What’s the big deal about skin?

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My partner, who reads all my post (or at least I want to believe it!) suggested last week to write about the skin to complement my post about what we put in our skin. What a lovely he is! As I’m very interested in how we look after our skin, I think it’s appropriate to stop and have a look at our largest organ to better understand what the big deal about it is.

The Oxford dictionary says that “the skin is the thin layer of tissue forming the natural outer covering of the body of a person or animal”. What does this mean? Well, basically skin protects us from the microbes and the elements that are in the air – it’s our first line of defense.

It’s the largest organ of the body as well as the largest organ of detoxification so it’s important to look after it from the outside as well as to incorporate proper diet. Our body works as a system where every function is connected so nutrition also plays an important role on how we feel in the inside and we look in the outside. Great skin starts from within – when we feel good in the inside we look good in the outside. Would you agree?

Being our protective covering, our first barrier to fight illness and disease, you would think we all care about it, right? Well, the issue is that it’s easy to take skin for granted. I sometimes get a complement about my face skin: “You have a great skin”, they say. Well, let me share with you something: the difference between neglected and pampered skin is incredible. So ask yourself: how am I treating my skin? What do I put on it? And you might have an answer on why your skin is (or not) looking so good…

To make things simple: healthy skin is vital for us, both emotionally and physically. What we put on our skin is just as important as what we put in our body. Both affect the wellbeing of our entire body so next time you cover yourself on body lotion, remember that your skin absorbs a large percentage of what you put on it.

Did you know how much we rely on our skin?

  • The skin defends us from a range of harmful things each day. Think of all the germs and particles that are in the air. In addition, skin is a protective barrier that helps preserve our internal fluids and organs.
  • Clean pores enable our body to expel waste so keeping your pores clean provides a clear exit strategy for all kinds of nasty toxins that accumulate in our bodies.
  • Our skin provides the first signal to our brain that we’re being hurt or in pain. This signal helps us react quickly to prevent a worse injury.
  • The skin is an indicator for our overall health. Early warning signs of many diseases manifest themselves on the skin.
  • Vitamin D is vital to our immune system. With proper sun exposure, skin plays a large role in manufacturing Vitamin D.
  • Skin is the body’s natural heating and air conditioning system. It helps regulate body temperature and permits the sensations of touch, heat, and cold.
  • Harsh chemicals, soaps and skin care products that reduce our bodies’ natural protective oils demolish our natural defense strategy.
  • Touch is one the most meaningful ways we connect to other people. Our skin allows us to experience pleasure through touch.

Also, don’t forget appearance: so much of how we feel about ourselves is wrapped up in the way we look.

I hope you are getting a sense of how important it is to look after ourselves and our skin by giving it what it needs. Next time you have to choose a personal or skin care product, be conscious on what you are selecting. A good start would be avoiding nasty chemicals on your skin and eating healthy – you’ll feel the difference!

With lots of love,

Laia x

Photo on VisualHunt

Friday reflections…

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I’m getting married tomorrow. “Are you nervous? Do you still have time to do other stuff than worrying about the wedding?! Are you excited?”. These are some of the frequent questions I’ve heard for the last two weeks, by text or in person, from my family and closest friends. My response: “I’m not nervous. I’m excited. Yes – I do have time to do lots of other stuff besides wedding stuff”. Why do I say this? Because it seems that it’s not normal to be calm and content before your wedding so you can enjoy it. Actually, the good news is that you can! (Although I guess that tomorrow I’ll get a little bit of stomach ticking…)

Well, I might be the exception to the rule, but I’m happy, calm, relaxed, not nervous at all, and I’ve highly enjoyed organising it since Lucas and I decided that we were only going to do a very simple and casual wedding. Most arguments finished when we decided to have an unpretentious wedding. Before that -when in my head I had this idea of a big Spanish princess wedding with lots of family and friends- the wedding was going to be trouble. We had arguments since day one because we couldn’t agree on the basics. We just wanted different things. I wanted my princess wedding and Lucas wanted a very casual one. When we decided to make it simple (overcoming all my resistance) and mirror who we are, not what’s expected from us, it was different. Actually, it’s been the easiest event I’ve ever organised in my career in events management and marketing! Can you believe it?!

Why I’m telling you this? Because of the internal shift that had to happen for me to see this and feel this way. The swing towards what’s important and what’s not… While initially my focus was others and what was culturally and socially correct, now my priority is us. When the focus shifted to us, what we really wanted and what was important for US, it was easy! I just didn’t want to spend a full year of preparation having lots of arguments because we couldn’t agree on the basics. Not to mention the high cost that a traditional wedding was going to have. It wasn’t going to work.

