This being Vegan (Feast) Thursday, it seemed appropriate to address the issue of Cecil the lion. NEVER wanting to be one to offend, I tend to stay pretty quiet about my choice to thrive on a plant-based diet and refrain from purchasing animal products. After all, the more time spent in meditation, the more clear I feel about NOT being a judge and jury of anyone else.
It would be a lie to say, though, that it is not frustrating to read and hear and see all the outrage over the killing of this most magnificent king of the jungle. For most of us, it is beyond our comprehension to kill a lion. Same goes for a cat, or a dog. All day long we post pictures of animals and converse about how much we love them.
No. I am not the judge, but who of any of us is? Who decides which animals are pets, which are for farms, which are for zoos, which are for hunting, which are for hanging on a wall, which are for food, which are for shoes and purses and furniture?
Many will point out to me that is all about culture. In some cultures it’s ok to eat cows, while in others, it’s about the worst thing you can do! Certainly as Americans we frown upon anyone that would eat dog meat, or horse meat, but when you step aside from “culture” what really IS the difference????
No. I never set out to offend. This morning’s meditation was about how when we are our TRUE selves, we are our WHOLE selves. Then, while taking a very quick scroll through Facebook, I saw this:
So my deepest apologies you find anything offensive about this post. So many things that end up on the internet are offensive and often hurtful, when that is probably never the intention of the person posting.
Many discussion have been had about all the emotions involved with this thing we call Facebook. Many studies have been done by researchers (some by Facebook manipulating our feed!) and one thing that has been found is that the emotion most associated with reading Facebook is ENVY. (The more vacation pics and pics of things people have acquired, the less worthy others feel. These photos, however, are just a snapshot in time. We often have NO idea what else is going on in these people’s lives. No one ever posts when they are getting calls from collection agencies or their kids just got in trouble, etc.) Another study revealed that the more positive posts we see, the more we are likely to post positive things as well. The opposite also held true.
Being human, I admit to have had my fair share of walking away from Facebook, frustrated, annoyed or hurt. Recently, I have made the connection and have decided less time on Facebook is a good thing for me. That’s just me.
My blog will continue to get posted to Facebook and I strongly encourage you to hide my posts or scroll past them quickly if you find them offensive. My aim is ALWAYS more peaceandfitness!
Please consider your food choices, today and every day. What is good for the animals, is also what is best for our health and the planet.
Please also feel free to leave any comments on either of these 2 topics. Let’s get people talking and hopefully moving towards a more peaceful planet.
This particular 21-day meditation challenge seems to speak to me, personally. Each day, the centering thought, is one that I find myself reflecting on many times, as the day goes on.
Several days ago, the centering thought was about how we achieve success. About how it is NOT measured by how much money we have, what kind of car we drive or how many toys we have accumulated in our collections. Those things are all wonderful and there is no reason to deny ourselves of the material objects which we can afford and which make us feel happy. Though clearly there is often a major correlation between how financially successful we are and those things, those things aren’t really what make us FEEL successful in our souls (though clearly they make make us LOOK successful to others (especially on Facebook!).
Deepak Chopra believes that success is a result of feeling accomplished. In terms of fitness, this makes PERFECT sense. It is why it feels so amazing to finish a race, to complete a workout, to finally do a pull-up, or a headstand or lift a heavier weight than ever before. (This list could go on forever) My own personal experiences are exactly that. Setting out on a run, or to swim a certain amount of laps and then accomplishing those things makes me feel way more successful than ANYTHING I own!
The gym is just a metaphor for all things in life. When we set a goal and we achieve it, we feel accomplished and successful. If we never set goals, if we don’t step out of our comfort zone, if we don’t fail sometimes, how will we ever feel successful? It is believed, instead, we will try filling that void with material things which may make us happy for a while, but never will make us TRULY feel that feeling of accomplishment that is so important. These material things include all the obvious but also food, drink, drugs, etc, which all provide only fleeting happiness.
