All posts tagged Skin Owl

Goodbye Cheese, Goodbye Wheeze!

For the last two years, my breathing and lung capacity have made going for a jog painful. I’d attempt a run, then a few minutes later I’d be wheezing like the old Buick Regal I drove in college as it huffed and puffed over Oahu’s Pali Highway. Subconsciously I began adapting my workouts to those of the less aerobic variety: yoga and Pilates. For a cardio queen like me, I should’ve paid more mind to my slow shift from 40 minute runs to 55 minute Pilates classes. I should’ve listened to my body sooner. Strength training and core conditioning are wonderful, but there’s no substitute for revving the human engine like a 6-mile run.

My lungs were trying to communicate. My hubby and I began to wonder if I had adult-onset asthma, or worse, lung cancer. My coughing fits would wake me (and him) in the middle of the night. I always felt like I was fighting a cold.

Slowly suspecting that there was a causal connection between my food intake and my breathing difficulties, I began to notice that whenever I’d eat cheese or other dairy products that my nose would start to run, my throat would feel constricted and my chest would tighten. But, as a semi-vegetarian who subsisted almost entirely on grains, dairy products, some fruits and veggies, and fish, in that order,  I couldn’t picture cutting out ALL dairy products. Besides, maybe it was the smog clogged Los Angeles air or my two dogs or a lingering infection… ANYTHING but CHEESE!

I just couldn’t picture an afternoon without my daily Greek yogurt. I couldn’t picture my favorite – the wet, cheese topped burrito-without that which gave it so much zing, mouth-watering Mexican jack cheese. I couldn’t picture a life without 3-cheese pizza and cream cheese smothered bagels. And Parmesan! What was vegetarian spaghetti without its crowning glory, 1/2 a cup of Parmesan cheese?

But, I also couldn’t picture feeling that way much longer. I’d even had to lay down on the mat in my last yoga class to catch my breath. I just did not feel good, most of the time. There had to be something I could DO.

So, armed with my new PPO health plan (I switched to my husband’s plan after we married), I scanned my provider’s website for an allergy and asthma doctor in West Los Angeles. By name alone I arrived at the doctors of SneezeWheeze.Com. I am a sucker for clever branding, even if it’s cheesy (hehe). The reception staff was friendly and upbeat and when I asked for their “best doctor” they booked me with Dr. Raffi Tachdjian.

Dr. Raffi was incredible. He spent hours with me – discussing my hunches (milk and dog allergies), my history (some childhood bronchial infections), and my desires (to run wheeze free). We scheduled the allergy scratch test for a few weeks later and Dr. Raffi sent me off with samples of nasal sprays and an inhaler.

I first learned about the skin test for allergies, from my co-worker. She’s had allergies her entire life and came to work one day after an allergy doctor appointment where she had just been re-tested. She took off her sweatshirt to show me a line of red blotches dotting her upper arm. “This,” she explained, “Is how they tell if I’m still allergic to carrots and soy.” I was intrigued. Even then I suspected that I too suffered from food allergies.

Three weeks later, as I lay down face first on Dr. Raffi’s examination table, I was excited and not because Dr. Raffi is almost as good looking as my hubby. The lovely nurse accompanying him informed me that I’d feel a series of pricks on my back. It wasn’t as bad as I expected, but it didn’t feel good either. But soon I’d know what to avoid in my environment and what to exclude from my plate. Hopefully in doing so I’d finally feel better. The nasal sprays had done wonders, while the inhaler had simply loosened my chest. I was still wheezing as of that visit.

“Don’t scratch it,” she instructed, “I’ll be back in 15 minutes to check on you.”

The truth was hard to hear. I am allergic to cow’s milk. Though I had had a hunch, it hadn’t prevented me from gorging on cheddar cubes at holiday parties. The hunch hadn’t prevented me from adding extra cheese to my medium Domino’s pizza, either.

Dr. Raffi advised that I cut dairy out cold turkey. “The body can change and get over certain allergies,” he explained. He said we’d re-test in 3 months, but in the meantime I’d have to eliminate cow’s milk products all together.

I left thinking this wouldn’t be too hard. I’d just lay off the cheese and cut out yogurt. I didn’t drink cow’s milk, so eliminating that would be a breeze. But like I do with the vigor and zest of a seasoned sleuth, I took my confirmed allergy to google and began my hunt for more knowledge.

The site I’ve listed below was one of my favorites. Unfortunately though they delivered a crushing blow, cow’s milk is in everything! recommended that I avoid the following, very extensive list, of cow’s milk derived products.

Avoid foods that contain milk or any of these ingredients:
butter, butter fat, butter oil, butter
acid, butter ester(s)
casein hydrolysate
caseinates (in all forms)
cottage cheese
lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate
milk (in all forms, including condensed, derivative, dry, evaporated, goat’s milk and milk from other animals, low fat, malted, milkfat, nonfat, powder, protein, skimmed, solids, whole)
milk protein hydrolysate
rennet casein
sour cream, sour cream solids
sour milk solids
whey (in all forms)
whey protein hydrolysate

Yikes!!!! No butter on my toast? Really!?

Check out a few interesting milk allergy blogs I discovered in my search.,

It’s been over a month since I began the process of eliminating dairy from my diet. I’ve slipped up many times. I ate croissants over Christmas and gobbled down a piece of pie, both of which include butter as a main ingredient. While my reaction wasn’t as severe as the one I experience with yogurt or cheese, I still didn’t feel good after indulging in those buttery treats (not to mention their empty calorie-ness and high sugar content which may have contributed to the resulting malaise).

