As Spring brings us longer sunnier days, our exposure to UV rays is slowly increasing and the risk of hyper pigmentation (brown spots) rises. Many of my clients find Winter to be an appropriate time to treat hyper pigmentation as exposure to UV is minimal. While this approach can be effective, it's extremely important that we look forward to some preventative measures to ensure the recurrence of hyper pigmentation year round.
How is hyper pigmentation formed? A simplified explanation...
There are many factors involved in why your skin turns dark (UV rays, hormones, medications, injury, genetic makeup) but here in New Zealand the main culprit for uneven skin tone is UV radiation. The cell responsible for your skin turning dark is called your melanocyte.
The melanocyte sits deeper down in your first layer of skin (epidermis) in the bottom layer know as your stratum basale. The melanocytes main role is protection against DNA mutation to your cells from UV rays. Melanocytes produce melanin - a protective pigment in the skin to prevent against skin cancer. Melanocytes "inject" melanin upwards into your skin cells, and is presented as discolouration on the stratum corneum (top layer of skin).
When UV rays penetrate the skin a process occurs where the enzyme tyrosinase (which sits alongside melanocytes) converts the amino acid tyrosine to oxidize and create the melanin to be transported. Over many years of UV exposure our cells become damaged, and tyrosinase has the ability to misfire which essentially leads to the overproduction of pigment = hyper pigmentation.
Very long story short - if you inhibit the enzymatic activity by tyrosinase with topical solutions you can brighten existing lesions, and prevent hyper pigmentation.
It goes without saying that a broad spectrum SPF used daily (yes, even in winter!) is one way to prevent skin discolouration and skin cancer. SPF alone however, is not considered to by a tyrosinase inhibitor. Specific cosmeceutical preparations can help to lighten and brighten existing hyper pigmentation, as well as prevent further dark spots.
All skins can benefit from a tyrosinase inhibitor, especially those with darker skin tones with the ability to tan. Even if you have pale, clear and unblemished skin - prevention will always be better than the cure.
*L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) - A powerful antioxidant. Tyrosinase requires an oxidizing atmosphere to work, hence why using an antioxidant such as L-Ascorbic acid is very effective. L-Ascorbic acid also lightens existing hyper pigmentation.
*Licorice extract - It's main active ingredient is "glabridin" which has shown to offer 50% inhibition of tyrosinase activity. Also brightens skin tone.
*Retinoids (Vitamin A) - inhibits tyrosinase induction and accelerates cell turnover, leading to loss of pigment
*Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA's) - accelerates cell turnover, inhibits melanin formation in melanocytes and enhances penetration of other tyrosinase inhibitors.
Products containing these ingredients are usually in a serum form for optimum penetration, and applied on a daily basis under moisturiser/SPF. In higher percentages they may be used in clinical treatments as part of a series.
In conclusion. While we have great success at treating hyper pigmentation with various modalities, if we prevent the formation of dark spots with topical preparations then long term results will be more easily maintained.
Draelos, Z.D. (2005). Procedures in Cosmetic Dermatology - Cosmeceuticals. Philadelphia, USA: Elsevier Saunders.
Barrett-Hill, F. (2004). Advanced Skin Analysis. Auckland, NZ: Virtual Beauty Corporation.
Pimples, spots, lumps and bumps... we all get them from time to time. But do you notice persistent, rashy pimples around the mouth and nose? You may be suffering from Perioral Dermatitis.
Perioral (around the mouth) Dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) is very common amongst women aged 15-45 years, and is defined by an angry eruption of red papules (pimple like lumps) dry scaly skin and is isolated to the lower half of the face. It resembles a persistent rash and can be very tender to the touch.
The exact cause of Perioral Dermatitis (PD) is yet to be fully understood. However the following factors are indications of how this condition can start:
* Imbalance of intestinal flora/gut health/leaky gut
* Hormonal changes/oral contraception
* Fluorinated toothpaste use
* Topical steroids
* Nasal and oral steroids/sprays
* Cosmetics, sunscreens and artificial colour/fragrance
* Bacterial or fungal infection
Typically, Perioral Dermatitis has been treated in the past with oral antibiotics, topical steroids and even low dose isotretinoin (oral Vit A). While the effects of these are relatively fast, there are questions around potential long term effects on the skin and gut health.
An emergence of thinking has arisen where internal support has taken precedence over traditional medicines. The link between the gut and skin health is an incredibly fascinating and in depth topic which we are learning more about every day. In relation to PD, it proves to be a significant discovery.
Your gut is responsible for a large proportion of your immunity. The bacterial balance in your gut is roughly 80% good bacteria and 20% bad bacteria. There are many disruptors to this balance in our daily lives such as oral contraceptives, medications, antibiotics, and a high sugar diet. When the balance is off, inflammation is present - and can be presented on the skin as PD, acne or rosacea.
Gut health in relation to PD is a top priority - oral probiotics show an improvement in intestinal function, a reduction in inflammation and balance altered gut flora. Kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and probiotic yoghurt are also good sources of probiotics. Avoiding sugar, processed foods, alcohol and caffeine is also highly recommended. Internal healing will be a big focus when treating PD.
Another consideration is the skins barrier function. Ultimately, the skins external barrier is seriously compromised when PD is active. External aggressors such as fragrance, colour, AHA/BHA, sodium laureth sulphate, soaps and heavy makeup will exacerbate the condition and should be avoided. Internal support for protecting the skins natural barrier function is essential - Omega 3 & 6 will help to repair the skins natural lipid bilayer and aid in healthy cell function.
