80/10/10 Athlete Freelee
The first interview in our "Low-Fat Raw Vegan Athlete" series.
“I tried a high-fat raw vegan lifestyle but just felt so sluggish and depressed. I wasn’t obtaining enough carbohydrates to meet my energy requirements, so I began to binge on sweet foods. Yes I felt better than when I was on a standard diet but still not great, and it wasn’t sustainable. When I switched to high fruit, the heavens opened! I felt like a new person; I knew I had found the answer!”ATHLETE BIO: Freelee (she uses no last name) has always been active. Having grown up on a farm, she had to be—there was always work to be done. Although she wasn't as healthy as she could be, she was a champion sprinter in school, never losing a single sprint race in her primary school years. She did gymnastics from an early age, began kick-boxing at age 10, and took up ballroom dancing, as well. Always with a keen interest in fitness, she became a personal trainer at the age of 21. She took up running again around the same time, but only casually. She has also done years of weight training and ashtanga yoga. It wasn't until going 100% low-fat raw vegan that she began racing competitively again. Says Freelee, “I used to be a power athlete, because I didn't have the energy to be an endurance athlete. Now my endurance is so great that I'm no longer scared of competing in half marathons! Last year I completed in about 18 running races, and in 2011 I hope to top that, and to improve on my personal records.”
Tell us about yourself: your age, where you live, your job, your family, and the like.
I’m 30 years old. I don’t have a permanent address as I’m constantly travelling the World. I probably spend most of my time on the Gold Coast, Australia . I am currently doing my dream job as an online Fruititionist (a term I coined, for which you can look up the definition at UrbanDictionary.com). My website is www.TheFruititionist.com. I am also the co-creator of www.30BananasaDay.com with my partner Durianrider, so this keeps me very busy!
Do you eat 100% raw vegan?
Yes; low-fat raw vegan.
How long have you been eating the 80/10/10 way?
About 4 years.
Why did you choose this path?
Firstly to improve my health. I had terrible digestion and skin, and a candida overgrowth. I also wanted to improve my fitness levels, appearance, and mental state. These days animal rights is now another major reason I follow this lifestyle.
Describe your journey to 80/10/10 from the diet you were raised with, to the other dietary approaches you tried, to how you learned about and came to embrace veganism, to where you are now with 80/10/10.
I grew up on a farm where we often grew organic fruits and vegetables. I was fortunate enough to have a small banana plantation at my doorstep! Dad always used to measure our height against the banana bunch and encourage us to eat a banana every time we passed the bunch hanging in the kitchen. Unfortunately we also drank a lot of milk from our cows and ate a lot of fish, because we lived in a fishing community.
My health was never fantastic, I was active on the farm but always a little depressed. My skin and digestion was quite bad also but my health really started to decline when I moved into the city. Suffering from low self-esteem and poor health. I tried various diets and weight-loss drugs, which just resulted in more sickness, weight gain, and desperation. I got involved in the drug scene and became a regular user of ecstasy tablets and other amphetamines. During this time I was bingeing and purging. I had a bout of anorexia and bulimia, which I wrote about on my blog in two parts.
I came to my wits’ end in early 2006 after a trip to the Greek Islands . I ate all sorts of junk food over there and came back looking and feeling like a fat depressed blimp. My digestion and skin was worse than ever, and I lacked so much balance within myself that I was bordering on suicidal.
As a personal trainer, I was disgusted with myself. I was meant to be fit and healthy, vibrant and inspiring ... I was anything but. Largely motivated by desperation I started to pull my life together. Through my work with various clients I realized that exercise was just one aspect of health and optimal nutrition is also a crucial factor when it came to getting great results … and I certainly wasn’t giving it enough attention. I had mentally turned a massive corner and started down the road to recovery. Although I had heard of the raw food diet many years prior, I had not fully explored it. I began by scouring every library I knew for books about the raw food lifestyle. There were hardly any. The first book I found was Raw Energy by Leslie Kenton. It was a good introduction but recommended only 75% raw ... I wanted more.
Next I read Natalia Rose’s The Rawfood Detox Diet. Unfortunately, Natalia’s prescription wasn’t a sustainable option, so I kept searching. Eventually I was put onto Dr. Doug by my friend Nadia at a raw food picnic and ended up eating bananas only for ten days. During those ten days I experienced such a massive shift in my health and well-being that I couldn’t go back. I knew this lifestyle was the answer for me.
After spending thousands of dollars trying different diets like Aurveyda, the Blood Type Diet, The metabolic-typing diet, Atkins ... I had finally found my Holy Grail! I remember one day seeing a Gastrointerologist for 15 minutes, which cost me around $250! All he could tell me was that my gut was inflamed and that a new drug was coming out soon that would relieve it. I was SO over it all by then that I just shook my head and walked out.
