Archive for the ‘Personal Development’ Category

My 2013 Annual Review: Looking Forward

Saturday, December 28th, 2013


Many people ask me how I’ve accomplished so much at the age of 29; I’ve done many things that older people have had sitting in their bucket list for decades.

The answer is simple: I set goals and go after them until I’ve achieved them or they lose appeal. The results have been pretty impressive, as I explained last year along with how you can reach your own goals.

At the beginning of every year I make a point of creating focus goals for the subsequent 12 months so I can direct my life in the direction I desire. In late December, I review how many of my goals I’ve actually reached, and where I’ve fallen short. At the same time, I reassess what I’ve been doing and set goals for the next year.

2013 threw me a few amazingly enjoyable curveballs which disrupted some of my goals, but I did meet most of them.

Last year, my focuses (including sub goals) were: 

1) Do a long medically-supervised water fast.

2) Continue to gain in strength, with a particular focus on body-weight exercises and gymnastics.

– Find someone to coach me in muscle ups, and gain the ability to do one

– Do a strict press from crow to handstand.

– An expansion of my partner-based strength, acro yoga, and gymnastic      techniques, with a particular emphasis on lifts.

3) Spend more time developing my business.

         – Republish Savory Raw Dressings And Sauces w/ new recipes and a

            print edition.

4) Spend more time writing fiction for pleasure.

How did I actually do?

I’m very happy that my plans were disrupted in a very enjoyable way. I met my girlfriend this year, quickly set off on a cross-country road trip with her, and we’re currently enjoying a sunny winter in Costa Rica.

Happiness has a way of getting in the way of goal achievement, though, and on numerous occasions I’ve judged doing something with her to be more enjoyable than getting work done, and I’ve indulged.

But by and large, I was able to modify my focuses to include this new “asset,” in a very enjoyable way, particularly in the physical fitness realm, as I’ll explain later.

Water Fast:

My 26-day water fast in January was a great experience, and I’m so glad I committed to doing it. It not only improved my digestion, but also gave me a chance to do a lot of deep thinking about my life. I talked extensively about my experience in a podcast, and showed the change in a video, both of which you can find here.

Fitness Goals:

I got stronger and fitter in 2013, despite a long fitness break induced by the water fast.

Acro Arm Balance

Acro Arm Balance

My favorite element of progress was getting serious about my acro yoga practice.

Although I envisioned doing this to some degree with friends, with my girlfriend in the picture I was really able to devote myself to it on a nearly daily basis, and the progress was staggering.

We’ve achieved some impressive things, like human Turkish gettups, butterfly, pancake into throne, and much more. You can see a few of the things we’ve worked on on this youtube channel.

I’ve given a lot of time the ring muscle ups this year, and have gotten stronger and more proficient in the requisite movements. Yet I have not found a good coach who could help me master the transition from pullups to reverse dip. I will continue to work on it in 2014.

I really didn’t spend much time working on my press from crow to handstand. I realized that I needed to be able to strict press (military press) 184 pounds (my current weight). I have added about 15 pounds onto my strict press one rep max this year, but that was more a carryover from my acro yoga presses than a serious effort. Although I’ll probably work on this in the coming year, I don’t necessarily think it will be a focus due to shifting interests.

More broadly, I’m able to lift more weight compared to 2012, and have improved in a number of gymnastic moves, like handstands. I’m very pleased with my progress.

Business Development:

I put out the new edition of Savory Raw Dressings and Sauces, and the new recipes and print edition were a big hit. I also released the Vagabond’s Guide To Chiang, Mai, Thailand, though that was largely written in 2012.

Overall, though, I wouldn’t say I particularly pushed myself in 2013 on the business front, but I’m not particularly displeased about that.

Fiction Writing:

Eating mamey sapote in Costa Rica

Eating mamey sapote in Costa Rica

I’ve been a writer for a long time, but I’ve rarely dabbled in fiction, despite my love of good fiction books.

