Sunday, January 20, 2013

INTERVIEW- Kurt Miller

Name: Kurt Miller
Occupation: Personal Trainer
Livin’ in: Richmond, VA
Age: 21
Vegan for: 4 years

So, you’re a power lifter. That’s something I’ve just started learning about, can you tell us a bit about the methodology? How did you get interested in power lifting?

Ah, well everything started I guess when I first started training Muay Thai in 2008. I played football, lacrosse, and I wrestled through my sophomore year of high school and my father has a Ph.D. in exercise physiology, so I've always been pretty educated on lifting. Hell, we even had a squat rack and bench in our garage growing up haha. But I would kickbox for 5-6 days a week and lift 2-3 days a week for a couple years. Since then I've always kind of been obsessed with functional strength exercise instead of bodybuidling and hypertrophy.

Probably around April of 2011 I was working with a friend of mine that competes in strongman meets, and I looked into, and then kind of got obsessed with powerlifting. (While SM and PL aren't the same thing at all, a lot of athletes compete in both, so one led to another bada boom bada bing.) Anyways, I started training with a basic western periodization of 5, 3, 1. After around 6 months I hit a hard plateau, almost more mental than physical, but seemed like I couldn't push anymore weight. Obviously with PL you compete in the 3 power lifts: bench press, squat, and deadlift. So I was basically killing myself lifting heavy and wasn't seeing anymore progress. After that I looked into the methods of Louie Simmons (Westside Barbell) and Mark Bell (Supertraining) and holy shit did everything change. I've been progressing like crazy. If you're interested in getting a lot stronger, especially in your powerlifts, google those dudes.

Let’s talk about that photo of you leg pressing 900 pounds. That’s uh, a lot of weight. Pray tell, what hath given thy such superior strength?

Haha, funny thing about that picture. 900 is an impressive amount of weight but that was at the end of a long workout. I had already done 5 sets of high box squats, 5 sets of front squats, and 5 sets of partial deadlifts. I'm guessing if I was fresh, and had knee wraps it would be 1250+

...woah. What does a week in the training of Kurt Miller look like?

I train 3 days on, one day off. Dynamic effort, Maximal effort, general physical prep (GPP), and then a day of rest. For example this is what I'm doing this week:

Monday - Max Effort Squat: 12x2 Cambered bar low box squat, 5x5 Good Mornings, 5x5 single leg press, and then ab work (planks, glute bridges, leg raises, quadriped exercises on stability balls.)

Tuesday: Dynamic Effort Bench Press: 10x3 Board press with bands, 5x5 Floor crushers, 5x5 Yates row, 3 sets Glen B shrugs, 5x5 Arnold press.

Wednesday: GPP: Swim half a mile, more core stability exercises, 20 minutes battling rope circuit, stairmaster for 20 minutes.

Then after my day of rest I would do dynamic squat, max bench, then GPP. Hope all that makes sense haha.

I know you’re about to start competing in powerlifting meets, what made you decided to do that?

I just want to see where I stand. I've been competitive since I was a little kid, and now that I don't compete anything I'm itching to get back to it haha.

Do you monitor your protein intake? What are your favorite proteins?

Definitely, even if I wasn't vegan I would haha. I try to take in AT LEAST 1g of protein for every kg I weigh (so at least 90 but it usually it hovers around 150) I love truenutrition's vegan protein optimizer, cause you can make it any flavor you want, and it digests super easy. Also it’s cheap as hell. Sun Warrior is also amazing, but I don't usually buy it unless there's a sale. I have a friend that works at the warehouse, so every once in a while I can get my hands on something new. Nitro fusion is also really cool.

(Hey Yo! Vegan readers, if you order from, use code DBERN0812 for 5% off!)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Jap Chae and Bibimbap at Rice & Mix

Rice & Mix is a fairly new spot in Center City, located on 12th and Walnut. They serve super vegan-friendly Korean food, and it's excellent. Score for the city! Whoo hoo! I got jap chae ($8- glass noodles and veggies), my boyfriend got tofu bibimbap ($8- marinated tofu and veggies on rice.) Both were delicious, light, fresh, and something Philly doesn’t have a lot of: HEALTHY. 