Bringing this back to fitness, it is easy for any of us to feel truly successful today. Make a goal and see it through. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and make it happen. The feeling you will get from that accomplishment will far surpass any feeling you can get from anything you can eat or drink or buying a new…( fill in the blank) .
Wishing you many successes, today and every day.
For those that resist meditation or feel it is too hippie dippy…but just as much for those that meditate daily…this one, if you haven’t seen it already, probably has the same calming effects as other more traditional guided journeys, but definitely is anything but traditional. I tried integrating some of it into my morning meditation and it actually helped me gather some internal focus!
I WARN YOU IN ADVANCE IF PROFANITY OFFENDS YOU PLEASE DO NOT WATCH.
A special congratulations to Jolene and Derek as they move into their new home this week and lay down some roots in Sin City. For them, Las Vegas has been ANYTHING but the city of Lost Wages. Focus, determination, hard work, and goal setting all paid off. As a team, my guess is you 2 can accomplish anything. You probably could have used the above guided meditation over the last month or so.
Can’t wait to celebrate with them.
I did not grow up eating meat because my mother was a Seventh Day Adventist and health and vegetarianism are part of the religion. We moved to Jamaica for a few years to live with my grandparents, and it was during that time that we did eat some meat. After a while, I did become vegetarian again, but this time it was due to the Rastafari belief in an “ital” vegetarian diet.
I went full-force vegan in 1998. When I first decided to stop eating all animal products, I didn’t even use the term ‘vegan.’ Veganism is huge now, but I didn’t know the name for it then. It’s been my lifestyle for so long that I don’t know any different, and I don’t want to. People within the bodybuilding industry encourage me to eat meat or drink whey protein shakes to get even bigger. But I’m happy with where I am. I’m winning competitions and my lifestyle does no harm to others.
My Journey to Becoming a Professional Bodybuilder
When my brother and I first moved to Jamaica from Alabama, we had thick Southern accents. Other kids picked on us, so I needed to have an outlet and to get strong. I started to do push-ups and work out with free weights. After we moved back to the States, I continued to work out. I’ve always loved comic books, Wolverine, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and that super-fit physique.
I played football and ran track during high school, but never competed as a bodybuilder. It wasn’t until after college that I thought about getting on a stage. I watched a friend of mine compete as a bodybuilder and I was inspired. I decided that I didn’t want to lie on my deathbed and regret never having tried, so I told my friend that I wanted to compete the next year. This was in 2008.
My friend couldn’t help with my diet since I didn’t want to start eating meat, but he did encourage me with training. In 2009, I competed in my first show and got third place. I was so excited and signed up for another one. I won that second show and I’ve never stopped. Now, four pro cards later and an incredible win at Musclemania, I’ve decided to do this full-time. I left my day job as an engineer for Honda earlier this year.
I’m an all-natural bodybuilder, which means I don’t take performance-enhancing drugs. I recently competed in the Arnold classic, which is not a natural show (meaning that they don’t test you). I was thrilled to be accepted to compete in it as an all-natural athlete. For many years, I just enjoyed competing but was very private about it. I never had any intention of becoming known as a “vegan athlete.”
But as time went on, people within the community began to ask me for tips and for training help. As the conversation went on, I’d find myself talking about my vegan lifestyle and dispelling myths about building muscle mass on a plant-based diet. It’s been an amazing experience now, seeing that something I love to do is an inspiration to others.
Food and Fuel
People ask me about protein, nutrients, and how many carbohydrates I get everyday because they want specifics. But I never track any of these things. Some days I eat three times a day, and other times I eat five times. Overall, I just continue to work out and eat a variety of healthy vegan foods. I believe in keeping it simple and not complicating things. Eat to live, and don’t live to eat. Eat nutrient-dense foods, sleep a lot, and drink water. Don’t eat empty calories.
My diet doesn’t change much during competition or the off-season. If I’m competing, I increase my water intake and activity and might lower my overall calories a bit. But I also know my own body. I look at my physique and adjust from there. For my clients, I preach simplicity. Learn what works for your own body. I want to create leaders, not followers. So I want to teach people to eat effectively for their own bodies.
