Name: Rea Frey
Year of Birth: 1981
Current Residence: Nashville
Sports: Boxing and Gymnastics
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have.
I am the author of Power Vegan: Plant-Fueled Nutrition for Maximum Health and Fitness (Agate Surrey — May 2013). As a certified nutrition specialist and International Sports Sciences Association trainer for the past 14 years, helping people reach optimum, sustainable levels of health has become my true passion. Getting rid of the diet mentality and “quick fix” mindset and instead focusing on what solutions work for someone and not against them is imperative to lasting health. Becoming a mother a year ago changed my world (not sleeping, for one!). But raising a vegan child is incredible. I blog about my workout routines, recipes, and life as a vegan mom at www.reafrey.com.
Why did you become vegan?
I first became vegan at 13 after having a bad piece of beef. I decided to give up all meat then and there, before lapsing back into meat eating in my mid-twenties (which was short-lived). As a plant eater for 15 years, I simply feel better. I eat for energy, have plenty of muscle and find this lifestyle limitless, not limiting.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I was a gymnast for 13 years and a boxer for 5. I became certified in fitness, group training and nutrition at 17 years old and have been hooked ever since. My parents were into sports and working out and always encouraged my brother and I to stay active. Being in the gym is just part of my life. Being active outside of it is even more important. We are made to move — whatever form of activity that may take.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
I eat for energy. I eat foods without an ingredient list. I eat the color of the rainbow. I eat a variety of nuts, seeds, grains, pseudograins, produce and legumes. It's easy and efficient and about 70% raw. Every recipe I make is 20 minutes or less. I never count a calorie or pay attention to fat, carbs and protein ratios. I listen to my body and tweak accordingly.
How would you describe your training program?
I prefer interval training and muscle confusion. I train for power and speed and use a mix of kettle bells, body weight, Olympic lifting and Crossfit techniques whenever possible. I never repeat the same workout twice. I am never in the gym longer than 45 minutes, and I believe rest is just as important as killing it in the gym.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
That you can't get enough protein; that you are weak, malnourished, pale or thin; that you can't be an athlete; that you're weird; that the food tastes horrible; that you barely eat; that it's limiting instead of limitless. There are so many misconceptions about veganism, which is why I wrote a book about it. I think the mentality is changing though, as more and more athletes transition to a plant-based lifestyle.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with veganism or training?
Make gradual changes. Focus on what you can add into your diet instead of what you are taking out. Make healthy swaps. So, if you love pasta, perhaps try a quinoa or brown rice pasta, then a mung bean noodle, then zucchini pasta. All of our tastes and habits are learned. You can just as easily adapt. Eat foods in their natural state whenever possible. Figure out what you love to eat and learn to make it healthier.
With training, it is vital that you find something you actually love. If you hate to run, don't run. If you hate to be in the gym, don't go to the gym. Fitness doesn't have to mean lifting weights if that's not what motivates you. Being active is key — you just have to find what you love.
Do you have any other thoughts you'd like to share?
Being vegan comes with a bit of responsibility. You can't just cut out meat and dairy and think you're good to go. You have to pay attention to where you're getting your vitamins and minerals. Where do you get your vitamin D, your B12, your calcium, your iron and zinc? Do your homework and pay attention to how you feel. Your body is the best laboratory you will ever have.