by Emily Shaules
I always considered myself to be pretty healthy growing up. Sure, I was allergic to animals and the outdoors, got glasses in fourth grade, and was always carrying around 10-15 extra pounds, but I thought that was normal!
However, in 1998 during my senior year at the University of Wisconsin, my health took a major turn for the worse. Doctors removed my gall bladder at age 22 and later, when my symptoms did not improve, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel disease, conditions that ravage the digestive system.
Little did I know that my health concerns were far from over. In 2001, one week after graduating from Northwestern University's School of Law, I flipped my head back trying to get the hair out of my face and instead felt something snap in my neck. It was like getting whiplash in a car accident. Over the course of a few months, the pain dispersed throughout my entire body and I was later diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder. Several doctors including pain specialists at the Mayo Clinic told me that I would just have to get used to the fact that I would probably be in pain for the rest of my life. I was only 25 years old!
Over the next 6 years, my health deteriorated even more. I developed TMJ, which is pain and stiffness of the main joints and muscles of the jaw. I also struggled with sinusitis, or chronic sinus infections, which eventually landed me back on the surgeon's table in 2003 for sinus surgery. It seemed as though every year something else would go wrong and doctors would simply add another pill to my ever-expanding prescription drug arsenal. In fact, by the time I was 30, I was taking 25 pills a day.
In September 2007 my luck finally changed. I started a fibromyalgia support group in Chicago and learned about raw foods. Pessimistic that changing my diet would improve my symptoms, but desperate to feel better, I decided to try "going raw" for one week even though I HATED fruits and vegetables! However, after only five days of eating raw I felt better! Within a few months, I was off all medications and have not taken any since.
In 2008, I started my own raw coaching and motivational speaking company, Raw Breakthrough (www.RawBreakthrough.com), and adore being part of people’s journeys to better health and happiness. In 2009, I retired from the practice of law and embarked on my first nationwide speaking tour. Soon after I moved to Asheville, NC where I am opening the city’s first raw restaurant. However, it will be more than just a restaurant. My journey has taught me that it’s not just about the food, so it will also be an organic nightclub and movement center where people can take movement classes during the day and have a healthy place to party and dance at night. Raw foods allowed me to create the life of my dreams!