It’s been a crazy week. Just back from the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival where I spoke both days. I met SO many cool peeps. All the selfies and other pix are on my facebook pages. But here’s my fav: I’ll try and do a whole separate blog on the festival soon. Lotsa fun pix and so many great products/foods. My flight back got canceled and I’m still catching up. The day I got back, I was interviewed by a woman who hopes to write a book on those who have defeated cancer with diet, and those who have defied family odds, like me.
I’m having a blast teaching my local “Taste of Vegan” cooking classes at the Anna Maria Island Community Center.
And welcome all my “Feasting on Fitness” column fans from the the Anna Maria Island Sun which recently dumped my 4-year old column for a fishing column. Everyone advises to build your own “communications network” anyway. I did the 750-word weekly column for 4 years for free. So time, as I always used to hear when I was a financial consultant, to “Pay yourself first.” Build the incredible network of followers who believe that my determination to show you can do all kinds of wild and crazy things “just” on plants is a valid journey. Living in the heavy fishing community that I do, I was surprised the newspaper restaurant and gym advertisers didn’t have my neck long before they did.
I had built up a loyal clientele at the gym where I was a personal trainer. Most never asked or really cared how I ate. They liked that I wasn’t the youngest trainer in the gym and had 33 years under my belt as a runner, injury free. While they didn’t necessarily want to be runners, they liked my “Finish Without Injury” mantra. They knew I put into practice what I preached over decades.
The gym owner, half my age, let me know she thought that a vegan diet was a bunch of “crap,” along with more colorful words. I always let her know when she would ask how my weekend went that I had just placed in another (now 65 of them) 5K or longer races for my age group. She didn’t do anything competitively currently, and it didn’t seem to impress her.
Just two weeks ago, I competed in the local Gulfcoast Senior Games. I placed in my age group in every event I did: I actually got overal female finisher at the 5K, and 1st in the 50, 100, 400, 800 and 1500 meters.
(You may recall I’m currently 7th in my age group in the US…at the National Senior Games last summer.) The new local games event, by the way, was the 5th weekend in a row that I had competed in a race which included the marathon I ran in Celebration, FL. Piece o’ carrot cake, as I’m fond of saying.
Fortunately, when I had the guts to give up the mother ship and go out on my own as a trainer, I felt lucky that my most loyal and excited clients followed me on their own. But more importantly, it freed me up from wiping down gym equipment and answering the phone to doing more cooking classes and writing. Perhaps the most annoying thing at the gym was being asked to run the front desk while the owner trained her clients. But then she would break away if someone came to the front desk she thought she could get as a client. Her interupting me in mid-sentence drove me nuts. Good-bye, good riddance. I’d love to hear about your epiphany moments when you knew it was time to leave your work situation. Sometimes those are the best breaks.
So funny in hindsight as I consider the great e-mail from my publisher saying they’ve never had anyone who has worked so hard promoting books as I have. I feel the same way about them. They believed in me when no one else did. I had been shopping “Eat Vegan on $4 a Day” for a year with a great agent, Patti Breitman, who kept getting turned down. Patti, now has a great book of her own out (along with legends R.D. Ginny Messina and Carol Adams),”Never Too Late to Go Vegan.”
In my work as a certified personal trainer and running coach, along with my own training with local running clubs, I found an increasing number of my colleagues embracing the new paleo fad…eating how our ancestors did in paleolithic times, 2 million to 10,000 years ago, give or take. One of my friends and coaches used to roll her eyes to me privately saying, “Boy they all seem to have a lot of injuries.” She was referring to the many paleo devotees who worked out at the local Cross-Fit gyms.
I would eventually go to our local gym to see what it was all about. I later learned that not all Cross-Fit gyms, because they are loosely coordinated, do not embrace paleo. But the local gym I went to did whole-heartedly. Cannisters of whey (dairy) protein powder greeted me at the check-in counter.
As I read more about paleo, even though there were some things in common with a vegan diet, such as no dairy and eating foods in their natural state, I began researching how the fad took off and where it came from. But the final straw to write “Paleo Vegan” came after a long day at the Orlando VegFest. Some friends took me to dinner, and the waitress, seeing us order vegan said, “I used to eat vegan, but I switched to paleo and have lost SO much weight.” As soon as she left the table, my friends asked, “What’s paleo?” I had assumed everyone knew about paleo. Those who run in fitness circles as I do, certainly know about paleo. It is why, at vegfests, people see the cover of the new book (out March 15th) and come up and hug me. They undertstand why it is so important.
Since “Paleo Vegan” went into pre-sales, my publisher says they have never had a book in their 40-year history do so well. The popular magazine, “Veg News,” featured “Paleo Vegan” as one of “Colleen Holland’s Most Anticipated Books fo 2014.” My co-author Alan Roettinger, chef to presidents and other celebs, developed recipes that paleo ancestors would come back to celebrate for sure. I feel so lucky to have partnered up with him. Some discussions on my Facebook pages have been “How dare you marry those two words…I’m outta here!” But most of the response has been what Colleen wrote…
“To many, the title of this book may seem like an oxymoron, but Paleo vegan is a growing food trend—and why not? We know plant-based protein is far more nourishing (and ethical) than animal protein, so I am delighted to see this cookbook coming out later this month. Written by veteran authors Ellen Jaffe Jones (Eat Vegan on $4 a Day) and Alan Roettinger (Extraordinary Vegan), the duo showcase healthy and nutrient-packed vegan dishes like Oyster Mushroom and Baby Bok Choy Curry, Roasted Pumpkin Dip, and Dandelion Salad with Beets. Bring it on.”
Thank you, Colleen. I love trying to think outside the vegan comfort zone and box. I’m always thinking, “How do we get people to the vegan table who would never consider it?” That and blowing up all myths about eating/living vegan are what make me literally run out of bed every morning. Not enough time in the day…