Six Weeks To Fitness

Yvette Frith-Raymond is a strong woman of faith who has dedicated her life to service, with an intention to change the life trajectory of those within her sphere who are vulnerable and living beneath their potential in Christ. Yvette possesses more than a set faith. Her willingness to step out into unchartered territory without readily available resources or known end is a prime example of Yvette's audacious spirit and her total dependence on God. Best known for her commitment to excellence and ministry, coupled with a servant's heart, Yvette has worked tirelessly in several capacities at the Rise Church International, formerly known as the Brooklyn Christian Center. She is always willing to share her gifts and talents with those who serve alongside her, mentoring, training and loving the people of God. Equipped with a bachelor of arts in modern languages and literature and a masters of social work from the State University of New York at Buffalo, Yvette has traversed the four walls of the church for over 19 years to advocate for underserved children and families throughout New York City. She is a social worker by profession and is employed by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. And I am pleased to have Yvette Frith-Raymond on my Six Weeks to Fitness podcast. Yvette, how are you today?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I am doing well, Vince, thank you very much for having me. How are you?

Vincent Ferguson:

I'm great, thank you. Thank you for coming on the show today.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

My pleasure, my pleasure. Thank you.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now, before we discuss your story and the reason why I asked you to come on the show today, tell my listeners, where did you grow up, Yvette, and what was your childhood like?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So I was born and raised in the beautiful Island of Jamaica. I was born in Spanish Town, but raised in Maidstone, Manchester. And Maidstone is one of the very first freed villages and it's in the rural part of Jamaica. I was raised by my grandparents, as my mother worked as a caretaker, she worked and lived outside of our home. My grandparents raised my brother and I, along with some of my cousins. We were raised in a large family, my grandparents had 14 children.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So yes, yes. And I was raised in a village, not just in the family village of my aunts, uncles and cousins, but in a village where people outside of the home took care of each other. My village is a farming community, so we had land to roam and run around and I just remember having a childhood where there were rough days, but as a child, you didn't even know what that meant, because my family gave love.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Every time I think about my childhood, I just think of family and love, even the days when it didn't seem as if you had enough, you had more than enough. Because, again, I was raised in a village, so the village took care of us and my grandparents took care of the village, just because it was just how the community was. So every time I think about home, I think about love and I think about family. My grandmother has since passed, but my grandfather is still alive and he's 102 years old.

Vincent Ferguson:

Whoa, God bless him, 102?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Goodness. Healthy living.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes. Healthy living, yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh my goodness.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

And that is the longevity I desire to have.

Vincent Ferguson:

Sounds like you're on the right track.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I pray I am, I pray I am.

Vincent Ferguson:

And so when they say it takes a village, it really does take a village doesn't it?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I really do believe it does. And I can say that the foundation of my life started in that village and that's what actually drives me today. My foundational beliefs and values came out of that village.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow, and speaking of which, you are a person of faith and very active in your church, correct?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes, I am. Yes, I am.

Vincent Ferguson:

So how important is faith to you and why?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Faith, the truth is, Vince, I don't know of a life outside of one of faith. I was raised in the church. And even though I did not always go to church, but again, the foundational values, it's just a part of who I am. It doesn't mean that I didn't have to learn what that was for myself as an individual. I had to grow. You learn about faith growing up, but you had to grow to experience certain things for yourself.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So as I became an adult and matured I think life experiences kind of forced you to go a little bit deeper to find for yourself. And that is when I know I can say I definitely know that faith helps to get me through life. There's just an inner... Faith is just as important as the air I breathe, right? So I need air to breathe and I need my faith to live, because my faith in God is what guides me daily. I'm not sure if I know how to express it any other way. It nourishes my heart, it really drives my soul to be here, it's just fundamental to my existence.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, most definitely. And like you said, it's like you need air to breathe, you need faith for today. And I think it's more important today than any other time that we have our faith.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

It sure is. You have to have something to stand on, something to believe in, something that's going to propel you to go beyond where you are and help to guide you to that place. Otherwise, you're at a place where you're like, "I'm not sure I can do it. Can I do it? I'm not sure." And that's me relying on my own inadequacies. And when I do that, I'm not sure how successful I could be if I do live and believe that way.

