Plant-Based Performance is a project I've put together to benefit animal welfare. Right now it is a series of two books the content of which is made up of unique contributions by myself and over 40 other vegan athletes, health and fitness professionals, and activists. 

People like former UFC fighter Mac Danzig, WWE superstar and hall of famer Amy "Lita" Dumas, ultrarunner and author Matt Frazier from No Meat Athlete, registered dietitian Matt Ruscigno, Stic.man of the hip hop duo Dead Prez, professional bodybuilder Torre "Tha Vegan Dread" Washington, and many more!

100% of all book sales go directly to benefit the following organizations: Mercy For Animals, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Forgotten Animals Rescue.

I hope you enjoy this week's episode, and to learn more about Plant-Based Performance and and to help us support these amazing organizations by grabbing your copies of the books, visit us on the web at: 

http://www.plantbasedperformance.org
http://www.facebook.com/plantbasedper...

Also, if you are a vegan athlete, health and fitness professional or activist and would like to get involved with future projects email me at scott@extreme-fitness.org.
 
 
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EAT PLANTS, LIFT IRON is the inspiring story of an experiment to
see if hip hop artist Stic of dead prez, who is naturally slim and also a distance runner, could gain 20 pounds while on a high performance plant-based diet.

Wrtten with Strength Coach Scott Shetler, NSCA-CPT & Holistic Nutritionist and Chef Afya Ibomu, B.S., CHHC. Gluten Free,  Supplement Free Plant Based Nutrition plan, meals  and recipes and professionally designed training regimen included.

Eat plants, Lift Iron

“Stronger than Ever, Never Felt Better!” -stic of dead prez

The Wait is over! Finally, a straightforward book that truly understands the skinny man’s challenges and offers a realistic and natural way to gain healthy weight and muscle! This is not about becoming a humungous body builder; it’s about building the body you got!

EAT PLANTS, LIFT IRON is the inspiring story of an experiment to
see if hip hop artist Stic of dead prez –who is naturally slim and also
a distance runner, could gain 20 pounds while on a high performance
plant-based diet.

Part personal adventure, part nutrition plan, part training regimen,

Eat Plants, Lift Iron provides --

• Sample meal plans, grocery lists and delicious, protein rich,
nutritionally balanced recipes from Holistic Nutritionist and
plant based chef Afya Ibomu B.S., CHHC.

• The best training exercises for “naturally slim” body types to put
on size. Certified Personal Trainer and Strength Coach Scott
Shetler, NSCA-CPT guides you with his expertise.

• Stic’s humorous and motivational personal account of the
struggles and emotional challenges that skinny guys deal with and
the solutions he uses for balancing fitness, work, travel and family
to Reach Bigger Goals.

Forward by
Torre “The Vegan Dread” Washington, 4 Time Pro Body Builder

Click here to get your copy now!

 
 
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Scott Shetler
Kim, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Why don't you start by telling our readers a little about yourself.

Kimberly Marie
I am a 21 year old, 170lb, vegan living on Long Island New York. I come from a small town in Brooklyn where the rest of my family is currently living now. Being raised in a big Italian family, I was taught old traditions that were carried through many generations. I was inspired by my parents to attend college to accomplish my goals of becoming a physical therapist. I also have a desire to take many psychology courses to learn about the human brain/function. As of now, I am working full time at a retirement home, and have been for the past five years or so. 

Work and my education are my top priorities but my life outside of that consists of heavy training in the gym and going out with a few friends. 

Writing is another hobby I enjoy doing to clear my mind and get everything out in the open.

SS
Why did you become vegan? 


KM
As mentioning of being brought up in an old fashioned Italian family, I was raised to believe that milk will give you strong bones and that meat will be your number one source of protein. Meeting a friend that was a vegetarian at the time, when I was fourteen opened my eyes to the meat industry. I decided to cut meat out of my diet along with fish. Being that young with no money or a job, I was struggling to keep meat off my plate. 

Finally, going back and forth, at seventeen years old I completely stopped eating any living being. I did my research on a lot of animal testing/fur/meat industries but was unsure of the dairy industry. At nineteen, I was suffering from some stomach problems and had some tests done and nothing was found. Desperate, I searched everything I consumed and wanted to know how everything that was on my plate was processed. 

This lead up to the dairy industry research that completely blew me away. I was shocked that I didn't educate myself on what was going on sooner and from that moment on I pledged to stop taking from animals. That being said, my stomach issues went away and I found a greater appreciation for life. Being Vegan was the best decision I made for myself.

SS
Have you ever competed in any strength sports? If not do you plan to? 

KM
I have never competed in any strength sports or any competitions. I tend to track back to powerlifting competitions to study the competitor's form and find motivation if I need too. Once my deadlift and squat numbers get higher I will seriously considering competing.

SS
How has being vegan helped your performance? 


KM
My plant based diet has done my body wonders. I wasn't a vegan when I was a runner but when I stepped into the gym and started weight lifting I cut out dairy. I felt stronger and not so sluggish when I was eating whole foods compared to consuming milk/eggs ect. My motivation was to prove that you can gain muscle on a plant based diet and achieve your goals.

SS
What does your diet look like? 

KM
I changed alot of the foods that I consume over the past two years. It's pretty simple and sticking to the basics is was works best for me. A lot of oats, grains, beans, legumes, tofu, greens, fruits & peanut butter is what keeps me energized. I love Sun Warrior's protein powder mixed in my oatmeal in the morning! I play around in the kitchen from time to time when I crave pancakes or vegan meatballs. Keeping it interesting helps me stay on track. Oh, did I mention my love for Clif Bars?

SS
What is your favorite healthy food? 


KM
My favorite healthy food would have to be strawberries! I love all fruits but strawberries are my go to.

SS
What is your favorite cheat food? 


KM
Cheat meal would have to be my recipe for vegan chocolate chip pancakes that I usually have when I feel like my body can use it.

SS
What does your training plan look like? 


KM
I focus on my two major lifts which are the deadlift and squat. Typically splitting those two movements up I'll have one heavy squat day, focusing on legs/glutes/hamstrings and one major deadlift day where I focus on back. Then the other days I have delts/biceps/triceps ect.

SS
What is your favorite exercise? 


KM
I have always said that the deadlift is my favorite exercise because it's an all or nothing movement. If you fail you fail, unlike the squat where the spotter can save you if you fall. The squat is another favorite so it's difficult to chose.

SS
What is your least favorite exercise? 


KM
Not a fan of lunges, they work great but it can get a bit boring even if i switch to using the smith machine or dumbbells.

SS
Cardio---yes or no? 


KM
My experiment of cutting out cardio completely has been a success. When I had cardio in my routine twice a week, I did HIIT sprints. Great for metablosim but I felt I wanted to completely focus on getting my numbers higher on my deadlifts and squats. HIIT exhausted my body and cut that time out where I could have been lifting heavy.

SS
What are your current best lifts as well as your goals for those lifts?

KM
My best deadlift is 275 pounds and my squat is 235 pounds. I'm pushing for 3-plates, 315 pounds, for my deadlift and 250 pounds for my squat. These are just some short-term goals to keep my strength progressing, and around that time I would like to start attending some powerlifting competitions.
SS
Are there any vegan athletes you look up to or inspire you? If so, who? 

