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

Becoming Little Miss Bikini – Episode 4 – Life Changes & Coping

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WOAH.

That’s how I feel I need to start this post off because a lot of what I’ve been going through I did NOT expect. Especially getting emotionally attached to even just the idea of food.

By this point in my journey I’ve gotten 3 solid weeks into training, eating and adapting to my new life as a bodybuilder/fitness competitor. Do not mistake this adventure for light and fluffy. Your world changes and if you’re lucky (as I am) you will have a partner to be there for you.

Jeff started in on his own program about a week after me. His is of course to gain a bunch of muscle mass and lose fat. Needless to say, there are nights when I go to bed hungry while he’s struggling to shove a bunch of oatmeal down his throat. I’m sure I’ll be able to laugh at that soon enough, right?

Remember. It’s no drinking, no sugar, all vegan and pushing yourself to your physical and psychological limits – every day.

Workouts

I am weight training 5 days per week. I have one rest day on Saturday where I still have to get in 1 hour of movement from hiking/yoga/biking or something as well as Fasted Cardio on Sunday mornings.

The longest workout time I have is about 1.5 hours – you have to move through them all quickly. Weight is heavy on top especially which I find challenging on the wrists. I ordered these WRIST WRAPS to keep me from hurting myself.

Weight training is broken up into body specific areas, I don’t skip any areas at all. With my weight training on Monday/Weds/Friday I also do 30 minutes of pretty intense cardio and Abs.

Legs twice per week PLUS some leg related cardio that makes me cry. No, really, I cry.

Sleep patterns

The new work out program is intense. I left myself only 12 weeks to get into competition shape and I’ve had to observe some pretty BIG workouts in my mind. I have heard of a lot tougher regimes and had I been in bad shape, I don’t think I would have attempted to get past week one let alone getting totally ripped in 12 weeks time.

With this being said, I’m tired. A lot. Not the kind of tired where I think I may have contracted mono, but the type of tired that you get when you go mountaineering for a week or when you work out 7 days a week as hard as you can.

I sleep at least 7 hours per night and aside from getting up to pee a couple of times, I’m out like  a light.

Water intake

This part is easy – for now. I’m taking in about 4 litres of water from my Nalgene and then having tea/coffee/shakes as well so I’m actually over what my requirement is. This has been a piece of cake BUT I’m a big water drinker and it was common for me to drink at least 2-3 litres per day prior to this.

Food

For a foodie. I am bored as all hell. I really need to start pepping up my meals because a third week of tempeh and spinach might put me over the edge.

Very few protein shakes which is surprising but decent because I’m not sure I like the flavour of my new Iron Vegan protein. I’ll have to get back to you all on that. So far it doesn’t mix very well and kind of gets to the consistency of chia pudding when used in smoothies. I was taken off of Vega and told that the pea protein has too many carbs but is ok in the off season.

For a vegan you’re eating a lot of tempeh, garbanzos, navy beans, quinoa, lentils etc…the spices I purchased from Flavor God help, but they’re no replacement for greater diversity in the kitchen.

I’m getting 1 reload meal per week which means I can having something delicious and filling to look forward to. That doesn’t mean fast food or crap food. Still whole foods with a tonne of nutrients, just no measuring cups and scales.

I can’t tell you how much it sucks to have your reload meal thwarted.  I nearly broke down this weekend when I was forgotten about at a wedding and there was nothing for me to eat but dry white pan bread and craisins. I can’t have sugar. The only thing I was looking forward to was taken away from me – I felt like my whole world crumbled. 2 days later and I’m still lamenting. Yeesh.

Personal Care Regime

Each morning before I eat I take in some warm water and lemon followed by an assortment of vitamin supplements. My favourite vitamins are Mega Food and I’ve always taken D, C, B Complex and Blood Builder religiously.

I’ve also added: BCAA’s, Glutamine, L-Carnitine and Greens/Spirulina and DIM daily.

