If You’re Healthy, Then Why Do You Get Spots?

What I am about to tell you may either be a major disappointment, or a major comfort. I am hoping it is the latter. Because I spent time writing this.

First off, a bit of background: if you’ve been following my blog posts for a while, then you may remember my post on “If you’re in to fitness, then why don’t you have abs?”. Well, I still don’t have abs. I personally think that my body is probably not built to have abs. Want to know why? I can give you a few good reasons: I have a strong core, but still no abs. I have weighed less than I currently do, and still no abs. I got my body fat calculated: it was 11.9% (now 12.5%). Guess what? Still no abs. I may be strong, and eat all of the right foods, I may have eaten pretty much “clean” for a good few years (think no added sugar, no added salt, no processed, very very little bread, very little alcohol etc.)- but my body didn’t have abs. I am not meant to have abs. I can be kick-ass fit (and I do plan on being) eat a balanced diet that isn’t “clean”, I can be healthy and happy and balanced- take days to just chill, and make pancakes, and eat fish and chips. But I may have to give up on abs to do that. Our bodies are constantly changing, and goals we have in one period of our lives, may not be appropriate for the next.

Now if anyone read that properly, and has a vague idea about the body fat percentage ideals for women, you will know that approximately 20% is ideal for women; its a body fat percentage where the body has enough fat to protect organs, absorb fat soluble vitamins, keep us warm, allow us to have a menstrual cycle, and cushion our bones when we sit watching TV and fall off of climbing walls and various gym equipment. Mine was way too low- so low that my menstrual cycle stopped. For going on 6 years. To me, I was healthy. I was eating and exercising, and sleeping, and had good skin (we’re getting to that bit). But my body clearly knew something I didn’t. Long story short, I was finally made to see this when my white blood cell and platelet count dropped to the level of someone with malnourishment. I was not malnourished, just to clarify, but I wasn’t eating enough to support my active lifestyle, and the repairs my body was trying to make.

To skip a lot of bumf, I have managed to gain 10lb in around 3 months. And it has been hard, and there has been some awesome and not-so-awesome stuff. The awesome including seeing my strength increase (from squatting with 10kg to 20kg in just under a month, being able to do full push ups, better plyo lunges, run faster, hold yoga poses for longer, and climb better), my blood cell count come back up (painfully slowly), having more energy, better concentration, and not being so cold. Oh, and also feeling happier in general. But then comes the thing I have been recently experiencing, that does make me fairly unhappy: acne…

For most of my life, having not had a period for so long, my body had effectively turned off its hormones. If the body doesn’t have enough energy to support its own energy needs, it definitely isn’t going to waste energy on that. Now I’ve started to eat more and up my weight: BOOM. Acne. Which is in one sense a BRILLIANT thing, because it means my body is getting back on track, and firing off hormones left, right, and centre. On the other hand this is a massive issue for me. Although I have only mentioned it in passing, I have said in the past that I have had an OCD that I was in counselling for when I was younger. Although I am not going too deep into this now, that disorder was called dermatillomania. It involves the picking of the skin, at real and perceived flaws. To this day, very few people know that inbetween school and applying to uni, I was attending counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy, and that my occasional “sick days” were really there-is-no-way-I’m-leaving-the-house days. Basically, anything that can trigger that is a huge issue. So I wanted to address something that magazines and all girly-advice sources seem to neglect to mention:

You can get spots even if you eat a very balanced diet, avoid all potential mount-Versuvius-spot-between-my-brows foods (I checked this with several nurse practitioners, my doctor in Newcastle, and my doctor back home, who specialises in dermatology, and said that eating a portion of chips or some chocolate occasionally will not cause spots) – and still get spots. You can cleanse your face twice a day, use non-comodogenic, non-allergenic, completely 100% natural products, and still get spots. You can do the opposite and use chemical loaded lab developed super products, and still get spots. You can get enough sleep, avoid alcohol, cut out food groups, drink enough water to sink a ship, workout three days a week, and still get spots. You can change your pillow case and spritz your phone with anti-bac after each use, and still get spots. You can not wear makeup, and still get spots. You can try to reduce stress, and still get spots. It is amazing if you do all of these things. The majority of them are great at looking after your skin, and I am not telling you to abandon a healthy lifestyle in any way, shape, or form. But you can be healthy, and do everything possible…and still get spots.

Spots can be caused by hormonal fluctuations. They can be caused by your skin simply freaking out, because loads of hormones are whizzing around, making your skin look a little less than “on fleek”, your mood have more ups and downs than a yo-yo, your brain whisper in a really sinister way “just hit them” every time a human being or random object pisses you off, and your eyes well up at whatever film/advert you watch/peanut butter jar that won’t open. In fact, for me, spots are the sign that my body is getting back to normal. Not a sign that I have eaten the wrong food, worked out too little, or not cleansed my face properly. But just so to keep it real (because we all know social media can be a little bit, well, fake): I am not just spouting positivity here and every minute of my life when not blogging. I am a very confident person- usually. But this is the one thing I find hard to handle. So this post is as much for me as you.  Fitness/healthy people/people can feel a lot of pressure to look like the health “ideal” 24/7, without any of the airbrushing or camera crews involved in what society actually holds up as ideal (when this becomes an obsession, it’s called orthorexia). I feel a lot of pressure to have a clear face, purely because I am nearly 20, not 13 years old any more. But I accidently sent my hormones into hibernation, and so now I get to be nearly 20 and deal with this. But I just wanted you all to know: you can, simultaneously, not get spots and be on the verge of being pretty damn unhealthy, and also get spots and be on the verge of being the healthiest you have ever been. And however much I struggle with the latter right now, I know in the long run that’s the option I need to choose. And I want you all to know that however healthy you are, getting the odd spot is perfectly normal.


2 thoughts on “If You’re Healthy, Then Why Do You Get Spots?

  1. Still waiting on that one! I spoke to the doctor, and they think that with the weight gain it shouldn't hopefully be too long. There's no way of really telling until it happens 🙂


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