This post is part of an interview series in which I ask fellow bloggers and noteworthy people ten questions about themselves, their work, and their top advice for those living a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle. Are you a business or brand who’s doing cool things and interested in being interviewed? Please contact me to chat further.
The 10 Questions interview series has quickly become one of my favorite things about blogging. I started the series as a way to feature people I admire, share their success stories, and build a stronger sense of community on Pickles & Honey. But I think I underestimated just how inspired I would feel after reading each interviewee’s responses. I always make it a point to ask at least a few of the same questions, because I find it to be so fascinating how each person answers with their own interpretation and personal wisdom.
I’ve been following Christy of The Blissful & Fit Chef for almost three years now (shortly after I started blogging), and her expertise in plant-based culinary nutrition, and now fitness, is truly impressive. Christy is someone who practices what she preaches and has seriously transformed her body over the last couple of years to achieve her own fitness goals—all through a vegan lifestyle.
This past Spring, Aaron began training with Christy as well, and he has seen incredible results in terms of strength. In just four short months, Aaron has put on over 25 pounds of mostly muscle—about a 16%+ increase from his starting weight—and is now lifting heavier than he ever has in his life. Even back in college, when he was working out twice a day and eating a standard bodybuilder’s diet with lots and lots of animal protein, he was never able to make such consistently huge gains because he’s always had a really hard time keeping on weight. His progress is in large part a testament to Christy’s coaching and meal plans. As you’ll see below, Christy is pretty amazing…
1. What is your food philosophy?
I live by the philosophy that eating whole, organic plant foods whenever possible is best with some vegan treats thrown in. Basically I follow the 80/20 Rule. Life is too short to not enjoy a vegan cupcake every once in a while, you just don’t want to make it a daily food. I believe that moderation works for healthy people and too much restriction and dietary dogma is detrimental to health and happiness.
If it’s vegan, I eat it. My diet is fairly simple and I eat not only for health but also for performance. My meals are balanced having a complex carb, plant protein, and veggies on every plate. I eat seasonal fruit everyday and usually do one protein shake a day to maintain all the hard-earned muscle I’ve built. You can follow me on Instagram to see what I eat!
2. If you could give one piece of advice to new vegans, what would it be?
Learn how to cook healthfully and try to make your own food whenever possible. The way to health is through cooking your own food because convenience food and meals at restaurants are going to be full of more fat, sugar, and salt that you would ever use at home. Keep it simple for the greatest success! It does not take long to make a healthful meal but most people are using cookbooks with fancy recipes and get frustrated by the list of ingredients and time it takes. Don’t make things too complicated for yourself!
3. Within the last couple of years, you’ve become really involved in fitness. What inspired this?
I really don’t know what the catalyst was, but I heard about a gym here in Austin that was owned by a vegan and I had to check it out. Beyond Fit is where my love of fitness blossomed. I had never done powerlifting or interval training so it challenged my body in whole new ways. It felt so good to be strong and everything in my life became easier. Around that time I was dating a bodybuilder (who I got to go vegan!!) and he inspired me to compete in my first competition.
The first thing most women notice when they start lifting is just how awesome it feels being in your body. I remember traveling and not needing any help putting my luggage in the overhead compartment. I even helped an older woman with her luggage. She asked me how I was so strong and I replied “I lift weights.” She told me about a kayaking trip she had coming up and how I inspired her to start weight training. It was that connection that showed me how much my own fitness journey could inspire others and I’ve been sharing my journey ever since. Now I let guys help me with my luggage because they like helping out and I continue to help other women with theirs haha.
4. Has how your approach to cooking and meals changed since you began training?
My food is way more simple now because I have to leave time in my day for training! I pay more attention to macros (carbs, protein, fat), and make sure I’m eating enough calories for my activity level. I eat more protein than I did before. Vegans far too often blow off protein and can’t reach their physique or performance goals because of this. We definitely don’t need as much as omnivores eat but it’s not something you should just ignore. I’m also okay eating the same meal a few times a week when before I never wanted to eat the same thing twice. It’s just more convenient to batch cook my meals for the week.
5. What’s your current favorite form of exercise?
Lifting and spinning. I sprained my ankle mid-April and it’s still touch and go. Some days it feels healed then it will start hurting again. Spinning has been the only form of “cardio” I’ve been able to do in recovery. And now I’m so in love with it I want to get certified to teach it!
6. Is there an exercise you’d rather not do, but that gives you great results?
I despise running. Some people really enjoy it and I just don’t get it haha. It’s my least favorite activity in the world but it does help me stay leaner.
7. If you could give one piece of advice to people who are new to working out, what would it be?
Just start and don’t be afraid of getting into the weight lifting area of the gym! Women especially need to do resistance training for bone health so just do it already! If you are really scared hire a personal trainer for a few sessions to show you the equipment.
8. What is your idea of happiness?
Following your bliss. Finding something you really enjoy that not only lights you up from the inside but also helps others. Being vegan is a big part of that. Without even trying, eating a vegan diet has a ripple effect that positively influences so many other things. Its’ really the most awesome thing ever. It brings me so much joy every day.
9. What makes you unhappy?
All the destruction we are doing to our health and the planet through our diets makes me unhappy. The fact that people would rather choose to please their tastebuds than live a healthy life and watch their children grow up frightens and disturbs me. It’s not normal for people to die in their 40’s from heart disease. And the environmental destruction that is happening so people can have their cheap burger is staggering. Shout-out to the recent documentary, Cowspiracy. This is a must-see for anyone who cares about the future of our planet.
10. If money did not matter, how would you spend your days?
Exactly what I’m doing; helping others and inspiring them to find their bliss through vegan food and fitness. I would travel and teach more and connect with amazing vegans across the globe! Also, I would make my new online magazine, Definition, in print and spread it across the globe. Right now that’s not in the cards so I’m happy to share it online with others! It’s currently free to download (or pay what you want) so check it out! I have an amazing team of vegan women working on this project with me and we’ve gotten a great response so far!
Christy Morgan, known as The Blissful & Fit Chef, is a vegan chef, educator, athlete, and personal trainer. She is the author of Blissful Bites: Plant-based Meals That Nourish Mind, Body, and Planet and the Editor-in-Chief and creator of Definition Magazine. Contact her for details on how to reach all your health and fitness goals!
P.S. We’re moving this week! Saying goodbye to renting, perpetual nearby construction, and rowdy college students (fingers and toes crossed), and hello to a new Boston neighborhood with our very own condo, a beautiful open floor plan, and tons of natural light—we seriously cannot wait! Aaron and I have been working hard on recipes and photography these last few weeks to make up for the time when our things will be in boxes/disarray, but I may be a bit slow to respond to your comments and emails. Please send good vibes that everything goes smoothly!