Years of sedentary living and eating a ‘healthy’ standard western diet left Diana Paez carrying extra weight and feeling lethargic. After years of trying various approaches to health and weight-loss with limited to no success, including intensive exercise regimes, spot laser treatments, as well as vegetarian, pescetarian and whole-foods diets, she finally found a simple, pleasurable solution in consuming a high fruit, low fat raw vegan diet.
But it hasn’t been all plain-sailing for Diana and she’s learnt plenty along the way about how to successfully maintain a raw food diet.
In today’s Raw Foodie Profile Diana shares some of her best tips for success…
What was life was like before the fruit-based Raw Vegan lifestyle?
I live a pretty sedentary life as a designer and animator; day in day out on the computer. So in my mid twenties my metabolism started to slow down, especially after an accident where I fractured my fibula and was on crutches for about 2 months.
So with the accident, coupled with the heavy partying and drinking that goes on in my hometown (Miami, FL), I inevitably gained some weight.
I wasn’t eating junk food or anything like that. I did eat out at restaurants often and for the most part, consumed a standard diet, but it was leaning more towards whole foods cooked at home. However, at a height of 5’3” I got to the most I’ve ever weighed which was about 137 lbs.
I wasn’t too happy with the way my body was shaped. I remember one day when I could barely find clothes that would fit, I furiously decided to start working out almost everyday,
or as much as I could. And I did, but it barely helped. I might have lost 4 lbs. At most.
I even attempted the “almost” vegetarian life. I became a pescetarian (no chicken and red meat, but I would eat fish) for almost an entire year until I took a hair analysis test to find that my mercury levels and calcium levels were off the chart (from all the fish) and I was headed towards thyroid problems.
2 years later, when I moved to California, I decided to go back to eating meat and chicken again. My weight stayed the same, but I started practicing yoga intensively and biked everywhere locally instead of driving.
How did you come to find the fruit-filled path? And why did you decide to embark on it?
I think the very beginning of my health journey was when my grandma passed away with pancreatic cancer while I was still living in Miami. Since then I’ve been on the quest for improving my health.
Once I moved to California, my diet improved with fresher foods. I fell in love with farmers markets, yoga, the outdoors, and all the marvels that come with the LA lifestyle.
My fiance and I really started getting into gourmet cooking at home. But despite of all this, I still experienced little to absolutely no weight loss. I desperately wanted a change and kept hunting for the solution.
At the time I was receiving laser hair-removal treatments. During one of the treatments, I noticed they offered a non-invasive fat removal procedure called “Zerona”. Led by my obsession with weight-loss, I became curious about this and decided to try it out.
The protocol for this procedure was to completely eliminate alcohol, sugar, refined grains etc during the 4-6 week treatment. In addition, it was recommended to increase my consumption of water and to exercise regularly.
All I really had to sacrifice was the booze. The treatments were easy and painless. All I had to do was lay down and let some machine shoot some infrared lasers at my problem areas. Easy!
Well, to my disappointment, I might have lost a few centimeters from my thighs, but nothing really noticeable and worth the expense. And in the end I am almost positive it might have just been the elimination of alcohol from my diet that helped with this.
Frustrated, I thought there had to be an easier way of losing weight… Why couldn’t I find it?
I started researching more about how this Zerona treatment works and discovered something I never heard anyone in the mainstream “health and fitness” community talk about – The lymphatic system!
I was amazed at how no one ever mentions the detoxification process of the body. It’s always about diet and exercise. I became fascinated with skin brushing and rebounding.
In the process of researching everything there is to know about the lymphatic system, I discovered an amazing video with Dan McDonald and Lou Corona talking about Lou’s famous life-changing juice recipe, the “Lemon Ginger Blast”.
I had purchased a juicer when I lived in Miami and decided to get back into juicing. I started drinking one Lemon Ginger Blast juice per day. Only a week or two later, I noticed my body changing!
I was feeling so much better. I had no more need for coffee and I even lost a few pounds. I was amazed!
I continued my research on juicing and then that led me to Edward Howell’s book Enzyme Nutrition. That was the book that completely changed my perception of food.
After that, all of Dan McDonald’s videos made so much sense and that’s how I adopted the raw vegan lifestyle. Shortly after that I read the book The 80-10-10 Diet By Dr Douglas Graham and from that point on I decided I wanted to become a 100% raw vegan.
How long has it been since you’ve been eating this way?
Since February 2013, so a little over one year.
What difference has eating this way made to your life?
My entire life has transformed and the lives of so many others around me. The first physical change I noticed was a quick shed of 10 lbs. Within the first 3-4 weeks. These are 10 lbs I could not lose with years of exercising!
About 3 months into it I went through my first detox phase. My skin broke out, I got headaches and felt fatigue. But I was armed with the knowledge that this was part of the detoxification process, so I welcomed it.
I sped up the process by getting a colonic. After this it was just magical. My weight reduced to 119 lbs, which was my weight in my teen years! I felt lighter than ever. I had so much energy, and some days I had to work out twice to exert all that excess energy.
Some days I felt so at peace and almost euphoric, with a deep sense of joy and bliss permeating through my body and mind. Improved mental clarity. Improved sleep. Meditation became easier. I noticed even my creativity improved.
Everything just flows easier now; work, my relationships, my communication, my writing, my art, and my music. I also feel a much more profound respect for nature and feel more connected to the Earth. And I feel that this continues to grow.
The last few months I’ve noticed my intuition has improved as well as my ability to manifest things I want in my life. It’s a truly amazing gift I want to share with the world, and have been diligently, since I’ve discovered it.
Could you describe any struggles you’ve had in changing over to this way of eating and lifestyle?
There are many challenges to this lifestyle, particularly in the initial stages. At first, as for many other raw vegans out there, is the social problem.
