My Journey Back to Raw Food Begins…

When I was in my early twenties, living in Seattle, I was an avid Raw Foodist. It was the healthiest I have ever been in my entire life. I felt amazing, looked amazing and took great pride in the person I had become. Over the years, my life changed and I have taken a massive detour from the path that I was on back then. My boyfriend (at the time) and I had pitched in together on a dehydrator, a juicer and a good quality blender so we were all set in the appliance area. We had a constant rotation of flax-seed crackers, buckwheat crust and variety of raw dips such as humus and guacamole. After we got in to the rhythm of the raw food lifestyle our only challenge was balancing our social events and making sure not to consume too much alcohol. When you are eating strictly raw organic foods, one glass of wine can have the effect of several. Not to mention the after effects it has on your body…talk about a hang-over! Ideally we should not have been drinking at all, but we were young and very social so that was just not going to happen.

When we separated in the Spring of 2008, he took possession of the kitchen accessories, which made it a bit of a challenge for me to keep up the lifestyle. Besides the fact that after moving back to the Midwest we had already ‘fallen off the wagon’ in reference to eating healthy anyway. We slowly started consuming cooked food because it was easier and less expensive. Our drinking also increased after the passing of my grandfather and our eventual break up. We remained vegetarian for quite some time after that, but both of us eventually jumped back on the meat wagon too. In the last few years, I have been living on a steady diet of cheese, beef and beer. After all it is the Wisconsin way!

When I moved to Denver, I was the heaviest I have ever been in my life. No more size 5 jeans for me! I had been in the double digits for several years and I was not happy with myself. I knew I needed to do something.

I pulled out all of my material on Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian, and Low-carb food. I knew I would need to make a slow transition and most importantly I knew I needed to be realistic when setting my goals. I am in my thirties now and it is not reasonable to think that I will ever be at the weight I was when I was twenty-two. My body has changed too much. Believe it or not there is a great deal of muscle hiding under all this fat 🙂

At this point in my life I don’t think I will ever go back to being a diehard Raw Vegan, but if I can get myself to being at least 80% Raw Vegan consistantly I will be a happy camper. Although, I remember transitioning before and it becomes much easier the further along you are in the process, so that may change down the road. To start, my main focus was to start eliminating all my unhealthy habits. For example, the amount of soda I would consume was beyond embarrassing. This was the first to go! In place of the soda, I would drink water, something I rarely do. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and I am not a big fan of bread, so these were easy things to let go of.

Once I jumped those hurdles, I started researching the many other diets out there to determine their commonalities and took these in to account when planning for my transition back to a mostly raw food diet. Some of the commonalities I have found are:

1. Don’t eat anything at least 3 hours before going to bed.

2. Increase your water intake to help with bloating due to dehydration.

3. Cut out soda and sugary drinks completely

4. Walk or run for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. 15-30 minutes twice a day is the best.

5. Watch your carbohydrate intake.

6. Eat a healthy filling breakfast.

These all seemed easy enough for me not only remember, but to actually execute. I also decided not to jump on the scale every morning. If you do not see what you want to see, this can ruin your entire day! Instead, I decided to weigh myself monthly instead. As women, we can fluctuate between 1-3 pounds daily according to my old nutritionist, so weighing yourself daily doesn’t really give you an accurate account of your progress. I knew I would start to see it in the way that my clothes fit anyway.

I still  have my morning cup of coffee, but instead of 3-4 tablespoons of sugar (naughty!) and creamer, I have it with Stevia and rice milk. I make sure to always eat breakfast. This is something that I have never been good about and it is very, very important. I usually can’t get down more than a banana, but I try to sneak in some yogurt or an additional piece of fruit if I have time. Ideally I should be having a much larger breakfast, but I physically cannot eat more than this or I feel sick.

I have almost eliminated the amount of meat and high level carbohydrate foods that I consume. A typical day for me looks something like this:

Breakfast – Banana, 1 cup of coffee, and maybe an additional piece of fruit or yogurt.

Snack – A handful of raw nuts (I prefer walnuts or almonds) or maybe a small bag of pretzels if I am really feeling munchie.

Lunch – Humus and raw veggies. Once a week I will allow myself a sandwich from the deli or a prepared salad & soup

Snack – Most of the time I skip this snack and just have a flavored water, but if I am still hungry after lunch, this is usually where I will sneak in a piece of cheese or some beef jerky once or twice a week. If you know me once or twice a week is a huge improvement. I have a very strong addiction to beef and cheese 🙂

Dinner – A huge salad or a small salad with a piece of Salmon or Tilapia

On the days when I have a large lunch, I will have a small dinner and skip the afternoon snack. That way I don’t consume too many calories in one day. There are still days when I splurge and have some fries or something like that, but not very often. I walk to and from work every day, which is 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening, but I have also decided to introduce another challenge in to my routine. I live on the 12th floor of my building and our elevators are really slow. As I was standing there waiting the other day, I thought to myself about the prospect of taking the stairs.

Over the weekend, I made my first attempt. I needed to take the recycling down and I always hate doing that in the elevator anyway. I always feel silly standing there with everyone else holding a large garbage bag filled with recyclables, so I figured this was a better time than any to make my attempt. The way down was easy. The way up as you can imagine was not so easy, but I did it. by the time I reached the 6th floor I was completely out of breath and ready to exit the stairwell and hop on the elevator. I didn’t though. Instead, I walked up two more flights, stopped to catch my breath and then continued the journey up. By the time I reached the 12th floor, I was exhausted, but I was so damn proud of myself!

