Saturday, October 30, 2010

[Recipe] Pumpkin Pie

Hi there. My recipes have moved to -- my domain. Click here to see my new and improved recipe page.

Raw Pumpkin Pie

My recipes have moved to -- my domain. Click here to see my new and improved recipe page.

[Blog] 8 Weeks 100% Raw

Eight Weeks 100% Raw

Yesterday was the culmination of eight weeks on an entirely raw diet. Not a single mouth-full of cooked food for eight straight weeks.

I don't believe I've perfected my diet yet; on the contrary, I still think it needs work. Firstly, my ideal diet will be 70% fresh picked produce. Everything we eat is the most beneficial when it's directly off the planet. Biological processes begin taking place the moment the plant is separated from it's life-force; the moment you pull it away from it's roots. Just like when you pluck a flower, it wilts. Just like when you slice an apple, it browns. These processes are natural, and excellent for the Earth. However, for our bodies, it's ideal that we begin to eat something within minutes of picking it.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of sunlight on the balcony, I've had little to no success with growing edibles, and therefor everything I eat comes from the farmer's market, Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. I want to stress that this isn't ideal, and that you can't get the full results that the Raw Food Gurus get from store-bought food. Optimal health resides within the most fresh plants possible.

That said, I am still experiencing an array of benefits since I went raw eight weeks ago. For one thing, since then, I have not woken up with stiff muscles once. Not a single morning was my back stiff or sore. I'm really impressed by that.

Another noticeable change is how quickly I'm recovering from working out. I've never done so much yoga, walking and weight-lifting before in my life, and yet I rarely experience any discomfort in my joints or muscles, and when I do is very mild and lasts only for a short period of time.

My cravings for cooked foods are less and less, especially as I learn more and more new and exciting raw dishes. Today I made a raw pumpkin pie! It was surprisingly different from other treats I've made and incredibly satisfying. I suspect it left me feeling so full and satisfied is because pumpkin is not something in my ordinary diet. In fact, nothing in the squash family has been a part of my diet for a very long time.

Discussion with a friend:

My friend asks: Have you ever made/had Tabulee? Also, do you ever use Sugar in the Raw in any of your more dessert-like dishes?

I answer: I've never heard of Tabulee. And, definitely no sugar whatsoever. No xylitol, no splenda, no agave nectar, no stevia, no honey, no molasses, no syrups, no man-made refined-garbage. :D When you don't eat any refined sugar whatsoever, rea...l fruit tastes more and more sweet. Most people's taste-buds are completely out of whack with how nature actually tastes. That said, I was able to make desserts for my family while I visited that they liked without adding any refined sugar; I just used more dried fruit than I would have used for myself. :D So, what's Tabulee?

She says: I just wondered because I'm a fan of unrefined raw sugar myself.

Tabulee is a Lebanese raw dish made of chopped parsley, tomatoes diced really small, onions done the same way and bulghur (cracked wheat, far as I can tell) with a lemon over it. Had it today at one of my fav restaurants that does a lot of vegan food. Completely raw and totally delicious. Thought it was right up your alley.

I reply: The bulghur is probably cooked, although it may not be. It's possible they soak it until it's soft enough and then use it. I've not heard of any grain besides buckwheat being available and edible raw. That said, the Tabulee sounds like a generally healthy dish. Even if I may choose to avoid cooked foods, a little bit of a cooked food of certain things in reasonable portions is likely healthy.

I've been considering including one cooked serving of food per week after December 3rd. (12/3/2010 marks three straight months of 100% raw for me. I want to experience three full months of being 100% raw before I experiment with adding anything not-raw back in.) The cooked things I would be adding in would mostly be to supplement some nutrition I may be lacking due to the fact that I dislike a lot of raw vegetables that I do like cooked.

For example, I dislike broccoli and string beans raw, but like them cooked. So I may have a small side on my dish one night of the week that would include both of those things in a small portion. Another thing I might have is a chili made with a lot of various beans I wouldn't eat raw because I don't like sprouts.

The most major point of being raw is that the enzymes are 'alive' and able to allow full digestion so that we get all of the nutrients out of what we're eating, and not just a tiny portion. Whatever we don't digest gets eaten by bacteria and parasites in our intestines. Parasites in the intestines can cause you to be overweight, underweight, malnutrition-ed, and cause a variety of different forms of discomfort. Everyone has some, since we come into contact with them all the time, but the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) fosters parasites.

By adding in one cooked serving a week of something that contains other minerals I need, but still eating lots of fresh raw foods around it I should still be able to fully digest it with the aid of the enzymes from everything else I'm eating around it. That's the theory at least. I won't know how it works out until I try it after December 3rd.

On the note of sugar: I first switched from anything with white sugar, high fructose corn syrup and so forth to only things containing small amounts of organic naturally milled sugar. Because my health was getting better and because I was paying close attention, I became acutely aware of the effects of everything I ate. I noticed rather quickly that even organic sugars still had a negative impact on me. When I want to sweeten something I use a fresh or dried fruit. In particular I use dates, dried currants, bananas and pineapples the most often to sweeten things. I also use coconut water quite a bit, but not really for the direct purpose of sweetening, although it is fairly sweet. (Yet to people who eat a lot of syrups/sugars coconut water doesn't taste sweet.)

[End Super Long Explanation Of Various Things]

~Raederle Phoenix

Green Drinks For The Win!

Not too long ago I started up a daily food log of everything I'm eating. I'm posting daily every single thing that I eat; breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and snacks, including what I have to drink (aside from documenting exactly how much water I'm drinking, although perhaps I ought to be including that too.) Also adding photos, but I'm adding those every handful of days, not with each entry as I post them since it would be pretty nuts to upload photos to my computer and to the internet each and every day.

If you have not already read it, or if you read it when there wasn't yet much of it, perhaps you may consider checking out my story. I've been adding information to it bit by bit over time, since there is so much information I want to include. My goal is to include every significant health issue I've ever had, and how I overcame it. One item that I recently added detailed the jaw cramps that I used to get, and how there was an entire day where I couldn't open my mouth because of it.

In other, not-food-related-news, I'm planning on taking up the NaNoWriMo Challenge; 50,000 words in the month of November this year for the second novel in my series. And while it's not much of anything to look at yet, I've put up the bare bones of what will be a blog about my art projects in the coming months. Because I'll be so busy writing in November, I probably will not actually make much progress on the art blog until December or January.

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Story: Love Is Investment

The story of my chronic health disorders, and why I no longer have them.

Age 19

At some point while I was nineteen I began reading "The Art of Happiness." I have a detailed entry about the book (click here to read it), but as an overview of the impact it had on me...

I realized that I was dependent on everyone else, and that it was okay, and that everyone else was equally dependent on me. I was needed to make others happy, and I needed them to make me happy.

I realized that compassion for others was not a weakness, not a burden, but a blessing. Because that compassion allowed me to be joyful when others were joyful, and I could create joy in other people's lives and thereby create joy in my own.

I realized that I had responsibility for how I felt. Not just in the food I ate, but in the way I thought and reacted to situations. Every mood, every emotion, every pitfall -- they were each a direct result of something I did. It's as the saying goes; "Don't wish the obstacle was smaller. Wish that you were stronger."