Fiction writing is less utilitarian that nonfiction, and I have a desire for it to not only be functional, but also beautiful. Sometimes I start writing and great stuff comes flowing out. Other times, it’s a struggle.

Because this is a pursuit of pleasure, I haven’t really forced myself to write when I don’t feel like the end product is worthwhile.

All the same, I’ve written about 30 pages of what I feel is high quality material this year, and I’m pleased with it. I just wish I could get it to come out of my brain a bit faster without the quality suffering.

Goals For 2014


My health has been excellent for many years, and last year’s fast brought things to a new level. This year I plan to lose the last five pounds remaining from the overfeeding experiment I conducted this summer. Also, to satisfy my own curiosity and to do research that could be valuable for, I plan to do more experimentation with probiotics and iodine.


Much like last year, I’m seeking to get stronger and fitter this year.

I plan to spend time working on pull ups (moving toward one handed pull ups), ring muscle ups, and planches. I’d like to hire a gymnastic coach to help me take my skills to the next level, if financially feasible.

One skill I intend to refocus on this year is my arch nemesis, squatting. From 2011 through 2012, improving my squatting from its extremely sorry beginnings was a big focus for me, and I made large strides. While I can now squat well enough to pass muster in most fitness situations, I want to be squatting like an asian so as to not leak power during weighted squats, and for utility. I plan to work on the mobility issues that underlie my problem. I also plan to do close-legged squats with props for at least 10 minutes each day.

Finally, although my acro yoga abilities have become impressive this year, I’m sure that I’m not even close to my potential. I look forward to integrating partner interactions from multiple disciplines, including cheerleading-style lifts, and perhaps dance. More importantly, though, I would like to go from doing a good job performing single moves in isolation to linking many moves together in a continuous flow suitable for an crowd-pleasing performance.


Halfway through a human Turkish get up.

Halfway through a human Turkish get up.

In 2014 I’ll be releasing what I’m tentatively calling “The Raw Food Digestive Tune Up.” Although I’ve written at length about the raw food diet and its impressive healing potential, particularly in Raw Food Weight Loss And Vitality, I’ve never focused exclusively on digestive problems, which afflict so many people.

I used to suffer from colitis, an intestinal disorder that was ruining my life before I found a fix. The medical community has no cure for colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s diease, nor lesser issues like IBS, constipation, acid reflux, ulcers, gas, and bad breath, among others.

Well I do have a cure. People have been asking me for years for a more detailed way to escape colitis and other digestive issues, and this will be the book for them.

Beyond this, I’m not immediately drawn to any specific business goals, though I expect new interests will present themselves during the year, particularly due to my thought experiment.


This year I’m doing an experiment in attitude, passion, and joy.

I plan to spend 10 minutes every morning visualizing things I want to achieve in my life, or which excite me in some way, but only if this visualization makes me feel great. If it feels bad, I think of something else.

My experience with a number of meditation/thought experiments is that the degree to which you can control your happiness and the way things happen in your life is monumental. Everything from your health to your athletic performance, and much more, is controlled by your thoughts.

For instance, the first time my girlfriend and I were able to get eight consecutive pancakes/reverse pancakes in an acro practice followed a five minute visualization of this feat on my part.

My goal is to see just how much I can improve my mood and my reality through thought.

I plan to explore, on various days, finances, athletics, my goal of reforesting a desert environment, and much more.


How You Can Reach Your Health Goals In The Next 12 Months

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Andrew Eat WatermelonWhat plans have you laid to proactively make your life better in 2013?

If you give that question to the average person, they might be able to list a few goals they tepidly want to follow, but they probably haven’t decided on any specific, actionable, trackable steps to reach them.

This is why their problems linger, and the great goals they hold for themselves are forever put off until the ever-receding future.

If you want to overcome a chronic health problem, lose weight, feel more vital, or reach virtually any other goal that you have, know that in 2013 you can do it, or at least make tremendous progress toward your goal.

