What LIES Beneath Your Makeup

lipstick

I just threw out hundreds of dollars worth of makeup…

Why?  Because I am makeup hating feminist who has liberated herself from the archaic and non-achievable beauty standards of society and the profit hungry cosmetic industry (girl power).  JUST KIDDING (at least about the makeup hating part)–I am a mascara and lip gloss wearing feminist who just discovered that after you carefully finish applying your favorite shade of lipstick and glance up into the mirror, your makeup could be hiding more than a few blemishes.  It is unbelievable how many carcinogens and other insane unnatural ingredients lurk inside those pretty little compact cases.  I challenge you the next time you pull out your beauty kit to take a look at the ingredients list–I found cancer, cancer, and more cancer.  One major theme Kent and I have learned along our self-reliance journey is that you cannot blindly trust the government or industry to ensure your safety. While there are great companies out there and government regulation may try to protect us, it is ultimately up to the consumer to learn what is in the products we use and protect ourselves from things that are potentially harmful.  Just because a product is on the market, doesn’t mean it is safe.

But what about the FDA?  Don’t they ensure that everything on the market is safe?  Well, sort of…

FDA does not pre-approve cosmetic products or ingredients, with the important exception of color additives. However, cosmetic firms are responsible for marketing safe, properly labeled products; using no prohibited ingredients; and adhering to limits on restricted ingredients. It is also considered good practice to follow industry safety guidelines and recommendations. – FDA on Cosmetics and U.S. Law

Okay, so the FDA doesn’t mind what is in your makeup unless it is a color additive.  They must test and approve the product before I use it, right? Umm, I don’t think so…

Although U.S. regulations do not specify any particular testing regimens for cosmetic products or ingredients, it is the cosmetic company’s responsibility to substantiate product and ingredient safety prior to marketing. – FDA on Cosmetics and U.S. Law

Safety testing and approval seem to be entirely up to the company that will be profiting from these products.  Yikes, talk about a fox in the hen house!  So major cosmetic companies build an empire tricking women into feeling inadequate so we buy their products and now we’re supposed to trust them to be honest with us about the safety of these products (there goes my feminist streak again–not all cosmetic companies are like this–some are pretty awesome).  Yea, I don’t so–not this self-reliant lady.  If you want to learn a bit more about this, below is a great video from youtuber storyofstuffproject concerning cosmetics and the broken chemical merry-go-round we are all riding.

Okay, ready to learn about these chemicals so we can become educated, health and environmentally conscious consumers?  Where do I start?  Well, I did some internet digging and came across a Chemicals in Cosmetics article produced by the the Breast Cancer Fund.  Then I wandered over to Treehugger.com (love them) and found a list of 20 toxic ingredients to avoid when buying body care products and cosmetics.  Then I found the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and learned even more about the problem.  This was great, but it seemed the more I dug, the deeper I found myself.  This is a lot of work for a safe tube of lipstick!  Why do I wear this stuff again?

Skin DeepRather than try to memorize the ever growing list of toxins and bad companies, I discovered an online database called Skin Deep that is maintained by the Environmental Working Group (love them too).  The best part is that they have a free app (apple/android) that allows you to easily search their database and access health scores for over 70,000 products.  As if that doesn’t make navigating this makeup maze easy enough, it even has a bar code scan!  So I downloaded the app and grabbed my makeup kit (most of which is now in the garbage), and went through each product.  Seems I now have an excellent excuse to play with some all natural DIY recipes or make a trip to Sephora with my ‘handy’ app in hand.

So the big takeaway, next time you swipe those luscious lips with the perfect shade of pink, make sure you check the ingredients.

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Why I Ran 104.8 Miles…

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Kent and I at the Diva 1/2 Marathon near D.C.

After 104.8 race miles in three years, I have decided to hang up my pink running shoes and step away from the racing world for a bit.  I will never forget the memories made along those roads or the lessons each step has thought me.  Running gave me a way to reclaim and love my body when I felt like it was going rogue.  A series of issues and hospital visits had left me feeling like my body betrayed me.  We were separate then, my body doing what it willed and I dealt with it as the soul trapped within.

This continued until I met a Spin Class Instructor named Andre.  He was one of those rare people who could bring out the best in others through his genuinely caring spirit.  He was always smiling and remembered everyone’s name, even if you came to his class once.  I loved this about him.  Being with him in this class enabled you to shed the weight of the world and see yourself as you did when you were a child…innocent, loved, and full of potential.  The best part of the class was the last song, this is where the magic happened.  Andre would walk around the room encouraging you to think of what was driving you to be in the class, then harness that energy and pedal through to the end.  That is when it clicked, “this is my body” said a bold voice within me.  It might be broken, but it is my body and it is still capable of truly amazing things.  In that moment I decided to love my body, even in it’s broken state.  I was going to honor it by tending to what it needed and I was going to push it to prove it was mine. So I set out to do something I told myself I would never do…I became a runner!

iphone photos 290Each morning I went out for a run and the most amazing thing happened.  I felt whole again.  I could feel my soul and body working together in perfect harmony with each step.  There was nothing but me experiencing the moment through the world around me…no hospitals, no fear, no frustration.  I wasn’t just running, I was proving to myself how strong I was with each stride!  My body was adapting to what I wanted, getting stronger and going farther each run.

