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If you haven't read Dr. Nigma Talib's book (Younger Skin Starts in the Gut), reading it will blow your mind, cause you to question your behavior, research the claims in hopes of disproving them, fail, become somewhat depressed, and then finally become motivated to change your behavior. (That is exactly what happened to me when I read it.)

Although I highly suggest reading it in full, Dr. Talib's advice is too amazing to sit on your bookshelf until you find the time so I'm sharing a summary here (and shouting it from the mountaintops, and boring my coworkers with it, and my husband, etc.)

Before we begin, let's start with a little exercise based on the premise of Dr. Talib's book, which is that consumption of sugar, dairy, wine, or gluten causes distinct signs of aging on your face.

Take a look at the below diagram, read the descriptions of each, and then look in the mirror at your own face. Do you have any signs of Wine Face, Dairy Face, Gluten Face or Sugar Face (or all four...)?

Sugar Face Symptoms:
  • Sagging under eyes
  • Widespread blemishes
  • Pustular or cystic acne
  • Thinning skin
  • Dark gray or pasty white hue to the complexion
  • Lines and wrinkles on the upper forehead

Dairy Face Symptoms:
  • Under eye bags
  • Darkness under the eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Widespread acne and blemishes
  • Pale cheeks
  • Concentrated pimples on the chin

Wine Face Symptoms:
  • Lines between the eyebrows
  • Enlarged pores 
  • Reddish cheeks
  • Dehydrated skin
  • Feathery lines across the cheeks
  • Deep nasolabial folds 

Gluten Face Symptoms:
  • Puffy cheeks
  • Jowls
  • Blemishes across forehead
  • Bloated appearance to face
  • Redness or red spots on cheeks
  • Blemishes or dark patches on the chin

Why is this happening?!

In the book, Dr. Talib explains that sugar, dairy, wine (and all alcohol), and gluten are all common causes of inflammation that lead to the symptoms described above.

We are all familiar with acute inflammation, the response your body has to injuries like cuts and bruises. White blood cells rush to the area to repair the damage, resulting in redness, swelling and discomfort.

Dr. Talib suggests that consuming sugar, dairy, wine and gluten cause a similar inflammatory response in our bodies but that it is chronic and long-term, leading to a variety of health issues in addition to the aging face scare tactic that she used to lure me in to reading her book in the first place! Here are some of the reasons why they're so bad in cause you want to fact-check her like I did:

  • Sugar leads to glycation, a process that breaks down the collagen essential for keeping your skin firm and youthful
  • Dairy is extremely difficult for our bodies to digest because we lose the enzymes that process dairy as we age
  • Wine is full of sugar, sulfites, pesticides and alcohol which dehydrates you, causes your liver to work overtime, and disrupts your gut bacteria
  • Gluten causes a leaky gut for many people, which means that things you are supposed to be digesting literally leak out of your digestive tract to who-knows-where in your body

I have Wine Face, and I'm going to fix it

Although I cut gluten and dairy from my diet earlier this year at the insistence of my dermatologist (and with great results), I love wine - in full disclosure, I have a glass or two almost every night. Dr. Talib showed me that as a result of that habit, I may have Wine Face (!!!!) and am likely causing myself to age quickly and paving the way for future health issues. Considering that I am pushing 31 and willing to spend $130 on an ounce of Skinceuticals serum to keep my skin in tip top condition, this is NOT ACCEPTABLE and I decided to do something about it.

Before any of my fellow winos freak out, know that the book advises that moderation can eliminate the issues. Dr. Talib suggests taking four straight days without alcohol each week, and keep it reasonable (no more than three glasses) on the "off" days.

I'm testing her theory by cutting out wine entirely and replacing it with La Croix, Perrier and chamomile tea during the work week. Although the logical part of my mind would love to do a full month without any wine or sugar, the illogical impulsive side of my mind lacks the will power to survive the holiday party circuit under such austere circumstances. (Suggestions welcome.) I'm considering this advance training for 2017 behavior changes...

If you're a fellow candidate for Wine Face (or Sugar, Dairy or Gluten Face) and considering making some changes, I'd love any ideas you have on healthy substitutes for wine and chocolate, or cheesecake and French bread. (For the record, I just got hungry typing that...)

Thanks for reading, and hope you have a chance to check out this book!

