Friday, November 8, 2013

Ode to the Bowl Part 1

     If you consider yourself a true VeGAL then you are also a vegan foodie! Personally, I run to eat. Conversely, I eat to = fuel. I like the idea of fuel in disguise!  Vegan fare should be as delicious and satisfying (and of course more nutritious) as that of our non-vegan counterparts!  To that end, we eat with our eyes!  Truth be told, I'm not big into juicing, smoothies and raw foods!  If you prefer to drink your meal, like a breakfast smoothie, rich with leafy greens like kale, spinach, wheat grass along with fresh fruit, that is the bomb! Unfortunately, my curious eyes just can't get past the thick, frog-green like beverage (gag!). I have never been into juice, opting to drink only water, seltzer and coffee, saving my calories for food with some room left over for a recovery plant-protein drink as needed. The VeGAL lifestyle lends itself to BOWL FOOD!!!  A cheap,quick and easy(like us!) method of combining a whole grain/pseudograin, protein, mixed veggies with a dash of seasoning/hot sauce (burns calories-yay! VeGALs simply do not have time to fuss in the kitchen!! 
     Now that the kale craze recipe bandwagon seems to have run its course (everyone and their mother has a prep suggestion, yawn), kale is here to stay and I officially induct it into the dark leafy green Hall of Fame!!!  However, after throwing it into various dishes each week, it's time to mix it up a bit!!!  So last night I grabbed a bag of sweet kale mix consisting of not only kale but brussel sprouts, broccoli slaw and radicchio, and emptied the contents, minus the dressing/seed & berry mix), threw it into a baking dish, tossed in a small package of shitake mushrooms for their (for lack of a better word) "meaty" or "umami" protein value (wipe with paper towel, pull stems off, break into small pieces), coated with EVOO, sprinkled some Nutritional Yeast (cheese-like substance chock full of essential B-12) with a dash of Kosher sea salt, baked in 475 degree over for approx. 15-20 min, until crispy/almost burnt.  I had already prepared a box of nutrition powerhouse quinoa (another bandwagon, yawn)that I keep in the fridge for either cold salads or hot bowl food.  I threw some in a bowl, warmed it up, added the veggies (you can throw in the craisins/pumpkin seeds that come with the kale mix but I didn't).  Discard the dressing...too many questionable ingredients. Drizzle with some EVOO and perhaps a little sracha! Paired with tiny glass of vegan-friendly Frey Sauvignon Blanc and wala!!!  Perfect night-before supper for an intense work out today!

And let's not forget...VeGALs train with a conscience; we are FIRMLY PLANTED!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Rest: The Best Workout!

 Me and Shaun T...we tight (poor grammar intended, I'm trying to be cool)!  Well, we're not exactly besties!  Heck, he doesn't even know who I am!  But boy am I a huge fan (borderline stalker) of his!!! And he is definitely tight!  I mean, have you seen his rock hard abs(RHA's)? Lucky for me, my running partner is a close second. If you work out to Insanity, you can't help but notice Shaun T's abs.  We share the same core values...whatever rigorous activity we are engaged in, we are always engaging our core!!! You would think by now I would have washboard abs but unfortunately I wasn't designed that way and my love for all things carb certainly doesn't help.  Yet I haven't given up!  A strong core means strong everything else (sorry, I lack sophistication).  It supports your overall framework, keeps you strong and healthy, and can help to prevent injuries related to ITB, hamstrings, hip flexors, knee/joint integrity, etc. What I love most about Insanity is how Shaun T encourages taking frequent breaks, especially if you are feeling fatigued. If you lose your form, rather than continue on, losing the benefits of the workout as well as risking injury, he suggests you shake it out, grab a drink, rest for a sec, regroup and join in again.  You is key!!!  Same goes for running...there's no point in running on empty!  It's okay to walk or stretch it out, take frequent breaks, and hydrate as you feel before it's too late! For VeGALs, I strongly suggest a pre/during drink mix called activfule+ Sports Nutrtion which contains brown rice protein for stamina support and recovery!  Best of all, it is plant based...ain't no crappy whey protein in this potent powder which means no animals harmed, better digestion and quicker transport of fuel where needed!  Rest is NOT the enemy, exhaustion is!!!  Listen to your body, treat it like the temple that it is, replenish with only the finest plant-based ingredients! Along hose lines is what I strongly recommended for VeGALs (and all other endurance athletes) known as the "scheduled rest day (SRD)."  It is a designated day off each week from any type of strenuous exercise to allow for recovery and repair.  I know, I know, VeGALs may worry about getting fat if g-d forbid you miss a day. But rest assured, you WON'T pack on the lbs in one day unless you stuff your face with french fries and pasta all day in a feeding frenzy, leading to a carb coma which I doubt since you are well-oiled and only crave healthy whole foods, right????  In any case, if you push yourself on tired legs/frame, you are only logging in junk miles which is a total waste! Less is more! If you give up a day, giving your muscles, bones and brains a break, guaranteed you will feel fresher for your next workout, especially if it's a long run, race, tri event, tennis/cross fit tourney! Your body will thank you and you may even score a medal in the process!  My running partner with the RHA's! Priceless!
As always, VeGALs train with a conscience!  We are FIRMLY PLANTED!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Veggin' Out and About!!!

