Join me now as I share with you my Raw Journey!
From early childhood to pre-teen: I remember not eating meat because it made my tummy hurt, but I did enjoy vitamin d milk that my mom would give me as well as butter. I come from an Italian family and meat wasn’t a main staple of our meals so it really wasn’t an issue.
Early teens: At age 13 laws required food companies to begin using the new food label on packaged foods. I became obsessed with reading ingredients and calories on foods (this probably drove my family crazy).
Age 14: I starting playing sports in school, but was much more interested in the coaches’ conditioning programs than the actual sport. If the coach didn’t give us a hard enough workouts, I would then go the recreation center next door after practice and workout more.
Age 16: My 2 best guy friends Jason and Jason took me down to the weight room at a local gym. At first I was uncomfortable but soon that was the place for me. This is when my passion for fitness and bodybuilding blossomed. This is also a time when I started reading any book or magazine I could get my hands on about fitness, bodybuilding and dieting. I also started posting pictures of competitors and models that I admired on my bedroom walls (I’m sure my parents appreciated this one).
In many of the literature I read, it was clear that the only way to build muscle was to eat a high animal protein diet. Since I was already disciplined with my eating this was easy for me, I started eating egg whites and oats in the morning and packing a lunch with a can of tuna fish, snacking on protein shakes throughout the day and after workouts, and having breast of chicken with vegetables for dinner. I definitely started building more muscle, but soon more change would come and not for the better…
Age 17-23: I’m off to college and still working out and eating the same. This is also a period of time when I battled with having fun or being disciplined (having fun wins the battle), but I keep with my fitness. This is also a time where I begin to feel the effects of my diet choices. I’m begin to have acne breakouts, bloating after eating, and heartburn…for some reason I really don’t think anything of it.
Age 24: I try a vegan diet and absolutely love it since it’s the way I want to eat but have been too scared to become deficient. I thrive for the next year as I feel great and my skin clears up.
Age 25: I’m off to South Africa where my husband is from. The diet there is meat, meat, and meat. I do the best I can but my nasty symptoms come back with vengeance!
Age 27: I make the decision to do a figure competition and begin the long training hours and strict animal based protein dieting. This is when the light bulb goes off…I lay in bed one morning and can barely move after my workout from the day before. I have a pounding headache (which I have every morning at this point), my muscles are so sore even to touch, my joints are throbbing and I say to myself, “What is the point of all these supplements and all this protein if it’s not helping me recover whatsoever and actually making me feel worse?! If I feel this bad at 27 what will I feel like at 50?!”
This is all happening right about the same time my friend Laura is adopting the Raw Food diet. She had been trying to convince me for months to try it, but I honestly thought she was crazy. How can she be getting enough protein??? I started to research and began making some delicious raw recipes (I actually started on the delicious desserts). Soon after this Laura invited me to join her in Kittery, Maine for Alisa Cohen’s Living on Live Food certification course. On the plane ride over to Boston I made the decision to just eat whatever they were going to feed us and see what happens…
Well within 24 hours of being there I woke up for the first time in years without a headache! For anyone who suffers from headaches, you really don’t realize how bad it is until you don’t have one anymore. The rest of my trip just kept getting better; I had tons of energy and felt amazing!
I continued to eat raw when I came home and I have never looked back or doubted the benefits. I feel amazing, my skin is clear; I recover extremely quickly from workouts and best of all I was still able to compete in figure competitions. Against popular belief I have been able to build muscle and stay lean by eating a high raw plant-based diet without counting calories or taking supplements. I feel I look better than I ever have before and it just keeps getting better.
Acne, heartburn, headaches joint soreness were all symptoms of my poor health and left untreated may have caused more serious issues.
During this time period my passions lead me to begin teaching classes on the importance of raw food nutrition as well as recipe demonstration. It has been exciting to see others experience the same positive health benefits that I have and more.
Age 28-present: Just after winning 1st place in my 2nd figure competition we found out I was pregnant and was ecstatic! I had an amazing pregnancy and was comfortable the entire time. I ate a high raw diet during the pregnancy and incorporated some free-range eggs (my brother has chickens). I also took whole food prenatal vitamins, vitamineral green powder, DHA, and drank lots of fresh green juice.
Maria Luisa was born February 15, 2011 and has been the most amazing blessing anyone could ever ask for. From the beginning she has been extremely bright and super active and many people tell me that it must be from all the good food she eats (I agree).
Thank you for reading my story! I hope that it inspires you to take charge of your health! It is a choice we can each make, and it can be life-changing!