For many years now I have committed myself at the start of each journey around the sun to one or more 365-day focuses in highly-specific areas which receive the lion’s share of my self-improvement efforts.

The results have been pretty astonishing, and my life has been forever bettered by the concentrated attention I’ve brought to bear on my problems and objectives.

I’ve used focuses to help me lose weight, overcome numerous health problem, advance as an athlete, change my body composition, become self employed, publish books, and gain friends, among other things.

In this article I’ll first give you an overview of how to set yearly focuses, and then talk about the big results I’ve seen from using them.

How Yearly Focuses Work

You set one or more yearly focuses at the beginning of each new calendar year as the main area of concentration of your personal development efforts for the next 12 months.

By so focusing your concentration, amazing results tend to come about. If you chip away at a problem or goal for an entire year, even if you aren’t aware of the best way to achieve your goal at the outset, you’ll have learned a lot and made massive progress after 12 months.

I find that the more focuses you set, the less dramatic your gains in any of the areas tend to be because your attention is diffused. Sometimes, setting just one focus is best.

This is what I did in 2005, when my colitis had gotten so bad that I could barely concentrate on anything else. I needed to find a solution, and I put every free bit of energy into doing so. My exploration of possible solutions was broad, and I actually didn’t discover my fix until more than 10 months of sustained effort had passed.

Had I diffused my efforts by working on other major projects, I may not have succeeded at all. While I was working on my colitis issue, the other parts of my life were on autopilot to the largest extent possible. I wasn’t trying to make progress in these areas, but was just coasting.

On the other hand, in 2011 I had many focuses. I wanted to find a solution for my insomnia, travel widely, lower my bodyfat percentage into the single digits, increase my running range to 35 miles, and work on Raw Food Weight Loss And Vitality.

None of these goals were particularly burdensome to me, as I was already an experienced writer, runner, and over the years I’d already lost more than 40 pounds. I had no problem working on all of these at the same time.

When There Is No Obvious Course Of Action

Whenever you want to reach a goal but don’t know how to go about it, reading is usually your best bet. Chances are that whatever your problem or goal, someone else has faced it before and found a solution.

My focus of finding a fix for my insomnia did not suggest an obvious course of action, but I devised a plan of research for myself which included poring over research articles on nutrition and insomnia, reading anatomy, nutrition, and physiology textbooks to gain a deeper understanding of the elements that bring about sleep, and then created of a long list of nutrients which my research lead me to believe might be influencing my insomnia.

After I’d created that list, I began supplementing each one in turn, and eventually discovered what element had been missing: chromium.

When There Are Too Many Possible Solutions

Having too many possible solutions is often more of a problem than having none at all.

Let’s say you want to lose weight, but you’re not sure which of the many available routes to take. Should you exercise, diet, sleep more, or do some combination of these? If you want to diet, what type of diet should to try?

The best thing to do is put 100% commitment into one solution at a time. The best way to do this is via a 30 day trial.

If you’re going to try a raw diet, do it 100% for a full month to evaluate it properly. If you only do a 80% raw diet, you’ll never be sure if the results you’re seeing are indicative of the best a raw diet can bring about.

Specific Vs Broader Focuses

The more specific your goal, the more likely you are to succeed.

Don’t say, “lose weight,” say, “decrease body fat percentage by to 13%”.
Don’t say, “get better at drawing”, say, “I want to draw realistic human hands and faces.”

Have trackable results whenever possible. If you want to get stronger, you can test your strength against a barbell every day to see just how you’re progressing. If you want to be able to do 100 pushups, you’ll know as soon as you’ve reached that point.

You can even invent your own measurement systems. If you want to feel more energetic, keep a journal and note down on a one-to-ten scale exactly how energetic you feel.

Failing Is Ok

Sometimes, despite all your efforts, you fail. That’s ok, because you end up learning what doesn’t work, and gain a broader perspective which can help you move forward in the future.

I failed to fix my colitis, insomnia, and several other problems for years before I finally manged to ditch those conditions.

