PushLiving.com Interview by Deborah Davis
The Sitting Chef
I have a girl crush. I admit it. She is beautiful, wise, spiritual, kind, giving and admirable in her work and life. She has a great marriage, a meaningful career, and lovely close family and friends. She lives and shares through her work, a healthy lifestyle that is respectful of the planet and all those, animals and humans alike, which inhabit it. What is not to love? So if you haven’t been introduced yet, we are happy to bring this wonderful life force to your attention. Annemarie Postma, aka The Sitting Chef, has agreed to be interviewed, and we have many questions.
Let’s dig deeper shall we?
On the surface, there is a bright, shining, luminous beauty in flowing cotton and artistically designed jewels. What is the background story that built this soon to be empire? How did you come to choose this course in your life?
I think my course chose me, haha! When I was eleven years old, I became paraplegic as a result of an untreated tick bite. After spending five years in a home for disabled children, I finally went back to high school, studied law, and became the first professional model in Europe with a disability after winning the pre-finals of Elite’s “Look of the Year,” the famous international modelling contest. In 1995 I was featured in Playboy magazine, which resulted in my becoming a frequent guest on national and international radio and tv talk shows. It was a very exciting and interesting period of my life. This happened to appear on my path and I grabbed it with both hands, because it seemed like a fun thing to do and it also seemed important to do it – to show other people that the only real boundaries that exist are the boundaries in our heads. This is how I live my life. I don’t think that there is anything I want to do that I can’t.
But after 8 years I felt: been there, done that. It was time for me to move on. I was very cautious of not becoming a ‘caricature’ of myself: ‘The model in wheelchair’, or ‘The “hero” in wheelchair that overcomes her boundaries and can do anything she sets her mind to’. I see that too often: people who become ‘professional disabled’ (-; I didn’t want that. I thought that there was so much more to life and me, than having a handicap and being a girl/woman in a wheelchair, who does ‘extraordinary’ things in the eyes of others. One day I flew back with my German agent after being hosted by a German tv talk show and I said to him: ‘Ok, this is it. When I’m back in Amsterdam, I’m changing my life. I don’t know for sure yet what I’m going to do but I think I’m going to write a book!’
I was, from a very young age,interested in self-development and personal and spiritual growth. We are spiritual beings who come to this earth to become human (and not the other way around). I’ve been aware of this truth ever since I can remember. I had a special interest in self-esteem and self-compassion. I think that grew during my almost five year rehabilitation treatment. I soon found that my dreams were more and more determined by what the people around me thought was possible for me, given the circumstances. This did not feel right to me. And I was supported in this by my parents, especially by my mother. She has always supported me in staying true to myself, wearing my fate with grace and dignity. Having faith in what life had in store for me and the meaning of all that was happening to me, never giving up on my life goals – disability or no disability.
It was at this time that I became aware that this outlook on my situation, life and future was pretty unique. Most people around me were led by their disability. In order to sustain my life path, I could not rely any more on others and on what was common or the ‘standard’. So it was from this moment on that I was on my own and was confronted with my own level of self-esteem as the means to fulfilling my dreams. On this path of self discovery, which mostly focused on my own goals and means, more and more people were asking me how I was doing this.
I’m not a born teacher and never aimed to be one – but there was no way of avoiding it on my life path. So I wrote my first self-esteem book, “I love me – the healing power of self compassion” which became a huge bestseller here in Holland. Can you believe that last year my 16th book was published? And that three of my books (“The deeper secret”, “The Secret within”, and “The Power of Acceptance”) are now conquering the world?
Most of my books are about (self) compassion and ‘the art of acceptance’. But I also wrote two practical health guides: “The body is perfect” and “Life is perfect”. As the first professional European model in a wheelchair, people often ask me how I manage to stay so healthy and energetic, despite the fact that I spend my life in a wheelchair. They also want to know what they can do to raise their own vibe, energy level, or improve their bodyweight and appearance. These guides offer the answer to those questions. Whether you’re a business professional or a “stay at home” mom, this easy to follow health guide is designed for everybody.
And… most important: I write the health guides that I miss as a woman in wheelchair. During the many years of extensive physiotherapy and various rehabilitation projects that I had to go through, I noticed that the practitioners in the field had very little to no specific information available regarding nutrition for those of us living a sedentary lifestyle – which I always thought was unbelievable and it was something that I still see as a missed opportunity.
I remember clearly how my rehabilitation doctor at the time, when I was suffering from a “pressure ulcer” (from bedsores) smiled at me and said that I should just “eat some more French fries,” because in her opinion I was simply too thin. A glaring example of the danger that lies in the lack of knowledge and proper information; because carbohydrates like French fries are, in fact, the last thing you should eat when you’re in a wheelchair.
