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.

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.

Day 6: Today is the final day of placing extra focus on the feminine qualities attributed to Goddess Lakshmi. For me, going within, shining light on the things that aren't so clear, the things that I've been avoiding, or the things that have been completely invisible is something I've revisited off and on my entire life. It's something that I often recommend to friends and family, as well. It's what has allowed me to continually improve my life (both physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually), and something I'll always consider vital.

The more we search within for answers, the more we'll learn about our true selves. The more we understand ourselves, the more authentic we become in our interactions with others. The more authentic we are with others, the more others can feel comfortable around us. The more others become comfortable around us, the more they can experience their own authentic selves. And the more others experience their true selves, the more we all wake up and truly begin living a life of beauty, grace, vibrancy, and love.

Beginning today and running all through next week (and even spilling into the following week!), we'll be running videos from the Raw Spirit Festival (RSF East 2009) held in Upper Marlboro, MD, last weekend. If you've never attended a RSF event, you absolutely must. They're the best ever!

Today's installment covers the trip down, during which we stopped to visit Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, a historic spa town visited by the likes of George Washington and other famous folk. Of course, the spring there was in use long before this country was known as America. You can read the basics in this pic:

Jim here with another exciting edition of Weird Wednesday. You know, each time I say "weird," I don't always mean the same thing. Sometimes "weird" means odd or strange. Other times it means funny or ironic. It might also mean unusual or out-of-the-ordinary. Come to think of it, the definition of weird is also weird.

Today, I was thinking about an old friend, Jim Banholzer. He lived next door to Wendi and me when we first moved to the D.C. area in 1991. We all lived in a small "garden apartment" complex in Falls Church, Virginia. Our roommate at the time worked as a leasing agent there, which qualified us for a decent rental discount. I think we paid $800 or so for the place, an upscale 2-bedroom townhome close to the community pool. Jim lived next door with one of the more unstable people I've ever met (and, trust me, that's saying something).

Jim here... Anyone else like a good funky beat ? Who's familiar with Kool & the Gang's 1973 classic, "Jungle Boogie"? Surely a lot of people know that awesome tune. If you do, recall some of the main lyrics: "Get Down Get Down, Get Down Get Down!" That's the tune I want you to keep in mind as you read this post. Hear the drums, the bassline, the electric guitar, the horn section, the voices, the phrasing, the overall dynamics of that distinctive groove. Consider how magically it all comes together.

So, Wendi called me this morning and said, "Why don't you put a blog post up about your new challenge "

Bunny Berry is back with a new 100-day Raw Fu challenge! If you've made a New Year's resolution to eat more raw in 2009, Bunny Berry's Raw Fu community may offer you the amazing support you'll need to meet your goal for the new year. Check it out!? Here's a snippet from Raw Fu:

And we re BACK! It s time to ring in the New Year with a New 100 Day Challenge. Take the plunge with 100 days of support, love, and lots of leafy greens. Bunny will be back with daily videos, vision boards, special Raw Fu celebrity guest stars, Breakfast with Bunny calls, and more Cutting Board Cam!

Join the Next Raw Fu Challenge NOW!

As we said yesterday, we have some fantastic videos to share from RSF East last weekend. To launch a series of interviews, we want to reiterate that Pure Jeevan has always been a holistic site, meaning that we like to focus on all aspects of a human being's optimal existence (mind, body, spirit, and emotions). While it's not always "all about the food" here, it's also fair to say that it all really does start with the food -- super-nourishing 100% raw living foods! So, it's only appropriate that we begin this series of interviews with a raw food chef.

RawDawg Rory was a huge pleasure to meet and hang out with. The man exudes happiness, and it's quite infectious! We had a great time talking, and of course talked a lot about tasty raw foods. In this video, RawDawg shares a delicious dessert recipe. Here it is:

As a follow-up to yesterday's McDonald's-bashing post, I thought I'd post another perspective -- namely, that not all chain smoothies are bad. I can't claim to have tried them all, but I can report with confidence that, for raw most foodists, a trip to Jamba Juice can be awesome!

Even before becoming a raw foodie, I loved going to Jamba Juice. If you're unfamiliar with this retail food franchise, it's pretty much (to my knowledge) the largest chain in the "smoothie" category. I first "discovered" them during a visit to New York City back in 2006. Each day, I found myself gravitating to the delicious smoothies they offer.

THE TOUR IS COMPLETED! For pictures, videos, and commentary about their adventures, check out the Trip Dashboard!!

For those of you who've been following our plans for a few years, you know we've been preparing for a cross-country tour for a long time. The plans have expanded, contracted, changed dramatically, but the core of the idea has always been there: we plan on relocating to a new city and we need to find the right place for Pure Jeevan to settle. In order to do that, a big cross-country tour is in order. So, the exciting news is that we're leaving in a couple of weeks to check out some of the cities/towns we're thinking might be a perfect fit for Pure Jeevan! The sad news is that all of us can't make the trip. Jim will be holding down the fort here in Pittsburgh (i.e. the house still hasn't sold and he still needs to keep his corporate job so we can pay the mortgage).

Today is the beginning of the second three-day focus on the attributes of a different Goddess who is most worshiped during the Hindu celebration of Navratri. She is Goddess Lakshmi, bringer of wealth and good luck. Let's focus on the idea of wealth. When we first hear the word, many of us think about monetary wealth. However, there is a much deeper meaning ... that of abundance. Feminine energy has the ability to bring forth, to birth, abundance that is beyond the imagination, in every aspect of our lives. Female energy is fertile, able to create a beautiful life and future, shine forth and bring wisdom into view, all with grace and beauty. All of these are attributes of Goddess Lakshmi, qualities we all have within us. Qualities I celebrate within myself and within all of you (male and female, alike).

End of Day 3: