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Name: Paola Deocampo
of Birth: 1979
Height: 5’5 ¾”
Weight: 125 lbs Contest weight: 117 lbs
Birthplace: Charleston, SC
Current Residence: Los Angeles, CA, and Dallas, TX
Sports: Bikini Bodybuilding and Running

Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have
I am a Voice Over Artist, a Certified Personal Trainer, and a NPC Bikini Bodybuilding Competitor. I love running, hiking, and lifting! I am passionate about good nutrition, having an active lifestyle and being good to all earthlings. And I love karaoke.

Why did you become vegan?
It all started with the book, Skinny Bitch. I actually put the book down when I realized that the authors were on a mission to get me to give up meat and dairy. I thought, “How could I do that? I grew up eating fast food and delicious, cholesterol-laden Filipino food. How could I give up the types of dishes that are a big part of my culture?” Something told me to pick up the book and continue reading anyway. After reading the chapter about how animals are treated and the manner in which they are slaughtered, my perception of food changed in an instant. I followed that with the documentaries, Food, Inc. and Earthlings, one of the most powerful films I’ve ever seen. Forks Over Knives is an equally powerful documentary, as it focuses on the actual science of animal-based food and the damage it wreaks on our bodies. I became vegan because beautiful, intelligent animals have a value far greater than just my next meal. They feel pain and grief just as we do and I refuse to contribute to their suffering.

When and why did you become interested in fitness?
Fitness had always been an interest, but it took me years to overcome laziness and lack of confidence. I ran a few 5Ks, took a martial arts class on ocassion, and lifted inconsistently. When I started the transition into a vegan lifestyle (April 2010), I began feeling more energetic, so I used it to my advantage by training more regularly and running longer distances. I completely fell in love with the fit lifestyle when I began studying to become a personal trainer. More recently, I learned a little about bikini competing and admire the look of the ideal
bikini bodybuilder. I made a commitment to obtain that strong, sexy look by signing up for a competition and, sure enough, with the help of my personal trainer studies and Robert Cheeke’s Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness book, I stepped on stage for the first time in a teeny tiny bikini on July 23, 2011. I really like the way I look now. I absolutely LOVE how strong I feel now!

How would you describe your nutrition program?
I eat at least 5 meals a day. For the most part, I stick to whole foods. I enjoy throwing all of my favorite veggies together along with a substantial amount of tempeh, edamame, and nuts, to have a big salad or stir-fry. I always start my day with steel-cut oatmeal mixed with soy protein and some stevia. I snack on fruit, nuts, carrots, and whole grain toast with peanut butter or almond butter. Before I became vegan, I would eat ANYTHING presented to me and ask what type of meat it was after I’d already eaten it. These days, I crave crisp juicy apples and a fresh batch of spinach!

How would you describe your training program?
~I lift for hypertrophy and strength about 5 times per week. I do cardio about 4 times per week. Pre-contest, I increase my cardio to 6 days a week and lift a little lighter to maintain muscle and prevent injury.

What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
I usually take multivitamins for safe measure. I include soy and hemp protein on a daily basis to repair and maintain muscle. I just tried Vega’s Vanilla Chai Health Optimizer . . . love it!

How do people react when they find out you are vegan?
Most people are curious, and of course, they ask the question: “Where do you get your protein?” Because of my passion for nutrition, I answer with a lot of enthusiasm and probably give them a lot more information than they would care to hear.

What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
A common misconception is that vegans are malnourished and weak, which is one of the biggest reasons that I am on a mission to build sexy vegan muscle! Another misconception is that we eat bland and boring food with very little variety. I find it funny that people feign concern over my current dietary choices when my former meal plan consisted of burgers, sushi, burgers, burritos, and more burgers. Since becoming vegan, I have not run out of new dishes to try. I have a beautifully well-balanced diet and the transformation my body has gone through is visible proof of that.

Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it?
I have had recent success in promoting veganism, especially to my loved ones, some of whom have been diagnosed with diabetes and high cholesterol. I don’t like to feel that I’m pushing my lifestyle onto others. So, what I do is simply express how amazing I feel on a regular basis. When asked, I pour out my passion for good nutrition and how I perceive food now. I tell people that I finally made a direct connection to where my food comes from and, in doing so, I no longer look at animals as edible, especially not when scientific evidence shows what meat and dairy does to our bodies. Not too many people paid attention, until I posted “before and after” pictures. One picture of a puffy me is labeled “Meat Lover.” The other picture is of a more lean and sculpted me on stage in a bikini, labeled “Animal Lover.” Since then, people have started following my blog and asking for tips on nutrition and strength training. I have also served as a good influence on family members that have already experimented (successfully) with veganizing Filipino dishes!

What do you think the most important aspect of training is?
Dedication, consistency, and a well-balanced diet plan.

What do you like best about being vegan?
It has turned me into a more compassionate person toward both animals and humans.

What do you like best about being fit?
I have so much more energy and I feel a lot more optimistic. I feel that I am, finally, the best version of myself.

What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training?
The first step is the most difficult, but if you are committed to living a better life, it should be smooth sailing from there. If a former fast food junkie like myself can do it, ANYONE can.

What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Becoming vegan is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your loved ones. Learn as much as you can about making the change, then BE the change. I promise it will all be worth it.

What motivates you in life?
The people I love and my passion for the well-being of all earthlings.

What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you?
Veganbodybuilding.com is a great inspiration. I feel supported by knowing that there are others out there that feel the same about those who can’t be heard, as well as others that thrive by living a cruelty-free, active and healthy lifestyle.