Name: Melissa Hauser aka Plant Powered Hauser
Year of Birth: April 17, 1980
Height: 5’ 2 1/4”
Weight: 120 (115-118 competition weight)
Birthplace: Santa Ana, CA
Current Residence: Denver, CO
Sports: Figure Competitor, Bodybuilding
IG @ plantpoweredhauser,
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have: I am a vegan fitness hobbyist; working out to improve my own physique and inspiring others to lead healthier lives is my ultimate passion! I’ve been married to an incredibly supportive husband for three and a half years, and am momma to an amazing 14-month old boy. I work full-time as a sales manager for a national food & beverage company, and travel about 1-2 times per month for work. Outside of that, I love live music (we volunteer at Red Rocks Amphitheater), and love being outdoors (we raft, hike, camp and backpack as much as possible, though that’s become much harder with a baby!). I also enjoy gardening, reading and playing in the kitchen, as time allows.
Why did you become vegan?
My transition to a vegan lifestyle was gradual. In early 2009, I first eliminated beef, poultry and pork from my diet. I was never a huge fan of meat, and had sincere concerns around the treatment of animals. I did some research, and learned that animal protein was not an essential component of our diet. Almost as an ‘experiment’ I chose to cut these from my diet, and never looked back!
It wasn’t until mid-2012 that I cut dairy. My son was born with a severe dairy allergy, and even the slightest intake by me would pass to him while feeding. I immediately eliminated all dairy products, did some more research and was mortified to learn about the negative health effects that dairy has on the human body.
Shortly after eliminating dairy, I removed all fish and seafood. Eggs have been the most recent step for me. We actually have 6 backyard chickens that produce about 4-5 eggs a day. They roam through our yard, and I know exactly what they eat and how they’re treated, but ultimately for health reasons I did decide to go fully vegan and remove these also.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I’ve always been a relatively “fit” person, but my focus and dedication have come in waves. I taught aerobics way back in college, have had gym memberships on-and-off throughout my adult life, ran a half-marathon once, and toyed around with various group sports.
After having my son in 2012, I knew that I needed to focus on my health and physique and started Jillian Michaels DVDs in my living room! In late March 2013, I decided to put a work bonus check to work for me. I picked the gym within the closest vicinity to my home, and started meeting with trainers. Little did I know that this gym is the ultimate gym for bodybuilding in Colorado, and Joel, my chosen trainer, is experienced in contest preparation.
After just a few workouts, Joel had me convinced to compete, and I committed to my first show in June. It took incredible focus and dedication, but I competed in my first local NPC-qualifying show in August 2013, placing 2nd in Novice and 5th in Overall! At my second show in October, I placed 1st in Novice, won Overall Novice, and 1st in Open! I qualified for Nationals, so I'll be competing next year at the national level.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
During contest preparation when I am actively trying to build muscle, I eat an incredible amount of protein (200 grams per day, which makes up about half the calories in my diet!). I track my food religiously on www.myfitnesspal.com, and eat 6 meals a day, every 2 to 3 hours. I also drink a full gallon of water per day, which I recommend for everyone!
A typical day looks like:
Meal 1 (7:00 AM) – Gluten-free oats mixed with protein powder, cinnamon and water, served alongside a spinach salad topped with a few berries and my hemp-protein/balsamic dressing OR a TVP or tofu scramble with lots of green veggies and a hemp-protein/salsa sauce and a slice of gluten-free toast.
Meal 2 (10:00 AM) – ¼ - ½ cup of a complex carb like brown rice or quinoa, 4-5 oz of protein (generally seitan, TVP, tempeh or tofu), and lots of green veggies. This meal may be a salad or a quick stir fry. Often topped with nutritional yeast and/or Bragg’s liquid aminos.
Meal 3 (12:30 PM) – Protein Shake (Vega Sport and Nutribiotic are my go-to’s) and 1-2 rice cakes topped with PB2 or a hemp-protein spread. Maybe some cut veggies (cucumber or bell peppers) if I’m still hungry.
Meal 4 (3:00) – Lots of greens (spinach, asparagus, and broccoli are my favorites) and lean protein.
Meal 5 (5:00 PM) – Protein Shake, plus cut veggies with PB2 or hemp-protein dip
Meal 6 (7:30 PM) – Lots of veggies (spinach, asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, cauliflower, brussell sprouts) and more lean protein (I usually have seitan at this meal, as it is the most versatile to prepare: bake, sauté, grill, etc.)
Depending on my total macronutrient intake for the day, I may snack on a protein pudding for dessert, or popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast.
How would you describe your training program?
I love to lift heavy weights, and love to sweat!
I am one of the rare people who love a good, long cardio session. Monday through Friday, you can find me on the stair stepper at the gym from 5-6 am where I do fasted cardio interval training. (I use this as my “me” time, and bring my Kindle to catch up on TV shows and movies that I’ve missed!) I try to get in an additional hour of cardio on the weekend too.
