CLIENT SPOTLIGHT – Commit to be fit. Finding motivation with Amanda B

My relationship with Amanda began as a lot of my client relationships do – online.

When we met she was struggling with time, illness, kids….(3, not 1) and prioritizing life. After a false start, she came back resolute and stronger than ever. This year, at Pittsburgh VegFest we actually got to meet face to face – what a light that radiates from her. I was even able to meet her charming hubs…..after hearing “you changed my fricken life”….I was smitten.

Amanda has done SO well and is such a vibrant example of strength to her family. If you’re struggling with time, motivation and more, please read her interview for inspiration.

Amanda is a fit worker, wife, mom and most of all ~ independent woman who knows the value of self care. Rock it lady – you’re inspiring more people than you know.

Love you girl, so proud.

xx

S

Compared to 6 months ago, how does your fit life look?

It has changed dramatically-20 lbs will do that!! The motivation I have to find out what I am capable of doing. Ex- I was not able to do a push up in April and now I am doing them-a real one LOL!

 What do you think were your biggest challenges as it relates to fitness and nutrition?  

TIME! The first 30 days I was DO or DIE-my neighbors were like “where are you” Im like over pressing tofu cooking broccoli. I had to keep away from social events just to get my mind right, check in after check it -it ALL paid off!

 If you took a break from staying fit at all in your past, why do you think this occurred and what value do you put on fitness now?

After my 2nd child I dropped the weight and was “fit” working out and that was just my lifestyle-was in nursing school and life was good, then FULL TIME job really diminished that “fit” life-I worked nights and had 2 kids and NO time for me. Then the 3rd babe came along and I was like I’m gonna just do this beautiful chaotic life and roll with the punches 2 years pass and I was mentally and emotionally ready to commit to getting back into fitness.

Why did you decide to look for a coach to help you with your goals?

I went vegan about 1.5 years ago…didn’t lose weight. Vegan processed food will do that, I was working out but no CHANGES and I felt defeated I knew I needed the accountability I needed someone checking in, cheering me on but letting me know where I was fudging up the plan.

 Do you think that having a support system (online or otherwise) is integral to your ability to stay on track?

YES! People ask “ what are you doing” I got a coach-she made them plan-I followed the plan! My husband is  a smart man, he wasn’t going to say “You think you need to eat that? Or did you work out”.

What is the most surprising part of your journey so far?

What 30 days of pure commitment will do, my focus and mind set has changed completely.  I allowed myself to have free days in July for sanity and summertime. I follow the set pan the rest of the days. My performance in the gym and my endurance has improved beyond measure. I even wore shorts and went swimming this summer which has not been a thing since 2013.

 What is your biggest challenge between work/family/self care?

Time again!! Just making sure I have my meals readily available, I do a batch cook day, press my tofu, cook the veggies, I always have frozen vegan meat and veggies on stand by. 

What is the biggest positive impact on your life since you undertook a healthier nutrition / fitness outlook?  

Hearing my 10-year-old say “Mom you are so strong” The fact that they are watching, they are seeing what hard work does and that girls are strong and working out is about being healthy! This journey also opened my eyes up to the relationship I had with food-my life revolved around food or socially drinking on most occasions. My mental and health goals became inline with my social life.

How do you keep progressing and set goals for yourself?

Just remembering how I feel now compared to how I felt on April 26 2018, when this journey started. I put away my “big” clothes and don’t ever want to bring them back out!

What/who keeps you accountable?

My tribe of 5, husband- Ryan, kids- Aiden, Chloe and Jaxon!

 

What are your top 3 favourite foods to eat (good or bad) and do you have a new or interesting food item that helps you with any unhealthy cravings you may have?

Salsa/guac and chips I love crunchy salty foods!! So Ill do guac and salsa with carrots or cukes. Also, pizza, that’s my weakness in food life. To get my red sauce kick ill sauté spinach with grape tomatoes and sprinkle on nutritional yeast.

Tell us a little bit about what you see for your future goals.

I plan to just keep improving in my performance at the gym and in my overall outlook on my health. I feel great and am so proud of myself for making ME a priority. This alone has improved my relationship with my husband and children. They understand that mum just needs her hour to herself to workout and the day will carry on, it has made me a better woman, wife and mother. I have rolled around the idea of some sort of fitness competition…who knows!!

If you could give a solid piece of advice to anyone who may have been in your same position who just “doesn’t have time” to take care of themselves, what would it be?

YOU ARE WORTH IT-you get one shot here on earth, one body to do life in-WHY not feel good in that body!

 

 

Going Vegan for Hashimotos – With Ash D.

SUCH a beautiful soul!

I first met Ash in 2017 after her main squeeze came in overall champ at an OCB event. My husband, Jeff and I gave away FREE fitness shoots to of all the top athletes from the show. We did a great shoot with Isaak  & Ash who drove in to Pittsburgh from Ohio.

