Christy Morgan has been tantalizing taste buds for years as a vegan chef, cooking instructor, food writer, and cookbook author. Her mission is to show that a whole foods vegan diet can be delicious, easy and will bring more energy and bliss into your life! Christy became obsessed with fitness post-30 and is now a NASM certified personal trainer spreading the message that you can be strong with a plant-based diet. She can show you how to reach all your health and fitness goals to reach optimal health!
Caryn Hartglass: We’re back. I want to introduce my guest. I had her on three years and three days ago. My guest is Christy Morgan. She is the founder of Definition magazine; we’ll be talking a bit about that. She’s been tantalizing taste buds for years as a vegan chef, cooking instructor, food writer and cookbook author. Her mission is to show that a whole foods vegan diet can be delicious, easy and will bring more energy and bliss into your life! Christy became obsessed with fitness post-30 and is now a NASM certified personal trainer spreading the message that you can be strong with a plant-based diet. She can show you how to reach all your health and fitness goals to reach optimal health! She’s been seen on nomeatathlete.com, vegnews.com, One Green Planet, Daily Candy, Fox Good Day, From A to Vegan, and is a guest on numerous radio shows and podcasts including Martha Stewart Living Radio, Vegan World Radio, and the Dr. Don Show. How are you doing today Christy?
Christy Morgan: Hi! How’s it going?
Caryn Hartglass: Great. I’m warm but otherwise I’m ok. It’s hot here.
Christy Morgan: It’s hot. I’m in Texas so it’s really hot.
Caryn Hartglass: Do you have the humidity like we have in New York?
Christy Morgan: Oh yeah, it’s super humid here.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, great. I’m looking forward to moving to the West Coast.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh you are? But they have no water there.
Christy Morgan: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Everybody has their issues. I was just reviewing the transcript from when I talked to you three years ago. It was actually July 25th, 2012.
Christy Morgan: How funny. It was exactly three years.
Caryn Hartglass: I know. This isn’t the first time this has happened and it’s not intentional but maybe for the universe it’s intentional. I don’t know. But I realized that a lot has happened to you in three years.
Christy Morgan: Yes a lot has changed.
Caryn Hartglass: So we’ll talk a bit about that. When we spoke we were talking about your cookbook Blissful Bites and you were just getting into being this super athlete. You had done one triathlon and you were going into a Tough Mudder competition and now you’re amazing.
Christy Morgan: Well, thank you. I’ve become a personal trainer. I’m a spinning instructor. I’m about to go to India to get my yoga teacher training. I’ve been doing yoga for 17 years but never felt like I could be a teacher but then something just changed in my mind, you know what? I’m going to do it.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, that’s wonderful. You became an athlete really as an adult, right?
Christy Morgan: Totally. I’ve been doing yoga since 1998. I took a college class. When I was in college I took a semester of yoga and that sort of set up my foundation for a practice of yoga for flexibility and mobility but I never really did sports. I was never into working out that much. I maybe went to the gym a few times to do like spinning or cardio but never weightlifting and then I finally got into that and it just changed my whole life.
Caryn Hartglass: So, tell me, how has it changed your life—physically, emotionally, spiritually, economically, what’s changed?
Christy Morgan: All of that. This is why I started the magazine too. As women we are constantly bombarded by the media, celebrities and other fitness magazines telling us that we’re not good enough, that we need to lose weight that we can’t have muscles, that we need to be thin—like all these different things. When I started lifting weights and getting stronger I became so much more powerful, confident. Just the idea of being stronger made everything in life easier. Just walking around in my body was easier. Everyday tasks were easier. My sleep became better. Everything just transformed. That’s why I started the magazine because I felt like women really aren’t supported and being stronger in our society even though that’s starting to change and there’s a big movement towards that. When I looked at the other fitness magazines on the shelf none of them really applied to me because A, they featured some really amazingly fit women that have been airbrushed and whatever. And I was like that’s not really realistic. Of course they had recipes full of meat. They just didn’t apply to me.
