It was about accepting how far I have come in my health journey with psoriasis. Even though I wasn’t thrilled about what happened to my face since being diagnosed, I had come to a point where I was happy with the progress I had already made.
And then I challenged myself to be a raw vegan for the month of July and with the exception of a few bites of hummus here and there, I succeeded.
Then something else happened. My skin started changing rapidly. The picture above is the transformation from June 3rd to August 3rd. The pink scales started to clear and my real skin appeared. My real brown started to emerge again. I walked out of the house several times without a stitch of makeup except for lip gloss. It has been years since I felt comfortable doing that.
Even though I indulged in cooked food a few times over last weekend, I know how key this is to my healing and I know I’ve written it many times now, but I am not letting it go. When I first looked at those pictures side by side, I was bowled over by the change. There is an answer for me that doesn’t look or sound like injections or pills or steroids.
How blessed am I for having access to fresh fruits and vegetables? How blessed am I that I have access to information about how they heal and how my body wants to heal itself? I am grateful that I was open to it.
I wrote a post months ago about having to say no in order to say yes to myself. Well, I am doing it again. I have been working extra hard lately and tonight, I will nourish myself and rest. I also thought about something special to share. I have made many vegan dishes–mostly cooked but several raw vegan. I had many favorites like African peanut stew, Raw No Bake Brownies, Vegan Shepherd’s Pie, Sweet Potato Enchilada Bake, Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo and Raw Taco with Cashew Sour Cream.
I look back and think how proud I am that I pushed myself to find and cook these recipes. I didn’t just rely on salads (but I have made plenty of those!). I can’t believe it took this long to become more creative with my cooking but mostly I am grateful that I used this as a way to take better control of my health.
I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings as I start to prepare more raw meals and watch food play a much bigger role in my healing.
Today is the fifth day of my July Raw Food Challenge. I have eaten a raw food diet before for a short period of time. The biggest difference I see this time around are the detox symptoms. I did lose weight this week (4.6 lbs) but parts of my body are covered in red rashes. Apparently, it’s a common symptom that I never experienced before. I had fatigue and headaches in the past but watching myself breakout like this has been jarring. I think because of my psoriasis the thought of my body being covered in something I can’t control unnerves me.
It doesn’t mean I will stop. I am telling myself that it will go away in a matter of days. I just have to wait it out. I am holding onto the benefits and staying excited about my results at the end of the month.
Have you ever experienced any detox symptoms? If so, how did you cope with it?
In July, I am embracing a raw vegan diet which is fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds. I have tried it before but could never make it stick long-term. I am not interested in adopting it long-term but hoping this challenge will springboard me into incorporating more raw foods. Over the past year, I realized I depend on vegan processed food a bit too much. That has been harder to let go of than meat and dairy by far.
This past week, I lost 2.8 lbs. I still ate a mixture of raw, cooked and processed food. And it was all great–the vegetarian festival, the vegan potluck with friends and our regular meals at home.
However, I know if I don’t cut back on processed foods I may never heal the conditions I sought to in the first place. I am excited to see what this month brings–one raw meal at a time.
Have you ever tried a raw vegan diet? If so, what did you think?
Today, my article sharing 3 tips to going vegan was published on 30seconds.com.
It was fitting because today is my one-year vegan anniversary. Hubby and I started for health reasons and eventually grew to care more about the environmental reasons, too.
During the course of a year, I have learned many things. I learned about my dependence on processed food, that cheese was the hardest food to kick, the importance of reading labels and that there is a plethora of delicious and diverse plant-based options in the world.
I also learned eating this way has been healing. I no longer deal with acid reflux or heavy periods. I also sleep better than I used to.
I have found a community that supports this lifestyle, too. I go to vegan potlucks, pop-ups and community festivals and lectures. Food justice in underserved areas is a real issue I care more about than ever thanks to the David Carter lecture I attended in Baltimore.
I feel more aware, healthier and it helps that I walk this road with a partner who reaps the benefits, too.
I am looking forward to what comes in year two. Year one opened my eyes to a world I don’t ever want to be closed off from again.
I never thought about it until psoriasis came for a visit and never left.
I barely ever wore any kind of powder or foundation and rarely got pimples.
I basically had the luxury of rarely thinking about it.
But then psoriasis came to visit and never left.
Even though it came slowly and didn’t seem threatening at all, it did eventually ravage my body. And no steroid could fix it and I am not fond of exposing my body to biologics. In fact, I have spent most of my life scared of all medications outside of OTC and antibiotics.
So after fielding multiple questions such as “What happened to your face?” I started to delve back into plant-based healing and learning about the devastation inflammation brings (for me, psoriasis and PCOS). So even while I waited for the flares to become less frequent, I had to figure out how to cover the pink and red flaky patches on my face. Of course, it was makeup and if for some reason, I didn’t have my makeup brush and Dermablend with me, my spirits would sink. I remember on one particular day not wanting to get out of the car when I parked at church. I drove away and found somewhere to cry.
I felt like a monster without my “face.”
The pain of an itchy scalp, raw thighs and a scarred face sometimes felt like too much of a strain on my mind, let alone my body. I often smiled through a lot of it but I felt like I was wilting on the inside.
