A Year in Review: Beauty & Health Lessons Learned (and Thereby, Resolutions in 2016)

Anna on a traditional wooden gulet ship in Turkey on the Mediterranean Sea

The site of many a lesson learned (beauty and otherwise) this past year.

 

I’m not one of those people big on holidays. Sure, I look forward to the quality time spent with family, to the good food, to the convivial atmosphere, but I haven’t gotten a Christmas tree in eons, I don’t deck the halls or attend a big gala for New Year’s. I’d prefer, frankly speaking, escaping to some getaway during the holidays, but familial obligations prevent such fantastical thinking.

The biggest problem I have with New Year’s Eve, in particular, is that it’s one of the handful of times scattered throughout the year where it seems mandated by the good-time gods that one have elaborate plans, the perfect outfit and, of course, the absolute best time. (Count Valentine’s and birthdays in there, as well.) For me, I prefer to downplay expectations, and even more so this year, since it’s been a particularly tough one. What that means in my household is no plans and no fancy soirées. What I do want to do, however, is reflect on all I’ve been through — the silver linings, the blessings in disguise, the lessons learned — and just marinate in gratitude. It’s not easy for me to be grateful, being the self-critiquing, glass-half-empty type that I am. But this year, I’m going to change my trajectory and  do what does not come second nature to me.

So herewith, the lessons learned in 2015 (and of course, being the beauty-obsessed person that I am, some of these will inevitably be beauty-specific) and how that translates into my 2016 resolutions — which, I hope, will turn me into more of a self-loving, glass-half-full type of person.

 

1. Eat more raw foods

I know, this one sounds like your run-of-the-mill new year’s resolution, but let me explain myself. The hubby and I went to Turkey this past fall for our 10th anniversary, right after I got laid off from a job that was more of a passion than it was a source of income (given the hours I and the rest of the editorial staff put in, one could consider us more volunteer or pro bono than paid employees). Sure, it sucked that after 12 years as the editor of Audrey Magazine, I couldn’t take this long-awaited vacation as a paid one, but this trip was perfect timing, because I was in the midst of an angry, bitter, depressed downward spiral that could have gotten worse — except who can be angry, bitter and depressed when they’re waking up to this every morning:

the view from a bay in the mediterranean while on a traditional wooden gulet boat cruise in Turkey

 

I mean, spending eight days on a boat fit for a maximum of 16 people, including crew, where all one can do is just marinate in the God-created beauty and silence surrounding you — well, all I can say is things happen for a reason. And those two weeks on the Mediterranean did more for my soul and psyche than years of psychotherapy could have. And I am ever, ever grateful to the captain and crew, to my husband, well, everyone and everything that resulted in me doing nothing every day but feeling the salt air on my face (and hair — talk about #frizzyhairdontcare) and reveling in the silence of raw, unadulterated nature.

Which brings me to the lesson learned — eating more raw foods. See, on a traditional Turkish wooden gület boat, the galley is small, but the food amazing. Fresh figs, technicolor peaches, glorious cherry jam — and yogurt with everything. But don’t get me wrong — this was no vegan or health vacation. We gorged on cheeses, ate some form of meat döner wrapped in the yummiest of white carbs every day and drank our share of wine and the ubiquitous local Turkish spirit, raki, practically every meal. (OK, maybe not breakfast; I’d say we waited until at least 11 am to start on the wine — hey, we traveled with a lot of Aussies and Europeans.)

So all this is to make the following point: After two weeks of eating — nay, indulging — like this, I arrived back in Los Angeles to discover 1) we had lost weight, 2) my skin was amazingly clear, and 3) I hadn’t had a single gastrointestinal issue while traveling.

Conclusion? Do as the Turks do. Eat yogurt. Eat a lot. Drink a lot (or at least don’t force yourself to abstain). Just make sure to include a lot of raw foods as you do it.

 

2. Pat my face dry

Yes, after the (relative) profundity of the lesson above, I know this sounds rather shallow. But as a beauty person, one who believes that beauty is not just a pathway to good skin but a bolster to self-esteem, I can’t help but emphasize that, yes, patting my face dry is a legit lesson learned and, therefore, one of my resolutions for 2016. Studies show, after all, that patting one’s face dry — something many beauty people I know do, from Sephora buyers to K-beauty pros — really does make a difference in the hydration of one’s skin. It also keeps dirty or detergent-filled towels away from one’s skin and provides a mini massage for the face. How to do it? After washing your face, just gently pat, pat, pat until your face is damp. Then proceed with your regular skin care routine. Easy!

 

3. Add more antioxidants in my life

ljh vita propolis ampoule full of antioxidants and propolis

My favorite antioxidant-rich skin care product, LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule from Glow Recipe.

 

Ever since I started suffering from hyperpigmentation (a spot here and there in my 20s avalanched into a never-ending battle with Asian melasma, so pervasive it’s basically changed the color of my face), I’ve been hypervigilant about protecting my face from the sun. What that translates into is not just a quarter size dollop (or more!) of broad spectrum sunscreen every single day but reapplication throughout the day (cushion compacts have saved me), a large hat almost every day in the summer, covering up like a grandma on vacation and, most recently, antioxidant supplements anytime I expect to be in the sun (which includes hour-long drives to see my parents). With the recent study that came out indicating that UV damage continues long after the sun goes down, I’ve taken a renewed interest in antioxidants in my skin care, supplements and food. Which makes my lesson #1 above — eating more raw foods — ever more important, since the best antioxidants come from food, but I’ll no longer be eschewing antioxidant-rich skin care for the “sexier” products containing retinol, peptides and AHAs. For me, 2016 is all about loading up on antioxidants, the stuff that will save me from UV- (and stress- and pollution- and even alcohol-) induced free radical damage.

 

4. Stress less

Which brings me to the fourth lesson learned — frankly, a perennial favorite in my book. I know that stress is the root of all evil (at the very least, beauty- and health-wise). But man, if it isn’t stressful trying to keep stress at bay. Thankfully, after my car accident a year ago, where I had to undergo two surgeries, four subsequent procedures and six months of physical therapy, I’ve learned, if not how to de-stress, then how to try to de-stress. I do a form of meditation, less ohm and more on-my-way-to-run-an-errand. (I’m too fidgety to successfully sit for five minutes at a time doing nothing.) But even that bastardized version of mindfulness and meditation has done wonders for my mental wellbeing. This year, I’m gonna take it up a notch and actually try to spend some quiet time in the mornings before the rush of the day comes crashing in.

Who knows? Maybe that’ll actually give me the patience to pat my face completely dry.

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