Skinny vegan

Very early on, at the start of my vegan journey, I remember someone asking me how come I wasn’t a skinny vegan…almost three years down the line, I still haven’t figured out how all this kale and broccoli can be so disrespectful to me, and hasn’t yet caused my butt to whittle down at least a size down. I must be honest, one of the (very selfish,) motivating factors for me about becoming vegan was the success stories I had read about people who had lost a ton of weight simply by cutting out animal products, and if you read my previous post (barbells & eating disorders,) you’ll know that for the bulimic girl that I was, to lose weight while embarking on a path that would reduce cruelty to animals and to the environment, was one that I was more than ready for! I’ll admit that it wasn’t the healthiest start. I was more fixated on being skinny than any other factor. A skinny me, imagine that! A me that would be able to find jeans that would finally get over my thunder thighs, and my butt. Imagine that; a me that would wear jeans, that was completely unheard of! 

In my first year of veganism, I dropped 4kg (my cheeks held all my chubbyness,) and I started to feel a lot more confident and comfortable in my body, I started to run more. I started to run in shorts. I bought crop tops. I wore crop tops… I was obsessed with crop tops. I became a lot more body confident and wanted to get stronger. 
Enter the beautiful sport of CrossFit. In September of 2014, when I started CrossFit, I felt that this (CrossFit,) would galvanize me to the pulpit where I would gain the title of hottest vegan the world had ever seen, and the bonus… my butt would shrink. My butt goal was Kylie Minogue in “spinning around.” I may or may not have wanted to buy myself a pair of gold hot pants…

Well a month or so later, my arms getting a lot more defined, my stomach even flatter; during a session of back squats, I decide to do as Beyoncé tells you to do in “get me bodied,” drop down almost hit the floor with it (aka ass to grass,) and my body naturally being too bootylicious for the world, I hear a rip. Yup, I had just ripped my tights, I had to think of very strategic ways to squat without exposing anything. Let’s just say that on that day, I did not break 90 😂 It was on that day that I realized that I would never be a skinny vegan. To be fair I still have days where I’m convinced that if I just eat a little bit less, I’ll drop more weight, but then I get hungry and forget that resolution. This plantbased diet of mine has allowed to put on weight when I feel like I look too lean, which by normal definition of the word, isn’t even what a true lean looks like…whatever a true lean is anyway. This plant based diet has also allowed me to lose weight when I feel like I look too heavy; that’s when I cut down on pasta, bread and potatoes. 

I have to be honest, I was mildly devastated when 1 year later I was still the same size I was when I first became a vegan. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that God obviously wants me to have a booty and that no matter how hard I pray, my weight gain will always be booty first before it travels up to my pancake chest. I have had to come to terms with the fact that sometimes you’re just always going to be that girl with the “big, big booty, what you got a big booty” 🎶 and that’s okay, because let’s face it, and we know this; no one ever writes songs about small bottoms. I’ve had to choose strength over aesthetics every single day because 9 times out of 10, when you have suffered with an eating disorder, you battle body dysmorphia every single day. You have to choose to see your body differently, see yourself as a racehorse, not just looking like one but being one. This has meant that I have had to learn to prioritize my body performing well, over aesthetics. I will be honest, there are days when I want to cry at how my body looks like. Crying is next level isn’t it haha, but on some days, particularly my hot pink shorts days that I do love so much, I look at my bum and I feel like a pink elephant and I adore elephants 🐘 but on some days you do wish that you were a lithe gazelle. It’s not gonna happen for me though and I think I’m FINALLY truly okay with that. My goal is strength, speed and better gymnastic ability. My goal is no longer a size that has been stitched on a label. There are days when I try on clothing and I have to do some deep belly breathing to not go into a panic attack about now having to try size L. Once I get over that I am able to appreciate how strong and ready for life my body looks. I look rock steady and even if I have my emotionally charged days where I feel like the wheels are coming off my train; at least my body fools people into thinking “hey this girl has it together!” It must also be the highlighter that I apply, it makes me look alive even on my insanely dead feeling days. 

I thought I’d end this post with an example of what I eat in a daily basis. As much as I adore my doughnuts and French fries, 🍟 I am 9 times out of 10; a very healthy eating vegan. I love my kale smoothies, my freshly pressed green apple and pepper juices (try it, it’s yum!) I don’t believe in the starving vegan misconception. There is so much to eat and I eat a lot of it. The only supplement I have to take is a vitamin B complex, other than that, my iron levels are normal (even donate blood regularly,) I’m as fit as a fiddle and my blood pressure is also within the healthy range. Eating vegan helps with my depression too but we’ll talk about that in another post. 
Breakfast: massive bowl of oats, I’m assuming that I measure out roughly 500g. I’m a little bit of a 🐷 To my oats I add cocoa powder, a vegan protein powder (currently using the vanilla ice cream flavored one by Biogen,) chia seeds, sunflower seeds and linseeds. I sometimes add brown sugar if I have a sweet craving. Sugar is probably my biggest weakness.
Snacks throughout the day: fruit (apples are my faves,) and grapes. 
Lunch: I usually have a sandwich with a stir fry mix inside,( peppers, kale & Frys chunky strips.) Depending on what I made for meal prep, I have that too. Usually pasta with a tomato based sauce. 

