Hello! A bit about me (read why I switched to a plant based diet below…)
I have been blessed with countless opportunities to share my passion for a fit and healthy lifestyle for the past 17 years including owning my own gym, being a personal trainer and coach, Cornell University Certified in Plant Based Nutrition, and entrepreneur.
At the young age of eight, I made it my mission to be healthy and I have never stopped. My mother died of complications from her battle with heart disease and my grandmother was diabetic. I saw first hand how crippling these diseases can be. The fear of having genetic factors determine my fate has given me a purpose and strong desire to exercise and eat as healthy as I can and to help others as well.
I’ve been active my whole life and in many sports, including running, softball, tennis, cycling, catamaran sailing, kayaking, snowshoeing, hiking, etc. I also competed in bodybuilding competitions and even won the Ms. California when I was 40. That was definitely a highlight!
My current athletic loves are mountain biking (as you can see from my main picture – taken Dec 2016) and trail running. I have always been a runner…well…for as long as I can remember. I left the pavement for trail running in 2007 and absolutely love it! I’ve run up to 50k (31 miles), which is considered an ultra-distance event. So far, my running goal for 2017 is to run a 25-mile trail race this coming April, following my 60th birthday!
I am super-duper passionate about nutrition…the healthier, the better! I am a strong believer that nutrition is the fountain of youth! In 2012, I converted my already healthy diet (which included some animal protein) to an all plant based diet and feel better than ever! I absolutely love talking about nutrition and pursuing my mission of sharing everything I know with others to help them be their healthiest, too!
I am quickly approaching my 60th birthday this March 2017…which seems so surreal because I don’t (at least I believe I don’t) look or feel like most 60 somethings!
On a personal note, I have two beautiful daughters and two grand children that I absolutely adore!
Why I switched to a whole food plant based diet
I never did like the taste of meat. My mother would force me to eat it as a child because, of course, she thought it was healthy. Isn’t that what we were told back then? Since I hated meat, I would make sure my dog was sitting under the table so I could slip the meat to him when my mom wasn’t looking. Haha! I found a solution and my dog was happy. J
I grew up preferring a vegetarian diet, although I did eat eggs, cheese and ice cream, so that would make me a Lacto Ovo Vegetarian. I did, however, loooooooath the taste and smell of milk, but I would use it in my cereal ONLY because back then we didn’t have any other type of milk.
Speaking of dairy, I had some health issues from a young age that I never associated to the dairy I was eating, such as allergies (runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes), asthma, fatigue, inflammation and constipation. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s that someone recommended that I try eliminating dairy, so I did. Although, I have to admit I really missed cheese and ice cream, but I was willing to give it a try. What happened next was surprising! Most of the symptoms disappeared, and although constipation was still an issue, it wasn’t as bad. I felt like a whole new person! Wow! I felt about 10 years younger! Good bye dairy!
Fast forward to my mid-30’s…
I wanted to challenge myself with a new sport and was intrigued with bodybuilding. After reading a couple of books, I decided I was going to start lifting. I learned that to build muscle you have to consume a lot of protein (at least that is what was taught), so I ate a lot of protein, and although I didn’t did like it, I did like eggs and protein bars. My protein intake increased to up to 40-50% of my total calories…yikes! That’s a lot of protein! Bad side effect…my constipation got worse. L So, I tried to counteract it by taking a fiber supplement and eating prunes, which really didn’t help much except make me bloated. Ugh! I was eating a lot of fibrous vegetables, but it wasn’t enough to keep me regular (bowel movements, that is).
I worked out really hard and put on a lot of muscle. In the next three years, I competed in four bodybuilding competitions, winning three and came in second place in one. The last one was the California AAU Bodybuilding Championship, which I won at age 40! That was thrilling! Ok, winning at age 40 was amazing, but I was ready to move on and try another sport. Meanwhile, I kept eating pretty much the same way as I did when I competed, which was very strict and I kept working out in the gym. My diet was VERY clean (little to no processed foods or chemicals), so I stayed very lean and defined.
