Guest Post: My Journey to Paleo Through Adventures in Cystic Acne

The interesting thing about the paleo lifestyle is that all different people from all different walks of life come to paleo for different reasons, but they all stay for one main reason: through eating whole, real foods they have healed from some sort of ailment and their life has become more positive and healthy as a result. You may have heard of awesome transformation stories of weight loss or healing from chronic digestive issues, but today, Olivia March Howell shares her story about how she came to this lifestyle in search of a cure for her issues with Cystic Acne. 

If you’re interested in Stacy’s battle with her own less severe acne, read more in this post here.


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As with many circumstances in life, my journey to the world of paleo was long and winding, but ultimately, a final destination for my mind and body. At the onset of puberty, my skin started to break out with acne, which isn’t an unusual side effect of puberty. However, by the  time I was 16, my pediatrician sent me to a dermatologist, where, for the next 10 years, I would go on and off of antibiotics to treat my cystic acne. My senior year of college, I eschewed sugar once and for all, losing all of the 50 pounds I gained in the dormitory dining hall, but my skin was still breaking out on a consistent basis, and worse than that, those cystic flare ups hurt!

Over the years, the dermatologists prescribed many topical and oral medications, some of which would help for some time, others not so much. The antibiotics made me nauseous, and the topical medication prevented me from enjoying gorgeous summer days. By the time my wedding came along I had been on antibiotics for over a year, and still had some acne on my wedding day. I was completely disheartened and as my flare ups would occur on a more consistent basis, I would get more and more frustrated. I worked out, I ate healthy, why was my skin rebelling on me? By the time I was in my late 20s, my skin took a turn for the worse and the acne spread from my chin to my cheeks and forehead. It’s one thing to be a teenager with a face full of acne, but to be a married middle school teacher with a face full of painful acne? It sent me into a depression. I didn’t want to leave the house, or socialize. I was embarrassed, angry, and stumped! The turning point came when I went to a new doctor, and straight up told the doctor that my husband and I were trying for a baby; the doctor seemed to completely ignore that sentiment and asked if I wanted to try Accutane, which, no one coming close to conceiving a baby should ever be on. I sat there on the doctor’s table and wept; I knew there had to be a better way!

A few bloggers I read started doing a Whole30, and Melissa Joulwan was one of them; I Tweeted at her to see if it helped with her skin, and when she replied with a hearty yes, I was intrigued. The night before my first Whole30 I couldn’t sleep, I was so excited! I stuck to the rules 100% and came out the other side a few pounds lighter; my skin wasn’t much better, but for the first time in my life, I felt amazing on the inside. I felt totally healthy, clear-minded, and in control. Over the next few months I stuck with eating paleo, and was eating strict paleo when I found out I was pregnant. Though my pregnancy food aversions threw my eating out of whack, I was paleo for most of my second trimester, and when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I was the only one in my diabetes class who had to add carbohydrates to my diet! Three weeks after my son was born I jumped back on my paleo lifestyle, and for the past year have been back to eating paleo.

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Though my skin wasn’t perfect during my pregnancy, between my hormones and eating paleo, something magical happened: without any medication, my skin completely cleared up! Never in my life have I had skin, not only this clear, but glowing and smooth. I am so grateful every time I touch my cheek or look in the mirror. It’s still a miracle to me! Eating a paleo diet, for me, isn’t about the food, it’s about the feeling it gives me. I feel like I finally took off my grain-colored-glasses, and can finally see the world, and all the food in it, for what it truly is. Though my journey to a paleo lifestyle wasn’t always easy, looking back, it was so worth it. For, it isn’t just about my skin, it’s about my mind, body, and soul; my paleo lifestyle nourishes all of those elements.

 [author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]×740.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Olivia Howell is a new mom living on Long Island with her husband and son, Weston. When she’s not blogging for parenting websites, she’s tutoring, and managing social media for local businesses. You can see all of Olivia’s work on her website and she also blogs with her sister Jenny at Lovely At Your Side, a lifestyle blog that shares tips on style, crafts, and paleo and gluten-free recipes.

Connect with Olivia:  |  |  Instagram  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest  | [/author_info] [/author]

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