My Dirty Little Secret

I get a lot of compliments on my skin. I am asked how I achieve my healthy glow and what I do to avoid wrinkles. I am told I don’t look my age and I get asked what I do and what I use, and so I will share my regimen with you today.

But I have a secret. A nasty habit that I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember. A habit I am not proud of. Something that has consumed my time, attention and energy for far too long. Something that has had an impact on my life even though it may seem silly to some; yet, I KNOW others will be able to relate.

I have been working really hard to break free from this habit and I’ve developed some tools and strategies to lessen its impact as well as some ways of dealing with it.

Today, I’m sharing it with you. And I am going to share the strategies I use that have helped me manage it better. I am also sharing the next Challenge I am offering (for free!) that I would love you to join in on, and I serve up a yummy fall soup recipe that I think you will love.

So, here it is.

My dirty little secret.

You see, I pick my face.

There. I said it.

And maybe you pick your face, too.

It started when I was a teenager. I had decent skin but whenever I’d get a pimple, I couldn’t help but pick at it. Blackheads, whiteheads, those underground red bumps that hurt like a b*tch….nope, couldn’t leave them alone. And there was so much satisfaction that came with picking those pimples! So much relief from the pain and the pressure. So much pleasure from ridding my face of an ugly zit.

But then I’d be left with the aftermath. A face covered in red blotches and marks and blood. Most often, I’d be left feeling worse than when I began.

And here’s the worst part: I believe my compulsion for picking my face made me break out more.

First, there’s the bacteria all over my fingers as I squeezed away that would cause me to get more pimples. And second, I believe that energetically I was telling the universe that I loved picking zits so much that I was essentially asking for more zits to pick!

Although I don’t believe I suffer with Dermatillomania, also referred to as Compulsive Skin Picking (CSP) or neurotic excoriation, which are associated with obsessive compulsive disorder, I do think my skin picking results from my need for perfection.

A desire to have my skin appear flawless.

And this obsession has been a part of my life all the way until today. When I get a pimple, it is very, very hard for me to ignore it. Even if I’m nowhere near a mirror, I still find myself thinking about it. Obsessing over it.

But I am getting better. A LOT better.

And I want to share with you what has changed for me so that perhaps it can help you, if you are a skin picker, too.

What Changed?

First, I became aware of what I was doing. I had to acknowledge that picking my face was not a healthy habit.

Second, I had to be willing to change. I had to decide that picking my face was not going to help me achieve nice skin. In fact, I had to realize that picking my face made my skin look worse.

Third, I had to decide what I wanted.

I wanted nice skin!

So I had to define what “nice skin” meant to me. Yes, it meant clear, blemish-free skin, but nice skin to me also meant healthy skin, glowing skin, hydrated skin, taut skin, and it also meant redness-free skin and scab-free skin.

So it all started with changing my behaviour.

First up, ditching the magnifying mirror. If you are prone to picking, those mirrors have no place in our lives! They amplify every single imperfection and they had me picking at things that were barely even there.

Next, I had to realize that zits happen! And I had to realize that tiny little bumps were not a reason to spend 5 minutes picking away and turning them into massive red marks that I’d then have to use makeup to cover up. I had to come to terms with the fact that I was going to get pimples (everybody does!) and that if I stopped leaning in so close to the mirror to inspect my face, I could avoid a lot of pain and frustration about my skin.

I started using the Clarisonic (I have the “Mia 2”, about $200, and bought it using my Shoppers Optimum points). They suggest using a foaming cleanser, but to be honest, I prefer Lemon Balm Lane‘s all natural soap because it doesn’t strip my skin of moisture the way chemical-based cleansers can. I use their Tea Tree or Lavender soap (great for acne-prone skin). They also sell an amazing Skin Relief soap for those who suffer with psoriasis or eczema.

Using the Clarisonic really helped me see that I wasn’t removing nearly as much dirt and makeup with my fingers as I could with their device. I love it! The other great thing about the Clarisonic is I exercise my face while cleansing. They say that men often don’t experience as many facial wrinkles as women do because of the way they manipulate their face while shaving. So, while I am cleansing my face, I am also moving it to work my facial muscles.

Along that same line, doing facial exercises is a great way to keep skin taut, and there are loads of videos on Youtube teaching us how to do it. I usually keep it pretty simple, though, and essentially, all I do is over-exaggerate my vowels a few times for a skin-tightening effect.

