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Name: Amanda Riester
Year of Birth:  1980
Height:  5'2
Weight: 120
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Current Residence:  Los Angeles, CA
Sports: Boxing, Bodybuilding

Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have?
I work as a professional animal communicator and teach classes on meditation.  I've been volunteering in pit bull rescue for the past 14 years.

 I am a true believer that nature heals us and I genuinely love and respect Mother Earth!  My spiritual beliefs keep me going, my daily meditations give my strength.

Other than that, I love spending time with my mom, going to vegan restaurants and thrift stores.  My favorite part of my day is always my long walk with my dogs. I think the most important thing in life are the simple moments. :)

When I have a bad day, the one thing that always makes me feel better is laying under the stars and connecting with nature.


Why did you become vegan? 
 I have always been a HUGE animal lover.  My first word was "Heidi" - my childhood dogs name.  I became a vegetarian in kindergarten after my 11-year-old cousin teasingly told me where meat came from.  Although she wasn't a vegetarian, she was just trying to make me cry-  it worked!  I was horrified at the idea of eating an animal friend and never touched a piece of meat again.  I remember being 5 years old asking at restaurants if things were made of meat before I ordered!  Although I lived a vegan lifestyle (never wore leather or fur) 4 years ago, I finally got the motivation to cut out all dairy.  I read Skinny Bitch and The Ethics of What We Eat, and that sealed the deal for me!

When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I come from generations of boxers, both of my grandfathers and my father boxed professionally, so I grew up in the sport.  My dad began teaching me to box when I was very young, and in 7th grade he signed me up for a womans self defense course/boxing class taught by a very famous female professional boxer.  I was completely hooked!  By 16 I was fighting in the Golden Gloves and the following year I was fighting at a National Level.  At 18 I was ranked #2 in the US and training for the Olympics. (Although I would have made the cut to go to the trails, unfortunitly it never passed as a sport)   After over 10 years competing I hung up my gloves and started training others.  I became certified as an AFAA personal trainer and ACE group fitness instructor.  I am also certified as a USA Boxing coach, judge and officiant.  Taking time away from my own competitions and coaching/training others began to bore me, I really missed competing!  In April of 2011,  I was given The Vegan Bodybuilding Book by a friend and that was it... I soon began competing in bodybuilding.  In 2011 I won 1st place at the Natural North America Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships. I took 2012 off for personal reasons, then came back in 2013 and won 1st place once again at thw OCB Midwest States.  Im excited to see what 2014 holds for me, as I have some excited goals in both bodybuilding and powerlifting. 

In addition to my competition experience in boxing and bodybuilding I was on my college wrestling team and have competed in judo and muay thai and trained in jiu jitsu.  I absolutely love combat sports!

How would you describe your nutrition program?
My bodybuilding cutting diet is very strict.  I eat every 3 hours and consume at least 25 grams of lean protein and one green veggie every meal. I eat 6 meals a day, 3 of those meals I also add in a carb source and twice a day I eat berries or an apple.  I drink at least 1 gallon of water per day.  

Homemade seitan is my preference for protein, it has roughly 130 calories, fat and sodium free and 27 grams of protein.  I also, really enjoy Garden of Life brand protein shakes post workout.

How would you describe your training program?
I have to admit, I am a complete gym addict!!  Im just a happier person when Im active, so for me its about how I feel more then the vanity of it... as silly as that sounds coming from a woman in a bikini holding a trophy! :)

   I train 6 days a week, most if the time twice a day.  I do am cardio on an empty stomach for 30-45 minutes.  I prefer to jog outside with one of my dogs, but if they aren't up for it, I head to the gym and enjoy hitting the heavy bag or on the Stairmaster.  In the evening I head back to the gym for about 90 minutes of heavy weight lifting.  I typically lift heavy on legs and light on upper body since my upper body is way more developed then my lower from years of boxing.  I also train at a fight gym a few days a week to get in some anaerobic work and release any aggression I may have.

