A glimpse into my beginnings…
Where it all began: I can’t speak for every vegan’s fitness, but I can share my experiences. I had never step foot into a health club/gym until fall 2006. I had been in dance (ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, brazilian) from 5 years old, did pilates, ran a little, but never ever lifted a weight. My first experiences took place with a trainer who told me to avoid lifting heavy so I wouldn’t bulk, put me on a very strange diet plan that required I begin eating meat again, and genuinely made me dread going to the gym.
In 2007 I moved and joined a different gym, though not much else changed. I started trying to emulate what I saw others doing, but nothing was changing on my body, which seemed pointless! In 2008 another gym change brought about the first time I saw a Figure Competitor on a poster. This intrigued me, thus beginning my drive.
Near the fall of 2008, I decided I wanted to attempt a competition. I hired a trainer and in Spring 2009, I placed second in a figure competition. The experience itself was lacking, as my trainer didn’t speak to me the entire day and I just felt lost back stage. I met some interesting people, including Robert Cheeke, and hoped to see better results physically. However, I chose to not compete again, and just went back to life as I knew it at the gym.
Later in 2009 I got connected with Robert on Facebook, and started clicking around through his sites and pages. I didn’t even know what vegan meant, but I found insanely inspiring that he didn’t eat meat but had SO much muscle! I stopped eating meat again, but still fell ill that fall/winter.
My body was clearly upset with my dietary choices, but it wasn’t until I had a kidney infection and my doctor said to cut dairy and gluten, that I really started to feel changes. I dropped both like a bad habit, and started seeing some changes. This brought the vegan lifestyle back to mind and I began to research it more in depth. By mid 2010 I was doing all in my power to be vegan. I slipped up, because vegetarian was easiest at that point I thought.
I say I’ve been vegan since 2010, but I’ve definitely had moments where I’ve eaten things that had bi-products etc. (not my proudest moments & my body HATED me for it!) However, since 2011 no animal product has crossed my lip intentionally. (I was fed a beefless product by a friend that had egg in it, which once I found out I stopped eating.)
During all of these health complications and dietary modifications I was just working out to work out, for health sake only. This past year, 2012, I changed my motives, I decided I wanted a different result. I didn’t want to JUST be healthy, or feel strong, I wanted to look strong, to be the best me I could be. Furthermore, to prove to the meat-eaters around me, that as a vegan I could not only have muscle I could put on muscle. And that I have.
In April 2012 I started finding new workouts on bodybuilding.com, following Dana Linn Bailey and Ashley Horner like they were the beacon of life. I also have friends that join me, we inspire each other and push each other to be consistent, go harder, and most importantly, stay POSITIVE.
Today my workouts consist of kettle bells, free weights, machines, cardio, pilates, dance, plyometrics, and calisthenics. The day-to-day is never mundane, I refuse to let my time at the gym go to waste, and most importantly, I make myself rest so I can go even harder the next time around.
There is something so inspiring about being plugged in with other vegans and their training. To see that others are doing what you’re doing. To push one another toward our own greatness. I’ve found great support online at http://www.veganbodybuilding.com, and am LOVING the camaraderie on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/mindyvegan.
Vegan fitness doesn’t have to only consist of yoga or hiking, though there is not a thing wrong with those activities! There are just too many stigmas out there that we all can easily break by inspiring one another to become the greatest. Greatness not just as vegans, but across the board! So, what do you say? Wanna defy all the stereotypes? Or are you already?