I realized that ego and self-interest were the very things that keep us from getting what we want. When we give other people what they want, we get what we want.

It was also around this time that I read Mort Fertel's "Marriage Fitness." I desperately wanted to save my relationship with my third love, but needed further insight. I learned some very vital things to being healthy and happy from it was well;


Love needs to come first, before everything else in your life. It's not second to your muse, even if you're an artist of some sort for a living. It's not second to your favorite sport. It's not second to your hobbies, interests or friends. That strong loving relationship in your life comes before everything else in your life. Because without that love between you and that special someone, your world will crash down around you.

Love is not something that you get. It's something that you give, and you only have it when you're giving it. How could that be? Well, look at this way: Parents don't love their children because their children do so very much for their parents. Parents love their children because of the investment they put into them. The mother carries the baby inside her for nine entire months. That's a long time to invest into something. Then she goes through pain to give birth; another great investment. Money is put into the baby as well as time. And hopefully the mother nurses the baby after it's born. Before the baby speaks his or her first words the parents have already put a tremendous amount of investment into the child. That investment is love.

How can love be investment? Think about it this way: Have you ever built something yourself from scratch? A computer, a car, or a bedroom? You carefully select the materials you need, you spend the money you've worked for on these materials, you carefully put them together over days, weeks or months. You put your heart into it, you soul, and your sweat. When you're done, isn't it natural to declare, "I love this bedroom," or "I love this car," or "I love this computer." Is this statement facetious, or is it meaningful? I think it's the latter.

Because love is an investment, you feel love based on what you do. When you make your lover a meal, you benefit from the love. When you comb their hair, do their nails, pay for their meal, bring them tea, take them shopping, clean up after them, write them a nice letter or write them a poem you increase the amount of love you feel towards this person.

This is how it's possible to be in love with someone who is mean and awful to you. Because your love is not because of what they do. It's because of what you do. This is also why you can love and hate someone. You love them because you invest in them (either in thought or action or both), and you hate them because of how they respond, or don't respond. It's unfortunately common.

I also learned that loving someone for life has a lot to do with accepting the bad with the good. You can't expect someone to be absolutely everything you ever dreamed of without a single draw-back. This phenomenal book makes it clear that you won't get everything you ever thought you wanted, but in a loving healthy relationship you'll get everything you need and more.

Mort makes it clear that love is not blind. Instead, being loveless is blind. There are times where we don't understand why someone is in love with someone else. We think to ourselves, "Why does he love her? She's not very pretty, she's always ranting about something, she has a bad attitude, she dropped out school, she isn't healthy, she's boring... And he's just such a great guy. What does he see in her? He must be blind!" The theoretical 'He' isn't blind. Rather, he sees something else we are all blind to because of our prejudices. He sees the beauty in her that we can not. The "rose-tinted" glasses that we wear while we're in love is the real world. Everyone else who isn't wearing them is just upset because they aren't wearing them too.

The understandings I gained from these two books were indispensable in becoming healthier. Health is not just physical, it is also metal. Without open minds and open hearts we can never truly be healthy, or happy.

Just think of the most narrow-minded person you know. Are they full of energy and life? Are they happy? Do they have goals they are excited about reaching? Do they smile frequently? Or are they a bitter person you don't want to be around?

Age 20

Difficult Realization

I have a very poignant memory that sticks out in my mind as the moment when I realized the full impact that my poor health had on me. It was the middle of the winter and the snow was piled deep. Henry and his friend -- let's call her Sarah -- invited me to go out and walk around Downtown Buffalo just for the fun of it. Just to be young and explore.

It was a strange concept to me, but I had been out with Henry a few times on similar excursions. He had this concept of "group introspection." It involves going outdoors with one or more people and just walking around and observing the world, mostly in silence. It sounds boring, but it actually is quite enjoyable, especially if you do it during interesting weather, or in an unusual location.

It was very cold, and I bundled up. I wore a lot of layers, the outer layer including a very large puffy black coat. I actually happen to have a few photos from that night, although none of them are from me. But the photo allows me to place the exact date as January 31st 2009 - the day after my 20th birthday.

This photo I took was while Sarah and Henry were ahead of me as we walked alongside an old ship.

Shortly after taking that photo we wandered away from the water front. Sarah and Henry were drawn to a large pile of snow and began to climb up it. I wanted so badly to follow them and have a good time but my feet had gone numb, and I was exhausted. I was shivering. In contrast, both of them had warmed up. Henry had taken off his coat. With their bare hands they made snowballs and threw them at each other. They laughed uproariously.

On the outside I stood at the bottom of the snow pile looking cold. Inside a revelation was happening. I was not normal. I was not okay.

I may have been "better" than I had been my entire life, but I was not healthy.

Before me was an example of what exuberant youth was supposed to look like. It tore me to pieces. I had to call my mom to get a ride home: I was afraid the cold and the long walk through the cold was going to make me sick.

It makes me want to cry even now, just remembering and writing about it. Thankfully, I've come a very long way since then.

Age 20

I left my third love on March 1st of 2009, the anniversary of the House Fire that happened in 2004, when I was fourteen. There are only so many broken promises and angry drunken mistakes one can take from a person before they decide the cons outweigh the pros.

I wanted to get healthier and happier. I wanted to improve my vocabulary, learn new things, meet new people: my third love was not interested in changing. I was very depressed about having to leave him, and for months I wondered if it had been a mistake.

Because I was lonely and depressed I spent as much time as possible out of the house. I went to any event that was free and sounded like fun. Open mics, community yoga, writer's meetings, poetry readings, hacky-sack gatherings and potlucks.

I had discovered, an awesome way to discover people who are doing things nearby that you'd also like to do. I found a nearby weekly free yoga class only a few blocks from my house in Buffalo, NY, and I also discovered a board game groups and a meditation circle.

Because I was no longer in school, and no longer had any form of support (my parents we're giving me $40 a week for groceries, but that was it), I got a summer job working for Urban Roots; a community garden center. Again, it was driven home to me how much weaker I was than my peers. The forty-pound bags of soil were too heavy for me to lift, and dragging them onto carts and then dragging the carts around for customers took a hard toll on my body. After just four hours of work I was exhausted for the rest of the day and the following day.

I made myself a promise that I'd create a career in working on my own terms; regardless of how I did it. Set hours where you have to be somewhere, no matter how you feel, is very detrimental to your health, especially if you work with people who do not know you very well and are not sensitive to your individual needs.

I realized, upon returning to a scheduled life, that being out of school had done a lot for my health in some aspects, although there was an aspect it degraded. It was good to be out of school because my stress was lessened dramatically, I was able to sleep when I needed it and because I was able to take my health needs at my own pace without worrying about time commitments to school. However, having nothing to force you out of the house, ever, is not good either.

Free from my third love (and not enjoying being free), I spent more time outdoors than I ever had previously in my life. My Dad and I started planning a second road trip around the country. Since I no longer had anyone at home "waiting for me" I wouldn't feel bad leaving home for a few weeks.

