It’s hard to believe this vegan female bodybuilder was once obese, abused and depressed. Here’s her remarkable story!
By Gina Gambhir
Once upon a time, the perception of attaining elite level fitness often meant overloading on an animal rich protein diet. However, contrary to popular belief, this stereotype continues to be radically challenged as an increasing number of athletes opt for the vegan way of life.
This switch is mainly due to research that has prompted a reform on mindset and perception on what nutritionally serves our body to perform at and feel its best. Recent studies do indicate that plant-based diets do enrich the body with outstanding benefits. For example? A plant based diet provides 64 percent times more antioxidants than ‘regular’ diets, and is known to prevent diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
But not only that – you can get as much protein as required by even the most strenuous athlete. And no one knows that better than female bodybuilder Nakisha Ramsey.
Abused, Obese….But Determined
Nakisha has long been on a fitness journey as a vegan female bodybuilder. And get this: she hits the gym and competitions regularly, whilst also being a mother of six children; one girl and five boys.
That’s remarkable enough, but her story is even more interesting as we dig deeper.
Several years ago, Nakisha was a completely different person. She was borderline obese and in a seriously abusive marriage. For a long time, she felt small. Belittled. Weak. She knew something had to change. After doing a bit of weightlifting in the gym, she realised that the stronger she got, the stronger she felt. Bodybuilding showed her that she could change her body. And if she could change her body, she could change her life.
Being in the gym so often, the pounds started to melt off. Seventy of them, to be exact. She started eating better and being kinder to herself. “What I didn’t realise is how bodybuilding would help me change my whole life, and how I could heal from the inside out,” she says.
Being kinder to herself made her want to be kinder to others, too. And that includes animals. Funny how that works, isn’t it? Today, Nakisha is a vegan, who has dedicated her life to educating others about understanding the benefits of following a plant-based diet. She’s also an advocate for helping women realise their true fitness potential – no matter how limiting beliefs about themselves may be.
As we delve into conversation with Nakisha, we explore what inspired her to embrace her journey as a vegan female bodybuilder, and how her lifestyle empowers her to help others to live a healthier, happier and kinder life.
Meet Nakisha Ramsey, A 100% Vegan Kick Ass Female Bodybuilder
First up: what inspired you to adopt the vegan lifestyle you thrive on today?
After having five kids, I began bodybuilding with a high protein diet and lived this way for ten years. During this time, I took my children, divorced my husband and began a whole new life with them.
Fast forward ten years, I watched a YouTube video of Ralph Smart encouraging his followers to take a seven-day vegan challenge. So, my boyfriend and I, who is also a bodybuilder, decided to take up the challenge and we both became vegan from that day onwards.
What were the greatest challenges you found yourself facing at the beginning of your journey?
When you first become vegan, the challenge is the lack of knowledge, which can also be emotionally taxing. You have to remember that when I first became vegan, it wasn’t as mainstream as it is now. So, I had to search for what I saw as being the ‘golden ticket’.
What I mean is, you have to learn how to cook your foods, and know which foods to incorporate for protein, carbs and fats. The further you advance into the vegan lifestyle, the more you find your purpose and values change. At first, for me it was about being healthier. But then I started to learn more about the world of meat, slaughterhouses and how the causes of most diseases in our body comes from our diet.
The vegan life started to infiltrate into all aspects of my life. As a bodybuilder, it felt important for me to get it right so I could help and teach others that this lifestyle can be lived. That you can easily be strong and have muscle whilst following a plant-based diet.
How did you find your new lifestyle helped you to be better mum to your kids?
My bodybuilding life helped me to be more energetic and to get all my daily tasks done. It also helped me to teach my children the importance of being healthier and to live a life with an awareness of health.
Did you ever have moments of weakness when you wanted to revert back to your former lifestyle?
Not really. When I found the vegan way of life, my energy, focus and determination all changed. Physically, I no longer had joint pain, my skin began to clear, I was building muscle whilst also being lean, I felt amazing! Having a good support system is the best way to fight the urge to go backwards.
Now, there are many people teaching the vegan way of life with information flooding the internet. My body transformation and age defying results were enough evidence for me that I had stumbled upon the perfect life-changing decision.
What are the most powerful changes you have seen in your life as result of your fitness journey?
Physically, I am stronger, have more energy, my skin is clearer, as I said, my joints don’t hurt, and my abs are more defined as I no longer have any digestive issues.
Emotionally, I am more aware of the world as well as being more in tune with my body. My thinking and overall respect for all living beings has enhanced with a deeper passion.
How have you seen the perception of veganism change in the fitness industry over time?
The vegan lifestyle was once something that was not discussed before. We were seen as “the weak links” within the fitness industry as well as being “weird”. However, now I am in awe of how much the perception of veganism has advanced.
Athletes, film stars, musicians, mainstream enthusiasts – people of all walks of life are adapting to the vegan way of life. Together we are slowly changing that perception of being seen as “weaker people” to being more as people who have decided that ALL lives are important. Whilst also being able to show that we can use plant-based foods to create everything we need for our bodies to actively function. Pro athletes in all sports that are vegan are helping to shatter what was once the land of the unknown!
When it comes to helping women with their health and fitness, what are the most common barriers you find they struggle with today?
We don’t take enough time out to focus on what we need for ourselves and what we need to heal. We also want quick results in unreasonable lengths of time! As women, we fail to understand our bodies. Our bodies are constantly changing, especially during our menstrual cycle. We need to give ourselves space and know what our body needs, especially during those times.
Whilst we are great at planning everything in advance to help all areas of our life, we fail to plan how to succeed with our personal goals. Failing to plan our meals in advance is a common pitfall I believe women often find themselves in.
Women also tend to fear the most popular misconception that when it comes to lifting weights, they will have huge muscles. There is lack of knowledge on how to build truly lean muscle. Oh, and the number on the scale means nothing. I believe there is a huge market for women to be educated more on their fitness and the results that can be gained.
What inspiration can you share for other women who would like to follow your lead as a vegan female bodybuilder?
It’s this: just start! Write down your goals, starting with your hydration and diet plan first. Then, add the workouts. Lay the foundation before adding the bricks. Adding workouts and regular exercise will help you get and stay in shape. Yes ladies, you can have a six-pack after children; it IS possible!
There was a time where I had all of my six children in the home gym with me, having what we called a “dance party”. They would dance with me whilst I was working out. No matter what your situation, everything is possible. You just have to be determined and willing to get back up when you fall. Get the family involved in your new lifestyle. If I can do it, you can too!
What are the most common misconceptions of being a vegan bodybuilder that you’d most like to change?
I feel most passionate about reforming the misconception that as vegan bodybuilders, we are weak because we eat plants. That we can’t gain and maintain muscle and that we also suffer with long term issues as a consequence of being vegan.
I am strong, healthy and focussed because I am vegan! I’m determined to be the best example of what a vegan female bodybuilder represents, and I want to inspire not only the physical strength but also the emotional strength this lifestyle can entail.
Finally, any last tips for those of us who’d like to gain some vegan muscle?
Yes! I’d recommend:
- Getting a Squeeze Me Skinny waist trainer for back support
- Using Naked Nutrition Pea Protein in shakes and smoothies
- Visiting these three great vegan support pages on Instagram: @veganstrongteam, @veganbodybuildingandfitness, @veganbodybuilding
- Don’t delay! If you want to start a vegan bodybuilding regime, just start as soon as you can!
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