Name: Cheryl Coelho
Year of Birth: 11/09/70
Weight: 118 lbs
Birthplace: Rhode Island
Current Residence: Rhode Island
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have
I was born and raised in this little fantastic State of Rhode Island along with my two grown kids. I have always worked in an office setting most of my life but, sense I could not sit still for more than 5 minutes, I knew that I had to do something else. I decided to go back to school for my passion in fitness. I recently earned my bachelors degree in health & wellness and I also obtained my personal trainer certification. I am an avid runner and I am pretty competitive. 5 years ago, I was lucky to be able to run a mile, today I have run so many 5k's that I have no more room for all the t-shirts (It's all about the t-shirt) and a dozen half marathons. I am pretty competitive and happy to say that my new best time is 1:45 for a half as of last week and I average 22 minutes for 5ks. I have also completed the Tough Mudder race in Vermont. I want to continue growing in my athleticism and I am training for a full marathon. Besides running, I am very much into being healthy as a whole, I also attend yoga, kick boxing, Zumba, biking, and hiking. I am still fairly new to working in the health industry and I eager and excited to expanding my career.
Why did you become vegan?
I first became a vegetarian about 4 years ago after watching the movie Food Inc which had got me totally hooked and has changed my like and how I look at the food industry. A year later I went to a vegetarian / vegan festival and decided to become totally vegan. I have read many books such as, Fast Food nation, The China Study, Food Revolution, White Wash, and more. I have watch documentaries such as, Folks over knives, King Corn, Thrive, and more. I have made it my goal to learn everything I can about the industry so I can education others. Being vegan and an athlete is hard for most people to comprehend and I get a lot of questions. I want to help people understand that this lifestyle is in fact much healthier. I am in better shape now in my 40's than I was in my 20's.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I have a personality that is very energetic and needed something to direct that energy in a positive way. I bought my first elliptical back in 2002 and could only do it for about 5 minutes while gasping for air. But, I didn't give up and continued to work my way up to the 90 minutes that I do on it now. I did my first 5k 5 years ago and finished in 26 minutes. I am always eager to try new classes, gyms, and exercises. Fitness is a big part of my life because of how it makes me feel. I am more energetic, alert, healthy with rarely getting any colds or flu. My hair, skin, and overall physique is young and vibrant.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
I would describe my nutrition program as being very dedicated and structured. However, I do like to go out to eat at local vegan restaurants and I enjoy trying new dishes. On of my favorite people who I like to follow is Brendan Brazier. I find his methods of applying food and fitness together interesting. I buy most of his products and cook many of his recipes. I also, keep my diet mostly raw with little cooking and I make most dishes from scratch. I try and shop at local farmers markets because I believe in supporting the small family owned businesses and farms. My biggest challenge is when I am out with family and friends and there are not many vegan options on the menu however, most place I found will accommodate you.
How would you describe your training program?
I am pretty strict dedicated on my training and I always make sure I fit in a work out no matter what that may be. If it is raining out, I will go to the gym or jump on my elliptical. During running seasons I run more outside and participate in races. On days that I work I usually work out in the morning doing some free weights or cardio before I go into work. Also, I will do some weight lifting during my lunch breaks. During the summer I try and get some long distance biking in at least one day a week. Although I consider myself a runner, it is very important for met to not get stuck in the same routine and to change it up with different routines and exercises to gain more endurance, strength, and muscle.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
I am not a fan of a lot of supplements and I try to get all my nutrients from whole foods. However, I do a powered protein either Garden of Life Raw Protein, Brendan Brazier's recovery powders and endurance gels. I also, sprinkle some nutritional yeast on my tasty dishes. Due to my high activity level some supplements are important to ensure I am getting the proper nutrients. There are a lot of supplement out there that are not what they claim and some have ingredients that can be not so healthy and are loaded with fillers or sugars.
How do people react when they find out you are vegan?
I used to hide the fact that I was vegan when I first decided is was the lifestyle I wanted. I would just tell them that I don't eat meat. Now I am proud to tell people that I live this lifestyle and on my car window is a sticker of a runner and next to it is a the Vegan symbol. People often react with a confused or why would I do that look on their faces. They simply say, “oh really? How do you get protein? You should be careful that you are not calcium deficient”. I simply say that I am getting all the nutrients that I need and if they would like to know more about I will be happy to tell them. Also, that there are many wonderful dishes that are flavorful and delicious out there. When people have had a particular way of eating and being told what is good for them and what's not their whole lives, it can be difficult to understand something that they simply don't know about.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
The most common misconception that I found is also stated in the last question, where I vegan get their protein and calcium. That we are nutrient deficient and need to take multiple supplements to make up for it. We are more prone to developing diseases due to lack of nutrients. I will often get people who will ask me if I eat rabbit food or they think I only eat salads and foods that have no flavor. Also, most people will ask me how I can afford all the specialty foods and expensive natural food stores. Sense when was broccoli an expensive specialty food?
Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it?
Although I am the only one in my family, out of my friends, and co-workers who is vegan I face a bigger challenge. There are simply not many of us around me. However, I have successfully gotten my children to try and enjoy vegan dishes. My daughter will only eat vegan treats sense she say the taste much better. When I am cooking a dish they will often watch me and I will always offer them a taste and explain what is in it. I have also brought different dishes and foods to work with me and offer to share some of it so that way people can see how tasty it is and it clearly does not resemble “rabbit food”. I try to introduce new foods and go to more vegan restaurants with family and friends as much as I can to teach them about being vegan.
What do you think the most important aspect of training is?
The most important aspect of training is to be dedicated and love what you do no matter what it is. Find something that is most enjoyable and stick with it. Also, it is important to incorporate different routines, gyms, out door scenery, or working finding someone to work out with , build friendships with people who have similar interests, and love what you. If you stick with all this than you will have a healthy lifestyle that will last a lifetime.
What do you like best about being vegan?
What I like best is the fact I am not contributing to the inhumane killing of animals who live in awful conditions, I am not contributing to the growing environmental concerns, I am not supporting big corporations where their only concern is the mighty dollar, I am experiencing a world of wonderful foods and dishes that are far more nutrient dense and flavorful, and that I feel like a million bucks!
What do you like best about being fit?
What I like best about being fit is that I have more energy than the kids who I work with that are in their 20's. I am going to be 42 soon and I have the body of a 25 year old (or so I have been told). I enjoy working out and working to stay healthy and feeling young inside and out.