My Vegan Month: The Round-Up

December 1, 2017

So Vegan Month has come to an end, and we need a round-up post. I would have written this yesterday but, you know, I was too busy making seitan from scratch… 😉

So. Let’s revisit my first post and answer my own questions…

Did I feel any healthier eating 100% vegan?

Hm. Yes, on balance I did. I always eat a lot of veggies anyway, cook all my own food, rarely if ever get takeaway etc. But what I noticed during Vegan Month is that I just bought less snacky sweet “excess” stuff. This was mostly because I couldn’t be bothered to read the labels on everything. I know there’s vegan chocolate, vegan icecream, etc. But I just kind of couldn’t be bothered. As a result, the amount of unplanned snacking definitely went down. I also ate a lot less in the way of sauces and dressings (because so many of them have milk/cream/egg). My diet was a lot simpler as a vegan.

Did I sleep better?

No change here. My sleep is largely dictated by the noise levels of my neighbours.

Has my body changed at all (composition and/or size?) 

Weight has stayed the same, but then again I did make an effort to eat the same calories as previously, so I wouldn’t expect a change. I do think I look a bit leaner, but this could be because of training frequency which has increased these past few weeks.

Is my training performance affected at all (better/worse)?

I’ve been training hard and feeling good. The only times I’ve felt shit in training is when I’ve been exhausted (see above re: noisy neighbours).

Did I feel hungrier?

No, not at all. In fact maybe less hungry?

How easy (or not) was it to hit my normal macros? 

My protein went down and carbs went up. It was difficult to hit higher protein (because vegan protein is all mixed in with carbs), and difficult not to eat higher carb (same reason). I was hitting around 250g carbs a day with no effort at all – just because carbs are kind of everywhere with a vegan way of eating. This is fine by me, by the way, I have no issue with carbohydrate! I felt/performed/look much the same or perhaps a bit better. Protein wasn’t low (lowest was something like 125g) but lower than pre-vegan diet.

What kind of recipes/meals did I end up cooking, and will I keep any of them in my regular diet?

Sorry, did I mention that I made seitan from scratch? I did? Oh. Well I also made lots of curry-type things with tofu and/or pulses. (Some of the recipes are here.) And I discovered fava beans, which I made into a kind of daal with turmeric and spices. I really enjoyed everything I made (I guess it would be odd if I didn’t, given that I made them?!) and will keep them in my regular diet. I will actually make seitan again!

Will I carry on with all or any of my vegan food choices after 30th November?

Definitely. No milk or yoghurt – the thought had been making me feel a bit “ick” for a long time before I did this vegan experiment. I’ll carry on using non-dairy milk. I doubt I’ll want yoghurt but if I do, there’s Alpro. I really dislike honey. I suspect I’ll go back to regular cheese. I will eat eggs and egg whites again. As for meat? I will eat it again, but I don’t have any specific plans. I didn’t get any meat out of the freezer last night ready to eat today. And I haven’t eaten any today. I am looking forward to a bit of salmon and – oddly – tinned tuna.

I hope you’ve enjoyed following this month-long eating experiment. If you have any questions for me, please ask and I’ll do some follow up posts.

All the Vegan Month posts can be found here >> Vegan Month experiment <<.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.

 

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Making Homemade Seitan for Vegan Month

November 30, 2017

Today is the final day of Vegan Month, so I decided to go out with a flourish: by making homemade seitan from scratch.

Now, please bear in mind that I have never eaten seitan. Or even seen it. It’s very difficult to make something when your brain has absolutely no idea what the thing should look like.

What is seitan?

It’s a vegan protein source often called “wheat meat”. It is made from vital wheat gluten (gluten is after all a protein – the protein in wheat, rye, barley and some other grains I can’t remember right now). Needless to say, seitan is not going to be good for coeliacs or Crohn’s sufferers.

But I have no reason to avoid gluten, so off I went to my local independent healthfood shop (holla Folkestone Whole Foods who were extremely helpful, and even high fived me!)

The recipe

I used the basic seitan recipe from Fit Pro Client Recipes (which also has various recipes for how to use your seitan once you’ve made it). But, me being me, I adapted it a bit. Oh, and totally forgot to add one ingredient (I found it under my jumper halfway through).

