I recently returned from my Spanish vacation, which also happened to symbolize the six month mark of my raw food journey. As readers of this blog know, my intention was to maintain a 100% raw food diet until I traveled abroad in celebration of my parents’ 50-year wedding anniversary, deciding then how I would proceed.
183 Days in Total Rawdom
I am pleased to say that my goal was accomplished. I happily maintained a totally raw diet from the time I began to the time that I left for my trip, a total of six months. I found it to be one of the more rewarding nutritional experiences of my life. The simple notion of committing myself totally to this practice reaped benefits that went far beyond the physical manifestations of a raw food, enzyme rich diet, themselves worthy of the endeavor, and reached the more subtle realm of how I structured my life and what I gave my energy to. It changed the way I view things and how I go about my life; benefits that I had not expected and would never have believed had I been forewarned. But these are the benefits of any practice… the rewards go way beyond the obvious. It is like throwing a pebble in a still lake… the ripples reach the shore no matter how many miles away that shore might be. Same is true here.
The Ripple Effect
In changing my diet from one that is based on healthy principles to one with a more vigorous slant that requires a lot of thought and preparation, I changed the way I operated in life. There was no way to slip or be careless. In committing to myself in this way, I was more aware and honest about my choices and this translated outward to greater focus, discipline and commitment across the board, from my workouts to my friendships and especially to the way I run my practice. So I am eager to share what I have learned and to share with you what, for me, comes next.
First, in the essence of full disclosure, I did not maintain a raw diet in Spain. While I always chose salad when available, it was otherwise nearly impossible to find raw options. The only culinary staple in Spanish cuisine that comes close to raw is Jamon Serrano, cured pork, thinly sliced like Prosciutto, but it is hardly health food. Instead, I did the best I could and had grilled fish and vegetables, some Tapas and typical Spanish dishes like Empanada and Croquettes. This is the food of my people, and like all comfort food, often hard to resist. I am pleased to say however, that I am no worse for wear. I did not feel sick from eating cooked food nor did I gain much weight. Perhaps a couple of pounds, which have since come off. It was overall, a wonderful vacation, full of family, friendship, good food and wine and serendipitous events. It’s one of those trips one will remember forever.
After Vacation, Back to LIFE!
But I am now back to life, back to reality and I must admit, I am finding a bit of a hard time finding my groove. The first two weeks after returning were dominated with work, catching up with clients and some writing projects, making sure that everything was in place. I am at the tail end of this and am formulating what comes next, which is the overall practice of my life…healthy living.
Six months of raw food really crystallized for me what healthy eating can offer in regards to energy, vitality, appearance, and mental clarity. While I have always been aware of what a healthy change in diet can do to improve someone’s lifestyle, going raw takes it to a whole other level. It is the only eating style I can recall that helped me sustain incredibly high energy throughout the day. Never once did I feel tired after eating nor at any other times in the day that weren’t close to bedtime. I felt amazing from the moment I opened my eyes in the morning to the moment I put my head down to sleep. Additionally, I slept better than ever; eight solid hours with no wake ups in between. That alone was worth the effort. Yet the benefits went well beyond more peaceful sleep and greater vitality. I also found the I was more focused and better able to concentrate which translated into better sessions with clients, helping them make connections that would help them move along their path. I also lost eight pounds, added onto my exercise practice by starting up with Physique 57, a workout designed after Lottie Burke classes which can literally kick your butt into shape within two weeks, and started working on my up coming lecture series at the Open Center with great enthusiasm.
My Raw Future…
I literally feel better than ever and have decided that because of this, I will move forward and continue on the raw path. Like all practices, this one changed me and now that I have experienced the benefits first hand, there is no way to ignore what I gained or what I learned. To abandon it fully would be to ignore the multiple benefits I received and there is no way for me to consciously do that. At the moment I am formulating how this is going to look for me, because the idea of a cold fruit and vegetable smoothie on a chilly day is totally unappealing, but I will find my way, and once I do, I will be back to share it with you!
In the meantime, my email inbox has been inundated with questions and comments over the past 6 months, and I was recently interviewed by a friend and co-worker about my raw food journey. Below are the answers to some of the questions I found most interesting. Please feel free to comment with any questions of your own!
I hope you all enjoyed the beginning of the fall season and that you are formulating your own plan for a healthy, vibrant Autumn and Winter~
Raw Journey Questions Answered…
How do you feel after having completed 6 months of eating only raw food? The easy and short answer is I feel energized, focused, inspired, healthy, vibrant and alive!
What is your favorite raw foodism or un-cook book? I liked both Rhio’s Raw Energy and Matthew Kenney’s Everyday Raw.
What is your favorite raw food recipe that you’ve successfully made during your 100% raw experience? The tortillas from Everyday Raw… they make it so easy to have lunch and dinner on the fly. Just whip up some salsa, add some avocado and you have a meal.
What tricky raw recipe are you most looking forward to making?
Mock Mac’ Cheese!
There are a lot of obscure ingredients in the raw food world, did you come across anything weird or new that has become a staple part (or not) of your raw food diet? Kelp noodles!
During the beginning of your journey, what were the biggest challenges? Getting organized and not feeling hungry all the time. Both sorted themselves out… my appetite settled down and I became more adept at constructing an interesting menu plan.
What has your experience been when discussing your raw food journey amongst friends? People are fascinated… both by the diet and the determination I had to carry through on the project. Lots of curiosity. It was cool to watch people’s hang-ups about food come through in the way they responded to what I was doing. The more aghast they were, the more it emerged they had severe food issues of their own.
What do you anticipate will be your biggest challenge moving forward in your raw food journey? I don’t see much of a challenge except perhaps staying warm… but we’ll see. I also plan to make it about 75-80% raw which will allow room for soups if I need it.
What major cooked food have you missed most on your journey, and which food did you find mostly wanting to ‘cheat’ just a little bit with? I haven’t missed much, but remember, it was summer so having lots of vegetables, salads and fruits were easy. Now that is is cooler, I will want soups, rice…. as for cheats… hmm… I didn’t necessarily want to cheat with anything. You really can find alternatives to almost anything on a raw food plan.
Would you advise a 100% raw food diet for everyone? Not necessarily. I am a big proponent of starting where you are and improving as you go along. Raw foodism is like a revolution and can be daunting unless you have already spent some time practicing balanced, healthy eating. Not for everyone.
What would be the gold nugget of advice that would you give to others about to embark on raw foodism? Plan ahead. Think about your reason for wanting to do this. Don’t do it for aesthetic reasons, like weigh loss…do it for health, vibrancy, and curiosity. Be joyful about the process and maintain a sense of humor!