Vincent Ferguson:

I see. I see. And in addition to your faith, you also live a very healthy lifestyle, right? But were you always into health?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

You know what? If I am honest with myself, I can go back to maybe even my childhood with how we were raised. We were raised on things from the farm. It's very rare that my grandparents prepared meals that were not from the farm. It was very rare that there were things from the supermarket, when you go to the supermarket, certain aisles, it was very rare that those things were at the dining table. And so, I guess I would say I was always fed that way. Did it mean that I knew what it was like until I became an adult and kind of matured into expecting a certain lifestyle? But I would have to say that there was a foundational piece to it.

Vincent Ferguson:

When you came to the States, did you notice that most of the people here were not eating as healthy?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So I migrated to the States at 15 years old and I have migrated to live with my dad, my stepmom and my other siblings, and my parents also prepared healthy meals, so I just think it's the way my family was and I think culture has a lot to do with that. But I think my changes actually started in college.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I went away to school in Buffalo, University of Buffalo, and it was in my second year in college. No, it's maybe transitioning into the third year that I actually went vegan. I started to eliminate meat within my freshman into sophomore year. And then in my junior year, I actually just started doing total no meat.

Vincent Ferguson:

No meat?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yeah, no meat. I started out doing more vegetarian and then I transitioned into vegan. There was a transitional period, but I would say in college is when I made the total shift to how I actually eat.

Vincent Ferguson:

But something happened, okay, because again, you're living a healthy lifestyle, you're eating vegan, so you're relatively healthy, but something happened that caused you to change the way you eat. Please share that story with my listeners.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So I went vegetarian, vegan in college and I did that for most of my adult life. And when I became pregnant with my children in 2008 and my second child in 2010, I maintained more of a vegetarian lifestyle, not a vegan lifestyle, because during my pregnancy, I found that I needed more than I was able to really do being a vegan. Fast forward later in life and I realized that that time that there were things that I was eating that really was not in agreement with my body. Not that it wasn't healthy eating, it just wasn't what my body needed. And so, you grow to learn that as healthy as one can be, is not always the best option for that person. So today, we're in 2020, transitioning into 2021.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So I could say in 2017, I had a drastic shift in life. And what that did, I had to be open to understanding that as healthy as I was Vince, I was really also very unhealthy. So the vegan food that I was consuming was not the best option for my body. So what I will say is I am hyperthyroid and my thyroidism is an autoimmune disease. And I had to learn over time that when you have an autoimmune disease, that there are certain foods that's not the best choice for your body. So I became sick in 2017 and I was on a journey that was rather painful, but it was a life altering, painful experience. And so, I had ended up seeing the specialist for my stomach. It was just one point when it really got to the point where I had to stop, I had to pause and I really had to figure out what was going on.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I saw my doctor, because I was not able to eat and digest. There was nothing that was really digesting as I ate. I got sick and I just was not able to eat. And I called my doctor and I said, "You know what? I have an issue and I don't know what it is and I think it's a GI issue." I went in to see her and I explained what was going on, she gave me a referral to a GI doctor, but everything takes time. And during that time that I was waiting to see the doctor, my symptoms and my issues just kept on getting worse. By the time I was able to see the GI doctor and schedule the necessary tests that I needed to get done, the endoscopy, the colonoscopy, et cetera, I learned that I had gastritis and my stomach was so inflamed that I was not able to eat, to digest the food, that was necessary for my body.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

After getting that diagnosis, I was told I could go back to my normal lifestyle, but the truth is, I had not been able to go back to my normal lifestyle and it's been over three years. Yes, and it didn't stop. And so, it took me, I think, a good nine months between going to the GI doctor and having to see another GI doctor and then allergist then, a bunch of just different doctors, because then I realized I had all these food intolerances, food sensitivities, just a lot of stuff. I lost a lot of weight, because I was not able to eat. I was not able to digest the food. And so, when you're not able to digest, you are afraid to eat, because you don't know what is going on.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

