Monday, 29 January 2018

I Am Giving Up Alcohol For 30 Days...

If anyone knows me, they know I like a drink... and don't most people?

Ever since I can remember, alcohol has been a big part of my life. Whether that has been watching my family drink, drinking underage in parks (yes, we all did it), drinking in clubs at uni any night of the week and, now, enjoying a few in a bar or pub on the weekends - it's just always been there. I mean, one of my earliest memories is being so excited to have a 'sip' of my dad's pint! This definitely isn't just exclusive to me or my upbringing, in fact, it's more common than not for people in our culture to have a similar experience with alcohol.

So, let me get to the point. I've really been toying with going sober for a few months just to see what effect it has on my body and health. I tried to do it a few weeks ago when I just wanted to 'cut down' and where did I find myself Friday and Saturday night? The pub. So, that clever idea lasted all of about... 2 days? Then, I tried to approach it a little more seriously when I re-started my paleo diet. I had a bar crawl with my uni friends planned and I trialled telling my friends that I was going sober. The reaction was obviously not positive and they urged me to do it after the bar crawl, which I have ended up doing. 

The problem is, I'm 23 and there will always be another bar crawl or a trip to the pub or even the odd club still. I'm always going to have to resist the temptation and it is so hard for me to say no when everyone else around me is having a drink and relaxing. No one wants to be the 'sober friend' who just has to watch everyone get increasingly tipsy and I've never been the person to do that. I'm being completely honest when I say, I like a drink. I'm not thinking about going sober because I don't like feeling drunk or whatever, it started as a health thing and now, it's turning into something that I just want to prove to myself. I want to know that I can resist the temptation.

It is such a big thing to do for me. I don't think I've been a weekend (well, maybe the odd one) without consuming some form of alcohol since I was about 14! When you look at it like that, it's really scary... But why is it so hard? I'm not an alcoholic, I don't get the shakes if I haven't had a drink, I don't need alcohol to talk to people but I am genuinely more nervous to cut out alcohol than 'junk food'.

I honestly think it's a culture thing. I said to my dad the other day 'the problem is, when I go out with my friends it is to drink - we're just still at that stage of our lives' and he answered 'well it's a stage you don't get out of because it's exactly the same with me'. This really got me thinking about how drinking alcohol is just expected of people. I've never had to say 'no, sorry, I'm not drinking' before and I've not wanted to!

Anyway, during my 30 Day Paleo Reset, I am not allowed to drink alcohol but it is something that can be re-introduced in phase 2 or 3. I know I've got social 'drinking' occasions during those 30 days so it's going to take a lot for me to say no because I am really going to want to have a drink... but I'm going to do it because I've set myself a challenge and it's not forever. I'll let you know how I get on and I do think it'll be quite interesting to see how I feel and how hard it will be for me to say no. I guess, writing about it on here means I really can't do it. I'm hardly going to want to come back next month and say 'sorry everyone, I failed'.

Is drinking alcohol regularly an age thing, a society thing or is it not a problem? I'd love to know your thoughts and if any of you have had to abstain for a certain amount of time - I'd love to know if you have any tips!

P.S. today is now Monday (the start of my 30 Day Reset) and so the no alcohol has begun (I wrote this post on Friday) and I'm feeling optimistic and excited to see the benefits... if there are any!


Friday, 26 January 2018

Why I Am Doing Chris Kresser's 30 Day Paleo Reset

It has been nearly two weeks since I decided to really work on curing my acne holistically. To say I feel the best I have in a while is an understatement really which has just pushed me to take it to the next level, really strip it back to basics and get to the root cause of my skin problems!

So, where am I at after 2 weeks? 

I've taken myself off the contraceptive pill. This might seem really strange because it does make my skin slightly better than when I'm off it but I just feel like a complete phoney if I'm working so hard at putting the right things into my body and then pumping fake hormones in at the same time. Chris Kresser has a great way of describing natural medicine compared to the medicine from a traditional Doctor.

He says that if you had a stone in your shoe, a traditional Doctor would often prescribe you with painkillers to stop you feeling it but he would aim to remove the stone from your shoe (hence, find out exactly what is causing the problem and cure it). My skin most probably will get worse before it gets better when coming off the pill as it usually does but I would much rather that happen and then work at curing the route of the issue than just mask it short term.

What have I been eating?

I've generally got into the habit of having yoghurt, banana, chia seeds, flaxseed, organic desiccated coconut, cinnamon, ginger and pure maple syrup. It's very yummy and it's keeping me full for a long period of time so I've been quite happy eating it. I did start off with smoothies but I just wasn't full enough and by the time lunch came around I was ravenous!

For lunch, I tend to have a salad or pea pasta (you can literally buy pasta made of only peas in Waitrose) or some form of rice noodles and veg. To be honest, I just shove a load of veggies together for lunch and I really enjoy it.