The atmosphere is burrito-chain-meets-hotel-lounge; order at the counter at the end of the open assembly-line kitchen, then sit in a booth or at a table under warm mood lighting while smooth jazz plays overhead. Strange, but it works. Stranger still was the staff, who were uncharacteristically friendly for Philadelphia. It would have been easy to convince me that we were the first customers they’d ever had ("Give 'em a week, they'll get jaded and rude like the rest..."), if not for the place being full of other diners. I guess these Rice & Mix folks are actually nice. That’s about as rare as healthy food 'round these parts. Despite it being a casual spot, there were lots of people on dates around us. We held hands over our Korean grub and swore we’d go back again and again.

BIBIMBOP TIP: We had never eaten Korean food before so we ordered blind, but after sneaking peeks at other people's bibimbop we realized that we made a wrong move not ordering the hot stone bowl. (It’s a couple dollars more but dramatic- it sizzles!- and cooks your veggies while you eat.)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Vegan Calzones at Slice

I have been vegan for half of my life and love calzones, but you know how many times I've had calzones since I went vegan? LIKE TWICE. Depressing. However, I'm happy to announce that we're entering a new era in vegan carbohydrate consumption that will lift the spirits of all Philly vegans who have a calzone-shaped hole in their diet. Meet  Slice:

For around $10 you can get a gigantic, DELICIOUS calzone with any number of fun things stuffed inside (I got red onion, next time I'd adding fresh basil as well.) I'm not sure what brand of vegan cheese they use but it's delish. I'd skip the fries though, despite that they come out in an adorable little pail, they're pretty lackluster (sliced too thin, not crispy enough, not well salted.) Not to mention if you get a calzone it's unlikely that you'd have room to eat them anyway. (Here is Slice's MENU... YUUUUM!)

Slice has two locations in the city, one in the Italian Market area, and one in Rittenhouse. The Italian Market spot is infinitely better. It's about the size of a bedroom, which is kind of cute and romantic. Only downside is that on cold nights (like the one I spent there), the door opening and closing with people coming in and out will just about freeze you. However, the calzones are so good it doesn't matter. They come perfectly browned and oozing vegan cheese and chunks of tomato. The waiter we had was awesome, leaving us to sit for a short eternity while I read Sartre's play "No Exit" aloud (with voices) to my boyfriend (it's so good!), and being extremely accommodating without being invasive.

As for the Rittenhouse location (where the above photo was taken), I have less generous things to say. We sat at the bar but has to be careful not to touch anything below eating level due to the amount of food stuck to it (...ew.) Our calzone (this time we split one, they're pretty huge) came out room-temperature in the middle and sported some mostly raw onions, which left my breath toxic for the rest of the day much to my boyfriend's chagrin. When I told the waitress after we were done (I was too hungry to care when we got it) she commented that was unusual and walked off. Meh. I'm sure I'll end up here again and again due to it's central location and taking of cards, I just hope that next time is better.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Yo! Vegan's Top 15 Gifts For Fit Vegans

Last night I was decorating my house for the holidays, mulling over my annual dilemma: what on earth to give my Mom this year. I put up a blue garland over my menorah and thought, "... maybeeee... Indian spices?",  then it dawned on me that perhaps somewhere, someone out there was in a similarly stumped state--but rather than trying to find the perfect gift for my horse-riding, always-on-the-road Mother-who-has-everything, they were contemplating their strange and very-specific, very-confusing type of giftee: the fit vegan. And then, balancing on a table with garland in hand, I thought, "Oh my God I can help them!"

If you have a heavy lifting tofu lover on your hands and you don't know what to get them, fret not. I will make you the champion of gift giving.

To help put this together, I asked a few of my fellow vegan meathead friends what, in a perfect world, they would want their friends and family would give them. The results were UNANIMOUS. Anything on this list is a perfect gift. There is also wide price range so that even if you're broke (like me!) you can get something cool for your meat(less)head friend/kid/lover. Ok, let's do this...


1. BLENDER ($5-500+)

This is single best present you can give a fit vegan. Protein smoothies are a way of life. I have 2 a day! I bought my blender used on craigslist for $10, I frequently see them in thrift stores, and you can buy them in any department/kitchen store (duh.) If you want to blow them away and have a lot of money you'd like to put in, there is no better blender than vitamix (a vitamix is especially nice if your fit vegan is also into cooking.) They're very expensive ($350+) but worth every penny.


