My physical body was a mess. I suffered an array of ailments from arthritis, bursitis, sleep apnea, heal spurs and a bad knee that required surgery. I was also pre-diabetic, had high blood pressure, allergies and constant headaches.

Unfortunately, I had become a pathetic version of my potential. Mired in my own anger and self pity, I had no patience for anyone else, especially those I loved most.

During this resentful period, a dear friend of mine who had been living a similarly abusive lifestyle, suffered a major heart attack.

It was this news that shocked me into my own self reflection. I immediately sought out ways to help myself. This was my initial turning point. My next major catalyst was reading “Diet For A New America,” by John Robbins. I hadn’t eaten a vegetable in 40 years and was now adopting a vegetarian lifestyle overnight. The downside was that I had changed only the food but not myself. I was still a compulsive overeater, mindlessly gorging with an insatiable appetite in front of the TV.

I had lost my passion for life, which was deeply reflected in my attitude at work as a food service director in a community hospital. For years I loved this work, but then as my values shifted and I wanted healthier foods introduced where I worked I met resistance. There was no interest in my ideas. My frustrations led to further mindless eating and TV watching, and my hunger was never satiated. My wife would order larger and larger clothes through the mail because I wouldn’t even go shopping for myself! For years, she tried everything she could to help me feel better, and for this I usually ‘rewarded’ her with verbal abuse.

I was so negative that my wife finally came to the painful decision that she needed to leave me. That was my wake-up call. I was left to deal with myself – and all my anger, fear and insecurities. I loved my wife. It was me that I hated. My overeating and other compulsive behaviors were totally out of control. Two things finally made me hit bottom. I had trouble tying my shoes, and I couldn’t even properly wipe my own bottom.

At last I sought some real help. I went into therapy, both group and one-on-one. I joined an anonymous 12 step program (where I was totally judgmental and thought no one knew what they were talking about, but I kept on showing up anyway). I also went to see Fred Bisci, a nutritionist who taught me the correct way to maintain a raw food vegetarian diet. To further help me turn my life around, a friend suggested I go with her to a class on Kabbalah. It has helped me in my spiritual growth. I now see my emotional and spiritual development was stunted when I first began my addictive behavior. I had totally rejected formal religion and wanted nothing to do with it, but she persuaded me that this class was different and I went with her. I loved it.

Through the therapy, I unraveled how the events of my childhood and my father’s critical nature contributed to my low self image. I was also dyslexic, and, therefore, did poorly in school. Because I didn’t apply myself in school, my lack of confidence was reinforced. I was placed in slow classes and became an under achiever. There was not a lot I did that pleased my dad, but I loved my father very much. One day when I was five, my father, whose approval I was constantly seeking, offered me a hot dog. I had no interest in eating it, but my father loved hot dogs. He was a tall man, over 6 feet, and he bent down to meet me eye-to-eye and said with an enticing smile, “A Hot Dog! Wouldn’t you love a Hot Dog??” That was it. Love, attention and approval came in that moment from eating a hot dog and I looked outside for stimulation and satisfaction ever since. Through therapy, I also realized what it truly means to be an addict. Initially you do things for the (seeming) pleasure they bring, but then, when those things are clearly causing more pain than pleasure, you keep doing them anyway.

Once I started eating raw foods under Fred Bisci’s guidance, the weight began to drop off quickly. I lost about 25 pounds a month for the first four months. The program didn’t even focus on weight – it focused on health. When I tried to lose weight, I had been obsessed with weighing myself – three or more times a day. Now I was told to weigh myself only once a month. The rest of the weight continued to melt away over the next six months. I’ve lost 175 pounds.

Today I’m a much happier person. I deal with my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health in a more balanced, positive way. I came for the nine- week Health Educator program at Hippocrates where I have been immersed in cutting edge classes on nutrition, anatomy, counseling, life planning and most of all – self-responsibility. I live in the present and can be happy for no reason at all. I trust that the universe will guide me in the next chapters of my life. I will use the difficult experiences of my past in service to others who may benefit from what I have learned by living through and healing from those challenges.

If I, after almost 50 years of living with multiple addictions and self-destructive behavior, am able to enjoy a new healthy life, better than I could have ever imagined, I believe I can help others do the same. I plan to open a juice bar where people can relax, network and schmooze with other like-minded people.

If you would like to contact me, please send an email to: arniefw@aol.com

Vol 29 Issue 1 page 50


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A Soil Primer Looking Closer, Digging Deeper