Today I feel so connected to my food and to myself. I no longer look at food like the enemy or want to restrict it all the time. I eat with abandon and feel amazing as a result. Fruit isn’t a panacea for all challenges we face in life, but it certainly plays a MAJOR part in healing what ails us.
Aside from the health aspect, there is the ethical side. Although initally I went vegan for my health, now my animal friends play a huge part in why I follow this lifestyle. There are just endless positives to being low-fat raw vegan (LFRV). Even if I got ill (which never seems to happen anymore), I would never go back to eating animals. Quite simply put: animal lovin' ain't shovin' 'em in the oven!
Were you sick before going raw?
Yes. I suffered with chronic candida overgrowth, acne, blurred vision, urinary tract infections, cracked mouth corners, terrible ulcers, STDs, severe digestive distress, chronic fatigue syndrome, and depression.
Does your partner eat the way you do?
Yes, he does. We met over the Internet on a raw food forum!!
Has eating an 811rv diet changed how your family (household) eats?
I live only with my partner, and we eat the same. However, my mum and brother are now both vegans as a result of my influence.
Give us a sample of your daily diet and lifestyle routine.
It’s pretty simple, really: my diet is about 97% of calories from fruit, 2% from greens and 1% from nuts and seeds, over the course of the year.
Exercise of course plays a vital role in maintaining optimal health. I make sure I always keep my body guessing to avoid fitness plateaus. My runs are always different: sometimes I do hill sprints, other times I do runs of 15 kilometers or more. I recommend people find a sport they love and do it regularly and make sure they incorporate adequate rest as well.
Isn't that too much fruit?
No. I sometimes find it challenging to eat enough! However my record is 50 small bananas in one day.
Do you ever have cravings for cooked foods or gourmet high-fat raw foods?
Rarely! If I undereat on fruit regularly (which means less than 2,500 calories a day) then cooked food can start to smell appealing but never irresistible. On very rare occasions only I do have some salt-free raw flax crackers, but that is the extent of my gourmet indulgences.
Besides diet, food, and nutrition, what other lifestyle factors do you find most important in supporting you in following 811rv?
Balancing computer time with outdoor time. Getting enough sleep and making sure I’m in bed before 10 p.m. Drinking enough water so my pee is consistently clear. Exercising regularly and maintaining meaningful relationships. I would also like to add visualization. It’s been an integral part of my success on this lifestyle, meaning I regularly visualize myself succeeding in certain areas before I do—like a dress rehearsal.
Do you ever wonder whether you're getting enough (protein, calories, micronutrients of your choosing)?
No, because I make sure I eat enough calories and a broad enough spectrum of fruits to meet all my unique nutrient needs.
What are some of the personal benefits (excluding athletic performance) you've experienced since transitioning to an 811rv diet?
Clear skin, easy to maintain weight, happier disposition, life purpose became more obvious, fitter, excellent digestion and elimination, more meaningful relationships.
Compare for us your experiences eating a low-fat raw diet versus the popular high-fat version? How do you view the two differently?
No competition there. For me a high-fat diet of any kind is bad for health. I tried a high-fat raw vegan lifestyle but just felt so sluggish and depressed. I wasn’t obtaining enough simple sugars to meet my energy requirements, so I began to binge on sweet foods. Yes I felt better than when I was on a standard diet but still not great, and it wasn’t sustainable. When I switched to high fruit, the heavens opened! I felt like a new person; I knew I had found the answer!
How have you found it socially to eat this way?
At first I felt a little deprived and still wanted to go to restaurants with friends, but I quickly got sick of that and realized it just wasn’t worth it. I then began attracting more meaningful relationships and social engagements. Now I enjoy raw picnics and parties, conscious interaction, no hangover to deal with the next day, no diar-rear, no stomach cramps, acne or lethargy! Now why would I give that up for a meal of “stucko” (cooked foods that gets stuck inside me!)?
How have your family and friends reacted to your dietary choices?
Since I went low-fat raw vegan in January of 2007, both my mum and brother have become vegan. My mum is very high raw and can definitely see the merits in 100%. She has watched me blossom since adopting this lifestyle and is very supportive. My dad eats vegan when I stay with him, so he is also very supportive!
How have others in your sports community reacted to your dietary choices?
My colleagues have mixed opinions. Most of them concede that eating fruits and greens is healthy, but they worry about protein. The funny thing is most can’t even tell me how much protein their current diet is giving them! But they’re mostly supportive, to my face anyway!
Can you tell us about some difficult realities of eating an 811rv diet in a world of SAD eaters?
Going to restaurants can be challenging if you want to maintain that style of living. I certainly don’t. Finding RIPE fruit can be very difficult sometimes. It’s SO easy to walk down the street and buy whatever cooked food you want, but to find a ripe banana is almost impossible. Composting all the fruit scraps can be challenging too, especially when house sitting in suburbia!