After meeting these two, we thought so much of them and really enjoyed seeing how much they loved the sport & each other.

Later, Ash contacted me to talk about getting some mentorship with switching to a Vegan diet to help with a recent diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Disease. 

Ash, thank you so much for being open and honest about your struggles with your health & for being the motivation that others will undoubtedly need to make a positive change for a better life! And hey, if YET ANOTHER bodybuilder can go vegan – I’m excited for the animals & the planet too.

xx

Your main challenge in seeking out nutritional advice was the discovery that you had been afflicted with Hashimotos disease. How long did this take you to discover?

I had been suffering from intense migraines for a year and a half before I decided to seek help. I had visited the eye doctor and got prescribed glasses and still didn’t experience relief from the migraines. As a last ditch effort I went to my OBGYN to get my hormones checked. It was then in my doctor visit she palpated my thyroid and said it was enlarged. From this point it took 2 more months before I could get into the  Endocrinologist she referred me to. Within moments of him reviewing my blood work he diagnosed me with Hashimotos.

Can you tell us a bit, in your own words, what Hashimotos is to you?

Hashimotos to me changed my life for the better. It made me over analyze everything I used or put in my body. Just the slightest amount of the wrong thing throws my body into such a funk because what is happening when I am not fueling my body correctly, my thyroid produces too much hormones and in turn my body views my thyroid as a foreign object and attacks itself.

With a laundry list of sensitivities under that umbrella, how did you find what foods negatively impact you personally?

I clearly KNEW I wasn’t feeling good so when I switched to a plant based diet I started feeling a way I haven’t felt in two years , which was feeling good. Having energy and no symptoms of a migrane. I am a bodybuilder and on Saturday evenings I always provided myself a cheat meal, it was upon this I discovered gluten was my worst enemy. Avoiding animal products/dairy is a choice and have discovered that those items don’t effect me as negatively as gluten does.

 Did you try anything natural/holistic on your own first?

I had and still use essential oils and herbs for the migraines prior to my diagnosis. Meditation/reiki/color therapy and yoga has also helped along this journey. Strengthening my mental health as well as my physical health has changed the game .

How long have you been suffering with the symptoms of this disease?

I recall my symptoms appeared during my first show prep in 2015.

How did this impact your training? Are there any supplements that you are no longer using because of their negative impact on your body?

I overused pre-workout because I always felt fatigued and in turn I have discovered that too much caffeine also gives me the same side effects of gluten.

Clearly STILL #Veganstrong here <3

Are there any medications that were recommended to you? If you can share with us which ones, did you agree to take them or are you trying a natural approach?

They prescribed synthroid and I declined that and have opted to take Naturethroid. It is a natural thyroid medication that is derived from pig thyroids. On top of this I also take a vegetarian supplement called Thyroid Support.

How did you originally come across the information noting that a plant based diet might help you out most?

I read an article in a magazine one day about a woman who was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer. She decided to switch to a plant based diet and within a year she reversed the effects on her body and was placed in remission. My thoughts were my story is not as intense but why couldn’t this work for me? I figured it wouldn’t hurt my body any to try!

What is the biggest hurdle you feel you face in your day to day life with this issue?

Eating the right things to avoid feeling fatigued.

What does shopping for groceries look like to you or how do you think it differs from a “regular” persons grocery shop? –

It starts in the produce section and the organic area. The only products I pick up in the aisles are almond milk, tea, certain vegan/gluten free cereals and breads. Other than that I avoid the rest of the grocery store. I believe other people do the exact opposite of my method. Only shop in the aisles and avoid the produce section.

 What are your pet peeves when dining out? 

That plant based diets are not popular in my area so I have to stick to the “sides” section and opt for a salad.

How has your family reacted to your huge nutritional lifestyle change?

They have been so supportive and have encouraged the change. They have noticed the difference.

What is the one food you desperately miss, or do you miss any foods at all?

Sometimes when cravings hit I miss ice cream and donuts but there is a gluten free bakery in my town and they make dairy free ice cream now so I’ve found things to implement.

If you could give 3 pieces of solid advice to those suffering with Hashimotos, what would they be? 

Change your diet!

Once you start “feeling” better, get your mind right .  Strengthen your mental health.

Get a good sweaty workout in daily

Please share with us any of your favourite foods or recipes!

Black bean burgers with sweet potato fries

Zucchini noodles and home made marinara

A note: 

Look at this girl that you have helped me blossom into! thank you from the bottom of my heart for providing the stepping stones and all the tools to transition into this lifestyle change. 

So much Love,
Ash

Client Spotlight – The Vegan Converts & Making a baby with Gio & Casey Weeks – baby Luca now too!!

A beautiful, fit family who conceived by incorporating veganism!

