The truth is that I have been a nutrition nut since I was in my teens – so that would be near about a million years ago! At the time, available nutritional information (at least in my little town of Feeding Hills) amounted to counting calories and being sure to eat vegetables (I’m not sure canned green beans were on the list but to be fair my mom did make fresh ones, too.)
I was a walking calorie counter and could tell you the calorie count in just about any food. Cranberry sauce…got it! Cantalope, easy! My friends would call me (since there was no internet then…see, it really was a million years ago!) to find out how many calories they had eaten in any meal.
Add to that the fact that I would often sit watching TV at night munching on radishes, celery and carrots and be perfectly content. To mix it up, sometimes I would eat grapefruit (oh, and an occasional potato chip but not as often as you’d think!)
Sadly, none of this was enough to keep me as healthy as I wanted. In the 1950′s and 1960′s the focus was on convenience food and fast food was just taking off, and many of our daily food items were pathetically low in (or devoid of, is more like it) fiber.So, it was not at all surprising that, despite my best efforts at eating a healthy diet, I developed digestive problems at a young age.
Although I was an avid studier of the latest nutritional advances, there really wasn’t much that gave me any relief from my digestive woes until I was in my mid-forties when I was diagnosed with Crohns disease.
Crohns is a nasty inflammatory bowel disease, and I had a horrific case of it. But, can I tell you this? It was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It meant I had to delve even deeper into my studies and search for relief because there was absolutely no way I was going the drug and surgery route that most people do.
I made my doctors nutty (still do!) when I would refuse most of what they offered. I remember reading books and hearing doctors mouth the words”You can’t plan anything too far in advance because you never know how you will feel.” Hmmmm…this didn’t sit very well with me, and I vowed that I absolutely, positively would not live that way.
Hey, I owned my own business and I couldn’t imagine saying to clients on a regular basis, “Oh, sorry, I don’t feel well today!” Nope, that wasn’t going to be me…and, in case you’re wondering it hasn’t been.
Thirty years ago I stopped eating red meat. I just knew it wasn’t healthy and one day I just stopped. I have been gluten-free for many years and eat very little sugar, no coffee and 2 years ago gave up what little alcohol I did drink. I am constantly refining my diet for optimum health – I mean, really, I know first hand that life is not pleasant if you don’t have your health! I had no interest in living a life filled with ill health and weariness.
The amazing thing to me, however, is that it then took another 25 years before I was introduced to veganism. You’d think I lived in a cave or something but the truth is that no one talked about it anywhere ever in my presence. At the time, it was one of the world’s best kept secrets, but not any more!
Once I discovered it and understood the philosophy behind being a vegan I became one nearly overnight. Now, by this time I had been an image consultant for nearly 20 years and a fleeting thought was, “Gee, how am I going to be an image consultant (whose job is to be stylish and well-dressed) AND a vegan.” I spent about 5 minutes seriously pondering that question and then thought, hey, it’s doable and I’m going to prove it. I decided to make it an adventure and not look at it as a hardship or problem to overcome.
The truth is that much of my wardrobe was already “vegan.” And so the transition was not that hard. It took some exploring but it was fun (well, the winter coat thing wasn’t fun but it’s getting a bit better and shoes are a breeze compared to what they were even a few years ago).
Sadly, however, I am one of the few (if not still the only! (which I hope isn’t true)) vegan image consultant and when I first started over 5 years ago it was an extremely novel idea. To the point that VegNews Magazine selected me as one of the “25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians” for 2007.
Then, one day last year, I received a message from Tera – one of those wonderful, knock-your-socks off messages that only Tera can leave – asking me to be a part of the WISH telesummit. I was delighted!
As my journey into raw foods has progressed, it has been SO much fun to experience The Raw Divas and the fabulous energy that Tera (and all the Raw Divas) brings to it.
While my choice to become a vegan (and now partially raw vegan (I’m drinking my smoothie as I write this)) was not made from a health standpoint (it was strictly from a compassionate viewpoint), I have to admit that the health benefits have been amazing. I feel great!
Being a vegan image consultant in a non-vegan world has been interesting for sure! While the majority of my clients are not vegan, I tend to work with women who are introspective and want to understand how to dress that fabulous part of them that is quite often buried deeply inside, so they often express a curiosity and an open-mind. I only introduce the concept when asked about it but that is happening more and more frequently (both from a health standpoint (I mean, who feels like dressing well when they feel sick) and an animal compassion viewpoint) which is very heartening.
I mean, really…look at the irrepressible spirit you see in the women at The Raw Divas. Most women want that, too!
Creating an image you love takes inner and outer exploration. It is not just a matter of putting on a navy blue suit and looking like a clone of everyone else. At my very core, I advocate (and support my clients in doing so) standing up for what you believe in and who you are at your very essence. When you feel good AND feel good about how you look, life is wonderful!