So, here is a crazy wild fact about me: I’m a RAW VEGAN! Yikes! Don’t stop reading yet. Just hear me out. I promise that I am not trying to push this lifestyle choice on you. Many people have heard of the American documentary film, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead that follows the journey of Joe Cross, an Australian, across America for 60 days while he follows a juice fast. I can relate to that man! I was a 246 pound 5’ 8.5” female. I’d gone to nutritionists, tried prescription weight-loss medications, tried exercising, counted calories, and still just could not get my weight under control. It kept climbing, my back, knees, and feet killed me. My feet themselves were so swollen that they looked like softballs wearing shoes! I had every symptom of low thyroid on the planet except that my thyroid levels were borderline normal so insurance would not cover the $400 medication. I was on several medications to treat depression, anxiety, back pain, sleeping problems, and I was getting close to needing a medication for high blood pressure. I was a wreck! Oh, and one more little detail – I was in the hospital! Besides my health, my relationship was suffering. Yup, I’ll say it – I hated having sex or being intimate in any way! I felt ugly, fat, and embarrassed constantly. It was bad, and I knew that I had to figure out something.
On March 2, 2012 I decided the time was now. I woke up and made some juice for breakfast…and a snack, and lunch, and a snack, and dinner. The next day, I woke up and did it all over again. I did this for 4 days. I lost 10 pounds, and my eyes looked so white and so bright. I had a ton of energy! After 4 days, I woke up and drink nothing but water all day. I did this for 3 days. My energy was through the roof and I had lost another 5 pounds for a grand total of 15 pounds that first week. Slowly I eased back into eating, but it wasn’t the same kind of eating that I was used to. Instead, I ate as a RAW VEGAN! These are the sorts of things I ate:
What is a raw vegan? Simple! A raw vegan eats nothing but fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and sprouts. The catch is that you don’t cook anything by conventional methods. You heard me right – everything I ate was raw! Now, when I tell you that I don’t cook anything by conventional methods, I mean that I don’t use my oven because it heats food to a temperature that begins to destroy the nutrients within the food. Occasionally I use my dehydrator to “cook” food though. Providing I don’t heat my food above 105 (there are a few different conventions on this temperature ranging from 105 to 118,) all those nutrients stay in tact and provide me with all kinds of good stuff to keep my body healthy and full of energy. So that’s the gist of it. Trust me though, there is so much more, and I DO NOT advise anyone to try this type of extreme lifestyle without doing the research. I will provide you with links to some of my favorite sources at the end of this post.
So, back to my story. I was loosing weight. I was feeling great. Life was awesome, and I was even able to start going to the gym where I entered & won a contest for loosing the most inches during one month. I was on top of the world. Of course life throws a wrench at you whenever you feel like you are on top of the world, and drags you back down the mountain kicking and screaming. On July 14, 2012, I left for Afghanistan. I had 2 ½ weeks to prepare for this trip, and I was not thrilled. My biggest concern was my new lifestyle. I had lost 50 pounds and I was feeling amazing. The last thing I wanted to do was deploy to a war-stricken place where the food offered was anything but raw. Without much choice I did it though.
For the next year I attempted to do what I could to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I learned to eat bell peppers because that was one of the few fresh vegetables that I could count on. I learned to avoid most of the fruit available because it was either not ripe or so ripe that it had mold beginning to grow on it. I drank 8 bottles of water everyday. I ordered as much RAW food powders, canned black beans, and canned peaches & pears as I could from Amazon, but by the end of my time there, I was eating eggs, bread, rice and other processed food because it was about all I could count on. My weight was up and down the whole time between 170 and 200. (The first time I hit 180 was a huge celebration for me!) I just could not find a balance. It was so frustrating to me that the Army would rather give their soldiers 5 different kinds of pie to choose from and 3 different kinds of ice cream to choose from along with the fried EVERYTHING than give them healthy options that would boost their energy and keep them fit for battle. What a horrible mess!
Moving on to July 3, 2013: I came home, and this time it was for good (I had been home in February for a month and a half.) At that point, I was mostly eating as a raw vegan again, but something in my brain had clicked during that year away and I found it to be nearly impossible to eat 100% fully raw. My weight remained at about 185, and I still felt pretty good. I wanted that willpower back though. This was one of the hardest times for me though when it came to being stressed out. I had less than two months to plan my wedding. Yup! I was engaged in May of 2012 and had out down the deposit on all of our wedding vendors before I found out I was deploying. To top it off, I was doing everything by hand! I had less than two months to letterpress our invitations suite, make a flower girl dress, make programs, make welcome bags, make this, make that…basically do it all. My fiancé was in Afghanistan [from May 2012-November 2013 with a month home for the wedding], so he was no help, and my family all lived on the other side of the country so they couldn’t exactly help very much either until they flew out the week before the wedding. Luckily I had a neighbor friend that was able to help me a few times!