In terms of prevention, using skin care products that are free of common skin irritants (fragrance, colour, SLS, petroleum, parabens) is advised. Good hygiene in relation to pillowcases/washcloths/makeup brushes, avoiding heavy cosmetics, and topical steroids is also recommended.
In conclusion, Perioral Dermatitis is a frustrating a persistent condition that requires diligence and commitment to treat via internal healing. While tempting to take the medical route to treat this condition, focussing on internal health will have a significant effect when given time.
This month I spoke to a special friend of mine - Dr. Katie Sleeman. Dr. Katie and I studied Beauty Therapy together back in 2003, and after a good solid start to her career (in fact, Katie excelled as a Beauty Therapist!) she opted for a complete career change and decided to study medicine.
A change in career or choosing to commit to many solid years of studying is daunting for many. Dr. Katie has now graduated and is working as a Junior Doctor at Christchurch Hospital, is a new mum and shining in her new career (albeit some challenges along the way).
I hope you enjoy reading about my inspiring friend and her bold decision to make a massive career change - and how she thrived in the process.
**Tell us about you Katie**
Hi guys, I'm Katie. I spent my earlier years as a Beauty Therapist. Now I'm
a Doctor and I'm a first time mum to our beautiful baby girl Mia.
I graduated as a Beauty Therapist 2003 (wow that's a super long time
ago!!) Initially I worked on the cruise ships, working on Sovereign of the
Seas in the Bahamas. I then returned home and worked at Nicola Quinn Beauty and Day Spa for 5 years. While I was studying medicine I worked with an amazing and inspiring doctor - Dr Safari at Dr safari Appearance Medicine Clinic.
**When did you decide that you wanted to study medicine?**
I decided I wanted to study medicine to become a Dermatologist (I didn't
realise then I had to do a full medical degree!) - but I went down to
Otago anyway and did a science foundation year. I was 26 (a bit more
mature) and realised I was actually not too bad with studying and I really
enjoyed it. After a gruelling health science first year I got accepted in to
medicine. I graduated with from Dunedin School of Medicine early 2015.
**What were your highlights down in Dunedin?**
I was lucky to have my Dad down in Dunedin, so I was able to spend some
down time hanging out with him. I met some incredible people in Dunedin and
made everlasting relationships with people from all cultures, backgrounds
and religions. Otago university has such a diverse culture, you soon
establish life long friendships.
I also got into Bikram Yoga, attending 90 minutes sessions after lectures
each day - this was me time, where I could mediate before and after and
reflect on each day.
**How did you cope with studying full time and working as a Beauty
You have to be motivated. It was easier to have a set plan each week.
Monday to Friday - medical school. Bikram Yoga after followed by dinner and a
few hours studying at night. I worked a 10 hour day on Saturday at the Dr
Safari Appearance Medicine clinic, so I considered this my day off from
study with Saturday evening completely free. Sunday I would take off to the
medical library and study all day, often studying well into the evening.
When I moved to Christchurch to do my clinical years 4th, 5th and trainee
intern I gave up working Saturdays, but I wished I hadn't. I actually
found I was less motivated as I thought I had more time during the weekend.
**What do you love most about working as a Junior Doctor?**
By far, the best thing about my job is helping someone sick get better,
making an ill person well and when that's not possible (which it often
isn't) just making someone comfortable. It's a cliche for sure but when you
know you're making a difference someone's life, you feel awesome!
**Do you have an idea of what line of medicine you would like to go into next?**
Once I'm finished my junior years in the hospital I will apply for GP
training. I love the thought of seeing the same patients and growing
professional relationships. Of course, I will likely end up branching of
into some Appearance Medicine at some stage. It makes sense with my
background, and it appeals to me.
**Being a new mum, how do you juggle the demands of working long
hours and shift work?**
Oh my, it's hard!! My baby girl is 15 months and she's been in daycare for
5 months. She loves it there, but we have had many sick days together. I'm
off right now with her! I work long hours, sometimes up to 16 hours a days,
sometimes up to 12 days straight. I'm about to start 7 days of nights soon,
after working 4 days.
Being a full time working mum is hard. I'm part of a
medical mums Facebook page and it gives me encouragement I need sometimes.
It makes me realise I'm not the only one! I'm extremely lucky too as my
other half Brian is very supportive and flexible with my hours.
**Any advice for people looking at studying/retraining after being in
the work force for several years?**
Just believe in yourself, don't listen to negative comments from others.
You know yourself best. Never give up unless it's to do something better.
Immerse yourself in people who inspire you and be confident.
**Is there a motto/saying you live your life by?**
Wear sunscreen! Every time I need some inspiration in my life I sing and
dance to 'everybody wear sunscreen' song! Or.. just turn it up really loud
in your car and drive. It's the best xxx
A massive THANK YOU to my dear Dr. Katie for taking time out of her super busy schedule to answer questions for Lofts Inspiration of the Month. Please show Dr. Katie some love by hitting "like" - and check out the video to her favourite song below. Some great advice in this song!
Reactions vs Responses - this is an important topic that Therapists need to be able to differentiate, and guide our clients through product transitions. Namely when using a Retinoid. Retinoid is the family name for derivatives of Vitamin A, and includes Retinoic Acid (prescription only), Retinol, Retinyl Palmitate, and Retinaldehyde.
