It’s the time of year for self-improvements of various kinds, and don’t even let me hear you open your whine-hole about how laaaaaaame and superfiiiiicial it is when people talk about diets in January, because 1) get back to us when you’re done volunteering in Haiti, Mr. Deep and Meaningful, and 2) maybe you should ask yourself why people feeling motivated and having goals makes you so uncomfortable.
Anyway! I have some lame and superficial things I’ve been thinking about lately, starting with my face.
I’ve been pretty unhappy with my skin for a while now. Somewhere back at the beginning of the summer I started getting this rashy sort of breakout around my chin, which I assumed was a rosacea flareup of some kind possibly associated with switching to cheaper skincare. I went back to the higher quality makeups, moisturizers, cleansers, but nothing helped, so I finally saw a dermatologist. (Leading to an amusing first visit where he carefully asked, with female assistant present, if the issue I was there to discuss was above or below my waist.)
The dermatologist thought it probably wasn’t rosacea but some kind of dermatitis, although he wasn’t really sure what it was. He gave me some antibiotics which in turn gave me nasty headaches, so I went back and he prescribed a different round of antibiotics which made my stomach unhappy.
Fuck this, I thought, and resigned myself to shitty skin.
It’s gotten worse in the last couple months, though, so when I saw AndreAnna talking about the Oil Cleansing Method I decided to give it a try. You can read about it on her site (and there are some handy additional links at the bottom of her post), but basically the idea is to clean your face using a mixture of castor oil and some other vegetable oil.
(I notice that many people who are fans of the oil cleansing method have pretty bottles of organic castor oil, but I bought mine in the drugstore. The bottle said STIMULANT LAXATIVE FOR RELIEF OF CONSTIPATION in very, very, very large letters.)
After trying it for a few days, I’m a new fan. I’m using about 30% castor oil and 70% grapeseed oil, mixed together and rubbed into my face nightly. It sounds so awful, doesn’t it? Rubbing oil on your face? But I swear to god my skin feels like a baby’s buttcheek afterwards. My pores are smaller, my face looks smoother, that bullshit on my chin is less inflamed and not raised like it was.
I also got a Clarisonic Mia after hearing more and more rave reviews about this device (plus it’s made by the Sonicare folks, and I am purely addicted to my Sonicare), and I’ve been using that in the mornings. No soap, just a quick buzz over my face in the morning during my shower. This, I think, is helping with some of the flakiness I am also prone to.
It’s too early to unreservedly endorse the expensive Clarisonic, but I think I’d recommend the oil method to anyone, even if you just try it as an occasional facial.
These aren’t very good before/after photos, but the first is intended to show the Chin Yuck from a week ago, the second was taken this morning with minimal makeup.
Okay! Next thing: diet.
I’ve been having a really hard time breaking out of an ongoing habit of dieting followed closely by wild junk food abandon. It would probably be okay if I could keep the junk binges under some sort of control, but they’re getting much longer than the stretches of healthy eating. I’ve gained a fair amount of muscle in the last few months thanks to CrossFit, but I’ve also piled on some fat. My jeans don’t fit, I don’t like the way I look, I don’t like the way I feel.
To help me stay on track with meals, if only to force myself to be more thoughtful about food before mindlessly shoveling it in, I started a daily food diary. I’m not entirely diligent with this, but I try and document meals via photo, and more recently, CrossFit workouts.
At total cross-purposes with the obsessive food-journalling, I’m reading Geneen Roth’s When Food is Love. It’s often a little too . . . touchy-feely for me, but there were some passages that sort of reached out and grabbed me by the collar.
I’m going to post them without comment on what they mean for me personally, because that’s probably a whole different blog post.
Love is the willingness and ability to be affected by another human being and to allow that effect to make a difference in what you do, say, become. […] Compulsion is the act of wrapping ourselves around an activity (…) to numb our experience of the moment.
We create drama by externalizing our pain, by making things hard between ourselves in relationships instead of being honest about how hard it is inside ourselves. [...] Compulsive eating is fabulous theater. It is replete with all the elements of good tragedy: rage, frustration, grief, sorrow, fear, happiness, hope, exhilaration, excasty.
You never have to do anything but go on extravagant binges and rigid diets (…) to experience the vitality and intensity most people define as being alive. You never have to let another human being come close.
Something is wrong when we feel we have to deprive ourselves of foods we love because we believe we would abuse them—or ourselves—if we allowed them in our lives. Something is wrong and we are using food to express it.
The choice is exactly the same for all of us—alcoholics, drug addicts, smokers, compulsive eaters: Do I want to live while I’m alive and embrace what sustains me or do I want to die while I’m still alive and embrace what destroys me?
Really interesting and insightful stuff. I’m going to read more of her books.
Lastly! I’ve decided to try and take part in Flickr’s Project 365, where the idea is to take a photo a day throughout the year. It’s been, you know, all of five days, so we’ll see if I can keep it up, but so far it’s a fun daily activity. No rule that says it’s too late to join, should you feel so inclined.
Now, tell me: what’s new in your 2011? Any personal improvement goals you’re working on, however superficial?