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    Older articles from the original Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness website.
    Dear Superintendent,
    I have recently become aware of the fact that your school district promotes and supports the MilkMustache Campaign aimed to encourage school children (and their parents) to consume milk and otherdairy products for optimal health. I find this alarming and very concerning because in reality, students'health is being jeopardized by the assumption that cow's milk is a healthy food for humans.
    There have been an array of studies conducted on both human and non-human animals revealingthe staggering correlations between the consumption of animal based foods, and the likelihood ofdeveloping degenerative diseases. The most comprehensive study ever conducted on the relationshipbetween diet and disease (The China Project) found 367 correlations linking the consumption of casein(the primary protein found in milk) and the development of disease. Casein has been scientificallyproven to be carcinogenic and one of the leading causes of not only death, but common illnesses such asobesity in North America.

    The Milk Mustache Official Website states "Milk is kids' top breakfast beverage" and claims to be "theleading source of 10 nutrients in kids' diets," in a survey sponsored by Kelloggs. The website alsostates, "Mom's Top 5 School Day Breakfast Foods" as:
    1. Cereal
    2. Eggs
    3. Toast
    4. Waffles
    5. Pancakes
    The problem is that milk and the other foods listed as being favorites or important in a child's diet arenot health-promoting foods. By continuing to encourage the consumption of dairy products within aneducational setting of young, impressionable students, you run the risk of increasing the likelihoodthat the students will develop obesity, type 2 Diabetes, and a host of other preventable, debilitatingdiseases. Because the Milk Mustache Campaign portrays celebrity figures, children helplessly follow theendorsement by famous people they resonate with.
    A solution to this very serious health problem is the immediate removal of the Milk Mustache CampaignAds along with developing a stronger district-wide understanding between the relationship of milkconsumption and fat gain, as well as other adverse health implications. Further recommendations areto consider that the primary sources of nutrition, which all children need for a healthy start in life, comefrom plant-based whole foods. These consist of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds and legumes. Theyprovide the richest sources of macro and micronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins andminerals) and even aid in the prevention and reversal of disease.
    I would be happy to meet with school district representatives to form a committee to create a trulyhealthy learning environment for our children that is free from corporate and agribusiness influence. Ilook forward to working with you to find more sound solutions for a healthier future for our children.
    -Robert Cheeke
    For more information about the T. Colin Campbell Plant-Based Nutrition Certification Course, please visit www.ecornell.com/robertcheeke
    Robert Cheeke


    Miso Soup

    By Guest, in Articles, from legacy VBBF website,

    Miso Soup
    by Robert Cheeke, February 28th, 2004
    (serves 6-

    1 tsp. toasted or regular sesame oil
    2-3 green onions, chopped small
    4 cups water or stock
    1/4 cup dark miso
    1 Tbsp. tamari soy sauce
    1/8 tsp. sea kelp
    Cayenne pepper to taste
    2-3 oz (50-60 g) regular tofu, diced into 1/8-inch cubes
    Optional: 10-16 leaves spinach or chard, chopped

    Heat the oil and sauté the green onion until tender, then add all the remaining ingredients (except the tofu and greens). Use a wire whisk to help mix the miso while stirring over medium-low heat. When the miso has dissolved, add the tofu and greens and let everything simmer on low heat for 8-12 minutes until the greens are tender. Correct the seasonings as desired. Serve hot. Keeps 3-6 days refrigerated. Do not freeze. Don't allow the soup to boil at any time, especially while reheating.

    Robert Cheeke

    Moderate Protein/Calorie Intake Bodybuilding Nutrition Program
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, August 27th, 2005

    Fruit smoothie with orange juice, strawberries, blueberries, bananas and Vega Meal Replacement Powder
    Bowl of vegan cereal with soymilk
    2 bagels with hummus
    16oz water

    Raw Food bar
    1 bowl of citrus fruit
    2 servings of protein mix (peanuts, pumpkin seeds, soynuts, granola, sunflower seeds, almonds)
    16oz water

    4 servings of marinated tofu
    2 yams
    Large green salad
    16oz natural fruit juice

    Vega Meal Replacement Powder mixed with 12oz juice or water
    2 bananas with almond butter
    16oz water

    4 slices of homemade vegan pizza
    Plate of brown rice, green beans, kidney beans, and peas.
    16oz chocolate soymilk

    4 servings of seaweed chips
    2 servings of pineapple
    16oz water Robert Cheeke

    From Thursday, February 27th through Monday, March 31st, The Reebok CrossFitOpen was my competition. One workout was released each Thursday at 5pm andeach athlete had until the following Monday at 5pm to submit their score.One workout was released each week for five straight weeks. Each person’sscore was the total average of their five performances. Over 209,000 peoplesigned up for the CrossFit Open. Of those, there were 81,141 men competingworldwide. In the Northern California Region, there were 3,709 men. Theseguys were my more specific competition. Now let me share how this all wentdown for me.
    The first workout was 14.1.

    Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 10 minutes of:
    30 double-unders
    15 power snatches, 75 lbs.
    I did this workout on the first Saturday. I only got 286 reps. This scorewas not good enough for me, since a lot of the other people doing theworkout at my gym that day got a better score. I decided to repeat it againon Monday. My mind weighed heavy with how well I would perform the secondtime through. This was a smart move. My final score that Monday was 308total reps. That was 6 full rounds, 30 double-unders, and 8 snatches. Thisput me in 568th place for my region. Not the best start, but I had four moreworkouts to try and improve my placing. (You can watch my open workout videohere:
    The following week came 14.2

    Every 3 minutes for as long as possible complete:
    From 0:00-3:00
    2 rounds of:
    10 overhead squats
    10 chest-to-bar pull-ups
    From 3:00-6:00
    2 rounds of:
    12 overhead squats
    12 chest-to-bar pull-ups
    From 6:00-9:00
    2 rounds of:
    14 overhead squats
    14 chest-to-bar pull-ups
    Etc., following same pattern until you fail to complete both rounds
    MEN - includes Masters Men up to 54 years old
    95-lb. overhead squats
    Chest-to-bar pull-ups
    I did this workout the Saturday of that week. I did this workout last out ofeveryone at my gym, and I beat the best score by 4 reps. I got half waythrough the 16’s round and got 4 additional overhead squats before the timeran out. I felt good with this score and left it at that. This was worth322nd place in the region. This was also the week that I was added onto acustom leaderboard of only vegans and vegetarians. A member of the FacebookGroup Vegans & Vegetarians as Rx’d made a custom leaderboard that hadover 40 veg athletes on it. As one of the few faces of Vegan CrossFit, Iknew I wanted to get to the top of this board. This 2nd workout put me in3rd place.
    During these five weeks, my entire focus was on how well I would performthese Open workouts. It took my focus off of my usual strength training, andI ended up skipping other days at the gym because I was worried I wouldn’tbe recovered enough for the Open workouts. To be involved in a competitionfor 5 weeks was proving to be stressful.
    For the following week, 14.3 was

    Complete as many reps as possible in 8 minutes of:
    135-lb. deadlifts, 10 reps
    15 box jumps, 24-inch
    185-lb. deadlifts, 15 reps
    15 box jumps, 24-inch
    225-lb. deadlifts, 20 reps
    15 box jumps, 24-inch
    275-lb. deadlifts, 25 reps
    15 box jumps, 24-inch
    315-lb. deadlifts, 30 reps
    15 box jumps, 24-inch
    365-lb. deadlifts, 35 reps
    15 box jumps, 24-inch
    I repeated this workout twice as well. My deadlift 1 rep max was 435lbs atthe time, so I knew I wanted to get reps in at 315. The first time I didthis, I ran out of time right before I got to the 315 bar. This made anotherlong weekend with anxiety surrounding whether I could improve my score. Igave it another go that Monday. I managed to improve my pace by 1.5 minutes,and I was able to pull 8 deadlifts at 315 lbs, making my final score 138reps! This was good enough for 341st place in the region.
    Workout 14.4 ended up being a long “chipper.” A chipper in CrossFit is anylong workout, one single round, with a lot of movements and reps and youjust simply “chip” away at it. This workout was:

    Complete as many rounds and repetitions as possible in 14 minutes of:
    60-calorie row 
    50 toes-to-bars
    40 wall-ball shots, 20 lb. to 10-foot target
    30 cleans, 135 lb.
    20 muscle-ups
    This workout was designed to be short enough that top level athletes wouldbe able to start a second round if they could complete 20 muscle -ups at theend of this workout. This was another workout I performed on Friday, got ascore that I wasn’t pleased with, and retested on Monday. The only thingwas, I retested and got exactly the same score! I went through all thatstress and hard work for nothing. I improved my speed by a full minute, butthen got stuck on the muscle-ups. I managed to get 6 reps on the rings, somy total score was 186. This was a lousy 561st place finish. This did helpmy placing on the Vegans & Vegetarians as Rx’d Leaderboard. It was goodenough to bump me into 2nd place. Now I was only 2 points behind 1st place,and I knew a few things would have to work my way for me to take the lead.
    Then, the final workout 14.5 came around. This was a simple couplet of:

    21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of:
    95 lb. thrusters
    Bar-Facing Burpees
    The unique component of this workout was that it was “for time,” which meansyou had to keep going regardless of how long it took. Your final score wasyour total time. All of the other CrossFit Open workouts have been AMRAPs(as many reps as possible) since the inception of the Open. This was goingto be a rough one for a lot of people. The best in the world finished thisworkout in 8.5 minutes, while others took over an hour to get this done. Idid this workout on that Friday and finished in 14:13. I didn’t know wherethis would place me on the Vegans Leaderboard. I also was on another customLeaderboard for the gym I train at called GrassRoots CrossFit. I am the onlyvegan coach there, and knew I wanted to have a good score. I once againrepeated this workout hoping to improve my score. Once again, I wasn’t ableto improve my first score. I stuck with my first attempt, submitted myscore, and hoped for the best.
    I was not sure where this would place me on the Vegans & Vegetarians asRx’d Leaderboard, The GrassRoots CrossFit Leaderboard, the NorthernCalifornia Regional Leaderboard, or the Worldwide CrossFit Open Leaderboard.I would find out by the end of the day.
    As it turns out, that final score for 14.5 was good enough to bump me into1st Place on the Vegans & Vegetarians as Rx’d Leaderboard, 1st Place onthe GrassRoots CrossFit Leaderboard, 359th Place out of 3,709 on theNorthern California Regional Leaderboard, and 6,419th Place out of 81,141men worldwide. Not only did I manage to take 1st Place out of all the veganscompeting, I was able to take 1st Place in my gym as well and beat out allthe other coaches and members who follow a Paleo diet. My score in theNorthern California Region put me in the top 10% of the region, and myworldwide ranking put me in the top 8% of male CrossFitters worldwide. It’snot the best, but I am proud to show what a vegan athlete can do. I’d alsolike to remind every single meat eating CrossFitter out there; I just beatover 92% of the world. Think about that before you justify killing an animalin the name of improving health or performance.

    Ed Bauer

    Most of my articles here on VeganBodybuilding.com have been technical, but I'd like to get personal for my last featured article as a sponsored athlete. As a vegan who is in the public eye (I hope that doesn't sound too incredibly pompous), I often hesitate to share the less flattering stages of my journey, or even any injuries or setbacks that might cast a negative light on veganism. A role model is someone who is looked up to because of what they appear to be, after all. While it's great to have an ideal to strive for, baring flaws and sharing lessons learned the hard way helps those who are just discovering how to get from point A to point B, in this case from non-vegan or new to the gym to fit vegan role model! There is so much speculation among the vegan athlete community about everything from proper protein intake to intermittent fasting to macronutrient ratios to finding just the right supplements...and that dialogue is no different than you would find among any community of athletes! We're all looking for what is going to improve performance and make us look our best. I just want to share with you what my major lessons learned have been, after going over seven years of meticulous photo records, workout journals, and food journals kept as I experimented with all of the diet, fitness, and supplement variations that Derek Tresize and I could come up with. They are:
    A whole foods, plant-based diet is key, and everything else is just window dressing.

    Hard work in the gym is necessary - that means lifting and cardiovascular exercise within reason and with recovery time scheduled.
    First, let me say that I don't have good genetics for bodybuilding, and most people don't. What you see in some of these pictures is the result of daily hours in the gym and hard dieting, and that same amount of Herculean effort yields far better results in someone with the right genetics (such as Derek Tresize, who eats the same food and works out the same way I do)! I am only ever trying to be at my personal best, and my definition of that state is always changing.

    I was obese for most of my childhood and all of my adolescence. Whether my portions were large or small, I ate a good chunk of it in the form of dairy. By the time I went vegan in 1999, no amount of diligent exercise seemed to slow my progress into morbid obesity. I'd tried weightlifting, daily hard cardio, calorie-counting, and portion control with only temporary results, if any.
    Seven years of an unhealthy vegan diet yielded a fifty-pound weight loss. I'd gone vegan for ethical reasons and still cooked the same foods I'd eaten before, but “veganized” - I even fried my own donuts sometimes! Yuck.
    When Derek and I began our life together in 2007, my veganism eventually combined with his athleticism and bro-science-based diet into a style of eating that we see in many of our new clients today: more whole plant foods, but also lots of protein powder, protein bars, and various other supplements. Having been vegan already for so long, I knew that I didn't need the protein supplements to keep me out of the hospital, but I thought I might need them in order to see results from the hard training I was now doing in the gym. I was gaining muscle, but had little muscle definition and didn't know what to do about it.
    Between 2007 and 2009 we adopted a more “nutritarian” style of eating, a term coined by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of Eat to Live. This meant way more greens and beans and, over time, less protein supplementation and the elimination of oil from our diet. I quickly dropped 12 pounds of fat and finally started to look leaner. We learned a lot about contest prep as well, and how much work it takes to get lean enough (for most except for a few lucky souls) to get muscle definition. Although we were eating mostly whole foods, we still thought we had to adopt a vegan version of the sort of diets you see in muscle magazines to achieve our goals of looking lean and muscular enough for a few days before a photo shoot...Because that's all it is: a few days at best! Like some of you may be, I still thought it was possible for anyone to maintain a look like that indefinitely if enough work was put in. So, I put in a lot of hours in the gym, ate far less than I should have, and continued to limit starches and fruits.
    Pregnancy in 2011 changed everything for me for a while! Back pain due to scoliosis had me training less over time, while simultaneously I was eating more processed foods like bagels or meals out of convenience. I could no longer take supplements of any kind and even cut out caffeine, even to this day. This, combined with new motherhood and a lower back that could not tolerate many exercises, was quite a setback for me! I wondered if I'd ever again “bring the intensity” to the gym, as Derek likes to say. Fortunately, the decision to join the Plantbuilt team in the women's bodybuilding division got me in gear. In eight months, I lost 23 pounds of fat and gained 5½ pounds of muscle. Our contest prep this time around was drastically different than it had been in the past: almost all of our protein came from whole foods. Eating in this fashion, with minimal protein powder and no faux meat, allowed us both to get the leanest we'd ever been. Derek was clearly the biggest and leanest competitor in the men's bodybuilding division, winning his class, and I didn't embarrass myself, which was my goal!

    It is now 2014, and I have seven years of training and diet changes with their associated results to review and analyze to determine my next move. Throughout the years, my diet remained low in fat but my carbohydrate intake increased dramatically while protein decreased. I supplement with protein powder maybe three times a week, and I certainly don't limit starches or fruit anymore! Looking at the seven year span over which I ate various styles of a plant-based diet, I don't see a dramatic difference. Do I look better than I did when I ate more protein? Maybe, maybe not — but I am also training less, and in my opinion it's not enough of a difference to burden my body with processed food and excess protein. Again, my goals have shifted and my aim is now to be as fit as possible while eating a whole foods, plant-based diet with minimal supplements, both to maximize my longevity and health and because I think it makes a better case for a vegan diet.
    This evolution of diet can be seen in much greater detail by looking through our blog, Vegan Muscle and Fitness, with posts going all the way back to 2009! Thanks for joining me on my journey!
    Marcella Torres

    There is an overabundance of fitness and nutrition plans out there - many of which are available for free on the internet. Unfortunately, having so many options can cause a novice lifter more harm than good. Which program should I try? How often do I need to change plans? Which nutrition plan goes with which exercise routine? These are just a few of the questions that I hear from clients all the time, and with new 'breaking research' coming out in every monthly edition of Flex magazine, it's no wonder people aren't sure what to do.

