staring at your acne in the mirror. You cannot forget your acne when it’s glaring back at you 24/7
  2. Cut down on the amount of time you spend researching acne related things on the internet and do something else instead. Has acne become a hobby for you?
  3. Don’t hide away because of acne. The more quality time you spend with others, the less time you will think about your skin. You will also realize that no one gives a care or notices if you have acne or not and they all love you anyway.

Good luck my lovelies. Now go have fun with your friends!!

Are You Suffering from “Diet Envy”?


This is a guest post from a really awesome reader named Hanna. Hanna believes that eating well shouldn’t be stressful and blogs at A Chai Kind of Day about easy recipes, healthy living, and learning to make food choices that make you feel good.

Hanna is going to be doing semi-regular guest posts for The Love Vitamin from now on, so please welcome her.

So, this is very candid- there are two things that I have had quite a complex about for a long time now.

  1. People with beautiful skin and hair who eat whatever they want, who aren’t constantly researching food and obsessed with finding the perfect diet.
  2. People with beautiful skin and hair who are gluten-free, vegan, or raw.

I don’t really fall in either category; my skin is in progress mode. I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for years, but I ate pretty mindlessly. I’ve eaten far more than my share of fast food grilled cheese sandwiches, fries, and frozen cheese pizzas. The only reason I started scouring the internet and books for information on the diet-skin connection was because, at some point, the clear skin I once had was not so perfect anymore.

Every increasingly restrictive diet I began to research required an incrementally higher level of discipline. But that only made each one possess an allure greater than the last. If anorexics are envious of those who have more discipline, restrict more calories, and are “rewarded” with the most extreme thinness- the reward I wanted to attain through diet discipline was healthy, clear skin and thicker hair.

This mindset sets you up to feel terrible when your willpower “fails” and you eat something “bad,” instantly fearing that it will cause your skin to get worse.

First, I read up on being gluten-free. Then, a beautiful girl who works at Whole Foods told me she doesn’t eat any grains or processed food and gets meat from a local farm, I would start to think that must be the secret to feeling and looking good.

Then I thought that being gluten-free and vegan had to be the key to a penultimate level of health and beauty. I had fallen into not just envy of those with perfect skin, but diet envy, too. Why couldn’t I just get that so-called “raw glow” instantaneously? If diet envy isn’t a quintessential phenomenon exclusive to health foodies, I don’t know what is.

I had begun to feel that being vegetarian wasn’t “good enough.” If it was good enough, why wouldn’t I have a great complexion?

However, I actually can’t classify my diet consistently as anything but pesco-vegetarian, though on many full days I actually eat vegan. Mostly gluten-free, salmon occasionally, eggs occasionally, and no dairy except what might slip in, for example, via some non-vegan chocolate. But my diet status might change at some point.

Here’s what I think you can do to prevent food from becoming an obsession, whether you are trying to realize clearer skin, weight loss, or generally improved health. These suggestions are easier said than done, but serve as a reminder for myself as much as anyone else!

1. Remember that your identity is not inextricably linked with your diet.

I think this may be an issue only for those of us who are very conscious about what we eat. If you feel that your identity in a social context has everything to do with your diet, cooking, and moral positions on food, ask yourself: would you know who you are if you weren’t a veg*n, etc.?

2. Remember that there are no prizes for being on the [label] diet the longest.

I can’t deny that I got some kind of pride in telling people that I had been a vegetarian for 10 years before I tried meat over a period of a few months last year. Then how could I classify myself? Vegetarian for 10 years with a short break? Are there even “breaks?” But this kind of thinking is neurotic!

-No one cares about keeping you accountable and loyal to a diet label more than YOU! Likewise, no one cares about how you would “defend” your dietary position more than YOU!

3. If your diet is creating more stress than you think it should be relieving (by experiencing increased energy, clear skin, etc.), ease up on certain “rules” you’ve set.