Raw Food Potluck

When I discovered the raw-food meetup I didn't really know what it was, but I knew I could attend potlucks for free (or rather, for only the cost of bringing a dish) and experience an entire healthy meal.

I received much more than I expected; not just a nearly-free meal, but rather, the beginning of a paradigm shift. I noticed that every single person at the potluck was happy, healthy, educated, interesting, opinionated and open minded. I asked myself, "What is it about these people that makes them so vibrant -- so full of life?"

I was blown away by the quality of the people at the first potluck, the second, the third and the fourth. Each time I found the same amazing phenomenon: Everyone who attended was so happy, so positive. It wasn't the sort of fake-happy that you see at summer camps as a kid, or the sort of plastered-on happy that salesmen wear. It wasn't the sort of giddy-short-lived happiness that comes from drinking too much. It was genuine contentment with life; a calm, relaxed and open nature. The food tasted good, and I felt great after eating it, but the people themselves brought a dimension to it that the food alone could not.

I was not only astounded by the people, but by the sheer volume of foods I had never tried before. Usually potlucks come with the same staples: macaroni salad, broccoli casserole, some dish centered on chicken, potato chips, juice and/or soda, a cheap ice-berg lettuce salad, a chili-dish, a pasta and sauce dish -- that is your typical potluck. These were so far from typical that it was stunning.

The flavors and foods were so inventive and memorable that I still vividly recall many of the foods I tried during those first few potlucks. From memory:

Hummus made from sprouted beans and raw nut butter
Dehydrated seed chips in three different varieties
A coleslaw sort of dish which included raw corn
A mango-tart punch served within the scooped out rind of watermelon
Coconut "milk" made from young coconut juice and young coconut meat blended together with a pinch of vanilla

And of course there were all sorts of fruit salads, cabbage-based vegetable blends, all sorts of creative salads, dressings and dips. It wasn't just a gathering to eat, it was a gathering to marvel in each other's artisan food creations. It was a gathering not just to gain health, but to gain perspective. It wasn't just about detoxing the body, but also the mind. There was true compassion in the hearts of the people I met at these potlucks. I was touched and blown away.

Toxic foods create toxic attitudes. That's what I began to learn. You eliminate toxins from your diet, your life, and your mind and instead eat things that actually clean your body, you start to become a beautiful vibrant person instead.

I knew I couldn't just "quit" cooked food. I didn't intend to. Although, I wanted to continue going to raw potlucks. I wanted to try new foods. I found myself learning more about the raw lifestyle. For every new dish I learned, I discovered there was something I used to eat that I no longer needed because I had something better to replace it with.

I was no longer just eliminating poisons from my diet, but adding things into my diet that truly nourished my body.

Yet... How could I give up french fries?

I have yet to write the next section, but it's coming soon.

This entry was updated: February 3rd 2011

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

[Recipe] Creamy Coconut Vanilla Pie

Hi there. My recipes are moving (and probably have all moved at the time you're reading this) to -- my domain. Click here to see my new and improved recipe page.

Creamy Coconut Vanilla Pie

My recipes have moved to -- my domain. Click here to see my new and improved recipe page.

Friday, October 22, 2010

[Article] Agave Nectar

This article has been improved and updated and moved.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

[Poem] The Most Obvious Conspiracy

The Most Obvious Conspiracy
A poem by Raederle Phoenix: EXCERPT

Speaking of which,
Here is another hitch;
Tooth rot often comes from smoking pot,
As well as receding gums,
But cheer up chums,
It's still better than smoking tar,
That you'll find in every cigar.


It's not just about living longer.
Who wants to live forever,
In pain, or in misery?
I'd rather be history.


What could be more expensive
Then a life not well lived?

My poetry has moved to, click here to check it out.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

[Recipe] Raw Granola

Hi there. My recipes are moving (and probably have all moved at the time you're reading this) to -- my domain. Click here to see my new and improved recipe page.

Raw Granola

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Story: Chronic Candida

The story of my chronic health disorders, and why I no longer have them.


Researching For Answers

I first became interested in reading about health when I was as young as nine. My mother read me health-related articles out of Reader's Digest fairly often and I found those to be the most interesting stories. I did research papers for school on health related topics whenever I could choose my own topic. One was called "The Cause & The Cure for Cancer," because all of my reading led me to believe that cancer is not only preventable, but curable. Another article for school was all about Candida.


Candida is a name for a body-wide yeast infection. Most people don't realize that yeast is naturally always present in the body. The issue comes from yeast becoming too dominant in our body. Yeast flourishes when fed lots of breads, pastas and sugars. The symptoms of Candida are many, and I had all of them.

* Frequent stomach pains and digestion problems
* Skin problems (skin infections, eczema, psoriasis, acne)
* Foggy brain / Trouble concentrating / Learning Difficulties
* Constant Tiredness / Exhaustion / Fatigue
* Anxiety / Panic Attacks
* Mood swings / Depression
* Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
* Angry outbursts
* Irritability
* Headaches &/or Migraines
* Intense cravings for sugars, sweets, breads & pastas
* Itchy skin
* Abdominal gas and bloating
* Alcohol cravings
* Vaginal & rectal itching &/or burning / Thrush
* Hyperactivity
* IBS / Diarrhea / Constipation
* Sinus Inflammation
* Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)
* Dizziness
* Poor Memory
* Persistent cough
* Ear infections
* Muscle weakness
* Sensitivity to fragrances &/or other chemicals
* Sore throat
* Acid reflux
* Chronic pain

The crazy thing about this? Almost everyone who eats the Standard America Diet (S.A.D.) has those problems. And it's very serious, and very life impairing. Let's explore for a moment how some of these affected my life:

Poor Memory

My first love was often raging angrily at me that I "never remembered" anything important. He would tell me things, romantic things, and I would forget them. He would make plans with me, and I would forget. Often I forgot so completely that I didn't even recall after he told me about the event in full.

Frequently when I read blog entries from my teenage years I can not actually remember the events I was writing about.

I forgot school assignments even when I used memory techniques to try and remember them like repeating them to myself, writing them down, and talking about them.

I forgot special events and occasions and continually missed out on things I wanted to do.

It made me look like I didn't care about others or myself.

Muscle Weakness

Beyond not having the energy or stamina or make myself stronger, all throughout my childhood and schooling years I was unable to carry a backpack with books in it without causing such severe muscle pains that I would be unable to sleep that night, and even worse off the next day.

Over and over again I tried. In sixth grade there was so much homework involving books that I literally walked around in constant back pain from the heavy backpack, and actually left the school for home schooling after only two months.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

But at the age of seventeen I knew what the cause of all of those issues were. It was a body-wide over-growth of yeast caused by my diet. The first thing I did (which may have actually happened when I was sixteen) is I cut out all high fructose corn syrup entirely. That first step may have actually been the hardest. There were so many things with HFCS in them. Candy and soda was just the beginning.

No more coffee because the creamer I loved had HFCS.
No more thanksgiving stuffing because the croutons my mother used contained HFCS.
No more of my favorite salad dressing; it contained HFCS.
No more Doritos, or many of my other favorites; HFCS.
No more deviled eggs; my family used Miracle Whip; and guess what's in it?
No more A1 sauce, my favorite steak sauce.

