plant-based for better skin

My parents have always been my inspiration to living a healthy lifestyle. My dad has been a long-time vegetarian, my mum a conscious eater and both life-long athletes. Thanks to my upbringing, I’ve had an affinity to healthy living from eating well to working out/exercising regularly. However, even with all of this, I still had my share of physical ailments. Specifically, hormonal imbalance and subsequent skin issues.

For over 10 years, the skin issue I dealt with was acne. No doubt, it was a struggle growing up. One that affected me not only superficially, but deeply and emotionally, affecting my self-image and self-confidence. Nonetheless, I managed and by looking beyond the physical. What I also did to manage the extreme breakouts was through medication, both topical and ingested.

From harsh and regular facial treatments to a collection of pills, it was an on and off battle with my skin. With such strong cycles of medication, my skin appeared clearer and smoother, spotless most of the time. But I knew it was not sustainable and that it was doing more harm to my body, internally, than good. Besides, you know when a medication has depression and birth defects or fetal death as side-effects, it can’t be healthy.

My plant-based journey began early 2014. 

So during my university years, I started digging deeper into ways to treat myself naturally. And by treat, I intended to find a long-term, sustainable and gentle cure that would not just suppress symptoms temporarily.

My research led me to testimonials about plant-based eaters, vegans and raw vegans that had cured all sorts of dis-eases from diabetes, hyperglycemia, obesity, psoriasis, asthma, acne, eczema, chronic fatigue syndrome, low thyroid function, terrible digestion… the list goes on.

I was instantly inspired. I educated myself on the topic through hours of watching videos and reading online articles and literature, and applied what I had learned:

  • I got rid of every sort of medication I had in my closet, all of my chemical-laden cosmetics and toiletry I owned (shampoo, conditioner, plastic toothbrush, toothpaste), everything.
  • I cut out dairy, meat (fish included) and eggs out of my diet overnight.
  • I stocked myself up on fruits (tonnes of bananas to start) and veggies (mostly potatoes).
  • I headed to my nearby health-store and re-stocked my toiletries with a bamboo toothbrush, eco-friendly detergent, all-natural shampoo, conditioner, soap.
  • I bought vegan make-up, which allows my skin to breathe and isn’t animal tested. Also, I’m not a huge make-up user anyway so I keep this minimal.

                                                    nov 2014: first year vegan

It took a lot of time to heal. I knew this because I had fed my body with harsh medication for over 10 yeras and not the most optimal nutrition even when I thought what was said to be healthy by the masses (i.e. cow’s milk for your bones and meat meat meat for protein) was not actually healthy (I was also a HUGE cheese fan and could eat cheddar by the block; I added spaghetti to my parmesan). I knew that healing would not happen overnight. So, even when things got worse than it had ever (and I mean EVER) been before, I trusted in the healing process that my body had  to go and was going through.

So before things got better, they got worse:

jan 2015 : this was my skin on a not-so-bad day.

And over time things started to clear up:

march 2016: this was over 1 year of healing. bottom left photo is me during my 25-day water fast, hence the tired look. lol.

Today, my skin is far from perfect, but it is also far from what it used to be. I feel my body is now in a much better place compared to before. My hormones are more balanced, indicated by my clearer skin (finally) without the help of synthetic medication that act to suppress symptoms of inflammation inside the body rather than cure it.

today: vegan lipstick by nabla as my only make-up on

What I have learned is to be kind to and patient with your body. To nourish yourself with a diet based on plants and to use products that are as close to nature as possible. We have been blessed with bodies that have the ability to heal themselves, we just need to allow them the time and space.

Testimonials & Resources: 

my 25-day water fast: follow-up

Day 24 with my tall, delicious glass of H2O at St. Luke’s hospital to get my blood tested (I kept track of my vitals throughout my fasting journey).

6 March 2016 was the day I broke my 25-day water-only fast. 1 year, 7 months & 16 days ago at approximately 9am to be more exact.

