It’s now only five weeks until the PlantBuilt team of all-vegan competitors hits the stage in my home town of Austin, Texas. Last year our team dominated the Naturally Fit Bodybuilding Show. Our 15-person team really shined against the other 150 non-vegan athletes, winning two pro cards for overall wins, as well as many second- and third-place trophies. I won two second-place trophies, losing to another vegan competitor in one of the categories. This year brings a team over twice the size, with a total of 32 powerlifters, bodybuilders, and figure, bikini, and physique competitors. This is the largest gathering of its type in history, and I’m proud to be one of these lucky members. I’m currently busy dieting for this event, with about six more pounds of fat to shed in the next five weeks. Rowing has been my main cardiovascular exercise, because this movement uses the entire body, burning a good amount of calories in a short time, and relates to a sport (indoor rowing) that I will continue to pursue after this awesome event. I’ve been competing in bodybuilding since 1996, so the number of shows I have completed escapes me (I believe this will be the fifteenth), but I’m still just as hungry to win, especially with such a good cause powering every repetition of every set of every workout at my gym. Since I decided to go vegan, every aspect of my life has improved, and I’m eager to help break some of the stereotypes commonly associated with plant-based people. We are not pale, unless we stay out of the sun–just like everybody else. We are not skinny unless we don’t exercise–just like everybody else. I can’t tell you how many times a person from my gym has told me that I need to eat a steak, as I stare at their less muscular, higher body-fat physique. Really!?
It’s going to be terrific to see my team again–members who are coming from all over the United States (a few from Europe) to prove this point as well. It’s also going to be great to meet the eighteen new teammates who were voted in by last year’s team members. I will also be busy photographing many of the events and stage action of the PlantBuilt team for Vegan Health and Fitness magazine and am honored to be on the cover of the July/August issue covering multi-sport athletes. I’m also actively writing a book about my life from sedentary fat kid to motivated athlete, sharing stories of my painful mistakes and lessons learned in order to reach a higher level of fitness and overall well-being.