And the list just went on, and on. The frozen chicken that liked, the meatballs I liked, the pasta sauce, the ketchup, the canned ravioli, the granola bars, the everything. I was shocked when I started reading labels. What was all this junk?!

Reading Labels

The more labels I read, the more curious and desperate I became. How could I have spent my entire life so in the dark about what I was eating? I literally cried time and time again when reading labels. How could they put it in everything I ate? How was it possible?

What was hydrogenated oil, coloration, artificial flavoring, mono sodium glutamate, and other things that I couldn't pronounce doing in my food?

After high fructose corn syrup, I learned about hydrogenated oil. A chemical process used to increase shelf life. I've learned since then that anything that increases shelf life of food is a scary, scary thing and should be avoided like the plague. In fact, things that "increase shelf life" may as well be the plague. (The best natural alternative to typical shelf-life-extending junk is lemon or lime juice. It's very effective for use at home, delicious and healthy.)

While becoming aware of those two poisons did improve my quality of life by a noticeable amount, the chronic burps I wrote about in part four continued. Perhaps there were more poisons in my food I needed to watch out for?

At some point during my discoveries about the poisons in our food, I created a site called "Real Poison" to illustrate how much of what we eat is really poison! That site still exists: Real Poison. (Although I now feel that the site is an incomplete guide to health, and I rarely do any further updates to the site.)

Hunting For More Answers

Scouring the web for answers became a daily activity. I learned more and more hauntingly disgusting things about the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet).

Margarine will never mold, never rot, and no animal will touch it.

Cellulose is often added to products to add "fiber" but the body can't do anything with it whatsoever; you might as well go eat sawdust.

Those were some of my early discoveries.

What really made the first dramatic change in my well-being however was when I discovered Dr. Mark Hyman's blog. His blog doesn't have all of the answers I've come to today, but it was the first step to a road of happiness and health.

Food Allergies

In Dr. Mark Hyman's blog, he talks about minor food allergies that generally are not traced. You can have a reaction to something you ate up to three days later. Thereby you can not tell what you're reacting to because you have too many symptoms and too many possibilities for the cause.

In order to discover your own food allergies, he suggests the following:

Stop eating all breads, pastas, meats, dairy, corn, wheat, gluten, soy, eggs, and refined forms of sugar for one week. Then, from there, add one single food item back into your diet for the second week and see how you react. If no reaction, accept the food, and then add another on the third week, and so forth, until you discover all the problem foods.

I tried it for myself.

After one week the burps and stomach pains were gone. My head was clearer, and I felt much better. I did this so shortly after the time that I left my second love (the abusive relationship that involved too much pot), and the combination of quitting weed simultaneously was a huge jump-start to my level of well being.

I felt better than I had ever felt in my life.

What Am I Going To Eat?

Then I hit a brick wall.

"What the hell am I going to eat for the rest of my life?"

I added corn chips back into my diet first. They were filling, cheap and delightful for a time. I didn't appear to have a reaction to plain salted corn chips.

I tried adding milk back in after a month but I discovered that I no longer liked the taste. Besides that, the single cup I tried caused my stomach to hurt for hours afterwords. (This was conventional pasteurized whole milk, incidentally, the same milk I had been drinking my entire life.)

I tried adding meat back in, but my body rejected that as well.

How could it be? Why was I reacting to something I had been eating my entire life?

Intestinal Damage

I learned from further research of various sites combined with reading Dr. Mark Hyman's blog that I had damaged my intestinal lining. Years of eating junk, years of Candida, years of poison that is marketed as food, destroys your intestinal lining. Your gut starts leaking into your intestine. This is called "leaky gut syndrome" or "irritable bowl syndrome" or "IBS."

You can find out more about how that works if you want to on Dr. Mark Hyman's blog here.

The only way I could go back to eating some of the things I was used to eating was to first heal my intestines. I had to continue the strict diet for at least three months for that to happen.

And so I did.

In the first month I lost thirty pounds. At my heaviest I had been 153lbs, and I got down to 123lbs at the end of that first month. I was thinner than I had ever been in my adult body, and I was receiving complements left and right.

People told me that I looked "taller" and "healthier" and "happier."

I was not going back. I decided after that first month that I would attain the highest level of health I was able to attain, regardless of what I had to give up.

Faltering & Floundering

Yet even the strongest of resolutions wavers. There is always a relapse. Relapsing is part of recovery. In my case, I needed to recover from an entire lifetime of bad habits. My memory didn't include any time previous without these bad habits.

Chips taunted me. My mother's roast. My favorite desserts. I didn't even like salad with croutons and dressing!

Discovering New Foods

I couldn't just give up everything I was used to without discovering new ways to eat. I can't stress this realization enough: you can't change your lifestyle or your diet permanently without discovering new foods. Try learning a new recipe every week! I wish I had just done that to begin with!

The internet had brought me so far. Perhaps it would bring me further.

I looked up how to make my own vinaigrette and tried it. It turned out that it wasn't even that difficult.

Making my own vinaigrette may have seemed small, but it was a monumental step towards where I am now.

I didn't learn to boil a pot of water and put potatoes in it until I was eleven. My idea of "preparing food" up until I was ten was pouring a bowl of cereal.

From age ten to fourteen my idea of "preparing food" was frying bacon, frying eggs, baking tater tots, baking french fries, boiling potatoes or making buttered noodles.

At fifteen I learned to deep-fry and that just led to more french fries and chicken wings. "Making something from scratch" meant I pulled it out of the freezer, put it in boiling water, and made meat balls separately in a canned store-bought sauce.

I was clueless about food preparation growing up. And I hated salads since I disliked almost all vegetables. Especially raw vegetables. I had never even tasted a real salad of course. The salads I eat today are so much more complex, satisfying and healthy than what most people think of when they think "salad."

The vinaigrette experiment branched out. Soon I was trying different oils and different vinegars. Soon I was insisting on organic oils, and organic red-skinned potatoes. (I learned that potatoes absorb toxins more than almost anything else and are very important to get organic.)

I learned to cook carrots with my potatoes each and every time so that I was always benefiting from more flavor as well as more vegetable. I became more and more experimental with seasonings.

I took it a step further and found a bread that didn't contain any sort of sugar (they do exist! and they don't taste bad at all!) and learned to cut it into squares, cover in my home-made vinaigrette and then bake to create my own croutons (since the organic sugarless croutons at the store cost a small fortune.) I learned to add more things to my salad; a very small amount of spinach I discovered was tolerable after all.

I learned to make my own muffins from gluten-free wheat-free flours made from chick-peas and other beans. I sweetened them with honey and no other sugars whatsoever.

I baked apples and yams together without adding any meats (as I used to) and discovered I still loved it.

And then I met someone new and fell in love for the third time. I became truly happier than I had ever been previously in my life. I was thinner, healthier, and discovering new things. It was really a great period of my life, and it's what I think of as the beginning of my adult life.

Of course, it was only a brief reprieve from the trials and tribulations in my health. Some of the imporvements were permanent, but many problems remained, and others kept coming back.


