My Diet Struggle – Keto-Carnivore or Vegan?

Meat and VegetablesI’m sitting here in pain.

Abdominal pain. It started late yesterday afternoon and it’s now 8:05 the next morning. It kept me awake most of the night.

It’s a digestive thing. Nothing too serious…I can just tell. You know…the kind you feel after eating too many beans? Ya, that kind.

But intense. It comes in waves, so it’s not constant. But a new cramp comes on every few minutes and it makes me writhe and palpate my belly like I would knead a big wad of bread dough.

That does seem to help.

A little.

So, before I get into the whole how and why of my current predicament, let me just establish one important fact:

I’m Swedish.

And English. By ancestry. So, Scandinavian and Northern European.

That little fact will come in handy later on in this post.

I won’t go into my background going raw vegan and what motivated that lifestyle change. I already addressed that topic in excruciating detail in another blog post HERE, but suffice it to say that I am still drawn to that dietary choice every-so-often…mostly because I had success with weight-loss during that time…something that has been an almost constant challenge for me my entire adult life.

But here’s the thing…

I watch YouTube videos by all the big names in that community; Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and his son, Rip. And I completely buy into the science behind their claims. And being concerned first and foremost with my health and longevity and weight-loss as a secondary benefit, I go to the store, load up on all of the low-fat, high-starch grains, potatoes, vegies and fruits recommended feeling determined to make it work for me

THIS TIME.

And then I start eating that food…and the symptoms start.

Ugh!

It used to be severe joint pain. I’m talking the kind that is so bad I literally thought I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. I couldn’t even roll over in bed at night or lift my legs to walk on a flat surface without unbearable pain in my knees. And sometimes ankles and wrists, too.

And anemia. Bad anemia. Like…I felt like I was going to pass out in public.

That went away when I re-introduced animal products into my diet.

Thank goodness!

But then I realized I was finally on the other side of all of the hormonal changes that went along with my 10-year journey through menopause.

So, I started to wonder if the joint pain might have been associated with hormones.

Additionally, I had regained the 35 pounds I lost when eating raw foods which enticed me to try going plant-based again.

But every time I did I would get the strangest symptoms as a result. I mean, immediately after eating a carb-heavy meal.

The middle toes on (primarily) my left foot would stiffen up in Charlie Horse cramps.

This happened consistently. I know because I tested it. I would return to a ketogenic diet for a period of time and then try going vegan again.

Every. Single. Time…without exception…the cramps would return. And more recently they even began creeping up my shins and calves and were affecting both legs instead of just the left one.

On the up side I experienced no more joint pain or anemia…but then again…I couldn’t follow the diet long enough to find out. Because the cramps in my toes came so immediately following that kind of meal that I was compelled to give up on the vegan approach and go back to a heavily animal-based approach.

And I wondered why?

What caused these cramps?

I started doing some research. And I discovered that a lack of magnesium could be the problem. I read lots and lots of testimonials by people who had similar cramps as mine. And when they took magnesium the cramps went away.

YAY!

I bought some magnesium pills that were recommended by an authority on one of the sites I was visiting and when they arrived I started taking them in the dose suggested on the bottle.

Then I tried eating a vegan diet again.

Yaaaa…no.

That didn’t work for me.

So, here’s where the Swedish heritage comes into play.

I’ve always identified with my Scandinavian heritage. That’s my mother’s side of the family. But even my dad’s ancestors come from England.

It’s dark and cold there much of the year. No freaking pineapples, bananas, or other tropical fruits and vegies grow there. Only hardy varieties that tolerate long months of cold weather.

They eat MEAT over there. And lots of fish. And dairy. True, they also eat whole grains. And some wild berries, nuts, and greens. But mostly their diet is animal-based.

This fact is not lost on me. That’s where my dna comes from.

Sooo…what the hell am I trying to do with this whole vegan thing?

That thinking prompted me to do further research into the keto/carnivore approach to eating.

I lost the most weight I had ever lost in my life up to that point (I was 20…get serious, right?) following the Atkins diet plan. About 32 pounds in 3 months. Impressive.

But I also remember feeling kind of crappy following that eating protocol. I was dizzy and weak. And besides that…I was dieting for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to lose weight to impress my (then) husband who was in the Army at the time. He had been stationed in Germany where he ended up staying for nearly 9-months before our 2-year old son and I were authorized to join him.

So, I lost the weight (at the time I started the diet I weighed an enormous 153 pounds on my 5’9″ frame, lol!) and got down to the lowest I have ever been in my teen or adult life…122 pounds.

Hey, I wanted to be a fashion model back then, so I was thrilled!

But…Germany.

Bratwurst and brotchen with french fries, pastries galore, breaded schnitzel pan-fried in butter served with gravy and spatzle (homemade noodles), and lots of alcohol!

Yaaaa…it didn’t take very long before that weight came right back on.

Add two pregnancies in 4 years and it was a losing proposition.

Over the years I’ve tried following the Atkins plan many times and just haven’t had the same success I experienced with it that first time.

Fast forward to the present…

After my experience going raw vegan I kind of threw the baby out with the bath water and started eating whatever sounded tasty and made me feel good.

That last part is all-important.

If something doesn’t make me feel good then I re-adjust. Which means I kind of bounce around a lot.

I want to lose that weight, damnit!

And I _have_ had some success recently.

I tried OMAD – One Meal A Day. Basically consuming no calories during the day until dinner-time. Then just eating one big plateful of whatever I wanted along with one large beverage. I would eat that one meal between 4-7 pm and then be done for the night. No more calories until the next evening. Except I did allow myself a little fat in my morning coffee and that didn’t seem to halt my weight-loss.

Following that regimen I lost 35 pounds over a few months. And I’ve kept that off for almost two years now. Well, mostly. I regained 5-10 pounds of that, depending on the day of the week I weigh myself. But mostly I have kept it off.

So, I feel good about that.

But I have another 35-40 pounds to lose.

So, the struggle continues.

When I stalled on OMAD…actually, I’m not even sure I was stalling…but I was introduced to the idea that if I added a ketogenic element to my OMAD diet then that would really amp things up for me, health-wise as well as with my weight-loss.

So, I implemented a low-carb, high-fat aspect to my OMAD plan…

A-n-d…no. I pretty much haven’t lost any weight since.

In fact, as I already stated above…I’ve actually g-a-i-n-e-d pounds over the last few months.

But I mostly felt good following that plan.

M-o-s-t-l-y.

The toe cramps started coming back.

And this time they were happening when I was eating low-carb foods.

Soooo…that pretty much blew my theory that the Charlie Horses were related to high-carb foods.

Which….(of course) led me to do more research.

This brings me pretty much to the current time.

I had been following a heavily animal-based approach…even tried fully carnivore for a week or so (that is exactly what it sounds like – ONLY animal-based foods. Literally ZERO plants) then back to keto because I just didn’t like the lack of variety in an animal-based approach.

But still…my toes. Ugh.

So, the research.

I then discovered that a potassium deficiency could be the cause of these cramps. So, once again, I purchased some supplements and started taking one 550mg tablet with my first meal of the day. This was, like, 4 days ago now.

And the Charlie Horses went away.

Wow.

So, I decided to really test this out by following a high-carb, high-starch, low-fat vegan diet to see if my results held.

And THEY DID!!!

I was cautiously enthusiastic…

For three days…they held! I ate oatmeal for breakfast and rice and veggies or potatoes and beans for dinner. Fruit for dessert.

And I felt GREAT! I was symptom free!

T-h-e-n yesterday happened.

