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"All of my problems are the fault of my family and my confining culture. They have made me believe that I have no place in this world other than to be a wife and mother," she said. Hanna's negative reactions to her family only served to fuel the anger and resentment within her. As a result, she remained in an endless cycle of negative feelings toward her family, which negatively affected her work and her relationship with her husband. I explained to Hanna that one of the best ways to release negativity and resentment was to throw down the "F" word. I raved about the magic "F" word and how I use it when I coach, when I lecture and even when I speak to my mom. I explained that many miraculous moments have stemmed from my use of the word. Peaceful breakups, transformational business deals, powerful shifts in perception--all brought about by my brandishing the mighty "F" word. I asked Hanna to try it out for herself. "Take a deep breath and throw your family a big F bomb,' " I instructed. <a href=''>"When</a> you exhale, say I forgive you.' Hanna laughed, and she responded, "Forgive 46 them! Why should I forgive them? I'm the victim here." I explained to Hanna that she would remain the victim if she continued to choose to be the victim. And that, unbeknownst to her, her anger toward others hurt her more. I told her that she had been rehearsing the role of victim on a daily basis, and that the cycle couldn't end until she learned to forgive. I made it clear that if her desire was to change her life and be set free from her resentful patterns, forgiveness was in order. Let me give you an example: I have a beauty editor friend who is also a longtime client. I remember our first few appointments like they were yesterday. Even though she was only thirty, her skin's elasticity was more like that of someone in her sixties. Her face looked fine at first glance, but when I touched it, it moved, wiggled, and lifted like Jell-O.

I was beyond alarmed! She was very pale, so the problem wasn't sun exposure. She didn't smoke, was very fit, and, in general, seemed like the picture of health. So what was it? Then it hit me: she had been following a vegan diet for about ten years. When I asked her how much protein she ate, she explained that while she knew she was supposed to be mindful of consuming enough, she often just lived on salad and vegetables, avoiding protein-rich foods like beans, nuts, and tofu. There it was. The body--everyone's body--needs protein to survive. Because her protein intake was so low, her body had tapped into her collagen and elastin reserves. I sent her to my go-to functional medicine doctor, Dr Frank Lipman, to sort out a healing plan for her. The result? Stronger skin, a healthier complexion, and a great glow. Remember, collagen and elastin are two components that make up your skin. Collagen provides your skin's structure, making it plump, fleshy, and strong, while elastin gives it stretch and the ability to bounce back when wrinkled up or pulled. Both substances are made up of protein, so it follows that if you're not getting the right kinds of amino acids in the right amounts, the levels of collagen and elastin in your skin will decrease. If you avoid consuming animal protein, I recommend eating plenty of vegetarian proteins like tofu, tempeh, seitan, lentils, quinoa, nuts, and beans. Cutting out animal protein also tends to deprive you of zinc, a nutrient that's central to cell division and antioxidant activity. Not having enough zinc in your diet may lead to eczema and acne, and because zinc helps build up collagen, it reduces fine lines and wrinkles. You can find zinc in asparagus, spinach, almonds, pumpkin seeds, or any number of daily supplements. You can't enter a juice bar without seeing row after row of protein powders, so many people assume that they can easily get their daily protein ration through supplementing.

This is mostly true--but your skin may suffer for it. I'm a big fan of whey powder because it's so high in protein and the body breaks it down it very easily, but it's made from dairy, which gives some people trouble. It also intensifies the production of IGF-1 in the body. Insulin ups the amount of sebum your skin produces, and that increases the likelihood you'll develop acne. In addition, whey protein can trigger the production of androgens, hormones that increase oil production. Finally, many powders are highly processed, full of sugar, or--gasp--high in heavy metals like mercury. So if you rely on powders for your protein hit, be sure to read labels closely and choose a clean product. Think of these new pathways as country roads. The country roads are less traveled and initially not as fast. But they are the pathways of evolution, bringing us to new places and experiences. Superhighways of habit only lead to places we've been before. What happens when we want to go somewhere new? If we keep using the same old superhighway, we'll end up in the same old spot, unable to find the new place we want to go for one simple reason: our superhighways don't go there. As the saying goes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. To go somewhere new, we must carve out new country roads -- practice new neural pathways. As we travel down these country roads more frequently -- as we practice -- they gradually become their own superhighways, replacing the old ones that now serve no purpose other than to delight the neural pruning demolition crews. As an example, think about the last time you saw a baby crawl across the floor with the incredible speed of a Hot Wheels car. Then imagine this baby taking her first precarious steps, only to fall down, giggle, pop back up, and stumble on. Years later, this same baby can walk, run, skip, and dance without even thinking about the advanced motor skills required. Change requires this dedication to practice, and importantly, as we'll discuss, the same lack of self-judgment that enables babies to go from crawling to walking to running despite their repeated wipeouts.