In the process, I was very stressed. It was very overwhelming, because there's a lot going on and you don't know what is going on in your body. I can fast forward and say, I'm grateful now, looking back, for the medical team that I worked with, my primary care doctor who gave me the necessary referrals. She never, one day, asked, "What is wrong with you?" Doctors may sometimes think that you're overreacting. She never, one day, said that. She gave me the necessary referrals. And I have to tell you those referrals were always the right referrals. And what I can encourage people to do is to get your diagnosis, know what your diagnosis is, so that you know what you're working with. If you're not armed with the information you need, you're not going to know what your right course of treatment is.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So when I saw the GI doctors, and I'm not one to take medication, I don't like medication and medication somewhat contributed to some of the pain I ended up experiencing, because I have some disc issues in my neck and I have rotator cuff issues. So there was pain there that I was taking some ibuprofen, Advil, and I did not know I was one of those people who cannot take NSAID, because that was horrible for my stomach. So in addition to what was going on with foods that I was eating, then that stuff also contributed to that as well. So the right referrals helped, because the doctors did the tests that they needed to do. And it was in that process I found out that, yes, my stomach was inflamed. I was not able to eat right. Some of the foods that I was eating, I was not able to tolerate. So I had learned that while I don't have celiac, I do have sensitivity to gluten and soy, and as a vegan the alternatives were all gluten or soy.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah, I see. Yeah.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yeah, so for years as a vegan, I was consuming those meat alternatives, because they're very high in protein and to be honest with you, they're very tasty. And I love to cook, so I really enjoyed fixing meals, preparing meals and the flexibility that I had to be able to do that. I ate a lot of browns, I hardly ever do anything white. So I did the wheat, I did the different grains, but what I was not understanding is that the browns, which were the gluten grain, was just not the best option for my body.

Vincent Ferguson:

For your body.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Right, and so, as I was consuming those for years and years and years, it was taking a toll on my body. And that's something that I didn't know. And then for some people who have autoimmune diseases, they do have some type of motility issue and I learnt that in the process. So my stomach processes my food a little slower than most people, so yes, so that contributed to some of the challenges that I experienced. And having said all of that, what was important to me was to be armed with the information that was necessary. It was important for me to know my diagnosis so that I could develop a treatment plan for myself. And the beauty about it is, the doctors that I saw, they all knew I was not one for medication. So the options-

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, they knew?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes, we had that discussion upfront. So the option was always on the table to find out what are the natural alternatives for whatever that medication is or was that was going to be prescribed, or what are some of the other lifestyle options that I could have actually engaged in to support my health?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

And I started doing yoga, something I heard about over the years, but never tried. And that thing about you will do anything to get better. I remember the very first time that I did yoga, I didn't know what I was going into and I ended up doing hot yoga.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, Bikram, yes.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Bikram, oh my goodness, what an experience. And I have not gone back to Bikram, I have done Vinyasa, I've done a bunch of different forms of yoga, but I did not go back to hot yoga.

Vincent Ferguson:

You didn't go back to hot yoga? It's too hot for you.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

No, I did not go back to hot yoga. No, I just couldn't do it. But it was a very great experience, that I will say, because it helped me to start to think differently about my body and bringing my body back into alignment. And I mentioned growing up in Jamaica in a farming village, as a little child, we ran around outside with no shoes. So we were always connected to the earth. And so, we were practicing natural grounding without even knowing it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Interesting, yeah.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes, yes. So yoga brought me into a different awareness, managing stress, because I became very stressed, not knowing what was going on in my body, so I was really not in a good place when it came to being stressed. And I had to learn what we call mindful living. So I had to learn to manage my stress. I had to learn to find my breath. I had to learn to become more grounded. I had to learn to give up what I could not control and still managing what the diagnosis was. And the managing the diagnosis was for me, eliminating a lot of the foods that I used to eat that was causing pain in the body, because one thing that people need to know is gluten causes inflammation in the body.

