CHALLENGE

MKE-UP FR33 MARCH by jill tranquilla

        March has gone by so fast. It feels like it was just yesterday that I adjusted my calendar, but here we are, in April already. I'm totally committed this year to working through my new years resolution. If you aren't aware of my goal, it was to have a new goal each month which would challenge me to live a better lifestyle. For the month of march, I decided to give up makeup. 
In addition to my resolution, from February 18 - April 2 was Lent. Lent is a time each year dedicated to fasting an aspect of your life in order to concentrate on the upcoming holiday, Easter. It's currently Good Friday, so I might as well and go on explaining that as well. Good Friday is the day that we celebrate Christ's crucifixion. I grew up in a Christian household, and became a Christian officially when I was 17 years old. It's easy to loose sight of what Christ did on the cross. Lent is a great way of becoming a reflective time over this event that has changed the course of humanity. Christ was and is the son of God; completely divine. When Jesus was crucified on the cross, his death covered the consequences of humanities evil heart. Because Jesus is God and his death was humble, we have been given eternal life if we accept Jesus into our hearts. By giving up something 40 days before the celebration of that day, you place down something worldly that you have depended on and put more dependance in Jesus for your value. Jesus was crucified on 'Good Friday,' and rose from the grave three days later like it was prophesied decades before. I don't intend for this blog to be a religious platform, but I did think it was important that I explain what Lent was and why I took part in it. So for this months goal, I actually started on February 18 and ended on April 2. This was my first time ever taking part in lent. 
        Moving on to the challenge. Not wearing makeup isn't new to me. I don't struggle with being completely dependant on it like some people, and I think I have working at camps to thank for that. For about 4 or 5 summers I have worked at camps in the summer. There was never much time for makeup application, and so I learnt how to be less dependant on makeup in these scenarios. That being said, I haven't always felt secure without makeup. In the past year and a bit, I also got REALLY into makeup. After discovering youtube, I was hooked. I quickly went from owning a few items to becoming a VIB Rouge member at Sephora within a year, which is stupidly embarrassing. I've calmed down a bit since then, but have a pretty vast makeup collection because of that season in my life.
        The problem for me wasn't so much about having to wear makeup everyday, but it was more about the money I would spend on makeup. It has been so hard to not spend money on makeup. I heard a crazy statistic the other day that said that 1/3 people living on a budget will still spend money on makeup monthly, money they don't have. I would probably fall into that category. During this month I did end up buying some makeup. I got a lipstick from the Milani and also went to Sephora and grabbed two lipsticks from there. So, in a sense I failed anyway.
        My rules for the month were no makeup unless I was doing a shoot, making a youtube video, or needed to look presentable for a school presentation or something. I ended up applying makeup roughly 6 times for this period. 
      My skin was finally able to breathe, which was a huge bonus. I have this theory that when you apply foundation to your skin everyday, it becomes dependant on it to look good and flawless. The first week of not wearing makeup was the most difficult because my skin was the most congested. That didn't really last that long though, and before long I was really excited about the way my skin was looking. Without as many makeup products on my face, I was proud of my skin. It looked fresh and dewy. Despite my scars and imperfections, not wearing makeup felt really good to me. I felt confident once my skin cleared up and had some really good days.
      I also had bad days too though. I felt like my skin was more of a roller-coaster then an having any immediate benefits. During my time on the month I had a nasty little breakout on my chin, which hasn't really resolved. It was a good challenge and I'd encourage anyone to give it a shot, if they are feeling to dependant on makeup for their value. It does get better. I am excited to wear makeup again because I think it's quite fun. 
      I took this opportunity to make a video about my current skin care routine. I thought it was fitting.
Make sure you take a minute to watch it! 

Products used:

Products used:
Camomile Gently Eye-makeup remover - the Body shop
Makeup-Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil - Boscia
Purifying Cleaning Gel - Bosica
Seaweed Ionic Clay Mask - the Body Shop
Mask of Magnaminty - Lush
Grease Relief Face Tonic - Ole Henrickson
Ultimate Moisture Serum - Sephora
Dramatically Different Moisturizer Gel - Clinique
Lotus Eye Gel - Fresh
Black Tea Lip Balm - Jack Black
 

Mhilk Muhilk Milk. by jill tranquilla

Every single one of my favourite foods has dairy in it. Pizza, buttery deserts, hot chocolate, chocolate, brownies, ice cream, lattes, you get the point. I was lactose intolerant growing up, and indulged in these goodies none-the-less. So why give dairy up for a month? 
After my lactose intolerance was healed (prayer! what?), it seemed as though I would never have to be mindful of my dairy intake ever again.

