An 18-year vegan veteran, Ella Magers, MSW (Masters in Social Work) has been helping people get fit and healthy with a plant-based diet and active lifestyle for over 11 years. She is a certified fitness trainer, wellness coach, and muay thai practitioner based out of Miami Beach, Florida, USA. Founder of SexyFitVegan.com, Ella is passionate about living life to its fullest while keeping true to her values of a healthy, fit body, and compassion for animals. Her mission is to educate, inspire, and empower people with tools to make conscientious choices and live a life they love.
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
My journey started with an “aha” moment in third grade when I connected my love of animals to the food on my plate. My Mom picked me up from school and asked, as she did every day, “How was school today?” I told her that we learned about Daniel Boone and I thought he was a horrible man because he killed animals. My mom said that Daniel Boone was actually being responsible for feeding and clothing himself, and that today we just go to the store. I was silent for a moment then told my mother that I was not going to do that anymore. Despite my mother’s initial protest, I never ate meat again and she soon became proud and supportive of my decision. My path to a vegan lifestyle started with a deep sense of compassion for all living creatures. My continuing exploration of animal rights issues led me to adopt a totally vegan diet in middle school, when I discovered the connection between the meat, dairy, and egg industries. I learned that the life of a dairy cow for example, is just as horrific than that of a cow raised for beef, and upon this discovery, I became 100% vegan for life.
How long have you been vegan?
What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
Living a vegan lifestyle has benefitted me in every way possible. Not only am I extremely healthy physically, but also, refraining from ingesting animals and by-products from animals who have suffered and died keeps me emotionally and spiritually healthy as well.
What does veganism mean to you?
Veganism means to live a lifestyle that considers all life to be equally valuable. It means moving through the world in a way that is compassionate and full of love for yourself and other animals (human and non-human). It means dedication toward making the world a better place. It means educating others about how the meat, dairy, egg, leather, and fur industries affect animals, the environment, and our health, and living by example so as to inspire others.
What sort of training do you do?
I do a wide variety of types of training. My favorite exercise “hobby” is muay thai, which I have been practicing for 10 years. I have done Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and jiu-jitsu training, a lot of functional and bodyweight training, running, cycling, spinning, park workouts, track workouts, interval training, cross-training, swimming etc. I am always mixing it up to be challenged and prevent getting bored or hitting a plateau.
How often do you (need to) train?
I train 6 days per week, sometimes doing yoga on day 7.
Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
I am NASM certified and have been training clients for 11 years.
What sports do you play?
I do muay thai, sparring but not competing, and I enjoy playing volleyball recreationally. As a child and teen, I competed in swimming, gymnastics, and volleyball.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
The stereotype of vegans as being either “hippie-dippy,” “radicals” and/or unhealthy, scrawny people is definitely changing. I created “Sexy Fit Vegan™” to bring attention to the fact that vegan can mean strong, beautiful, sexy, healthy, with a fighter spirit.
What are you strengths as a vegan athlete?
My strength is simply living by example, sharing what I know, inspiring, and motivating others to make the transition to a plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle while staying on a path of constantly improving their fitness level.
What is your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenging is taking the time to do therapeutic bodywork that will help prevent injury and help with injuries I have already. I am go-go-go all the time and it really takes conscious effort to schedule in down time and time for long stretching sessions, massage, physical therapy, etc.
Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
Yes, for the most part they are supportive. I take a gentle approach (different than my approach when I was younger), of educating, sharing, and inspiring, so it does not threaten non-vegans and instead, generally makes them curious and willing to learn more.
Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
Absolutely! I am extremely fortunate to have an amazing family who has always been supportive of decisions I make based on my beliefs and who I am. In fact, my father and sister followed my lead and are also vegan, and my mother eats very little animal products. One of my best friends also went vegan within a year of meeting each other. My other friends see my passion and support me in whatever ways they can.
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?
“How do you get your protein?” is probably the most common question I get since I am fit and strong. My response is, “It’s easier than you think!” I refer them to my website where I give tips through my blog and newsletter. I also let them know I offer individual nutrition coaching and consulting, and do workshops periodically to help people with vegan nutrition basics and meal planning.
Who or what motivates you?