Needless to say, a raw vegan lifestyle was not a top priority for me at that time. After the wedding, came the honeymoon. Our honeymoon was so magical and it took place in Walt Disney World! How could I possibly go to Walt Disney World on my Honeymoon and not eat whatever I wanted to eat? Despite walking around everyday all day long, I still managed to gain 20 pounds on my honeymoon! You heard that right! 20 pounds! That’s just insane. The sad part is that once we returned, I still could not find the willpower I needed to return to a raw vegan lifestyle, and the weight stayed put. Finally in November my husband came home from Afghanistan for good. I was pretty excited to have him home and thought that maybe having him around would give me the encouragement I needed to get back on track, but of course it did not. Instead, the holidays came and went while I gained another 10 pounds! I couldn’t say no to chocolate covered strawberries-you can find the best ones at Shari’s Berries
That brings me to the here and now. It is the end of January, I’ve been diagnosed with a cardiac condition called Posteral Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), I weight 210 pounds, and I just can’t get that weight off. I am so ready to get back on track though, so I’m starting over. Next week I am going to begin again. This time I really have to be careful about juice fasting. It is supposedly not a wise thing to undergo with a diagnosis of POTS or while taking a Beta-blocker, so I won’t be able to juice fast, but I will incorporate juicing into my daily regiment. I’m going to make this happen!
Not only am I going to return to a highly raw vegan lifestyle, but I am also going to incorporate some other Self Love habits into my life. I feel that some of the best ways to incorporate Self Love into our days is to take care of our bodies and our minds. This includes all of our organs (skin included) and all the aspects of our minds from our thinking brains, to our spiritual wellbeing and even our relationships with others. Here is my Morning Self-Love routine:
**When I wake up in the mornings I have a Self Love routine. The routine gets me on track for a positive day. I begin by oil pulling. Oil pulling is a practice of slowly swishing your mouth with oil for 10-20 minutes on an empty stomach at least once a day. There is quite a bit of scientific controversy surrounding it, but I find it helpful. I’ve personally noticed an increase in the level of oral health. If nothing else, my teeth are whiter and feel way smoother. Supposedly it also helps to pull toxins from your body.
**Next, I drink lemon water. Lemon water can be very alkalizing. It is important for our bodies to be in an alkalized state of PH balance in order for them to be healthier and fight disease. By drinking lemon water, I not only get the benefit of starting my day out in an alkalizing way, but I also get to check off two boxes on my water log (see my Etsy shop for planners and goal workbooks). My goal is to drink half my body weight in ounces of water per day. By keeping a water log I can easily keep track of how much I have drank and how much more I still need to drink.
**Next, I go for a walk. My husband and the dogs go with, so this ends up working on personal relationships by spending some quiet time with my family. We walk for about a half hour – sometimes more and sometimes less. Even when I really don’t want to do this, I always feel better after some fresh air and some time with my man.
**After our walk, something I will begin implementing next week is exercise. Due to my diagnosis of POTS I have found it very difficult to exercise regularly. I often get sick, dizzy, and nauseous. As with any new exercise program, it is important to start off slow, so that is exactly what I will be doing. Starting slow is better than not starting at all!
**The last step of my morning routine will be my consumption routine. This is the part where I consume some yummy fresh juice, some delicious fruit such as a couple bananas or oranges, and my daily vitamins. Again, there is controversy amongst the raw vegan community as to whether you should or should not add vitamins to your daily regiment. As for me, I have found that it is best for me to take them. I take a raw brand that I love called Garden of Life. Many of the vitamins are vegan, but some of them only hold up to vegetarian standards. I’m ok with that. Do what works for you! It might not be traditional to take them, but I think everyone should do what works best for them. Isn’t that what health is all about? I take their Vitamin E, B-Complex, Vitamin D3, and Zinc. Within these vitamins, I also get my Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Selenium, Folate, Biotin, and Probiotic & Enzyme blends. Again, this is what I do, but it may not be what is right for you. I suggest consulting with a doctor or a specialist to determine what works for you.
How is all that for self-love? I am telling you that this year is the year for self-love. I’ve been striving for it in all areas of my life. I am taking better care of my health, I am starting to MOVE my butt, I am cutting out things that don’t make me happy –there will be lots more on this subject as soon as telling you will not get me into trouble, I am learning new things, I’m starting things that bring me happiness and contentment such as my new business, Pretty Much, & lastly I am working on my relationships. This is going to be a fantastic year! I am so excited!
So, about those links that I promised:
You can check out my Raw Vegan Pinterest board which also has recipes for non-vegan and non-raw foods
Links to general healthy lifestyle websites:
Links to Vegetarian websites:
Links to Vegan Websites:
Links to RAW Vegan websites:
I really hope that some of this information inspires you, makes you think, or at a minimum helps you to get to know me a little bit better! If you have questions, please email me! Hello (at) PrettyMuchonline (dot) com.
What kinds of things are you implementing into your life this year to show yourself some Self-Love in 2014? Leave me a comment!