Finding a love of fitness or is it an obsession?

Can you believe this is my first post about fitness? Well, I guess that's not true because I did tell you about completing my first triathlon. But I haven't talked about it since then really. Since I'm not a personal trainer or teach fitness classes I haven't really felt like it was something I could talk about with any authority. I'm no expert, but when I do laundry each week 3/4ths of the clothing in the laundry basket is workout clothes. This almost feels like a confession. I've become obsessed with working out. But it's not an unhealthy obsession (I don't think). 

At the gym this week I went to my usual boot camp class and rocked it. I'm in the best shape of my life right now. I'm constantly surprised at what my body can do. I may not be able to lift the most weight in class, but I'm able to do more reps with perfect form and speed. This probably is due to the fact that I've done yoga for the last 13 years. If you are an athlete I promise you that adding a yoga practice to the mix will only excel your fitness goals. Another reason is my healthy vegan diet. As you probably know some of the world's best athletes are vegetarian/vegan.

Even though this is the case many athletes are opposed to veganism and fitness professionals push meat-centered diets and casein-filled protein drinks onto people. At the gym last night the instructor brought in two huge tubs of protein powder and after class said "if anyone wants to know about nutrition come see me". I almost laughed out loud. Just because you teach fitness classes does not make you an expert in nutrition. Every single person in class gathered around him while he explained the benefits of using these protein powders (filled with whey and casein). It took every ounce of my being not to refute what he was saying and tell everyone that casein has been shown to cause cancer. 

I wonder if anyone noticed that the most fit person in the class (me) did not rush over to hear about these protein powders. Most of the people have taken classes with me for the last 8 months. They have seen my performance. It's kind of surprising that people aren't coming up to me after class to ask what it is that I'm eating. You all already know how I eat: a whole foods vegan diet (following the 80/20 rule). I work out 5 days a week. I almost always do fitness classes because I don't have the discipline to work out on the machines myself. I get bored. The guidance helps keep me motivated. So if you are new to working out or have been off the fitness train for a while I highly recommend starting with fitness classes. You can get so much energy from the group and the teacher. Also change it up. I do Zumba, yoga, weight training, spinning, boot camp, swimming, sometimes running. After I move to Austin I want to get back into rock climbing and racquetball/tennis. Make fitness fun! 

After 8 months of serious working out, my strength and agility has increased, my energy levels are through the roof, and I feel good in my body. One thing that has not changed much is my body shape. I've realized after all this working out and eating healthy there is only so much you can do to sculpt your body into the shape you want it. When I first starting working out part of it was to lose weight and part of it was to see what my body could do post-30. I'm finally learning to love my body as it is because it's not going to change much more. So I got more junk in the trunk than others. Time to embrace it.

What is your experience with fitness? Have you found a new found love for it? Ready to start a new fitness plan? Share with us in the comments! 

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  1. I decided to start running last year, but found it very difficult to motivate myself to do it regularly. Earlier this year I signed up for a 5K run. The thought that I actually need to do it pushed me to train hard. Now I am preparing for a 10K run in September. 

    1. Signing up for a race can really give you the extra push that you need to train regularly. I personally can stand running so I’d much rather do a triathlon. I’m thinking of doing the Tough Mudder in October!

  2. I teach Pilates and yoga and am a Pilates trainer as well–these have become my loves. For years I beat my self down with too much cardio, thinking that was the only way that I could stay in shape. I've learned to slow down, to stop obsessing, and to realize that it's more about feeling healthy and strong than it is about looking perfect. Of course, it's still easier to say it than to believe it sometimes. Adopting a vegan diet (3 years now) has made a huge difference, but I still struggle with sweet cravings and a love of processed corn chips; I love snack foods! (any advice on how to answer these cravings without all the sugar and fat??). I do think, just as you said, that it's about learning to embrace your body and love it just the way it is. I'm glad to know someone else is also working on this! ๐Ÿ™‚ By the way, your workout routine/goals sound wonderful! 

    1. Thanks for sharing Lexi! Cravings can be a difficult thing, but the more you eat a whole foods vegan diet and stay away from the processed foods you will start to crave the junk food and sugar less. When I get a craving for sugar I reach first for some fruit like pineapple which has a high sugar content or I have a green protein shake.

  3. I would probably get kicked out of class cause I don't think I could've stayed quiet. That vein in my head starts to throb when I hear people repeating the same old stuff about protein and whey and incomplete proteins, etc. Anyways, it really is great to just get up and move around, I get a lot of joy out using my body and moving around  – something I never really thought possible just a few years ago. In the last year I put on about 20 lbs of lean mass just from eating vegan and whole foods and body-weight workouts!

