I will always put myself first. It is crucial, because I refuse to be a victim, and I refuse to allow anything to get in the way of the things I love. I want to feel blissful, to be happy, and to get every morsel of joy I can in life.
Excuses are for suckers.
Stories of how I have changed my life:
This all began at the end of 2007 when I was depressed, suicidal, paranoid, anxious, bored, unemployed, chubby, binging, irritable, self-conscious, quick-to-anger, cynical, and all-around negative. I had always been really low in spirits throughout my life, and every time something bad happened to me, it was never my fault. People just didn’t understand. Poor me.
That year, though, I was at my all-time worst in terms of mental state. In the past I’d been on anti-depressants twice, which only numbed me and then did nothing except addict me for years, and even though I knew they weren’t working, I was too scared to wean off of them because the withdrawal was so debilitating and painful.
I did not want to go on pills again. In the fall and winter of 2007, I would obsessively clean, read blogs, and eat. I lifted weights for exercise. I tried calorie-restrictive dieting and end up binging on cookies and was eating about 4-5 chocolate bars a day. When I’d walk my dog and she would take too long to go to the bathroom, I would lose it and scream at her, yank her around and storm home, where I would immediately collapse into a heap on the floor and cry for how I’d treated her.
I would immediately loathe myself – in fact, I couldn’t stand myself in general. I was the type of person I hated, instead of the kind, animal-loving, creative soul I knew I truly was. What had happened to that person?
This went on for a while and I finally had my ultimate breakdown, again triggered by anger at my dog , who had done nothing wrong. I kept asking myself how I’d become such an angry person, and how I’d become so paranoid, walking around with my keys between my knuckles, always looking over my shoulder as if being followed. Neither of these things had ever been something I’d done before. I either wanted to die or change completely, but I didn’t know how.
I did notice that the more sugar I ate in a day, the more anxious and paranoid I’d be later on – this connection was not lost on me, but to give up my precious chocolate bars was not something I really WANTED to do – they were my comfort and pleasure where I had little else at the time. I knew that I had to, though, and I also was chubby and my skin sucked. I bought Skinny Bitch, hoping for diet tips, and ended up getting a slap in the face. This book was the catalyst to my change, though, as it is a cleverly disguised vegan book which catapulted me back to 1999 when I first went vegan, reminding me of all the ethical reasons to change my ways. I knew I wanted to do it again, but I was fearful because when I had done it before, I was the fattest and most unhealthy I’d ever been.
One night I had another anger outburst. I felt horrified at myself and cried, “Okay, universe, I’m open. I’ll do anything. I am open to ANYTHING. I am tired of being this way! I do not want to go back on medication, show me another way.”
I stayed open. I kept reading blogs, though I never implemented the advice they gave – too regimented. I would try things here or there, but I would always just want to do my own thing. The things that helped me most were stories, and within a few days of my mind opening up, on the last day of the year, I read a little article called 30-Days Raw by Steve Pavlina. I’d been reading his blog for a while, and he had good advice, not given in a typical manner. This was his own trial, and the things he wrote about in this article really captured my attention.
I was very attuned to my own manifestations. I decided to believe the law of attraction really worked, though it never had before (or so I thought at the time) – and since I was SO taken with this article, something really clicked. He wrote pretty much every day about this trial and I would read the articles ravenously, waiting daily for updates. Within a couple of days I KNEW I’d found the answer to my universal plea.
I vowed to go vegan and transition into this way of life as soon as possible. I wanted to make sure I did it right, so gave myself a time-line. February 1st, I would go vegan and give up refined sugars. I had a “farewell to cheese” dinner on January 31st.
Deep-fried brie with plum/mango sauce – fond memories.
During this time I looked up other information and took out a couple of books from the library. One was Raw Family: A True Story of Awakening by Victoria Boutenko and her family. It was a very small book, only 109 pages, but riveting. The health metamorphosis these people went through was astounding. This tiny book was more inspiring to me than any self-help book I’d ever read.
