I don’t know if I told y’all the story about why I went raw.

One morning, while I was on travel in San Diego, I prayed to God to help me release my weight. I had hit a wall (travel doesn’t help), and I just didn’t know what to do.

A couple of days later, I heard a voice that said, “you should go raw, babe”. That was it for me.

I’ve been broken for a long time. Hurt, guilt, shame, fear… I have let it affect me in so many ways. For example, I have wanted to be an entrepreneur since I was a teenager. I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Multiple Streams of Income when I was 15. In 2004, I left my full time job and started my own business, and built it up over the next 5 years. Every day, all day. Blood, sweat, tears, money, time: I gave it everything I had. During this period, I have never felt so empowered. Conversely, this is when I gained the majority of my weight. I lived on junk food and ignored myself as I put my business needs first. By the end, I was burnt out. Wait…. to say I was burnt out is a major, MAJOR understatement. I was crispy. I ended my 4-year relationship. I felt like I failed in my business (I didn’t, but it was my impression). I lost my center. I checked out, and I remained checked out for 2 years.

Wishin’ Ain’t Doin’ was a start back for me. It was a way for me to begin to get rid of all my old baggage and define what I really want for my life. I was able to fight through my initial questions and hesitations about losing weight, and to begin to identify my issues. It helped me to take the time to understand what I like, what I don’t, what works and what hasn’t. It’s also helped me identify my crap. I haven’t always been consistent, I let stress affect my eating, I have had a hard time finishing. I’ve done a lot of work, but there’s so much more to do.

Making the decision to go raw was a straight-up shock to me, but it’s sparked something amazing in me. My entrepreneurial spark has come back, and even though I’m at the beginning again, I feel more like myself than I have in years. That fact alone makes me know that this is right for me.

In typical Carla fashion, I’m going to document the journey on my new blog, Raw Raw Life. I’m still going to talk about weight loss, emotions, frustrations, and all the funny stuff that comes up. I hope you join me there!

Thank you so much for all of your support, comments, and love. It has helped more than I can say.

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I’m staying with my mother this weekend – just hanging out with the family. This morning, I came downstairs in a sweatshirt, sports bra, and leggings.

Sylvia: “Wow. You look SIGNIFICANTLY smaller lately!”

Me: *registering shock*

Syl: “Let’s take a look at you…”

Quick note here… I do not own a full-length mirror. I should, I know, but I don’t, so it’s hard to see past mid-thigh most days. Syl made me take off my sweatshirt and stand there with just my bra and leggings (Me: *freezing, vulnerable, uncomfortable*). She then pulled up the “before” pics I had taken last year on her computer!

That sneaky bitch! I had no idea she had them! However, before I could even react, I was reacting to the DIFFERENCE I could see in my body! I mean, I was absolutely stunned! I really am smaller!

I have admittedly avoided these pictures like the plague, and had even forgotten about them. Pulling them out months later absolutely affirmed the fact that whatever I have been doing the last 8 months has been working. Even when I think I’m not doing enough, not eating right, not working out enough… I’m doing SOMETHING right. Yeah, of course I can be doing more, and after seeing the differences I have already made, I WILL do more. For right now, however, I’m feeling really good about the progress I have made thus far.

Fuck the “day countdown”. I’m just raw. Period. However…

I never used to be a YouTube watcher. I mean, every once in awhile when someone would throw me a video link or something, but one of those people that would watch videos every day? Not me at all. Not even when I went natural did I succumb to what Tyra Banks referred to as “hair porn” – all the “how-to” natural video channels on YT. I appreciate them being there and all, but I just didn’t feel the need to scour. Since I went raw, however, I have been skulking around a few YT channels for information, information, and MORE information. I have fallen in love with liferegenerator’s “bad boy of raw food” channel and his no-nonsense take on raw foods, spirituality and fitness. Karen Knowler has GREAT recipes and a four-part raw food beginner video series. I also tune into the Raw Radience channel (although I sometimes am annoyed with the way this chick talks). Needless to say, I’m ODing on raw food info.

The one thing all this info does, however, is make you doubt yourself. I found myself questioning my current raw path after watching a series of videos last night, and it’s the place everyone on a “diet” finds themselves eventually. It’s that little voice in the back of your head that whispers, “Am I doing this right?”. I mean, I have this little mini travel blender, but I don’t have a Vitamix. I don’t own a juicer. Am I getting enough vegetables? Am I eating too much fruit? Should I be sprouting? What about making my own nut milk? OMG, what if I go out on a date? Is he going to look at me as what Eddie Murphy coined as “one of those salad-eatin’ bitches”? Do I need to go “gourmet raw”? am I getting enough variety in my diet? Am I eating too much? Am I eating too LITTLE? I’m not hungry… is that NORMAL???

