Hormones, supps and working out

I’ve tried to fight it for so many years, but vanity has driven me to look at what I’m putting into/doing to my body. I say vanity because I don’t want you to think I’m some crazy health-conscious nut that thinks that fat is a bad word. Nope, I just don’t want wrinkles or folds, on my face or waist. Even when I gave up social smoking, it wasn’t because of the health dangers; it was because I knew I was literally smoking my skin, as if it were a piece of mackerel. And who wants to resemble something dead and oily?
 Amazing little pieces of heaven, AKA raw cakes at @PalmVaults. Photo: Charisse Kenion Ltd

Amazing little pieces of heaven, AKA raw cakes at @PalmVaults. Photo: Charisse Kenion Ltd

Maybe this sounds like I’m taking the p, or showing off, but I'm not. I’m just trying to show you that I am not one of ‘them’, i.e. those condescending prejudiced plant-eaters (Freelee for instance - thank God she's ditched Instagram) and I’m definitely never going to be a skinny girl. I’m just me, ya know? Anyway, blame the BF for this post; he encouraged me to show more of who I really am. (But maybe he meant a naked selfie? Hmmm…)

No meat
I’d say I’ve been on this road for a couple of years now. It all started with ditching meat and realising that I felt a bit lighter without it. That pushed me to start cooking more vegetables. I’ve always liked to cook but losing what was a major food group – and being someone who loves to eat – I soon realised that going veggie didn’t simply mean sticking some grated cheese on just about anything (even though it tastes pretty good). Meanwhile, the BF was going more of a plant-based way, meaning, eating things that come out of the ground; not necessarily always clean, as a recent well-intentioned BBC3 documentary has insinuated.

Once I started eating more veg, I added in some supplements. For me, supplements are always a bit of a catch 22 issue, as most will take a good three months to really take hold, and many of us can’t be arsed to wait around to see if they work – or spend the cash on a regular basis! Still, there are some that work for me time after time.

Evening Primrose Oil
A good few years back I found a couple of lumps and after finding out that I had cystic boobs, i.e. nothing dangerous*, I was told that Evening Primrose in large doses could be helpful. (I was also told no dairy and no soya, so that was kind of annoying… )
Anyway, I also found out that EP oil is meant to be of great help to women, especially around the time of the month, due to its essential fatty acids, that apparently help to create a healthy environment for conception as well as help to balance hormones. This balancing of hormones was the reason EP was suggested for the boob lumps, as (although perfectly normal) hormone imbalances can cause all kinds of health issues, more than we actually realise. Not only did taking it as a supplement help my often schizo skin; breaking open a capsule and applying it directly to my skin before going to bed often meant that I would wake up with softer, smoother skin.
On a mental note, one thing’s for sure; if I ditch EP for a month or so, my up and down days are definitely more acute.
*Whatever I say here, remember, you’re responsible for your own boobs, so if in doubt, please get professional advice.

If you only take one vitamin/supplement and you want to improve your skin, buy yourself some zinc. My favourite is Solgar Chelated Zinc. Zinc is proven to support cell growth and synthesis of collagen (the stuff that keeps our skin looking young), and it’s the key ingredient in all of those ‘skin, hair and nails’ tablets you can find on the high street. Personally I’d rather invest in a high potency Zinc supplement over these skin cocktails which often have negligible amounts of good stuff in them. I’ve seen improvement in my skin within one month of using these but that was also in conjunction with using a two-step cleansing routine (oil-based followed by one containing Salicylic Acid), and three months on, I won’t ditch either of these skin-enhancing tools.

Other daily supplements that I take:
Vitamin D
–  a common supplement for those who don’t eat meat; not just for those who don’t get much sun.
Probiotics – even though my digestion has improved since dropping meat, I still think my lazy gut benefits from millions of these bacteria.
Vitamin B Complex – a blend of various vitamins aimed at supporting the nervous system and promoting energy metabolism.
I also used to take a multivitamin, but it was just too much, coupled with the above products.
Tip: When choosing a supplement, do your research as many of these companies can get away with listing the latest ‘super’ ingredient, even if it’s featured in the most miniscule amount.

Working out
I have been a member of various gyms for over 10 years. But that doesn’t mean I always used the memberships. For years I was a ‘the sun’s coming out, must go to the gym five times a week’ type – especially when I lived in Dubai – only to return to big jumpers and denim and copious amounts of mashed potato once the sun started to set earlier and earlier.
I was (and still am) self-conscious, and can be quite critical of myself. (Actually, right now, I feel kinda corny for putting this ‘out there’.) But when I look back on photographs taken at times when I totally knew I was fat, I really wasn’t, at all. Over time, and admittedly, thanks to a truly amazing BF (sorry if this seems a bit cringe, but it really is the truth; he thinks I’m like, the best) I’ve relied less on criticism and more on consistency.
Don’t read me wrong; it has taken me years to get to this frame of mind, and every month that passes, I learn something new about myself, my body and how it works. Yes, I’m super inspired by strong women like dancer Misty Copeland and Lita Lewis (self-acclaimed #fitthick chick, check her out on Instagram and below), but I’m not comparing myself to them. Instead I’m just making an agreement to myself to move. I know that once I have been to the gym, or gone for a run around the park, or got my squat on in the back garden, I will feel better. Every. Single.Time.
It’s not about looking a certain way; it’s about feeling good. And, corny as it sounds, you never regret a workout you actually showed up for. Regardless of whether the way I look changes or not, feeling good is its own reward. It’s about taking care of you – and no-one else can do that for you.

 This is Lita Lewis. This is not me. Photo: Instagram/followthelita

This is Lita Lewis. This is not me. Photo: Instagram/followthelita


Oh, and back to that vanity thing; every cell in the body – including those that produce collagen - benefits from physical activity, and working up a sweat can be seen as a mini facial in itself, as it helps to dislodge dirt and oil from our pores. It also helps to regulate those old hormones, which again, have a major effect on our skin.  

What have you discovered about yourself – or do you have a fave supplement that you rely on?