Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Two Strong Women and Their Vegan Blogs

What a creative name for a muscle and vegan-themed website! Samantha Shorkey, my PlantBuilt teammate and first ever vegan WNBF bikini pro, runs Jacked on the Beanstalk from all the way up in frozen Alberta, Canada. Her Ebook with the same title informs its readers about optimal plant-based foods to eat for contest-winning fitness.
"Building strong, lean muscles on a vegan diet is not as hard as you might think! Jacked on the Beanstalk is a how-to guide for preparing healthy, high-protein and low-sodium meals suitable for any vegan strength or endurance athlete." 
Personally, I think it is pretty awesome that people like Sam are still doing blogs, because her insight about vegan fitness and vegan modeling is hugely appealing to people wanting the look that gets the touch (excuse my Finesse commercial reference). There is a wealth of volunteered advice from people who don't necessarily have the look and though they might be knowledgeable about their trade, the info just doesn't sell. Being your own advertising is the bottom line in the fitness industry. My experience with personal training and group fitness instruction at Gold's Gym and Toadal Fitness in Santa Cruz is that the more shredded the trainer is, the more clients he or she will get. 

PlantBuilt Teammates 2014 and 2015

Having had the pleasure of spending the 2014 PlantBuilt meetup/competition with Samantha, I can attest to the fact that people definitely be askin' her, "How do you do that?!" 

Her response: "Read my book bitch." 
Well, she doesn't quite say it that way. But if she did, she would be doing that person a favor. Jacked on the Beanstalk is where it's at in 2015 for fitness/nutrition blogs. Got a competition coming up? Get your learn on with Team PlantBuilt's Samantha Shorkey. 

You can also follow +Samantha Shorkey on Instagram 

BUTT wait, there's more!

My favorite vegan restaurant in the country is Strong Hearts Cafe, located in Syracuse, NY. They opened their doors in 2008 and have been wildly successful in the business world while not compromising their ethics whatsoever. Syracuse, NY does have a large vegan community, so they had that going in their favor, but it was Nick and Joel (the co-owners of SHC) who took the risk of trying to open this business after the Great Recession, in a down Syracuse economy. I helped them out where I could, but it was the message and the persistence of the people behind Strong Hearts that made it into the vegan pillar it is today. 

Vegan Pillar and Syracuse Award-Winning Eatery

The Strong People Behind Strong Hearts

Oh deary me, I forgot to mention Laura Ryan, the manager of Strong Hearts! Nick Ryan (co-owner) was my college roommate for two years, and we both had younger sisters that we tried to be positive role models for. One of the positive messages we both conveyed to our siblings was the idea of animal liberation and that we shouldn't be eating our fellow sentient beings for lunch. My own sister navigates between different versions of plant-based diets nowadays, but Laura has become a vegan chef, blogger and nutritionist. Impressive specs. 

My sister, Laura, and me
Vegan Heartbeats is a frequently updated blog with delicious plant-based recipes for dishes ranging from coconut cheesecake to strawberry gin. I am not the chef that Laura is, but have semi-attempted a recipe from Vegan Heartbeats, which despite having only half the ingredients for, still ended up as a delicious and nutritious post-workout treat. 

Along with tons of recipes, organized very nicely in the side column of her blog, she includes Vegan Writing and Societal Writing, which make me super-stoked because I am one who affirms that animal rights is part of a greater worldwide movement toward total liberation. If I were to break my own writing down into two categories, it would probably also be vegan and societal. And ya know, if I had a third, it would probably be about exercise. Which, ironically enough, is the other section Laura features on  Vegan Heartbeats! 


Go ahead and click on any of those links (because I believe it will connect directly to her blog) or stay here and enjoy drooling over some genuine Vegan Heartbeats creations below. Whether you're into this for plant-based performance nutrition for sports and exercise, or just want some delicious cruelty-free recipes, these two blogs are worth your while. Laura is humble, in my not-so-humble opinion, and may be surprised to hear what an inspiration she is to myself and a lot of others in the vegan scene. I first and foremost admire her endless support for her brother, Nick, because he and I have shared so much over the years, and I know that to do what he does, with his excellence in execution, he needs the support of loved ones. People seldom realize that by being someone's steadfast support network, you are equally responsible for all the good that they do. To take it to the next level and become the second-part of a ONE-TWO-PUNCH (like Laura did with this blog) is extra special. Between Strong Hearts and Vegan Heartbeats, Syracuse is becoming a Vegan Mecca, and I am proud to say I am one of their loudest cheerleaders.

Chunky Vegetable Soup 

More about Laura from her blog:

 I am a woman. 25 and counting. Vegan. I have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition science from Syracuse University. I work as a restaurant manager for Strong Hearts Cafe, TWO all-vegan restaurants in Syracuse, NY. 

I have the sweetest puppy named Rigby and a super loud, super independent kitty named Stella. I live with my boyfriend, Josh. We do lots of stuff, like hike and camp and go to concerts. And eat. I have a really cool, super supportive family. 