Hey there VeGALs!  Great news...I am now a staff writer/contributor for an awesome website called Veggin' Out and About, a restaurant and market guide for the veggie loving traveler, brain child of Danielle Bussone, co-founder/editor,  I get to review vegan/vegan-friendly joints in the South Florida area as well as those cities I may be visiting, usually for a marathon (sometimes just for pleasure).  My perspective is different than the other writers in the sense that I am looking for either pre-race fuel or post-race recovery that is whole-foods, plant-based! As it goes for VeGALs, some indulgence is allowed on occasion as a reward like french fries (from a dedicated fryer with veggie oil) or a basket of tortilla chips with fresh guacamole, washed down with a vegan-friendly wheat beer which works better than ibuprofen as an anti-inflammatory agent. For dessert, some dark chocolate or sorbet, perhaps or a bowl of rich and creamy coconut ice cream.  VeGALs don't count calories!!!  We don't have to since we maintain a steady balance between our work out ethic and our plant-based nutrition.  So when we discover a fab new restaurant with delicious vegan fare, we don't hesitate to order practically everything off the menu. Since we train with a conscience, and we are firmly planted, there is no room for guilt!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Inadvertent Meat Eat!

     Well, hello there VeGAL (Vegan Girl AthLete, in case you forgot!).  And welcome curious non-veg athletic friends.  No matter what our diet, it is safe to say we go the distance when it comes to our training! We adhere to a strict fitness paradigm only straying from time to time.  For many of us, our strenuous workouts are completed long before most folks even wake up. We are committed (non athletes agree we should be committed!) to our goals. We follow rigid training programs, we design as well as follow hard core work out schedules though we may bitch and moan about it.  Bottom line...we don't quit...even when our bodies scream for us to do just that!  So for vegan athletes, as well as our meat-eating counterparts, would it not be foolish of us to blow all that intense training by stuffing our faces with junk food??? 
     For VeGALs in particular, we pride ourselves in being meticulous in all that we do, from our neat and tidy and oh so adorable workout clothes to our snazzy shoes to our natural fragrant, flowery scent (hahaha) and our freshly washed (colored!) hair.  Naturally, when it comes to our fuel, same rules apply!  Whether prepared at home or ordered out at a restaurant, we uphold the highest of standards in our whole foods, plant-based endeavors.  VeGALs stay elevated in a mainstream world.  That said, we dine out mainstream since basically, we have no choice, especially in the burbs!  Questions are posed, suggestions are made in order for VeGALs to remain true to our convictions all the while feeling satisfied as well as nutritionally balanced no matter where we find ourselves! As careful as we are...those taking the orders as well as those preparing the meals unfortunately are not so careful!Which leads us to the INADVERTENT MEAT EAT!  Simply stated, it's when a vegan mistakenly bites into something assumed to be "safe" only to find out there was an animal involved!!!  YIKES!  Surely, VeGAL, this has happened to you before, maybe even more times than you care to mention!
     Once such incident occurred a few years ago when I was carbo-loading with my family at an Italian restaurant the night before a local marathon.  I had ordered rigatoni with marinara sauce and mushrooms, thinking this meal had the perfect balance for sustained energy.  Eager to empty the bowl, without leaving one delicious morsel behind, just when I wasn't looking, I sank my teeth into a brown chunk that was anything but a tender mushroom! It suddenly occurred to me I had taken a bite of beef that probably sneaked its way in disguised as an edible, highly valued fungus!  Did I spit it out like a toddler, toss my hands up in disgust and throw a tantrum right then and there?  I kept my family in suspense as they looked at me in horror (thar she blows!).  But no, I simply released it into a napkin and carried on, to my kids' relief.  I realized at that point that it was an innocent error.  Had I continued to chew on animal flesh with a big gulp finale, my actions would've been egregious! I had bigger fish to fry, a marathon, the next day.  I shook it off and carried on.  As it turned out, I earned myself a PR for that course that year!  I wouldn't exactly attribute it to the beef bite but more like "that which does not kill you..." 
     Just last week, while I had a layover in the Charlotte airport, my travel companions and I decided to kill some time with a light Japanese lunch.  I ordered the vegetable pot stickers as an appetizer (I had no intentions of sharing). When they arrived, my chopsticks grabbed hold of one before anyone had noticed.  One little bite and I knew it was too late...I had encountered animal flesh right there inside my pie hole!  Its origin was a mystery but I had a hunch it was the worst kind...PORK!  I give my company a lot of credit for not bursting out in laughter at that point but perhaps they were grinning on the inside (I would've lol).  When brought to the food server's attention, she immediately removed them and apologized.  To drive home a point, with no mention of my veg status, I had stated that for religious reasons (Jews don't eat pork) that I most certainly didn't order those!  The chef then rushed up, reassuring us that the meat was chicken, not pork!  That didn't exactly make me feel any better! Luckily, we were presented with a plateful of scrumptious steamed veggie pot stickers to the delight of all, FREE OF CHARGE!  Score! It's true that meat, especially the ground, formed kind, masks the subtle nuances present in an array of fresh vegetables.  Much to my chagrin, my companions found them equally irresistible, not taking the hint that they were MINE ALL MINE!  They can order whatever they want but I am limited with choices and always hungry for goodness sake!!!  It is my strong belief that everyone, deep down inside, longs to go veg!
