Interview with @Carly_Bergman

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I did a little e-interview with Carly Bergman who you can follow on Instagram @carly_bergman. She is 20 years old from Illinois living in South West Florida while she finishes up school. I like following Carly because she shares a lot of vegan products, not just food but beauty products and clothing items as well. She is passionate about animal welfare and the planet and also an advocate for #freethenipple. She confesses that when she first wanted to become vegan, there was just so much information that she felt overloaded and overwhelmed and unable to commit to the lifestyle because of how overwhelming it felt. I personally know a lot of people that feel that way, and you might relate through Carly’s story. Keep reading to learn more…


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How long have you been on Instagram? What is your handle?

I have been on Instagram for about six years (@carly_bergman). However, I just recently started voicing my vegan lifestyle in full force! I try to combine all aspects of veganism since I am a health-nut and environmentalist.

When did you go vegan?

At the age of 15 I started working at a vegan juice and smoothie bar. I absolutely fell in love with the idea of living the cleanest lifestyle possible. As I aged, I realized the importance of living low-waste and ethically. I believe I will always be vegan because I am equally attached to the ethical side as well as the environmental side.

What would you say sparked your interest in the community?

The health aspect was my initial interest. I love learning about medicinal herbs (especially mushrooms) that cure people of all types of diseases. I have always had an interest in the Native American healing practices, so I believe this is where my health-nut qualities stem from. I started working at a juice bar at the age of 15 and I started learning/implementing Ayurveda and TCM as my knowledge grew.

How long have you been vegan? What was your journey like?

I would consider myself vegan for 4 years. However, there is more to the story. I have eaten fish about roughly five times, but that stopped two and a half years ago. The reason why I was still eating fish was because of doctors- they had me questioning my choices and blamed my state of health because of veganism. Here is the story…

I started working at Pure Juice Café at the age of 15 and I became vegan in full force within two months of starting. I supported the movement 100% and wanted to be the best individual I could be for myself and for the planet. However, I had message overload with all of these controversies I initially had no idea about. Every shift that I worked, I learned something new about veganism. Arsenic in brown rice? Antibiotics in chicken? Oxidizing cells due to radiation? Genetically modified organisms? I panicked from the message overload. I became the vegan that refused to go out with friends that were non-vegans. I was scared of something as simple as ordering food at a restaurant and my food being cooked with too much olive oil at too high of heat (which would deplete the nutrients and therefore I would be eating useless calories). Learning all of this information too quickly (and at a young age at that) sparked an eating disorder. I HAD to eat the cleanest foods and could not fill my body with toxic conventional fruits and veggies that were at restaurants! I isolated myself and got into a dangerous routine of eating mostly raw, low calorie foods.

This mindset lasted for a couple of months and resulted in me losing a ton of weight, hair, and friends. It took a toll on my mental state and physical state. Doctors automatically told me that my hair-loss was directly due to my vegan diet. I NEEDED to eat fish in order for my hair to grow back. I NEEDED chicken for protein. I NEEDED sour cream for fats. At this point I was 16 and didn’t know what to think or who to believe. I gained all of my weight back with a vegan diet, but my hair was still falling out. They said that I at least needed to eat fish in order to see any regrowth. I ate fish about five times between the ages of 16-18, and I hated every minute of it. I automatically wanted to throw up since I knew all of the information about environmental toxins in fish, but a part of me wanted to believe that the doctors were looking out for my best interest and wanted my hair to grow back. I knew I couldn’t continue like this. Every single time I tried to eat fish, I wanted to vomit… I have an EXTREMELY guilty conscience that didn’t help this. The truth of the matter is, my hair never grew back to its full thickness which upset me for a long time. At the time, I questioned if my vegan diet was prolonging the process, but I came to the realization that it didn’t matter. I will take having thinner hair without killing animals than eating fish and destroying the oceans any day.

After blood work and exams at the age of 19, I found out that I have PCOS (poly cystic ovary syndrome) that causes hormone imbalances aka hair loss. This syndrome’s symptoms are actually LESSEND with a vegan diet… SCREW YOU DOCTORS! After starting to eat more raw, nutrients-dense/high calorie foods combined with Ayurvedic herbs and acupuncture, my hair started to regrow! I would not wish this experience on anyone, but it shaped who I am and made my vegan beliefs even stronger.

