Before I forget, I wanted to share a recent epiphany I had about almonds. I have decided to stop eating them in the name of healthier looking skin. Even though I love them and think they're an amazing source of protein and healthy fats - I've dropped them like a bad habit and I'll tell you why.
I've been fighting a skin rash on my cheeks and forehead for the better part of a year. Sometimes I can cover it with make up and sometimes I can't.
I noticed it getting worse right after I did my second Whole 30 in January 2018. On that 30-day diet you are asked to eliminate a whole lot of food groups to see if they are causing weight gain, bloating, skin issues, sleep issues etc.
I never had acne as a teen or young adult, but when I reintroduced all the old foods into my diet, my skin lit up like a Christmas tree, so I visited an allergist and a dermatologist and both agreed my skin issue was likely rosacea, nothing more. I used medicines both orally and topically and nothing made it clear up. Nothing. Some days it looked even worse.
I avoided the sun, alcohol and spicy or hot foods because that's what a rosacea sufferer is supposed to do, but continued to suffer.
And then, early last month, I ran out of almond milk for my coffee. A few days without it, turned into a week and then a switch to some coconut milk instead. And before I knew it - my face looked better and better. Truthfully, I only stopped drinking it because I was too busy to go buy more but the absence of it became too noticeable to ignore.
When I did the allergy tests at the onset of the rash, I tested positive for a cashew allergy. The other nuts were fine. So, how could this be?
Well - according to the internet - almonds can causes rashes for some who eat too much. I was definitely guilty of this. I drank two almond milk lattes a day, ate protein bars with almonds and snacked on them raw. Sometimes they were toppings in my acai bowl or salad. Bottom line: I think I was poisoning myself.
Deverly, my good friend and fellow instructor, told me she had a similar issue with coconut milk. It was causing a skin rash on her arms. She stopped drinking it and it cleared.
I still have some of the facial rash but I am thinking it's also related to eating some of the foods the allergist asked me to eliminate like corn and flour. Gonna try curbing those to see if I get a better result. I'll keep you posted.
On July 4, it occurred to me that I was really lucky to be standing in my own shoes.
I was creating my Dance Trance playlist and trying to nail down patriotic songs and routines. A few were obvious: Freedom (Nicole C. Mulins), or Freedom (Pharrell), but then I started adding others - Salute (Little Mix), which is a tribute to women and that made me add I'm Dat Chick (Kelly Rowland) a song about being able to make it alone as a woman, and that's when it occurred to me, 'I'm really lucky'.
I'm a lucky Latina girl from Texas who grew up to be a writer/journalist. I am lucky that friends and family believed in me for years and helped me now own my business and run it however I like.
I am lucky that I dance when I feel like it, in the street and on rooftops and I don't get arrested. I am lucky to drive where I wanna drive, vote in elections, have friendships with women and men, own a home, raise three soon-to-be men and on and on and on.
This is my July 4th blessing; Freedoms that are not waisted on me.
Nor, have I lost sight of the fact that right now - three Richmond-area gyms have shuttered their doors; A fourth studio is currently up for sale.
One of those shuttered businesses, Victory Lady, was owned by Wendy Campbell. I met her and worked with her while at WTVR in 2002. She used to be in a spot we produced at the station. I remember thinking it was really cool that she owned her own gyms. She would come in, though, and was all business and she had a reputation for being tough. It's probably how she sustained being open for 29+ years.
The fitness industry isn't easy. Like journalism, it's scary and tough and no one, I repeat, no one does it for the money. What money? You do it because you love it and you love your people, or you fail.
So, you can see - Wendy rocked it! Factor in that she was in a male dominated industry, and owned and operated more than one location for a long time and it all means she kicked major trail-blazing ass!
Taking all that into account, I am truly lucky. Lucky that I have been able to chase my dreams and share them with great friends and clients - some are both. Lucky that I live in a country (though not perfect) and a city that embraces those dreams.
Very lucky indeed.
Last month, I challenged myself to one of the toughest assignments yet; dancing with Richmond Urban Dance in their I AM HIP HOP showcase: Club RVA.
The showcase is like a dance recital but Mandy Helmlinger, the creator of RUD, hates when we call it that. So instead, let's say it's a dance concert or a dance showcase, but really - it's kind of a whole unique thing.
Students who have taken class with RUD are invited to perform their pieces on stage in front of an audience of parents, spouses, friends and just the general public. The music is bumping, there are videos that play in between sets, the dances flow from one to the next and there's no intermission. By the end of the show everyone is on their feet and you feel like you've just witnesses a revival.
When we launched the TURNt with RUD classes at TURN, Mandy had her wheels spinning about including TURN clients in the show. And when some of our routines included tribute pieces to Janet Jackson's choreography with Anthony Thomas - we couldn't exactly say no. So, we rose to the challenge.
We met every Tuesday for weeks, learning more and more of the routines, perfecting them, cleaning them.
I did mention it's Janet Jackson, right?
They are some of the most iconic pieces of choreography and we had 6-weeks to get them ready for a show on June 1.
And it wasn't just the 4:00 Janet stuff, we also did several other pieces we had learned in class like Tip Toe, Finesse, Bartier Cardi and Clinton's choreography to Bad Man.
When the day came, it was exciting, stressful and exhilerating. I was also super proud of us. A lot of us hadn't danced on stage in years. Some of us, me, are 40+ moms who got up there and did the worm and a booty drop with 20-somethings. It was amazing. And after it was all over, I was exhausted for days.
I say all that to say this: You can do anything you want. Repeat that: You can do anything you want. And if it brings you joy - do the shit out of it. Don't worry. It doesn't have to be perfect, just be enthusiastic about it. Just love the shit out of it and let the rest unfold like magic. That's my takeaway from the whole RUD show. Talk about keeping yourself young and fine tuned.
It was a wonderful way to kick off summer.
It was also a wonderful way to become closer to dancers from other groups who performed with us.
Shout outs to IDanzeFitness, The Brand, RVA Tap Troupe and of course, Richmond Urban Dance who are now and forever our dance cousins!
About the Author
Sandi Cauley is a small business owner, fitness instructor, dancer and retired broadcast journalist. She operates Turn Cardio Jam Studio in Richmond, VA (founded in 2015) with goals to mesh dance + fitness and connect others with some of their youth. She is also a 3 x boy mom, a Tejana, a wannabe