     I wouldn't be me if I didn't ramble on but I hope you get the point, VeGAL! We have all been victims of the INADVERTENT MEAT EAT and will continue to undergo less than savory experiences and that's okay.  It is how we choose to react to those awkward, uncomfortable situations that set us apart from the rest of the plant-based community.  Just like anything else, we handle them with grace since we are firmly planted VeGALs who train with a conscience (tip: take advantage of the debacle, it might just get you a free meal)!  


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mantra? Hardly!!

     Welcome back, VeGAL (Vegan Girl AthLete).  Do you happen to have a particular saying, chant or song which serves as your mantra?  You know, that little voice in your head that helps to keep you going during a workout or other challenging event.  Something that inspires you to dig a little deeper just when you think you cannot go any further.  Sure, VeGALs possess internal sources of strength but we should also be prepared to rely on external sources as well, if need be, as our bodies and minds demand it.  For me personally, one such mantra is "run it out," a saying that reassures me that my aches and pains upon initiating activity will eventually go away if I remain steadfast.  Usually it works but there are those times when we know we are doomed as the pain intensifies and we are suddenly sidelined by an injury.  It is then suggested that we shift our focus to another mantra as a coping mechanism for those dark and dismal days should we find ourselves temporarily stripped of our passionate activity (VeGALs do NOT accept permanent restrictions).
     This VeGAL loves her tunes, especially during those excruciatingly long runs or cardio workouts.  Headphones are discouraged on trails runs so as to keep every sense intact for those unforeseen encounters with nature/wildlife.  I chanted JT's (you had better know who I am referring to!) "Let the Groove Get In" the entire DTR 13.1 trail run which turned out to be 18 miles due to poorly marked trails!!!  I cannot tell you how "instrumental" it was in getting me back on track!!
     Okay, so you get my point, right?  Are you thinking of a mantra to adopt?  Do you have one you might suggest to hard core VeGALs??
Well guess what...sometimes it's all just a bunch of BS!!!  And that is why the purpose of today's blog is to share with you my more popular ritual, stolen from the letters of "mantra," and something I hope every VeGAL can utilize without abusing, too much, that is.  I am referring to what I like to call the "a.m. rant." know what I'm talking about it, especially if you know me personally!  Screw the mantra and go with the rant!  Who has time for all that positive energy crap when VeGALs are dealing with kids, work, training, significant others, family, pets, finances, weight/beauty/health issues, etc.? 
     Whether you choose to keep it in your head, take it out on some exercise equipment or bite someone else's head off, the am rant is sometimes the only thing that will suffice!  If you are fortunate like me to have a training partner (or many) you trust, who will tolerate it, who listens without judging or at least pretends to listen, then consider yourself blessed!  But don't overdo it!!!  Try to take turns!  It's only fair.  Just fake it if you have to (VeGALs can do that!) and remember...what happens on the road/gym stays on the road/gym!  One might consider this a negative approach but I find it to be very cathartic.  It's all in the name of healing! Of course it is also beneficial to those we had originally targeted to pick a fight with!  You see...we can't always have happy thoughts!  VeGALs are real gals with real ongoing issues!  It can't always be rainbows and butterflies!!  So get it out of your system in the wee hours, if that is your ideal workout time.  Sometimes you can even have an entire argument in your head that you are able to resolve by the time you finish your training.  Something you may have thought about taking up with another person at the risk of severing a relationship may be resolved in that way, before it ever makes it out of your big unfiltered mouth! Best of all, no one is worse for wear!  Furthermore, VeGALs can be narrow-minded (a rare occurrence) so having a neutral training partner can help you to be more rational when working through a struggle. 
     My shy and quiet guy (running partner) takes my abuse over and over again.  He has mastered both the art of pretending to listen as well as remaining objective.  He lets me bitch just about anything, from the asshole running or biking in the dark without a light, to the annoying runner shuffling his feet or the skinny fast bitch on the other side of the road who makes me feel like shit!  It can get pretty heavy at times, especially when it comes to dealing with exes. Sometimes trivial, sometimes pretty darn serious!  Regardless, the rant is an essential part of the VeGAL workout!  But don't lose sight of the value of the mantra!  Sometimes a combo plate is needed!!!
     You say mantra, I say am rant!  Conflict?  Let's call the whole thing off!!! 
     That's it for now!  Never forget, VeGALs train with a conscience and are firmly planted.  We aspire to be cruelty free with the exception of our training partners! 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Beauty is Skin Deep