Sometimes clients become friends, but in this case an “old” friend of mine – Giovanna – became a client. Giovanna and I met in elementary school in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada over 25 years ago. We actually went to different schools but both attended Catachism (click it if you don’t know it) where we met and eventually ended up at the same school. Giovanna has always had a light shining SO brightly within her….but she never had that Knight in shining armour that deserved her until…..Casey. Wow, what can I say. From the minute I first saw an image of these two together with their gorgeous smiles on display, I knew it was love. Casey seemed to be such a positive and loving force in Gio’s life.I’m so thankful that the two of you met and made a family -the world needs more true love like yours.

Happily settled in Houston, Texas, these two and their two pooches just added one more to their tribe; baby girl Luca – sorry folks, I didn’t get an image I could use here….and Luca was just born this past weekend of April 14/15. Congrats to the two of you. All my love and so much more and thanks SO much for taking the Vegan in 60 mentorship program on, I really hope it did help you with your little one.

So much love.

xx

S

How did the two of you meet?

Casey was a spin instructor at a studio and I had a huge crush on him and went to all his classes till he noticed me J

Did you plan on having a family early on in meeting and did age play a factor in this?

We both wanted kids one day but at the time didn’t think about it until I went to the doctor about a year after dating and she told me I had to see a fertility doctor.

How long were you trying for a baby before you went vegan and can you share any part of your personal story with our readers about WHY you decided to a make the change?

I had been doing fertility treatments for over a year. 4 Iuis and 2 IVF cycles and after getting pregnant on the last try but losing it right away I needed a break. Casey ended up watching some documentaries on Netflix that really opened our eyes to going vegan. I took about a 3month break and we went very strict vegan and I felt so great. I was working out again and not thinking about treatments and we really did feel healthier. I didn’t think it would has any effect on fertility at first just wanted to get healthier after all the hormones that were in me.

What have been the best and worst parts of trying to conceive – hee hee?

The worst was all the treatments for sure, not having control. The hormones they inject in you. The weight you gain with all of it. The stress of it. The best was when we took a break and just relax and were able to just do it the old fashion way and it worked! We could enjoy each other finally again and with being vegan I even lost weight so I felt better about myself too.

Once you became pregnant did you decide to go back to a carni lifestyle?

I have been back and forth, only because the first 3 months I was very sick and some things I could not keep down. We still try very hard though but as soon as the baby is born we are committed to going back to vegan again. I just know I felt amazing and even though I love this little baby, it has been a hard pregnancy. So I am so excited to be going back and I know Casey is too.

We know this has to be our lifestyle now, not a back and forth.

Is there anything you have learned in the process of becoming pregnant that you didn’t know veganism could impact positively?

I actually think that if I stay strict vegan I would have had less “problems” and that a lot of it was in my head. I know how healthy I felt before I was pregnant and I really think my body fixed itself becoming vegan. It made me a happier and less stressed person to, I really believe that. So now that I will be a parent I want to get back to that frame of mind and I know veganism with help me.

What is the best advice you have for couples having trouble conceiving?

Even though I hated hearing this so much, letting go and not stressing about it really is the key. Being a healthy, happy person is more important and I think that will help you so much more than stressing about what you need to do to actually conceive. Your partner and you should love just being with each other and not make it a chore to have a baby.

What was your fave and least fave vegan meal of all time?

I thought actually that quick oats for breakfast would have been my least fav but I really loved it. I don’t think there was anything I didn’t like. I really enjoyed all the vegan items we ate. Well…my first attempt at a falafel was probably my least…but if someone else makes them I love them.

Would you raise your child vegan – why/why not?

Casey and I have talked about this just a bit. We will teach them about being vegan but I think we will let them ultimately make the choice in the end.

Please let us know your best vegan recommendations for your best meals in Texas or abroad!

Ripe Cuisine is great! they are a food truck right now but opening a restaurant. Also Local foods is doing a good job of vegan items as well.

If there is anything lingering in your mind about this whole process, please feel free to share it now!

Thanks so much for all your support on this!

Client Spotlight – The Vegan Runner with Tess J.

Introducing the witty, funny, one-of-a-kind athlete in my life – Tess Jones.

Tess is a mom of one VERY darling little girl as well as a step-mom and wife. She’s such an inspiration for working moms out there who want to keep a life of their own and be an outstanding parent – ain’t gonna lie, she makes it look kinda easy but she might have something to say about that.

I met Tess in 2017 online, helped her out with a meal plan for her non-competitive time as well as helping her with endurance nutrition. I also had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with her and her little nugget helping prepare meals for her busy life. She’s got health and wellness as a priority in her home which is SO refreshing. You’re amazing Tess.

If you’re in Pittsburgh looking to run throughout this beautiful city check out this running link HERE from Fitt Pittsburgh. Also, if you’re in the hood AND in need of some help with your gear, please head over to Fleet Feet and see Tess for the best of the best service.

