I always thought I ate well and lived a healthy lifestyle. It wasn’t until I moved to Byron Bay in 2015 that I really began to understand the impact my daily decisions and food choices were having on myself, the earth and all its inhabitants.
Byron Bay is synonymous with healthy living and wellbeing. It’s a playground for yogis and the healthy minded alike, with vegan cafes and plant based stores on every corner. I started meeting wonderful people in the vegan community, at the local markets, martial arts clubs and yoga studios. I believe that people choose people based on likes and similarities. I immersed myself in the yoga, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and dance communities. I found myself surrounded by like minded people, who inspired me by their choices and way of living. The more I let go of my old patterns the more I dissolved into a new version of myself and I have never looked back.
I believe there are no coincidences, and in 2016 I started working with the founders of Rainbow Yoga, Angel and Gopala Yaffa, two inspiring humans who along with their four children are vegan. I have been a yoga teacher for over eight years and worked in business management for more than a decade. In my new role, I found that all of my passions and experience were rolled into one and I started living my true purpose. I was working from my heart space and managing an international Yoga Teacher Training company, providing yoga education around the world.
I started experimenting with a plant based diet and made the change to vegan over one year ago. At first I cut out most animal products, but until May 2017, I was still eating fish and dairy. After watching the documentary A Plastic Ocean, I realised the ocean had become like plastic soup. Soon there will be more plastic than fish. This was the final piece I needed to convert to a full plant based diet. For the animals, ocean, earth and my health.
Since taking animal products out of my diet, everything has improved. My eyes are stronger, my skin is clearer and my energy levels are much higher. I lead a busy life, action packed with work, movement, travel and adventure. Each year I travel overseas managing Yoga Teacher Trainings, teaching yoga for martial arts, BJJ specific yoga and yoga at international BJJ camps.
I’m part of a powerful community that encourages me to be the best version of myself and face my fears every day. I train BJJ four to five times per week and train to compete. Until I changed to a plant based diet, I experienced frequent joint pain and inflammation from intense training and pressure on my joints. Now I recover quicker and I have more energy and endurance when training.
There is a common misconception in martial arts that you need to eat meat to be healthy, strong and get enough protein. In my experience it’s the opposite. If anything consuming animal products made me feel heavier and lacking energy. There are excellent plant proteins in plant foods, grains, nuts, legumes and seeds. I love cooking and use a variety of these foods to create wholesome and delicious meals. I eat more frequently and smaller meals throughout the day now.
I see the subculture of martial arts changing as more people choose plant based diets. With more plant based athletes coming onto the scene the word is spreading and so are the ethics behind a plant based lifestyle. By making this choice I feel healthier, happier and stronger than I ever have before.
Why should you try BJJ?
There are so many amazing reasons to try BJJ. Here are a few:
You don’t have to be big and strong to be good at BJJ
It can be a bit daunting, walking into an academy and seeing really fit people going hard against each other. However, the beautiful thing about BJJ is that when you start learning the concepts and techniques as a smaller opponent you can take on a bigger opponent, take them down or submit them. Some of my biggest lessons come from the youth I roll with who are much younger and lighter than me. Practice and effort goes a long way in this martial art and if you have a dedication to training you can overcome size and strenght. It takes time, like any sport or martial art and the more time you dedicate to your training the better you become and easier you can maneuver bigger opponents.
BJJ teaches me to keep going and not back out when I get scared. On a daily basis it helps me to be a better version of myself and more capable of facing my fears both on and off the mats. BJJ teaches me to face my fears head on. It’s not always easy and the fear of failure creeps in every now and again. When facing tough opponents at training or before a competition. By stepping onto the mats you are already overcoming that first fear, taking the first step of a new challenge. The more I choose to face my fears the more I realise I am safe in my choices and it prepares me for the next round or the next challenge.
The BJJ community
There is an instant connection that occurs with your training partners when you first start training BJJ. You are connected and paired up, practicing techniques and learning together. These techniques are put into practice as you train more and start applying them when rolling. BJJ can’t be practiced alone, you need a partner and this creates an amazing bond between you and your training partners. Being part of a community of like minded people who share the same passion is truly inspiring. My BJJ community and professors motivate me to train and improve, keep me accountable on this journey and have a positive influence in other areas of my life. I met Egor training a few years ago, one of the most important relationships of my life came from a bond we had as training partners and friends. Now we are married and share our lives and passions for health, wellbeing and fitness by training together and spending time with our BJJ community.