Denisa Ratulea is the wonderful and passionate founder of Second Nature. Denisa began her vegan and a raw food journey in 2012 and has a fascinating story behind why she chose a vegan lifestyle.
Having suffered multiple health challenges, including corrective surgery in her teens to ‘fix’ her scoliosis which resulted in years of pain and unhappiness, Denisa is very passionate about living a full, energetic and happy life and also helping others achieve the same. She also cares deeply about the environment and sustainability.
Through Second Nature, Denisa wishes to provide guidance to her clients in order to help them reach their health goals. Through her own experiences she understands that lasting change can be daunting and difficult and the Second Nature philosophy is to support you in slowly adding healthier routines and nutritious foods to your diet. By focusing on adding the good things, you are replacing some old habits with just as satisfying, if not more, new ones! This allows your body to gradually tune in and let you know what is good for you, by building sustainable habits.
I met Denisa back in March when I attended one of her Raw Food workshops. I went along to the workshop as I had been contemplating adding a raw food day into my diet. What I had in my head before going along was eating cold, relatively bland food, but instead I was completely blown away by the meal Denisa ‘cooked up’ in front of us, with not nearly as much fuss as I had expected.
I was so inspired by Denisa and the raw food experience I had with her, I have even signed up for a health retreat which Second Nature is running in early June.
Please read on to learn more about Denisa and if you’d like to know more about her journey and/or her workshops and retreats, please visit the Second Nature website HTTP://SECOND-NATURE.CO
1. Tell us more about what lead you to embrace the raw food diet you promote?
It all started in 2012 with me attending a Tony Robbins - Unleash the Power Within seminar. It was a time in my life when I needed it most, as I was just recovering from a depression following my father's death and I found out my titanium spinal implant I had for years in my back, broke. These combined with 4 days of unbelievable energy, walking on fire over fears and learning about good plant based, alkaline energy made me commit for 365 days to an alkaline challenge. Little did I know that I would start loving it! As I ventured more into reading about nutrition and learning I started eating more living foods than cooked and noticed the benefit it had on my health, weight and back pain. It was eye opening, and at one point I even forgot about the challenge. It became my second nature. And here I am now.
2. How different is your diet today to what is was prior to you making these changes?
To be honest I hardly remember how it used to be. I liked cooking already, so I was mostly eating home made food. However, it wasn't focused on living foods. It was a typical Eastern-Central European diet to which you add a student budget. Soups, stews, pasta and bread and occasional junk food. It would be fair to say I ate everything, anytime, anyhow. Today I still feel like I eat everything, I just changed my perception on what is good for me and I have that in abundance which allows my body to heal and thrive.
3. What changes were hardest to adapt to and how did you deal with these?
I was so excited to start this journey and challenge that I don't remember it being difficult to begin with. I remember sometimes I wanted specific food and I was restricting myself. At least in the first 30 days. I had the feeling that if I slipped off the wagon I'd go back to old habits because of an addictive personality. However, I soon learned that I should respect my body's needs and listen to it. But it's such a personal process, and you have to be in it for the long term. Otherwise you get lost on the way. And that has been my biggest realisation – it's a long term journey that may never end. That's when it all becomes easy. So, be kind to yourself.
4. What are the benefits you have experienced in your life since making these changes?
Everything changes. Your body, your mind, your feelings. Where do I start? Firstly, I lost all the weight that was pressuring my spine – around 30 pounds. That was dramatic – more for my family than myself, as they thought I got ill. But I started exercising at the same time and getting a lot of movement. I was finding my purpose. I became more in tune with nature. The moment I took out animal products, I became really sensitive. In a good way. You could say the grass was greener. Your mind was clear. I can feel nature's energy, hug a tree and feel instantly high. Something interesting is that I now have very little tolerance for violence in movies. Of any kind. It became very disturbing. But, probably the most important aspect is that my inflammation is reduced in my body and my back doesn't hurt anymore. I used to have those horrible days when I couldn't get out of bed and walk because it was so painful. I now might get that only if I do a silly thing like lifting too much weight or not taking breaks and doing my yoga and stretches. Truth be told, I don't see my life in any other way.
