Just over a year ago I was a regular contributor on the Rawfu website. I had struggled with raw veganism for two years, trying my hardest but continually failing in my effort to remain 100% raw. I had been vegan for two years and prior to that was sick and overweight. I knew that I had not yet reached my potential. I knew of the supposed benefits of being raw. You know, the usual. Light, clear feeling, soft skin, hair, good digestion, weight loss...etc.
My aunt introduced me to raw foods only one week after reading "Skinny Bitch" and switiching over night to a vegan lifestyle. My first experience with raw foods started with a Victoria Boutenko video. From then on, the Raw Family helped me significently in reaching my raw goals. I was fed raw truffles while at my aunt's place and I remember thinking "raw food can't be that difficult". The next day I made a "raw" cheesecake and ate all of it. I was very full and uncomfortable, but delighted at the thought of stuffing myself with gourmet raw food. Finally, I did not have to feel guilty about eating!
Fast forward two years. I could not maintain a raw lifestyle. I was told by my dentist that I had severe gum recession, similar to that of someone 60 years of age. I was 20 years old. I had only succeeded in gaining weight. My acne was the worst it had ever been and I was still on dangerous medication. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. My bowel movements were painful and inconsistent. I had an extreme form of an eczema-like rash on my upper arms. It had been diagnosed by my dermatologist and I was told that It would stay with me for life. My hair was excessively greasy and I could not go a day without washing it. I also had many white flakes and was forced to use "Head & Shoulders" shampoo. Around once monthly I would vomit uncontrollably after eating. At one point this vomiting lasted an entire week. I had been rushed to the hospital, with no explaination as to why it was happening. I always felt weak and sick afterwards. The vomiting started with my high fat diet. I was not bulemic. I hated throwing up, but I could not predict nor control it. I dreaded the day each month when the episode would start. My aunt (medical intuitive, iradologist, colon hydratherapist, natural healthcare practitioner...etc) told me that I did not have enough hydrachloric acid in my stomach. I tried enzymes. They did not help.
I became an animal rights activist. Later that year, after going vegan I met my partner, Ryan. He did not understand my diet but supported me. Either way, I was not happy with my body or the food I was eating. I would binge and then feel guilty for my uncontrollable cravings.
One year ago I was surfing through the rawfu community, one composed of other struggling raw fooders. One day I stumbled upon a post from Harley. It was the post that succeeded in getting him banned from Rawfu. My first thought was "This guy is insane!" I read through the post about fruit, high calories, and finally saw a beautiful picture of Freelee. She was glowing, happy while eating half a watermelon. I read through Harley's post again and again, not believing that the answer could be so simple. I had spent two years struggling, hating myself for what I thought was weakness. He had posted the 30BaD website, and although I was entirely convinced that he was certifiably crazy, I couldn't help but check it out.
All of a sudden I was thrown into a community filled with ideas that were new and terrifying. I couldn't stop myself from thinking of what a restricted lifestyle this would be!
A friend of mine is attending University to get into the field of natural nutrition. One of her projects was to survey individuals who had followed a strict diet regime for 30 days. I volunteered to try 80/10/10 after reading the book. It turns out that her professor would not let her use me as a study case as my diet was too low in fat and he believed it to be dangerous. Of course I was defensive, and I decided to continue with it. I had one blip in the beginning while traveling in Ecuador. I was not used to the sheer volume of food and traveling with 811, and I was calorically deficient. I ate cooked food. The result was extreme bloating, acne, and discomfort. During the trip I stayed around 90% raw. Upon my return, I began 811 with a vegnence and never looked back.
At the 4 month mark I made the decision to cut out face wash, moisturizers, makeup, toothpaste, and deoderant. I suffered for around 2-3 weeks. My face broke out uncontrollably. This was a very big, but tough decision for me to make. I had always been so self conscious about my skin. I apologized profusely to Ryan (although it was entirely out of my control) for the state that my face and back were in. After those 2-3 weeks though, the acne disappeared. That was a time I will never forget. I fought with acne for 7 years, taking three different medications. In no time my scars healed. There is now no trace of acne.
At the 10 1/2 month mark I made a spur of the moment decision to become shampoo free. It was a wonderful decision! My hair is so soft now. It curls easily without any product. I love my new hair!
In the beginning of my journey I did gain weight. It terrified me. I started a post about it here on 30BaD, asking for guidance. The weight gain, which was only water, disappeared after a couple of months. Steadily after that, my weight has dropped to around 122lbs, where I'm at now at 5'8 tall. My highest weight was 150lbs. I understand that not everyone is this lucky. I believe that I did not have a difficult time losing weight due to the fact that I do not have a history of bulemia, anorexia, excessive fasting, or severe restriction. I only practiced some mild calorie restriction in the past. I have never tried drugs, and quit alcohol some time ago.
I have learned much in this past year. I have experienced the full range of benefits from this lifestyle. The list is long, but here goes.
