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10 Steps to Becoming a Vegan Athlete

10 Steps to Becoming a Vegan Athlete

1. Find your passion

We evolve all the time and so do our passions. Transitioning from dance to bodybuilding may sound strange but both use the same drive and physical stamina. Golfer? Your ability to fine-tune the smallest curve of the wrist translates into being able to make a muscle-mind connection like nobodies business. Gamer? Operating in an ever-changing reality where adaption and recovery is king is a core function of athleticism. If you want it you can build it. Try a quick online quiz like “Olympisize Me” for fun to see what sport your personality suits.

2. Gear

You’re going to need some sturdy and breathable track shoes that absorb shock and are perfectly fit for Vegans at Brooks.com or the Vegan section of Planetshoes.com. Keeping comfortable in sweat-wicking tops and bottoms is essential because cotton kills. Try Veganathleticapparel.com for cycling gear or Veganscene.com for amazing activewear. Try before you buy with rentals. Once you’ve hit some of your benchmarks, reward yourself with the latest weight belt or sweet stack of carabiners.

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3. Make an investment

Athletes spend a considerable amount on nutrition as opposed to beer and ice cream. To start off on the right track, add BCAA’s to fuel muscles on a cellular level; Glutamine, for recovery; key vitamins like B12, Iron and a Multi to your daily ritual. Don’t forget your probiotics and digestive enzymes to keep your system regular. Vitasave.com has a laundry list of veg-friendly supplements that won’t break the bank. The cherry on top of all of this will be your motivational tunes. Subscribe to Spotify.com for access to more music than you can handle.

4. Stay natural with whole food supplements

Fuel and refuel with healthy options to improve your performance and gains. When whole foods aren’t enough, look to supplements. Not all products are created equal, vegan or not. Good for you protein powders only such as Iron Vegan, Aloha, and Kaizen brands. Avoid 500 calorie sugar-laden bars you find on the shelves. Those are training no-no’s unless you’re a long distance runner or Tour de France cyclist.

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5. Fuel up your F1 machine

Athletes are fuelling Ferraris not Pintos and premium fuel is the rule. Deciding which body type you have (Mesomorph/Ectomorph/Endomorph or hybrid) is a great place to start building your nutrition plan from. Fats, proteins, and carbs need to be tailored to your body and timed well for maximum results. Carbs pre and post workout and fats that help you burn fat. You’ll find the best nutrition in the form of coconut oil, tempeh or tofu, rice, quinoa and heaps of veggies. Minimum water requirements to keep a consistent flush should be 4 liters or 1 gallon per day.

    Homemade whole foods for the win!

    6. Pick an idol

    Vegan athletes Dave Zabriskie, Steph Davis are accomplished and humble. When you’re choosing a sport, check out its grandaddy and learn their stories. The ability to overcome adversity hasn’t changed in millennia. How did they achieve greatness? Follow in their footsteps and avoid their missteps. Visit Greatveganathletes.com to see a listing of inspirational warriors.

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    7. Find a coach or mentor

    You need constant check-ins, pats on the back and constructive criticism to grow as an athlete and so enlist someone who has been in your shoes. For vegans, that means finding value for your dollar with a plant-powered coach. If you’re well versed in the gym you should be able to find a great coach online that will supply you with a meal plan and training program for around $150-250 per month. In person, look to spend no more than $80 per hour with a trainer for building your skills.

    8. Support

    Training alone isn’t easy, especially if you’ve chosen a sport that makes you a one man army. Be sure to find a training facility that’s simple to get to (no excuses please). Try out the app MyFitnessPal.com where you can find others like you on a fitness journey. Facebook also has groups for everything from Vegan Bodybuilding to Vegan Square Dancing enthusiasts.

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    9. Celebrate your wins

    Feeling like you’re falling flat can lead up to 70% of would-be athletes to drop off of the bandwagon. Measure small successes or enter a contest. Celebrate new PR’s (personal records) regularly. Added 5 lbs to your deadlift? Win. Sign up for a boxing match or bodybuilding competition. Long range goals with the possibility of failure or embarrassment fuels athlete brains to go hard and win. Use the JEFIT app in the iTunes store to track your workout progress.

    10. Educate yourself

    Never take anyone’s word for it. If it feels bad, research and adapt. An athlete is in a constant state of discovery of their sport and their place in it. You become a greater athlete, a better mentor, and a wise old teacher by forging your own path during your journey. Never stop learning.

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    Sasha Williams

    Plant Powered Lifestyle Designer

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    Last Updated on January 5, 2021

    15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

    15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

    Starting a journey with fitness goals is never easy, and you must remember this is not a crash diet; it is a lifestyle. Don’t panic and think you have to do it all at once, as this will most likely overwhelm you. You may also find yourself giving up because crash diets are not sustainable.

    The best approach is to make simple changes to your daily habits, and over time, you will notice all your bad habits have turned into good ones.

    Accordingly to a study by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.[1] And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.

    Here are 15 fitness goals to help you on your journey:

    1. Drink More Water

    W.H. Auden said it best when he said,

    “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

    With any diet, the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drinking water will support your body with digestion, transporting nutrients to your bones and muscles, and even improving cognitive function.

    Ideally, you want to drink about half your body weight in ounces per day, i.e. if you weight 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day.

    2. Add Some Lemon and Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Water

    It is recommended we sleep for about 8 hours a day, but this means we spend about 8 hours per day dehydrated. Therefore, hydrating your body first thing in the morning is absolutely necessary.

    The best way to achieve hydration is by starting your day with a glass or even two of water. For that extra boost, add lemon juice and ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. The lemon and apple cider vinegar will help your body with detoxifying, cleansing, and digestion.