Several months after I turned 18 I quit drinking. I realized that every time I drank my stomach would hurt the next day, and that I always acted like an idiot when I drank. It was a great life choice, and three years later, now that I'm legally able to drink, I have no temptation or interest in it whatsoever.

(Age twenty-two, currently editing this for readability and accuracy, and yes, still no desire to drink.)

My intestines had healed and so I occasionally ate a little meat or cheese, but I discovered fairly quickly that if I over did it I would be right back where I started.

I no longer touched HFCS in any degree, nor hydrogenated oils. I had learned that organic preservative-free nut-butter was much more delicious anyway. I occasionally indulged in expensive sugarless organic breads, but mostly substituted rice cakes (plain, not sweetened of course) or rice crisps for anything I used to use bread for. I had discovered the world of organic snacks and treats. Why did people say health-foods were disgusting? They were delicious and exciting to me. Organic Kettle chips had so much more flavor that regular chips. They were more satisfying.

I got sick only once when I was 18. It was a nasty cold I had for a week and a half. I drenched my entire bed in sweat. I was tired often after I recovered, and dizzy the entire time I was sick. But it was just once. Previous to that year, I had never been sick just once in a year.

I was impressed with myself.

I was satisfied.

Perspective Shift

...Until I met someone else a year younger than me who was starting college.

I was year into my relationship with my third love, and I was (for the most part) happier than I had ever been before. I was now able to walk a twenty minute walk without getting sick. I could even walk for forty minutes on a good day. I was stronger than ever before. Everything was good, right?

This boy that I met turned my perspective up-side-down. Let's call him Henry.

Henry was starting college, which made me incredibly jealous. I didn't have the money, and neither did my family.

He biked around the city visiting friends, going to classes, running errands for his siblings or parents every day. I asked him how much he biked daily, and he calculated it out. Over ten miles. I couldn't begin to comprehend what it was like to use my own body to travel that far.

I told him about my life and my struggles and he didn't understand. Sometimes he just didn't believe me. Other times he told me my life was "tragic." He used that word. It was like a slap in the face to hear that my life was tragic.

Often I felt like he was being mean to me, but that was his way of motivating me.

Henry was, in some ways, the first friend I'd ever made in my entire life. My poor health before that had preventing me from being outdoors enough to meet people. It had preventing me from being upbeat enough to attract people. My previous health conditions had prevented me from living. And just when I thought I was starting to live, I met someone who was doing everything, and discovered I had only just begun.

I began to wonder why my third love wasn't as motivating. I began to wonder why I wasn't reaching an optimal health. I began to wonder what more I could do to improve.

What was the next baby step towards gaining the health that other people, like Henry, had?

Continue Reading

Previous parts of this article:

Birth to age 9

Ages 10 to 13

Ages 14 & 15

Ages 13 to 16

[Discussion] Expenses

An old friend of mine said, "I really have to start packing a lunch for my break."

A friend of hers suggested; "Go to Wal-mart! They're really cheap!"

I resisted saying anything for a moment, but after a bit I said;

I can't disagree more.

I'd say don't go to Wal-mart because the company is not moral.

Also; usually when you buy something cheap, it turns out that it's worth what you paid for it: which is not much. And it's true what you are what you eat. You make millions of new cells every hour. Those cells are made up of what you've consumed. Do you want to made of cheap crap? Of course not! You're your own goddess and should feed your body as such.

I say go to the Lexington co-op and buy yourself some organic fruits and some raw nuts that you like the best and pack a mix of four or five of your favorite things in a reasonably easy-to-carry portion.

I pack my husband a mix his favorite greens, fruits, raw nuts, seeds, dried fruit & seasonings in a stainless steel lunch box on most mornings for his work break.


The friend of a friend who had suggested going to Wal-mart replied;

"Well don't you feel special for packing your husband's lunch with such good stuff. You are entitled to your own opinions and I'm very glad you express them in such and intellectual manner. Some people can not (I'm not saying my friend can't) afford to go to the co-op all of the time. Organic food is better for you but it is also more expensive."

Well, of course, she missed half the point. Organic fruit and raw nuts. Raw nuts was the other half. And the other point was entirely silent, which was what I didn't suggest. I didn't suggest a sandwich, or anything containing bread, meat, dairy, and so forth. She seemed to only catch the common 'buzz word' which is "organic." The other was "raw" but unfortunately it's not wide-spread enough for most people to pick up on it. I was tempted to go into that, but instead, I decided to reply the main point she was making, which is that what I'm suggesting is "expensive."

I said;

You know what's ironic though? Since I met my husband and we both went raw, he now spends just as much to feed both of us as he used to on himself.

I get the argument that my lifestyle is more expensive all the time, but in reality I spend much less money than most people. It's a matter of priorities, for one thing. Some women spend a lot of money on make-up, shoes, hair-products, going to hair-stylists, skin-lotions, etc. What's funny is that if you spend your money on eating as healthy as you can instead, you end up not needing any of that stuff, except perhaps a high quality oil like jojoba oil, but olive oil works too.

The other aspect of this is all the expenses as you get older. Medications, operations, anti-wrinkle creams, dental bills, a wheel chair, a nursing home, etc. I'm using my free time to learn about how I can avoid all of that by being as healthy as humanly possible and then acting on what I learn. In the long-run, this is incredibly cheap.

~ Raederle

I was tempted to go on and say more. Because there is so much more.

Being unhealthy is the most expensive thing in the world. It costs you your energy, your happiness, your potential and your goals. It's difficult, at best, to get anywhere in life when your lack of health is getting in the way. When you're too tired to work towards the things you want, when you're too depressed to go after something or someone worth having, when you're spending the afternoon sick or in the hospital instead of with loving friends: That is expensive.

In general, it seems to me that people really have their priorities backwards.

Where is the sense in buying the cheapest possible option when you know the cheapest possible option is cheap for a reason? The manufacturers cut every corner they could to offer that cheap product, and it's not going to function correctly. The cheapest camera will take tiny poorly-lit pictures. The cheapest printer will jam up and fail. The cheapest food processor will not allow you to make delicious nut bread. The cheapest food will not give you a life of health and happiness.

Here is a video by Yuri Elkaim about the expense of living on a raw food diet:

What's really ironic is some of the best things in the world are free (in terms of currency). Love is free, for example. If you paid for it with money, then it wasn't love. The healthiest food comes out of your own garden, which you don't pay for with money. The best garden is cultivated naturally, without pesticides, and without silly man-made contraptions. Everything we eat occurs naturally in nature, and it's possible to mimic nature in order to grow a multitude of food.

The most wonderful things in life require your time, not your money. Money is a tool for bargaining with other humans to acquire their services or wares. (Money is also a tool for telling businesses what you want to see more of.) It's not what makes or breaks the quality of your life. It's your choices, knowledge and priorities that make your life.

You could take all the money from all the richest men in the world and give it to all the poorest people in the world, and ten years later the same people would have that money back, and the majority of people would be back to being just as happy or miserable as they were to begin with. This is because having money or lacking money is not what creates your spending patterns. It's the way you think, and your priorities that determine what you do.