My number one motivating factor is the pain I feel deep within me for the horrendous suffering of innocent sentient beings that is taking place every second of every day. The environmental destruction that is a direct result of the meat & dairy industries also motivates me a great deal. The fact that eating a well-balanced whole foods-based vegan diet is the healthiest way to live, preventing diseases and disorders that ruin the quality of life of so many people including loved ones, is icing on the cake.
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
My favorite breakfast is a shake I make in my Vitamix with flax or almond milk, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax meal, alma powder, banana, and either berries or a splash of coffee and raw cacao. Occassionally I enjoy scrambled tofu or cultured coconut (coconut milk yogurt) with nuts, seeds, and berries. On very special occasions, I love vegan blueberry pancakes and waffles.
I love eating huge, hearty salads of all different types! Different types of greens, legumes (especially garbanzo beans), nuts and seeds, grilled mushrooms, quinoa, etc. I also love “mung bean pasta” (over 20g protein per serving!) and when the craving hits I add Daiya cheese for a delicious, high protein vegan mac ‘n cheese.
I like a wide variety of cuisines including Tex-Mex, Indian, and Thai, as long as it’s cooked “clean” with healthy oil in moderation and with whole food ingredients. I stay on the low side when it comes to carbs, sticking with quinoa and legumes as my main source of carbohydrates.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy)
Healthy snacks include raw veggies with hummus, celery and apples with almond butter, kale chips, raw cashews, fresh green juices, fresh fruit - especially pineapple, mango, all berries, cherries, nectarines, and peaches. Not-so-healthy snacks are lentil chips, okra chips, coconut milk ice cream, vegan brownies.
What is your favourite source of:
Protein - I love edamame (organic, non-GMO of course.) The seeds I add to my shakes are also a source I rely on daily, like hemp, chia, and flax. When I travel, I bring organic protein powders (mostly made from pea, hemp, and brown rice) and a shaker bottle so I never have to worry about finding quality plant-based protein when I’m somewhere without many healthy options.
Calcium - The vegan milk substitutes I use with my shakes daily are all fortified with a ton of calcium so I know I’m getting enough.
Iron - I love lightly sautéed spinach with olive oil and garlic (but I don’t recommend it if you are on a date!)
What foods give you the most energy?
Fresh fruit as well as the shakes I make seem to give me the most energy - they don’t weigh me down and they seems to give me a quick boost.
Do you take any supplements?
I take B12 daily, magnesium (as an oil you spray on your skin) regularly, and zinc if I feel run-down or like I’m catching a cold.
What is your top tip for:
Adding shakes to your daily healthy, whole foods-based routine is the easiest way to dramatically increase your protein intake to help you gain muscle. There are several clean, organic, protein powders on the market made with pea protein, brown rice protein, hemp protein, etc, that make it simple to get in a ton of complete protein in one easy step.
TRAIN YOUR ASS OFF and be aware of your consumption amount of grains (carbs you may not be able to burn off), nuts and seeds (high calorie & fat intake even though they are a good fat), and beans (yes they contain protein, but also a lot of carbs and can be rough on some people’s digestive systems).
Consistency is key. Train hard, and always challenging yourself. Eat a wide variety of whole foods daily. Become body-aware - everyone is different and it’s important you find the exercises and vegan food habits that make you feel the best, while taking in all the essential nutrients we all need to be healthy for years to come.
Consistency. Create positive eating and exercise habits and stay consistent with those habits. Overeating and then starving yourself or over-exercising is not helpful to keeping your machine (your body) running as it is meant to.
First, you must build lean muscle if you are lacking it through strength training-type of exercises, sports, or activities. From there, the key is eliminating the body fat that covers that lean muscle, leaving you feeling your hard work is not paying off. Cardio can help, but a balanced, healthy vegan diet is the primary way you can get the fat off, leaving the lean muscle visible and your body looking toned.
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
Almost every step I take I find ways to promote veganism through sharing my life with those around me. I love being asked, “How do you get those legs?” by a random person at the grocery store so I can share that I have been vegan for 18 years! I wear my Sexy Fit Vegan™ promotional shirts, and am constantly finding ways to bring the topic into conversation with anyone and everyone. People are so interested in improving their bodies and health it’s not hard to do.
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
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