My Speech at Northwell HealthBy Carol Alt / Post / April 9, 2018
I have so much I want to tell and share with you that I actually had to write notes for this speech- because I didn’t want to forget anything! 5 minutes is not enough time to tell you all I want to tell you, to share all I want to share. But first, I want to take this moment to thank the Northwell Healthcare system for inviting me to speak to you today. I was humbled by this task and it took me a long time to accept. This is mostly because I wanted to make sure that I could connect the importance of my message to each one of you personally. I grew up in this neighborhood here. In fact, my mother is here offering me moral support today! Say hi mom! My father, a FIREMAN, died of cancer right in this hospital.
I wish I knew then what I know today about the connection between health and nutrition. I could have, and I surely would have, saved his life. I’ve been saving my own life since the day I decided to be a responsible eater. I changed my lifestyle for vanity’s sake- I’ll get into that. I went raw for vanity’s sake and it ended up saving my life. I’ve battled health issues my entire life, so it’s kind of ironic when people look at me and say “you’re so perfect!” They hold me up as an icon of beauty, especially after they airbrush me to death.
If they only knew!
That’s not the real me. That’s not who I am or even how I see myself. I see my world in a completely different way… After all, I still clean the cat box and I take out the garbage. My world isn’t as glamorous as it looks. My mirror only tells part of the story. Looking past the mirror, I began to realize that we all have the same fears, and our bodies all react the same way to stimuli. We are all here experiencing this human experience; and, we’re all in this together
Really, the main reason I came here is because as I grew up, nobody told me what it was like to age. Nobody shared those thoughts or fears or told me the “things that happen” to the body, like how your health changes– all the little physical changes. Aging wasn’t something you inspired people to do gracefully, it was something hidden and not spoken about and fought with a needle full of Restylane! Nobody shared information. It was all a big mystery, and frankly maybe it was better when it WAS was a mystery. It can be pretty scary. However, I think it’s scarier when you feel alone, when you feel it’s only happening to you and that you’re somehow different or flawed- that you have problems that nobody else has.
I’m telling you we all have those same problems. Tall, short, fat thin , supermodel or not– we all have to face the same health issues as we age. It’s how we choose to confront those health issues that makes all the difference.
It’s hard to know what choices are out there, when every single day we see airbrushed figures being held up as an example of what is considered beautiful. It’s now people with puffed lips and pulled faces, wearing hair extensions, lipo’d to within an inch of life, and the always-present threat: fake boobs.
How can we feel naturally beautiful as women, how can we mature gracefully, basking in health, when we are competing with fake standards? They downplay the importance of nutrition in favor of a quick pull, tuck or pill to neutralize a symptom and make us feel better in the moment. Health is work. But those three words outlast a six month Botox injection
What do we do when the standards placed in front of us are impossible to meet? In fact, the women we already deem as “perfect” are doing all kinds of crazy things to look young and healthy, when under the skin, beyond the mirror they’re not healthy and not beautiful. It can leave you confused and empty… How can we feel beautiful when our insides are crying out for help, when we are popping pills for relief? How can we feel sexy when we look at our arms and suddenly see our grandmothers’ arms attached to our bodies?
For many of us we are running into these kind of problems right now – We need answers today. So I thought that I would share some things that I know to be true about being healthy as you are aging. Maybe these are the same things that you know to be true too. I will also give you the antidote.
1. The older I get the harder it is to stay in shape.
2. Getting going in the morning takes longer.
3. Most of the time I feel like I have arthritis, especially in my hips, my shoulders, my elbows, my knees, oh my wrist and this little finger right here.
4. High heels are not my friend. They don’t make me feel more confident- they make me ache.
5. Fighting off crepey skin is getting to be a full-time job.
6. Getting a job as a 57-year-old actress is an impossible feat.
7. I as a woman am just as much at risk as a man is for heart problems (perhaps even more– because nobody thinks that women are at risk.)
8. When I get a pimple or a headache, if I even get a flutter in my heart, I run immediately to the nearest doctor because “hey you never know!”
But there are also some other things that I know to be true as well:
1. I have to work out no matter how much I hate it, because now more than ever it does keep me in shape and keeps me healthy. The choice to be a couch potato is just too easy.
2. Give myself a break. I just don’t judge myself. If it takes me a little longer to get going. I let my body do its thing. The cats will just have to be patient till I can get to the kitchen and feed them.
3. If I roll out my body on a yoga bolster or a body ball, arthritis isn’t arthritis. It’s just tight muscles and ligaments.
4. I have to wear high heels as my work depends on it, but I carry flip-flops in my purse because comfortable feet is ACTUALLY what makes me feel confident.
