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Awakening to My Purpose

  • Profile photo of Chris Kendall Jun 14, 2012

    Oh my, where to start…
    Well….teenage dirtbag, yep that was me.

    At seventeen, I was an amateur skateboarder, living my dream, traveling just to skateboard and having a great time with my friends. Moving away from home after an early graduation in 1997 led me to penny pinching. At the time, this meant eating poorly, smoking cigarettes and drinking habitually. I remember living in Vancouver at 17 and eating ten McDonald’s cheeseburgers every Monday followed by ten hamburgers on Wednesdays. Back then, this seemed to make a lot of sense seeing as they were on sale for .49 and .39 cents each respectively. Whoa! A whole day of food for $3.90! At the time, I felt this was the best thing in the world.

    By eighteen, I was living in Edmonton with some friends, skating and raging with the party lifestyle full time. My daily routine had not changed much other than progressing to an extra large bacon double cheese burger pizza followed by a 40 ounce of the cheapest beer I could find. This duo was paired up alongside many cigarettes and other smokables. While my skateboarding was still improving, my body was beginning to feel the effects. So was my mind. Moments of depression sunk in, and my joy for living had been diminished. It was late into my eighteenth year that I knew something had to change. And fast.

    The initial shift occurred while on a visit to my home in Saskatoon. I went to a book store hoping to find something that would help. There was one book that glowed and seemed to jump out at me. Within minutes I knew I had found exactly what I had been looking for. In my hands I held a simple little book called Fit For Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond. It was and continues to be a best seller. The main teaching behind the book was natural hygiene, promoting simple food combining as well as eating fruit for breakfast and vegetarianism. Over night I changed my routine, eating a well combined meal of fruit for breakfast as well as food combining at lunch and dinner. It was then that vegetarianism became my preferred lifestyle. So it began…..

    With this change in lifestyle came many rewards as well as sparking a new found passion. Soon I found myself nose down in any nutrition book I could find as well as diving fully into yoga. With my routine change came serious tests as well as a rocking back and forth between my old and newly acquired habits. Smoking and drinking came in and out of the picture as I waxed and waned in dealing with emotional eating as well as internally expressed depression and self destructiveness. One month I was fully living healthfully doing yoga every day, the next month came with a binge of drinking and eating poor quality vegetarian junk foods.

    I spent a few years hopping between Miami and LA and back to Saskatoon and Vancouver. At one point I remember being back on processed foods and cheap alcohol while living in a 2nd story apartment building in Azusa, California. I was eating three TV dinners a day. I was depressed and too tired to even walk down the stairs to skateboard. I had to really give my head a shake. Some lessons need to be learned a few times, this was one of them. And so, with renewed vigour I set my self back into healthy living and the real progress began.

    By 2001, fruit for breakfast as well as food combining had been a part of my routine for a good while. Vegetarianism finally stuck and my passion for nutrition engulfed me. I had bought a Vita Mix blender and began travelling around with it which enabled me to eat more smoothies! I was also incorporating more simple whole food cooked vegetarian meals.

    It was in 2003 that my love for nutrition and cooking came to a climax. I began looking for vegetarian cooking schools with the intent of working as a chef while dreaming of running my own vegetarian restaurant. After much research I came to find only two decent vegetarian schools, one in NYC and another in France. Both were quite expensive and neither seeming very realistic. With this, my focus again shifted and I decided to take a Holistic Nutrition course in Vancouver.

    While working part time at an organic grocer, I opted for the full time one year Holistic Nutrition Course at The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. I wished to grow in health and vitality specifically for skateboarding as I still dreamed of being a pro skater. Truthfully, it was only as a secondary thought that I had wished to help out friends and family in their health and vitality. Never did I consider, nor did I want to work as a nutritionist. The things we think we know! At school there was a large focus on holistics (taking all lifestyle factors and conditions into consideration for the health of the whole being). We learned about chemistry as well as biology and delved into many different diets. We were able to work on individual case studies providing consultations for our practical experience.