Breathe, chick. Just breathe. I mean, damn. That’s how fast we can go down the spiral.

In the midst of this spin, another voice pops up and asks, “why do you always think you’re doing something WRONG? I mean, how do you FEEL?” This is the voice I listen to, thank God. I take a quick inventory: I feel good. Thinking, breathing… all clear. My body feels good. I don’t feel heavy or sleepy after eating. I’m not hungry at all. I eat when I feel like it, and I eat a good mix of veggies, fruits, and superfoods (the latter mostly in my daily smoothie). Since committing to raw and coming back from travel, I’ve lost 4.8 lbs (in 4 days). I’m drinking green tea and water.

What’s wrong with that? Survey says… nothing.

In the future, I’m sure I’ll get a better blender. I’ll invest in a Vitamix and a good juicer, but right now, my little mini travel blender will do the trick. I’ll learn to make different foods, but right now, experimenting with new raw veggies and fruits and incorporating them with my old standards is fine. I don’t need to sprout or make my own nut milk now… that’s a later thing (when I have a kitchen with more space!). I eat a good balance of fruits and veggies. I eat when I’m hungry. I eat until I’m satisfied (which is much less than before). I’m content.

I’m good for now. I’m doing what’s right for me.

I decided to reset the clock and chronicle this new journey.

I made the decision to go raw less than a week ago, and have been pretty happy with the transition. I have had some cooked food during the week – California Pizza Kitchen makes a KICK ASS roasted vegetable salad, people! – but have still remained vegan and not consciously had any meat or dairy. Feeling good, feeling clear… but I know what’s about to happen.

Duh duh duh DUHHHH…. DETOX.

It’s already started. Today is Sunday (Easter), and the first day in what feels like forever that I have had the opportunity to just CHILL. I’ve been running like a field slave for weeks, and to just sit in my own spot, rest and relax feels like bliss. I even slept late, which is unheard of for me. In that spirit, I’m just relaxing and listening to my body. I’m not force-feeding food, I’m eating when I’m hungry. So far, I’ve had an awesome green smoothie (spring water, spinach, strawberry, kiwi, and Amazing Greens’ Raw Reserve Superfood powder) and some water. That was about 3 hours ago, and I’m not yet hungry. I am, however, feeling a little headachy, and my skin has broken out this week. My skin NEVER breaks out, people. NEVER. My vanity is pitching a fit, but my sensible side knows what it’s all about and accepts it as part of the process.

So, why am I doing this? Why is this person who has been admittedly addicted to french fries and believes Five Guys has the best burger on planet Earth going raw vegan? I mean… really, Carla?

Two words: ENERGY and VANITY.

I just began a new job in an old field – I am back to corporate training, which I adore. It’s primarily classroom training – between two and five days of systems and software training for new hires. I’m as giddy as a fat boy with a new ice cream cone about it, but I also know that I am WAYYYYYYYYYYY out of “training shape”. In order to keep the energy of a classroom for a day (or five!) up to levels where the class can learn, focus, and remain engaged, you have got to have the energy and clarity to do it. After lots of research and experimentation, I know that I can be the best trainer that I can be and keep that level of energy if I’m raw vegan. The energy that I can tap into will be accessible to me in a way that wouldn’t be possible if I was eating meat. My body’s not so busy digesting that it can’t give me two more hours of energy when I need it. I realized when I got the job that I would need to make a major change. I would need to do what I can to get hyped and STAY hyped all day long. There’s nothing more excrutiating than to have to sit through eight hours of software training with a boring-ass teacher that yawns all day. That will NOT be me.

And then there’s vanity. Yes, I want to lose weight. Yes, I want to be HOT. Yes, I want to look great naked (from all angles). Yes, I want to feel and look amazing. And yes, I think that going raw will give me all those things in a short amount of time. That’s why.

Message is still the same; wishin’ ain’t doin’. Wishin’ I was healthy, energetic and hot looking doesn’t make it so. I have to actually DO it. Change the eating, change the mindset, change the body, change the life.

I KNEW she wasn’t going to understand.

Yesterday, my beloved mother picks me up from the airport. I’ve been away for two weeks, and have, admittedly, been reluctant to tell her about my move to eating raw. We’re mad close and talk every day, but I just haven’t mentioned it.