And I’m miserable.

I didn’t sleep because I kept getting abdominal attacks throughout the night.

I’m exhausted.

This isn’t a stomach thing. This is lower-abdominal.

Anyhow…I’m back to butter coffee this morning and I read that things like broth and tea can help sooth abdominal distress. So, I’m thinking I’ll go down to the kitchen and start a pot of bone broth simmering.

Have you had similar dietary experiences? I’d love to hear about them along with any suggestions you might have for achieving better results.

I realize I’m my own little science project here. But I’d like to think I have more important things to do in life than spending every waking hour trying to figure out what I should put into my mouth, omg!

I’d love to hear from you 😉

~Tracy

My History With Network Marketing (MLM)

Tracy - 8-24-2017

All Makeup by AVON

I remember first hearing about home-based businesses when I was a child…probably around age 8 or 10. I baby sat for someone who was a Jafra rep…though I didn’t know what that meant. Just that she had some special skincare products in he bathroom with royal bee honey in them…that part really stuck with me. Because I thought it was strange that there would be face cream with special jelly that apparently came from queen bees and it was supposed to make your skin look amazing.

Likewise, I remember hearing about Shaklee when I was about the same age. I was tall for my age and always thought it would be glamorous to become a fashion model. So, when there was a weekly evening class on modeling being offered at my grade school by a former model and “miss” something or other I signed right up. I remember one class was held in her home and she used some skincare products on us that were from that company. Again, the concept stuck in my head that these were products that couldn’t be purchased at a store. You had to get them from someone who was a representative. I also recall hearing about Herbalife and saw television programs featuring people who had earned piles of money selling their vitamins and supplements. But I never did try the products or know anyone personally who was a distributor.

But the seed had been planted in my brain early on about becoming an entrepreneur.

Then when I started dating the boy who would become my first husband I really got a taste of what multi-level marketing was all about. His parents were very active Amway distributors and over the course of our courtship and first few years of marriage they became quite successful, attaining Gold Distributorship status. I watched as they moved from their small, older home into a large, brand-new home and purchased two new cars…all funded by their Amway business. After attending several home meetings conducted by them we decided to sign up and give it a go ourselves.

But shortly after we were married my new husband joined the Army and we moved away to another state, far from home and family. We tried to build the business ourselves but just didn’t have the local connections or support system that we would have had back in our home town.

Yet, I believed in the power of Word of Mouth marketing. It just made sense to me to that a manufacturer should skip paying all of the advertising and marketing dollars spent in traditional product promotion, and instead reward each person with a commission for any sale that resulted because they told a friend about a particular product. Duh. That’s a real WIN-WIN!

And that was my initial introduction to network marketing. I fell in love with the concept. So much so that, with the help of my current husband, I started my own mail-order gourmet coffee, tea, hot cocoa, biscotti and treats mlm company. We called it Brown Paper Coffee Company (BPCC for short) and we ran that business for more than three years, with consultants I recruited in five different states.

But that’s a story for another time 😉

Below is a list of the TWENTY FOUR (24) network marketing companies I have joined over the years. I’ll give a brief description of each below but will write a detailed overview of my thoughts and opinions on each one at a later date. Some I can recommend and I’ll tell you why. Others I don’t feel so good about…and I’ll tell you about that, too.

MLM Businesses I Have Joined –

Amway – As I mentioned above, Amway was my first experience with multi-level marketing. They offer a very wide range of products from health and nutritional supplements to skincare, hair care, cosmetics, fragrances, household cleaners, laundry supplies, jewelry, clothing, car care, and more.

 

 

Tupperware – Offers a wide variety of food storage, cookware, and other useful plastic items.

 

Mary Kay – Higher-end cosmetics and skincare company.

 

Avon – They offer a very wide variety of products from skincare, cosmetics, bath and body, fragrances, hair care and jewelry, to clothing, children’s products, home decor, and recently have even added a line of health and nutritional supplements. (Feel free to visit my AVON store here: http://www.youravon.com/TracyJohnsonPDX )

 

Rexall Showcase International – Out of Business. They offered primarily weight-loss, nutritional, and health and wellness products.

 

 

 

 

 

House of Lloyd/Christmas Around The World – Out of Business. They specialized in home decor and Christmas decoration items.

 

 

 

 

 

NuSkin – I joined as a distributor then later actually worked as an employee at their facility in Provo, Utah for four years. They offer a comprehensive line of higher-end health and wellness products.

 

 

bpcc_logo**BROWN PAPER COFFEE COMPANY** – My Own Gourmet Coffee Network Marketing Company. I’ll write a separate post about this at a later date.

 

 

 

Party Lite – Offering a wide range of fragranced candles, other home scents, candle holders and associated decorative items.

 

At Home America – Out of Business. They offered a wonderful selection of contemporary country-style home decor items.

 

 

 

 

 

Isagenix – Primarily weight-loss and other health and wellness products.

 

 

Xocai – Healthy Chocolate!

 

 

 

 

Pampered Chef – Offering a wonderful selection of cooking utensils and other chef-oriented products.

 

 

AmeriPlan – Affordable discount health-care coverage for the entire household on a subscription basis. Offering access to a vast network of healthcare professionals who offer their services at a discount when the patient pays cash at time of service. Not insurance coverage.

 

 

 

Park Lane Jewelry – Distinctive jewelry and accessories.

 

 

Scent-Sations – Offering a delicious selection of premium natural wax candles and melts.

 

 

Younique – Higher-end, all-natural cosmetics.

 

 

 

 

 

Jamberry – An amazing variety of beautiful and adorable heat-applied nail stickers. An alternative to nail polish. Styles available for both adults and children. Even designs with licensed Disney and NFL art/logos.

 

 

Purium – Primarily weight-loss and other health and wellness products.

 

Asirvia – High-tech, “proximity marketing” devices.

 

 

It Works! – Primarily weight-loss and other health and wellness products. Their “flagship” product is the “Wrap” that is impregnated with a botanical mixture that helps to release water and weight when applied regularly.

 

 

Senegence – Long-lasting, higher-end cosmetics. Their “flagship” product is “LipSense” – a lip _stain_ that will not come off on beverage glasses, clothing, or others. It mostly only comes off with their signature remover.

 

Magnabilities – A line of inter-changable magnetic jewelry and accessories.

 

 

Melaleuca – They offer a wide range of products from health and nutritional supplements to skincare, hair care, cosmetics, fragrances, household cleaners, laundry supplies and more. Most, if not all their products, contain their signature ingredient, Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca oil).

 

 

New U Life – The only FDA registered, topically-applied HGH (Human Growth Hormone) gel available on the market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing with the Laser Engraver

They said it was just like using a printer. And it kind of is…

Epilog Helix

A REALLY COMPLICATED PRINTER ON STEROIDS!

A printer with lots of diverse settings that have to be adjusted for power and speed and resolution and dithering effect, and, and, and… Not just that…those things (and more) have to be re-calibrated for each different type of material you are “printing” onto. For example; the settings you might use to achieve the perfect depth of burn of a logo on birch might be entirely different from the settings you would choose for that same image on say, walnut or bass wood. Much less leather or cardboard! Additionally, the settings you might use to achieve the desired shade and intensity in a plaque expressing a sentiment in words using a specific font would be entirely WRONG for the correct pixelation needed in a photograph where white space around each pixel is not only desirable but required in order to see the depth of detail in photo reproduction.

So, ya…this machine is industrial-grade and takes quite a bit of training and experimentation in order to come up to speed so that we can comfortably add laser-engraving services to my current offering.

