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Name: Jennifer Nicol
Age: 34
Height: 5’6”
Weight: 140 lbs.
Birthplace: Canada
Current Residence: Toronto, Canada
Sports: Weight Training, Core Fitness Training, Stretch and Yoga practice, Spinning, Cycling, Short distance Runner (5-8km), Participant in Charity Runs.

Why did you become Vegan?
My choice to become a vegan was very easy. Once I had researched the pros and cons of the vegan diet, the scientific research made the decision for me! I had been vegetarian on and off for years and always wondered if I could make the full crossover into living on a diet that contained no animal by-products. Ultimately, I made the decision after reading enough supporting data from a multitude of sources. I am confident the only way to live a healthy, strong and disease–free existence is on a vegan diet.

When did you become interested in Fitness?
I have been interested in fitness since I was a teenager. I was the first out all of my friends to have a gym membership. My body type is not petite, I have big bones and big muscle mass. I learned years ago that if I don’t constantly work my muscles, my body does not look or feel its best.

How would you describe your Nutrition Program?
When describing my nutrition program, one thing I say a lot is “The Choice is always WHOLE, FRESH and SIMPLE!” The phrase says it all. I limit processed vegan food items such as patties, baked goods, yogurts and cheeses. Processed foods often contain an abundance of chemicals and high levels of salt and refined sugars. By choosing WHOLE, FRESH and SIMPLE foods, there is no need to worry about spiking salt and sugar levels.

On a daily basis, I try to keep my carbohydrate and caloric intake within a certain range but I do NOT count calories or stress about a low-carb diet. I choose WHOLE foods that offer maximum nutrition with little to no excess. I regularly treat myself to raw and/or unprocessed desserts and purchase certified organic foods whenever possible.

How would you describe your Training program?
My training program is all about blood flowing through the muscles on a daily basis. I enjoy attending fitness classes and having my workouts at the gym whenever possible. However, when the weather is nice or I can’t get to the gym, I train outside, at home, or on the go.

When at home I use my yoga mat, skipping rope and dumbbells to complete a total body blast full of crunches, squats, burpees, push-ups, curls and more. When traveling, I search out fitness tools like accessible stairs to climb or a nearby park that I can run in.

If none of the above is possible, I make sure to stretch often and walk rapidly throughout the entire day, everywhere possible. Being fit is a constant commitment to the muscles that you have worked hard to build.

What kind of supplements do you use if any?
I take vitamin B12 every day. This is the most important vitamin supplement. Other supplements I use are in the form of vegan protein powders or bars. Again, the key is in the ingredients. I keep it SIMPLE.

What are some of the common misconceptions about Veganism?
People have this idea that someone who follows a vegan diet is weak and has an extreme diet to maintain. This is the total opposite of what a vegan diet brings to one’s life. A plant-based diet consists of nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables, beans, grains, seeds, nuts and other whole foods. It is not complicated.

What do you think the most important aspect of fitness is?
By far, the most important aspect of fitness is hard work. Anyone can achieve a fit body with dedication and hard work. There is no magic pill or quick fix; fitness is a life-long commitment that offers the biggest rewards.

What do you like best about being Vegan?
The best part of being vegan is knowing that everything I eat is clean and free of unnecessary additives.

What are your strengths as an athlete?
I am a strong cyclist and swimmer.

What advice do you have for Vegan athletes who are just starting out?
Nutrition is the key to exceeding fitness goals. Be good to yourself throughout the entire day, not just after a workout. When the body has more muscle mass it needs more fuel, more often! Eat frequently and always keep protein bars that are made from whole, simple foods with you.

What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming Vegan?
If you’re thinking of becoming vegan, do it! You will be amazed by how much stronger your body feels. Begin by introducing vegan foods into your diet at your own pace. It is a lifestyle change that has incredible health benefits.

What motivates you to continue to be a successful vegan athlete?
Results motivate me.

How has the website www.veganbodybuilding.com helped or inspired you?
The website is an excellent source of trusted information within the vegan fitness community. I am truly inspired and humbled by all of the incredible people who have achieved their outstanding physiques through hard work and a vegan diet.

For more information about Jennifer, go to her blog at
http://www.jennynatural.blogspot.com/
Or follow her on Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/JennyNatural