Beauty: Disciplined Self-Care to Look Your Best, by Kristen Ma

I had my eczema flare up recently in a way that I haven’t seen in years. While I could say that it’s excess inflammation and high internal heat, that would be a cop-out. The fact of the matter is that lately I have lacked discipline: I have been lazy.

Some say that “Beauty is pain” — but it’s not. Beauty, in my opinion, is discipline. To truly look our best, we must be aware of what we eat, when we sleep, how we move, and if our acts are in harmony with the environment surrounding us. Only when we nourish ourselves properly, maintain good circulation, and regularly eliminate waste can we keep our skin and bodies youthful, healthy and vibrant. And there is discipline in calming down. While it sounds easy, I’d rather have someone strap me to a wooden wheel and spin me right round baby than meditate these days.

Stress disrupts our digestion and promotes dehydration – but it’s one addiction I personally can’t kick. Sure, I whine about being stressed out and overworked, but the truth of the matter is that I invite it. “You can’t help yourself,” my husband says. “You have a rare free weekend, and then decide it’s the perfect time to throw a dinner party?!”

I know so many young professional women who are the same. They come into the spa tired, frustrated, and broken out. “I can’t say no,” one of my clients said to me recently, “I try to do everything – and look at my skin!” Chantel Simmons blogged about the same thing writing “I can never say no. I say yes to everything.  And then I end up feeling overworked and overwhelmed and underappreciated and resentful and wishing that I would’ve said no.”

“Ditto sista friend,” I almost said to my monitor when I read that.

But after some thought I realized that it’s not only about not saying no – it’s the insistence I have on saying Yes. I’m addicted to biting off more than I can chew. I get drunk on opportunity, and the rush of new challenges, extra courses or social projects has me all woozy. It’s a case of my eyes being bigger than my stomach. I pile on work like an extra ladle of mashed potatoes at a breakfast buffet, then moan when I end up bloated with a gut full of discomfort.

But I noticed my undisciplined behavior especially recently as my in-laws came to visit us. In comparison to this calm couple from a small village in England, I radiated high strung. They got up leisurely and ate their meals in tiny bites, chewing contemplatively. They even walked slowly. Just between you and me, it drove me a little bit crazy. I, on the other hand was up with my trainer at 6:30am, proceeding by jumping through my morning and brushing my teeth in the shower. I shoveled food down my gob while sifting through my phone, and I found myself walking five paces in front of them (probably driving them a little bit crazy). Watching them humming their way through their days, I began to wonder if it mattered that I eat well, exercise regularly, and practice many Ayurvedic treatments, if I cannot learn to commit myself to the act of settling the mind?

One of my favorite books is The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck.  This beautifully written self-help book says that discipline is a cornerstone of emotional health. We require discipline to solve problems, commit to reality, and continue to understand ourselves. I think it is the same for beauty. If we are not disciplined to find out the real root of our skin imbalances, be open to change or let ourselves rest, we cannot regenerate or rejuvenate. But understanding this is very uncomfortable. Who wants to admit that they are the cause of their own problems, stressors, and chaos?  Who wants to say they are not disciplined enough to put their health before their tasks – and it’s making their tissues depleted, eye bags heavy, and eczema inflamed?

Kristen Ma PhotoKristen Ma is the co-owner of Pure + Simple Inc., a group of Holistic Spas with its own line of Natural Skincare and Mineral Make-up.  She is an Ayurvedic Practitioner who has studied in Canada, the United States and India.  She is also a Certified Esthetician with eight years of practical experience, having worked in Canada as well as Australia.  Most recently, Kristen has authored “Beauty: Pure + Simple” which was published by Mc Arthur and Company.  Kristen has written on the subject of Holistic Beauty for Vitality Magazine, Blink and Jasmine.  She is also a regular contributor to B Magazine, Tonic and Sweat Equity Magazine.

For more information on Kristen, please visit