Next, I got into facial oils. They are amazing! It seemed counter-intuitive for someone like me to put oil on my face when I wanted to be “oil-free”, but the thing with facial oils is they help to replenish our skin’s moisture and they feel incredible! There are loads of facial oils on the market and many people swear by using coconut oil or almond oil as a makeup remover and moisturizer, which is an extremely cost-effective option. Personally, I use Skin Essence certified organic Facial Cleanser for sensitive skin and I apply their Soothe Facial Moisturizer for sensitive skin. Their pricing is amazing for the incredible quality you receive!! Available online or at select retailers, visit skinessence.ca for their entire line and where to buy. They are one of the only certified organic skin care lines available. It lasts a long time as I use only about 4 drops while my skin is still damp from cleansing. I press it into my face and neck. It feels amazing!

I also started using pure vitamin E oil on my face (again, only at night time--I buy it at drug stores for about $15). I buy the Jamieson brand and I put a small amount on my fingers and spread it all over my face. It has helped clear my skin of small scars and redness from past pimples. I love it! You can also buy vitamin E capsules and use a pin to open one for use on specific red spots or scars.

I also like using Lemon Balm Lane's Rejuvenating Facial Lotion (sold online for $15 for the small container or $22 for the large). It contains all-natural oils and herbs that makes my skin feel amazing. I like it better than lotions I've spent over $100 on! I even use it under my eyes instead of buying a separate eye cream.

Once every few weeks, I do a clay mask. My friend Jessica got me on to this brand, but I also know that Erin at Westboro Beauty Room sells a lovely organic clay mask as well. With this Aztec Clay mask, you add raw, organic apple cider vinegar and mix it up in a plastic bowl (not metal). It claims to make your face pulsate...and it does! It also leaves my skin feeling clean and purified with less inflammation.

The Lifestyle

From a lifestyle perspective, I quit smoking years ago, and as far as skin goes, there is almost nothing you can do that will improve the look of your skin the way quitting smoking will. Smoking decreases the amount of oxygen and nutrients sent to your skin cells, so quitting will leave you with smoother, more supple skin.

I sought out ways to stay hydrated. Hydrated skin is a key to clear skin. When our skin is dehydrated, fine lines appear more visible and our skin produces sebum (oil) that can lead to breakouts. Here's how I stay hydrated:

I have been drinking water as my drink of choice since I was a teenager and I think it has had a huge impact on my skin over the years.  It is amazing the difference we can see when choosing water over pop or juice. Whenever I drink coffee (even decaf), I'm sure to follow it up with an extra glass of water to combat dehydration.

As you probably know, I gave up alcohol 14 years ago, and this has improved the appearance of my skin tremendously. It is much more hydrated because of it, and if you are a drinker, try adding in a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you have.

I eat nourishing foods that help keep my skin hydrated. Foods like olive oil (for the antioxidants), wild salmon (omega 3s), tomatoes (cook them to get the most skin-improving lycopene and eat them with a healthy fat like olive oil for best absorption), kale (vitamin C), walnuts (omega 3s), sweet potato and squash (beta-carotene). See my recipe for Pumpkin Pie Soup below!

Essentially, my diet consists mainly of fruits, vegetables, meats and eggs. Think of any food that will rot in a few days on the counter and eat those foods as much as possible! Cereal, crackers, pasta, rice, white bread and any boxed foods have very little place in my diet and I know my skin thanks me for it.

While I do eat cheat meals now and again, I avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates as often as possible. Refined, sugary carbs prompt your body to make insulin and increase the production of hormones known as androgens. Elevated androgens cause sebaceous glands in the skin to secrete more oil that gets trapped inside pores, causing pimples.

I take fermented cod liver oil daily. I go into detail in my book, The 28 Day Kick The Sugar Challenge, but essentially this oil has improved my skin's tone and texture tremendously. My hair stylist also noticed my hair growing thicker and stronger!

Going for regular facials is a fantastic way to practice self-care (and reducing stress is a huge factor in having smooth, blemish-free skin), but a well done facial deeply cleanses and exfoliates the skin, increases circulation, reduces puffiness and fine lines and it also helps smooth and soften the skin. They will perform extractions professionally, which won't damage the skin. I highly recommend Oresta or Erin here in Ottawa or look for a reputable organic facialist in your neck of the woods.

I exercise 6 days a week and enjoy my daily sweat sessions. Sweating is one way we detoxify our bodies and it is known to unclog pores in our skin. I also get told I have a "healthy glow" and I attribute it to my diet and exercise regime.

