Viva La Vegan!

Mary Stella Stabinsky is a vegan triathlete and coach that is certified in both cross fit and cross fit endurance training protocols. This methodology is what she uses to train herself as well as her clients. Mary will be competed in Ironman NYC this year as well as various other events.


Why Vegan?
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?  
I decided to go on a vegan diet in 2005 to address various health issues I was having at the time. Declining health is seen as the norm in the USA these days and I was unhappy with the current state of my life. It has been one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I became not only healthier as a result but also a better athlete with this simple change. I can train and recovery more than I could in the past. I am also living a better quality of life, as I am not longer using things like caffeine etc. to get through the day. It raised the bar for me and what life can be.

How long have you been vegan?
7 years
What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
My health. I no longer have any serious health issues that I had in the past like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. In fact, all of my health markers are not only normal; they are very, very good.

What does veganism mean to you?
To me to be vegan is to take your life to a purer level. To eat and live as cleanly as your can and to think about what effects your decisions have on the world. I try to base my decisions on what is the best for the world and me.
What sort of training do you do?
I do Cross fit Endurance training so I swim, bike and run as well as do Cross fit

How often do you (need to) train?
I train twice a day most days unless I am tapering, racing, or recovering from racing.

Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
I do, I train using the cross fit and cross fit endurance protocols both athletes and fitness clients. Virtual coaching is available.

What sports do you play?
I am a triathlete who races from sprint to ironman distance events, I also do stand alone events such as racing cyclocross, open water swimming and running races.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
That the diet cannot support an athlete's training. I put my own training and racing up as proof. To do the amount of training I need to do in both intensity and volume and to recover from this is proof enough that it can be done.

What are you strengths as a vegan athlete?
My nutrition. I eat clean and recover well as a result.  

What is your biggest challenge?
I often have to put more thought into my packing for racing as I need to have my nutritional bases covered and that sometimes can be more complicated for me. However, it isn't a huge issue. I can pack some of the Vega products and all is well. I've never been to a place that doesn't have a grocery store. I have also never been to a grocery store that doesn't have fruits, vegetables and beans.

Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
It varies; some people still are not believers.  I focus on what I am doing and the results I am getting and I don't get caught up in the nonsense.

Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
Again, it varies some people are more supportive than others. I do what I need to do and I don't expect support from others. If they extend it, wonderful, if not I carry on with what I am doing.

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?
What do you eat? I tell them what I eat.  

Who or what motivates you?  
Motivation is mostly internal for me. It is a drive that I have to do my best in every situation. As long as I gave it what I had to give, I have no regrets. I also find watching and reading about other athletes lives motivating.

Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
-  Vega whole food optimiser with coconut water or tofu scramble with veggies or tempeh bacon
Lunch - tofu or tempeh and veggies with brown rice
Dinner - tofu or tempeh and veggies, sometimes lentils or bean based meals. I try to avoid seitan.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) - Vega sport protein powder with coconut water, Vega protein bars, Lara bars, kale chips

What is your favourite source of:
- Tofu
Calcium - Broccoli
Iron - Tofu
What foods give you the most energy?
Not really, an energy source but staying hydrated with a lot of water is so important to energy levels. Your body just functions better if it hydrated.

Do you take any supplements?
I use Vega’s products
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle
- Lift heavy weights using power and compound movements. Not bodybuilding machines.  
Losing weight - Eat 3 meals and 2 - 3 snacks a day. Never large portions and always healthy choices.
Maintaining weight - Weigh yourself daily or every couple of days so you constantly know where you are at before it gets out of control.
Improving metabolism - intermittent fasting - I eat dinner and then I do not eat again until after I have trained the following morning. I also take a couple of hours of not eating before my second training session of the day as well.
Toning up - moving your bodyweight around in as many different ways as possible. You don't need a lot of machines etc. basic bodyweight movements like squats, pushups, jumping jacks are all highly effective training movements.
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
I try to be a good role model for others to follow and I am very open to talking about my veganism to others.

How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
I strongly recommend people get involved with local sporting events such as 5k run/walks to sprint triathlons and larger events to give their training some focus. Having an event to do makes doing the training easier and also you get to use the event as a celebration of your fitness. Most people come away from these events with a huge sense of accomplishment in not only their race but enjoying the process of training and eating and sleeping to recover as well.
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