Your mind is powerful, which means that stress is powerful on its own. The body can produce effects congruent with a placebo that one believes is real medication, so imagine what else the mind can do.

-For example, if you don’t have the time or budget to make a green smoothie every day (as I have realized), don’t! Get your greens elsewhere.

4. Stop striving for perfection.

If you decide to alleviate feelings of deprivation and eat something you don’t normally have, at least give yourself permission to really enjoy it. Sometimes, the payoff of a small indulgence is greater than ignoring a craving and binging later on something you refused to allow yourself.

And last,

5. If there’s something you really miss that’s not part of your chosen diet, you must find a replacement.

This means get in the kitchen! We can’t deny that food has strong emotional attachments. -For one, I’m going to miss my soy chai from Starbucks, so I’m working on perfecting my own chai recipe (and gluten-free baked goods/pizza, so on).

When you read a handful of similar health/foodie blogs, those who may be, in reality, part of a fringe community can start to seem like they have all the answers.

If you take one thing from this article, remember that if the personal answers you find don’t fit yourself neatly into a specific diet box, it’s okay!

I don’t know about you guys, but I personally like the idea of having contributions from other people on this blog. Everyone has different challenges in their journey to better health, clear skin, and happiness – and I’m only one person with one set of experiences. I believe that having fresh perspectives is very helpful! Let me know what you think.

photo by Samuel Stocker

Is Coconut Oil an Acne Menace or an Acne Miracle?

I know one thing for sure – that coconut oil is fantastic to ingest internally to help with your acne and overall health.

Coconut oil contains lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, which have antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. It can help to kill yeast and parasites which improves digestion, and it can also boost your immune system to fight infections.

Eating Coconut Oil is So Good For You!

My favourite way to use coconut oil is in my cooking. Instead of olive oil, canola oil, or any other random oil, it’s best to use coconut oil – not just because of the health properties, but because it has a very high smoke point.

Many oils (including olive oil) mutate and turn toxic when they are heated to medium or high heats. You don’t want that – damaged, toxic oils can have a very adverse affect on your skin. However, coconut oil is more stable and can withstand higher heat, leaving you with a much healthier meal.

Okay, great. But what about using it directly on the skin?

Using Coconut Oil on the Face

I’ve been getting a nutty amount of questions lately in regard to using coconut oil on the face. This is because there are many a review out there on the internet RAVING about how awesome coconut oil is for their skin. It helps to clear acne, heal wounds, and moisturize their skin to a silky state.

So people want to know from me… is it legit? Should they use it?

To be honest… I don’t know. I would definitely have no problem using it as a moisturizer for my body, but I’ve never used it on my face. Frankly, it’s because I’m too scared to try it.

While many people love using coconut oil topically, I’ve also heard many a time that it’s very comedogenic (meaning that it clogs your pores). One of the most concrete reasons I’m too freaked out to give it a try is because of some articles that Fran from High on Health posted a while ago about her experiences with coconut oil.

She wrote a post telling people that she was using coconut oil on her face and that it was going well, and that she LOVED IT! But then she later does a follow up post in which she says it triggered quite a breakout, all her pores became clogged, and it took her skin months to recover. She even calls it a ‘nightmare’.

Everyone Is Different, So….

But, then again, she is only one person, and I do find that no matter what the product or ingredient (or food for that matter), some will love it, and there will always be people out who happened to have had the worst experience of their life with it. However, she does have a lot of comments on those posts of hers from people saying that coconut oil broke them out as well.

If you are a braver soul than I and would like to give it a try, absolutely make sure that you are using unrefined, organic, virgin coconut oil. Then if it clogs your pores and breaks you out, you will know it wasn’t the cheap quality or pesticides causing you issues!

What do you think? Have you tried coconut oil on your face? Did you love it? Hate it? If not, would you try it? Or have I freaked you out enough to not touch it?

Want to Balance Your Brain? Try Alternate Nostril Breathing

Okay, so we’ve learned a proper breathing technique for deep relaxation. We’ve also learned a quick panting breath for those times when you want a quick pick-me-up!