As we all know, we can’t escape our own mind or body.
It took a long time to start to see some improvement and I don’t have flares as often as I used to but damage was done.
People who meet me now will never know what I used to look like and it seems like a small thing but it was a real adjustment. I believe my smiles are more genuine now. It’s funny that I am actively pursuing a profession that puts me front and center when I can remember feeling like that’s the last place I really want to be or should be.
I think it took blogging and writing classes and prayer and fruits and vegetables and talking it out over and over again with my husband, family and friends for healing to start taking place. I know I have a long road ahead of me but I think I found a formula that works.
Thursday has become my day for posting wellness updates. The morning routine of going to bed and waking up earlier, taking time to journal, pray and listen to something inspirational (mostly sermons and podcasts) and now working out has helped immensely. Even though I have always acknowledged that wellness is more than just weight, ignoring that part while I write here is not really what I want to do either.
I am a firm believer that my writing and my health are inextricably linked. I know when I am burning the candle at both ends, not eating well or moving myself consistently, my writing suffers. I am not as energized to do it and it feels more rushed. I believe I have always been able to convey my message but who doesn’t want to feel good while doing it?
I believe I have been having a series of God moments these last few weeks in regards to my health. Let me explain. I am part of Heather Parady’s Facebook group and in it, she issues weekly challenges to build new habits each week to add to our morning routine. Being a part of this group gives me accountability and it came at the exact right time. I was literally trying to bring order and slow down after the anxiety came and had no plan laid out as to how I was going to do it. I could have either sat back and not gotten the message or take the challenge that was laid out before me. I am not a huge believer in coincidence. I know if I had not started down this road, I am not sure where or how I would be right now.
I weigh-in at home each week to track myself and steer towards a gluten-free lifestyle. I still am plant-based and I love it. What I am learning to fall in love with is being more whole-foods plant-based. It’s been about 9 months since Jeff and I said good-bye to all meat and dairy but it’s taken awhile to find our footing when it comes to staying away from so much processed food. Since I struggle with PCOS, it is especially difficult for me to lose weight but definitely not impossible. I am not claiming that for myself. I choose to believe that with the right habits I will reach my goal. This week I actually lost 4 pounds!
Like many of us on this path, I get excited in the beginning. I start getting results quickly and I feel like I can stay stick to my new habits forever. I’m a “whole new person.”
I am still the same me. The one who has fallen down and gotten up again. The one who said she was stopping eating _______ and picked it back up weeks, months or even a couple of years later. The one who promised to work out X amount of times each week and every time I have failed. Every time there is an excuse and every time I let myself off the hook.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t need to beat myself up. But I do need to be honest.
I am the me who does so many other awesome things and won’t give up no matter how many times I try. I am also the me who keeps getting knocked upside the head with the truth of how my habits have affected my present but hopefully not my future.
I can’t tell anyone (not even myself) how any of this will work out. I just know I can’t stop trying because I know there’s no end in sight. This is my life. I will always have to work a bit harder than others but it’s worth it.
Before I took a couple of weeks off, my body told me it was time before I did. I was feeling anxious and tired but didn’t realize the extent of it. I thought this is how it’s supposed to be while you’re juggling a day job and trying to build a career from scratch on the side. I seemed to always be in a rush. Rushing to go to work, rushing to complete a blog post even if I knew in advance what it was going to be about and my mind constantly thinking about what I should be doing to take better care of myself: Lose that weight, try that skin product, watch that video on natural healing, finish reading those books, document more, promote my E-book more frequently, submit to other publications on a regular basis and be a better daughter, sister, friend, cousin, Christian, traveler, volunteer, wife, writer, student…
So when I thought I was just going about my business, the signals my mind was sending to my body shut me down. I was not going to share this but I thought maybe someone somewhere is or was going through the same thing and if I want to be anything on this blog, it is real. I am not writing about this because it’s anybody’s business except for mine but to pretend like I took a short break “just because” didn’t feel authentic. My doctor told me to slow down and that I was having anxiety attacks. It’s a strange thing to be told if you believe that everything is generally “ok” and you’re just “busy.” I am one of those people who tell myself, even in the thick of it, that I have blessings to be grateful for but I was telling myself those things while running.
In the last couple of weeks, I have taken time to go to bed and wake up earlier, journal and pray as soon as I get up and to listen to something inspirational. I lean towards a T.D. Jakes sermon or a little of John Gray. I even joined a morning routine challenge on Facebook which has helped to keep me accountable. I also have gotten back to working out and weighing myself weekly. I decided to go gluten-free (I don’t have an allergy) for 90 days. I wanted to see if it made a difference with brain fog and I don’t know if it’s because of that or a combination of all of these habits, but it has worked.
I can’t tie this up in a nice, neat bow nor do I want to. These past few weeks have made me see things with a new clarity. I still want all of the same things but slowing down to write, pray and move myself has strengthened my resolve to be more patient about getting them and strangely a confidence has blossomed from it, too.
All I can control is my effort, consistency and the time to take care of myself which will eventually take care of the reaching my goals aspect of my life, too.
