My name is Shawn Luca and I'm living in Florida now. I lived and worked in the DC area for most of last year.
I started taking charge of my eating habits at the beginning of 1995 when I picked up Fit for Life (a friend gave it to me). Just by eating only fruit before noon, my mornings went much more smoothly (physically). I had had many problems dealing with the traditional breakfast for a long time before that.
So I started out with the fruit-before-noon thing about the time I went to live in Japan, and I lived there from January to July 1995. I lost nearly 20 pounds (from 155 lb. to 135 lb.) while in Japan, for two reasons (I think): the food is lighter than American food (and I was eating lighter in the morning), and the food is much more expensive than American food, and I wasn't working, so I was eating less. I'm not fixated on weight, nor am I that concerned with it. I'm just mentioning it because I goes along with my story. I think I gained back about 8 pounds (142) between July and September (in the U.S. and Central America). When I had gotten back from Japan, everybody commented on how thin I was, but it had never occurred to me, not even once, that I would lose weight in Japan.
Then, when I was in Guatemala in September of that year, I decided to become a vegetarian. (I started on September 1st.) I had considered it for many years, but always thought that it would be so hard to do. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it actually was to become a vegetarian. During the next four months, I phased out dairy, eggs, and alcohol. This was much harder than becoming a vegetarian because it seemed to limit my choices considerably (and I used to love ice cream).
Around November of 1995, I started reading books by Norman Walker, including Fresh Vegetables and Fruit Juices and Become Younger. (I wasn't actually thinking about becoming younger since I was only 28 at the time, but you'll see later how that became a pleasant side effect.) Through reading his books, I was first exposed to the idea of eating all raw fruits and vegetables for the sake of one's health. This was a totally new concept to me, and it was kind of scary.
So, in January of 1996, I got a small weight machine and started working out regularly on February 1st. (I seem to stick to things better if they're pegged to a set time frame.) My bodyfat (and my weight, to some extent) must have plummeted in February and March, because many people were telling me that I looked much thinner, and healthier. I remember that I had gotten two pairs of dress pants the previous October, and by March they were HUGE on me (around the waist). I think I lost about 2 inches from my waist. (Don't ever let anybody tell you that you won't lose weight by lifting weights.)
I finally decided to try going all-raw, and I planned to do it starting April 1st. So I did it, and it wasn't so bad, until the tenth day, when I got my first real craving (while riding the metro home from work). It was a HUGE craving, for bread or cake (my biggest weakness--cooked starches). Unfortunately, there was a 7-11 on the way home from the metro station, so I stopped there and got some pretzels and cookies. I ate the cookies walking home, and then I ate the pretzels at home. I remember feeling the salt from the pretzels burning my throat as they went down, something I had never (consciously) experienced before. (Pretzels used to be one of my faves.) But I ate the whole box, anyway. That was my first big setback in eating raw. I tried it again that month, and again in July. I tried it three times last year, not making it beyond the 10-day mark. It was like this big barrier that I had to bust through.
The third time I did 10 days all-raw (in July), I was going to fast for three days at the end to carry me over the hump. But that was quite a disappointment, too. On the first fasting day, I worked (which wasn't a good idea). I made it through the morning and afternoon at work OK, but when I got home, it was so strange, the concept of not eating anything. And by this time, it seemed that my energy level had started to plummet (I'm mean quickly) and I felt like I was losing control of my body, of my surroundings, of my life. I didn't like that feeling, of being out of control, so I ended up eating two bags of frozen veggies (steamed). End of all-raw trial #3.
In September, I finally got control of myself, and decided that I needed a short-term goal, with a light at the end of the tunnel which I could clearly see. I started all-raw again on Sept. 21, and decided that I would go for two whole months (up until Thanksgiving) and see how I liked it. It wasn't permanent, it was just a temporary trial period. If it went well, I could continue all-raw. If not, I could quit, and Thanksgiving was the perfect time for that.