I was raised with a huge awareness about food and nutrition. When I suffered a spinal cord injury at the age of eleven and ended up in a wheelchair, my mother delved into every aspect of how a life spent seated in a wheel chair would affect my health and my overall well-being. She took courses and followed classes about macrobiotics and before we knew it, she had completely changed our entire eating pattern. She did this to avoid any future physical problems for me and to ensure that I would grow up in the healthiest, most vital and best way possible.
Meanwhile, 35 years later, I am living proof of what healthy, clean food can do for you. I may lead a sedentary life but I am healthy, I have an incredible amount of energy and still weigh the same 50 kilos that suits my body naturally. I still use some of my mother’s old recipes, but over the years, with all the new insights that I have gained and through trial and error, I have developed my own and very unique ‘health style’. This is how my brand “The sitting chef” was born!
What are your goals for your brand? What would success mean to you? Building an empire? Or something more personal?
My goal is indeed to build a true “The Sitting chef” – empire (-;. Not built on ‘ego –intent’ but built from the ‘intent of the heart’, in order to show people that vegan eating and healthy living is in fact quite easy and basically a moral and ethical obligation, to ourselves, the animals and the earth. To give people practical tools to become healthier and happier. And in order to show that taking personal responsibility for our health and well being and the well being of animals and the planet is so important. There is so much we can do to prevent and avoid illness and physical problems, or to reduce them and to become a more pleasant human being altogether. We can do só much to make this world a better and more peaceful place. Not everyone is in a position to help animals directly, but everyone is in a position to choose not to harm them. By choosing not to look away, not to ignore what you know to be true, in short; to live life with compassion.
This is my very personal mission. It feels like my soul’s path to do this; I feel as if this is why I’m here: to contribute, to bring awareness, to be a spiritual activist and teacher, but in a very practical, no nonsense way. So this is why I want to have my own ‘Sitting chef-to-go menu’s’ of healthy, vegan, ready-made meals in the near future, so that healthy, animal friendly food is available and easily accessible for everyone.
I mean everyone. My books are written from the perspective of a person with a sedentary life, but isn’t that in fact the ‘master key’ to health for everyone? Because all people in modern society sit too much! I see the same disadvantages and potential problems of a sedentary lifestyle lurking for my friends and acquaintances. They drag themselves from their house into their car each morning, from the car they shuffle into their office and then park themselves at their computer for eight hours. After five O’clock they drop themselves into their car again and after a quick stroll through the supermarket, they go home and plop down on the couch in front of the TV with a microwave dinner. My disability forced me to face the facts at a very early age; my physical limitations made eating and living consciously an absolute necessity. This caused me to develop a new way of eating that could also be very interesting for everyone who is sitting too much!
How did you meet your husband?
That’s a very bizarre story. I met him at a party. A party I didn’t have any intention to go to in the first place (because I didn’t know anyone there and I was at that period of my life, only working) but to which I was invited by a good friend of mine. That morning I had given a lecture on the other side of the country. It was a very hot day, so I was happy to be home with my dog, lie on my balcony with a white wine and my feet up in the air because they were so swollen. My friend came and asked me: are you coming? I said that I had a very busy day and didn’t feel like going, and on top of that couldn’t wear nice shoes because my feet were so thick. ‘I’ll come back at 8 and ask you again’, she said and went. At 8 she came back, grabbed my All Stars tennis shoes out of my bedroom and said, “here, put those on, don’t be such a ‘writer’ who never leaves her house, let’s have fun”. So I joined her and the first person I bumped into at this party, was Robin. We chatted about “The Secret” and my book “The deeper secret” (which he just had read!) and about a Dutch tv talkshow he had just seen me in that week. I drank a few wines and left for home. A few weeks later I met him with his dog in the park. We talked for a long time and after that, kept on bumping into each other when we were both walking our dogs in the park near our house. One day my best friend Joris asked me: ‘Is there something going on, because I’ve never seen you styling your hair for such a long time before walking the dog…’ haha. When I was walking my dog (about 10 times a day …), I would call my dog back with such a loud voice, that if Robin was out with his dog too, there was no way he could miss noticing me. And… Robin did the same. And now the ‘ bizarre’ part. It appeared that we were living almost NEXT to each other in the same neighborhood for at least 10 years… and the strangest thing is that we had never seen each other. I was the only girl/woman in wheelchair in that village but he had never seen me. It was like the Universe thought “now is the time for the two of them to meet.” We did our ‘inner homework’, had both gone through a lot of things (Robin lost his daughters during the Tsunami in Thailand), and were both ready for the next step in our evolution. “I’ll let their life paths cross each other and reunite them.” That’s what our relationship felt like from the very beginning: a reunion.