Fast forward to my 50’s…
In 2008, a friend and client had lost a lot of weight by following a vegan diet. She looked amazing and she said she had never felt better. She decided to follow a vegan diet because her husband has Type 2 diabetes and she had heard about “Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes, The Scientifically Proven Method For Reversing Diabetes Without Drugs.”
I didn’t know much about a vegan diet, although I assumed that it would just be a fad because there’s no way you can get enough protein…so I thought. I was curious about the book and the diet because I had diabetic clients and thought that perhaps I may learn a holistic approach to help them feel better and maybe even help them get off their medications. I read the book and was really impressed; it made sense to me. I decided to try eliminating animal protein from my diet, although, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I guess I wasn’t completely sold on the idea, because I only gave it a half-ass attempt and I got frustrated because I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t follow Dr. Bernard’s “diet” because, after all, I didn’t have diabetes. So, it didn’t last for me. I also heard about the “Blood Type Diet,” which says I need protein. I thought, aaaaaha! That’s why a vegan diet doesn’t work for me! So, I delved into the Blood Type Diet thinking that was the answer for me.
Later, the same friend encouraged me to read “The China Study, watch “Forks over Knives,” and she also told me about an athlete by the name of Brendan Brazier who had written his own book. Well, it took me a couple of years to watch “Forks over Knives,” because I thought it was just a bunch of hooey. Hey, I was healthy and lean, so why would I want to change?
Fast forward to 2012:
“Forks over Knives” was once again brought to my attention, so this time I decided to watch it. Wow, I wish I had watched it sooner! It was eye opening and life changing to say the least! I soon, thereafter, read Brendan Brazier’s book, “Thrive.” Now, here was someone I could relate to because he’s healthy and he’s an athlete competing at a very high level on a vegan diet. Now we’re getting somewhere! Brendan’s book resonated with me.
Once I decided to follow Brazier’s menu plan in the book and try his recipes, I had to pretty much revamp my kitchen. I threw away any animal based foods and stocked up with tons of different plant based foods, herbs and spices. I was excited…and I was committed!
To my surprise, I found that cooking and preparing food this way was exciting and fun and I started to realize how tasty eating this way is. My taste buds started to become more sensitive to eating just plant based foods and, you know, I didn’t miss the animal protein! I still don’t! Not just that, but I was actually starting to feel REALLY good! I lost weight and…dah dah dah…I also began to have regular bowel movements, even up to three times a day! What???? This is amazing!! My body’s weight set point went pretty quickly and easily from 142 to 136. I always had trouble holding my weight at 136. Haha, this was awesome, people! My friends would tell me how great my skin looked. I always had great skin, but it now looks even better!
After following Brendan’s food intake guide for a while, I decided to continue educating myself because I wanted to learn more and be able to teach my clients about it as well. I watched many documentaries and read more books. I was hungry to learn as much as possible. Some of the documentaries I watched are: Forks over Knives, Hungry for Change, Food Inc, Food Matters, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, Vegucated… The more I learned, the more passionate I became about how eating a plant based diet was not only better for my body, it was also better for the planet and for animals. My nutritional journey was becoming that of an ethical nature.
I wanted to learn more, so I set out to find a course on plant based nutrition, because I wanted to do it right. Soon thereafter, I found out about the Plant Based Nutrition Certificate course through Cornell University. This is an online program. Their website states, “Overall health and risk of degenerative disease are inextricably linked to diet. This innovative, world-recognized, world-class, online certificate program introduces a new way of thinking about nutrition, while exploring the benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet. Based on the research and teachings of Dr. T. Colin Campbell (The China Study) and a variety of leading experts in the field, this program applies real world knowledge that can be applied to nearly any field of study.” Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate – T. Colin Campbell Center
This program is amazing! I earned my certificate and gleaned much more from the program than I dreamed I would. Furthermore, since then I have become extremely passionate about eating a whole foods plant based (WFPB) “diet”. I try not to use the word “diet” because, to many it implies deprivation, however, diet simply means a way of eating. Since earning my WFPB certificate, I have coached 100’s of clients how to achieve their ideal body weight and improve their health by eating plants. It has been very rewarding to have the opportunity to do so.
I look forward to sharing my passion with all of you!