Saturday, January 15, 2011

[Blog] "Fake" Health Foods & Status Update

I'm so excited! When I take off my clothes and look in the mirror I can't believe what I see. My stomach is so flat, and it's starting to have this little line going down the center... The beginnings of definition of my abdominal muscles! I also notice when I do a quick wash-up in the sink in front of the mirror that my arms are transforming in shape. My arms used to have a very uniform noodle-shape that sagged a little. More and more, especially as I'm moving around and lifting my arms up, I can see muscles beginning to define the shape, instead of limp fat.

Note: Photos of my progress coming within a couple of weeks.

This is very exciting for me because before this I wasn't able to build muscle at all. I tried at the age of ten (as I may have mentioned in that part of my life story article) to start doing daily sit-ups, push-ups, crunches, cardiovascular exercises and dancing. I was tired of being the weakest in the class, the slowest runner, the first to be too tired to go on, the last person tagging along on a class hike, the only person sweating, exhausted and miserable during gym, and so forth. I wanted to be truly helpful when carrying in the groceries with my mom, not just someone in the way in the hall way dragging a single bag with both hands.

I failed. I failed time and time again. If I did "only a little" exercise, I saw no results. If I did a lot, I became ill. No kidding. Just a little working out, walking, running, etc, was too much exertion for me. I didn't know how to take "baby steps" because it was hard to understand where my limit was. My limit was so far, far beneath normal that everyone always tried to push me too hard, disbelieving that I was really that weak. And so, every time I made a tiny, itty, little bit of progress... wham! ...I'd be sick again, usually for at least a week, often two weeks. I'd lose all the progress I had just made.

I was discouraged by the time I was twelve after two years of trying to get stronger with little to no result. I didn't try much to get fitter again until I was fourteen. I started trying to run a little bit every day. At first I could only run half a city block, and I mean small city blocks. That's a very, very short distance to be able to run, especially for a fourteen year old. (I'm sure I mentioned some of that in that section of "My Story") I knew a lot more about "my limit" at fourteen and I only ran if I was warm enough, if I wasn't too warm, if I was well rested, etc. I made sure I didn't let anybody push me. I was able to run for a full block at the age of fifteen.

Unfortunately, some emotional upheavals and further illnesses made me lose the progress I had started, once again. At the age of sixteen I actually went the opposite direction and gained ten pounds. I went from border-line pudgy at 140lbs to 153lbs that year. Are you getting the picture? I didn't put on any muscle my entire life. Not at age seven, not at ten, not at sixteen. When I lost weight at seventeen, I still didn't put any muscle on. I lost weight because I took meat, dairy, bread, pasta, and highly refined sugars out of my diet, not because I was successfully working out tons. In fact, I lost the weight while I was deeply engrossed in video games and not getting any exercise at all.

I've grown accustomed to being stationary. I learned as a child that psychical exertion led to illness. Sports were never fun for me. Things that other people enjoyed were so physically exhausting for me that they felt more like torture than anything else.

And now... Now there is this little tiny line going down the center of my tummy and it is the most beautiful line I've ever seen on the planet. The joy in my heart is so deep. It sounds almost like vanity, but it means so much more than my appearance is improving. It means I'm becoming more capable. I'm getting stronger. And yes, also more beautiful. It's so gratifying to be finally making real progress that I can keep and continue to build from year after year. It was so disheartening to have to keep losing my progress, but now that I know what is and isn't good for me, I can just keep going.

Blackberry Smoothie

My entire life is brighter.

I'd like to move forward onto answering some excellent questions I was asked recently.

An acquaintance of mine, Sara Elizabeth, sent me the following message:

"I'm kinda ignorant about living food. What does that mean exactly? Is it like the yogurts with living bacteria? I'm curious now since I saw you post about raw and living foods. Isn't it a lot more expensive? Or is that the fake healthy stuff the stores sell that are more expensive?"

My reply:

"Raw" and "Living" refers to anything that is uncooked. A plain apple is a live, living food. You can plant it and get a tree. If you cook the apple, you no longer can grow a tree from it.

Actually, I find I spend just as much, or less, on food than I did before I went on a raw diet. Raw fresh vegetables and fruit -- even organic, which is generally all I buy -- costs a lot less than pre-packaged garbage that leaves you hungry, sick, depressed, overweight, and overall does nothing for you but hurt you.

For example, Ramon noodles are "cheap" but they offer no nutrition and flours, pastas, etc, are actually harmful so you end up paying for it later in lost time, medical bills, medications, and misery. Misery certainly is a high toll to pay for anything you eat, I believe.

The way I used to ate left me feeling awful all the time, which is why I'm so die-hard about food now. (I used to eat a lot of Ramon noodles, by the by.) It's such a huge difference in my life to have the energy and time to do the things I want! Which is why I've become a health coach. I want other people to stop feeling as miserable as I was and discover how many problems just disappear when you love how your body feels and looks.

Imagine if you never have a stomach ache, never had a headache, never spent two weeks sick with the flu, never woke up covered in pimples or dry spots, never lost three days to feeling depressed in front of the TV, never was "too tired" to do what you planned to do that day, imagine your cramps and/or PMS was reduced or went away entirely... That's the difference food has made for me, and it can do the same for anybody if they have the right information.

You're right that there is a lot of expensive "fake" "healthy" stuff out there that is just as bad as junk food. I read the label on some "healthy diet" cookies in the store the other day (just because I was curious, I expected they'd be junk), and they had aspartame and maltodextrin in them which are both highly toxic to the body. They didn't contain anything worth consuming at all. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I can't imagine how those cookies could have been considered "healthy" or "natural" by anybody.