So, you've decided to start using a Retinoid as you've heard about all of the wonderful benefits it has for your skin. It helps with skin texture, strengthening the skin, lightening pigmentation, building collagen, unblocking follicles, clearing acne and congestion - the list goes on. And you're ready to dive in all guns blazing to start reaping the benefits of this amazing vitamin.
After a couple of uses your skin is red, irritated, inflamed, dry, flaky - what on earth is going on? I hate this product! It was expensive, my skins horrendous and I must be allergic to Retinoids - right? Wrong.
When we think about the role of Retinoids and how they work their main function is to increase and regulate cell renewal, and make way for new cell production. So when the above symptoms occur technically it means that the product is doing its job (by creating cellular change) and is usually presented in the early days of use as dry flaky skin because of this.
When skin is not accustomed to using a Retinoid it could be responding to the delivery system, the strength/concentration, the dosage or you may have an impaired skin barrier. This is why I prefer to call these symptoms a response rather than a reaction and are to be expected at some stage during the journey of using Retinoids. Symptoms of an allergic reaction are hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of your face/lips/tongue, or throat. You should immediately discontinue use and seek medical assistance if you have any of these symptoms.
In my clinic 95% of my clients are using a Retinoid of some description - and they all get the same spiel on how to use it to avoid the response when they first start out. It can sound like a broken record to my product savvy clients, however CosMedix in particular use two potent derivatives of Vitamin A which are unique to the range so I can expect responses when I prescribe them.
Recommendations for Retinoid use:
* Evening use only, on cleansed skin. Daily SPF compliance is essential.
* To build skin tolerance start by using every 2nd evening for a week, if no response go to every evening.
* If there is sensitivity (redness, dryness, flaking, tight, shiny, irritated) use every 3rd evening for a week, and build up to every second then every evening.
* If symptoms continue to persist, go to every 4th evening (and so on) until your skin can tolerate.
* Less is more - use only the recommended amount of product.
* Symptoms can last 2-8 weeks.
80% of my clients don't experience the above symptoms and can tolerate using it every evening very quickly. But if you do experience the response and adjustment time above, know that it is completely normal and continued use of the Retinoid will (over time) improve the symptoms.
Tips to deal with the symptoms while your skin is responding:
* Avoid direct heat on the skin - luke warm water is appropriate for cleansing.
* Avoid intense exfoliation during this time. Gentle enzymes once a week will help reduce the flaking appearance and hydrate the skin.
* Use a nourishing mask 1-2x per week to help with dryness and irritation.
* Moisturise as often as needed, or use a soothing/anti inflammatory balm.
* Avoid touching, scratching, and itching your skin.
* Decrease usage at any time until your skins tolerance has been built up.
Building a close relationship with your Therapist will ensure you have the support on hand to get through a Retinoid response and get the right advice for you. Choosing clean, professional grade Cosmeceuticals with advanced ingredient technology means you and your skin will be enjoying the benefits of Vitamin A in no time.
Dermal Therapist (AACDS, ITEC, NaSA)
I love nothing more than hearing of young entrepreneurs with outstanding work ethics, commitment and absolute passion for what they do. This months inspiration embodies all of this and so much more, she is from my very own port town of Lyttelton - meet Bree from Glamour Cake.
If you haven't already been tempted by Bree's outstanding creations on social media (she has a solid 20,000 followers!) check out the amazing things this NZ young bread baker of the year is doing via her Facebook page. This determined and focussed young businesswoman works 5am-4pm six days per week to keep her dream alive, and to service the sweet tooth's of people from all over Canterbury. On any given week day this hard working lady makes 150 of her famous indulgent donuts, and 500 on a Saturday - queues out the door is normal in her work day! This doesn't include the gorgeous custom cake orders she somehow find times to fill.
Please enjoy reading about this sweetheart that is following her dream - show her some love by hitting like and commenting below.
**Please tell us about you Bree**
I'm 24, have always been a baker since I left school at 17. I love music, surfing and hiking! I started baking because of my dad he's a baker and took me on as an apprentice.
**Tell us about how Glamour cake began and how long you've been operating**
Glamour Cake started two and a half years ago when I won NZ young bread baker of the year. For winning I was awarded some funding to further my baking career. So I decided to spend it on setting up a small test kitchen at home so I could start creating and experimenting with new products.
Once I stated making a few new things I set up a Facebook page and over the two years I've been trying many new products and treats until I found the cheesecakes and donuts were a hit and it just took off on its own though the social page.
**You have an amazing work ethic! What keeps you motivated**
I absolutely love my job! I love the fact I can go into work and create something new everyday if I wanted to - makes me jump out of bed everyday!!
**Where do you draw inspiration for your amazing creations?**
My inspiration comes from Instagram, Facebook and cook books. I love imagery. I find it very stimulating and give me lots of ideas.
**What is the best part of having your own business**
Being able to be my own person and let myself come out into my products, and create what I feel.
**What are the biggest challenges you face within your business?**
My biggest challenge is the negative that comes with my social media page. Because my following continues to grow. So does the number of people that I can please every time. But at the end of the day I know that you can't please everyone and I must learn to be ok with that.
**Any tips for young people wanting to start their own business?**
Give it your all. Let your passion and love drive you to what you want to create and the rest will follow if people can see the love and passion coming out in your work.
**Do you have a motto/saying you live your life by?**
Stay sweet and keep eating cake!
