Here is the gist of a question I was asked recently:
One of the big questions I’ve had in transitioning to raw is whether I’d be able to work out as strenuously as I had before and whether my results would be slower, faster, etc, etc. What has your experience been? What is your experience/opinion on muscle growth on a raw food diet?
Basically, here is my take:
For those of you who don’t know, I used to be a competitive bodybuilder in my early twenties. I repeat, I was a bodybuilder (not a fitness gal, rather a hardcore, natural bodybuilder). This was PRE-Vegan, PRE-Raw.
It’s very hard to make a true comparison for my ability to gain muscle because I’m simply not comparing apples to apples. More than just my diet has changed over the past 10-years, which could contribute to different levels of muscle growth.
Age: Does This Make A Difference?
I was younger back then, and some say it’s easier to grow muscle as you age into your 30s, while others claim it’s easier the younger you are. Either way, it’s a contributing factor that doesn’t relate to diet.
Experience & Technique:
I’m more experienced in the gym now so my form and technique are better. This could enhance muscle growth and isn’t related to the food I consume.
Sleep: Big Difference And It’s Important!
Sleep (quality and quantity) is crucial for anyone in training. When you stress your body in trying to grow muscle, it’s critical to get extra rest and quality sleep. Muscle growth demands a lot from our bodies, and the major repairs from a heavy workout are typically taken care of while we sleep. This is something I didn’t do well in my bodybuilding days. Between going to college full-time and competing with a hectic schedule, I was short on sleep and rarely let my body rest. That’s different for me now. My lifestyle today (healthy diet, lighter daily schedule, etc) allows me to get plenty of sleep and rest. Furthermore, the quality of my sleep is so much better as a result of my diet. I used to toss and turn all night, because my body was busy trying to detox all the crap I was ingesting. Today, I sleep like a baby. Because of this, I feel my time in the gym is rewarded with better progress than it was ten years ago.
Nutrients vs Stimulants
This goes hand-in-hand a little with the topic of sleep. When I was bodybuilding, I consumed massive amounts of coffee and other stimulating, over-the-counter pills for energy, diuretics, and even some laxatives (to move all the protein I was eating through me). Because of this, the quality of my sleep was extremely poor.
Recovery: Faster and Better
Again, this relates to sleep and rest. One of the major improvements I’ve noticed since eating an High-Raw, All-Vegan diet is my recovery is faster. Therefore, the frequency and quality of my training increases and this supports muscle growth.
Attitude: Super-Powers Anyone?
When I eat as healthy as I do, I can’t help but feel like a super-hero. My mental outlook and attitude are those of feeling Strong, Empowered, Bad-Ass, and Unstoppable. This is important when I’m in the gym because it helps me get in that additional rep, and gives me that extra oompf to lift heavier.
Although it’s hard to get an accurate take as to whether my muscle growth is better today because of my diet, I’d like to think it is. I can’t say for sure because there are many things that have changed in my life which could impact my ability to grow muscle. However, I feel so much healthier, look healthier, sleep better, recover faster, etc. So, all in all, I’d say there is probably improvement. That being said, I don’t find myself in the same camp as some people who claim they’re gaining more muscle, at an accelerated rate, with a Raw diet. But, as I always say, everyone is different so it’s hard to compare yourself to others.
Today’s juice is definitely kick-ass as far as nutrients go because I filled it with home-grown fresh sprouts. I’m feeling extra energized and strong after drinking just 1/2 a glass, and looking forward to going to the gym later this afternoon to work off some of this energy…and, speaking of working out, I received a great question on my blog yesterday about my feelings toward muscle /physical fitness in comparing my pre-raw-vegan days to now (Extra-High-Raw, All-Vegan). I plan on addressing this in a post in the next few days, because I do have some thoughts to share.
Sproutin’ Kick Ass Green Juice
Yield 2 quarts
2 cups water
4 cups sprouts
juice of 2 lemons
juice of 2 oranges
5 big radishes
2 golden delicious apples
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch celery
Blend all of the ingredients (might take two batches in the blender to get it all done) and strain into a large bowl using a nutmilk bag.
Legs (3 straight sets, 15 reps)
Walking lunges with dumbbells
Single leg squat with dumbbells
Wall sit (60 seconds in length, 3X, with 60 second rest between sets)
Nice long walk to stretch my leg muscles
Daily Conversation Question:
Who would you like to trade places with for one month?
