As mentioned in my previous post, my partner Christine and I have made a lot of dietary and lifestyle changes since the beginning of this year. Our reasons were many but any reason to improve one's health and outlook is a good reason to me! For the two of us, our mood and daily energy levels had something to do with our decision to get healthy. We are also getting married in October and we, like other couples, want to look amazing for our big day. Fortunately for us, it's pretty common these days to find good resources on vegan diet and fitness. One of my biggest inspirations is Christy Morgan, author of Blissful Bites and the woman behind www.theblissfulchef.com, where you can find wellness reboots and fitness coaching. I've been having such a great time on my own fitness journey I wanted to inspire you to get out there and do the same. So I asked Christy if she would like to be interviewed on my blog. I gave her a set of questions and I absolutely loved her responses. Check it out.
For readers who aren’t familiar with your work, can you tell them a little bit about what your focus is at The Blissful (& Fit) Chef and what motivates you to write about food and fitness?
Sure! The focus at my website and for my business is to help people discover their bliss with healthful food and moving their bodies. I was a personal chef for many years after graduating from culinary school in 2005 but felt like the way I could serve people the best was to move toward education. So I switched to teaching public and private cooking classes, and then came out with my first cookbook Blissful Bites in 2011. It wasn't until 2013 that I discovered how much I love fitness and lifting heavy and got my personal training certification in February. Building muscle and getting stronger empowered me in a way I never thought possible. Being a long-time vegan and female, the challenge of bodybuilding intrigued me. I documented my fitness journey on social media and realized how inspiring it was to other women. It brings me no greater joy than to see vegan ladies everywhere getting stronger inside and out, and not being afraid to lift weights. In the past, women were not encouraged to be strong and have muscles, but what is appropriate is changing. It's shocking to see so many closed-minded people on the internet slinging insults to women that have muscles. Society expects women to be quiet, frail, and obedient and we aren't going to stand for that anymore. It motivates me to challenge the status quo.
I think one of the things that interests me most about your posts and recipes is that you’re a vegan macrobiotic chef. Macrobiotics is still a foreign concept to a lot of people, though. If you could use three words to describe what macrobiotic cooking means to you, which words would you choose?
Organic, Seasonal, Balanced.
Many vegan bloggers and authors focus the majority of their writing on food, especially on indulgence foods. I find your fitness posts and projects and health-drive mindset to be inspiring. Do you have any advice for vegans that are considering starting a fitness routine that aren’t very active to begin with? Getting up and going can be very intimidating when you don’t know where to start!
Thank you! I try to keep things on the healthier side because that is personally how I eat. I went vegan then directly went to a culinary school focused on whole foods cooking and healing foods so I never had the chance to learn how to make really decadent food. I do enjoy them though, and some people criticize me for not being even more restricted with the recipes I post. My path is very much the middle way and the 80/20 Rule philosophy.
|Christy Morgan training with Beyond Fit in Austin, TX.|
It wasn't until 2013 that I became obsessed with fitness after working out at the amazing gym Beyond Fit. Going to group led classes is a great place to start for someone who's never worked out before. If you'd like to venture into weight training (which I think everyone should do!!) then hire a personal trainer, even for just a few sessions, can get you acquainted with proper form using dumbbells and barbells. The weight machines are also a great place to start because they give you a lot of stability and they are rather fool proof. I learned a lot watching videos on how to do the exercises on bodybuilding.com and they actually have full workout programs you can follow. Takes out the guesswork.
|Author, trainer, and wellness coach Christy Morgan.|
A lot of my readers are veg-curious or are vegans with non-veg family members. Which one of your recipes do you think would serve as a great introduction to vegan food for someone that’s a little hesitant about taking the plunge?
My recipes and especially my cookbook have something for everyone, whether you are gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free, or sugar-free. And just because it's good for you doesn't mean it doesn't taste awesome! That's sort of my specialty; making things healthful yet tasty. In Blissful Bites I have a symbol for fan favorites and my personal "chef" favorites. I would start with those when feeding your friends and family. Some favorites from my blog are the Spring Kale Salad w/ Mustard Miso Dressing, Raw Tacos, and my Lentil Sloppy Joes.
For local readers, can you recommend a few places to eat in Austin that offer healthy food that’s really delicious? Maybe some of your favorites?
I tend to frequent Bouldin Creek Cafe, Counter Culture, Steeping Room, and any Thai place in town. Austin is an amazing city with a wonderful vegan community but we are seriously lacking in vegan restaurants. Thankfully there are many restaurants that offer delicious vegan options and "get it". Koriente and Elizabeth Street Cafe are awesome.
What about some of your favorite things to do in Austin or other parts of Texas?
Austin has something for everyone! It's a very active town with running, cycling, trail running, kayaking, rock climbing, and more. I try to dabble in a little bit of everything. Also we have a huge music and art scene. But really it's awful so please don't move here LOL! Austin is growing so fast we can't handle the thousands of people that move here each week and traffic is getting horrible. I kind of think that I'd like to move to the next "hip" city but Austin is home. I'm open to suggestions if anyone loves their city! ;)
Can you tell me a little bit more about your website update and re-branding? What can your readers expect from the update?
Now that I'm a personal trainer and I've made the connection of how important fitness is to health (not just a healthy diet) I wanted that to be reflected in my brand. So now I'm The Blissful (& Fit) Chef. My blog will still have recipes and similar content as before but will also include some fitness posts and workout ideas. If you aren't already subscribed to my email list you'll get a free meal plan when you subscribe and great tips every week. It's my way of giving back, sharing knowledge, and continuing to inspire people to find their bliss through food and fitness.
And can we expect another cookbook from you in the future?
I get this question a lot actually. When I wrote my first cookbook I didn't think that I would be a one hit wonder, but producing a cookbook is a lot of work with very little financial reward. I felt that the best use of my time and the ability to really help transform lives was to create an online wellness program so that's what I did instead of writing a second cookbook. I do have some eBooks in the works, one that is cooking for two and teaching singles and couples how to make quick, delicious meals. The other ones will be fitness and food related, fueling the vegan athlete, and such.
My main project right now is launching a free eMagazine for women written by women. It's called Definition and it's for plant-powered ladies interested in strength training and fitness. I have an amazing team of vegan ladies I'm working with on the project and the magazine will launch in April and have 4 issues this year. I can't wait to share that with you!
Now, that sounds wonderful! I am so looking forward to that magazine to debut. Thanks, Christy, for taking the time to answer my questions. For more information about Christy Morgan, her work, and her projects, visit her website at www.theblissfulchef.com. You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. If you're on a fitness journey yourself, how are things going for you? What resources do you use when searching for inspiration? I would love to hear more from my readers about their personal wellness journeys! Keep in touch by leaving me a comment!