||Overweight with many many allergies. Allergies so bad at some points that my parents would think I'd have to go to the doctors for tubes in my ears or whatever but then I'd get better (I think I was most allergic to doctors!) :-) Moms put me on various diets throughout my childhood but nothing really helped me lose weight. I was definitely an emotional eater from the word go. Had various illnesses as a kid that weren't much fun either: the usual things like colds/flus and tonsilitis but other things, too like mono and rocky mountain spotted fever. I used to go to the doctor for strep throat and other throat infections quite regularly in my early teens. Me and antibiotics were pretty good friends and I became a connoisseur of the ones I preferred. Same for codeine/tylenol for the throat stuff. That stuff was trippy!
||Lost (or should I say "shed") 55 lbs in the summer between freshman/sophomore year. Sat in my seat in homeroom and someone told me "you can't sit there, that's Linda's seat." I happily replied, "I AM Linda!" Great to not be recognized in that way! (p.s. the way I lost weight this first time was just reducing portion sizes, swimming in the pool and doing a lot of visualizations.) People definitely treated me differently when I was thinner. Very amazing to see how vain a lot of folks were. And I became quite vain myself. Suddenly pretty for the first time ever, it was cool to have attention. So lots of ups and downs for that first weight loss program that I did totally on my own. Health-wise, still with allergies and throat problems. Still taking antibiotics whenever doctor treated me. Indigestion was always a problem for me. But I was thin for the first time in my life!
||Kept weight off in HS, went to college and ballooned up very nicely, thank you. The freshman 15 was more like freshman 40 for me! Then just for good measure I gained another 20 pounds while I was partying my ass off and eating huge, whole calzones all by myself... Still had allergies although not as severe as they were when I was a young kid. Failed out of college the first time 'round - totally too interested in the parties vs. the studies. :-) Still had problems with indigestion/heart burn. Began the rolaids regime in my later teen years.
||Decided it was time to get the weight off again. I wanted to get a jump start so I went on a medically-supervised fast for 40 days. I lost about 30 lbs or maybe 40lbs with that fast. I was TOTALLY missing the texture of food by the end so I broke the fast by eating macaroni and beef. I remember thinking how glorious it was to CHEW! I lost the rest of the weight at first by using Nutrisystem and then just doing smaller portions on my own. Overall, I considered my health to be good however I was still quite the partier (not during the fast though!) :-) Still had indigestion, allergies, colds/flus, throat infections, etc.
||Stopped drinking when I turned 21 - the thrill of getting into the bars underage was over so what was the point in going? :-) I considered my health to be good although had random allergies and seasonal colds/flus and always was a bit of a binge eater - definitely ate to feel better emotionally. Never got into binging/purging, thankfully, but I used to be consumed with guilt after binge eating. This is really throughout my life, not just at this time. I became a vegetarian here but was definitely an ovo-pesca-lacto-vegetarian, meaning I ate eggs, fish and dairy. Meat never seemed to digest well and I hated all red meats except for the occasional burger.
||Moms got diagnosed with non-small cancer of the lung (she wasn't a factory worker and not a smoker, nor in a house with 2nd hand smoke for long periods ever and at the time, she was an anomoly. Unfortunately this isn't the case so much anymore - more people are statistically getting lung cancer who don't smoke or work in factories, etc.) and neighbor's health took a turn for the worse after years of being Type 1 diabetic. I watched him going out in parts as various organs began to fail him, circulation started to fail for his limbs, eyesight began to fail, kidneys began to fail, etc. and so forth. One week he'd be in the hospital and then the next, my moms would be. At the time my oldest/dearest friend and I wondered why this was all happening - we didn't know anyone else who was in their early 20s with such sick parents. We ended up being hella grateful to have each other for support ever since and even during. It became understood right away that our families had a lot of compassion and empathy for what the other was experiencing.
One of my brothers and I started researching alternative stuff individually. My brother bought a little juicer and started juicing fruits and veggies for my mom (although knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have had her drink sweet fruit/veggie juices for cancer patients.) I heard a show on Pacifica Radio talking about lung cancer having a possible link with prolonged vitamin deficiency and this somehow clicked with me for my mom - years and years of allergies meant years and years of compromised immune system. If her immune system was compromised, what did that mean for all the allergies I had as a kid up until that point? I started reading all kinds of books on healing foods.
