Name: Marzia Prince
Weight: 135 lbs. For competition-127 lbs.
Birthplace: Omaha, Nebraska
Current Residence: Dallas, Texas
Sport: “Bikini” bodybuilder, Professional Fitness Model, Gaspari Nutrition Athlete, 2007 Ms. Bikini Universe, IFBB Bikini Pro, Yoga
Why did you become vegan?
It's not like I sought out to become vegan. It just kind of happened that way. After discovering I had 4 food allergies, I had no choice but to modify my diet. I am allergic to dairy, soy, peanuts, and gluten. With dairy- I always had a runny nose and congestion, I thought I had sinus problems or it was the air in Texas! LOL! I am highly allergic to soy; I break out in hives from head to toe. Peanut butter made my throat swell. (Yes, even the organic peanut butter!) And last but not least, gluten, it gives me gastro intestinal problems and makes me retain a lot of water. So, it was a progression of trial and error to get my nutrition down. I had to work around my allergy issues to come up with a nutrition plan that worked for me.
Also, as a fitness model and a competitor, I have done every “competition diet” out there to stay in top shape. Every time I competed for a competition and got off these rigorous diets, I would feel starved, low energy, tired, and then I would binge on food. I would put on extra pounds that were always hard to get off. It was a vicious cycle. After self educating, collaborating with nutrition specialist, and getting certified in nutrition, I realized how dangerous and toxic animal protein was being overdone in the fitness world. It is very acidic for the body. If your body is always acidic, it is hard for your body to lose weight. Not to mention it reeks havoc on your skin! My skin was dry with horrible acne. (Not a good look for a fitness model!) I also found out that too much animal protein for everybody was unnecessary on an everyday basis. It is false advertising to us as consumers to buy meat all the time to make the large corporations rich. So, between cutting out my animal protein and my allergy foods, I discovered I was basically eating a pescatarian diet. After a few weeks of trying it, I lost 10 lbs. Then my body started to sculpt and was lean within 8 weeks. I couldn't believe this was the answer I had been looking for this whole time to maintaining a top physique without killing myself in the gym and aggressive dieting. Then I took it one step further and quit fish, officially becoming vegan. I feel like I didn't have to suffer to stay in top form anymore. My body was reacting to the quality nutrition I was eating. I am also a big believer into eating raw as well. I eat 80% of my food raw. Now I have so much energy, great skin, and a better outlook on eating food!
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I started out in sports in high school. I ran track and played volleyball for all four years. After high school I got a gym membership and did aerobic classes. I was the cardio queen for awhile till I discovered bodybuilding. In my mid twenties I got my first personal trainer that introduced me to bodybuilding. I loved how shapely my body became after months of lifting weights. It took my fitness to a whole new level. I went from being a skinny fat to shapely and firm. I was addicted! Here I am at 35 still going strong!
How would you describe your nutrition program?
My nutrition changes depending on my fitness goals. I modified my “old” standard competition diet that was (5 times a day, every 3 hours) high protein animal meat diet to high quality plant based protein with fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. Some of my favorite proteins are hemp, brown rice, beans, seeds, nuts, and leafy greens. I love my healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, flax oil, and nuts. As far as carbs go, I eat whole grains, beans, veggies, and fruits. I just watch my clean carbs when I get close to a competition or a photo shoot.
I used to be on a really strict competition diet but now being vegan; I eat organic plant based foods and don't feel like I am on a diet. I listen to my body. I am more in tune with my body now, than I have ever been. Gone are the days of fad diets, “competition diets”, and being lost on how to eat. I feel like I have taken back control of my body. Aha! So this is what they say mean when they say lifestyle! LOL!
How would you describe your training program?
I usually train 7 days a week. I love training for competitions!
Right now I am training for a competition. So, I am weight training 5 days a week, cardio 5 days a week and yoga 2 to 3 times a week. It looks something like this.