I’ve been trying to fix The Raynaud’s phenomenon issue I talk about in my 2013 focus since 2004. The fast I’m planning to address it is the latest in a long line of possible fixes.

Andrew’s Year-By-Year Focus Examples

I was pretty much a mess -from a health, intellectual, emotional, and social perspective – in my early life.

Today, I consider myself greatly improved across virtually all of these fields. Much of the reason for this is the yearly focuses I decided on. I hope to show you just how well you can progress – and move past setbacks – by talking about the focuses I’ve used in the past.

My Past

By age 17 I was technically qualified as obese at 5′ 11 and 220 pounds. I suffered from chronic headaches, a -then undiagnosed- case of colitis, back pain, general low energy levels, periodic insomnia, and other health problems. I was depressed because I felt powerless to improve my situation. Socially I felt isolated and alone.



1) Lose weight and become fitter.

After a series of events I describe in The Raw Food Lifestyle, I realized that I did have power over my life, and my first yearly focus (actually more like an 9-month focus, because part of the year was already over) was to lose weight and become fit.

My exercise consisted of three ninjitsu classes a week, a daily yoga routine based off the book, “Light On Yoga”, and modest dietary improvements like the elimination of milk, cutting back on processed foods, and replacing most of my desserts with fruit. With this regime I managed to drop from 220 to 190 pounds and saw the first signs that I actual had a considerable amount of athletic potential.

It was a revelation to me that I had such power over my fate, and it forever changed the way I thought about the status quo and my own limitations.


1) Lose more weight, and become more athletic.
2) Gain a better understanding of nutrition through study
3) Spend more time socializing
4) Overcome my health problems.

My yearly focus goals for 2004 were mostly an expansion of what I’d been working on in 2003. I wanted to continue to improve my health and fitness, overcome my health problems, and do more socializing, which I suddenly had the confidence to engage in.

Enjoying my newly improved body, I started exploring more aspects of physicality by expanding my Ninjitsu practice and beginning to rock climb. I also began to earnestly study nutrition, spending many hours pouring over nutrition and medical journals. I was attempting to find fixes for my colitis (still not diagnosed), Raynaud’s Phenomenon disorder, my periodic bouts of insomnia, my headaches, and some other issues.

30-Day Trial Dietary Explorations:

1) A very clean SAD diet,
2) Something close to a paleo diet with no grains or starches but lots of cooked veggies, animal products, and some fruit.
3) A Mcdougall style cooked vegan diet.
4) A Fuhrman style cooked vegan diet.

Although I found I was able to ditch my headaches by cutting out most processed foods and caffeinated beverages, none of these diets help my Raynaud’s, nor got rid of my colitis. I found I felt very good when I cut out meat, dairy, and eggs, and my energy levels increased.

My colitis seemed to get worse when I was eating more grains and starches on McDougall’s plan. A Fuhrman style menu left me feeling the best out of all these options, but my colitis was still getting worse over time.

Overall, I tried out many options and learned a lot about what worked for me dietarily, but I still hadn’t reached my goal of overcoming colitis, nor succeeded in correcting my other health problems.

After spending a number of months on two vegan diets, I dropped another 10 pounds down to 180.

Physical Exploration:

1) Rock Climbing
2) Ninjitsu
3) Yoga Classes

Overall, I felt stronger and fitter at the end of this year.

Social Exploration:

I made numerous friends, found my first serious girlfriend, and pushed my social boundaries.


1) Fix My Colitis At All Costs

From a physical perspective, 2005 was a strange year. In many ways I was feeling better than ever due to my dietary improvements, yet my colitis continued to worsen, going from a hassle to something that was destroying my life.

Raw Diet Trial:

It was in 2005 that a doctor first suggested that the blood and pus in my stools, pain, foul-smelling gas, bouts of severe constipation and diarrhea, and other problems were actually indicative of colitis.