That was just over a year and a half ago, and I still very often think back on my first extended fast experience. They are 25 days I am very grateful for, 25 days that challenged me physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally, and ultimately shaped my being today.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. All in good time.

But before I begin to even think of when my next extended feat will be, I want to talk about my post-fast experience, as many have asked me about, my suggestions to successfully breaking your fast and achieving long-term post-fasting success. Besides, what self-experiment would be complete without the long-term results?

A glimpse of my transformation over the months:

Before the fast (Top left) | After the fast (Top right) | 5 months post-fast (Bottom left) | Today (Bottom right)

Allow me to first clarify that my main motivation to fast for such an extended period of time was not for weight loss, but for health/healing, spiritual awareness and growth.

As I talked about in my previous post (← read for background), I was able to successfully break my fast by re-introducing solid foods slowly and gradually. I applied this principle for the next few days and weeks, allowing my body to gain a healthy amount of weight back. Once my energy returned (which was pretty immediate) I went back into my workout routines. I started with light weights, to re-gain my strength, and running.

Enjoying the sunshine with mum on my first after my fast!

It’s amazing how quickly the body restores itself.

In the same month that I broke my fast, I sang on stage (top left, actually the day after breaking the fast), went scuba diving (top right, a few days after breaking the fast), went for a hike (bottom left, 2 weeks after), ran through hills (bottom right). I had a new skip in my step.

I got on a weight training program and witnessed my strength increase in a very short amount of time.

7/8 months after my water fast. Photos are taken 1 month apart. These are the results from a consistent weight training and sports performance program. All on a plant-based diet. pc: @marcotizer

I maintained my plant-based lifestyle and with frequent performance training, my appetite naturally increased.  As a result, I gained more weight, mostly muscle mass. It may be news to some, but it is possible to build muscle on a diet that consists of only plants!

From working at a gym and having access to heavy weights and equipment, which I made use of pretty much daily, my routine underwent a change when I started to travel for a living. I adopted body-weight exercises and circuit training that I could do just about anywhere – no gym membership required. All I travel with now is a SKLZ band to add resistance to my workouts. I enjoy being able to keep my health & fitness up while traveling and keeping things cost-effective, time-effective, effective (in general) and fun.

Ab-check 2 weeks ago

Before my fast, I was very active and definitely enjoyed my plant-based foods, maybe a little too much. After the fast, I learned to have more of a balance between rest (getting enough, as possible), working out (not over-exerting myself), eating (not overeating) and having peace of mind.

Sometimes we must unlearn to re-learn. Starting with the basics. Re-set.

Today, I keep a  b a l a n c e  with daily movement, eating whole-food, plant-based and by having a positive outlook (a must).

Simplicity is key.

Albeit an abridged version of my last year and 7 months after the fast, I hope this sheds some light on the subject. And for anyone who is planning to undergo any type of fast / is fasting, my top pieces of advice would be this:

  1. Always come into a fast with the right motivation. This allows the fast to be more meaningful and sustainable.
  2. Use the process of the fast to de-clutter, minimalise and simplify your life. Take the time to reflect on how you’ve gotten to where you are today and the direction you want to go. Intention.
  3. Be gentle with your body coming out of a fast; eat slowly, be patient, remain intuitive. Appreciate the little things and focus on what matter most in life. Perspective.

❀❀❀

Helpful resources^:

New to water fasting and intermittent fasting? Here are a couple of resources to get you started.

