Thursday, February 21, 2013

since you've asked part two

Yesterday I told you about my story up till now and today I'll let you in on a few changes I've made over the last 12 months, especially the last three.

Let's go back to spring last year. I had just come back from travelling with the boys and was pondering life and travelling and the implications of everything we do on the rest of our lives and the planet.  A couple of months before that I had watched a documentary about plastic called "Plastic Planet" and decided to cut out all plastic that was not completely necessary in my life.
Don't know why I started with that, but in April last year I decided to go off shampoo and try the "no poo method". You can look at this post for more information on that and how I got to that point. This launched an awareness of toxins I put into my body every single day.
Here's a picture I came across only recently that sums up all the bits and pieces of information floating round the web.
pic via here
In the summer I decided to throw away my foundation, something I haven't lived without for the last ten years, and very much limit my make up use. I stopped washing my face with any products and started to just use water and once a week I'd wash it with a natural face wash made with crushed up oats, lavender, baking soda and honey.

It is divine! In addition I used a home made toner (water, apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil).

Months passed and I moved to London where the water quality is so poor I dare not drink it unfiltered! All I brought was baking soda and bar soap and the above pictured mixture. Travelling becomes extremely light once you let go of all plastic bottles :) I collected a few glass bottles and jars and started making all the things I need. One of the first things I did was to make a batch of hand/lip balm - more on that in this post.
There I was when all of a sudden my skin took a turn for the worse - worst to be honest.
Two major things I have changed over the last few months to battle what had happened once again:

Back to the candida diet it was.
Everything I didn't know the ingredients to went straight into the bin. If anyone would have asked me how healthy my nutritional habits were, I would have said good. I was cooking 90% of my meals, cooked meat about once a week. I get a box of organic vegetables once a week and therefore cook pretty seasonal. I still ate whatever was served at other people's places and I didn't limit myself too much when I ate out. No sugar and dairy and gluten it was from then onwards!
The other thing I started again was oil pulling - google it for more information - and I went back on all supplements I was prescribed four years ago.
Before I left for Austria I decided to go vegan for a month once I was back in London. Turns out I couldn't have picked a better time - hello horse meat scandal haha. As my first day back happened to be Ash Wednesday, I decided to do it for the entire lent season. My body will have enough time to detox and heal the intestinal walls (I know it takes longer for the walls to heal but 6 weeks is a start before I start reintroducing certain foods again).
At the moment I'm a gluten and sugar free vegan :) It's been a week and I admit to having my nose buried in recipes and I find it really helpful to keep a food journal.

This hasn't changed too much. Still sticking with the bare minimum of washing my face with water and not putting anything on it.
One of the best blogs I've come across was The Love Vitamin. She too had treated her acne naturally and I found hope in that I'm not the only crazy person out there not buying into the pharmaceutical industry, glossing over a few symptoms but never addressing the root of the problem.
I learnt about the antibacterial properties of manuka honey and found it to be the only thing to bring relief to my itching skin (honey and cinnamon masks for the win people!).
If you look at what's in my bathroom, you'd be surprised to find ingredients you'll find in every kitchen, with the exception of tea tree oil, soap and shampoo bar(London turned out to be too dirty for the no poo method so once a week I get my Lush bar, I still rinse it with water and ACV though). Even my deodorant is home made these days ha!
It's great when all of a sudden you know that you could eat pretty much everything that goes on your skin :)

Healing takes time, a lot of time, and there are days when I'm pretty down. Thankfully the days when I don't even want to get out of bed are becoming less and less. I still wrestle with God as to why I have to deal with this. It's been a decade and I don't get it, but I try not to give up. I hate that it takes away so much of my time and energy, that it holds me back and limits my potential of what I could be doing.
In the process of all this I've learned that I am a fighter and have become very stubborn (it takes every bit of willpower not to grab a croissant that is sitting in front of me, not even talking about walking past a frozen yoghurt place). I've learnt not to burst into tears every time I look in the mirror and cling to God's opinion that my value is far above rubies and pearls, no matter what I look like.
Thanks friends for being supportive and understanding xx

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

since you've asked

Let me tell you a little bit about my health.
Ten years ago, almost to the date, I got really sick flying back to Scotland. What should have taken me a couple of hours turned into a two day journey, due to snow at a London airport! (Every time I'm in London and it snows, I laugh because it is truly ridiculous that everything shuts down but on the other hand I think of people, like myself all those years ago, who end up sitting somewhere at the airport and I feel terribly sorry.)
No-one knew what had happened to my body - I went straight to bed and basically didn't get up for a month. Doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong so they filled me up with antibiotics until they finally tested my blood about a month later. Three months after that flight I went back to Austria as I still didn't have the energy or strength to return to work. To cut a long story short, a month later I bumped into my friend's dad who is a GP and after he asked me what happened (my face was completely covered in cystic acne and my skin felt like it was on fire), he sat me down and did a blood test there and then. Turned out that not only had the antibiotics killed of the bacteria inside my body, but pretty much everything else too. The result was candida. So for three months I went on a super strict candida diet, which meant no sugar and no starches. As a lot of food turns into that I had to cut out any form of grain(bread, rice, pasta, cereal, ...), sweets, fruit and alcohol. Apart from the diet I went on vitamin supplements and on the pill to rebalance my hormones (everything was out of whack!). It took 2.5 years until my blood results were back to normal!
I will never forget the feeling of waiting for blood results, it is the most nervous I have ever been in my life and although I trusted God to be in control, a lot of the times you are plagued with feeling that your life was coming to an end. Seriously weird times! It is a tricky thing when people can't see that you're sick, in addition to feeling completely useless you have to excuse yourself and fight people's opinions as to what they think you're doing (lazy, pretending, etc). Being in Christian circles it's even worse as some stupid people will come up and tell you that you're not believing enough to be made whole! Oh yeah, I experienced it all :)