What advice would you give to those still looking for their soul mate? What is the secret to this connection occurring? (single girls want to know-smile)
I think there is only one way to free the road to your True Partner, and that road begins with the spiritual development of yourself. Because when you have developed a loving personality, live in accordance with yourself and true nature, and are aware of your own abundance of love and power -instead of considering yourself a poor, insignificant creature on this earth – then you are a pleasant person to deal with, who will also, in turn, meet more love. You are then able to nourish yourself with a sense of safety, security, and trust, rather than searching for happiness in objects or persons outside yourself, and allowing your self-esteem to be dependent on others. That makes you an independent person, who is free to recognize love and to give and receive love unconditionally. Finding your true love is all about moving beyond the stage of need, despite the recognition of the desire for our better half.
In my book “The deeper secret of love” I wrote: “Achieving a comparatively high degree of wholeness and completeness within ourselves is the preparation, as well as the condition to finding your true soul mate. Because then you both are clearly identifiable individuals, who have already made progress in building a relationship with themselves and a meaningful life, without the other. We must be ourselves enough, able to live alone, without feelings of loneliness or inadequacy. Then we are ripe for the union with our true soul partner. We must be able to stand on our own two feet and to support each other, without leaning on each other. The aim is to move beyond the stage of need, despite the recognition of the desire for our better half.
Do you believe in “soul mates?”
Oh, absolutely. See above.
What are some of the major obstacles you have to overcome to stay focused and productive in your work and life?
A major obstacle has been the early death of my mother. She died at the very young age of 47. This incident caused all of my walls of safety and security to come down again. I found myself feeling completely naked against the facts of life and became very unhappy and depressed for a few years. In those years of mourning it was very hard for me to function normally. I wasn’t productive at all, I felt numb and was ill and very tired all the time and didn’t want to live anymore. I missed the safety of a mother, who I still needed so much in those years. I missed a safe home. It was, after my handicap, simply too much. There were just too many sudden, dramatic turns, one after the other, in my life! I still miss my mother a lot.
How often do you write? Do you have a schedule for this activity?
I write daily of course, because that’s my job, but I am a kind of ‘chaotic’ writer. People who know me find it a miracle that I wrote so many books haha. I’m a hyperactive, bit of an ‘ADHD’-like person, do thousands of things at the same time, the whole day long and can’t concentrate on one thing for a long time. So I write ‘in between doing all kinds of other things’ I guess. I have a very busy and full life with teaching, giving lectures, coaching and my own therapy and physical training. And the days always begin very hectic over here because we have so many dogs.
What will your next book be about?
I just finished writing my 3rd health guide “The Sitting Chef: A Practical Health Guide for People who sit too much”. In it I explain how I live and eat (and think) to help me stay clean, focused and on track, and to continue my life mission.
I created this guide because I saw the need for a simple, but yet effective diet for people bound to their seats. A guide that really anyone can enjoy (especially since so many of us are forced to sit in an office all day at work.) It includes healthy, delicious recipes that I regularly prepare for myself, my husband and for friends and family.
This comprehensive guide will teach you how to apply The Sitting Chef– eating principles (it has an eating plan just like the other books) and can offer you a head start to a healthier you, as a person with a sitting life style. This guide will help you find better alternatives for the foods your sitting body might not agree with and which don’t really serve you. It will give you the tools and skills necessary to prepare healthier, more nutritious (cruelty-free) meals.
To treat our bodies with respect and love is one of the basic tasks that we have to fulfil in this life. I believe that no matter what kind of disability you may have, your body is worthy of your unconditional love, compassion, patience and good care and that no one is more suitable or qualified to care for it than you are.
And no matter how your body looks, how physically limited it may be, or how it differs from the “norm”, it is entitled to your full understanding, patience, care and love. A disability is NEVER a valid excuse to not be in good shape and the very best version of yourself – obviously within your capabilities. But that is not always an easy task. It requires real dedication and commitment, and you will continually have to ask yourself the question: Do I consciously choose to love myself or am I using food as a weapon against myself?
Many of us who live our lives sitting, are unknowingly suffering from food sensitivities and allergies which are preventing us from reaching optimal health and an ideal body weight. What makes this guide so special is that it’s the first health guide of its kind written by someone in a wheelchair for fellow sitting people. It will help expand your knowledge of healthier foods and better lifestyle choices and give you more options for every day healthy living despite having to sit so much.
Who are some of your most admired people?
