I was sick a lot. That's what I remember now, when I think back on my health. I don't mean that I grew up in hospitals under constant care or made appearances at fund raisers for charity. My sickness was considered to be quite normal. It was just a fact of life, that I had to deal with.
I grew up with what they called back then 'sinus trouble'. This meant I got all the colds and flu that went around. I had breathing troubles from time to time. I got ear infections and sore throats and the usual 'sinusitis', many times a year.
I was overweight as a kid also. Only a little, 10 pounds or so. My Mom said I was just 'Husky'. Even though it wasn't much, in my head I remember, it defined me. I can't remember a time as a kid that I didn't hate myself for being fat.
I always compared myself to my Dad's side of the family tree. They we're mostly all very overweight and all had a whole history of major illness throughout their lives. My Dad's mother was even known affectionately as 'Big Mama'.
Diabetes, Cancer, Heart Disease and Obesity were just part of the plan. For Dad's side of the family it wasn't a matter of 'if' but 'when' we would get these diseases. I grew up knowing this is what I would be like too. I never considered that I could be healthy. I was never led to believe it was an option for me.
The strangest part to me now though, has got to be life between the ages of 17 and 22 or so. I was part of a small group of close friends, there was 6 of us. We were always together and I was "the fat guy" in our group. My nickname was 'The Fat Man' or just 'Fatty' for short.
I accepted this. I went along with it. I played up to it, answered to it, and never thought anything of it. My weight was a constant source of self directed humour. It was a social tool for me that I depended on. The amazing thing about this is that, during this time I was never more than 10 to 15 pounds overweight.
After I settled down at 23, I began to gain about 10 pounds or so a year. I would try the latest fad diet, join a gym for a few months or buy a new fitness machine every once in a while. But my weight just kept climbing. This was no surprise to me at all. I had expected it to happen for as long as I can remember.
I developed severe Asthma, High Blood pressure and Hypertension. I checked my Blood sugar often, just waiting for the start of Diabetes. My bouts with colds and flu got worse and were normally accompanied by Pneumonia or at least Bronchitis.
I had a steady regiment of 'Actifed' (Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride/Triprolidine hydrochloride) and 'Tylenol' (Acetaminophen) and also whatever prescriptions the Doctor had me on at the time. I was always near a few pill bottles and I was never more than 10 feet away from my rescue inhaler.
At the age of 35, I was in bad shape. I weighed 26 stone (363 pounds). I began to have mysterious health scares, that would sometimes include a few days in the hospital with no diagnosis. I was also scheduled for a BPD/DS operation. (stomach surgery) Remember, I thought all this was normal. I wasn't even really concerned.
In 2002, I retired from my job. I wanted to travel and I bought a Motorhome. I was on the road full time, seeing America. For the first time in my life, I began to cook my own meals, because it was cheap, convenient and I had plenty of time.
Before I knew it, I had lost 2 stone (30 pounds). I felt better too. I was amazed. I thought for the first time that maybe I could do something to improve my health. My travels took me to California and there I became a vegetarian. 2 months later I went vegan. I just kept improving my diet and getting more active.
In 2003, a woman named LaWanna Rine told me about 'Raw Food' and fed me my first 'Raw' meal. It was 'Spaghetti' (made from squash) with a nice thick tomato sauce with all that great Italian flavour I loved. She even gave me 'Ice Cream' (made from frozen bananas) for desert. It was incredible and I couldn't tell that what I was eating was 'Raw'.
I was hooked. I knew that my new goal was to go 'Raw'. I began experimenting with my food processor and making soups and such but I had still never seen a 'Raw' recipe book. I met a few more 'Raw' enthusiasts at RBI, Leonard Orr's Training Centre in Virginia. One thing was obvious. These were the healthiest people I had ever met.
When I met Kira, she was vegan also. We were making our favourite vegan meals for each other every day. We were in vegan heaven! Then I told her about 'Raw Food' and she insisted that we try it. We downloaded a few recipes and We've both been 'Raw' ever since.
All in all, I've lost 12 stone (165 pounds), but even better than that I've got something I never had before. I am healthy. Really healthy! I haven't been sick in three years. My blood pressure is normal and my cholesterol is 2.5 UK (below 100 US).
At 35, I never would have believed that I could be healthy. Now I know that I always will be. My whole life has changed. I've discovered Bikram Yoga, Rebirthing Breathwork and conscious thinking along the way and I am still improving my health every day.
My life and my healthy body is now my most valued possession and no one can ever take it from me. Wow, Wow, Wow! Life is Great! I am so Blessed.
Chris Carlton's Story