Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dirty Girl

So yesterday I came across an article about one guy's experiment of not using soap or shampoo when bathing.  The original plan was to try it for a month, and he ended up being a convert to the no-soap, no-shampoo lifestyle.  According to him, he actually smells better than he did when he was using soap, and he no longer struggles with dry skin and dandruff.  Hmm.

Here's the basic premise: body and hair soaps are chemically manufactured, and interfere with the body's natural ability to clean itself and maintain homeostasis.  I read through the comments on the article, and they were overwhelmingly positive sentiments about other people's own soap-free experiences.  Reported benefits range from softer skin to no more acne to more manageable hair.

Okay, I can dig that logic.  It makes sense to me that my feeling of "needing" to use soap is at least partly caused by two things: 1) I have always used soap while bathing, and 2) Maybe soap is like a drug -- you only need it because you use it (this is also my suspicion / apprehension about chiropractors... but that's a different contentious topic, one that I don't have enough facts with which to sustain my opinion). Of course, I am also fully aware of how I feel when it's been a while since I last washed -- dirty, greasy, unattractive, smelly.  I am pretty sure that I don't want to feel that way all the time.  To be fair, advocates of abandoning soap don't advocate abandoning showering -- one should still shower or bathe every day under hot water, scrubbing one's body and hair thoroughly as though soap were still being used.  And, by all accounts, people trying out a soap-free existence will notice a period of two to four weeks where they feel much dirtier -- hair will be greasy, skin will be oily.  The theory is, however, that this will pass as the body "evens out" and recovers from its dependence on oil-stripping deodorizers, enabling your natural protective and cleansing processes to thrive. 

Of course I'm curious.  I don't have any major complaints about my hair or skin as it is right now, but there are a few quirks, and I wonder how they would be affected by quitting soap. I get pimples much more often than I'd like (Seriously?? Am I still in high school?).  My hair is pretty thin/fine, and frequently looks either greasy or dry/brittle.  Last winter I suffered through terribly itchy skin, all winter (for some reason, this had never been a problem in the past).  None of these issues are particularly debilitating or interfere with my ability to be cute, but I couldn't help thinking, why not give this experiment a try myself?

I ran it by my husbutch, and of course she thought it was a terrible idea.  She just doesn't even understand the logic, why I would even bother.  "I am a stickler for cleanliness," she added.  I told her I'm going to give it a try anyway, and to be patient with me for my next few weeks as a greaseball.  She ain't happy about it, but what can she do?  I am confident that she'll voice her opinion loudly if things really do get bad.  One confession: I only told her I was giving up shampoo... I didn't say anything about soap, as I am sure she would have flipped her lid (I can admit this here, of course, because I don't think anybody actually reads this... )

So, today is Day One.  I took a shower this morning, but just used hot water, and made sure to use lots of scrubbing action on my hair and body.  I gotta say, it was a really quick shower.  For the hell of it, I didn't wear deodorant either.  Now here I am, halfway through the work day.  This is how I look so far:

How do I feel? Honestly, pretty greasy.  As predicted, my hair is already feeling oily and stringy... and because it is so fine, there's no hiding that.  Shortly after I took this selfie, I put it back in a ponytail... I have a feeling I'll be rocking that style for a few weeks.  Other than that, I feel okay... my face also feels fairly greasy though, and I'm worried I'm going to acquire some new zits.  But whatevs.  I'm still curious, and eager to see how this plays out in the long run. I'll keep you posted.... hopefully you won't be able to smell me from where you're sitting!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Learning How to Breathe Again

So, I quit smoking.

I try not to say things like, "I'm trying to quit smoking," because this leaves space for retreat, room for failure.  If I'm trying to do something, there is a possibility that I'll fail, and the implication is that it wouldn't be my fault if I did. I tried, after all.  No, I quit smoking.  My last one was Sunday, May 5th, at 10:50pm.  It has been 29 days and 12 hours.  I have saved $82.58, and not smoked 235.95 cigarettes.

Not that anybody's counting.

I actually feel okay at this point.  A big part of the battle is psychological, of course.  According to my stop smoking app of choice (Cessation Nation), I am 100% of the way to the health milestones: "Your dependence on nicotine has been eliminated," and "Withdrawal symptoms have subsided."  Therefore, any continuing urges I have to smoke must be psychological. The physical part of this journey has been conquered.  The rest is in my head.

This is probably true, though I would argue that there is no separating the physical from the psychological (Is not my brain part of my body?? Aren't my thought processes at least partly a product of electrical signals and hormonal/chemical activity?  But I digress.).  Even so, this isn't necessarily a comforting thought.  Sure, I may not be physically uncomfortable from the lack of nicotine in my body, but that doesn't mean I'm not thinking about smoking every few moments.  Really.  Sometimes I still even "forget" that I don't smoke anymore, and I'll think, "Hmm, after this I think I'll go have a smoke real quick," and then a split second later: "Oh right... nevermind."  And that recurring mini-disappointment still gives me a twinge of anger.  It turns it into something I CAN"T do, not something I've CHOSEN to do.  It makes me feel like I am depriving myself of something.  It's an unrequited desire. And it doesn't feel fair.

I'm pretty sure it's hanging on to this mentality that makes some people feel like quitting smoking NEVER gets easier... they may abstain for years or decades or even forever, but always wish they COULD have a cigarette.  It's every smoker's worst fear that after they quit, they will be miserable indefinitely.  And some people are, so no WONDER they start up again!  What is the point of being physically healthier by quitting smoking, if you're never going to be happy again?  What kind of life is that?

So, it could never get easier, but if that's the case, it's due to my psychological addiction to cigarettes, and nothing else.  And guess what?  I have control over that.  I get to decide how I'm going to think about this. My thought process is not something that happens to me.  It comes from me, rooted in old habits and experiences, but it can be changed.

Okay, then.  I don't smoke anymore, period.  I forget sometimes, but that's okay.  Twenty years of doing something so regularly is going to take more than a month to undo.  In the meantime, I'm trying to pay attention to how it feels when I breathe fresh air.  I'm practicing sitting still, and just being, and being content with right now.  There is no future date when everything will be easier.  I've already succeeded, and the time to enjoy it is now.