PSA: Our fall Mantra Boxes® are now available for pre-order - There are limited quantities so snag yours now while you still can! We have a bunch of Namaslay workshops planned all over the country so be sure to see if we're coming to a city near you. We're also planning our retreats for 2016-17 and have just announced ourKenya Safari Yoga Retreat which is going to be an absolute blast. And lastly, we'll be in Baltimore for our Best of Both Worlds workshop this weekend and hope to see you there!
We recently received the following email:
Q: I think i read something on your blog about training and your skin breaking out. Well, I have the same problem. Since i've started training 3-5 times a week my skin is not happy. Do you have some tips how you've dealt with this (besides of course the usual cleansing, cremes et cetera)? Did you change your nutrients?
A: My skin is really, really finicky. This is an understatement. When I had just finished antibiotics for Lyme disease, my skin was a disaster. Like, didn't want to leave the house type of disaster. One of these days I will share a very graphic photo of how bad my skin was next to a current picture of my skin, but I haven't quite worked up the nerve yet. Give me some time. :) In the meantime, I will tell you this. I have tried all the cleansers in the world, have tried showering right AT the gym, as soon as I get home, or after a grocery run, and I have realized one thing. For me, it isn't so much about how much I sweat and whether I shower right away so much as it is about being sure I do the little things.
What I mean to say is that over the course of the last year (I started training more seriously in October), I have realized that it isn't the the workouts that are difficult to follow through on to see results, but rather, it's the little things- the amount of sleep and the quality of sleep. The amount of food I eat and the quality of my food. The amount of stress I am under. Self care. My hormones. Trying to maintain a good balance of all of these little factors has been the most challenging for me, and these, I've noticed, are the things that impact my skin the most. Here are some things that have helped me and may help you:
- Hydration: Hydration plays a huge part in our skin's health. Remember that the body can only absorb so much at one time so it's best to sip sip sip throughout the day rather than drink big gulps now and then. Are you drinking enough throughout the day?
- Eating enough and eating balanced meals?: Remember that when you are working out, you are expending a serious amount of energy and in order to preform at your best, you need to fuel your body with high quality foods, and the right amount of high quality foods. Everyone's needs and fitness goals are different, but I started working with James to track my macros. When he first gave me my numbers and I logged in a normal day for me, I realized I was seriously under both my recommended amount of protein and carbs, and way over my recommended amount of fats. Once I started following the recommendations closer, I had more energy to get through my workouts and to recover, and my hormones started balancing out.
- Rest days: Rest is your friend. It doesn't feel like it, especially when all you want to do is hit up the gym, but it is so important in recovery and making more gains. Allow yourself some quality rest day(s) and see if your skin evens out.
- Sleep: Speaking of rest, how's your sleep? Do you fall asleep easily and sleep through the night? Do you wake up frequently? Do you have trouble falling asleep? None of the latter are good, and definitely need to be addressed. I've been focusing a lot on my sleep because it plays a huge role in how my skin looks, and how my body feels, and I've read that people do best on 8 hours of sleep, and then you should add one extra hour for every hour you train. So if you're working out for an hour, you need at least 9 hours of sleep.
- Stress levels: Stress raises cortisol, which is inflammation. Acne, essentially, is inflammation in the skin. Many things may cause acne, and stress certainly does not help, so we need to reduce stress as much as possible. It's taxing not only for your skin but for your internal organs as well. Lower your stress. Even things that don't seem like they are a big deal - like someone cutting you off while you're driving, or if you're running late while trying to get out the door. These little annoyances add up and if you're running around with your stress levels slightly elevated all of the time, then you're basically running around with high cortisol and well, that's just no good, you know? Practice feeling calmer, happier and more kind, and you might be surprised by how your skin reacts.
- Nutrients: Eastern medicine says that our skin is a mirror of what's going on internally. I absolutely swear by Chinese face mapping. Basically it's a map of the face that explains the root cause of recurring breakouts on certain areas of the face. If you only break out on your forehead, Chinese medicine says that's a gut issue. If you only break out around your mouth or jawline, Chinese face mapping says that's a hormonal imbalance. If you only break out between your eyebrows, that indicates liver issues. It's fascinating to me, and was actually the catalyst for starting my gut healing protocol after longterm antibiotic use for Lyme disease. I firmly believe that when we have good gut health, our bodies are able to absorb all the nutrients we need from our whole foods diet. When our gut health is compromised, we have trouble breaking down the foods, absorbing the nutrients, and being fully nourished. Things that can help gut health: bone broth, and live probiotic foods like traditionally made sauerkraut, beet kvass, kombucha, and kim chi.
- Face Masks - I am a huge fan of face masks. I find them so calming and nurturing for the skin, but I do firmly believe they are not a solution to problematic skin. They're a great supplement, but I believe in treating the root cause (inflammation, stress, hormones, etc). Anyway, face masks. I have a few favorites which I linked below (affiliate links) and I also have loved making my own. I usually will do equal parts raw or manuka honey, homemade yogurt, and cacao powder. The live probiotics from the yogurt on the skin really do make a noticeable difference.
The bottom line is this - I've learned is that when I am balanced in all aspects of my life, my skin is generally pretty calm and even. When I'm not, my skin will definitely let me (and the world) know! Aim for balance in all aspects of your life and see if that's reflected through your skin's health.
I'd love to know everyone else's thoughts. Do you have finicky skin? Did you at one point? Did it start after you began working out? What'd you do to help?
PS: This is one of the most helpful and knowledgable sites on the web about skin.