    To help anyone interested in building their own best body determine what's important versus what's asinine, I've outlined my top three tips on building an awesome physique below.

    1) Nothing matters as much as your foundation of nutrition, hydration, and sleep. If these basic components aren't optimized, your results will be seriously undermined. A majority of novice to intermediate weight lifters in a gym are making this mistake every day. They've either been doing the exact same program with the exact same amount of weight for years without paying any attention to these variables, or they bounce around from one routine to the next every time they read about a new 'perfect program'. I've personally been a victim of this second mistake, and I know firsthand how frustrating it is to feel like you're putting your all into the latest and greatest routine, but getting virtually no results. Of all my periods of greatest progress as a bodybuilder, I can confidently say that a majority of them came from addressing one of these basic components.

    2) When it comes to training, three things are more important than anything else: Form, Focus, and Intensity of effort. The type of program you follow is almost secondary to these points. Yes, there is an optimal plan for everyone, but if your form is off you aren't technically doing the same exercises or providing the same stimulus for your body. Likewise, if your mind is wandering or you're just going through the motions of your program you won't be nearly as successful as if you are mentally engaged in every rep, contracting your muscles hard and reminding yourself why you are there and what you're trying to accomplish. And, of course, if you train with maximum intensity for every set of every workout, you will be amazed at how fast you can improve your physique. So long as your routine hits all the major muscle groups intensely (with some compound exercises) and provides adequate recovery periods, mastering these three points will make the difference in where you will be a month or a year from now.

    3) Consistency is your greatest tool for success. Bodybuilding is an endurance sport. No, you don't have to run marathons to get into top shape, but you will have to be consistent for months and years if you want to truly realize your potential. So many people get stuck thinking they are doing everything they can without results, not realizing that they are in fact only getting half of their workouts and meals in until I have them start keeping training/nutrition journals. We all have a tendency to remember our good behavior a lot more clearly than our bad behavior. Start by keeping a journal and really holding yourself accountable to getting all your meals and all your workouts in. If you're not actually following a program you have no way of gauging whether or not it's working for you, but if you build good habits and follow these tips for months and years (not days and weeks) you will be shocked by the ways you can transform your body! Be patient and give your body the time it needs to realize the changes you seek! Derek Tresize

    On July 30th 2011 I had the fantastic experience of competing in the NANBFWashington State Championships (http://www.unitedfitness.org/results.html), an IFPA pro qualifying show! This was my second contest ever, my firstbeing an NPA show here in Virginia, and what an event! The Washington StateChampionships took place at the famous Moore Theater in downtown Seattle,just two blocks from the waterfront and Pike's Place market. The crowd washuge and loud, the competitors were huge and ripped, and the judges brutallyworked us with their repeated calls for 30-second-plus poses!

    My first competition was a great experience, but it did little to prepare mefor the rigors of posing for NANBF judges! We had to hold quarter turns andmandatory poses for at least 30 seconds, and often much longer than that! Ontop of that, every pose was repeated at least twice, and both sides of thechest and triceps were required. In all it was a marathon posing session,and several competitors were gasping by the end of it, their tans runningoff from sweat!

    When I did my first contest locally there was an even distribution ofin-shape and out-of-shape competitors, so it was fairly easy to tell fromthe get go who would be battling for the overall title by the end of thenight. When I got to the NANBF show I saw that was clearly not the case. Themajority of the competitors were huge and ripped, and since the classes weredivided by height rather than weight I saw early on that I would becompeting against some big guys in my middle height class! As it turned out,the overall winner of the entire show - who was massive and happened toalready be a Pro in another organization - was competing in my class! Thecompetition was definitely high-caliber, so I was thrilled to make the topthree of seven and felt I had done well in representing veganbodybuilding.

    The audience was another awesome surprise at this show - I've heard quietercrowds at rock concerts! Even when watching the Olympia - bodybuilding'sbiggest contest - the audience never seems to get too loud or rowdy, but atthis show they went crazy for every competitor and were screaming for theirfavorites during posesdowns and awards! This was completely new to myexperience of bodybuilding and I can honestly say when I walked on stage todo my posing routine and the crowd went wild it made the event for me! Whata blast!

    On top of all the excitement of the show, I had the honor to competealongside fellow vegan bodybuilder Ed Bauer. Ed and I were in differentclasses, but we spent all our time together back stage giving each otherfeedback on posing and just general support. Ed is a great bodybuilder and astandup guy, so I couldn't have asked for a better companion while we tannedand pumped up for the battle onstage. There was a great representation forvegan bodybuilding at the show because in addition to Ed and I and ourpartners Marcella Torres and Jade Vanacore, Giacomo Marchese, Dani Taylor,Sara Russert and Jennifer Godfrey all traveled to the show to lend theirsupport! It was a fantastic showing by the vegan bodybuilding community andafter spending time with this group I was thoroughly impressed with everyoneand now consider them all good friends.

    The NANBF Washington State Championships would have been an amazing show inand of itself, but with the added camaraderie from the vegan bodybuildingcommunity and the support all along the way from Robert Cheeke and VeganBodybuilding and Fitness it really become something special that I willremember for the rest of my life. Few bodybuilders get to work with such anincredible support network and fewer still get to represent organizationsthey are truly passionate about, let alone at their second contest ever! Itwas an amazing event and I was honored to be there with such a great team offriends representing the vegan movement.

    Derek Tresize
    BS Biology
    ACE Certified Personal Trainer
    Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition
    Contact: [email protected]

    Derek Tresize

    As I type this, it’s the night of February 27, 2014. The Reebok CrossFit Games Open has officially started. At 5:00 PM PST, they announced the first of five workouts. This one is titled 14.1. One workout will be released each week at the same time for the next four weeks. I, along with 174, 508 athletes across the world, have registered and are ready to give everything we have to the worldwide Open competition. This is the moment that I have been waiting for since July 2013. I have been training week in and week out, eating to fuel my recovery, constantly focusing on improving myself as an athlete, all for this moment. So, the workout is:
    In 10 minutes, as many reps as possible of:
    30 x Double-Unders
    15 x Barbell Snatches at 75lbs
    I actually completed this workout a few weeks ago during regular training because this is a repeat of the first Open Workout of 2011. I scored 276 reps, which was 6 completed rounds and 6 additional reps. To give you some perspective of what the best CrossFit athlete in the world could do, in 2011 Rich Froning completed 448 reps. That is 2 reps shy of 10 full rounds. He is also the guy who won the CrossFit Games for the last 3 years in a row. For those of you still unfamiliar with CrossFit, it is a training program that tests power, speed, strength, flexibility, endurance, agility, coordination, stamina, balance, and accuracy. In other words, an athlete who can snatch 300 lbs. overhead and run a sub-5 minute mile does really well in CrossFit. I shifted to this style of training in 2011 because I felt bodybuilding was not a complete picture of what it means to be healthy. Though I was strong and lean, I had no flexibility and pretty terrible endurance. I now have the benefit of all 10 components of fitness since I practice them regularly with CrossFit. I am nowhere close to setting any records with some of the best athletes in the world, but I am going to give it my all, regardless.

    I am doing this workout on Saturday, March 1, which will be judged and videotaped. My goal is to complete 7 rounds and 30 additional doubles-unders. That would give me a score of 345. This is a lofty goal, but I might as well aim high. I am representing for all the vegan athletes out there every day that are told they cannot succeed if they eat tofu. I am competing to show that 34 years old isn’t “past your prime.” I am competing because I accept the pain and humility it takes to truly achieve success. I am competing to always test myself and to constantly pursue getting better. With this drive, I will never give in. I am taking on the entire world of CrossFit, and I want to be a part of showing that vegans can excel in any path we choose.