The next day, my calves were killing me, but I pushed myself to take the steps down one more time. I took the elevator up, because I didn’t want to push myself too much and tear something. I am still feeling it in my calves a little today, but I think by tomorrow I will be ready to try again. I keep reminding myself how great I will feel when I can make both trips without feeling the intense burn I am feeling now; it keeps me motivated.

Since March 1st, I have been following the same routine. I have lost 3-4 lbs as of March 31st. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but what is significant is my pants size! When I started, I was a size 16. Today, I am comfortably wearing a size 12 and have been for several weeks. In my opinion that is an amazing change in such a short period of time. If I continue on this rate, I may be waving goodbye to the double digits in another month or so! I know I will reach a plateau at some point, but hopefully it will be when I reach size 9 🙂

My temp job will be ending on 4/20 and I will be off until June working on marketing the book and adding inventory to my Etsy shop. I have decided this would be a great time to also challenge myself by doing the 28 day Raw Foods on a Budget Bootcamp offered by Brandi Rollins. I will have the free time to really jump back in to it and I am extremely excited. She provides you with everything you need to plan out your method of attack and keeps it as inexpensive as possible. My roomie and I will both be doing it, so we will have one another to lean on, which is great because it really helps to have someone’s support. Between the two of us, we have all the tools we need to be successful. The excitement is building already. I cannot wait to feel healthy again, it has been a very long time 🙂

Cheers to Raw Food!

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Not Just Success, Healthy Success!

As my journey in self-discovery continues, I find myself faced with yet another piece of the puzzle; my health. This is something that is extremely challenging and frustrating to me, but it is essential in achieving my true success. There was a time in my past when I was the epitome of good health! At the current time, I am further from that place than I have ever been before.

When I lived in Madison, I was on a steady diet of beef, cheese and beer. Which is fitting for America’s Dairy Land, but I took this to the extreme. Without the self-control to moderate my actions, I ended up with the messy physical physique I am forcing myself to deal with now. Thankfully, I am not extremely overweight yet, but if I don’t do something now I can see obesity in my future!  That having been said, it is not all about weight. To the untrained eye, I may not look like someone who needs to drop 40 pounds, but I do! I know I do, because I have a point of origin to focus on. I know what I look like when I am healthy. I know what size jeans I should be wearing and I know how I should feel.

I also know that I have to be ready and willing for change if I wish to succeed in this en devour!

Why? Because it requires a complete shift in my mindset. Self-control and empowerment must win out over instant gratification. It is not just knowing what you need to do, but believing in yourself enough to actually do it. Over the last few years, I have lacked the willpower and self-discipline to change anything in my life and now that I have a visual reference of the end result, I am more than determined to make the change.

To get started, I asked myself the following questions: What is my relationship with food? What are some of my good eating habits and what are some of my bad eating habits? Where do these habits stem from?

In analyzing my relationship to food and being honest about my actions (good or bad),  I am better equipt to decide which direction to take moving forward.

For example, in my twenties, I was on a raw vegan diet. There were many wonderful aspects of this lifestyle (and very few drawbacks). It required a great deal of discipline, organizing and planning, but after the first year, it became common place for me and I had never felt better in my life. So, why did I stop?

Sadly, it came down to my social habits; I enjoyed going out to restaurants and bars with my friends on occasion.

I was very young at the time and being able to indulge myself became more important than ensuring that I was in good health. I maintained a vegetarian diet in the years after, but eventually I started eating meat again.

Back then it was all or nothing for me! I have learned over the years that it doesn’t have to be this way at all. Instead, the key in all things is moderation! Setting hard to reach goals for myself and getting down on myself when I fail at them is more damaging than indulging myself every once in a while. In the past, I was basically setting myself up to fail and I did.

This time around, I will set more realistic goals for myself. Goals that deal more with changing my mindset and implementing the information I have acquired over the years. Rather than creating a complex regiment of dos and don’ts. In setting these goals, I must also be brutally honest with myself.

Today, I read a very informative article, 28 Simple & Natural Ways to Detox your Body on Bembu.com. I was familiar with some of the information presented in the beginning of the article already, but it was a good recap for me. If you are unfamiliar with super foods and/or detoxifying foods, I highly recommend you check it out. There are so many expensive detoxifying methods on the market today that are an ultimate waste of your money when there are plenty of natural ways to aid your body in performing it’s built-in methods of detoxification.

Very few people actually listen to their body and that is an essential part of good health. The human body is an amazing organism made up of many intricate systems that many of us do not understand. That’s okay, we don’t need to understand it to listen to it.

For example, did you know that many times when you experience a stomach growl it means that your body is craving water rather than food? I remember reading this somewhere a long time ago and it has always stuck in the back of my mind. To this day, when my stomach growls I will first drink water to see if it subsides and if not then I will resort to filling it with food. It is simple actions like this that can help us determine whether we are actually hungry or just dehydrated. For me this is extremely important to understand, because I am horrible about drinking water. If I did not make a conscious effort to consume my minimum requirements of water intake daily, I would be lucky to drink a single glass.  Lack of water is one of my “bad” habits!

In the above mentioned article, the author suggests that we, “Start by taking a long hard look at your diet and then work your way out from there”

She then gives a list of suggested questions to ask yourself to help you clearly identify where you are currently to better plan for where you want to be in the future. I too believe that this is the key to making a successful change!

She also suggests doing a full body cleanse monthly to aid the system in removing toxins that may still be present despite your daily efforts to promote proper digestion and elimination. One of the recipes that I am eager to try is the Lemon, Maple Syrup, Cayenne cleanse. I will be doing this one on Saturday!

The main point of all this is to be realistic and prepared before you begin. If you are realistic about who you are, what you need and what will work for you, then you are already better prepared to take on the task of changing your mindset and you are on your way to a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life!