Jesi and her fiancé, Charley, lost 50 pounds each leading a raw food diet. Jesi, who also saw symptoms of acid reflux and attention deficit disorder as well as sinus issues vanish, documents her lifestyle journey on her Raw Food Newbie Facebook page. Jesi performs in the bands Charley and Jesi and Travis Creeps and the Mighty Swooners.
Brian’s note: I began 10 sentences with targeted words, presented in boldface below, that serve as conversation starters and asked Jesi to complete the thoughts in this condensed “interview.”
Before I went raw, I suffered from a low immune system and poor health. I was always sick and was overprescribed medications of all kinds. I was always on antibiotics, which led to frequent yeast infections, and then I would have to be prescribed anti-fungal medications. I also had acid reflux and was on antacid medications. I had to sleep on a special pillow that was on a 45-degree angle (had poor sleep) and was told not to have oranges or tomatoes (my two favorite foods) because of the acid. I had frequent sinus infections and had to be constantly prescribed sinus medications and prescription nasal sprays. I also had asthma and was prescribed inhaled steroids. The side effects of these drugs led to other problems.
I also had anxiety attacks and mood swings. I had pain and inflammation from back problems and carpal tunnel syndrome. I was always fatigued and nauseous I noticed that I rapidly started gaining weight and my menstrual cycle was unusually heavy and lasted all month long for multiple months. I had a ultrasound, and the doctor said I had a uterine tumor that was about 5 centimeters in diameter and multiple ovarian cysts (we counted 11 of them).
A uterine tumor is a tumor (fibroid or myoma) that grows in the uterus. It is not known why women develop them. They may be genetic, and I do have a family history of them. It is relatively common and many women have them, but most women don’t experience any symptoms. In my case, I was experiencing the worst of the symptoms, which are: abdominal pressure and pelvic pain, frequent urination, rapid weight gain, pain during intercourse and abnormal bleeding. Medical treatments usually include hormone therapy (birth control) and/or myomectomy (surgical removal of the fibroids), and they could grow back. Some doctors recommend a hysterectomy (surgical removal of uterus). I was told, if left untreated, it could continue to grow and lead to infertility or they might just eventually go away. Immediately after the change in my lifestyle (which I started right away), I started feeling much better. Three months after I started on a low-fat raw food diet, the symptoms went away completely.
My doctor at the time wasn’t sure if it was a fast-growing cancerous tumor or a benign fibroid and wanted me to have more tests done. When I asked about the options, he recommended surgery (because I had a history of having bad reactions to birth control medication, so he said not to go that route). He wanted me to have a new kind of robotic, minimally invasive surgery that would have been up to $50,000, which I couldn’t afford.
The first thing I did was stop using tampons and cotton pads and instead started using the cup and reusable cloth pads. Normal cotton tampons have many chemicals that could actually lead to death due to toxic shock syndrome and reducing the exposure to them helps regulate your hormones.
I asked if there was anything I could do for myself, food or lifestyle-wise. He laughed and said no and that he didn’t believe in “natural treatments.” Something about his reaction seemed wrong to me. I thought we should be working together for my health, not just removing things from my body. Instead of feeling hopeless, I went home from that doctor’s office visit empowered with a huge motivator: to try to prove I could do it myself. I was going to do everything in my power to heal myself, and if it didn’t work, I could always go back to the medical route.
I researched and found a different gynecologist whose specialty is nutrition and who is also a vegan. She gave me an ultrasound three months after I started on a low-fat raw food diet and confirmed that I had shrunk my tumor down to 3 centimeters and that I had no more cysts. I also went back at the six-month mark and it had shrunk down to 1.5 centimeters. It was so small, she almost couldn’t find it! By now, it has probably dissipated!
Part of my journey has been documented in a new documentary coming out soon called 100 Days Raw!
I learned that you can heal yourself after something in my heart just kept telling me that I should have control over my health. I knew how frustrating it was to rely on doctors to “fix” my medical problems, only to be prescribed drugs that made things worse. So, I just started looking up everything I could about healing. I went to the library and read all the books I could find about healing and the therapies that resonated true to me. I also searched the Internet for real people who were promoting a healthy lifestyle and healed themselves.
I sought out all healing: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. I did everything from Gerson Therapy, hydrotherapy, regression therapy and daily positive healing affirmations. I started reading up on ancient cultures and shamanism.
I also listened to my inner-truths: When I was 12 years old, I became an ethical vegetarian for many years, and whenever I’d fall into eating animal products again, I would always notice how horrible I felt physically and mentally. Going vegan was very easy for me because I had always been a big fruit and vegetable eater. At first, I was confused about what should make up the bulk of my calories and would eat lots of high-fat, prepackaged gourmet raw foods. I was still continuing my search for an optimal diet that can heal and found great information on sites like NutritionFacts.org, 30BananasADay.com, FoodnSport.com, RawsomeHealthy.com and LovingItRaw.com that had testimonials, free meal plans and online support groups. I linked up with people in my area who had been thriving on a low-fat raw food diet, and they introduced me to farmers, and I got tips on where to shop for bulk deals on food. Having a plan, motivation and support is very important on my journey to optimal health.