    Ed Bauer

    By Robert Cheeke, author of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness — The Complete Guide to Building Your Body on a Plant-Based Diet — plant-based nutrition certified - Cornell University
    If there is one thing we can all count on, as predictable as fireworks on the fourth of July, it is that Americans will set their sights on new goals for the New Year. This is tradition, like a family gathering around the holidays. It's what we do. Though setting New Year's resolutions are something we say we're committed to year after year, how sincere is the vow really? When was the last time you achieved your New Year's resolution? When did your efforts continue past the first 30 days into the New Year? How many times did you find one excuse after the other to tell yourself why next year is a better time than now to focus on that goal?
    When we consciously decide what our New Year's resolutions are going to be and reveal them to those around us, most of our goals tend to be aimed at health and fitness. This could mean the cessation of a bad habit or the beginning of a fitness program, or even a dramatic change in diet, all in the name of increasing our happiness. That's what most New Year's resolutions are really about. They're not ultimately about losing weight, quitting smoking, making more money or being a better friend or partner to someone. They are about the biggest goal of all, the pursuit of happiness.
    Perhaps the reason many of us fail to achieve our annual goals we promise is because we're working toward something for the wrong reasons. If we're trying to achieve a temporary goal, it is easy to either attain it and then fall back into the same patterns that led us to want to create a change in the first place, or give up because it can be put off for another time. Focusing on arbitrary amounts of weight to lose, numbers of calories to consume or burn, a personal best time in a race, or any other like goal, loses sight of the overall objective, which is to find happiness. The reasons we strive for these specific goals of weight loss, change in diet and health habits, or financial gain is because we're often unhappy and we think those achievements will shift our life in a positive direction. The truth is, the typical (and there seem to be only a few that most of us share) New Year's resolutions are masks, covering the underlying issues involving self-improvement.
    Rather than trying to burn fat and build bigger biceps while riding your bike more and spending quality time with your dog, think about finding a deep meaning in every one of those areas. Why do you want to do those things? What will achievement in those areas mean to you and how will it improve your life? For example, rather than focusing on losing 20 pounds, how about finding sincere meaning in exercise and incorporating it into your daily or weekly routine, adding year-round happiness to your life? Rather than creating a resolution to fix one area of life, why not focus on discovering your passions and incorporating those activities into your life as often as possible? Rather than dragging yourself to the gym when you don't want to go, find the types of exercises you do love, such as dancing, skiing, swimming, playing basketball, going for a bike ride, or walking with a partner, friend, family member or animal companion. Find what moves you and inspires you to want to be healthy and active.
    Motivation shouldn't just show up at the end of December and fade away in February or March. Identifying the meaningful things in your life, incorporating the activities that you're passionate about and prioritizing time to experience those things on a regular basis is a much more effective way to achieve long-term happiness. Your personal best isn't the result of working toward the same few goals that everyone else has. You're at your best when you're engaged in meaningful activities for the right reasons, on your own terms, on a regular basis, adding joy to your life and to those around you.
    There is no logical reason to begin anew and set your sights on a brighter future at the beginning of the year. We have the beginning of each month, each week and each day — all of these options are just as appropriate starting positions for your own pursuit of happiness. I suggest today is the perfect day to find your new motivation, discover your own passions and create your personal best.
    Happy New Year, no matter what day it is. Today is your new beginning. You can and will achieve because you are now pursuing your goals for all the right reasons.
    Since many New Year's resolutions have to do with health and fitness, here are five simple actions to take to ensure you'll be on the right track, all year long:
    Healthful Tips for the Holidays
    Eat whole plant foods and minimize consumption of processed and refined foods, even during the holidays.

    Start your day with a walk in the morning and finish your day with a walk in the evening. This will help burn fat by exercising on an empty stomach in the morning and will burn calories after consuming our typically most calorically-dense meal in the evening.

    Meditate or practice deep breathing, focusing on your breath and being present for 15-30 minutes (or more) a day.

    Stay active even during the colder months. Winter means colder weather, but you can still find ways to stay active by taking up indoor sports, going to a gym, or adding layers of clothing. Don't let the seasons dictate your level of activity.

    Do something nice for someone this time of year. Prepare a healthy meal for someone in need, help keep animal companions warm during the winter months, be a supporter of other people's goals, and give sincere compliments when you see hard work paying off. Smile often and see how that helps support your own enthusiasm for your own goals this season. Robert Cheeke

    The older I get, the more my vision — my life lenses, my perspective — changes. As an adult my perception of myself is continually altered, and gradually I become less self-aware physically, or allow my self-worth to be tainted by societal norms or expectations. Unfortunately, the end of the calendar year has encroached into my brain, and now my mind is consumed with drastic changes in my diet and workouts, and interpersonal growth. These are all wonderful and admirable, but what happens when I mess up, or when I get sick and can't go to the gym and want soup because my throat hurts, or when I fall down a flight of stairs on my tailbone and cannot do the workouts set out before me? Did my New Year's resolution set me up for failure?
    These questions got me thinking how we often start out our New Year strong, with ambition and drive to change every single thing about ourselves, our lives, finances, style, eating habits, and so forth. Yet, only a few days, weeks, or months later, we wake up in the morning strapped to our beds with guilt for having missed the gym the day before, for eating that carrot cake when it wasn't a cheat day, for taking an extra hour to sleep because we are feeling run down, or *gasp* because the little one got sick. None of these things should make us feel guilty; they should only gently nudge us to do better today! Why then — when this method does not create lasting positive change — are we so harsh on ourselves? There must be a better, genuinely life-changing way to go about our newfound New Year's resolution, right?
    Perhaps the very notion of making "New Year's Resolutions" traps us into a race for perfection. It insinuates that without a resolution we are failures, yet if we fail at our resolution, then are we failures? No! There is absolutely nothing wrong with making resolutions, but we should definitely be more reasonable and allow ourselves room to grow and to be loving to ourselves. I've comprised a short list of not only feasible, but also quickly attainable, resolution-aids; I hope they are as helpful for you as they are for me!
    1. Have clear direction and motives
    The way I see it is, either we want instant gratification, or a lifetime of positive improvement. If what we truly want is a lifetime of positive improvement, we must not go about our changes blindly or bull-headedly. Directions can be confusing, and if what you've tried in the past didn't work, wasn't lasting, or didn't cause you to strive toward bettering yourself, your directions probably weren't clear enough. Meeting with a trainer or a friend that is a current gym-goer, and comprising a system, goals, and implementing an effective method for your program should definitely be your first step.
    2. Cut yourself some slack--while changing the size of your slacks
    Lose weight and look great! Let's throw “feel great” in the mix too, eh? If your goal is to lose weight, please do not try to do this by starving yourself or by making a short-term astronomical commitment, i.e. "In 2014 I am going to the gym 6 days a week!" While that is a wonderful decision, if you haven't been able to or diligent in going to the gym for the past few months or years, start slowly. Going to the gym 2-3 times a week is just as admirable, and in the process, you will undoubtedly be encouraging someone else who is scared to start. Remember, you have the power to influence others just by starting and following through!
    3. Only a few numbers actually count
    Instead of putting a number on your weight loss goal, I encourage you to find a realistic image of someone who has a similar body frame as you to work toward. When I first started lifting weights, I really had NO idea how to get where I wanted to go, but I was determined. I found out who Jennifer Nicole Lee, Jamie Eason, and eventually Dana Linn Bailey were, and I went hard toward my version of them. I took magazines with their pictures in them with me to the gym, and I did whatever the magazines said would build my arms, my abs, my legs. The emphasis was on how I felt in my clothes and what I saw in the mirror, not the numbers on the scale. In fact, to be honest, I still only get weighed at the doctor, before competitions, or if someone asks me. My encouragement for you this January is to do the same. The measurements that are important to me are the ones made with the measuring tape around my quads and biceps as they grow!! The numbers that may be important to you may be your blood pressure and cholesterol dropping, and that's something that could drive you! Make reasonable goals that you know you can stick to, and remember your worth is never measured by your clothing size or the amount of muscle you have.
    4. Seek Support
    If you KNOW you won't go to the gym without someone else making you, hire a trainer! Or, a more affordable approach, find someone at the gym that works out at times that fit your schedule, and ask them to text or call you. Ask yourself what will keep you on track, make a realistic plan, and do it! Social media can be a major motivator; keep a picture as your phone background, and let others know so they can help you stay focused. When I have a bad day or am going through a rough phase, I rely heavily on my friends for support. A number of my Plant Built and Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness teammates can attest to this! We will text each other or check in to be inspired and encourage one another. There is nothing wrong with needing help! After all, we were all babies at one point in which our entire existence relied on others. Be open to guidance, suggestions, and people being your support system. We need one another!
    5. Write-it-out while you work-it-out!
    Nothing compares to keeping a journal log of your workouts. Better yet, writing each exercise out AS you do them for future reference. Bodybuilding.com has a 12-week workout planner for you to write in what lifts you did and a space at the bottom for notes. I filled mine out a year or so ago, and it was incredibly encouraging to see my progress. I wasn't comparing myself to anyone other than myself, and THAT is the greatest push! Currently, I am using a simple black notebook from Muji that cost under $5. If you have an iPhone (and your gym has reception) you can use EverNote as well. However you track your workouts is entirely up to you, but just remember to DO IT!
    6. Find what drives you
    Back in 2008, when I first started going to the gym, my motivation was stemming from a negative relationship that had me feeling like I was unattractive, fat, unworthy, and that if I didn't make drastic changes I would be completely unlovable. Throughout the years, my drive has taken many different avenues from that negative space, to a time where my body being the only thing I felt I had control of, to now my workouts are purely positive! My physique is for sharing compassion and love for animals and people. Being my personal best is currently the most effective way to share my passion, and my passion only grows with the passing of time! So, naturally, I will work on improving my physique to continue to set an example.