A big thank you to the lovely Bree for featuring in this months inspiration of the month. Don't forget to head to the Lyttelton Bakery on Norwich Quay to try one of her amazing creations (Tip: Get there EARLY!)
As many of you know I spent some time up in Tauranga last month doing a dermo-nutrition course which was absolutely out of this world. I've come back with a lot more knowledge around how our food can affect our skin - it's far more than you realise! Did you know in relation to your skin, there are SIX key nutrients essential for skin health? Many of these you can get from diet alone - some not so easy.
This is a huge topic, but to make things clear and easy for you I will discuss each of the six key nutrients, their benefits and how you can get them in your diet. I will also briefly cover digestive health and foods to avoid if you have specific skin concerns.
The six KEY nutrients for skin health.
* Supports collagen and keratin production
* Helps cells produce normally
* Promotes healing
* Keeps skin strong and moist
Food sources of Vitamin A:
* Leafy green vegetables
**Note: One carrot per day will give you your daily requirement of Vitamin A**
* Support microcirculation
* Regulates cell turnover (folate)
* Releases sebum (oil) onto the skin
* Required for cell energy
* Stress resilience vitamins
Food sources of B Vitamins
* Brewers yeast
* Leafy greens
* Hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds
* Pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds
**Note: In addition to foods we eat it is advised to supplement with a B complex. When choosing a B complex ensure the supplement has equal levels of B2 & B6 (eg: 25-50mg of each)**
* Vital in the production of collagen
* Essential for wound healing
* Strengthens capillaries
* Powerful antioxidant
* Supports liver function
Food Sources of Vitamin C:
* Red capsicum
* Citrus fruits
**Note: Half a lemon squeezed into a glass of luke warm water will give you your daily Vitamin C requirement**
* Transports Vitamin A
* Crucial in wound healing
* Regulates sebaceous glands (oil glands)
* Produces collagen & hyaluronic acid
* Is a co-enzyme for 70 enzymes
Food Sources of Zinc:
* Oysters (very rich in zinc)
* Nuts, Seeds, Whole grains
**Note: Zinc testing is readily available at health foods shop. If you test low for Zinc, supplements are recommended**
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's) Omega 3 & 6
* Essential for cell function
* Are incorporated into the cell membrane
* Released in the upper layers of the skin to form "bi layers" (skins natural protection)
* Omega 6 is required to prevent pores from blocking
* Anti inflammatory
* Healing on the skins surface
* Help nutrients reach cells
* Forms ceramides (natural moisturiser)
Food Sources of EFA's
* Oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel) - Omega 3
* Walnuts, flaxseed/oil - Omega 6
* Wild rice
**Note: Supplementing is highly recommended - while we can get a portion of EFA's from diet, most modern diets don't have a consistent amount daily EFA's. While fish oil is popular for Omega 3 intake, Omega 6 is also essential as it is converted to Linoleic acid (layman terms forms natural moisture factor in the skin. Omega 3 is not capable of linoleic acid conversion). Flaxseed oil contains both Omega 3 and 6**
* Hydrates the body and deeper layers of the skin
* Facilitates the removal of waste
* Allows nutrients to be delivered to the skin
* Prevents digestive issues (which can inhibit absorption of nutrients)
Tips for more Water intake:
* Lemon water in the morning before breakfast
* Always carry a water bottle with you
* Drink caffeine free herbal teas
* Always accept water when its offered
* Up your water intake when exercising
* Limit alcohol and caffeine (dehydrating)
**Note: 70-80% of skins hydration comes from the Dermis (deep layer of skin) and it reduces to 13% in the stratum corneum (very superficial layer of skin) - water is ESSENTIAL for skin health!**
The importance of digestion.
"You are what you eat" should be re-phrased as "You are what you absorb"...
The ability for your body to absorb nutrients is dependant the health of your digestive system - if you are suffering from any digestive issues you won't be absorbing all of the nutrients that you could be.
Absorption of nutrients begins in the small intestine, then sent to the liver for filtering/checking then released into the bloodstream. There are a hundred trillion bacteria in the gut (some good, some bad!) Probiotics help with digestion, keeping the gut healthy and in balance.
Tips for better Digestion:
* Avoid fluid around meal times - fluids dilute digestive juices/make them less efficient at breaking down food.
* Focus on chewing - "puree" your food as much as possible before swallowing.
* Smaller, more regular meals place less strain on the digestive system than eating large meals.
* Peppermint tea aids digestion and reduces bloating
* Avoid chewing gum which stimulates digestion and acid release in the stomach
Foods to avoid when treating specific skin conditions.
Do you suffer with sensitised, red, irritated skin and broken capillaries? Many foods can exacerbate these symptoms, these are categorised as "heating foods". Here is a list of foods to avoid and some alternative "cooling foods".
* Hot and spicy foods (chilli, curry, cayenne) - replace with fresh herbs, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamon, cinnamon, cumin, coriander etc
* Oranges, orange juice and strawberries (naturally heating in the skin) - replace with any other seasonal fruit
* Peanuts, peanut butter and cashews (high rate of intolerance and reactions) - replace with tahini, almond butter, almonds and brazil nuts
* Commercially prepared chocolate (high in saturated fat and dairy) - replace with raw cacao, high percentage dark chocolate, raw treats
* Caffeine, alcohol (especially red wine) and energy drinks (all vasodilators/weaken capillaries) - replace with herbal teas, kombucha, water with freshly cut fruits and herbs
Is your skin congested with blackheads, prone to breakouts and bumpy? There are many common congesting foods (especially those high in saturated fat) that can irritate and inflame the surface of the skin. These are categorised as "congesting foods". Here is a list of foods to avoid and some alternative "smoothing foods". (Particularly important if you suffer from acne).
