Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Guest Post: Nick's Story

Whew, it's been a rough few weeks!  For those of you who do not know, I am (was) a student midwife at the Florida School of Traditional Midwifery.  I graduated the academic portion of my schooling back in August and just finished my clinical requirements last month (woot woot!).  In order to receive certification and licensure, however, a candidate must also pass the NARM Written Examination.  Last Wednesday, my family and I traveled to Orlando, Florida from Tallahassee, Florida in order for me to nervously fill in a million scan-tron bubbles for 8 hours.  Do I really need to mention how glad I am that that's over?  Still waiting on my results, but I'm feeling pretty confident that I passed. :-)

So after my big test, we drove back to Tallahassee, packed up our house, and moved to Sarasota!  Five hours south of where we were living.  I was so ready to get out of cold Tallahassee...I missed the sunshine and warmth.  And, of course, what greeted us when we arrived in Sarasota?  Temperatures dropping into the low 40's!  Seriously?!  Florida is so crazy.  It's warming up here again, thankfully.  I'm ready to go to the beach!

Anyway, due the insanity of the last few weeks, I haven't been able to work on any of my current projects (this blog being one of them), and I am still far from being completely settled in.  Unpacking a house with the assistance of a 14-month old baby girl is pretty much an oxymoron.  It just...doesn't happen.  Not quickly, anyway.  It's slow-going over here, but we're getting there.

My husband Nick, however, has managed to find the time to write a guest post for this blog.  Below, he talks about how he got into raw foods and veganism and how changing his diet changed his life.  Nick is an amazing person and I feel so incredibly lucky to have him as my husband and partner-in-crime.  Without his support, encouragement, and dedication, I don't know if I'd be able to stay on the raw foods path.  Thanks, Nick!  I love you, babe. <3


Nick's Story

For as long as I can remember, my weight has always been an issue for me. As a kid I always shopped in the "husky" kids department, I swam in pools or at the beach with a shirt on, I always had low self-esteem, and I couldn't play sports. I had been this way for so many years that I felt that this was who I was and just how I would be...that regardless of what I did, I would always be fat. I had accepted it as a part of me. I wasn't happy with it...in fact I hated it. I hated myself. I had terrible depression. I was angry for feeling the way I did, but no matter what I tried to do for my health, nothing made a difference.

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At my heaviest weight I was 222 lbs and 6 feet tall. That put me into the obese weight range (though I didn't find out that I was obese until later in life). My depression led me into a very dark part of my life. When I first went to college, I partied too much and didn't focus on school at all. I dropped so many classes that I could have passed easily, but instead of going to class I would sleep in because I was exhausted all the time. The reason that I was so exhausted was because I was up every night until the sun came up, drinking, playing video games, and simply being stupid. However, this all came back to my depression, which originated from my weight.

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In 2009, my wife Missy and I started dating, and she helped me to end the depression that had plagued me for so many years. I fought it for so long that looking back now, I cannot believe I lived under such a fog. However, my dietary habits caused many health issues that did not leave with the depression. I never went to the doctor because I was afraid to get an answer as to what was wrong with me. From what I have been reading lately, I assume that I suffered from stomach ulcers and colitis. I had severe stomach and intestine pains that would make me call out sick from work because I had trouble standing. I would regularly have diarrhea. I had bloody stools. Blood in my vomit. All of my life, I had migraines. I had all of these problems for years, but I refused to get looked at. I would make excuses: I don't have time, it isn't that serious, I can't afford to go to the doctor, I can't afford to take time off of work, what would the doctor do anyways? All of these excuses, but the real reason was that I was afraid of the doctor, afraid of what he would tell me was wrong. So I just put up with it...it had been that way for years and had stayed the same, so I just chalked it up to another part of my life.

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It wasn't until I changed my diet that things began to change for me, health wise. Missy had watched a documentary called "Food Matters", if you haven't watched you should, it is on Netflix. Watch it tonight, it might change your life. The documentary was about the health benefits of raw foods. Missy wanted to try a 30 day raw food challenge, so I figured why not and joined her. Before this challenge, I was the person who made fun of vegetarians and vegans. I mean if we were herbivores then why do we have K-9 teeth? Why are our eyes on the front of our head? Everyone knows that eating a vegetarian diet isn't healthy...I mean where is your protein going to come from? Everyone knows that you need protein, I read it on my milk carton as a kid in school! I was raised to believe that steak is manly, eat it bloody! Within one week of me changing my diet to a completely raw vegan diet, which is documented at the beginning of this blog, I no longer had any stomach pains. None what so ever. I had put up with them daily for years and just like that, gone. I had more energy, more clarity, and I knew that something had changed in my life.