Vincent Ferguson:

Gluten?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes, inflammation causes pain. When you feel pain, there's inflammation somewhere. So I had to learn to eliminate the food that I loved, because it didn't love my body or my body didn't love it. So I went back to my foundation. I grew up on a farm where my grandparents planted their own and we ate what was raised on the farm and I had to go back to the root food. I've always shopped at farmer's markets, just, that became what I go to more now, the farmer's markets every weekend. And I go and I get root foods. I get foods that are grown in the soil that is really good for the body. A part of that process included probiotics so that you could get your gut flora in check so that you're developing a healthier GI system, so there were just a lot of different things that helped me to be where I am today.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

But one thing I can share with your listeners, is you have to know your body. You have to work with your professionals to get your right diagnosis. And once you get your right diagnosis, you can develop a treatment plan that's best for you. I did a lot of free webinars Vince to learn about natural alternatives. And again, back to the farm, we grew up using a lot of herbs and I always have herbs, I now just have a better understanding of what those herbs actually do for the body. So I do use a lot of herbs and I use spices for healing. I use a lot of essential oils, so my medicine cabinet really is more my essential oils than my herbs. But again, that might not necessarily work for everyone, that works for me, making the necessary adjustments that I needed for my body.

Vincent Ferguson:

Very nice. So now, are you back to basically a vegetarian lifestyle?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I am back to a vegetarian lifestyle, because I cannot consume the vegan options that I really loved. There are days when I wish I could, but it's just not the best thing for my body. So I have come to terms with it and we have closure on that area of my life, so I do mostly vegetarian now and I'm satisfied with it. For the most part, I don't do dairy, I don't do soy and as best as I can, I don't do gluten, because I need to remain balanced in what I consume and how that affects my body.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. And like you said, the gluten caused a lot of inflammation.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes. Yes it does.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. Yes. And again, what's important too, you said you recommend that my listeners know their body, get to know their bodies.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I think it's so important to get to know your body. As much as we think we know our bodies and as much as we accept... There are a lot of fads and there are a lot of things that people tend to gravitate to, because, "This looks good, I think this might work. This sounds great." But the truth is, it might not be what's ideal for you as an individual. And, I mean, I didn't get into vegan and vegetarianism because if it was a fad or…….. I got into it, because that's something that I'm naturally propensed towards, so it's something that I enjoyed. It's just that my body was really not able to manage it. And for years, if I might, for years, as much as I ate that way, I was gaining weight over time and I always liked to work out.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I mean, there were a couple of years in between that I wasn't as active in the gym as I would've liked to, but I was never one of those people who over ate or over consumed certain things and I really started to gain weight that I was really not able to move. And in hindsight, if I was to really look back at when those things started to happen, I would have recognized that something was going on in my body that I needed to pause and really take a look at, but I didn't. In hindsight, I would have, but you learn later.

Vincent Ferguson:

Most definitely. They say hindsight is 2020. You look back, you can see clearly.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes, you learn later.

Vincent Ferguson:

So do you do any other types of exercise besides yoga now?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So I don't do as much yoga as I used to in 2018 and part of 2019. In 2020, believe it or not, I started running again and I used to do track and field in high school. I used to do volleyball. I was actually an active sports lover and I participated in sports. So in a 2020, this pause has really given me an opportunity for reset as well. I live close enough to Prospect Park and my husband and I would take our children for walks in the park and they actually wanted to start doing trails and just kind of exploring the park a little differently. And we started to do that. But what I realized is when I was taking them out, I really wasn't doing much for me. And so, I decided that I would start going out in the morning when the weather, it was still fairly cool, started changing, and I started to go for walks.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

And my brother, he's in the military, one night I was speaking to him and I mentioned, "No, I haven't been running. I really wish I could go back to running." And a part of the reason why I wasn't able to do that, Vince, is because on my journey, I lost so much weight and my muscles became so weak and I was not as strong as I used to be. And I wanted to be healthier, I wanted to feel better, but I was always so weak. If I lifted something that I thought I would have been able to manage in terms of lifting, I would feel pain. That's because my muscles were so weak and I needed to do something to strengthen them. In 2019, I started to go back to the gym, but even then, lifting the weights, it hurts. So I had to start out at bare minimum and I would just go and I would just do the walk on the treadmill, because I couldn't do the running on the treadmill. I just did the basics.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

And then in 2020, I remember just speaking to my brother and I said, "Oh, I really wish I could go running." And that morning after I spoke to my brother, I was walking and then I decided to, "Maybe let me just see what I could do." And I think I did half a mile of a jog. And the next morning I did like a mile. And I think by the fourth morning, I just took off when I went in the park and I just started running and I have not stopped.

