Now, on to the long version....I am a cheater. I cheat basically every day. I'll clarify what I mean. I would say that at some point each day, at least once, I eat something I shouldn't eat. However, along this journey, my cheats have become less severe in size as well as in level of unhealthiness. For instance, at one time, a cheat could very well have been a plate full of corn chips with a ton of cheddar cheese melted on top, late at night, and I may have possibly gone back for seconds. Now, let me make sure you understand, this has been DURING my weight loss journey. I emphasize this because I see it time and time again in my friends and clients (and, formerly, in myself), the whole "I screwed up, I failed my diet again" mentality. I now look at these cheats as, just that, a cheat and then I'm back on track and it's just part of living.
Now my cheats are more things like cheese on my salad, or fajitas and a few chips and salsa on non-cheat nights. Maybe even a FEW chips with cheese melted on them. Well, that was before I attempted to go raw. Now cheese is almost always off the menu. Along with sour cream and cottage cheese. Dairy has been a hard one for me to give up but the effects of going off of it, combined with the effects of trying to eat it after going off of it, have convinced me, just as I finally became convinced with sugar and wheat, that dairy is NOT my friend.
It turns out that my raw journey has been very similar to my previous journey(s) in that I am taking some important things away from this experience. I have naturally dropped a couple more bad habits and naturally picked up a couple. I didn't have to struggle, I didn't have to deprive myself, I just educated and experimented, two HUGE keys to success.
Instead of trying like hell to resist the urge to eat cheese on my chips because I know it will deter my weight loss efforts, I now know not only what ugly, yucky things can be in conventional cheese and how the cows are treated, but also how I am going to feel after I eat it. This is something I never quite connected in the past because my diet was clogged enough with cheese that I was constantly feeling the effects. Headache, stuffy nose, slightly irritated, swollen throat and fatigue. And, um, stinky gas. Yes, the illusion is over. The jig is up. I fart. Shocker, I know.
So while we're talking about my farts, let's talk about what meat and whey protein do to the air around me. After being off of both for a while, it is almost instant as soon as I eat any animal protein. My stomach starts churning and then my son starts fussing at me (I think I liked it better before he could talk).
Now for the highlights of my experience with going raw.
I first resolved to eat raw for one week after learning more and more about the benefits of eating raw and finally after watching this video: Raw For Life (there are two parts but I only recommend the first part because the second is a series of long, greatly in depth recipes that end with two really obnoxious skanky girls who kind of ruin the video, so do like I do when I watch Titanic and only watch the first part and you'll walk away much happier).
I started with my boyfriend on a Sunday. It really helps to have someone in one's life to make changes with. I am so blessed that I not only have a family that values health and development but now a boyfriend as well who, just as me, is always looking to grow and change as a person. I value this trait a lot in a mate because I have come to understand just how much this can hinder or add to my success. However, it doesn't have to be your family or your mate, it can be a friend at work or even someone you set out to meet online for the specific reason of offering one another support. Bottom line, social support is a huge indicator of adherence to any lifestyle change.
That first day was hardest in a way because we were going through processed food withdrawals (a.k.a. I wanted some freakin' cheese!). However, in another way, it was the easiest because I was right at home all day and able to juice and cut up fruit until my little heart was content.
I'm going to break it down now to a bullet point list of the major things I learned and experienced on this diet.
- Lots of fruit is okay! I've always heard that we shouldn't eat a lot of fruit because of the way the fructose affects our blood sugar. However, the more in depth I read into the idea of eating mostly fruit, the more I learned that, when eaten alone, our body metabolizes fruit waaaay different than if it's cooked or paired with processed food. Bottom line, the water and fiber slow down the absorption of the natural sugar to a point where very little if any of the sugars are actually dumped into your bloodstream. When I eat a bunch of fruit for breakfast (and I mean a bunch, one apple would make me miserable and hungry, you can't be afraid to eat on this diet!) my belly is satisified and I am full for a long while. There is no energy crash at all!
- We should be using the bathroom at LEAST once a day. 2-3 is ideal. Nuff said on that subject.
- Horrible stinky farts on a regular basis are NOT normal.
- Food really can be medicine or poison. Eating a mostly raw diet (which I am still, weeks later, continuing to do) make me feel better in every way imaginable. I am more energetic, I wake up easier in the morning, people are actually commenting on how good my skin looks AND, you guys are going to love this, it is improving my skin elasticity! My face looks younger and my belly firmer.
- I am convinced our bodies do need SOME cooked food. That is my personal experience with eating raw. Toward the end of the day, my body wants cooked food. My theory is that my metabolism and digestive system is starting to slow down for the day and needs foods that are easier to digest. My dinner has, many nights, consisted of things like green beans, new potatoes and lightly steamed kale.
- I don't need to be perfect to see drastic improvements. But now I can't help but wonder what would happen if I could do better!
- Which leads me to my next (and first) point, I am a cheater. On this raw diet, I cheated every day at some point. Whether it was wrapping my veggies in a corn tortilla or the night I threw a little steamed shrimp into my dinner, I am a cheater and that is okay! I can still be healthy and see great results as the cheater I am. And, as time goes on, I cheat less and less....naturally! Without trying! Because, as the saying goes "When you know better, you do better."
This challenge will not be raw food, or even weight loss, specific. Rather, this 28-day challenge will be about improving our behaviors and ourselves in the process. The reason I have chosen to do this challenge now is that, along with be so inspired and motivated by my recent experience, it is the month of my son's 5th birthday and I want to give him the best gift I can possibly think of and that's a new improved mom with more energy and vitality to ensure I can give him the attention and example he needs to carry him through the rest of his childhood before, in a few short years, I release him to the world with only his upraising to guide him. But, in addition, I want to give this to myself and to all of you. Stayed tuned!!!