I also fit in 45 – 60 minutes of weight training 6 days a week. I rotate workouts to focus on my primary target areas (shoulders, back and legs) and work in a secondary muscle group (biceps, triceps, chest and abs) each day too. So, a 6-day plan may look like:
Day 1: Shoulders & Triceps
Day 2: Back & Abs
Day 3: Legs & Chest
Day 4: Shoulders & Abs
Day 5: Back & Biceps
Day 6: Legs & Abs
I aim for 5-6 exercises on my primary muscle groups, and 1-2 exercises on secondary. I generally do 4 sets of 20 reps on each exercise, and try to increase my weight with each set. Often times my last set is a drop-set (where I have to switch to a lower weight part-way through), but I always strive to lift more. You won’t build muscle lifting light weights!
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
Vega Sport Protein Powder is a staple of mine, and provides BCAA’s and glutamine. Other than that, I take multi-vitamins, extra calcium & magnesium, CLA, and flaxseed oil.
How do people react when they find out you are vegan?
Most start to lecture me on protein consumption. If I’m feeling feisty, I usually turn the tables on them and ask how much protein they consume daily. Rarely can anyone tell me that, and they are amazed when I rattle off how much I eat per meal, and my total per day.
I find many people are still very confused about what being vegan means, and in general are confused about food groups. I recently had a business lunch, and asked the waitress to confirm that the salad that I ordered had no dairy. She came back and said, “Well, it has avocado, so I guess you can’t eat that”. Really?!
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
That we don’t shower or shave our armpits, and that we don’t eat enough protein…the typical ones!
I also see a lot of misconception from people who assume that “vegan” is the same as “healthy”. There are still plenty of unhealthy vegans, and I feel the need to address this topic quite a bit lately. If you replace animal products with vegan “junk food”, you’re not necessarily better off. You need to replace animal products with whole grains, leafy greens, and other plant-based foods to see true results. There are great vegan snacks, and meat-substitutes, but if you’re truly trying to achieve optimum health then you should aim to eat minimal (or no) processed foods. I once knew a vegan who lived off of french fries and Mr. Pibb. She was not a great example to follow.
Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it?
I’ve recently taken to social media, and am overwhelmed by the response that I’ve received from my followers. There are definitely people who are turned off by my eating habits, and subscribe heavily to the “I must eat meat to be big” mentality, but there are hundreds and thousands of people looking to a plant-rich diet to improve their overall health. I am overjoyed to receive messages from people every day stating that I’m inspiring them to change their lives through exercise and by eating whole plant based foods.
What do you think the most important aspect of training is?
Consistency and dedication. Change take a long time, but it’s incredibly rewarding and worth the commitment.
What do you like best about being vegan?
Feeling great all the time! My energy levels are through the roof.
What do you like best about being fit?
Where to start? I love seeing physical changes in my physique, and I am fascinated how easy it actually is to manipulate our bodies through diet and exercise. Friends frequently tell me, “Oh, my body just doesn’t put on muscle the way that yours does.” My response? “Try working out 6 days a week and eating 200 grams of protein each day, consistently for 6 months. Let’s see what happens!”
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training?
My key tips for anyone starting out are:
- Have your body fat percentage measured by a professional (most gyms and recreation centers offer this service for a nominal fee). When you begin a training program, your weight may go up while you’re building muscle, and the scale is not an accurate tool to track results.
- Determine a healthy goal weight, and develop a nutrition plan to meet that goal weight (there are numerous tools online, and you can also check my blog for pointers).
- Drink a gallon of water a day, every day. Period.
- Eat small meals every two to three hours.
- Take progress pictures! Take them of your overall physique, and specific body parts.
- Stay sane. I love bodybuilding, because it provides me a healthy outlet for my OCD, but I have to keep it in check! It’s easy to get obsessive with this sport, by calculating macros, tracking food, monitoring workouts, and checking weight & body fat stats. Remember that skipping a workout or overeating at one meal is not going to derail all of your efforts. Get back on track the next day or meal….one small slip is not an excuse to throw in the towel. Be sure to balance this sport with family and friends.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share?
Small steps are best, in my opinion. If you currently eat meat and dairy, then start by eliminating meat in your home. As you become more comfortable, eliminate meat when eating out, and in various social situations. Then do the same with dairy (start by eliminating at home).
If a vegan lifestyle is unfamiliar to you, then jumping in with both feet can often be a recipe for disaster. Be sure that you’re replacing animal products with healthy, plant based whole foods, and try to avoid processed “fake meats” as much as possible (though these can be very instrumental when starting out!). Start to follow some of the incredible vegan bloggers for recipe ideas.
What motivates you in life?
I continually push myself to be better, and hope to inspire others to do the same. At my job, I try to coach and mentor others to be successful in their roles. At home, I try to teach compassion and kindness to my son through leading by example. And in bodybuilding, I hope that my success so far can inspire others to improve their overall health and lives.
What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you?
This is one of my favorite sites! I come here for tips, motivation and inspiration. The profiles have allowed me to connect with my idols for support, advice and guidance.
Lift heavy, eat clean, and be kind!