Here’s how the seitan happened.

Ingredients:

  • 140g wheat gluten
  • 5 “normal” spoons of nutritional yeast (meant to be 3 tbsp but I don’t own any tbsps)
  • 1.5 vegan stock cubes (recipe called for various amounts of “broth” but I just used stock cubes)
  • 2 “normal” spoons of olive oil (meant to be 1 tbsp)
  • 8 “normal” spoons of soy sauce
  • 8 “normal” spoons of lemon juice (meant to be 2 tbsp but I like lemon)
  •  2 garlic cloves (not very well chopped – I should have crushed them)
  • Various herbs and spices: paprika, black pepper, coriander.

Method:

  • Fill a pan about 6″ with water and add one of the stock cubes and 1/2 of the soy sauce. Set this boiling whilst you make the seitan. (This is the broth that the seitan will “steam” in to cook).
  • In a big bowl, mix the wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, and spices/herbs.
  • In another bowl, mix the 1/2 stock cube with cold water, add the other half of the soy sauce, the garlic, the olive oil, and the lemon juice.
  • Pour the liquid into the dry mix and mix it about with a wooden spoon. It will clump together.
  • Then get in there with your hands and knead it. It gets really bouncy and weird. Knead for about 3 mins.
  • Cut the dough (are we calling it dough? We are now) into 3 with a sharp knife.
  • Take each piece in your palms and knead it a bit more, then form it into whatever shape you want. I went for “patties” but I guess you could make sausage type things?
  • Lower your seitan into the boiling broth, then reduce it to a simmer. Put a lid on the pan but leave a gap for the steam to get out.
  • Simmer the seitan for 45 mins, turning it occasionally. Then turn the heat off and let it sit in the broth for 10 more mins. Then take it out and put it on kitchen towel.
  • Then… use it!

This makes it sound a LOT more complicated than it is. It’s easy. It took me about 15 mins (plus the steaming time). It’s essentially: dry mix, wet mix, combine them, knead it, steam it.

Macros

I’ll be honest, I didn’t calculate it. Sorry. But seitan is obviously high in protein (the highest protein non-animal source?), and the only added fat in this recipe is from the olive oil.

The verdict?

Wowsers! I am seriously impressed (so was the dog, as you’ll see if you have a chance to watch my Insta story in the next few hours).

It looks like meat.
It slices like meat.
It has the texture of meat.
It’s chewy like meat.

It doesn’t taste like meat, but then again there is no single “meat” taste anyway, is there?

It tastes… hearty, and chewy, and of all the flavours you add to it. I guess you could make a more spicy version, or one with Thai/BBQ/Indian (etc) flavours to suit. You’d also use your seitan like meat – in a dish – so more chance to flavour it then too.

But honestly I just ate a couple of slices once it had cooled down, just like this. OK I’d just got home from the gym so I was hungry, but hand on heart I enjoyed it.

So – thank you to the people who challenged me to make seitan during Vegan Month! I’m really glad I did, and I will make it again.

Final Vegan Month round up post to come tomorrow. It’s been fun!

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


Join The 21-day Content Creation Challenge

November 30, 2017

Fitpro-ho-hos! (Too early?)

Who wants to do a MASSIVE push on content in December?

I’m running a free, informal 21-day content creation challenge.

Want to join in?

  • accountability
  • practical support
  • help with ideas
  • feedback and critique from me
  • a boost in visibility and activity

Plus you’ll get..

…BETTER at writing
…MORE CONFIDENT about posting
…and PAST the annoying procrastination you have about content

All you have to do is commit to posting ONCE per day from 1st-21st December. Yes, we start tomorrow. If you’re in, you’re in! Just get started – I’ll help with the rest.

It can be on FB, Insta, your blog, to your email list… whatever is most relevant to your audience.

This is for you if:

– you’re a fitness professional
– who wants a big push on content in December
– to get ahead of the “New Year rush”

Get in touch on Facebook, or leave a comment here, and I’ll message you with the next steps.

==

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


My Vegan Month: 1 Week In

November 5, 2017

It’s not quite one week in to “World Vegan Month”, but Sunday seems a good day for a round up.

In case you missed it, I’m “going vegan” for the month. I’ve gone into this with no preconceptions, no expectations, and no particular concerns. So these round up blog posts will simply be what’s on my mind, and what (if anything) has surprised me about being vegan so far.