    I know the numbers are increasing but there's still few women out there that look at their fitness and their bodies like you. Move around, do fun stuff, don't let the other details bother you! I know it may be hard to believe because of the media, but, speaking as a guy I find a woman who is fit but not at, like 8% body fat, the most attractive, I think most guys do. When someone does a lot of physical activity and is healthy there is a certain poise and tautness to them that you can just see, even from like 20 feet away. And, believe me, no guy will complain about junk in the trunk!

    1. I know it’s really hard hearing people tell lies. Especially when you’ve accomplished so much on a vegan diet! And thanks for the vote of confidence. I know the guys like it but I want to be happy with my body too ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. The key to my 100+ weight loss was changing the way I ate and I started moving my body (exercise!).  I have been vegan for 11 years.  I have done all sorts of exercise and I, like you, do better in a group setting whether it be a class or a running partner.  I too am in the best shape of my life (going on 40 in January!).  I like to change things up between spin, weights and running.  I am going to start incorporating yoga into the mix next week (thanks to the above suggestions that it will increase flexibility, strength and agility).  I have run several 5Ks and 2 half marathons in the last 3 years.  I have come to terms that my legs, hips and thighs will always be a bit more plump than others but I am proud that I am so healthy and have flat abs.  I don't get sick and my body feels and looks the best it ever has.  Embracing my body and a plant based diet is the best thing I have ever done!  I tell my story to co-workers and friends all the time.

  5. I'm a relative late-bloomer in fitness.  I was 32 before I started taking it seriously (38 now).  I recently discovered (thanks to my son!) Crossfit, and in just 6 short weeks, I'm in love.  Though I feel your pain and sense of amazement at the nutritional philosophy (Paleo and Zone) that they all seems obsessed with and feel is the healthiest way to eat.  I'm the "veggie girl" and at least am sure to share at least one fantastic veggie recipe a week with the group, and it's at least opening their eyes to how amazingly I eat every day – and how they can too. 

    1. I have some friends that do Crossfit and love it. It’s a little cultish for me and I don’t like all the Paleo diet they push. But I’m happy it works for you! It’s good for us veggie people to spread the message there too ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I run/walk and do yoga when I can fit it in. I'm nearly 67 and have just started a new marathon plan. I run alone because that suits me – or with my daughter about once a month. I'm slow but it's really good for me. I try to fit yoga in once or twice a week but don't always manage it – it's great though!

    I was vegetarian for 10 years, then vegan for 10 years but I had to give up soy and pulses due to intolerances so now I eat eggs and fish and no-fat dairy and it seems to suit me well. I don't like gyms or groups – we are all different!

    1. That’s awesome!! It’s never too late to get into fitness. I try to get my 67 year old dad to work out more and he just won’t do it. It’s so frustrating because I know it would help him so much.

  7. First of all, congrats on the triathalon training! That is super cool and inspiring ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have also been a fitness nut since I was about 15 (turning 36 this year) and there was a point in my life, as a vegetarian in my early 20s, when I was doing the whey shakes and protein bars as well. Back then, though, there was no China Study or evidence that casein or diary could in fact be harmful (at least they weren't telling us). Still, the truth is, whey protein is very easily used by the body to build muscle, which is one of the reasons people use it so much. Everything I read talks about it's high level of bioavailablity, which is what a lot of bodybuliders look for. They aren't necessarily "in it" for the health aspect. If you think about it, how many people work out to look good vs. be healthy? I bet it's a high percentage.

    Back then I was taking in 100- YES 100 grams of protein a day because I had been misinformed about how much protein our bodies needed (I was doing a ton of strength training). And you know what? It worked. Unfortunately, loading up my body with too much protein gave me some big ole muscles! I find now, even though I'm lifting more weight than I was in my 20s, I take in probably half of that and don't have as much bulk in my muscles. It could be attributed to other factors, I suppose. Still, I find it interesting.

    Anyway, I love working out and honestly can't imagine my life without it. I have an 8 month old who keeps me busy so my workout time is ME time, 6 days a week.

    As for changing your body shape, I am one of these peoples who disagrees that it can't be done. I am a pear shape prone to cellulite and saddlebags. If I focus on training my legs and glutes and tweak my diet just enough, the cellulite disappears and while I will still not fit into size 2 jeans, I can whittle my thighs down. It takes a lot of work, but it is possible. I think weight training is the ticket for a lot of us- for others, more cardio might be the answer. I think it's a matter of being truly connected to what your body needs and how it reacts to food and workouts. One size does not fit all!

    Good luck to you!

    1. Thanks for sharing! I started increasing my protein and weight training but then I was getting too big and bulky. Plant protein really does work, but I didn’t want huge muscles. So I’ve stopped doing so many protein shakes and weight training and I’m starting to lean out again.

      I would love to hear what your secret is for the thighs. The way I exercise and the way I eat if my body was going to change it should have by now. I’ve gotten smaller in diameter and built muscle but my actual body shape has not changed (it has shrunk but I still have big thighs if that makes sense).