I prioritize my sleep because it is great for my overall health and does wonders for my skin. I used to get very little sleep and it showed up as blotchy skin, breakouts, dark circles under my eyes and more visible fine lines and wrinkles. Certainly when I was a drinker, my quality of sleep was very poor. After I quit drinking, I have made a much greater effort to sleep more and to ensure a better quality sleep. I go into more detail in my book if you'd like to learn more about the importance of sleep and how to improve yours.

Life Today

Before, I would wake up and immediately inspect my face. Now, I simply splash cold water on my face (this wakes me up!) and head to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. I drink 2 cups (16 ounces) of warm lemon water as soon as I wake up to hydrate myself and I drink a smoothie that is chock full of skin-loving foods like cucumber, celery, kale, blueberries and hemp hearts (hemp is amazing for people with dry skin, psoriasis and eczema, as well).

When I get out of the shower, I stand back from the mirror as much as possible while applying my moisturizer. When I haaaaave to lean in, I stand with my hands on my hips so that I'm not tempted to pick. When I see a pimple (which, let's face it, I see at least one or two almost every single time I look in the mirror), I choose to acknowledge it and then decide to not pick it. It can be really hard at times, and I don't always succeed, but for the most part now, I leave it be.

I say to myself "if it is worse tomorrow, I can pick it then." Most often, I can't even see it or it becomes noticeably better by the next day. I also treat the pimple, and I like Lemon Balm Lane's all natural Acne Ointment. It is different from any other acne treatment on the market as it is made from healing herbs and oils that prevent drying of the skin; instead, it heals the pimple by reducing redness, inflammation and infection.

I became more gentle on myself. I stopped looking at magazines with flawless faces and thinking this was in any way achievable! Having impeccable, pore-free skin simply isn't real life and any photographer will tell you this. I realized that I will get pimples and that it's ok to just dab a little concealer on them and get on with the day rather than spending time picking away and making them worse. If my goal is to have nice skin, I want to love it and nurture it and care for it and be gentle on it. It doesn't deserve to have me picking at it and hurting it and damaging it...all to look "perfect".

I had to really wake up to what I was doing.

And I'm so glad I did. I am a work in progress but I have gotten so much better at just "letting it go". I used to feel pain a lot in my face. Burning, rawness, hurt. I used to feel shame when I would pick and then see the damage I had done. I want to feel these feelings as infrequently as possible and one way I can do that is to stop hurting my face.

I hope this has helped you if you struggle with skin-picking or any other behaviour that doesn't serve you. It all starts with awareness, continues with a decision and then changes with healthier choices. So let's keep pushing ourselves to question all of our behaviours; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.

The 28 Day KICK ASS Challenge!

P.S. On Tuesday November 15th, I invite you to get involved in an initiative I am starting where we will do something amazing for ourselves while also helping people who need it.

It's called The 28 Day KICK ASS CHALLENGE and we will ELIMINATE the ONE thing diet-wise that we KNOW is holding us back and we will ADD in ONE exercise that is good for us and helps others.

Here's how it Works: What is the ONE thing that you KNOW is holding you back diet-wise? This will be different for everyone. It may be something behavioural like always going for seconds, eating late at night, never planning ahead, or skipping breakfast.

Perhaps it's more specific like your daily latté or chocolate fix. Perhaps it's the popcorn or chips in front of the TV. Or the breakfast sandwich in the morning or the pizza at lunch. Is it the huge portions or the deep fried foods?

For me, it is eating too late. When I work late, I tend to eat late and yet with proper planning, I can time my meals to ensure I get at least 3 hours of not eating before going to bed. So, this is what I will eliminate for 28 days because eating late keeps me farther away from my goals.

What is it for you? 

Whatever it is that's holding you back from living more vibrantly diet-wise, THIS is what you will change...for 28 days.

You will SHARE what you will be changing for 28 days in our Facebook Group (stay tuned for it), so that we can hold each other accountable. We are in this together!

On Day 6 of our KICK ASS Challenge, we start a 22 Day Pushup Challenge in support of those suffering with PTSD. 

If you've heard of the "22 Day Pushup Challenge", you'll know it started because 22 US veterans commit suicide every day due to PTSD. Every. Single Day. This has to change. For those of you still unfamiliar with the rules of the 22 pushup challenge, here they are: For 22 days, you film yourself doing 22 pushups each day. You donate a minimum of $22 to the cause and you nominate someone each day to join you on the Challenge.

But here's the thing! I know a lot of you (myself included) were nominated, but many of us didn't do the Pushup Challenge for a few reasons. First, we didn't want to film ourselves doing it!! Why? Because filming ourselves doing things makes us feel vulnerable. And a lot of us are uncomfortable on camera. So for our Challenge, you can choose to share your video OR a photo of yourself either before, during or after you do your pushups. You DO have to do them, but you don't have to film yourself doing them.