     VeGALs (Vegan Girl AthLetes) get down and dirty no matter the sport!  It's all about the grit!  Unless your clothes are completely soaked, hair dripping wet, shoes water-logged or feet dangerously slippery, arm pits stinky from sweat then you haven't really worked out, right?  We are hard core, through and through!  But what about when it's time to clean our hard cores as well as all those other parts attached?  Let's face it, we don't basically kill ourselves every single day to make our bodies rock hard simply just to chill out!  Oh hell no!  We want to put on those tight jeans or slip on that cute little party dress for a night on the town to show off the goods!  After all, we work hard then we play hard.  So when it comes time to wash away all the build up from the day's tough training to get ourselves "gussied up" lol, what we choose to clean our bodies with is equally as important as how we fuel our precious temples!  Would it make any sense for VeGALs to use chemical-laden, potentially dangerous conventional bath/shower gels which are massed produced and most likely tested on animals???  Of course not!  That is why it is essential to read the labels on your fave bath products to ensure they are safe.  What you put on your skin will then be absorbed into the skin and ultimately broken down and utilized within our system.  This process can then contribute to hormonal imbalances which all women in general are susceptible to.
     Most mainstream products contain various types of parabens that can mimic estrogen in the body.  As it is, VeGALs tend to run low on progesterone due to our intense training as well as our reduced body fat.  Many plant foods contain phytoestrogens which, consumed in large quantities, can wreak havoc on the endocrine system, creating estrogen dominance and thus giving way to various diseases. Couple that with the aforementioned parabens in beauty products and you have a recipe for disaster!!!  Fortunately for VeGALs (and all the other females who will eventually catch on and join our elite subculture) safer products are now basically at our fingertips, free of all parabens, sulfates, phthalates and even gluten! Naturally, they are cruelty free! Don't be swayed by those companies who claim they are "all natural" and don't be lured by ingredients like cucumber, pomegranate or lavender unless you read the label and familiarize yourself with what is both safe and acceptable! 
     It's true that the makers of many popular brands are getting smart to what intelligent consumers demand.  In addition, popular supermarkets are now starting to carry healthier versions of the familiar as well as the more boutique brands.  But to ensure you will have many high-quality products to choose from, visit your local health food store  either in person or online like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Earth Fare or Tunies.  I was thrilled to discover that the big beauty chain Ulta sells a variety of their namesake products that smell delicious and are rich and emollient made with lots of different  "girly" ingredients loved by VeGALs! 
     So carry on, as you were, your chosen discipline, digging deep within to pull out and displace all that grime meant to cleanse your soul!  Then pamper yourself with some natural and fragrant TLC from a bottle. Finally, get your smokin' hot and tight ass ready to be showered with TLC by your honey (and no, I don't mean honey from a bee!  That is gross! It is a byproduct from an animal!!! )
     VeGALs represent class as well as sophistication!  We train with a conscience!  VeGALs are firmly planted! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

VeGAL: No Freaking Whey!