He didn’t listen to me when I told him that symptoms came and went depending on what I was eating, and in annoyance I never went back after his only suggestion was a battery of drugs.

Later in the year, after reading, “Grain Damage,” I decided to try eating nothing but bananas for 30 days. I kept at it, and by the end of 60 days all of my overt symptoms were gone.

It turned out to be one of the most amazing discoveries of my life, and in some ways I’m grateful that colitis drove me to try the diet I now enjoy so much.

I didn’t go 100% raw at that point, and wouldn’t until 2007 because I wanted to see if I could eat some cooked food without suffering repercussions, but I’d found my fix to colitis.

Save Big On The Information You Need To Succeed On A Raw Diet


The New Year’s Sale

Until January 10, 2013, I’m offering 15% off any one of my books, or, 35% off all of my books, as part of the New Year’s Sale.

Books like, “Raw Food Weight Loss And Vitality,” have helped a lot of people go raw, lose weight, overcome their health challenges, and accomplish a lot of other goals.

Check out the sale now and take a step toward achieving your health goals.




Physical Exploration:

Having spent most of my life so overweight that running was painful and unpleasant, I suddenly found that it was a joy to run.

By the end of 2005 I could run a few miles at a time, but with that simple beginning I fell in love. I luxuriated in the feeling of flying down the nighttime streets under the power of my own two legs.

I also began taking advanced yoga classes.


1) Yoga
2) Run every day of the year for 4-6 miles
3) Newspaper reporter internship
4) A summer semester studying at Oxford University.

Although as long as I was eating cooked food my colitis was not under control, I knew how to keep it at bay to a large degree with fruit, and so I could shift my focus away from health and toward just being a fairly normal young person. This was something of a breather year, but I did accomplish some things. Of note was that that last elements of my depression disappeared as my colitis receded.

I spent my summer studying at Oxford University and toured Europe a bit, which ignited in me a love of travel which I have not forgotten.

I also interned as a newspaper reporter, which I loved to such a degree that I decided to pursue journalism upon graduation.

I started concentrating on some advanced yoga classes while also running every single day of the year, through blizzards and rainstorms, without fail.

I dabbled in literary criticism in school. I found I was pretty great at extrapolating ideas, forming arguments, and thinking analytically. In the end I decided against going for a doctorate in English, but the analytical skills I learned still serve me well.


1) Eat a 100% Low Fat Raw Food Diet For A Full Year For Evaluation Purposes
2) Sink into my new job as a newspaper reporter.

Having spent more than two and a half years eating a raw-centered diet but periodically eating cooked vegan food, I decided that I would never be physically at my best while I was eating anything cooked. I decided to go on a 100% raw diet for an entire year to better be in a position to judge whether or not I should continue with it.

I also graduated college, and got a job as a newspaper reporter, which I loved. Although it was a rewarding job, it was stressful and challenging as well, and I felt like it needed a significant amount of my attention.


1) Start and built it into something that would better the world.
2) Run a marathon

After a year of living on an entirely raw diet I knew this way of eating was a keeper. Although it hadn’t rid me of my Raynaud’s, and I still had several small health complaints left over from my unhealthy days, I felt better than I ever had before.

Because so many people asked me about my diet, I decided to start to be a valuable source of information for people who were suffering like I once had. It made me furious that my doctor couldn’t even tell me about the simple cure that made my colitis go away, and I didn’t want anyone to have to be in that position again.

I had been running a few miles a day for several years by this point, and I decided to see if I could up the ante and run 26.2 miles.

I got some really bad advice about changing to a forefoot strike and fractured a bone in my right foot, which K.O.ed me just weeks before I was scheduled to run the marathon.



1) Run a Marathon
2) Turn into a location-independent business.

I ran my first marathon in 2009 about 12 months after I was scheduled to run the first one. By that point, though, I was fit enough that it was a bit anticlimactic.

I also decided that I wanted to indulge my long-suppressed urge to travel the world. To do so, I needed to figure out a way to make money while I traveled, and decided to transform the already-popular into a business.