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly.
Christy Morgan: So that’s why I started Definition because I wanted to give women and vegan women—you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy the magazine, the content is for everyone—I wanted to give people something they could read and actually relate to and feel empowered and not feel like they aren’t good enough, or they have to lose ten pounds and of course recipes that are vegan and delicious. So I hope people will check it out.
Caryn Hartglass: Do you do anything different nutritionally as an athlete than someone who isn’t an athlete would do?
Christy Morgan: Generally, my diet has changed a little bit, yes. I eat a lot more in general than I used to.
Caryn Hartglass: Which is fun.
Christy Morgan: Which is awesome. It’s one of the perks of lifting weights and being active is you get to eat more. No complaints about that. I do make sure I’m getting protein. A lot of people in our movement they kind of blow protein off, like it’s no big deal because I think they’re trying to cater to meat eaters and they want them to say, “hey, you can get enough protein on a vegan diet, you don’t need to worry about it” which you can. You can get plenty of protein on a vegan diet but if you’re an athlete, if you lift weights, if you’re trying to build muscle, maintain your weight or lose weight or any kinds of things like that, you don’t want to just ignore protein. I pay attention to my macronutrients just as much as my micronutrients now.
Caryn Hartglass: So where do you get your protein?
Christy Morgan: My favorite sources are legumes, tofu.
Caryn Hartglass: Yay, yay.
Christy Morgan: Tofu gets a bad rap, … bad rap. It’s completely misguided…
Caryn Hartglass: I love tofu.
Christy Morgan: …and false. If you think about it the only people that really hurt when people drink soymilk or eat tofu instead of meat or milk are the meat and the dairy industry.
Caryn Hartglass: Yay, right. That’s right.
Christy Morgan: I’ve been eating tofu every day for 13 years and I’ve never had a problem. Asian cultures have been eating soy for eons but of course you want it to be organic and non-GMO ideally. I also love tempeh. I love seitan. Occasionally I indulge in vegan meat like tofurky and field roast. A lot of those companies have really good ingredients. They don’t have things you can’t pronounce even though they are “processed”.
Caryn Hartglass: They’re pretty good.
Christy Morgan: I think they can be part of a healthy diet, for sure.
Caryn Hartglass: I was talking a couple of weeks ago… I just kind of made this self-discovery… I know each one of us are unique individuals and different foods may affect us differently but on the whole soy story I’ve just found for myself, since I’ve been through advanced ovarian cancer, my ovaries are gone, my hormonal balance is gone, when I wasn’t eating soy for about a month I really felt the difference in terms of the hot flashes that I have because I have hot flashes ever since they took everything out, unfortunately. The soy really helps keep it under control so all the reasons I love soy that was just one more reason. It’s good for you.
Christy Morgan: I have heard that from other women that I know that are either premenopausal or postmenopausal. It does help with hot flashes. That’s one thing I’ve heard for sure.
Caryn Hartglass: Mine haven’t totally gone away just because my whole system was shocked through that ordeal but it’s a lot better when I eat tofu and drink soy milk than when I don’t.
Christy Morgan: That’s awesome. I’m going to tell people about that.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes. Send them my way. I’ll tell them too. I love it. Lately I’ve been talking about the foods that I’ve been eating because it’s so hot I’m really not interested in preparing foods and I’m really enjoying plain, cold, firm tofu.
Christy Morgan: Awesome.
Caryn Hartglass: I just like eating it, plain. A lot of people are concerned about protein when they work out to build muscle. So you just make sure that you’re eating foods that are high in protein but the thing about plant foods—and it’s a great thing—is that they give you all the macros. They give you proteins, carbohydrates and fat and all kinds of extra goodies.
