I have been vegetarian for about 10 years now and vegan for 2.5. Best decisions of my life! I'm a 5'4" 25-year-old lady hoping to lose fat, improve endurance, and get stronger. While I admire the pros who compete, I just want to look a little better and make sure I stay healthy for life.Background:
I was always a little overweight growing up. I'm from a Mexican-American upbringing so it was a mix of the SAD diet and lots of rice/beans growing up. When I was about 13 my nearly-diabetic father decided to take his health into his own hands and began following (this was during the craze of) the Atkins diet and working out daily. I tried going low carb, but learned it wasn't for me (take away yummy carbs while dealing with teenage angst and pms? No thank you.), but overall I began caring about fitness and food at that point. My dad reversed his risk for diabetes and has since become a daily gym rat. His success gave me the inspiration to pay closer attention to the quality of food and I began opting for brown rice, whole grains, more veggies and leaner meats. In an attempt to not be quite so big for a young girl, I had been in dance classes all my life and during high school participated in marching band (fairly physical stuff, if you're not familiar with it. Lots of hot summer days in south Texas where temps can get to 100+!). Very little of this helped me lose the fat I had. I distinctly recall my largest weight, at about 14 years old, was 193lbs. No bueno!
In the middle of high school I went vegetarian after becoming more aware of inhumane production practices and the food industry in general. Going vegetarian began a jumpstart in my weight-loss, and I started working out when marching season was over. I didn't know what I was doing, but I'd do a bunch of cardio and tried weight machines at the gym our family went to. It was not the smartest, most efficient exercise, but I had gotten down to 165lbs before college.
At college I had a little more freedom to eat healthy (and unhealthy) as a vegetarian than I did at home. My hometown was not the most progressive Tex-Mex-border city, but I came to Austin which was probably one of the healthiest, most veg-places I could find in the state. In the interest of getting into better shape, I took some non-credit PE classes (since marching band nixed any instruction in this department during high school) and got more familiar with weight lifting and effective cardio workouts. At the end of college I was down to about 147lbs.
Since college, I have worked various (desk) jobs as a web developer (although I freelance as an artist/animator and work on films when I can, since that's what I have a degree in!) and went vegan. While I love to work out and eat healthy, the 8-hour a day grind has always come with setbacks in terms of energy drain and stress. However, at some point last year I got myself down to 139lbs because I was running a lot, trying to do my first little 5ks and 8ks ever. I've since had some ups and downs and have spent the past 6 months overworking myself via freelance and full-time work. The extra work and its stress have made it difficult to keep things up, and I'm back up to around 145lbs or so.
I am lucky to now work in an environment that cares about health and offers adjustable desks (so we can stand!) and lots of healthy snack options in the break room. I've been here a month and have been trying to get my fitness on here and there. My freelance work that has kept me so busy has finally wrapped up, and I am ready to get a little more serious about my workout and improve my health!Fitness:
I mentioned above that I am somewhat familiar with weight training. My heaviest squat was somewhere near 180lbs, but that was during the classes I took in college. Right now I'm at around 110lbs on a really heavy day. My bench press has always been weak, but when spotted I recall lifting about 80lbs for my heaviest lift in college. It's harder to get a gym buddy these days, so I do most of my workouts solo these days. I'm a bit at a loss for what to do right now, and I've tried some of the workout ideas on Stumptuous.com, but I've been struggling to get to the gym as frequently as I'd like. It's been a few months since I've been able to add more weight, but I've also had weeks where I was too busy with my freelance projects to get to the gym.
I am also into yoga and running. I've found that even though I hate it, the difficulty accompanied with running is what makes it an effective endurance and cardio exercise for me. The most I ever run in a session is 5mi, often mixing walking and jogging. I generally run about 2-3 miles a session lately, mostly on a treadmill so I can keep track of my distance and time (it's hot here. running outside is the devil and idk how people do it everday. More power to them). I like to do yoga as often as I can, but taking classes can be pricey so the most I will go is once a week. I can do a few vinyasas on my own and follow youtube videos, but being in the class is far more beneficial. I'm a big believer in focusing on lifting to build muscle and burn fat, though, and I think focusing on making my weight lifting more efficient will help me most.Eating:
I have always been a fan of healthy eating, but tend to also enjoy the more sinful vegan cooking: namely vegan junk food and baking. I try to keep it in check by eating more whole foods, greens, and fruits, but I love chocolate and lattes and indulge at least a couple of times a week. I'll also enjoy some probably-bad-for-you thai dishes like curry and noodles, but only every so often (because they taste so good!). I know this and my inability to count calories consistently are not doing me any favors in the fat-loss department, but I love food a lot and have trouble giving it up
As someone who was always a little big and from a fairly big family, it is my habit to eat a lot, too.
At the moment I am experimenting with Intermittent Fasting. I just did my first fasted workout and am waiting for the second I can start eating my first meal! After a few days of fasting, I have noticed that I eat about as much at lunch as I would if I had eaten earlier in the day, but kind of did some damage by eating out with my family for father's day last night
Anyway, that's me. I'm a little too shy to post my pictures just yet, but I did take my own "before" photos last night in hopes to motivate myself to do it weekly and see some progress.Non-Fitness/health stuff about me:
I have a cute pet bunny, I love to draw, I play guitar and enjoy music (my favorite band is AFI, and even though it's a little lame to admit, I might not be vegan without their influence in those teen days). I love to cook and experiment with veganizing non-vegan recipes. I'm a big fan of film and television, and I studied film and television in college. My dream is to work in animated film full-time, but for now I work as a web developer and freelance for the dream-related work. I will say, the vegan/health documentaries out there are always inspiring to me as a cross-section of my passions, film and food! It'd be rad to work on a documentary or film about veganism someday.