Second, it's tough to do 22 "proper" pushups!! I'm fairly fit and yet I find doing 22 proper pushups challenging!!! So, I know that a lot of people didn't do it because they felt like they weren't able to do it physically. So for OUR Challenge, we are going to offer LOTS of modifications (I will be sharing a video soon).

Another reason I believe people didn't do it was that they didn't want to have to nominate people. There's something about "calling people out" on social media that feels, I don't know, "icky" to some people. So we are changing the rules on this one as well. When you post your picture each day, you can EITHER nominate a specific person OR you can simply ask any of your friends who want to join you, to get on board.

Last, if you live in Canada, instead of donating directly to 22 pushups, you are encouraged to donate to Heroes Equine Learning Program (H.E.L.P.), which is an amazing treatment option for veterans and first responders suffering with PTSD. The entire program is not-for-profit and is free for attendees. If you haven't heard of equine (horse) therapy, Tranquil Acres or H.E.L.P, I interviewed the owner, Ryan Theriault here and you can learn more by going to their website. These people are incredible and their work is changing the lives of people who need the help.

If you are outside of Canada, then please donate to 22 Pushups by going to 22pushups.com.

Finally, while any money is appreciated and $22 is the minimum amount you will be donating to those suffering with PTSD, if you can do more, please do. I had no idea that this would be a cause I felt passionate about. But I have now met several people suffering with PTSD.

I would have never known they were suffering simply by looking at them, and their illness often goes undiagnosed and untreated due to the stigma and shame around it as well. As someone who lived in shame and felt the stigma of addiction, I am on a mission to help my brothers and sisters get the help they desperately need.

I am so grateful to any of you who are joining me on this Challenge!

So, ARE YOU IN?

xo S

P.P.S. If you are IN, stay tuned for more info and feel free to join me on Facebook!

We can also connect on Twitter and Instagram.  Plus, if you haven’t already subscribed to my blog, you should! That way, you won’t miss anything. For joining, you get my personal meal plan, shopping list, and a week’s worth of easy, tasty recipes. http://sarahtalksfood.com/

P.P.P.S. To learn more about my story and to order your very own copy of my book,The 28 Day Kick The Sugar Challenge, visit KTSC28.com. I would be honoured to support you on your journey.

P.P.P.P.S. Here is my recipe for Pumpkin Pie Soup. I hope you use up all those squash and pumpkins at your house and make this soup! I hope you enjoy. 🙂

Pumpkin Pie Soup ~ Sarah Roberts

Why I make this: I love the smell of pumpkin pie. It’s so warm and comforting. This soup gives you all that comfort without the sugar! With only a couple of ingredients, it’s so easy and tasty, you’ll be getting up for seconds! Plus, your skin will be glowing thanks to all that beta carotene!

INGREDIENTS
1 medium squash (I used I used a Kabocha Squash but you can use pretty much any orange fleshed squash --pumpkin, butternut, buttercup, hubbard etc).
2 Tablespoons organic unsalted butter
1 heaping Tablespoon coconut oil
Pinch of Salt & Pepper
Pinch of Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
Tiny Drizzle of pure maple syrup, optional

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Roast the squash on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 30-40 minutes at 350°F (NOTE: Because the Kabocha squash is so tough, I roasted it whole. Then, I cut it in half, removed the seeds and proceeded with the recipe. Other squashes are easier to cut, so you can cut them in half before roasting and place them, cut side down on the baking sheet).
  3. Once the squash is roasted, remove the seeds and scoop out the flesh.
  4. Chop the flesh if it’s still somewhat firm.
  5. In a medium-large pot over medium heat, add the butter and sautée the squash.
  6. Add the coconut oil, a good pinch of salt and pepper and a good pinch of pumpkin pie spice.
  7. Continue to allow the squash to soften and caramelize slightly.
  8. Transfer the pumpkin to a blender and add in the almond milk.
  9. Blend on high for about one minute, and pour it back into the pot to warm through.
  10. Taste, and add a tiny drizzle of maple syrup, if desired, and any salt and pepper, as needed.

Voila! It is very tasty and rich. Nice and warming on a cold day.

NOTE: I am sure if I had sautéed one small, chopped onion with the squash, it would have added a depth of flavour, but...you know me by now...I like to keep things pretty simple!

If you try this soup, I'd love your feedback!

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