As for yogurts and bacteria. I don't eat milk-based yogurt because I don't eat dairy at all, and it's hard to find it raw and full of natural probiotics. Most yogurt does not actually contain the probiotic (live cultures) that it claims to have.

A "live food diet" is unrelated to the "live cultures" within yogurt. The "live cultures" that are present in yogurt before it is pasteurized (cooked) to death are bacteria that is good for the body.

After it is pasteurized all the enzymes are bound up and become indigestible, and the probiotic live cultures are killed. Besides that, most yogurt is loaded with corn syrup or sugar, so it's double-bad for you. And most of the time it comes from a cow raised on genetically modified corn and genetically modified soy which means the cow milk to begin with was junk. (Yogurt was also on the list of things I used to eat when I was overweight, depressed, constantly fatigued, having indigestion every morning, etc.)

The yogurt I make now is from young coconuts, which basically means I'm just growing friendly bacteria in the coconut which makes it creamy, slightly effervescent, bubbly, and a somewhat sour flavor that is distantly related to the yogurt taste of cow-milk-yogurt.

"Good bacteria" is naturally present within a healthy body, but due to people taking antibotics to fight diseases, or weakened immune systems that let bad bacterias take over, it's very common in today's society to find that you don't have enough of the natural good bacteria which are also known as probiotics or live cultures.

So to quickly summarize all of that to directly answer you questions:

"Living Food" and "Raw Food" both mean the same thing: Uncooked food -- spinach, broccoli, mangoes, apples, bean sprouts, coconuts -- all in the natural "alive" state.

Yogurts with healthy live cultures are different, and most cow-yogurt is not actually what it claims to be. Most cow-milk based yogurt is essentially junk food.

It isn't a lot more expensive to be on a raw food diet if you're doing it right. It is possible to spend a lot of money while being a raw foodist just like it's possible to spend a lot if you're not a raw foodist. It all depends on how sensible you are with your budget and your nutritional intake.

The stuff I eat certainly isn't the "fake" stuff. If anything, I eat more real food than most anybody I've ever known up until recently. I'd describe "fake" food as being the food made in laboratories. The raw food diet (also known as the sunfood diet and rawvegan diet) is all about eating what nature made, instead of eating what some chemical companies threw together to make money.

~ Raederle Phoenix

James left a comment on my last blog post that went like this:

Hi Raederle. Great documentation of your raw food and exercise. Did you attend any raw food support groups or raw food meetups? How did you keep up your motivation?

Thanks and have a happy and healthy New Year!

My reply is as follows:


That's an excellent question!

I discovered the raw food diet through raw food potlucks. I was struggling both emotionally, physically and financially and I was very open to trying something new in my life. I didn't know anything about what "raw food" was when I first attended a potluck. I was so clueless -- I brought a few apples.

I never thought when I first went to one of those groups that I would ever be a raw foodist. I just loved all the new foods.

When I first started attending these "raw potlucks" I was surprised by a few things: everybody looked healthy, everyone at the meeting was happy and smiling, nobody was particularly negative, and there was so much intelligent conversation. I was completely blown away by what great company it was. It's rare to go to a large gathering of people where there is nobody present with a sour disposition.

I went back to another potluck and then another and another because I loved the conversation and the food. Slowly a change began to happen. I started to want my life to be like the lives of these new people I was meeting. I wanted my daily meals to look like the meals I was having at these potlucks.

I discovered the raw food diet at the potlucks in Buffalo, New York. After I moved in Walnut Creek, California in April 2010 I joined the groups for raw food in this area and met new people. Again, lots of new recipes, lots of new ideas, and lots healthy great people. I was convinced. I started trying to incorporate the new recipes I learned into my day to day life.

I've had serious digestive issues, as I talk about on the part of my site called "My Story" and I've been overweight, I had constant burps, headaches, dizziness, etc, and I was getting sick for weeks at a time since I've been a small child.

Through diet changes before I discovered the raw diet I made progress, but until I switched to a 99% raw food diet (and I really mean 99% literally), on September 3rd 2011, I couldn't honestly say that I was a "healthy" person. Progress isn't enough. I need success. And with the raw diet, I've found it.

I don't need more motivation anymore. At first, my husband's support and the raw potlucks were needed to keep me interested in "making the switch" but now my own results are my motivation. I see my arms and stomach starting to look toned instead of fat and I know there is no way I'll ever go back. I see that I get so much more done now because I don't lose time being sick, tired, depressed or "not in the mood" to accomplish things.

I see that my entire life is better and that is more than enough motivation.

Merry 2011

~ Raederle

Misa in Red
Digital Painting by Raederle Phoenix
Click to read the blog entry about this artwork and to be able to view larger.

Speaking of progress... I've been going through my incomplete digital painting projects and finishing them so I could add them to my portfolio.

I've finished three projects that I've had sitting about for a year more, the first of which being a painting I've dubbed, A Fine Evening, the second being a much more impressive and time-intensive piece called Flaming Sprites, and the third of which being my first (currently my only) piece of fan art, pertaining to Death Note (an anime series), Misa in Red.

Another current project I'm working on is the planning for a road trip to film a documentary. The current status of plans, who is involved, who will be interviewed on the trip, etc, will always be available at that link. I've been writing a lot of letters asking raw foodists, health gurus, etc, if they'd like to be interviewed for the documentary, and I'm starting to see a few replies. Anyone who definitely wants to be involved will be mentioned on the documentary site.

Almost as a whim, I've decided to organize all of my poetry online into one comprehensive site, including my angst-y teen poetry which may provide a good laugh for some.

If you have not already friended me on my facebook, please do so. I've started adding "Notes" there when I have something small to say but don't want to make a full blog entry here about it, as well as continually posting updates there for anyone who is interested in my daily artistic and food-related activities.


~ Raederle Phoenix

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