Tag Archives: acne

Face Update: Stress-Related Acne

Last month my dermatologist wanted to schedule a follow-up appointment so that she could see if my new medicine(s) were doing what they should.

July vs. August

She didn’t expect it all to be gone in just a month, but she thinks that it’s halfway there!

And I definitely agree that it is getting better.

Other than the new prescriptions, there has been a major change in the past month: way less stress!  In the past, I have been able to handle stress well, but I guess all the changes in my life gave me a run for my money!  I wasn’t used to that type of stress, and I think it may have contributed to my acne.  Just being back in my stomping grounds and seeing my good old family and friends has reduced my stress level significantly (and helped to clear my skin!) Plus, ever since I have gotten my life organized again, I feel confident to take on anything!  I had a question about how exactly I stay organized, so I though I would explain it for anyone who is curious!

Set Goals

So first, like I said before, I broke up my life into different categories (FeelGood, work, school, apartment, health, finances, and personal life) and set goals for each one.  Since I am just trying to get back on track, I only made goals for the rest of the summer/next semester.  Not very many goals for each area, just one or two. Then, I made a brief “how to” for each goal.  This helps me to get focused and figure out where I need to start and get an idea of where I am going.  For example, here is my school goal/how-to:

  • By the end of the summer, I will be fully organized and prepared for my classes.
  • Buy cheapest textbooks.  Buy used. Compare amazon, bookstore, and kindle
  • Organize laptop document files.
  • Set schedule into Google Calendar.
  • Acquire notebooks, pens, and pencils.  External hard drive, too?

Then I went through and decided which things I should do first (urgent stuff, easy stuff, quick stuff) and planned when to do it (see below)!  I will do this regularly as I get stuff done, unsure of next steps, or if I feel stressed.  Fun fact: whenever I feel stressed out, the number-one thing that works for me is to get something done!  Works every time 🙂

Google Calendar

My next step was to set up my Google Calendar.  I use it for scheduling my days, which can be very busy during the school year!  I have color-coded sub-calendars for personal life, school, work, FeelGood, and fitness.  Right now I only have my class schedule, birthdays, school holidays, and a few FeelGood events in there, but before long I will rely on it to schedule my work hours and when I can squeeze in yoga!  It’s really easy to use, and is the best way to keep everything straight.


I could not live without my planner.  I do copy important bits of my schedule into my planner, but I mostly use it to plan what tasks need to get done during the week.  I write all my homework assignments in there, plus details like where/when I am subbing, or anything I need to get done for FeelGood.  I usually plan on a week-by-week basis by looking at my goals and deciding what can get done each week.  But I do add tasks way in advance if it’s something that needs to be done at a certain time, and I know will eventually slip my mind.*  For example, one of my apartment goals is to never be late on rent, so I have a reminder written on a certain day each month!

I currently use this Moleskin weekly planner because I can write tasks specific to each day on the left, but write a mass to-do list and notes on the right.


I also love it because its really nice but I also don’t like it because its really nice.  I use it pretty hard, but I’m afraid of ruining it!  I might go back to a simpler, spiral-bound weekly planner for 2012.

*I confess, I forget EVERYTHING unless it is written down!

Well, that’s essentially how I organize my life!  Yes, I am really anal, but it’s the only thing that works for me!

Today, I accompanied my brother on a trip to Ikea so that he could buy his new desk.  Any excuse to go to Ikea.  Our grandfather was Swedish, so our family is quite obsessed with anything Scandinavian.  My brother even took many classes in Scandinavian studies and Swedish language in college, as well as studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark.  So I guess he’s the most obsessed of us all!

And frankly, who isn’t a fan of Ikea?  Not only do they have cheap, sensible, and stylish furniture, but they have really cheap and tasty Swedish food, too!