    Mindy Collette

    Nutrition Guide to Common Foods
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, February 28th, 2004

    High-Protein Foods

    Chick peas
    Kidney beans
    Adzuki beans
    Other beans

    Other nuts and seeds
    Kamut and spelt
    Other whole grains

    High-Calcium Foods

    Black beans
    Chick peas
    Pinto beans
    Sesame seeds
    Dark leafy green vegetables
    Brazil nuts
    Hazelnuts (filberts)
    Sunflower seeds
    Globe artichokes

    High-Magnesium Foods

    Pumpkin and squash seeds
    Sesame seeds
    Other nuts and seeds
    Whole grains
    Dried figs
    Black-eyed peas

    High-Iron Foods

    Dried fruit
    Chick peas
    Black-eyed peas
    Pinto beans
    Whole grains
    Sesame seeds
    Other seeds
    Prune juice
    Dark leafy green vegetables
    Jerusalem artichokes

    High-Zinc Foods

    Brazil nuts
    Lima beans
    Black-eyed peas
    Other dried peas
    Chick peas
    Whole wheat flour
    Corn and cornmeal

    High-Iodine Foods

    Sea Kelp
    Iodized sea salt
    Dark leafy green vegetables

    High-Mineral and Enzyme Foods

    Vegetable juices
    Barley green
    Wheat grass
    Citrus fruit
    Tomato juice

    High B-12 Foods

    Wheat grass
    Barley green
    Blue-green algae
    B-12 fortified foods like texturized vegetable protein (TVP)
    Vitamin supplements

    Vitamin D

    Blue-green algae
    Sunflower seeds

    Essential Oils

    Flax seed/flax seed oil
    Olive oil
    Other natural oils
    Nuts and seeds
    Whole grains


    Herb seasonings
    Herb teas
    Onions Robert Cheeke

    Nutrition Programs by Brendan Brazier
    Meal Programs by Professional Ironman Triathlete/Best-Selling Author Brendan Brazier, January 11th, 2007

    Light to moderate training meal plan

    You'll notice that I eat far fewer calories than many people with a similar training schedule. Since mine are of a "high net gain", meaning they digest and assimilate easily, I get more total energy from my food and don't need to eat as much. This is a rough guide since I "graze" all day.


    Breakfast: 1 cup Nature's Path cereal and soy or rice milk with 1 ½ cups of fruit of choice or 1 ½ cup of Toasted Apple cinnamon cereal and almond milk (recipes in Thrive) with ½ cup fruit of choice (usually mango)

    Snack: Vega Bar + 500ml of coconut water from young coconut

    Lunch: Vega fruit dip (slices of apple, banana, orange) 1/3 serving Natural Vega, 1/3 serving Chocolate Vega, ½ tbsp hemp seeds. Mix Vega and hemp seeds together, dip fruit in and eat.

    Snack: 1 65 gram Rejuvenator Brownie (recipe in Thrive). Plus 1 banana

    Dinner: 3 cup mixed greens, with ½ cup broccoli, 1/4 chick peas, 1/4 avocado and ½ tbsp hemp oil mixed with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or ginger papaya salad dressing, recipe in Thrive).and dulse strips. Plus the meat of a young coconut.

    Snack: 1 apple, 1/3 serving of Vega with ½ cup cold water.

    Total calories: 2400

    Carb/Protein/Fat % - 43/28/29


    Breakfast: ½ serving Chocolate Vega blended with ½ a pear, ½ a banana and 1/4 cup soaked almonds. Blend with about 450 ml of cold water.

    Snack: Vega Bar

    Lunch: 3 cup mixed greens, with ½ a grated carrot, 1/4 cup soaked green lentils, 1/4 avocado and ½ tbsp hemp oil mixed with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or ginger papaya salad dressing, recipe in Thrive). Plus 1 banana

    Snack: 1 banana and 1/4 cup walnuts or 2 x 50 gram home made Bars (recipe in Thrive)
    Dinner: Stir Fry: ½ cup extra firm tofu, 1/4 cup bean sprouts, ½ cup cauliflower, 1/4c snow peas, 1/4 cup water for stir frying with ½ tsp cumin and ½ tsp curry powder, 2tsp hemp oil (to be added after) 1/2c brown rice or soaked quinoa. *for best results stir-fry with coconut oil.
    Snack: ½ serving of Vega with roughly 190ml of water

    Total calories: 2300

    Carb/Protein/Fat % - 40/30/30


    Breakfast: ½ serving Natural Vega blended with ½ pear, ½ banana, 1 tbsp fresh ginger root. Blend with about 450 ml of cold water.

    Snack: Vega Bar or 3/4 cup Optimum Rebound Nature's Path cereal

    Lunch: spinach with other mixed greens, 1/4 cup soaked almonds, hemp oil and balsamic vinegar.

    Snack: 1 Mango 1/4 cup pecans or 1 65 gram Rejuvenator Brownie (recipe in Thrive)

    Dinner: ½ sweat potato (steamed),1 cup mixed greens and 1 ½ cup stir fried extra firm tofu. or 2 cups of Coconut Lime Curry (recipe in Thrive)

    Snack: ½ serving of Vega with roughly 190ml cold water

    Total calories: 2200

    Carb/Protein/Fat % - 42/29/29


    Breakfast: 1 serving of Vega with 375ml cold water

    Snack: 3/4 cup cooked brown rice with ½ an avocado mixed with sea salt and lemon juice dressing.

    Lunch: 3 cup mixed greens, with ½ a grated carrot, 1/4 cup soaked green lentils, 1/4 avocado and ½ tbsp hemp oil mixed with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar or ginger papaya salad dressing (recipe in Thrive).

