Vegan In Training

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Cauliflower 3x4Vegan in training. Yup that’s what I am—on a few levels. I became a total vegan just a few months ago. From that aspect: I’m a freshly minted vegan. I had been working towards vegetarian for  a while. I started eliminating eggs, milk, and other dairy. The next thing was meat. That wasn’t too hard because by that time I was only eating chicken for the protein. Once the two flats of chicken I had remaining were gone I was almost there—almost. The last hold out was whipping cream. Whipping cream I told myself was my one an only “treat” I allowed myself. Of course it was for my coffee, and really nothing else. Then one day—I was done with heavy cream and with coffee! Done! It’s just the way I roll. When I make a decision to do something, I do it! Period!

avocadosRight around the same time I started “veganizing” I was using Instagram a whole lot more. I had an account for years, but never used it. My buddy Geoff Hoover, used it regularly with a personal account and his Vinyl Junkie account to post current records he was spinning. So I decided to start using it a bit more too. I would pretty much use my iPhone 6s exclusively to take photos, selfies, et. al. and publish them to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Kill three birds with one stone. Oh wait. I’m a vegan. No more bird killing of any kind. Um. Smash three bananas with one spoon! But I digress.

I found that on Instagram it was much easier to connect with other people who were living a vegan life. Especially vegan athletes and bodybuilders. I was quickly connected to a new group of people that I might not have found via Facebook or Twitter. There’s something about eye candy with a lot of hashtags that seemed more appealing and more gratifying. So I watched other vegan athletes post meals, gym, and progress photos, videos etc. And I started doing the same.

Nimai DelgadoOne day I saw a post from vegan bodybuilder Nimai Delgado (pronounced knee-my). In the post he said he would build a 4 week vegan meal plan, plus one tweak for $50.00. I’m a creature of habit. I like structure and repetition. I think that’s why I did so well on Take Shape For Life—losing the 100 pounds I did—four yeas ago. My biggest takeaway from TSFL was: Food = fuel. Nothing more. So having Nimai create a meal plan Trader Joesfor a vegan bodybuilder was a no-brainer. After eMailing him and sending him a PayPal payment, several days later I got a few detailed spread sheets containing the exact macronutrients I needed. All the numbers were tuned to my current age, weight, height, body fat, etc. I got a detailed breakdown of the amounts of protein, carbs, and fat I should be consuming in the 6 meals a day I’d be eating. Again, just like TSFL, but using whole vegan foods. One spread sheet had meals spelled out using mostly items I could easily buy at Trader Joe’s. So it was convenient too! And that’s where I started. I ate 6 time a day, worked out 6 days a week and it felt good knowing I was taking care of my body on multiple levels.

Joe & Tillie

After about 2 weeks I contacted Nimai, who was training for two upcoming natural bodybuilding competitions in California. A few weeks went by, I eMailed him and he explained he was in the process of training, and working closely with a developer to create Nimai’s new website. What Nimai ended up doing was sending me another 4 week plan designed just for me. This time he did not include the foods and I was told to use foods I liked. As long as they fit into the macronutrient parameters for that week—I was golden. I spent some quality time with MyFitnessPal.com to create meals to match the macros I needed to hit. To be able to look up food in their massive food nutrition database was invaluable! It took me a few hours to get everything tweaked just right, but it was well worth the investment in me! In the following weeks I will go back an tweak the meals cutting 100 calories of carbs. I’ve already done this for week two. I’m trying to get down to 10-12% body fat. That’s the goal!
Joe @ The GymWhat Nimai also did was give me a 4 week “shred” exercise program he is developing to “beta test”. I’m on week two of both the new meal plan the exercise plan and LOVING them both—especially the exercise program. He has me doing many things I’ve done in the past but haven’t done in a while, and others that are totally new to me. Each week the exercises vary widely—which I also love! But wait! There’s more! Beside the body part being worked that day, add abs—every day! Add to that, 20 minutes of solid state cardio every other day, or on the alternating days 8 sets of 30/30 HIT training. Talk about kicking my ass! I love it! Workouts now take from 2-2.5 hours 6 days a week! Rest Sunday. And no cardio on leg day—because at the end of 2 hours of squats, lunges, and so much more—I have legs of rubber! But it’s all good! What I love most about all of this? I CAN DO IT! And I know I’ve accomplished something great every day!

16.05.30-14.11.59I am embracing the new vegan me. I don’t miss meat. Which is pretty wild in and of itself. I’m also amazed at how far I’ve come. With all the health stuff I’ve dealt with in the past two years, to be finally back on track and back at the gym is nothing short of miraculous! The Wellbutrin is doing it’s job and helping me do mine—take better care of me! My energy seems boundless. No shit! I’m starting to see the beginnings of a six pack …. OMG! Who’d a thunk! I can see my body changing—slowly.

16.06.05-11.27.58Vegan gains! #Vegangains is one of many hashtags used on Instagram by a lot of the vegan athletes and body builders. It speaks directly to the notion that vegans don’t need to eat meat to make gains—contrary to what others might believe. And I love that idea! It’s an exclamation, a mantra, and subversive all at the same time! I’m glad I found this community of likeminded, generously helpful and driven people. We all try to support one another, even if it’s a simple “like” of a new photo and post, or getting help in comments, or even trading recipes, or showing off those #vegangains in gym selfies. They all help to push and inspire this vegan in training.

I’d like to give a special shout out to “The Hard Core Herbivore”! A.K.A. Nimai Delgado, for his copious and invaluable help. Through countless eMails, answering questions, giving pointers, and endless encouragement. You’re an inspiration to many and a down to earth and humble man. Thanks again for all your help!
Joe Streno
artist . musician . photographer . apple computer consultant . residing in asbury park nj with his two cats rocky & rose & living to tell tales about it

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