What are your favorite vegan YouTube or Instagram accounts to follow? Do you have a YouTube or blog?

I love @Tealixirkombucha, @planet_protein, @brenden_fitz, @elizabethmourar, @badassvegan, @claudiaprzystal @kombucharoyalty

Would you consider yourself to be an activist?

Yes. Although I have always been an advocate for animals and the environment, I recently just started stating my opinions openly on social media. I attend vigils and protests and I plan on going hardcore this year. However, I find that by leading by example on social media more people tend to listen and follow than me going to a protest and screaming at everyone wearing fur (even though sometimes this is tempting). It gets difficult remembering that I used to be that girl eating sushi wearing leather, calling myself an “environmentalist”. I was there, and so have most other vegans. I try to educate from a place of understanding…

Where are you getting your information? (Facts, statistics, etc.)

I learned most of my facts a couple years back while working with an acupuncturist who studied holistic medicine in China. She taught me a lot about Traditional Chinese Medicine and the science behind it. Because I have worked at Pure Juice Café for 4+ years, I know an abundance of information because of my boss and the holistic wizards she brings in!

(I want to meet these wizards!)

What are your favorite vegan foods or products?

I LOVE RAW FOOD. At the moment, I can’t see myself being completely raw. There are some days I eat completely raw and I do not even mean to. All I know is that when I eat raw, I feel unstoppable. My favorite vegan foods are acai bowls and raw desserts. To be honest, I have a serious carrot cake problem. It’s bad. On the cooked food scale, I love Sweet Earth Foods. They have so many burgers and seitan products to choose from #TeamSeitan.

My favorite vegan drink is KOMBUCHA. I am the kombucha queen, I will tell you that without a doubt. There is a time in my life where I was drink 4 Gt’s kombuchas a day, and that time still continues. I’m obsessed with kombucha (and all fermented foods for that matter). The new brand I am obsessed with is Tealixir Kombucha. They use holistic herbs to flavor their kombuchas which is a double whammy!

Beauty product wise, I love the makeup brand Pacifica makeup, Booda Butters lotions, Sunkissed Earth Jewelry, Nature’s Gate, Mad Hippies cleansers, and Hippy Pits deodorant.

Would you say that your page is an authentic representation of you as a person or more of an ‘internet persona’?

My page is more informative at the moment, but I try to add my touch on every single post. I wish people got to experience me in person. I love laughing and goofing around. One thing about me is that I am ALWAYS joking and laughing. I have been getting into collaborations with companies and more of the cross-promotional side of Instagram simply because I want to help expose amazing vegan brands that I personally use. I want my followers to see that veganism is possible ANYWHERE. However, I understand that some may view this as me advertising for too many companies and they might be receiving message overload, so I am trying to find a happy-medium. Overall, I think that through my Instagram people get the gist of my free-spirited self and know that I am just simply happy to be alive and having the opportunity to influence people to make healthier choices for the planet and themselves.

What hashtags do you frequently use or scroll through?

I frequently use #kombuchaqueen (obviously) as well as #vegancommunity, #kombucharoyalty and #plantbasedmuscle

What would you tell someone who is not a part of the vegan community that you think that they should know? Or what is a misconception you often hear about the community?

Some people mention that they do not want to go vegan because they do not care if animals die or if they are harming the planet. They claim it is the circle of life. However, I want people with this mindset to be selfish and go vegan to preserve their own health. NO ONE wants to feel like s*** their entire lives. They just are unaware that eating vegan for three weeks can completely change their physical/mental state. Whenever I come across someone that says they don’t feel bad about eating deer that they hunt, I ask them how their organs feel about it. That automatically gets them thinking about how frumpy and lazy they feel after consuming meats and other processed foods. It’s all about perspective.

 

10 Misconceptions About Going Vegan

Local farmers market finds

Local farmers market finds

  1. You will never get to have your favorite junk foods again. Wrong! This used to be the case but welcome to 2017. We now have restaurants entirely devoted to cooking up delicious vegan foods like pizza, manicotti, nachos, cheese platters and decadent desserts. You can even find vegan burgers next to the ground beef in participating supermarkets.

  2. You will lose weight. You might, but it isn’t a guarantee. Like I said, there are amply junk foods out there. A common misconception is that because it is vegan, it is healthy. It probably is healthier, but everything in moderation. That being said, you are guaranteed to be healthier in terms of heart health, blood pressure, cancer risk etc. but losing weight is not a given.