I admire people who are not self centered and focused on: ‘How can I get? But ‘How can I contribute, how can I serve?’ People who give HEART to this world. People who‘ve changed the question: ‘What do I want from life?’ to the question: ‘What does life want from me?’ Humbled people, grateful people, altruistic people that care about others, the wellbeing of animals, the environment and the earth. People who choose not to look away, not to ignore what they know to be true.
If people knew that nothing can happen unless the entire universe makes it happen, they would achieve so much more while using far less energy.
– SRI NISARGADATTA
Where do you reside? What Dutch Country?
My husband and I (and our 6 dogs) live most of the time in the most beautiful part of The Netherlands: the countryside of Friesland.
Now let’s talk beauty. I know you are a vegetarian, which I am sure contributes greatly to that amazing skin. Can you share some other of your beauty routine and secrets?
Wow, well thank you for all the compliments! I have a very (vegan) healthy lifestyle; I eat plant-based, I take the superfood “Chlorella” daily (miracle superfood for sitting people!), I drink 2 green (kale) smoothies a day, I drink a lot of (hot, boiled) water and nettle tea (to detox), I take very good care of my skin with the organic products from ‘Emergin C’ (www.emerginc.com) and I spend hours outside in the woods where we live with our dogs every day.
And …I am very careful with the thoughts that I think and the people I let in. Also, thoughts are healthy or ‘junk’ food and also people are healthy or ‘junk’ food. So if you want to keep your skin radiant and clean, be clean from the inside and… keep your aura clean. Don’t create toxicity within yourself with victimization or useless disempowering questions like: ‘How’, and ‘Why’?, criticism, cynicism or other negativity. And don’t create toxicity by engaging with people who don’t love you, who lie, or want to manipulate you and do not know how to give a compliment. Lift yourself up with uplifting thoughts and surround yourself with uplifting people, who love themselves enough to REALLY care about you, your life path, your soul’s destiny and spiritual growth!
The custom jewelry you wear…tell me about it? Who makes it?
I wear the hand made jewelry of “Little Buddha Jewelry” (www.little-buddha.be). The Little-Buddha jewelry is awesome. It originates from the artist’s (a very dear friend of mine, Jolanda de Lange) fascination for crystals and semi-precious stones and the inspiration from the spiritual side of Buddhism. She has such incredible talent and creativity. Every piece is unique, authentic and has soul. I wear beautiful mala’s that she makes for me. My favorite mala’s are the ones made of ‘Rudraksha’s (seeds of the Bodhi tree, also called ‘Tears of Shiva’) The Mala is a prayer strand originating from India, China or Tibet.
Top 5 Health advice tips we can start now?
1. Go Green smoothies Leafy greens have everything the body needs for good health and natural beauty. They are packed full of vitamins, minerals and enzymes and – very important to know for wheelchair people – are also a great source of non-dairy calcium.
2. Cut out: Meat, Dairy, Sugar, Grains. Eat unprocessed, whole & living food
3. Chew your food Eat less – chew more. Thoroughly chewing your food allows you to absorb more nutrients from it, makes it easier to digest (so the body doesn’t loose so much energy on the digestion process) and helps you to maintain an ideal weight.
4. Earth. Very important to us people in wheelchairs who sit on 4 rubber wheels all day!Research shows that electrons from the Earth have antioxidant effects that can protect your body from inflammation, and its many well-documented positive health consequences. Put your bare feet on the ground a few times a day. (You can also use special ‘earthing products’ like I do. I use an ‘earthing blanket’ and I have an ‘earthing mat’ under my laptop upon which my arms rest while I’m writing.
5. Breathe Breathing consciously and from the abdomen is so important. Our breathing is our connection to the here-and-now and life itself, and helps our intestines to function better! Put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm (not the chest) inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs. Take 6-10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day and watch how you feel in a few weeks!
Take Magnesium!!! Magnesium is a miracle mineral and the number one mineral you should take when you lead a sedentary life. Increased magnesium supply leads to consistent vasodilation (arteries and arterioles) and not only has a beneficial effect for high blood pressure, but also for cold intolerance by vasoconstriction or-cramping. Animal-experimental research has shown that magnesium is capable of preventing cardiac necrosis (death of heart muscle tissue), which was caused by magnesium deficiency, in stress situations. Interesting in this regard, is the fact, that magnesium supplementation reduces the danger of blood clots forming in the blood vessels, thereby decreasing or preventing of heart attacks. Magnesium is a ‘natural beta-blocker’, a ‘natural tranquilizer ‘, which can be applied both preventatively and curatively. It relaxes the muscles, nerves and blood vessels by so called repolarization and thus gives more energy!