#1 Getting blinded by the brand
Buying based on brand without considering whether the actual piece would be just as amazing under a lesser-known label is one of the biggest mistakes that I've made in building my wardrobe. Building a brand that has the power to drive mindless purchasing decisions is the ultimate goal of any marketer, but we should have the opposite goal in mind as consumers. 
I purchased a pair of (second hand, but still expensive) Chanel flats that I ended up regretting for a couple of reasons, but mostly because they remind me of my susceptibility to brand names. There are so many other ballet flat options that are just as good in quality, but I bought mine for the logo rather than because they were remarkable and unique. That is fundamentally tacky and sort of hypocritical: tacky in that buying for logo means that I wanted them because I wanted to be associated with the fanciness of that brand, and hypocritical because I am not fancy and write an entire blog about making mindful purchasing decisions.
#2 Falling in love with the deal
Picking up things that I wouldn't be willing to buy if they cost me full retail price is one of the biggest traps I've fallen into, and this past year of cutting back has helped me to recognize this. Any item that we purchase should have a purpose in our wardrobes, yet I've spent so much money on items that aren't great, don't fit in, or are redundant with other things that I already own. It pained me to look at all of the waste I've generated by accumulating things that were a "really great deal" that I mindlessly picked up while shopping for sport. Going forward, I won't enter any retail establishment unless I have done an assessment of my wardrobe, considered the gaps, and made a list and budget.
#3 Not being honest about your lifestyle
My lifestyle is 80% travel, 10% recovering from travel, 5% casual social get-togethers, 2.5% dinner parties, and 2.5% fancy events. My wardrobe should be built with that lifestyle in mind, heavy on the versatile business professional pieces sprinkled with casual items and a select few dressy items to reserve for the 2.5% of my time spent at fancy events or black tie weddings.
I've recognized that the items that get me the most mileage are the ones that I can wear to work, or casually at home. My old habit of impulse-purchasing high heels, fancy skirts and beaded vintage blouses was not supporting my lifestyle needs, nor was my oddly large collection of Madewell chambray shirts.
#4 Forgetting that you have options for better quality and prices
Impulse purchasing a polyester-blend sweater from Topshop for $100 that will look worn and old after the second wash does not serve me or my wardrobe. Teaching myself to think about where I can get a similar style in cashmere or 100% wool (like on my favorite online retailer eBay...) has helped me build a better quality wardrobe overall. (And I've been tossing those cheap, overpriced items all year...)
#5 Losing sight of your purpose
We all have a purpose in our purchasing decisions, whether it is to push the boundaries on your style, fill gaps in your wardrobe, or become more mindful about what you're buying. This mistake is really hard to avoid, even when you're consciously trying to stay focused. Even though I publicly committed to a self-induced challenge to not buy anything for a year save for second-hand, I struggled with this one. And I write this guiltily thinking of those who have joined me (Ivanka...) and hope for your forgiveness.
While traveling for work in the spring, my black heel broke and I was without a substitute or the ability to find a suitable second-hand store. In pure desperation, I dragged my friend Ashley (who is conveniently also a 9.5 shoe size) to Nordstrom, forced her to buy a pair of black heels on her own credit card, wear them for a day, then sell them back to me for $5 less. It was a low moment, and I am ashamed for letting myself get off on a technicality. However, it was a true test of friendship as there are not many people who would accept such outrageous demands. (Thanks, Ash!)
And, I took a lot of liberty with my birthday gifts, all attributed to my husband Wes and his incredible taste in women's clothing and full support of my style choices...
Ok, that's all I have! I'm sure there are many other shopping mistakes that we make, would love to hear your thoughts on any that you've observed in your closets!

Since we moved in early September, I've been wading through boxes and trying to figure out where everything should live. I've spend months in analysis paralysis about which sconces to buy. There are boxes shoved into corners of the garage and guest bedroom and I have no idea what is inside of them. No idea, folks.
Last weekend, we finally got all of our homeless d├ęcor and wayward belongings shoved into a spare room and managed to get the whole place cleaned for a Halloween party. For the first time, this new place finally felt like home and worthy of taking some pictures with my trusty ol' Nikon to document the progress. (I posted them as a tour on my other blog - you can read it here if you're interested and have some thoughts on how to fix entryway woes...)
In other news, I am sitting in a Marriott with a glass of Meiomi in hand planning out my next few weeks of crazy travel, including back-to-back trips to Chapel Hill and Dallas starting on Thursday. I'm sorry that I've neglected this blog, and promise to have some new posts soon! In the meantime, please be comforted that this weekend I will be wearing my circa 2012 leopard jeans to a UNC football game and am as committed as ever to my old clothes and animal print collection.