What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
I LOVE Garden of Life's "RAW" protein. Its lean, delicious and gives me the post workout protein my body is craving.  Their meal replacement is great too for a pre workout since its high in carbs.

How do people react when they find out you are vegan?
A lot of people are very surprised that I can be as strong as I am on a mostly raw vegan diet.  I am very proud to be so strong and so healthy on a meat free diet.  I pride myself on being an ambassador for animals!

What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
The question I get every day is "Where do you get your protein?"  I hate that the general public expects vegans to be weak and emaciated because we dont get enough protein.  I find it to be the complete opposite.  Because I am a vegan, I make an extra effort be sure I am getting enough vitamins, nutrients and proteins.  I feel without a doubt, I am so much healthier then the vast majority of meat eating people in the world.

Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others?  If so, how did you go about it?
 I get a lot of attention from my fit healthy body and high energy workouts, and I use that as a form of activism.  So many people come over and ask "whats your secret? You always look so energized and you are so fit!"  My answer... "Ive never eaten flesh in my life."  That answers always leaves an impact.

 What do you think the most important aspect of training is?
DIET!!!!!  Diet is 70% of fat loss, exercise is 30%
I was working out twice as long when I was a vegetarian but couldn't lose that extra fat I carried in my midsection.  When I cut out the cheese, the fat melted away within weeks.  It was astounding!  Also the raw greens keep me feeling energized and healthy.  I hate preservitives or anything canned or chemically produced.  If I cant pronounce it, I wont eat it.

What do you like best about being vegan?
I love the way my body has transformed.  And I can feel comfortable I am doing everything in my power to NEVER contribute to animal suffering.  

What do you like best about being fit?
My weight has fluctuated a lot in my life. I've been a size 0 and I've been a size 14.  I love the way it feels to be able to go for a random hike or rock climbing and not be out of breath or stuggle, and like everyone else-- it feels good to be comfortable in my own skin.  I hated the time in my life I was so restricted by my own weight, not wanting to wear tank tops in summer or feeling flabby and sluggish.  It feels good to just be comfortable with myself and always up for any fun activity. 

What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training?
Take it one day at a time and work at YOUR own pace! Start out with whatever you can do... if its 5 minutes on the treadmill, tomorrow do 5 minutes and 30 seconds. Every day try to improve just a little bit, it will add up in no time!

Also, remember to take photos!  Every Monday I take a photo of my body to monitor my progress.  I find it more effective then monitoring weight since muscle weighs more then fat!  As hard as it is to take a photo of yourself in underwear, keep in mind it will only get better from here!

If you can afford to, hire a trainer or join a group.  Being around others with similar goals really helps, both for emotional support and to push one another during tough workouts.

What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Read, Read, Read!  The more you educate yourself on veganism the easier it will be.  Opening your eyes to the reality of the meat industry is difficult, but its the right thing to do! Wearing blinders is easy, but have the courage to educate yourself and not be a bystander in the atrocities of factory farming. Your conscience and body will thank you!

And do it not only for moral or ethical reasons, but also for health. There are so many great recipe books on vegan cooking and resources for staying healthy!

What motivates you in life?
Being strong for those that cannot fight for themselves.  I will always stand up for those in need, and I believe my path in life is to be a voice for the voiceless.  I refuse to be weak or succumb to my set backs in life- mentally or physically, and I always want to fight for what I believe in, and I believe in animal liberation.

What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com?  Has it helped or inspired you?
Roberts book The Vegan Bodybuilding Book is what started me on my bodybuilding journey!  The idea of using fitness to generate positive attention for veganism really hit home for me.  I have found my body and my athletic abilities to be the most meaningful tool I have to promote the idea of being strong, healthy and vegan.

Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share? 
I'd love to share my favorite two quotes... 
"Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that have received--only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage." - Saint Francis

" Whether you think you can, or you think you can't-- you're right".   -Henry Ford