What you don't know is hurting you, right now. For every problem we have, there is an answer out there. And until we find that answer, we will continue to suffer from that problem. Knowledge is the real wealth. And in order to obtain knowledge, we need our health. We need to be sharp in our minds, clear in our emotions, open in our hearts, compassionate in our actions, and strong in our bodies. We are none of that without our health.

There is no one on this planet worth compromising your mental, emotional, physical or spiritual health for. If they would let you compromise your health for them, then they are not even worth a second of your time.

[October 31st 2010]
$31.00 at the farmer's market:

3 large organic yellow peaches
2 organic apples (one pink-lady and one "wine")
1 large bunch of the origional concord grades (full of flavor and seeds: remember, seeds indicate life)
2 organic persimmons (they taste somewhat like a cantaloupe crossed with a peach)
1 large organic bunch of sorrel (long sour leaves; like lettuce with a hint of lemon)
1 bunch of heirloom carrots (the sort that branch out in all directions)
1 loaf of home-made pesto bread (for my husband, obviously)
Half a gallon of fresh-made raw, delicious apple cider (the sample I drank sold me on the thought)
5 heirloom tomatoes
1 pint of organic strawberries
The above is just to note how much you can save, and the quality you can experience when you shop at a farmer's market. It's good for the community, for the economy, for the environment, for your body and for your wallet all at once! You have nothing to lose! Do you really have somewhere better to be early on a Saturday or Sunday morning?

Addition in February 2012:

My husband and I save a lot on organic produce by buying bulk from the Lexington Co-op where we get 20% off bulk purchases as member owners.

  • A week ago we picked up boxes containing the following:
  • 12 heads of romaine lettuce (1 box)
  • 10+ bunches of asparagus (1 box)
  • 70+ kiwis (2 boxes)
  • 75 bananas (1 40 pound box)

Everything except the lettuce is easy to eat before it goes bad. The lettuce is a bit of trick though, but we're making it work.

Good friends of ours grow lots of sprouts and eat five or more cups of sprouts each day. They pay next to nothing for them because the seeds are inexpensive. They use a few big plant lights and a very thin layer of organic potting soil and they compost the soil afterward so it all goes back into their garden in the summer.

They were kind enough to let us grab three huge bags of fresh-cut sprouts weekly for the month of February for $15. The same amount of sprouts from the store would have cost us easily over $100.

In the summer time my husband and I go berry picking, and this is something I did with my family as a child too. We aim to pick enough berries to fill the entire freezer and fridge and also eat nothing but berries the entire day we pick. Talk about a load up on antioxidants!

It's hard to find organic berry-picking locations in western New York, but in other areas they are more common. You pay $1-$3 a pound for berries when you pick them yourselves instead of $4 for ten ounces (or less) at the grocery store for organic berries. And you can eat as much as you want while you're picking.

My husband and I together eat about $19 a day or around $550 a month. We order things like organic nori wraps online in bulk and pay 33 cents a sheet (which is much less than you pay if you buy them in 10 packs from the store).

Including the probiotics we take and the vitamin D and vitamin B12 we take, we spend about $600 total for the both of us. That is more than half of what we usually make in a month. We value our time and our health most, work as little as possible doing things we don't enjoy, and purchase only things that are investments in our future happiness and health.

Related Posts of Mine:

Spending Trends & How They Affect Your Life & The Planet

Expensive Products Will Not Cure Your Cellulite

The Power of a Green Drink

Sheep Of America

The Cage We're In

Quality of Life

Doctor's Agree: Sugar Is Your Real Problem

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Story: Endless Burps

The story of my chronic health disorders, and why I no longer have them.

Teenage Years

I never believed I "knew it all" like so many teens do. I knew I didn't know it all because if I did, then I wouldn't have so many problems.

That said, even as a small child I believed I should be treated like an adult, not like a child. I resented being judged by my age.


By the time I was thirteen:

I had already made my first typed attempt at a novel; over four-hundred typed pages if you include in the the side-stories and second book.

I had experienced the extreme fatigue and pain that comes with mononucleosis four times.

I knew what it was like to feel entirely alone, and helpless.

I had developed the ability to never become bored. If life on the outside was dull, then I'd be fascinating on the inside!


By the time I was sixteen:

I had fallen in love, and had my heart broken due to my own mistakes.

I had lived through the loss of many possessions and my usual way of life due to a fire.

I had been suicidal, depressed, and watched other children do what I could not for my entire life.

I was bitter and desperate.

Abusive Relationship

At the age of sixteen, during my Junior year of high school, I became heavily involved with the wrong sort of boyfriend. I had always said that it wouldn't happen to me when I heard about women being abused... But I didn't understand why it happens until it happened to me.

Firstly, he was charming. He could charm anybody. All the girls in school wanted him. He was a black belt in more than one martial art and he trained daily regardless of other circumstances. I enjoyed watching him train. I enjoyed listening to the sound of his voice.

Secondly, he was a chronic liar. He told me what I wanted to hear. He told everyone what they wanted to hear. He was incredibly good at it.

But he was bad for me. The things he did that were good were things I could not share with him, and the things he did that were bad I had no choice but to participate in. Or at least, I didn't feel that I had a choice.

I couldn't begin to train with him. He was as far from me in physical capability as Earth is from Pluto. He could jump over my head, and I could barely get my feet off the ground. Every attempt to train with him just turned into us both becoming frustrated and irritable. He had no patience for my weakness. And thereby, I only watched while he trained.

I didn't get anything close to his level of exercise, but I did get in all the insane time in front of the television set. I didn't want to watch television; I wanted to draw, read and write, but I didn't dare go against what he wanted.

Worse than just watching so much television, we snacked and smoked pot as we did so. Every single day. Potato chips, french fries, "Chinese" takeout food, pot and television every single day for nearly two years of my life.


I was afraid to leave him.

What is fear? Here is one theory:

False Evidence Appearing Real

After a year with him I had slowly learned that he was a liar, a thief, a drug dealer and in a gang. That makes him sound like your stereotypical thug, but he was much more than that. He also had a split-personality disorder. And beyond that, it's my firm belief to this day that in some strange way, he did really love me. Which made things overly complicated for my sixteen-year-old self.

His Split-personality Disorder

My second love had three personalities. One of which, the dominant one, was the one that went to school with me and was usually present. Another of which was very demanding, but overall a more kind person; someone I loved more than his dominant personality. The third was incredibly violent and unpredictable.

His personalities could have been a grand performance, but I don't believe they were. One occasion that convinced me of the validity of these transitions was when he switched between one persona and another and fainted in the process while at the top of the stairs. He fell backwards and hit his head on the on the landing. Nobody falls like that on purpose, for any reason.


I forced myself to adapt.

The more I hated myself and what I was becoming, the more I drowned my self-awareness in wine coolers, weed and junk food.

Yes, in junk food. Some people don't realize they are using food as an escape. We're all addicted to something, whether it's soda, alcohol, chocolate bars, or dried goji berries. Some addictions are simply much more harmful than others.

If you're going to get addicted to something, make it kale with chopped celery on top.

Unfortunately, I was jamming doritos, fritos, lays, fried potatoes (in several different forms), and rice down my gullet as part of my "coping" with the reality I felt no escape from.

As you can imagine, I developed even more serious health issues than I had ever developed before.

