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Friday, June 6, 2014

Amber Waves of.....Brain Fog?!

"I'm Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired." ~Fannie Lou Hamer


At the beginning of last year I drastically cut down on gluten. Even though I never felt I had any sort of intolerance to wheat since I didn't seem to have any obvious digestive issues after eating it, I knew that gluten is not particularly good for you. 

Then during the last holiday season I expanded my usual dietary fare to include a bit of gluten and sugar here and there. I wanted to enjoy the holidays, not feel deprived. I didn't go overboard, either- not every meal, just a few times a week. This went on for a good 5 weeks or so. Then I paid.

For the next 6 weeks or so I had fairly severe fatigue, and very heavy brain fog. In other words, I couldn't think, and I was constantly tired.  I was able to get through my day, but each day I had to drop things off my 'to do' list as the day wore on because I just couldn't accomplish what I normally would. I was barely able to do the minimum of things I need to do to just to keep up with my life, and was lucky if I managed to stay awake for even a few minutes past putting my son to bed.

So, as of mid January, I quit gluten entirely. No more 'every once in a while,' no more processed foods, etc. I started learning about everything has gluten in it, just as if I had celiac's disease.

Over the following weeks and months a few things happened; my energy level slowly increased, my fatigue started to dissipate, and I had more and more moments of clarity where my brain fog lifted. 6 months after quitting the gluten I no longer feel like I'm going to collapse from exhaustion right after dinner. I don't know how many years it's been since I hadn't felt that way.

One other interesting thing; my skin got nicer. (And here's how this all relates to my image consulting blog.) My skin color got more even, my pores look smaller. Encouraged by this, I tried a little experiment- I replaced most of the chemically based skincare products I have with more natural, less toxic (and less expensive) alternatives. For the past few years I'd been following Paula Begoun's recommendations from her book, 'The Beauty Bible.'  I'd been using alpha hydroxy, and then Retin-A  after washing my face in the evenings, and in the mornings, an inexpensive moisturizer from Trader Joe's after washing. So as of now, in the evenings I wash my face with apricot oil, then using a 1-1 mixture of organic apple cider vinegar and alcohol free witch hazel as a toner, no moisturizer. Then in the morning I wash with a tiny bit of raw, organic honey, use a little freshly squeezed lemon juice as a toner, then my Trader Joe's moisturizer. It's been like magic.

I've noticed that my skin doesn't get oily anymore- either overnight, or during the day. I still need to exfoliate pretty often, but in general, my skin seems happier. It's great when you make improvements in your lifestyle due to necessity, and then have other, unexpected improvements as  a bonus. Not only does my skin look better, I'm also not spending as much on skincare.

I'm always saying in order to look your best, you have to be healthy. I've had a tough little lesson on taking my own advice over the past year- 

Lesson learned.

Happy Dressing!