Name: Jessica Roberts
Birthplace: Stamford, CT
Current Residence: Farmington, CT
Sports: I was a competitive equestrian for most my life, and have
recently delved into the sport of figure competition.
Why did you become vegan?
I started my journey as a vegetarian back when I was about 14 years old. About a year after that, I began to follow a vegan diet. It truly just dawned on me one day at the dinner table that it didn't make sense for me to consume food from animals when there was other food available. Even though I did not understand all the aspects of animal welfare at the time, I knew that I wanted to make a conscious decision about the food I ate. I wanted to explore the affects on my body, be more mindful of the animal community, and learn more about the methods and medicine used produce food from animals.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I was always active in sports. Whether it was riding horses or playing street hockey, I was always up to something:) However, with all the sports and riding, my body began to accumulate quite a few injuries. About 12 years ago, I discovered the practice of yoga. Since that time, I went on to train in 2007 to become a Bikram yoga instructor. This mental and physical challenge was one of the best experiences in my life. A few years later, I was searching for another challenge. At the encouragement of a local trainer, I began to explore
the sport of bodybuilding and figure competition. I was hooked! I have been seriously training for about 1 1/2 years and it has been a fantastic
journey in so many ways.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
I am in contest preparation now so I generally eat six to seven meals a day, high protein, low fat and I cycle my carbs depending on how I am progressing in my prep. I use protein powder supplements, plenty
of fresh fruit and vegetables, oats, sweet potatoes, wheat gluten, hemp protein, some soy, flax meal, and nut butters. I love to experiment in the kitchen and my meals are different everyday.
How would you describe your training program?
I focus on one to two body parts per workout in my contest prep, lifting about 4 times a week. Cardio is pretty simple, a few longer sessions a week and some shorter sessions after weight training. My trainer has me doing a generous amount of warm-up sets before we even get to the work sets. And this is no '3 sets of 15 reps' type of training! It's basic bodybuilding exercises with varying sets and rep numbers, drop sets, yo-yo sets, and my favorite supersets. And lifting heavy all the way through my prep.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
Maca root for energy and endocrine support. Vit D, calcium, iron, B- vits and iodine to make sure I'm getting all my micronutrients while training and dieting. I also use glutamine, BCAA'S and creatine for my pre-workout supplementation and glutamine and BCAAs for post- workout recovery.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
That we are frail, anemic-looking waifs that would blow over with a light breeze. Most are concerned that we don't get nearly enough protein as a vegan so we couldn't possibly put on any lean muscle. As
we know that is far from the truth!
What do you think the most important aspect of fitness is?
Commitment. You have to be in it 100%. There will be days you may not feel like working out, or pushing it that last set, or following your nutrition plan. But if you have relentless and unshakable commitment,
you will undoubtedly succeed in achieving your fitness goals.
What do you like best about being vegan?
The best part about being a vegan is that I have chosen to follow a path that best serves me emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I find strength in my commitment to veganism. And I hope to encourage others to become more mindful about their food choices and incorporate more plant-based foods in their diets.
What do you like best about being fit?
Knowing that I am taking care of myself for the rest of my life. Waking up every day and making the commitment to a healthy and fit lifestyle gives me strength to continue to achieve my goals and help others do the same.
What are your strengths as an athlete? Persistence. I never give up. Commitment. I set a goal, get a plan, and put 100% of my heart and soul into achieving that goal. Love of learning. I'm constantly absorbing information from all kinds of sources, whether it be from books, online information, other athletes or health professionals.
What advice do you have for vegan athletes who are just starting out?
Educate yourself!! Read Robert's book, read online, talk to the other vegan athletes on this site. Reach out and communicate! There are many resources available. And you have to be willing to experiment and take the time to adjust your diet and your training. This is a process, be patient, ask a ton of questions and have fun along the way:)
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming
Take it slow. It is a major lifestyle change that not only affects you physically, but can have profound emotional and spiritual effects on you as well. Think very deeply about why you want to make this change in your life. Then educate yourself, talk to other vegans, and create a support system to help you along the way.
What motivates you to continue to be a successful vegan athlete?
I feel fantastic. I'm stronger in body, mind and spirit. The more time I spend on this path, the stronger and more passionate I feel about being a vegan athlete.
How has the website www.veganbodybuilding.com helped or inspired you?
It was the motivation and inspiration I needed to make the final decision to compete as a vegan figure competitor. Finding nutritional resources, pertinent articles, and listening to other athlete's experiences has been an integral part in my commitment to vegan bodybuilding.
Is there anything else you would like to add about your vegan fitness lifestyle?
I'm looking forward to stepping out on stage this year representing
vegan athletes everywhere!