Katherine Nicole is a hard-working woman in her early twenties. Like many of us, she has a job, a love life, and a yearning to find out who she truly is as a human-being. In the midst of it all, she decided to embark on a fitness journey that was grueling to say the least. Being close to her in every step of the process, I got a front row seat and it was inspiring to witness.
Like most bikini competitors, Katherine had a hard-core regimented fitness plan. But unlike most others, she decided to try and achieve her goals with a Vegan lifestyle (Completely lacking of any animal product). Needless to say, it only made her uphill battle that much steeper. But what I found most inspiring is not what Katherine accomplished, but why she accomplished it.
In life, people will tell you what to do, why to do it, and why it’s the best option, or the only option. They will try and discourage you from your dreams and it is sometimes easier to just give in. Katherine is a direct example of going against the grain, staying true to your beliefs and succeeding.
Whether you eat meat or not, or whether you go to the gym, climb mountains, or ride a stationary bike at home; life is an opportunity to make decisions for yourself and for a purpose. Katherine did this, and in the end, she found what she was looking for. The beginnings of who she was and who she wanted to become.
What has been your vegan/vegetarian journey and why did you decide to do a fitness competition vegan?
Katherine: I started my fitness journey quite typically- just a cardio queen wanting to look good for summer! But the more I educated myself, the more I realized using weights is just as important in sculpting your body as cardio is, so I began venturing into the weight lifting side of the gym.
I have been vegetarian for five years, (ever since watching a documentary on factory farming) and I received a lot of criticism for both lifting weights and for not eating meat. One group told me women shouldn’t lift any more than 2lbs or else they will “get bulky”, while another told me it would be impossible to gain any sort of muscle without eating meat.
I was determined to prove both these common beliefs wrong by not only choosing to do a fitness competition without meat, but to take it a step further and do it without any animal products whatsoever! I had always wanted to transition to veganism, and doing it during competition prep just made it the cherry on top of of some wonderful goals I wanted to accomplish.
What were the biggest challenges you faced because you did this vegan?
Katherine: I was working with a coach who had never trained a vegan client, and who knew nothing about vegan nutrition. While he was a great resource for exercise and physiology, the nutrition was pretty much up to me to figure out!
Most typical body building diets are centered around protein sources like grilled chicken, egg whites, and fat free dairy, so there was very little that I could use as an example. I just had to do my research and use my basic knowledge of what macro nutrients I needed to hit for the week and create my own plans from there!
How did being vegan help you in preparing for the competition?
Katherine: Being vegan, I was already eating a lot of single ingredient and unprocessed items, like fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, seeds ,etc. Its already one of the cleanest diets, so for the transition into contest prep, not a whole lot changed! Portions changed, and eating out changed, but other than that, nothing super different from the items I was already eating.
Do you feel that it was “healthy” for you to do this competition?
Katherine: Doing my first show definitely opened up my eyes to the world of competitive body building- the good and the bad. Everyone
is there to win
(I mean, you don’t go stand on a stage in a bikini to be judged unless you want to win, right?), and there is a lot of “whatever it takes” mentality, even if doing “whatever it takes” is slowly breaking you down.
Being a first timer, I was SO nervous and very lost as to what to what I was doing, so it was really easy to fall into some really unhealthy habits. But having that show under my belt, I feel much more confident of what is effective versus what is not, and can better steer clear of those unhealthy practices!
What did you learn about yourself during your training?
I look back at my training, and I miss it! Everyone thinks I’m crazy. They ask “You mean you miss
eating out of tupperware allthe time? Or waking up at 5am
to train 6 days a week
?!” Yes, I kind of do miss those things.
But what I miss most is that I learned SO MUCH about myself during this process.
I never realized I had that much strength! Not only physical strength, but mental strength not to give up, even when the going got tough.
I have never before had such strong determination to do anything, and I have never before believed in myself so much like I did during that time. In a way I didn’t just believe, but I had to believe, I made myself believe, or else I knew I would fail. There were so many people telling me I was crazy for what I was doing, or that it couldn’t be done as a vegan, that I had to be my own biggest cheerleader, and growing that bond of self love with myself was such a rewarding experience!
What are your favorite brands to work out in?
Katherine: My favorite brands include Lorna Jane, Nike, and Fabletics. My gym wardrobe is probably 75% Lorna because she has such cute cuts and bold colors, shoes are always Nike, and Fabletics is great for basics that are comfortable, breathable, and very reasonably priced.
One Fitspiration tip that you live by:
I believe that the key ingredients to health include sleep, sun, nutrition and exercise, and I try to get adequate amounts of
Many people have heard of the importance of sleep, nutrition and exercise, but even just 10 minutes a day in the sunshine can elevate your mood, help you sleep better, give you a healthy dose of vitamin D, and keep your sanity during a hectic work week!
Health is not only physical, but also mental, spiritual and emotional, so take the time to love yourself, and take everyday as a step in the direction of your goals! XO