I went and saw the movie Baby Mama last night (very funny), and guess what? They eat at a Raw Vegan restaurant (or at least they “try”). Only problem is that I can’t truly write about it because I went to the bathroom during the majority of the scene! WHO KNEW??? – haha! Apparently, it’s not the most glowing example of a Raw Vegan restaurant, but hey, I’m still stoked that they included it.
Sadly, I’m all out of Organic watermelon :( I’ll stock up when I go to Whole Foods tomorrow, though :)
I’m heading to the gym and here’s my plan:
Weights: Back and Biceps – 4 straight sets, 6-8 reps each
Overhead, wide-grip pull-down
Close grip row
Treadmill (15 min)
Stairstepper (10 min)
Bike (10 min)
Daily Conversation Question: (This is a good one! I’m going to start asking people this all the time.)
What change would you most like to make for your health?
What’s one thing you can do to start moving toward that goal?
Wednesday, May 14th, 2008
Anyone who knows me, knows that my all time favorite Raw food is, quite simply, organic watermelon. The gorgeously pink, sweet, refreshing flesh calls my name every summer and I just can’t ever seem to get enough. Each year, as the watermelon season ends, I want to shed a tear because I’m already eagerly anticipating the new season, when watermelon will again usher more sunshine to my life. I love watermelon.
Now that it’s back, you can count on me eating a LOT of it. For example, today, I have eaten nothing but watermelon. Yep, that’s right. (Talk about easy…those of you saying Raw food prep is hard – whatevah!) I carved up a BUNCH and enjoyed it for my breakfast, snack, and lunch so far. I’m going to have a huge fresh green juice in a moment, then I’ll probably have watermelon for dinner and dessert. If I choose something else for dinner, that’s okay, because come sunrise (okay, let’s be serious, I won’t be up at sunrise) but come tomorrow, I’ll be eating it for breakfast, snack, and lunch.
Watermelon rocks my world because it’s alkalizing, low-calorie, refreshing, cleansing & detoxifying, cooling on the body (seriously, who needs air conditioning when you can eat watermelon), and contains lycopene (all you cooked tomato eaters out there searching for lycopene, get it in your watermelon!).
But that’s not all watermelon offers…it’s loaded with Vitamin A and has a low glycemic load. Furthermore, because of its extremely hydrating nature (it’s 92% water), it’s known as a “high-volume” food (takes up a lot of space without a lot of calories…this is helpful for those looking to lose weight). Some people even go on a watermelon fast, because it’s so detoxifying and cleansing. Sounds good to me!
Many enjoy blending their watermelon into a smoothie and adding a little of the rind to it. That’s great! According to David Grotto, author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life, watermelon rind contains citrulline, an amino acid that promotes nitric oxide production, improving blood flow through the arteries.
Delicious Sassy Treat: Blend the watermelon flesh and freeze in ice cube trays. This makes for one sassy glass of water with the pink cubes in it!
Warning: As far as food combining goes, I’m not known to be militant, although I am mindful of them. However, there is one that I take as gospel and that’s to eat melons alone. So, when I eat watermelon, I only eat watermelon and nothing else with it (for at least a 1/2 hour after taking the last bite of watermelon). It digests super fast, so I don’t have to wait long before eating other foods. And, if I’ve already eaten a meal (especially one that contained fat), then I wait at least a couple of hours before eating watermelon.
My workout: I’m heading to the gym in a short while (I’m receiving loads of emails asking me to post my workout routine). I’m bringing a bottle of fresh watermelon smoothie to drink (watermelon blended, that’s it).
Today I’ll be working on Chest and Triceps, straight sets, 8 reps/set:
Overhead rope pull
I’ll also do a little cardio on the treadmill.
Yep…I saw it for a third time – it’s so good! We took my boyfriend’s mom to see it and she really liked it, too. Come to find out, my boyfriend knows the guy who designed Iron Man’s suit in the movie (as well as some other things). Isn’t that cool?
As for other things I’ve been doing lately – preparing for next weekend’s class, Easy Raw Vegan Desserts. I love creating and testing recipes for classes, especially dessert classes! Yum! As for my most recent activities, I’m currently sitting in bed with my laptop, answering emails, watching TV, drinking a big, fresh green juice, and just hanging out. Happy Mom’s Day to all the moms out there.
