Interview of Diane Ligon
Published: Sun, 01 Mar 2015
Tell us about yourself: your age, where you live, your job, your family, and the like.
My name is Diane Ligon and I am 55 years old. I live in Manhattan in New York City. I've done a huge range of freelance work in acting, teaching and writing. I have a 22 year old daughter.
Do you eat 100% raw vegan?
Most of the time I am 100% raw vegan. I've been raw vegan for 4 years now. The first year I was solidly raw except for a total of 10 days while traveling under challenging circumstances. Since then, I have been perfectly all raw for three months at a time several times and a month at a time other times. However, there have been some months when I have had some cooked vegan food. Usually it's just been one or two meals but there were a few months when it was more.
How long have you been eating the 80/10/10 way?
Why did you choose this path?
I was feeling very desperate because my health was so poor.
Describe your journey from the diet you were raised with to raw vegan.
As a child I loved or at least liked virtually all foods, healthy and unhealthy. I ate the Standard American diet plus tons of candy as a young child. As a teenager I stopped the candy but still ate poorly.
When I was 23 my health fell apart and doing a Macrobiotic diet healed all my problems at that time. I did Macrobiotics for ten years, which is basically a cooked vegan diet which allows for occasional fish, but I rarely had fish. Unfortunately, by the end of the ten years I had become allergic to so many of the foods in Macrobiotics that I had to give it up. After that, I always included vegan foods, yet more and more also included animal products and other unhealthy foods.
So I stopped and just ignored the problem.
Once I hit 40, I started gaining weight, and managed to gain 90 pounds over the next 11 years. I drank HUGE amounts of caffeine to keep going because I had so much fatigue. I had mild asthma, which occasionally got worse and scared me when I had trouble breathing. My thyroid numbers were crazy off but when I tried to take one tablet of Synthroid it made me ill.
I started feeling better physically and emotionally after only one day on the 80/10/10 diet. My asthma improved instantly. When I finally had my thyroid tested 18 months later all levels were normal except one --- and that one was close to normal. My TSH, which had been as high as 16.23, went down to 5.19: still higher than the ideal of 4.5, but significantly better. This was achieved without taking any medication. I lost 17 pounds (8 kg) the first month and 90 pounds (41 kg) during the first year, while eating as much as I wanted at every meal. I went from 230 pounds (104.5 kg) to 140 pounds (63.5 kg) and from a size 22 to a size 8 in one year.
I have been able to maintain the weight loss of 90 pounds in 2011 by sticking to a raw vegan 80/10/10 diet. However, when I eat cooked food I often temporarily gain a few pounds after a single cooked meal or as much as ten pounds when I've had several cooked meals close together! When I get back on track they come off again. My guess is part of the quick weight gain was because of salt sometimes being in cooked restaurant food, causing me to retain water.
I have had Multiple Chemical Sensitivity since 1995, where everyday chemicals like perfume make me feel temporarily unwell. While it is much much better, I do still have it. My hope is that this problem will continue to improve.
Give us a sample of your daily diet and lifestyle routine…
I usually sleep at least 8 hours a night. I average about 2500 calories a day and drink at least 2 liters of water a day. I usually walk at least 9 miles a day, and my record for miles walked in one day is 17! :) I do at least 15 minutes of Yoga, stretching or Pilates most days, occasionally doing longer sessions.
I often eat three meals a day but also often have one or two snacks. I usually only eat one fruit at a time by itself or with lettuce. However, occasionally I will combine fruits, being careful with good food combining. Here's what I had on a recent winter day:
- Breakfast: 2 canary melons
- Lunch: 6 apples
- Snack: 8 oz of dried figs
- Dinner: 2 and a half pounds of oranges with 2 cucumbers
Here was a day from last Fall:
- Breakfast: 10 bananas
- Lunch: 8 large persimmons and a head of iceberg lettuce
- Dinner: 3 large papayas
From last summer:
- Breakfast: 1 large watermelon
- Lunch: 7 oz romaine lettuce, 2 quarts strawberries and 12 oz blackberries
- Dinner: 20 large fresh figs and 7 oz romaine lettuce
- Snack: 35 almonds and 3 large tomatoes (more almonds than ideal for one serving, yet I don't have overt fats very often)
Another summer day:
- Breakfast: 2 Crenshaw melons and 1 orange flesh honeydew melon
- Lunch: 7 Manila mangoes
- Dinner: 8 Manila mangoes
And a Spring day:
- Breakfast: 40 oz lychees and 12 oz cucumber
- Lunch: 6 Haitian mangoes
- Dinner: 3 quarts strawberries, 2 oz blackberries, 5 oz lettuce, 8 stalks celery and 2 pints orange zima tomatoes
What are some of the personal benefits you've experience since transitioning to 811v diet?
I mentioned some specific physical improvements I've experienced already.
Whenever I eat cooked food I feel at least a little depressed afterward, if not a lot. It depends on what the food is. I don't usually fully feel the negative effects until the following day. I perceive my life in a much more positive way when all raw. I see the positive aspects of any situation more clearly. It's shocking to me how quickly I can fall into more negative thinking when I don't eat as well.
My energy level is much higher when I stay completely on track with 80/10/10. The emotional benefits are huge. I often feel so elated and happy in a way that can't compare with how I feel when eating even the most pure and simple cooked vegan food.
How have you found it socially eating this way?
Most of the time I handle it well. However, if I am under more stress it can become much more difficult. I maintain contact with others doing 80/10/10 online and that helps to some degree. I also started a "New York 80/10/10 Meetup" group on meetup.com. Making new friends through that group has been a great social experience.
It was easier the first year when I was so rapidly improving my health and losing weight. In the second, third and fourth years I had to deal with more stressful life situations so at times it became more difficult. There were times when I got off track yet instantly feeling worse quickly inspired me to get back on track.
I don't usually eat overt fats so when I do eat out, having avocado on a salad makes the meal more exciting. I usually will order a salad and sometimes a restaurant will have a half grapefruit, a bowl of berries or other fruit by the piece on a counter. Sometimes I cut up a couple oranges from the restaurant's counter and add it to the salad. I try and eat a full meal of fruit before going out to a restaurant where I only have salad. Then the salad feels like my dessert rather than a meal, so I'm less likely to feel that it isn't enough. I have also gone to raw restaurants occasionally but don't feel as well when I have gourmet raw dishes. I like meeting friends at Whole Foods' eat in areas where it's easy to just eat fruit.
What advice would you give to a newbie to 80/10/10?
I tried doing 80/10/10 twice before I was able to do it long term. The first two times my life was so stressful I just couldn't manage it. The first time I lasted two weeks and the second time I lasted two months. I had to figure out how to make my life less stressful before I could stay on track. So if you are struggling, see what you can do to reduce the stress in your life.
Anything you would like to share that wasn’t covered in the interview so far?
At this point I don't have a website. However, if you would like to connect with me, feel free to friend me on Facebook. Just private message me at the same time so if we don't have mutual friends I will know how you know of me. :)
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