My mom was not too interested in alternative or homeopathic routes. She believed, as many people did/do, that her doctor had the best method of treatment for her so she obliged us a bit with our juices and supplements but not so much. (She actually choked on a vitamin we gave her but swallowed the chemotherapy pills with no difficulties.) She suffered greatly but with amazing grace. I watched my mother's health severely deteriorate as she went through chemotherapy, radiation and then did what was then an experimental drug in a 10 month time frame. She said that she felt like a sewer when she took all the chemotherapy pills. Her lung collapsed, she had swelling in her arm that made it so she couldn't write. She had a tumor in her eye that made it so she couldn't read, she had a tumor in her head, her lymph nodes, her bones. After a while we asked her to stop checking with various doctors to check for cancer. She took prednisone, she was on blood thinners, she lost her breath quite frequently, she became frail and weak. Her quality of life in the 10 months from diagnosis to death was terrible and that's just what I saw - I can't imagine what she herself felt/experienced inside her own body.
Needless-to-say, I gained about 20 lbs from emotional eating. And I got a full education on the effects of chemotherapy, radiation and experimental drugs in that 10 months. (And hospital visits and hospice, etc. I actually began working for the VNA of Central Jersey working in their mental health, continence, hospice, and assisted living departments a year or so after she died. Also volunteered for a non-medical hospice place when we were in the DC area...)
||Moms died and our neighbor died. I made a promise that whatever I could do to help myself naturally, I would try first before anything else medically. I had a deep sense of thinking that my allergies that were always brushed aside as "normal" were something to look into more deeply. Strengthening my immune system was a mission.
||Skip ahead a few years (and several tried/failed diets: the Zone, South Beach, you name it, I've pretty much tried it.) Pregnant, living in CA and gained 65 lbs with first pregnancy. Still had that 20 lbs on me from when my moms was so sick. (I took "eating for two" a little too literally!) I also began eating meat again for the first time in 7 years with that pregnancy. I was literally sniffing out barbeques and so I thought that this meant I needed the meat or iron or something. Matt also gained probably about 40 or so lbs. We were so round, how gross, but the pregnancy was healthy. The doctor kept warning me that my weight gain of 4-5 lbs per month vs. the 3 or so lbs that they call normal was dangerous. I asked "Where is this information coming from?" They said it's gathered from avg sizes over the country or maybe even from a broader world average. "Do I look like I'm an average sized woman?" (I'm 6 feet tall.) I told them if I'm not worried about it, don't worry me about it. Still they warned me about toxemia and gestational diabetes, etc. I loved being pregnant - what a great feeling it was. Thankfully I remained very healthy although in this pregnancy, I experienced yeast infections each month and got sick with colds quite a lot. It was after this pregnancy that I began noticing problems with the foods I was eating, showing a lot more allergies again and sensitivities to foods. I had wicked acid reflux with this pregnancy and it subsided only a little bit after the baby was born. (Son was 9 1/2 lbs at birth - was hoping he'd be more like 30 so I wouldn't have to work so hard getting this weight off!) :-)
||At some point in this year, Matt and I looked at ourselves with disgust and thought it was time to lose the baby weight. We borrowed my neighbor's weight watchers books and Matt & I lost about 45 or 50 lbs using their point system. This was a very difficult transition for us because we had done a super great job of becoming virtual gluttons. We were living in CA at the time within walking distance to many a burrito place. There was one place we went to almost daily and ate these unbelievably HUGE burritos (ONE BURRITO PER PERSON! And here we were living in the poverty level not even sharing this monstrosity of a meal!) that were bursting with sour cream, guacomole and cheese. One of my brothers came to visit us and we took him to eat there. I don't think he could believe the size of the things we were eating for lunch. (Dinner, we probably took him to get chinese or something when he wasn't even hungry. ee-gads!) No WONDER I was eating rolaids so much!
||We moved to MD and found out I was pregnant again! (While in the hospital that we stayed in for 40 days as we were looking for a house to buy, mind you!) :-) This time around I craved tofu and vegetables and my weight gain was about 30-35 lbs. This was a blissful pregnancy and the birth was blissful too. My daughter was over 10 lbs at birth and she was a fierce nurser. I lost that 30-35 lbs within a couple weeks of her birth but remember I was still a good 35 lbs still over weight. I'm tall and I've always been told I carry my weight well but I definitely know the weight I like to be at and that wasn't it. (My 20 lbs is like everyone else's 10 lbs) :-) I also had some kind of injury to my hip joint with the pregnancy or birth. Not sure which. I had x-rays done but refused the MRI because I just didn't want to do it. I went to several chiropractors and physical therapists - all but one (mentioned WAY down below there in 2008) said that I would be in pain for the rest of my life. One doctor wanted to give me shots to help with pain because everything was painful (I never took any shots or medications for my hip.) I had sciatic pain down both my legs and an arthritic or some other "itis" pain in my hip. Basically, I couldn't sit, stand, walk, lay down or anything else without great pain. The sciatic pain would come and go but the pain in my hip was super bad. I couldn't exercise and I lost all flexibility in my hip (I was once so flexible and did yoga quite a lot. My dancer friend used to remark that I was more flexible than she! I see flexibility in my body again, don't you worry!)