Thanks for being an inspiration for vegans, runners and moms, Tess.

xx

 

How long have you been running?

My Dad has been a runner his whole life and started me when I was 13. I am now 32 and have been running ever since!

When did you discover that running was your “thing”?

I realized I was good at running in high school as I was winning a lot of local 5K races. Once I started training, I realized I could be a solid runner. I went to college and competed on my Division III Cross Country team.

Why did you decide to go vegan?

I have always been mostly plant based as it just made me feel better. I had a lot of stomach issues when I ate dairy and meat so doing a lot of trial and error to find what worked for me was helpful. Eliminating animal products made me feel better overall.

 Do you notice a difference in your abilities running as a vegan?

It honestly took a while for me to adjust. I had an eating disorder in high school and in college, so going vegan really made my family worried that I was restricting again. I initially lost a lot of weight and was really tired all the time. It took me a while to figure out the right combination of Macros and supplements to make sure I was fueling myself properly so that I could keep up the mileage. Once I did, I was able to be a good runner and a vegan athlete.

What is a typical day of training for you?

It really depends if I am in marathon training mode or I am in an off season. I usually run 5 days a week and do 1 day of strength training and one off day. Usually a day of speed work, a day of long distance and then moderate distance the rest of the time.  

What are your favourite pre and post workout foods?

I love a good banana and toast pre-long run. The carbs are great for longer distances. I love a smoothie post-run, it is cold and feels so good and is easy to digest!

When did you decide you needed nutritional coaching for optimizing your training, and why?

Veganism is wonderful, but hard to navigate sometimes. There is so much information out there and I wanted to be sure I was getting enough nutrients. As I said, with having had an Eating Disorder, it is easy for me to go back to my restrictive tendencies. I really had to focus on getting the proper coaching and guidance.

What is the biggest hurdle you feel you face in your day to day life that running helps you to overcome?

I think running is my best therapist! I really can unwind and relax and just be me. I have a 5 month old daughter so having the time and space all to myself is really helpful for my overall health and wellness.

What are some of your favourite places to run and why?

I love running throughout the city; Pittsburgh is a beautiful place to run! So many trails that are just absolutely breathtaking. I love being out with nature!

If you could give three pieces of solid advice to those considering taking on running, what would it be?

Like anything else, start slow and ease in. Don’t try to start off running 8 miles if you have never ran before. Know that it might  not be fun to start, but the benefits are endless and it can truly be a lifetime sport if you do it safely.

Is there anything that you are personally passionate about that you would like to share with FML clients, friends, readers?  

Having a plant diet is doable while being an athlete! You just have to plan, be smart and work hard!

Client Spotlight – The Vegan Activist – With Leila H.

Drumroll please!

Introducing Leila Sleiman-Head. Friend, client, Vegan and Activist. Leila and I met through my participation in her event VegFest here in Pittsburgh. I signed up to be a presenter at the event and we hit it off. Leila, along with Natalie Fristick, put on VegFest annually in Pittsburgh as well as the fall fave VegFeast. These two also run Justice for Animals, a not for profit here in PGH. To add, Leila has been part of Scrap The Trap and helped to get the first ever Vegan night at PNC Park off the ground! Veganism and the MLB at Pirates stadium??? Yes, yes she did. Pfew – I’m probably missing a TONNE.

She’s a devoted dog mom to Cash, and hamster mom to Little Tom Cruise and is married to the talented musician Chris Head, guitarist for Anti-Flag a local Pittsburgh Punk act that is adored globally. Chris is a maker of some VERY cool hand crafted planters via their collaborative effort as Rustbelt Workshop. I don’t know where she finds the time, but she does and the world is a better place for it.

Thanks Leila for this candid interview and for all you do for the animals.

Love ya!

When did you first participate in a demonstration or activism and why?

I interned for Peta in 2005 as a way to “get out of the classroom” in college when I was attending ASU- I was MORE than happy to GTFO of college, fly to Norfolk VA, live in “the intern house” and ready for an adventure. I went into it not knowing what to expect, not knowing I would need to be vegan in the house (I was already vegetarian so figured it shouldn’t be too hard, plus I had other interns show me the way….). I was immersed in this HUGE organization, with hundreds to people dedicated to helping animals, delivering straw and houses for dogs in the winter, under covering horrible abuse situations, sending packets to companies who test on animals to suggest kinder and more modern ways to research….  it was all so foreign to me. I was asked to go on a tour 2 weeks, 25 cities- we started in Miami and looped back up and around to Norfolk. It changed my life.

How did you choose animal rights as your passion as opposed to other arenas like women’s rights, environmentalism etc…?

