ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER
Years ago I realized I wanted to exercise consistently but found that I needed an incentive to get off the couch and start. I decided to teach fitness classes; I would have no choice but to show up and lead the class; getting paid for it was an added bonus. I found that I loved working out and became a Fitness Instructor.
I was a “fitness freak” and worked out as many as seven to nine times per week but, despite being in great shape, I still felt pudgy and sluggish. I wasn’t sleeping well either. My chronic knee pain wasn’t responding to the Tylenol Arthritis I was taking and my doctor suggested a more intense prescribed medication. To me, the answer to all of these problems seemed to be more exercise. We all know the definition of insanity…
THE NUTRITION CONNECTION
For years I had consumed the typical North American diet, including bagels, bread, cereal, processed food, meat, chicken, and fish. I drank pop and enjoyed eating chips.
Meeting Nancy Desjardins was my introduction to the world of nutrition. After attending several of Nancy’s nutrition seminars over a few years I learned to measure my food intake by nutritional value instead by counting calories. Nancy became a mentor to me and I immersed myself into the world of nutrition.
My approach to food consumption changed slowly and gradually. By eating food that offered more nutritional value I found that cravings for my old diet staples diminished. I stopped eating red meat, chicken, and fish not through a conscious decision on my part – I simply lost the desire to eat these foods over time. I had gradually moved away from the traditional foods I had eaten my entire life to a more consistent nutrition-based diet.
Once I was on my nutrition path other small doors opened up into large rooms. I became aware of “raw food cleanses” where you eat only raw foods for seven days. Although I was curious, I was nervous about cleansing and my first lasted just half a day. After a few more attempts, each time making it further and further, I finally made it through a full seven-day raw food cleanse. After that first cleanse I felt euphoric. I was hooked on that feeling, which led me to the conscious consumption of raw food.
My mind was clear, and I slept better. I shed 30lbs in six months, not because I was trying to but because it was my body’s response the right nutrition. My body found its own “centre” and stayed there as I continued to nourish it. Soon enough I was off all medication related to my knees and have been ever since.
By consciously eating nutritious food I had made what I call THE NUTRITION CONNECTION: the connection we make between what we eat and how we feel. If I felt that good after only seven days on raw food, I figured it only made sense to continue to eat that way.
BECOMING A RAW FOODIST
I began to experiment with different kinds of raw food. The first thing I did was trade in my microwave, oven, and stove for a food processor, a blender, and a dehydrator. Food cooked over 118 degrees kills the enzymes our bodies need whereas food that is dehydrated under 118 degrees keep those nourishing enzymes alive and well.
I had always enjoyed cooking so I just naturally brought this passion into my new lifestyle. With my new appliances I started to prepare a host of raw foods including delicious cookies, breads, crackers, and soups. I even figured out how to make raw wraps from organic flax-seed, carrots and sun-dried tomatoes and spices.
My mentor Nancy Desjardins encouraged me to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist [RHN] through the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. It was a two year course, but my passion to complete the course as soon as possible was so strong I accelerated my studies and completed the program in one year.
BRINGING MY PASSION TO THE MARKETPLACE
The next step was to figure out how to bring my passion to the marketplace. The logical first step was to consult at my local gym where I conducted information seminars for members. I also gave talks in the community and counseled individual clients.
During this time I continued working full-time as an Educational Assistant and Fitness Instructor. I loved sharing nutrition information with people but I really didn’t know where it would lead. I simply felt that nutrition would always be a part of my life, for the rest of my life. I loved helping others make The Nutrition Connection.
Inspired by my own results I followed my nutrition path and cheerfully promoted its message when opportunities presented themselves. It was my passion and often I worked for little or no monetary compensation. My continued growth in this new world was my compensation.
I made a habit of visiting holistic organic food stores the way one might frequent antique stores; they were an exciting part of my new world. If I was visiting a different town or city I would seek out these eclectic, independently owned food stores. Each one always offered a little something new that I would catalog in my mind for my next raw food venture. I never dreamed these stores would become my customers.
One day, having just moved to a new community, I was looking for a bank. I saw it too late and drove past it, so I drove around the block to make my way back. While doing so I drove by an organic food store called Norfolk Holistic Foods. I forgot the bank, parked my car and went into the organic food store.
There I met Dave, the proprietor, and we learned that we attended the same nutrition school. It was a nice coincidence during a simple, friendly visit that was not unlike many other visits to similar stores in the past few years.
Unbeknownst to me, a small door was about to open up that would allow me to walk into a large and very wonderful room.
I began to frequent Dave’s store to purchase my regular organic food items like flax, carrots and sun-dried tomatoes; the items I used to make my organic raw wraps. Dave invited me to attend one of his monthly health and nutritional awareness meetings he facilitated in his store for his customers – it was just some like-minded people discussing anything related to health and nutrition.
I accepted Dave’s invitation but for some reason when the night in question came along I was reluctant to attend. [Never close a door on yourself if you can help it]. I was encouraged to “go anyway” and I decided to bring a snack to share with the other attendees. I brought the raw organic wraps I had been making for myself for years.
The people loved my wraps and Dave wanted to carry them in his store. This reaction startled me and I wasn’t sure what this really meant. I didn’t know the first thing about supplying food to a food store. “Put six in a bag,” he said, “and I’ll sell them.”
Dave ordered 6 bags of wraps in the autumn of 2011 and WRAP IT UP RAW™ was born. Thank you Dave.
WRAP IT UP ~ RAW™
Today we supply WRAP IT UP RAW™ to over 60 independently-owned health/organic/fine food stores in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. We have three employees who complete three shifts daily in our commercial kitchen where we currently produce over 2,500 bags of wraps per month. We are growing and I am so grateful for this reality.
It has been a wonderful and interesting journey so far. I have learned a great deal about myself and the generosity of others – no one is successful on their own.
This business has grown primarily through word of mouth. I’m so grateful to those who have emailed me to refer their local independent health food store. And to those who have emailed me with their positive feedback, please know that each message leaves me inspired to do and be more.
I am amazed at the people who have stepped up to help out, whether it be a crucial business decision or some small piece of helpful advice or information. Some are complete strangers; like the kind woman in England who researched a food store chain in the UK that I should contact, including the names and contact detail for its key decision makers.
I have many people to thank who have supported WRAP IT UP RAW™. Some in small incremental ways as mentioned and others, who have made very large contributions, like Shannon Passero, who bestowed upon me the recognition of being a Recipient of the 2014 Shannon Passero Women’s Business Grant Program.
A lot has happened in three years and it has been as challenging as it has been rewarding. I look forward to the future where I see WRAP IT UP RAW™ all over the world.
The journey continues.
And one thing absolutely leads to another
Joanne Van Liefland RHN