* Cheese (highly processed and high in saturated fat) - replace with nutritional yeast (similar savoury flavour), hummus or avocado
* Full cream dairy products - replace with unsweetened rice, oat or coconut milk
* Red meat (specifically sausages, mince, and pork with are high in saturated fat) - replace with grilled lean meat, chicken, turkey, fish, lentils, beans, eggs, tempeh.
* Chips and fried food (high in saturated fat) - grilled, steamed and baked foods
* Protein powders/bars (highly processed) - replace with eggs, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, beans.
This months inspiration is a gorgeous young lady who I'm sure many of you have read about on social media before. Elora Harre aka The Shrinking Violet has been on incredible weight loss journey - she has lost 55kg to date. Elora has inspired thousands and now has a business dedicated to helping people live their healthiest lifestyle.
Elora is based here in Christchurch where she is continuing her amazing journey after living abroad. She is a published author, has a steady following of almost 50,000 followers on Facebook (where you can read all about her tips for all things weight loss/healthy living as well as travel and product reviews) and has a YouTube channel with educational healthy cooking videos. This gorgeous girl is totally owning her life at the age of 23!
Her blog www.theshrinkingviolet.co.nz has so much information and inspiration if you are looking at embarking in a healthier lifestyle and looking at ditching the fad diets. I hope you enjoy reading about this totally inspirational woman.
**Please give me an outline on you, and what motivated you to change your lifestyle**
I'm Elora Harre aka The Shrinking Violet and I'm a wellness, weight loss and travel blogger. When I arrived home from studying in 2013, I was in a picture of ill health. I was morbidly obese, my anxiety was out of control and I was experiencing constant headaches. Enough was enough, and I decided to take back control of my health. During 2013 and 2014 I lost a total of 55kg which I documented online through my blog, The Shrinking Violet. I received a tummy tuck in 2015 to remove 2.5kg of excess skin. Since 2014, I have been able to continue to inspire others to change their health through programs I have created as well as becoming a published author last year.
**I understand Paleo has been most compatible with your journey - can you tell me about Paleo?**
Essentially Paleo is a real food lifestyle. Everyone has their own interpretation of it, however to me it is all about the elimination of processed foods and a focus on foods such as vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, fruit, nuts and seeds. Food that hasn't been altered too much from it's natural state. Food that our body is designed to eat!
**What are some methods you have tried in the past that weren't so successful with your change of lifestyle?**
Calorie counting and treadmills - ugh!
**What physical exercise have you incorporated into daily life? What do you love/hate doing?**
I am obsessed with heavy weight lifting and F45! I workout 5 days a week, but do 7 sessions. 2 heavy lifting sessions and 5 F45 workouts. I still don't really like exercise, but these are all bearable and I find them incredibly rewarding.
**What are your biggest daily challenges with maintaining your lifestyle, and what has been your biggest challenge been to date?**
My biggest challenge is that I travel a lot. It makes it hard for me to maintain routines constantly, but I have definitely figured out how to make the best of it. The biggest challenge was and still is my excess skin. It's something I can't remove through exercise and eating, so it is tough to deal with as it gets in the way both physically and mentally.
**Any set backs along the way?**
I think the only set back I had was quite early on in my journey, I hadn't yet discovered my real food lifestyle and I was calorie counting and flailing about. It was maybe a period of 3 weeks - but my determination carried me through.
**What are some of your biggest highlights from your journey so far?**
I have had so many amazing opportunities come out of this journey - from being able to now help others through a company I created - 10 Week Challenge, to becoming a published author and even getting the opportunity to travel the globe. I owe it all to my health!
**Tell me a bit about www.theshrinkingviolet.com and how you help others lead a healthier life**
My website is a fantastic tool that really compliments my daily Facebook blog. My website has loads of longer articles, recipes, travel blogs, cooking videos, more about me and my journey and it's also going to have an online store soon!
**What are your top tips for people wanting to embark on a healthy lifestyle?**
It starts with food! Food is the most important thing you can change when you're wanting to improve your health. That needs to be complimented by overall healthy lifestyle practices such as sleep and stress reduction. Health isn't just eating right and exercising - it's about the way you live.
**Do you have a motto you live your life by?**
One that I kept close during my weight loss journey was:
"Fail to prepare? Prepare to fail."
Organisation is KEY!
A big thank you to Elora for sharing her story - please show her your support by hitting like!
This months inspiration of the month is one very dear to my heart - Pam and the team at Dogwatch Sanctuary Trust. Dogwatch is an adoption centre for dogs and puppies from many walks of life (sadly not all of them good). I first found out about Dogwatch and the amazing work they do when my husband and I adopted our dog Gus from them four years ago. They have been the recipients of Lofts annual Christmas collection for two years now.
The dedication and commitment that comes with running a self funded organisation is incredible - these are some of the most caring and devoted people you will meet.
Dogwatch currently has 18 dogs in its care - awareness of this amazing cause is much needed. Please share this with any friends or family who may be interested in adopting a dog that is very much in need.
