Caileigh Feldman and her husband, Brian Russo, co-founded the Detox Mastery Academy to empower thousands of light workers, leaders and families to transform their health and experience true vitality! Caileigh Feldman and Brian Russo lead international yoga, raw food and detoxification retreats in Costa Rica.
Caileigh is on a mission to empower millions of people to reconnect with their divine source in their hearts, restore health in their bodies and truly give joy a chance! Explore Caileigh Feldman’s website, Give Joy A Chance, where you’ll find seven free raw vegan recipes, and join the Detox Mastery Academy. Follow Caileigh Feldman on Facebook and Instagram.
Note from Fruit-Powered’s Brian Rossiter: I began 10 sentences with targeted words, presented in boldface below, that serve as conversation starters and asked Caileigh Feldman to complete the thoughts in this Raw Vegan Transformations: Conversations piece.
Caileigh Feldman’s Skin Opens Her to Experience Freedom
My skin has been my greatest guru. It has been through deep physical pain that I have found my true freedom. When I was only 2 years old, I was diagnosed with chronic eczema. Some of my earliest memories are of me scratching my skin until it would bleed. I begged my mom to let me have a new set of skin. I was embarrassed and would hide my skin under long sleeves even in the pretty summer dresses that my mom handmade for me.
Topical steroids were prescribed to me by my doctor when I was 8 years old. My mom trusted the doctors and they didn’t give us any warning about what could happen with consistent use of topical steroids. For the next 14 years of my life, I used steroid creams on a weekly basis. Little did I know that applying this little tube of cream would result in such horrific suffering.
When I was 11, I started to experience deep depression, suicidal thoughts and anxiety. I masked my intense feelings by obsessing about dressing well and focusing on my external appearances. At the time, I wrote the song lyric: “More and more makeup with each application, covering up my feelings with foundation.” I was terrified to open up and share my inner feelings with anyone.
By high school, I had created positive friendships and was actively participating in lots of extracurricular activities like varsity soccer, jazz band, musical theater and environmental activism. During this time, although I excelled in school and was thriving, I still used the topical steroids consistently on small patches of eczema. I had no idea that I was doing more harm than good.
In a Nutshell: Caleigh Feldman
Here’s a snapshot of Caleigh Feldman’s favorites:
- Fruit: I love mangos! Each bite tastes unique to me—like sweet caramel and vanilla! My second-favorite staple would definitely have to be fresh orange juice. I drink at least 64 ounces of freshly squeezed orange juice daily, and it truly lights me up from the inside out. My favorite tropical fruit is, by far, durian. I love how creamy it is and have even tried some here in Costa Rica that tastes like fragrant flowers. So yummy!
- Exercise: Definitely rebounding! Jumping on my mini-trampoline is so fun and always helps me feel energized, refreshed and creative. I also love practicing slow yoga like hatha or yin (I am a trained hatha and vinyasa yoga instructor) and going for long walks by the ocean.
- Book: The Clarion Call by Alison David Bird and Lisa Wilson. This is a powerful book for awakening to the world beyond what meets the eye.
- Film: Ohhh, Moana, hands down! I love the focus on pursuing the calling in your heart despite what others in society are doing. The music and animation are so gorgeous. This movie makes me cry every time when the spirit of the grandmother continues on in the form of a stingray.
- Album: This is easy! Graceland by Paul Simon. My grandparents are South African, and my mom was raised in Zimbabwe. I love how Paul Simon collaborated with local South African musicians to create such a powerful masterpiece. I can listen to this album over and over again!
- Place on earth: Oh, my goodness. This is not as easy to choose. My home in Costa Rica has got to be my favorite place on Earth right now. Beaches. Waterfalls. Organic markets. Loving community. Tropical fruits. Fresh juices. Yes. I have found my home, a.k.a. Heaven on Mother Earth.
- Thing to do: Floating in a hot spring under the stars with a glass of fresh juice.
Caileigh Feldman’s College Years Lead Her in Direction to Good Health
The light for health began to turn on inside my mind when I was a freshman at Haverford College. I started to experience digestive discomfort during my first semester because it was my first time eating more processed cafeteria food. I was recruited to play varsity soccer and was moving my body a lot, yet I still gained 10 pounds during the first three months of school. I had never gained extra weight in my entire life. I didn’t feel good, and I felt lethargic!
I would call my mom, crying from stomach pain. I had no idea it was related to what I was eating. My mom asked me: “What are you eating?” And, I told her: “For breakfast, I am having eggs, pancakes, tater tots, sausage and cereal. For lunch, I have grilled cheese and chocolate milkshakes, and for dinner, I have spaghetti and tomato sauce.” She was like: “Well, of course, you’re not feeling good. You’re not eating any real foods like fruits, veggies or unprocessed foods.” I was shocked. I literally had never made the deep connection between food and energy. I was also angry and thought: “Why had I never been taught any of this in school?”