KM
Two Vegan athletes that I completely find inspiring are powerlifter/strongman Patrick Baboumian, and bodybuilder Frank Medrano. Both of their strengths are completely incredible and they are living proof that you can be strong as an ox on a plant based diet!

SS
How important is it for people to consider a plant-based diet and lifestyle? 


KM
Learning about a plant based diet can be difficult to take in depending on the person. You have your facts on the meat/dairy industry then the facts of what you benefit if you cut those two components out. Having an open mind is important but learning the significant, positive, change you can go through is life changing.

SS
What inspires you? 


KM
My inspiration comes from the people in my life. Making sure they are taken care of and happy is what I live for and that alone strives me to become a better person. Inspiration also comes from my reflection, that I believe that I can push my mind to places it's never been before.

SS
What are your future goals? 


KM
Like my inspiration, my goals is to become a stronger version of myself, mentally and physically. Also to become a person that helps other people realize that they can achieve anything they want too. Being a voice for the animals will always be my goal. I'll never stop being a voice for the voiceless.

SS
Rumor has it you like heavy music, who are your favorite bands? 


KM
Music time! I love all music but I love my heavy music. I've been going to shows since I was twelve years old getting into mosh pits! Bands like Killswitch Engage, Atreyu, August Burns Red, Volumes, Miser Signals, Avenged Sevenfold, Emmure, Staind, Evanescence, Pantera, In This Moment and All That Remains is basically what I listen too.

SS
If we stole your iPod what would the top 5 songs be on your most played list?
 

KM
Five top songs to be played on my iPod would be Up All Night by Volumes. Becoming the Bull by Atreyu. No Knock by All That Remains. Forever Again by Recongize and Tulips Are Better by Atreyu.

SS
If people want to follow you on social media where should they go? 


KM
Tumblr- barbiielifts.tumblr.com 
Instagram- barbiiedeadlifts

SS
Is there anything else you would like to add for our readers? 


KM
Being vegan is about being compassionate and taking others into consideration. Its not just about food, its about life. Thinking about other living creatures besides humans, shows that you are grasping the idea on life in a different aspect then someone that eats meat. It wasn't difficult to give up the foods that I was raised on. I'm not thinking about myself, I'm thinking about them, the animals.

SS
Thanks Kim! I sincerely appreciate your time, best of luck to you in your future endeavors!


###

If you enjoyed this interview with Kim and would like to learn more about badass vegan athletes, health and fitness pros and activists to inspire you to adopt a plant-based diet and lifestyle, CLICK HERE to purchase our two books. 100% of all sales go to benefit awesome animal welfare organizations!

 
 
I'm really stoked to be doing this interview! Jason is part of Team Plantbuilt, and along with Sara, Crystal, Kelly, Mike, and myself is part of the powerlifting crew on the team, or as we like to be known as - the misfits of Team Plantbuilt! There is a special bond that powerlifters share and it's created when you do your first meet and establish your first legit total, the iron bug fangs have injected their poison and you become part of an elite fraternity of other like-minded individuals who understand things like iron, chalk, and ammonia. Regardless of each other's backgrounds, powerlifters just "get" each other because we are all walking the same path.

Meeting Jason was no different, we hit it off right away and had a great time-often at the expense of our bodybuilder teammates-at our competition in Austin, TX this past July. On top of everything this was Jason's first powerlifting meet, whereas I've been involved in the sport, both competing and coaching, since 2003. Getting to see him go 8 for 9, hit personal records in the squat and deadlift, and put up his first total was beyond awesome, I felt like a proud older brother watching him make a big entrance into this crazy and somewhat demented sport!

What you will quickly notice about Jason is that he is incredibly humble, while his own progress is important, what matters most to him is helping his teammates and giving back all while supporting the collective mission of those of us on Team Plantbuilt which is to help animal welfare organizations and promote the health and performance benefits of a vegan diet.

I hope you enjoy this interview and get ready to see more from Jason as he has come on board Plant-Based Performance and will be a contributing author to our next book!
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Jason setting up a squat at the 2014 Naturally Fit Games in Austin, TX. Photo by Donovan Jenkins.
Scott Shetler
Tell us a little about yourself.

Jason Morris
I currently own and operate Iron Ethos: Fitness Community in Portland OR, and am a member of the PlantBuilt Powerlifting team. I am a student of public health sciences, NAFC Certified Trainer, and Kinetic Integrations student.  I’ve been a personal trainer for the last 5 years and a gym rat for the last 18 years, and enjoy the opportunity to learn from my peers whenever I can.

SS
When and why did you become vegan?
 

JM
I became a vegan  2006, on a journey to get my health and wellness in check.  I was 255 lbs after weighing 195 only 2 years prior, and I was contemplating a juice cleanse.  At the same time I had made friends with a girl named Amanda who had been vegan.  We spent some days talking about veganism, and it sounded like a great idea rather than depriving whole foods from my body.  One month later I felt amazing and stuck with it.  I will admit there were a few times in that first year that social pressures that led me astray.   That being said… its never been a struggle to be vegan.

SS
What led you to powerlifting?  


JM
After several bouts with attempting to do body building and facing injuries (bike wrecks, falling down stairs…) I got tired of rebuilding strength after cutting weight.  Lifting as heavy as I relatively can has always been enjoyable, so it  seemed like the best next step.

SS
What do you enjoy most about the sport of powerlifting?


JM
The work put into it, the journey of facing your demons and getting under the weight.  On meet day though… I just have a blast watching everyone giving it all they got.  To me it's not a competition, but a coming together of like minds that just pick shit up and set it down.  No ego, just camaraderie.

SS
How does being plant-based benefit your training?


JM
While not an empirical study… I’ve noticed I just recover faster that I used to… which is funny because i’m no longer in my 20’s….

SS
What are your best competition lifts?  Gym Lifts?


JM
451 dead lift, 363 squat, 215 bench Gym lifts are a 350 Squat, 250 bench, 440 deadlift or 435 2 inch deficit deadlift.

SS
What is your favorite lift to train?  


JM
Dead lifts or heavy rows.

SS
Why is it important for people to consider a plant-based lifestyle?


JM
That its just that.  Its a lifestyle.  Prior to, you’ve lived your life one way, and you’re conditioned to behaving differently.   You have to keep trying to succeed at it.  It takes supportive community, nutritional education, and patience.

SS
How did you become involved with Team Plantbuilt?  
 

JM
Portland VegFest 2012, Giacomo, Dani, Robert, Ed Bauer, and Myself were eating pizza (yeah pizza and bodybuilders….who’d have thought).  I asked a question, how can we make a community with all of us Vegan trainers/athletes to help spread the word of compassionate strength? Through discussions that would continue in Portland and across the U.S. via Facebook, the team was cultivated by a collective far and wide.  I missed the first years competition due to breaking my foot, but I was a huge cheerleader for my friends.

SS
What is your favorite healthy vegan meal?  


JM
Seriously just a huge salad of cabbage and other veggies, black beans, balsamic vinegar, and tofu/tempeh/or a tofurky bratwurst.