This is taking a little getting used to. I have to shower, scrub and moisturize twice per day. I HATE the feeling of being greasy but I still do it. I slipped a bit while travelling over the weekend but I definitely moisturize at least once.

I use this LOTION I picked up at Community Health.

Then there is dry brushing. I had one of these energy brushes in my possession already so I didn’t have to pick it up. I think you can still buy them at Shoppers or London Drugs / Walgreens etc… I never really liked the idea of dry brushing because it’s very scratchy. I do this 2-3 times per week as well after showering on dry skin.

All of this stuff in the hopes that my spray tan will apply better and more evenly etc…

My Federation this go round

The federation that I am competing in is the INBF Canada.  This is a natural bodybuilding federation – that means no artificial ANYTHING. We get tested and put through lie detector testing.

Each federation has their own unique posing requirements. You really need to get to know this – something I am finding a bit frustrating as my coach is a BCABBA/Arnold competitor so she isn’t 100% on it herself. I’ve sent an email to the federation asking for instructions as their website is still leaving me with question marks over my head. Do not be afraid to ask questions of your federation!!!

Here are the basics of what my posing/routine is to look like:

You will execute poses at four locations:

  • 1st Location: Rear Center stage-(front pose)
  • 2nd Location: Front Right side of stage – (side pose facing center stage)
  • 3rd Location: Front Center stage-(front & rear pose)
  • 4th Location: Front Left Side of stage-(side pose facing center stage)

Return to end of line….

I’ve been practicing posing and let me tell you…IT HURTS! Yes, it hurts. You’re holding your breath, half flexing, half sucking in…it’s a hot mess (if you’re doing in right). These are some of my first posing attempts while camping.

I practice every day – at least 5 to 10 minutes per day. Getting the feeling of what the right pose is will be the most important thing for my big  day.

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Tattoo cover ups

As you all know, I am full of tattoos. This means that my body can look uneven on stage. I have opted to purchase some tattoo cover up cream and have the lady I am using for a spray tan apply this before my tan. I was recommended a product by my coach. I will be posting this up if it arrives successfully to my door!

New shoes

The shoes for these shows are all standard Lucite 5″ heels unless otherwise directed. Luckily, I’ve been dancing and walking in mega heels for years so they do not scare me off.

My first pair were ordered online and delivered quickly however, their measurement system was completely off so I had to rush out and buy new ones. Luckily a local adult/sex shop had the same shoes but with straps. I opted for THESE. I ended up paying about 35% more than if I ordered online so be aware of that  and order online if you have time to wait for delivery.

Other garments

I’ve adopted wearing a waist trainer all day as well as during workouts. I’ve had to purchase a second waist trainer for daily wear. They are made of latex and neoprene and are pretty comfortable and don’t leave marks.

The first one I bought from Make Me Heal and it ended up being great and fast however about $30 more than the others I ordered from Squeem directly. I purchased a 34/small and within a week could close up to the second row. I’m on and off the row because it gives me a bit of a headache.

Training in them is not for the faint of heart at first but you will get used to it. I have to add that the actual Squeem brand isn’t lined as nicely as the other one I bought, so you may need to buy an additional wrap to stop the unit from marking up your skin. Pain in the butt.

The other not-so-sexy addition to my life has been these horrible neoprene shorts that are supposed to be good for reducing cellulite etc… I also got these from Make Me Heal. Ugh. I wear them nightly to bed as well as during at least 1 cardio session per week – usually my fasted cardio on the weekend. These are UGLY but also comical.

Neoprene sexiness
Neoprene sexiness

Progress pics update

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So HERE I am 2 full weeks going onto 3 weeks in.  Day 2 of my period and not at all feeling like taking semi-nude pictures. I am not sure if all the training has brought on my period early or what, but it showed up 1.5 weeks early as well. Something to note and keep track of.

These pics are my second set sent to my coach with comments. I’m not seeing any progress in these however, in another couple of weeks I’m sure I’ll have some ability to see change. Patience is NOT my thing, but I know that I’ve made a lot of changes and the benefits are going to start rolling in.