Contact me: Via tumblr (lots of old content here!): 

Via email:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Weightlifting. Powerlifters. Bodybuilders. Olympic Lifters.

At my CrossFit affiliate, CrossFit West Santa Cruz, Leah Lutz practices her back squats, dead lifts, and bench presses all the time. She doesn't only do those lifts, but they are the focus of her powerlifting training.

  1. a form of competitive weightlifting in which contestants attempt three types of lift in a set sequence.

I have taken a particular interest in the sport of powerlifting ever since my team (PlantBuilt Vegan Muscle Team) took on Mike Wolf, Kelly Green, Sara Russert, Scott Shetler, Jason Morris, and Crystal Moulton as their 6 member powerlifting squad.
PlantBuilt 2015 Powerlifters
Powerlifters weren't born freaks of nature, but their training sets them apart from the rest of the fitness world much of the time. Let's see what our Leah Lutz has to say about it!

1) With whom do I have the pleasure of speaking with today? 
Hi, I’m Leah Lutz, and my vocation is teaching while my hobbies are family, friends, cooking, travel, and training.

2) What is your Instagram? What does that mean? Can we follow you?
@scteacher (noting the job that I absolutely love: teaching, and the most amazing place to live: Santa Cruz) I am always happy to have followers, and I promise that I try to keep the hideous food pictures to a minimum.

 3) What is powerlifting? 
Competitive powerlifters train for and compete in meets that include the back squat, bench press, and deadlift. Each competitor has three attempts for each lift, and records can be set for each lift and the meet total (the best of all three lifts.) You compete in a flight of various lifters in any given competition, but all records are set by weight class and powerlifting type-typically: raw (knee sleeves and a belt allowed), raw classic (knee wraps and a belt allowed), or geared (with lifting suits)

4) How long have you been powerlifting? How did you get into it? 
I competed in my first meet in October 2013, and decided right away that I love it. I never, ever expected to be doing this, for many reasons, not the least being that I have never competed in any athletics before this. 5 years ago I walked into CrossFit West weighing 265 pounds, so nervous and feeling out of place that I could barely walk in the door. Just getting to classes and keeping up with it was incredibly difficult, I would often cry over how hard a workout was or how pathetically out of shape I really was. Every single class and every movement was difficult, but I had been overweight for years, and I was 100% ready to change my life. The coaches and athletes at CFW were and are unbelievably supportive. I am still amazed at their confidence in me and their willingness to encourage me when I didn’t want to finish (or sometimes even start) a workout. Through CrossFit and a switch to the Paleo diet, I was able to lose about 50 pounds, and I felt better than ever. In all of this, I also discovered that I loved lifting weights. I was a decent squatter from the beginning, so I was happy to work on that often. Through a series of injuries, I had shoulder surgery in August 2013, and it was during my rehab from that that I decided to focus more and more on lifting. I still had no desire to compete, I just wanted to regain my lost strength. Post-surgery I was also working to lose more weight, and my coach knew that a set goal would be a great motivation for me. I wanted to reach 165 pounds, a seemingly impossible goal at that time, so he talked me into entering a meet in the 165 weight class. Reaching 165 for that first meet seemed almost impossible, but I just kept working each week, progressing with my training and being consistent with my diet. Really my one goal for that first meet was to weigh in at 165, and any lifts were secondary.

5) Do you coach powerlifting? What instruction have you offered?
I coached several barbell classes at CrossFit West and done a small amount of personal strength training. In the barbell classes, we are able to focus on the 3 power lifts for 6-8 weeks, dialing in technique and really pushing each class member to meet new goals.

6) Can a crossfitter be a powerlifter? 
If they want to be competition-level, can they still do both concurrently? It is certainly something that athletes do. Skilled, trained athletes often have the ability to perform well in a variety of specializations or sports. Now whenever you choose to enter one type of competition, I think you have to decide whether you will really specialize your training for an optimal performance in that one chose sport or whether you will keep up training in several different areas. Spreading out your training will be definition cost you some specialization, but many athletes chose this general approach and do very well. I’m not that level of athlete! I do best in specializing in my chosen sport.

7) Can a bodybuilder be a powerlifter? Can they compete in those two sports concurrently? 
I don’t have personal experience with this, so I can only refer to what I know of other’s experiences. I do know people who have competed in both bodybuilding and powerlifting, but I think they have all switched from one to the other, and then maybe back to one again. Powerlifting will certainly give you a strong base for your bodybuilding prep.

8) What do you think of competitive bodybuilding? 
Competitive bodybuilders are some of the most dedicated competitors I have run into. I have great respect for someone who sets a goal to compete and then keeps up with their very meticulous diet and training plan.

Thank You Leah, and happy birthday! More powerlifting interviews to come. Scott Shetler from Team PlantBuilt and Extreme Performance Training has something to say about vegan powerlifting and I say bring it on!