From that very moment, I became interested in health and wellness. Not long afterward, my entire family went vegan, inspired by my brother’s decision to cut out meat. I started to make the connection that what I put inside my body affected my overall health (mental, emotional, spiritual and physical).
I began going to Trader Joe’s and felt empowered making all my own food in my on-campus apartment —banana oatmeal with cinnamon and maple syrup for breakfast, salad with roasted veggies, hummus and pita for lunch and whole-wheat pizza or rice pasta with tons of sautéed veggies for dinner. My snacks became air-popped popcorn or puffed rice crackers and bananas with almond butter. On weekends, I made vegan banana pancakes for my friends and invited everyone over to my apartment and asked them to bring their favorite toppings.
I became so passionate about the vegan lifestyle that I even taught vegan and vegetarian cooking classes for my fellow students and volunteered in public middle schools in Philadelphia to prepare healthy after-school snacks.
After graduating from Haverford College, I moved to New York City to work for a nonprofit, teaching vegan cooking classes and organizing holistic health fairs for a public high school. It was totally my dream job at the time! While living in NYC, my skin began to flare up again. I started getting itchy little red bumps all over my chest, neck, arms and stomach. At first, I thought it was an allergic reaction to something in my apartment. I swapped out my cleaning products for all-natural brands. I gave up all processed foods and stopped drinking wine. I even bought new sheets for my bed!
Nothing that I tried seemed to work.
Caileigh Feldman Looks Inward and Finds Answers to Health Challenges
When I looked within myself, I knew what I had to do. I was seeking outside of myself to fix a problem that was coming from within me! My rashes weren’t going away, and I was still using the steroid creams.
One day I looked in the mirror and said to myself: “I am ready to be who I am!”
I had a strong intuitive feeling that I needed to throw away the topical steroid creams immediately. I had no idea what I was in for. Just like that, I quit the topical steroid creams for the rest of my life.
My body’s response was to erupt like a volcano with red blotches everywhere! My face and eyes swelled up so much that I had trouble seeing. I began experiencing oozing, burning, bleeding, cracking, insomnia and depression.
The pain was so bad that I could barely move. Thank God that I could work remotely for the summer and recover at my parent’s home. I did some research and found out how bad the topical steroid creams were for my health and had a lightbulb moment: I had been suppressing my nervous system and immune system my entire life. My skin was just a messenger.
During this period, I had a lot of time for research and found out that what I was experiencing was called topical steroid withdrawal (TSW) and red skin syndrome (RSS). It was devastating to learn that my body had not only become addicted to the steroid creams, but that it also exacerbated the eczema, which it was originally “supposed to heal!”
I saw thousands of mothers, fathers and even many young children in the TSW support groups suffering like I was. The toughest part was seeing that nobody in these groups had any idea how to heal TSW or treat the incredibly uncomfortable symptoms. Very few people seemed to believe diet was a significant factor, but my own intuition led me to believe it was one of the biggest keys to my healing. So I took my vegan diet to the next level and introduced more fruits, fruit smoothies, veggies, sweet potatoes and drank at least 8 glasses of filtered water daily. I cut out all salt, soy, gluten and processed foods but still didn’t know anything about juicing.
My diet was bringing me some relief, but my world was shattered again when my on-again-off-again boyfriend of seven years broke up with me. I was heartbroken but inspired by my brother, who gave me some advice that hit me like a punch to the gut: “Let go or be dragged.” I knew in that moment that I needed to let go and that my physical healing was not just about diet. The root of it was overcoming the emotional pain behind it all.
Yoga Practice Helps Caileigh Feldman Break Through Emotional Pain to Find Peace
Yoga helped me move not only my body but my emotions. My mother gave me a book called Warrior Pose: How Yoga Literally Saved My Life by Brad Willis. I was inspired by how he healed stage 4 throat cancer and regenerated a broken back by practicing yoga. I had never tried yoga before because I didn’t have the patience for it. I was accustomed to the fast pace of soccer. But committing to hot yoga every single day that summer helped me breathe through all my emotional pain and find peace again. At first, yoga was very difficult mentally. I had trouble being present in the poses and experienced tons of mental chatter. Slowly but surely, my body became more flexible, and my mind became quieter. Yoga also touched my soul and was the beginning of my spiritual journey.
In just one month after I declared my intent to heal to the Universe, my skin was completely clear, smooth and stronger than ever. The members of the TSW Facebook groups could not believe the results I shared with them!
Caileigh Feldman Adopts a Wholly Raw Vegan Diet
The idea of eating a raw food diet would have seemed crazy to me when I started college, but after going vegan and hearing about the benefits of raw food for treating eczema, I decided to give it a try. It wasn’t easy returning to the hustle and bustle of NYC after my summer of healing, but on my 23rd birthday in December, I decided to go fully raw!
