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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Blogging 101 (Day 8) – Being Neighborly!

Today’s blogging 101 assignment is to further engage in the blogging community and comment on fellow blogger’s posts. This is something I already do, but one community that I had not delved in to yet was that of raw food. I decided that today was the day!

The information surrounding raw food is everywhere it seems and when doing a general search you can end up with information overload or a long list of people trying to sell you a product. Having already done a great deal of research in to the subject during my previous time as a raw vegan, it was refreshing to explore this subject in the blogging world today. I found some truly great posts. Some offered words of encouragement and others (like the one I just re blogged from healthyhumanz) presented the essential benefits of raw food health in a very entertaining way.

Whether you are looking for a way to drop a few pounds or  you are planning to make a serious life change, the benefits of raw food should not be overlooked. Truth be told, becoming strictly raw does take dedication and requires a great deal of planning ahead, but eventually (as with anything else) once your routine is in place it, the easier it is to stick with it. The key is to set realistic goals for your transition and not to penalize yourself to harshly if you have a bad day and end up eating that giant pasta plate you love so much. The important thing to remember is that you tried and I promise you after you get the hang of it, your tastes will change as your body changes. Those cravings for cooked food will start to fade and even if you give in to them you will feel it’s affect on your body much more than you had before and it will make you think twice before eating it again.

Remember The WRITE Place’s post: “I’m a failure!”? It’s okay to fail, just learn from your mistakes and get back on that horse! The more times you fall, the more you learn!

Another word of advice, instead of telling yourself you can’t have something, try to focus on finding new recipes and rewarding yourself for those good days that you have (It’s okay to bribe yourself sometimes). Whether you are making a complete switch to raw food or you are simply looking to implement more healthy food to your diet, just remember, YOU are in charge!

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!

Where I was When I Decided to Change my Life and What I’m Doing Now

In my first post, “Finding Myself” I explained how I came about the decision to change my circumstance and begin my journey to fulfillment. I have since then explored a variety of creative avenues and believe I am finally on the right path!

After I signed the publishing contract for Insane Roots and stopped posting in that blog, I was still yearning for a writing outlet,  so I started a new blog on WordPress: Random Thoughts from Insane Roots. For months I lacked the courage to post anything. When I was posting in my book blog, I had more confidence because I knew that the subject matter was interesting so I didn’t worry so much about whether it would be received well or not. With the new blog, it was all on me and I had no idea where to start. I found myself with a severe case of writers block!

Until recently…that is!

I decided to start typing up my poetry and rants from all of my random notebooks from many years past and I stumbled across some real gems. After some minor editing, I made my 1st post, then my 2nd and I was working on my 3rd when I found a folder of writing from the last few months I was in Wisconsin. The difference in the tone of the writing was drastic and sadly very dark. Feeling the way I do now and reading something I wrote while I was feeling defeated and lost was surprisingly uplifting. To know this place and to remember this place is never to revisit this place.

The response to these posts were not out of this world, but I did immediately begin receiving likes and I already have a few followers. This in itself was extremely inspiring.  Now I had a creative outlet for my poetry and random ideas, in addition to my personal journey blog that you are reading now. I can officially say that I believe that I am addicted to blogging! I have overcome my fear of ridicule (at least where my writing is concerned) and with any luck this confidence will spill over in to my everyday attitude as well.

Despite my positive outlook and cherry disposition, I am unfortunately one of those people who spends way too much time worrying about the opinions of others. So much that it has begun to affect my self-confidence a great deal. For example, if I am walking down the street and catch someone staring at me or see them look me up and down, I immediately assume the negative. I start analyzing my entire appearance trying to determine what they found to be wrong with me. It’s sad really.

To counter act this, I  have been making a conscious effort to remind myself in these moments that the person in question may just be admiring my skirt, think my hair is pretty or they may even find me attractive?! Why set myself up to fail? It’s much better to assume the best and besides, who cares if your wrong. If you have confidence in yourself then even if that person was thinking mean thoughts about you, it wouldn’t matter because your positive outlook will over-power their negativity!

I’m not saying that this always works for me, but I’m trying my best.

I am still working on that list of joys I compiled (see my post : Blast from the Past) to continue my journey in finding my true self. One of the items on that list is my health. I am not extremely over weight or anything, but I definitely have a few pounds that I could do without. The weight is not the biggest issue with my health and it is not like I live an extremely unhealthy lifestyle, rather it’s the fact that I know I can do better. During the time I refer to in the post, a time when I was the closest I have ever been to my true self, I was extremely healthy. For the majority of the time I lived in Seattle, I was either Vegetarian, Vegan or (for most of the time) raw vegan. I am not saying that I would like to completely give up meat again, but I would like to cut back drastically. I went from only eating raw food for close to five years to a steady diet of meat, beer and cheese for the last seven years. Needless to say, my body is in a much different condition than it was seven years ago and I can’t blame it all on my age (although that has not been helpful).

The point is that I am old enough to know better and old enough to care! So, I have decided to delve back in to the raw food diet. today is my first day and so far so good. Luckily I started my new temp job today, so I am less tempted to eat junk food than I would have been hanging around the house all day. My roommate and I are doing a 28 day raw boot camp to help us get back on a healthy track and help cleanse our body from toxins. After the 28 days are over, I will return to eating cooked foods, but I hope to maintain at least a 50-75% raw diet. Most likely, I will eat raw throughout the day and end the day with a partially cooked dinner and a salad. I will keep you posted on my progress.

It is hard to believe that just a few months ago I was in one of the lowest points in my life. The transformation in me that is beginning to take place (mind, body & soul) gives me strength to continue on my path of self-discovery and the further validation of myself.

Today is a good day!