    For about half a year I ate a predominantly raw vegan diet while still keeping my one foot in the cooked vegan junk food door. At school I had begun my self study in raw-veganism. This took hold after reading a book by David Wolfe in which every chapter ended with the sentence “cooked food is poison”. I became passionate about raw foods, reading every book on the subject I could find. Every time I opened a book on raw-foodism, I intuitively knew I had found “it”. While many wish to find and grow within general health, it had always been my aim to find optimal health with no compromises.

    Even with all the books and experiences I had I couldn’t figure out how to balance a proper raw vegan diet nor did I consider a 100% raw diet. As with many people who focus intently on one subject I began to obsess on nutrition. I was began to think that I wasn’t “clean enough” and because of this went to see allergy specialists as well as a naturopath. They determined I was sensitive to a few foods as well as had Candida yeast overgrowth. While I had done various cleanses and fasts over the years, I became determined to do a 14 day no fat raw vegan cleanse as dictated by some “candida cleanse” books I was reading at the time. For 10 days I ate nothing but raw veggies, granny smith apples (because everything else had too much sugar) and no fats of any kind. One can only take so much salad and coleslaw without dressing I thought, this was the worst eating regime I ever went on. This was partially because I didn’t have any good low fat recipes as well as because the regime completely shunned fruit.

    By day ten my digestion was in flux, gas at a high, and mood irritable. This led to one of the worst binges of my life. Feeling starved, lightheaded and crazed I devoured everything in sight within a few hours. I started with twelve huge “power cookies” packed with four different grains, a bunch of nuts and seeds chocolate chips and much more. I then moved to a pint of vegan ice cream and topped it off with a bag of “healthy” “natural” potato chips. I drowned myself in guilt and self loathing and to punish myself further I went and ate two slices of pizza, breaking for the first time my vegan diet. I stumbled home and fell into troubled sleep. When I awoke I was shocked to find my eyes glued shut! Literally there was a thick yellow puss dried over my eyelids that I actually had to peel and pry open. My eyes were so blood shot there was no white anywhere, just fire engine red. I went into work groggy, and everyone thought I was on drugs. Later that day I went to my naturopath who said that I had overburdened my system so much that I was detoxing through my eyes. He also said I was lucky that I wasn’t blind and that I hadn’t experienced any permanent damage he could tell. With this experience I was determined to find the answers to my health problems in the proper application of the raw diet.

    It was 2004 and I was in the middle of my training at CSNN when I attended a festival called “A Taste of Health”. The whole festival was centered around health and wellness with many vegetarian, vegan and a few raw food speakers and promoters. Looking at the speakers list, I went to a talk by Dr. Douglas Graham. This was to forever change my life.

    At the time, Dr. Graham had been a raw-foodist for over 27 years with well over half of that as a low fat raw vegan (or ’80/10/10′ as he coined a few years later). From the moment I started watching ‘Dr. D’ talk about raw foods and the program he recommended I knew I had found what I had been searching for over the last six years. Dr. Graham literally glowed. He radiated the health and vitality I was seeking so much more so than any of the dozens of health practitioners and teachers I had learned under, over the years. I could feel his energetic presence, a warm caring being who oozed vitality, compassion, and knowledge. I went to every talk he offered that day and stayed after talking with him for nearly a hour at the end of the day. That night I gave away all of my cooked vegan pre-made foods and embarked on a one month 100% raw vegan trial.

    The second day at the festival was my first day on a 100% low fat raw vegan program (this is predominated or entirely made up of first fruits and vegetables). I enjoyed each and every talk Dr. D offered and I continued to talk with him at the end of each day. I give so much thanks to him, that month was the most uplifting, life changing time I had ever experienced in my life. I literally felt as if I was walking on air filled with bliss. My activity level increased while at the same time my feeling of lightness and joyfulness went through the roof. On day fifteen I cheated with one handful of granola, and in doing so I felt silly and stuck with the 100% raw flow for the remainder of the month. I felt elated, sure that I had found the way, but yet still not quite ready to give up some old foods. Before jumping back into it I decided to give myself three days of eating all the cooked vegan I wanted.

    Cheap Vancouver vegan pizzas, subway subs, east Indian food, Thai and Ethiopian slowed me right down leaving me feeling heavy. My taste buds smiled at my old dishes, but my energy levels as well as mental outlook and emotional poise only proved to me that raw foods were the way to go. With a loving farewell to those foods I embarked on what I thought was going to be a quick transition to 100% raw vegan all the time guaranteed.