Do you consider yourself a feminist? If so, how does that translate for you?
Oh yeah, absolutely. From the very beginning of my disability, I felt the extreme need to be independent and to find freedom. Especially on the inside. Because that’s what real feminism for me is all about. Being independent, not so much to do with – for instance- earning your own money, but has, for me especially, to do with accepting yourself as you are, valuing yourself for who you are, having self-respect and self-compassion and being emotionally independent. That’s what my first book “I love me” is all about. Because change starts from within, acceptance and respect starts from within, real freedom starts from within, love starts from within. You get back what you radiate; your life IS what you radiate. That’s why no change can take place outside of us unless a change takes place from within. All change happens from the inside; after that, the outside circumstances automatically follow suit. So, real feminism is about truly getting to know your thoughts and acknowledging your ability to change them – which will not only change your personal world, but let you contribute to the world we share. Knowing that, I mean réally knowing that, is real freedom. Feminism is all about being conscious. It is not our body (or our disability!) that determines who we are, it is our consciousness. If all of us accept our spiritual responsibility, society will be focused no longer on power and personal battles, and competing with each other in order to ‘be someone’, but on working together.
One of the things I admire about you is how your world is not “disability centric.” Many men and woman who come to have a disability find themselves pigeon-holed into the role of the “Inspirational Crip,” with the focus being on the disability and “overcoming it.” It is part of our identity yes, and we must speak about it and it is a large part of who we are as individuals. Yet, your work speaks to all people…your followers (from what I can see) are mostly comprised of “able-bodied.” You are more universal in your approach to what you offer. You have so much more to offer the world than your “disability story.” How do you feel about how you fit into the world as beautiful woman and business owner, who happens to live with a disability?
Thank you. It’s true that my handicap is not so important in my work and my life. A lot of my followers and fans don’t even KNOW that I’m in a wheelchair. Recently I started posting more photo’s on Facebook where you can see that I’m in a wheelchair because it’s not my intention to hide my handicap or anything; it’s just that I don’t think so much about myself. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always been very careful not to become a ‘disabled professional’. As a self-help writer, I always think: what’s the universal message of what I experienced and am experiencing in my personal life? I see my handicap as my “second culture” and when I write, teach, or give lectures, I think: How and where in my books, teaching or lectures does my “second culture”, my handicap adds strength and gives depth to my message. Years ago, I was at the ‘Frankfurter Buchmesse’ in Germany (where book rights are sold) and there was a German publisher who said: ‘We already have a book from someone in a wheelchair’. O Jeez I thought, he thinks that I wrote a ‘hero story’ about myself and my handicap, when in fact I wrote a book about self-compassion. I’m a writer in wheelchair; I’m not a wheelchair user who wrote a book. My readers and audience are very rarely disabled people in Holland.
After reading Annemarie’s answers to my questions the first time…I recognize that I have found, across the world, a woman soul sister, one that is so much like myself in how I feel and experience life. I was in awe. “She is my twin,” I exclaimed! I was reading in her words messages I felt were written clearly and specifically for me to hear, that I needed to feel and learn at this moment. It was for me a profound moment at 3am, as I read her answers, and couldn’t believe the divine intervention that spoke to me and resulted in me reaching out to her to do this interview. She has the wisdom I needed to be reminded of and I am sure, many of you will need and benefit from greatly. She is all of our soul sisters. She is for all of us to share. I am an even greater fan, in a deeper, more meaningful way now. I feel like I have made a new friend.
Much love to you Annemarie. I hope to one day meet you in person and thank you for sharing a part of your soul and your valuable gift of time with us at PushLiving.com.
- Women On Wheels Empowerment Retreat – Truth or Consequences, New Mexico - March 17, 2018
- PUSHLiving Podcast 018 | WOW! Woman on Wheels Empowerment Retreat with Kristina Rhoades - March 12, 2018
- PUSHLiving Travel – Florida Travel Company Specializing in Wheelchair Access to the World…Goes to Portugal! - January 23, 2018
- Disability Tour Operators Deliver #AccessibleTravel - July 28, 2017
- Being Seen: The Long Road Toward Inclusion - June 25, 2017
- Education and Exposure is Key to Bias Against Disabled Mothers - May 14, 2017
- How to Train a Service Dog: Part One—Finding your Match! - May 7, 2017
- The Kindness of Strangers - April 23, 2017
- PUSHLiving Podcast 013 | So you Wanna Dance? Marisa Hamamoto Infinite Flow A Wheelchair Dance Company - February 2, 2017
- PUSHLiving Podcast 010 | Ethan Ruby The Crash, Coming Back from His Darkest Days to Fortune and Love - December 7, 2016