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Interview with Christy Morgan: Vegan Exercise Enthusiast

Christy Morgan, known as The Blissful Chef, has been tantalizing taste buds for years as a vegan chef, cooking instructor, food writer, and cookbook author. Christy’s mission is to show that a whole food plant-based diet can be delicious, easy and will bring more energy and bliss into your life. Now in Austin, Texas, USA she offers cooking classes and health programs for corporations and families who want to get their health on track.

It wasn't until January 2013 that she has became dedicated to fitness and spreading the message that you can be strong (and sexy!) with a plant-based diet. Find out more at TheBlissfulChef.com, follow her fitness journey to her first bikini competition and sprint triathlon visit Wellness Reboot.

Christy_Morgan_lifting

Why Vegan?
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
I decided to try being vegetarian as an experiment because one of my close college friends was vegetarian. I moved to Los Angeles after college and made another friend who had been vegetarian since she was 15. She showed me the Meet Your Meat video on PETA’s website and we went vegan together overnight. There was no way I could contribute to the death and violence of the meat and dairy industry. We connected with other vegans in our community, attended potlucks and that’s when I started teaching myself how to cook. I fell in love with feeding people and decided to change careers and go to a natural foods culinary school.

How long have you been vegan?
Since November 2002

What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
It’s hard to pinpoint the best benefit because my whole life encompasses my veganism; it’s almost like a spiritual practice for me. Being vegan is about the big picture and affects my life physically, emotionally, socially, economically. The benefits are endless and numerous! But to name a few; better health (skin, weight maintenance, sex life, strong immune system), more energy, faster recovery from workouts, discovering amazing foods, building communities and connecting with other like-minded people, and having a greater purpose in life.

What does veganism mean to you?
Creating a life that inflicts the least amount of harm possible while being the most compassionate and conscious person I am able.
 
Training
What sort of training do you do?
I’m a diverse athlete and do a lot of cross-training. That includes High-intensity interval training (HIIT), weight lifting, swimming, biking, running, Zumba, kickboxing, yoga, Body Combat, dancing, racquetball, TRX suspension training and more. I don’t like to limit myself and I tend to get bored easily.

How often do you (need to) train?
I move my body everyday generally. Even on my “rest” days, I take a yoga class.

Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
I’ve been the gal you go to when you need help transitioning to a vegan diet, but now that I’ve become obsessed with fitness and got my personal trainer certification so I can help others get fit too.

What sports do you play?
I don’t play any traditional competitive sports and never have - save for one year on the swim team in high school.
 
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
The biggest misconception of vegans is that we are sick, pale and weak. This is so far from the truth in most instances! The majority of vegans I know are healthy, vibrant and rarely get sick if they take care of themselves. And those into fitness are far from weak. To address this I keep walking the talk, training hard and showing others how strong I can be on a vegan diet. It’s always fun running circles around people at the gym that I know are omnivore. 

What are your strengths as a vegan athlete?
When you eat a whole foods vegan diet, you are giving your body the best fuel possible.  That makes you stronger, more energetic, and you have quicker recovery times than those who are putting death and violence in their body. Plant foods are alkaline as opposed to the acid nature of animal foods.

What is your biggest challenge?
Wanting to work out all the time and not giving myself rest periods. Working out, pushing harder, becoming more, transforming your body, all of these things have become almost an addiction. At least it’s a healthy one.

Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
Thankfully, I haven’t gotten a lot of pushback from non-vegans. My actions speak for themselves and when they see what I’m capable of in the gym, it gives them something to think about. Those who follow a “paleo” diet tend to be the most closed-minded but everyone else is pretty laid back.

Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
At this point in my veganism, almost all of my friends are vegetarian or vegan, the gym I go to is run by vegans, so I’m sort of in a bubble.  And my family is used to it by now. At first they thought it was interesting at family gatherings. The first Thanksgiving I made all my own food and no one touched it. The second one my grandmother made a separate stuffing for me and I brought a few dishes. By the third one, I was bringing Thai food with me and the fourth one I just stopped going to family gatherings that involved food. It wasn’t worth it to me to deal with the stress and also to continually see their health decline as they stuffed their faces with the most heart-clogging, unhealthy foods. It was heart breaking actually. I stopped going to my family's house for Thanksgiving or Christmas a few years after going vegan.

What is the most common question/comment that people ask/say when they find out that you are a vegan and how do you respond? 
Most people say it’s too difficult or they really love the taste of meat. Since it’s my job to help people transition, I offer them advice if they want it. And now that I have created an online wellness program that gives them all the tools they need to make a successful transition I usually hand them my card. I encourage them to take baby steps if they aren’t ready to go full on - and to incorporate more veggies and greens into their diet while cutting out some processed food. I truly believe that cooking your own food is the best way to health and by learning to cook, you make everything easier for your transition. So my mission in life is to show people how to make quick and tasty meals, how to meal plan, and make it all doable for themselves and their families.

Who or what motivates you?
Reaching the next goal, setting a PR, lifting heavier, running further than I did the day before pushes me. But also my trainers, Chad and Tricia of Beyond Fit, and working out in a group environment pushes me everyday. Finding a love of fitness has given me a new outlet for my activism, so being able to share my experiences with others through my blog and social media motivates and drives me. It warms my heart to know that I’m inspiring people everyday to get out there and see what they are made of (hopefully plants.) And showing the world that you can be vegan and strong and do anything your heart desires.
Christy_Morgan__friend
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:

Breakfast - Protein oats or polenta porridge topped with fruit and hemp seeds.
Lunch - Usually a really large mixed green salad with tons of chopped veggies, tofu and homemade dressing.
Dinner - Depends on what I’m training for but I usually have my plate divided into three sections with a protein, starchy carbohydrate and greens filling the plate.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) - Green smoothies, rice cake with nut butter, protein shake, fruit, sometimes a raw bar, veggies or rice crackers with hummus, corn chips and salsa, homemade protein treats.
 
What is your favourite source of:
Protein – Tofu, it’s so versatile
Calcium – Greens and beans
Iron – Collard greens
 
What foods give you the most energy?
Complex carbohydrates and fruit

Do you take any supplements?
B12, Glucosamine MSM, protein powder
 
Advice
What is your top tip for:

Gaining muscle - Eat! Lift heavy, do a 4 or 5 day split focusing on a small group of different muscles in each session.
Losing weight - Give up all processed foods, keep sodium low and eat whole, unprocessed foods. Cut out pastries, sugar and alcohol.
Maintaining weight - Same as above, but enjoy a “cheat” meal once a week.
Improving metabolism - Don’t calorie restrict! Eat 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day.
Toning up - HIIT training combined with weight training will get you nice and toned with a good diet.

How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
It is my life and my profession to promote veganism and teach others how to make delicious food through my website, cooking classes and online wellness program.

How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
Check out my website The Blissful Chef for info about my wellness program and my fitness-related blog. You can also follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

 

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