Welcome to our second post in this monthly feature! The most exciting part of this series is that it allows us to discover the many sides to professions, and even people, we think we know. This month’s "A Day in the Life of..." is from: Aneulena Candelaria
1. What is your job title or the title of your hobby/volunteer work? Whole foods, plant-based bodybuilder.
2. How long have you been doing this work? 8 months of bodybuilding, 1 month whole foods, plant-based.
3. Why did you choose this work? I’ve served in the Navy for the last 12.5 years and last year all of my uniforms got noticeably tighter. At 31 years of age, my metabolism was no longer running as quickly as it had before without any additional work! I knew I needed a goal, so I gave myself 6 months and started preparing to compete in my first bikini competition in the Shawn Ray Hawaiian Classic!
I had not adopted whole food, plant-based diet when I was training or when I competed in the Shawn Ray Classic. That change has been more recent but has really helped with supporting my bodybuilding goals. I have more energy, I’m less lethargic, I sleep better, and I suffer from a lot less inflammation.
4. What, if any, skills or training are required or sought out? It’s best to start with a personal trainer until you have a solid foundation of using good form and knowing how to use all the gym equipment. For meals, an app like MyFitnessPal can help ensure you are getting all your nutrients and calories. A quick Google search will provide TONS of healthy recipe ideas.
5. What does a typical day (shift, etc.) entail? I wake up and take my dog for a 15 min walk. I have a vegan protein shake with peanut butter and a cup of blueberries and head to the gym. I work out from 0500 to 0615, and then head to work. I usually have beans and some form of grain for lunch. I prep all of my lunches and dinners on the weekend, so I just grab it from the fridge and warm it up at work. After work, I may stop by the gym again and do low impact cardio like the Stairmaster for 30-45 min. When I get home I have another protein shake with peanut butter and blueberries and a late lunch. Usually, this meal is some type of pasta or curry. Later in the evening, I’ll have a big green leafy salad with balsamic dressing and various fruits and/or veggies. If I get hungry throughout the day, I may eat one or a few fruits (apples, oranges, peaches, nectarines, grapes and/or grapefruits) or a handful of raw nuts.
6. What do you feel are the pros of this work? I love the discipline that my diet and workouts require. I also love that I’m back down to my regular weight and that I have an increase in energy. Another plus has been that I’ve almost beat my PT score from 11 years ago! I need to cut another 20 seconds from my run and I’ll be in better shape at 32 than I was at 21!
7. What do you feel are the cons of this work? Sometimes it’s difficult to find something to eat when I’m out with friends or when I go to friends’ homes. This is why I say I am on a whole food, plant-based diet as opposed to referring to myself as a vegan. If I go to someone’s home, I won’t outright refuse to eat the food they have prepared. I may choose to have something they prepared with dairy products. Also, I LOVE my mother’s macaroni and cheese! I believe I will be able to maintain whole food, plant-based lifestyle if I allow myself to make small, infrequent concessions rather than to restrict myself and alienate my family and friends that do not eat the way I do.
8. Would you recommend this work to others? Why or why not? I believe each person has to find what works for himself or herself. This lifestyle works for me. The most important thing is that a person be is physically and emotionally healthy. I wouldn’t say that bodybuilding is for everyone, but I do believe that more women can benefit from strength training and that all people can benefit from eating more whole foods, and decreasing their intake of processed foods, whether or not they continue eating meat.
9. If someone was interested in this work, what are the first steps they should take? If you can afford it, hire a personal trainer to help you with your personalized goals. If you don’t have the funds to hire a personal trainer, get an app that’s fun and easy to use. Lots of them have videos that show you how to use the gym equipment and that will give you a schedule and workouts to do at the gym. There is also TONS of information online but maintaining healthy, whole food, plant-based diet.
10. Finally, which experience from this work stands out the most to you? (A learning opportunity? Specific training? A crazy event?) It will have to be my first bikini competition. After 6 months of HARD WORK, 20 lbs and 13% body fat lost, it felt AMAZING to walk across that stage and show off my masterpiece! So many friends came out to support me and I met a lot of really awesome people!
If you want to learn more or follow her journey, she's on IG: @acandelaria27
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