    Snack: 1 papaya, 1/4 cup walnuts or 2 50 gram bar (recipe in Thrive) and yerba mate tea

    Dinner: Avocado and tomato sandwich - 2 slices of sprouted bread, ½ avocado 1 tomato sliced, ½ cup mixed greens, 1/4 tsp chilly powder, 1 tsp salad dressing

    Snack: 1 Apple with 1/4 cup soaked almonds

    Total calories: 2300

    Carb/Protein/Fat % - 42/28/30


    Breakfast: 3/4 cup Nature's Path cereal and soy or rice milk with 3/4 cup of fruit of your choice or 1 1/4 cups Toasted Ginger Pear cereal with almond milk, soy milk, rice milk or slightly watered down Natural Vega (recipe in Thrive)

    Snack: Vega Bar
    Lunch: 1/4 cup soaked lentils, 1 whole wheat pita ,1 Romaine lettuce leaf, 2 slices tomato,1/4cup alfalfa sprouts, 10 medium baby carrots ,1tsp oil & vinegar salad dressing , 250mL yerba mate tea or Sesame miso soup and yerba mate tea (recipe in Thrive)
    Snack: 1 serving of Vega with 375ml cold water or 1 large Fuji apple and 1/4 cup walnuts or 1 cup of Vega energy pudding (recipe in Thrive)

    Dinner: 3 cup mixed greens, ½ a grated beet, 1/4 cup soaked red lentils, 1/4 cup soaked almonds and ½ tbsp, hemp oil mixed with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar or yerba mate salad dressing (recipe in Thrive). Plus 3/4 cup amaranth with ½ an avocado with sea salt and lemon juice dressing.

    *Add 1 tsp of hemp protein powder if desired.

    Snack: 1 Orange and 1/4 cup soaked pumpkin seeds. (Pumpkin seeds are high in iron; it will be better absorbed when combined with the vitamin 'C' from the orange)

    Total calories: 2400

    Carb/Protein/Fat % - 43/28/29


    Breakfast: 1 serving of Vega with 375ml of water or Vega Stamina Cereal (Recipe in Thrive)

    Snack: Vega Bar + 500ml of coconut water from young coconut

    Lunch: 3 cups mixed greens, with grated carrot root, 1/4 cup soaked green lentils and ginger papaya salad dressing. Plus a banana

    Snack: 3 dates with hemp seed butter or1 65 gram Rejuvenator Brownie (recipe in Thrive). Plus the meat of a young coconut.

    Dinner: ½ sweat potato (steamed),1 cup mixed greens and 1 ½ cup stir fried extra firm tofu or 2 cups of Coconut Lime Curry (recipe in Thrive)

    Snack: 1 banana or 1 50 gram Vega bar (recipe in Thrive)

    Total calories: 2200

    Carb/Protein/Fat % - 42/30/28


    Breakfast: ½ serving of Natural Vega with ½ an orange, ½ a banana, spice, and soaked pumpkin seeds. Blend with cold water, about 400ml or blend with the water from a young coconut. Or Nature's Path cereal.

    Snack: Vega Bar

    Lunch: 3 cups mixed greens, with grated carrot, 1/4 cup soaked green lentils, ½ cup bean sprouts and ginger papaya salad dressing. Plus two apples

    Snack: 1 banana 1/4 cup soaked almonds or 1 cup of Chocolate Recovery Pudding (recipe in Thrive)

    Dinner: 3 cup mixed greens, with ½ a grated carrot, 1/4 cup soaked green lentils, 1/4 avocado and ½ tbsp hemp oil mixed with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar or ginger papaya salad dressing (recipe in Thrive). Plus the meat of a young coconut.

    Snack: 1/3 serving of Chocolate Vega (dry powder), ½ tbsp dried coconut and a banana. Mix the Vega and the coconut together, dip the banana in and eat!

    Total calories: 2400

    Carb/Protein/Fat % - 39/32/29
    Brendan Brazier

    Robert Cheeke
    Austin, TX 78727
    Dear Senator Hutchison,
    We have a growing problem in the United States in the area of energy conservation and responsible use of energy. I applaud you for your May 4, 2012 statement about energy in which you state, “We need to continue energy conservation and the development of alternative energy sources. But the crucial missing piece of our national energy strategy is development of our abundant natural resources.”
    In Texas we have the largest contiguous state and have a wonderful opportunity to be a national leader, by the example we set. On your website you state: “Agriculture is a special and important part of the Texas way of life. Texas is home to approximately 250,000 farms which accounts for nearly 130,400,000 acres. Farming and ranching are our heritage, and they continue to be an important part of our culture today.”

    While I agree that farming is a way of life in Texas and in many parts of our great nation, it is the farming practices that concern me, especially in the area of energy conservation. Consider these staggering statistics.
    • Grains consumed by US livestock could feed 840 million people. (Pimentel, 2003)

    • In the US, 80% of our fresh water is used for food production. (Pimentel, 2003)

    • 1 kilogram of animal protein requires 100 times more water to produce than 1 kilogram of plant protein.

    • Fossil fuel use for animal protein production is approximately 11 times greater than for plant protein production.

    It seems only logical and responsible to recognize that our energy problems are associated with not only fossil fuel, coal and natural gas reserves, but in the decisions we make about what crops to grow and for what particular reason we grow them. If we could grow plant crops to feed directly to humans, bypassing the massive energy-consuming step of feeding, growing, producing and harvesting animals to then feed to humans, we would be saving an incredible amount of fuel, water, and total energy. This could be one solution to your concern you expressed about President Obama's role in managing domestic fuel prices, just one aspect of your overall concern with energy use, which is a concern many of your fellow Texans and US citizens share.

    By dramatically cutting the use of fuel by altering our current farm practices, we can reduce the demand and perhaps reduce fuel prices, while exploring energy-saving methods and investing in discovering new fuel-efficient technology. Wind, solar, and responsible farming practices, growing plant foods directly for humans, all aid in this effort of forward progress, setting an example as a national leader in innovation and conservation.

    What I propose is taking a keen look into the true cost of animal food production, factoring in government subsidies, and constructing a new plan and new direction for our Texas farmers. We can be a national leader, exemplifying how to maximize our over 130 million acres of farmland to produce healthy food for our country, while dramatically freeing up our precious resources including, fuel, water and energy. Please help in the removal of government subsidies for the most energy-intensive crops by empowering our state's farmers to adapt to the changing times by focusing on the production of plant foods rather than animal foods.
    Thank you for your time.
    Robert Cheeke
    Proud Texan
    Robert Cheeke

    Organicathlete.org Interview with Robert Cheeke
    February 2005

    1. How important are organic foods to you?

    Organic foods are important to me based on the ethics from which they are grown and harvested. Organic growing practices represent some the positive values that still exist in modern agriculture. Supporting organic farms is important to the sustainability of our planet as well. I recently heard a comedian joking that in the future “water will be $20 a gallon but we'll still have our $1.50 gas.” If we grow and buy organic foods than we can hopefully preserve the resources that we have left. If not then the direction we are moving is not an upward one and it will spiral down and will effect generations long after we're gone.

    2. What percentage of organic foods do you eat?

    I'm not exactly sure what percent of my entire food intake comes from organic foods but it is definitely something I think about when I purchase foods. I look for organic labels and make a conscious effort to buy organic when possible. Some people I know don't purchase organic foods because they are usually more expensive than non-organic foods, but when I'm at a grocery store and see the organic and non-organic foods side by side, the moral and ethical choice is easy to choose organic. I also make an effort to support local farms, farmer's markets, and natural food co-ops, rather than patronizing corporate grocery chains. I always try to help “the little guy” and shop locally. It is just good karma to support people and businesses who have positive ethical practices.

    3. Why do you eat organic foods?

    I eat organic foods because I know they are produced naturally and they will contain higher amounts of nutrients than non-organic foods. As an elite athlete concerned about health and appearance for my sport of bodybuilding, I feel that organic foods give me the essential nutrients I need, without the stuff I don't need, and provide an athletic edge over those who don't eat organic. Organic foods are easy to find and readily available at reasonable costs. Choosing organic makes me feel better about myself and I think it speaks volumes about a person who makes the ethical decision to choose organic over tainted foods.

    4. Do you grow any of your own food organically?

    I don't personally grow any of my own food. That is just based on my own situations and lifestyle. I worked on a cruise ship for years so it was not an option for me. Now that I am home, I don't have a garden where I live but I buy organic foods I'm not able to grow myself. My mother, father and sister, on the other hand, do grow their own organic foods in medium-large gardens and eat the foods they grow and share them with me as well.