The breakfast bun and coffee combo was only $0.69 each and the spinach and cheese crepes were $2.99!  Worth every penny 😉

We spent a whopping 3 hours oggling over all of Ikea’s items.  Such smart designs!  Such cute designs!  SUCH CHEAP PRICES!!!  The Swedes know how it’s done.  I adore all the little display apartments they have set up.  I am ready to move in.  (Anyone remember the Ikea scene from 500 Days of Summer???)  I kept saying to myself, “someday, everything in my place will not only be my style, but it will MATCH!”

How do you organize your life?



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Winter is almost here…

You heard me!  It’s the start of May and apparently we are seeing the first signs of winter here in Auckland, New Zealand…

Rain and wind and clouds.  The wind is so loud that it sounds like thunder when it pounds against the buildings!  This is not helping my post-vacation slump.

Also not helping my slump is my skin issue.  Since it had appeared to be on the mend, I thought that maybe by the time I got back from my trip it would be even better.

But alas, it looks about the same.  (See how sunny and warm it was last time I took the pictures!?)  Of course, this could have been due to the craziness of the trip, but I kept up with my regimen, so I don’t see why there is no improvement.  Perhaps it has plateaued?  Have my current meds done all they are capable of doing?

The good news is that the pain I was experiencing before I started to use the medicine has completely gone, which was my main concern.  I’m still worried about it because I have been noticing some other aspects of my health aren’t quite right.  I know when my body is at its healthiest, and I feel like it just isn’t there lately. My body is in some sort of slump.

My goal is to keep track of my symptoms and how I am feeling so that I am prepared with evidence when I can finally visit my doctors once I’m back in the US.  (If my symptoms get so bad that they start to interfere with my life, I will see a doc immediately.  I’m all for safety!)  I will also stick with my healthy living routine that I always follow: plenty of sleep, exercise, and healthy foods.

Speaking of the USA…

On being American:  When I moved to New Zealand, though I am very proud of where I come from, I didn’t want to be labeled with the “American” stereotype that we often fear from foreigners.  I am not selfish and greedy.  I am not fat and lazy.  I am not rude or obnoxious.  I’m not stupid or shallow.  Every time I tell people that I am from the States, I have to swallow the urge to say, “but I’m cool, I swear!”  But today, I have no shame in admitting that I am American.

Honoring the WWII Memorial with our sexy legs, Summer '10

The news of Osama bin Laden’s death bring me so much pride for my country.  It’s a huge symbol for what America believes in and how, as Obama said in his speech, “we can do anything we put our minds to.” This debacle has been going on for 10 years without much to show for it, but finally we are reminded we we got into the mess in the first place.  For justice.

But now it’s just making me really homesick!  I love America and I miss the spirit; I wish I was there to witness this bit of history firsthand, and join in on all the celebrations!

Being proud Americans, Memorial Day '10

But I’ll be home just a week before the 4th of July.  Plenty of time to celebrate then.

Today is my day of Ashtanga, Full Primary Series.  I was a bit apprehensive for class, since I haven’t practiced in over two weeks :/  I was nervous that I would feel out of shape, but I was also yearning for a good stretch.

And for the first time in my life, yoga did not make me feel better.  I could NOT focus.  My mind was wandering all over the place.  My balance was off.  The toast I had as a snack (2 hours prior, I might add!) felt like it was in my throat.  My lower back was hurting(!)  My vinyasas were sluggish.  I couldn’t wait for closing sequence.  I hardly even remember breathing.  Forget about drishti (gaze)!  I was feeling so wack that I couldn’t even keep my eyes closed during svasana.  WHO DOES THAT?!?!?!

Even my teacher noticed, who always comments on my endless energy, that I seemed tired.  She also informed me not to worry, that it’s just because the full moon is tomorrow.  Right.  (Don’t get me wrong – I actually believe in that crap now lol!)

I’m just keeping in mind that practice is NOT perfect, and tomorrow is a new day.

Until then, pictures from my trip always cheer me up!

Marlborough Wine Region

What helps you climb out of a slump?



Filed under Fitness, Life, New Zealand

PB&J French Pita!