Even if my body had to tell me before I was willing to do something about it, I am glad I did. I don’t feel like I’m running breathlessly today and all I can do is be grateful for that and set myself up to feel the same way tomorrow.
Your turn: Has your body ever told you something before you realized it? If so, what did you decide to do about it? I would love to hear your thoughts!
See you on Thursday’s post with a wellness journey update!
I have been thinking about what should be next in plant-based journey. I have thought about cutting out wheat, oil and finally going ahead and removing all soy-based products from my diet. It would be hard for me to stop myself from feasting on the chicken-fried tofu from Whole Foods but of course, I would survive. I can’t help but feel like there is something I am missing and something I am moving towards. In terms of what I am missing, I am missing consistent discipline with everything to be truthful. I have been able to maintain my blogging schedule, met my E-Book publication goal and will start working back on my novel and another project soon. However, when it comes to my self-care I am definitely slipping. I have not focused on doing both. I have thought about it but I would be a liar if I said I have taken consistent action. I’ve been missing dance class which I love and have been snacking late for no reason whatsoever. I wrote a piece about being scared to be empty in one of my writing classes. I could mull over the reasons why or try to develop an origin story for this fear but I would rather funnel that energy into moving, getting to bed early and forming new habits. I am moving towards a new me that is healthy and for the first time, is starting to see animals. I mean, really value them. I even told hubby I wanted to visit an animal sanctuary. For those who don’t know me, this has NEVER been me. I have never owned a pet or particularly cared to pet an animal. It was not for me or to ever be for me but eating this way has changed me. I find myself more curious than I have ever been. I don’t know where this newfound curiosity will take me but I am willing to follow along.
A important part of this blog is to focus on my wellness journey. My healing from it all-the weight, the PCOS, the psoriasis, etc..I know I don’t write enough or almost at all about it. I post what I cook on Mondays but not much else. I think I want Thursdays to be a wellness update.
I am not sure if I will include pounds lost or skin cleared but it will be real and it will be here.
Earlier this week, I started researching float therapy. I heard about it earlier this year and a woman in one of my writing classes recommended it. Since hubby has been experiencing some nerve pain recently, we decided to try it together. I read about many benefits including stress and chronic pain relief, relaxation and even bursts of creativity!
The ambiance in The Float Zone was spa-like. Comfortable chairs, soothing music and a basket was provided immediately for our shoes. There was also an Ipad and headphones provided to view a video for first-time floaters. After the viewing and signing a waiver, we went on a tour of the center. The tour completely calmed me down. I am not claustrophobic however, if you agree to climb into a pod I believe that is something you should examine. Because you have your own float room that locks and you can keep the door to your pod as open as you’d like, I don’t think it is a big concern.
Every time you float, you must shower and shampoo before and after and they had everything ready in the room beforehand. You must wear earplugs, too. They also provided a neck pillow for comfort while in the pod. I noticed the pod seemed massive compared to what I saw online. I think it was just seeing it in person for the first time. I also love they had Vaseline with the toiletries provided to protect your self from the Epsom salts if you had cuts and bruises. Because of my psoriasis, it was immensely helpful.
As I stepped into a pod, I couldn’t help but feel like I was some kind of alien. Climbing into a pod and shutting it over yourself is definitely a singular sensation. I tried not to have any expectations except to float. I heard a range of testimonials from deep relaxation to nausea to psychedelic visions.
I decided to forgo the light and let their meditation music play in the background at first. The music wasn’t distracting but it added to the chatter going on in my mind. Once I found the button to shut it off, my relaxation went to a deeper level. For some reason, I focused a lot on my maternal grandmother, Yvelle. We called her Veve. She passed away in 2003. She was beautiful with an appetite for life. I saw her face and couldn’t stop picturing the couches and curtains in her house on 109th in Queens. I even saw myself as a little girl sitting in a backseat of a car in New York, driving to or talking about going to a McDonald’s.
At one point, my body felt baked into the salt solution. My body was there but I was very aware that my brain was someplace else. I might have been dreaming. Even when I wasn’t sleeping or drifting off, I could clearly hear my breathing and heartbeat. I knew this could happen after watching part of the “Float Nation” documentary on YouTube.
Before I knew it, I simultaneously heard a soft, female voice telling me it was time to exit the pod and sensed the light come on in the pod. I came out of sleep (or whatever state I was in) and found I couldn’t just stand up or find the bottom which was crazy because I was only in 12 inches of water. I had to roll over to my side and grab the short bar to get my bearings and in a matter of seconds, I was able to stand up and lift the top of the pod.
When I walked out, I felt some cool air but it did not disturb me. I showered and left the float room and settled into the post-float room. It was complete with water, herbal teas, magazines, books, adult coloring books, a fireplace and more comfy seating. Hubby liked floating but kept the light on and told me he started exercising in the pod. The darkness freaked him out but it was one of the things that I liked best about it.
The fireplace in the post-float space. It was beautiful!
Hubby and I smiling from ear to ear after our floats!
The question is: Would I do it again?
Yes, because now that I know what to expect I think I will have a real idea if incorporating into my life will have real benefits on my journey of healing.
Your turn: Would you try floating? And if you have, what was your experience like?