You might wonder how I did the shift. Well, as most important things in life, I had a ‘wake-up call’ through couple of very close family members getting very sick. Suddenly, my perspective changed. My priorities changed. Not only personally, also professionally. I started asking myself questions such as:

  • What’s important for me?
  • Am I following my heart of what’s been taught to me?
  • How am I living my life? Am I making the right choices?
  • Are my decisions worth the sacrifices involved?
  • What’s more important: getting good money in a stressful job that doesn’t full fill you or seeking something else that gives you purpose (even if the money isn’t good to start with)?
  • Who am I surrounded with? Are they positive or negative influence for me?
  • What are those things I really want to invest my time with?
  • Who are those people that empower me to move forward and upwards in my journey?

And so on. Because our daily choices (the small ones) determine the life we have and our success. So, through being aware and conscious of how I want to live, everything started falling into place. My partner (husband to be soon) was so good and helped a lot when initially I was stressed and with no energy due to my work and sadness for my family not being able to make it here for the big day – he kicked off all the planning. Then, slowly, I started getting more involved and loved jumping fully on board. Now, one day to go and we only need to sort couple of small things that always happen the day before which means that I can relax, feel content and do lots of other stuff. I feel proud of myself and proud of us as a couple for not letting the stress to get me/us.

Proud of myself because I managed to overcome the barrier of what’s socially acceptable and organise a low cost wedding, casual and lovely with those people who matter to us so we can then travel to Spain and Argentina to celebrate there with our wider family.

Proud of us because we have handled it pretty well – at least if I compare it with other people who tell me that they spent the full year of preparation arguing for wedding stuff. Also, because during the last few weeks we have had people visiting us before the wedding; we have been sorting lots of wedding stuff; Lucas has been working so hard on his business; I’ve also been working on my personal and professional projects. All these things had an impact on us and our relationship with little time left for us. But after all, we are handling it the best we can with contentment.

I just wanted to share this story with you as I believe it’s very important how we manage our emotions and how feel towards things in order to have this sense of contentment in anything we do. Because experience has taught me that being stressed and ‘upset’ constantly for what others do or what you do (but it’s not what you wanted) is not healthy. You need to start by respecting yourself. By being gentle towards your body and soul, your most precious assets. Sometimes we are our worst enemies, or judges – don’t judge yourself (nor others). Always do your best, be impeccable with your words, don’t take anything personally and don’t make assumptions. That’s a great formula to live a life full of love, happiness and contentment.

With lots of love,

Laia x

Do you know what are you putting on your body?

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Following up on my last post on how to identify toxins in your foods, I’ve decided to write a little bit about my own experience with personal care and beauty products. Why? Because my choice of healthy living is from the inside out, so what I put on my skin matters as much as what I eat.

Did you know that:

  • Cosmetics is a self-regulating industry? The people who create the commercial products used every day are who determine if the product and the chemicals contained within them are safe.
  • This means that chemicals are used in cosmetics (skin, hair, beauty, personal, baby, oral) on the basis that they are safe till the opposite is demonstrated?
  • Your skin will absorb chemicals 10 times faster than by way of ingestion because the skin doesn’t have a digestive system or the liver detoxifying process to break the chemicals down
  • The average person puts over 200+ chemicals on their skin every day? 65% of these chemicals are absorbed into the body.

This is something I learnt not long ago, and most people I talk to these days don’t know either. I remember my mum telling me what to buy for my personal and skin care… and I used to ignore her. When she told me to stop using certain brands because of their ingredients, I ignored her. Till one day someone else told me about it, and then it clicked and I realised what I was doing to my body.

An example someone gave once: have you ever received a topical prescription from a doctor, such as an anti-fungal or anti-bacterial cream? Or used a topical pain reliever for a mouth sore (or for your baby’s teething)? What about a birth control patch that slowly releases hormones? Why do these products work so well when applied to our skin, rather than taken orally? Well, I know why now… our skin readily absorbs chemicals and other substances deeper into our body– through our skin layers, into muscles and fat, and ultimately into our bloodstream and organs.

Another example: Make up. It doesn’t just hover around on the outer layer of your skin until you remove it at night – it penetrates deeper and deeper into your body throughout the day.

Scary, hey? Well, I thought it was scary. There is so much information available around about nutrition and skin & personal care products ingredients that can cause cancer and other illnesses that it’s frightening and confusing, to say the least.

So I decided to look for a botanically based safe option (which by the way, I love). But I didn’t stop there – I then starting investigating which are those ingredients that I should be avoiding in personal care products to make sure every time I buy a new product I’m not making the wrong choice. I can’t always buy natural and organic products to be honest, but I like checking that the products I buy aren’t harmful. One thing I discovered is within my powers is not buying nasty, chemical filled products till I can afford or have access to organic, vegan and botanical based ones (and for me is also a must to avoid products that are tested in animals).