This morning, I woke up at 5:45am to make a 6:30am beginner Ashtanga class at the Auckland Yoga Academy. I was so glad I did! I love having my practice done before I even start my day, and suryanamaskara (Sun Salutation) never feels more sincere than doing them as the sun rises. Though its so much more challenging since I’m so stiff from a 7 hours of sleepy stillness! Luckily, it’s the best way to wake my body up. I felt pretty bad, though because even though I turned my phone off, my 7am alarm still went on? Technological mystery to me!

After yoga, I took the journey all the way to the North Shore to turn in my literacy paper. It only took about 45 minutes (I was back by 8:30am), which is the best I could have hoped for. And now, it’s officially DONE!

When I got home, I made myself a pretty special breakfast to celebrate my productive morning: PB&J French Pita!

This is essentially French Toast made with a pita (pita bread dipped in an egg beaten with cinnamon)

But, I put peanut butter and jelly on the inside before dipping and grilling! So yum.

Update on my clear skin journey!

This Week

Last Week

It seems like I am improving!

This Week

Last Week

Since I have been using the correct “potion” (as my BFFL Dominique whimsically put it) my skin has felt a lot better.

This Week

Last Week

I realize it may not look all that much better, but I can feel it healing! It is less sensitive to touch and the bumps are going down. Definitely progress!

What have you accomplished this morning?



Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes, Yoga

The Camera Loves Me!

I am currently starring in two new videos on my youtube channel!

The first video is my Election Video for FeelGood.  I am running for President of UVM FeelGood next year, and since I won’t be in Vermont to run this year, I put a video together explaining why everyone should vote for me.

Hannah and I spent the afternoon filming it (she is a very creative cinematographer and she persevered through the long process!).  It’s sort of silly and you get to see a few different spots in Auckland!  Definitely worth a watch 🙂

The other video is a recording of me and Hannah practicing for Karaoke Next week.

We usually don’t reveal our song selection before the premier, for good luck, but we don’t want all the folks at home to miss out on our talent.  Next week we will be doing TWO songs: “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child and “Where is the Love” by The Black Eyed Peas.  Basically we are both pretty gangsta.  I’ve got soul and Hannah’s got beat.

In other news, it’s almost been two weeks since I’ve started my clear skin regimen.

To no avail.  After using Tazorac every night and Finacea every day, and slightly modifying my diet, I have seen no improvement on my skin.

Plus, in the past three days, two strangers have brought up my bad skin.   First, a mom chaperoning on the field trip came up to me.  I just thought she was being friendly and introducing herself.  No.  She was telling me that she has a skin product that will clear up my pimples, because they are pretty bad.  She said she’d send a sample in on Thursday with her child (who is not in my class) and if I was excited about the results, I could buy more.  I just stood there and nodded and thanked her.  She is from China, so there may have been some kind of cultural disconnect, but still.

Then, today, Hannah and I were innocently shopping at Warehouse (Walmart) and the cashier made some comment (I’ve mentally blocked the exact wording).  I could feel the steam of rage coming out of Hannah’s ears at her rudeness.  She was very kind and sympathetic, assured me that a doctor would help me, and wished me luck, but still.

WTF people?!?!  Great ladies, thanks for making me feel even more like a leper than I already do.  It’s like, “yes, that is all we see when we look at your face.”  It makes me want to hide away more than ever.  Two of my students have asked me about it, too.  One of them asked me why my face is red, and the other asked what the red stuff on my face was.  Gee, kids, I wish I knew why.
What now? I will try the other medication, Acanya, but I am going to make an appointment with the Health Services here on campus.  If they can’t help me, at least I can get information about a dermatologist in the city.   I’ve pretty much decided that it’s not my normal acne.  I’ve never gotten acne on my cheeks and its also never been this bad.  Maybe its an infection? Or an allergy to something in the air? All I know is that I’ve had enough of feeling ugly, and I’ve had enough of people reminding me about it.  I want it gone.