Anyway when I moved to Australia I let the pill run out and as your diet in a hot country is pretty much salad based I had hardly any digestive or skin issues. It was never perfect, but due to constant sunshine it was alright I guess.
Cut to 2.5 years later and I moved to London and BOOM poor nutrition, especially poor food standards will get the best of you! If it wouldn't have been for a friend who happens to be a nutritionist, who knows what I would have done! She confirmed the candida and explained to me that more or less what happened is that not only was the candida overgrowth back but I had developed the next level which is leaky gut syndrome.
Back to candida cleanse it was. In addition she told me to stay away from dairy and gluten and she gave me a long list of supplements from a good multivitamin (yes I said good, store bought wont cut it as a lot of vitamin pills/capsules lack certain resources for your body to absorb the vitamins - you might just be paying for expensive pee ladies and gentlemen!) to milkthistle to essential omegas to good bacteria to repopulate your intestinal flora.
It takes months for your skin to heal but eventually it does. The better it gets the more you let go of your diet and believe that finally you will be over this.
Ever since then I have cut out as much dairy and gluten as possible - apart from tour, everything goes out the window when you travel as you don't feed yourself :)

Two years ago it all came back when I lived in Salzburg and looking back it had a lot to do with how depressed I was and eating the wrong things. For the first time in years and years I went to see a dermatologist who was basically laughing in my face when I told him that I think it is eating related. Talk about making a girl feel insecure and cry when she's already down and out! He prescribed a cream and told me to just wash my face with water and stay away from make up.
Skin cleared up and I limited myself to a diet but not super strict.

So when everything went pear shaped in November I completely crashed. My face was covered in spots and since I don't use make up anymore(more on that tomorrow) it was a treat to go to work every morning, trying to cover up my face with my scarf as much as I could.
The last thing I wanted to do was go and see a doctor for I have yet to meet a normal doctor who will go to the root of the problem! The only doctor who didn't laugh at me when I told him my story was the guy at the allergy centre in June. He even told me that it all makes sense! I wish everyone could listen to what patients have to say the way he did. Reason enough to try and go the natural way?!

More tomorrow x

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

phone photos from the last wee while

Sitting down to write has become a battle, not that I haven't got the time to do so, I just feel rather uninspired lately. All my time and energy is going into feeding myself (long story short. my poor gut had a major break down in November and my skin - always the first to suffer - has taken a beating unequalled to anything I've ever experienced). As I am adamant to solve this naturally, I had a massive change in lifestyle. Maybe I'll feel inspired to write down my whole story later, until than you'll most likely find me researching candida diets, living a healthy life style, how to feed myself during my vegan lent season, etc. Interesting and time consuming!
Anyway not to bore you, here are a few photos from Austria and back here in London :)
RinglRingl lady on a swing :)
 feeling three years old, watching the snow fall
 Miss K and her ride
Miss E :)

spent an hour there last week with my pastorate peeps. nothing quite like the presence of God!!
 along the river
silly little brother
with my favourites far away I had to bring them closer :)  

pretty coloured houses in Londontown.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Salzburg surf

When I was in Salzburg last week we went for a walk along the Almkanal and walked past the "wave" we surfed in the summer (evidence to be found here!). Seems like a million weeks away and all that snow makes me wonder how on earth we ever went into the water! Love the seasons in Austria, you do get the best of everything!

So long Almkanal, see you in July x

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

pretty Northamptonshire

At the beginning of the year I escaped the city to visit my friend Hannah and her family.
I went for lots of walks around the country side, due to the flooding around Christmas time I saw lots of mirror images. One day we had a crazy blue sky (almost had forgotten what it looked like after months in the dungeon haha) and the sun was about to set, way too pretty not to share!

Thanks for having me Tibbles, was great catching up with you all x

Sunday, February 10, 2013

phone photos from the last while

on my way to church... dramatic weather over the river
write it on your heart and act it out every single day.
 lots of knots
 wet wet common - running proofed to be tricky that day!
 two of my Vienna favs :)

blurry sunset over  High Street Kensington
 garage door in Linz :)
found on the back of a barn in Salzburg - very happy farmer??
 clothes swap party with all my favourites!
afternoon walks with Ruth, Lisl and Miss E in the snow

family time ahahaha

Friday, February 1, 2013

the fight against food waste

Last week saw the launch of Enough Food #IF.
One of the aspects that there is not enough food in this world (or let's say fairly distributed, there is more than enough food in this world!) is food waste.
Tristram Stuart does an amazing job in breaking it down and explaining it in this video. Some of these numbers will shock and surprise you, be warned it's a sad reality we live in!

It is way too easy to throw out food, to use everything means you need to plan and get creative. I get a box of organic veggies every single week and as the produce is seasonal I had to come up with seven different ways to cook cabbage recently :)
As with everything in our world, if we all play our parts we can make a change.
You can still sign up and be part of the Enough Food for everyone IF campaign here.
Happy weekend x