Hello All! My name is Sharon and I would like to share my journey to Health, Wellness, and Happiness. Over the next several months, I will blog my thoughts, diet changes, health changes, etc. To understand what started this journey, you need to know a bit about me and my health history.
I grew up in sunny Arizona eating a standard American diet – protein, starch, veggie, dairy, and fruit. Although my mom insisted on following the “Food Pyramid“, I somehow found a way to duck out of fruits and vegetables – lemons, grapefruit, or pickles being the exceptions. “You have to have something green on your plate,” I remember hearing repeatedly. My diet consisted of a breakfast with cereal (I loved cream of wheat with milk), toast, bacon or sausage, and orange juice. Lunch from the school cafeteria was typically sandwiches, very little vegetables, and always plenty of milk to drink. My weekend lunches were Mexican food (heavy on the sour cream and cheese) along with my favorite snacks i.e. nachos, grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese crisp, and/or cookies and milk. Dinner generally was a protein, green veggie, and a starch (one with some type of cheese sauce like broccoli and cheese or potatoes au gratin). Imagine fish and fries, spaghetti, smothered chicken, meatloaf, potatoes, rice, and/or bread. By high school, I could no longer eat any raw fruits or vegetables other than lettuce. No other raw veggies. My system wouldn’t tolerate it! I will discuss this more later.
So, as you can probably guess I have always battled with my weight. I can only recall two times in my life where I was considered in a “normal” BMI weight range – once in 1996 and again around 2003. Both times were after I joined a weight loss center and went on an extreme diet regimen. However, since you have to pay more money after a certain amount of time, I never got to complete the part of the program where they teach maintenance. So, guess what? I quickly gained the weight back! Going through this process was not all in vain, though. I learned something very important about myself. Earlier I mentioned that I was at a place where I could not eat raw fruits and vegetables. If it was a banana, strawberry, or even literally one piece of broccoli, my stomach was not keeping it down. At this weight loss center, outside of protein shakes and bars, I was eating mainly protein, cooked vegetables, starches, and fruit, but very little dairy. The dairy was such a ridiculously small amount, maybe enough for coffee, that I generally omitted it all together. After a month, guess what? I could eat raw fruit and vegetables again! It was the dairy! I thought it was a fluke, although a very convincing one. After I went off the diet the first time and started eating dairy again, I began having the same issues with raw fruits and veggies. The second time I went on the program, I was convinced: dairy was the culprit. Mind you, when I eat dairy I am all in. As you noticed in my usual childhood meal, dairy was a part of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all of my snacks. It wasn’t unusual for me to eat chunks of cheese at a time. This overeating of dairy caused more issues than I knew at the time. This was my experience with just one diet.
I have played around with so many diets over the years: the Zone Diet, the Abs Diet, Weight Watchers, grapefruit diet, soup diets…You name it. They are all great and work very well. (The fact that they all worked and were so different also intrigued me. I will discuss different diet methodologies in the future.) However, I never learned how to sustain the weight loss and did not see the full results I wanted. At the time, I really didn’t know what I was looking for.
In 2006, it started to click! A very good friend of mine and I were talking about health and wellness. She mentioned she was interested in fasting for life. I probed a bit to find out more. She said she thought she was only supposed to eat raw fruits and vegetables. Because we didn’t know exactly what that meant, I began to do a little research. That’s when I learned about the Raw Food Diet also known as the Sunfood Diet, Raw Foodism, or Raw Vegan Diet. I was totally intrigued about what I read in books and online. People were not only losing weight, they were battling illness and reversing diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, MMS, and others. There were other positive affects as well: clarity of the mind, improved skin, pains and aches disappearing, reduction in allergies and candida, etc. I was hearing possibilities different from any diet that I had been on. This diet resonated with me.
So, as I usually do, I rallied up the troops and suggested we do the raw food diet for 30 days. It started with me and the friend who got me looking into the lifestyle. Before I knew it, three more people joined us. We all saw great results! Not only did I experience weight loss, but my back pain went away, my feet no longer ached, there was little mucous in my body, and my skin improved. There were two more kickers for me also. The first was the effects of candida were reduced. Some of you know what I mean – no more candida yeast infections. It was nice going to the OB/GYN and not having to get any prescriptions for once. Secondly, it almost eliminated my PMS symptoms. Can you believe it? No PMS!!! I didn’t have minor cramping, no monthly blemishes, no mood swings, etc. The biggest annoyance was not knowing when my cycle was going to start because I didn’t have my usually indicators but I could certainly live with that.
I really loved the results that I saw with the Raw Vegan Diet. I still to this day will complete raw food detox sessions by eating raw food or juice feasting. It always gives me a natural high. I can literally feel my body buzzing. Since then, I have become a certified Living Food Chef through Alissa Cohen’s program. I have also completed a wonderful class at the Living Foods Institute where I also volunteered for a while. Raw foods will always be a part of my life even though it has been a hard diet to follow. I realize now that I was making it too difficult, trying too many veggies I didn’t care for, and getting frustrated over it. At the beginning of the year, I completed a 10 day raw food detox. This time it was easier and I was much more successful. I only stuck with fruits and veggies I know and love. When I started this fast, it was to jumpstart my year and to complete my quarterly fast. It really helped me to not get sick at the turn of the season and to get rid of some toxins. My plan was to also use the time to plan out my year, how I wanted to get my health back on track, work on my spiritual connection, and look at school. Fast forward a couple of weeks and I am, for the first time, trying out a vegan lifestyle. Since I was doing raw, it was easy to add in some grains and gently cooked veggies. I was really expecting that I would go back to a standard American diet with raw foods added daily. However, because the raw went so smooth and easy once I began sticking to my basics, I decided to add a little cooked food. I now try to stay mainly 80-90% percent raw and my new goal is to complete a 30 day vegan diet which I began January 23rd. I also recently began studying at the biggest school in nutrition, Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I will learn over 100 diet theories. I cannot wait to see what I learn.
So, this is where I am in my journey. I am looking for the raw foods high and effects without having to be extreme. I want a lifestyle regimen that is easy for me to follow. No counting calories or points. I want the lifestyle to be something that is not only beneficial for weight loss but for health, wellness, and happiness also.