My friends were so inspired by my story that one of them, the Skin Owl herself, also decided to get tested for allergies. She discovered that she is allergic to an ingredient in one of her face creams, a non-Skin Owl product that she employed to prevent inflammation was doing just that – irritating her skin because to her, it was an allergen! Incredibly indispensible knowledge was gleaned from just one trip to Dr. Raffi and his team.

It’s been getting easier and easier, as I incorporate more fruits and veggies and fish into my diet. I’m eating less pasta, a typically fiber free food unless you go with whole wheat pasta (bleh), which I once smothered with parmesan and mozzarella. And I’m truly feeling like a new person. Fitness has always been my medicine – the recipe for a happy me – but now, in finally listening to my body and doing something about it, I’ve finding that my food choices can be medicine too!

If you are a Southern California resident experiencing breathing problems or mysterious rashes or just want to know for sure how you might be reacting to your environment, I recommend you call my buddies at today or another health care provider that can administer the allergy scratch test.

Holiday Gift Ideas for the FitnessWhore in your life!

Two Christmas cuties in matching dresses.I’m a 31 year-old woman, but I still get excited every year when my Mommy (yes, I still call her Mommy) asks for my Christmas list.

However, I DO love gift giving just as much as  I love gift GETTING! Call me cliché if you must, but there’s just something about watching someone you love unwrap or un-bag (hey, gift bags are easy AND eco-friendly) a creative, unique, and exciting gift that comes from the heart. It’s a healthy selfishness – that feeling of gift giving satisfaction.

My favorite gifts to give are those that have worked for me or made my life BETTER – things that have made me smarter, skinnier, stronger, longer, leaner, less lined or more defined. So, I figured I’d share some of MY gift giving ideas. These are things I’d WANT personally. Things I’ve tried or hope to try. Things I’ve loved and still do.  These are things I’d want to GET this holiday season. Do for others, as you’d want done for you, right?

(1.) First on my list, A Month of Unlimited Yoga from Core Power Yoga Wilshire (or any of their other locations if Wilshire isn’t the best spot for you). When you stop by, pick up a Free Week card if you’re a new student – it’s freeeeeee yogaaaa babaaay. And I’d definitely plan it so that you can take a yoga class while there. What’s a better holiday shopping/face stuffing stress and belly busting activity than HOT YOGA! Check out the class schedule: CPY Wilshire Class Schedule.

(2.) While you’re there can you grab me a new yoga mat? Because I REALLY need one. Just ask my friend Tonya. She rolls her eyes in disgust when I plop next to her before each class slapping down the same mat I’ve had since college. Oooo or maybe one of those skidless yoga thingies is a better solution, so ol’ faithful can still remain a part of my practice. YogiToes Goddess slip-resistant towels give your yoga mat a second, water-resistant skin! I’ve seen people use them and I want one bad. So might the yogi or yogini in your life! Slip and slide is fun for a hot summer afternoon after your 3rd round of margaritas, but not so fun when you’re slinking across the room into the stinky yogi in front of you.

(3) Better yet, for the all-encompassing yogic experience, pick up a CorePower Yoga Holiday Bundle: comes with a standard yoga mat, YogiToes Goddess slip-resistant towel (they’re so cool, I just had to mention’em twice), and choose from a selection of instructional DVDs, all for $88!  Visit the Wilshire studio to pick up your bundle: I recommend this gift for any old or new Yogi! In fact, I’d love one too if you’re feeling generous :)

(4.) Fourth, but definitely not least: Pure Barre! Pure Barre! Pure Barre! Did I mention I love Pure Barre? Next door to CPY Wilshire, is the place where beautiful booties are made. I’ve raved about it before and I’ll rave about it now, nothing shapes the derriere like bellying up to the Barre. With that said, I recommend presenting the FitnessWhore in your life with a Pure Barre Package! If you’re in the LA area and Brentwood, my studio of choice isn’t convenient for you, here’s exciting news: NEW studios have opened just in time for the Holidays. There’s now a Beverly Hills location. There’s now a Hollywood location. Pure Barre bodies are taking over Los Angeles!!!!

(5.) Ever heard of brain games? I hadn’t either, until I stumbled upon Lumosity. These are NOT your little brother’s video games. This site has created comprehensive brain exercises that are PROVEN to improve your memory, reaction time, and ability to get home faster in traffic (Really!). Just 10 minutes a day can help your brain reach its full potential. Right now they’re running a 25% off promo. This is the perfect gift for grandmas, grad students, and grumps (healthier brains equal happier brains).

AND NOW, FitnessWhores and Gentleman, drum roll PLEASE….  I present you with #6!

(6.) Skin Owl Infused Argan Oil! This silky and luxurious Argan Oil is brought to you by your very own Skin Owl. I am honored to know the  Skin Owl herself, Annie Tevelin – she’s equal parts skin expert and girl’s girl! Tired of chemical laden skin products, this Skin Owl searched the world for the highest quality infused Argan oil. From fine line smoothing to skin conditioning to split end mending, it does EVERYTHING. I’ve tried this product on my stubborn sun damaged chest lines (college in Hawaii will do that) and seen change almost overnight. The best part about Skin Owl Argan Oil is that it’s cultivated by a tribe of women in Morocco. Help support woman made products brought to you by woman entrepreneurs! Message the Skin Owl by clicking here: Annie@SkinOwl. Or go straight to the Order Form.

Happy Holidays to Everyone! Three cheers for generosity, happiness, and health in 2012 and beyond! I hope you or yours enjoy the yoga, pure barre, slip free mats, brain games and Skin Owl as much as I do!