An Interview with Brad Keimach [30 Days in the Raw, Day 10]
When I first moved to LA, not knowing how long I’d be here, I was bound and determined to do LA-specific things. It was a pretty decent list, and near the top of it was finding a regular yoga class on the beach. To me, beach yoga was the ultimate evidence that I live in paradise.
After asking around, I was whole-heartedly referred by several people to a class held near where I lived in Venice on weekend mornings. On my first day there, I was greeted by one of the most energetic, loving, and lively guys I had ever met: Brad Keimach. After an amazing and rejuvenating class (which, if you’re lucky enough to be in the LA area, you MUST check out – find out more here – there’s a reason it’s been named Best of LA twice!), Brad and I got to talking.
He learned I was into nutrition and said happily he’d been eating raw for many years and was feeling great. I looked at him quizzically. I had never before met a raw vegan who looked as vibrant and healthy as he did, and I told him so. “Oh, no!” he exclaimed. “I’m not a vegan. I eat loads of raw meat and eggs!”
Thus was my very first introduction to the idea of a raw primal diet and one of its major proponents, Aajonus Vonderplanitz.
Here’s my interview with Brad.
Margaret: What inspired you to eat a raw primal diet?
Brad: I had been not feeling well. I had a pain in my right side and that pain would not quit. It was 24/7 for nearly a month. I once described it to someone as a gas pain that won’t quit, which took me aback because that’s exactly how my brother described his pain a week before he was diagnosed with the liver cancer that killed him.
Coincidentally, a yoga student who was a nutritionist had offered me a free consult so I would know what he did and could refer people to him. I went to his place after a yoga class, mentioned the pain to him, and he suggested a raw [primal] diet.
Well, I’m from New York City and we don’t do weird shit like that. As he described it to me, it was definitely weird. I’m talking way out there. But I thought to myself: well, if I don’t change anything, nothing’s going to change.
I went from his house straight to Whole Foods, got the greens, the meat, the fertilized eggs, and long story short, 36 hours later the pain was gone. Not diminished; gone. As Oscar Levant said, “I can take anything but pain.” That’s me. So when my body responded in this way I was relieved and loved it.
Margaret: Other than this mysterious pain disappearing, what other changes did you notice when you started eating this way?
Brad: For years I had been trying to gain weight. I was 6’2” and 150 lbs. I’d eat enormous amounts of food – I would put away an enormous bowl of pasta that would serve four every night by myself – but I couldn’t put on an ounce. When I started this raw diet I instantly put on 25lbs. And then my weight stabilized perfectly at 175lbs, not a pound more or less. I was delighted. That was the biggest change.
Other changes: my skin became more moist (I had previously had dry skin around elbows, etc) and my cholesterol shot through the roof (well over 300). Aajonous said that’s what happens, but because it’s raw it’s not “sticky” which means it’s in the blood but it’s not sticking to the walls. I’m not a scientist so I don’t know but that’s what he said.
About three years ago, at the urging of a client, I got a heart scan because you can’t reverse heart disease. When he questioned me about my diet, the clinician was practically backing away from me at the desk. He thought I was going to explode! In these heart scans, they individually analyze the four coronary arteries. I was thinking to myself “At what % blockage do I make a change?” At that point I was 56 or so, with a lot of life left in me. I was thinking “If I’m less than 10% blockage, I’m okay.” I get the scan back, and it’s 0% in all four arteries!! Zero!! With cholesterol at 337.
Margaret: How long have you been eating this way?
Brad: Nearly 9 years.
Margaret: How do you ensure your food is safe? Have you ever been sick from eating this way?
Brad: I was told that parasites cannot survive in raw honey. There was so much raw honey in my diet it was in my gut all the time. I never once got sick in those 9 years. The only time I got sick was when I went off the diet for a night at my brother’s for Thanksgiving. It wasn’t from raw food, but something cooked he served that night.
Margaret: Describe a typical day of food.
Brad: I wake up and have a 16oz glass of lemon water to hydrate.
About an hour later a meat meal: ground meat and a “lubricating sauce” of raw eggs, honey, lemon juice and butter.
About one to two hours later, a 16oz green juice
One to two hours later, a milkshake made of 3-4 raw eggs, a heaping spoonful of raw honey, and raw milk.
Another one to two hours later, another green juice.
And then it would repeat every couple of hours: another meat meal, green juice, milkshake, green juice and then to bed.
Margaret: Didn’t you get bored?
Brad: I don’t get bored feeling good and I felt SO GOOD. I teach beach yoga five to six days a week, do I get bored? No! I don’t get bored, it’s beautiful. I was feeling better than I’ve ever felt my whole life from the food I eat. I don’t get bored of that.
Admittedly I am not gifted in the kitchen (and that’s an understatement). I had this thing down so I could almost do it in my sleep. I have a cooler and ice pack, so I’d just take my food with me wherever I went.
Margaret: How do you handle social engagements – going out for dinner, and so on?
Brad: I can’t really afford to go out to dinner so it wasn’t an issue. I teach yoga, I mean, come on! No change there.
If someone came to town and wanted to take me out, we’d go to sushi – I’d have either sashimi or sushi.
Margaret: Have you traveled “raw”? How were you able to stay on the diet?
Brad: No… I don’t travel.
Margaret: Do you ever diverge? What are the circumstances? When is it appropriate to diverge?
Brad: Every Thursday I would go to Santa Barbara to take care of my mother and have dinner with her. She doesn’t eat raw. I’d bring up my lunch and eat that, and then we’d go to La Salsa and split an overstuffed chicken burrito. And it was just fine.
Margaret: Does your body ever crave cooked foods?
Brad: My mind did. You’re talking about someone who used to snarf Milky Ways with glee. But as Aajonus said, you get your entertainment in the theatre, you get your nutrition from the food.
Brad Keimach started Beach Yoga with Brad in 2008. It was named “Best of L.A. 2012” by Los Angeles Magazine, AND “Best of 2012” by L.A. Weekly. Brad studied hatha yoga with Max Strom, Saul David Raye, and many other great teachers, for whom he is most thankful.
He is one of the original teachers at Exhale Center for Sacred Movement in Venice, CA, and has been teaching for over 13 years. With a background as a symphony and opera conductor, Brad has been deeply influenced in his life and teaching by the heart-first example of his mentor, Leonard Bernstein.
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