Christy Morgan: People don’t realize how much protein is in whole grains. A lot of people who are anti-soy are also anti-grains but they are full of protein. I’m definitely all about the carbs. I have a mix of different foods in my diet and as long as you’re getting variety…the problem is a lot of people don’t eat enough. Especially this is a problem with women. Women in general don’t eat enough so that’s where we may have an issue reaching our protein needs. Everyone’s needs are different but for me personally I feel better, I recover faster; I maintain my weight and easily maintain my muscle by having a protein shake after I work out. I went months without it and I noticed I didn’t recover as fast. I lost lean muscle. I use products that are really good products…
Caryn Hartglass: What are in your protein shakes?
Christy Morgan: I put fruit but then I use a protein supplement. I like Plant Fusion, NuZest. There are a lot of new companies coming out on the market that are hemp and grain based. We really are so lucky. There are so many choices. A lot of people don’t need them and they do fine. Everybody is different.
Caryn Hartglass: Right.
Christy Morgan: I’m all about appropriate supplementation especially men don’t necessarily need it, depending on their goals. They tend to eat more and they tend to get more protein or they have more testosterone—we’re talking like fitness stuff here. I know for me I feel better because my protein powder has the full range of amino acids that I’m not necessarily getting from my diet so that helps me in recovery. I say try it, experiment. We’re our own experiments, right?
Caryn Hartglass: I said that the other day and I kind of kicked myself because I said I’m a guinea pig right now. And then I went whoa, I don’t want to bring vivisection into this conversation. But we are our own experiments.
Christy Morgan: My hope is that people don’t just blindly follow some Internet guru or somebody who is well established…
Caryn Hartglass: Please.
Christy Morgan: …or well known in the plant-based or vegan communities. There’s so many amazing authors or whatever. They all have their views on things. Some of them are very dogmatic. Some of them work for some people and don’t work for other people. I encourage people to really take in that information and then experiment and find out what works for you and not blindly just follow what somebody else says to do.
Caryn Hartglass: Do you personally use any extra supplements?
Christy Morgan: Any supplements I use are sort of fitness and recovery based. I am getting older and I did start working out later in life. So I’ll take turmeric or glucosamine, which are known for joint health. I of course get those vegan. Those help me in my recovery because I’m working out every day sometimes and pretty intensely. I want to stay mobile. I want my joints to feel good. So I sometimes take those kinds of things. But, in general, no, there are vitamins in my protein powder and I sometimes do spirulina corso or green powder or something like that in my smoothies but I don’t generally take a bunch of stuff.
Caryn Hartglass: You mention articles on the Internet and there’s so many of them that say just about everything. You can find support for just about everything. Someone brought to my attention recently an article that said the problem with vegans is we need to supplement with B12 and some other things specifically for athletes. Some of the things they brought up were creatine.
Christy Morgan: Definitely don’t need that.
Caryn Hartglass: …and carnosine.
Christy Morgan: That’s probably an amino acid that we’re missing.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s something that our body does make but some people feel they need to take more of it.
Christy Morgan: I’m all about appropriate supplementation so if you’re doing fine without it, great. If you want to experiment and try something, it doesn’t hurt. You’re not going to hurt yourself by trying something for a month to see how you feel. I just know as I’m getting older things are changing. Things are changing. I don’t recover as fast. Things hurt more. You have to just play around with things and see how it feels.
Caryn Hartglass: So how long do you work out every day?
Christy Morgan: At least an hour, sometimes more.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, an hour’s not too bad. I was hearing my mother’s voice in me saying, “It’s too much. You’re working out too much.”
Christy Morgan: If I’m doing a lifting session it could be up to an hour and a half. I try to go to yoga at least three classes a week, which are an hour long, if not four or five. I like a lot of different activities. I don’t necessarily do fitness to compete in anything. Now it’s all about health and the love of it so I change it up. I cross train. I even do zumba and dance. I do kickboxing. I just love fitness. I love the way it makes me feel. I encourage people to find something they love because we all need to move. Another thing that sort of bothers me sometimes about the plant-based diet and the community is it’s all about the diet and nobody talks about fitness. Really the key is both. If you don’t have both you’re not going to reach optimal health. So, get moving. Find something you love to do and do it at least thirty minutes plus a day, five days a week. Really it needs to have resistance training. I lot of people think that we just need to do cardio and that’s the way to health or the way to lose weight or whatever and yes, it’s great to have that for your cardiovascular health but we need to be lifting weights too or doing some sort of resistance training.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, let’s talk about Definition Magazine. What is it? Where can we find it? What’s it all about?