Here are some of the reasons I've decided to avoid dairy for the month of February:

Dairy has been known to contribute to acne and unwanted flare ups. According to Huffington Post, our bodies get worse at digesting dairy products as we get older, and that "... 90 percent of Asians, 70 percent of Blacks and Natives, and 50 percent of Hispanics are lactose intolerant, compared with only about 15 percent of people of Northern European descent..."  are prone to being lactose intolerant. If you're mildly intolerant, you might not be able to distinguish the connections between the lactose you consume and the negative feelings such as cramping, bloating, and unwanted gas that you can experience a few hours later. 

Supposedly, quitting dairy ingestion shouldn't have a negative tract record on your body. As long as you are ingesting calcium and vitamin D from other sources, your health shouldn't suffer. Another interesting fact about dairy is that it isn't as bone protective as previously thought. Countries with the lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption have the lowest rates of osteoporosis (ex. Asia and Africa). Today, milk is a processed food. Dairy farmers modify milk by giving dairy cows antibiotics (rBGH) that artificially increase milk production. This pasteurized form of dairy does not have the same benefits that unpasteurized milk can have. rBGH  can increase the drinkers insulin-growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which has been known to lead to several different forms of cancer. Of course, there are some benefits of drinking milk. Milk is fortified with vitamin D and calcium. Some organic milk and unsweetened organic yogurts are filled with benefits, and most yogurt companies have steered away from using rBGH in their production. Despite these triumphs, some people's stomaches are just not built to process dairy.  

The Challenge:

For the month of February I tried to give up dairy consumption. There were a few reasons that led me to doing this. I got to travel to Thailand for a few months, and while I was there it was easy to avoid dairy and gluten. I felt noticeably better consuming a thai-diet. Finally feeling freed from mild intolerance, I became aware that dieting in this way could be beneficial to my everyday life.  Another reason I wanted to try and stop consuming dairy was for my acne and some swelling in my knee. I had heard that dairy can be an inflammatory in more ways then one. 

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Being dairy free in a westernized culture is next to impossible. While my parents were out of town in the beginning of the month, I did some of my own shopping. At first I was really intense about making sure there was not any dairy in the foods I was consuming. It was helpful to find out that on the labels of most packaged goods, there was a warning list of all possible allergens, including dairy. I was so surprised to find that the majority of items I typically would buy seemed to contain dairy in one way or another. Fortunately, I was able to find some chocolate items that  didn't contain any dairy. Oreos, Duncan Hines Brownie Mix, chocolate chip teddy grahams, and even certain dark chocolate bars all avoided actually having dairy in there ingredients. Without knowing this I would have had a much harder time getting through the month. 
Going on coffee dates was a bit harder then I expected. It mainly came down to me asking the barista if the Chai mix contained dairy, which in most cases was no (Thank the Lord). I would usually switch between tea and soy/almond milk chai lattes, because I don't drink coffee to begin with. It was my inability to chose hot chocolate that really bothered me. 
The biggest frustration was eating out, really. Scanning through a restaurant's menu would usually result in my compromising on my goals in one way or another. Although most places will identify gluten or vegetarian options on their menus, there was never a sign for dairy. And most restaurant items used dairy. I'm the type of person who also buys food a lot of the time on the go. I tend to jam-pack my days with anything from school, to extra curricular and socializing without making time for cooking my own food. This made it nearly impossible to be dairy free. Options were so limited and I felt constantly annoyed at the amount of dairy on the menus that I wasn't supposed to be eating. 
So here's where I come clean and say that I didn't make it the whole month with out having dairy. Most of the times that I would fail, I would be eating out. I would forget to tell the server at the counter I wanted a dairy free modification. There were a few instances where I would go to Jugo juice and get a smoothie before remembering about the yogurt. There were also two instances where I willingly decided to eat pizza. Cause I just couldn't. And there were more then a few times where I ordered a Chai latte without remembering to substitute the milk. I also wasn't able to fully avoid fast food, but maybe that's another story.
During this time I didn't experience as much bloating or pain in my stomach, but it wasn't a noticeable difference to me. My skin has never looked better, but I'm not sure if it was because I was trying to avoid dairy. Over all I did feel a bit better. Dairy tends to make me feel a bit lithurgic and I definently felt 'fresher' not having it in my system. 
This experience has given my a higher respect for people who diet in this way. Being aware of what you eat takes a lot of endurance, specifically mentally. Being able to control your cravings and to spend the extra time planning your meals isn't an easy task.