I started with human rights activism- I would protest the Israeli occupation in Palestine and any other worthy cause, women’s rights supporting planned parenthood etc. When I spent my internship at Peta I was horrified to find out the grand scale of oppression and suffering we are causing on animals- and it was SO easy to change that behavior, support other companies, etc. It just naturally became another worthy cause…and now I have gotten to travel all over the country with it. I’m a very lucky person to be able to live my passions and ideals.

What is the most challenging thing you have experienced as an activist?

You really put yourself out there as an activist- and it isn’t for everyone. I have had people try and prove you wrong at every turn- justification of the bible or another imaginary justification, etc. I welcome a good discussion. I’ve also had chicken nuggets, eggs, soda, etc thrown in my direction and been threatened with violence. It is very impactful when you think about how much you must threaten peoples “way of life” (consuming and causing suffering) some people just cant take it.

How do carry yourself during a demonstration? Have you ever been arrested or come up against physical violence?

Yes! In North Dakota at a circus protest a middle aged man raised his hand at me- I thought he was going to hit me, I quickly said “IF YOU TOUCH ME ITS ASSAULT!” Lol. I’ve had everything under the sun thrown at my group, things yelled out, etc. But you also have people giving you the thumbs up- honking, supporting you. And those who will stop and chat or take information that REALLY ARE OPEN and effected.

What are your personal reasons for transitioning from Vegetarian to Vegan?

My time at Peta opened my eyes- to the GRAND SCALE OF OPPRESSION AND SUFFERING. I thought I would go back to vegetarian after I left the intern house in 2005- I never did. Once you see the animals suffering, open your heart to empathy and compassion and see how easy a few changes in your lifestyle really are- there is no way I am supporting that. We can vote with our dollars- we can choose to support cruelty- or not. We can choose to be kind. I just absolutely under no circumstances wanted to support the industries that harm animals. Giving up dairy was a small price to pay. So what? Watch the footage of veal calves getting ripped from their mothers, from pokey things put through their noses so when they try to nurse it hurts and pokes the mother causing them to run away…. watch the screams of the babies getting torn away to suffer the mothers fate if a female or a cramped cage for veal if a boy. No thank you.

Can you tell us a bit about your time with PETA?

See above lol

How can the average human get involved and become an activist? How do you think they should choose which organization or cause to support?

There are so many great organizations doing great things, some right in your city, I urge everyone to do some research and volunteer their time- donate- collect items for animals in need, etc. Spend the day at a VegFest, commit to going vegan for 30 days, do not buy products or cosmetics tested on animals, to stop buying leather, etc.

If you had advice for any new Vegans, what would it be? 

Don’t be overwhelmed. Do your research, ask for help from others who are already vegan (stay off FB lol), and PREP. When I was vegan we had cereal with soy milk and PB&J, and until I found other things to eat that is all I ate. Now with the internet and online recipes its easier than EVER to eat healthier and find good vegan food for your family, purchase cruelty free products, etc.

What are your top 3, all time favourite Vegan spots to eat? 

Hard one! I am lucky enough to have eaten great vegan food all around the world.

Champs in Brooklyn, Mohawk Bend in Los Angeles, Chicago Diner in Chicago make the list. In Pittsburgh we have Onion Maiden and B52 Café which are some of my favorite food.

Any pet peeves you’d like to share with us about Veganism or Activism?

I don’t want to criticize so I will start by saying we need ALL forms of activism and all kinds of personalities in this fight. I do find that newer vegans are a little angry (as they should be), I don’t necessary feel that walking into a whole foods just to get kicked out is beneficial for the animals, I don’t like buying into the stereotypes that non vegans put on us. I prefer to surprise people with education and discussion. Some acts people do are more self masturbatory than helping in my opinion.

If you could solve ONE issue on the planet today, what would it be?

Factory farming. Its destroying the planet, its causing needless suffering and animal products are making Americans some of the most unhealthy in the world. If I could close my eyes and undo factory farming, I wouldn’t need 2 other wishes…

 

Client Spotlight – Couples Who Go Vegan – Norm & Michelle

I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle at a Bodybuilding competition in Vancouver, BC, Canada a few years ago. It was her first show and she was SO nervous…just a sweetheart. We bonded that day and have been long distance friends ever since. I was super honoured to have Michelle and her husband Norm join my Vegan in 60 program and I’m super delighted with their results in both body and mind.

If you’re curious about what going vegan looks like, these two have some sage words here for newbies…..any time is the right time to go whole food plant based.

Love you both & thanks again….P.S. – I love this snap of you two…you might hate me for it but your fur baby is there and you’re tubbin’ in the snow which is one of my favourite pastimes (before moving to Pittsburgh).

You both rose to the challenge of trying out converting to veganism over 10 weeks, what made you dive into this challenge as carni’s?

We dove into this vegan challenge because it was exactly that a challenge. To be honest it was not something either of us would have considered trying ….until You said challenge….who doesn’t like a Little challenge.