VeGAL: No Freaking Whey!:      Okay VeGAL, so today you rocked Cross Fit like never before; scored big time on the tennis court; ran 10 miles then took a spin cla...

No Freaking Whey!

     Okay VeGAL, so today you rocked Cross Fit like never before; scored big time on the tennis court; ran 10 miles then took a spin class; sizzled at hot yoga; swam for 2 hours then biked beyond the horizon; hiked a mountain; leveled a big hill and flattened a trail; you get my drift.  So now what???  You dug deep from within and pulled out something you didn't even know you had and now it's time to replenish.  But digging deep into an animal and pulling out something to benefit yourself is utterly ridiculous!  Yes, I'm referring to whey protein!  Your non-veg peers have come to rely heavily on this milky white powdery substance known as whey which is derived from cheese products which is of course, comes from a cow!  Blah, right?  Yet athletes have decided that this animal source of protein is exactly what they need to build and repair muscles! But if you happen to be sensitive to or intolerant of lactose, then you're screwed without paying any attention to how the cow is the one who is ultimately screwed!!!   Consumers can't seem to get enough of this whey protein isolate that they scoop into smoothies/drink beverages without paying any mind to what exactly it is their digesting and the impact it is having on animals as well as the environment!  VeGALs know that milk from a cow is intended for calves (just like any mammal who produces milk for their babies) and not us!  Plain and simple!  Milk and milk products are not intended for human consumption!  In addition, VeGALs refuse to promote factory farming and the deplorable conditions associated with it.  
     So what do we drink for recovery?  Easy!!!  There is a wealth of plant-based recovery powders available now that are not only very palatable but also more digestible than their whey protein counterpart not to mention nutritionally complete.  These proteins are derived from peas, maca root, brown rice and other natural plant sources, making them the perfect choice for post work out nutrition!  Would it make any sense to dump a bunch of crap into our well-oiled machines?  These affordable and versatile plant-based proteins are clean burning, just like us!  May I suggest Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator, Vega Sport Performance Protein, Plant Fusion, activrecover+, Amazing Grass!  
     As for soy protein isolate?  I do NOT recommend it since there is much controversy attached to soy which I will save for another day.  Essentially, VeGALs should try their best to avoid soy and soy products and attempt to explore all the wonderful, delicious, nutritious, cruelty-free possibilities that plants have to offer.  VeGALs train with a conscience!  We are firmly planted!  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Who Are you Wearing?

     I know, I sound like Joan Rivers on the Red Carpet!  But seriously, from one VeGAL (Vegan Girl AthLete) to another, what we wear is just as important as what we eat!!!  After all, VeGALs adhere to a highly structured, plant-based, cruelty-free paradigm so it would make no sense whatsoever to purchase apparel/shoes derived from animal sources including leather, silk or wool.  That said, it is worth taking the time to discover those companies that manufacture materials using either synthetic or sustainable materials, especially ones who are making a conscious effort to be more animal/environmentally friendly.  Simply put, animals are our friends.  If you claim to be an animal lover then it doesn't make sense that you would eat or wear them for any reason, right?  Finding "kind" products is much easier than you think!  Most athletic/performance apparel seems to consist of synthetic materials (e.g. polyester) by default as they are highly effective for their drying/cooling/sweat-wicking properties.  To take it one step further, there are some companies going above and beyond to reduce their carbon footprint as well as maintain a cruelty-free approach to manufacturing products.
     I would be remiss if I didn't mention my beloved Newton running shoes as they are all made from synthetic materials.  My other fave shoes, Skechers Go run series, are also derived from synthetic sources (although Skechers does indeed sell leather shoes).  But the one company I would like to highlight is Atayne, out of Maine.  They have developed performance apparel made solely out of recycled water bottles.  I was fortunate enough to have received an Atayne t-shirt (no sarcasm intended) from my beloved as a gift from his Mount Desert Island marathon in Maine. Of course, an invitation to accompany him would've been better but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved how the shirt held up in the abysmal heat and humidity known as So Fla on any given day!!  Don't worry, I did give him sh*t for it but overall I am blessed that he supports this VeGAL to no end!!!  I did get a promise from him that he would take me along next time!
Damn straight! When you get a chance, please visit the Atayne website and like them on Facebook.  I am currently collaborating with them to develop VeGAL performance short/long sleeved shirts so I will keep everyone posted as to their availability.
     Another company that deserves kudos is Moving Comfort for their high-quality fitness apparel and undergarments.  MC now offers a Sprint Tech Skort made from recycled plastic bottles and odor-fighting mesh made from coffee grounds.  I just ordered one from, using my VIP discount, saving me around $10 (they come in 4 different colors/patterns and have zippers/pockets in a few secret places).  Can't wait for its arrival...will follow up with a review!
     VeGALs train with a conscience.  We are firmly planted!!!  Have a green day!!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Heeling Powers