SS
What is your favorite vegan cheat food?  


JM
Chocolate cake with Scott Shetler, or specialty ordered Pizza waved in Giacomo’s face, then eaten on a deck in a hotel overlooking the River in Austin.
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The only photo proof that exists of Scott, Matt, and Jason's involvement in the alleged "Pizza-gate 2014" although Strongest Hearts claims to have video of the event.... Stay tuned!
SS
What inspires you to train and compete?

JM
My gym members, and teammates inspire me to compete.  I’m fairly shy, and modest so it helps that I have their support.  I’m inspired to train as a health outlet, and from time to time by people who think vegans can’t lift their own bodyweight.

SS
What does your current training plan look like?


JM
I squat 2 days a week, bench 2 days a week, and Deadlift once a week.  Accessory movements include Back, Shoulder and Tricep movements, as well as Single leg press movements, and weighted planks.

SS
You and I had quite a bit of fun at the expense of our bodybuilding teammates during the Plantbuilt week in Austin, TX - allegedly some cookies and a pizza or two were involved. Care to comment?


JM
Clearly I didn’t read your interview questions from top to bottom before answering them….   You can be like mr. olympia stranded in the desert without food or nutritious water….or be the incredible hulk with a sense of humor? You decide.

SS
If we stole your iPod, or music player of choice, what would the five most frequently played songs be?


JM
  1. Busta Rhymes, “ Gimmee Some More “
  2. Nas , “NY State of Mind”
  3. WU Tang Clan “ Its Yours”
  4. Shelter Red “ Errand of Mercy “
  5. Leaving The Scene “28:06:42:12”

SS
Can I get a ride to Whole Foods man?


JM
Be in the lobby at 8 am, I got you!

SS
What does the future hold for you?


JM
Ripping heavy shit off the floor, hustling, learning, and building opportunities with my fellow Vegan athletes.

SS
Rumor has it you recently got some new ink. Details man, details.


JM
Well after several failed attempts at getting a tattoo in Austin with my friends Sasha, Matt, Kelly and Sara (something about smashing cupcakes, or a hashtag tattoo)  I arrived back in Portland on my birthday with no new ink.  To my surprise, my Portland gym family had chipped in and purchase me a tattoo with Jason Graham of Grizzly Tattoo here in Portland.

Hidden under the flowers, and buffalo is an old butterfly.  Who will be missed by many…  
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Tattoo by Jason Graham (unfinished).
SS
Where can readers go online to learn more about you? 

JM
www.ironethospdx.com, instagram: IronEthos or Jmorris.fitness, the Plantbuilt website, or one of a couple documentaries created by Strongest Hearts.

SS
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?


JM
Whether its fitness, or veganism… its a lifestyle.  Its a commitment you’re making.  If you fall, pick yourself back up, surround yourself with people who support your goals. Love yourself, and offer other beings the compassion they deserve (or more).

SS
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, I really appreciate it!


###

I hope you enjoyed this interview with Jason and look for more from Team Plantbuilt and other awesome vegan athletes and enthusiasts soon! Also, our second book is currently being put together. Just like our first book, 100% of book sales revenue will be donated to an animal welfare organization of our choice. If you haven't gotten a copy, or download, of the first Plant-Based Performance book, click here! By doing so you will be helping us support Mercy For Animals, thank you!

-Scott
 
 
I'm very excited to share this interview with you! Erin Fergus is one of my teammates on the Plantbuilt Vegan Muscle Team, and she totally cleaned up at our event at the Naturally Fit Games in Austin, TX last month by bringing home two 1st place trophies! 

I hope her story inspires you as it has me, and look for more awesome interviews with other members of Team Plantbuilt in the very near future!

Enjoy!
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Erin dominating the stage at the 2014 Naturally Fit Games! Photo by Donovan Jenkins
Scott Shetler
Tell us a little about yourself.

Erin Fergus
I’m a 31 year old personal training instructor at Greenville Technical College in Greenville, SC. I grew up in  southeast AL before moving to Pensacola, FL, to get a B.S. and M.S. in exercise science. I lived there a total of 11 years working as a YMCA fitness director, personal trainer, group fitness instructor (mostly Spinning) and adjunct college instructor before landing my current career (aka dream job!) in December 2012. My certifications are ACSM Health Fitness Specialist and NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. I am also in the process of completing an online master’s degree in journalism from the University of Memphis.

SS
When, and why, did you switch to a vegan lifestyle?


EF
I grew up in the country in southeast AL and was surrounded by dogs, cats, bunnies, hamsters, horses, fish and even chickens at one point. My parents taught me to love animals and nature, and I spent most of my childhood thinking I would grow up to be a vet who could barely scrape by because she’d offer all spaying and neutering for free. Although I went to college for exercise science, it was the summer before college, in 2001, that I traveled to Washington, D.C. and saw some PETA posters and demonstrations. All it took was one picture of a cow’s face behind bars for me to say, “I’m an adult now, and I can choose to not eat my friends.” I told my parents the next day I’d stop eating chicken, pig, turkey and cow, and  I did. I was a pescetarian because I ate fresh caught Gulf seafood on occasion. By 2007 I had phased out seafood, eggs, and all other animal products at home and only ate dairy when I was in restaurants. I also became more educated about animal welfare and phased out products that weren’t eco-friendly or contributed to animal cruelty. March 1, 2013 I decided there really was no excuse for me to not be 100% plant-based and to be as much of an animal advocate as I could. Before then I mostly kept my lifestyle to myself, but now I make sure to promote it as best and as often as I can.

I don’t want ANY animal to ever suffer or be in pain. I could never go back to consuming animal products, and I hope to keep putting myself out there and engaging in more activism in the future.  

SS
What types of fitness competitions do you participate in?


EF
My “top” sport right now is bodybuilding (physique and bodybuilding categories), but I am a competitive person and strive to be a well rounded athlete. I tried adventure racing and powerlifting in last year’s off season, so I would like to take that more seriously in this year’s offseason. I also began running again after a knee injury last year. I was a runner and triathlete from 2007-2010 but would like to get into trail running now that I live in the terrain for it. In my dream world I would begin training for American Ninja Warrior, but a more realistic goal would be to win the constant battle of adding more stretching, foam rolling and yoga into my life!

SS
What is your competition history and have you won any titles?


EF
  • June 2013 - Carolina Supernatural, Spartanburg, SC, 6th place figure medium
  • June 2013 - OCB Emerald Coast Classic, Ft. Walton Beach, FL, 1st place novice figure short, 4th place open figure short
  • August 2013 - OCB Presidential Cup, Baltimore, MD, 3rd place open fitness model
  • June 2014 - Carolina Supernatural, Spartanburg, SC, 3rd place heavyweight women’s bodybuilding, 4th place figure medium
  • July 2014 - Naturally Fit Games, Austin, TX, 1st place open fit body, 1st place novice heavyweight bodybuilding
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March 22, 2013
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July 26, 2014 - Photo by Donovan Jenkins
Erin is proof that it is possible to build muscle, burn fat, dominate the stage, and experience abundant health by eating plants!
SS
How did you become involved with Team Plantbuilt?