I published my first ebook, The Raw Food Lifestyle, while continuing to produce lots of free articles and increase traffic.



1) Continue to build into a location-independent business.
2) Travel to Asia. was growing nicely by 2010, but I had to keep working for the first half of the year. I spent much of my free time on building the site up, while also producing my second ebook, Savory Raw Dressings And Sauces.

By May of 2010 I was ready to quit my job, and after a few months I’d sold off most of my possessions, packed two backpacks full of essential gear, and hopped on a plane in time to reach Bali, Indonesia for a very merry Christmas.


1) Find a fix for my insomnia
2) Continue To Travel
3) Begin working on my raw food magnum opus, Raw Food Weight Loss And Vitality
4) Get body fat percentage into single digits.
5) Increase running range to 35 miles.

In 2011 I continued to travel, spending time in Thailand, Laos, and Burma; I was having the time of my life.

I also decided to find a fix for the longstanding insomnia problem I’d had since childhood, which seemed to get slightly worse when I went raw. After months of research and experimentation, I discovered that a chromium deficiency was the cause, and I began taking it in supplement form, which corrected the issue.

I felt like I really needed to create the life-changing diet guide I wished I’d had available to me when I was suffering, and started writing Raw Food Weight Loss And Vitality.

I continued to shed weight, dropping down to 158 pounds, the lowest I’d ever been in my adult life. I also continued to enjoy running, going as far as 35 miles at a time.



1) Make myself massively stronger and get rid of the gaunt look in my face.
2) Finish And Publish Raw Food Weight Loss And Vitality
3) Continue Traveling

Andrew in May of 2011 at aprox 165 pounds (still not his lowest weight).

Andrew in December of 2012 after a year of strength training. 180 pounds

For years I’d concentrated on losing body fat and becoming a better runner, letting most of my strength-based training fall to the wayside. By October of 2011 I’d reached 158 pounds, 62 pounds lighter than what I’d weighed at 17.

I felt great, and my running was better than ever, but I honestly didn’t think I looked that great. My face looked gaunt, and my arms looked scrawny. Having extra weight – even muscle – is a detriment when you want to run long distances, but I decided I’d spent enough time focusing on that.

In late 2011 I decided to start transforming myself into a strength athlete, and planned to continue through at least the end of 2012.

The results, I have to say, have been pretty astonishing. After adding enough body fat (through extra calorie consumption) to get rid of my gaunt look, I concentrated on adding muscle through a mix of bodyweight exercises, sprinting, olympic weight lifting, kettlebells, rope climbing, sledgehammering, tire flipping, etc.

I’ve tracked my strength gains in three olympic lifts which offer a reasonably good gauge of overall body strength. The starting weights were recorded in October of 2011. The second set was recorded in mid December of 2012.

  Back Squat Strict Press Deadlift
October 2011 135 lbs 75 lbs 135 lbs
December 2012 230 lbs 120 lbs 285 lbs


At the same time I increased my weight to 180 pounds, and my figure  now looks considerably more solid. My arms have gone from sticks to fairly muscular. My body feels much more steady in any physical endeavor. I’m surprised to find that I love being stronger, and that the decline I’ve seen in my distance running speeds doesn’t really bother me.

On the travel front, I continued to travel around Thailand, and also visited Burma and Malaysia before moving back to the United States. Now I’m exploring Austin, Texas.

Raw Food Weight Loss And Vitality was published in May of 2012, to pretty rave reviews, and it’s been popular since.


1) Do a long-desired water-only fast to take care of several unconquered health issues.
2) Continue to gain in strength, with a particular focus on body-weight exercises and gymnastics.
3) Spend more time on business development.
4) Spend more pleasure time doing fiction writing.

I’ve got big plans for 2013.

I’ll be starting off the year with a supervised water fast in the month of January, with the goal of correcting several old health problems that never yielded to my other attempts to fix them. I’ve simply run through every other fix I can think of without seeing any results, so the water fast is pretty much my last hope, from the options I’m aware of at this time.

