Hi!

I'm Sarah.

My skin has not always reflected health.

I had severe acne. I grabbed for quick fixes, acne medications, which did not "fix" my acne. My acne returned soon after completing every medication I took.

It took being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and environmental sensitivities years later before I began paying attention to the cues my body was giving me. I began addressing underlying causes of my acne and poor health.

Now, fully recovered, abounding in energy and having completely clear skin, I have a new perspective on health and acne management.

My Not-So-Easy Recovery

connecting acne and my health issues

2000-2006
Teenage and adult Acne
My acne started as a teenager in grade 7 and peaked during my first year of university (see photo, right). By this time I had tried topical agents, several types of antibiotics, topical and oral, the birth control pill, and Accutane. My skin cleared completely with Accutane after 9 months and returned, sadly, only 4 months later.
2000-2006
My acne tri
2006
introduced to "food as medicine"
When my acne reached its worst - 7/10 on an acne grading scale - I looked for alternative acne therapies for long-term solutions. I attended a 10-day cleanse that focused on eating raw foods. Here, I was introduced to food as medicine.

Eating raw foods reduced acne inflammation. It was not the clear-skin fix I was hoping for, and it left me with several nutritional deficiencies.

Unlocking an acne diet took years of trial and error, elimination and reintroduction. Still diet changes alone weren't enough to bring about radiantly clear skin. There were other pieces to the puzzle that I didn't realized at this point.
2006
2012
began work as a registered dietitian
After my degree at the University of Alberta and a one-year Integrated Dietetic Internship, I began work as a registered dietitian/nutritionist, licensed with the College of Dietitians of Alberta.

I was eating well - or so I thought - but I still had some blemishes.
2012
2013-2014
Vancouver
My interest in theology of eating and the body led me to Regent College in Vancouver, BC for a one-year Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies.

Brain fog, fatigue, sleep issues, and poor immunity characterized much of my school year. Onlookers saw me as a strong, active, healthy student, though I felt anything but healthy.
2013-2014
2015
diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, onset of multiple chemical sensitivities
Seven months after returning to Alberta from Vancouver for work, my energy, immunity, and cognitive function tanked. I took a short-term leave from work, thinking extra rest would make everything better.

June 2015, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and needed my parents' care. Rest did not revitalize my body. A short-term leave turned into long-term disability.

I went from living an active life and working to having difficulty walking around the block, preparing meals, and communicating. Chronic fatigue syndrome is an illness with symptoms well beyond fatigue, affecting one’s immunity, concentration, memory, balance, sleep, and muscles, not to mention one’s social life.

During this time I developed sensitivities to chemicals, electromagnetic fields, and food. My body started over-reacting to a host of environmental triggers. I wore a mask to protect me from chemicals and was quite isolated.
2015
Me after
2016-2018
therapeutic detoxification as part of an environmental health program
In January 2016, I started seeing a physician trained in environmental medicine. Toxicity testing showed I had a high toxicant burden, including heavy metals. Over a year and a half, this doctor led me through therapeutic detoxification to remove the toxins I carried. In addition, I made environmental changes to reduce my exposure to toxins in food, air, water, personal care products, and household items. This was a year of turning my whole life upside right.

My skin cleared in 4-6 months after detoxifying. I hadn't completely recovered from chronic fatigue after 6 months, though my energy had improved (full recovery took 3 years). Improvement in my skin coincided with reduction in toxins and adopting an organic, whole-foods diet.
2016-2018
Late 2016
ByDesign Nutrition & Health Established
I started my business hosting vegetable fermentation workshops - not the easiest pursuit for someone recovering from chronic fatigue syndrome. My first Introduction to Vegetable Fermentation Workshop left me recovering for 2 weeks, most of which was spent in bed.
Late 2016
Early 2018
brain retraining
Diet adjustments, detoxification, gut health, and environmental changes brought significant recovery and my skin was beautifully clear. Environmental triggers were still restricting my life, however.

I attended a 5-day workshop to learn the Dynamic Neural Retraining System™, a natural, drug-free, neuroplasticity-based healing program. Until now, I overlooked the widespread effects of a healthy brain. Practiced diligently for 6 months, brain retraining healed my entire body and gave my skin a radiant glow.
Early 2018
DSC_0230
Late 2018
Getting my life back
Chronic fatigue syndrome and my environmental sensitivities forced me to address what was behind my acne all along. I healed my body from the inside, including healing my brain by redirecting my thoughts. The results manifested outwardly as radiant, clear skin.
Now, nearly fully recovered, I am leading an active life and building ByDesign Nutrition & Health. You’ll find me fermenting, sprouting, cooking whole foods, cross-country skiing, and running. In general, you’ll find me making much of life and smiling. I have much to smile about.
Late 2018