Dinner: this also depends on what I’ve made for the week. Sometimes I’m not even that hungry to have a full meal. What I have noticed though is that I am always hungry. Sometimes that’s the biggest struggle as a vegan; always being hungry but having to travel 6 million kilometers to find a place that hasn’t caused harm to animals in order to feed you. 
What saves me is meal prepping, in my early and inexperienced days as a vegan, I would be lazy with my meal prep and I would not only starve, but my energy levels were deathly low. When life gets busy, I sometimes forget this and then I have to give myself a swift kick in the booty and prep. 
The point that I am trying to make through this post is that being vegan (especially if you’re an athlete,) will not result in you losing your gains. Look at my butt and arms for proof. It is possible to be ripped and shredded even more than a grater, without causing harm to animals. Being vegan is one of the best decisions I could have ever made not just for myself, but for the animals too. I do not at all see myself ever turning back because that to me would be a massive step backwards. I proudly wear my vegan badge and will ensure all the vegan jokes, I’ll endure my bum seemingly getting bigger because it isn’t about the size of the vegan, but the size of the heart in the vegan and while I will never be that girl who picks up worms and takes them home 😂 I just can’t stand slimy creatures, they scare me 🙈 I am however that girl who wants to see the end of animal cruelty. Vegan and proud of it! 

Barbells & Eating Disorders

Here’s the thing; I’m like Taylor Swift…well minus the lying about the conversations we’ve had. So maybe I’m more like 2014 Taylor Swift. If you ever cross me, I will write about you in my blog 😂 we can all be grateful to God that He’s peppered in a little bit of wisdom, so I don’t always name and shame people who I believe have crossed mehaha, as fun as it can sometimes be to be petty (I’m admitting it!), it’s never the right way to go.

A couple of weeks ago, a work colleague told me about this guy who said to her that my muscles are off putting, his reason ‘no man wants a girl with biceps.’ LORD knows I wanted to march up to him, punch him in the face, maybe even in the nether regions… LORD also knows that I wanted say in a little bit of a psycho voice;  “are you mad because I’m the man you wish you could be but obviously you aren’t?” Guys, God really has His work cut out with me because I have a mouuuuuth!!! Somehow the angels sealed my lips and none of that nastiness seeped out, but hearing that comment about my body, brought me back to a time when I was incredibly obsessed with my weight. I thought about how if this comment was said to me a couple of years earlier, it would have completely derailed me, and would have been enough to have just one more trip to the toilet. And again this morning after the WOD, I looked at my thighs and almost had a breakdown… maybe breakdown is a bit extreme. First thing I thought was “eew you look like a masssssive pink elephant, you better stay off sugar forever and run 600 kilometres! Start now fatty!” Did I mention that I can be overly dramatic?

There was a time when I would have felt such shame and embarrassment in saying that I used to suffer from an eating disorder. Around Christian circles, shame seems so BC (before Christ) right? Having Jesus makes things better, but I’m still on a journey of transparency where I’m learning to allow God to have full access in shining His light into my deepest and darkest situations but also tackling those issues head on and calling me out on my (for lack of a better word,) crap.

Eating disorders are uncomfortable to talk about, in fact sometimes when I find myself telling someone that I used to be bulimic, I immediately think about whether I’m being judged by that person, and God literally has to tell me to get over myself. The more aware we are of the demons that people are battling with, the more it should encourage us to be kinder and more passionate. I have since learnt that compassion prompted by Christ leads to action, so for as long as Christ permits me to, I will keep talking about eating disorders. Can you imagine waking up to a day when eating disorders no longer exist? I believe that’s a dream worth fighting for!

There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made. Michelle Obama

What is bulimia?
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by bingeing followed by self-induced vomiting. Eating disorders are complex in their causes, it is multifactorial and 99% of the time, can be linked to your self-esteem and the environment you find yourself in. In my case it definitely was.

THE FACTS:

* Bulimia nervosa affects 1-2% of adolescent and young adult women.

* Approximately 80% of bulimia nervosa patients are female.

* People struggling with bulimia nervosa usually appear to be of average body weight.

* Many people struggling with bulimia nervosa recognize that their behaviors are unusual and perhaps dangerous to their health.

* Bulimia nervosa is frequently associated with symptoms of depression and changes in social adjustment.