How have I felt?

Surprisingly, no different to usual. Hunger and appetite are about the same. If anything, I feel less hungry – more balanced – than eating my usual foods. I don’t know if this is an increase in fibre, or food volume? I should point out that I haven’t done a complete 180* in my food choices here. I was already eating a “good diet”, of “mostly whole foods”, with almost everything prepped from scratch by my own hands. I already ate a lot of veg, quite a lot of pulses/lentils.

So what’s changed?

Well, obviously no meat, fish, or eggs. I didn’t eat much dairy anyway (for some reason it makes me a bit queasy these days). But of course there is a bit of dairy in things like sauces, chocolate, dressings etc.

Snacks and “quick grab” foods are more difficult

The few times I have felt hungry have been the times I’d typically grab a quick “something”. Doing that is much more difficult as a vegan, it turns out. Maybe not once you’ve got used to it, I suppose. But where I might make myself a quick protein mugcake (EGGS!), or some scrambled eggs (EGGS!), I’m now left opening and shutting the fridge door thinking: “hmmm”.  There are plenty of things I can snack on, of course. But at this stage in my vegan adventure, I can only think in meals. (Thank you to Bulk Powders who gifted me a box of their Chocolate Coconut vegan protein bars which have been my sweet treats!)

Protein is a little harder to hit

It’s not difficult to eat protein as a vegan – plenty of plant sources have decent protein (tofu, pulses, lentils) and of course there is trace protein in pretty much everything. But it’s more difficult to – say – bump up a meal by 20g protein. Because vegan protein is tied in to other macros. So I have been having more servings of protein powder than usual (thanks again to Bulk Powders for this vegan protein powder!)

You have to rethink “meal construction”

As an omnivore, you tend to think of your macros separately. “OK, for my carbs I’ll do potatoes…. I’ll have chicken with that for my protein, and if I need any fats in there I’ll put some butter on top.” Or whatever. A bit more creative than that, but you get the idea. You can’t do that with vegan foods, because (as mentioned), the macros are all attached. So I’ve been trying to find higher protein versions of “carb” foods – like these pasta shapes (made from lentil flour and green pea flour), so then I can just have a veggie sauce on top and the macros are pretty decent.

Food shopping is eye-opening

I did a late night dash to the supermarket on the 1st, because I realised I didn’t really have enough food in the house to create a vegan meal. It was eye-opening. I realised how people must feel when they first embark on a “healthy eating plan” for the first time. All of a sudden, entire sections of the shop are off limits or completely redundant. You have to scrutinise labels (who knew that not all Quorn products are in fact vegan? Not me!) The shop took ages (see “scrutinising food labels”) but by the end of it my trolley was pretty sparse.

Question of the week

What is creatine? I mean, what is it actually made from? Is it… vegan? (I hope so! If it isn’t, please let me down gently!)

Um… what else?

  • Gym performance is absolutely fine. I’ve had a wicked week’s training actually.
  • My guts are fine, thank you 😉
  • Sleep is fine/no different.
  • I haven’t craved/been hungry for/missed anything in particular.

Recipe

I will be using Fitproclientrecipes during the month, to try a whole load of new meals and snacks. I’ll report back.

For now, I will leave you with a recipe I’ve just made up on a whim. I call it Curried Cauliflower & Tofu, because that is what it is.

Ingredients:

  • 20ml oil
  • 400g raw cauliflower, chopped
  • 400g firm tofu, water pressed out
  • 200g tomatoes, chopped
  • Spinach (as much as you want, it will wilt away to nothing anyway)
  • 1 lemon (grate a bit of the rind, and squeeze all of the juice)
  • Garlic paste or fresh garlic
  • Fresh coriander
  • Cumin seeds
  • Turmeric powder
  • Red chili flakes or fresh chili
  • Ground black pepper
  • You could put more herbs/spices in if you have them – I don’t)

Instructions:

  • Heat the oil in a heavy pan (lidded one)
  • Put in the cubed tofu and all the herbs/spices apart from the fresh coriander
  • Let the tofu brown a bit (you won’t be able to tell, because turmeric makes everything yellow, including my fingers, my kitchen surfaces, and my utensils)
  • Add the lemon rind, tomatoes and cauliflower
  • Put the lid on the pan and let it cook away
  • Add the lemon juice & spinach, turn the heat down, and leave it.
  • Put the fresh coriander on top when it’s done

Macros per 1/4 of this recipe:

  • Cals 193
  • P 15
  • C 8
  • F 12

So. There’s my rather underwhelming update after 5 days as a vegan! Let me know if you have any questions (or suggestions).