The Myriad Benefits of Intermittent Fasting: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/health-benefits-of-intermit…/

Fasting – A History (part of a whole series on fasting by Dr. Jason Fung): https://intensivedietarymanagement.com/fasting-a-history-p…/

The Beginners Guide to Intermittent Fasting: https://www.nerdfitness.com/…/a-beginners-guide-to-intermi…/

Further reading: books on fasting (both water and intermittent):
The Complete Guide to Fasting (Dr. Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore – covers both Intermittent Fasting and Water Fasting – Probably the best book to start out with): http://amzn.to/2rxFMmQ

The Scientific Approach to Intermittent Fasting http://amzn.to/2r7cesT

The Warrior Diet (one of the first books ever on Intermittent Fasting): http://amzn.to/2rxxLOF

Periodic Fasting (great resource if you like to get really technical on how our bodies work when fasting): http://amzn.to/2qNdBfj

Fasting and Eating for Health (Dr Joel Fuhrman offers a vegan perspective on water fasting): http://amzn.to/2qH1ZeJ

 

^(c/o James Alexander Jack, Water & Intermittent Fasting)

my 25-day water fast experience

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Day 24. Me & the watermelon I’d be breaking my fast on the very next day.

A window into my first extended water fast.

On the 10th of February of this year, I endeavoured on a 25-day all-water fast. For so long I have wanted to write about my experience, but there’s just so much to say on the topic, I didn’t know where to start.

Two months later and I am finally getting my thoughts down. I hope that through sharing my story, you might learn something new and be inspired to live a healthful life.

* Please note that I do not in any way advise for anyone to perform an extended fast unsupervised.
This is merely my own personal account. If you want to learn more about my experience and/or fasting, you can contact me or refer to the links at the end of this post.

water-coming-out-of-glass_zpsfvfabkedWhat is fasting?
Fasting
The abstinence from all or some kinds of food and drink

Water / Water-Only Fasting
Maintains a zero caloric intake, which means water only, nothing added to it.

Why did I water fast?
There are many different types of fasting, from dry to liquid fasting, or from juice fasting to rice fasting (interesting, I know. Something I came across during my 25-day journey). Water fasting is the simplest form of fasting that delivers the greatest level of therapeutic benefit in a short period of time.

As such, I chose to do on a water-only fast to experience the immense benefits of fasting on the physical, mental and spiritual levels. In summary, and I will expand on these later:

  1. Physical healing and rejuvenation
  2. Mental clarity and focus
  3. Spiritual peace and direction
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March 5: Day 25 & still alive.

How did I fast?
Before embarking on this journey, I did extensive research (i.e. reading texts and watching lectures online). After everything I had learned about extended water fasting, I waited earnestly for the next opportunity to do one myself. I started to prepare mentally and physically by practicing Intermittent Fasting (IF) over the course of a few months, a topic I will save for another post, and spiritually through prayer.

Finally, the occasion presented itself upon my return to the Philippines, being a fresh graduate from university and virtually unemployed, it was the perfect time to set 4 weeks aside to fast. I spent a total of 25 days on water and dedicated 7 days to get back into eating (the re-feeding process).

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Week 2. Here’s mum giving me a hand with taking my BP.

Being the inquisitive little scientist I am / to ensure my safety during this process, I took blood tests before and after my fast. During my fast, I took my blood pressure, weighed and measured myself, took progress shots and video logged daily. I tracked how I was feeling and journaled often. I was monitored by my loving parents and received support from incredible friends. In this regard, I didn’t tell many people about my fast until the very end, but to those who knew, I promised to send them Snapchats frequently to ensure them I was doing okay. I consulted books and resources online (I have included the links to these at the end of this post where you can check them out) and even stumbled upon a water-fasting support group on Facebook, which was a great opportunity to connect with both experienced and novice fasters, all passionate about health and healing. With the immense support I received from the people in my life, my main source of encouragement, strength and peace came from reading scripture in the Bible through daily meditations, multiple times a day.

Pre-fast: Preparation
As a vegan, I maintained my plant-based, whole food diet. The week before starting my fast, I ate more raw fruits and vegetables (i.e. less cooked meals) and slowly reduced the size and frequency of my meals as the day drew closer.

My experience during the fast (abridged)
Days 1-3:
I had an abundance of energy due to full glycogen stores (thank you Philippines for your fine mangoes) and remained active during the day, mainly cleaning out my room and closet while listening to Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing audiobook among other podcasts and talks online.