Well, this time turned out to be a big success. I realized that the first time all-raw was really tough, but each successive time was a little easier. So by the fourth time, it was almost old hat to me. I remember losing my taste for cooked foods, and when I would eat a little of something cooked by mistake, my mouth could tell immediately, from the texture, the mushiness, or the lack of taste. It's amazing when you realize that raw foods literally burst with flavor and have so much texture in each bite. I guess that's why it's easy to overeat them sometimes, especially at the beginning.
It was about then that I decided to stay on the raw foods regime, because I was feeling better than ever. I was actually feeling better about myself, and for the first time in my life, I was feeling NO guilt whatsoever about my food. That's quite a feeling. I also felt like I was free from all the propaganda and lies of the food-processing and drug industries. It's amazing, when you step back from it all, how stupid people are to believe everything they say and to consume their products religiously. I also felt like I was living on a sort of higher plane, above all the cooked-food addicts. (And I never even sought out spiritual gains from this.) Little did I know that I was still a cooked-food addict (albeit recovering).
So, I went to Thanksgiving with my family in Ohio. I arranged to have Thanksgiving dinner with some cousins who are into NH, and we had an incredibly relaxed (and healthy) dinner. They still eat some cooked, but mostly raw. So for dinner, I made some raw dishes, and she made a big salad. But her daughter made some grape leaves stuffed with rice (baked, I think). Just to be polite, I served myself one, took one bite, and it was totally insipid. It had NO taste whatsoever and NO texture whatsoever. But the only thing I missed about Thanksgiving was the pumpkin pie. I realize now that I'm addicted to sugar (I think most people are), so I tried my cousin's pumpkin pie. Granted, it was made out of whole ingredients (or so I reasoned to myself), like spelt flour and unrefined sugar. But it was cooked, and I really liked it. I did fine after that until Christmas.
After T-day, I spent a week at my family's house in Florida (where I am now). They are definitely junk-food junkies, but I resisted the whole week and ate raw. Then I went to Brazil and was surprised to find that people didn't have a problem with my all-raw diet. They might have found it a little strange, but then foreigners are supposed to be strange, aren't they? That's when I discovered the joy and wonders of life in a tropical country. This was the end of spring there, and most of the fruits in the trees were ripe. I was in fruit heaven! I discovered how wonderful fruit picked at its peak of ripeness can be. We don't seem to get much of that here. I was amazed to discover how flavorful the bananas were, and that they had all these different kinds of bananas, each with its own flavor. The chiquita bananas that we get here don't even compare.
I did fine until Christmas rolled around. Everybody was eating this special kind of Christmas bread that they eat there, called Panettone. I was curious to try it, so I had a piece on Christmas Eve (which turned into a few pieces). Then I decided to give up all-raw on Christmas day, because it was Christmas, after all, and you were supposed to enjoy yourself, weren't you? So I ate almost all of the same cooked glop that everybody else ate for Christmas dinner (minus the meat and dairy foods). I felt so stuffed and bloated afterwards. That was the first time in a long time that I had to take a few hours' nap after a meal. During the next two weeks, I ended up eating bread, rice, and cookies from time to time, along with my raw foods. I kept telling myself that I'd get back to all-raw tomorrow, but it never happened. That's when I realized that I was still a cooked-food addict. There were times that I would go out by myself and eat a few pastries or a small bag of cookies. I did have a very pleasant surprise, though. Up until Christmas, I was in Brasilia (the capital). After that, I went to Rio de Janeiro to visit some friends that I had visited 6 years before. I expected them to tell me "You look thinner" or "You look healthier". But no, they all told me that I looked YOUNGER than I did 6 years ago. That totally caught me by surprise. That's when I started wondering, "Could it be that this raw eating actually makes you look younger? Could it be that we're not supposed to age as fast as we do?".