5. Virgin coconut oil works great on crepey skin.
6. I have to keep trying even though it’s harder to get a job. It keeps me engaged.
7. I watch what I eat, now more than ever, because the best way to prevent heart issues is to be preventative. Limit the processed foods- it is much healthier to eat as much WHOLE FOOD as possible.
8. Going to the doctor for any little heart dinner or pimple is better than not knowing and worrying about it.
But the biggest truth I know is this:
I know if I hadn’t changed my LIFESTYLE when I turned 36, I wouldn’t be standing here in front of you.
I even have the same excuse that you do! “Back in the day” we ate badly because who knew nutrition was such a big factor in health? Nobody was talking about prevention they talked about a quick fix or a TV dinner. My bad habits started when I was a kid. Yeah, even as an adult I listened to the marketing gurus who told me nutrition had nothing to do with health, that no matter what I did a pill would fix it. For me it was the dark ages. I can tell you -by the amount of over-the-counter meds I was taking for all the symptoms I was experiencing, I believed them- and I am not the only one.
I was confronted with some new information In 1996 and I chose to change my lifestyle. I chose a raw food lifestyle, even if at that time there was no such thing as a raw diet– there was no raw food on the market at all. People thought pickles were raw because they were cold! The same for milk, yogurt, hummus, and cheese… I had to make all my own food and I had to give up any of the food I liked, because the more I studied the more I understood the power of raw food and the power of my choice. I was choosing life. In fact, my first book Eating the Raw was comprised of the 30 recipes I lived on when everyone around me was eating hamburgers, steaks and french fries.
Don’t get me wrong- I love french fries as much as the next guy! I love pizza too, but I don’t do it because I love my health more. It was a choice. Choosing youth and energy and vitality and health is a choice. Choosing life is a choice, because health is a gift you EARN. Once I realized how great I felt eating whole, raw, non-processed foods, there was just no going back! The changes were immediate. At 36 I suffered with a burning stomach, sinus infections, allergies, colds, and flu after every movie. I lived on NyQuil to fall asleep and coffee to wake up, Tum’s for my stomach acid, and asprin for my occasional headaches. I was a marketer’s dream, and well on my way to more serious health problems.
What’s worse, I was seeing gray hair and wrinkles! I saw weight gain that I couldn’t drop and bloat, oh the bloat! It was the beginning of the end for my career. How could I compete with 20-year-olds? When I thought about it I realized that I didn’t have any of these problems when I was 20. If I wanted to lose weight- I just stopped eating for a couple days. I lost weight, not my energy. I didn’t get cranky. So what changed from 20 to 36 that I put me in this condition? Even more scary to me was what was going to change between 36 to 56? Or 66? Or 76? I could see the trajectory I was on. I knew what was trending- and I didn’t like what I saw in my future.
I was terribly ostracized for proposing new ideas! But you see, the thing is, this model studied under some of the best doctors in the world who taught me one simple truth: food is everything.
Even all the doctors who came on my show on Fox News, no matter what discipline they were in, whether it be breast health, liver, anti-aging, arthritis, fibromyalgia, or the big one: heart disease, each of them ended their interview with the same conclusions that I had come to 15 or 20 years earlier. That is, your food is the most important powerful medicine you will ever put into your body. So choose wisely, and choose from education.
Just KNOWING that food was good for you wasn’t good enough for me– I studied because I wanted to know why our choice in food influenced our health. I wanted to know the pathology OF FOOD. Thank goodness I did that, because It gave me a very strong belief in what I’m telling you today. You can rest assured, no matter what you think, or how you try to make yourself believe it’s OK to ignore symptoms, or to take pills that deal with symptoms but not causes of illness… You can rest assured everything comes back to your food. No pill is going to cure the cause of illness. And it’s certainly not going to help prevent illness- but the right health regime can! The right food can make the difference between life and death. The right food can make the difference between health and happiness or sickness and fear. I can say this because it’s been a lifesaver for me.
It just all comes down to choice.
Most of the things we suffer from can be treated quite easily by changing our lifestyle, by choosing to choose differently. Even some, if not most, signs of AGING can be reversed by choosing correctly. I know this to be true because I look pretty damn good for 58 years old! But seriously, I got myself off of all the over-the-counter meds. No headaches, no flow, no stomach issues, no sinus infections– it’s freedom.
I have to say that inspiration to change can come from anywhere. Just by standing in front of you today I hope to inspire you. But you have to recognize inspiration. You need to be open to it.
Inspiration came to me in the form of a 22-year-old on the set of a project I was headlining. I was working on Carol Alt and Friends in the Amazon and there was a 22-year-old girl. She wasn’t particularly gorgeous, but she had an energy and a vitality and a passion. She was alive in her skin and felt comfortable with her body. She captivated the entire set with that passion. I, on the other hand, was feeling tired and bloated and had no energy at all. I had no desire to be there. But my name was on the project so I was compelled to be. This girl captured my attention as well, because as I was watching her jump around the the set thoroughly enjoying herself by just being, she pointed out the stark difference between she and I. It made me take note. It also embarrassed me.
