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Muscle tone in your legs is one of the first things to go when you have a sedentary, computer-centered life. That is why it so good to get up from your laptop every few hours and stand in tree pose.
Vrikshasana, in its call for balance and poise, tones the leg muscles, strengthens the spine and increases flexibility in the feet. A great pose for core building, Tree will increase your coordination, teach you patience and calm your mind.
Like a tree’s trunk you become rooted in your sense of self and grounded with conviction, while also expressing freedom, expansion and a heavenward gaze like the branches and leaves. Hunching over at your desk is commonplace I know, but the spine wants to fully extend, as does the spirit. Open your shoulders with Tree pose to increase your range of motion and improve posture.
Daily practice of this asana will bring waves of inner strength, self-confidence and peace to balance the fast-paced excesses of modern life.
To learn more about Sia, click here
“I train like I’m training for the Olympics or for a Mr. America contest, the way I’ve always trained my whole life. You see, life is a battlefield. Life is survival of the fittest. How many healthy people do you know? How many happy people do you know? Think about it. People work at dying, they don’t work at living. My workout is my obligation to life. It’s my tranquilizer. It’s part of the way I tell the truth — and telling the truth is what’s kept me going all these years.” ~Jack LaLanne
Sometimes I come across women or men that inspire me to take my level of fitness or eating habits to the next level. A couple weeks ago I came across a great article on Jack LaLanne “The Godfather of Fitness” that was really inspiring. Besides the fact that he opened the first real gym in 1963 and is the reason why we have a lot of the machines available in gyms today, he was the driving force behind the fitness movement in America with his national television show The Jack LaLanne Show that encouraged people to get moving daily and offered fitness and exercise tips. By the 1980’s he had over 200 health clubs in the U.S. which he eventually licensed to Bally Total Fitness. Jack was also a vegetarian for some part of his life and was a champion for vegetable juicing when he started selling his brand nationwide. He was about a whole foods diet and warned against the dangers of processed foods, so even later in his life he was a pescatarian but ate a lot of fruits and vegetables. His basic rules for nutrition? “If man made it, don’t eat it”, and “if it tastes good, spit it out.” Not only did he preach the gospel of proper diet and regular exercise, he practiced what he preached. He worked out every single day of his natural life for two hours a day. Talk about devotion. Hearing about the incredible physical feats that he accomplished throughout his life due to his super strength, definitely will have you wondering why it is you can’t seem to make it to the gym at least once a week.
Here’s a brief list via Wikipedia:
- 1954 (age 40): swam the entire 8,981 feet (2,737 m) length of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, under water, with 140 pounds (64 kg; 10 st) of air tanks and other equipment strapped to his body; a world record.
- 1955 (age 41): swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed. When interviewed afterwards he was quoted as saying that the worst thing about the ordeal was being handcuffed, which significantly reduced his chance to do a jumping jack.
- 1956 (age 42): set what was claimed as a world record of 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes on You Asked For It, a television program hosted by Art Baker.
- 1957 (age 43): swam the Golden Gate channel while towing a 2,500-pound (1,100 kg; 180 st) cabin cruiser. The swift ocean currents turned this one-mile (1.6 km) swim into a swimming distance of 6.5 miles (10.5 km).
- 1959 (age 45): did 1,000 jumping jacks and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hour, 22 minutes, to promote The Jack LaLanne Show going nationwide. LaLanne said this was the most difficult of his stunts, but only because the skin on his hands started ripping off during the chin-ups. He felt he couldn’t stop because it would be seen as a public failure.
- 1974 (age 60): For the second time, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf. Again, he was handcuffed, but this time he was also shackled and towed a 1,000-pound (450 kg; 71 st) boat.
- 1975 (age 61): Repeating his performance of 21 years earlier, he again swam the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge, underwater and handcuffed, but this time he was shackled and towed a 1,000-pound (450 kg; 71 st) boat.