No, it’s not anytime real soon – so don’t get too excited (although I must admit I’m very excited at the idea of it in the future!). However, here are some things I’m researching to get prepared.
1) Having the birth at home with a midwife
I was introduced to this idea after reading a phenomenal book by John Robbins, Reclaiming Our Health (I highly recommend this book, it’ll blow you away). Since then, I saw The Business of Being Born (also available through Netflix) and my resolve intensified greatly to give birth at home (or in the very least by using a birth center).
2) Insurance doesn’t cover maternity
WTF? This is something I didn’t know until recently. The good news is that having a home birth is supposed to be less expensive than a hospital.
Last year I saw a Penn & Teller: Bullshit show (it aired on Showtime, but I watched it online. It appears to have been taken down though). Their premiere episode, Circumcision, was a fascinating, yet comical at times, investigation into the controversial medical procedure that gets people asking, “to snip or not to snip?” It might not be so crazy to say “no” to this procedure anymore. Thus, the days of a boy feeling weird in the locker room are probably not going to be much of an issue in the future, if people continue to elect not to have the procedure done to their sons.
4) To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate
I saw an episode of Larry King Live with Jennifer McCarthy and she talked about her concern over the fact that in the recent years we’ve added so many new vaccinations and the speed to which we schedule them could be extremely harmful, with the possibility of being linked to autism.
5) Homeschooling – A Smart Microtrend
Homeschooling has become a microtrend in itself (just like veganism). It’s exciting to see this option gaining popularity with people taking their children’s education into their own hands to make it the best possible. In a time when… 1) more people are working from home, 2) amazing technology like the Internet makes this easy to do, and 3) families are growing tired of our shitty educational system…this is no longer a “fringe” lifestyle.
In fact, I was amazed a few months back, while teaching a Raw food class, when the topic came up and I had a handful of Scottsdale moms (all very normal, well-to-do ladies) who homeschool their kids – and they didn’t even know each other! I say “Scottsdale Moms” and describe them as such, because there was a time when homeschooling was associated with either bible-thumpers or granola-backpacking-barefoot-tree-huggers. On the contrary, these women, and their families, are far from that.
As far as our teaching skills…well, my man is wicked smart with an MBA from Wharton (he’s brilliant), a mind like a steel-trap (he remembers everything he reads and hears), and he has the patience of a monk (he’s going to be such a good dad). Me? Well, I’m college educated myself (University of Michigan), I’m resourceful and well-versed in many subjects, I’m super fun, I have the time to dedicate, and I can make a mean-green-smoothie! We feel like we’ll do a world of good for our kids if we homeschool.
6) Breastfeeding – I know I’ll do it…but for how long?
It’s my understanding that some women in the United States do this for the first 6-12 months typically. Yet, in other parts of the world, they breastfeed for at least a few years.
Check out this NEW study suggesting that breastfeeding is associated with increased intelligence!
7) The Diet!
Of course, my children will be living a High-Raw-All-Vegan lifestyle. The concern can be with letting other people babysit (family, friends). I’ve experienced, first hand, people making food for me, and thinking it follows along with my lifestyle, only to find out there was an ingredient included which wasn’t vegan. Oops.
I will end with one of my favorite quotes because, although some of the practices mentioned in this post can seem foreign to many, I can’t help but think that they feel very natural to me. I love what Gandhi said, Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Today, I’m sharing with you another great recipe – this time it’s a delicious cheese spread perfect for crunchy crackers, fresh veggies, or adding a tablespoon (or two) to your next salad dressing to sass it up with a delightful gourmet flavor. In my last email newsletter (sign up here), I gave you a fabulously popular soup recipe of mine featuring Garlic Red Pepper Miso (soy-free). Well, if you bought a jar to make the soup, I wanted to give you another recipe in which to use it. This is quick, delicious, and versatile. Enjoy!
Creamy Zinger Garlic Spread
Yield 1 1/2 cups
- 1 cup raw cashews, macadamia or pine nuts (or a mix)
- filtered water for soaking the nuts
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon Garlic Red Pepper Miso
- 1 tablespoon light miso
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
- a little water, if needed to help blend
Place the nuts in a bowl with enough filtered water to cover by an inch. Let them soak like this for up to an hour. Strain off the water and rinse the nuts. Blend all of the ingredients until creamy in your blender (or food processor) and enjoy this gourmet-flavored deliciousness. Creamy Zinger Garlic Spread will stay fresh for up to five days in your refrigerator (stored in an airtight container). It also freezes well.