What have you learned about veganism that has struck you as the most impactful? Ie: it’s health benefits, cost, animal rights issues etc…

 What has stuck with us so far are the health benefits. We both had wondered how going vegan would impact our health. So far it’s been great i really notice a difference when I removed dairy products from my diet. Michelle says now she is very aware of where our food comes from now and eating this way is pretty cheap.

Do you find that your working together on this initiative has brought you closer or created more stress at home?

Well it definitely has not added any stress ….has had is working together in searching and planning out our meals …snacks and as team Thiessen we hold each other accountable.

How do you tackle the questions asked of you by family, friends & others who may want to know a bit more about your new nutritional goals?

Family and friends have been supportive.  They ask questions and we fill them in on what we have found out. Most are interested in trying to be more plant based …not going vegan but being more responsible. It would seem our friends will make healthier choices after hearing our choices when we are out for dinner or such . Also creates interesting conversations.

What is the hardest part of being a new vegan?

Stress of finding new things to eat ….find recipes…choosing the options…shopping for the food…preparing the meals ….being new to veganism we don’t have easy go to dishes …yet.  Of course its stressful Try ing to fill our protein macro and keeping down our carb macros.

What is the easiest part of being a new vegan?

Making a vegan dish usually has lots of left overs. You get to grab healthy foods .

Are there any changes (physically) that  you have experienced that are super amazing that you want to share?

Ok some changes I’ve noticed is the bowel movements…2 to 3 times a day . Waking up alert and ready not needing a coffee to clear the morning cobwebs. No bloating( once I’ve adjusted to the beans).

What is your favourite vegan food so far?

For taste Mexican is our favorite . Seitan for the protein. I like to slice up my seitan and fry it in hot sauce.  Mmm mmm.

 Do you think you will go back to eating animal products, if so, why?

Yes I believe we will be going back to eating animal products . Our meal will no longer revolve around the meat. Things like cheese and honey are greatly missed . BUT we will be very mindful where we are purchasing our animal products from …the farm to table idea. With all the new ideas and recipes we have learned it will be way easier to keep our plant based diet most of the time. As Michelle has mentioned some cooked meat has effected her negatively as she has cooked it . I’m pretty sure that meat will be removed lol. By doing this challenge our eyes have been opened to a lot of different aspects of veganism….some we agree with and support others not so much but that’s ok we have a great base of knowledge now and will be more aware moving forward .

Michelle may want to add more as our time goes on.
Norm and Michelle Thiessen

CLIENT SPOTLIGHT – Training the Vegan Man – With Greg H.

 

CLIENT SPOTLIGHT – Training the Vegan Man – With Greg H.

Greg is a cheery, happy-go-lucky client I met a Vegan event here in Pittsburgh. He is tall, slim and looking to add some mass to his frame. While it’s a lot harder to make gains on a slender frame (naturally) than it is on a medium build, Greg gets to enjoy a lot of healthy, whole foods. I mean a lot, no big time calorie restriction for his body type.

Thanks Greg for participating in this interview!

After understanding a bit more about “generally” eating vegan and eating vegan with a goal (for gains)…what can you say about the differences to you personally where it comes to meal prepping at home?

I’ve been vegan for 7 years now, so eating vegan isn’t an issue for me. I have become more aware of how I spend my time since I have to put time into meal prepping and training on top of work, social matters, and leisure time. Meal prepping has helped with my time management and organizational skills, and has given me an excuse to get more creative in the kitchen.

How does going out to eat meals look now as compared to before your gains goals?

Well, I do not eat out as much since it is easier (and cheaper) to cook for myself. When I do go out with friends or family, I have grown accustomed to gauging portion sizes. It is becoming more and more like an odd super power.

As a vegan who eats mostly whole foods, do you find getting enough protein a challenge?

I do not! I know that there are still people who believe in the myth that vegans do not get enough protein, but that’s all it is: a myth. I have found myself having to cut back on how much protein I consume on a few occasions.

What is your favourite type of protein?

Seitan is my favorite, especially when I fry it up with Korean barbecue sauce and some mushrooms. I usually reward myself with some good seitan at the end of the week.

Do you feel challenged as a man when it comes to cooking/meal prepping?

As a man, I don’t. I love to cook, and meal prepping has made me more efficient in the kitchen.

What meal is your fave/least fave?

My favorite meal must be my protein shake! I use 1 and ½ scoops of chocolate mocha MRM Veggie Elite – Performance Protein, almond milk, flax seeds, a banana, and some peanut butter. It’s like drinking a milkshake, and it’s amazing.

My least favorite is a salad. I have never been a salad fan – they are too boring for me. I have to really stack it up with veggies, seeds, fruit, and a bit of dressing for me to enjoy it, but I am too lazy most of the time to go all out!

 How do you fit in your training with a full time job?

I get up early to train before work, but if I need to catch up on sleep, I will work out as soon as I get home from work.