Would you give up dairy for a month? 


Sources:
______________________________
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/19/is-milk-bad-for-you_n_5311851.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/dairy-free-dairy-6-reason_b_558876.html
http://saveourbones.com/osteoporosis-milk-myth/
http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/dairy-free-treats

New Years Resolutions: 3L of Water / Day by jill tranquilla

I've never really been one for New Years Resolutions. This is mainly due to the fact that annual goals seem to always end up being a let down when not completed. I've tried countless times to be active x amount of times per week or to not watch more then one TV show a day. Failing these resolutions always leaves me with the feeling of failure on my chest, and a weight on my heart. 
Although, most of the time thinking of New Years Resolutions leaves me with the after taste of bitterness, I still think that setting goals for yourself is incredibly important in progression and in life. My perspectives have shifted over the past year to thinking more simply and less seriously. A big part of why I have started thinking like this is due to the concept of Project 333 or (some might call it) The Capsule Wardrobe. These are two minimalistic concepts that's motive is to help it's participants spend money more minimally, divided and organized by the four seasons. This project (which I have been doing for two seasons) has allowed me to think smaller, and instead of setting goals for the whole year I've been able to set goals for the season, or monthly. 
Fitness is something that I want to build up to. There have been so many times in my life where I will have these little bursts of fitness obsession, only weeks later to find myself huddled up at home in front of the television avoiding my goals for hours on end. So I've decided to start smaller then fitness and look at what is lacking in my health which I can improve on in a month or so. 
I was also feeling quite low last semester. A friend encouraged me to start drinking more water, and to cut out sugar, wheat, dairy, and meat from my diet. This seemed quite ambitious to me as well, and I was immediately discouraged. These were things that helped her, but they weren't thinks she cut out all at once. I'm taking this new lifestyle changes slowly.
So for the month of January I started smaller then small, though it has still been a challenge for me. My challenge was to drink 3L of water a day for the entire month. There are many different ideas about how much water a person is supposed to drink in a day. From what I can tell, the general idea is that as person should be drinking 2L a day. There are so many benefits of drinking water, anywhere from helping clear your skin, to lubricating your joints, helping with hair growth, and even helping sort out unwanted tension and knots in your muscles. Drinking too much water though can actually be fatal. 3L is a lot - but it is still a safe amount.
The first thing I did was find a water bottle that I liked, and would be easy for me to calculate the amount of water I was drinking. Thankfully the water bottle I fell in love with, a Hudson's Bay Company bottle with the classic stripes, held a nearly exact 1L of water. So it was easy for me to track whether or that I had drunk 3L or not. I tried hard to only drink black tea, or drinks with caffeine, in addition to my 3L rule. Drinks with caffeine are a diarrhetic, which means that they actually dehydrate you. I've always been a huge tea drinker, and have a larger collection at home. So somedays, if I wanted to drink tea instead I would fill my bottle with herbal tea in order to mix things up a bit. 
I had to pee, a lot. This goes along with the turf of drinking so much water. A friend told me that as I continued drinking, this would subside. I haven't really noticed a dramatic difference though to the first couple of weeks. 
One of the biggest benefits to this, as I can tell at this point, is that my skin has cleared up considerably. In all honesty I'm not sure if this is due to another multitude of facts, (my skin antibiotics, my newly loved Clairsonic or my less aggressive skin care routine) but I'm just happy that my skin is feeling as lot more nourished then it was with primarily topical care.
This challenge has been something that I can't shut up about because it's just been that much fun for me. Having a smaller goal, just to make it to January, has been something that in the beginning I knew I could accomplish. It's given me the confidence to talk about it with friends and acquaintances nearly every chance I get.  I hope to continue drinking 3L of water through the month of February as well. Someone once told me that it takes 3 months to build a strong habit. I might not be as intense about keeping up with my water count once I finish January but I do feel like drinking at least 2L of water a day is going to be something I am disciplined to do.  
I have a few more ideas about challenges that I can do during the year of 2015. I guess that in the grand scheme, my resolution is to have a challenge every month. I will post here about these challenges and I hope this can be a place of accountability for me to accomplish these goals. 
- j.