**Tell us about Dogwatch**
Dogwatch was established in 1982 by Peggy Van Bree, Estelle Win and John Ross who was a financial backer and trustee. Basically two ladies fostered pound dogs until they could find them homes, they placed adds in the Press and local rags, volunteers screened them over the phone and then the foster homes screened them again, if all was suitable then they were adopted out. All the dogs came from the CCC pound and the old Waimairi pound. Then they recruited other foster families to take in dogs and do the same thing, all food and transport was supplied along with vet care.
** Please tell me a bit more about you Pam and how you got involved at Dogwatch**
I have been involved with Dogwatch coming up 33 years this Christmas, my husband does all the maintenance where possible at the adoption. My 2 children, now adults have grown up with our own dogs as well as the many dogs we fostered until the kennels were built in 2001, and still do foster, at present I have two rescues at home with my own two adopted dogs.
From an early age, I have had a love of dogs, once my father found a dog in his garage that I had “saved” not that it needed saving I just so wanted to help a dog. I used to go visiting the local dogs to make sure they were alright, I remember feeding a dog weetbix because I thought it was lonely chained up while the owner was away.
How we became involved – we had our German Shepherd Kelly and we considered getting another dog. My husband saw an add in the local paper asking for foster homes, Neil suggested we do this to see if a second dog was going to fit into our family – 33 years later we are still fostering rescued dogs. I am now the full time manager of the Dogwatch Adoption Centre in Bromley.
**Tell us about the growth of Dogwatch over the years**
In the last few years the growth of Dogwatch has exceeded all of our expectations. Dogwatch is a respected rescue and rehoming centre recognised all over New Zealand. Although still considered small compared to others our main focus is not how many dogs we home but rather finding them the right home that will love and care for their adopted dog for the rest of its life.
We do understand that anything can happen in a person’s life that could change an owner’s ability to keep their dog, and for this reason we also help people in the community to re home their dogs. We act as a referral service to help match up those wanting to get a dog with those wanting to find another home for their dog. Dogwatch has gone from a very small group of volunteers to now employing 1 full time person, 6 part timers, this covers both the kennels and the variety shop in New Brighton. Over nearly 35 years we have homed thousands of dogs and puppies, we have helped hundreds of private dogs find new homes.
From looking after two pounds when we first started we now look after four pounds - Christchurch, Waimakariri, Selwyn and Ashburton. We have also helped the Greymouth, Hurunui and Fairly pounds.
**Do you have any government assistance or do you rely solely on donations and volunteers?**
Dogwatch is totally self funded, we receive no government or council funding. We have a secondhand variety shop in New Brighton which is one of our main sources of funding. As a charity we rely heavily on donations, bequests, legacies and the amazing time and energy given by volunteers to help with the running of the adoption centre and the shop and importantly fundraising.
Our supporters are what keep us going, we have some amazing people who donate to Dogwatch, from as little $2 per week - over a year this will pay for a dog to be vaccinated. We could not do the rescue work without the support that we get from these caring people.
**What has been your biggest challenge with running Dogwatch?**
Over the last 4 years we have designed and built a new entrants kennel block, this block is specifically for all new dogs and puppies that come into our care. Raising the funds a was a major task to get this project up and running, as we have grown to take in more dogs the big challenge has been to go from being a totally volunteer run adoption centre to having employees.
After 22 years of having no paid staff we came to realise that we needed structure, consistency, and stability to run the kennels, this cannot be done by volunteers alone. The biggest challenge now is to be financially stable to continue the rescue work we do. People have no concept of how much it costs to run a rescue centre.
**What is the best way for our community to contribute to Dogwatch/whats your advice for anyone considering adoption?**
There are so many ways people can help Dogwatch - volunteering (people have many skills that can be utilised at our centre), anything from cleaning to helping to re home dogs, donating good quality goods to our second hand shop, financial support, working bees, spreading the word about who we are and what we, promoting Opt to Adopt.
**What have you learnt about yourself and others since working at Dogwatch?**
Hmm that is a hard one, I have personally grown a lot in the last few years. I have learnt that people come in many forms with dog ownership, I have learnt that we as a society still have much to learn about dog ownership and the days of the number 8 wire mentality, she’ll be right does not work with owning and looking after man’s best friend. What have I learnt from this? Is to go with my instinct when dealing with people and dogs.
**Lastly, what is there a motto you life your life by?**
Try and take each day as it comes and be prepared to change at any time.
A very big thank you to Pam for taking precious time out of her day to complete these answers - she is one very busy woman.
If you, or someone you know is interested in adopting a Dog, please visit www.dogwatch.co.nz
For my March inspiration of the month, I introduce to you my client and friend Carrie Broomhall.
Carrie is one of those women that oozes GOOD. She speaks kindly and softly, her eyes glow and she is a true radiant beauty from the inside out. Carrie is the picture of health.
It was almost a casual discussion when I learnt that Carrie had some major health curve balls thrown her way - I would never have guessed that only a few years ago she was seriously ill with aggressive cancer. On top of her survival story, Carrie has successfully started a new business that has skyrocketed to success, and is a busy wife and mother to three children.
Carries story is one of survival, strength, love and tenacity. Her determination, positive attitude and desire to live a full and happy life shine through when you speak to her.
I know you will find Carrie as inspiring as I do.
** Tell us about you Carrie**
I am 38 years old, a business owner, mother, wife and cancer survivor.
