Today is a big day for me! I finished my final week (out of 12) of the Bootyful Beginnings program from Strong Curves! I really wish that wasn’t its name, because it is incredibly embarrassing, but don’t let it fool you. Despite being a workout regimen targeted to women, it is certainly not easy. Dead lifts, squats, bench presses. All the classics are there. I even had a few men ask me what book I was working out of, only for them to sheepishly retreat at the word “curves.”

The book sells itself as “a guide to a better butt and body.” I’m sure my butt probably looks better than it did, but I am mostly blown away by my new arms. Check out these guns:

2015-08-04_2107To be fair, the above result is achieved by maybe 30% new muscle. The other 70% is from flexing and optimal lighting conditions. Nevertheless, these are little baby “curves” that I didn’t have before. Strong Curves officially delivered on its promise. I am in love with them.

Fitness is something that I’ve come to care about in my post-college years. During my junior year at Iowa, an incredible new fitness center opened on campus. That was enough to peak my interest; however, I didn’t really take advantage of it. I clung to the treadmill section, wishing I was one of the (admittedly few) girls who were brave enough to enter the free weight area. I never did.

After moving to Austin, I joined a boot camp group called Texas Fit Chicks. It was mostly women in their 30s and up, so I was the youngest there. If I’m being honest, I was also one of the weakest. After months of drills, I noticed slow, gradual changes to my body, and it felt amazing. I was never athletic, and this was the first experience I had with intentionally sculpting my body. When I went back to visit Iowa for my brother’s graduation last year, a few old acquaintances complimented me on appearance. I felt on top of the world, ready to continue on my fitness kick, but then my instructor moved to a new city. I found myself floundering with what to do next.

I signed up for a weightlifting class. I had been reading about fitness a lot online, and there was a definite general consensus: the optimal way to build muscle was to lift less reps of heavier objects. I decided I needed to learn how to lift safely, which meant the next logical step was to find someone teach me. I ended up going to the class for about two months, and I really enjoyed the physical aspect of it. However, my new-found interest in lifting also coincided with a new-found interest in veganism. It might not shock you to hear that my coach was pretty anti-vegan. His Facebook group was flooded with pictures of meat, he was constantly talking about how meat was the only suitable form of protein for muscle building, and he openly mocked people (i.e. vegans) who proposed alternatives. I never had the courage to tell him that I was vegan. I was meeting all the protein requirements he outlined without consuming animal flesh, but eventually it just got too exhausting to ignore the deluge of pro-animal consumption sentiments. When I moved to a different part of town in the fall, I didn’t end up going back.

I fell back into working out again after the holidays. I started running around my neighborhood, but when a new gym opened right down the street from where I worked, I knew it was time to get back to the weights. I kept hearing about Strong Curves, and I kept ignoring it because of the ridiculous name. I went to the gym once without it, stood and looked at the free weights, putzed around a bit, and then left. I admitted that I needed guidance, and told myself I could abandon the program if it didn’t end up working for me. To my surprise, it did. It took me more than 12 weeks to complete it (closer to 4 months, actually), but still. I did it! It’s always a good feeling to set a goal and then accomplish it. When I get back from California next week, I’m going to start over again. I can’t wait to see how different things look in (give or take) three more months.

I’ve found that being a vegan is more motivation for me to bust it out at the gym. People have this idea in their heads of vegans as scrawny and anemic. I never want someone to find out that I don’t eat meat and think, “makes sense.” I want them to think, “Wow, she looks pretty fit. I guess you don’t need to eat animal-based protein to gain muscle after all.”

That’s a good transition into some examples of plant-based proteins. “Where do you get your protein?” is one of the most common questions that I hear. Below are some examples:

  • Lentils
  • Quinoa
  • Tofu
  • Seitan
  • Soy milk
  • Tempeh
  • Edamame
  • Black beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Almonds
  • Brocolli

Here is a great list from the Vegetarian Resource Group that outlines the exact grams of protein per serving of various different types of food. If nothing on that list tickles your fancy, fear not. Vegan protein powder exists. I always have a serving of Sun Warrior mixed with soy milk when I get home from a workout just to make sure. That, combined with my regular meals, almost always pushes me over 80 grams of protein a day, which is plenty.

For example, today I had 81 grams of protein. About 20 grams of that came from the Sweet Potato Tofu Hash from Healthy Happy Life that I had for dinner. It was chalk full of tofu and almonds, and thus, protein.


So good.


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