Name: Amber Zuckswert
Year of Birth: 1985
Birthplace: Santa Cruz, CA
Current Residence: San Francisco, CA
Sports: Dance, Pilates, Yoga
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have
In a nutshell I'm a professional dancer, pilates instructor, holistic plant based nutrition and lifestyle coach. A minimalist, raw foodie, planet romping gypsy inspiring the world to eat clean and green. I work with clients live and virtually through my website Epicself.com to balance their mind, body and spirit.
Why did you become vegan?
I became vegan three years ago after extensive research in nutrition, animal welfare and environmental impact. Once I was aware of the facts I had to change.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
My parents put me in ballet at the ripe age of 3 and I haven't stopped since. I've trained, performed and choreographed extensively for the last 23 years. I was introduced to pilates and yoga in college as conditioning for dance and began to teach all three forms shortly after. I cross train in the gym whenever I'm not training on the ballet barre.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
After studying traditional chinese medicine, ayurveda, raw foods and superfoods, I've developed a high raw vegan diet that keeps me pumped all day long. I stick to veggies, fruits, seaweeds, nuts, seeds and occasional sprouted grains like quinoa. I eat 5 to 6 small meals per day to fuel my high octane training schedule.
How would you describe your training program?
A typical day begins in a 1.5 hour dance class. Rehearsals are normally 4 hours in length after class. On non rehearsal days I still take class and hit the mat for an hour of pilates and yoga as a daily maintenance program. I train five days per week at least.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
I adore healthforce nutritionals vitamineral green and earth products. Chlorella tabs too! I also take a liquid B12 supplement. Vega flax and hemp oils are divine as well.
How do people react when they find out you are vegan?
They ask lots of questions about protein and my reasons for eliminating animal products.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
Protein deficiency! People always wonder how I get all of the essential vitamins and minerals. Just because you eat everything doesn't mean you are absorbing all nutrients. Most vegans are well read in nutrition because they have to back themselves up when people ask.
Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it?
Leading by example has been the easiest way to make an impact. All I can do is educate people as much as possible and hope it sinks in. I write articles and produce videos for free to spread the word. I work with clients on adding more plants into their lives while weening themselves off animal products.
What do you think the most important aspect of training is?
Consistency and variety. Consistency is absolutely crucial and variety keeps you interested and challenges the body in new ways.
What do you like best about being vegan?
I love knowing that I have a very light foot print on the planet's ecosystem. I also can't say enough about the clear grounded energy I experience daily from my food.
What do you like best about being fit?
I love feeling my body from the inside out everyday. Sweating and working all muscle groups. Cleaning out the cobwebs and pushing my physical limits is exhilarating! The more I move the more energy I create.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training?
Start slow and stay consistent. Don't over train right out of the gate. Vary your activities so you don't get bored and pick up a fitness buddy who can hold you accountable.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Think of it like an experiment. Make the switch for a month . Know that you can always go back to how you ate before, though I highly doubt you'll want to.
What motivates you in life?
Life motivates me. I'm grateful for every day and moment. Every day I wake up and can't wait to begin the adventure. The world is endless opportunity and I have no intention of missing out.
What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you?
It continually inspires me and has connected me with a wonderful community of likeminds.
Do you have any other thoughts you'd like to share?
Move, nourish and be your most epic self. Begin now!