Sleep Disorder & Marijuana

At the age of sixteen I discovered a new way to deal with my inability to fall asleep for hours each night. Weed.

Because my second love had weed in excess I was allowed as much as I wanted, as often as I wanted. I didn't even have to roll my own joints.

At first I limited how much I had. Just a puff here, a puff there. After a year with him my tolerance was up to an entire joint to myself. It became a crutch for two reasons:

The weed numbed me to how much I hated my relationship situation.

The weed made me tired and made it easy for me to fall asleep.

Of course, the weed didn't help me sleep forever. Like everything else, it eventually stopped working as well, although it lasted longer as a solution than anything previous. A little over a year after I began smoking nearly every day I found myself wide awake and high. It's not pleasant at all because you can't think clearly and you know you can't think clearly.

Often I got out of bed long after the entire house was asleep to watch more television I didn't even want to watch.


The first very noticeable change in my health was quite mysterious to myself and to my family. I began to have tiny little burps. This was very odd because I had never burped previously in my life that I could remember. And certainly not tiny little burps in rapid succession. It was distracting; like having the hiccups. At first I would get them every few days for several minutes, and then it became every day, and then it started to last for hours at a time.

These tiny little burps came in such fast succession that I could easily burp forty times in a minute. It was insane.

During my senior year in high school where I attended school for half a day and then went to work (as a web design intern) for the other half of the day, the burps were often continual, almost all day long. People often asked if I was all right because I looked as though I had an endless stream of hiccups. I waved it off and told people it wasn't anything, but internally I was mortified.


I started to wake up with a stomachache each and every morning. Not just an ordinary, "I don't feel so well," stomachache. These stomachaches were so intense that I often cried and huddled in bed long after I woke up. It wasn't nausea, but rather, it was an intense burning in my abdomen. The pain was so intense that it put my incredibly intense menstrual cramps to shame... And it was every morning.

Knuckle Cracking

Just about everyone "cracks their knuckles" now and again. My mother calls this a sign that you need more calcium. Of course, it's more complicated than that, because if you don't have the magnesium to process the calcium, then calcium will not make it to your bones, but rather, the calcium will build up in the bloodstream, which can be dangerous.

I was always cracking my knuckles, and despite what my mom said, I didn't think too much of it. I had been rotating my ankles and making them 'crack' several times a day for as long as I can remember (which is back to about six years old.)


But knuckles and ankles were one thing; my jaw was another. It started to "crack" painfully almost every time I opened my mouth. It made it difficult to chew, to say the least. At times it was so painful that I couldn't talk. I recall an entire day where I couldn't open my mouth at all. I was terrified that I would die that way; that I was approaching a horrific ending to my life. My mother thought I had lock-jaw. I'm not sure how lock-jaw is defined, but my jaw was locked.

Painful Burps

The burps started out as being annoying and distracting. Over the course of six or seven months they became successively more and more painful. I often would burp, but then the gas (or whatever) wouldn't make it up to my throat. Instead it would stick in my chest and begin to burn and burn and burn.

This pain was multiplied by the morning stomachaches because I began to wake up with a stomachache and burps, and each burp would get caught in my chest. I felt as though my insides were on fire from my navel to my chest every morning for several weeks before I finally gave in and told my mother I needed to see a doctor.

Doctor's Visit

There were many times I had been to a doctor only to be told there was "nothing wrong" with me throughout my life. There was the time I was struggling with reading because reading gave me a headache and the eye doctor said my eyes were normal and the regular doctor couldn't find a cause or solution either. It was "all in my head" or perhaps I was "pretending" because I didn't want to read.

There were rashes, fevers, runny noses, the inability to sleep and countless other things that resulted in doctors saying that I was "fine" and "normal" and other infuriatingly unhelpful things.

This doctor visit was different.

I told the doctor how the burps were in the morning and also often after I ate. The doctor took me seriously and asked for me to start detailing everything I ate and how I felt after I ate it. To create a full record of all of my symptoms for a full two weeks and then return for him to analyze it.

He even explained why he needed details. He told me about how some people develop an allergy to seeds and can't track it because they don't make the connection to eating seeds on a strawberry, and eating the seeds on a bun when eating a hamburger.

Tracking What I Ate

I was delighted with this new project and took it very seriously. I typed up everything I ate and how I felt afterward without fail. It was like a little obsession to study my reactions to everything I was eating.

I noticed that the burps and stomachache was particularly bad after eating a large bowl of pasta with meatballs. I happen to know that it was Prego sauce that we used, since that was the family favorite pasta sauce. The spaghetti was standard wheat spaghetti, and the meatballs were store-bought frozen meatballs. I recorded that.

I noticed that I often felt nauseous after drinking milk, and even worse after eating cheese. Cheese in particular set my stomach on fire. I wrote that down as well.

Any sort of meat seemed to give me particularly bad stomachaches, especially my mother's meatloaf. That really pissed me off since I loved my mother meatloaf. I also recorded that, minus how much it pissed me off.

And it went on and on like that. The FUZE drinks which I thought of as a healthy alternative to soda gave me stomachaches and burps that lasted for hours. Most everything and anything I ate made me feel slow and lethargic. It felt like food was an enemy, and yet I felt constantly hungry, and so I ate most anything.

The Doctor's Conclusion

I brought the many typed pages to my doctor stapled together in the corner. It detailed everything I had eaten since I had been there last, and how I had reacted.

The doctor read the first page in full and then skimmed the rest of it. He looked up at me and then said something that no doctor has ever said to me before;

"I don't know what's wrong with you. If you avoided everything on this list, you'd be avoiding everything. It's not that nothing can be done, but that today, in the year of 2006, we don't know what this is or what to do about it."

That doctor, who I wish I knew the name of, gained my utmost respect. He had admitted to being in the dark. Instead of saying there was "nothing wrong" he admitted that there was something wrong, but that he couldn't fix it.

I turned to the internet in full.

Internet Answers

You can't trust everything you find on the internet, especially not when the person who wrote what you're reading is trying to sell you something. The more money they are making off their website, the more they are willing to bend the truth to raise sales. Sometimes these aren't even bad people; they believe that it's better that they have the money and put it to good use. Sometimes people don't even lie so much as they just make things up, or stretch the truth, or even misremember what they've read.

I know that sometimes when I'm in a debate with someone, I often misquote or misremember something I've read. We're all fallible; it doesn't mean we're evil or bad. It does mean that you have to be careful. Outright lies, people stretching the truth, people with poor memory, people with an agenda and so on are spreading "facts" everywhere.

The other problem with internet information is statistics. Even if the statistic is not a lie, and not made up, it still may have no bearing on you. You are an individual human being; you are not a rat who is fed some processed protein extract. So many statistics and studies are based upon a very limited amount of reality. There is no common ground between you and lab animals fed a chemically processed extract of some sort of food.

However, when the study shows something really dramatic, like rats growing hair on the inside of their mouths, then it's good to heed what did that to them. At the same time, it's probably irrelevant what happens when some rats eat "reduced fat" soy proteins vs. "reduced fat" corn proteins.