  3. You will be ridiculed. Often not the case. With social media and the rise of veganism, you are bound to make plenty of friends with similar dietary and lifestyle choices! There are even apps to meet likeminded individuals, or try going to a Veg Fest!

  4. It’s more expensive to eat vegan. Again, largely not the case. Think about your grocery bill, what is the one food group that costs you less than all of the others? Meat, right? You will totally be cutting this out and therefore saving yourself lots of money. There are specialty vegan food items that can be pricy, but you don’t have to buy those things or you can reserve buying those things when you catch them on sale or feel like splurging. Vegan options abound at farmers markets and Aldi.

  5. You have to go vegan overnight. Nope. You can totally cut things out one at a time and move at your own pace. For some, it’s easier to cut it all out at once but that’s up to the individual.

  6. Vegans are mean. They are human. You will find, though, that most are very compassionate and caring individuals. Often it is their passion that comes off as aggressive, haughty or even mean. Once you have this knowledge that few people want to listen to, it can be hard to maintain your cool. Most are very eager to welcome you into the vegan family and offer their own struggles, tips and personal stories.

  7. You have to become an animal rights activist. You don’t, actually. There are a variety of reasons that someone might choose to go vegan. It could be the latest trend, for the health, for the environment or for personal preference. There are also degrees of activism, a small percent of vegans are fulltime activists and some are activists in small ways, rather than out on the picket line.

  8. I only need to modify my diet. Actually, the term vegan encapsulates a lot more than just what you eat. You don’t use products that are tested on animals or that may contain animal ingredients. This constitutes an overhaul of your house cleaning supplies, the types of alcohol you drink and even the clothes that you wear. Again, you don’t have to change everything overnight. Or you can just opt for a vegan diet and forget about the rest. That’s totally up to you and your comfort level.

  9. You can’t go out to eat or over to friends’ houses. Again, not the case. There are tons of restaurant options. If you are worried about a particular restaurant, call ahead and ask if they can make you anything – usually they will have side options at the very least. As for going to dinner parties with friends, this one gets a little more tricky. You can either accept that you can’t be perfect and just try your best or you can eat beforehand or even pack your own. I have been known to do all of these. But, hopefully, you will have wicked support friends and family who make sure you have at least a couple of options. The first Thanksgiving and Christmas are always rough but be proactive and bring a vegan twist on a favorite dish and you are sure to win over the naysayers.

  10. Veganism will make you unhealthy or weak. Definitely not! There are numerous professional athletes that follow a professional diet. There are even more vegan bodybuilders, professional and amateur alike. As for unhealthy, I encourage you to read through scientific literature about plant-based diets or put on a vegan documentary touting the benefits. If you need ideas or more support, check out my blog posts on going vegan here, and here.

     

     

The Importance of Self-Love - An Interview With @Brigheenfit

Find Bridget on Instagram @brigheenfit

Find Bridget on Instagram @brigheenfit

I met Bridget through Instagram (duh) and have come to consider her a friend. She continually inspires me with her outlook on life. She is fun-loving, kind and down to earth. If you struggle with balance? Follow this girl. She gets it. Our fitness journeys are really similar, so I feel very connected to her, but different enough that I think many of you will benefit from hearing what she has to say... enjoy!

What is your name and How old are you? Bridget, 24 

How long have you been on Instagram? I began my fitness Instagram in January of 2014.  I remember being home for Christmas and talking about my new year's resolution with my mom.  Every year I would have the same goal to"lose weight", and I decided that this would truly be my year.  I decided to make the Instagram to hold myself accountable. (If I could go back in time, I would have changed my goal to being healthy and strong!)

What is your go-to healthy meal? What about your go-to cocktail? I'm a huge breakfast person!  I will seriously eat breakfast foods no matter the time of the day.  Something I usually make would be egg whites topped with feta cheese, Simply Potatoes hash browns, bell peppers and onions, and Lightlife Veggie bacon strips with side of reduced sugar ketchup! Go-to cocktail? 98% champagne with 2% OJ!  