      1. Hm..maybe you are being too hard on yourself? With such clean eating and so much training, are your thighs really "big"??

        Also, sounds like you  have a very different body type than I do (mesomorph, perhaps??). You put on muscle easily and bulk up when weight training where as I have to work pretty hard to tone up. How often are you working out? Is it yoga and boot camps that you do? What about biking and running? I wonder if those things too would add more muscle to your thighs. It seems the best thing for mesomorphs is circuit training, low weight and high reps, and a lot of rest days as opposed to over training. Again, I bet you look fantastic and maybe you are judging your body a bit harshly? I am the same way, but even when I fit into size 4 jeans I say I have "junk in the trunk". How can that be true?? Let's stop judging ourselves ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. Oh I’m pretty sure I’m being too hard of myself. It’s the only part of my whole body that I dislike and when I look in the mirror it’s all I see. I do a variety of exercise, always changing it up day to day. Usually I do two fitness classes back to back, sometimes just one, go to the gym 5 days a week. I could be overtraining. Some weeks I have more rest days some weeks I workout a lot. I’m trying all kinds of different things to see what works. I feel really great I just need to stop judging myself!

  8. I LOVE the gym! I do body pump 1-2 times a week, rpm/spinning 3 times a week and yoga at east once a week. I NEED to move each day in some way for the mental clarity it gives to me, as well as helping me to sleep better and of course therevare  the physical benefits too! It is so great to hear of your routine- you must feel awesome about yourself being at your peak level of fitness!

  9. I hear ya!  My first job out of college 6+ years ago was a personal trainer at 24-Hour Fitness (since I was passionate about nutrition and fitness but my Linguistics degree wasn't much help for job-finding!).  I was such a black sheep there – and I wasn't even fully vegetarian yet back then.  I remember they used to make each of us work the supplements table for 2 hours per week, handing out samples of Muscle Milk (protein powder) and trying to sell it to people going in and out of the club.  I was so against it, and I told them I'd happily stand there at the table, but I refused to do anything but tell people the truth and urge them NOT to try/drink/buy it.  I stuck to my word, and after a few weeks they stopped letting me work the supps table.  Haha!  No wonder I only lasted 10 months as a trainer – that world just contains far too much bad advice (and, sorry to say it, dumb people) for my taste.

    1. Ugh it’s so frustrating that this is the norm for fitness establishments! I love that there are more and more plant-based personal trainers and athletes trying to change the status quo!

  10. I could not agree more!  My workout schedule and diet are very similar to yours…my body just won't change.  It is nice to be at peace with this though.

  11. I went through and did the training to become a personal trainer – they do NOT teach nutrition, and the course I went to specifically said that trainers shouldn't talk about nutrition! It was refreshing ๐Ÿ™‚ The class all knew I was a nutritionist, and a vegan, so they had a ton of questions for me – though not the bodybuilder who was eating 5 eggs + fish + meat/day ๐Ÿ˜‰ And they also saw my performance in the fitness test and exercise demos we did – plus they saw me cycle to & from the class every day while they drove, and few of them asked how far I went (1 hour each way). So I felt awesome to be a good example for a healthy vegan lifestyle ๐Ÿ™‚

    But, of course, trainers want to talk about it, because their clients want to learn – and buy stuff! So there are all these 'courses' that teach them selective things about nutrition. They're usually *extremely* limited 'courses' and give only one perspective on nutrition rather than a background in the knowledge so that you can critically analyze differing views. Plus they work in a world where muscle mass is more important than strength, agility, longevity, endurance…

    So… yes, very frustrating ๐Ÿ™‚ I try to just keep the attitude that I can be a positive example of health and give information to those who are ready and willing to hear. It helps to know that there are other people like us out there, and to be able to connect online to share our experiences ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I'm glad you could influence and answer questions for the class. That's a good way to infiltrate the system ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

      I think the fitness world is the one place that hasn't caught on that a plant-based diet can be ideal. It's slowly happening with Brendan Brazier, Scott Jurek, Robert Cheeke writing books on the subject, but I think it's going to be a long journey to convince the fitness world. I'll just keep kicking ass and I need to get more vegan shirts to wear in class! 

  12. Does it makes sense to workout every day? Our fitness trainer at the gym told us 3 times a week cause for building muscles they need to rest. What do YOU think?

  13. Hi, My Dad is 91 and to this day he still lifts weights and walks, sometimes alittle jog, no meat on his plate, he drinks a pint of carrot juice a day, fruit, veggies and nuts, he runs up stairs two at a time. He has not had meat in so many years, I am 57 and take after my Dad, I lift weights 3 days a week and run 3 days a week, I feel like a kid. Who needs meat it will just kill you. But I do wish I could give up the corn chips.

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