So, we’re chatting back and forth from baggage claim to the moveable sidewalk towards the parking lot, and I say, “so… I have something to tell you.”

She looks at me with hesitation, and I can visibly see her bracing for some momentous news (as I always begin my life changing announcements with this phrase).

I say, “I went raw vegan.”

She slumps. I crack up laughing.

I was watching a video this morning about raw foodism, and the woman was talking about people’s reaction to your new food choices. It seems that the number one question that is asked (after the shock has cleared) is “What CAN you eat?”, and that’s how my mother looked. I don’t blame her for her reaction, of course – she looks at is as a deprivation. She said, “so, now you can’t cook, either???”, and I totally get that. However, I don’t look at it that way. I see it as giving me more time, more energy, more food options… more more more. Okay, so I don’t (not “can’t”) cook. Okay, so I don’t eat meat. Okay, so I don’t eat the stuff I have been eating… not because it’s bad for me, but because I choose not to. We talked about it, and she knows it’s my conscious choice. And, although I was reluctant to discuss it with her, I knew she’d be behind me… eventually.

I don’t expect people to understand this. I expect a lot of questions, a lot of criticism, a lot of mock temptation, a lot of judgment. But hey… I’m a grown ass woman. My decisions are just that – MINE. I know why I am doing this. I am clear on my intentions. I am happy in my path. God knows it was a surpise, but hey. I’m just going with it.

The thing that scared me the most about going raw was restriction. Part of me thought, “dammit, I’m going to have to exist on carrots and celery sticks… and I don’t like carrots”. I knew that was short-sided and I didn’t quite believe it, but I can’t deny that the thought was lurking in the back of my brain.

This week opened my eyes to the immense possibilities, however. I was in San Diego on business this week, and have had the most amazing food. Raw kale salad with pine nuts and dried cranberries, fresh picked mulberries, shredded green papaya, and this kick-ass salad at my hotel, which had yellow, green and PURPLE cauliflower, avocado, jicama, spring greens, beets and more. I mean, hot damn! And I don’t LIKE cauliflower… do I? My mouth didn’t realize that, however, as I was shoveling the cauliflower in my maw as fast as I could.

I was stunned at how much flavor I had this week and at the variety of foods that I found were available to me. This isn’t going to be boring at all. Actually, I think it will be an opportunity for me to explore foods I hadn’t even considered trying! I mean, I had a mango for the first time this week. I know, right? Who hasn’t had a mango before? Well… me! Ever! Tried it, and was shocked at how delicious they are!

My eyes are opening to the possibilities.

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Yeah…. okay.

So, similar to the voice that said to go meatless for a while, I hear a brand new message when I woke up yesterday morning. It said,

“You should really go raw, babe.”

You know, I know that I can be flaky at times. I hear about a thing, get excited, run into it full bore, and then fizzle out after a couple of weeks. I know this is my pattern. I SEE this has been my pattern. I recognize my own shit.

This, however, is different.

I am a huge believer in the power of the Universe and the clear messages that it sends. I also know that when you follow the messages the Universe sends, life is bliss. When you don’t, life can be a pain in the ass until you do. That’s what this is… me following the message and, in doing so, living in my bliss. The feeling I had yesterday was tactile – is was a clear, physical PULL towards raw foods.

And let me back up and say that I asked for this. A couple of days ago, I prayed for my weight to finally be released from me. This is the answer I got back. How can I not listen?

Me. Raw. Friggin’ crazy…. but it feels totally right.

After my morning epiphany, I ran out to Whole Foods to stock up. I bought fresh cut fruit, Gala apples (my favorite), raw kale salad (two kinds), these really cool raw bars, raw seeds (sprouted sunflower and pumpkin), and some green powder to add to my water. I then spent whatever time I could during the day scrolling through YouTube videos about green juice, kale salad, and sprouting. I’m all giddy and stuff. The Virgo in me is planning like crazy.

A friend of mine had predicted that I would go raw. She told me this a few years ago with a smirk on her face. I smirked right back and said no way in hell.

Well, lookitmenow.

A couple of weeks ago, on a random Sunday, I was about to start cooking for the week, when my inside voice pops up and says…

“Why don’t you go meatless for a while.”

Uh, what?

Now, this vegan concept isn’t new to me. A few years ago, when I lived in Oregon, I experimented with it. I felt good overall, but I gained weight because I was eating so many carbs. I mean, homemade guacamole and pita chips may be vegan, but let’s face it… it’s also fattening. It also took me a LOT of time to prepare my meals every day. At the time, that was okay because I was an entrepreneur with a lot of time on my hands, but now, that wouldn’t fly a’tall. These are the two main reasons I have avoided being vegan – time and weight gain.