My daughter continued to be a fierce nurser and only wanted to nurse for the first 17-18 months of her life despite me trying to give her food at about a year old. She was a huge baby and the doctor said that "typically we'd like to see a baby eat solid foods by now but we can't say that she isn't thriving." (SHE WAS HUGE AND TALL AND SUPER STRONG AND HEALTHY) It was at this point that my health became something that I needed to pay attention to more. My food allergies and sensitivities got to the point where I was having hypoglycemic tendencies, yeast infections, candida, acid reflux. I basically would eat lunch and then would be sunk for a few hours afterwards. I could barely pick my head up off the table or couch and taking care of a toddler, an infant and doing my freelance work was totally unbearably difficult. I was visiting my homeopathic doctor quite regularly who put me on an allergy-elimination diet and then a candida diet. The problem was that these are heavy meat-based diets. I told you before, I never really tolerated meat well. The acid reflux I had was terrible and I was literally taking shots of baking soda and water while being treated with the candida diet.
I was on a yahoo group for unconventional mothering. I was (am) totally into wearing my babies, extended breast feeding, aware parenting and democratic discipline, non-violent communication, eating locally and seasonally, community supported agriculture, using homeopathy, making our own baby foods, cloth diapers, cloth menstrual pads (my friend Linda's products are the shit!), etc. This group was great because I didn't feel like a freak (particularly because people were doing things WAY more "out there" than me!) :-) I complained about my total lack of energy, the supreme tiredness, the yeast problems, indigestion problems on this group and the moderator turned out to be a raw food dude! I never heard of this at all and asked her what eating a raw food diet meant? She explained briefly and took an interest in what I was eating. She pointed out all the refined sugars and flours I was eating and asked if I'd like to be her guinea pig as she was hoping to start doing some raw food consulting for people. I was desperate and said "Sure, I'll try anything." Sara was her name and I'm eternally grateful to her. She gave me recipes and told me what to read. At that time, there wasn't a lot of books on the subject of raw foods. I started doing searches for raw foods and found only a few sites. I read everything. I followed her diet and things started changing SO rapidly for me that I actually started eating cooked foods because I couldn't deal with the detoxing and transformation! I was detoxing heavily and was doing enemas to help with the detoxing. That helped quite a lot. I noticed the acid reflux was the first thing to go. I started having energy and was able to make it through the day without loads of naps. Yeast issues totally cleared up. But MAN! I had so much fear around this way of eating. I made a promise to myself that I would go slowly and gradually. I gave myself 10 years to get 100% raw. I didn't want to experiment with my kids on this diet although as I started to feel better, I wanted to give them these delicious foods that I was eating. I noticed that my moods were greatly improved with the more raw foods I ate. It became like a game, I saw quite easily how I felt an hour after eating raw food vs. an hour after eating cooked foods.
||I took an online raw food course to learn a lot and have the opportunity to as questions with Jinjee and Storm out of CA. I figured as a mother of 2 young babes, I wasn't going to be able to take off for a week or two for training anytime soon. Plus I didn't want to shell out a couple grand to do that sort of thing. I was still experimenting with food. I easily released weight initially when eating more raw foods. I was noticing a LOT of addictions I was having to foods and the emotional pull they had on me. I would eat really well and then binge on various things particularly around my monthly cycle. I was addicted HEAVILY to dairy and starches. This was the beginning of me learning how to be gentle with me.
||I fell into a nice groove with what I considered to be a transitional raw diet. I was getting some prepared things made for me which helped me curb my food cravings/addictions and help me feel like I didn't have to do it all myself. I didn't enjoy making food for myself which was different than what I was making the rest of the family so I found that dinners were the hardest for me to eat raw. I took a weekend class close to home with my raw food Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter. This class was incredible and I learned a LOT of stuff that seemed daunting at that point. Dehydrating and gourmet recipes were like a nightmare to me. As soon as I came home, I began making all kinds of glorious things! We moved to VT in 2004 and I was feeling pretty good on my transitional diet and I was about 20 lbs thinner.