EF
I followed vegetarian and vegan endurance athletes while I competed in triathlon, so I was already aware of and somewhat connected to the vegan fitness community. I saw Plantbuilt being discussed online, so I set trying to make the team for 2014 as a long term goal when I started competing in spring 2013. I remember staying home on the day of the 2013 Naturally Fit Super Show and constantly checking social media for updates. I competed several times so I could gain experience and strengthen my application. I was honored and humbled to be chosen by the 2013 team from a pool of applicants to be on the 2014 team.  

SS
What does your in-season diet currently look like and how has it evolved since you started competing?


EF
My in-season diet is made up of six meals per day, which is the same frequency I’ve done for years, and my lowest daily caloric intake is about 1750. I hadn’t worked with a nutrition coach last year and had never even tracked what I ate until working with Dani Taylor this spring. I tracked several days of what I was eating in the off season and was easily consuming 3,000 calories or more. We started there for my 15-week prep and gradually tapered down, and she introduced me to carb cycling, which my body responded to well. My vegetable consumption has increased greatly from my unstructured off season, and that helps with cravings because I have become accustomed to turning to green stuff when I’m hungry. I like the simplicity of eating similar meals, and my staples throughout have been oats, berries, tofu, quinoa, TVP, nuts and nut butters, grapefruit, kale, spinach, nooch, and protein powders. Oh, and lots and lots of salsa, pickles, mustard, liquid aminos, caffeine-free hot tea, pepper, garlic, and every flavor of Mrs. Dash!  

SS
What is your favorite off-season treat?


EF
This question really should say “treats”! I have a “freezer stash” that I have collected since the spring of treats that I will ration out throughout the fall and winter. I’m on a mission to bake all the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World flavors and do one batch a month, so a majority of the stash are those. It’s also sprinkled with limited edition Oreo flavors because life just wouldn’t be complete without sampling them all! My “pantry stash,” which a friend keeps, is full of fancy vegan popcorn, coconut bacon, flavored dark chocolate bars and dates. So clearly I don’t have a favorite. I’d be happy with anything from vegan pancakes or waffles to coconut-based ice cream to Mellow Mushroom vegan calzones to maybe just hand me a sampler container of Sweet & Sara marshmallows and we’ll call it even...

My major goal for this off season is to work in one weekly treat that I fully savor. I’m working to have a healthier than ever relationship with food, and I fully agree with the notion that people should eat whatever occasional treat they want as long as no animals are harmed in the process!

SS
Have you experienced any benefits (improved health, recovery, ability to train harder, etc) since switching to a vegan diet?


EF
My health has always been great, but the biggest difference is improved performance and recovery specifically after adding more green vegetables into my diet. The kale, spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts keep my body more alkaline, which I’ve noticed decreases my lactic acid accumulation during training and inflammation and soreness after. I train seven days a week without rest days, and I doubt I could handle that training load without my plant-based diet. I also swear that my hair grows faster now, I wear less make-up than I ever have, and I regularly get told I look like I’m 24 or 25. I’ll take it!
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Erin makes ring training look easy!
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Erin likes to hang out in nature when not in the gym!
SS
What does your training schedule look like?

EF
In the offseason I train once a day, usually six or seven days a week, and usually the only cardio is a short warm up before lifting. During prep I usually do two workouts a day Monday through Thursday and once a day the other days so I can fit in all the strength training and cardio I need. I am lucky to work in a college fitness center and teach future personal trainers, because part of their graduation requirement is to train people in the final semester. I volunteer so I don’t have to try to go to the gym after work (my least favorite time to be there!)

The training schedule I’ve had for a while is Monday - legs and abs, Tuesday - back and bi, Wednesday - chest, tri, shoulders, Thursday - hips, glutes, abs, Friday - back and bi, Saturday - plyo and abs, Sunday - random mix of stuff which can include bench, deadlifts, pull ups, rowing, heavy ropes, and at least one or two exercises for each other upper body muscle group. I plan on completely overhauling that split in the offseason and adding in more Olympic and strong man movements.  

SS
What is your favorite body part and exercise to train? Least favorite?


EF
I’ve been asked this question several times and it’s still hard to answer. If I had to choose one as being the ultimate, it would be back day because that’s when I move some of the heaviest weight. But really, there isn’t a single day that I don’t look forward to because all seven days that I strength train are different. Right now I’m enjoying training biceps, abs, and hips/glutes because they are the areas I’ve built up the most this season. Being able to target specific areas that need improvement and then sculpting them the way you want them is a fascinating and rewarding process.

Specific exercises that I enjoy the most are any form of pulldowns and rows (the more variation the better, and best when the weight is so heavy that the machine tries to pull me out of the seat!), deficit sumo squats (standing on two platforms and holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in the middle), weighted hip thrusters (usually with Smith machine for convenience), and forced preacher curl negatives (using a moderate weight, a partner tries to pull the bar down while I resist it, and then at the bottom she lets go and I bring it up quickly.)

As far as least favorite, whenever I find myself thinking “I don’t want to do that,” I automatically challenge myself to at least try it for one set. That’s my rule, and it works! If there is any exercise that I think might give me trouble, I put it at the beginning of the workout when I’m my strongest.

SS
You did exceptionally well this year at the 2014 Naturally Fit Games, bringing home 1st place wins in two different events. Tell us a little about that experience.


EF
It seems like the theme of that competition was redemption. Three of my other teammates took home their first big 1st place wins, and several others placed higher than before. It’s a beautiful thing to watch hard work pay off!

I’m usually standing on an auditorium stage with a perma-grin while the lights blind me from anything but the judges down in front of me. This was in the convention center, the stage was smaller, and the lighting allowed me to see my teammates in the front row cheering for me. I haven’t placed in the top of most of my previous competitions, and I took last place in two classes in a show six weeks  before the Plantbuilt show. It was a “warm up,” and I knew I wasn’t contest ready. I’m still thankful for doing it because I proved to my students the importance of following up on your commitments and doing what you say you’re going to do. Because of this, I have a humble approach to competing. I tell myself in my mind that I’m going to place last and be ready to smile when I receive the news. That’s what I did for both classes at the NFG, and it was a shock to hear I took 1st place. My eyes teared up for the first class because I could see some of my teammates getting emotional and others were cheering like crazy. For the second class I wanted to jump up and down because it was the ultimate achievement.

I accepted those trophies for myself and my team, but I also accepted them in honor of the first judges who ever gave me feedback. They told me I had a LOT of work to do to ever be competitive because I had a straight torso and thick waist. The first thing I said to my teammates was, “From the bottom to the top,” and it wouldn’t have felt so fantastic if I hadn’t been used to not placing in the top. I compete because I love the challenge, though, and I’d keep doing it even if I never placed first again.  

SS
One thing I noticed is your physique is well balanced, how important is symmetry in physique competition and how does it vary from bodybuilding, to figure, to bikini, etc?