 When do you do your meal prep?

I meal prep Sunday nights while I make dinner, and I also prep either Wednesday or Thursday night, depending on how much I prepped Sunday night.

 If you could make one thing happen in your life that would liberate you to pursue your fitness goals 100% what would that be?

Work from home! I would love to work out in the morning, get ready, and not have to rush to work. The time I spend driving to and from work is more than enough time to complete a full work out.

 Do you have any advice for Vegan men looking to make gains?

The biggest piece of advice I can give, is to be patient. Noticeable gains do not happen overnight, so you need to stay positive, dedicated, eat right, and bust your ass every day, and you will notice a difference soon enough.

There are people out there who will tell you that you cannot pack on muscle on a vegan diet, but don’t listen to them because you can, and you will!

 What is your meal prep tip for guys with no clue where to start?

Start small. Pick two or three meals that fit your meal plan that don’t use many ingredients. Make a list before you go grocery shopping, and on Sunday night, get everything cut up, portioned, and into containers.

To save more time, buy frozen vegetables when you can: they’re already cut up and ready to be cooked.

 

Client Spotlight for Keto Vegan – Marisa

 

CLIENT SPOTLIGHT – KETO VEGAN – MARISA FRANCESCA

Before ketogenic “dieting” what other forms of meal planning had you tried?

I have always been really bad at meal prep/planning and I had never really done so. I have realized that it is essential in order to be successful, especially if you’re busy.

What were your first impressions of ketogenic nutrition?

I was skeptical of a keto “diet.” I’ve always heard and have been told, from vegans as well, that “the fat you eat is the fat you wear.” When I was actually taking the time to learn about keto, everything made sense, and with that I was able to be successful with it! It took some time for me to get used to, since I never did anything like it before. When you do it correctly, it absolutely works.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge with switching to a “high fat” diet?

At first, it was definitely hard to go through the day without planning what I was going to eat, because at times I’d find that I had reached my net carb limit, but had plenty of fat left, and vice versa. It’s really all about the planning.

What were your best resources for recipes, tips & tricks?

Meatfreeketo website, as well as the Vegan Keto Made Simple / Vegan Keto Facebook groups. I found ways to make vegan, keto friendly pancakes, crackers and others’ favorite keto foods!

Plan plan plan! I can’t say that enough- I try now to input my days worth of macros into MFP the night before, with a few extra grams of each macro for some wiggle room, so I know that I will do my best to meet my macros.

LC Foods has low carb vegan breads and bagels- they are so good! Not everything is vegan though.

Do you think if you weren’t vegan you would have a harder or easier time “going keto”?

I think that I would have a harder time. I think that even people who aren’t vegan understand that the nutrition and fats/cholesterol from dairy and meat products are NOT good, so eating them in excess would be really scary health wise.

Did you find a favourite keto recipe that you can share with us?

Vegan Keto Bagels (gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free)

http://easylocarb.azurewebsites.net/recipe/flaxseed-crackers/

What did you miss the most from your diet (favourite foods etc…) when eating keto?

I was loving having a smoothie with frozen cherries, chocolate flavored vega clean protein powder and some peanut butter powder in the mornings. It became a habit, so I’d say I missed that the most. There are low carb options for everything else, really! Fettuccini made of tofu is one of my favorites.

Do you think you could “do keto” for most of your meals, for life?

Yes, I definitely could. I was addicted to junk food, so the higher fat meals helped me kick those habits. I’ve now realized I could definitely do this for a long time.

What would be your biggest piece of advice to anyone who might be interested in trying keto?

My biggest piece of advice I would say is to do your research- this is a must (for me, any way!) I also tend to do things better when I know why and how it works, so this also helped me succeed. Find groups where other people are doing the same or similar things, like a vegan keto facebook group- they are very helpful.

What were the biggest changes you noticed with the plan ie: skin, hair, sleep, hydration, energy etc…?

I’ve had so much energy that sometimes I don’t sleep that much! I have also noticed that my skin is so much clearer than it was before, and my hair feels so much softer!

Client Spotlight for Careers & Fitness – Shandi B

CLIENT SPOTLIGHT – Careers & Fitness / Family with Shandi

As a single 20 something, how did your “fitlife” look?

(Ha never single, we have been together since High school) I played soccer once a week and the odd practice). Played softball off and on but that was pretty much just drinking and hitting the odd ball! Zero gym. I was actually 12-15 pounds heavier and about 4 sizes larger than I am now.

What do you think were your biggest challenges as a married woman with no children as it relates to fitness?

I put work ahead of almost everything in my life. I never went to the gym as I was always “too busy”. I did make time for soccer at nights but that was more of a way to socialize than anything. We ate out a ton! Probably 3-4x a week. Lot’s of weekend drinking and midnight pizza!

Have you at any time put your career before your health/family and do you think that you learned anything from this if so?

