I began searching for increased energy and health solutions in the early 1980’s. My two children were very young at that time; I longed to be the best mother possible. So I searched for ways to improve my children’s health and add much needed energy to my own life. I joined a Health Food Co-op and began adding ‘whole grain foods’ to our menu as well as eliminating highly processed, sugar-laden, foods and beverages. It was the beginning of my life-changing health journey.
In 1992, I was working long hours in my beauty salon, Sheri’s Salon of Hair Design, I was very active in our church, while managing our home and the activities of my busy teenagers. Each day I pushed through heavy fatigue and applied makeup to hide the dark circles under my eyes. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t have the time, energy, or knowledge to improve my health.
Two days before Thanksgiving that year I experienced an acute health crisis and was hospitalized for three days. The pain I felt in my lungs, arms and legs was debilitating. After running several tests to determine what was wrong, the doctors had no explanation. They sent me home without hope for recovery. I was bed-ridden for four months with pain and a low-grade fever. Shivering constantly from the chills of fever, and in such a weakened condition that it took tremendous effort to even chew food or walk across my little 1000 square foot home to and from my living room, bedroom and bathroom. I lay throughout the day in a recliner chair dressed in sweatpants and sweatshirt with a heating pad wrapped around my feet.
My sister Dian told me about a health center in Alabama, which she had heard about through her church. This center offered healthy lifestyle changes where many people had recovered from chronic illnesses such as mine. I lived in Michigan at the time and saw no way to attend the Uchee Pines Lifestyle Center in Alabama, but God had a plan!
In April of 1993, after four months of being basically bed-ridden, I was able to attend an 18-day lifestyle recovery program where they used only natural remedies with a focus on praying for God’s healing touch on each guest. It was wonderfully effective! After only a week I was able to walk one mile! My health improved quickly with the healthy vegan, vegetarian food and my pain began to subside with the herbal teas and hydrotherapy treatments. I was on the road to restoration and my life took an encouraging turn. Since that time my health has continued to improve.
The medical doctors had given me a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and said that this condition was typically a lifelong sentence of debilitating fatigue. The cause of my Chronic Fatigue condition was assumed to be the chemicals I worked with in my Beauty Salon for 20 years. These chemicals had damaged my lungs and destroyed my health. However, using what the lifestyle center called God’s Natural 8 Laws of Health set me on my feet. I will explain these health laws in Chapter 3 of my book, Add Life; which includes numerous healthy recipes and more health information.
Over the next 18 years, I continued to experience aching in my lungs, arms and legs with physical fatigue when I over-taxed my energy resources, but as I practiced the health principles I had learned at the Lifestyle Center, my recovery improved day-by-day and year-by-year. Each year I experienced less fatigue and aching.
After slow but consistent health progress, I was still praying daily for better ways to restore energy and quality to my life. I was inspired to begin eating Living Food and that simple change has taken me to the next level of health and energy. I am so delighted with the results of eating foods that are rich in living enzymes. I feel I have found the quality of life I have always longed for. I simply cannot keep this powerful information to myself! My first attempt to ‘go raw’ in 2007 failed miserably because of my lack of knowledge on the practical ‘how-to’ of preparing simple, quick, daily food. Due to a very busy life and time limitations, I set the idea of eating raw food aside for a couple years and continued to pray for guidance.
In 2008, my husband and I moved to Alabama to be Directors of Living Springs Lifestyle Center. This Center was in its infant stage at the time. I was working closely with the doctors at the same lifestyle center I had attended in 1993 Uchee Pines Lifestyle Center, to establish a new center. We were completing the construction and preparing to receive guests within a year.
In 2009, I attended a health training class at Uchee Pines to prepare for an opening of Living Springs Center. There, I personally met the very people who had introduced me to ‘the raw food diet’ two years earlier while watched a cooking show on a Christian station called 3ABN! At the health training class I recognized Chef’s Jeff and Nancy Riedecel immediately and spoke with them about teaching the staff at Living Springs Lifestyle Center how to prepare living food. The doctors at Uchee Pines had informed me that a major part of the diet we would offer our guests at Living Springs would be 85% Living Food. We were only a few months from opening our Lifestyle Center and I needed to know how to prepare a healthy, enzyme rich, living food diet.
Jeff and Nancy Riedecel, those television program chefs, who had first inspired me agreed to Living Springs. They taught a fabulous seven-day program to our staff. Two months earlier I had decided to begin eating a raw food diet even though I did not know the essentials of how to do it with flavor and variety. Knowing that I had to provide a living food diet to our guest I decided the best way to learn was to eat only living food and that would motivate me to develop this unique menu. Hunger is a great motivator!
I was also determined to gain better health and energy myself so I could help others improve their health. In my un-educated effort at a raw food diet, I simply ate fresh fruit for breakfast and a plate of fresh vegetables cut into sticks and bite-sized pieces for lunch and dinner. So, in essence I was eating raw but it sadly lacked taste and appeal. We were having typically cold January weather at the time. Eating cold, raw, fresh fruits and vegetables was a discipline for me. Oh how I longed for warm food!
Since that first raw food class with Chefs Jeff and Nancy Riedecel, I have been enjoying the simplicity, delicious taste, and health benefits of living foods. I also learned how to prepare warm foods for winter months and still retain the living enzymes. I was ‘hooked’ on raw food and pursued additional training.
I did an internship in the kitchen of a raw food restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia called Lov’n It Live, attended a 10 day program at the Living Foods Institute also located in Atlanta, Georgia, was certified as a Level II Raw Food Chef through the Alissa Cohen program, and spent two additional weeks with Jeff and Nancy Riedecel to complete their Raw Food Chef Instructor Certification Course. Finally, I was able to attend a world renowned, raw food chef-training institute located in Fort Bragg, California: Living Light Culinary Arts Institute. Upon my graduation in 2013, I held certification as a Raw Food Chef Instructor, Pastry Chef and Health Educator.