Monday, April 2, 2012

Interview with Heather from "For The Love Of Kale"

Good morning friends!

Every once in a while I like to interview a fellow foodie wellness blogger. I'm extra excited about this interview because I’m a fan of Heather's blog, For The Love of Kale. I was lucky enough to accidentally come across Heather's blog a few months ago when I was reading about a local gym, Mind, Body, Barre.

I find Heather's clarity and zest for life so contagious and impressive.

How did you come to a plant-strong diet? Is this part of why you started the blog, to reach others?

I started eating plant-based foods at the advent of my recovery from anorexia nervosa. I was very, very sick – I’d reached a point where I knew that I needed to get better. I was already vegetarian but I felt a calling – certain yearning in my heart – that was telling me eating animals was simply not right. I began researching the vegan lifestyle and, when I learned about all of the benefits (energy-related, health-related, etc.) I knew that I simply had to make the switch.

Veganism saved me from myself in a way. I got to know my body on a completely new and unique level and I was totally in love with it! I ate more variety than ever before, had more energy than ever before and was helping save animals. What could be better?

My blog was an extension of a big dream of mine. After recovering from my ED, I had a little chat with God. I asked Him, “Why did this happen to me? What can I do to help others, from my experiences?” I’d been reading healthy living blogs for over three years and always wanted to start one – but I didn’t want to do it while I was suffering. It was hypocritical and I didn’t like who I was. When I created For the Love of Kale, I wanted to show people that recovery is possible, real and incredibly rewarding! I am so in love with life and am so grateful for every day I have on earth. The sky is the limit, now!

You’re a student getting a degree in nutrition, have you found more and more of the research is coinciding with what we plant-strong bloggers are saying? (that it’s all about the vegetables?)

Actually, no. Most of my professors look at the vegan lifestyle with disdain. I find myself having to defend my lifestyle more often than I would like to. There is an underlying sense of hypocrisy, though. One minute, someone is saying “Eat a bunch of veggies! They’re great for you!” and the next, they’re saying, “But if you have to be careful – you’ll probably not get what you need if you’re a vegan.”

Personally (this is just my opinion), I think it has to do with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) having great monetary ties to the dairy industry. Their viewpoints are projected onto professors and the professors learn and share that information with the students. It’s sort of complicated but, in short, the professional nutrition world, can be very political.

You worked with your school to get a vegan section of your dining hall. Can you tell us about that? It must have been quite the undertaking!

To be honest, I really didn’t do much! Ralph Eddy is the head honcho at Framingham State University Dining Services. He is an incredible person with so much heart. I was just one of many students that expressed their concern about the lack of vegan-friendly options in the cafeteria. I was sick and tired of the same salad for every meal! He worked with Sodexo and Project Vegan was born! They prepare a variety of dishes and they are so impressive. Think tofu and veggie skewers, sesame-pecan patties with cashew crème, roasted curried vegetables and wilted garlicky spinach. I feel so fortunate to finally have a wide array of options to choose from!

Tell us a little about Mind, Body, Barre, the studio/gym where you work part time. It looks different than other gyms…

Mind Body Barre is so special. I initially got turned onto the barre method after purchasing the original set of Physique 57 DVDs three years ago. I became HOOKED on how it connected my mind and my body. You could literally feel your muscles working and changing as you worked out – and this was something very new for me.

I work at a major retail store part-time and have formed lovely little friendships with the regular customers that shop there. Owner Angela Vernaglia and her mother/co-owner, Wanda Morrison, would stop by every weekend. We would chat for five to ten minutes about life, love, food and everything in between (they rule).

One day, Angela mentioned how she was starting to teach a method that she had devised called Mind Body Barre. , which was in part, inspired by The Bar Method. I told her that I would drop in the following weekend. So, I did. And I became hooked. The hour-long class was fun and challenging in ways that I had never experienced before. It awoke my muscles, heightened my mental focus, and improved the way I viewed my body – as a vessel, not an object. I went through the required training and became a certified Mind Body Barre instructor! It was a dream come true. I love challenging our clients and pushing them to their limits.

In short, Mind Body Barre is an empowering mind-body workout combining elements of dance, stretching, and resistance training. The routine revolves around interval overload. Muscles are worked until the point of fatigue and deep-stretched for relief at the end of the class.

Where do you see yourself after you graduate? The sky’s the limit!

I applied for an internship with a major magazine out in California. I’m hoping (and praying!) to score that. If I do, my boyfriend, Matty, and I will be moving out to California and chasing our dreams! Should that not happen, I want to go onto get my personal training certification, holistic nutritionist certification and pursue freelance writing on the side. Also, I want to continue blogging and make that a bigger part of my life. I feel like I’ve found a real niche and I’m so passionate about it! As you can see, I have so many interests – but I’m only 22 years old and I have a pretty good (and goofy!) head on my shoulders. It’s hard because I’m sort of in limbo right now, waiting on an answer from the magazine editors. I’m used to planning things out and having all my I’s dotted and T’s crossed. But life isn’t college – and that’s the best part!

Thank you, Heather! And best of luck with all you do!

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