I’m not a picky eater, so if it’s healthy and vegan, then I’ll probably eat it. I could eat beans all day, and there’s not a green leaf that I don’t like. I love fruit, oatmeal, pancakes, wraps, sandwiches, and grilled tempeh with veggies. I tell my son all the time that there is someone in this country who is eating out of the trash right now. I want to teach him to be grateful for the bounty that we have; I don’t believe in wasting food.
Although I might grab a power bar or a shake if I’m at the airport or on-the-go, I don’t take any bodybuilding supplements. And I’m not going to promote anything that I don’t take. That’s not me.
Feature Photo [Left] by m.a.farrington
Inset Photo (above): VisUalize Photography by Kelvin Johnson
Many of us pick Saturday (or Sunday) as our “cheat” day. Unfortunately, if we let ourselves go for the entire day, it may take us half of the following week to shed the extra calories. The same is true for rule 5, which can be a big issue for those with emotional eating, especially.
This seems like some good advice. Especially rule 1! Have an awesome weekend. Do what you have to do all week, so you can do what you really want to do on (or eat or drink) on “cheat” day. Then enjoy the hell out of your indulgence.
Yesterday, while running at a track I frequent, I finally had the perfect opportunity to say “thank you,” to the man who is always there walking but also feeding the beautiful stray cats who live there. He comes on his bicycle, parks it and starts walking the trail, filling bowls he has placed in designated spots at the back of the park. On many occasions I have witness how happy the cats are as they come running out to eat and drink fresh water. It always impresses me how well they share with one another, a lesson we humans can stand to learn. He has been doing this for 7 years and recently found one baby kitten there, which he decided to take in as his own. Sounds like it was a win-win for the man and the kitty!
One thing I have observed through my 35 years in the fitness industry is that people that take care of their own health by working out, also tend to care more about the well-being of others. My students are the most giving, kind, unselfish people and it is a gift to watch them interact with one another.
My mind goes back to a something my sister and brother-in-law gave Kyle when he born. A beautiful prayer, by Hillel which opened with these words:
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I?
As you make your way through this (Vegan Feast) Thursday, please consider a plant-based meal (or 3) and remember that the animals have all the same needs as the humans. Maybe more. They, after-all, cannot speak for themselves.
Another amazing transformation last night on Extreme Makeover Weight Loss with Chris and Heidi Powell. Last night the show was about the one year journey of Pearls, a twice divorced, 36 year old mom of an autistic son who along with her second divorce, lost the rights to see her step son several years prior.
Pearls was a broken soul, who dined on bags of cheeze puffs and weighed in at almost 300 pounds at the beginning of her transformation. By the end she lost a little more than half her weight. What she gained was almost….everything.
Pearl had two fitness goals. One was to run a high heel race, which Chris Powell humbled himself and did with her. The second was to fly (with silks) like Pink and Cirque performers. After losing her first big chunk of weight she took some lessons and after making her second (half year) weight loss goal, Heidi and Chris brought her to a Cirque show and she got some private training and was able to both fly and do a 30 foot drop. She looked amaaaaaaazing and her pride was shining from the inside out.
What Pearls wanted more than anything, however, was a chance to see her step son again, but was sadly denied this wish by her ex who felt it was not in the best interest of his son. With all the strength and self-esteem Pearls gained along her journey, she was able to come to terms with this. She decided to focus on what she DID have; her birth son, Mason. Together, they committed to a healthy life moving forward and by the end of the show Mason had lost 25 pounds and gained a beautiful mom who continued her all-out efforts as an advocate for autistic children.
Thank you, Pearls, for driving home the message that WE AREN’T WHO WE WERE! Every day there is a chance to start over. With a positive attitude, a clear goal and a lot of strength and determination, great things really do happen!
I am unable to find before and after photos of this transformation, this morning, but trust me, she was a whole new person!
This morning I would also like to acknowledge all that were at the 7pm yoga/Pilates “stretch” reduction class. It was a “sea of calm” as you all looked so amazingly relaxed during final mediation. Namaste!
For those that are interested in the interview on the Today Show this morning here is the link