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Inspirational Friends

Recently, I was fortunate enough to photograph a friend (pictured here) who started an inspirational blog called @SkinnyBoyVeganGains on Instagram. Since he adopted a vegan lifestyle a few years ago, his health has transformed both mentally and physically. In 2018 he added bodybuilding to his list of accomplishments with several top placements in his first year of competitions, including Overall Champion at the 2019 INBF River City Classic Bodybuilding Championships Open Men's Physique title! I could see the benefits while photographing his stunning form in its, shall we say, natural state. Check out pics from the shoot @PR3Creativity on Instagram

After the shoot we decided to do lunch, vegan of course, near Jack London Square in Oakland at Eternal, and @SkinnyBoyVeganGains shared more about his intention in blogging and some of the reactions he has received. After a health scare, he knew he had to make a drastic change in his lifestyle and eating habits, he found support in other vegans and bodybuilders, and he wanted to share (not preach) his experiences because he knew other people may not have much support around them. We both are dedicated to sharing our experiences and open to learning from the experiences of others. I learned from him that day as we sat and truly enjoyed a meal together at Eternal. I have eaten a vegan meal many times before, but not with someone who dug into it with such gusto. I admit, my own attitude probably tainted my experience of vegan food in the past, but on that Sunday afternoon we were hungry, and we GRUBBED, laughing with each other, and I left feeling very satisfied. I joined my friend for a meal, and friends make everything better. Why not changing how I eat?

Although I have always tried to stay under the threshold of 195 lbs, and keep my waist under 34 inches, at a height of 5'8, my doctor tells me it is best I keep closer to 165 lbs

(I think 175-180 lbs feels best for me). In either case, a smaller waist is certainly welcome.

I am guilty of often trying to shoulder things alone, especially something I perceive as a matter of discipline. Why does it take me so long to learn I respond well to social support with regard to changing behavior? It was true when I stopped drinking (friends attended outpatient groups with me, and I can not overstate the value of the social support Alcoholics Anonymous meetings provide ). It was true when I returned to school to complete a BA degree (my dear friend Reggie practically held my hand during orientation). And shifting my eating habits will likely be no different. I am not saying I am a new vegan, but I can see a path which leads to cleaner eating, a path which includes my friends. Friends are the ultimate inspiration. I began this journey by sharing goals with friends at work, and others who I spend the most time with. Friends can motivate and hold me accountable, not with judgments, but with encouragement and bearing witness.

I hope you too find friends to support anything that you want to add to your life, half the battle is telling them about what you want and claiming it openly. I claim, a healthier version of myself and incorporating healthier meals into my day-to-day is goal one.

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