- 1976 (age 62): To commemorate the “Spirit of ’76”, United States Bicentennial, he swam one mile (1.6 km) in Long Beach Harbor. He was handcuffed and shackled, and he towed 13 boats (representing the 13 original colonies) containing 76 people.
- 1979 (age 65): towed 65 boats in Lake Ashinoko, near Tokyo, Japan. He was handcuffed and shackled, and the boats were filled with 6,500 pounds (2,900 kg; 460 st) of Louisiana Pacific wood pulp.
- 1980 (age 66): towed 10 boats in North Miami, Florida. The boats carried 77 people, and he towed them for over one mile (1.6 km) in less than one hour.
- 1984 (age 70): handcuffed, shackled, and fighting strong winds and currents, he towed 70 rowboats, one with several guests, from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, 1 mile.
To add in another fun fact, when he was 54, he beat the then 21-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger “badly” in an informal body building contest! Jack eventually passed in 2011 at the age of 96. When asked why he did all those crazy unimaginable things he said “to show that anything is possible.” There really are no excuses; our human bodies are designed to move, and Jack Lalanne’s legacy is great example of the fact that we can use our minds to transcend what we think is possible. Are you inspired yet? It’s important to remember that diet is only one piece of the puzzle and that in order for us to truly thrive we must, must, #MoveThatBody. -XoXo Raw Girl
I’m sure you’ve heard through the grapevine that if you engage in strenuous exercise that makes you sweat often, you should take care to replenish your electrolytes post-workout. So what’s all the fuss about electrolytes? Well to keep it basic, electrolytes are found in your blood and cells and are essential for physical activity because they regulate our bodily fluids. If out of whack your energy and future athletic performance can be compromised, and if untreated the condition can actually be life threatening. Sodium and chloride help to maintain normal blood pressure and support normal muscle functioning, calcium aids with muscle contractions, magnesium, and potassium and chloride help to regulate the bodies pH balance. Add to that bicarbonate and sulfate and you’ve got your whole electrolyte team that keeps you geared to go.
Why it’s important to make sure you don’t lose too many of these essential players is that as the body loses electrolytes, an imbalance can cause muscle cramps, fatigue, nausea, and even mental confusion. There are tons of energy drinks on grocery store shelves claiming to provide you with exactly what you need to restore balance, but all of these sport drinks also usually contain a bunch of chemicals, preservatives, and artificial sugars that do more harm than good. Did you know that Pepsi-Co makes Gatorade, and that the Coca-Cola company makes Powerade? These soft drink companies may change the labels with sports drinks but they are still selling you the same sugar laden liquids that do absolutely nothing for your long-term health. A British Medical Journal investigation and study reported that most of these sport drinks companies hired sponsored scientists years ago when marathon running increased to market to the public from a young age this idea that hydration in the form of sports drinks is necessary. Absolutely bananas and goes to show that it’s always better to not believe the hype!
Below’s a list of nature approved electrolyte restorers that you can consume without any extra toxic ingredients. Eat them alone or combine some of these ingredients in smoothies after you have your sweat session for the day. Generally if you have a balanced diet that provides your body with adequate nutrition, you should be fine to maintain proper electrolyte levels. If you are like me and sweat three or more times a week, in vigorous workout sessions, paying attention to refueling is necessary. In addition to all of these tips, don’t forget to hydrate with the purest water you have at your disposal. If you usually don’t feel so cute after a good sweat, trust me, you’ll feel even more haggard if you are sweaty and dehydrated, so get in that H2O. -XoXo Raw Girl
Drink Coconut Water. Fresh coconut water is the perfect electrolyte tonic post workout, no preservatives or added sugar necessary. Coconut water is even more hydrating than water and will replenish your body of any electrolytes you lost during your power sweat session. You can drink coconut water alone, or for additional potency use it as a base and blend in other fruit and veg to make a smoothie. For instance a green smoothie with coconut water, banana, pineapple, and kale or spinach packs in additional potassium and magnesium. For additional protein toss in some chia seeds or spirulina to boost your energy.
