Raw is beautiful. It's alive...and it offers me an incredible challenge to CREATE new and exciting textures that are decadent, delicious and nutritious. And the best is, I’m eating food that is chock full of healing properties, the way nature intended. Uncooked food, from nature comes with its own enzymes, which means the body does not have to work as hard to digest it. If you are chronically ill, this enables your body to conserve some of its resources that can be used towards healing.
The amazing thing is, I started this all for health reasons, but it evolved into something I never imagined. I found myself extremely stoked when it came to creating new raw recipes. I would literally dream recipes in my head, and then create them! This never happened to me with cooked food. It has become a passion, a love, a drive that comes from my heart and soul and I placed that intention into all of my creations. I love it when people tell me they can "feel the love" in my food, as I certainly use it as one of my main ingredients in everything I create.
I truly love developing recipes that are sexy, vibrant, high energy, healing, living foods. Friends and family will tell you, when they observe me either in the kitchen or talking about raw food, I go somewhere else, a zone, a highly charged place...of joy. Warning: Don't get me started on this topic, because I will talk your ear off, if you let me! I don't preach. I have nothing to preach about. . I simply ooze with passion and I am not even sure why, other than my body recognizes the value of this food and is celebrating this new-found knowledge.
Now, on the other hand, W and I do like to travel and socialize, and I refuse to give up the joy that sharing food of all kinds can bring. Other people also like to create food, and put as much love energy into their food as I do mine. I do not wish to offend or alienate, and I prefer to foster and share LOVE of all kinds, regardless of what form it comes in...raw or cooked. My personal choice in my personal space is RAW, and I can say with all of my heart that I feel much better when I eat mostly raw, and for that reason, I try to incorporate as much of that as I can. I don't let it limit my realm of other experiences and can be quite the chameleon when I need to in social settings. Making a fuss about having to eat this or that, when this or that may not be available, does not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.
So, I write about raw food. I teach how to prepare raw food, and I love the fact that raw food can have such a positive impact on my health. For me, learning about raw food preparation was like adding a whole new world of colors to my artistic palette (and palate)! Because so many people like me struggle with weight and diet and health, I take great joy in teaching and giving my readers more options than they ever knew existed.
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Initially, while trying to heal the Interstitial Cystitis (IC), I made some poor choices, taxed my immune system and developed Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I 'm currently working to heal those as well. All disease, is merely a symptom of something going wrong in the body, so I try not to treat the disease, but get to the source. If you only treat the disease to alleviate the symptoms, the real problem will probably manifest again as another disease. We've got to get to the source. Most of my ailments probably stem from the same place and because the problem has gone unaddressed for so long, my body is screaming for my attention. I'm listening...and responding. I talk about that more in the Journal portion of my blog.
There is no known cure for IC and no one is really sure what causes it. IC generally effects the entire pelvic floor and many ICers also suffer from other auto-immune diseases. I truly believe that changing my lifestyle and the foods I eat, will help me regain my health.
When my IC symptoms returned, I was and am pretty house bound, and unable to get around well on my own. I cannot even begin to tell you the impact of this disease on my life. I was a Director of Customer Support, worked 10-12 hour days,commuted 1.5 hours each way, and maintained a household. The disease is invisible. I look fine on the outside, but inside, a volcano is erupting. It is difficult for people to sometimes understand that even though I look okay, I may not be able to do the things they expect of me.
About 6 years ago, I also had a major heart attack. I was lucky to survive with absolutely no damage to my heart, to the utter amazement of my cardiologist. I gained even more weight after that and losing it has been an absolute horror. I was sick and tired, of being sick and tired. I could stand my body. I contacted a holistic Doctor that I knew and asked for his help, the work that I'm doing with him, in combination with adding raw food to my lifestyle has had some incredible results. I'm not done yet. This will be an ongoing journey for sure.
