I’m honored to feature one of my favorite women athletes out there today: Yolanda Presswood. Her strength, wisdom and perseverance in life not only inspire me, but she motivates me to accept myself. She’s a Crossfit athlete and a personal trainer who isn’t afraid to push herself past her comfort zone. Yolanda tells her story about fitness and health here:

vegan fitness, Shellie Teal Broad Division Studios, yolanda presswood, personal training, crossfit athlete, vegan crossfit athlete

(Credit: Shellie Teal Broad Division Studios)

Who/What has been your biggest inspiration to get into fitness?

To answer this question honestly, may be a little too deep for some people. I was raised on muscle and fitness as both of my parents were bodybuilders at my age as I was growing up. We had a garage gym and my mom went to the gym often. They didn’t teach me a thing that I can remember although I must have gleaned something because muscle and fitness is truly my passion to this day. Carob balls, stainless blender with protein powder and oats every morning. As I got older I danced. Ballet (point), jazz, tap and acrobats until I was 11. Skills day at school was a favorite of mine. I could tap out chin ups and always won the 50 yard dash. In HS I chose a different path for a while which took me out of the athletics field. When I was 18, my mom took me to Ballys with her but completely ignored me and treated me like I was in her way. I felt like an idiot and vowed to never go to the gym ever again in my life. As I became a wife and mother at a very young age, (19 married, 21 first child, 25 second child), I lost myself for a while, my fitness included. I did several home videos as my children grew. In 2008 I started thinking more about fitness although I still ate like crap. Id go hike and come home to a bagel with cream cheese.2009 my husband and I did the first P90X and had some pretty great results.. although I would skip the days with weights.It was SO boring to me! 😛 In 2012 I watched an acquaintance prep for her first bikini show and something just clicked in my head. July of 2012 I got my very first gym membership. I had no idea how or what but I wanted to get on stage. What has inspired me throughout this short 2.5yrs has been those who have ailments or obstacles they have to overcome but still get their workouts in. Individuals that are over weight and killing it in the gym despite the glares and the giggles. Athletes with cerebral palsy or prosthetic limbs. Knowing that I have full use of everything no matter what I tell myself drives me to be better each day!

 What about Crossfit/weight lifting stands out to you than other forms of training?

I love ALL training. I have mad respect for bodybuilding and newly CrossFit. I love anything that challenges the individual. For myself personally weight training has done things to my body I never thought possible. I was always afraid Id get more manly than I felt I was already. I thought I had muscle before.. HAHAHAHA! CrossFit athletes are so well rounded and their muscle is organic.. they aren’t trying to reach for a certain look but man oh man do they rock that shiznit! Ive always loved sprinters and so track is a love of mine as well. Power lifting and being strong has helped me with self confidence. Fitness in general I believe breeds self confidence in everyone at every age.

 What do you plan on accomplishing in the year 2015? 2016?

I have had to refocus so many times already 3mo into the year. What Id like to accomplish this year is simple and complex. Inspiring others to be who they are truly living in awareness and true to themselves is always my goal. Leading by example in all my faults and failures. I just want to get stronger and be a better athlete. Id like to compete in CrossFit on a small scale and eventually on a grand scale. Ill be 40 next year so it gives me time to hit my skills and take the masters division in my sport by the balls come 2017 season! Alot of people don’t know that I write children’s stories. Its another passion of mine. Ive been writing since I was 8yrs old. I did correspondence with The Institute of Children’s Literature way back when I was 19. I have some stories ready for publishing and some needing editing before publishing. This has nothing to do with fitness but its a huge passion of mine and I hope to see my books in the hands of children and parents across the world someday soon.

How did you make the transition to being vegan? What was the final motivating factor?

In 2010 I learned about the health benefits of a plant-based diet and soon after had my eyes opened to the factory farming industry. I had already been dairy free for many many years and although I was on a typical omni fitness diet at the time eating 6 egg whites for breakfast daily along with flank steak and chicken, there was no way I was going to continue to contribute to the needless suffering of defenseless animals for another second. I had no idea what the what and how but it began right there.

What setbacks have you been faced with and how did you overcome them?

I’m not sure I’ve had real setbacks. I mean I’ve had the normal ups and downs. The only thing thats really been something to derail me was when I lost my 2yr10mo old Pommie as I was prepping for the PlantBuilt show in 2013. It was the most painful thing Ive ever endured up to now in my life and Ive been through some crazy shit. I sobbed through every workout. I didn’t even understand what the hell I was doing.. I should of been in a heap in the corner but my fitness was all I had and I was determined to get to Austin and and make my first mark on the world as a vegan athlete. Our minds are so powerful. What we tell ourselves in every situation IS our strength. I deal with anxiety and in the recent year have started having near panic attacks. I take each moment as it comes. I don’t like being the center of attention (shocking I know!) and I am actually pretty shy at times. Im an observer and I have OCD which means sensory issues. I do things to spite myself on the daily. I believe truly that this life is meant for reasons we cant always see. Each moment brings new opportunities to inspire and uplift. Although my life at times is difficult and challenging, I don’t see this as a true setback.

How do you stay motivated?

Knowing that I am the ONLY one who can propel myself forward in every aspect of life, including fitness, keeps me on track no matter how many times I skip a workout or don’t eat just right. No one is gonna do it for me. No one is standing on the corner or knocking at my door handing out anything for free! I know if I want it, I have to go get it! In truth this is what keeps me motivated.

Any advice for those who want to become vegan and start training?

If you’re on the fence about choosing compassion my only question is whats holding you back? Sometimes I think VEGAN gives people a strange taste in their mouth, figuratively speaking of course, and it means to do no harm. Each person has to walk it out the way it is for them as an individual. Choosing compassion has not only helped me physically. Which by the way, incase someone reading this doesn’t know, I sculpted this body and built these muscles solely on plants. It helped me emotionally and spiritually. I am more at peace with a lot of things. It sounds cliche and weird I get it but it’s true. I love being vegan. Nothing that we bring in our house holds suffering or sadness. I don’t know about you, but, I’m all for no suffering and no sadness.If you need help because you’re unsure of what to eat there are SOOOO many websites and SOOOO many people willing to help. As far as training goes, don’t look around you. Just start where you are. Love yourself at every single passing moment of your journey. Extend grace to yourself. Keep your head down and put in work. No matter what your consistency looks like, just keep at it. Its not always going to mean 5-6 days a week.It may be 2-3 days. If thats consistent for you right now..do that! Stop quitting. Stop complicating things. Stick to the basics. Eat well. Stay hydrated. Train hard FOR YOU. Sleep well. Have fun!

Check Yolanda Out:

Im rebranding but PWDFitness.com is still up with programs available. Website: PWDFitness.com ( Im rebranding. Is still up with programs available. ) IG: Yolanda Presswood FB: Fit Vegan Chick~Yolanda Presswood 

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