This is when I realized that there are a lot of other things I had been asking my body to do that weren’t helping it.  Things like sitting all day in an office, skipping lunch, or dealing with the stress of unhealthy relationships.  So I started to put my foot down and make some major changes.  One by one, I shed myself of negative people and environments. I distanced myself from people who didn’t respect me or treat me the way I deserved.  I stopped pouring time into things that were bringing me down.  I started saying ‘yes’ to the things I enjoyed.  I starting living the life I should have been living all along and now, ironically, I am grateful to my body’s warning signs for being the trigger to freeing myself!

As wonderful as this was, it was not the only thing running did.  It also gave me a way to honor and fight alongside my loving Aunt Madeline. While I was going through my own (comparatively minor) health issues, my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I hate cancer!  I had learned that her body was also going rogue, so I did the only thing I knew to do with rogue bodies…I pushed my body harder to fight for her too.  With these last several races since she has past being the hardest, I have decided that running my last race during Breast Cancer Awareness month is the best way I can honor her memory.  After the Woodrow Wilson Bridge 1/2 Marathon on 5 Oct 14, I will have pushed through 104.8 miles of races in her honor and memory. I may race again one day, but for now, it is time to retire my pink running shoes for her.

My heart and prayers go out to all members and their families who have been affected by cancer.  May hope, strength, and peace be with those fighting the battle.

2012-2014 Races in Honor of Madeline Leyda

  • 2012 Rock n Roll Half Marathon, Virginia Beach
  • 2013 Rock n Roll Half Marathon, Virginia Beach
  • 2013 Rock n Roll Half Marathon, Washington D.C.
  • 2013 Rock n Roll Half Marathon, Las Vegas
  • 2014 Disney Princess Half Marathon, Orlando
  • 2014 Anthem Half Marathon, Virginia Beach
  • 2014 Diva Half Marathon, Washington D.C.
  • 2014 Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon, Washington D.C.

The Last 13.1 Miles

My Pink Running Shoes

My Pink Running Shoes

Everyone runs for a reason; steps turn into miles and the journey evolves into a tribute.  This tribute could be to any number of things, from better health, to finding a cure, or the memory of loved ones past.  I started running after struggling with my own (relatively minor) health roller coaster, it started as a way for me to say that “this is my body” and no illness will take that away from me.  After going through times where it was a struggle just to get out of bed, I wanted to prove that I could do this, my body could do this because a body is an amazingly beautiful and powerful thing.  Prior to my first half marathon, I had never ran further than 6 miles.  I will never forget the triumphant feeling of crossing the 6 mile marker and thinking to myself, “every step I take now is the farthest I’ve ever ran.”  Each step felt like it’s own victory.

I will also never forget the people at the race, because they allowed me to see the good in humanity.  I ran behind runners dedicating their race to loved ones fighting illness or in memory of those who did not make it.  I watched strangers, fellow runners and spectators, cheering on those who were struggling with each stride.  I watched home owners along the route flock to the sideline to hand out tissues, or spray water from hoses, or hand out ice on a hot day to runners.  Perhaps the most humbling, were the Team Hoyt racers, pushing wheelchairs as they ran to the finish line.  For those who are not familiar with Team Hoyt, I encourage you to click on the link and watch the brief story of runners Dick and Rick Hoyt, completing an Ironman.  Little did I know at the time, but my own running tribute would evolve to be more like those of the runners around me.

Someone I loved had breast cancer.  I was at loss for what I could do…I felt so helpless, so useless in this fight she would have to battle.  It wasn’t until I went to replace my worn out sneakers that I remembered the runners from my first race who ran in honor of another’s struggle.  I glanced up at the hot pink sneakers above me, the ones with a “for the cure” breast cancer tag on them and bought them.  It was something small but it helped me feel like I was fighting by her side every step of the way.  Each time I stepped into my pink shoes, I felt like I was stepping into the fight.  Each step I ran felt like a step toward her victory and freedom from the bonds of cancer.  I told myself that I would run for her in these shoes, that my feet would run for her until she was able to again.  When my legs hurt, I looked down at my pink shoes and thought “these steps are for her…keep going”.  I ran race after race, often signing up for the next one within 30 minutes of the one I had just finished.  I became something of a race junkie, hungry for the fight and victory.

My run times were getting better and my legs hurt less, but the cancer was still progressing.  It eventually metastasized to her spine and her liver.  I signed up for a race near her, but she was now too weak to come so I went to visit her the day prior.  Her body was small and frail, but she still glowed with love.  I will always remember her walking back to the couch, wanting to be twirled and dancing with her husband…a beautiful soul.  She passed away soon after that race and my next race was the weekend after she passed.  65.5 miles of races I  had run to support her battle, but the most difficult miles were the first 13.1 I ran after she was gone. My legs hurt ; I’d look down at my pink shoes and think “this was for her” as my eyes teared up.  I said I would run for her until she was back on her feet, but now what?  She was gone…now what?  She would not be getting back on her feet, but my feet were still running.  Each step hurt, not in my feet, but in my heart.  My foot strikes pavement, but she is gone.  It wasn’t until mile 10 that I started to look around me again.  I saw a man running with a sign on his back…”In Honor of My Mom“…another one…”In Honor of Aunt Sue“…and another…”In memory of My Sister“.  In memory of…I thought of her and the last memory I had of her.  The memory of her husband delicately twirling her as she danced her way back to the couch.  I realized what a beautiful gift she had given me with that memory.  I looked back down at my shoes and realized that these runs will always be for her.  I cried as I crossed the finish line, the weight of her loss hitting me again.  There would be others in the future to add to the list of who I run for, but she will always be there.  These runs are where I find them.