Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have
I´ve been an athlete and involved in fitness my whole life- health and fitness- im just so passionate about. I love sporting competition, challenging myself, I think I will always compete in one sport or another! I represented Great Britain for 4 years on the National Bobsled Team before fracturing my spine in a race day crash, then while in recovery- being diagnosed with a heart condition- That stopped me competing in the adrenaline fueld winter sports but made me reevaluate my life. I started to take nutrition more seriously and found bodybuilding was a sport I could do even while I was ill with the heart problem. When that became under control- took up sprinting again- at the age of 35- so started competing in Masters competitions, winning the 200m world title in Sacramento in 2011.
Since then I have gone on to compete in many International Masters track competitions and compete in Drug Tested (natural) bodybuilding events all over the world. Winning World, Olympia and many national and regional titles.
I’ve been a cover model for UK Ultrafit Magazine and been featured in Muscle & Fitness Magazine about how I combine 2 sports.
Why did you become vegan?
Growing up, I loved my pets and couldn’t get my head around how we care for some animals and eat others… My school was passionate about environmental issues and when I was 15, a team of us, involved in creating a wildlife habitat on school land were invited to a televised debate at a National Green Expo. Here I was first exposed to the truths about factory farming and that really shocked me- I wanted to go Vegetarian then, but my parents insisted I still ate fish on occasion so I went pescaterian until I was 18 when I left home and immediately went Vegetarian. Initially my decisions were based on Factory Farming, animal welfare & the environment- but the more I read and learned about Vegetarianism and veganism – the more convinced I was that this is a healthier way of life- and the health aspects were the trigger for me to decide to go Vegan- after having over a year of stomach complaints I had intolerance tests done and eggs and casein were my two top intolerances. I switched to Vegan straight away and most of my symptoms stopped within a few weeks.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
Basically since my first egg and spoon race on school sports day! I joined all the schools sports teams- I just loved being active and my PE teacher introduced me to a local athletics club. At university I studied Sport Science and Physiology and I was elected Athletics Team Manager for 2 years. On graduating I went into a graduate management program in a Health Club Chain and since then have worked in Sports retail, health club sales, Personal training and went on to open my own Gym. I sold my gym in 2015 to move to Spain to start a new chapter in my life. I now work online as a coach and help other women achieve their fitness and health goals.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
I’d describe my diet as a high Protein flexible diet. I get most of my protein from Tofu, Seitan, lentils, beans, Soya products, Vegan Quorn (and other meat substitutes) and hemp and pea protein. I use high protein grains and products like blackbean spaghetti to keep my protein levels up. I then add lots of different vegetables and some fruits.
Breakfast can be oats or scrambled tofu with vegan sausages
My main meals are a plant based protein, grain or starchy veg and a variety of veg.
My snacks include things like protein shakes, hummus and rice cakes or vegan snack bars (homemade or shop bought for convenience if im out and about)
I’d say my diet is mostly wholefood- but I do enjoy the odd vegan treats like popcorn, oreos, dairy free dark chocolate or crisps (chips)
How would you describe your training program?
My training is pretty unique as I compete in 100m, 200m and 400m sprints as well as bodybuilding- so I don’t have a set routine- it changes every 4-6 weeks and depends what my next goals are.. During the year i will hit most rep ranges and styles of training from GVT to pyramids and high rep training. If im off season I do mostly weights- and follow a body part split program and when im prepping for a comp I will do weights, circuits and some plyos and hill sprints. If im getting ready for an athletics race, I will be training for strength and power in the gym and include Plyometrics and 1 or 2 track sprint days a week and hill sprints. But sometimes I have a race and a stage comp close together so I combine all the training- it works pretty well and the training for both sports complements each other.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
My staple supplements are Pea and Hemp protein shakes, green supplements, Omega 369 oils, EAA’s, glutamine and ZMA for improved sleep. But I do believe ‘supplements’ are just that- to supplement your diet- not to replace real food.
How do people react when they find out you are vegan?
When I competed in Bobsleigh- we lived out of hotels for several months of the year travelling around Europe and North America- not a meal would go by without a discussion about my food- it was usually to tell me I was wrong and would be a better athlete if I ate meat. My view has always been to try and be the best example I can be- and that my results would do my talking. Being a good example is something im passionate about and as such- I don’t tend to get negative remarks when I say im Vegan- people are sometimes shocked, but mostly curious as to how I can compete without meat, so we can have a conversation about it.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
People tend to assume you will be weak, frail and ill a lot and missing vital nutrients like calcium… I had my bone density tested and it was off the scale- so I think im ok! I very rarely catch bugs / viruses or flu – my immune system is pretty strong! Ive been meat free since I started lifting weights, and I am gaining strength and muscle every year – even since going Vegan. I still sprint at not far from my lifetime bests and often get told I look younger than I am. All dispelling the Vegan myths!
Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it?
I try and lead by example rather than preach, and I have a blog and a Facebook page about nutrition and plant based diets where I share information. Some of my personal training clients have chosen to reduce their meat and dairy consumption and ive helped a few transition to vegetarian, I hope that in future I will be able to help more people choose this way of life. My husband has been transitioning gradually by reducing his meat dairy and fish at a rate he feels comfortable- feeling the difference from dropping dairy especially has made him more keen and we often watch vegan documentaries together.
What do you think the most important aspect of training is?
Health! Whatever my fitness goals, my general health is always my Number 1 priority. So I train to protect my bones, muscles, connective tissues, heart and lungs. Recovery is also important- so rest days, stretching and regular massage are important to me for an all round approach to fitness.
What do you like best about being vegan?
Whats not to love? I love knowing I am not causing any animals harm through my choices. I love knowing im doing the best for my own health and knowing im doing the right thing for our planet and the environment.
What do you like best about being fit?
I love being strong, and physically fit to enjoy life to its full! I love competing and the opportunities that brings- especially in terms of travel and the people I meet from all walks of life and different countries.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training?
My advice would be firstly to seek professional help to learn techniques and ensure you are training safely and effectively. And Secondly- Try different things, find what you love- you are much more likely to keep exercise a part of your lifestyle longterm if you enjoy what you are doing- whether that’s swimming, joining a gym, classes, or trying a sport, or something different like circus skills, dance classes and pole fit. Try doing something social- meeting likeminded people will really help you stay on track.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
My advice to anyone thinking about it is to get lots of information, recipe ideas and get prepared, check out your local health food stores, cafes, restaurantes and supermarkets and you might be surprised what is available, plan out a few meals to get you started and maybe transition gradually while your digestive system catches up and most of all- not to be too hard on yourself or give up if you have a bad day with it- just wipe the slate clean and try again.
What motivates you in life?
I am motivated by trying to be the best version of myself that I can be and aim for Lifeong Fitness… and hopefully inspire others along the way!
What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you?
I love this site! I love reading about other athletes and its been a really helpful source of info while I transitioned to fully vegan. So thank you!!!
Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share?
Sprints Personal Best 200m 25.5 (at age 35 (20 years vegetarian)
2011 World Champion over 35’s, Sacramento CA
Some of my most recent titles
2014 & 2015 WNBA World Champion (Figure) Madrid, Spain
2015 WNBF Natural Autumn Explosion 1st Figure & 1st Bikini. Pro card Won in Bikini, New Haven CT
2014 INBA Miss Olympia Figure, Classic Figure & Sports Model over 35’s 2nd in Pro Show Open Figure Classic San Diego, CA
2013 & 2015 NPA British Trained Figure Champion UK
2012 BNBF British Figure Champion UK
2012 DFAC World Champs 2nd Trained Figure Miami