Holistic Weight Loss
By Angela Stokes
Holistic Weight Loss by Angela Stokes
Before I went raw in Spring 2002, I was morbidly obese, very unhappy and lost in cycles of compulsive overeating. Nearly four years on, I have lost over 11 stone, dropping from my heaviest weight of 21stone, dress size 28-30 to my current healthy and happy 9st 9lbs, dress size 10 and my life has completely transformed too on emotional and spiritual levels.
Where my life used to be filled with secrecy, shame and fear, hiding behind the false security that overeating junk food brought me, I now live in the light of truth and honesty, doing my best every day to be present in the moment and enjoy the loving flow, rather than trying to hide or resist. This has been a real awakening for me on all levels, triggered by my initial foray onto the raw food path. I see massive potential now for many other overeaters to embrace such changes, freeing themselves from the debilitating bonds to foods which slow the body, dampen the emotions and cut us off from the light of spirit. I feel a strong desire to share this message of hope, as a living example of the powerful changes that can occur on the raw path; through sharing my own story, I hope to empower others to help themselves.
Overeating is not widely acknowledged in society as an addiction, akin to alcoholism, despite the fact that the statistics for obesity (a major consequence of compulsive overeating) are constantly rising. I find it ironic that most overeaters carry their condition so visibly, as obesity develops, yet there is so little widespread understanding of this addiction. I am concerned that the reaction most obese overeaters receive when approaching health professionals for guidance is simply to ‘eat less and exercise more’, with little or no recognition of the underlying issues driving the weight gain. The focus is directed only at the physical level, with the excess weight seen as THE problem in itself, rather than a symptom of a bigger spiritual malady.
No doctor would be likely these days to tell an alcoholic to just ‘stop drinking’, as the understanding of alcoholism is so advanced, yet food addicts routinely receive this shaming message to just ‘stop eating so much’ with no support offered. If it was that easy for the alcoholic to stop drinking or the food addict to stop overeating, both would have done so a long time before reaching crisis point. Compulsive overeating is an addiction like any other – whether it is food that we use, or alcohol, cigarettes, work, sex or gambling – all addictions involve using something as a ‘crutch’ to try to escape our perceived reality. Addicts use the substance of choice to lose themselves into a different reality in some way, to dampen painful feelings, space out and get high on something other than ‘just’ life.
However, that reliance on something external to ourselves to bring pleasure and fulfillment is precisely what keeps addicts from true contentment. As long as we seek fulfillment from something outside of ourselves and do not realise that we are eternally connected from within to ‘the source’/oneness/spirit, we keep ourselves shut off from the light. The temporary high one may experience from drinking alcohol, taking drugs or going on a junk food binge soon fades into depression, hopelessness and despair and is absolutely no comparison for the sustained high that comes from reconnecting to your true spiritual self and the ever-loving and powerful source of all energy and truth. The raw food lifestyle can be an amazing tool for reconnecting to that source.
Overeating tends to be a deeply ingrained pattern – it is often triggered from a very young age when children are given sugary ‘treats’ for example as rewards or for comfort or to get them to be quiet. Aside from becoming hooked on sucrose physically, strong emotional attachments build up around food and the child matures with blurred boundaries of the role of food in life – rather than seeing food as fuel for the physical body, the view gets distorted and the person seeks to use food to nourish the emotions and soul too.
Overeaters become obsessed with food and live life from the perspective of opportunities to eat, using enormous quantities of food to try to fill a gap in their lives that simply cannot be satisfied with material things. The overeater’s life tends to be a (not-so) merry-go-round of obsessional binging, dieting and fretting about food and weight issues. If we look to nature, we do not see wild animals apparently fret in this way about how many leaves or berries they’ve eaten, because they do not seem to experience this kind of emotional attachment to foods. They eat simply, from the abundance of the earth to fuel their physical bodies and seem also to be naturally at one with the universe in a way that so many humans do not seem to experience easily.
The standard routes overeaters tend to take when attempting to deal with what they perceive as just ‘their weight problem’, such as dieting, ‘miracle’ pills and powders and even intrusive surgery are not options I see as healthy, natural or sustainable. They all place the focus almost entirely on the physical level of recovery and nothing else. People only really go ‘on’ diets to go ‘off’ them again at some point and then almost invariably end up re-gaining any weight lost, setting up a yo-yo pattern.
In stark contrast to this, I see the raw lifestyle as an amazingly effective pathway away from overeating and obesity. To me, going raw is a simple, natural solution for both sustainable weight loss and also reconnecting to the true life-force within. Going raw is, for many, about learning a new lifestyle, a new way of being that is more connected to the earth and simplicity; so, instead of over-stuffing and over-burdening ourselves with heavy, dead, processed foods, we take in lighter, more vibrant living material and simultaneously, the channels to connectedness open naturally.
To me, the connection between raw food and spirituality is simple; living humbly and respectfully from the produce given directly from the earth, without trying to modify or ‘improve’ it in some way, while nourishing our bodies with the fuel needed to function to the best of our ability is an expression of our commitment to truth and demonstrates our understanding that all we need is provided for us. We stop deadening our system with heavy, toxic junk and allow our true nature to shine through instead. The toxins stored for years in fatty deposits clear out, unblocking emotional stagnation on the way and contact with one’s own spiritual self becomes much easier.
This is a pathway free from gimmicks, ‘magic bullet’ solutions, shaming or multinational profit – this is just about natural and effective healing of the body, mind and soul. The raw lifestyle is often regarded as a ‘spiritual’ path and as overeating, like all addictions, is, at base, a spiritual malady, the two go hand-in-hand for a healthy solution, in my opinion.
Going raw is a lifestyle choice that can bring powerful transformation for overeaters and I truly believe there is no faster, healthier way to weight loss and genuine recovery available. In the beginning, however, I do not tend to advocate going very high/100% raw to obese clients who come to me seeking weight loss – when people are coming from such a background, there is often a big gap to bridge between their current junk-food binging patterns and a new lifestyle of mainly/only raw foods.
I believe it is far better to take a slower, more sustainable approach for most people in this situation, rather than trying to push anything too far too fast, though I thoroughly recommend getting the biggest ‘problem’ foods out of the system immediately, such as white sugar and wheat.
Another important change for many obese overeaters going raw is to start taking responsibility for their own health and well-being, rather than putting their faith, expectations and lives in the hands of diet programmes or mainstream doctors. This can represent a major shift in awareness for many as they move from the ‘victim’ position of a helpless ‘sufferer’ of obesity, into taking responsibility for their own welfare. Managing such a large shift in awareness tends to work better when people have a support network around them, rather than trying to do everything alone.
Many people reading this can probably identify with the feeling of being isolated when going raw, if we do not feel there is good support available and this can be especially challenging for overeaters coming into recovery, as they face big changes on all levels. There is no need for anyone to do this alone however – there is plenty of support available out there – on my website for example – www.rawreform.com - I host a forum where people can interact to share experiences and ideas about weight loss on raw.
I also have two e-books for sale on my website about how to go raw for obese overeaters and I am available for private consultations or group discussions about these issues. There are also many ways for people to find support in their local areas, such as with raw food pot-lucks, 12-step fellowship meetings, group counselling/therapy sessions, retreats and so on. With a good support network of like-minded individuals, choosing a raw lifestyle can bring extraordinary results for recovering overeaters. This is a path of self-realisation and taking responsibility for one’s own health and wellbeing: this is the natural way out of overeating and obesity.
Angela Stokes, April 2006
www.rawreform.com - The Natural Way to Weight Loss
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This article was posted by Angela Stokes