I ate only bananas and dates for one month. I knew nothing about raw foods, so I tried going on “Banana Island.” I did see a decrease in inflammation in my body but not very much. I know now that bananas and dates are low-water-content fruits and were not giving my body the hydration it needed. I “celebrated” New Year’s by doing a five-day water fast! My raw food journey and fasting lifestyle had begun!
Enjoy a Gallery of Caileigh Feldman’s Enticing Raw Vegan Meals, Bursting with Color
Over the next four years, my approach to raw foods continued to evolve as I became more in touch with my body. I used to eat three meals a day and enjoyed more green smoothies, salads and a variety of ingredients. Then I began to have two meals a day and incorporated more high-water-content fruits and juices. I also started intermittent fasting (dry fasting for 14 hours daily) and eventually went down to two meals a day and finally one meal a day. Juicing has become a huge part of my lifestyle, and I drink many fruit juices daily. The deepest I’ve ever gone into my cellular regeneration was during 144 days of juicing. I took my juice feasting moment by moment and didn’t try to force it at all. My body led me the entire way, and it was such a joy to finally feel my true hunger returning. It was an incredibly deep experience. I was able to eliminate a lot of old waste, and, with that waste, a lot of old beliefs and emotional patterns that no longer served me. My first meal back after my juice feast was my favorite fruit: mangos! I know that many people might consider it extreme, but gradually changing my diet to be based on fruits and juices has made me healthier and more vibrant than ever before!
A yoga retreat opened my eyes to what my dream life could be. Just one month after starting a raw food lifestyle, I attended a weeklong yoga retreat in Costa Rica. I stayed high raw and fell in love with Costa Rica and the Pura Vida lifestyle! I was even inspired to start a yoga retreat business so that others could have a similarly powerful experience! I was feeling receptive to all the great things that the Universe was bringing into my life. I had retreats planned in Peru, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, plus my skin was doing great!
Caileigh Feldman Finds Love When She Least Expected It
Love came as a surprise for me when I met my future husband, Brian, on a vacation in Jamaica! The song “My Sweet Lord” was playing when we met and kicked off a week of singing, swimming and dancing under the stars. We stared deeply into each other’s eyes the first night we met. I placed my hand on his heart, and he said he felt something he’d never felt before! By the second day of the trip, we had fallen in love! He played his Tibetan singing bowls while I led a yoga class for our families, who were getting along so well. Our work together had already begun! We had an incredible summer of love, and then I left for Peru to complete my 200-hour yoga teacher training.
Brian joined me in Peru for the retreat, and then we had fun exploring South America! The next retreat we hosted together was in gorgeous Nosara, Costa Rica. At sunset on the final evening of the retreat, Brian got down on one knee and proposed to me in front of our entire group. I said yes, and we were married five months later in a small private ceremony in Maryland overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. Then in July, we had our huge family wedding celebration in the South of France! It was a fairytale wedding and truly a dream come true!
Caileigh Feldman and Husband, Brian Russo, Launch Give Joy A Chance
Our passion for healing led us to become certified detoxification and cellular regeneration specialists with Dr. Robert Morse. Not long after, we started our wellness business, Give Joy A Chance! We realized that the physical detox protocols for our clients were important but that the root of the entire journey is truly emotional healing rooted in self love!
I am so grateful for the raw food lifestyle that has helped me unveil and embody who I truly am. My experience shows me how I am interconnected with everything in the Universe. I see how my positive and negative choices ripple out to everyone and every area of my life so I’ve learned to do my best to take responsibility for every single choice I make.
The answer is always within. It’s up to me to align my thoughts, words and actions with the kind of world I want to create! I had spent my entire life focusing on the external and trying to make everything in my life appear “perfect” by suppressing my symptoms and true feelings.
Going within to heal my skin was a tough lesson to finally learn and accept. Once I was able to deeply face my situation and start becoming my own best friend, I was empowered to make consistent choices that aligned with my health and happiness.
Now, the best thing of all is that I feel truly happy, and, as a result, my childhood wish has come true: I finally found peace in my body!
May my story inspire you to get deeply curious about the messages your body is sending you and to know that your health is always in your own hands. Love is the most healing force in the whole universe, and it’s your choice to align yourself with the power of love.
You can heal your life. It starts with the physical, but as you go deeper, you’ll discover the mental and emotional patterns that were keeping you stagnant and living small.
I call this process “lighting up your life.” At first, you may feel like your life is falling apart only to discover that, from the ashes of the old, you will emerge free to express yourself like never before. Faith and trust will carry you forward.
As a certified detox specialist, I have been working to help our clients heal for the past two years through my Detox Mastery Academy. If you are ready to transform and become the greatest expression of yourself, I am ready to support you and guide you on your path to vibrant health!
Joy is who you are. Love always. ♥