Tea hasn't been too dissimilar to before. I've been having some sort of meat or fish and having it with vegetables, rice or rice noodles. Pretty simple but very tasty. I'm really into taking meals that I liked before (ones that may have gluten or sugar in them etc) and working to find paleo alternatives that are usually better in my opinion!

That leads me on to my paleo baking which I have been really enjoying. It takes a bit of time to get used to baking with paleo ingredients. For example, I've made a few really stodgy cakes because you need the smallest amount of coconut flour and a couple of my coconut milk buttercream creations have gone lumpy.

On a positive note, I've completely nailed two of my favourite sweet treats - millionaire's shortbread and carrot cake! What's really mad is that people that can tolerate gluten and sugar and 'normal' baking love my paleo versions and can barely taste the difference! I'm going to publish all of my recipes to this blog (when I get the time) and work on building up lots more of my favourites paleo style!

Have I been exercising?

I've actually started running (I really hated it before). I've been going with a group in my local town and it's so motivating and nice because everyone is so lovely and supportive. I can feel my stamina for steady, long distance running (well, long distance for me) building and I'm actually really starting to enjoy it!

I'm also really looking forward to re-introducing some HIIT style workouts next week as I really used to enjoy them! I've also really been working on just getting active in general and doing fun activities that don't feel like you're working your body because it's just enjoyable and not structured. Tom and I went to a trampoline park last weekend and this weekend we're going to a climbing wall. They're really great ways to get active and just feel like you're having fun!

So, what is the 30 Day Paleo Reset?

Let's get to the title of this post. I am going to start Chris Kresser's '30 Day Paleo Reset'. This is a form of elimination diet where I will be basically be eating very strict paleo for 30 days. It's meant to cure any inflammation and basically 'reset' your body ready for when you want to introduce new paleo foods like dairy, dark chocolate and alcohol (THANK GOD).

After I've completed the first 30 days, I plan on using Chris's book 'Your Personal Paleo Code' to guide me through introducing new foods and seeing what works and what doesn't work for my body.

It works in 3 phases. Phase 1 is the 30 day reset and phase 2 and 3 are slowly introducing new foods to see what your body likes and doesn't like.

Here is a list of foods I can and can't eat on the 30 Day Paleo Reset (thanks to Rubies & Radishes for the list):

Eat Liberally:
  • Meat and Poultry – organic and free-range is preferable
  • Organ meats (especially liver)
  • Bone-broth soups
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Starchy plants – yams, sweet potatoes, tapioca, yuca, taro, lotus root, plantains and breadfruit
  • Nonstarchy vegetables
  • Fermented vegetables and fruits
  • Traditional fats – ghee, coconut oil, red palm oil, palm kernel oil, macadamia oil, lard (rendered from free-range pigs if possible), duck fat, beef tallow (from free-range cows if possible) and olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
  • Olives, avocados, and coconuts (including coconut milk)
  • Sea salt and spices
 Eat in Moderation:
  • Processed meat- sausage, bacon, salami, etc. Make sure they are gluten, sugar and soy-free. Organic/free-range/grass-fed is preferable. Two to four servings a week is fine.
  • Whole fruit – up to four servings per day, depending on your blood sugar balance and type of fruit. Choose a wide variety of colours. All fruit is permitted but favour low sugar fruits.
  • Nuts and seeds – limit yourself to a handful per day.
  • Green beans, sugar peas, and snap peas – Though technically legumes, they are usually well tolerated. 4 -6 servings per a week are allowed.
  • Coffee and black tea – limit to 1 8 ounce cup a day.
  • Vinegar – may be used in small amounts every day as part of a salad dressing or sauce.
Avoid Completely:
  • Dairy – including butter, cheese, yoghurt, milk, etc. Ghee is permitted because it contains only trace amounts of dairy proteins and lactose.
  • Grains -including wheat, rice, oats, pseudo grains and nongluten grains like sorghum, quinoa, buckwheat and so on.
  • Legumes – including beans of all kinds (soy, black, pinto, etc.)
  • Sweeteners, real and artificial – including paleo friendly sweeteners, such as honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc.
  • Chocolate – including dark chocolate. Although dark chocolate is a nutrient-dense food, many people who are intolerant of gluten are (unfortunately!) also intolerant of proteins in chocolate. Don’t worry! You can reintroduce it in Step 2.
  • Processed or refined foods
  • Industrial seed and vegetable oils – Soybean, corn, safflower, sunflower, rapeseed, peanut, cottonseed, canola, etc
  • Sodas, including diet sodas and fruit juice – Coconut water is fine, but limit yourself to half a cup a day. Plain soda water or mineral water is fine.
  • Alcohol – In any form
  • Processed sauces and seasonings
 After my first week, I'm going to post what I ate that week as a sort of meal plan/inspiration for anyone else who is interested in trying it so keep your eyes peeled if you fancy 'resetting' your body and getting it healthy and thriving again!