EF
Now that’s a huge compliment considering the aforementioned judges’ feedback! The main criteria the judges look for in all the bodybuilding categories include balance/symmetry/proportion (meaning that the top and bottom, right and left sides, and front and back of the body seem to “match” each other), conditioning (leanness and muscularity), and posing/presentation (how accurately you hit the mandatory poses and how confident you appear on stage.) The body types and areas of the body that are scored vary greatly between the classes. The bikini competitors typically have a “softer” look but are still very lean (but not muscular), and the main areas they are judged are the upper back, waist, glutes and legs. A figure competitor has more muscle and needs to have a “V taper” - deltoid “caps” on the shoulder, wide lats/upper back that “flare out,” a narrow waist, a curve in the hip and a lean leg. The physique class is the newest and is a segway between figure and bodybuilding. The posing has “open hands” instead of closed fists, and the muscularity is not as pronounced as on bodybuilders, but all the muscle groups are taken into consideration. Bodybuilding requires competitors to be the most lean, with a “harder” look, poses are with the hands in fists, and the body should have an “X” shape of a wide upper back and thick legs.

Although I don’t want to give up on competing in figure, my body type is better suited to physique and bodybuilding. I prefer the fluidity of the posing, using my dance background to create posing routines for the night show, and being able to go barefoot instead of cramming my feet into 5” heels.
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Erin showing some love for the powerlifts!
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Erin taking on the Spartan Beast!
SS
Why is it important for people to consider a vegan lifestyle?


EF
I knew that my decision to go vegan wouldn’t end all cruelty, but I know that my actions make a difference and create a ripple effect. A vegan lifestyle is one that is informed, aware and compassionate. We try to create as little harm and impact on the planet, and we make this choice because we know that animals were not put here to be factory farmed, worn, tested on, or used for entertainment. I see so many things that make me ashamed of humans, but connecting with other vegans has shown me that goodness still exists.

Even if someone doesn’t make the ethical connection right away (although many people eventually do), the health benefits are undeniable. I am vegan 100% for the animals, but I am comforted by knowing that I have a reduced risk for cancer and other diseases in my family history. My diet allows me to train as hard as I want, but it also makes me feel “clean” because no living creature had to be confined or killed for me to fuel my workouts. I’m in the best shape of my life, and it gets better as I get older.

I try my hardest to not be the “preachy” vegan that all omnivores fear. I have been exposed to so many delicious fruits, vegetables and grains that I never knew of before changing my diet, and I love to show other people how vibrant and delicious my food is. I show them how strong I am inside and out and how much I thrive on plants and whole foods. I consider the lifestyle a gift that you give to yourself, the animals, and the environment. Several of my students, my supervisor, and some of my family members have made steps to becoming more plant based, and it’s wonderful to see them enjoying it and feeling better. If it’s the single best thing you can do for everyone involved, why wouldn’t you?

SS
What do you like to do with your free time when you are not in the gym?


EF
What’s free time?! I try to spend as much time as I can with my 10 year old Cocker Spaniel, Jezabel. I love reading, so I actually read a book while walking her to save time (I know it’s weird, but I’ve been doing it for years and have never hurt myself!) I am trying to visit every hiking spot and waterfall within a three-hour drive because I love escaping and decompressing in nature on the weekends. I don’t do it enough, but I’ve played piano for 25 years and try to do that when I can. I have kept a journal since I was 11 and keep up with that every week or two. I try to reserve watching Hulu and Netflix for when I’m doing food prep, but I’ll admit I’m a fan of horror movies, documentaries and trashy reality shows. I still have plenty of interests that fall on my “if I had time” list, such as learning how to play more instruments, taking pole fitness classes, writing a novel, and cooking and baking with protein powder, among others.  

SS
What does the future hold for you?


EF
I am floored by how much I changed my physique from March 2013 to July 2014, so my main goal is to see how much I can continue to develop it for the 2015 season. Between now and then I hope to complete some adventure races and trail races, set new powerlifting PRs, do yoga regularly, settle into a routine of structured eating during the week and cooking and baking my heart out on the weekends, and hiking and exploring SC, NC and TN as much as possible. I’m also really enjoying my work with the Definition for Ladies magazine team and hoping to seek out more writing opportunities. As far as education, I also have the plant-based nutrition certificate and a PhD in exercise science in the back of my mind...

SS
Is there anything you would like to add for our readers?


EF
I have seemingly endless motivation to push myself and to train, and it all comes from wanting to fight the good fight for the animals. Any time I need extra motivation I visualize the horrible animal cruelty footage that is permanently in my memory. I remind myself that I have choices and so many freedoms that so many creatures don’t. I know it’s morbid, but I channel the anger I have toward how animals are treated into my workouts, and it provides fuel for my fire. Being able to compete with Plantbuilt showed me that I now have a family who feels the same way. We will train harder and last longer in this sport because our motivation is far greater than looking good on stage.  

If you would like to connect with me and follow my journey, I can be found on Facebook as Fergielicious, the Girly Vegan Bodybuilder and IG @veganfergiefitness. I am featured in the Vegan Health & Fitness Magazine trainer directory and can be emailed directly for online consultation/training services at fergie823@gmail.com.  
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Team Plantbuilt members: Christian Garcia, Dani Taylor, Erin Fergus, Ashlee Harrison, and Giacomo Marchese
SS
Thanks for your time Erin, and best of luck to you in all of your future endeavors!


EF
You’re welcome! Thanks for letting me share my story with you!

###

First, and foremost, we do what we do for the animals! If you would like to help Plant-Based Performance please click here and buy a print copy, or ebook download, of our book "Plant-Based Performance: A Compassionate Approach to Health and Fitness" - 100% of all book sales go to benefit Mercy For Animals.

Thank you all for your support and helping us promote a compassionate lifestyle!

-Scott
 
 
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I need plant-based athletes and a dietitian for a new book project for Plant-Based Performance. I want the focus of this book to be about gaining muscle & strength and losing fat on a plant-based diet. I need bodybuilders / physique athletes; powerlifters, strongmen, arm-wrestlers, etc. as well as a plant-based dietitian. If you were a contributor to the first Plant-Based Performance book and fit this bill you are welcome to contribute again, it'd be appreciated!

The theme of this book is focused on those who have gained strength and improved body composition while following a plant-based diet. 

Here's what I need: an article (around 5 pages would be awesome) about you and how this lifestyle has benefitted your training, improved your health etc. I want it to be more personalized as long as this topic is addressed. I would also need your favorite plant-based recipe, and a sample 1-week training plan that you follow. In addition any pictures you want in the article as well as a bio and bio pic for promotional purposes and any websites, blogs, etc. to promote your brand would be great.

100% of the book sales revenue will go to support an animal welfare organization (still TBD), just as the first book.

Deadline for article and picture submissions is September 30, 2014.

If you would like to be a part of this please email me at sshetler613@gmail.com. Please put "plant-based book" in the subject so I don't accidentally miss or lose track of your email.

You can check out the awesome contributors and what we did with the first plant-based performance book and how it is benefitting Mercy For Animals here:

http://www.plantbasedperformance.org/

Thanks!!!!

Scott

 
 
PicturePhoto by Candy Bigwood
Rob is a competative arm-wrestler, and an ethical vegan, who was one of the competitors featured on the first season of AMC's Game of Arms. Rob is part of a rapidly growing group of athletes who are proving that it is possible to be big, and strong, all while following a compassionate diet. He took the time to share some of his insights on nutrition, training, and his experience on the first season of Game of Arms as part of Team New York City Arms Control with Plant-Based Performance.