     Hi VeGALs (Vegan Girl AthLetes).  Foot problems got you down?  Perhaps this VeGAL can offer you a few painless steps to take to remedy what ails your precious little tootsies!  As an avid distance runner, Skechers Endurance Ambassador, Kung Fu Black Belt, etc. it is safe (or unsafe for that matter!) to say that I pound the pavement quite a bit!  Whatever your discipline VeGAL, whether running, walking, tennis, Cross Fit, p90x, Insanity, Zumba, cardio kickboxing or martial arts, you too run the risk of encountering foot pain, more specifically, plantar fasciatis, heel spurs or achilles tendonitis, at some point in your training.  When your feet are compromised, so is your overall fitness, not to mention your mental/emotional integrity!!  When a VeGAL is sidelined by pain or injury, serious irritability is a shoe in (grrrrr!!!).  My recent encounter and how I dealt with it, through trial and error, may indeed help fellow VeGALs prevent such an event or at the very least provide you with some fresh ideas on some ancient old soles!  As VeGALs, it is true that we are also goddesses but by no means angels.  Therefore, it is acceptable, if not advisable to inflict bodily harm upon ourselves on a regular basis within our chosen disciplines.  However, it is forbidden to harm innocent animals to benefit ourselves.  Thus, a devoted VeGAL must uphold a plant-based, cruelty-free paradigm at all times, no exceptions!  That said, I will now share my footnotes with you...
     Five marathons, one ultra, some half marathons and a few 10k's all within a span of 4-5 would think that would be enough for the season, right???  I could've walked away unscathed, called it a day (or season!).  But noooo!!!!!  My running partner and I, both OCD, both in denial of our advancing ages and limitations, just couldn't put on the brakes despite the warning signs (for me anyway).  So what did we do?  We moved on to trails!  Although they may be softer than the road, depending on the trail, they can throw you off your natural form and put you at greater risk for injury. My partner is more of a superhero but this VeGAL still possesses some human-like qualities and ultimately they got the better of me!  From trails to road back to trails again, I continued to run, even though I began to feel a twinge of pain in the left anterior/medial portion of my heel.  I live by the words "run it out" which used (operative word) to work, especially with plantar fasciatis, but this pain was relentless, no matter what I did.  I felt the stabbing of needles digging into my foot all the freaking time!!!  Heel cups, ibuprofen/naproxen (wreak havoc on the stomach), stretching and rolling were proving ineffective for the most part.  I couldn't bring myself to stop running (yes, I'm an idiot) so I would try taping/wrapping my foot precisely where it hurt (wrong approach), tightly lace up my running shoes and head out the door only to stop dead in my tracks after two miles in utter agony, ripping off my shoe and then the wrap!  I would hobble back every time.  Finally, I put my pride aside, called my trusted podiatrist/running friend and "ran" to his office, white flag in hand and the look of "dafeet" written all over my face!
     An X-Ray revealed I had a major heel spur which was most likely piercing through my plantar fascia to cause a double whammy foot injury!  With corresponding bursitis to boot!!! My podiatrist described the spur as looking like the tail of a cruise ship (if you know my friend then you understand his reference!).  Owww!  He gave me the option of a cortisone injection right at the sight which I immediately rejected.  One, it hurts like the dickens and two, it could cause permanent weakness of the fascia and three, the doc said he himself would never do it as he is terrified of shots!  So Plan B was a Medrol Dose Pack (prednisone) for a week, absolutely no running, p90x, yoga or elliptical machine but rather biking, swimming and pool running.  Any VeGAL would shutter to think of taking such powerful oral meds to deal with pain all the way at the other end, especially when it is not exactly a natural approach.  In desperation, I filled the script and popped the pills.  One week later, with the risk of having a steroidal moon face/bloated belly reveal in addition to acid reflux, I had expected to be cured to no avail.  I did indeed experience some relief but it was only fleeting!!!  So after the potent anti-inflammatory and safe cross-training, I was still very much inflamed!!!  Yikes! I began googling frantically in desperate search of websites and blogs to see what other sufferers rather than professionals suggested.  And eureka!  I found one which was benign, natural, affordable, sensible and doable...athletic/kinesiology tape (Rock Tape of ActiTape) applied in a specific way to support the foot during exercise:  place one strip along the outer part of your foot from the base of the toes to the heel.  Then place another strip along the length of the interior portion of the foot and then the third diagonally across from the outer to the inner, covering the area of injury. Proceed with desired fitness regimen with caution.  Suddenly, I was able to run again, albeit slowly, but be back on the road again, doing what I am passionate about, was so freeing after all those weeks held in captivity!  To accelerate the healing process even more, I froze a plastic water bottle and rolled my heel over it religiously for 30 minutes at a time, at least three times a day, more specifically, upon waking and after running. In addition, I purchased the Count'r Force arch support brace online for $15 which I try to wear throughout the day with sneakers on.  I read on one website that heel spurs can form due to a calcium deficiency.  Even though a proper plant-based diet, rich in leafy greens, nuts and legumes, can supply a VeGAL's RDA of calcium, it's possible that our rigorous workouts, not to mention our stressful lives, can impact negatively on our body's ability to absorb essential calcium.  Calcium deposits can then form in the weaker areas, including the calcaneous bone of the heel. 
     Currently, I am running virtually pain free with some residual peripheral foot soreness secondary to overcompensating/misuse. I realized that once the heel spur and related swelling had been reduced, the Rock Tape was no longer needed (it may do more harm than good).  I am diligent to this day about icing after every work out, no matter what!!  I  continue to wear my arch brace as needed.  The only pills I pop are my vegan calcium pills derived from red marine algae.  Oh and did I mention a little vodka a.k.a. "Mommy's water" from time to time doesn't hurt either!!!  VeGALs know this potent potable is all natural and vegan friendly!  Cheers!!!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pre-workout fuel suitable for VeGALs

