by Robin Quinn
Note: This is the first of a series of blogs on New & Noteworthy books.
Merrillism: “Raw living food is extraordinarily ordinary.”
~ Debbie Merrill
Vibrant and joyful … These are words that truly captured the energy of skating fitness expert Debbie Merrill, as I watched her mingle. The event was a recent book-signing/fundraiser at the 5th Street Whole Foods in Santa Monica. Years ago, I interviewed Debbie about her work in training celebrities to skate on screen (think Steve Martin gliding through MOCA in L.A. Story). Now I learned that Debbie was just releasing a revised edition of her August 2009 book on raw foods, The Raw Truth to the Fountain of Youth. I also discovered that she had hosted a TV show on the raw foods lifestyle for two years since we had last met, featuring guests in the forefront of raw living such as David Wolfe (The Sunfood Diet Success System), Gabriel Cousens, MD (Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine), and Juliano (of Juliana’s Raw Restaurant). Cousens wrote her Foreword, and the other two gave her endorsements. Other book blurbs come from Martin, Melanie Griffith, Patricia Bragg (apple cider vinegar proponent), and newswoman Jane Velez-Mitchell.
The petite, attractive blonde athlete has been “eating and living” the vegan way for 27 years, she told me, the last 17 years as 100% pure raw vegan. She described herself as a “person who transitioned to live foods and the fountain of youth one inch at a time.” Her 450+ page book offers Debbie’s knowledge and wisdom, along with the tools that work for her. In addition, as Cousens explains in the Foreword, we get Debbie’s life story which she “so elegantly shares as a narrative for her teachings.” Cousens also notes that Debbie encourages you to “live a full joyful, loving, healthy life with every bite,” but you don’t feel forced.
The book’s sections are cleverly laid out like a meal, starting with “Section 1. Appetizers: Awakening” and ending with “Section 5: Final Course” (the nuts and bolts of her program, including 40 “rawkin’ raw recipes” which Cousens calls “excellent”). Debbie has delivered 40 chapters, and here are some highlights:
Ch. 1, Create Your Own Treasure Map: Before embarking on an exploration of raw foods, Debbie asks you to become aware of what you want to get out of life. Her tools are a “Treasure Map” (similar to a vision board) and a “Treasure Box” (where you put your written goals). “What you can visualize, vocalize and physicalize, you can manifest in your life,” she tells us.
Ch. 3, Peeling the Onion: Here Debbie quotes Mae West: “Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.” She offers the insight that success comes from mastering one part of your goal, and then moving on. The author promotes moving forward one small step at a time toward our goals for a healthy lifestyle, and insists that bad habits will then become easier and easier to shed.
Ch. 5, Move It or Lose It: Of course, a professional figure skater who has performed around the globe will share her wisdom about exercise. “Health should be a verb,” Debbie writes. “… health is action.” The reader is asked to sign a contract with themselves to commit to get moving.
Ch. 8, The Road to Raw: Here Debbie admits that she went to raw foods because years ago she saw that she was “falling apart” and “eating more crap than vegetables” as a vegetarian. She reveals the changes she made and the benefits she gained. “This is not about deprivation,” she notes, “this is about moderation, rejuvenation, inspiration and innovation.”
Ch. 12, Paralysis of Perfectionism: Debbie jokes that perfectionism seems in some ways to be part of her DNA. This has helped her as an athlete, but also hurt when she saw an error as a personal defect. She’s learned along the way that sometimes it’s better to do something imperfectly than to wait til you can do it flawlessly.
Ch. 16, The Carrot and the Rabbit: Chapter 16 highlights the reasons for giving up being a meat eater. The author urges the reader to become informed with such films as Eating, Diet for a New America, and Super Size Me, and/or to even visit a slaughterhouse. (That visit did it for her, she said.) To Debbie, the most compelling reason came down to one word, compassion (for the animals).
Ch. 36, The Essential Raw Kitchen: Debbie learned to love cooking from her mother, who was a fabulous Italian cook. Here the author provides tips on the practical side to preparing to “raw-mble” in your own kitchen. She recommends a Vita-Mix blender, a food processor, a dehydrator, a juicer/wheatgrass juicer, and more. And, of course, a ready supply of fresh veggies and fruit.
Ch. 38, The Raw Truth to the Fountain of Youth Food-for-Life Plan: Here you’ll find Debbie’s food plan. She writes that you can do it in its entirety, or slowly move toward 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 100% raw foods. You’ll find lists of foods for fruit, veggies, protein, fats, and grains, along with recommended daily amounts. Her “Additional Suggestions” include this reminder: “What you don’t eat is as important as what you do.”
Ch. 39, Rawsome Recipes: During our interview, Debbie told me that she has included simple raw recipes, as well as those that more die-hard raw foodists would enjoy. Ones that caught my eye include “Debbie’s Raw Pizza Pizzazz” (made with raw crackers, homemade tomato sauce, sundried tomatoes, black olives, nuts, plus), raw enchiladas, “Debbie’s Sprouted Lentil Salad” (gets raves at holiday pot luck parties, she said proudly), mango smoothie, “Nano Banana on a Stick” (named after her dad, and includes banana, nuts, carob powder, and more), and raw cracker recipes. “Mother Earth is the best chef in the Universe,” she notes.
“I’ve lived through every type of diet that there is,” Debbie writes in her book. “I’ve gone from red meat to chicken to fish, from vegetarian to macrobiotics to lacto-ovo to vegan to raw vegan, and it is certainly not for me to say where you should end up … [but] if there is the slightest twinge in your soul that you are not where you want to be, then I invite you to take this wonderful journey with me.”
The Raw Truth to the Fountain of Youth is available at
Debbie Merrill’s Instructor to the Stars website is www.skategreat.com.