I recalled a few years prior picking up Green for Life by the same woman at the library but never reading it. I wouldn’t have been ready for it back then, but I do remember being very intrigued by it and I was not one to read nutrition books at the time.
Me February 6th, 2008
After a couple of months of reading everything I could find on the subject (blogs, The Sunfood Diet Success System, Eating for Beauty, Eating in the Raw, 12 Steps to Raw Foods , Raw Food Life Force Energy– I’ve read many others, since), I knew more or less the basics of what I had to do – I educated myself as much as possible, and CONTINUE to do so – the information I was learning was so illuminating – when I realized what certain things were doing to my BRAIN instead of just my waistline, I didn’t WANT those things anymore. Things like candy and pizza and chocolate bars had no allure for me anymore, especially once I found out there was raw chocolate – and even if there hadn’t been, I would have given it all up anyway, because I wanted to feel good – for REAL good. I did not want to be a lump crying in my bed anymore, I wanted to shine, and I knew that I had to heal myself from the inside out – that pills were just a cover-up, that it did not heal the cause, and that it was all up to ME.
I knew that it would change everything in my life – including how I socialized and that I might come against opposition from people – I didn’t care. I put myself first. If anyone had a problem with what I was doing, I would tell them “Just watch.” Luckily I had nothing but support, but I still had a lot of people question what I was doing and I did my best to answer them.
April 1st was my decided date for 100% raw. Over February and March, I had cut things out one by one – rice, tofu, potatoes, any treats like Luna Bars, and the hardest to give up, to my surprise, was bread. But I did, and as planned, I went 100% raw the 1st of April, 2008.
Again, the night before I’d had a Farewell to Cooked Food dinner at a Japanese restaurant called Guu, in Vancouver:
I knew what to expect – I knew I would detox. I hoped it wouldn’t be too terrible and I figured it wouldn’t be since I’d done things at a decent pace and I had been vegetarian for a long time and at least did not have to detox animal flesh from my system. Even dairy and eggs had been out of me for a while, and white sugars, but even if detox was harsh, I would take it.
I worked at a coffee shop at the time (though I had only had coffee a couple of times, ever) – there were lots of gooey treats and gross sandwiches, and I still went raw while working there. I worked alone, mostly, and worked a block away from home. I brought everything I needed to work – a big bag of greens, vegetables, fruits – whatever. I brought my massive Sunfood Diet tome with me and when it was slow I would read. I didn’t make fun of anyone who bought the food there, but I really hated serving people that garbage. I always answered questions about my enormous salad bowl. I felt tired and spacey, but knew what was happening.
I got massive, deep pimples in the first week – I was lethargic and constantly in the bathroom. This was as bad as my detox got. I really monitored my moods. I was expecting a miracle, from what I’d read, and embraced change. I did not want to be the “depressed girl” anymore – I was willing to give up that identity, that victim mentality. I wanted to be strong.
After 10 days of raw food, I could not sleep. I WAS TOO HAPPY. I was in tears of joy. The difference in such a short time blew my mind. I didn’t even care about my weight or anything – THIS was reason enough to do it. I had not felt such joy since I was a child – being in love was similar, but to feel bliss for no reason other than being alive was the most amazing experience I’d ever had. I felt like I was on Ecstacy. When I did sleep, though, I slept WELL.
After three weeks I wrote this journal entry:
I have honestly never felt so good in my life.
+ I sleep like the dead
+ I am always happy
+ Nothing really bothers me anymore
+ I have insane amounts of energy
+ I haven’t been depressed at all
+ I look fucking radiant and slim
+ I actually look forward to my day when I wake up
+ Things are more vibrant
+ I realize I can heal myself
+ I am really calm, even if something is irritating me
Um yeah so…this rules.
I knew this was something I would do for life. Initially my plan was to do it for a month and see how I felt – the first week and a half, I never wanted to turn back – why would I?!