Below are a couple of images of recent test projects…

I wanted to try out various settings to see what kind of results I could get with a photograph. I kind of wish I had taken pictures of the earlier renditions of this, lol! But I think we’re getting it nailed…slowly but surely!

I burned the smaller version onto a piece of thick leather first. And I’ve got to say that I was pretty happy with the way it turned out.

So, I thought I’d try it in a larger size and this time on a 12″x12″ square of birch…which is quite a bit harder material than the leather.

Trust me when I tell you that this one took SEVERAL ATTEMPTS to finally achieve this output. But…I _am_ pleased with the final result.

We have also been practicing on ceramic tile and have some acrylic sheeting on order so that we can learn on those, too.

We haven’t even tried cutting shapes out with the laser engraver, yet. That’s coming next!

I’ll keep you posted.

This is kind of fun…but tricky, too!

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Best,

Tracy

Pendants

I started making jewelry back in 2000 and my favorite pieces to create for the longest time were rings. Though I tried my hand at creating all kinds of jewelry, from earrings and bracelets to handcrafted chains, necklaces, and pendants.

But about two years ago I began using annealed steel as the primary material in my jewelry and my passion for creating pendants expanded like crazy!

Part of the reason for this is the fact that one of my dear friends is a rock-hound in Arizona. She supplied me with several bags full of semi-precious stones that she had collected, sliced, and polished. These stones offered a beautiful focal point for what has become my own unique style of “framing” each one to enhance it’s natural shape and the energy emitted from it.

Below you can view just a sampling of my wire-wrapped stone pendants, as well as some of the other pendants…primarily crosses…I have created over the years. If you would like a one-of-a-kind piece please feel free to CONTACT ME with your ideas!

Clearing Up Ketogenic Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet Confustion

Have you been confused by all of the conflicting and contradictory diet and nutrition messages out there? In particular, there seems to be a major divide between whether a low-carb, ketogenic diet or a low-fat whole-foods / plant-based diet is the better choice for overall health, nutrition, and longevity. I know I’ve experienced more than my share of confusion on the subject! I watched this video by Ryan of Happy Healthy Vegan the other night…twice…because I think the explanation he shared by Cyrus Khambatta of Mastering Diabetes, who has a PhD in nutritional biochemistry, makes literally more sense than I have heard anyone explain it, ever.

You may know that in 2009 I launched and published an online magazine for the raw foods community called Eighty Percent Raw for which I recruited over 25 raw food chef and health care practitioners who contributed to the magazine monthly for 4 years. I simultaneously enrolled in and attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) for the purpose of attaining a health coaching certificate. I became a student because I am so passionate about learning the truth about optimal nutrition for humans.

However, I will admit to having experienced more than a little confusion about what is the best approach…at least for my own body.

The two eating styles I have had the most weight-loss success with over the years have been the Atkins diet, which was basically the original ketogenic diet, back when I was 20 years old. And the high raw foods diet when I was about 40.

I lost 30+ pounds in 3 months the first time I tried low-carb and was really excited and amazed by my results. Thinking back on my experience I must admit that I felt kind of crappy, health-wise, as a result, though. I recall feeling light-headed and weak a lot of the time. And honestly, I really just viewed the eating plan as a short-term weight-loss program and not at all a long-term lifestyle. I just wanted to lose the weight as quickly as possible. And it worked GREAT for that purpose.

But the results didn’t last…

I gained the weight back quickly as soon as I started eating carbs again and that was followed by two pregnancies in three years…so, ya. My success with low-carb was short lived.

And honestly, I’ve tried it again multiple times since then and it’s true what they say…you just can’t achieve the same results again a second or third or fourth time that you did that first time losing.

So, raw foods and veganism…

You can read my full experience HERE

But suffice it to say that I lost nearly 40 pounds over a few months following a high raw food diet, and kept it off (easily) for about 4 years.

However…that was not without it’s complications either…which you can read about HERE

To compound the sitation…I am a huge student and consumer of health-related information on the internet. And yes, I have a godzillion books on every imaginable diet plan and cooking strategy (Thank you very much for the instant gratification that is Kindle, Amazon! lol!) So, being of Swedish heritage I was also swayed by the DNA/blood-type theory that says “Hey, my ancestors CERTAINLY didn’t evolve on mangos and bananas and other tropical fruits and vegies! They evolved on lots of fish and elk and pork and eggs and dairy products, with very little vegetation and only seasonally.”

So, there’s that.

Anyhow. I continue to search. My body doesn’t seem to respond well (read: lose weight) on a high starch diet, ie; Dr. John McDougall’s Starch Solution so I’m in a bit of a quandary.

But the video above DOES make a lot of sense! So, at least for now, that’s the approach I’m following!

I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and experiences with diet and weight-loss! Please do share with me below and tell me what you think on this whole issue!

Until next time!

Be well,

Tracy

My Pyrography for Business

Some of My More Recent Pyrography Projects for Business Clients – (view more of my pyrography by visiting my Portland Pyrography Facebook page HERE )

My Pyrography for Private Clients

Some of My More Recent Pyrography Projects for Private Clients – (view more of my pyrography by visiting my Portland Pyrography Facebook page HERE )

Have A Healthy, Happy Thanksgiving

Whole-Foods ThanksgivingFor many people Thanksgiving dinner is the single biggest family feast of the year. It represents a time of gathering together, rebuilding bonds of love and friendship, sharing thoughts and feelings of gratitude for blessings received, and the centerpiece is always the meal. Food is an important element in our lives. It can garner memories from childhood that warm us and make us feel nostalgic. Many who cook use their culinary creations as a meaningful show of love and affection for those the food has been prepared for. And when we consume dishes that have been carefully prepared to be especially delicious it makes us feel loved. It is no wonder, then, that we associate so much emotional connection with the Thanksgiving feast!

That being said, however, the traditional Thanksgiving fare most of us are accustomed to eating on this day is usually a far cry from “health food”. Many dishes are heavily prepared with unhealthy fats and saturated with sugars of every kind. The turkey is probably the healthiest part of the meal, since it is essentially pure protein and in that sense, “real” food, without a lot of added ingredients (if we aren’t counting the grain fed diet, antibiotics, and hormones most are raised on). Most of the side dishes, from the mashed potatoes loaded with real butter and heavy cream, to the stuffing…normally white bread cubes with lots of fat and little nutritional value…to the white-flour, milk, and butter dinner rolls, to the candied yams, and normally ending with pies (baked in white flour and hydrogenated vegetable oil shortening – read trans fats – crusts) topped with piles of whipped cream, meringue, or ice cream. I read recently that the typical Thanksgiving dinner for an average adult runs right around 3,500 calories! OUCH!

Sooo…I’d like to challenge you this year! I know it can be a daunting task to want to alter long-held tradition. One which will inevitably be met with substantial resistance from family members. So, rather than try to talk you into doing anything too overly difficult which could result in conflict and contention, I have a more subtle suggestion…try taking baby steps. Especially if you are relatively new to the high-raw foods lifestyle, and particularly if you are the only family member following such a path. Here are some practical application things you can do to make your holiday meal HEALTHIER while still maintaining peace and harmony in your home, all the while offering the same delicious and satisfying, comfort foods your family is used to for this most important meal:
1. Substitute unhealthy sugars, such as white sugar, brown sugar, and corn syrup with healthier sweeteners such as stevia, pure maple syrup, dehydrated cane juice sugar, agave nectar, molasses, etc.

