I was recently asked to give a talk about vegan fitness. I had to think about what valuable information and insights I bring to an audience…I mean, who doesn’t already know that it’s important to make consistent exercise a part of your lifestyle?
Exercise has been a part of my life since I was 5 years old, starting on the swim team, gymnastic team, dance classes, and later, after my growth spurt, volleyball in high school.
From there, I became a gym rat and personal trainer. I even won first place in the bikini division of the Fame World Championships, which I did to prove that it was possible as a vegan in fitness, at a time when many people didn’t even know what the word vegan meant, and those who did thought of vegans not as fitness buffs, but rather as scrawny hippies who grew armpit hair and didn’t wear deodorant.
What I found, working in fitness, was that the industry had very little concern for true health. Instead, it was all about what you looked like on the outside. And for me, having become a walking billboard for the strong, lean physique that was possible to build as a vegan, I put a ton of pressure on myself to stay in fighting shape in order to inspire others to go vegan.
I became programmed to believe that my worth was based on the shape of my body and it sent me down the road of disordered eating and a distorted body image.
To the world I looked like the shining example of a healthy, fit vegan, but I felt like a fraud because I was not healthy mentally or emotionally.
Maybe you have that voice inside your head that says, “I’ll be happy when… (fill in the blank). I’ll be happy when I lose this weight, or when I’ve got the body I’ve always wanted.”