When I met Grace back in 2007 my life was quite the opposite than it is now. At the time, I had been a personal trainer for the better part of a decade helping people get fit and healthy, a word that has much more meaning today than in did six years ago. I had been competing in physique competitions for a few years and my diet at the time was heavily dominated by animal protein consumption. Heavily being an understatement, as I would eat an egg meal, a fish meal, a beef meal, a chicken meal and a whey protein shake all twice per day each. This continued for the better part of five years and it was near the end of this period when I first met Grace at the fitness facility we worked at. At the time, Grace had recently graduated from holistic nutrition school and I remember thinking that her nutritional practices were much more encompassing than mine but yet I was not about to change my practices as transforming people’s physiques was what I did best. I would soon learn that transforming a person’s physique is only one factor in the equation when it comes to a healthier lifestyle.
Grace shared with me that her dad had been battling cancer and through her nutritional recommendations he was winning the fight. This hit home with me as my mom was also going through her own decade long battle with cancer. Over the course of the next few years my life would change drastically, I had gone from personal trainer to strength coach to a more in depth focus on wellness, I would transition from omnivore to herbivore and I would unfortunately lose my mother to cancer. My initial reaction to the loss of my mother along with being influenced by the research I had done while my mom was ill led me to transition to a plant based lifestyle.
My journey to the plant based world has had its ups and downs which were mostly due to me hanging on to what I thought I knew about nutrition, most of which came from the bodybuilding industry which commonly inflates protein requirements, emphasizes low fat consumption (at the time) and cooking everything to be able to consume more calories each day. At first I tried to maintain these guidelines but at different times I found myself relying on either protein powders, beans or nuts which are definitely all great sources of protein but the quantities I was consuming were becoming detrimental to how I felt. The other factor that was playing a role in my transition was feelings of depression from having lost my mother. The effects of depression is worthy of a blog post all on its own and the majority of people have felt these feelings, to some point and extent, and know how easy it is for areas of their life to suffer.
I was struggling to nail down my plant based diet when I finally decided to seek help from a professional. I started working with a naturopath who put me through a juice cleanse to help reset my body’s cravings, digestion as well as my physical and mental health. If anyone is interested in reading about my ten day juice feast you can read Part 1 here. The feast helped with everything it was intended to do and as I introduced solid food back into my diet my body was now more proficient at digestion and absorption. At this point I vowed to forget everything I thought I knew about nutrition and just let the nutrient dense whole foods I was consuming do their job and if needed, I would tweak as I went along. At this point, I should have hired Grace to go over my nutrition with me as her expertise could have saved me a few months of more trial and error which would have been the more common sense thing to do, however I am a Taurus and we usually do things are own way. The silver lining in all of this is I can now better help those clients whose goal it is to transition to a plant based diet as I really understand many of the obstacles and mental blocks that go along with it.
The next mini obstacle was getting over the diet labeling that tends to rule our society, such labels as vegan, raw vegan, paleo and so on, as I felt this was holding me back. Again, my stubborn Taurus nature was getting in the way as I don’t like to ask for help. Throughout my transition I knew I wanted to eventually become a 100% raw vegan as I felt that it was the optimal diet for everyone. However, once I figured out eating raw, in relation to my activity and performance levels, I realized that if I wasn’t 100% raw vegan everyday, it wasn’t worth beating my self up about it as there are tons of delicious and nutritious cooked vegan foods. For those of you who are omnivores, holistic nutrition doesn’t just mean fruit and vegetables, as long as you consume organic, free range and grass fed meats, this applies to you as well.
Throughout my transition many of my colleagues didn’t understand why I would want to give up animal sources of protein especially being in the fitness industry. What they do know for certain, is the passion I have for helping people regain their health through whole food nutrition, exercise and restoration practices. This passion has drawn me back to school where I will graduate, come the fall of 2013, from the same holistic nutrition school Grace attended.
Nathane Jackson is a veteran health and wellness authority, specializing in holistic living. He has a decade worth of knowledge as a personal trainer and strength & conditioning coach and is dedicated to improving all aspects of health starting at the cellular level by combining holistic nutrition, functional exercise, and restorative practices to help his clients strengthen their mind, body and spirit.