2. Substitute unhealthy fats, such as margarine, shortening, and most refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils with healthier fats such as coconut oil (especially for cooking), cold pressed olive oil (mostly for drizzling over warm or cold foods and in dressings but not for cooking), and real butter.

3. Try making pie crusts out of ground nuts and dried fruits such as dates or use coconut flour instead of the traditional refined white wheat flour.

4. Stuffing is delicious using ground almonds or pecans to give substance and body rather than using the traditional bread cubes.

5. If you are going to make rolls, try using whole grains rather than refined white flour. Better yet, go for some of the gluten-free grains such as rice or kamut. Spelt is a great alternative to regular wheat (they are cousins) with a higher protein profile and can be better tolerated by those who have gluten or wheat sensitivities. Coconut flour is an amazing and health-promoting alternative to regular flour. It is loaded with fiber and lots of great, healthy benefits! Just be sure to adjust your recipe accordingly because coconut flour is very dense and a little goes a l-o-n-g way! You can order it (along with fabulous coconut oil and other coconut products) online at Tropical Traditions

6. Make your own cranberry sauce from scratch using natural, healthy sweeteners instead of purchasing the canned version which is full of high fructose corn syrup.

7. And last but certainly not least…add more raw side dishes to fill out the meal with lots of delicious, nutritious selections that will add healthy options and introduce your family and friends to the wonderful variety of decadent foods available in raw form! There are SO MANY amazing dishes that can be prepared from healthy, whole foods and the holidays present a great opportunity to share these foods with your loved ones! Try making a raw dessert to go along side the other desserts you prepare, as a healthy alternative to the more calorie-dense versions.

Remember that making improvements in your health and wellness can come one baby step at a time and it doesn’t need to be a drastic or drama-filled experience. In this way, you can feel good about the foods you are offering your friends and family while preserving the essence of the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Now THAT is something to be thankful for!

Blessings to you at this special time of year.

Tracy

My Response to A Time When Marijuana Is Legal

Marijuana_RaidsThis issue is so huge that it makes me tired just trying to figure out where to begin with my response.

I guess the best place to start would be to suggest you read all of the information and feedback on our Drug Law Reform, and War Stories pages, and especially, I would encourage you to listen to our audio interviews with Superbowl Champ, Mark Stepnoski and Yale Law School educated, Seattle criminal defense attorney, Jeff Steinborn on our Audio Interviews page to get some real, concrete insight into this whole issue.

Let me say that I am not a pot smoker. But I certainly _have_ smoked pot. More than once. And I also inhaled. So, I know first-hand what the experience is like. And it is not the evil, addictive, demon-drug the government and big-industry have made it out to be. Do your research. Get the facts…not the propoganda…and come to your own, educated conclusions.

The following excerpts are from the May 27th, 2013 edition of the NY Times and are letters to the editor. Read the full text for yourself here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/28/opinion/a-time-when-marijuana-is-legal.html?_r=1&

I will reply, per item below, in the body of the text –

NYT -“To the Editor: Bill Keller gets it right: the question is no longer whether marijuana should be legalized, since whatever system emerges is going to put children at risk. Pot is high risk for children because the part of the brain that censors dumb and dangerous behavior is not yet developed, while the pleasure-seeking part is fully functional. So teenagers will do risky things, like driving while high. They’re also far more likely than adults to become addicted.”

~TracyThinks – There are so many things wrong with what Mr. Rosenthal states here, as fact, that are simply not true. At least he starts out by saying that the question is no longer whether marijuana should be legalized. But that is the only lucid part of his statement. That he goes on to say that whatever system emerges is going to put children at risk infuriates me. This is a red herring intended to illicit an emotional response and is not based on fact. The greatest risk to children currently, where marijuana is concerned, is the potential for arrest, possible conviction and incarceration, of themselves or their parents, and the emotional damage resulting from being forced through the legal system. Add to that the HUGE side-effect of being denied government funding for attending college, something not even rapists and murderers are denied access to, and you begin to see the real risk to children.

His claim that the part of the brain that censors dumb and dangerous behavior is not yet developed is just laughable. I’m not a scientist…but I have raised 7 children to adulthood…so I have a little experience in this area. And let me tell you, even my 2 year old grand daughter knows all too well what dumb and dangerous behavior is and she is very good at preventing harm to her person…and recognizes when she has done something she shouldn’t have. Contrast that with the fact that violent crimes are committed, to an overwhelming degree, not by children or even teens, but by mature adults, and his claim doesn’t hold water.

As far as teenagers doing risky things, like driving high…well, don’t get me started on drunk driving statistics and the fact that a person is FAR more likely to drive drunk than high in the first place…And while there are those who do drive high (and I’m not advocating it here, btw) the difference between driving under the influence of alcohol vs. driving under the influence of marijuana are night and day. Alcohol increases brash and brazen behavior and emboldens one to think they are completely capable of operating machinery, when in actuality their judgment and reaction time are impaired. Conversely, under the influence of marijuana, the absolute opposite is true. A person who has consumed pot becomes hyper-aware of their abilities, and because of this, is more likely to choose not to drive. But if a person does drive high, they are usually more cautious than they would be if not under the influence.

His statement that “they are more likely than adults to become addicted” is completely unsubstantiated. There is no scientific data to support that marijuana has any addictive properties. It has been used by large populations of people, world-wide, for thousands of years and is perhaps akin to a coffee addiction when it comes to the physically addictive properties in marijuana. And let’s not even begin discussing all of the “perfectly legal”, highly addictive, pharmaceutical drugs such Suboxone, Revia, Vivitrol, and others that are being prescribed by physicians at “rehab” and “intervention” facilities to manage (treat?) mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders, that are far more damaging and detrimental to the health of those consuming them (including children) than marijuana could ever hope to be.

According to Phoenix House’s 2012 annual report: “At Phoenix House, they are able to detoxify in a controlled environment WHERE MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS DISPENSE AND MONITOR MEDICATIONS…A commitment to the use of every available and appropriate treatment tool is evident in INCREASED EMPLOYMENT OF PHARMACOTHERAPIES at Phoenix House. medications such as Suboxone, Revia, and Vivitrol, which control drug cravings, are being used conjointly with other treatment tools. For a number of clients, concurrent medication-assisted treatment allows them to gain the strength they need to maintain sobriety and succeed in recovery.” Suboxone is an opiate and highly addictive with strong potential for abuse itself, and carries a laundry list of side effects, including possible death.

I’m not necessarily saying that these particular pharmaceuticals are being used to treat marijuana “addiction”. But the fact that these rehabilitation centers are treating drug addiction with other addictive substances seems problematic and counter-productive to me.

NYT – “Pot smoking changes brain anatomy, retards maturation and impairs learning, memory and judgment”

~TPJ – Show me the evidence. This is propaganda to support the continuation of The Drug War. There is no scientific data to support such claims.

NYT – “At the programs of Phoenix House, the overwhelming majority of adolescents we have treated used no drug more potent than marijuana.”