But all things point to being vegan right now. You can’t unring a bell, and once I heard the voice, I cannot stop thinking about it. In the last day, especially, the Universe is pointing me towards it. There’s a 21-day Vegan Kickstart happening on the 4th (next Monday), more and more vegan posts are showing up on Black Women Do Workout (the Facebook page I frequent), and after I mentioned it to my friend, Mel, we proceeded to have a two-hour conversation about nut meat, vegan muffins, and how to make your own protein bars.

Me. Talking about how to make NUT MEAT. Trippy!

I see how to make it work now. Like all things, it’s about balance. It’s about balancing the protein, carbs and veggies with the exercise. It’s also going to be easier for me now than ever before, as the majority of my day is already meatless. All I have to do now to cut out the animals is nix the salmon at dinner and remove the chicken from my chicken/lentil/veggie soup. More than all this, though, I am excited about this transition. I’m excited about making clean, vegan meals. I don’t feel pressure about going out and being social – it’s gonna be what it’s gonna be. I feel that’s it the right time, emotionally, for me to make the switch. And, more than anything, I realize that it’s not about weight loss. I mean, I’m no idiot – I know I’ll lose weight. However, I’ll GAIN peace of mind. I’ll gain the healthy glow. I’ll gain the energy and digestive health. I think that’s what really has me doing cartwheels.

This is going to be interesting.

As I have always said, this whole weight loss thing is more about the mind than the body. The main reason I haven’t been blogging is because of mental and emotional overwhelm: I put so much on my plate (ha!) and so much pressure on myself to finish it all… that I end up not finishing any of it (except the food, of course). In the last couple of weeks, though, I have been taking it much easier on myself. I realize that weight loss isn’t some race – it’s a mind shift. It’s a long term commitment. It’s PERSONAL, meaning that you have to do it for yourself and your own total well-being as opposed to doing it for anyone else, even in a small part. Yes, others will most assuredly benefit from your sexy new body and new sense of happiness. There will even be those who will follow in your footsteps because your journey became their inspiration. But before all that, it’s about YOU. It’s about ME.

Took me a minute to see that. What I know now is that I need to pace myself and love myself first. Then, focus what I love to do, the things I love to eat, and a routine that works for me. That’s how it all fits together.

So, when I looked at it, I realized that even though I love, LOVE boxing, the commute and expense aren’t making my life easier, so I put it down and picked up the rebound running and Power 90 again. I love working out first thing in the morning, and those two things are conducive to that. When it comes to routine, that’s where I excel. Right now, my life is pretty orderly – I cook and freeze on the weekends, have Peapod deliver my groceries, bought a Brita pitcher for the office, get my schoolwork done on specific days, yadda yadda yadda. I’ve got my schedule down to a science – or at least to a workable plan for me.

The last thing is the eating. I’ve been primarily sticking to the clean eating. Have I been a saint over the last few months? Far from it! However, clean eating is what makes me feel good, and it’s the easiest and best thing for my schedule. In the last few weeks, I’ve been eating quinoa like it’s going out of style, starting most days with a spinach/strawberry smoothie (and eating Ezekiel cereal on the days I don’t), and craving apples as snacks. I realize that eating clean is what my body really loves, and NOT eating that way is what feels abnormal.

I guess I’m finally smoothing out. It was rough sailing there for a minute, but losing weight is an emotional process – much more emotional than I was prepared for. I’m good now. I can keep going.

Yesterday, I was sitting at my desk eating a steak and onion sandwich with a side of fries. I haven’t had time to cook my regular clean feast this week, so, with my trainer out of town, I used this as an excuse to cheat on my diet.

There’s a guy who sits next to me that I get along with, but is generally negative. He is also overweight, and seems to have no issue with this fact (he swore to give up candy and soda for the 40 days of Lent and lasted a whole 6 hours). I harass and harangue him on the regular about his eating, and yesterday, he took my sandwich eating as an opportunity to get back at me.

HIM: “Whatcha eatin’ over there, Carla?”

ME: “Steak sandwich, french fries.”

HIM: “Hmm! The fat girl is winning, I see!” (followed by a hearty snicker)

Now, this comment alone might not have sent me over the edge, but this comment, paired with ANOTHER comment this weekend by my aunt (something about my knees being unflattering) and the dreaded PMS kicking into high gear has thrown me for a loop. I am furious. FURIOUS. It’s all I can do to contain myself and refrain from random bitch-slapping.

More shortly…