* Risk of death from suicide or medical complications is markedly increased for eating disorders

I spent my high school career very easily hiding this disorder from friends and family. The fact that I was introverted worked in my favour. If I disappeared from the table straight after eating, no questions were asked. I worked hard at school so if I needed an excuse to leave the dinner table, I’d just say it was because I needed to study. It was a vicious rollercoaster, you’re always calorie counting and when you aren’t, you’re planning your next trip to the toilet. It was destructive, I knew that, but I enjoyed being in control, no matter how twisted it was. I knew it was dangerous (hello I have a Biomedical Science degree,) but whenever I looked in the mirror I saw a whale. I was obsessed with exercising. Those were the days of Tae-Bo, Billy Blanks was my best friend. I’d do a session in the morning and one in the evening. Coupled with the fact that I was starving myself and then bingeing, my body was exhausted. I was always tired but I’d blame that on my anaemia.

In grade 10 (3 long years,) I had a breakthrough, and slowly started to decrease the amount of times I threw up. I thought about how my stomach acid was burning my oesophagus and how I was gradually destroying the enamel on my teeth. I wanted to have teeth well into my forties haha, such a silly, silly reason but it helped. I also found a lot of courage and inspiration in Princess Diana sharing her story of struggling with bulimia. I loved her! She was classy, elegant, beautiful inside and out. Everything that I felt a woman should be. Her substance was not merely in her looks. She had heart too!

My first year at uni in the U.K., the first time I was in a position where I was in control of the person I was and would be, I decided to see a psychologist. I was able to confront some of the issues that were at the core of my eating disorder. The biggest thing that helped me, and still does help me today, is my relationship with God. The thing that I used to binge the most on was sugar. I was beyond addicted. If I had a bad day, and in those days, my bad days were everyday; I would turn to sugar. I remember distinctly hearing God telling me to stop using sugar as a remedy. I needed to find a more holistic approach. One that would not cause harm to the body God had entrusted me with. It was not only reckless but irresponsible too.

Fast forward to when I first started CrossFit in 2014 and for the first time, I stopped worrying too much about how I looked. I noticed a shift in how I saw myself and became more focused on being stronger and what my body could do. There are days like today, where I would prefer to be less butt, more abs and more legs but I suppose I can’t be physically perfect on top of everything else haha! If I think about the 17 year old me. She would never be able to lift or move the way this *cringe* almost 27 year can. Ten years bulimia free!!! Hello can we celebrate and praise the LORD for that! I have no doubt that had I continued down that spiral, I would have ended up gravely ill and as is the case in the large majority of eating disorders, ended up suicidal or even dead! The thing about CrossFit is that you don’t get the results without doing the work, and you can’t do the work if you’re not fueling yourself correctly. Your muscles need nutrient dense foods…that includes doughnuts 🍩 right? Instead of using food as a reward, I’ve learnt to use food to fuel my body. It’s a much more kinder relationship where I no longer obsess about how much I’ve had and instead think about whether what I’m eating right now will serve me well in the long run and how I’ll feel later. Will I regret having had those 5 doughnuts, sure they may be vegan but should I really be having them everyday? And kale… potato fries taste better but do I get the same organic kick in energy and performance when I’m eating fries? Nope! These are practices that I have had to apply and constantly remind myself of especially when I think about the much better CrossFitter that I would like to be in the future.

The thing that’s great about being a female CrossFitter is that you’re surrounded by so many strong women, all different shapes and sizes, you slowly begin a re-education on what it means to be a woman. You redefine what it means to look like a woman. Muscles and all, you begin to find peace in your body. I say begin because I still have days when I have to give myself a good talking to about not getting obsessed over how I look. How I look is a very small percentage of who I am, and isn’t it so ridiculous that we base the entirety of who we are on our physical appearance? There’s more to life than the size of our bums. I look at some of my favourite CrossFitters; Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, Annie Thorisdottir, Katrin- Tanja Davidsdottir, Sara Sigmundsdottir (oh my gosssshhhhh!!!) and their body’s are strong. Their bodies are beautiful, their body’s are also functional. Have you ever thought of describing your body as functional? In my opinion, that’s probably the most important thing to focus on.

This is what I strive towards.

This is what the barbell teaches you to strive towards; being functional, hardworking and to leave your excuses at the door. The barbell exposes your weaknesses, but it also teaches you about the strength that lies in you. The beauty that lies in you. You learn to focus not just on your physical strength, but the spiritual and mental strength that lies in you.

A woman’s beauty is revealed in her strength. It is captured in what her body can actually do, not merely in how it looks. Lisa Bevere

Will You Flex For Me?

An odd request right? I remember staring at the guy in disbelief when he asked me that. I’ve always been very conscious of my arms. I used to be scared that it would intimidate whoever i was crushing on. Now I don’t care, if any man feels that my arms are too muscular, the easy thing to do is for him to start lifting!