I’m hoping that at least some of these issues will clear up:

1) Raynaud’s phenomenon
2) My allergy to tomatoes
3) The sensitivity of my intestines, which, despite no longer expressing the overt signs of colitis which once plagued me, can become irritated by cruciferous vegetables, too much variety, and some types of fruit.
4) A mild ringing in my right ear (tinnitus) which is pretty annoying.

On the exercise front I want to continue to grow stronger, with a particular concentration on body weight exercises. Some things I’d like to master are:

1) The ability to push up into a handstand from “crow,” or planche.
2) Being able to do a flag on a pole or ladder and hold it for 10 seconds.
3) And expansion of my partner-based strength, acro yoga, and gymnastic techniques, with a particular emphasis on lifts.
4) Learn some breakdancing techniques.
5) Finding someone to coach me on the ring muscle up, so I can get them down by the end of the year.

On the business front I’ll continue my work on, but I also want to spend some time working on some short topical nonfiction books.

For my own pleasure, and that of a few of my friends who enjoy my work, I’d like to get back to doing some fiction writing. I’ve had a particular idea in mind for some time that I’d like to spend more time working on.

Overall, I’m excited for my growth potential in 2013, and have no doubt that, succeed or fail, it will be quite the year of experiences.


Overcome Adversity And Thrive On A Raw Food Diet

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Are you tired, fat, and miserable? How about depressed or stricken by disease?

Many think they’ve got bad genes that curse them to a sub-par life, or that they’re just not good enough, or smart enough to get what they want.

Yet when we’ve fallen very far, when we’re backed into a corner with nowhere to go, we have our greatest chance of doing the utterly amazing.

History is filled with examples of outcasts, the maimed, and the oppressed achieving things that seemed impossible by those relying on rational predictions. The badly burned, wheel-chair-bound boy becomes a champion track star and olympic athlete, the exile from a communist dictatorship with pennies to his name starts a million-dollar company in the United States.

We are quick to bemoan our handicaps, complaining that life hasn’t given us a fair shake.

Some seem cursed to always be fat. Others have poor memories, were born into dysfunctional families, or develop an intestinal disease which tortures them.

But if you’re miserable and your goal seems unobtainable, I assure you that you’re closer to greatness than all the “blessed”, and “normal” people around you, to which life seems to come so easily.

Suffering: The Forge Of Greatness

Cheetahs are the fastest land animal in the world, but are they all equal?

Interestingly, no.

In the wild, cheetahs have been clocked running at 65 miles per hour when chasing down prey. Their zoo-raised cousins, though, are much slower. Researchers haven’t been able to find a zoo-raised cheetah that can run faster than 40 mph.

Why? Researchers think it’s a life of never having to work for anything, of always having their meals thrown to them by their caretakers, that leads them to never develop the full extent of their abilities.

Those zoo-bound cheetahs have never missed a meal because their prey got away, and never had to go hungry as a consequence.

In other words, they never had a burning need to run fast, so they were content to trot.

Lucky, Healthy Humans: Not All They’re Cracked Up To Be

When it comes to humans, it’s very much the same.

Why is it that 1st generation immigrants to the United States are three times more likely to start a business and become millionaires than the children of US citizens?

Have you been keeping track of who becomes valedictorian at your local high schools? I was formerly a newspaper reporter and occasionally wrote stories about valedictorians, and I can tell you that the vast majority are immigrants or the children of immigrants.

It’s not that these immigrants and their 1st generation children are naturally smarter, but they are very much like the cheetahs in the wild.

In many cases they are people who have had nothing their whole lives. Raised without political rights or economic freedom they arrive in the United States with little in the way of money or social connections, but make up for it with burning desire to make it.

They get here and they work, refusing to be discouraged by setbacks.  They’re willing to put in more effort than the native born in many situations, and their results are telling.