Drink Celery Juice or Add Celery to a Smoothie. Celery juice is a pretty powerful tonic, I have written about it before in this post: The Power of Celery Juice. Drinking celery juice or using it as a base with additional greens added in will do a great job of restoring your body back to balance. For a great but basic post workout tonic try celery, apple, and lemon juice. The celery has a natural source of sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphorus. Apple provides additional potassium and natural sweetness. Lemon is the highest electrolyte containing citrus fruit. If you want to get fancy throw in some kale or another leafy green and get an additional dose of magnesium. You can also take one or two celery stalks and dice them up and blend them in your smoothie.
Drink Cucumber Juice or Add Cucumber to a Smoothie. Just like celery juice, cucumber juice is known the world over for being great for rehydration. It’s great to add cucumber to a smoothie or use as the base for a vegetable juice due to their high potassium content. Want to add more potency to your post workout tonic? Juice celery and cucumber together apple, lemon, and/or any mineral rich leafy green vegetables.
Eat Your Leafy Greens. Spinach, kale, collards, and mustard greens all have a nice amount of magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Try juicing any of these with celery or cucumber and adding coconut water for a slightly sweet but incredibly effective electrolyte tonic. Or blend some spinach or kale into a green smoothie using coconut water as a base. Whatever method you choose, you can never go wrong by harnessing the power of greens.
Get Your Daily Fruit & Veg. In addition to leafy greens, limes, lemons, oranges, sweet potatoes, artichokes, squash, and tomatoes all have minerals that will replenish electrolytes. You can add citrus to smoothies, eat them alone, or make your own natural version of V-8 using tomatoes and get the benefits of an electrolyte boost along with all the other lovely nutrients they have to offer.
Grab a Handful of Nuts. Mixed nuts in general have minerals that will also help bring you back to one. Raw cashews, almonds, walnuts, peanuts etc. or raw nut butters with apples or celery are a great snack. Almonds and almond milk with a little Himalayan sea salt added are also great post workout smoothie ingredients that can be blended with banana for more potassium and other fruits.
A Pinch of Himalayan Sea Salt, can go a long way. Unlike refined salt, Himalayan salt still has all of the wonderful minerals in tact that can be used by the body to restore balance. You can add a pinch of Himalayan sea salt to your juice or smoothie or try drinking this simple Apple Cider Vinegar Electrolyte Tonic; mix pure water, pinch of sea salt, and one teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar.
Since late March, I’ve been getting a weekly dose of yoga at Core Power Yoga Georgetown. Core Power Yoga has studios all of the country and offers power yoga classes in a variety of styles from beginner to more advanced levels. What makes the classes so special? I love that besides the fact that there are a range of styles to choose from including: Hot Power Fusion, Yoga Sculpt, C1, and C2 classes, all of the classes include core work so you won’t have to worry about neglecting your six-pack in favor of yoga arms. Hot Power Fusion has more standing sequences, is reminiscent of Bikram (with slightly less heat), and incorporates more flow into the practice. Yoga Sculpt is an awesome challenging class that mixes yoga with free weights and cardio and can save strength training junkies from having to leave the yoga studio to get their fix. C1 and C2 are the vinyasa flow style classes that are for beginners and intermediate yogis. All Core Power classes are in a heated room, and are also set to music, with the playlists varying depending on the instructor. Unlike many yoga studios where you can get stuck in a rut, the variety of classes at Core Power allow you to challenge yourself each week, break a sweat, and change up your routine.
Yesterday I got an insanely awesome and intense workout with back to back Hot Power Fusion and Yoga Sculpt taught by Sihnuu, one of my favorite teachers at Core Power Yoga Georgetown. Her classes are simply a revelation. If you need a challenge and have already practiced yoga for some time, her C2 and Yoga Sculpt classes will push you to your limits to a really great soundtrack. Also look on the Georgetown schedule for another favorite teacher of mine, Adeoye, he teaches a really wonderful and energizing Hot Power Fusion and a Yoga Sculpt class that’ll whip you into shape.