Days 4-5:
Started to feel the initial effects of ketosis (when the body uses fat, instead of glucose, as its primary fuel). Still had lots of energy. No physical signs of hunger. Spent most the day on my laptop reading.

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“Lunch” consisted of sunshine and reading.

Days 6-11:
I’d wake up feeling weak, but good. Blood pressure is low(er). Long, great quality sleeps (~8-10 hours). Dreams are vivid. Lower energy, feeling mellow and chill. Desire to lie down all day, not wanting to look at a screen. Feeling thoughtful and reflective. Reading and journaling more. No longer skipping up steps; walking is tiring, sitting / lying down is fine. Still no hunger. Crazy breakout on my back on day 7 (detox?).

Days 12-19:
Eyes appear brighter. Skin clearing. Feeling energised. Spent lots of time outdoors getting fresh air and sunshine. Dreams more vivid – e.g. buying groceries, looking at food but never actually eating it, haha. Vitals good, weight decreasing at a steady rate. Muscles sore (especially arms) due to daily use (e.g. holding books, using my phone).

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Day 1 vs. Day 25

Days 20-25:
Physically weak but very mentally clear. Dreams are still vivid. Feeling positive. Days feel slower. Still no hunger but desire to get back into the social world is strong.

Breaking the fast
What many people do not realise is the importance of breaking an extended fast. Once the body realises it isn’t getting any food, the digestive system goes to sleep. During this time, bacteria in the gut diminishes significantly. As such, food must be introduced in a slow and gentle manner to wake the system up and allow for digestive enzymes to repopulate.

I broke my fast on watermelon, and spent my first week eating very small, frequent meals of high-water content fruits that were hydrating and easily digestible. I used Loren Lockman’s plan as a guide:

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Week 1 Meals (clockwise): Day 1 – watermelon. Day 3 – papaya. Day 4 – mango & 5 – star apple.

  • Day 1: 2 ozs of watermelon or papaya every two hours from 10 am to 6pm. Choose one fruit for the whole day.
  • Day 2: 4 ozs of watermelon every 2.5 hours from 9am to 7pm.
  • Day 3: Depending on how you did on day 2, between 6 and 8 ozs of watermelon, papaya, cantaloupe, or other melon every 3 hours from 9 to 6.
  • Days 4-7: Increase quantity by about 4 ozs or so each day, eating 4 times between 9 and 6 (every 3 hours.)  You can add one acid meal per day starting day 4 if you feel up to it. (Celes: Acid meal means food that are acidic in nature, including meat, diary, french fries, highly acidic fruits, etc. Refer to this table on heartburn food.)
  • Day 8 and beyond: Whole, ripe organic fruits and simple green salads.  Nothing dehydrated, very little fat.

My recovery was incredibly quick. The smallest piece of watermelon had me bouncing off the walls, and because I had so much energy, I slowly got back into exercise by Day 2. I was careful about my re-feeding process and mindful when eating. I’m thankful for my smooth and enjoyable transition to eating solid food again. PS. There is nothing like your first bite of solid food after tasting nothing but water for 25 days!

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Detox symptoms that showed up 1 week into my fast. These healed up in no time. My back is now completely clear.

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Before (left) & After (right). I barely recognised myself after 25 days of nothing but water.

(Some of the) Benefits I Experienced:

  • Noticeably clearer and smoother skin
  • Brighter eyes
  • Loss in fat
  • Incredible digestion
  • Increased energy
  • Accelerated detoxification
  • Sensitivity to ‘true hunger’
  • New sense of peace
  • Increased mental clarity
  • Strengthened willpower
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Just a regular day of fasting. Soaking up some rays. sc: @kristinecrouch

Answers to Common Questions I Received:
Weren’t you hungry?
It may be hard to believe, but no. After a few days, I lost any physical sensation of hunger. By this time, I had no problem talking about food, looking at food, watching the cooking channel or having people eat around me. The desire for food, however, was still there. There were many nights that I dreamed about food, mainly fruit.