Today we’re going to learn a breathing technique that you can use to stay alert, detoxify your body, ease your anxiety, bring everything in balance, and get you ready for a productive day!

Did you know that your nose has direct oxygen routes to your brain? And that at any given time, you are actually favouring one nostril over the other? That’s why this alternate nostril breathe works to balance you… you are suddenly getting ample amounts of oxygen to both sides of the brain!

Watch the video to find out how to do it!

Note: Please don’t actually hold your breath for five minutes. That was a slip of the tongue ;)

I hope you’re not sick of breathing videos yet. Don’t worry – we’re moving on. Next up…. should you use coconut oil on your face??

Try this Breath Technique for a Stimulating Pick-Me-Up That’s Better Than Coffee!

Last video, I told you all about how to breathe properly – deep and slow, into your belly! Totally relaxing… but what if you’re falling asleep at your desk and can’t resist reaching for that tempting cup of coffee?

Instead, try the stimulating breath that I show you in this video, and you’ll be bopping around in no time!

Next video, I show you how to balance your brain with alternate nostril breathing

Are You Making This Mistake When You Breathe?

Have you heard that long, deep breaths will force your body to calm down, relax, and lower stress? What about how many toxins proper, deep breathing releases from your body and how great it is for your health and your skin?

Yoga and other eastern practices have always promoted the power of the breath…. and I understood the health benefits too! But, funny thing, whenever I would try to breathe deeply, I actually felt more stressed!! I couldn’t figure it out, but something click the other day – it turns out I was doing it all wrong.

Watch the video to find out if you’re making the same mistake!

For the sequels to this video, please see these other excellent breathing techniques:

Try this Breath Technique for a Stimulating Pick-me-up that’s Better than Coffee!
Want to Balance Your Brain? Try Alternate Nostril Breathing

How’s your breathing? Are you doing it properly?

The Love Vitamin Update – I’m Moving to Australia!

erm… I’m not living in the Outback though

Hello my friends!

So I just want to give you an update on my life so you know what’s going on with me. I’m very excited, but I’m also very overwhelmed at the moment!

First of all, we had an awful, rainy, June and July up here on the west coast of Canada. The weather has finally turned for the better, but it feels like summer has only just started, when in fact, it’s almost over! I can practically feel the chill in the air this morning!

As you may know, I’ve been working full time this summer at a kayak rental company. This is my fifth summer there, and believe me… it’s a great job. I love getting to be outside in nature, and there are usually excellent people who work there with me. It’s fun. This summer, I got my boyfriend, Luke (who is an Australian), a job there as well and we’ve been living in our cute little cabin in the woods for the last four months.

Living in The Stone Ages – No Internet at Home!

The problem has been that… well… yes, I know this is 2011, but we couldn’t get the internet at our cabin. All of the internet gets beamed by line of site to the tiny fishing village I live in, and it wouldn’t penetrate the trees to my house. So I’ve been blogging at cafes and sneaking into my workplace after hours… getting onto it at any chance and opportunity.

If you’ve been following my blog for long, you know that I consistently update the blog every other day with a video or an article. To be perfectly honest, this hasn’t been easy at at all. I spend all my time off from work blogging, and it’s extra difficult because, sure, I can make videos and articles offline and then put them up, but the internet is so useful to research the things I want to talk about! Not to  mention I’m now doing extra guest videos for High on Health on top of my own, and of course, I want to be able to answer all your emails and comments quickly. But if I miss a day, the emails pile up like crazy. Things are starting to get stressful!

Anyway…. our jobs at the kayak shop are ending in September, and then the winter looms. What are we gonna do for work? Where are we gonna live?

Most of you may realize that I want to make a living from this blog. Not an outrageous living or anything, but the facts are – I LOVE the blog, and I love helping you guys, and doing something fun and creative for myself, but I absolutely couldn’t be doing it to this quality and consistency for much longer if I was expected to also work a full time job at the same time. There’s just not enough hours or energy in the day!