For more info on Core Power, or to check if there is a studio near you visit www.corepoweryoga.com. If you are in the DC area Core Power Yoga has the studio in Georgetown and also one in Bethesda. Check them out for free for the first week and when you do tell them Esosa E. A.K.A. Raw Girl sent you! You can also email me at email@example.com if you would like to take class together. Come prepared to sweat. Namaste. -XoXo Raw Girl
Read this past post for more on The Benefits of Hot Yoga.
If you are a workout junkie like myself, it’s easy to get into routines over time that stop challenging your body. A great way to break out of a workout rut and have a little fun to boot is to try adding a workout that is slightly silly to your routine. Spring is here, and this opens up greater possibilities for fun outdoor and indoor workouts. Below is a list of a few silly ways to exercise that will also challenge your body. -XoXo Raw Girl
Jump That Rope. Remember back in the day double dutch? I do. Jumping rope was one of my favorite recess activities and me and my friends used to have informal double dutch competitions on the playground that sometimes got really serious. Even you didn’t go full out and double dutch but you probably have jumped rope a couple times in your life. Jumping rope is a great way to get a workout and can be fun too. It is an awesome full body workout that works the legs, abs, arms, heart, and mind. Although this exercise can also be silly it helps to build your strength, agility, speed, timing, and rhythm. The best part about jumping rope is that you can do it anywhere, and your rope is easily transported, even if you are traveling. You won’t get bored either because once you become a jumping expert you can start showing off and doing variations like the one-hop, arms-cross, running in place and whatever else suits your fancy. You can increase your fitness challenge and get greater results by incorporating intervals into your routine. For example: thirty seconds of more intense jumping followed by one minute of light jumping, and repeat.
Be a Latin Dance Diva…In The Pool. If you already a fan of Zumba, try making your workout a little sillier and with more resistance by trying Aqua Zumba. Aqua Zumba dancing happens in the shallow end of a pool and you follow along to dance routines in impact-absorbing, resistance-promoting water. If attempting to do salsa inspired moves and splashing around in the water seems silly to you, you may be singing a different tune after you try it. In addition to being generally fun and slightly silly, this workout is also challenging.
Jump Around! Rebounding is a fancy name for jumping up an down on a mini trampoline. Remember as a kid how jumping up and down on things was enough to give you pleasure? Well rebounding can take you back to that silly space while at the same time delivering an effective workout. It’s a no impact exercise that can be a great cardio workout and in some cases also help you tone, strengthen, and slim your body, depending on the workout. In addition to all of this, rebounding helps to boost your circulation, stimulate your lymphatic system which boosts your metabolism, and improve cell function.
Do The Hula Hoop Dance. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) conducted a research study that found that hooping is a cardiovascular (aerobic) workout. Their small study looked at “intermediate to advanced” female hoopers and showed that when the subjects followed a 30-minute hooping video that included seven different hooping “dances,” their heart rates elevated significantly–near 85% MHR, which is high-intensity aerobic exercise for sure. In thirty minutes the hoopers burned about 210 calories which is around 420 calories per hour, around the amount you would burn in a traditional fitness class. Hopping is also a great way to challenge your core and focus your mind while being slightly silly of course.
Pretend You are a Stripper for a Day. Pole Fitness is a new fitness trend that you’ll find in high-end fitness clubs, dance studios, and home gyms alike. Taking a pole fitness class will give you a great combination of cardio, strength-building exercises and flexibility as well as build skills and coordination that’ll be useful in your daily life as well as (**clears throat and winks**) your bedroom. To get started you can take a pole fitness classes or buy a DVD that teaches the basic skills.
Blade it Out. Inline skating or rollerblading is an excellent aerobic activity that improves endurance and strength, and produces aerobic benefits similar to running and biking. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, a 160 pound person can burn 913 calories in a single hour of rollerblading, compared to 584 calories jogging, or 277 calories walking. The side to side movement exercises your inner and outer thighs, and compared to running rollerblading is lower impact and will not shock the joints as much.