I believed whole-heartedly in the law of attraction at that point. While lying in bed that night when I was too happy to sleep, I was actually crying to myself saying, “I get it, I GET it!”
I noticed other things changing. I started attracting new friends into my life. I had a ridiculously beautiful love story happen to me (that’s a whole other story – it didn’t work out, and despite massive heartbreak I still kept to my goals and did not let it ruin me), and I lost gobs of weight.
My four month transformation:
I went from a sun-fearing goth girl (I am still kind of gothy) to an active, hiking, hula-hooping dynamo. I loved to lie in the sun. I was sick of my job and when I was being treated unfairly, instead of whining, I just quit on the spot. I knew something else would come up, and it did – much more suited to me (book-related work). In the time I had free I spent a lot of time outside and enjoying the energy I finally had.
I sought out raw food restaurants and the first one I found, I pestered for a job for two years – I now work there, as well as a bookstore.
Through these places I have made countless, positive friends, and my first long-term boyfriend as well. I used to hate cooking, and suddenly enjoyed spending time in the kitchen prepping food.
One year – notice the skin difference, too!
It has now been almost 4 years, and with a few minor slip-ups (a couple during the heartbreak [one time with alcohol and pizza! ugh], winter soups, trip to Europe with family – I still kept vegan and mostly raw) I am still convinced this is the way to go.
Other notable things that changed: I used to have chronic bladder infections, and I never have them anymore. I have zero wrinkles. Zero cellulite. My sinuses are always clear (I have had issues with this my whole life, especially as a child). My dreams are ultra vivid. I don’t need to use deodorant. I am very in-tune with what is going on in my body.
I am now on a slightly altered path because after about 3 years I started to decline a bit. I wasn’t sleeping well (I blamed cacao, so gave that up, mostly), my teeth were starting to erode (I blamed raw honey, which I gave up – it’s not vegan, anyway), my skin wasn’t as great (confusing), I gained back about 10 pounds (weird) – I had heard about a high-carb, low-fat raw diet which was mostly based on fruit and greens, and yet again was very taken with the idea.
Back in the early months of 2011, I was very depressed again. I was confused at why I felt so low because I was still eating my wonderful diet – I’d done nothing differently, yet I was almost at the point I was at PRIOR to all of this – suicidal thoughts, insomnia, extremely irritable. I chalked it up to B12 and vitamin D deficiency. I researched it and got my blood checked. I immediately started taking a LOT of liquid B12 – my count was quite low. I ate a lot of cacao to at least bring my mood up and get through the day. I waited impatiently for summer.
Once summer hit, I threw myself on to the ground and laid in the sun for as long as I could take it. Within one week, I felt like a new person.
I tried doing the 80/10/10 Diet that I’d been reading about – in the summer I did it for a week. I was sleeping great, and my skin was improving and I dropped some weight (most likely since I was only eating a pinch of salt in a day). At the end of the week I binged on a cup of cashew cheez and could NOT fall asleep. I knew then my problem was high fat, at least so close to bedtime.
I didn’t do that diet again right afterward though I did increase my intake of fruit and was making a lot of kale chips. When I started having weird skin issues (rash, acne, skin discolouration), I blamed eating too much of one type of green (toxins), too much sesame (allergy?), or maybe nuts (a lovely mixture of ground cashews or almonds, mixed with raw honey and cacao) – I stopped eating all of these, yet I still found no answers.
My deep knowing of internal health kept telling me to press on – and really I had the answer under my nose the whole time, but I was so adverse to giving certain things up, just like I was before. To simplify my diet even more seemed like deprivation – I wanted to enjoy myself and be free – it was restricting enough!
In December I went downhill a bit and was eating cooked vegan food for the first time in ages – the catalyst was my work’s Christmas dinner, my family’s Christmas dinner, and then I had the urge for more. I started eating baked fries with miso gravy, and other baked root vegetables, and soups – even with tofu! I still mostly ate fruit but at the end of the day I would crave the hot oily carbs.
