Name: Melissa Brey
Birthplace: Pasadena, CA
Current Residence: Irvine, CA
Why did you become vegan?
I’m very passionate about Global Warming causes and Environmental issues. I became Vegan after learning that it is the single most important thing that I could to help protect the future of this planet.
Our media is placing so much importance on changing light bulbs, driving a Prius and C02 emissions, but the fact is that we could do more good to help this planet by going Vegan than if every person was to go out and buy a Prius tomorrow. There are a lot of article links on my website at http://www.veganpersonaltraining.com if anyone is interested in knowing how going Vegan helps the Planet.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I did the Body For Life challenge in 2000 and was amazed at what my body was capable of in just 12 short weeks of weight training and proper diet. It inspired me to become a Personal Trainer and seek out the most knowledgeable people I could find in the fitness community.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
The emphasis of my diet is on “clean” unprocessed carbs, dark leafy greens, high protein Vegetarian sources, limited amounts of fruits and healthy fats such as Flax Seed Oil, Avocados and nuts in limited amounts. I eat every three hours and drink at least a gallon of water a day
A highly qualified Dietitian named Chuck Rudolph created a diet plan for me based on my height, weight, activity level, etc. He’s been training athletes, doing Bodybuilding and Figure Competition diets as well as everyday lifestyle diets for years and the changes in my physique since hiring him have been astounding.
More information on Chuck and his diet plans is available on my website at http://www.veganpersonaltraining.com
How would you describe your training program?
One hour of cardio a day 5 days a week at a medium to low intensity level, weight training 4 times a week and two rest days per week. My Dietitian/Trainer makes adjustments to my training program (and diet if necessary) every 3 weeks.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
I do ALOT of Protein Shakes in the form of Soy, Pea and Hemp. This allows me to keep my protein high enough to maintain and continue to build lean muscle tissue. The only other supplement I take is Xtend by Scivation. It is the BEST!
What are some common misconceptions about Veganism?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions exists in the Bodybuilding and Fitness community. There are many that truly believe that you can’t build muscle mass on a Vegan diet and it is 150% false. I eat basically the same diet a figure competitor or bodybuilder would; “clean carbs”, healthy fats, and lots of protein. The only difference really is that my protein sources are all Vegan. Robert Cheeke and Dr. Joe DiMarco are prime examples that you can obtain ALOT of muscle on a Vegan diet! And even win shows if that is your goal.
The second misconception is that it is hard. I’m surprised at how easy it actually is. You can call any restaurant in advance to see what choices they have available. You can carry high protein Vegan bars and shakes in your car, purse, briefcase. It’s very easy, and it makes you feel good about yourself to not be supporting the Meat and Dairy Industry.
I’d say the other misconception is that it is unhealthy. I have more energy and look better now than I ever did as a meat eater. I pay attention more to the nutrients in my diet to make sure that I’m getting everything I need. Sure, there are Vegans that have unhealthy diets just like there are Non-Vegans that have unhealthy diets. If you make it a priority to learn what the healthiest foods are, then you will be healthier than you ever thought possible!
What do you think the most important aspect of fitness is?
Self-esteem. When you feel good about yourself, you are a better person for your family, friends and everyone you meet. You can actually be a role model and inspire others. Becoming healthy and fit changes every aspect of your life. You have more energy, you feel better about yourself, you actually like looking in the mirror or trying on clothes! Not to mention the confidence that you get from being disciplined and watching your goals come to fruition. We have to love ourselves first before we can be a good person and inspire others. Being fit and healthy is one of the greatest steps you can take to developing self-love and then you can spread that to others.
What do you like best about being vegan?
What don’t I like about being Vegan?? I am helping the planet and doing the biggest thing I can toward man-made climate change. I’m not supporting an industry that is destroying our environment and depleting all of our resources. I look better, feel better and have more energy than I ever did as a Non-Vegan. I love taking a non-vegan recipe, getting creative and turning it into something Vegan and better tasting! Most of all I love educating people that are curious about this lifestyle and being a positive role model in everyday life.
What do you like best about being fit?
What I like about being fit is also connected to why I like being a Vegan. My favorite moments in life are when someone comes up to me and says, “You look great, what do you do?” And then I can tell them about my lifestyle. I’m not convincing anyone of anything because they approached me. I love answering emails and helping people who really want to change the way they look and feel.
Before I was Vegan, all I cared about was looking good in my clothes. It was all about my own ego. Now the motivation is different, and I feel that I could have a positive impact on others, so it’s never an effort to stay fit anymore. Helping others achieve their dreams and live a better life is far more rewarding than looking great in a pair of jeans.
What are your strengths as an athlete?
My perfectionist side. I am militant when it comes to proper weight training form. It’s far better to do 4 reps in proper form than it is to do 12 to 15 reps not in perfect form. Also, most barriers that people have are mental, not physical. When you are able to push past your own mental barriers, a whole new world of possibilities opens up.
What advice do you have for vegan athletes who are just starting out?
Consult the advice of a professional when it comes to training and diet. If you try to do it on your own and you don’t see things happening, you may get frustrated and give up, or you may get injured. If you find a trainer or dietitian that tells you your goals are not possible on a Vegan diet, find a different one. Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you can’t do, or what isn’t possible.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
First of all, it is the best decision you will ever make, and most rewarding, hands down. Secondly, do your research. You may want to start by experimenting with several Vegan meals throughout the week to get comfortable with the idea. Meanwhile, seek out some knowledgeable books and websites to assist you. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to find out what Vitamins and Minerals you will need to be focused on in a Vegan Diet to ensure optimum health.
What motivates you to continue to be a successful vegan athlete?
Messages that I get from people telling me that I inspired them. That is my motivation to keep going FOREVER, and to help others achieve their dreams!
I never EVER question my decision. The benefits that I’ve experienced as a fit, healthy Vegan are so much more rewarding than I ever experienced as a Non-Vegan.
How has the website www.veganbodybuilding.com helped or inspired you?
Robert Cheeke has been such a positive role model in the Fitness community and Vegan community. He is always planning an event, festival, doing press… anything he can to create a positive image and promote the benefits of Veganism.
It’s been great to have a website and forum to visit daily where we are all of like-mind and have common goals. We support each other and it’s like having a huge extended family all over the world.
Is there anything else you would like to add about your vegan fitness lifestyle?
There are so many aspects of life that we can’t control. We can’t control people or what the universe has in store for us, but we do have control over what we put in our bodies and we do have a choice to get our butts to the gym to do our workouts.
There are so many aspects of life that we don’t have control over, why not take responsibility for the one aspect that you truly can control? What you put into your body and your decision to get as fit as possible!!!
I love answering questions about Veganism, so I invite anyone to send me a message through my website at http://www.veganpersonaltraining.com if I can answer any questions about becoming a Vegan and/or their Fitness, Training and Diet goals.
And just remember, if your not quite ready to make the switch to being a Vegan, by consuming a few meals a week that don’t contain any animal products does help this planet and is a step in the right direction. As Martin Luther King said, “Take the first step in faith… you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”