I’ve lost 25lbs in body fat whilst packing on 20lbs of lean muscle!
My sinus and bronchial issues have cleared up for the first time in my life and
I have increased levels of energy, mental focus and general wellbeing.
17 Aug 1983
Vegan: Oct 2016
Plant-Based Vegan: May 2018
I went vegan for ethical reasons and plant-based for my health. Having grown up with dogs, I eventually got dogs myself. It was the amazing bond I formed with my pooches as an adult that opened up my empathetic eyes to the complex and beautiful spectrum of emotions that animals possess, and ultimately, provided me with the conduit to vegetarianism in 2014. After watching Earthlings, and resonating so profoundly with the message of activists like Gary Yourofsky, James Aspey and Earthling Ed, I went vegan in 2016. During this period, I had transitioned fairly seamlessly from an omnivorous junk food diet, to highly processed, vegan junk so I was a poor candidate to discuss, let alone showcase the health benefits of whole food, plant-based veganism. Documentaries like What the Health and Forks over Knives along with compelling literature such as The China Study and How Not to Die were pivotal influences in my decision to give up junk food, take control of my health and become a “poster boy” for plant-based eating.
I’ve lost 25lbs in body fat whilst packing on 20lbs of lean muscle! My sinus and bronchial issues have cleared up for the first time in my life and I have increased levels of energy, mental focus and general wellbeing.
I personally advocate a higher carb, lower fat approach with an emphasis on nutrient dense, whole foods. I eat plenty of high fibre grains and starches such as bran, oatmeal and sweet potato. I consume unprocessed, healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados and organic peanut butter. Beans and legumes are my staple source of protein with red lentils and black beans being amongst my favourites given they are packed with amino acids, loaded with fibre, rich in antioxidants and taste delicious. For convenience sake, I use a plant-based protein powder which I add to my oatmeal or post workout smoothies. It goes without saying that I eat a lot of fruit, leafy greens and cruciferous veggies daily.
By eating predominantly whole, plant-based meals that are nutrient dense yet low in calories, it’s easy to get and stay lean without calorie counting. I achieved all of my fat loss without measuring a single calorie. It was simply an energy deficit by default! As I’ve reassessed my goals to accomplish a more specific body composition encompassing the retention of lean muscle whilst reducing body fat levels, I now tally my total calorie intake between 2500 to 3000 calories a day.
I start my day with a glass of water which I continue to drink throughout the day. Along with a selection of herbal teas, I enjoy black coffee. If I happen to be suffering with indigestion, I consume diluted apple cider vinegar, lemon water or a hot ginger brew which all work a charm to remedy the problem.
Many people assume plant-based eating is synonymous with subsisting on nothing but salad! The truth is, a healthy plant-based menu can offer an incredibly diverse array of options to cater to anyone’s taste preferences. Delicious, plant-based meals, like any of your favourite dishes, are the sum of quality ingredients and preparation. With the wealth of amazing plant-based recipes available, I would task anyone to experiment in the kitchen with an open mind. Thug Kitchen, Forks Over Knives Cookbook and The Engine 2 Diet are all fantastic places to glean the necessary knowledge to hone your plant-based, culinary skills. If you are catering for a family, Forks Over Knives Family and Plant Powered Families have hundreds of delicious, whole food, plant-based recipes to entice the most unadventurous palates. Start with allocating a small portion of every plate to plant-based cuisine. You can gradually adjust the composition to aid the transition to a completely plant-based lifestyle.
To ensure your nutritional preparations are aligned with optimising your health, I’d strongly advocate downloading Dr Gregger’s Daily Dozen App. It’s free and uses a very simple daily checklist to guide you.
I walk my dogs daily and enjoy bodyboarding when the surf is good and my schedule permits. I hit the gym for intense resistance training 4 to 5 days a week.
I employ the following training split with 1 to 2 days rest before repeating the cycle
For smaller body parts like biceps or triceps, I perform 2 exercises in a workout. For bigger body parts such as back and legs, a workout will range between 4 to 5 exercises.
I generally do 4 to 5 sets per an exercise in the 10 to 12 rep range. I focus on maximising intensity so many of my sets are actually a series of 2-4 rep drop sets hitting absolute failure.
My training incorporates free weights, calisthenics, as well as resistance machines, so though my set and rep range is fairly consistent, I keep the exercises and order thereof varied. As I don’t work with a training partner, I believe in pre-exhausting larger muscle groups to negate the need for heavy lifting on movements that would otherwise require a spotter to reach failure. By doing this, I can still achieve failure using lighter weights, whilst preserving good form and avoiding injuries.
Prior to embarking on my transformation, I had a six year hiatus from any consistent, physical activity so I really had to start from the ground up as though I’d never exercised before.
As routine is most certainly the foundation of success, I wanted to foster habits I could build on incrementally, and so I took a three step approach to achieving my goal:
Rather than commence with a gruelling regime that would have necessitated lengthy recovery periods, I opted to implement a simple, fairly stress free activity I knew I could commit to performing daily from the outset. I began by setting my alarm for 04h30 in the morning to walk my dogs. No matter whether I felt like it or not, I got up and walked. Getting up was hard at first but the more I did it, the easier it became. It’s now my favourite time of day, and though I also do a lot of other exercises now, I still walk my dogs seven days a week. As the world around me sleeps, I gain the quietest hours of the day to reflect, meditate and appreciate life.
With my resolve intact, I unpacked the stationery bike, free weights, bench, jump rope and resistance bands stored in my garage and created a simple circuit which I began incorporating twice weekly.
After two months of religiously following my home training routine, my body was yielding marked results and it was at this pivotal point, I knew I was mentally and physically ready to reinstate my gym contract and up the ante with increased focus and dedication.
Success is never coincidental, and it’s almost always incremental, so it’s very important to create positively defined goals underpinned by a plan of action and timeframe to measure against. In my case, I wanted to lose 25lbs of fat, get fit, lean and muscular whilst epitomising health, all within a six month period. This is very different from saying that I simply didn’t want to be fat which would have been a far vaguer objective. By having a clearly defined goal, I was able to adopt a project management approach to accomplish it. It’s an evolutionary process of refinement of input versus output that takes time and adaptation to master but always rewards effort and consistency. You don’t feel or see the results of your efforts between meals and reps, but the fruit of one’s labour becomes crystal clear over a sufficient timeline with the culmination of every single ounce of muscle and fat gained or lost. By having defined goals, one is able to recognise the significance of reaching these small milestones which assists hugely in managing expectations and bolstering one’s resolve to commit to the process.
The drastic change in my physical appearance has been the primary reason people have taken interest in my vegan lifestyle as a whole. Though my ethical motivations have, and always will be at the core of my veganism, it’s amazing to see the new-found willingness for people to enter conversation. From colleagues and business associates, to friends and family members, my transformation has initiated many positive discussions that have inspired others to commence on a plant-based journey. My physique has also provided the basis for some great “gymversations” around my ethical, plant-based approach to eating. The highlight for me personally though, has been my parents’ transition to a plant-based lifestyle.