I have to say that while I saw great improvement in many ways adopting a raw food lifestyle, I kept really putting it on the back burner. I was afraid to highly specialize my diet. I saw my moms cut out a lot of foods from her diet and I felt that restricting wasn't the way to go. However, she was cutting out a lot of plant-based foods because she said she couldn't eat them. When I was younger, I got tested for allergies and had the same as she did. She had the foresight to tell me to keep eating them but she chose to avoid them.
For a while since finding out about raw foods, I said, "This would be the perfect diet if ever I was very sick. I'd do this diet in a heartbeat." But it wasn't until about a year later that I asked myself "Why would I wait until I was really really sick before I tried to do something to make myself healthier?" (keep on reading.) :-)
||in the first year of living in VT, we were seduced by all of the VT foods - breads, cheeses, creemies, meats, etc. I moved there being about 65-70% raw and very quickly went to being about 80% cooked with dairy and breads as my staple. It was very easy to go back to eating these things and eventually I stopped eating fruits/vegetables/nuts/seeds/sprouted grains/seaweeds for several weeks. Remember, these foods are my strongest addictions! By the time 2005 rolled around, I was about 20-30 lbs heavier just by eating this LOCAL food, the acid reflux came back, my happiness and overall well-being was beginning to sink, I started to feel crappy again but THIS time I began having peri-menopausal symptoms! Hot flashes and weird weird periods and insomnia, panic attacks, heart palpitations and other crazy things. I went to the doctor (who initially said "Wow! a 35 year old who isn't on any medication!") and she then preceded to try to put me on anti-depressants to help with the panic attacks, sleeping pills for the insomnia and birth control pills to regulate my hormones and periods. I said "No Thanks" to the meds except I did take a couple sleeping pills because I was pretty darn sleepy. (They freaked me out though. Couldn't take them.) I actually went on Jenny Craig at this time, too. I was totally in a state of desperation. I really can't fully describe what this all felt like and I look back now and wonder what the hell I was doing. I had a dream that told me to go back to raw foods and this time 100%. Wild, right? Well, I listened and again the acid reflux was the first to go. I lost about 20 lbs very easily, the hormones/hot flashes and panic attacks and insomnia went away within 2-3 weeks. My periods became regular and PMS stuff went away. I still had major pain in my hips but this was totally CLEAR SIGNS that this was the right things for me to be doing. I took a five day class with Alissa Cohen, not really knowing why - I had no interest in teaching and I felt I learned a lot already just by reading, experimenting and taking the classes I already took. It was the first time I was away from the kids ever since they were born. It turned out to be great medicine for me in many, many ways. I met wonderful people there (several of which healed things like cancer with their raw food diets), learned great recipes from everyone and affirmed in myself that this was the right thing for me to do. I was bitten by the raw food bug BIG TIME! For me, it was clear that this was a great way for me to release guilt and shame from my life and my food. This, I felt, was the real shift in the journey for me.
||Began teaching classes, challenges, making food for people, and doing workshops primarily so that more people could do this with me and I wouldn't feel so alone up here in VT! hahaha In 2006, I had a thought about making an internet cafe in Worcester and incorporating some raw foods. We found a house and bought it for that purpose. We started Vermont Fiddle Heads in 2006. Physically, I was feeling abundantly good and healthy although still finding it hard to release weight and still not being able to exercise because of my hip pain. I was going to a massage therapist now who was helping me deal with the emotional stuff that I had until then saved for food. :-) She tried to massage my hip, to release lactic acid or whatever was built up but she couldn't touch it or I'd cry out in pain. Still, I was having fun making so much raw food and was playing around with nuts and cacao and everything that was beginning to come out on the market. I started gaining weight on raw food! Don't anyone tell me that you will starve away to nothing on raw food - I found out a way to gain weight on it! hahaha
I finally got clever and decided to a 30-day raw food challenge with Matt. For years, I'd make various raw food meals and put it in front of him. He'd love what he ate and then I'd ask him if he would like to eat this way forever. He said, "Um, no - not really." And the cycle continued like this. After I got back from Alissa's class, I went to Matt during the summer and said, "How would you like to do a 30-day 100% raw food challenge with me?" He surprised me and said "OK." We did green smoothies from our garden and made a slew of meals to eat each and every day. Matt still had his coffee though - he could only do this challenge if he had his coffee. After the 30 days was up, I made him a cooked dinner and he said, "What are you giving this to me for? I'm not interested in this." YIPPEE FOR ME! YIPPEE FOR MATT!