Disappearance of acne
very soft skin
soft, shiny hair with no grease
fast and strong hair and nail growth
Healing of receding gums
clear, white eyes
no body odour
new lease on life
no need for personal care products
No more vomiting
Very short exercise recovery time
The one benefit that I have not experienced yet with this lifestyle is the ability to awake in the morning with a pleasurable taste in my mouth. Every morning I wake I still have a horrid taste in my mouth. I believe this is letting me know that my body is still cleaning house.
Ryan has been very influenced by my lifestyle choices and has gone from a full blown meat eater to a low fat vegan, including plenty of raw food in his diet all in the past 2 1/2 years. I am very proud of him for making these lifestyle choices!
Now, I have to be truthful. I have included some items that do not adhere to the lfrv lifestyle. I have found that by putting myself in extreme activism situations, I have no choice but to be flexible. I try and maintain a balance between my diet and activism but it is not always possible. I have had to include the following items on occassion, but only in times of dire necessity.
-Raisins that have sulfites added
-Vega energy bars
Recently I went through the most traumatic experience I have had in my life. I survived a 9.0 earthquake and tusnami that destroyed the town we were in and killed somewhere around 15,000 people. I witnessed death on a mass scale and have endured a large amount of stress. I have also inhaled smoke from burning propane, and witnessed the dead bodies of many. It has not been easy. My digestion just started working this morning after a few days. It has been painful and difficult. I have not had an appetite and have been forcing food down this past week. My usual favourite fruits repulse me. I'm working through it, trying to get enough calories to function. During our trip out of the destroyed the city I had one apple and one orange left. I was very hungry. I ate two vegan energy bars, soy and gluten free. They contained oat fibre. I didn't care. They had no negative effect on me, but I realized that I will not be able to be perfect with this lifestyle. I will be heading to Antarctica later this year and I do not know what I will be faced with there.
I wanted to share with everyone a picture that I still cringe over. This was taken at my low point, just prior to going vegan. I was 150 lbs, drinking a lot of alcohol and eating fatty, salty animal foods.
Here is a picture at my 4 1/2 month mark with lfrv after the disappearance of my acne.
Around my 9 month mark with fresh OJ & Ryan
Here is a picture taken around the year mark with my 30BaD gear.
This past year has been an amazing experience here with the 30BaD crew. I feel so grateful to have found this wonderful community. You have all inspired me greatly.
A huge thank you to both Harley and Freelee for being persistant in posting on other forums. Your post saved me from a future struggling with raw food following gurus like David Wolfe. Keep striving to spread the truth about food.
What a gorgeous inspiration you are, Tarah!
You do so much for the animals and the environment and you glow like a goddess I'm so thrilled that I've gotten to know you a little bit here at 30BaD.
I'm sure your post will help lots of others who are just beginning.
Thank you so much Sultana!
I hope to be an inspiration to others who were also struggling with raw foods. I know how difficult it can be in the beginning!!
Thanks so much Meg! I haven't really called anyone yet to talk...just not ready.
I'll make it down to Victoria again soon...I still have your containers! Thanks for lending them!
Sounds great, Olivia.
We make do with that we can. You do not have to be perfect, just do what works for you under the circumstance!
Dried fruits such as figs, berries, raisins, mango...etc are great to bring along. Also, dates work well for travel situations. You may find that you might have to bring bars of some kind along for your journey. We have a great bar here in Canada called "Raw Organic Food Bar". It's actually quite good, with few ingredients, not too high in fat, and I've found it to be easy on digestion.
First thing first, I'm completely in love with your hair in the second (4 1/2 month mark) picture.
More importantly, I'm so glad you've succeeded. You look so happy! And you'll make it through the disasters of the past week! Humans are surprisingly resilient, and I know you can help yourself. Is your partner coming with you to Antartica? And may I ask why you chose Antartica?
:) Thanks Sam.
I haven't straightened my hair in a little while, since going poo free. This is what it looks like now:
He will likely be coming with me to Antarctica. Recently we've decided that we're only going to live our dreams and not settle with anything else.
We will be going with Sea Shepherd. It's an antarctic campaign to stop illegal Japanese whalers from killing whales in a Sanctuary. It's a 3 month campaign. You can read about it here.
I absolutely love no-poo hair, and yours is absolutely beautiful! It reminds me of Regina Spektor (singer, if you don't know her - she's gorgeous)
I'm so jealous that you're getting to volunteer in such a meaningful way. My animal shelter plans could never live up to that! I truly hope you can stop some of the whalers, it's a horrible practice. Thank you for doing that - everything causes a ripple effect, and I know Sea Shepherd will!
Thank you! I'll look her up :)
Anyone can do it...It just takes desire and willpower! Don't compare your dreams to mine! Yours are just as important. Every form of helping our animal friends is appreciated. Where would we be without animal shelters? I'm sure grateful for them.
you are such a beautiful example on so many levels of how to feel good in our lives, thank you for sharing. You are bound to inspire multitudes of others and Ryan can do so as well with his example of change.
It is of course correct that folks compromise when need be, as when one is in an extreme situation w/out "regular stuff" around to eat and to also not feel badly about those times but rather, grateful that decent stuff exists to tide one over.
Know that you are greatly appreciated and take good care.