Never having indulged in fruit juices before (back in Switzerland, it was all water), I began my journey into the Ocean Spray kingdom in 2001, just like a kid arriving at Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. One flavor was particularly alluring to me, the famed cranberry juice. I liked its sweet and sour taste. I was pretty much unaware at that time that this Frankenstein creation contained one remarkably harmful poison?—?the infamous high fructose corn syrup. That indulgence, as well as other processed foods, facilitated my weight gain from about 75 kgs (165 lbs) to 95 kgs (210 lbs). The worst part was my blood sugar had spiked to around 250 mg/dl and my total cholesterol was close to 350 mg/dl.
Over the next two years, I improved my health, but remained overweight and pre-diabetic. One day in 2006, I luckily stumbled upon Wild Oats, a health food store that is now Whole Foods. My curiosity pushed me to discover a new world of organic products. I didn’t jump from fast food to raw food overnight. Instead, I replaced the artificial foods from conventional outlets with organic varieties of vegetables, sausages, fish and so on. This change on its own made me feel much, much better. That metamorphosis was followed by my discovery of the salad/soup bar and fresh take-away salads, all organic. I slowly started shifting away from meats and towards a vegetarian/pescatarian diet. From 2006 to 2007, my diet consisted pretty much of whole grain cereals and almond milk in the mornings followed by salads the rest of the day and lots of water and green tea. I was also an avid fan of fresh sushi, just like many inhabitants of California the sushi paradise.
Even though my diet had radically changed, my exercise habits remained nonexistent, aside from the occasional ping-pong getaways during office hours. That changed dramatically, thanks to the oil crisis. As they say, there is a good side to everything. Being the proud owner of a muscle car, I refused to drain my paychecks for my daily commute to work, which was 30 km (19 miles) each way. Since public transportation in southern California is virtually nonexistent, the only other solution, aside from walking or running 60 km (38 miles) a day, was biking. And so, I began my Tour de Work, a 1.5 hour (when the traffic lights weren’t being a pain) bicycle commute to and from work. In the beginning, three hours a day of pedaling was extremely strenuous, but after a month I could fit in three trips a week, the off-days reserved for the “pleasurable” car/traffic commute. I felt so good and refreshed arriving at work, that my mood and efficiency increased considerably, as well as my endurance. My weight decreased to around 64 kgs (141 lbs), a weight I used to carry in my high school days.
During one of my numerous bike outings, I discovered Vietnamese food and was especially attracted to the spring rolls (the raw variety rolled in rice paper). One of these restaurants was also serving raw foods. It was the first time I had ever heard of such a thing. Their raw dishes were, of course, Asian-inspired and included a roll with the shell made up of raw zucchini with a tangy sauce. The deliciousness of these dishes pushed me the rest of the way into the world of raw foods.
In late 2008, I moved back to Switzerland and kept up my vegan/raw lifestyle. I also took up running one day and instantly fell in love with the sport. Around the same time, I joined a raw food potluck group that meets once every month to share raw recipes, foods and knowledge. It was during one of these meetups that I learned about Hippocrates Health Institute and decided to plan a visit out of curiosity. In March 2011, I attended a two-week program and learned a lot of things about raw foods, as well as juicing. For the first time, I was drinking the sweet, almost undrinkable, wheatgrass juice on a daily basis and I cut out my fruit intake. After one week, I was feeling better than when I arrived, which is to say highly energized. The whole philosophy of sleeping well, eating well, water/juice drinking, meditating, exercising, sauna-taking, colon cleansing and massages really promotes optimal health.
One of the best parts of the trip was meeting fabulous, inspirational people and guests who were seriously ill upon arrival, but soon were up and about like elite athletes. Once I left, I noticed right away how toxic and chemically submerged the outside world really is. The hard part is sharing my positive experiences with others who mostly scoff and remain in their brainwashed state. Most think it is a boring, tasteless diet and cannot understand that eating well is not a diet, but a way of life. For my part, I am most definitely continuing on my raw journey and adding my knowledge from Hippocrates in order to remain in optimal health and, of course, improve my running endeavors.