Thursday, October 09, 2003
Gloucester County Times
Almost four months ago, Matthew Goodman drove his Acura Legend to Maine, sold it to a local family and began a journey that would take him more than 1,500 miles away.
With only his dog, Jerry, as a companion, the Wenonah native, whose body was once racked with the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, was out to prove that his natural way of life could work miracles.
"I see the woods and the trail as church," said Goodman, 31, who returned to Gloucester County last week after deciding to end his trip in Virginia. "It cleansed me. It made me simplify my life."
Goodman, whose long, curly hair has lightened after months in the sun, follows a raw-food diet and exercise program that he said has rid his body of the tingling pains and double vision that he suffered from more than three years ago.
A trainer and former nutrition store manager, Goodman has completed a manuscript about his recovery from the disease and hopes his four-month hike through the Appalachian Trail will draw attention to the power of balancing a raw diet, spiritual health and physical exercises.
"What I really care about is that people are educated and know that this will heal them," said Goodman, who regularly fasts and focuses on breathing correctly.
Along the trail, Goodman was sponsored by health food companies that gave him meal bars, but he also turned to natural raw berries, nuts and clover tops to supplement his diet. Despite the disciplined raw diet, he said, he still enjoys a beer or a slice of pizza on occasion, but he realizes that his body is always on the verge of falling back to the symptoms of the disease.
"I'm always 12 hours away from being in a wheelchair," Goodman said during an interview in the wooded back yard of his family's Wenonah home.
Along with the unusual diet, Goodman believes that self-massage, yoga, meditation, and breathing correctly have helped propel him toward greater spirituality.
"Your body is an extension of your spirit, not just a container for it," Goodman said.
Goodman, who followed the trail through Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Virginia, had a lot of time to reflect on his life along the way amid thoughts of friends and family. He maintained a Web log (www.rawpower.info) chronicling the journey when he stopped in towns along the way.
"It's so exciting," Goodman said. "You go through a cleansing basically."
Goodman hopes to become a spokesman for the powers of the diet and balanced life he follows and plans to publish his manuscript of his philosophy and experiences. In November, he will speak about his lifestyle at Arnold's Way, a health store and raw food restaurant in Lansdale, Pa.
"There was nobody speaking about raw foods diet that was mainstream," Goodman said.
He believes that others -- whether healthy or sick -- can benefit from a similar lifestyle.
"I don't recommend people to go 100 percent raw right off the bat, but
that's what I did," Goodman said.
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