It's been a challenging few years here, in the body and life of Barbara Shevkun. After leaving a 20 yr marriage, I lived on my own for about 8 years. While I certainly love my alone time, I've never liked living alone. I envy those that are comfortable being on their own. It's just not me. ENTER: "W" (yes that really is the name he goes by). I knew there was something special about him as soon as we started communicating on line. However, about a week after we met, I had a sense that W didn't fit the mold of my"perfect guy," at least not the one I thought I wanted and needed in my life. He was a "nice guy," but a little quirky, and not what I envisioned for myself. I figured it best to break up with him sooner than later and continue my "hunt" for Mr Right.
Normally, having only known him a week, I'd have done this the quick and easy way, over the phone. He lived 2.5 hours away, and this surely would have saved us both any excess drama, and saved me from any resistance on his part. For whatever reason, I did not do that, and opted to have him come over so I couuld do the evil deed in person. Of course, W had no idea this is what I had planned.
Fast forward another three weeks, June 25, 2006. We had been out and about, shopping, and when we arrived home, I suddenly sunk to my knees, doubled over, with excruciating burning and searing pain in my gut, through my back. At first, I thought maybe it was a gas bubble...and tried moving around to release it. I began sweating like crazy, and falsely assumed it was a nervous reaction to the pain. The pain was horrific and after an hour with no relief, I suggested W call 911. I was terrified. I had never called 911 before, and had never been in an ambulance.
The EMT's filled my tiny living room and spent almost an hour taking one EKG after another, attempting to isolate the problem. One minute everything seemed fine, the next, not so fine. They were stumped. When I suddenly felt pain move down my arm and into my jaw I realized it was time to take me to the hospital. My Dad was 48 when he had his heart-attack and died. I was now 49 and I was scared!
W had no idea where the hospital was located and fortunately a neighbor hopped in the car and drove him there. The ambulance driver had to keep slowing down so the EMT could insert the IV in my vein. This was a GOLDEN MOMENT and someone was looking out for me!! I never realized how bumpy those damned ambulances could be, but i t definitely prohibited the EMT from getting the IV in place!!!
The IV was finally inserted, and when we arrived at the hospital, W was already there, waiting. I was so grateful to have him there. His calm demeanor was needed to keep me from total panic. He assured me that I'd be okay. By the time they got me into ER, I I truly believe that I was pretty close to leaving my body and on my way to the Other Side.
I could hear everything going on around me, but the pain stopped and I didn't feel my body. I heard the ER team talking to each other, I knew they were poking at me, and I clearly heard the ER nurse screaming, "Get the cardiologist in here now, she is bottoming out!!" Yep, I heard it, and wondered what all of the commotion was about when it suddenly]dawned on me that I might be dying. I was calm and peaceful and if W had not just come into my life, I may have stayed in that place...and slipped out quietly.
Instead, I asked, "God, am I really dying?" I thought about it for a moment and added, "Please don't let me go now." At the same moment, W was leaning against the cold cinder block wall saying a silent prayer, "God, if you let her live, I promise I'll take care of her forever."
It felt like a whirlwind, and yet, like there was no time at all, when I heard the emergency room door swing open and a Doctor shouting, "Get her off the IV now! They did...and I heard the "beep beep beep," of the monitor and felt a whoosh sensation as the blood rushed back into my face. Whatever they did, I was back in my body. I opened my eyes to find the doctor and W smiling down at me. The doc spoke kindly, but firmly, "We don't have a lot of time, and we have to get you to OR now.
I remember W's face looking at me so lovingly. I remember hearing him tell me that I'd be okay, felt the softness of his caress on my forehead, and in that moment, truly felt that he had come into my life as a Guardian Angel. Had I broken up with him just weeks before and had he not been there, I wonder if I would have even made it to the hospital.
Two stents were inserted into my arteries and W was at my side morning, noon and night. When it came time to remove the shunt in my groin, (inserted under emergency conditions) it was W that held me down, bravely, and lovingly as the nurse jammed her fist into my groin to clot the blood before yanking out the shunt. I screamed bloody murder as it was the worst pain I had felt since childbirth. My groin, to just above my knee was completely black and purple for months.