Dance Like a Maniac. Last but not least, who says you need a club to par-tay? If you want to work up a sweat, make your playlist and get down in your bedroom or living room all by yourself or have friends join in on the fun. Some of my best workouts have happened on the dance floor loosing track of time. Not only will you get a great workout, you’ll feel rejuvenated, relieve stress, improve your strength, muscle tone, manage weight, and increase your coordination. Depending on how serious you get down, dancing socially or alone can burn as many calories as walking or riding a bike and contribute to cardiovascular conditioning. There’s also the option to build new skills and take a class in a dance form that interests you. Nowadays there are so many options to choose from jazz, ballet, modern, hip-hop, african dance, belly dancing (my favorite), Bollywood dancing, latin dancing, and more.
If you had to imagine what exercises someone with supernatural or superhuman strength would practice on a regular basis what would you guess? Probably a lot of weight training, and maybe some intense cardio. The truth of the matter is that if Superman was alive and flying through our skies, he probably would be doing Pilates on his off days because of its incredible abilities to generate strength, prevent injuries, and encourage movement control.
I broke up with Pilates about a year and a half ago. It got me through hard times, as I had to practice it order to rehabilitate myself from a car accident that wreaked havoc on my lower back. Pilates not only got me back to one, I was left feeling taller, longer, and leaner because of it. Here’s the thing, I hated every minute of it! It was like taking medicine that’s so foul you have to plug your nose to get through it. Recently I’ve been cultivating my super vegan powers, and I decided to hook up with Pilates again. After learning the story of its founder, I’m seeing it in a completely different light.
Pilates was created by German born Joseph Pilates, who as a child was incredibly sick and struggled with rickets, asthma, and rheumatic fever. Because of his sickly childhood he developed an obsession and determination to strengthen his body and achieve superior health, which lead him to study and master a wide range of exercise disciplines until he finally created his own system. During World War II, he was able to use Pilates to rehabilitate bed ridden soldiers! Even today, at most hospital rehabilitation centers Pilates is used to help patients regain strength and recover. Later he opened up a studio in New York City and began to train some of the most renowned dancers at the New York City Ballet who loved the exercise which allowed them to build incredible strength and recover from injuries more quickly. Sometime after Pilates made its way to Hollywood, and it’s been a staple in our exercise culture ever since. Cool story right? But you might still be like me and loathe getting on the mat for a class. Below are a few awesome reasons, why you should go ahead and bite the bullet. -XoXo Raw Girl
It’s a Complimentary Full Body Workout. No matter what you love to do whether it be run, bike, swim etc. integrating Pilates into your lifestyle will only enhance your performance in your other exercises disciplines. Pilates exercises train several muscle groups at once in smooth continuous movements but still allows your body to recuperate. These exercises are great for injury recovery and prevention, sports performance, good posture, and optimal health.
Stabilizes and Develops a Strong Core. If you’re in need of a little tummy tuck, you may want to skip going under the knife and get on a mat. Pilates strengthens the core muscles and abdomen like no other exercise and in doing so helps to improve your posture, and leave you feeling longer, leaner, and even taller.
You Can Do it Anywhere. Once great thing about Pilates is how accessible it is and how cheap it is to start. You can take a class at your local gym or studio, or break out a mat in your home and pop in a DVD or watch a routine on YouTube.
Guaranteed Results. The great part about this tried and true system is you don’t have to guess whether or not your body is going to change for the better. It will. All you have to do is commit to regular practice and you will begin to see positive changes in your body and feel shifts in your posture and alignment throughout your day.
Challenging Mind/Body Workout. Just like yoga, Pilates requires the use of the breath during the exercises and thus helps to integrate mind and body, and help you develop control over your movements. Doing the exercises gives support to the spine and creates space between each vertebrae which makes you appear taller and allows you to move with more ease. The other great thing about Pilates is that similar to yoga, you can never get bored. There are always modifications to make exercises easier or more challenging depending on your fitness level.