Working out in the sweltering heat of Summer Everywhere USA may help you look svelt but can leave you feeling exhausted and fatigued. If you don't take the proper steps to hydrate prior to and during rigorous exercise then you run the risk of becoming severely dehydrated and then it's...TOO LATE (see Jerry Seinfeld on Jimmy Fallon, YouTube). Your healthy-looking VeGAL facade may suddenly turn you into a gaunt-looking Edvard Munch muse.  But hey, don't sweat it!  Finding plant-based nutritional drink products specifically formulated for pre/during workouts has become a lot easier these days.  From your local grocer to a specialty markets like Whole Foods or online health/nutritional stores (Tunie's,,, there are several different products I would like to suggest which support the demands of the vegan endurance/hard core fitness athlete (VeGAL).  Such products support endurance, extend stamina and maintain mental focus while reducing fatigue. The one product which is most readily available is plain old coconut water! Found by the bottled water just about everywhere, CW is relatively affordable, palatable and mixes well when combined with powders or juices.  It contains all the essential electrolytes that can be lost when schvitzing!  I make my own concoction consisting of an Electrolyte Stamina Power Pak with a scoop of ActiveFuel or Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer (the latter two contain electrolytes and plant-based proteins), some water and ice.  All products are natural and free of animal ingredients.  If you are in a bind and have no choice but to drink Gatorade then use it sparingly as it contains bromide, a flame retardant, which studies have found may be carcinogenic. In extreme heat, with workouts over one hour, or when you are running from water fountain to water fountain, bring along some electrolyte capsules to wash down with H2O. Get creative and be your own vegan mixologist and see what works best for you.  But don't get careless or think for one minute that you don't need any of that stuff because although you are a bad ass VeGAL, you are still human and if you neglect your personal temple long enough, it will be TOO LATE!  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Could You Be a VeGAL?