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    3. Stop Drinking Your Calories

    Yes, keeping hydrated is important, but try to avoid high-calorie drinks, such as soft drinks, specialty coffee, and juices as they are full of fast-acting sugar.

    Really push yourself to stop drinking such drinks, and before you know it, you will notice the benefits.

    4. Start Stretching More Often

    The benefits are vast and the repercussions of failing to stretch can be dramatic.

    Do yourself a favor and always stretch before and after a workout. This will promote a healthy cool down, improve flexibility, and reduce next day aches. Failure to stretch can lead to injures and muscle damage.

    Here’re some simple stretching exercises to get you started: 15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

    5. Add in Some High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

    You may have heard about HIIT training because it is the big thing right now, and believe me when I say that it works and should absolutely be included in your fitness goals.

    The benefits include lower body fat, increased stamina, leaner muscles, and fantastic hormonal benefits.

    HIIT is where you perform an intense exercise for a very short time frame (about 30 seconds), followed by a slower exercise for about 90 seconds.

    Performing a HIIT routine for 1-3 times a week will lead to great results.

    6. Focus on Your Breathing When You Work Out

    For the most part, breathing is second nature, but when exercising, you may find yourself holding your breath, and this can have negative consequences.

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    It is important to consciously take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, as this will fill your lungs with oxygen and give you the necessary energy to continue your workout.

    7. Build More Lean Muscle

    We all want to have lean muscles. Not only does it look good, but it also has great health benefits, including:

    • Improved posture
    • Reduced body fat
    • Improved metabolism
    • Strong bones
    • Protects and improves joint health
    • Improved stamina

    You can build lean muscle by lifting weights or through other specific exercises. Learn more about building muscle in this guide: How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

    8. Decrease Body Fat

    This may seem like an obvious one, but it is one of the most important steps to a healthier you. Reducing your body fat has a lot of benefits such as:

    • Improved joints and tendons
    • Lowered risk of diabetes
    • Reduced risk of heart disease
    • Reduced inflammation
    • Better performance and endurance
    • Improved appearance and confidence
    • Better hormonal profiles in your body

    Remember, it is not a race to see how quickly you can decrease your body fat. Healthy weight loss is around 1-2 pounds a week for your fitness goals.[2]

    Crash dieting or pushing yourself too much in the gym can lead to you achieving an unrealistic target, and you may find yourself gaining all the weight you have lost.

    Think of it as a lifestyle, and take it slow and steady.

    9. Eat More Greens

    What you eat is the most important factor in a healthier living plan. It is important to ensure you are getting as many nutrients and vitamins from the food you are eating as possible.

    Focus on dark, leafy greens, as they will provide you with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants—all of which you body needs!

    Don’t forget to avoid processed and manufactured food. They are usually high in fat and have minimal vitamins.

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    10. Start Eliminating Sugar

    Another top goal you can start immediately is reducing the amount of sugar you consume. It also won’t cost you anything, and will save you money and improve your health in the long run.

    There’s no surprise we eat too much sugar, and this should be one of your top fitness goals moving forward. Cutting out liquid calories is a great way to start. If you’re looking for something sweet, turn to fruits or even dark chocolate.

    Be careful to eliminate sugar from your diet slowly. Cutting it out all at once can cause symptoms of sugar withdrawal, which can drive you back to sugary snacks[3].

    Common symptoms of sugar withdrawal

      11. Allow Yourself to Rest and Recover

      The workout is where you go to break down muscle tissue, and it builds back through proper nutrition, rest, and recovery[4]. It might be tempting to go to the gym for two hours every day as hard as you can to achieve your goals, but that’s not the most effective approach.

      If you don’t allow for proper rest and recovery, it can set you back a few steps. Your body is more prone to injury and even illness as you can weaken your immune system from all the progressive intensity the body is facing.

      12. Get More Sleep

      When you are deprived of sleep, you make it next to impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals. Lack of sleep can increase stress hormones in your body, and over time these can lead to inflammation and chronic diseases.[5]

      Make sleep a priority to let your body heal and rejuvenate. A good approach is 7 to 8 hours. Also, allow yourself some wind-down time and a pre-bed routine to help get more consistent sleep every night.

      13. Focus on the Habit, Not the Result

      It’s easy to get caught up in trying to achieve a certain look or shed time off of your mile, but the more important focus is on the habit that will bring you closer to those fitness goals.

      Don’t look at the scale, the tape measurer, or the body fat percentage. Focus on the habits that will lead to those achievements.

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      Don’t compare yourself to where others are; you’re right where you need to be.

      14. Take Your Fitness Outside

      This may be hard depending on the weather you experience, but the more you can be outside exposed to fresh air and sunlight, the better.

      Being stuck in the gym doing cardio while staring at a wall won’t do much for your mental stimulation.

      Try to challenge your body more by getting outside. Hiking is great and also just running and walking. Give yourself more access to nature and a constantly changing environment. It also beats breathing in that recycled gym air.

      15. Do at Least One Pull Up

      This is a great last goal to focus on because it’s a great test of strength and to see how you are progressing with your fitness.

      If you haven’t been able to do one, you know what a challenge it can be. Having the goal of doing at least one pull up will not only show you how far you’ve progressed, but it is a great way to become dedicated and motivated.

      The Bottom Line

      These fitness goals will become more attainable through the year if you’re consistent with your fitness. Set yourself a concrete timeline for when you want to accomplish some or all of these in order to create realistic goals in the short term. In fact, start making one of these goals happen this month!

      More on Setting Fitness Goals

      Featured photo credit: Ivan Torres via unsplash.com

      Reference

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