If you missed Michelle Obama’s speech last night at the Democratic National Convention, I highly suggest you google it now and watch it online. Not only was it a historical moment, her speech was riveting and for me spoke to ideals that could shape a better America as we evolve and work to truly offer opportunity for anyone regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. Beyond her elegance and ability to move the crowd, every time I see the first lady I am inspired by her commitment to remaining fit and healthy. She drives home the point without saying anything at all, that it would be great if more government officials spent some time staying fit rather than just focusing on haggling about the healthcare bill that has helped so many already. If our country stopped fueling the pharmaceutical industry and started forcing Americans to be responsible for our individual levels of fitness and what we choose to eat, we would save billions.
All that said, Michelle Obama’s level of fitness is inspiring. Fall is here soon. If you’ve fallen off the workout bandwagon, please get back on. There are a myriad of reasons why working out is great for you, and I’ll list some below, but one of the most important reasons for me is that I believe that exercising assists me in reaching my true potential. Who do you want to become? What are you truly capable of? Every time you push yourself physically, you are expanding your limits and widening the horizons of what is possible for you. You are also gaining the energy, focus, and discipline to set your goals in motion and live your dreams. That’s nothing to scoff at. Lets follow the example set by our first lady and get moving. It’s never about being perfect, or reaching someone else’s ideal. It’s about striving to be the best version of you, possible. I’ll be grinding hard the next couple of weeks, the birthday of my dear brother who passed a year ago, is coming up, and I am reminded by his spirit to work it out. Anyone want to join the challenge? Let’s see what fitness goals we can reach in September. -XoXo Raw Girl
Great Reasons to #MOVETHATBODY:
*Increase Your Metabolic Rate * Reduce Blood Pressure * Improve Balance & Coordination * Sleep Better * Weight Control * Improve Focus * Boost Confidence & Self Esteem * Boost Enerfy Levels * Improve Your Mood
It’s been almost two weeks since my brother passed away. He was twenty-five years old. Writing about it still seems somewhat surreal. I fell off of social media and all communication including phone and email for the past two weeks. Still in the process of dealing with this emotionally. The only thing that has kept me afloat and made me feel very close to my brother’s spirit is working out like a maniac. He was an athlete who took training seriously, and who was in the process of transitioning to a vegan diet. In the last days prior to his death I spent time with him and we really moved our bodies: Hot yoga, plyometrics workouts (which consisted of him jumping up and down a huge wall higher than above my knees), stairs, sprints, and hills (which he normally ran with a 30 pound weight vest on). After these workouts he would take Glutamine. I promised to find him a vegan version and found that there is one….Vegan L-Glutamine, which provides the body with an amino acid essential for recovery from extreme workouts and helps the muscles to rebuild and regenerate faster. Apparently large amounts of physical stress on the body can deplete the natural source of glutamine in the body and therefore supplementation is encouraged for those exercising intensely with little to no rest in between workouts. I’m not going that hard yet, but its nice to know there are vegan options.
My brother believed in beating his body into submission through physical fitness because he knew that all battles are of the mind. As they say, “Mind over matter.” He knew that he could achieve his goals and create anything he wanted in his life if he remained fit and focused. The past week I’ve found myself working out almost everyday. I’ve been making sure to drink power smoothies and eat adequately as well. I’m in the Midwest at the moment, and yesterday after power yoga I found a trail near where I am staying that is six miles long. Just bought some new running shoes and plan to break them in by completing the six-mile run in the morning.