I’ve got some interviews with real actual (as in permanent!) vegan athletes lined up, as well as more recipes, review of vegan protein products, and anything else that comes to mind! Requests are welcomed.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


My Vegan Month: The Start

November 1, 2017

So, I’m “going vegan” for a month. This month, specifically.

Back in September, I got a press release informing me that November is World Vegan Month. “Hm,” I thought, as a fledgling idea popped into my brain.

Eat vegan for World Vegan Month.

And then – because I’d about it – I basically had to see it through. Because that’s how my brain works.

I’m going to post a lot about this during the month:

  • what I expect/hope to get out of it
  • my worries/doubts/concerns
  • any challenges I come up against
  • tips/recipes/brilliant ideas* I come up with (*if relevant)
  • what I learn from this experience
  • whether my macros have to change and/or how difficult it is to keep them the same
  • whether or not I’ll stay eating vegan afterwards

I’m also planning on interviewing a few vegan athletes, bodybuilders, and generally sporty people so you can get some really useful and substantial advice from people who are actually real vegans!

A quick note before we go on: no, I am not a vegan. I am doing this as a personal experiment. That doesn’t mean I think veganism is a joke. I will be taking this seriously during the month, avoiding any animal products, and eating/drinking only 100% vegan. I won’t be extending my temporary veganism to leather or anything like that. (I’m not planning on buying any shoes or handbags in November anyway tbh). I will not be getting into any discussions or debates about the ethical side of veganism. It’s beyond the scope of this blog series. Please trust that I am a decent person, I care about the environment, I love animals, and I won’t even kill a wasp 😉

Phew!

My initial thoughts as my first day of veganism comes to a close.

These are in no particular order; I’m really tired and want to get this post up.

  1. If you haven’t prepared for veganism, you won’t have much to eat. Obvious, perhaps, but I discovered this by lunchtime today. Breakfast was barely different to normal (my usual “protein porridge” but without the splash of liquid egg whites, and with a vegan blend protein powder instead of whey. I use this vegan protein powder from Bulk Powders – who kindly sent me it in support of this blog series. I will do a review another time). If you’re going vegan, go food shopping first, and cook up some beans and pulses!
  2. It is more of a challenge to eat protein (than on a non-vegan diet). This is because vegan proteins are all “connected” to other macros. So if you just ate chicken (say), that would be mostly protein with a tiny bit of fat. White fish would be basically pure protein. Egg whites are also pure protein. But there seem to be very few pure protein sources from plants. Most of them are also quite carby. This is fine, it just means you need to think a bit differently about meeting your macros.
  3. Food shopping is an eye opener. I dashed to Tesco after training tonight, because I had no vegan food ready for dinner. Shopping for vegan food really made me realise how people might feel when they first start “eating healthy”. You have to think hard about everything. Read labels. Compare things. My subsequent vegan shopping trips will be much faster, but this one took ages! And even things you assume are vegan – like Quorn – are not, unless specifically labelled as such. There were vast areas of Tesco that were totally irrelevant to me as a vegan shopper. Most of it, actually, apart from the fresh fruit and veg part.
  4. Thank god I really like vegetables, salad, and fruit.

Here are the questions I hope to answer by the end of this vegan month:

  • did I feel any healthier eating 100% vegan?
  • am I sleeping better?
  • has my body changed at all (composition and/or size?) I’ll be weighing myself and taking waist measurements
  • is my training performance affected at all (better/worse)?
  • do I feel hungrier?
  • how easy (or not) is it to hit my normal macros? and, if I can’t, how do I feel/perform/look on the new macros?
  • what kind of recipes/meals do I end up cooking, and will I keep any of them in my regular diet?
  • will I carry on with all or any of my vegan food choices after 30th November

Right, I’m going to bed!

