|“Wherever you are right now, I’ll meet you there.”|
After 21 years of corporate work, Cheryl Coon is a current massage therapy student at Wellspring. Her work experience is in retail operations as well as financial planning and analysis. She is also a raw food chef and writer. She will be giving an overview about raw living food at the upcoming Wellspring Health Fair. She recently sat down and talked with Wellspring Life about her journey to a healthier lifestyle.
Cheryl is originally from Missouri, but in 1988 she moved to NYC where she discovered lots of new foods, ethnic, and fresher varieties. She was a vegetarian on and off for about 10 years. Despite this, she says her lifestyle was unhealthy mentally, physically, and emotionally from 2000 to 2008.
“In 2007, I saw Alissa Cohen do a “live foods” demonstration on a talk show, became very interested, and tried some things for a few months. I did well, but lost track and went back to old ways,” she says.
In 2008, Cheryl learned she was pre-diabetic from her doctor. She was given 30 days to turn her numbers around. She went back to raw foods to avoid taking medicines. That same year she had knee surgery. The following year, she contacted a graduate of Alissa Cohen, who worked with her to change her pantry, creating an eating plan, and find the necessary equipment to ease her into the process of changing her eating habits. From 2008 to 2010, she worked through the ups and downs that come with changing your lifestyle.
In 2010, Cheryl joined Title Boxing Club and “loved every minute of it!” That was the same year she fully committed to healthy eating and exercise, shedding 50 pounds and keeping it off.
In the fall of 2011, Cheryl attended all three levels of Alissa Cohen’s Living on Live Food Certification Program in Kittery, ME, becoming a Chef, Instructor, and Teacher. This was her introduction to raw foods. The following year, she got an opportunity to work at Living Light Culinary Institute in Fort Bragg, CA. She was able to take some classes, and became immersed in the raw food culture, developing a deeper interest along the way.
This year, she attended the Matthew Kenney Academy in Santa Monica, CA and completed the Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine program.
WL: Was it difficult for you to transition to a raw food diet?
CC: Yes and no. Difficult because I love Mexican cuisine, cheese, bread, and pasta; easy because the food was delicious and I felt 200 times better. My skin and hair were healthy and clear. Once I understood the basics like the equipment and types of ingredients to have on hand the rest was pretty simple. Boredom was the initial struggle because early on I tended to eat the same things. Taking the classes has really broadened my tastes… When I was in California or Australia or Bali it was super easy to stay with my preferred eating but I still struggle with it because sometimes I am surrounded by old loves. When I do stray I am not nearly as satisfied as when I stick to my living foods diet.
WL: What other benefits have you experienced from the raw food diet? What do you eat in a typical day?
CC: I have fun preparing and sharing the food and its benefits. The food is beautiful. I think it is fun that you can make Swiss cheese out of cashews and coconut meat. In a typical day, I have a green smoothie in the morning (kale, ginger, lemon, apples, celery, romaine, water); lunch is a really good salad with beets, zucchini, arugula, and peppers, kale (anything green, crunchy, and yummy). Dinner could be another green smoothie or flax crackers and cashew cheese, or zucchini noodles with pesto or marinara sauce.
WL: How much exercise do you get on a regular day?
CC: 45 minutes to an hour doing kickboxing, Crossfit, or walking.
WL: Do you track your calories? If so, roughly how many calories do you eat on a daily basis?
CC: I don’t track my calories.
WL: Do you feel there are spiritual benefits to a raw food diet and lifestyle?
CC: Absolutely, from having a clearer mind, not being sluggish, and feeling happier overall. It improves my ability to make better life decisions.
WL: Are there any foods or aspects of a less healthful lifestyle that you miss? If so, how do you deal with this?
CC: Yes, I miss hanging out and grazing with friends. I’m less likely to go out if eating is the main goal. I’ve brought an entire meal or green smoothie to a restaurant.
WL: What inspires you to continue in a raw lifestyle?
CC: It’s fun and creative, and the food is so tasty!
WL: Do you take any supplements? Why or why not?
CC: No, I don’t take pills. Hoping to get everything I need from what I eat.
WL: How do you feel about the raw food movement as a whole?
CC: I prefer to call it live or living food. The purpose is to keep the nutrients and enzymes intact. The moment you cook/heat/boil foods it changes the structure of it. It’s less about eating uncooked dead food than about catching the food while it is still living and as nutrient dense as possible.
WL: What advice would you give to someone just starting out with raw foods?
CC: Give yourself a break. Either go for it and try it all at once, or ease into it. Find replacements for your favorite foods. Find people who are already living the lifestyle for guidance and support.