We continued the challenge. The first two weeks or so we did a very high fat raw diet (aka “gourmet raw”, lots of nuts and seeds. I went through a detox period and cleared a lot of bad stuff out of my system. After about two weeks the worst of the detox symptoms came to an end. At around the end our detox, we found out about the "80-10-10 Diet", which is a diet that focus on 80% of calories from carbs, 10% from fats, and 10% from proteins. Basically, you eat two to three large fruit meals a day, and then a large salad for dinner. We were hooked immediately and I felt better than I had ever felt in my life.

During our 30 day raw challenge, I was serving food in a very high end fancy prime beef steak house. I was surrounded by temptation; in those 30 days I had more free food put in front of my face than in the other 22 months that I worked there. The restaurant would get very busy, everyone would get completely overwhelmed, and before I had changed my diet I would have been in the same boat (in the weeds), but something was different when I ate this way. My thoughts were clearer, better organized, and I couldn't get overwhelmed. I became a much better server simply by changing my diet.

By the end of the 30 days, I was down a total of 28 lbs. I no longer had diarrhea, stomach pains, vomiting, migraines, or any other issues. I had more energy, I was more emotionally stable, and my thoughts were clearer. I found that once I removed everything else from my diet, that I didn't miss it. I did get the occasional craving; cheese was one that stayed with me for a while. It took some time but now the thought of cheese is really gross to me. It is rotten, fermented, rancid, cow milk. What sounds good about that? Just because you make a nice name for it and indoctrinate someone into eating it, doesn't make it good or healthy. 

Eventually, we got through the challenge and we both felt so good that we decided to continue eating this way. However, we only managed to keep it going for another two to three weeks because we got pregnant, Missy almost immediately got a bad gum infection, and then she subsequently developed a really bad aversion to any fresh foods. So we switched to a cooked vegan diet. However, we did not know how to cook without oil at that time, so we ate a moderately high-fat cooked vegan diet and I began to put some weight back on, though nothing like before I was vegan.

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After our daughter was born, Missy decided to start eating a low fat raw vegan diet again. I kept eating cooked food for a while because we had a lot of food in the house to finish off first...I didn't want to waste it. Then, when I was trying to finish the food off in order to go back raw, I kept noticing that we would have something left over, and then I would have to buy something else in order to eat said leftover food. Then there would be some of the second thing left over, and I would have to get more of something else to finish that. It turned into a loop where I was just stalling before going raw. After a while I eventually said enough, and we got rid of the rest of the cooked food.

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We stayed on the raw diet for a few months until money got tight, and then we started to supplement the diet with rice (no salt, no oil) for extra calories. It didn't take long for that extra rice on our salads to turn into steamed rice and vegetables, and then into soup, and then into three cooked meals a day. Cooked foods have a way of getting a hold of you. They are addictive and they are subtle about it.  We kept our foods low fat (no oil) and low salt.  We ate all the food we could stuff into our faces (tons of rice, potatoes, pasta, even bread).  We didn't gain any weight this time, though we really didn't lose any more either.

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After a while we were able to get back into the swing of things, and got back on the path of raw foods. That is where we are at now, 100% raw for the past two months (apart from an episode of steamed rice and veggies the night we moved to Sarasota because our bananas weren't ripe yet). Feeling better than I ever have. The weight started coming off again and is still coming off. I am ready to start focusing on my exercise to really start to see more changes in my body. The benefit of this diet is that it encourages you to go out and run, do yoga, or join a gym.

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This diet has changed my life in many ways. The difference between a meat-based diet and a plant-based diet is simply night and day, and the difference between cooked food and raw food is amazing. You have so much more energy, you get so many more nutrients, and you just feel all around better. I know that most of the changes that I have experienced have been subjective and are not easy to quantify, but if you give it a shot yourself you will be amazed. Try starting like we did, do a 30 day trial. 30 days is not that long of a period of time really. You can do anything you want to do for just 30 days.

1 comment:

  1. You guys are awesome! I suppose I have to do more than a 30 day challenge to reap the benefits. I'll give it shot.