Fortunately, our brain is built to bootstrap itself forward, if we give it the chance. We can even train our mind just by imagining an action. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health conducted an experiment where half the subjects did five-finger piano exercises while the other half simply imagined doing the same exercises.4 In the group that physically did the exercises, the part of the brain that controls finger motor skills grew larger. In the half that only imagined the exercises, the brain grew in the same way! If we have this remarkable capability, why do so many of us repeatedly end up back on the superhighways of habit, giving up too quickly on the country roads, mistakenly believing they will never get us to our destination? Therein lies the problem: we focus on the destination -- a static place where we've finally "made it." Yet this focus on a perfect end is not what life is about. The only time life ends is . . . well, you know. Life itself is about process. It is always evolving. Perfection is a static state. It is the antithesis of evolution. As a mixed Ghanaian and white young woman, my hair and how it looks in comparison to others' has dominated much of my life. In primary school, I knew it was different to my white friends' hair, I knew it was different to my Asian and black friends' hair, and I knew Lauryn's Afro would never be mine. My mum kept my hair in two plaits, so I never really knew what its real texture was or that it could form ringlets. I moved from multicultural London to a homogeneous seaside town at the age of nine, plucked up and plopped down into an almost completely white environment, which I wasn't prepared for. Being different laid me bare for people to feast upon that uniqueness. Kids at school, along with wider society, fed me the message that straight hair was the best and that, if yours didn't grow that way, then you should do everything you could to make it look like it did.

My best friend's mum called me a cavewoman after I took out my plaits and let her daughter brush my hair, and my ten-year-old self internalized the shame of being stereotyped as unkempt and uncivilized. Boys told me I was prettier with straight hair (they still do) and would feign disgust if their hand got tangled in my curls while they were trying to yank them. A couple of years later, a bored white hairdresser lopped off over a foot of my hair (when all I had asked for was a trim) and I was suddenly confronted with another issue. To me, back then, length was even more important than straightness in portraying femininity. The hairdresser saw how quietly horrified I was to see all that hair coming off, so he straightened the curls bouncing around my earlobes. `There, now you don't look like a little mushroom boy,' he laughed, and so began the vicious cycle. Overnight, my hairdryer, round brush and straighteners became more precious to me than my passport. I stayed up late every Sunday night to flatten my hair into submission, waking up before my family to iron out offending coils and baby hairs and avoiding swimming pools at all costs. I carried a beanie hat or a scarf with me everywhere I went, sheltering my hair before the third raindrop would even hit. I told myself that this was temporary, until my hair grew back to its old length, but I didn't realize that the excessive heat damage was causing my strands to snap along their shaft, gradually making my hair shorter. My despairing mother, who wore her Afro hair in a variety of natural and manipulated styles, took me to her hairdresser to try and teach me how to take care of my curly hair. I hadn't seen my natural hair in four years, but Isis, a knowledgeable trans woman who had put her hair through ridiculous heat and chemical damage herself, managed to coax it back to life. She made me promise to cut down on straightening and to give my hair a chance, or it would fall out. Even though everyone loved and fussed over my hair the next day, I felt like a little mushroom again, devoid of femininity and missing the feeling of hair hitting my shoulders. It's a common misconception that textured hair doesn't grow. When stretched out, the true length is obvious, but in its natural state it gives the illusion of being shorter. A stroll through any high-street beauty shop, be it Boots or Pak's, will show you just how much money is made from and spent on hair-growth serums, creams and oils. I had internalized the feeling that short hair was something to be fixed, and I would hold my breath and clamp those straighteners down until it was long again. All the female celebrities I looked up to with curly or Afro hair wore it straight or long, most likely with extra wefts or weaves sewn in: I took note as Leona Lewis's shiny spirals got looser and looser with every week's episode of The X Factor. No magazine taught me how to nurture my hair, and the people who could have told me hadn't found their voices online yet.