My two sisters and I were born and raised in Christchurch and the walls of our home were (and still are) literally covered in the paintings of contemporary New Zealand artists. My father and I share the love of art and so I firmly believe that my passion for the fine arts began at day dot. As a teenager I excelled at painting, design and printmaking and continued to study these mediums at Dunedin university. I met my soul mate Sam in a ridiculously average bar in town almost 16 years ago. Our mantra became-'why postpone the inevitable' so shortly afterwards we were engaged, then married then pregnant with our baby boy.
We now share our 15 acre property with our 3 gorgeous children, 9 of our own horses (my husbands new sport is polo), 4 mental chickens and 2 lunatic dogs- Monty and Moose (I would happily be that nutty dog woman and have many more if my husband would allow it!) .Things at our house can get a little crazy sometimes.
**Upon meeting you, I would never have guessed the health issues you had been dealt in the past. Can you please talk us through your diagnosis, treatment and recovery?**
Three years ago we were holidaying with friends and family in Golden Bay. I developed a UTI (urinary tract infection) - I had been getting them on and off for about a year. When back home I booked an appointment with Dr Joy Dixon aka super woman. She, like me, felt that the multiple courses of antibiotics my GP had been putting me on weren't working so she stepped them up and prescribed a strong 3 month course to hopefully nip any residual bugs in the butt! This was done after I had a bladder scan which had come back completely normal…
About 2 months into that course I noticed one morning a tiny clot of blood in my urine. I was sent directly to hospital and cutting a very long and emotional story short- our lives were flipped and I was diagnosed with aggressive, muscle invasive bladder cancer.
Bladder cancer is known as being an overweight, smoking, 60years+ male disease and at 34 years old and healthy - I just didn't fit the bill. But, cancer (or Mr Stinky cancer as he is known round here) just didn't seem to get that memo.
The tumour was aggressive so an aggressive approach was necessary. I underwent chemotherapy for 3 months prior to the operation to try to stabilise the cancer and to attack any microscopic cells that may have metastasised.
After the chemo with my hair falling out in clumps, school drop offs and midnight searchings on the internet for any new options out there, I had a massive ‘radical cystectomy surgery’ and ‘radical hysterectomy’ to remove by entire diseased bladder, my ovaries, uterus, cervix, the top of my vagina, parts of my bowel and lymph nodes to my heart. A small part of my bowel was then turned into a new urinary reservoir (called a neo bladder), which the amazing surgeons re-plumbed to what was left of my urinary system.
I woke up breathing just 3 breathes a minute with a bowel that refused to work and felt like I was truly going to die. With my ovaries gone I was thrown into instant menopause and the hot flushes and tears were intense.
A month later when I was finally released my new neo bladder refused to work. I was readmitted several times requiring blood transfusions and antibiotics. I endured 6 months of complete incontinence and rocked adult nappies for that time.
Finally, feeling like I was at rock bottom I went back to see my amazing gynecologist, Joy who once again stepped up to help me out. She was amazed to hear that I had never once had a physical examination post op. All it took was a quick look to see that my body has developed a ‘vesico/vaginal’ fistula (in layman's terms- my amazing body had created a tunnel from my stomach cavity to the outside world to drain the urine that would otherwise pooled inside me and made me septic!) Damn our bodies are incredible!
So, back to the operating theatre for me - my neo bladder had magically ‘disappeared’ and this time round I woke up with an external urinary bag (aka a urostomy). This, at the beginning of it all would have been my least favoured option but, it turns out death definitely beats that hands down. I am grateful everyday for my bag. Don't get me wrong- I HATE it but the alternative was never an option for me. I try to embrace it and I think because we have young daughters I still try to rock a bikini so that neither of them grow up thinking their mum has body hang ups.
Life for me now has a whole new level of motivation. I have a blog- firstname.lastname@example.org and hope that I can reach out to other people who may encounter tough times with a cancer diagnosis or changes in their bodies for the worse. Cancer in many ways has been a blessing. My own cells created the cancerous cells and that motivates me to take care of my body. I see cancer now as my guru, it reminds me daily how fragile our wee worlds are and how precious our time here is.
** Tell us about your business, Show Pony**
My sister and I started our millinery business last year off the back of a watershed moment for both of us. Liv, my younger sister had just come out of a relationship and our father had just been diagnosed with secondary cancer. We set out with the simple goal of creating a bit of a distraction for ourselves while life threw us more curve balls.
As children, Mum and Dad took all three of us to plenty of race meetings around the country and overseas. Mum’s outfits were always on point and Dad was in his element on course. We started to make our own headpieces as we got older but life was too busy to make it a business.
That changed last year and Liv and I decided to start Show Pony Millinery. Together with my background in fine arts and my sister’s marketing skills we make the perfect team and can make each other laugh like no one else can.
**What have been your biggest obstacles along the way with starting your own business?**
Juggling our business and raising my young family has been a challenge at times and there are days when it just doesn't work! Some days after getting our children ready for school, cleaning up after our 2 gorgeously crazy dogs, feeding out hay to our 9 horses in the rain, tending to the chickens and meeting wholesale deadlines - I do wonder what the hell I've signed up for!
My husband, Sam has the patience of a saint. He has been incredibly supportive of me, which has been absolutely crucial in the success of achieving our work\life balance.
**What advice do you have for mothers/women wanting to start their own business?**
We have learnt to have strict work/life rules in our house and running our own business means we have the power to do that. I think it’s incredibly important to be able to separate the two-especially when working with family. Being a mum is the hardest and yet the most rewarding job. I know everyone says that (and some people wont believe that but its true) and so our children come first.