During my transition to a low-fat raw food diet, I took it week by week as I got the information. The first week, I cut out the animal products, the next week I cut out the cooked food, the next week I cut out the high-fat foods. One of the most important foods to cut out for any reproductive problems is dairy because of all the hormones—natural and growth hormones as well as antibiotics—injected into the animal. These hormones can wreak havoc on estrogen levels and cause inflammation of the digestive tract. The digestive tract can leach toxins into the uterus, which sits below the digestive tract. Dairy itself can deplete magnesium stores, throwing off our pituitary and adrenal glands, and actually leaches calcium out of our bones. Magnesium and calcium are two minerals women need, especially during our cycles. Also, dairy is super high in fat. It is, essentially, putrefied milk fat, which is hard to digest, and so many people are lactose intolerant.
After I read about proper food combining, Natural Hygiene and reading The 80/10/10 Diet, I knew I was onto something. I jumped into it right away, armed with new information, a support system and also had great tools like Cronometer.com to track my intake and make sure I’m getting enough food. Before I knew it, I went a year and a half on a low-fat raw food diet. Since then, I tested out how I felt eating cooked food again, and the mucus and sinus problems returned right away. It just doesn’t even compare to the feeling you get when you’re all raw and fruit-powered. It’s like being Superwoman, and I want to feel like that all the time! Whatever meal you’re craving, there’s a low-fat raw vegan version available somewhere on the Internet—or you can make up your own! It makes eating fun!
The best part about this lifestyle is getting to eat so much ripe, juicy fruit all the time. I get so much joy from biting into a piece of fruit. Fruits have serotonin in them; they make me happy and have energy!
Every aspect of this lifestyle is so fulfilling. I love how my “diet” includes a wonderful variety of vitamin-packed and mineral-rich foods and also gives instructions about healthy living like getting enough sunshine, exercise, fresh air, even music and love daily. Part of the recipe is encouraging you to live your life’s purpose and being happy. It’s also about being eco-conscious and eco-friendly, supporting organic produce. Fruit is the most compassionate, nonviolent food on the planet. I feel totally aligned with my true self and more grounded than ever. I’ve never felt so “human” as when I forage for fruit.
For me, on an average day of eating, I will have anywhere from 3 to 8 pounds of ripe, sweet, juicy fruit during the day and 1 to 2 pounds of lettuce greens, a few pounds of nonsweet fruits (tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash and peppers) and maybe a handful of some nuts, seeds, avocado or coconut for dinner. We try to eat with the seasons as much as possible, so we go to the farmer’s markets a lot to see who has the best deals and best-tasting local fruits and try to keep a big stash of my staples like dates, bananas, mangos and coconuts because they are a bang of calories for your buck and give variety.
With physical activity, I try to mix it up so exercise seems like fun, not like “work”ing out. I love taking my dog for walks around our block. We live on a big hill, so I get an incline and we do one-minute intervals of running and one-minute intervals of walking—anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes. I really love playing sports like tennis and baseball, even though I’m not that great at them! I also like to do the free fitness videos that are on YouTube.
Each day, first thing in the morning, I will drink a liter of water and then take my dog for a walk around the block to get my system going. I will come back and have a quart of coconut water in the sun (Vitamin D) while I water the garden and indoor plants, where we grow our own food. Then I’ll eat about 15 oranges outside in the sun (wash my mouth out with water to neutralize acids) and do some squats, pushups and then go clean my house. When I get hungry again, I’ll have a few bananas and green smoothies (averages about a head of lettuce and about 10 bananas), then a few pounds of berries, peaches, persimmons or whatever is in season. I take my dog for another walk and then eat a few pounds of lettuce, sometimes by itself or I might make a salad or a lettuce leaf taco or find a recipe online or in one of our low-fat raw recipe books. Then I’ll wind down and practice or write music and then plan what I will eat the next day, and if I don’t have enough food, I will plan on going to a farmer’s market or produce center.
My connection to music has became stronger because I became motivated and driven since switching to this lifestyle and overcoming some issues I had before. When I changed my diet, my acid reflux went away, my sinus problems cleared up and I no longer had mucus problems and my need for my asthma inhaler. I no longer needed to take any of my medications, and no more side effects. As a singer, my voice is finally clear to hit some of the notes that I couldn’t before. My writer’s block is gone, and my creativity and drive has been like never before. Since I dropped some weight, my confidence and stage presence has soared, and I’ve been able to do things I never thought possible. I am focused with no attention deficit disorder symptoms anymore, and that gives me the ability to hone in and study music like never before, and, in turn, to perform better with the instruments I play.