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Mary & Séamus


Five foot ten.
33 years old.
Resting heart rate (at the moment) 60 (approx.) (Used to be low fifties - not training as hard at the moment.)
Blood pressure (Stupidly low!)


"I have been putting off posting anything on these pages for yonks, because I had some imaginary notion of what I should look like first. I kept thinking, "wait till I have a bit of cut in my arms," or "wait till I get rid of that belly." (as if...) At the same time I feel that women shouldn't get so bothered about physical perfection, and should learn to be comfortable with their bodies. So in other words, I was a bit of a hypocrite!

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Currently aiming to get a black belt in karate, but that might be a long way off! I am yellow belt at the moment, and a keen student of Wado Ryu.

I am also considering body building, as I think it would be a good way to deal with that constantly annoying question vegans deal with - "where do you get your protien from?" There are no female body builders out there in the UK, so I would like to give it a go. Watch this space. And try not to laugh while you do so...)


Vegan - obviously! I have been vegan since I was five months pregnant with my son (in the picture) and he is eight at the time of writing. Before that I was veggie for a couple of years. (Not counting the "fish-eating" years, of which I am duly ashamed.) So I haven't eaten corpse in over ten years.

I am also unable to eat wheat, so I need to do most of my own cooking, as you would be surprised what gluten can get into. (I can tolerate small amounts of oats, which makes life somewhat easier.)

My main treat is home made almond milk - I soak about a fistful of almonds over night, sometimes with a few apricots, rinse them in the morning, and whizz them up to make about a litre of smooth white milk. On Pat Reeves advice I have started to skin the almonds to keep down the taurine levels.

When I am sensible with my diet (which is when I am doing weights) I eat every two to three hours - though not much at a time. For example, breakfast will be a smoothy made with the milk described above, plus banana, sometimes a mango, and a teaspoon of nut butter (hazelnut and almond butters are my favourite - I am not a fan of peanut butter.) Sometimes I will use a scoop of protein powder - this goes down much better if you put nut butter in. I also eat apples for frequent snacks during the day. A pint of this takes me about half an hour to get down.

I'll have two or three mini meals, which may be something like a few gluten free or occasionally oat crackers, or slice of Paul's wheat free bread, with hummous. I snack also on soaked nuts (makes them easier to digest), or beany salad.

Equal portions of nuts whizzed up with dried fruit and squashed into balls is a good snack, full of vitamins, protein and energy. It stops my sugar cravings stone dead, which helps regulate periods etc. Pat Reeves advised me to eat a source of protein every two hours for the same reason. (Hence my nut and hummous fetish.)

Main meals are usually a big lentilly or pea soup, or a vegan shepherds pie (again made with lentils - pui are my favourite) some sort of spaghetti dish (plenty of gluten free pastas out there, or stir fry with tofu. I have started to eat lots of sweet potato, in soups and stirfries mainly. I eat tonnes of chickpeas, and when in a hurry will make a garlicky chickpea and ginger stirfry as a high protein boost. I also eat salad with almost all my main meals, except soup. My salads have nuts tossed through them, for the oils you need to digest the vitamins.


Early last year I started training for real at a gym, three or four times a week, and started noticing gains in strength after three months. After six months other people started noticing I looked better, and thought I had lost about a stone. (I had stayed roughly the same weight, but more of it was muscle now.) My original reason for training at the gym was to keep Neil, my partner company, since he has spina bifida, and needed to keep himself fit for when he ended up in a wheelchair. Neil, in case anybody doesn't know, is my Mr Motivator. When a man whose legs barely work manages to show you the correct technique for a squat by leaning against the wall and doing it perfectly, it kind of makes you decide not to let him down!

This year Neil has been unable to train, and has finally had his operation to stop the pain in his back and legs (we don't know yet if it will work). My excuse for losing some of my cut and regaining my belly is that I haven't been able to maintain my weight training schedule. However, I am looking forward to getting back to it, and in the meantime am working out at home.

At the moment my main training is karate, an hour two to three times a week. Depending on who trains us this can be quite cardiovascular, though I have discovered the kicks are great at defining your legs (one part of my body that hasn't lost its cut since the weight training slipped.) My son, the lad I am gazing at adoringly above, also does karate, and to any of you folks out there who are worried about raising vegan kids, I can safely say Séamus is a great example of vegan fitness. Lifelong vegan, eight years old, reading books for teenagers. (Every now and then he asks me age inappropriate questions because he got hold of a book that, frankly, he shouldn't be reading at his tender years. However, when you have a kid in the house who consumes books at a rate commensurate with his consumption of apples and bananas then it is hard to keep track. At least when he was a toddler I could see what he was getting up to... Now it is all in his head!)

Before Neil went into hospital I was also going four or five times a week for a half hour run at about six am. At the moment this is out of the question, since I can't leave Séamus alone in the house. However, I still run when I have a chance (ie, getting to the train station I will jog instead of taking the bus. Not the same as a good run, but I find it hard to run unless I am up really early and full of the joys of spring, or being chased by somebody even nastier than I am.)

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Séamus and I do yoga together, and as is often the way with children, he is rather better than me at some of the assanas. I found an excellent website through the vegan fitness website, and am learning at home at the moment, with support from people on that forum. I find I am a natural though, and the flexibility I am getting through yoga practise is carrying over into my karate. Although I have only been doing it fourteen months, and am thus a lowly yellow belt, I can do a kick to the head easily, and have hit a target eight feet up with a jumping kick. (This latter hurts me rather more than the punch bag however...) Cross training seems to be an extremely good idea though, and I would recommend it to anybody.

I also do a simplified tai chi routine last thing at night, to help calm me down for a decent nights sleep - though I have only been doing this for the last few weeks. I have studied two different forms of Tai Chi, the Chinese National Version, and the Yang Style Short Form. I love Yang style, since it is martial in its application, and I am a bit of a sucker for martial arts. The tai chi I am doing at the moment is rather more Chi Gung than martial.

Before I started training with Neil the only exercise I took was when I went hunt sabbing, which meant that in the winter months I was a lean mean running machine, but during the summer I was a slightly overweight Mumsy. While I lived in Liverpool our sab group went out three times a week against the Cheshire Forest, which involved much running around muddy fields thinking "what the hell was I thinking? They're on bleeding horses, and they want to play polo with my skull!" Although I obviously went sabbing to save foxes (and we were quite successful all things told) it must have helped my cardio vascular health. But as I say, I don't like running if I don't have to. Unless it is six in the morning, when my body and brain work completely differently. Of course, if a blue light starts flashing and strange woowoo noises start up I find myself automatically legging it - perfectly okay if you are sprinting across somebody else's field with a wounded hare in your arm that needs the vet. A bit suspicious looking if you are down town. So yet another example of animal rights messing with your social life..(I am kidding. I don't have a social life!)

As you can see from the pictures, these are not the best photos of me, but they are the most recent, and they do show what I really look like. These pictures were taken by a friend at the London Vegan Festival. When I saw the picture at Veggies stall my first thought was, "wow, doesn't that bloke look like my Dad... Oops." I deliberately kept it in though, because it serves to remind me that yes, I really do look like my Dad. Which is great, if you want to look like a six foot Irish man. As I want to look like a white Angela Basset however, it came as a bit of a shock ...

That's me. Hope you like it!

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