My name is Lisa. I live in Cheshire UK. I’ll tell you a bit about myself -well the foodie bits anyway.
I grew up eating a healthy but standard UK diet, meat, fish, dairy, vegetables, fruit etc. but Mum did make her own muesli (rabbit food as I saw it) and was always sprouting seeds (‘weird’, I thought - no one else’s mother did that!). At around 15, I became aware that I wasn’t happy eating this way - that the foods I was eating didn’t make me feel great. This, combined with a comment about my increasing weight, spurred me to cut out the foods I was uncomfortable with, leaving me eating fruit and vegetables, and sadly, caught up in an eating disorder.
I knew I needed to upgrade my diet, but lacked the knowledge around how to do so in a healthy way, which left me ill and depressed – and frankly in a worse place than before. At 18 I left home for University - leaving meat behind. I still ate fish and dairy, in order to convince my mother that my eating disorder was history. Years passed like this, still feeling uncomfortable with what I was eating; experimenting, but not really finding the answers I craved, and not knowing where to look for guidance.
Clock forward almost 20 years! (I can’t believe I spent so long in limbo!) Life became difficult, getting up in the morning was daunting - my first thoughts being, ‘Oh God, another day.’ My head would be foggy; I had no energy, no direction, no motivation. I hated my body, and was feeling pretty miserable about life in general; beating myself up for feeling like this as I had so much to live for, not least two beautiful children.
Then in the summer of 2006 I decided to take action. At that time, the macrobiotic diet was being promoted by Gwynneth Paltrow, who looked fabulous. I went to the book store to find out more about macrobiotics. No joy. But what I did find was Kate Wood’s ‘Eat Smart, Eat Raw’. Flicking through it I quickly realised the recipes contained all the foods I truly loved, and on deeper reflection, discovered that the times I had been happiest in recent years had been when I had been intuitively eating high raw without even knowing what ‘raw’ was!!! I’d always loved food preparation, so this was a new and exciting discovery for me.
Over the next 18 months, I researched extensively, cut more and more cooked food from my diet and attended raw workshops run by the amazingly inspirational Karen Knowler, (pushing aside snide comments from my husband that I’d joined some sort of cult and would soon be shuffling round in sandals and long robes!)
In December 2007, I attended a retreat run by Karen - ‘Your Best Raw Self 2008?. At this point I felt as if I’d hit rock bottom. I’d had a really tough 18 months both at home and at work. Things had been said to me which had left my spirit crushed, depressed and surrounded by feelings of self doubt and worthlessness. Rather than tackling these issues, I dealt with them by binge eating and drinking to numb my emotions and shut out the pain. I signed up to this retreat to help me break from this self-destructive cycle and to learn how to feel calm, confident and most importantly learn to feel good about myself – and feel full of life, love, energy and radiance.
From Karen’s ‘Successfully Raw’ coaching model it became clear that although I had mastered the delicious food, I lacked the much needed support (my husband was extremely negative about this to say the least - but that’s another story) and lacked clear vision of where and ‘who’ I truly wanted to be.
I made it my goal for 2008 to address these issues. I read a lot - not just around raw food (this journey is a whole person journey - mind, body and spirit) but wellbeing, particularly Louise Hay’s ‘You Can Heal Your Life’. I decided I had to get out into the ‘raw world’, and not just sit at home on the computer, living a ‘virtual’ raw existence. One major push for me was visiting my mother after being high raw for a few months. She said, ‘I don’t know about this raw business, but you look better than you have in ages so it can’t be doing you any harm!’
I started going to monthly potlucks where I discovered (to my surprise) that people actually raved about my food (rather than turning their noses up as they did at home!) I attended as many workshops as I could and ended up helping at workshops and preparing recipes for them! For the first time in as long as I could remember, I felt alive, energised; truly me, when I was in a raw environment and just knew this had to be the right path for me. My passion for raw was growing rapidly. I trained as an Alissa Cohen instructor. I joined online programmes and discovered that not only was this where my passion lay, but that I had more knowledge and experience that I realised, and that I could share this, and most importantly people wanted to listen!! I knew at this time that I had to align my inner feelings with my external reality; to make a living from my passion, rather than being stagnated by a job for which I had lost my drive.
Other shifts started happening, not just around food. I discovered breathwork, rebirthing, crystals, journalling, buddhism – wow! Had someone said this to me 12 months ago I’d have thought they’d gone gaga! I took a big step and finally left the job that was surrounding me with negativity, and felt as if a huge weight had been lifted….
Towards the end of 2008, another major shift happened - I decided that I was no longer prepared to compromise myself and hold myself back from being the person I knew I could be just to fit in with the limiting views/opinions of others. I decided I needed to draw on my inner strength, to go out into the world being true to myself, living the life I know is best for me, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This realisation made me feel alive, relieved, as if I’d set myself free. I’ve discovered clarity about who I want to be, who I am now allowing myself to be. I’m finding calmness and inner peace. I’ve found a passion for life which I can’t ever remember feeling before. This journey has been about so much more than one about food.
Initially this was a personal journey, but now I feel compelled to share it with others, to help them avoid the pain and heartache I have had to experience to get to where I am today. That being successfully raw is achievable even if the rest of your family is ‘cooked’. It is possible to coexist and not feel the need to compromise yourself. The most important lesson I have learned is to be truly alive, you have to be true to yourself.
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