Vincent Ferguson:

And you haven't stopped?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I have not stopped, except for now that it's winter, I'm not out running. If the weather is not too bad, I will go out and I'll do a half walk, half jog. But I love it. I truly, truly love it and it has rejuvenated my body and I love it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. Excellent. Well, I'll tell you, Yvette, this half hour has gone so quickly and I just thank you so much, because I think you're adding a lot of value to my listeners about what you went through and how you were able to get your health back. What advice would you give my listeners when it comes to taking care of their own bodies?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Number one, know your body. And if you don't know how to know your body, work with someone who can help you to get to know your body. And a part of getting to know your body is really listening to what your body is saying to you. When I didn't know what my body was saying, I went to my doctor. When I started to become overwhelmed with anxiety and stress and I thought I was having heart palpitations, my doctor referred me to the cardiologist. Turned out I did not need a cardiologist, but that was the way stress was manifested in my body. So learning your body, working with someone to help you understand what is going on with your body and knowing your diagnosis, if there is one, and developing a treatment plan for that diagnosis for a very favorable outcome.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

And it is okay to know the diagnosis. I think one of the things that we have to understand is, we cannot start to treat something we don't know what we're treating. We could try to develop a treatment plan and it's totally off. So you have to know your diagnosis, know what you're working with, develop a treatment plan that works for you, works for your body, develop a network of support who is going to be a great source of encouragement. You need cheerleaders in your life. You need people who understand. When I went to the cardiologist and he sat and he listened to me, he recommended that I read the book Dropping Acid. Never heard of it, did not know what that meant. And you know what was so funny, Vince? When I went to the allergist because of some of the food sensitivity issues I was having, he also recommended reading portions of that book that I was already reading. So there was a network of doctors who could give recommendations and it was like confirmation and it was consistent.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So developing a way of living in a mindful way decreases stress. It reduces anxiety in your life. And once you create a balance in your life, there is harmony. And I can tell you, once you're at that place in your life, there are things that's happening around you, that you will recognize. The things that you used to major in has now become your minor. They're not as bothersome anymore. You're able to become more carefree. You're able to just release a lot of things that you have no control over. And that helps to really bring your body into alignment, because your body can heal itself, but you need to give your body what it needs and your body needs to be at peace. Your body needs to be whole. You need to be well. And that is some of what I would recommend to your listeners.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's a lot, let me tell you. That is awesome recommendations, Yvette. And the name of that book was Dropping Acid?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Dropping Acid, yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

Man, that sounds like a powerful book to get, okay? Because your body builds up a lot of acidity.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

I get it. I get it. And tell me, Yvette, about your family and your church. Tell me how important they are to you?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So I am an active leader in my church, Rise Church International, where my pastor, Dennis Dillon, is our leader. He is a community activist. He is such a leader who encourages us to really just be the best we can be. And he's really one of the reasons why I even feel as confident as I am speaking to you today, because he recognized something in me when I did not know I had it in me and he pulled that out of me. So I'm as confident speaking with you today, because of what he saw in me. So I want to be able to say thank you to him and the work that he continues to do in Rise Church here in New York, as well as international with our communities in Africa and across the globe.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

And the next question you wanted was to know about my family. Well, I am married. I dated my husband for five years before we got married, so we've been married now for 14 years. September 2020, we've been married for 14 years and we have two beautiful children Malachi and Elaysha Raymond. We serve in ministry together and he's a great source of support to me and the children, they're just growing well and I just thank God for the work they're doing. So, they've been doing school all virtual for this whole time and they actually both made the honor roll for their schools and I'm really proud of them both.

Vincent Ferguson:

Congratulations.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Thank you.

Vincent Ferguson:

Beautiful, yeah. Yvette Firth-Raymond, on behalf of Body Sculpt of New York and Six Weeks to Fitness, I truly want to thank you for coming on my show today.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Thank you, Vince, this was truly a pleasure.

Vincent Ferguson:

You are a blessing. And to my listeners, I truly hope this program was informative, encouraging and inspiring, and that you will continue tuning in to our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast.

Vincent Ferguson:

And if you have any questions, comments or suggestions for the show, please leave them on my Six Weeks to Fitness blog at www.6weekstofitness.com or email me at vince@sixweeks.com. And please don't forget to subscribe, so you don't miss any future episodes.

Direct download: Episode_168_Yvette_Frith_Raymond.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:37am EST