So here’s the thing: I’m not making a living from the blog quite yet, but I don’t want to get another job so that I can fully concentrate and put all my love and energy into helping you guys get clear. But Luke needs a job. We also have quite a bit of debt to pay off. Wages in Canada are also pretty crappy, I find. Soooooo…….. what are we doing?

We’re Moving Down Unda’!

After much deliberation, mostly over money, we’ve decided that we are going to move to Australia (for four or 5 months anyway… we’ll be coming back to Canada next summer). I literally bought us both plane tickets an hour ago.

The catch is that we have to live with his parents though :/ It will offset the cost of the plane tickets, I’ll be able to focus solely on the blog, he’ll be able to make a better wage than here in Canada, we can pay off our debts, and then get ahead so that we never have to mooch off our parents again. Can’t argue with that, right?

Sooo yeah. I’m a little nervous about this whole thing… I haven’t actually met his parents yet (you know… since they live all the way across the Pacific Ocean). They sound like lovely people and I’m sure everything will be fine, but this brings up all sorts of personal fears and issues (mostly surrounding food)… but that’s another blog post altogether!

So here’s the deal: We’re leaving in one month. September 10th is when the flight is booked for. Since we need to save money to pay off our plane tickets, I’m working a crazy amount this month. We also have to move out of our house and tie up all sorts of loose ends. Basically, all I’m saying is that posting may be patchy for the next few weeks. I mean like… maybe sometimes it’ll be THREE days between postings. And maybe it’ll take me longer to reply to your comments. Yes…. nothing serious.

Things Will Be Right Back to Normal…

The good news is that after that, things will be right back to normal, and I’ll be able to take things to a new level, with renewed zest! I want to develop some kind of group coaching course, and set up personal, one-on-one consultations.

My favourite idea of all though has been to develop some kind of …. “positivity challenge”. I know that dealing with the emotional side of acne is extremely difficult, and while I tell you that emotional turmoil contributes to acne, it’s obviously REALLY hard to just turn it off. I want to host some kind of video course… seven or ten days of positivity and tools to help you change your emotional outlook, while also opening a forum for those of you doing the challenge at the same time to chat and support each other.

Is this something you guys would be interested in? What sort of in-depth course, or book, or product do you think people would find useful for their battle with acne?

And aside from that, do you guys also have general blog post or video suggestions or questions for me? It may help me get through the next month or so if I have some ideas on hand!!!

Thanks everyone, I love you all so much!

And by the way, a thousand thank yous to anyone who has bought my book so far. I had a lot of fear of ‘selling’ that I had to get over in order to put that up for sale, but I have to remind myself all the time that I am helping people and enhancing the lives of others. I really hope you are all enjoying it! xoxo

photo by Jurgen Lison

Are You Making Your Food with Love?

Are you putting love into the food that you make? Are you putting love into all the things that you do in life?

I think I’ve mostly got the life part down pat… I put plenty of love into this blog, that’s for sure. But I sometimes get very cranky about having to feed myself (this was an issue long before I ever started eating healthy, mind you), and last night, I had a nice little reminder of why I should be infusing more sweet lovin’ into my dinner fixins’.

Check out the video!

Are you making your food with love?

A Quick Guide to Natural Treatments for Acne Scars

I got three different questions today about acne scarring, so I figured it was an appropriate time for a post about it!

Here’s the deal with scars. There are two types:

  1. Pigmentation Acne Scars. These are your typical acne scars and most people are only dealing with this type… they’re basically just red or brown marks after your acne has healed.
  2. Hypertrophic and Atrophic Acne Scarring. This type of scarring is more rare, and it refers to acne scars that cause either an indent in the skin (atrophic) or acne scars that become raised scar tissue (hypertrophic).

Almost everyone gets pigmentation scars after a breakout, and the good news is that these will always fade away with time.