Scott Shetler: Can you tell us about your personal and professional background?

Rob Bigwood: I’m an Interactive Art Director http://rbigwood.com/, currently working at an agency in midtown Manhattan. I design mobile apps, websites, and anything interactive. The latest project I designed is the new Comedy Central Everywhere app https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/comedy-central/id799551807?mt=8 for iPhone, iPad, and Android. I’ve also worked on some other notable brands including Audi, Air National Guard, Citi, Emirates, MSG, and Pepsi.

SS: How did you become interested in the sport of arm wrestling, and how long have you been competing?

RB: One of my best friends growing up competed in the sport. He was a smaller guy that convincingly beat the entire football and wrestling teams. He also was the first guy my age (16 years old) that beat me. We started training together and after a few months traveled to North Carolina for a competition. I've been competing and training ever since.

SS: What titles have you won in the sport?

RB: 2012/ 2009 NYC Big Apple Grapple, 2010 MMA Extravaganza, 2009 NJ Fitness Expo, 2006 PAC World Championship, 2006 Northeast Challenge, 2005/2003 Can-Am Championship, and multiple other CT, NJ, MD, DE, VA and FL State Championships.

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Photo by Candy Bigwood
SS: When, and why, did you become vegan?

RB: I’ve been a vegetarian for seven years and vegan about half of that. I feel it’s hypocritical calling oneself an animal lover while eating meat. Wrong, you just love your cat or dog and turn a blind eye for your taste buds. Animals have the same feelings, emotions, and fears. They should also have the same rights and respect. We are all conditioned to ignore where our food comes from at an early age. I never connected that the hotdog or cheeseburger that I was eating was once an innocent animal that had its life slashed and body butchered. It was somebody’s mother, father, brother, or sister.

SS: You are certainly proof that it is possible to build muscle and strength without animal-based protein. How big of a shock is it to people when they find out you are vegan?

RB: I wouldn't say shocked but in general just really curious. I always get ask the same question. "Where do you get your protein from then?!"

SS: What does a normal day of eating look like for you?

RB: I don't have any secrets to my diet and I honestly eat pretty simple. I cut up a banana or two and mix it with organic almond butter and a variety of nuts for breakfast. Oatmeal, salads, grains, avocado, beans, tempeh, seitan, fruits, veggies, and almond milk. Once in a while I'll mix up a vegan protein shake. I also drink plenty of coconut water.

SS: What is your favorite healthy vegan meal?

RB: Kale and quinoa salad with avocado, tempeh, almonds, sunflower seeds, and balsamic dressing.

SS: What is your favorite not-so-healthy vegan meal?

RB: I eat unhealthy a lot so where do I even start? I usually have a sweet tooth and LOVE chocolate almond ice cream.
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Photo by David Moir
SS: Do you do much strength and conditioning work to supplement your arm wrestling practice?

RB: Honestly, the best way to get better at arm wrestling is to actually arm wrestle. It's almost impossible to mimic the awkward pressures and angles at the gym.

SS: What does a normal training routine look like for you?

RB: Just the basic exercises anyone at the gym would normally do; bench, dips, squat, pull-ups, etc. I do use a fatter grip on my back and bicep day though and do more isometric + half rep type exercises. I also try to get home every few weeks to train with my brother on the table. I also have garage springs hooked up to the wall where I do motions that mimic arm wrestling.

SS: Okay man, the pre-competition bubble-bath, does it work? If so I am totally doing it before my next powerlifting or kettlebell sport meet.

RB: Haha! How did you know about that? My body tenses up from nerves and a hot bath seems to relax and calm my mind and muscles. I add bubbles to avoid getting dry skin and plus it feels good. Anyway, who doesn't like bubble baths?
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Photo by David Moir
SS: What was it like to be part of the first season of Game of Arms?

RB: It was one of the most challenging experiences of my life. It was literally a second job having to train, compete, and be filmed week after week on top of my regular life. But it was also a once in a lifetime opportunity and I have zero regrets.

SS: What type of impact do you feel the show will have on the future of the sport?

RB: Guys love arm wrestling! I get stopped every day to take a picture or sign an autograph and everyone also keeps asking about Season 2.

SS: What advice do you have for anyone interested in participating in the sport?

RB: Check out the World Armwrestling League's website http://www.walunderground.com/ and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WorldArmwrestlingLeague for upcoming events. They are throwing quarterly events this year around the country. Also hook up with a group of guys that already practice and compete. Get some table time. The Northeast Board http://northeastboard.com/ has a great community of pullers from around the country and even the world.

SS: How can we, as vegan athletes and enthusiasts, best share the benefits and put to rest the myths of this lifestyle, without coming across as “preachy” to non-vegans?

RB: Try to listen to opposing opinions and avoid using statements like "you shouldn't" or "you're wrong." Simply state facts and if they aren't ready to accept them try another time. I feel most people are truly compassionate people that are capable of change.  

SS: Why is it important to you that people consider adopting a plant-based diet and lifestyle?

RB: A plant-based lifestyle is beneficial for our environment, our health, the less fortunate, and especially the billions of innocent animals murdered each and every year.
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Photo by David Moir
SS: How mad do you get when the person sitting 3rd-base at a blackjack table stands on a 16 when the dealer’s upcard is 7 or higher?

RB: Great question! I get furious especially if they decide to take a hit the very next time. If you are not going to play by the rules at least play consistently.

SS: Where can people go on the web to learn more about you, do you have a website or social media pages you would like us to share?

RB: I post upcoming arm wrestling events and vegan related information on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/rbigwood2. I also frequently use Twitter https://twitter.com/rbigwood.

SS: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

RB: Follow the Game of Arms https://www.facebook.com/gameofarms and NYC Arms Control Facebook pages https://www.facebook.com/NYCArmsControl if you liked the show.

SS: Rob, thank you sincerely for taking the time to do this interview! Hopefully we can get you involved in any future projects we do with Plant-Based Performance. All the best to you in your future endeavors! 


###


To learn more about Plant-Based Performance and how you can help us help Mercy For Animals, click here!

About Scott Shetler
Scott is an entrepreneur, business owner, and plant-based strength enthusiast from Duluth, GA. 

He has a degree in Health and Physical Education, is certified through the NSCA, and is the owner of www.extreme-fitness.org and www.scottshetler.com where he trains both athletes and motivated fitness enthusiasts. 

He has authored 7 books including,”Abundant Health: Fitness for the Mind, Body, and Spirit” and  “Kettlebells for Sport, Strength, and Fitness”. 

In addition, Scott was selected to be the Kettlebell Training Specialist for the TapouT Virtual Training Center (VTC). Scott is a student of Qigong and Taijiquan, has competed in kettlebell sport, powerlifting, and is a member of Team Plantbuilt, a team of vegan physique and strength athletes who come together every year to help non-profits, animal sanctuaries, and vegan outreach. Click here to learn more about Team Plantbuilt and our mission.
 
