Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The 100% raw Adventure of a Lifetime!

That's me at the Taste of Health Conference in Vancouver.
Me and Matt Monarch of Raw, Angela Stokes of and me. More about that experience later...

It's the 9th of January, 2008. I've had a great day playing with the kids, cleaning up around the house and getting ready for a day of work tomorrow. I work only two days a week outside of the home (goodness knows I work my butt off around here too, but the pay isn't as good) teaching grade 6 & 7...but that's another blog entirely!

We've had really cold weather here this winter. It snowed again today, but turned to rain fairly quickly. I love winter, though many complain about it. I love the cool crisp days, the soggy, wet ones and especially the snowy ones. Growing up on the Wet Coast (Vancouver) we didn't have many big snows, but each one we did have is still etched in my mind as something special. Making snow angels, snowmen, sledding, skiing and getting stuck on snowy roads, especially the ones leading to Simon Fraser University are all great memories.

I also remember all the food that I relate to winter. Oatmeal, hot apple cider, hot cocoa, turkey dinners, mashed potatoes. My memories are really built around the foods eaten at certain times of the year. Maybe that's why on my raw adventure I have found my first winter a challenging one. But let's start at the beginning.

I weaned my son and started 100% raw all in the same day. Talk about an emotional roller coaster! I had read a lot about raw foods, and established a personal "raw food book" library of sorts in our living room. I had no idea what and how I was going to eat, just that it would no longer be cooked. There were all sorts of recipes I was looking forward to trying. My husband did most of the cooking in our house (in my pre-raw days) so I really had only myself to prepare food for. Of course my plan was to get my family to eat raw as often as possible as well.

Again, I wish I had blogged or kept a journal of that first month especially. In the first days I noticed many things. I had to go to the bathroom often due to the increase in fibre and liquid in my diet. I had terribly bad body odor, bad breath and yikes, just stunk in general! How terrible for my poor family. I knew that it was all a part of detoxing the toxic waste materials out of my body, so took it all in stride. My eyes were gunky (sorry can't think of another word to aptly describe it) and my body was a mixture of tired and energized throughout that whole first week.

Once I got over the first week (lost 7 pounds also) things seemed to flow for me. Eating raw got easier and easier for me as time went by. On a typical day I would eat the following:

Fruit smoothie for breakfast.
two bananas
cup of strawberries
cup of blueberries
1.5 cups of water and blend it in our Vitamix.

I would switch up the fruits depending on what looked appealing on shopping day; mangoes, papayas, apples, pineapples, blackberries, raspberries, etc.

I would then eat a fruit snack sometime before lunch. I also found that I was hungry more often in the first week, but as the weeks progressed my hunger also came less often. Maybe I was finally fulfilling the nutritional needs my body had so craved in the past!

Lunch was usually a salad or more fruit, or a combination of both. I was eating more than ever and still losing weight and feeling great. I was so full after I ate each meal but never felt that tired or over stuffed feeling that I used to get.

I did experience a few negative things, but attributed them to "healing crises" and got through them with the belief that what I was doing was good for me. I experienced diarrhea (why does that word not look right?!) for six weeks straight. My body was finally able to get rid of all the nasties inside my colon and took full advantage of this fact. After those initial six weeks it was like someone flicked a switch and my intestines settled and I never experienced irritable bowel again. I forgot what a regular visit to the bathroom was supposed to be like!

I also experienced some skin problems in the first couple of weeks. Once it was a sore on the top of my right hand. That lasted only about six hours though. I also had acne for a couple of weeks but then it healed and my skin never looked better. It was an amazing transformation from what I had experienced in the initial four months of 2007.

In the first month I lost 20 pounds and got lots of comments from friends and family about how I glowed and looked great. People at work could still not believe that I was doing this and had kept it up for a full month. I continued 100% raw through June and July as well. I had one healing crisis when I could not get out of bed for about 12 hours. I had chills, terrible shakes, no fever but felt like I could throw up any moment. It was the worst experience I had during my raw journey. I had not felt this bad in a very long time.

Once you feel so great, feeling badly is that much more dramatic! Again I believed in what I was doing, fasted on water for the duration of this terrible episode and it was over just as fast as it began. No one else in my family experienced anything like this so I do believe it wasn't a flu bug or anything, just my body recovering and healing something.

During my bootcamp workouts, people were always commenting on how skinny I was getting, on how fast I had become in the runs and how much energy I always had. They saw this transformation for themselves, but when I talked to them about what I was doing, they all believed that they could never do that. If you had told me what I'd be doing a year before I would have never believed you. Eating this way will come to you naturally when you are ready. I always said I wished I had discovered this way of eating earlier. I actually had been exposed a few times earlier in my 30's but never entertained the idea that I could eat that way before now.

I really enjoyed the success I was having, but noticed that I was still craving sweets like crazy and also started to crave cooked food like crazy. This would be about mid August 2007. It was a very challenging time. My husband is a great cook and since I became a raw food eater he has become more vegetarian in his cooking. He makes these great smelling foods and I had a hard time resisting them in late August. So in the last two weeks of August I ate some cooked food. At first it was terrible. I suffered the next day with loose stools and headache or felt as though I would vomit sometimes. I did this a few times and it wasn't so bad as time went on. Why would I do that though? I tried to remember how I felt so I wouldn't venture into cooked foods again but still it didn't stop me every time.