Christy Morgan: Right now we’re just an online publication. We have four issues this year. We’re about to release our third issue, which features vegan families and vegan athletes, and it’s our fall issue. You can find it at definitionfitnessmagazine.com. You can subscribe. This is our second year actually and a lot of people don’t know about it. Last year’s issues are all for free or you can donate to download those. This year we started a subscription. It’s very inexpensive. We’re basically giving it away. It’s $15 for 4 issues. Each issue has over 80 pages of content so some people you’ll find are charging $15 for one e-book that has like 80 pages. This is for 4 e-books of 80+ pages. Everybody who subscribes will help us take it to print. The goal is to take it to print next year. That’s my hope. We will have to raise the money and do a kickstarter or something like that. I think it’s time to have a vegan fitness magazine for women out there with the other ones.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely is.
Christy Morgan: I think people are ready for it. Women are ready to experience a magazine that doesn’t shame them or make them feel bad about themselves or sell them a bunch of stuff they don’t need. You look through those fitness magazines and there’s ad after ad after ad after ad of pharmaceuticals and all kinds of stuff that we just don’t need.
Caryn Hartglass: I was just going to ask you about that. So will there be ads in your magazine?
Christy Morgan: Right now the online magazine really doesn’t have ads but when we go to print we’ll have to have ads because that’s what pays for the magazine to be printed. It will be only vegan products, of course, companies that we love.
Caryn Hartglass: The people that are creating vegan products are looking for more opportunities to advertise in because there aren’t that many for them. It’s a great way to find out what products are out there that are vegan.
Christy Morgan: Definitely.
Caryn Hartglass: When Veg News was getting going they discovered that there were all these advertisers that were so happy to advertise with them because they just didn’t have such a targeted market.
Christy Morgan: If there are any businesses, small or large…we’re going to have really good rates especially for the first issue as we get off the ground. If anyone is interested definitely contact us because it will be distributed all over the U.S. hopefully globally, we’ll see. Of course an online issue will be available still, as well. So you’re getting seen in print but you’re getting seen online, as well.
Caryn Hartglass: It is changing but it needs to continue to change and that’s the image of women and the image of women in sports. I was reading some article recently about women and tennis and how some of them were concerned about their looks and their image.
Christy Morgan: It’s ridiculous.
Caryn Hartglass: It is ridiculous. How they didn’t want their arms to get that big. You know you love your sport; you do what you want to do for your sport not because of what people are going to care about in terms of how you look, really crazy.
Christy Morgan: Women in sports have to deal with a lot of crap from people and I feel for them. We shouldn’t be making comments on the way they look. You don’t see anything like that happening for men in sports. Nobody is making comments on the way men look who do sports. They’re judged on their abilities.
Caryn Hartglass: You’ve got a yoga retreat coming up. Where is that going to be and when is that?
Christy Morgan: Last year I did a weeklong retreat in Bali and it was super successful. This year we’re doing it in Mexico. It’s for five days, four nights. I kept it a little shorter so more people could go. It’s in Mexico. We only have a few spots open. It’s a yoga retreat but it’s also a wellness conference you could say because there are fitness classes, talks and cooking classes. So it’s more than just a yoga retreat. It’s so much more.
Caryn Hartglass: Who’s making the food?
Christy Morgan: I’m helping their chef create the menu. So the food will be amazing.
Caryn Hartglass: I bet it will. That’s great. Where can people find out about this event?
Christy Morgan: blissfulandfit.com is my website and there’s a link on there if you want to check it out.
Caryn Hartglass: Can you tell us about some of the other people who are contributing to your magazine?