 
PictureGiacomo & Dani w/ some of the Plant-Built athletes!
I'm really excited to feature this interview on Plant-Based Performance! Meet Dani Taylor and Giacomo Marchese, the co-founders of Vegan Proteins and the Plant-Built Vegan Muscle Team!

I had the pleasure of meeting Giacomo at the 2013 Atlanta Veg Fest and could tell immediately that he had a true passion not only for health and fitness, but animal welfare as well. Naturally we hit it off right away!

Giacomo immediately showed interest in supporting the Plant-Based Performance book and placed an order to resell on the Vegan Proteins website to help us further support Mercy For Animals!

Enjoy the interview and be sure to visit Vegan Proteins for all your plant-based supplement needs!

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Giacomo Marchese
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Dani Taylor
Tell us a little about yourself; who you are; what you do; competition background, etc.?

Dani: 
I'm a vegan personal trainer and nutritionist, co-owner of VeganProteins.com and co-founder of the vegan competitive athlete team PlantBuilt.  I am training for my first figure competition in April, but have coached many vegan competitors in the past. 

Giacomo:
I am an active bodybuilding and physique competitor, nutritionist and vegan personal trainer.  I co-founded VeganProteins.com (our online vegan supplement shop) and PlantBuilt.com (a non-profit team of vegan athletes who compete together once a year).  We spend most of our time and energy dispelling the myths that vegans cannot build muscle.  Leading by example, we hope to continue and inspire others in the same way that so many vegan athletes have and continue to inspire us.  Our hopes are that we can do the same by joining forces and facilitating community.

Tell us about Vegan Proteins, how you started the company, where you are now, and what the future holds?

Giacomo: 
It all started back in July 2008 on “vegan vacation” which was an annual meet up of Veganbodybuilding.com members.  Through that gathering, several of us collaborated, and wound up competing together at a physique show.  We asked the community for donations to help us afford to compete and promote our event worldwide.  VeganProteins.com was created as a donation portal and was a domain name gifted to us by Melissa Brey, a fellow VeganBodybuilding.com member, athlete and vegan personal trainer.  Eventually, we turned it into a business so that we could live our passion and create more opportunities to contribute to the vegan fitness community.  So far, it has been very successful!  Last year we funded and co founded a non profit vegan team of physique competitors, PlantBuilt.com and dominated the competition at our annual meet up.  This year, we have tripled in size and expect to do more damage.

Dani: 
Vegan Proteins has come such a long way from the beginning and is so much more than we ever thought it could be.  We hope to keep growing and carrying more products and inspiring more people to achieve their goals with a healthy vegan lifestyle.

How has the bodybuilding community in general accepted plant-based athletes?

Giacomo:  
So far so good.  No one is dismissing our results, they simply cannot believe that it can be done.  When you have one winning physique out there after another doing it the vegan way, the results speak for themselves.  From what i've personally seen out there, you get respect when you bring your A+ game in the sport of bodybuilding and as long as you bring your best to the table, no one gives you a hard time about it.  It's quite the opposite actually.  They wind up becoming inspired.  More and more athletes are coming to us for help because they know they can look good on stage but they want to do in the the most healthful way possible.  That's where we step in!

Dani: 
When I first became interested in the bodybuilding lifestyle, there was almost no information out there about it.  It was unheard of.  VeganBodybuilding.com has a very active forum with a few thousand members though which was awesome.  That has grown into a huge community over the years of athletes from all different backgrounds.  The bodybuilding community as a whole still has a long way to go to really embrace the idea of vegan bodybuilding, but they are always quite interested and surprised when vegans are doing well in competitions along-side them.  We're getting there. 

Why did you choose to follow a plant-based approach to nutrition?

Dani: 
I chose to become a vegetarian at the age of 12 after seeing a lobster that I had been playing with all day get boiled alive.  But even as a vegetarian, I never understood the idea of vegans, because cows and chickens “weren't hurt” to get milk and eggs, or so I thought.  One day when I was 17 years old, I stumbled across a website that explained the way that the dairy and egg industry was connected to the meat industry and other cruelties I had never heard about before, and I went vegan over night.  That was a little over ten years ago and I never looked back.

Giacomo:
Initially, I felt that it would be the way to take my game to the next level.  I was putting in all the work, so why not fuel my body with the most nutrient dense food out there?  After doing some research, there was no doubt in my mind that a plant based vegan diet was the way to go.  I continued to work hard and the results came fast.  Also, the more I learned through meeting others and by doing my homework, the more I came to realize that veganism is a lifestyle and one that needs to be embraced.  There is absolutely no reason to harm other living beings or destroy our ecosystem by consuming or using animal products.  The single greatest thing that you can do for the environment and benefit of humankind is to go vegan!
If you have experience in physique competitions prior to going vegan, do you find it easier to maintain competition shape, stay lean, and build muscle on a plant-based diet? 

Giacomo:  
It's hard to say honestly because I only did my first show as an omnivore and I was young and very new to the game.  I have learned so much more about meal planing and training now that I cannot compare my past experience competing in the same sport.  What I can say is that being a vegan athlete has not hurt and has only helped to fuel my body for the hard work that is put in every day. 

How long have you been vegan?

Dani: 
Ten and a half years.

Giacomo:  
Since December 2003, so roughly 10 years.

How has going plant-based affected your health and your training?

Dani: 
I grew up overweight and always believed that it was genetic, and basically, that it was just who I was.  I had accepted this, and was just used to being that way.  When I became vegan, I lost 30 pounds very quickly, without even trying—this was just from giving up dairy and eggs, as meat had been out of the picture for 5 years by then.  For the first time in my life, I realized that what I put in my mouth really did have an effect on my health.  I decided to start being more conscious about what I ate, and I had the confidence to begin working out as well.  I continued to lose another 50 pounds and completely reshape my body.  In addition, things like ear infections and strep throat (things I had almost constantly growing up) never happened again. Ever. 

Giacomo: 
My recovery time has improved and I continue to feel healthy and vibrant.  No matter how much I beat up my body with training, it comes back asking for more.  I couldn't be more pleased with the results of a plant based diet and lifestyle.  People have told me that I look younger as I age, which is awesome.  I've looked back at pictures of myself and you can see the difference.  It's not far off from the truth because 98% off your cells are regenerated every year and 100% of your body on a cellular level is regenerated every 7 years.  That means that you can start to reap the benefits of a plant based diet quickly and in just one year, you can actually reverse aging by choosing to consume a plant based diet.  What are you waiting for?  Give it a shot and see for yourself!

What does a normal day of eating look like for you?

Dani: 
Currently, I am cutting for a figure competition, so my eating is a bit unusual for most people (even vegans!).  But I eat 5 smallish meals a day and drink a minimum of  gallon of water. 

Meal 1: Oatmeal with strawberries and a protein shake

Meal 2: Baked tofu, sweet potato and broccoli

Meal 3: Tempeh and green beans

Meal 4: Protein shake, blueberries and peanut butter

Meal 5: Beyond Meat and a pile kale or collards

Giacomo: 
My meal program varies throughout the year.  Currently, I am working on putting on some more muscle.  In 3 more weeks, I will begin to start getting more conditioned and stage ready, and my plan will be adjusted as needed.  

