The quest for great skin is a journey, and while life is short and meant to be lived to the fullest, I’ve had to make changes to my lifestyle throughout the years to redefine my skin’s future. For instance, these days, I’m the first to tell you to run from the sun, but it wasn’t always that way. Growing up through long, lousy winters in Illinois, my friends and I couldn’t wait to get outside at the first sign of sun. We were desperate to get a tan, and we worked at it with baby oil, reflectors and all the tools of the trade. When I moved to Florida to attend college and medical school, I continued my sun-worshipping ways and was known for having the best tan among my classmates. Later, during my dermatology residency, I used to sneak into the psoriasis clinic after hours to work on my “base tan” by catching some rays with the UV light boxes used to treat psoriasis patients.

Everything I learned about eating right, I learned from my parents. In fact, I think my mom and dad were the original “health nuts.” When I was growing up, my mom cooked low-fat, nutritious meals, and our family dinner table looked like a rainbow—filled with plates of red, orange, green and yellow fruits and veggies. Except for my mom’s favorite lace tablecloth, there was very little white on the table, unless it was white-meat chicken or turkey.

With Thanksgiving—the biggest meal day of the year—just days away, the cliché “You are what you eat” certainly carries a lot of weight. One of my favorite ways to make Turkey Day festive, healthy and skin-friendly is to take a cue from my mom and prepare a rainbow of recipes featuring richly colored organic fruits and vegetables.

We’ve seen it on the tennis court and the golf course, at marathon starting lines and on hiking and biking trails … “athlete’s face”—the dark tan and deep wrinkles from countless hours of unprotected exercise in the great outdoors.

From prematurely aged skin to blistering sunburns and skin cancer, the sun’s power to harm our skin is well documented, and I see the devastating effects every day in my medical practice. Whether you’re a pro athlete, weekend warrior or spectator in the stands, use this trio of play-safe tips so your skin—and health—don’t have to pay the price later.

The correlation between how we feel about our appearance and our confidence level is well documented. The fact that 80% of us feel dissatisfied with the reflection facing us in the mirror is simply unacceptable.

I have seen first-hand the difference that intelligent skincare and great skin can make in a person’s life, and I know that over-the-counter medicines can create visible change—and even transform skin. That’s why, in this month that celebrates our independence as a country, I am encouraging you to take a note from our forefathers and liberate yourself from your “skinsecurities”, declare your Skindependence and become your own dermatologist of sorts.