Weightlifting, crossfit, yoga and veganism
I grew up largely unhealthy and obese, a true 90s microwave child and was never educated on nutrition. By the age of 18 I became a fully-fledged group fitness instructor teaching 35 hours classes a week in 30 plus degree heat in various hot countries but not living a plant-based or vegan diet, rather a diet of coffee and adrenaline.
As you can imagine my body is still paying the price of the lack of nutritional care when I was putting this demand on my body and consequently I have spent the last four years, recovering from severe anorexia, burnout, anxiety and chronic fatigue. This meant that my digestion was completely trashed, but also I had to be very careful about beginning to train again and get well and thus a plant-based lifestyle with lower volume, more-effective training appealed. I now actively train 4/5 times a week with a mixture of Crossfit, Weightlifting, Dance and Yoga.
So I would like to share some top tips with you when it comes to being a very active but recovering vegan and how actually a plant-based life can be extremely beneficial in terms of wellness and longevity.
Get someone to write you out a nutrition plan: So I am a nutritionist, but quite frankly the course I did was very geared around traditional, meat-packed bodybuilding meals and also, there is no loss in getting a vegan fitness professional’s input. This just makes your life easier because someone else is giving you subjective, professional advice. I chose Vegan Athletes, because they’re pretty much walking talking testimonies of plant powered weightlifting & training.
Smash the superfoods: Whether you are active or not you need superfoods. They only ADD to your nutrition, not take away. Must haves are an organic green powder (spirulina, chorella, wheatgrass), shilajit, maca, cacao, and a mushroom blend. It is important you get supreme quality superfoods, otherwise you might as well eat some green cardboard. Yummm.
Don’t skip meals. Unless you are following a fasting protocol that a professional has advised, skipping meals can really mess with your blood glucose level and then cause a stress response in the body or you just get downright HANGRY. If you’re training like an athlete but not eating the right nutrition to keep the blood sugars stable this could really play havoc with the adrenal glands, depending on how stressed your lifestyle already is and causing the body to enter a fight or flight state. If we are in this survival state, we won’t be dealing with proper digestion when we do eat. If one is in a low level stress state constantly, skipping meals could actually increase cortisol and cause fat storage, which is a little bit sad because one has worked so hard in the gym to look lean and mean and instead feeling puffy and knackered. If you can keep blood sugar as level as possible, then you can stay in a nice fat burning muscle building mode all day.
Invest in a weightlifting coach. If you’re serious about your progression, it is really a great idea to get a Personal Trainer, Lifting Coach or training buddy. Why? They can help you iron out any technique glitches so you can lift heavier and progress faster.
Take rest days. I have learnt the hard way, having faced complete burnout many times before from overtraining due to weightlifting. In fact, just a few weeks ago (after I’d still dropped my training down a lot) when I got some professional advice, I was still told to train less. Seems mad to think train less, eat more but it sure as hell works. Get out in nature and be active on your rest day if you feel you need to move, but let the body breath and repair.
Get more Oxygen. This sounds a weird one, but get this, cancer thrives and grows in a non-oxygenated acidic environment. If you are an athlete who has to do hours of training a day, then consider a supplement such as Oxytech. This is because if there is less oxygen feeding the organs this can cause disease. There have been cases where people’s bowels have literally died during endurance events because there was not enough oxygen to the digestive tract due to the length and nature of exercise.
Pair your proteins. If you’re following plant based eating with no meat/eggs/dairy etc you need to ensure you have a complete amino acid profile to repair, build muscle and keep the gut healthy. In each meal try to mix it up, for example, chickpeas/kidney beans and quinoa.
Invest in a great protein blend. To keep a general sense of wholeness in your amino acid and protein consumption get a good protein blend. Vegan Smart taste absolutely unreal and even has Chai flavour but it does contain some Cane Sugar also. Also Sun Warrior is an Awesome mix of Pea protein, Cranberry protein and hemp protein with Stevia as a sweetener and tastes great!
Train for performance not image. Often when we train for image, we don’t always get much athletic performance benefit. Train for performance and we generally get image as a result. We can get disappointed if we don’t lean up and that’s what we are training specifically for. Focus on an event or sport, for example, cross fit, sprinting, triathlons and your body will adapt and follow as it needs to and then you’re like “Hey, I got all vegan sexified”
Get a good digestive system. If your digestion is rubbish, then you’ll have issues absorbing all the nutrients you need to keep strong, well and fit and in addition the body will become deficient and stressed. This can really cause long term damage and disease. In Ayurveda they say that health begins with the Gut, so start here. Your body will thank you. I recommend going to see an experienced practitioner to help you really balance out any issues in this area.
Drink water throughout day. At least 2-3 litres.
My biggest piece of advise is that if you are athletic or not, you must respect your body. Take adequate rest and eat a variety of plant-based foods to ensure a plethora of nutrients whilst training and weightlifting.