Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Personal Health Journey

Like most Westerners, I was raised on the Standard American Diet (SAD).  While my parents had nothing but the best of intentions, they did not have the knowledge or the support to do anything different.  In my house, pasta, bread, animal foods from factory farms, processed foods with sugar, salt and unnatural fats, etc. were considered a normal part of one's diet.  Fruits and vegetables were always available, but were a small part of the meal.

As a young adult, I continued to eat this diet, which caused laziness and non-motivation toward a better life.  I also took up smoking, drinking and recreational drugs.  Eventually, I had to go into a drug rehabilitation program, which marked the beginning of my awakening.

At the age of 22, the relationship between what I put in my body and the state of my health began to become very evident.  I was overweight, addicted to cigarettes, and had low energy.  It was during this time, that I began to browse the health sections at bookstores and the library.  I came across a book called Fit For Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond.  The book presented a lifestyle that embraced a plant-based diet and even suggested that humans (like all other animals) should be eating their food raw (this planted a seed that would eventually sprout).

Immediately, I went vegan.  As I explored this new lifestyle, I was horrified to see how animals were raised for food in most Western countries.  All the meat and dairy I had consumed were the product of horrific torture and disregard for life.  Not only were these products loaded with antibiotics and numerous toxins, but the damage they caused to the planet was undeniable.  My reasons for being vegan were mostly ethical and I became enthusiastically involved with the animal rights movement.

After several years on the vegan diet, I began to notice that my health was still not where it could be.  As a vegan, I was still eating highly-processed food and was hardly motivated to exercise.  My energy was better, but there was certainly room for improvement.  One sunny afternoon in Balboa Park, I was walking around at the Earth Day Fair.  I came across a group of people who were eating melons and had a small table with some books.  The book was entitled Nature's First Law: The Raw Food Diet.  I conversed with a healthy-looking, energetic young man at the table for a few minutes and purchased the book.  Again, the idea of a plant-based, totally raw diet as the optimal diet for humans was presented to me.  It made perfect sense.  Humans were the only animal that cooked their food.  The diseases and ailments so prevalent in our species indicated that something was wrong.  Even young people and children were sick, fat and seemed to be in a constant daze.

Well, this was the inspiration I was looking for.  I began to explore a raw diet when I was about 30.  At first, it was one of the hardest things I'd ever done.  I craved sugar, processed grains, french fries, chips, you name it.  And, it seemed like there was absolutely no support for this kind of diet.  My friends and family thought I was crazy, even though they were used to my diet antics over the years.  When I went out to eat, I would have to order a salad and make sure no foreign, cooked objects were in the meal.  Eating only fruit, nuts and salad all the time bored the hell out of me, and, even though many of my health challenges cleared up, I always felt like I was missing something.

At the age of 32, I decided to go back to college.  I got a part-time job at Nature's First Law, a company that was growing quickly.  Eventually, they took me on full time, while I went to school in the evenings.  At Nature's First Law, I started learning more and more about nutrition and health from a raw, vegan perspective.  I was introduced to the idea of superfoods (more on these in later blogs), which were packed with minerals, antioxidants, vitamins and other phytonutrients and filled in a lot of gaps nutritionally.  My body began to respond to this diet even better.  I lost any access weight, my skin cleared up and I felt my body getting stronger.  It really felt like I had found the path to perfect health.  My love of nature began to deepen, as I went on hikes and camping trips with other raw foodists.  I felt a deep connection to the Earth and fell more deeply in love with the ocean.

After a couple of years at Nature's First Law (now called Sunfood), I began to cheat a little bit on the raw diet.  This proved to be a slippery slope.  Eventually, I slipped back into my old ways, consuming processed foods and even drinking again.  My weight blew up and I started experiencing pain in my joints, gastrointestinal issues, skin problems and several other health problems.  Over the years, I have tried to get back on the raw diet and have pretty much gone back and forth.  However, I have always included a number of superfoods in my diet, which has kept my immune system strong and managed to keep me in fairly good health.

One health challenge was bad enough to bring me back to the road of serious health, though.  My right foot developed a condition called Plantar Fasciitis.  This stubborn inflammatory disease affects the heal of one or both feet and can move into the arch of the foot and even the toes.  I had it bad.  I could barely walk without severe pain.  This condition opened up the door for depression, lack of exercise and binge eating.  My weight stacked up to 285 pounds, the most I have ever weighed.  With the help of my talented massage therapist and some great superfoods, I was able to get most of the inflammation out.  My diet started to improve as I incorporated more raw food again and lost a little weight.  But, I wasn't fully committed and eventually, the inflammation started to come back.

Well, I wasn't about to go through that again.  About three months ago, I made a commitment to myself and my health.  That is what this blog is about.  After completing a 30-day fast, losing 30 pounds and getting rid of all the inflammation in my foot, I am just getting started.  Journey with me as I explore my diet, my exercise routine, my relationship with Planet Earth, my community and my sanity.  Stay healthy!

Mystic Merman


  1. I LOVE this! Good for you, Aaron! Be sure i will follow this closely!

  2. Thank you, panspixie2! I truly hope you can get something out of my blog. To your health and happiness, my friend. Mystic Merman