Do you have any suggestions for me?



Filed under Life, New Zealand

Insecurities: Does your face hurt? Cause it’s kiling me!

Insecurities: we all have them.  Though I’m mostly a confident person, in the past my biggest insecurity has been my skin.  I had pretty bad acne all through middle school and most of high school, and I tried medicines after medicines to try and heal it.  Trips to the dermatologist would result in tears as she treated some of my bad marks (once with a needle!) and always ended with some new prescription for a cream with a whopping price tag.

Also a while back I started taking birth control pills, which helped clear my acne a bit.  Since I’m an all-natural kind of gal, It pained me to be taking so much medications, but I persisted since it did help clear my skin–and give me a lot more confidence.  With time, it fizzled out.

In fact, back in the fall of 2010, it looked like my big breakouts were gone for good!

And I felt great! I decided I could finally stop swallowing hormones and smearing chemicals on my face, since my acne appeared to be all gone.  So that’s what I did.  All I did was wash my face with Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash in the morning and at night.

I was lookin’ good and feelin’ good:

But in the past few weeks, I noticed that I was getting some pretty serious breakouts–worse than I had ever gotten before.

Confession: I do not feel confident when I have a lot of breakouts.  It makes me feel wicked insecure.  Which sucks for so many reasons:

  1. I am being photographed A LOT right now, since I am going on all these adventures.  I want to be looking my best!
  2. I am meeting a lot of new people, and it doesn’t make an ideal first impression.  It’s like, “I swear, I’m a hottie under here somewhere!” lol 😉
  3. It’s painful! (and ugly, shhh…)  The affected areas are extremely sensitive to the touch
  4. I did not bring my old acne medicines, and cannot find my favorite Neutrogena (for a reasonable price) anywhere here in New Zealand
  5. It makes me feel like I’m unhealthy in some way

Why had it suddenly gotten so bad?  Was it the transition to my new environment?  Maybe, so I tried to waited it out, but over a month later, I don’t see any real improvement.  So, I asked my parents to send me my old acne meds so I could try them again:

Tazorac at night and Finacea in the morning.  I used Finacea this past fall when my skin was lookin good, and I have Acanya as a back up in case nothing improves on the Finacea.  Fun fun.  I went back on birth control a few months ago, and it usually takes a few months to regulate things completely, so that should kick in soon and help.

In addition to topical medicines and birth control, the following things can help heal acne:

  • Avoiding caffeine:  It’s true that I have been consuming more the past few months!  No more daily trips to the cafe for me!  This will help me save money and it’s better for me, anyway.
  • Avoiding growth hormones in meat and dairy: Since I rarely eat meat, that’s not an issue, but the dairy problem is concerning.  Especially because I cannot afford to be buying organic or almond milk right now.  I will cut back, but not eliminate it.
  • Exercise: sweat helps to cleanse pores.  Gee, don’t I do that enough already?  Well, I won’t stop then 🙂
  • Avoid oily and greasy foods:  I already eat these very rarely, but the problem is these crappy economical pans in my kitchen have a tendency to be very sticky!  I’ll continue to use as little oil as I can.
  • Avoiding sugar and chocolate:  This will be a tough one!  After lunch and dinner I usually need something sweet.  But did you know sugar has no health benefits for your body?  (Though tons for your soul!) So I’m going to start by keeping sweets for a small after dinner treat.
  • Avoiding stress:  I’ll admit, my life is pretty stress-free right now, but though I do have a tendency to work myself up about things, I’ll be sure to do a little yoga (with meditation!) every day, no excuses.

Since I want to clear my acne for mainly cosmetic reasons, I will not enter the dangerous area of “restriction” for any of the above guidelines.  My first priority is to be healthy, and healthy skin usually follows.  So let’s see where my new regimen takes me!  I’m just hoping that at some point, my skin will be back to the healthy glow it was a few months ago:

But until then, I’m still smiling 🙂


What are your insecurities?



Filed under Life