As I thought about my brother and the amazing athlete he was and the awesome vegan would have been (he was a star basketball player and owner/creator of a new cafe with raw and vegan options in Richmond, Virginia, called Higher Ground Wellness Cafe), I started research vegan athletes who have excelled in sport, proving that the human body can in fact handle intense physical training on a vegetable based diet. Check out the cool slide show (link below) via Treehugger which highlights ten exceptional athletes who adopted meat-less diets. There are many more, but I thought this was a nice summary. We only have a short time on this planet. We owe it to ourselves to give our body temple the best fuel and training we can so that we can live the time we have to the fullest. Move your body this week, and if you can, say a prayer for me and my family. -XoXo Raw Girl
One of my New Year’s resolutions, especially now that my back injury is healed, is to get fit. My ongoing joke is that I want to be like Janet Jackson back in the day when you could bounce a quarter off her abs fit. In between sessions with a personal trainer to build strength and lower my body fat percentage, I am staying limber and releasing toxins regularly by slowly but surely easing my way back into a regular hot yoga practice and getting a dance class in here and there. If you can’t tell, I love working out! The only thing I don’t love is not being able to move my limbs normally after an intense workout. The question that always arises when people discover that I am vegan and interested in building muscle: where do you get your protein?
I am a big proponent of everyone figuring out what works for their body. My body in particular, cannot handle animal protein sources at all. So I get all my protein from plant sources. People assume that because you are raw or vegan that you cannot build muscle. I have actually seen a lot of evidence to the contrary. Time and time again, I have noticed that my diet actually makes my body even more receptive to exercise. Within my first week of strength training, only one day in that week, and eating my regular highly raw diet, my body fat percentage decreased by about 5%. I have been training for a month now, and my body fat percentage has decreased from 33% (unhealthy for my age) to 26%! I am now aiming for the optimal body fat percentage of 22-25%, and I am sure I will get there very soon with more training sessions.
It is assumed that by default, plant protein is inferior to animal protein, but actually, raw plant protein is the highest quality, most digestible protein for humans. When we eat cooked meat or animal protein the body tries to break it down in to amino acids. If the body gets enough of its required amino acids, our protein requirement is fulfilled. The point that many raw foodists make in this argument is that HEAT damages amino acids making it harder for the body to utilize. In an interview Stephen Arlin, raw body builder and author of “Raw Power!” said that raw food eaters building muscle have “an immeasurable advantage” over cooked food eaters because: “Building a body with cooked-food nutrition is similar to blowing up a balloon; sooner or later the balloon will deflate. Muscles blown up with cooked food and other unnatural substances will eventually atrophy and deflate. Most fitness experts and body-builders atrophy and wear down pre-maturely. Muscles built on raw-food nutrition last much longer, because they are naturally built. I compare building your body with cooked food to building a brick wall without any mortar. There’s no foundation there.”
Now that I am focusing on strength training, I am taking care to add in adequate amounts of protein in my diet and want to share a long list of great non-animal protein sources for anyone worried about getting enough to build muscle. Our culture tends to be a bit protein crazed, probably to an extreme, so make sure you are listening to your body and not overloading. Most times, people who overload on excessive amounts of animal protein, whey, etc. are not actually healthy, and cannot sustain optimal health longterm. We need not just large amounts of protein but high quality nutrients and minerals to achieve optimal wellness.
As I continue to workout, I am doing more research on what raw body builders and vegan athletes are saying about building muscle and achieving optimal workouts. From several sources I heard that fruit is a great pre-workout meal that gives the body fuel, and that blended smoothies with vegan protein sources are good ways to recover (which I was already doing). The more I sweat, the more I will learn and share. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to get your veggie loving but in the gym as well. Happy sweating! – XoXo Raw Girl
Heres a partial list from one of my favorite books, David Wolfe’s “Eating for Beauty” of what he calls the “Best Protein Foods”:
- Bee Pollen
- Brewer’s Yeast
- E3 Live (algae)
- Goji Berries
- Grass Powders
- Green leafy vegetables
- Hemp Protein (30 grams of protein per tablespoon!)
- Hemp Seeds
- Maca (can buy in powder blends or by itself)
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sprouts (of all types)
- Sprouted grains
- Sprouted wild rice
- Vegetable powders (dehydrated and powdered greens)