    5. Should athletes be aware of the quality of their foods?

    Athletes should most definitely be aware of the quality of the foods they are ingesting. There are so many supplements and fast foods these days that do more harm than good, and unfortunately many athletes are turning toward these foods due to peer and media pressure. Supplying your body with the best nutrients possible should be a very important aspect for anyone, but especially athletes. If you want to maximize your athletic and health potential, organic is the way to.
    Robert Cheeke

    OUCH!!!... My Sweet Tooth Hurts
    by Casey Krebs, November 8th, 2004

    Would you rather come into contact with poison oak, or ingest a spoonful of refined sugar? It would be safe to assume that most people would choose the latter. But did you know that the anecdote for poison oak exists right in nature? It's called jewelweed or mugwort and grows in close proximity to where the poison oak resides. On the other hand, the cure for sugar is.......well.... there is no natural cure for refined sugar because sugar is not a natural occurring substance. But do we need a cure for sugar? It sweetens up your
    food, it tastes good, it gives you a boost of energy, it...um... makes you
    crash down hard, it...er...makes you lethargic...it contributes to diabetes. Maybe we should take a closer look at this delicious chemical we call sugar.

    Eating today is much different than it was 40 or 50 odd years ago when Ma was in the kitchen making wholesome foods from scratch. Most of the food we eat today comes in boxes, cans, jars, or is found in the frozen food section of your local grocer. They are filled with
    preservatives and - you guessed it -sugar.

    The amount of sugar that the American population is consuming today has been rapidly increasing to match our fast paced lifestyles. Let us slow down a minute and take a look at what we are really putting into our bodies.

    Sugar is not a natural occurring
    substance. Through refining, it has been stripped of all of its natural food nutrition that was originally in its plant source. First the sugar is pressed as a juice from the cane, or beet, refined into molasses, refined into brown sugar, then into white crystals (otherwise known as C12H22O), and finally ingested into our human system.

    The average American consumes 115 pounds of sugar per year. Prior to the turn of this century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs. per person per year! Diet researchers at Rockefeller University (NY) have discovered that high doses of fat and sugar in fast and processed foods can be as addictive as nicotine. With the
    amount of sugar American's consume, it is no surprise that ninety-five percent of North Americans are addicted to sugar.

    And for those of you who are looking to stay fit, sugar makes it difficult to lose weight. The constant high insulin levels cause the body to store excess carbohydrates and fat.

    If it is not only your weight that you are concerned about it, sugar can cause many other physiological distresses. Sugar is the leading cause of dental deterioration, the main cause of diabetes, hyperglycemia & hypoglycemia, it contributes to heart disease,
    depression, hypertension, cancer, overgrowth of Candida yeast organisms, chronic fatigue, hyperactivity, and increases anxiety and irritability. At least cigarettes have a warning label on the package. Where is the warning label on sugar?

    The good news is that there is a solution. There are alternatives to using refined sugar. Use a natural fruit sweetener such as natural fruit juice. Use pure maple syrup, which is high in manganese —important in antioxidant defenses, and high in zinc — an important ally for the immune system and low in calories. You can also use Stevia, a natural sugar available in a powder form. Stevia is 300 times as sweet as refined sugar, so make sure to take that into account when using it.

    The next time you are asked whether you would like a spoonful of refined sugar or the poison oak, I would not be surprised if most of you choose the poison oak — or better yet, a sweet and natural alternative to refined sugar Casey Krebs

    Outline of a Whole Food
    Plant-Based Diet - Part 1
    by Marcella Torres
    Here's Part I of a three-part practical guide to eating a whole food, plant based diet! While the guide is intended to be general and apply to anyone, there are plenty of tips included for bodybuilders and those looking to gain or lose weight!
    Part I will cover the why (FAQ), Part II the what (daily meal options), and Part III the how (a weekly menu, eating out, shopping tips).
    First things first, the FAQ! I hope it will address the 3 biggest perceived obstacles to improving your diet:
    It's expensive It's hard to get enough protein
    It's hard (to grocery shop, to eat out, to prepare food) It's expensive: This is obviously going to be of particular concern for bodybuilders on a bulking diet! A vegan diet that relies on packaged fake this and faux that can be expensive but a whole food diet based on vegetables, fruits, dried beans, and whole grains is the cheapest available. Between us, Derek Tresize and I eat enough for four non-bodybuilding adults and our grocery bill is now around $175/week or $15 a day per person (we eat out a few times). See here for for a real-life sample grocery bill and what I was able to prepare with the food we purchased.
    It's hard to get enough protein: From the highly recommended book Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman:

    Which has more protein — oatmeal, ham, or a tomato? The answer is that they all have about the same amount of protein per calorie. The difference is, the tomato and the oatmeal are packaged with fiber and other disease-fighting nutrients, and the ham is packaged with cholesterol and saturated fat...I see about twenty to thirty new patients per week, and I always ask them, "Which has more protein — one hundred calories of steak or one hundred calories of broccoli?" When I tell them it's broccoli the most frequent response is "I didn't know broccoli had protein in it." I then ask them, "So where did you think the calories in broccoli come from? Did you think it was mostly fat, like an avocado, or mostly carbohydrate, like a potato?"...When you eat large quantities of green vegetables you receive a considerable amount of protein.
    Crazy, right? Check out my Cream of Broccoli Soup - it contains 9.4 grams of protein in one small bowl, 33% protein overall (and with only 1.4 grams of fat)! Eat two small bowls and you've had the whole food, nutrient rich equivalent of a protein shake! Dr. Fuhrman also includes a chart comparing protein per calorie for foods such as a Burger King cheeseburger, yogurt, peas, lentils, spinach, and tofu. Guess which foods have the most protein per calorie? Green vegetables, with spinach as the overall champion. After all, how does a gorilla, rhinoceros, or elephant get so damn big? Greens!
    It's hard (to grocery shop, to eat out, to prepare food): Part III will cover this in much greater detail, but briefly...Grocery shopping actually becomes pretty simple when you're just replenishing staples like grains and legumes and picking out the freshest vegetables. Fresh whole food doesn't need much enhancement to taste good, so as your tastes change your recipes will naturally simplify and therefore your shopping lists will shrink. Vegetables, grains, and legumes can also be found anywhere at any supermarket, too, making any perceived difficulty in making do on a vegan diet evaporate. While it is hard to find fake meats and cheeses in some places, the truth is that stuff is not good for you anyway so you may be luckier if you can't easily access it. Manufactured, mechanically produced food should not make up more than 10% of your diet. Treat it as an indulgence. As for eating out, you will have plenty of options as long as you avoid American chain restaurants! They have nothing for anyone seeking healthy food beyond maybe some wilted iceberg lettuce. Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Ethiopian, Greek, Lebanese, and of course vegetarian restaurants all have plenty of options. Again, look for Part III to get into the specifics! Marcella Torres

    As a professional bodybuilder, it is important to me to take the constructive (and sometimes not so constructive) criticisms and feedback from judges and continue to make progress. In early 2012, the bottom line was, I needed more muscle mass. So, I started a periodization program. The fruit of my new and intense training regime contributed to a stellar winning streak during the 2013 season, in which I won 4 of 6 competitions. It was an honor to represent a plant-based lifestyle and set a world record as a natural professional vegan bodybuilder in a sport that is not convinced that plant protein can produce the amount of muscle needed to be successful.

    Periodization is the act of changing up your training program at regular intervals, or “periods”, to keep your body working harder, while still giving it adequate rest. There are many different types of periodized training. Some are geared more toward the strength, power and demands of a specific sport. Usually these periods are 12 weeks in length and range in reps, sets and exercises. In addition, periodization training typically incorporates what is commonly known as “The Big 3”: the Bench press, the Squat, and the Deadlift.

    My program consisted mostly of two different periodization methods (undulating and linear), in which I would do reps as low as 3 and as high as 25. The undulating method changes the volume and intensity of the weight training stimulus, but not in a linear pattern. The linear method progressively increases intensity and decreases volume. I enjoy these two methods because it “tricks” my muscles and nervous system, not allowing my body time to adjust or plateau. Jim Morris once said to me, “Put the muscle under stress, and it has no other choice but to get stronger.” In other words (mine), “let's change up the plan”.