Protein is a great present alone or in combination with other items off the list (blender, shaker.) There are a lot of different vegan proteins out there and everyone has their favorite, but no protein is a bad protein, so don't worry-,even if you don't get your vegan's favorite kind, whatever you give them will get used. Here are 3 solid options:

-My favorite protein: Custom mixed protein from True Nutrition allows you to custom mix your own protein--choosing your own sources of protein (rice, hemp, soy, pea), flavors (though I wouldn't advise getting anything too crazy as a gift), sweeteners (I go unsweetened personally), and additives (I add oat carbs for my breakfast shake mix), and your percentages of each. As you make the mix you can see how much protein/vitamins it contains. It's fun! Because you get to make the mix yourself, this also has a personal touch as a gift. Just be warned: hemp is grainy and not everyone likes it (I love it, but my boyfriend haaaaates it.) If you're not sure if they'd like it, skip it. I do a pea/rice split for my evening protein. I'd say safest bet would be that, with natural vanilla flavor, no sweetener. (Also be warned, stevia is REALLY sweet, almost sickenly so in my opinion. Also best to skip.) WANT 5% OFF? Use code DBERN0812

-Fancy proteins: VEGA AND SUNWARRIOR

Vega ($55ish) and Sunwarrior ($40ish) are the higher end favorites. Most people that I know can't afford them. If money is stretched in their direction, it's as a necessary luxury, kind of like paying for a higher-end gym membership so you don't have work out around all the mirror-gazing newbs at LA Fitness. You can get Vega and Sunwarrior at most health food stores, but also at and, where you can pick up other items on the list as well.

-Cheapie proteins: GOOD OL' WHOLE FOODS SOY

Broke? Running out of time? Vega sold out? Pick up a $14 Soy Protein from your local natural foods store. A lot of vegan fitness types avoid soy protein (in trying to vary protein sources), but if it's around we'll drink it. (I personally LOVE vanilla soy with almond milk and frozen strawberries- I have it for dessert sometimes!)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Meathead Academics, or, How I Ended Up a 30 Year Old College Freshman

Hey there! Sorry for the lapse in time between posts. Since last I posted there have been a major, life-consuming change in my life: I started college. For the first time ever. I’m a 30 year old college freshman.

I never thought I wanted to go to college. I’ve spent my entire adult life gallivanting around the world, eating foods in faraway places and doing push ups on faraway floors, but something changed earlier this year. Before going to Russia in January, I took on a solo fitness challenge to see what kind of shape I could get in before I left. From September to January I worked out 6 days a week. Gave up my daily candy meal (1 pack of nerds, every day between lunch and dinner), did Pilates and interval training, and by the time my plane left JFK I was in the best shape of my life. I went from a size 5 to a size 1 without losing a pound.

There were some really intense workouts during those months. Interval trainings where I would collapse mid-burpee, arms shaking, shoulders unable to keep me up any longer. I would get so frustrated by my own weakness that I would cry, feel pitiful, and want to stop. But I didn’t. I pushed through, embarrassing tears a’streaming, until the workout was over. And at the end, I was transformed.

(July '11 after a swim- size 5, 114 pounds , January '12 in Sweden after a workout- size 1, 114 pounds)

In March, while riding a train from one small town Russian to the next, something suddenly hit me: the stimulation of traveling was no longer enough for me anymore. I was bored. Sure I always had books with me in my travels, but the ideas were just between me and the pages. I craved conversation about them. I wanted to be around people who shared my intellectual curiosity. I felt like I’d hit the cap as far as self-education went, and there on the train, I felt my mind settling into a place I knew it would not be able to move beyond without help. It was time to stop taking my body to new places, and take my mind instead. I decided it was time for college.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mad Mex- Last Stop on the Food Coma Express