~TPJ – Ahhhh…now we get down to the crux of the issue. “At the programs of Phoenix House.” Follow the money. This guy has ulterior motives. He is money-motivated, as is almost always the case. Mitchell S. Rosenthal, M.D. is founder of Phoenix House and served as President and CEO from 1967 to 2007. A quick look at the organization’s listing at the Better Business Bureau tells us that the current President and CEO, Howard P. Meitiner,  receives annual compensation totaling $637,898. Not too shabby, especially for a non-profit. Mr. Rosenthal was  deputy commissioner of New York City’s Addiction Services Agency (ASA) at the time the organization was formed. And, as of July 2010, he was elected to the Board of Directors at The Partnership for a Drug Free America. (see http://www.drugfree.org/newsroom/dr-mitchell-s-rosenthal-founder-of-phoenix-house-elected-to-the-board-of-directors-of-the-partnership-for-a-drug-free-america ) Another interesting note is that Phoenix House received $61,865,683 in government contracts and grants (representing almost half of their total income of $112,223,034 in 2012). Much of their business is a result of the judicial system referring individuals to them who have been arrested on drug related charges and are compelled to participate in rehabilitation programs, or else face jail time. And those without insurance coverage have to pay for this penalty out of their own pocket.

DRUG rehab is BIG BUSINESS! According to information posted at http://www.addictionrecoveryguide.org/treatment/residential/centers#pho , treatment ranges anywhere from $375 per day at one facility, or $1300 a month at another, on the low end (with most programs lasting over a month…up to 90 days appears to be the norm for marijuana treatment) to nearly $40,000 a month on the high end.

NYT – “So once the legislators are through, it will be up to parents to protect children, convincing them that legal does not mean “safe” despite what government allows. Somehow Mr. Keller did not add the greatest dilemma to his list, which is just how any system of legalization can help parents to do this. MITCHELL S. ROSENTHAL, New York, May 20, 2013, The writer, a child and addiction psychiatrist, is the founder of Phoenix House.”

~TPJ – It has never been any system of legalization’s job or responsibility to be in the business of regulating morality or personal choice. Government’s role in society is not to monitor, prevent, or treat any kind of personal behavior. It has always been, and should always be, the parent’s job to educate themselves, to the the best of their ability, and then teach their children the truth about the world we live in, and prepare them for functioning in it as a contributing member of society.

I found an essay that elucidates my own thoughts on this very well. The author doesn’t provide personal information so that I can credit them, and the site is old…but the logic is solid, regardless. I’m pasting some of that essay here:

“The thing that separates a government…from any other civic or social organization is that goverments may legally initiate the use of force. Nothing and nobody else may do this… Only government has this power, which is called the police power. And politics is nothing more than deciding how this power should be used.

Everything that a law demands that you do, or forbids you to do, is at gunpoint, if neccessary — at the threat of death. Perhaps not for the offense itself, but if you are stubborn enough about not accepting the penalties that government places on you for breaking its laws, you can easily find yourself under the barrel of a policeman’s gun.

The defining characteristic of government IS the legal use of force. And if the use of force is legal, then it also should be just. In fact, the reason that mankind ever formed governments in the first place was to protect ourselves from others using force to kill us (violating our right to life), or to make us do their will (violating our right to liberty), or to take what was ours (violating our right to property). Everybody agrees that when somebody comes to hurt or kill you, or to enslave you, or to rob you, you can defend yourself. Government is the same thing, only in groups. The point of having a government is to organize force for the defense of a group or community (be it a neighborhood, a town, a city, a state, or a nation). And the government IS us. So at what point does it become justice for the government to do by force that which it is unjust for US to do by force?

The answer is, “Never.” The role of government is to defend our lives, our liberty, and our property, from those who would violate them, and to punish those who do so by making them pay us restitution.

It is neither our job nor that of the government to use force to stop us from being stupid, or hateful, or immoral, or discriminatory, or to help the poor, or provide medical care, or schooling, or art, or homes.

If we are going to have a just society, we must limit government to its core functions: protection of life, protection of liberty, protection of property, punishing those who transgress those rights, and gaining restitution from them for their victims.”

NYT – “To the Editor: Bill Keller suggests that legalization of marijuana is a foregone conclusion. The voters in Washington State and Colorado have proposed that one way out of an intransigent public health problem, costly law enforcement, spiraling prison costs and reduced tax revenues is to legalize a known addictive substance.

~TPJ – Here we go again…marijuana is NOT a known addictive substance. See my comments above.

NYT – “It is wishful thinking, however, to believe that a government-regulated marijuana marketplace will raise enough money to offset the harm that today’s highly potent drug inflicts on communities across America.”

~TPJ – Well, I may have to write a Part 2 to this post in order to properly address the cost to the American tax payer of law enforcement and prison costs associated with monitoring, harassing, arresting, and incarcerating millions of non-violent citizens simply because they choose to consume a harmless weed. And the potential upside, from a financial standpoint, to the government for legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana, similar to alcohol and tobacco consumption, is staggering.

As far as the harm marijuana inflicts on communities across America…I think my position is clear by now that “the cure is worse than the disease.”

NYT – “The only chance we have to get ahead of the coming epidemic is by adequately financing treatment programs so the infrastructure of marijuana production, distribution and retail is matched by broad-based community services. PETER PROVET, President and Chief Executive, Odyssey House, New York, May 21, 2013”

~TPJ – Of c-o-u-r-s-e it is…Once again, Mr. Provet is monetarily motivated and has a vested interest in ensuring The Drug War stay alive and kicking. Just look at what we are already paying to fund these programs: “The requested Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 National Drug Control Budget is $25.6 billion. This represents an increase of $415.3 million (1.6%) over the FY 2012 enacted level of $25.2 billion. And the FY 2013 request includes two new Departments and two new bureaus to the National Drug Control Budget.” (http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/the-national-drug-control-budget-fy-2013-funding-highlights)

Grrrreeeaaaat…that’s just what we need to fix a massively failed Drug War. More money and more bureaus and departments to manage it. According to the government’s own websites:

“Unfortunately, the success rates of treatment are rather modest. Even with the most effective treatment for adults, only about 50 percent of enrollees achieve an initial 2-week period of abstinence, and among those who do, approximately half will resume use within a year.” (http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-abuse/available-treatments-marijuana-use-disorders) And from The Partnership for a Drug-Free America “In one study, 71 percent returned to marijuana use within six months.” (http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/drugs/study-examines-new-treatment-for-marijuana-dependence)

This whole issue is a mass of confusion, deception, misdirection, lies, and abuse. And none of it is to benefit the American public. When it comes to marijuana “addiction” far, far more benefit goes to those who administrate these programs.

I maintain that the only time government should become involved in the private lives of it’s citizens is when a violent crime has been committed.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Until next time,

Tracy

Raw Foods and Menopause

In 2000, at age 38, for the first time in my life I started experiencing some strange health challenges.

We had recently moved to a 20 acre piece of property we purchased in Central Oregon and were drinking the local, city water while waiting to put in our own well. Shortly thereafter I began experiencing muscle weakness in both of my arms and dizziness that became nearly debilitating…especially whenever moving from a horizontal to a vertical position, or when rolling over in bed at night. Kind of like an ear infection would effect your equilibrium.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out that it might have something to do with the water I was drinking (strange that no one else in the family had these symptoms, though…) and I quickly started purchasing 2.5 gallon dispenser jugs of purified water to consume. The pain got better almost immediately. But the dizziness persisted…not nearly as badly as it had been before changing to the purified water…but it still clung to me, off and on, for several years afterward.

In late 2006 my younger cousin, Floyd, who was 40 at the time, was diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a softball. This had a significant impact me, both emotionally and psychologically. I desperately wanted to find a way to help him beat that illness. Combined with the fact that my father had suffered a double heart attack, several years earlier, at age 60 and was experiencing a gradual, but progressive, decline in his health, I was motivated to begin research on ways to heal the body through diet and nutrition.