5. Most of us are likely to be daunted by the thought of a raw food diet. Tell us what sorts of things people can do to incorporate more raw foods into their daily routines?
Most of the time, what we're not accustomed to is harder to understand. Introducing more raw foods into ones diet may seem daunting, but it's far from that. The easiest way: swap snacks for fresh fruits. Have a green salad with all your meals. Then make a green smoothie a day or juice. You're already covered over 30% of your day with living foods. I am very big on green smoothies because they're the quickest and easiest way to introduce more nutrition into your diet. You'll always hear me talking about them.
As a tip: next time you pass by a juice bar, pop in and have a green juice or smoothie. No hassle for you. Just a quick recharge of energy. The secret to making it work is not complicating the process. Keep it smooth and simple.
6. What are some of the problems that people have to come to you with, and how has their health and wellbeing benefitted from following your advice?
Some of the people I see on a 1 to 1 level struggle either with poor digestion or low energy levels, which affects other areas in their life. We work together for 1 to 3 months, or more if necessary, to address the root cause of the problem and work backwards to the symptoms. Stress and sleeping trouble are also very common and I am usually employing more than the food aspect into the protocol, because there is no one single solution for anything. Everything has to be holistic. I am happy to report that those who apply what they learn and they are consistent are seeing tremendous results and improvements. Once your energy improves, your mood follows too. Then you see your skin glowing and your stomach is not upset after everything you're eating. Then your mind is clearer. And the ripple effects continues. These are small glimpses of how using a holistic approach can benefit even the issues you weren't considering.
7. You have started to run week long retreats in your home country of Romania - tell us a bit about what you try and accomplish through the week long retreats that?
The retreat is such a dear project of mine. I am very connected with my childhood places and I really wanted to be able to do something for the community in the area I come from. Last year we launched the Raw Transylvania Retreat and it has been a blessing. We're talking about 7 days, 3 days only on juices and smoothies, 4 days of raw food and a lot of learning. Plus some sight seeing, including the infamous Dracula's Castle. Our aim is to give all the participants the time and space to open up, let go of worries and focus on themselves. We are juicing, learning about the benefits and how to's of plant based nutrition, having workshops, group sessions and individual health coaching, yoga and walks in nature. The goal is to equip everyone there with a set of tools that will allow them to implement new changes for long-term health improvement and maintenance. I am a firm believer in experiential learning and this has been proven to work. We still keep in contact with everyone from our first retreat and they're still using the principles and what they learnt. If not all, but at least the one thing that connected to them and they made it theirs. And that's exactly what we want to achieve: finding your connection to food and healing and applying it in your own way, because we're all different and something that works for me, won't necessary work for you. So, you can imagine how excited I am about the upcoming retreat!
8. How do you unwind and relax?
I am blessed to be able to work my own times and whenever I feel that I've spent too much time in front of the computer or I'm starting to feel tensed I just get out in the garden and do some breathing exercises and rebounding. I try and meditate daily, even if it's just for a few minutes (we're human and sometimes life gets in the way, but if we don't beat ourselves up we can take it from where we left it the next day). I recently started practicing Reiki healing and I do self healing every day. It's also very meditative. I don't know if you do this as well, but I run a bubbly bath every now and then with essential oils and candles and a good soundtrack. It's washing away all your worries and tensed energies and you're reborn when you get out of it. I love it and sleep like a baby after.
Nature has always been my refuge, ever since I was a child and I trust we can all find ourselves into it. Try this next time you need to take time off: go outside and watch how the wind is blowing through the leaves of a tree and tune in your breathing with it. Take deep, long breaths from your stomach. Focus on the light and shadows falling on the leaves and the different shades of colour reflected. It can only be for a minute or two, and you'll feel amazing.
We hope you have enjoyed learning more about Denisa and her incredible journey. Don’t forget to check out her website and, if you can, we highly recommend going along to one of her workshops.
We will be soon be releasing some tips from Denisa to improve your health and energy. Please sign up for the NEWSLETTER if you would like to receive this tips direct to your inbox.