Different sources name different ingredients, but there are some that consistently repeat across my  ‘to avoid’ lists and I’d like to share them with you:

  • Synthetic colours
  • Parabens
  • Synthetic fragrances
  • Aluminium
  • Synthetic dyes
  • Petroleum based ingredients: benzene, petrolatum, phthalates and toluene
  • Mineral oil
  • PABA
  • Triclosan
  • Hydroquinone
  • Formaldehyde-donating preservatives
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
  • Sunscreen chemicals
  • DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine) and TEA (triethanolamine)

Do you feel a little bit overwhelmed with all this information? I did when I started researching it and my first thought was: “I need to get rid of all my cosmetics and replace them for a safe option!”. The reality is that I would be broke if I tried to suddenly replace all of my beauty care products at once. So my first step was to pick the one or two range products I was most concerned about: skincare and makeup.

I replaced my whole range of facial moisturisers and make up, plus my deodorant, for a brand I knew was botanically based, vegan, result driven and PETA certified. That was a great choice and I have to admit that I feel confident that I’m now using a safe product on my body. Actually, I’m totally in love with the makeup range! Even people at work could see the difference when I did the shift, so I knew that besides putting a healthy product on my skin, the results were visible.

So, if you are not comfortable with the products you are currently using, research some better brands or, if you have time, you could even consider making your own replacement – there are lots of recipes online.

Once you’ve found a replacement that you’re happy with, decide what you might like to replace to start with. One at a time, little by little, you will slowly transform your beauty care routine into a non-toxic, pampering affair. Because – as I keep repeating in every post- you are your most precious asset – look after and treat yourself with love and care and enhance your healthy living from the inside out.

With lots of love,

Laia x

The energy you surround yourself with

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“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn

Today I’d like to share with you a recent experience that reminded me of the importance of who you surround yourself with.

Not long ago I was dealing with high stress levels and a work environment that wasn’t ideal as I felt too much negativity around me. As circumstances changed, things improved and once I moved on (left the job) I started feeling balanced again. Actually, I’ve been feeling better than ever since the year started: I left the corporate world full time, started my healthy living program and my energy levels went up, I started my own venture, I’m about to get married, etc. I’m feeling balanced and content so couldn’t ask for more!

We have also had family visiting us which is always lovely. Yes, it can be challenging as your routines change and you lose your own space for few days but it’s still great, you just need to do a small adjustment for a little while. This time we had a new guest from outside the family that we didn’t know and I was looking forward to it. However, as soon as I met her I could feel like someone was taking all my energy. After the first day I was exhausted and my energy levels considerably dropped. I’m sure she is doing the best she can to adjust to her partner’s family but it didn’t feel right at all. We were all exhausted after few days travelling together and I ended being sick as my body somatise all the negativity around me.

The bad news is that sometimes you can’t choose who you surround yourself with (family, for example), but the great news is that 99% of the time you make the choice! People have a huge impact on your life, therefore, with this in mind, you should think about the people you’re spending time with the same way you think about what you eat and how you’re exercising. This is also part of your healthy living plan.

Some people can be ‘parasites’. They suck out your energy and happiness, they spread their negative vibe around with all the consequences that this has for your own well-being. So… why would you surround yourself of those kind of people? It’s LOTS better to surround yourself by positive and energetic people! Ask yourself: what makes someone a “good” person to spend time with? And what are the benefits of surrounding yourself with these people?

The good people I’m looking for are positive, happy people that enrich my life. They can be family members, friends, co-workers or acquaintances I meet at networking events or at the train. They inspire me to be a better person, motivate me to achieve my goals, empower me to make the changes I need to succeed and cheer on my success. They have this amazing energy you feel attracted to straight away.

Why do I want to surround myself with this kind of people? Because my personal and professional success depends on it – success doesn’t occur in a vacuum and your personal improvement leading up to your success can be driven by the people you surround yourself with. I would actually say that one of the most important decisions we make in life is who we choose to be around.

If you look around, we live in a world that surrounds us with negativity. We get it regularly from media and other sources: co-workers, bosses, friends, family and even strangers – have you ever had someone you don’t know to have a go at you for no reason? No worries, it’s not about you, it’s about them. But they spread their negativity around. Then, it’s very important to learn how to filter out the negativity (I know, it’s not easy but you can do it!).

So, what to do? Walk away from those people in your life who drain you of your energy because they thrive on sharing their own negative vibe. Get as far away from them as you can. Why? Because it impacts your perspective with regard to your own life and -in addition- impacts your mental health.

Instead, why not to decide to invest your time in those relationships that give you joy, energy, empowerment and positive vibes. Like attracts like so if you give off positive vibes and confidence and you are genuine, you’ll attract the same into your life. This will lead you to the people that are right for you.

When you’re surrounded by good people, you’re surrounded by life. You’ll be less stressed and find more joy in your daily life. Make a commitment to start spending more time with the good people in your life and make it count.

“Surround yourself with people who make you happy. People who make you laugh, who help you when you’re in need. People who genuinely care. They are the ones worth keeping in your life. Everyone else is just passing through.” – Karl Marx

With lots of love,

Laia x