It turns out that I had a "right-sided " heart attack, the opposite of what most people have. Heart attacks are generally treated with morphine and nitro. In my case, my body needed water, saline. The nitro was doing the opposite of what my body needed and would have killed me if the cardiologist had not come in when he did. Also, if the EMT in the ambulance had gotten that IV in me any sooner, I probably would not have made it to the hospital alive!
W, not a relative or spouse, somehow managed to slip into ER and remain during the entire incident. He said my skin was gray and that I looked about as close to death as he would ever want to see anyone! Here he was offering God to take care of me forever and we only knew each other 4 weeks when this happened!
So this incredible man came into my life out of nowhere, and because I thought I knew better, I almost let him go. Instead, I listened to that inner voice. and waited. I lost my job, and 3 weeks later almost died....and there he was, at my side, my Guardian Angel.
He took me home and nursed me back to health, in the only way he knew how, which resulted in me gaining another 20 pounds! It was all in the name of love. Ha! Neither of us had a clue where we were headed or how drastically our lifestyle was about to change.
That was over four years ago (as of 2011). We have been through a bunch of ups and downs and so many changes. I realize how blessed I am to have him in my life and I know that God was watching over me, and sent me this incredible man to share my life with. We've had some tough times, but I can't think of anyone else in the world that I'd rather have shared these challenges with.
We continue to evolve so many ways, spiritually, emotionally and physically. We came through the ordeal together. My cardiologist said that in 25 years of practice, he has never seen anyone survive the kind of heart attack I had, with no signs of damage to the heart!
W came into my life, and I believe that God broke my heart open so that I could come out of this experience with an even greater capacity to love and to be loved then I have never known. What a journey!
Check the "Less of Me - More Me" section for weight loss updates.
Check the "Journal" section to learn more about my life and how I'm doing with my health, weight loss, and life in general. Thank you for stopping by!
Things I'm Working on to Improve My Health
I avoid processed and packaged foods. I also do specific detox baths several times a week.My program and supplements change from week to week, depending on where I am, and therefore, I am so very grateful to Dr. Elgarten for all his help in monitoring me on this journey.
I've eliminated dairy products, sugar, gluten and most grains (although I eat a few raw, sprouted grains from time to time in moderation). I feel so much better when I avoid dairy and processed grains. Milk allergies are abundant in my family and many digestive problems were eliminated by avoiding dairy.
Side Note: Thirty years ago, I went through hell with my oldest daughter being allergic to milk and not knowing it for 5 yrs. So many babies with colic, frequent colds and ear infections are screaming, milk allergies, but instead of experimenting with taking the child off of milk, pediatricians jump to prescribe antibiotics, or surgery, implanting inner ear tubes, if the infections get that bad. If only some of those moms knew to try taking their babies off milk for 6 weeks, and just see what happens. Fewer colds, ear infections and better overall health. There are many red flags that warn you a child is allergic to milk: colic, cradle cap that does not go away and turns to eczema, colds, ear infections, intermittent diarrhea/constipation. I discovered my daughter's allergies about 25 yrs ago and in that time, it doesn't seem like much progress has been made in the way of educating pediatricians to look for allergies before prescribing medication or surgery. When my youngest was born, she didn't have any dairy products until she was 3 yrs old, and that was in nursery school. Later, I did introduce cheese and yogurt on occasion, but we avoided cows milk for many years. My girls are healthy and rarely ever had colds and ear infections growing up.
Improvements I've Seen - I was an insomniac, and I am now sleeping 6-8 hours per night. I've lost 25 pounds and while my IC is not yet in remission, my skin looks better, my eyes are brighter and my overall emotional state is much better than it was.
I have only skimmed the surface here about this program. If you're really interested in this type of work you can contact Dr. Paul Yanick and find a practitioner in your area. If you are in the tr-state area, feel free to contact Dr. Monte Elgarten, The Health Principles...and tell him Barbara sent you!
In Celebration of Health and Well-Being.
My Program Updates: For more recent updates, go to the Journal section of my blog.