 What would you say sparked your interest in the community? Nothing seemed to work in terms of me reaching any type of fitness goal.  At first I just wanted to lose weight.  This was something I would dream about, wish for, cry over all the time, yet I never had a plan to execute it.  I remember thinking, nothing will change if I change nothing.  My fitness account was a platform I could post "proof" of what I was eating and what I was doing to be active.  Then I began making connections with women all over the world with the same struggles and aspirations, and they kept me motivated and inspired me.  I never knew that making an fitness account would change my life, but it did.

What is your best advice for someone who is struggling with comparison and negative self-talk?Our parents/guardians didn't grow up with social media.  They could avoid beauty magazines easily.  Us?  We have these platforms at our fingertips to not only use to help us, but to unfortunately tear us down.  I sometimes can't help scrolling through my IG feed and comparing myself to these beautiful women, or being worried of my boyfriend doing the same thing.  My best advice?  Someone else's beauty does not take away from yours.  You are seeing highlight reels of people's lives.  We're all human, we all have "flaws", we all have things we don't like about ourselves that other's admire.  I use to feel competitive towards other females, but now I realize we all need each other to feel loved, to feel empowered, to feel HAPPY.  I want every single person on this Earth to find true self love.  That would have a direct positive impact on any relationship they have with others.  As for the negative self-talk, it might be cliche, but if you wouldn't say it to your best friend you shouldn't be saying it to yourself.  Instead of pointing out what you don't like about yourself, decide goals you want to achieve that will help you love yourself more (mentally and physically). 

What does being 'body positive' mean to you? How do you practice that? This is so important!  I've been unhealthily heavy, I've been unhealthily underweight, and I am where I am at now.  I will tell you this, at every stage I had something that was bothering me, something I wanted to "fix".  I still struggle with this, but I am at a much better place now.  Body positive used to mean that I would look in the mirror and be in love with the way I look.  Now, body positive means loving my body for all that it does for me.  I went from not being able to jog for a straight minute to being able to run 5k's for fun, from not being able to do a single push up to being able to do burpees.  I can now hike without being exhausted, paddleboard without losing balance, climb over a fence when I'm running from the police... just kidding.  But seriously, our bodies are amazing and do so much for us.  I finally began to feel guilt.  Not for having cellulite and stretch marks, for having belly rolls, or for having a little chub by my arms when I wear a push up bra (AKA for being a human)-- I felt guilty for being so harsh and mean to a body that has done nothing but carry me through my best and worst days.  I decided loving my body doesn't mean just loving the way it looked, but fueling it with foods that will make it healthy.  I practice this every day by finding balance.  For redefining what the word "flaw" is that society has driven into my brain since I was a little girl.  I think I am beautiful, and I don't think that is wrong.  I would love for every man and woman to feel that way.

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What has been the biggest breakthrough for you personally in your health journey or what would you most want someone to understand about your story? The importance of self respect and self love.  I've always been told, "You must love yourself first before being able to love anyone else" and I just never actually understood it (I thought I had).  Because I didn't respect or love myself the amount that we all should, I found myself dependent on being in a relationship so that I didn't feel "alone" and dependent of feeling accepted by my peers, whether they were kind, genuine people or not.  I ended up in a horrible relationship with a boy that did not respect me.  He looked down on my friends, isolated me, tore down my self esteem, controlled what I did, what I wore, and who I would hang out with.  The worst part of it all was I lost myself.  I didn't recognize who I saw in the mirror.  I faked happiness when I would see people, I would cry every single day, and I put up with someone who belittled me and called it love.  I cannot put into words what fitness has done for me.  When I began to work out and eat healthier for ME, I began to create a healthy relationship with myself.  It sometimes brings me to tears thinking back on who I use to be.  I wish I could hug her and let her know it's going to be okay.  Then one day, I began to see results and I couldn't believe it.  I remember sharing my excitement, but this person I was in a relationship with told me to delete my account, that I just wanted attention, and asked me if I was trying to be more attractive for other people.  That was the moment it clicked.  I realized that I am starting to care for my body, to make it healthier, and yet I am doing nothing for my mind.  I am putting up with a dark shadow that is trying to stop me from being the best version of myself.  That was the day I decided to never talk to him again.  That was the day I found out how tough I truly was.  That was the day I found out what self love and respect really meant.  That was the day that changed my life forever.  I now have an amazing relationship with my parents, have the most supporting, caring friends, and found the love of my life who reminds me how proud he is of my everyday.  