The Sick, The Fat, The The Defective: Our Drive To Succeed

I spent the early part of my life overweight and suffered from numerous health problems like severe headaches and colitis. I was also “learning impaired,” in the lingo of the education system, and was stuck in a number of special education classes.

So I know a thing or two about the desire to just be “normal”.

Why can’t I just be thin? Why can’t I be healthy? Why did I get cursed with this dysfunctional body and mind?

It is incredibly tempting to just throw in the towel and curse our genes, accepting that we’re doomed to a sub-par life.

Some will unfortunately give up and accept their dysfunctional status, but like those immigrants who make it to the United States against all odds and the the hungry leopards who have to run to survive, many will refuse to be satisfied.

They’re going to go after a better life, and they’ll do what they have to to get there. They’ve tasted real suffering, and they’re not going to put up with it anymore.

My Own Life

I don’t consider myself to be greatly accomplished in the grand scheme of things (I generally feel like a slacker because I don’t try as hard as my mind tells me I should) but when I tell people where I was and where I am now, they’re generally impressed.

Here are some of the changes I’ve brought into my life:

Before After
Fat: 220 pounds at age 17 Thin: 158 pounds a few years later
Horrible colitis symptoms, regular migraine headaches, painful back No colitis, migraines, or back pain
Special education classes. Couldn’t read beyond a kindergarten level in third grade, couldn’t master basic math concepts Graduated college as an English major on the dean’s list.
Feeling like I wasn’t good enough to do anything well Worked as a successful newspaper reporter after college.
Sedentary Marathon Runner
Weak Strong
Feeling like I couldn’t do what I really wanted to do. Starting in my spare time, which has grown into my full-time occupation.
Convinced I would never be able to travel freely and see the world as I had dreamed due to financial and time constraints. Just finished two years of traveling around southeast Asia.
Depressed through most of my childhood and teen years. Despondent over my future. Happy most days and never depressed. Excited about the possibilities of the future.
Rarely remembered facts, dates, numbers, and names. Now remember about 50-65 percent of names and have vastly improved my recall of a wide variety of info

The techniques I’ve used to find and achieve the solutions to my problems are quite varied.

Mostly, I rely on two things: A complete refusal to put up with less than satisfactory results in my life, and a series of 30-day trials to test solution after solution until I find one that works.

I’m far from perfect in many area. There are dozens of compartmentalized areas of my life which I’m trying to improve, and I continuously seek satisfactory techniques and ideas to bring about the changes I want.

I’m imperfect, pathetic, even, in a wide variety of areas, but I’m not giving up on myself.

You see, my own suffering over the years didn’t break me. All of these disadvantages I was born with only fired in me a desperation to do better.

I never had life handed to me on a golden platter, so I’ve learned to work hard for myself until I achieve my goals.

The end result is that I’ve surpassed, in many area, the “normal,” “average” people I envied for so many years.

Desperate Raw Foodists Become Successful Ones

It’s no secret that most successful long term raw foodists come from a background of suffering.

Survey the field and you’ll find the formerly fat, sick, depressed, mentally ill, and disabled now thriving at a higher level than their “normal” counterparts.

These people have suffered, and so they understand desperation and how good feeling healthy feels; they’ll go the extra miles just to experience it.

Of those that don’t fall into this category, you’ll find that they none-the-less have developed an impressive desperation and drive index score, one of the two factors you really need to succeed.

Adversity, really, is not the negative that it appears to be at first glance.

I would never have explored a raw food diet if I was never sick, so my pain has brought me to an end result that I consider far more enjoyable and beneficial than the what I’d be dealing with had I been “normal”.

So If you find yourself, like many, faced with a health shortfall, realize that you are blessed in a round about way.

That suffering will bring you farther than you would likely go on your own.

Stop delaying and start eating a healthy raw food diet today

Dealing with depression over your problems, or unsure of how you can get onto a better track? I highly recommend you check out The Raw Food Lifestyle, where I talk about what I did to get free of my depression and achieve some impressive results.