Name: Erin Fergus
Weight: 125 lbs
Birthplace: Montgomery, AL
Current Residence: Pensacola, FL
Sports: running, indoor cycling, weight training
Why did you become vegan?
I became vegetarian when I was 17 and visited Washington D.C. the summer after my high school graduation with my parents. I had pet chickens growing up, and seeing the literature posted around the city made me vow to never eat a chicken, cow, or pig again. I became vegetarian the next day and never looked back! I thought about veganism for awhile, but I was a college student with little money and did not live near any vegan resources. Now that I live downtown and have a full-time career, World Go Vegan Day 2007 was the final push I needed. I wish I would have done it a long time ago!
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I do not remember an exact “time” when I became interested in fitness; physical activity has just always been a part of my life. I played softball and basketball and also danced growing up. I became interested in strength training in high school and have always liked the look of muscle tone on women. I majored in exercise science in college, and now I have both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the field. I have worked as a personal trainer and am currently a Fitness Director. I know that I have made a personal and professional lifelong commitment to fitness!
How would you describe your nutrition program?
I have always trued to only eat food that is nutrient dense and that my body can actually use for energy. Being vegan helps because everything I eat is clean and healthy. I try to maintain a balance between plenty of fruits, veggies, nuts, soy products, and faux meats, but there are times when I feel like I could eat an entire jar of peanut butter! My favorite breakfast is old-fashioned oatmeal with bananas, mandarin oranges, cashews, and flaked coconut. I also cook tofu stir-fries often because they make such easy, packable lunches. After reading The Thrive Diet, I occasionally use The Ultimate Meal shakes and hemp products. I also LOVE Raw Revolution bars – Spirulina & Cashew is my favorite!
How would you describe your training program?
I try to completely revamp my program every 6 weeks – 3 months. My favorite has always been getting in the weight room, and my passion is creating total body strength and cardio circuits that will leave me dripping sweat and hobbling away in less than an hour! I have also increased my cardio quite a bit over the last year because I have become very competitive. I currently instruct two or more Spinning classes a week in conjunction with training for races. I have put over 700 miles on my road bike, entered and won the female division of the My First Tri, completed the Nation’s Tri and an Olympic duathlon, and placed top 3 in several local sprint tri’s and races of 5K, 10K, 15K, and half-marathon distances. I realize that cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, and flexibility are equally important in a program, so I also attend yoga classes and teach a pilates/yoga fusion format called PiYo weekly.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
Each morning I take a vegan multivitamin, an iron, calcium, a vegan flaxseed oil, and a super B complex. I do not think I go overboard with my vitamins, but I want to take enough to cover any of the vitamins I am missing out on. Women especially need to ingest more iron and calcium, and I feel more energized from the super B complex. Sometimes I drink The Ultimate Meal shakes and have recently purchased a chocolate hemp/pea/cranberry protein blend to use in smoothies.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
Probably the most common would be that we are “unnatural” or malnourished. I feel that there is absolutely no reason why people have to eat meat when the food industry has created so many delicious alternatives. Some people are surprised at just how much protein you can get from tofu, tempeh, and other sources that are also low in calories. I am constantly hearing things like, “I can’t believe you have such great muscle tone…for a vegan…”
What do you think the most important aspect of fitness is?
It would definitely be challenging your body to do something that it is not accustomed to doing. I try to preach “do not work out harder, but work out smarter”. You have to continually push yourself to improve, and you have to want it just as bad mentally as you do physically. Rest days are also important because they always allow you to return more refreshed!
What do you like best about being vegan?
I feel more centered and more pure inside and out. I know that I am supporting an excellent cause and lending a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves. The more vegan food, clothing, and accessories we all purchase, the more that will be supplied in the future. I hope to continue to see this lifestyle become more mainstream, and I am beginning to enjoy educating others about just how good I have it!
What do you like best about being fit?
One thing I’ve noticed is that I hardly ever get sick. I like feeling strong and knowing that I can lift as much weights as some guys I know! Everyday activities are easy and I pick up new skills quickly. I thrive on knowing that I am a role model to those around me!
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
You have to be willing to do some research before you make the switch. You will have to put in a lot of effort in the beginning, but you will get the hang of it quickly. The Internet also has an enormous amount of information and many discussion groups where you can swap information with people who are making the same transition.
How has the website www.veganbodybuilding.com helped or inspired you?
Although I only know of a few vegans in my area, I am suddenly surrounded by people just like me when I am on the website. I have also been introduced to some new products that I had no idea existed! I hope that I can give as much inspiration as I have already and will continue to receive.
Is there anything else you would like to add about your vegan fitness lifestyle?
Being vegan has motivated me to pursue some of my other interests, such as recycling, eco-walking, and ending animal cruelty. I truly believe that vegans are the most compassionate, interesting, and exceptional humans on the planet, and I hope that is the image I portray to others.