I didn't understand quite to the same degree then that I do now how much information is tainted, but I knew enough to know that I wanted a lot of different opinions.

One of the first things I discovered was other people who had the same problem. One story that stuck with me was written by the mother of a twelve year old girl. The girl had been burping nonstop for three years and no doctors had been able to stop it. The story scared me, and made me feel as though finding a "cure" was urgent.

My obsessive researching had begun.

Continue Reading: Part 5
The Beginning Of My Recovery From Life-Long Chronic Issues
"Baby Steps"

October 6th 2010
Added information & edited formatting.

October 12th 2010
Edited formatting

October 29th 2010
Added information.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

My Story: Suicidal

The story of my chronic health disorders, and why I no longer have them.

I've had four great upheavals in my perspective in my life thus far (as of January 2011, turning 22 on January 30th 2011).

The first major perspective upheaval I mentioned in part one; at the age of nine. I experienced the world becoming "real" in a sense. Almost like sobering up from a very long buzz.

The three other upheavals in my perspective happened at fourteen, seventeen and twenty-one.

At the age of fourteen an assortment of life-changing events occurred. The most prominent of these events was the house fire. While it didn't have a direct impact on my physical health, my emotional health was a wreck. While a good portion of my things were intact, much of my clothing and other possessions were destroyed by the water of the fire-hoses.

My parents opted to keep the house despite all the damage, which turned much of my life into an endless construction project. Seven years later my parents still live in that house, and there are still countless issues both functional and cosmetic leftover from unfinished projects that began after the fire.

And when I say it made my life into an "endless construction project," I really do mean that.

Social Ramifications

I was aware at that point in my life that many of my social issues stemmed from spending so much of my life being sick. While I was developing my creativity and learning how to keep myself occupied during the long hours alone in my bedroom, other children were developing friendships.

The lack of friends in my life made me passionately obsessed with finding love and continually disappointed. The lack of good health found me in sour spirits and quite depressed from the age of nine to fourteen. The house fire was like a final blow to my sanity, yet in many ways, it was a new beginning.

Driven by my reckless abandon, I started walking a lot more than ever before at fourteen. I was a sophomore that year, and the school I was attending was much closer to home than the school I had attended freshmen year. I rarely walked to school, but often I walked home. It was just enough to begin to build up some sort of stamina.

That year was the first in my life where I ever habitually walked seven blocks at a time. In the previous years, that same walk would have easily made me sick.

First Love

I believe that this change was brought about by two things. At the age of fourteen I was learning to avoid high fructose corn syrup, and also because I had discovered the power of romantic love. I was driven to become a better person for the boy I had fallen for, unlike the previous boyfriends who I had never reached a level beyond infatuation.

Sleep Disorder

After the fire, and falling fully in love for the first time, I spent each night talking with my first love in detail about anything and everything that came to mind. For a time, this caused me to sleep better and more easily than I had since before I was nine years old. Unfortunately, it wasn't a permanent fix, but only a five or six month reprieve from my difficulty falling asleep.

Social Distance From Peers

Between the new awareness brought on by love, and the realities I faced due to the fire, I grew even more distant from my peers.

Looking back on it, I don't think it was a bad thing at all. Teens should be striving to become successful, happy, healthy adults. They shouldn't be striving to impress each other.

Despite starting to gain a small level of stamina and a much higher level of awareness, that year was littered with strange health problems.

Extreme Fatigue

I was so severely fatigued for three months of that year that I came home from school and went to sleep and didn't get up until morning. I was getting over fourteen hours of sleep a night, and regardless of all other factors I was still tired during the day. It was like mono all over again except that my glands were not swollen, and my spleen didn't hurt.

What's strikes me as really odd is how often I couldn't sleep at night, but fell asleep so easily throughout the day. In this case, I was falling asleep directly out of school; sometimes immediately upon getting home, and sometimes within an hour of getting home after eating a snack, showering or whatever else I made myself do before giving in to sleep.

I have my theories about this, but at the time I was clueless as to the cause, so I'll leave this topic to rest once again until further along in this journey.


Often during this period of my life I was dizzy. Dizziness has always been something I have experienced in excess throughout my life, but generally only when standing up from sitting, getting out of bed, or otherwise trying to throw my body into motion after being still. While I was fourteen I started to experience it while standing in place or walking on a fairly regular basis.


I would not have been considered "obese" at any point in my life by general standards. But that doesn't mean I didn't have excess unattractive weight on my body. Here a couple of pictures I would not ever show anyone if it were not for the sake of the cause I'm writing this for now:

Notice the doubled chin. At the age of 14! That is not normal folks. I also think these two pictures show how unhappy I was. You can see it in my eyes.


One particular memory I have of this time period is thus:

I was standing in the hallway within the temporary apartment we lived in for the nine months following the attic fire. We couldn't live in our house while the construction went on daily, while the entire house smelled of smoke and rot, when all the wooden floors were warped and the drywall walls were crumbling.

My mother wasn't far from me, and I was trying to talk to her, but finding it difficult. Every time I tried to speak I felt a lump in my throat rise. I wasn't upset about anything in particular, but I felt like it took every part of my being not to collapse into tears.

Finally I stammered, "I don't know what's wrong with me. Lately I just feel like crying... All the time. I'm not even upset about anything... But I can't help but cry."

She looked me in the eyes with concern. "I can see that even now you look like you're going to cry."

I nodded. I remember how frustrated I felt in that moment, and also how embarrassed I felt to admit it. It felt shameful that I wanted to cry when there was nothing to cry about.

If you had asked me at the time if I was depressed, I would have said that I wasn't. Looking back throughout my life, I now know that I was depressed for much of it up until I was seventeen.

At the time of that particular incident I was so hormonally out of balance that I could have been prescribed a heavy-duty anti-depressant had I wanted one.

Yet I didn't want an anti-depressant. I knew even then that there had to be some other solution. Taking thirty pills a day couldn't be the answer. If ancient people and animals could live healthy lives without pills, then so could people. The question was, how?

My first love did a lot for me. He taught me to respect myself and a lot about self control. I learned that I could be valued by someone besides my parents. It was an enormous change in my perspective to get to know someone so deeply. We had no secrets from each other. We did not go to sleep at night until we had worked out our differences. Neither of us could sleep on an argument; it had to be resolved so that the next day we could start fresh.

Yet as mature as I was for my age, I wasn't yet capable of the responsibility that comes with a lifelong commitment. I made serious mistakes, and for those mistakes, my first love left me.

I was downright suicidal.

Yet, obviously I didn't let my morbid urges get the best of me: I'm still here to write this today. Over time I became even more determined to be the sort of person who would never get dumped. I would never be the one who got their heartbroken again. I would be the heart-breaker. That was the resolve I was left with. The resolve to become the best person I could be, the sort of person anyone would be a fool to leave.

October 4th, 2010
I edited and added to part one and part two yesterday and began part three. Today I've added quite a bit to this entry. Expect several more to come before I reach the end of the journey to my present day level of energy and health.

October 5th 2010
I've edited and added to part three, and am beginning part four now.

October 6th 2010
Added more information about several of the issues I faced at the age of fourteen.

January 28th 2011
Edited text for flow and readability. Added banners.