*TIP – For those watching your nut intake, here is a tip for reducing the fat in spreads such as this, without compromising the exquisite experience. Replace half of the nuts a peeled zucchini. Keep in mind that fat helps mellow flavors, so by reducing the fat, you might need to reduce a few of the more “flavorful” ingredients. For example, I’d start with 1/2 tablespoon of each of the miso(s) and look for a clove of garlic that isn’t too big. Start small because you can always add more, if desired.
Daily Conversation Question:
Which temptation do you try the hardest to resist?
I’m a blogging queen lately…you have to check in a couple of times a day just to keep up with me – haha :)
I just saw the movie, Iron Man, for the second time – yup, you could say I loved it! It’s received many (deserved!) rave reviews. If you haven’t seen it, then you’re missing out on a non-stop adventure of action, fun, and excitement. Both times the audience had moments of laughing out loud, clapping, or exclaimed “Yeah(s)!”
And, total kudos to Robert Downey, Jr., Iron Man, drinking a green smoothie. I was stoked when I saw that!
I’ve been doing extra running on the treadmill lately. In the past, a typical cardio session would include me switching back and forth between running on the zero incline and walking fast on a very high incline (not usually running for longer than a few minutes at a time). Basically, because I find it pretty damn hard to run. I always have.
Lately, however, I’m finding myself running for minutes and minutes on end. And, it was during one of these recent episodes of “continued” running, that I found myself totally blissed out, unaware of the time passing or the music flowing into my ears from the headphones connected to my nano. Interestingly, the trick was that I started looking at things as if I were seeing them for the first time. I pretended I was a child looking around the gym and experiencing simple objects and activities anew.
Can you imagine what it’s like looking at something as if you’d never seen it before…like the ceiling fan, the weights, someone working out, the mirrors on the wall, the cables coming down from the ceiling holding a platform suspended in the air that the TVs set on…it’s kind of weird and and cool at the same time. The first time I did this, I realized that about 15 minutes had gone by with me still running. My body was working hard, my breathing was labored, and I was starting to drip sweat, but I had this amazing level of sustained energy coursing through me, pushing me another step. I loved it!
You see, normally, I need to have some really great music on to keep me pumped up in the gym, or at the very least, I need be reading an intriguing magazine while doing some cardio (unless I’m on my rebounder!). But, it seems this isn’t the case anymore because I’m finding neat ways to engage my mind while getting my heart rate up in the gym.
Clearly, after such a superb workout (as described above), my body screams for fuel, and I’m happy to deliver (so easy to do when you live a High Raw, All Vegan Lifestyle such as mine). Here is my newest smoothie, Blissed Out Chocolate Runner’s Smoothie. I’ve been enjoying these post-workout…fantastic and delicious.
Blissed Out Chocolate Runner’s Smoothie
Yield approximately 4 cups
1-2 cups water
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 1/2 cups spinach
3 tablespoons Chia Seeds
2 tablespoons Hemp Protein Powder
2 tablespoons Raw Chocolate Powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (of course!)
1-2 cups ice, optional, but especially refreshing after getting hot and sweaty!
Blend all of the ingredients until smooth and enjoy (preferably after a great workout)!
This is what I call my fresh green (or red!) juice. I feel like a Vegan Vampire when I’m drinking the blood from plants – mwe hee ha haa haha (that laugh is supposed to sound chilling and scary, although coming from me, yeah, whatever).
Today’s Plant Blood:
3 bunches parsley
4 green apples
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
GGRRRR!!!!! So, now I’m ready to take on the world with Plant Blood coursing through my veins! And, how could I not? My Plant Blood was loaded with parsley, which is filling me with phenomenal nutrition. It’s a powerful detoxifier (and deodorizer – nice!), with plenty of chlorophyll. But that’s not all…parsley contains vitamin C, iron, and many other minerals. And…that’s REALLY not all – According to Jonny Bowden, PhD., C.N.S., the Romans used to chew on parsley sprigs because it would allow them to drink more wine without becoming drunk. Wow. Hhhmmm, I’ll report back to you after I find out if that works.
On a side note…YAY for the Pistons! They are my former home team and I (always!) root for them. Maybe they’re consuming extra parsley too, because they’re rockin’ the house!
Daily Conversation Question:
If you were given money to remodel your house what would you change first?