||Still the same - great energy but still not at my ideal weight and still not able to exercise although I wasn't in as much pain as I used to be. It was still regular enough that it kept me from even walking. I used to try and walk and by the 1/4 mile mark, I needed Matt to pick me up in the car because I was literally crying from pain. I began making raw food for sale in stores and this was such a fun story, I'll save it for another time. Went to a David Wolfe weekend and that dude is hella fun. I was totally glad to hear what he said. I read his book Nature's First Law years ago and absolutely hated it and wanted nothing to do with him because of that book. I told him that, too along with saying how glad I was that he was saying something VERY different than repeating/reiterating "cooked food is poison" with each and every chapter. He was totally agreeable on that one. :-)
Matt was beginning to notice differences while he was experimenting with his own eating... cooked vs. raw, etc. The kids too became more aware of what they ate and how it made them feel. YAY! (Although my kids rebel in such cute ways with me on raw food.) They are such cuties and they eat really really well when at home!
||Started going to a chiropractor who actually helped me with my hip. She was the ONLY one who told me I wouldn't be in pain the rest of my life. I also went to see a craniosacral therapist who was SOOOOO wonderful and helpful. I can't even begin to tell you how great she was for me. I was doing physical exercises that was helping me to be flexible again. I did some hip opening exercises that made me release into tears for no reason. It wasn't pain or sadness, it was just release. I started taking small walks every now and then. Still wasn't getting past that certain weight that I seemed to be stuck at but I really felt like exercise was going to be the key. Imagine having so much energy but not being able to burn it off! This was me!
By now, I was selling stuff in stores and via the website. I was doing regular workshops and occasional classes when I wanted to or had time. I have been routinely showing health and raw food related DVDs and saw Healing Cancer from the Inside Out and then read The China Study. Well, this really brought a lot of clarity to me on so many levels. It definitely resonated with what I experienced with my mom and my neighbor and it made me know that a whole-foods, plant-based diet is the way to go (majority raw, that is!) I don't care if people choose a little (TINY EENSY-WEENSY) bit of animal products in their diet (ONLY IF THEY HAD TO FOR SOME WEIRD REASON) :-) and I quite frankly don't care too much what anyone wants to do so long as they are harming no one. I'm not here to yuck anyone's yum! I'm just writing about me and my family peeps here. The other movie that is a life-changer for so many is Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days with Gabriel Cousens, MD.
We were still working to get the internet cafe up and still just having fun with daily life. I should say that it's very rare to have the things like colds and what is the flu or allergies. :-) These things that were a part of my normal routine of life became so clearly not familiar anymore, thankfully! I was also totally feeding my kids about 60-70% raw by now because there was just no other way about it. I prefer them to be vegan but they eat meat when visiting family or friends, much to my pleas and requests to NOT feed them the stuff. :-) The kids have been dairy free since my daughter was in kindergarten and her wheezing greatly improved by that and my son's eczema went away just by doing that small thing.
I did learn other things: I had a good 3 month binge with raw cacao that was hella fun and probably my most productive 3 months ever. But health-wise, I started feeling a little bit off to what I now experienced as my normal health, energy & vitality. I learned that for me, there's still a lot to this emotional detoxing thing! (more in future posts, I'm sure.) :-) I was also experimenting with various ways to eat raw foods and see if I could implement it like a "diet" - I used a variety of methods to do this...
||This has been a big year for me so far. My friend back in NJ told me about Joel Fuhrman because she loved his books so much and he was her family doctor which I thought was pretty darn cool. He was mentioned in one of the DVDs listed above so I had heard of him. She gave me her favorite book to read, as she bought several just to give them away to people (another cool thing!) I read the book and for me it was super great to have guidelines. I totally took this book and made my own program for raw food that sooooooo did the trick for me. SUDDENLY no more hip pain and I began walking 4-7 miles each day. Like really - within a month of switching things up a bit. Then I started doing the exercise bike again with no pain. Very quickly and easily I started releasing weight - it's been about 40 pounds and counting. My friend Natasha wrote and published an excellent book on detoxing which reinforces what I've been doing myself and she paid us a visit up in Burlington. Matt Monarch and Angela Stokes paid us a visit in Montpelier and totally reinforced soooo many things that I'm doing and thinking and feeling and being. Our internet cafe passed state inspections and now we're working to get the physical store open. We're still doing quite a lot to add more products that we already have onto the website.
Matt also realized this year that he hasn't used his inhaler for quite a while and his exercising and weight loss has been great as well! How awesome after nearly 30 years of asthma, he's breathing full and fine now! He attributes it to how he is eating for sure! YAY! Good for you, Matt! In May we took a trip to NJ and he was using it as a test to see how his lungs would be with the pollen and he was totally fine! Same for June when we stayed at my relative's house with their cat! BRAVO!