    Although I seem to have a fast muscle repair or recovery time, it is vital to pay attention to your body. Adequate rest for my body may be only 24 hours, yet for another person it may be 48-72 hours. Giving your muscles the time they need to recover is instrumental in building healthy and strong tendons, joints, and muscles. The initial portion of a periodization program tends to be a preparation phase in which low reps prep the tendons and joints for the heavier reps to come. Whether a linear or undulating method or cycle, it should take about 4 weeks to complete one cycle. Then the cycle can be repeated 2 more times within one periodization program.

    To effectively gain muscle mass, it's important to regularly incorporate these periodization trainings in order to stimulate new muscle growth; shock the body into growing and getting stronger. This type of randomized and calculated stimulation causes growth hormones to be released and creates an environment conducive to muscle gain. Since there are more than just the two methods mentioned, another method or another round of the same periodization program can be initiated at the end of the 12 week cycle. So, go hit the gym next time with a periodization plan in hand, and represent plant-based life with those big gains. Let's Get It!!! Torre Washington

    Personal Transformation
    By Ed Bauer
    Can I be honest? I am a little hesitant to puts words on this document because I am not a writer. At least that's what I&aps;ve told myself. I have told myself a lot of things. In fact, what I really have said to myself my whole life is “I am average.” I am not good at anything. I am not too bad at anything. I am not that smart. I am not that fast. I am not that funny. I am not that anything. I am just plain, nothing more, nothing less. This is what the voice in my head was telling me. This is no fault of my parents. Both of them raised me and supported me in whatever I wanted to do. My father always said I could be anything I wanted to be.
    Be that as it may, the society I grew up in told me a different story. It told me that very few people succeed in life, some people fail miserably, but most fall in the middle. Most never make as much money as they want, are not as effective as they want, or as happy as they could be. This seemed like a very likely reality for me. My mind left me somewhere in the middle, just trying to keep my head above water. After graduating college with a four year degree, from age 22 to about 25, my life was sort of passing me by. I didn't know who I was or who I wanted to be. Really, this lack of purpose was a lack of confidence, disguised as normal life. I didn't yet realize it, but it was really up to me to decide what life I was going to live. It wasn't society and its perceived limitations; I was numb and essentially paralyzed by my own thoughts. Once I realized what was happening to me, I started to branch out and push myself more. I started taking more chances. I decided that I wanted to be a change in this world. As a compassionate vegan, I wanted to inspire people to take a look at what they were eating and how they were affecting the world around them. I wanted people to see that a vegan lifestyle can make you healthy, strong, more attractive, and more confident. In other words, adopting an active vegan lifestyle can make you happy (and save animals and the environment)!

    Another thing I want to touch on is lifestyle habits. Our habits make us who we are tomorrow. For me, I still have ingrained in me some of my eating habits from when I was an unhealthy teenager. I grew up around big guys who knew how to eat... a lot. My brother, my dad, and my best friend all weighed 240 lbs. or more and were at least 6 feet tall. I was 165 pounds and 5'9”, trying to keep up with these guys. That led to the wrong habits for sure! I still like a lot of the foods I ate from back then. I still like sugary cereal, sandwiches, fried stuff, candy, and cookies, but now I know how that stuff affects me. Some people think that I have always been fit or always looked a certain way. I want to let you all know the real story. I have never been that overweight, but I surely wasn't “fit.” It wasn't until 2009 that I truly pushed myself to see who I could be. If you never try, then it is guaranteed. You will never know who you can be, or what you can achieve. I am reminded of Henry Ford's quote “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” Back then (2009), I had just moved to Portland, Oregon and got a job as a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness. I knew I wanted to get in the best shape of my life, and started my journey. Along the way, I met Robert Cheeke, and he challenged me to see what I can do on a bodybuilding stage. Not yet confident enough to step on a bodybuilding stage, I decided to replicate the experience, just without the stage. I got my close friend Randall Perez to agree to be my photographer for a photo shoot. We set the date and it was on! It was within this context of mental focus and determination that I was able to make this initial transformation from being a regular looking guy, to an example of what a strong vegan diet and training regimen can accomplish. After the photo shoot, with encouragement from friends including Robert, I took this confidence and entered into a bodybuilding show in May 2010. That focus and determination earned me 1st Place in the Novice Middleweight Bodybuilding Category at that show. I went from an existence of feeling forgettable, average, uninspired, and questionably satisfied with anything, to knowing that I truly can succeed if I put my mind to it.

    Since getting shredded that first time in 2009, with the tremendous support of Robert and www.veganbodybuilding.com, I have managed to stay one of the leading faces and (still working on) voices in the vegan fitness movement. Every day, I decide if I want to push myself to become something better, or let old habits turn me back into who I once was. Every day, with persistence, I decide if I am going to exercise and do it with purpose. I decide if I am going to eat clean and supplement well. Every day, I have to decide if I will sleep enough and recover properly. I decide whether I continue to educate myself on proper fitness and nutrition. With understanding on how this process works, I decide that pain is temporary and necessary for anything worth accomplishing. I think of the Robert Allen quote, "Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone." Old habits die hard, and I know that. It never gets easy, but we decide on who we can be, every day. Embrace the challenge, and let it redefine you. I am happy to get the chance to promote a compassionate world through fitness and awareness. I hope you will join me and do the same.

    Ed Bauer

    by Derek Tresize
    People everywhere are very confused about nutrition. I see this every day working with clients as I sortthrough the questions and conflicting information most people use as the foundation of their eatinghabits. And who can blame them? With all the pseudo-science diet books, scare tactic nutrition storieson the news, and processed food ads we are inundated with everyday, it's no wonder many people areconfused or dead wrong about what they should be eating. This is just as true in the supplement industryas anywhere else. I recently went through several of my old exercise magazines and clipped out somenutrition articles. For those of you who read such magazines with any regularity, you probably recognizethe type of article I was looking for. They usually begin with "such and such chemical found to have xyzdramatic health benefits", then they go on to tell you to buy said chemical in supplement form. I alwaysfind these articles funny (and frustrating) because of their obvious implications. Here are some I cut outas examples:
    Antioxidants in blueberries found to slow the effects of aging — CNN

    Beta-ecdysterone in spinach increases protein synthesis [muscle growth] by 20% —MuscleMag

    Betaine from beets found to increase muscle endurance and recovery — Flex

    Fruits and vegetables help maintain muscle mass and reduce muscle wasting in older adults
    — MuscleMag

    ECGC in green tea boosts the immune system and helps reduce bodyfat — Muscle and Fitness

    Capsaicin in hot peppers helps reduce overeating and aids in loss of bodyfat — Muscle andFitness

    Polyphenols in apples increase muscle strength — Flex

    Licorice extract from the licorice plant increases weight loss — MuscleMag

    Resveratrol in grapes is a potent anti-cancer chemical — Men's Health

    Lycopene in tomatoes prevents prostate cancer — Eating Well

    The pattern is pretty obvious to me, but the magazines inevitably go on to advertise a supplement form ofthe aforementioned chemical to reap the health benefits. It seems a lot easier and less expensive to meto eat a salad or have some fruit. Not only that, but there are literally thousands of phytochemicals in allthe plants we eat. Isn't there just a chance one of those that hasn't yet been studied is also beneficial?Isn't there also a chance that some of these compounds have synergistic benefits when eaten together?It seems reasonable to assume so, so we can go ahead and say that eating produce to ingest thesemiracle compounds is easier, cheaper, and more-than-likely much healthier than taking themas isolated supplements. This 'striking' revelation has already been discovered by many esteemedhealth professionals such as those with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, The T Colin Campbell Foundation, and many other pioneering physicians who routinely cure incurable diseaseslike advanced heart disease and type 2 diabetes, all with the power of plants! So, the next time youare reading a health magazine and see the latest research suggesting a new plant-extraction as asupplement, ignore it and then ask yourself: "Have I eaten my produce today?"
    Derek Tresize
    BS Biology
    ACE Certified Personal Trainer
    Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition
    Derek Tresize

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