This is when I found the Raw Food lifestyle. And without going into all of the history surrounding that (I’ve already written about that experience in detail on my other blog: http://tracyjprez.wordpress.com) I will say that over the next couple of years I followed that lifestyle with quite a bit of personal success. But it caused a significant challenge with my family, who did not embrace the idea of eating mostly raw foods, and this resulted in a fractured home-life, when it came to meals and food consumption. So, in early 2008 I gradually began eating more and more cooked foods.

During this same time frame I began noticing that my body was starting to experience some definite hormonal shifts. I wasn’t FEELING any different, but my monthly cycle was becoming sporadic, so I knew that something was changing. I hadn’t really experienced much weight-loss on raw foods during my first attempt following a high-raw diet, but most of my strange symptoms did go away, and I really LIKED the lifestyle.  However, due to the situation with my family and other factors, I was lead back to eating mostly cooked food again. By January 2009 my weight was at an all-time high of 193 and I was feeling awful about myself. I’m tall, 5 feet 8 inches, so I can carry more weight than most women without looking especially over-weight. But no matter how you stack it, 193 is about 50 pounds more than I should weigh in order to be healthy. By this time most of our children had grown and were off, living on their own. So, I was in a better position to take a serious shot at Raw Foods again. And this time I did succeed in losing some significant weight! Between March and July I lost about 35 pounds and was feeling sooo much lighter and happier! I was energized and feeling more enthusiastic about life and this way of eating than ever before!

In November of 2009 I launched my online magazine, Eighty Percent Raw (www.eightypercentraw.com), fully convinced of the benefits of this lifestyle. Again, I’ve written all about that experience on my other blog: http://tracyjprez.wordpress.com. So, I will skip writing about all of that here, again. I want to get to the point of this post…

And that is this – Looking back on all of this upheaval and fluctuation in my weight and my health, with the symptoms that have come and gone in the process…I really think almost all of this can be attributed, primarily,  to the hormonal changes my body has been going through. And I don’t think enough serious consideration, or discussion, is given to what havoc is really wreaked in a woman’s body, nor for how LONG, throughout the whole menopausal adjustment period. This isn’t like some short-term “condition” or illness that we go through and then get over in a couple of months. At least not in my experience. And if you are anything like me, you have tried all kinds of things in an attempt to force your body to cooperate with you to “fix” the problem. Well, guess what? Apparently the body wins. OMG! LOL!

Sooo…here is where I am today. I am returning to a high-raw foods lifestyle, once again. I am no longer experiencing debilitating joint pain in my knees (which always resurfaced whenever I would go back to high-raw or high-carb in the recent past…but, again, this appears to be related more to hormones and not to diet, as I previously believed) and my general health seems to be better than it’s been in quite a long time now. But I still struggle with the weight.

Raw foods is the one “diet” or lifestyle that helped me lose weight and KEEP IT OFF _without even trying_ for nearly two years. That is saying something, for me!

Here are some of the insights I’ve gained, so far as my own body and weight-loss and diet are concerned –

1. I can’t eat starches and lose weight (ie; cooked grains, legumes, potatoes, etc.)

2. I have to watch my fat intake. I can’t eat a lot of nuts, seeds, avocados, oils, etc. and lose weight (though, I was using eating lots of nuts, seeds, coconut, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and olives with no problem prior to the major hormonal change, so I am going to be watching this)

3. Not sure if I need to be careful about condensed sweets like dried fruit, agave nectar (not currently using), pure maple syrup, honey, etc. So I will also be watching these. Also, not sure if I need to be cautious about high-sugar, high-starch fruits like banana, mango, papaya, etc. But I have my suspicions, so I am also keeping a close watch on what happens with these. *I _have_ noticed that I break out and get swelling and cracking around my lips when I consume much raw pineapple or watermelon lately… so I seem to have some weird food intolerance’s that I haven’t experienced before.

I would LOVE to have an open dialogue with other women who have had challenges going through menopause, especially where weight gain and hormonal symptoms are concerned. And I would particularly enjoy hearing from those who have overcome these symptoms and are following a high-raw foods diet & lifestyle!

Until next time…

Tracy

Equality, Marriage, and Gay Rights

Gay MarriageLet me start by saying that I believe these are three, separate issues that should not be further complicated by intertwining them, because they are each so simple, yet seem to be made utterly complex in today’s society.

Personally, I don’t understand the confusion. Since I live in the United States of America, I will address these issues as they relate to the laws of our land. But bear in mind that I feel these rights apply to our very humanity, so in that sense, should not alter from one country to another, but should be instead be universal in their application.

Allow me to address each issue, individually:

1. Equality – The most famous sentence from The Declaration of Independence is found in it’s second paragraph and reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (see http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html)  So, according to the law of the land, there really is no debate here. “All men (humans) are created equal”. Period.

2. Marriage – The loudest complaint I hear on this issue comes from the Religious Right/Conservative community, claiming that it is imperative that “the sanctity” of marriage be protected. Their defense normally goes something like this: “Marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman.” And they base this assertion on passages of scripture, most specifically; Genesis 2: 22-24, which reads: “Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.  The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘ for she was taken out of man.”  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” But I also hear people quoting a similar verse; Matthew 19: 4-6, which reads – “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’  and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ ?  So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

So, I want to be completely clear on something that I haven’t heard anyone else really focusing on. My position is this – Ok. Fine. I agree with them. Let MARRIAGE remain a “sacred union” between one man and one woman. But before you get defensive, hear me out.

Marriage _SHOULD_ be ONLY a sacred union. Between God (thus the designation “sacred”, ie; related to God) and His (I specify gender here because we are discussing marriage, which is primarily a religious convention/tradition of the Abrahamic faiths…whose god is male) followers. I find it kind of interesting that we hear so much talk about division of church and state…but somehow marriage is not really addressed in those conversations. My point is this – IF there is going to be a “sacred ritual” involving covenants and agreements between a deity and it’s worshippers, then I’m ok with that. BUT, but, but…it absolutely SHOULD be confined to the realm of religion and we should NEVER assign LEGAL BENEFITS to those who choose to participate in a religious ritual. Why society ever decided people should have to receive a “license” from the state in order to participate in, and more importantly, validate, such a religious ritual is baffling to me. The only rational explanation in my mind is that the state saw it as a means of revenue generation.

If you do some research into the origins of marriage you will find some pretty interesting stuff. According to Barbara G. Walker’s comprehensive work, “The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets”, ‘The word marriage came from Latin maritare, union under the auspices of the Goddess Aphrodite-Mari. Because the Goddess’s patronage was constantly invoked in every aspect of marriage, Christian fathers were opposed to the institution. Origen declared, “Matrimony is impure and unholy, a means of sexual passion.” St. Jerome said the primary purpose of a man was to “cut down with an ax of Virginity the wood of Marriage.” St. Ambrose said marriage was a crime against God, because it changed the state of virginity that God gave every man and woman at birth. Tertulian said marriage was a moral crime “more dreadful than any punishment or death.” It was spurcitiae, “obscenity”, or “filth.” St. Augustine flatly stated that marriage is a sin. Tatian said marriage is corruption, “a polluted and foul way of life.” Influenced by him, Syrian churches ruled that no person could become Christian except celibate men, and no man who had ever been married could be baptized. Saturninus said God made only two kinds of people, good men and evil women. Marriage perpetuated the deviltry of women, who dominated men through the magic of sex. Centuries later, St. Bernard still proclaimed that it was easier for a man to bring the dead back to life than to live with a woman without endangering his soul.” Ms. Walker goes on to explain, in well documented detail, the history and evolution of the institution of marriage, and it’s really very insightful reading! I won’t quote all of what she has to say here, but will share two other pertinent points; 1. According to William J. Fielding’s Strange Customs of Courtship and Marriage, New York: Garden City Publishing, Co. 1942, “There was no Christian sacrament of marriage until the 16th century.” And 2. According to W. Carew Hazlitt’s Faiths and Folklore of the British Isles (2 vols.) New York: Benjamin Blom, Inc., 1965, “The Anglican marriage service came from the Anglo-Saxon deeds used to transfer a woman’s land to the stewardship of her “houseman”(husband).