Yo, Mad Mex is a fuuuun place to eat. I've been going for there for years and never had a bad experience. Last week I went for a late night hang with one of my besties (he took the photo above- at the time it was taken I thought that this waffle fry was as big as my face... it wasn't.) We sat outside having inappropriate conversations, laughing too loud, and pestering our endlessly patient and accommodating punk rock waiter. The food came quick, the portions were huge (the burritos are impossible to eat with your hands and finishing an entire plate results in severe food coma.) While we snacked on our not-face-sized-but-still-giant waffle fries we commented on how much we love Mad Mex. The atmosphere is great. It's just loud enough not to be forced to eavesdrop (and ensure your secrets don't leave your table), the lighting is low and warm, candles flicker on each table casting everyone in a friendly glow... in fact, it almost reminds me of being by a campfire. There's just somethin' about it, you know? They also have a massive amount of vegan options and plenty to eat for those who lack of empathy for other living things so you and all your meat-mouthed pals can roll over and chow down together in perfect harmony. (There's also a full bar for the drinkers.)

Mad Mex is over in University City on Drexel campus. Here is their menu- I really like The Angry Vegan (grilled portabello, spicy spinach, black beans, Mexican rice, pico de gallo, and daiya) and the waffle fries (obviously.)  A burrito will run you about $9.

Now here's a lil secret: If you are a student, bring your ID Mon-Thurs from 2-4pm or any night 11pm-1am for 50% off your food! 50% OFF!!! THAT IS SO CHEAP!

This place is great for big groups, hanging late with friends, casual dates (actually this is a really great chill date spot, totally taking my boyfriend here), and poverty dining (if you're a student.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Part of my leg routine is dumbbell squats. 2 days ago while putting away a 110 dumbbell, one end caught on the rack and the other end fell to the ground… dragging me down with it. I fell face-first into the 120 pound dumbbells, gave myself a bloody nose, tore up 3 knuckles and part of my palm, and my ring finger is purple and swollen. I had to ask a guy next to me to help me rerack, he said “Woah little lady!” when he saw the weight, then turned to me and said, “Oh God, you’re crying.” I said “No no! I just fell and hit my nose on the rack! I’m not…” ….and then I cried. Only a little, but god damn. I’m gonna go ahead and put that in my top 5 most embarrassing moments of all time. Also, not only to do I go to that gym, I WORK THERE. Ughhhhh!! 

I love a good gym blooper. If you have one you wanna share with me, EMAIL ME!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

CORE CONTROL - Why YOU should be doing Pilates

Boxer, wrestler, circus performer, body builder, yoga practitioner, anatomy model, trainer-of-fellow-inmates in a WW1 internment camp turned trainer-of-the-stars in New York City, the once prisoner-of-war Joseph Pilates, creator of Contrology (now known as Pilates), has a life story and list of accomplishments that are almost unbelievable. Some day I'd like to write a book about him, but for now I'll just talk to you about why you should be practicing Pilates. Actually, I'll let this photo of Mr. Pilates talk for me:


Here's what bums me out about Pilates: it's got a weird rap- a middle-aged soccer Mom who got tired of pumping tiny pink dumbbells kinda rap- and while in the last 25 years or so it's appealed to that demographic*, that's not what Pilates IS. It's a total-body workout that offers everyone something- from cardio-nuts to body builders, from teenagers to elderly folk, those who are injured, those who are not. Not to mention it's portable and scalable- always at your level on the road, at home, or at the gym.

No matter who you are PILATES WILL:
  • Increase your flexibility (...and if you lift, you know you need this.)
  • Give you better posture (no more being dumpy!)
  • Help create muscular symmetry (ooooh!)
  • Create deep core strength (back, abs, pelvis- and you know what you can do with that!)
  • Elongate your muscles ("lean" and "toned"- maybe you've heard of those?)
Sound awesome? Of course of it does.

Pilates (or Contrology) is done several ways: on a mat (sitting, laying, and standing) using only body weight, on a mat using weighted balls, rings, bands, etc, or on Pilates "APPARATUS" (I just love that word, it sounds like a medieval torture device) which look like this (here with the man himself- and yes, they still look like this:)

So uh... I've never used any Pilates Apparatuses. They're not available at my gym and I'm too broke to go to a Pilates studio. But mat work I can vouch for- it is excellent. Challenging (even for people who are in shape- I do it with my musclehead bros all the time and they make it maybe 1 minute before they collapse, cores shaking), fun (probably because it's so challenging), and after adding it to my routine for a few weeks the difference in the way I felt and looked was incredible. I was at the doctor's recently and after she pushed on my stomach she remarked on how "very strong" my middle was and said " must work out." I've since made it my mission to bring people to Pilates, or Pilates to the people- because it's really a great method and I don't want it to be like one of those bands you hate because their fans are so annoying.

