Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Raw Update Journal: It's only the beginning.

I blogged that I had gone raw . . . blogged that I would continue raw . . . and now I'm making good on the promise to actually tell you all something about it. ;o)

It has been interesting.

First, I'm going to list some of the latest perks:

Since the day we went raw (one month and four weeks ago this Friday), I have lost 14.4 pounds.  I'm the only one in my family losing weight . . . Vern is maintaining (he doesn't have anything to lose), and the children are looking healthy and round, and growing just fine.

While I'm not down to the 4-5 hours sleep many raw foodists rave about, I do really well on eight . . . which I haven't been able to do in at least six years.

My pathetic abdominals have really made a good show of finally getting back to their former selves.  (With all the other pregnancies, they did so within six months or so on their own . . . this last time, they simply stopped at about six weeks post-partum and refused to improve no matter what I did.)

My irises are getting clearer and lighter in color.  This week I noticed the brown inner portion (I have hazel eyes: half green, half brown) is significantly lighter . . . more of a dark straw color than the medium earthy brown they have been all of my life.

My back is getting better all on its own.  Nearly two months of treatment in Oregon before the move did little lasting good (although it really helped me feel better while I was going), but once I went raw, it improved dramatically all on its own.

And now, onto some of the actual story . . .

In the beginning, I kept things very simple.  VERY simple.  I used the recipes at the back of the book 12 Steps to Raw Foods, along with some common sense dishes (fruit or green smoothies, salads, raw muesli, etc).  For the first four days or so, I would begin to feel like it was time to eat and start thinking about things I would usually make (grilled salmon, brown rice and salad, for example), and then I'd feel the fear begin to rise.  Fear of not knowing what to feed my family, fear of being hungry, fear of who-knows-what.  Then I'd think calmly about my handly little book, and start going about the task of feeding everyone.

After a few days, those fearful episodes ceased entirely.  I began sleeping better, feeling better, and began (for the first time in a LONG time) to actually feel hungry again.  It has been years since I have felt what we all know as hunger.  Due to the hypoglycemia, I would go straight from doing fine to shaky and/or headache and/or depressed and/or panic attack.  So not fun.  Sometimes I even got to feel the draining, sinking feeling as my blood sugar plunged, and to anticipate for a terrible minute or two on what was coming next.

A few days after we made the switch, I was up very, very late on a Saturday night.  (I think I got about five hours.)  Sunday is a full day for us, with church attendance and service, and the rest filled with family time.  It takes a lot of energy, but is the most fulfilling and happy day of the week for me.  I was a little less energetic than I had been the preceding days, but compared to what I would have been pre-raw, I was amazed.  So was Vern.  I've had plenty of short nights since then, and while most of the following days haven't been as great as that Sunday was, they're still like a walk in the park compared to the "bad" days of the past.

I should probably explain just what the "bad" days were like, eh?  Okay.

A typical bad day included most of the following, and sometimes all:

  • Deep fatigue, such that climbing the stairs took all of my energy, made my heart pound, and required rest at the top.
  • Nearly overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and despair.
  • Incredibly short temper.
  • Unkind tones of voice (often completely unnoticed by me until someone pointed it out)
  • Lots of time spent distracting myself from everything around me.
  • Deep-level hunger, accompanied by a complete disinterest in eating anything (with the disinterest often bordering on revulsion).

Those, my lovelies, are what hypoglycemia can do to you.  Many health professionals call those symptoms "depression" . . . which they are.  But depression is not a disease.  It is a symptom.  And if you change the fuel you give your body, the depression will leave.  Whole, raw, complete foods do the trick.  I can eat raw, whole fruit smoothies and dates for an entire day, and feel great.  No crashes, nada.

Now that I'm past them, it seems easier to talk about them.  While stuck in that cycle, the knowledge that my life consisted mostly of these kinds of days felt as though it would crush me . . . it was difficult to be anything like the mother I want to be, and to not be able to see my way out of where I was didn't help. (Yeah. Understatement, that.)  I felt like I could never catch up to my husband's and children's needs . . . that I would always be behind them on sleep, mealtimes, everything . . . I wasn't fast enough, strong enough, good enough . . .

And now they're nearly gone.  (The bad days, not my husband and children. ;o)

I still have off days every so often.  Short nights bring them on, as have times when I've allowed something a little questionable to come into my food supply.  (Agave syrup more than once or twice a week in small amounts is not good for me.)  But these "off days" are barely even a shadow of what the bad days used to be.  Honestly, my off days now are what my really good days were like then.  And those good days were only two (or if I was lucky, three) out of seven.  Now I'm at least five good days out of seven, and it's really more like six or seven out of seven.

People ask me all the time "Don't you miss _____?", or "Isn't it hard?", or "How can you handle it?"

My response is simple: "Giving up _____ is nothing.  I have my life back."


A Thrifty Mrs said...

Gosh that sounds terribly interesting.

Good luck with it.

Lucy said...

Wow... very interesting. I'm just sorry you had to feel bad for so long before you found what made you feel right!
Being overweight gives me a lot of the symptoms you've listed here. I lost a lot of weight (80 pounds) a year and a half ago, and felt the best I've ever felt, but owing to a totally crap year I've put it all back on and feel like I've fallen down a long dark tunnel. I'm inspired to go and sort myself out and get my life back now! Thank you!

Jenni said...

Wow that is very encouraging to read what a difference it has made for you. Not only the weight loss, but especially the great health benefits. I like that you said your old good days and are now your bad days, so in comparison what a huge difference.

Good luck with can do it. You are doing great. I admire you for doing this.

Annalea said...

Thanks so much for leaving a comment, Lucy. I know exactly what you're talking about . . . and it's so hard. Take care of yourself, listen to your body, and get some good books on raw nutrition. Even if you don't go to a completely raw diet, as I have, aiming for a percentage of raw foods (50%, 75%, etc), can make a huge difference. Karen Knowler (a.k.a The Raw Coach) is in the UK, and has a good website. She also sells a lot of services (which I haven't used, so I don't know), but she has a fair bit of good free info that I've used (including YouTube videos on how to make some pretty yummy things).

And thanks, Jenni. :o) You're pretty awesome, yourself.

Melissa said...

I'm so impressed you got your whole family to go along for the ride! The benefits sound amazing. Is shopping for and fixing food (I guess I can't say "cooking") easier or harder than a traditional diet?

Annalea said...

The only hard sell was my husband . . . and he really wasn't that hard. He mostly did it to help me, thinking that he might, or he might not, stick to it. Even though it hasn't always been easy, he has been a tremendous support. I honestly couldn't have done this if I was the only one in the family eating this way.

Cassi said...

I love that you have found solutions - long term and they work for the whole family. It's amazing what sticking to something can really do for you. Although I'm far from being as good as you in my diet, I feel like some of the feelings you have expressed about your changes are the same for me when I made running part of my life. I love it when we find something that works. . . really inspiring post. Thanks for sharing.

Annalea said...

Thanks so much, Cassi. I'm not holding myself up as an exemplar . . . just wanting to share how well this has worked for me. Running is on my short list of things to add to my life. :o) I really want to run with Vern.