So, it all comes back to money, possessions, and control of them. And, of course, the government could not pass up the opportunity to get it’s share of the action.

But back to my opinion, which is this: Keep religion OUT of the legal system. And let’s not assign certain tax, medical insurance, or other legal benefits to those who have chosen to participate in this (what should be a purely) religious institution.

3. Gay Rights – I really think this one is easy and a no-brainer. I’ll just refer you back to my comments above in item #1 and the fact that humans are (all) endowed with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing is mentioned about sexual preference, race, nationality, culture, etc. Everyone deserves equal treatment. And especially so when it comes to legal benefits.

So, IF marriage is going to go outside the confines of a purely religious ritual and instead, carries with it certain benefits and privileges bestowed by the government and our legal system, then ALL PEOPLE should be able to participate in these benefits…because THE LAW and THE GOVERNMENT should not be in the business of religion.

Just my two cents 😉

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Until next time…

Tracy

I am really damn frustrated!

Ok, so, I haven’t been writing much lately and the honest truth is that I am frustrated as hell with diet and my weight. Ugh! So, I guess I”m just going to have to tell the story.

By February 2009 I reached an all-time high weight of 193 pounds. And I decided something had to change. I’d been following a mostly raw foods lifestyle for close to 2 years at that time, but unlike other raw foodists who reported losing tonz of weight, I hadn’t lost the weight I wanted to lose. At 5’9″ tall, I can carry more weight than most, but still, my ideal weight hovers somewhere between 140 and 160 pounds. So, at best I was 30 pounds overweight and I was feeling it. I decided to get serious about the weight loss. And by mid-summer of that year I had lost the 30 pounds and was down to 160. Weight-wise I felt great! I was thin…people were telling me that I was skinny…and I felt good in my clothes.

The unexpected turn in that story is that I began experiencing symptoms. Many of which I would later lean were a result of pre-menopause and hormonal imbalance…but I am quite sure that many of the symptoms were also due to my diet. I had a perpetual deep muscle pain in the back of my left thigh, and I became severely anemic. My energy dropped dramatically and my monthly period was lasting two weeks to a month at a time. I was fatigued and light headed. And during my period I felt a deep pain from my abdomen clear through to my lower back.

And I began having such extreme joint pain in my knees that I believed I would have to live with rheumatoid arthritis for the rest of my life.

I also developed horizontal ridges on my fingernails…a symptom indicative of iron and vitamin B12 deficiency. My husband and I decided it was time to reintroduce more red meat into my diet.

Since that time most of those symptoms have been eliminated…but some new ones have taken their place; I’ve started having nighttime numbness and tingling in my arms and sometimes my legs. I have also experienced pain in the left side of my neck. And had chronic charlie horses in my left toes. And occasionally I have felt a slight flutter or pressure in my chest. These symptoms all freak me out because my dad had a double heart attack, and then more recently, my brother who is my elder by 10 years had a heart attack and was diagnosed with diabetes. I have tried to be so careful about what I eat that it blows my mind to think that I might be pre-diabetic…but I’d be crazy to not consider that this is a strong possibility.

So, my weight…

I have regained almost all of the weight that I lost and kept off for over a year and a half without effort on the high-raw foods diet. But I felt lousy. Lately I have been following a low-carb and then the Weight Watchers program and I have to say that I am no longer experiencing joint pain and the pain in my neck and numbness in my arms has diminished significantly…but it’s become more and more difficult to lose weight now that my hormones have changed. And it frustrates the hell out of me! My body no longer responds to diet the way it used to…and I don’t really know what to do about it. I don’t have the patience to lose 1/2 a pound a week…I want to get back down to that comfortable 160 weight, at a minimum, but don’t really know that best path to do it. I’m in a holding pattern right now while I try to decide what is the best path for my body. Clearly, high-raw with no animal protein does not work for me. But I don’t know that low-carb does either.

I just needed to vent. I would love to hear from anyone else who has gone through menopause and has had this same challenge.

More to come.

Tracy

My Experience Going 100% Raw

I feel it’s important that I tell you about my own introduction to the raw foods lifestyle and why I ended up developing the Eighty Percent Raw Plan.

The process started on September 6th, 2001. My husband and I were on a business trip to New York City just 5 days prior to 911. It was just a quick over-nighter so early the following day we made the long flight back to Portland.

Four days later we were on yet another business trip to the east coast, but this time our destination was Tampa, Florida. We arrived late on the evening of September 10th and, as you know, at 8:00am the next morning all hell broke loose. The gravity of our situation quickly sunk in as we realized that we were stranded in Tampa, 3,000 miles away from home. Our teenage children were in Portland dealing with the situation all by them selves and we had no idea what to expect next.  In addition to all of this, I received a phone call from my oldest son in Texas, who had recently enlisted with the United States Army National Guard Reserves, informing me that he was on red alert awaiting orders to report for Basic Training. Needless to say, I was in a high state of anxiety, but doing my best to stay calm and balanced. What a relief it was three days later to learn the airport in Tampa was re-opening sooner than anticipated and we would be able to return home within the week. Once again in Oregon we tried to adopt an optimistic attitude that life would get back to normal, but like everyone else, the foundation of our reality had been severely shaken. And it wasn’t long before it became glaringly apparent that this experience would not be without its own deep seated repercussions.

Long story short, one month later on October 10th, 2001, I found out for the first time what it feels like to have a spontaneous panic attack. Little did I realize at the time the impact these episodes would have on my life for years to come.

This whole sequence of events began a domino effect that would ultimately lead to the development of my Eighty Percent Raw diet and lifestyle plan.  But at that point in time all I knew was that something inside me had broken and I wanted nothing more than to fix it.

Fortunately I was raised by a mother who taught me at an early age to trust in my own intuition and the wisdom found in nature. We weren’t a family who went to the doctor for every little cough or cold that came along. In fact, I can probably count on two hands the number of times I visited our family physician during my childhood and adolescent years. Though I did occasionally take over the counter pain relievers or allergy medications, I was trained to prepare home remedies and concoctions based on natural herbs and foods such as lemon, vinegar, honey, garlic, olive oil and the like for healing whatever might ail me. I was also taught that diet plays a huge role in our overall health and well-being. This training served me well when later in life I was confronted with this break down in my body’s immune system.

In retrospect I have to say that, if nothing else, having those panic attacks taught me many valuable lessons about the power of pharmaceutical drugs to harm our bodies, especially when contrasted by the gentle healing properties inherent within whole and living foods. And I was flat astonished that the doctor I visited didn’t even bother to ask any questions about my diet or make suggestions regarding what I ate in the hope that this might alter my chemistry in a positive way and potentially heal my miserable condition. I knew, at an intuitive level, that this was the key to my healing.

It was through this experience that I became more acutely in tune with my own body and its nutritional needs.