See above! I feel I have learned a better balance of work and family life since having children. My kids basically take top priority…. Work isn’t everything!

When you decided to have children (all occasions) did you have fitness goals that coincided with your pregnancies?

With my first daughter I did try to make time to go to the gym and used the Elliptical machine with a goal of distance or time – whichever I hit first. I tried to eat healthy but honestly not drinking I noticed made a huge difference and I actually lost weight during the first part of my pregnancy.

My second daughter I did try to maintain fitness as I had started to get a good routine going after my first daughter was born. I managed to go to weekly bootcamps (strength training mixed w/ cardio) and used a Fitbit to try and get 12k steps a day. I gained less than 30 pounds throughout each pregnancy.

Once your kids were old enough to be in care and you could return to work, how did you manage to carve out time for yourself and your personal health goals?

This is a daily battle. I find as a mom I am constantly trying to find a balance of “me time”. We live out of town so my commute is an hour each way. I prefer to get ahead of traffic so I was driving in at 5am and would just start working. One day I decided to hit the gym instead and now it is something I crave! I love getting my workouts in and out of the way and I don’t have to make excuses as the day goes on about how I am too busy to find time. It is an hour all to myself.

What is your biggest challenge between work/family/self care?

Balance…. I need like 35hrs in day. As a mom (and I think a lot are like this) I always put my kids, house, hubby ahead of me. For example I put off going to the doctor for at least 11 months for something and as it turns out when I finally went as I couldn’t take it anymore it was quite serious… Side note – listen to your body! It doesn’t lie.

Do you feel like your work is impacted by your personal fitness routines? Ie: If you don’t workout are you as clear/focused?

I believe I am far more productive when I am achieving goals. I feel better, look better and I find I am more productive as I have my time planned out to achieve this.

If you fall off the wagon, why is it and how do you go about starting over again?

Personally daily life and health are almost always why for me. A weekend of camping will turn into poor eating and workout routine for the weekend which will then carry on for the week and it is amazing how fast I will accept this new bad routine. Usually I try not to beat myself up over a bad day or week or whatever the case. I try to get back the good habits as soon as I can. I have come to love a 70/30 lifestyle where I try to keep myself accountable and on track 70% of the time and let myself cheat or miss a day the remainder. I would like to get this closer to 80/20.

What/who keeps you accountable?

Fantastic coaches 🙂  and results. I am pretty competitive so I like to sign up for bootcamps, 30 day challenges etc where I feel I am letting myself/ coaches/ Instructors down if I am falling behind. Also I feel I need to be a role model for my kids. I wan tthem to see that I am trying to eat healthy and be active.

What are your favourite things to do that keep you fit?

Strength training. I used to do so much cardio and didn’t see much for results. I changed it up and starting utilizing more strength training and the results were amazing in comparison. I also pay a lot more attention to labels (sugar, protein, carbs).

What’s your favourite “quick” recipe for healthy eating/clean macros?

My go-to is scrambled eggs, spinach & hot sauce for breakfast. I used to eat a lot of carbs in the morning and find this keeps me fuller way longer and no crash.

Client Spotlight for IBS/Low Fodmap – Andi N

CLIENT SPOTLIGHT – LOW FODMAP – ANDI N.

 

I love this girl. She’s a mom, a wife, a teacher and a very dear LONG time friend of mine…talking over 35 years now – I blush…..thank you Andi Pandi for being a sweetheart of a client AND friend AND participating in this Q&A with how little time you have.

xx ~ S

You note your main challenge around nutrition is being LOW fodmap. How long did this take you to discover?

A long time! I have had a weird stomach for most of my adult life. I just thought that this was how my body was and it was normal. It all came to a head about 3 years ago when I had a very challenging year at work and my symptoms became worse ( I was missing work days at a time).

With SO many sensitivities under that umbrella, how did you find what foods negatively impact you personally?

When I was diagnosed with IBS (which you do by ruling everything else out), my doctor told me to research and follow a low FODMAP diet. This involves not eating anything with high FODMAP for a couple of weeks and then slowly introduce a type of high FODMAP food (Oligos, Fructose, Polyols, Lactose) back into your diet and then see how you do.

Do you notice that you make concessions with your eating habits to make meal times easier with your husband & kids?

On occasion, I will make concessions but it is when the food my husband is making is so delicious I need to try some not to make meal times easier. When I do indulge it is in small amounts so the payback won’t be so bad. Lately though I have stopped being so lazy and have started cooking more myself rather than relying on Daniel for meals (partly because me becoming Vegan is too hard for him- cry me a river)

How long have you been suffering with the symptoms of IBS etc…?

Pretty much my whole adult life.

Do you take any supplements that work for you?

Probiotics are key. I have also seen a Dr. of Chinese Traditional Medicine who whips up a mix of herbs that settle my digestion down a bit if I do overindulge.