The truth about ‘taking advice’ as a vegan
Today's guest post comes to us from the awesome Florian Wüest, head coach of QualityGains.com, an online fitness coaching service for driven plant-based individuals.
Take it away, Florian!
I was staring eagerly into the bathroom mirror on a sunny afternoon. I remember that moment vividly.
It was in my parents’ house in June of 2015. Younger me was shirtless.
“Is this truly it?” – I asked myself. “Am I seeing traces of a sixpack for the first time in my life?”
I had just come back from the pool and my friend made a rather jealous remark on my ‘shreds’. “Your abs are looking better as usual.” – he said.
Just 2 months ago I heard distinctly different remarks. “You’re going to be protein deficient!”, “Are you out of your mind Florian? Vegans are skinny!” or “I give you one single month and you’re back to eating chicken and rice out of your Tupperware”.
As I was posing proudly in front of the mirror I asked myself, “Is this the moment I’ve proven them all wrong?”
While my glare focused on my abs, my mind drifted off. I pondered if this was the moment I’ve cracked the code to fat loss?
Over 3 years of regular training and I had never come even close to a sixpack. Yet here I was standing, shredded for the first time while being fuelled solely by plants.
Today I want to tell you one single reason why you’re not seeing results in the gym – and how it can be changed easily.
The Art Of The Start
If I would have told you that I’d disliked meat before 2015, I would have blatantly lied. I was the definition of a meathead.
In fact I think my blood type was closer to that of a chicken than to a real human back then.
At least 2 pounds of poultry meat I’d inhale into my system on a daily basis. My day started with 6 eggs plus an additional portion of oats and milk. Often blended together so I could digest these inhumane portions.
It came to a point where my mother (I lived at home at that time), refused to cook for me. In hindsight I praise her for that choice. At that time though, it created massive tension.
I think I’ve never alienated people on a vegan diet as much as I’ve alienated them while being an extreme meathead. The only thing on my mind was the gym. The only thing my thoughts circled around was the gym – nothing else. I was selfish and ignorant at that time.
Yet although I was extremely focused on the gym, sacrificing my family bonds and social life, I had NOT seen the results that I’d wished to achieve.
I wanted to have a sixpack. A well defined midsection, literally for as long as I could remember.
On top of not seeing the results that I’d wished for, I also had a lethargic attitude, with little energy and troubling anger issues. I didn’t have any direction in my life. Nor did I feel I wanted to.
If you told me back then that this could be related to my eating habits, I would not have bothered talking with you.
Until that fateful moment of change.
The Story Of Change
“There’s just one issue -”, I told my best friend back then, “she’s vegetarian.”
In the beginning of 2015, 5 months before going vegan, I’d stumbled into a relationship. I’ve learned over the years that most men never plan to start relationships, they often just suddenly find themselves in one.
So it happened to me.
As a heavy meat eater I’d met an intelligent, thoughtful and – to my demise back then – a vegetarian girl. After a few months of dating, she gifted me a book called “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer. “Read it please”, she suggested.
After having it on my shelf for a few days, I finally decided to read it. The information inside those 352 pages changed my life to say the least.
For the first time in my life I was experiencing severe cognitive dissonance.
Although I had no direction and lived an unsustainable life back then, I never would have considered myself ‘bad’. Yet now, for the first time in my life, I needed to come to grips with being responsible for so much torment and pain on a daily basis.
I needed to change.
“But not right now!” – I said to myself. For at least 2 weeks I fought an internal battle in my head. Was doing the right thing truly worth sacrificing my goals of achieving a perfect physique?
The sane philosophical voice in my head prevailed. I’ve accepted the idea that this was the end of my bodybuilding ‘career’.
I’d accepted that never in my life would I see a sixpack or gain muscle anymore – or so I thought.
Advice: You Got It Wrong
“Florian, you need to understand that Jeff (a guy from school) got genetically a sixpack. You must come to accept that you will never have more than, at maximum, a two pack. And even this is not certain.”
This is what my best friend told me now about 10 years ago. I’d opened up about my goals of achieving a rock-hard midsection while we sat in his room and this was his precious gym advice.
I was devastated. He essentially encouraged me to give up. I asked myself: “Was he truly right?”
But in over three years of training in the gym, multiple failed diets and now even starting to eat solely plants – the advice I got pushed down my throat crushed me.
As I sat on my bed - staring at the wall - I thought I’d never be able to get a sixpack.
See I was ignorant – but not stupid. I’ve done my due diligence. I knew that I’d get enough protein. I knew that I’d be able to follow a nutrient-rich diet.
Yet somehow there was a mental rock on my road to a great physique. A mental rock so huge and intimidating that it nearly prohibited me from trying and urged me to throw in the towel.
Two months later of consistent effort in the gym, I’d somehow managed to lift the rock in my mind and jettisoned it into the abyss.
In that moment, staring at myself in the bathroom mirror, I realized that most advice that I ever got in my life was from people that weren’t where I wanted to be.
This is important. Only take advice from people that are where you want to be.
This is especially true for the gym but can be applied to everything in our life.
I love my parents, yet I would never take advice from them when it comes to running a coaching business, because they are not where I want to be in that regard.
My best friend is a good conversation partner and would always be there if I needed help – but he doesn’t have the gym results I craved.
What I want to get across is that what often prohibits us from taking action is listening to the wrong advice. We think that achieving a goal is not possible - so we never really try.
This is nonsense.
Instead of trusting the journey, we operate in a self-sabotaging way. We poke holes in our armour before setting foot on the battlefield.
With this article I wanted to assure you that it is possible. Trust the journey and take action on a daily basis.
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