Ok, so Pilates is based off 6 principles. Centering, Control, Concentration, Precision, Flow, and Breathing. Basically, fluid, controlled movements executed with perfect form, breathing to oxygenate the muscles. You don't need me to explain why this makes great fitness sense or why that would be a good thing to do for your body. Y'all are smart, you got it. So get on it.


Most gyms offer pilates classes, or you could hit up pilates studios.You can watch instructional Pilates videos on youtube (I'm a big fan of  Pop Pilates - Cassey is so sickly sweet it enrages me... which somehow motivates me), or pick up a book and teach yourself. I have and love The Pilates Body by Brook Siler.

There is an endless amount of info online, loads of different forms of Pilates to check out (Classical - this is based completely off what our friend Joesph Pilates did, Contemporary, Yogalates, and lots more. I'm currently writing this at work- I work at a gym by the way- and I'm looking at a flier for our new class "Pilates with a Punch!" which is dance, boxing, and Pilates all combined), and literally not a single reason not to add it to your routine.

Joseph Pilates, we salute you.

*Nothing wrong with them, but they ain't me.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Samosa Chaat at Desi Chaat House

I finally made it to DESI CHAAT HOUSE in West Philly aka “Mars”, since that’s about how frequently I go there. Well, I’m ordering a space suit because I’ll definitely be there more often now. This place is SUPER vegan friendly, serving up a huge variety of chaat (Indian street food.) I got samosa chaat- I figured I'd start basic. What’s awesome about chaat is that it combines every flavor in food- sweet, savory, salty, and sour- with different temperatures- cold, hot, warm- with different textures- crunchy, soft, and everything in between. It’s actually kind of a wild experience for those of us with unfamiliar palates. 

This gigantic meal cost $5.99, and there are cute little tables to sit at outside and a big park to chill in a couple blocks down. LOVE THIS PLACE!


Name: William Joyce USAW L1 Certified
Occupation: Assistant CrossFit coach
Livin' in: Hanson, MA
Age: 29
Vegan for: 6.5 years

Can you tell us about your fitness background and how to came to Crossfit?

Well I have always been very active. I played team sports as a youngster (baseball, hockey, basketball). As I got older (18+) I got into MMA for quite a few years on and off but stopped finally after breaking my foot. No matter what sport I was doing I've always been a gym rat.

A little over a year ago I had a fellow vegan friend talk me into really giving CrossFit a try. He had been talking it up for quite awhile at this point. I had known about it for a few years and thought it looked pretty cool. I mean, all the YouTube videos of people flipping tires, swinging kettlebells, climbing ropes, jumping on boxes and doing deadlifts. It just looked fucking cool!

Well, I finally went into the local affiliate on a Sunday morning and we ended up doing a combination of Waiter Walks (kettle bell locked out overhead), farmers carry (kettlebell down by your side), sit ups and deadlifts. It absolutely kicked my ass. And I loved it.

I had 1 month left on my membership at the local globogym (it used to be a Gold's Gym) so I decided to do my own CrossFit training there until my membership was up. I followed programming from various blogs and loved it. I was doing something different everyday and each of those days was as inevitable ass-kicking. And of course everyone else at the gym looked at me like I was crazy. Fast forward to today and I've been at my local affiliate Cynergy CrossFit for just over a year and can't imagine being anywhere else.

Do you tell people at your gym and that you train that you're vegan, and if so how do they react when you do?

Oh yeah. I definitely make it known. At first I get the typical weird looks or questions about where I get my protein from and people saying soy is the devil and all that.

But now I don't even think anyone I train with gives it a second thought. I'm pretty sure everyone just looks at me as another crossfitter not "hey there's that VEGAN crossfitter" ya know.

Granted there will always be the anti-vegan naysayers and when I meet new people I'm sure there will be some that are surprised but I'll just let my athletic ability speak for itself.

It's Thursday. Walk us through your routine. 