When I am not training for a competition, I will back off on cardio to 2 days a week in my off-season.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
Yes, I do. I recently discovered Vega protein powder. Love it and it taste good. I use that, along with hemp protein powder, brown rice protein powder, BCAA's, a multivitamin, and flax oil.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
Wow, I get so many people asking so many questions! People will look at you like you're an alien! LOL! A couple of top questions I get asked on a daily basis are “Where do you get your protein?” and “What do you get to eat?”
First off “What do I get to eat?” I simply tell them I get to eat high quality organic real whole foods. Then I get the look like “What's that?!” I go into depth about how real whole foods are there to nourish the body cell by cell. Your body will cleanse itself from the inside out. It makes you feel energized and it is fundamental to good health and well being. It changes you for the better. I have never felt better in my life than I do right now.
As far as protein goes, I have to educate people that you do get high quality protein from plants. Many people associate protein equals animal meat. I used to be that person! I know first off what it is like to eat animal meat 5 times a day everyday for years, especially when I was competing! I had to do my research and collaborate with nutrition specialist to help me understand that you can get your protein from plant based source and meet your needs. Making this change not only changed my body, it changed me. I feel like I have been reborn and am so inspired to help educate other around me.
What do you think the most important aspect of fitness is?
I think the most important aspect of fitness is good health. Like they say “If you don't have good health, you have nothing!” I believe that. Being healthy has benefits internally and externally. Internally- I feel like I can do anything! When I feel good, I am in a great mood, and with that, comes a positive attitude. This is the inner beauty which radiates externally. Having a great physique is the benefit of eating quality food. I definitely get it now when people say it gives you a sense of well being! This lifestyle change has me very inspired! I want to save the world! (Even if it takes me one person at a time!)
What do you like best about being vegan?
How much time do you have! LOL! I can probably go on and on about this one.
I love being vegan because of three main reasons. My health, the animals, and my contribution to saving the planet! It is an indescribable feeling that words cannot express. I feel balanced and connected to myself. I wish I would have discovered this years ago! I also feel as if I am making more educated food choices for my health, that of the animals, and the environment! It's a win win situation!
What do you like best about being fit?
Being fit allows me to push myself physically and mentally. I set goals all the time to keep me in check. Having small and long term fitness goals throughout the year makes it easier for me to keep with it. When I reach my goal or goals I set new ones. Fitness is not a look, it is a lifestyle!
What are your strengths as an athlete?
Discipline! I stay disciplined to my nutrition, my time in the gym, and setting goals. I feed my body the right foods to give me the strength which allows me to reach my goals. It all correlates together.
Talking about strength, I hit a personal goal at the gym on the leg press. I can leg press 568 lbs! (5 sets of 5 reps!) I am proud of that!
What advice do you have for vegan athletes who are just starting out?
Educate yourself! Do your research. Talk with other vegan athletes as well. This is how I found www.veganbodybuilding.com. I didn't just become vegan overnight. It was a process of listening to my body, educating myself and collaborating with nutrition specialist. I am still in the process of educating myself right now! I consider myself a “vegan virgin”. Still new to it all.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
I guess I just answered that in the last question. I would definitely educate yourself. Know why you are doing it. It is a journey that will take you in a different direction in life. A journey that will awaken you! There is a whole new world out there people!
What motivates you to continue to be a successful vegan athlete?
So many things! I have been a fitness model for 5 years now so being a role model and leading a healthy lifestyle has motivated me to take my own fitness more seriously. Also, the fact that I am helping the planet and animals gives me a deeper meaning to stay on my path.
How has the website www.veganbodybuilding.com helped or inspired you?
I found this website Googling information about being vegan and bodybuilding. I have to say I was excited to see there was a website for vegan bodybuilding! It has helped me connect to other bodybuilders and athletes. Everyone on here has a different story and is very inspiring to read. Also, I contacted Robert Cheeke (very prompt at returning emails!) and he has been very helpful himself as well. I love all the information his site has put together.
Is there anything else you would like to add about your vegan fitness lifestyle?
I just want to say to others out there to take it one step at a time. Enjoy the journey and process it takes to get there. You can do it with time and consistency! This is your chance to save you, the animals, and the world! And to all my vegan friends: Keep Rocking It!