So, I returned to Florida the 2nd week of January. I kept trying to get back on the wagon, with little success. I really hit bottom when I snuck off and ate a 1/4 lb of fudge by myself (at an amusement park), and then that night, we ended up at McDonald's (we were with a group) so I broke down and ate a few greasy French Fries and a frozen yogurt cone (still living on the tomorrow principle). I guess that was the straw that broke the camel's back because the next day, I had a full-blown detox crisis on my hands. I felt crappy, had a sore throat, headache, all-over body aches, and general feeling of malaise. I realized that feeling this bad was for the birds, and I wasn't going to fall into the death spiral of cooked foods again.
So I lasted thirteen days the next time on all-raw. I went out to California to visit friends, and at one friend's house, she invited some people over and wanted to have a healthy meal. So we had a mostly-raw dinner, but she also made some wild rice (cooked). Rice is another one of my weaknesses, so I tried some of that, too. The next day in Berkeley, I was walking around, starving, looking for a place where I had been before, when I spotted a little Chinese carry-out restaurant across the street. I used to eat a lot of cheap Chinese, and this one was beckoning to me, so I gave in, again. I was hoping I could get a handle on it this time, but it didn't work. A few days later, I went to Japan, and I made up my mind to forget about being strictly all-raw while there. The produce there isn't that good, and it's so expensive, and sometimes hard to find. On the other hand, noodles, rice, and pastries are on every corner in every convenience store. So I ended up indulging my cravings and eating pastries and/or rice everyday while there (for three weeks). I did eat plenty of fruit and some veggies, and I managed to bring about 2 lb. of whole wheat berries to eat there (soaked). I realize now that it was just an excuse for me not to stick to all-raw while I was there--I could have done it. Another excuse was that it was so cold there (as if cooked food would have helped that). And I didn't have to deal with too many of the social problems of eating all-raw, although the Japanese tend to look on someone who doesn't eat fish as if they came from outer space.
So, in mid-February, I flew back from Japan to Florida, and it was nice being able to walk outside to the car without my coat on. I also realized that I like living in Florida better than the North (and better than Japan) in terms of getting good produce (lots of local produce here, especially oranges). Don't like it as much as Brazil, but it'll do in a pinch. During all this time, I've been reading different books on nutrition and raw-eating, and around the last week of February, I read Nature's First Law. It actually helped me get back on the wagon for good. I set my goal for March 1st to start eating all-raw again, with a 2-day fast beforehand (Feb. 27-28). I only made it through one day fasting (the 27th) but I've been all-raw since then and I've gotten a lot of my optimism and healthy outlook back, too. It now seems that my cooked-food addictions will always be there, lurking in the shadows of my mind. But whenever they come up and I'm faced with some cooked food that I want to eat (or that I would have wanted to eat before), I just remind myself that "I am stronger than my cooked food addictions". And then I remind myself that "Cooked food is poison".
Incidentally, I'm so glad that I got that catch phrase out of the book (NFL). It may be a bit too simplistic for our friends on the Raw-Foods list, but when you're faced with a twinkie or a croissant, or in my case, a container full of leftover spaghetti and tomato sauce (another weakness of mine), you don't have time to reason with your cravings. You need something that's short, concise, and to-the-point, something that tells you exactly where you stand with that bowl of cooked food. Either it edifies you, or it poisons you.
I still have some things to try, such as mostly (or all) organic produce, instincto, and calorie-reduction. I still think I overeat on the raw foods, although they don't make me gain weight, since I'm still detoxing and am pretty slim. Eventually, I'd like to bulk up some with muscle, but I guess that will have to come after the major detox work is over. Now I'm comfortable at around 130 lb., and I'd like to put on 5-10 lb. of muscle in the future. I'm also working on my fear of fasting, and I've learned some tricks to make it easier. I'm incorporating a weekly 1-day fast into my routine, and I'm working out regularly again, which feels great.
Sorry if this has taken you a while to read (it took me a few hours to type it). I'm so glad I finally got this done!
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