I always make sure I get my 8 hours of sleep. I think that is one of the most overlooked aspect of training. I know I need my 7.5-9 hours of sleep per night my performance will suffer. I wake up around 3:45am and grab my smoothie out of the fridge (I always make it the night before so I don't have to worry about wasting time getting it ready before I head to the gym). My smoothie typically consists of coconut milk, banana, berries, chia seeds, hemp seeds, wheat grass, spinach, cacao, maca, kale, flax seed oil, avocado and a scoop of protein. I love SunWarrior Warrior Blend Raw Protein. It's a combination of pea, hemp and cranberry protein. It's pricey but it's probably the best protein supplement I've ever used. And I'll drink a small cup of black coffee. I don't really do that for the energy boost or anything I just enjoy the taste.

4:45am I get to the gym. I like getting there at least 15 minutes before class so I can stretch and mobilize. 5am class starts with a group warm up. Which varies each day depending on what movements we'll be focusing on that day. After we warm up we will do 5-10 minutes of mobility on whatever we need to get ready for that's day's WOD (workout of the day). Once everyone is warm and mobile we will focus either on a skill (muscle up, handstand push up, Turkish get up, box jump, etc) or strength (deadlift, shoulder press, snatch, back/front/overhead squat, etc) then do a WOD. 

 I'll give you a rundown of what we did a few weeks ago. We got all warmed up and for our strength aspect we worked on Snatches. 8 Rounds at 65% of your 1RM(rep max). Do 5 reps every 90 seconds. Focus on full depth on your squat. Then you take a few minutes, get some water and catch your breath for the WOD. That day we did 3 Rounds (for time) of 5 Muscle Ups, 10 Front Squats(95lbs) and a 200m Shuttle Run( Post-WOD, after you're recovered we usually do some sort of core exercise. That day we did 3 sets of 25 reps of GHD Hip Extensions. That's a typical CrossFit class. And its an hour long. I always stay after and do more stretching and mobility. Another aspect in training I think a lot of people overlook.

Immediately after finishing the WOD I'll drink a protein shake (which is just protein and water). I'll go home and eat a banana and then shower. By 7-7:30 I want to eat a good sized meal which usually consists of a sweet potato and some sprouted tofu or tempeh. Throughout the rest of the day I make sure I eat every couple of hours. If I'm hungry I'll eat. I always have some nuts (or nut butter), seeds (or seed butter), some very dark chocolate (85% cacao or higher), tons of veggies, black beans, quinoa and usually another soy product at some point.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sesame tofu at Green Eggs Cafe

I want to start this blog right. This here is the sesame tofu special at one of my favorite spots- Green Eggs Cafe. That's coconut rice, wok-sauteed veggies, and delicious deep fried sesame encrusted tofu with a sweet chili sauce. And me. Hi everyone! Now I eat a LOT of real Asian food (as you'll see) so I wasn't sure how I'd feel about sesame tofu at a neighborhood brunch spot, but this but it was A-MAZ-ING.  Like I went twice in one week amazing. The rice was rich and flavorful, I inhaled the veggies too fast to tell you about them, and the tofu, ohhhhhhh the tofu. Crisp, salty, and soft in the middle. The only thing you could ever ask tofu to be.

Green Eggs is a great spot- it's the kind of place you can take your parents and they won't freak out at your grimy city and the dives you hang at, but also where you can take all your hung-over hooligan friends for afternoon pancakes. It's cheap enough to hang and gossip at, and it's nice enough for a lunch date. There are 3 locations in the city (South Philly, Center City, and Northern Liberties) and they're open for breakfast and lunch only. There are not a lot of vegan options, but the ones they have are great.

TRUENUTRITION.COM - cheap custom vegan protein

Yo, have you SEEN this page?! This place does custom mixed proteins and has a lot of vegan options (proteins: pea, rice, hemp, and of course soy, then are there a slew of vegan additives.) You pick which protein and what % of your mix you want it to be (I did 50% pea, 25% hemp, and 25% rice), which flavor you'd like and how heavily flavored you’d like it (I did premium natural vanilla), which sweetener you'd like (I did stevia and regret it very dearly- YUCK!), and how much, etc etc. Also it’s INSANELY CHEAP! 1 pound of my custom pea/rice/hemp cost under $10! They shipped my order the same day it was placed too! 
This site will be the savior of broke fit vegans the country over. Share it y’all!