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Sunday
Nov132011

Fitness Spotlight: Lyndsay Braswell

I've spent time writing about a variety of nutrition philosophies (Paleo, Intermittent Fasting, Vegan, etc).  This next section is a more in-depth look at one of the more interesting people I've come across in the fitness world.

Lyndsay Braswell  (@FitRawChic) is a fellow fitness enthusiast, but her diet is completely vegan.  She is a walking example that disproves two long-standing stigmas: 

(1) Vegans can't be athletic or have muscle tone

(2) A vegan diet has to be boring and bland

She also serves as another example that if you want to badly enough, people with regular jobs can still find time to fit their workouts into the schedule.

Lyndsay's personal site, LilGreenDress.com is diverse in fitness guidance, as well as recipes, video How-To's and other culinary ideas.  We took a break from commiserating about our respective NFL teams' (Redskins & Panthers) terrible 2011 seasons to dive into a few questions about her background, current projects, and future plans:

How did you become a vegan?

 Several times in my life people have tried to convince me to go vegan, but I like many other people thought that meant a diet of twigs and berries. It also meant giving up the bodybuilder staples, chicken and eggs.  

Wanting to take my nutrition to the next level because I still had issues with certain aspects of my health, I took a food intolerance test and come to find out I am highly intolerant to eggs!  Dairy was also found to be an enemy as well as certain kinds of seafood. 
I began reading up on the vegan diet, and one thing led to another. I've been meat-free for almost 2 yrs now and I feel and look better than I ever have! Hands down, one of the best decisions I've ever made!



What is your athletic background?

 

My introduction to lifting weights was in 8th grade when I was chosen to be in the Bigger, Faster, Stronger program.  This was a club that prepared middle schoolers for high school sports by lifting weights before school.  Not missing one workout I had my first real taste of what it felt like to throw some real weight around.  Not to mention the feeling of accomplishment as I improved in all areas of performance.
In High School I played Varsity Field Hockey and Lacrosse and in order to be better my dad felt I needed to pump some iron. I was given my first gym membership at 15 and I haven’t stopped since!



What are you up to now? (contests, competitions, recent or upcoming events, etc)

Due to my workload I decided to take the rest of the year off from competing. I plan to compete next Spring in Fitness America and/or the WBFF. I did just complete a half marathon on a whim, and want to set doing a marathon as one of my goals for 2012 if time permits.

What's a typical day's schedule for you (ex: from wake up including workouts/cardio, normal job, etc to bed)

My work dictates my workouts and my customers dictate my work! I try to workout before work and a normal day for me in the office is 8am-4:30pm.  If I’m traveling my workday could be longer and whereas it’s easier for me to hit the gym after an office day, when I’m traveling it is harder.  In a perfect world I’d be working out at 9:30am after a good nights sleep.  A 6am workout after a restless sleep is not exactly my ideal workout time, but you gotta do what you gotta do!

What is your diet like in a typical day? (normal circumstances vs contest prep)

Again my diet changes, it’s actually changed more so as a vegan than when I was a non vegan. Before my diet was standard and typical. I did the egg whites and oatmeal for breakfast, fish or chicken, sweet potato or brown rice, veggies for lunch and dinner,protein shakes in between. Thank goodness those days are over!

Now I might start my day off with a green smoothie or a quinoa dish (quinoa is a complete protein source), lunch I still might have a sweet potato and/or a salad with beans, and for dinner I might have a big salad and lentil or bean dish, with a glass or two of wine.  I snack on nuts, fruits, dark chocolate, and in a pinch, vegan protein shakes.
I’ve learned to eat light during the day because I spend sometimes almost 8 hours behind the desk.  I find if I eat heavier it makes me sleepy and my creative juices come to a halt! 

All in all, I try to eat a lot of antioxidant rich fruits and veggies, and my staples are black beans, chickpeas, quinoa, and spirulina. During contest prep I eat the same foods, just less and I don't like to cheat except for maybe a glass of wine here or there. :)

How do you manage to watch your carb intake being a vegan (versus a typical "all meat & veggies" fitness diet)?

 

I eat more carbs than the carnivore dieters.  It’s hard to get all the protein I want without added carbs.  I’ve tried to swig down just vegan shakes all day, but it was hard on my stomach and I didn’t feel good.  Tofu is another low carb source of protein and not that I’m against soy, just not for every meal. I am still working on finding the vegan competitor diet that suits me best. It’s always a work in progress.

Are you a fan of "empty stomach morning cardio" or not?

 I do believe in empty stomach cardio, especially since I have to workout so early. There is NO way I’m waking up extra early just to eat!  It’s also not like I’m running a marathon at dark thirty in the morning.  I mean we are talking no more than 45 min.  I’ve been fine with averaging up to an hour sometimes and did not feel as if it ate up my muscle.

What's the one "cheat" food you can't live without?

Cheat food: dark chocolate and Grey Goose. I love sweets!

What's your favorite exercise/activity? What's your least favorite?

Favorite exercise, squats! They are a great all around exercise! Least favorite, squats! They are problematic. People tend to do too much weight with poor form, which will as you know, kill their joints and give them serious knee and back problems.


If you could send one message to women out there (about taking control of their fitness/health...being afraid of lifting weights...anything) what would it be?

 

Women tend to want to take care of others in sacrifice of their health. I want them to know lifting weights is not a vain activity and even if they only have 30min (although 1 hour is ideal) to workout do so, because eventually 30min will turn to 1 hr anyway!  The better they take care of themselves, the better they’ll take care of others. Plus they will feel amazing, and confidence breeds success!



If you could send one message to people in-general about the typical American diet, what would it be?

Vegan is not a boring diet by any means, and you can still build muscle not eating animals. However, I understand unless you are passionate about one of the 3: health, animals, environment, it could be difficult to give up the animal kingdom. Although I believe the healthiest way to eat is a whole foods, plant based diet, I don't judge or force my lifestyle on anyone. Instead I encourage everyone to eat less meat and incorporate more fruits and veggies. Fruits and veggies are full of nutrients and our body needs them to prevent disease and to stay looking good! 

 

Whether you're a vegan, or still fit animal products into your diet - Lyndsay is still a great example from whom we can all learn.  We agree on many of the same fitness principals, particularly that women should never be afraid of the weights, and that both men and women should prioritize how you take care of your body (and what kinds of fuel goes into it) every day.