I'd also really recommend reading Chris Kresser's articles if you are suffering from acne, like me, or any skin issues, weight problems, fertility problems, stress problems (honestly the list is endless)!

Saturday, 13 January 2018

2018: The Year To Holistically Cure My Acne

Holistically curing acne with gut health

Hello lovely people, it's been a while...

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and are ready to smash a brand new year! I know I have been a bit elusive over the last month and, if I'm being completely honest (I have to be since I named this thing 'authenticallyolivia') I needed a break. I needed some time away from stressing myself out with blogs and vlogs and Instagram posts and I basically took some time to be selfish and not worry about deadlines etc.

During this time of relaxation, I decided to chill back out with everything again and remember that I started this as a hobby. I did begin to get a bit swept up with numbers and schedules and growing my blog and taking some time out made me realise that it's not worth it if it's going to stress me out. I'd rather keep my blog little and ticking along if I'm going to be happier that way. So, for the moment, I will be posting as and when I feel like it and I won't be posting on a strict schedule - hopefully, that is a good arrangement that will keep me happy and stress-free!

This post is about holistically curing my acne and I'm going to talk briefly about my findings (there'll be more to come when I actually get into it and learn more) but a great place to start is de-stressing. I can't remember a time where I wasn't stressing about something so I've really been trying to train my brain to chill out. That did start with scrapping the schedules and as well as curing my gut I am going to introduce meditation and yoga back into my days which, I'm hoping, my skin will thank me for!

Right, let's get to it!

As you may know, if you've been reading for a while, I've dabbled in a paleo-based diet, contemplated Roaccutane and basically got really stressed about my skin. After many trials and tribulations, I've decided I'm not going to take Roaccutane (it scares me and I'm just really unsure about it) and I'm going to really work hard at curing my acne holistically. I know, I sound like a Buddhist wannabe but how amazing would it be if I could be the best version of myself with no weird concoction of drugs but just with real food and calming techniques?

So, I've been doing a lot of research into gut health and how it affects basically everything. Weight loss, fatigue, mental health, sleep, skin conditions, digestion, fertility, the list goes on! I've been reading up on how I should be feeding my gut with probiotics through fermented food and supplements and cutting out all 'toxic' foods from my diet.

I cut out 'toxic' foods (which to put it basically, are processed, unnatural foods) when I followed a paleo-based diet and I know my body thrived off it. My digestion improved, I had way more energy whilst exercising and I felt generally happier. Tom urges me to go back on that all the time because he noticed a difference in the amount I stressed about food and exercise and how I generally just felt well. He said it was the healthiest he'd ever seen me and I was... so why did I stop? I guess I got slightly disillusioned. I felt these great benefits but it wasn't hitting what I really wanted to change. My acne. I still had acne and my weight didn't really seem to shift either. I seem to be able to eat as much as I want and not put anything on but then I can be really good too and not lose any either... This not only indicated to me that there was something missing but also made me feel like I might as well eat what I want and find a drug that can target my skin because it obviously wasn't my diet that controlled my skin condition.

Now, this is where I'm hoping that the answer I've been looking for is healing my gut because I really have given it a battering over the years. I've taken long courses of antibiotics for my acne and recurrent UTIs and I've also been on the contraceptive pill since I was about 15. These are all things that will be destroying the good bacteria in my gut which leads to bad gut health and, subsequently, acne.

I'm only guessing after researching how I destroyed my gut in the first place and I put it down to a number of things. Growing up, I ate processed food. This doesn't mean I lived off oven pizzas and McDonald's, I'm talking bread, cereals, 'healthy' breakfast bars, things that are staples in our diets but aren't natural. Like most, I was given courses of antibiotics to fight illness or discomfort and the one thing that I think really triggered it? Stress. It can't be solely hormonal for me because I didn't develop acne when I started my period or went through puberty or whatever. My acne developed in my later teenage years when I can pinpoint that I was most stressed.

So, what now? I don't have to just live with a damaged gut - 2018 is the year that I'm going to set out to heal it. I want to put all the good gut flora back in through prebiotics, probiotics and fermented food and I'm so excited to document my finding to help others that may be struggling with similar issues to me.

So, I'm ready to really take control of my overall health and (hopefully) cure my acne completely holistically. You can all watch me learn, fail and hopefully succeed! I start on Monday and I will post what I'm eating for the week as well as (hopefully) a vlog or two on how I'm finding it.

Now, let's do this! (insert muscle emoji here)
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