Have you had success finding ripe fruits when traveling?
Yes, because I do my homework and travel ONLY to places where ripe fruit is easy to find.
How long have you been vegan?
Since January of 2007. (Wow! I love knowing it’s been that long!)
Do you find yourself frequently debunking myths or inaccuracies about veganism?
Yes, one being that you can't be a fit vegan! I'm the fittest of my life as a vegan! Also the common “You don't get enough protein on a vegan diet”:I just flex my biceps and say, “Yeh right, then where did these guns come from?”
What about veganism appeals to you?
Compassion, sustainability, peace, respect, love, tasty food. The thought of putting a piece of another animal’s flesh in my mouth totally makes me want to gag. It's just so easy to be a vegan that there is no excuse to support an industry (meat & dairy) that brings about so much pain and suffering in the world. One thing that always rings true for me is that animals want to live JUST as badly as we do, and what right do we have to decide their fate?
Are there things about being vegan that you find challenging?
The lifestyle is EASY, but being surrounded by people eating animals can sometimes be challenging. Also sometimes feeling helpless towards the plight of our animal friends on this planet—never feeling like I’m doing enough to help them.
Describe a typical day of training.
At the moment I’m actually rather sedentary because I’m working on the computer a lot. Still, about five times per week I do a 6- to 15-kilometer run. My current goal is to incorporate regular weights and yoga sessions into my days. I feel my best when I am my fittest.
How do you meet the demands of your training through your nutritional choices?
I make sure I eat enough fruit!
When training through periods of maximum exertion, what do you eat, and how much per day, typically?
I eat lots of “Dateorade” (blended dates and water) and regularly eat over 3,000 calories from fruit a day.
Can you tell us about any overall athletic performance improvements you've noticed since adopting 811rv?
I used to run 10 km in about 60 minutes. Now I run it in under 47 minutes!
What are some of your most notable recent athletic achievements while maintaining a strict 811rv diet?
My first half marathon in 1:48 minutes. Riding my bicycle solo over 3000 kilometers in the middle of winter, eating 100% 811rv.
What athletic goals do you have moving forward?
To do a half marathon in under 1:45 and a 10 km in under 45 minutes. It will happen! I’m only new to consistent running and competitions, but I can see myself achieving these goals on this lifestyle.
What do you imagine is the future of vegan athletics?
Drug-free fruit-fueled vegan athletes taking over the Olympic scene. I can see more and more top athletes adopting a vegan/raw vegan lifestyle.
How did you learn about Dr. G and 811rv?
I heard about Dr. Graham on rawfood.com. A guy on there was insulting him and his teachings. Little did he know that he was doing some great advertising for Dr. D. and the 811 lifestyle!
What is your personal opinion of Dr. G's book, The 80/10/10 Diet?
Amazing. Seriously, I’m not a religious person, but The 80/10/10 Diet is my bible. I never lend it out, because I refer to it constantly and often read it for inspiration. Every person on this planet should have a copy; better still, it should be a part of the school curriculum.
Have any particular points or messages in The 80/10/10 Diet stuck with you, above all else?
Make sure you keep your fruit intake HIGH (by counting calories), and keep your fat intake LOW. When I fell off the wagon in 2007, I wasn’t doing either.
Do you think people on a tight budget can do this diet?
Yes, definitely. Go to farmer’s markets; buy in bulk; forage fruit from neighborhood trees. Once we make health our priority, we can afford this lifestyle easily. Plus, we spend so much less money on supplements, medications, doctor/naturopath visits, and the like.
Looking back, is there anything you would change about how you transitioned to 811rv?
No, because I am where I am today because of how my past unfolded, and I am grateful for that. I’ve learned from the mistakes I made, and the main one was definitely not eating enough calories from fruit.
Do you plan to change anything or do anything differently with your 811rv regimen, going forward?
I tend to eat more toward a 9/5/5 ratio, which means keeping my fat intake at around 5% of daily calories. I find this works best.
What one piece of advice would you give a newbie to 811, or someone who is looking to refine their program?
If you want to succeed on this lifestyle, then make sure you get enough calories from fruit!! Aim for a minimum of 2,500 calories if you are a female and 3,000 calories from fruit if you are a male. Be patient with your results. Seek out the people getting the results you desire, and emulate them. I recommend getting a raw food mentor too. You can check out my mentoring site and services on www.TheFruititionist.com.
Is there anything you'd particularly like to share that hasn't been asked?
If you are reading this and currently sitting on the fence about whether or not to go raw vegan, take it from me—it is well worth it! Read my blog articles for extra inspiration (http://sweetjuicyfreelee.com/blog-articles). If you are really struggling to go low-fat raw vegan, then take me on as your Fruititionist! You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Give the lifestyle a go before you knock it!