I started to wonder what had changed? How did I go from that 20-year-old, enthusiastic, energetic, passionate girl to this person that I was now? I wasn’t jealous of her- although I could’ve been and I probably should’ve been, but no. I was curious. How could I have changed so much and not noticed? Could I get myself back to that place of enjoyment and youthfulness, vitality and energy?
I started praying to God and the answer came in the form of a phone call from a friend of mine whose 22-year-old girlfriend who had been covered in cancer. They wanted to do radical hysterectomy, radical lymphectomy and he just couldn’t believe she couldn’t heal herself. They refused conventional treatment. He brought her to a doctor friend and after six months her biopsies were clean. What had she done? She only changed her diet. Dieting detoxing and cleansing. Powerful. Powerful and interesting… If he could help someone who was covered in cancer, he could take care of lesser problems too, right?
My stomach acid, my headaches, my aging skin– my mind reeled with the possibilities. Could I prevent things? Heart problems, dementia, maybe even aging? In any case once I started educating myself on nutrition, I realized how susceptible we were to the lies of marketing. Once I started reading ingredients I realized there was nothing packaged out there that was fit to eat. I realized how much people stretched the truth, and just how much garbage was marketed under the title of “health foods.”
Once armed with information, I changed my diet. And that changed my life. Once I was looking at the end my career now at this point I’ve had an extra 20 years that I bought with that choice! Once I saw how my life changed with this information I understood that I had also seriously changed my destiny. Even though I did it for vanity, it ended up saving my life. I needed to be confronted by 22-year-old on the set of a project with my own name on it to show me how wrong my choices had been, and to poke me in the butt to get me to make some serious changes. She didn’t even know she did it.
The changes were so fast and so drastic, so let me illustrate with a story. I embarrassed my mom here (but you she’s kind of used to being embarrassed). So, when I first went raw, I didn’t tell anybody. At the point where I had been raw for maybe three or four months, I came home to see my mother. She looked at me quite puzzled. I was like what’s the matter? She said (and I quote) “you were starting to look mortal.”
“Yes. You had fine lines and wrinkles and gray hair coming. I could see it. What have you changed -what are you doing?”
She looked at me startled. I said, no no no no I’m I’m joking. I had changed my diet and I was eating only raw foods. Funny thing was, she wasn’t the only one who had been responding to me that way. Everybody was responding to me in quite favorable unexpected way. It was quite a phenomenon in my life. I guess you don’t know how bad you are until you make a change. And then if the changes are profound enough the changes go beyond you.
My mother, bless her, at 68 went raw, started taking enzymes, eating her health foods- don’t get me wrong we both cheat a little. We’re no angels. But it’s a calculated cheat. And we look forward to it. We just don’t do it all the time. It was also fun to include my family in the new information I had found and we all discovered, actually we re-discovered, food together! It was a family event. These days I feel like the great grandmother of all these new diets, and all these new ideas. That’s because I was the “crazy person” before anyone was thinking in this direction. I was the crazy person who defied gravity. Didn’t want to be held down by what came before me. I didn’t want to live by somebody else’s rules. I booked the system and sometimes the system tried to book me.
Nonetheless, I knew the truth in my soul. I knew the only way to survive was to find a different way, different from what I was doing. Because I was just barely surviving. So I guess even though I was humbled to be here in front of you, I felt that my message was important enough to overcome any fears I had about standing in front of a room and talking about my issues.
Because sometimes, when you know you’re in it together, that partnership can make you feel stronger. Once you know someone else has overcome then you know that you can overcome too. Believe me, we are all in it together. I made a promise to God when he save my life that I would pay it forward, and that’s what I’m doing today here with all of you. If I can touch just one person- inspire just one person to change their life and make it better, it would be worth it. If I just get one letter or tweet today about how changing your diet changed your life, or saved your life… I would be fulfilling my promise to God.
But in the end it’s your choice.
Just show you how easy it is, Here’s a my checklist for heart health and anti-aging :
All these things will help you watch your weight, keep your cholesterol down, but even better, you’ll see and feel the anti-aging effects! You’ll also see a whole slough of other health benefits too numerous to name here cause I’m only allowed five minutes! I think I’ve already run over that. Anyway, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to come up afterwards and ask.
Request your library to bring in my books to help you learn to eat healthier! Find raw recipes, understand why raw foods are more nutritious for you and to learn other protocols not mentioned in my blogs.
Eating in the Raw
Easy, Sexy Raw
A Healthy You
Edited by Jake Layton