There is a second kind of pigmentation scar called hyper pigmentation, and that is when there is a dark or black mark, or a white or pale mark left at the site of the former lesion.

These are a little more stubborn, and it is best to treat them as soon as possible after they show up as to avoid them hanging around for years, or even permanently.

Unfortunately, if you have hypertrophic or atrophic acne scarring, the prognosis isn’t as optimistic.

You can try natural treatments, but there is a chance that they may not work, especially if the scars are old and deep (or very raised). There are plenty of conventional, cosmetic procedures out there that can help you, but they may be expensive.

Mind you, there are some over-the-counter treatments that are popular – such as Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA), a weak chemical peel. Again, you will have more success with this type of thing if your scars are new and relatively shallow.

Natural Remedies for Acne Scars

For now, I am going to concentrate on some natural remedies that will help you to speed up the healing of your pigmentation scars, and possibly your raised or indented scars as well.

  • Vitamin E – Vitamin E is a well known antioxidant that can stimulate the production of collagen, which is a fibrous protein that helps to make up skin. You can get concentrated Vitamin E oil from any health store. I would probably mix it with some jojoba oil, as it helps to carry the large Vitamin E molecules into the skin. If you don’t, they may clog your pores. And don’t use it on open wounds, wait until the lesion has healed completely, or it may make things worse.
  • Lemon Juice – I remember being a young teenager, putting lemon juice in my hair, and then going out in the sun in order to try and lighten it up. This is because lemon juice has a lightening effect – and it can help to lighten your scars if you put it on your skin. I’d mix it with something soothing like honey or aloe if you are going to use it though, because it can also be kind of drying.
  • Aloe veraAloe vera will help with the inflammation and redness from the acne and scars. It can also really help to prevent acne from turning into bad, permanent scars if you use it while you still have inflamed sores, so I would recommend this at all stages.
  • Manuka HoneyManuka honey is the honey from bees that collect pollen from the Manuka tree – only found in New Zealand. This stuff is special because it has a very high antibacterial quality compared to other honeys and plenty of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It also promotes tissue growth and protects the new tissue from infection! It’s actually very helpful for healing acne as well as the scars, so it’s all around awesome (I just picked up my first jar of it, so there will be more in depth info about this soon).
  • MSM (Methyl Sulfonyl Methane) – This is a supplement that you can take internally that can help prevent scars as well as heal existing scars. The sulfur in it helps in the tissue regrowth while acne is healing, preventing scars, and once you already have scars, it helps to break up scar tissue. People have had very good success with this. There are also MSM creams that you can apply directly to the skin. Some people have had success with MSM cream even for indented scars.
  • Exfoliation – Gently exfoliating the skin can help your acne scars to go away quicker. This is because it gets rid of the dead skin cells that sit on top of your skin and gets to the new healthier skin underneath quicker. I would avoid too much exfoliation if you still have inflamed acne though, or it will likely make things worse. And even if you don’t have inflamed acne, I only recommend exfoliating a couple times a week in order to avoid irritation. But anyway, when and if I do exfoliate, I like to mix some sort of spice with honey and gently rub it on my face… I’ve used cinnamon before and lately I’ve been using powdered dulse (which is a seaweed that contains plenty of vitamins and minerals).

Alright friends, I hope this has helped you. I made a video some time ago in which I showed you a honey, lemon, and cinnamon mask for acne scars, and people seem to really like it… so check it out!

And remember that the best thing you can do for scarring is to prevent it – which means DON’T PICK YOUR SPOTS!!

photo by Pmltadeo

Got Foot Pain? Check Out This Simple Foot Workout for Pain Relief

A lot of people get pain in the arches and heels of their feet after they exercise and in every day life. It can be pretty debilitating and make it really, really hard to get excited about moving your body! And we definitely want to be moving our bodies in order to clear our skin.

So by request, I have made a video to show you some simple foot moves and stretches that can strengthen your feet and hopefully relieve some of that achey foot syndrome.

Do your poor little footsies feel the burn after a workout?