-Most of my carbohydrates are consumed immediately before and after workouts, as that's when you will need them the most.

-I drink 1.5-2 gallons of water a day.

Pre Workout: I usually have oatmeal and fruit for breakfast.

Post Workout: Sweet Potato, broccoli, and mock meat for lunch (seitan, tofu, or tempeh).

I'll have 2-5 more meals throughout the day, consisting of nuts, veggies, sweet potato, and protein shakes.

One of my meals is always right before bedtime and that is usually a serving of protein and nuts.

What is your favorite meal?

Dani: 
Nothing beats a post workout meal with sweet potatoes as that is when your body is screaming for nourishment!  I LOVE that meal.

Giacomo: 
Post Workout meal, all the way!  Get me refueled and get it to me fast!!

Debunk this myth for us - “you need meat to be strong and build muscle”.

Dani: 
Haha!  Patrik Baboumian, Torre Washington, Ed Bauer, Chad Byers, Will Tucker, Austin Barbisch, Giacomo Marchese, Derek Tresize, Sara Russert, Stephanie Rice, Tiffany Burich, Pam Kalstad, Amber Sperling, Jehina Malik, Mindy Collette, and of course, Robert Cheeke. 

No, really.  I used to spend a LOT of time talking to people about how untrue this statement is, but most people interested in this topic don't want to hear facts—They want to see it.  These folks, and SO many others, do an amazing job of debunking this myth, just by existing. 

Giacomo:  
As I mentioned earlier, the results speak for themselves.  Published research studies claiming that meat is necessary to build muscle are funded by the meat and dairy industry.  Also, the government subsidizes meat and dairy farmers exponentially more than anyone else, so that is what is being put on your plate at hospitals, schools, and by the USDA.  We know better than that now though and it is simply untrue.  You could try and discredit one person's results and attribute their ability to gain muscle on a plant based diet to good genetics, or perhaps they built their body on an omnivorous diet but we are hundreds of thousands strong.  In addition, there are already so many vegan athletes getting great results that have chosen to put themselves out there, and you simply cannot dispute the fact that vegans can build lots and lots of muscle.  Our PlantBuilt.com team is a perfect example of this.  Check out any one of the 40+ athletes on our group if you need proof. 

What are your goals for training and competition?

Giacomo:  
I aim to win the overall title at a pro qualifying event and become a professional bodybuilder.  Once that happens, I will continue to work at it and win a pro show.  There is no ultimate goal.  I fully intend on going at this for the rest of my life!

Dani: 
I am currently training for my first figure competition in April and my second with team PlantBuilt in July. 

What motivates you to do what you do?

Giacomo:  
To show others that it can be done so that we inspire more individuals to go vegan.  Each person that switches from an omnivorous diet to a plant-based one, saves 100's of animals lives. 

Dani: 
Mostly the animals, but also seeing people take control of their lives and health.

Why should people consider adopting a plant-based lifestyle and what are the benefits in doing so even for people not interested in competitive bodybuilding and athletics?

Giacomo:  
From a health and wellness perspective, there is no denying the fact that the more fruits and veggies and unprocessed foods that you include in your diet, the better off you will be.  Why not go completely plant based and reap all the benefits? 

Dani: 
I don't think people give themselves enough credit.  “I'd love to do what you do, but I just couldn't give up ________”  is something that I hear all of the time.  Of course you can!  Tell me you're stronger than cheese?!  You must know that!  Many people know that this is something that they agree with and would be beneficial to their health, but don't think they're strong enough.  You never know how strong you are until you push yourself to the limit.  And once you're in the swing of it, you feel so good, that it becomes easy.  Challenge yourself to try something you didn't think you could do and when the benefits start to come to you, you'll realize how much your efforts were worth it. 
Why is it important for people to wake up and realize that we do not need to cause other sentient beings to suffer to satisfy our hunger, appetites, and to be healthy?

Dani: 
We're in a health crisis here in the US, people are starving to death around the world, and the environment is reaching it's tipping point.  And for what?  Because we like the taste of burgers?  To feed the grain of starving people to livestock?  To clear more land for slaughterhouses?  I am not naive enough to think that everything is completely black and white, but to me, this is a no-brainer when you actually stop and think about it.  If we don't have to eat animals to be healthy and thrive, and doing so seems to cause harm everywhere you turn, then why do it?

Giacomo: 
On the whole, human beings are easily the most selfish creatures around.  We need to live a more balanced way of life and realize that we are not the most important creatures on this planet.  Take us out of the equation and the Earth will not only be ok, it will thrive.  Take away the bees, bugs, or other living beings and our ecosystem will be in serious trouble.  The sad thing is that we have complete control over our impact and we choose to do more harm than good.  If we can make an elective choice to stop causing suffrage towards other sentient beings, the world will be a better place for generations to come. 

Thank you both sincerely for taking the time for this interview and for supporting Plant-Based Performance!

Dani:  
Thank you so much for the opportunity!  It's been a pleasure!

Giacomo:  
Thank you for everything you do and continue to Scott.  I'm glad that we had a chance to share our thoughts and I hope to meet up again sometime soon!
 
 
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I sat down with Stic after our workout the other day for an interview to support our Plant-Based Performance project to benefit Mercy For Animals. We talked about topics from his chapter of the book "It's Bigger than Hip Hop - How Healthy Living Changed My Life", training, nutrition, lifestyle, music, Stic's concept of "Fit Hop", and OF COURSE a shout out to our friends Bonebreaker Barbell and the Ice Chamber Athletic Performance Training Kettlebell Team!

If you haven't gotten a copy of Plant-Based Performance: A Compassionate Approach to Health & Fitness yet, do so now! In addition to Stic's great story you can read contributions from people like Dr. Ruth Heidrich, Julieanna "The Plant-Based Dietitian" Hever, Mac Danzig, Amy Dumas, Matt Frazier and more! 100% of all book sales go to benefit Mercy For Animals! Click here to get your copy now!

Click here to check out Stic's bio on our contributor page.

You can also follow Stic at his website and social media pages here:
RBG Fit Club
http://www.rbgfitclub.com/
Social Media
http://facebook.com/sticrbg
Twitter & Instagram: @sticrbg

We can't end a blog with a musician without music, so check out Stic's video for "Back on my Regimen" of his album The Workout! You'll be ready to hit the gym and get some work done for sure!

-Scott
 
 
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***Please click here to read the interview with Dani & Giacomo from veganproteins.com - the link from the 4/21 newsletter was not correct, thanks!

I want to extend a huge congratulations to one of our Plant-Based Performance co-authors, Amy Dumas!

Many of you might recognize her as Lita from WWE. Amy was recently inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, no doubt a huge honor for these sports entertainers!

Amy is a strict vegan, supporter of animal rights, an awesome trainer, and all around a truly great person! I feel very fortunate to have her on the Plant-Based Performance Team. 

To learn more about Amy, check out her contributor bio - click here - and be sure to check out her article on juice cleansing in our book, Plant Based Performance: A Compassionate Approach to Health and Fitness. Remember - 100% of all book sales go to benefit Mercy For Animals!

Congratulations Amy!