My name is Erika Hughes. I am a certified personal trainer, nutrition consultant and Raw food enthusiast. Like most people on the path to good health, mine was not an over night transformation. Rather, it came about slowly and in stages.
For over five years, I struggled with various eating disorders. Had it not been for a diagnosis of a stage IV malignant melanoma shortly after graduating from college in 2001, I do not believe that I would be on the same path to health that I am now. For those of you who think that melanoma is “just” skin cancer, think again! It is a serious illness and it CAN kill you. For someone diagnosed with a stage IV cancer like mine, the five year survival rate is a bleak 15-20% with most “survivors” dying in the sixth year or shortly thereafter. To say I feel “lucky” is the understatement of the century. Well, at least to me it is!
After undergoing numerous doctors visits and a surgery to remove the tumor, layers of fat and muscle at the tumor site as well as a removal and biopsy of the sentinel lymph node (the first lymph node to which cancer cells are most likely to migrate from the tumor), I was diagnosed “cancer free.” My diagnosis led me towards my first step on a long road to becoming more educated about nutrition. I bought my first book about Superfoods that cure and prevent various life threatening diseases. I finally stepped out of disordered eating habits and into the realm of educating myself on how to eat to live.
My next life changing event did not occur until about four years later. I found myself living alone for the first time ever and realizing that I had no idea what made me “me.” One of the very first realizations that I made about myself is that I really don’t like meat. I don’t crave it, I don’t particularly like the taste, and I don’t like the effects mass production of animal products for human consumption has on the environment. So, I became a vegetarian with the exception of fish. Once again, I turned to books to educate myself on how to be a healthy vegetarian. At this point, I discovered Natalia Rose’s book “The Raw Food Detox Diet,” and thus my love affair with Raw Food cookbooks began. I slowly started to incorporate juicing and a higher quantity of raw foods into my diet. I gave up all dairy with the exception of cheese. This was as easy as giving up meat for me as I have NEVER liked milk.
Two years later, I left New York City and the mortgage industry, my profession of nearly a decade, behind me and started anew ….
Today I live a much more satisfying and slower paced life. I am immersed in a world of nutrition, exercise and trying my best to live in a sustainable manner that minimizes my carbon foot print. I hope to share with you some of the things that I have learned along my journey to good health as well as those things that I still have yet to learn.