Welcome to my VeGAL blog.  In case you were wondering...VeGAL stands for Vegan Girl AthLete!  No matter what your discipline, if you are a dedicated endurance/hard core fitness athlete who maintains a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle then you ARE a VeGAL!  Our bodies are our temples and as such, we are governed by a certain set of ideals, we practice with an elevated philosophy.  We may be cruel in a sense to our bodies when it comes to training yet we are cruelty free when it comes to animals and the environment.  No, I am NOT a doctor nor am I a registered dietician/licensed nutritionist, although some folks insist I am certifiable!!!  I am proud to say I have evolved into a VeGAL from the school of hard knocks AND pains like shin splints, adductor/hip flexor injuries, hamstring pulls, plantar fasciatis, heel spurs, extreme dehydration, exhaustion, hypothyroidism, childbirth, child rearing, divorce and ridicule!!!  Whether you consider yourself a VeGAL or you just simply wish to learn more about plant-based nutrition as it relates to female athletes, I hope you find my blog insightful, relevant and useful.  Don't be so quick to judge!  Just hear me out, take it in stride!  Please say you are along for the ride!   

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hello VeGALs (Vegan Girl AthLetes)!  As we all know, it is Meatless Monday!  But today also kicks off US VegWeek!  For VeGALs, every day is Meatless Monday, every week, a VegWeek, after all, we are "firmly planted!"  Let today and the rest of this week be an opportunity to express pride in our bodies, love and compassion for animals AND regard for our environment.  Invite friends over for dinner or meet them out at a veg-friendly establishment!  Set a positive example for your family, friends, work-out buddies and co-workers by introducing meat-free alternatives, chock full of flavor!  If everyone could at least choose plant-based meals one day a week, we can improve our health significantly as well as reduce our carbon footprint globally!  If you happen to be in the Ft. Lauderdale area tomorrow night, Tuesday, April 23rd, try and catch the screening of the film "Veducated" at Cinema Paradiso, at 7:00 p.m. where compassion over killing will be the focus!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hello, fellow VeGALs (Vegan Girl AthLetes)! As we all know, we are firmly planted, meaning we take great measures to stay fit and healthy using plant-based, cruelty-free fuel!  As careful as we may be to uphold such standards, it is possible to fall short when it comes to our beauty regimen.  For example, did you know that many common, conventional body lotions, facial moisturizers, sunblocks, soaps, shower gels, body scrubs, shampoos and conditioners contain parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben) which work as preservatives to extend their shelf lives? These parabens can actually mimic estrogen in our precious bodies.  As it is, we as females face some issues regarding the delicate hormonal balances as they relate to our age as well as our intense training schedules.  In addition, many of the foods we eat contain phytochemicals, namely phytoestrogens, which too can have a negative impact on our hormonal system.  Add to that our beauty products which may contain parabens and you are talking recipe for disaster.  Too avoid estrogen overload, make sure to read the labels of your fave beauty products and look for those which are "paraben free."  We are starting to see more mainstream companies adopting this standard but you will have plenty of choices by visiting your local health food store, like Whole Foods, Tunies or online discount websites.  The majority are safe and affordable without compromising quality or effectiveness.  VeGALs are hard core in every way but it is essential to practice a little TLC when it comes to disease prevention, sun protection and avoidance of premature aging.  VeGALs are beautiful from the inside out!

My daily treatment:  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

As a Vegan Girl AthLete (VeGAL) my fuel comes from plant-derived foods, including watercress, a super leaf!  Rich in antioxidants, Vitamin A, iron and calcium, I try to incorporate into my meals daily.  Luckily, watercress can be found in the produce section at both Publix AND Walmart, pre-washed in bags.  Both spicy and savory, this versatile dark, leafy green can be used in a crispy salad or wilted when tossed into a warm dish just before serving!  Never mind the classic high tea finger sandwich!'s what's for dinner!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hello.  I am new to blogging so please bear with me.  I want to introduce myself as creator of VeGAL: Vegan Girl AthLetes Unite!  I am developing a community of vegan female hard core athletes who maintain a "hard core" either through endurance or high-intensity fitness sports.  VeGALs are fueled by a plant-based diet coupled with strong convictions regarding the welfare of animals.  We are dedicated, passionate AND compassionate in all that we do.  By strictly adhering to an elevated philosophy, we are set apart from the rest yet we blend in with mainstream.  VeGALs are firmly planted!