I want to admit something to all of you: Sometimes I still cry because of how people treated me when I was obese. Because I stuffed all of my "negative" emotions deep inside my entire life, it's going to take some time to fully release them. I'm working on it, however, and making tremendous progress with healing myself on all levels. I'm not telling you these things so you'll feel sorry for me, however. I'm telling you because I am thankful for all the pain I endured. It shaped me (in more ways than just my physical appearance) into the person I am today.

Even though it sounds strange, and somehow wrong to feel this way, I'm thankful that I was obese. I'm thankful for all of the experiences during my life, even the extremely painful, traumatic ones. Maybe if I was a different kind of person I would wish that those things didn't happen to me. However, I am using those experiences in positive ways. They've helped me understand people even better, and to understand myself on a deeper level, as well. When people reach out to me it's not only because I'm an approachable person, it's because they sense that I understand them--and they're right. I DO understand them. I understand you. My experiences, coupled with my gift of empathy, help me relate to you in a way that maybe not everyone else is able to do.

Here's an update from Wendi. I think this can be considered, with 99% confidence, the big announcement:

Of course, there's that 1% chance that something unexpected will happen. But, Portland feels right. It always has for us; we nearly moved there in the late 1990s. We had books on Portland back then, and I was buying their newspaper each week to hunt for jobs. It just never panned out, though. I suppose we were meant to live in Pittsburgh for a spell. It would be easy for me to list many reasons why Pittsburgh served a purpose for us. But, yeah, I think we're Portlanders at heart. So much about that city resonates with us. It'll be a homecoming, for sure! I want to reiterate a few things that I'd written in comments recently, slightly clarified in places.

Yahoo recently ran a photo series on their "omg!" channel entitled "Celebrity Slim-Down Secrets." It actually has a nice set of before and after photos of celebrities who have lost weight. The set is here.Featured are Kelly Osbourne, Seth Rogen, Jennifer Hudson, Jerry Ferrara, Kirstie Alley, John Goodman, Jordin Sparks, Jason Segel, Drew Carey, Sara Rue, amd Kevin James. ?Most reported using personal trainers, changing up their diets, and getting more exercise (or some variation of those three).

We didn't read any reports of raw food diets in the story, but looking at before and after pictures is probably always a good idea, if only for visual inspiration. It's nice to see a broad range of people turning their health around, too. Some are younger celebs; others in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. So, it's nice to know that major changes are possible at any age.

When I first decided to try a raw food diet again (I had sampled it for about three months a few years before going completely raw), I wanted to do it in a way to prove that it either does or doesn t work. The best way to do that, I figured, was through consistent blood tests. So, that s what I did. I have continued to document my path to health with regular blood tests. Many of you know that the results have been remarkable. My dramatic shift in weight is the most obvious to others, but there were equally impressive changes going on inside my body, as well.

It has been about a year since my last blood work was done, so I knew I should schedule an appointment to get the testing done soon (since I want to keep the tests somewhat yearly). I tend to always put the testing off, however. As much as I m curious about the results, the truth is that I m terrified of needles. Over the past few months, I was continuing to put this yearly testing off, but something has spurred me to get it done sooner than later.

Jim here... Just wanted to say quickly that I'm heading off to the Raw Spirit Festival (RSF) today! I'll be carpooling (or, vanpooling) with our friends Melissa and Dave Sokulski, their daughter Ella, and our friend Bethany. We're all volunteering at RSF, which should not only be a lot of fun, but should also be a great way to get to know many other fellow raw foodies.

So, we'll be arriving Friday to help set up, enjoying the festival over the weekend, and staying Monday to help them "break it down." Since we need to leave Monday, we'll likely miss a fun-sounding party at Rawbin's place Monday night. But, I'm sure it'll be a blast overall, and it'll also be fun to camp out again, as I haven't done that in a while. I especially hope I'm also able to light something on fire, as I always love the fire aspect of camping most. Maybe I'll run into some of those raw foodies who spin fire-poi and can learn a new skill!

As Pure Jeevan blog readers probably know, we're big fans of running ongoing series. A good blog can never have too many, really. So today we mark the official kick-off of another super series. We're calling these articles "Pure Jeevan Guides."

Guides to what , you may ask. Well, to various topics of interest to raw foodies, of course!

Rita Romano, author of the widely available book Dining in the Raw and executive chef for many years at the Hippocrates Health Institute, is a true pioneer of the raw movement. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to visit with her and her two lovely Boston Terriers, Angel and Oreo. Here's PART TWO of our talk with her:

I'm posting this at the end of a busy day, but let's see what I can call fun in just an ordinary day.

It was fun singing at the top of my lungs with KDcat in the car today--both of us over exaggerating the vocals and giggling a lot.

Within the raw food community, a controversy seems to have been brewing for the better part of a year! The topic: Agave nectar (also called agave syrup). Surely by now most people know what agave nectar is. For anyone who doesn't, it's a thick liquid sweetener made from, you guessed it, the agave plant.

In general, the production of tasty agave nectar involves heating the plant to a certain temperature (which varies widely according to which manufacturer is making it and which species of agave is used). The extent of this heating constitutes a significant part of the controversy (as most raw foodists believe that heating any food over a certain temperature, usually somewhere between 105 and 118 degrees fahrenheit, renders it "dead").

Thanks to Bitt, yesterday, for pointing out that one possible misinterpretation of yesterday's post (on celebrity weight loss) could be that "thin = healthy." I'm sure that, while there are countless wonderful benefits to being a famous actor, one of the less wonderful aspects of that life must be the pressure to remain young, thin, attractive, etc. It would seem realistic to me to assert that, additionally, women are held to even more objectified standards than are the men out there (although, in fairness, note that 6 of the 11 stars profiled in the Yahoo feature linked to yesterday were in fact men).

In any case, the post's intention was never to imply that one's weight is necessarily the best indication of one's overall health. After all, we all know thin people afflicted with serious health challenges.

The superlatively captivating, one-and-only Bif Naked has been a superstar rock and roll icon, performer, diva, composer, acclaimed actress, sought-after voice-over artist, gifted poet / writer, and even cartoonist(!) for years. But, did you know she's also a raw vegan !

Early in 2009, I remember reading about her breast cancer diagnosis. The story both intrigued and haunted the raw world: ?How could a raw foodie get cancer ! We're supposed to be impervious to such things, right !