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Name: Lyndsay Braswell
Height: 5'5”
Weight: Depends on the season!
Birthplace: Baltimore, MD
Current Residence: Pasadena, MD

Sports: Former Figure Competitor, Current Bikini Competitor, although not sure what category I'll end up in next season!
Blog: http://www.lilgreendress.com
Twitter: @FitRawChic
MBA, BS in Exercise Sports Science
NESTA Funtional Training Specialist
NESTA Sport Yoga Instructor

Why did you become vegan?
I chose this diet for health and somewhat superficial reasons (always had bad skin). More so health! I had been introduced to veganism a number of times in my life, but being a competitor I was under the percepetion I needed the bodybuilder staples of eggs and chicken to build muscle when I needed to and lose fat when I neededed to. How could I give them up? After taking a test I found out I was off the charts intolerant to eggs. I immediately gave them up and after doing some research, I soon decided to give up meat as well. I didn't really have much dairy in my diet before as I always suspected I was lactose intolerant. I still was having fish here or there, mainly when I went out for sushi or when I went out with friends or a date and didn't want to seem too uptight. But it was when I met Robert, other vegans, and read “The China Study” when I decided to make the full commitment. Knowing I could be social, have muscles, enjoy greater health and prevent diseases that run rapid in my family is truly what sealed the deal.

When and why did you become interested in fitness?
Lucky for me I've always had an affinity for exercising. When I was a little girl, still in the single digits, I would watch the leg warming unitard fitness ladies on “Body Electric” and the beach workouts of “Body Shaping” and “Kiana's Flex Appeal.” In 8th grade I was chosen to be part of a program where we weight trained before school called “Bigger, Faster, Stronger.” I never missed one workout and therefore experienced great improvement. In high school I played field hockey and lacrosse and in order to perform better my father felt I should join the gym. Boy was he right! I could hit that ball so much harder and I loved the new lines in my body! So at 15, my dad gave me my first gym membership and I've been hooked ever since!

How would you describe your nutrition program?
As far as specifics it really depends on the season and whether I am preparing for a competition. In general, I try to follow a whole food, natural diet plan. I eat very minimal processed foods and stick to home cooking mostly. I find I eat with the season with always the inclusion of lots of greens. I eat smaller portions every few hours or when my body tells me I need to. If I ever go too long without eating I always end up sabotaging my diet and eat way too much. Planning is key to the success of my nutrition program. Some of my staples include quinoa, chick peas, berries, greens, and sweet potatoes.

How would you describe your training program?
This too depends if I'm getting ready for a competition or not. I still like to keep my cardio up year round as running is when I do my most creative thinking and I sit a lot at work, plus I really like to eat! Just like nutrition, I believe variety is key. I like to lift full body 3x a week every other day to ensure my muscles get adequate rest. The types of exercises and volume are tailored to whatever my goal is at the time. I do some sort of cardio, mainly running on days I don't lift with some additional leg work which is only bodyweight or very light weight high rep work to get the muscles traditional lifting doesn't. I also like doing yoga or pilates as I feel they really lengthen and streamline the body.

What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
Hemp, Flaxseed, Vega, & Maca seem to be my mainstays although if I'm using Vega regularly I don't really have to consume the other three. I use them for the fatty acid profile, the extra easily digestible protein, the amino acids, and the vitamins and minerals.

What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
The obvious one, vegans are stick figures. Vegans only eat dirt. It's expensive. All of which are not true.

What do you think the most important aspect of fitness is?
The character building it gives you. The happiness it gives you. The discipline it instills in you.

What do you like best about being vegan?
Knowing that I can control my own destiny and being a vegan will secure me the best life possible. Plus all the great people I meet. A lot of them are for saving the earth and the animals, and with this comes caring people. Plus, I look so much better!

What do you like best about being fit?
I can perform better in all aspects of life because it gives me confidence.

What are your strengths as an athlete?
Wow, good question! In my sport where drug use is so prevalent, I have made a commitment to abstain from it and because of this I bring a more natural look and therefore can resonate with mainstream and have a positive influence because my physique is believable and achievable.

What advice do you have for vegan athletes who are just starting out?
Just do it! Sorry, is that considered plagiarism? My best advice would be to read as much as you can on it, that way it will motivate you more to stick to it. Make friends with vegans whether it's via internet or through a meet-up group and don't worry if you mess up here or there on your way to becoming 100% vegan.. Some people can go cold turkey but others like myself needed a little tweaking here or there. Also you may want to talk to a nutritionist that specializes in vegan diets. A lot of people quit on it too soon because they aren't eating the right way. Oh, and also give it time. You can't expect to see and feel changes right away.

What motivates you to continue to be a successful vegan athlete?
I read a lot and I'm fortunate enough to have successful vegan athletes in my life to support and motivate me. I feel so strongly that being a vegan can prevent so many terrible diseases, if I can inspire someone to eat this way through my athletic accomplishments I would be thrilled and know I am doing my service to the community. It's helped give me meaning to my life.

How has the website www.veganbodybuilding.com helped or inspired you?
I would have to say it's the President who has inspired me. The love and commitment he has for protecting animals is incredible, and deeply moving. It's so rare to meet such a giving individual. He's also introduced me to a lot of other new vegan friends and business mentors. AND have you seen this guy's pipes!? All plant protein baby!

Is there anything else you would like to add about your vegan fitness lifestyle?
I'm just so happy, and feel more spiritually connected since adopting a whole foods, plant based diet. I believe whole heartedly it's the right diet to follow for optimal nutrition and disease prevention. It also makes a girl's skin look fierce! :)