A Story of Weight Loss Transformation – Richard Widmark, The RAW Xperience

As part of the Wellness Journey Series, this week Liv talks to Richard Widmark of The Raw Xperience. In February 2015, at 669 pounds, Richard took a friend’s advice and began taking a yoga class three times a week. He began to transform his life. He quickly became fanatical about it and practicing five days a week. Having gained huge recognition in the media, this boosted Richard’s confidence to set up a website, called The RAW Xperience, to share his journey. He created the page to demonstrate just exactly what effort is required to lose 400 pounds, including the struggles in the bad days, the good days, and everything in between. Richard considers his greatest gift is being able to help others.

Conversation with Richard Widmark

Richard, thank you so much for talking to Liv’s Recovery Kitchen. I’ve been following you for some time and you are an inspiration to me. Usually at the point where I am struggling in my own journey, I see a picture on Instagram or Facebook and you motivate me to soldier on.

Liv: First off, what have you had for breakfast today?

This morning I’m having a canteloupe and honeydew smoothie.
Liv: You have said in your bio that ‘for as long as I can remember, I have been overweight.’How did that affect your life?

This question has many answers depending on the time you ask me. It’s bothered me a lot at times and it’s been a blessing at others. I would use my weight as an excuse to get out of doing life things like hanging out with friends, taking risks, having a reason for people to not get close to me. Basically I didn’t like myself much so I needed a reason to keep people away because I didn’t feel like I was deserving of love.
Now I see it as a blessing. It’s taught me compassion, empathy, and caring. It’s helped me with my spiritual journey. I’ve found people that don’t care what I look like outside to be around. It’s the whole reason I created, The RAW Xperience!! 



Liv: Your life took you to a point of suicide. You said in an interview “Instead of a gun for suicide, food was my suicide. I was slowly killing myself. Now, I don’t want to die.” What changed?

I did try with a gun as well. Luckily, when I pulled the trigger nothing happened. That was about 10 years ago now, and I had already been well on my way to food suicide. I think what changed in me was I started to care about myself more. I woke up one day and decided it was time to try something different. So I looked into the best diet on the planet. I ran across this crazy raw vegan diet. That’s when I met Chris Kendall from The Raw Advantage. He was on of the most kind and caring humans I ever met. He saw me for my spirit and not just a “lazy fat guy trying something else” That was in 2012 an it’s been a crazy ride to get where I am today. It all started when I decided to reach out for real help!
Liv: What was the catalyst that made you reach the point of saying ‘enough is enough’?

I don’t really  recall a “ah ha” moment. It just started with a plea for help and it took the right person to start making me believe in myself. Then slowly over time my confidence grew. I started to trust myself more. I let myself express the emotions I would hold inside. Basically I started to peel the layers off the onion.






Liv: You said that you created your page to show others what goes into losing 400 pounds. Firstly, that is incredible. Second, what are some of the healthy habits that you have had to incorporate into your life?

I created the page for that, but the main reason I started it was because I didn’t see anyone out there like me. Everyone was a success story already. Nobody was documenting the process and if they were it was only the sunshine and rainbow days. I felt alone in a world of 7 billion people, and I wanted to let others see my jouney and give them faith that they can do it too. It’s been one of the best choices I’ve ever made.
Liv: What have been the three biggest changes you have made to your diet?

Like I said earlier it’s been a 4+ year process to get here where I’m at today. I don’t drink soda anymore, well maybe one or two a year. I started to get intune with my body more. Going from raw vegan, to sad, to vegan, back to raw vegan, then sad, well I think you see where I’m going here. I’m haven’t been afraid to try new things. Instead of listening to others I decided to be my own experiment. Currently I am plant based eating about 50% of my calories from raw foods. My changes don’t equal success for other people though, everyone must find their own way. Who really wants to add more stress in their life because of food choices. I feel that once you start caring and seeing how different foods make you feel what you eat just naturally falls in place. 





Liv:  What are some of the struggles that you have experienced on this journey?

This could take me all day to write, haha. I will say one of the biggest struggle is learning to trust myself. I say “is” because it is still a struggle somedays. Also learning to cope with things is another big one. I’m a addict and food is my drug. When I’m feeling any emotion I run to food, hence poor coping skills. I found that when I’m happy I eat really well, when I’m sad I don’t. The food I eat reflects how I feel about myself at that time. That was another big realization I had!
Liv: Let’s talk about one of my favorite subjects, yoga. Your teacher took this picture of you which went viral. She saw your beauty in a pose, she said: “Look at your top arm and leg. The openness at your chest and hips is beautiful! How straight you are able to get, and how you are supporting yourself and balancing on one arm and leg.”, and you didn’t see this. You said that you felt ‘disgust’. How has yoga helped you change your perception of yourself?
Yoga helped me clear my mind of all the drama that goes on from life. It got me back to center and also helped me let go of things that was not serving me. I can’t give all the credit to yoga though, it was mearly a tool to help open my eyes. The support and love I’ve received from friends is what has really changed how I feel about myself. Yoga did help open my eyes to that though. I’m so thankful for the lessons I have learned from it so far!





Liv: You said in a further interview that you ‘’have found what I’ve been looking for this entire time.’ – what have you been looking for?

I remember that interview from last year and that is another answer that at the time I thought I knew. I’ve been in search of something my whole life … LOVE. When I answered that question I thought I had found that and that day it was true. However love is just a perception of how something makes me feel. So it’s definition is ever changing. I think I started to find out who I was as a person and that has continually grown since then and in a year this would probably be a different answer, heck next week it might be a different answer, haha.
Liv: Why were you reluctant to try yoga? And what changed?

I think my biggest reason was of how yoga is marketed. It’s always “beautiful” people, mostly women, in crazy poses. I didn’t see a place in yoga for me, plus I don’t speak Sanskrit. I felt a pull towards yoga for many years before I started, but was reluctant because of the reasons above. Then I just said “Screw It!” I was fortunate enough to have some help so I could take private lessons. I don’t think I would’ve gotten through it in a class setting as my confidence wasn’t high enough for that at the time. 



Liv: Tell me where you’re at now?

Well right now I am here answering these interview questions, haha. I’m in a good place mentally. I’m eating a plant based diet again. I go to the gym at least 3 times a week. I try to go to yoga a least one time a week, that’s going to change to more very soon though. I’m finding happiness with the little things in life.
Liv: What are your goals?

To be alright with who I am as a person, not letting myself get trapped in the stories of the, what ifs. I want to honor myself in every choice that I make and to let go of the “bad vs good” mentality. Sure there are weight loss goals, gym goals, yoga goals, relationship goals, money goals. They don’t mean as much to me as my spiritual growth though. I feel like all those things will fall into place as I continue to honor my true self. 


Liv: Let’s talk food, what is your favorite meal now?

Hmm I love banana ice cream. So simple and yet delicious. I’ve had it 3 times for breakfast this week!!
Liv: How has your relationship with food changed?

I’m starting to view it as fuel for my body. It doesn’t create comfort it fulfills a mental attitude. It’s a work in progress but I’m one step closer today than I was a year ago.
Liv: Finally, what are your top 5 weight loss tools?

  1. Look in a mirror every day and say “I love you”
  2. Know that there are low and high energy days. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows
  3. Talk to someone if you need help. Have people around you that really care about you.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself “Why?” Not as a victim, but as an empowered soul searching deep to uncover the root cause of the issue.
  5. A good blender 🙂




Thank you so much for taking the time out. Keep rocking it. I need you.