Going out to eat with others became an issue for me. Luckily, in LA, many restaurants acknowledge the vegan community and offer options for them. But not all options are that great, unless you’re eating at a vegan restaurant.
Also, the night life became somewhat of a drag for me because I stopped drinking as well.
Going to visit my family and friends in Miami became twice as hard, since there weren’t as many vegan restaurants as there are here and all my friends typically meet up at night at bars. Miami’s vegan community is growing now though, which I am happy to say J.
The winter months are tough too because one naturally craves something warm. In this case I would either give in, and have some hot soup or tea, or stay disciplined and just warm/steam my food a little bit.
How do you share eating and food with your partner? Have there been any challenges and how have you overcome them?
I’m happy to say that Manny is about 60% Raw Vegan now (40% vegetarian).
In the beginning it was tough because he was used to the wonderful gourmet cooking at home and it wasn’t his decision to become vegan, let alone raw vegan. But for the most part, he ate the food I made, and was okay with it because he didn’t want to cook for himself.
Sometimes, if he felt like eating cooked, he would prepare a cooked version of what I was making. For example, if I made a raw vegan pizza, he would use most of the same ingredients, add cheese and put it on his bread and bake it in the oven. Or I would make raw vegan tacos, wrapped in greens, and he would use tortillas or taco shells instead.
We would always find a way to compromise.
But now he loves all the raw foods I make, and partakes in the preparation process. He loves smoothies and juices and the only time he really eats cooked vegetarian foods is on his lunch breaks at work.
He looks and says he feels so much better now as well, and he hasn’t even adopted the raw vegan lifestyle 100%…yet!
Could you give us an idea of roughly what you would eat in a day?
Typically I have a 32 oz. vegetable juice or mono fruit meals (melons, berries, cherimoyas) for breakfast, green smoothies for lunch and a salad or gourmet raw vegan dish for dinner. You can find many of the recipes of foods I eat on my blog www.consciousnourishment.org
What do you see as the biggest mistake people make when trying to go raw, and what advice would you give them?
They eat too little. For example, they expect a 12-16 oz smoothie to keep them full until the next meal. Or their meals are plain and unimaginative.
My advice would be to always eat until fully satiated and to try to replicate their favorite cooked recipes into raw vegan versions.
There are tons of free resources online, like my website, where they can get free recipes, tips and tricks. Or let books and YouTube be your guide in the beginning.
Don’t try to do it all yourself at first. Also, always look for the best quality foods, it makes a huge difference in flavor and the way you feel afterwards.
How do you stay on track, when the rest of the planet is eating meat, dairy, grains and processed foods with impunity?
I believe that educating yourself about your own health is the best way to stay on track. I have read many books and watched many documentaries on the topic of the consumption of animals, animal products and processed foods and it really didn’t take long for me to completely get rid of any desire for these so-called ‘foods’.
The only challenge for me is grains. I came from a background of eating a diet high in grains. However, I’ve realized recently that I can sprout most grains and consume them raw. I just made raw hummus the other day and it was so delicious!
There’s a raw vegan version for every food you can think of, so really, for me, it’s just about being able to say no when the cooked grains come around. Which I will admit, is not easy, and I’ve fallen off a few times. But I don’t let those moments defeat me and I try to not be hard on myself when I eat something cooked because I’m sure the stress that brings is unhealthier than the cooked food itself!
I know that I’m still in a transitional process and I respect the time it takes my body to get used to a fully raw vegan diet.
Tell us about your website, why you started it and any plans you have for it…
I started my website to simply share recipes and information with friends and family that showed interest in my new lifestyle and to collect my ideas and research into one place.
After studying this topic for some time now, I’ve gained a deep need to increase awareness about the foods we are consuming and how it is affecting our species and our planet.
It also just gives me so much pleasure and fulfillment to be able to help others improve their health. At this time so many are looking to be more in tune with their bodies, physically and spiritually, and I feel that diet is paramount to this quest.
I will continue to dedicate time to my blog and in doing so, develop my distinct role / purpose in this community. With every post I make, I learn more about this lifestyle and myself, and for these reasons alone I truly value my website.
Once I discover the best information I can offer I plan to write a book about it and offer it on my site.
Any other words of wisdom you’d like to share with people either considering or already on this path?
Yes! Each person’s body carries its own wisdom and diversity. This lifestyle should not be about following another person’s dietary regimen.
What has worked for them, might not work for you. It is your responsibility to learn what the best diet for you can be through your own experimentation.
Every book, video, and article you find on this topic will contain information that may be contradictory to another expert’s point of view. Don’t let that confuse you because it doesn’t mean that one is right and the other is wrong. It just means that their bodies, environments, and lifestyles are different from the others.
Be open to everything (many different point of views) and attached to nothing. And let your appearance, and the way you feel, guide you in the process of choosing the best diet for yourself.
See the raw vegan lifestyle as a learning process, a journey to get to know your body rather than ‘the answer’. There is always room for improvement.
Health is not just about food. Put emphasis on the detoxification process of your body as well and also always keep conscious of the thoughts you are feeding yourself with.
Thoughts are energy and they are transferred into foods, so always be in a peaceful, loving state when preparing your foods.
Author’s comments – I relate so much to Diana’s story of desperately searching for answers to her weight and health issues. In fact, I’m sure the vast majority of us do. In my experience, if you’re 100% committed to finding the perfect solution then that’s exactly what you’ll manifest – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
How do YOU deal with conflicting health advice? Please share your experience and insights in the comments section below…
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Anthea Frances is an author, raw food health coach and host of the Raw Life Summit series. Grab a copy of her free Balanced Raw Vegan Nutrition Checklist and start improving your health today!