Did you exercise during your fast?
Not at all – once my body kicked into ketosis, I had very limited energy to do basic tasks from sitting up in bed to walking down the stairs. The most exercise I got was from walking up and down the stairs of my house, which I only did a maximum of 2 or 3 times because it was so taxing on my body.

How did you spend your day?
I was essentially lying down all day except for when I’d get up for water or to go to the bathroom. I spent my time reading, writing and journaling (when I had the energy), and admittedly scrolling through vegan foodie pages on Instagram. I made it a habit to watch the sunset at the end of every day and was up early enough most days to catch the sunrise. I really looked forward to this.

Did you lose a lot of weight during the fast?
I lost 20 lbs (over 9 kg) in 25 days. I lost more fat than muscle, and by the end of my fast I felt lighter and much healthier.

Final thoughts…
Any form or length of time spent fasting is indeed a challenging and gratifying feat. Not eating or drinking anything other than water for 25 days was only part of the process. What fasting provided me was the space and opportunity to heal, reflect, put into place new habits and set goals. Not only did it allow me to cleanse physically, but mentally and spiritually as well; being renewed and rejuvenated from the inside out. I’m already looking forward to my next fasting endeavour. It was honestly some of the best 25 days of my life so far.

Please feel free to comment below or send me an e-mail with any questions you might have, I would more than happy to answer them  ☺

Update: Here’s the follow-up to my fast.

References:

up & up

I’m back in the Philippines after traveling a bit of the States for 3 weeks. It was so great rediscovering San Francisco after my last visit, which was over 10 years ago, then exploring Wisconsin and Chicago, and getting the chance to see snow for the very first time from my airplane window seat as we flew over Colorado. A beautiful time spent reconnecting with family abroad; I will surely return much sooner than later next time ’round. Especially for the vegan donuts with four barrel coffee ice cream. Nom nom ❤

Now back to the glorious Manila heat and back to new and exciting adventures. Keeping my eyes toward the sky, I’m ready to take on what’s yet to come. More blogging ahead too. ☁ Up&Up

threshers of malapascua

A compilation of thresher shark sightings at 30 m on an early morning dive during my visit to Malapascua, Cebu last week.

25 days on water – done

On the 10th of February of this year, I endeavored on a 25-day all water fast.

And what an incredible journey it has been.

The photo below was captured as I broke my fast and enjoyed having a beautifully ripe and juicy piece of watermelon as my first meal after 25 days on only water 💧🌻

It was so sweet and tasted like sorbet 🍉 truly magical.

Stay tuned as I will be blogging about my fasting experience very soon ☺

 

Fruitfully yours,

Kristine x

#fruitfullykristine

↠ But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

I just completed my fast and enjoyed having this beautifully ripe and juicy piece of watermelon as my first meal after 25 days on only water ️ it was so sweet and tasted like sorbet ❣ magical. More adventures on chat: kristinecrouch#thankful #vegan #rawvegan #letthefruitpartybegin

 

Note: I do not in any way advise for anyone to perform an extended fast unsupervised. I’m merely sharing my own personal experience. If you are interested to know more, feel free to ask / I will be writing a blog post on the topic soon.

enter: fruitfully kristine

Hi there! I’m Kristine. ❀

 

Welcome to my blog, where I share with you my passions for health, fitness & nutrition, music, art, and travel. My goal is to inspire you to live a life to your full potential by helping you discover your talents and passions, as well as embracing a whole and healthy lifestyle.

On this blog, you can expect posts on plant-based living, exercise, my travel adventures, as well as my personal thoughts, stories, lessons and reflections.

My heart and hope is that the experiences I share encourage you along your life and health journey.

 

Want to get in contact? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Fruitfully yours,

Kristine x

#fruitfullykristine

watch this space some #fruitfullykristine comin' atcha ️ #island #nature

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Manila, Philippines
fruitfullykristine@gmail.com

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