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.

To help keep all of you inspired, we ve asked some

remarkable individuals to share their raw food stories with you. Enjoy!

My Story of Conquering the Myths of My 50+ Body

I ve been eating 100% live/raw food for a little over eight months now, and I believe it all started? well.... hmmmm? let s see. Last summer I was determined to do something once and for all about the weight that I put on since I turned 50, six years ago (well, almost seven years now ). It seemed that no matter how much I exercised or how much I ate ? or didn t eat ? nothing stopped the onslaught of impending bulk. Each year added a few more pounds until I hardly recognized myself! What happened? Who was I? Where did this strange body come from? I decided I needed to take this foreign body by the horns and wrangle it back into submission. Actually, I was gentler than that, but the determination was there.

Do you need to be 100% raw to release excess weight and regain your health There's no difinitive answer for that question because we are all unique. Sure, our bodies function pretty much the same way, but there are still enough differences that make it difficult to answer a question like that for it to be true for every single individual.

Most of us have heard of, or know, someone who doesn't eat a healthy diet, who smokes cigarettes and/or drinks alcohol, doesn't get enough rest, and also lives a stressful life---yet that person still has a healthy body and is over 80 years old. People like that seem to have resiliency built into their genes. Sure, who knows how long a person with such resilient genes could live or how vibrant a life that person could enjoy with a healtheir lifestyle. But, the fact remains that it seems no matter what a person's lifestyle is like, if you are born with resilient genes you are pretty much invincible to most illnesses.

A majority of the population isn't born with such impressively hardy genes, however. Most bodies can withstand the stresses of an unhealthy lifestyle until middle age. At that point, however, the body begins to show signs of ill health (excess weight gain, aches and pains, and the start of many diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure). For a majority of those individuals, some healthy lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. Many individuals regain their health simply by changing their diets to include less fat and more vegetables, and by increasing their amount of exercise. Sure, it's a bit of work to make such changes, but if many people are committed to improving their health those simple changes can make a drastic difference in their lives.

Jim here... Here's a short video from last Saturday when we were out distributing literature about reversing diabetes naturally and the raw foods lifestyle. In it, we interview a local man, R.T., who had stopped to talk with us, went on his way, and then returned again to where we were standing a few moments later rather astounded.

You see, he'd seen a "before / after" flyer showing Wendi's "pre-raw" pic next to her "raw" pic and couldn't believe the two pics were of the same woman!? Many people who have significant weight to lose (or, like R.T., know someone who does) wonder whether losing so much weight will result in saggy skin. He was so amazed at the transformation, he decided to come back and ask. So, here's the raw answer to that question...

We began this series with one possible psychological explanation of obesity, moved on to a possible philosophical explanation, and will now cover one that could be both of those, or could find classification within the emotional and/or spiritual realms. ?Wendi has often told me of hearing Dr. Gabriel Cousens speak in Sedona, Arizona, a few years ago. One remark in particular stuck with her. This may be a slight paraphrase, but Dr. Cousens said:

"There's never enough food to feed a hungry soul."

As we all know, physical hunger happens when our bodies need food -- when our stomachs are literally empty and aching for fuel to sustain our life. But, what about non-physical types of "emptiness"? Surely, we experience a kind of hunger in these cases as well.

Jim here... Whether you've had the pleasure of knowing Wendi for decades as I have, or have only recently met her, I think you'll be absolutely stunned by this inspirational video. It demonstrates, in undeniable pictures, the power of raw and living foods -- and not only the physical healing that takes place when you adopt this lifestyle, but also the height to which this lifestyle helps lift your spirit.

After our Oklahoma stop, we had back-to-back visits with family. During our 40-day tour, we had a great time at every place we stayed. There's something extra special about being with family, however. KDcat especially loved this part of the trip, where she could stay up late and sleep in every morning.

Our first stop was St. Louis, Missouri, to see Grandma and Grandpa Dee, and Aunt Jeanne. We did some shopping at Whole Foods, bought lots of organic produce, and prepared some raw dishes to share with everyone. We purchased a young coconut and KDcat used Grandpa's hatchet to show everyone how to open a young coconut. Jim's mother learned to make raw hummus, without chickpeas, and even agreed to be a guest chef for a Makin' It Monday raw food recipe video! So, we'll be sharing that with all of you in the near future! Aunt Jeanne loved the hummus, as well as the raw tacos we created. She seems to have a liking for raw foods, so who knows...you may be seeing another Dee online sharing info about raw foods in the future ! Grandpa is always a fan of apple pies, so he thoroughly enjoyed the pie we created during our visit. Grandpa and KDcat also spent some time talking about music, a passion for both of them.

Our second stop was Geneseo, Illinois, to visit with Aunt Cindy, Uncle Ray (who had to work during our visit), and cousin Destiny. KDcat and Destiny don't see each other very often, so this was a real treat. Destiny's a sweet girl who became a vegetarian over a year ago (she's the only vegetarian in her home)! That's a huge thing to do when you're just a young teenager and we're proud of her for taking her health into her own hands (and for saving the animals!). We took a lot of pictures while visiting. In the photoset, you'll see that somehow a monkey crawled onto KDcat's back and hung around with her most of one day (in which she was dressed up in quite the outfit!). That monkey found its way into all kinds of interesting places (in a park, playing on the slide, swing, etc., and even in the house playing the piano -- and I caught him trying to steal some of my bananas!). The weather was beautiful during our visit, so we spent a lot of time outside, walking and enjoying the beautiful time together. At this stop we created a raw apple crumble, which Aunt Cindy later modified with blueberries. We're gently nudging her to make a video of the recipe she created, so we can all see how it's made! It sounded delicious.

Here's a letter from Wendi to the Pure Jeevan family. I prettied it up a little with some color and graphics. -Jim

Hi there, lovely Pure Jeevan family! I'll be away from the computer for a month, working on some deep healing. It's time to go within and really hear what my body and spirit are saying.

Today, for Take the Time Tuesday, I'd like to introduce you to an online social networking Web site for those with similar interests to get together, meet, and hang out in the physical world. If you haven't already heard about it, check it out!

Take the time to meet....

Jim here... Thought I'd post a pic from Wendi's birthday last Friday. Shown above is the "birthday cake" -- more of a birthday treat, really. If it looks decent to you, here's the recipe:

The "cake" part:

Jim here... Today Wendi is busy preparing for a multi-day activity that I'm sure she'll be writing about later this week. So, I thought I'd field a question we received recently (one directed specifically to me). We do receive a good deal of questions at our Raw Food Diet Question In-box (at Questions [at] PureJeevan.com), so feel free to send any in that you may have, and we'll definitely get to them all here in time. In any case, one reader writes:

As drawn as I am to a raw diet, being mostly cooked vegan right now, I can't help but come up against this each time: Since produce is, after all, mostly water, what did you eat while transitioning that didn't lead to shoving in lots of bread, potatoes, etc. Do you just eat lots and lots of, say, oranges, at one go? This has always been my raw downfall. I'm sure the answer is very simple.

Wow, this is a great question, and one with many possible answers! To begin, let's recognize that this isn't a question from a "SAD diet" eater. ?Being a vegan, alone, takes significant learning and (often) self-discipline to accomplish successfully. It's also, in my view, an excellent dietary and lifestyle choice for many people, regardless of whether they ever decide to try a raw foods diet. So, this question is rather advanced.