I began experimenting with different foods to discover which might improve and which could exacerbate the panic tendencies in my system. I had a firm belief that “you are what you eat” and possessed first hand knowledge that the food and beverages we consume directly affect the chemical balance in our bodies.  Despite the fact that I was still eating much more cooked food than raw at that point, I was beginning to learn about foods that might contribute to a sense of calm and well being, and began incorporating more of these foods into my daily menus. I also investigated foods which might agitate or excite and I avoided these like the plague. It was at this time in my life that I decided to eliminate all processed foods, such as; refined grains, refined white sugar, all dairy products, artificial sweeteners, caffeinated beverages, and other non-whole foods from my diet. And I began to experience a level of healing as a result.

I lost weight and was feeling a significant improvement which sustained me for the next several years.

Fast forward to 2007, and keep in mind that I was observing the slow but steady decline in my father’s health, which not only made me concerned for his well-being, but also fed into fears I was suppressing about what my own future could be looking like if I followed in his footsteps, and we have the setting for my seemingly random introduction to raw foods.

Dad suffered a double heart attack about ten years previous to this time and had subsequently experienced many other health problems, the least of which were not the multiple mini-strokes which were beginning to significantly impact his memory, motor skills, and cognitive abilities.

My father was a brilliant man; an aeronautical engineer by profession, and his intellect was something I had always taken great pride in. So it was very deeply disturbing for me to see such a decline in not only his physical capabilities, but more significantly, in his mental health.

Even though mom always tried to prepare healthy, home-cooked meals, we basically consumed the Standard American Diet (SAD). This consisting of mostly cooked foods which contained a considerable amount of wheat flour (mom insisted on baking with only the unbleached kind) and white flour in the form of noodles, tortillas, pizzas, store-bought doughnuts, coffee cakes, cookies and crackers to supplement the home-made variety. We frequently had potato chips, Ritz and graham crackers in the house to snack on. Breakfast was cold or hot cereal with milk and sugar, pancakes, waffles, or a couple slices of cinnamon toast. Lunches were deli meat and cheese sandwiches or left over casserole or stew from a prior evening’s meal. Dinners were generally a noodle-based casserole, which more often than not was based on a cream and/or cheese sauce and meat of some kind. We also had lots of home-made soups and stews or mashed potatoes with gravy. Vegetables were usually from a can or sometimes the over-cooked frozen kind. Fruit came from a bottle that mom put up herself because she thought this was a healthier option than buying canned fruit from the store – but in reality these fruits were heavily cooked and saturated in sugar syrup. Often times we had home-made muffins or dinner rolls to accompany our evening meal. And most nights we also had dessert of ice cream, home made cake or cookies. The one really raw thing mom always insisted on having along side whatever else was served for dinner was a basic green salad (iceberg lettuce, shredded carrot, sliced radish and scallions) or coleslaw. But it was almost an after thought for the rest of us and we rarely, if ever, ate it.

I’m guessing all of this is sounding very familiar to you…

So, that is the basic diet dad lived on his entire adult life. Add to this the fact that he liked to “treat himself” to jugs full of Flavor-Ade prepared with a cupful of white sugar per gallon and cans of Chef Boy-R-Dee ravioli and you can begin to see where this might wreak havoc in his system and very likely led to his ultimate demise.

But we just didn’t know any better in those days. The fact that mom chose not to feed us Wonderbread and checked labels to make sure we weren’t consuming “artificial preservatives” put us (we thought) smack dab in the center of the health-food crowd.

So, raw foods…

In 2007 I was browsing MySpace when I came across a page by a woman who claimed to be a “Raw Foodist”. This label caught my attention because I had never heard the term before. There were lots of links on her page to websites on the subject so I jumped in with both feet! I was very intrigued by this unusual philosophy and lifestyle! When I discovered that the FDA assigns the same nutritional value to both a raw almond and a roasted almond, yet if we take one of each and plant them in the ground only the raw one will sprout and grow, that information struck a chord with me. Then when I further learned that science teaches that when foods are heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit the naturally occurring enzymes are killed, and that the enzymes are the “living” part of the food, so when we eat foods that have been cooked, pasteurized and heated to this degree we are consuming essentially nutrient dead foods, the light just went on in my head. I was convinced this was the key to improving my own health and that a huge part of the reason my body had broken down in the first place was due to the fact that I had been feeding it primarily dead food my entire life. My body simply hadn’t been receiving the nutrition it needed to thrive.

I decided to try this lifestyle for myself to find out if it made a difference in my body. By this time I had also been experiencing pretty extreme dizzy spells off and on, for a few years…mostly when I moved dramatically from a vertical to a horizontal position, or vice versa. And while I’d learned to live with this condition I did wish it would go away.

So, I immediately began following a 98% raw foods lifestyle. For six weeks the only cooked foods I consumed were small amounts of condiments such as traditional soy sauce, Tobasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, etc. I was completely devoted! And…I was rewarded with astonishing results for my efforts! I lost 15 pounds of excess weight and the dizzy spells I had been combating for years completely went away. As a bonus, the dry, flakey skin on my shins and the athlete’s foot on my left foot that had been bothering me for ages “magically” went away! My husband and teenagers even commented on how amazing all of this was!

But there was a trade off.

I quickly learned that many of the raw foods I was enjoying were not palatable to the rest of my family. My husband could not tolerate such core raw food ingredients as; avocados, mushrooms, sea weed, squash or sweet potatoes of any kind, or anything that seemed “strange” or out of the ordinary. And as a result mealtime became a huge challenge. While I was blissfully consuming raw foods that were making me feel fabulous, my husband and teenagers were subsisting on frozen burritos, pizzas, corn dogs, and Hot Pockets. I felt horrible knowing that these foods were not healthy for them and at the same time, this difference in our eating habits was creating a massive divide in our family meal time. This became a big problem and it quickly became clear that something had to change. Additionally, my 100% raw approach proved to be a problem when we went out to eat, turning what used to be an enjoyable and blissful experience into one of discontent and frustration.

While I was experiencing this difficulty in our personal life, I was also participating in some very active, online raw food communities, message boards and discussion forums. These groups were great for offering new recipe ideas and support…but I began to notice a tendency toward fanaticism that was really starting to bother me. There was such an emphasis on being 100% raw that it teetered on the verge of being religious or dogmatic in attitude, and this, I felt, was unhealthy. Threads about the lack of available options when dining out came up and there were many who expressed a concern that the only menu item appropriate for raw foodists at most restaurants was the side salad, and at that, there were no dressing choices that didn’t more than likely contain some cooked ingredient. To me, this whole discussion was ridiculous. I figured if you were dining out and you chose to eat the salad as your meal, then by damn, eat whatever dressing you like! You’re still far and away ahead of most people who are making less healthy food choices! But not these people…there was talk of carrying your own, home-made, raw dressing in your purse so that you’d have something you knew was 100% raw to put on your bed of salad greens at the restaurant.

All of this, combined with the stress of division over meals in our home life, made me rethink my approach.

And that’s when I began to recognize the benefit of an Eighty Percent Raw Plan.

(More to come…)

My Cannabis Activism

On June 28th, 2001 Jeff and I published a full-page ad in Portland, Oregon’s alternative news-weekly, Willamette Week, boldly proclaiming ourselves to be mainstream Americans, good neighbors, and pot smokers. We subsequently published the same ad in Seattle’s The Stranger and San Francisco’s Bay Guardian. Our marijuana drug war activism resulted in invitations to appear as guests on television, rock, and AM talk radio stations all across the country as well as articles being written about us in notable magazines and newspapers. Read the original full-page ad, watch video footage, and listen to audio interviews by visiting our website HERE