If you find yourself in a relationship, whether it be a friendship or romantic, that brings nothing but negativity, that doesn't support you being a kinder, healthier version of yourself, that talks down on you, or makes you lose a sense of who you are- please get help.  I promise you that you have control over this, that there are people willing to help you, that you can have the life you've always wanted and that you deserve.  And if you do feel alone, you can always reach out to me. Life is too short to be miserable every single day.  You deserve happiness!

 

My Fitness Journey

I realized that most of you probably haven’t been following along on my journey through Instagram from the start so you may be confused as to what my path has been. I want to share with you my fitness journey and kind of how I ended up ‘here’.

I come from a very loving upbringing. But, my dad was not present in my life. When I turned 18 he totally abandoned any semblance of a relationship that we had had. This left me feeling unlovable, unwanted and broken. If the one man that was supposed to love you first, best and unconditionally couldn’t love me…well, what did that say about me? I was too young and too hurt to understand then that it had nothing to do with me. I went to university and I partied hard (but still graduated with honors, don’t get it twisted). I was in and out of a few serious relationships but mostly cheated on all of them. I got really heavy and then I lost the weight and was with someone that I loved SO much. But it was SO toxic. I was so toxic. I still drank a lot, I loved to party. I let that control who I was. I created fights, I perpetuated them. I was skinny, but I was unhealthy. I was skinny, but I was self-conscious. I was skinny, but it was not nearly enough. When that relationship ended, I found it difficult to breathe, to get out of bed, to think. It took weeks for me to be myself again. As time went on, I went about healing and finding myself and loving myself. Through this process, I gained a lot of weight. Through this process, I met a new byfriend and I was content to just stay at home with him. I was content to go to work, leave work, go home and lay on the couch.

My "starting point" April 2015

My "starting point" April 2015

 

Then something just clicked on. I was tired of crying in the closet. I was tired of not wanting to do things for fear of being seen. I found the 28 Day Jumpstart from Fit Girl’s Guide and I made a fitness Instagram to document my journey. I started with the food only and with incorporating walking into my every day. I believe it was 2 rounds before I really started doing the workouts but still I saw a lot of progress. For me, it’s easier to tackle one thing at a time. I then moved to their other cookbooks and even went through their Bootcamp program and saw awesome progress. This all led to huge physical changes. But most importantly? The internal changes. Those I could write a book about (and maybe I have something up my sleeve) but please understand that you have to shift your focus from the external to the internal. That is the only way to have true and lasting change.

I realized after doing so much calorie restrictions that I was getting very small and still wasn’t feeling satisfied. I would be hungry and binge-eat because my body was calling out for sustenance. This is when I moved away from FGG and started looking into macro tracking. I learned a lot through this process about how food is food. I learned a lot about portion sizes that was very beneficial and I also healed from viewing calories as this singularly important thing. I then moved away from that because it was still triggering obsessive behaviors and finally decided to just eat intuitively. What that means is that I am now really familiar with my body and what it needs, so I know when I am hungry and how much food I need to be satisfied. I eat when hungry, stop when full. I no longer place this huge stress on my body like I did for years about food. I could not tell you the last time I binged. I could not tell you the last time that I felt deprived. It is SO freeing and so wonderful to be at this place in my life.

As I found that my body felt better and responded better to a whole foods, plant based diet I continued with the intuitive eating. I went fully vegan on May 1st of 2016. I will speak lots more about this as I continue to blog, but just know that if you have ever considered going plant-based, you can absolutely reach out to me for guidance! It was one of the very best decisions I have EVER made for my health.

 

Today, I use a variety of workout routines. A lot of which come from Keep Going Kat because I love her loose approach. Nothing is one size fits all and she understands and nurtures that notion. I have found a great balance between lifting, HIIT and still going to spin class (which I love) one or two times per week. I just think it is important to try new things, experiment, listen to your body and then DO THE THINGS THAT YOU LIKE TO DO. I have found so much joy in lifting and what it does for my body, but I still also love to spin it out and get my heart worked out as well. Find your balance, whatever that looks like. It won’t look the same as it does for me or for anyone else.

It has been quite a journey for me and I want to continue to share my struggles and triumphs with you.

You are worth putting in the time and the effort to live your happiest and healthiest life.