I knew that all of these things happening to me were again, my fault, and if it was important enough to me, I would change things.
SO I have. I am now watching how much fat I eat, making sure I get enough calories, eating mostly fruit and greens, and lots of water. I have not cut out salt completely but plan to, and what I still have been eating is barely worth mentioning (maybe a couple of pinches).
It’s been just over a week and the improvements in my skin have been great. My mood is up, despite the rainy weather. I expect to see grand improvements!! And if not, I will keep searching for what works, because I know life, and my body, want me to thrive. To be unhealthy and diseased is a choice, to decline and age quickly is optional. My physical and mental well-being are completely my responsibility.
WITHOUT these things, and without putting myself first, I would not be able to do anything at my best for anyone else. I would be a shred of who I really am. My true self was hidden under a chemically laden brain. If I had decided that I was a “depressed person” and clung to that, always wanting sympathy, I would still be an empty shell.
Other ways I have changed my life:
I consider the diet changes to be the most important thing I’ve done because it changed me at a cellular level. My brain chemistry was #1 priority, and because I can think clearly without any chemical changes, and the proper body fuel, I naturally feel good and clear and happy. As long as I have all the right nutrients, I feel and look my best.
This has led me to require the best in my life. I insist on having a healthy living environment (if somewhere I live is inadequate, I will leave – my last place was insanely noisy, so I left), a healthy working environment (I quit jobs if they become too stressful or affect my mental state or make me angry or bored), a healthy relationship (for the most part, mine is good, though it can be difficult at times – however there are things I will not put up with), healthy friendships (I will cut out people if necessary), and I make sure I get what I need.
If I need time alone, I’ll take it. I have no qualms about changing plans anymore if I do not feel up to going out, and I get a lot of time to myself, which I need. I need sunshine and know that winter/lack of daylight affects me a great deal, so now have plans to travel every winter to somewhere tropical. This will be the one year where I don’t, because I am saving my money for a big trip at the end of the year.
I have made it a priority to write every day, because it is important to me. I really miss surfing, so I may in fact move back to the island following my trip next winter to live by the sea.
I only get one life. If things get in the way of what I really, truly want, I will have to shift everything. There is always a way. You just have to believe there is. Get to the root of the problem. What is stopping you from your achievements? Is it your mental state? Stop asking doctors for advice and seek out information from people who are not out to take your money while compromising your health. Do not follow one self-appointed guru either – everyone has some good information, but I can tell you from experience, a high-fat raw diet is not the answer, at least in the long term. Low fat, yes – better to be low-fat cooked vegan than high-fat raw, though it is good as a transitional diet!
Health is #1!! You can not have good mental health without good nutrition, and to focus on getting good health, you need to want a fantastic life. You have to believe you deserve it. It’s a bit of a catch-22 – you may be so depressed that you think “Why bother?” when it comes to doing something for yourself, but I promise it is worth it. Rock bottom can help, but make sure you go back up and take strength from it. Seek advice from people getting results that you want. Surround yourself (in person or online) with people who are supportive and glowing with health and vitality.
I am showing you my physical changes because I can’t SHOW you my mental changes -you will just have to take my word for it.
My parents say I am like a different person, which is saying a lot. ANYone who knew me before my changes can attest how much I have changed.
You can change, too, if you truly want to. But know that it is ALL up to you – this is EMPOWERING information! To know you have the power to heal yourself!
Another way I have helped myself change is by questioning my thinking. The Work of Byron Katie has had a lasting impact on me and how I view other people and myself. If there is any book I recommend above all others in terms of changing your thinking, it is Loving What Is. This can help you on the path to health, as well, if you don`t think you deserve it.
Go forth and be healthy. There is no other way to live.
For raw food books I recommend, take a look at my Amazon store.