Many of us groan as we enter into February, one of the heaviest (and daunting) "Hallmark" months of the year. Whether you're single or in a relationship, this "holiday" brings stress--the strain of not having a special someone to share the day with, or finding the right gift, card, and dinner spot. What good does this day do anyone trying to get fit and be healthier? Not a lot. I mean, I love a good vegan dessert, but these highly commercialized (processed) "chocolates" in heart-shaped boxes, stuffed animals, and bizzare light up cups and pens made in sweat shops are really not crucial to a love-life, am I right? Personally, I think it's all kind of a big joke, no offense to anyone, because I just see it as a way to make businesses money, and cause people to feel worse about themselves. So, I've decided to skip the negative, unnecessary Valentine's day chaos, and focus, instead, on the incredible opportunities lying before me.
Since November, I have been able to go harder than ever in the gym. I am driven and determined. My compassion is at an all time high, which has my passions soaring. 2013 was a rough year in a lot of ways for me, and especially the mid to latter months where I was unable eat consistently and didn't have a gym membership. I lost a lot of weight, and started to really hate what I was seeing in the mirror. My body naturally wants to be thin, and I tend to struggle to gain and maintain muscle.
So, after feeling like I'd lost everything I'd fought so hard for in the past few years, I finally was in a financial position to get a gym membership and I began eating 2x's a day. Then as time progressed, I was able to afford 3 meals a day, and now I'm eating like I should be to gain muscle. It is still disappointing to step on the scale and be 3 lbs less than I was at my last competition, but I'm gaining and I intend to keep up this momentum. I also just remind myself I'm up about 10 of the 15 lbs lost, and that is nothing to be ashamed of!
How am I doing this competition prep for 2014?
I have a specific meal plan that I'm not at liberty to share, but this is a basic overview of a standard competitor's food bank. I tend to start my day with either oatmeal or rice cakes, protein, unsweetened (non-GMO) soy milk, and some fruit, and then I head to the gym. I get my BCAA's in while I'm lifting, and chug another scoop as soon as I'm done, then proceed to the protein shake--with unsweetened (non-GMO & no carageenan) soy milk if possible. Then, I'm eating tofu, tempeh, seitan, veggies, and sweet potatoes, rice, or lentils, beans, and fruit to replenish. And, before bed, another protein shake. At first this was really hard for me. I didn't want to eat, and there are days when I just don't think I can eat anymore, but I do. I've got to if I want to see the gains I am set on making.
*If you need a meal plan, I highly recommend Dani Taylor of www.veganproteins.com and Vegan Powerhouse Physiques.
I take a day off, ocassionally two if I've got an injury. Also, I'm sleeping as much as my schedule allows. Again, at this stage, with as much work as I'm putting into my body project, I would be a fool to not sleep enough. Rest is imperative, and our bodies respond beautifully to it!
I am proud to annouce that for the first time since 2009 I have a training plan made by someone else, thanks to Tiffany Burich ([email protected]), a fellow teammate on Team Plant Built who also works with Vegan Powerhouse Physiques! Why? Because, one cannot continue on in the same fashion with the expectation of gaining different results, and I am a headstrong individual, so I needed to make changes While I am not at liberty to share my specific routines, I will say this: they are very different than what I was doing. My muscles are constantly being shocked, and this will inevitably bring about progress in my gains and muscular definition--which is WHY I'm working out in the first place!
ATTITUDE & EDUCATION:
In order for us to continue to grow, we need not only focus on the external, we must turn our attention to our internal person as well. Daily I am reading up on fitness, exercises, the chemistry of the body, as well as animal liberation and human rights. For me this is a journey, I may never attain what I see as perfection, but I will fight for liberation and equality until the day I die. Getting on stage for competitions is one of many steps along the way, but every step is crucial, and so I dedicate not only my body to the cause, but also my mind and my heart. Furthermore, I train my attitude and perspective. I struggle, just like anyone, and am not exempt from having a sour mood. But, I have diligently surrounded myself with others whose minds, bodies, and souls are in line with mine, whose attitudes are, more often than not, upbeat and positive. I can check in to social media and within minutes be re-inspired and have my spirits lifted.
I share all of these things because I have found when all these aspects are working harmoniously as one I am better equipped to face whatever comes my way. As an athlete, spokesmodel, entreprenuer, writer, dancer, singer, song-writer, etc, oh, yeah, a HUMAN BEING there is nothing more empowering than being prepared to fight for hte cause when I need to fight, to remain calm when silence is appropriate, and to never, ever lose sight of the passion for compassion--to realize that if I am lacking in an area, I am, therefore, not giving my all to what I have chosen as my life work.
Everyday holds the possiblity of love, compassion and growth. So, as Valentine's Day approaches, perhaps keep in mind that this one random day does not define you, and that for those us living cruelty-free, we celebrate love everyday, in every way, and not just once a year, or on special occasions. Work to bring balance into all aspects of your life, and just watch what you can do. Summary of advice: Get those greens, lift that metal, sleep, do the vegan hustle and live the love--You've got this!