My obsession with my weight started when I was in high school , I struggled with my weight for years. It was a vicious cycle of being happy with myself when I managed to survive on that one meal a day, (most days it was a bowl of cereal heavily laden with sugar.) Then there would be the days of self-loathing when I felt that I had eaten too much and the quick fix solution was to bring it all back up. A day turned into a week, a week turned into a month and before I knew it I was bulimic. It was easy to hide, you excuse yourself from the table just before everyone finishes eating, or you offer to help with cleaning up the table. No one ever asked any questions.

This is what I did for 3 and a half years, up until I graduated from high school, and moved to London for university, I realised that I had to work on the relationship I had with my body. I’m glad that I wasn’t too stubborn to hear God speaking to me in those dark twisted moments in the bathroom, that I needed to stop. I couldn’t carry on this way. Bulimia gave way to binge eating, and I would go through periods where I would eat healthily for a few days and then I would binge on chocolate, Kit Kats were my favourite. In 2012, I read ‘You Are Not What You Weigh,’ by Lisa Bevere and it completely changed the way I saw my body. I began to see myself as the spiritual being that God saw me as. I no longer sought to find confidence based on what I looked like, whether I was 2 kilograms lighter or if I could zip up those skinny jeans. I started to focus more on who I was on the inside and I know that sounds like a horrible cliché, but it’s what matters the most.

The less I worried about stepping on the scale, the better I felt. I started to focus on eating for energy and performance as opposed to eating for aesthetics. One method can be very detrimental and the other is healing.  The more I focused on how I could better fuel my body for performance, the less I cared about the number on the scale.

When I became a vegan, I thought that I’d finally become as skinny as I had always dreamt of being. The weight dropped but not how I expected it to. I was leaner and my body eased into a weight that I have been able to maintain without any huge effort on my part, for the past 5 years. It’s the funniest thing when people say that I look healthy. I have to stop myself from laughing or from spewing out a sarcastic comment, I mean I’m eating healthier, am I supposed to look emaciated? Or perhaps people kind of expect your muscles (and your ass,) to waste away. That didn’t happen with me. In fact if you look at any pictures I had pre-vegan days, my butt was probably just a little bit smaller…okay I’m lying, I’ve never known what it is to have a small bum…I probably never will. I have found comfort in knowing that my butt gives me that extra boost I need when I’m squatting haha, those thighs have to be good for something right? The biggest lesson that I have learnt is that I am more than the number on the scale. I’m more than a dress size or a pant size. We all are. It would be such a shame for us to go through life never realising the worth and potential that lies in us. All because we have allowed ourselves to become fixated on a number that bears no importance on who we are as people. I have found greater joy in focusing on being strong. Physically yes but most importantly mentally and emotionally

So to answer the question of whether I flexed or not…I didn’t and I kind of regret it, I mean how many more opportunities will I ever get to flex again? Or be asked to flex? Except maybe here on the blog, you guys won’t hold that against me will you?

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Overnight Oats

I used to be extremely militant about what I ate, when I ate and how much I ate. Cue the eating disorder that ravaged me for a good 3 years.

Even when I thought I had recovered, portion control was still a very difficult thing for me to master. I would eat small amounts of food, so it was no surprise that after training, I would be heavily fatigued with barely enough energy to do anything else afterwards.

When I became a vegan, I learnt how to use food to heal and fuel my body, as opposed to punishing it for being too big, not skinny enough or just not right. Now eating is my favourite activity.

One of my favourite things to have for breakfast is overnight oats. Whenever I am pressed for time, this is what I have. It’s quick and easy and so good for you. Oats get a bad rep for being boring but with a few simple additions, you can make oats exciting and the taste is far from bland. Oats are great because they keep you fuller for longer, I like to use traditional old fashioned oats with no added sugar or flavouring in them, as the base for this recipe. Oats contain beta glucan, which is a soluble fibre that aids in fighting and preventing cancer and obesity. It also helps in reducing cholesterol, blood pressure and maintaining a healthy heart.

Here’s my overnight oats recipe.

You’ll need:

  • A generous helping of oats (you choose how much you want, you can either make enough for the next day or the whole week.)
  • Non-GMO soy milk (or any other dairy free alternative.)
  • A seed mix of chia seeds, sunflower seeds, linseeds and sesame seeds, this is a great way to pump in some omega 3,6 and 9 into your system.
  • 2 bananas sliced
  • coconut blossom sugar (optional

The rest is pretty straight forward. Cover the oats with enough milk to completely cover them, then add your seed mix and bananas. Stir well and place in the fridge. The next day, your oats will have a creamy texture and you can either choose to have them as they are or to heat them up a little bit in the microwave. How’s that for a quick breakfast?