Christy Morgan: I have an amazing team. I started a Facebook group for women called the Young Ladies Who Lift and the idea was born out of that group. I started that group because there was a vegan bodybuilding group but there was no group for women. So I started that group a couple of years ago. The first women’s group for fitness and that’s where the idea was born so most of the team came from that group. I have a huge team actually. If you go to our website everyone’s bios are on there—fitness professionals, recipe creators and chefs, probably people that you may know and maybe people that you don’t know. Nicole Axworthy from a Dash of Vegan who has a book out. She is my editor and photographer. She does recipe creation. We just have an amazing team of people and we’re adding to it so if you are interested in contributing to the magazine definitely get in touch because we’re going to need to have more contributors as we go to print.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m sure that a lot of your information can be applicable to anyone. We don’t all have to be big athletes but like you said we should be exercising on a regular basis. I think my first introduction to a vegan athlete was Brendan Brazier. I’ve read his Thrive books and his concept. I was always fascinated how he talked about how he could work harder because the recovery time on a plant-based diet is that much shorter. I don’t know what you’ve experienced because I guess you were plant-based before you really got into some serious exercise but…
Christy Morgan: I read people’s stories and I’m part of a lot of different groups and I know people that have been into fitness their whole life and went vegan and experienced that as well. I was already vegan for so long that when I got into fitness I already felt amazing. I already felt awesome. When I got into fitness it took that to a whole other place that I never imagined possible. And I’m more awesome now!
Caryn Hartglass: Well you look more awesome now! You have a trimmer, slimmer, really fine look–at least in the pictures I see.
Christy Morgan: I’m actually ten pounds heavier this year than I was last year but a lot of it’s muscle. That’s another great thing about working out and getting into fitness is it changed the way I viewed myself and my body. I do it for so many different reasons not just because of the way it makes me look but the way it makes me feel.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. You mentioned energy before but a lot of us find when we move to an all plant-based, healthy whole foods plant-based diet—not Coke and potato chips—but a healthy whole foods plant-based diet, we find that we’re bouncing off the walls and we have a lot more energy. How do you feel about your energy levels?
Christy Morgan: That’s what I’m saying. I already had really good energy before but when I started working out I just couldn’t believe how much energy it gave me. I’m literally bouncing off the walls all day. I don’t have that afternoon dip. Everybody complains about the afternoon dip. Like around 3 that’s when everybody goes to the vending machine. They need a pick-me-up. That’s when Starbucks is the busiest because people are crashing. I don’t have that at all, ever. It’s shocking how much energy I have. Sometimes I can’t even sleep at night because I have so much energy.
Caryn Hartglass: You sound like you have a lot of energy just coming right through the phone. I like that.
Christy Morgan: I just want to age comfortably and gracefully as much as possible. I don’t believe as we get older we should degrade and not be able to do things. That’s the beauty of a healthy lifestyle. I want to be around for a while and I want to be able to feel good while I’m aging.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right. Many people accept with age the aches and pains and the immobility and all kinds of issues. They think it’s natural and normal. It isn’t.
Christy Morgan: Exactly. It’s frightening what people deal with everyday. I got a migraine because I was in a car accident, somebody rear-ended me. I went and traveled. I went to the Summerfest conference this week and I got a migraine I couldn’t help. It was like the accident, the travel, the elevation, whatever. I felt like crap. I literally went to sleep for three hours. If I don’t feel awesome I just shutdown. I can’t deal with it. And people are dealing with these kinds of things all the time, all day. I can’t fathom it.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s a real good point–vitality. We have more vitality and if something goes in to the body, the body reacts right away. It can be powerful. We have to sleep or stop. It’s like taken care of, just like that. Christy, it’s been great talking to you. I wish you great success with Definition magazine. We’re at the end of the half hour. Thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food. It’s been great talking to you again after three years.
Christy Morgan: Thank you. Good to talk to you.
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s see what happens to you in another three years, okay?
Christy Morgan: Okay. Sounds good.
Transcribed by Suzanne Kelly, 9/24/2015