When I was bed ridden I promised myself that I WOULD get better and would spend more time with our children-I had feared the worst and the thought of leaving them made and still makes me fiercely determined to still be here when they are in their 60's!!!
The second thing was to start my own business doing something I was really passionate about and thirdly to live my life trying to be as empathetic and motivating as I can be. I think we all need to feel lifted and inspired on a regular basis.
**What is the motto you live your life by?**
There are days when I’m certain that even the most positive person out there will want to hide under a rock and there are days that I have certainly thought that that would be an easy alternative for me.
I think being a mum is exhaustingly motivating. We are role models to our children 90% of the time and that is a HUGE responsibility (freaking out writing this-eek!). It does however make us just keep on keeping on, placing one foot in front of the other - which is great but it is the other 10% of the time that is absolutely crucial to nail. Mums MUST take care of themselves and each other. Embracing what makes us truly happy is my advice. NEVER live life like you are doing time!
With my family, my friends and recently more importantly, me. Life has a lot of ups and downs in it. We need to take care of each other, not judge so much and raise each other up. Above all else, have fun and dance whenever possible!
All the love in the world goes to Carrie for sharing her story - you are such an incredible human being and I'm so proud to call you my friend.
For this months Loft Inspiration of the month ("Ms February!") I introduce to you my client, valued friend and inspiration Hollie Woodhouse. I first met Hollie up at Loft, and as I do I try my best to get to know my clients really well. It didn't take long for me to realise that Hollie was some kind of superhuman - she's an esteemed multi sport athlete, the director of her very own magazine "Say Yes To Adventure" (SYTA) and works a full time job.
Hollie has the sort of personality that is totally infectious - her eyes are bright and her laugh is music to your ears. Her commitment and love for what she does shines through when she talks about her latest conquests - when she told me about her "run" (230km through the Amazon Jungle!) I was absolutely blown away by her achievements. She is humble and unassuming, and this February she is racing the Coast to Coast and is sponsored by Kathmandu.
Hollie, you are such and inspiration to me - you are a living example of how staying positive, committed and passionate will get you closer to achieving your dreams. I hope you enjoy reading about this inspiring woman.
**Tell us a little bit about you Hollie**
I'm very much a rural kiwi girl brought up on a farm south-west of Ashburton, in the middle of the South Island. Currently based in Christchurch, I like to think of myself as a weekend-warrior, who somehow manages to juggle a day job, publishing a magazine and training for my next adventure. Now and then I find time to have a blow-out in my social life too, just to keep things balanced.
**How did you become involved in your races, and what training is involved**
I've always had a love for sport, giving anything and everything a go while growing up. After coming home from overseas, I was introduced to the adventure and multisport scene by my cousin and haven't looked back. I just love the thrill of racing and the places it takes me. Setting myself a challenge and then completing something that up until then had terrified me.
I train almost every day. Currently, this is split between running, biking (road and mountain biking), kayaking and swimming as I prepare for the Coast to Coast, and a new event to New Zealand called Breca SwimRun. Running is my favourite discipline, while kayaking sits on the bottom of the list. I find mixing up my training has so many benefits, not only for health and fitness (touch wood I have never had an injury) but it also keeps my training exciting.
**What has been your most memorable race to date?**
I find every race is memorable for different reasons, whether it be the location, the nature of the race or the weather! The Marathon des Sables was insane; my first ever multi-stage race and in the Sahara Desert. 50+ degrees, sand for miles and 260 kilometres, but it was an incredible experience. Another one that stands out is the 2-day Coast to Coast, which I completed in 2014. It was my first big step into multisport races, and everything just seemed to come together over those two days. I still pinch myself that I managed to finish in 3rd place.
**Tell us about SYTA magazine and how it all came about**
I was searching for a creative way to raise funds for For Rangers, an organisation which supports the ranger's welfare across the private wildlife conservancies in Kenya. I’ve always wanted to create a high-quality adventure magazine, so this seemed like the perfect time and reason to start one and an excellent way to combine my love of adventure and design.
Say Yes to Adventure is a beautifully-designed print publication that explores the stories of passionate people and the motivations behind their inspirational adventures. Featuring a broad range of subject matter focused on exploration, creativity, adventure and discovery, we aim to be a source of inspiration for those who seek an active and exciting lifestyle.
**How have you managed juggling a business, a full-time job and training?**
Ha, I’m not too sure. I find the busier I am, the more I get done. Give me an afternoon with not too much planned and I seem to waste it away! It's about setting priorities and being organised. I love a good list and the satisfaction of ticking items off. I work much better under pressure, so as long as I am busy, it seems to work out OK! I also have an amazing family who supports me in everything I do and are always there when I need some advice or the odd extra dinner for the freezer (thanks, mum!).
**Any advice for those interested in trying multisport?**
Just do it. There is always something that will come up and make the time ‘not quite right’, but if you start now, then you will be so much better off further down the track. This not only applies to multisport, but to everything we do. People spend too much time worrying about what could go wrong, why not just do it, maybe it will all work out just the way you wanted it to!
**Do you have a motto that you live by?**
I suppose you could say, ‘Say Yes’ is my motto. Many people comment that they could never do what I do, but I just think that’s an easy out. Everyone is capable of doing it if they set their minds to it. So much of what I do is the top two inches – you have to want it. We can all do it; some just want it more than others.
Now, lets all go for a run!