I hope you’ll find this interesting. If you have any questions, or want me to focus on anything in particular, please leave a comment (or contact me on Facebook or Insta).

Also… if at any point you realise that I’ve totally screwed up and eaten something that’s not actually vegan, please for the love of God tell me gently. I don’t think I can take it! 😉

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


#6 – 7 Ways Copywriting Is Crucial For Your Fitness Business (About Me profiles)

October 26, 2017
Today: writing your About Me page (or any kind of profile/bio).
(Check out the posts about videos and video scripts, emails and email marketing, blog posts, website copy and ebooks.

Isn’t Writing “About Me” Easy? I Just Talk About…. Me…. No?

Do you want to bore your readers straight off the page and leave them with absolutely no idea of what life would be like working with you?

Then no, ideally not.

Yes, if you run a business, you do need to tell people about yourself (especially if you are the face of the brand). You might do this on your website, in your social media bios, within sales pages, and as an author bio when you write guest blog posts.

But how much thought do you put into those little “about me” profiles?

“About Me” Is A Marketing Tool Too

Stop thinking of about me/profiles as a footnote and start thinking of them as a key part of your marketing and brand awareness.

It can be challenging to get all the key points into an “about me” section, especially on social media, but that’s good practice. Make your bio sharp and succinct, interesting, and on brand.

9 Things To Remember

If you’re struggling to write an engaging profile/bio/about me section that doesn’t bore people to death, bear these points in mind:

  1. know who you’re talking to. The messaging, tone, and language of your bio should change according to your audience, just like any other bit of copy should.
  2. don’t just include facts and boring info (tip: nobody cares about you, they care about what you can do for them)
  3. make your about me/profile be about the reader. I know, sounds weird. But it needs to be about you in the context of what you do for other people.
  4. share your values, character, and what makes you different. Why should the reader work with you?
  5. tell the story of your professional journey. People love stories, and this is the best way to get all that boring info in without just listing a load of facts.
  6. show how you’ve provided solutions in the past, and how you can help the reader now. This is another creative way of getting those boring facts in, but in story form.
  7. give a sense of what it’s like to work with you. Do this through stories, language, and tone.
  8. build a sense of connection, familiarity, and trust
  9. add a call to action or at the very least a way to contact you

Here are a few examples of About Me/profiles I’ve written

Kirk Miller About Me page

Boldanic (supplements) About Us/company story page

Tony Cottenden Top Condition PT About Me page

Adam Cam About Me page

For more fitness industry copywriting chat, join me on Facebook– and stay tuned here for the final post in the series.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who has been writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry since 2004. Get in touch via Facebook, or by sending a message here.

 


#5 – 7 Ways Copywriting Is Crucial For Your Fitness Business (Video Scripts)

October 23, 2017

Number 5 in this blog series about ways you should be using copywriting in your fitness business is videos (well, video scripts).

(Check out the posts about emails and email marketing, blog posts, website copy and ebooks).

Video Scripts? Why Would I Use Them?

You’ve probably heard marketing type people say things like “Google loves video content”,  and “people prefer watching video to reading copy”.

Video content is a really important part of your marketing strategy. You need video on your website, and you might need to use it as part of your sales funnel.

But it’s not all about off-the-cuff Insta lives and Snapchat stories. That kind of spontaneous, selfie-style video content definitely has its place. But we’re talking about video as a marketing tool here, rather than video as consistent content.

You can (and should) use video for

  • your website home page
  • as a sales tool
  • to welcome clients to a member site
  • to summarise who you are
  • to showcase your products
  • …in fact anything that you’d also do in writing.

But just because it’s video, don’t think you shouldn’t write it first.

Videos are valuable. People won’t hang around to watch them if they are boring, clumsy, or take ages to get to the point. Your videos need to be clear, concise, engaging, AND make people take some sort of action. That’s a lot to leave to chance.

So script it.

You can rewrite your video script as many times as you need. There’s no pressure. Take time to get it right.

  • video sales letters
  • home page videos
  • video bios
  • product videos
  • Q&A/objection handling videos

Have you got video on your website, members’ area site, or in your product bundles? If not – why not?

For more fitness industry copywriting chat, join me on Facebook – and stay tuned here for the next five posts in this series.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who has been writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry since 2004. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.