One night in late August I was at a party and my friends asked me to try her lasagna. She was pretty adamant that I try it and I should have resisted the peer pressure, but in the end I did try it and it tasted amazing. I ate more and then binged on a bunch of cooked food that night. I woke up feeling absolutely terrible and as though I could not eat at I didn't. I actually gained about 7 pounds in those two weeks and decided that cooked food was clogging up my body. I needed to make a drastic change.

I didn't feel like eating so I said I would start eating when I felt hungry again. Well, it didn't happen that day. I drank water all day on Sept. 1st. I also drank water all the next day and still didn't feel hungry. I thought that something may have been terribly wrong, but believed in the process. The human body will not eat if it needs to heal. I drank water only for five days. I did feel a little hunger on day three and day four but it was not a strong feeling to eat. I did a lot of reading about water and juice fasting in this time. I needed very little sleep as I was not having to process anything at night. I felt light and amazing really, and day four was like a euphoric high.

Then everything came crashing down on day five of water fasting. I took the kids on a skytrain adventure for the day and things were o.k. but I noticed that I had a very short temper, and things seemed to be stressing me out fairly easily. Very different to the day before. Then I experienced some chest pains while we were at the opposite end of our journey. We got through our day and things were o.k. but by the time I got home I felt I may need to go to the doctor to see about the chest pains. But I didn't want to do that so I decided to juice up some greens and see how that made me feel.
It made me feel somewhat better, and I rested in bed all that evening and through the night. I juiced more in the morning, but still felt on edge even though the chest pains were gone. I was stressing out. Maybe it was because it was my first day back at work after the summer vacation. Maybe it was the food related argument I had with a relative. Maybe it was a combination of many things but I just didn't feel good that day. I came home to juice at noon, and juiced all evening. The fog began to clear.

I juiced all the next day and although I had some detox symptoms like bad breath and a coating on my tongue and body odor, I was starting to feel amazing again, like day four on water. I felt so full of life and positivity. I felt so good after a week of juicing that I decided I would continue until I felt that I no longer wanted to juice. After two weeks I made my second visit to the colon hydrotherapist. She made me feel great. Said I looked and seemed well for someone who had not eaten solids for two weeks. The whole process was amazing. I could not believe that solids were still coming out of my system this far into a juice fast (feast really, I was putting more nutrition into my body this way than I ever could by eating the food) In fact I had solids come out on day 4 (of water only) and then day 11 (seven days into juicing) and more later on as well, I just don't remember when. The colon hydrotherapy was perfect, as many detox symptoms come from too many toxins dumping into your colon and the colon not being able to exit them fast enough so cleansing this way is perfect for those wanting to speed up and keep the cleansing at its peak level.

I ended up juicing for another two weeks after the colon cleanse. I was on a total high, it was amazing. Euphoria is about the only way to explain it. I was so motivated to get things done, had the energy to do the things I wanted to do, I was commonly called the "Energizer Bunny" during this period of time. I didn't understand why everyone around me was so bored, tired, lazy and sick all the time. Of course I's what was fueling my body. I was allowing my body time to heal and regenerate. In that month I lost 25 pounds in 31 days. That's a lot of weight to lose.

Then I started to lose my hair. I did a lot of research on this one as well and it seems that when you lose a huge amount of weight in a short amount of time you will begin a hair loss cycle as well. I am sure it is to do with the amount of toxins being released, as well as the out with the old, in with the new type of idea. I have since been told by my doctor at my annual physical check up that this is totally normal and that it's a two year cycle, so by fall 2009 I should be back to where my hair was before I began the juice fast. I hope so, as I am finding it difficult to style and wear it much shorter now than I ever have. It isn't totally noticeable to anyone but me and those that know me well. Still it will be nice to have thick hair again.

I had now, by Oct. 2nd 2007 lost a total of 60 pounds since I began my raw journey in January of that year. I did realize though that some of it would come back on when I began eating solids again. At the end of my juice fast I wasn't sure how to go about breaking it so I watched a lot of Angela Stokes' videos on youtube. I was glad that I did, there were a lot of good ideas about juicing and such on them.

I attended the Taste of Health conference in Vancouver at the end of September while nearing the end of my juicing adventure. Can you believe that just a few short days before I was to end my juicing month, that Angela herself was to be speaking at this event. It had not been advertised, as they (her and Matt Monarch) were a late add on but what sweet serendipity. The universe conspires with me when I eat well and this was just another one of those examples where I refuse to believe in coincidence! I needed something and there it was landing at my feet. I saw them speak and got to talk to her afterwards and even swapped a few emails regarding breaking the fast. She is great and so down to real. Got some photos with them as well! They wouldn't post here so they are at the top of the post!

I also got to see Aaron from Gorilla Foods. Check them out 422 Richards Street in Vancouver and soon there will be a sit down restaurant close by there as well. It's the only full on raw food restaurant in the Lower Mainland that I know of. Main Squeeze in Maple Ridge offers some raw food options as does Sweet Cherubim on Commercial Drive. I believe that there is still a small raw cafe at the back of the organic veg grocer on Commercial as well, I can't remember the name right now. Oh, and Sejuiced is also great for raw juices, freshly made!!

Anyhow, Aaron is great and makes amazing food. I try to get out there at least once a month to treat myself to some of his spectacular creations! Do try to get there yourself if you can. He has a website as well.

He did a great presentation on the Sunday making some great food that I could not try at the time due to the juicing regime but boy did it look good! Guacamole, wraps from the dehydrator, lots of great stuff.

I was so psyched. I'll write more about my breaking the juice fast and what came after that in another posting. I could talk forever about this stuff!

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