    This is how it went for eight months, I was thriving beyond belief on a simple whole foods predominated low fat raw vegan diet. While Dr. D had provided many of the pieces of the puzzle, there is only so much one can convey in hours. My concept of calories vs different foods and energy expenditure wasn’t fully formed nor was my recipe repertoire. I read raptly from Dr. Grahams Vegsource support board forum, asking every question I could think of and pouring over the backlog. This support helped more than words can express. I am still amazed by Doug’s commitment to that board, as I am sure he has spent hours patiently answering questions that he has no doubt answered many times before. His being inspires me continually.

    It wasn’t until I went on a two week skateboarding road trip with many friends with whom I used to ‘party’ with that I experienced my first social and emotional tests. Completely unprepared for traveling raw as well as being underfunded, I now know that I had set myself up for hardship. With a budget of three dollars a day as well as only being able to stop at one grocery store every two days, I found myself under eating, and eating under ripe foods. I was making less than ideal food choices such as subsiding off of mostly raisins. By the middle of week two I felt mentally unstable and emotionally I was a wreck. I saw everyone around me seemingly thriving on fast food, cigarettes and alcohol while I felt starved, energy drained, isolated and depressed. In the middle of the night I sneaked out and did what I never thought I would do, slip back on the old vegan flow a second time. Fast food burgers, chili cheese fries and candy bars, whatever I could get my hands on really. Anything that was cheap and dense with calories. I hid my binges from everyone. I was filled with guilt, depression and self loathing as I pretended everything was fine. On the way back I even announced that I wanted to eat cooked food with them. So I joined them at Taco Bell. Later that night as collateral for staying an extra day in Seattle, I had my first of alcoholic drinks in over 9 months.

    Once back in Vancouver I was disgusted with myself, filled with negative emotions and sadness in going back on my beliefs. I settled into a three day fast followed by my simple low fat raw regime. With this experience I came to know more clearly the emotional connection to foods, the effects of guilt as well as depression and how powerful a effect they have on our vitality, sense of self and well being. I wouldn’t wish my self torment on anyone, this all lead me to dedicating myself to helping make this journey easier for others. I am sure that if at the time I was armed with the recipes and insights that I now have, I could have had an easier transition and less of a dramatic shift on the road. But if that had been the case, I may have not moved through the lesson that brought me to where I am now. By my second year on the program I knew there was nothing in this world I would rather do than share my insights, experiences and knowledge with others. By the end of my 3rd year applying the lifestyle, coming into congruency and feeling more than confident I could share from my heart felt expereince passion as well as Knowledge, growing through helping freinds and family I made the decision to start my dream, to awaken fully to my purpose. Together with a good freind I Worked my Last Construction Job and Bought a Computer, In May of 2009 was born :)

    From my own experience as well as through meeting and talking with many other raw-foodists, gurus and experts, I universally find that once a simple low fat raw vegan / hygienic lifestyle is properly applied it is found to be the most exciting, rewarding, physically, mentally and spiritually uplifting way to live possible. Truly, the raw lifestyle can please all as it is filled with as much taste, texture and variety as one could wish for. Consider bananas for example which have over 100 varieties! There are 1000’s of varieties for fruits, leafy greens, vegetables as well as tonnes of different herbs, nuts and seeds! This makes for an endless supply of simply made recipes to choose from. Experiment and find that the possibilities are nearly endless. All tastes and textures can be easily satisfied through utilizing soups, smoothies, salads, slaws, pasta’s, stews, and drinks. There is also the pleasure of simply eating any fruit on its own in its peak ripeness.

    It is my highest intention to serve others on this path we call life. It is my hope that we may all come together in loving service, flowing with support as we rise into a higher vibration. It is through constant curiosity and growth within self love that we can then extend this love towards others through thought, action and word. Through life affirming choices and individual action in the forever now, we are consciously creating our future. We are one. May we honor our individual as a gesture of gratitude toward the whole.

    Hope you enjoyed my story, Im still writing n now Filming! ;)
    Wishing you Much
    Peacelovenseasonalfruit ck

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