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Name: Davita Parks
Year of Birth: 1982
Height: 5’7
Weight: 125
Birthplace: TN
Current Residence: TN
Sports: WBFF Bikini/Fitness Competitor, Garden of Life Athlete, Yoga, Pilates, Weight Lifting, Dance

Why did you become vegan?
I was always more of a herbivore growing up. I never really cared much for meat and would lean more towards fruits and veggies, as opposed to meat (which is the exact opposite of my siblings). Following complications with my health in high school, I began focusing more on my training and what I ate. As I got older I began noticing that my body would respond negatively to certain types of foods and I began eliminating them from my diet. After a few years of following a vegetarian diet I began researching vegan diets and lifestyles, but at the advice of numerous competitors I kept fish in my diet. After my second season of competing I reached out to a couple of vegan competitors who graciously answered all of my questions and encouraged me to toss out the “standard” bodybuilding diet and take my nutrition in to my own hands. At that point I began phasing fish out of my diet and focusing on my body’s individual needs. In addition to earning pro status, I am out to shatter the notion that you can’t build muscle and compete on a plant-based diet.

When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I grew up participating in dance, gymnastics and cheerleading. In high school, I experienced a major setback that would unknowingly change the course of my life. I was away at a cheerleading event when I began having chest pains and trouble breathing. What I later found out was that I was having a severe asthma attack that was closing off my airways. Grace doesn’t even begin to describe what I received that night. The doctors in the emergency room described my attack as a double-edged sword; it could’ve taken my life, but it also saved my life because I had misdiagnosed with bronchitis. Later that same year I experienced another setback. I was hospitalized with pneumonia when my left lung collapsed. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was forced to give up everything.... cheerleading, gymnastics, dance. My body was completely broken down; I couldn’t even breath on my own. Rather than succumb to my diagnosis, I turned this negative into a newfound source of motivation I knew that no one could improve my health but me.... I just needed to identify some new habits and practice them until I improved my health. This strategy paid off, as I have since gone on to compete in fitness competitions where I have consistently placed in the top ten and top three. Through this experience, I learned that being active begins with a choice and eventually evolves into a lifestyle.

How would you describe your nutrition program?
Steel cut oats, quinoa, almond/hemp milk, kale and fresh blueberries are staples in my diet. I’ll pretty much eat any vegetable out there, and what I keep on hand is determined in large by what’s in season. I don’t count calories, but I do pay attention and adhere to portion sizes. I focus on eating a balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats.

How would you describe your training program?
My goal is to maintain a slender and aesthetic physique. With that in mind, I’ve found that my body responds better to CrossFit or Tabata type workouts that include conditioning exercises and HIIT. I become bored with repetition very quickly so I am constantly mixing up my training routine in or to stay interested and keep my body guessing. My workouts are designed to include a combination of upper and lower body training with the goal of really stimulating each muscle group. With the help of a friend and colleague, I am now incorporating some olympic lifts into my regime.

What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
I use Garden of Life RAW Protein, BCAA’s and all natural fermented L-Glutamine after my workouts and before bed. Since becoming a vegan I have learned how to obtain the majority of my nutrients from food. I’m not fond of having to take a handful of pills in order to stay healthy.

How do people react when they find out you are vegan?
I tend to get mixed reactions, especially when people find out that I compete on a vegan diet. The number question is, “Where do you get your protein?” If I had a dollar for every time I heard that question, I could retire at age 30! LOL Each time I hear this question I get excited because that’s my opportunity to use it as a “teaching moment” to educate people on the truth about veganism.

What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
Where do I begin?! LOL The biggest misconception is that vegans do not get enough protein, vitamins or vital nutrients. Another would be that we can’t build muscle without eating meat. Both of these are simply not true. There are a lot of misconceptions floating around out there, many of which are due to a lack of proper information and/or education.

Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it?
I understand that this lifestyle is not for everyone. My main goal is to educate and debunk the fear or myths surrounding vegan lifestyles. My “Meatless Monday” posts on my blog have been a huge aid in at least getting people talking and thinking about it. Other than that, I try to lead by example and make myself available to anyone who may have questions or concerns.

What do you like best about being vegan?
I love just knowing that I am fueling my body with the proper nutrients without the added hormones, fillers or artificial substitutes. I now have the satisfaction of knowing that I am making more educated choices when it comes to the foods I eat and my health.

What do you like best about being fit?
The most important aspect of being fit is striking a balance between physical, mental and emotional fitness. All three are important and rely on one another in order to function properly. I make sure that I have short and long term goals in place that will allow me to maintain optimal health in each of these areas.

What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training?
My first piece of advice would be to determine ‘why’ you are doing it, and be certain that it is for you and no one else. This may sound a little selfish, but at the root of it if you are not taking proper care of yourself and performing at your best, then you can’t properly care for those around you. My second piece of advice would be to sit down and map out your goals and determine what it is that you want to accomplish or improve in each area of your health. Once you’ve done this, acquire the advice and/or help of a trained professional who can help you meet those goals.

What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?

Reach out to other vegan athletes. I did and I found an entire network of like-minded individuals who were there to answer my questions, encourage me when I had second thoughts and support me along my journey. I’ve learned so much from the experiences of others.

What motivates you in life?
My own personal struggles with my health are what motivate me to continue improving my life. Based on these setbacks, I believe that with drive and determination anyone can take control of the physical challenges in their lives regardless of circumstances. I have now combined my personal experience with my passion for health & wellness. Fitness completely changed my life, and looking back 10 years later, my journey is now focused on helping and inspiring others. When I am asked about my life as a competitor and personal trainer, I tell people that I have had a lot of success at young age, but I have also had my share of trials and obstacles to overcome. I choose to look at each chapter of my life as an experience and lesson from which I can learn something and then use to inspire or motivate someone else. Every experience has made me the person I am today.

What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you?
I stumbled upon this website when I Googled “vegan bodybuilding.” I can’t tell you how ecstatic I was to find so many vegan athletes and competitors! I loved the idea of having a community & support system of fellow athletes who were willing to share their stories and

information with the rest of the world. I took it as a sign from God and confirmation that I was making the best decision for my own individual health.