Overcoming obstacles and constantly striving to accomplish goals is part of the heart and soul of True Nutrition. We work hard and push ourselves to the limits, we live and breathe our ethos and are constantly driving towards our own personal triumphs. That’s why we are constantly inspired by stories within our community of amazing humans overcoming adversity and putting it all on the line to achieve success.
We were recently inspired by Kim Capella, a young woman from Atlanta. Her amazing recipes and story of transformation are a good reminder that with hard work and a positive mental attitude, anyone can make the changes necessary to live a healthy and fitness-forward lifestyle. Kim is an inspired food blogger, fitness enthusiast and vegan athlete. We caught up with her to talk about her struggles with weight and diet, changing her life and what it took to make the transition to a fully vegan diet.
What initially got you into creating healthy recipes?
Initially I got into it for my health and weight loss purposes. Growing up I was overweight and I struggled with weight loss for so long, even though I attempted to lose weight many times. In all of the failed attempts, the one thing I didn’t do was learn how to take control of my diet by making the food myself – which I did eventually learn. Making my own food forced me to learn about what is actually in my food, rather than just going off of a calorie label and limiting my calories, but still just eating junk. It started really basic, like learning how to make an omelette or how to make a burrito, and eventually it grew into this true love of cooking and creating healthy recipes.
On your blog you talk openly about struggling with your weight. Was it hard to open up about something that is such a personal struggle for so many people?
Oh for sure, it was very difficult to take that first step. It has gotten easier since it’s become so public. It’s still hard for me to talk about it when I meet new people who may not know of my blog. I will never forget struggling with my weight. I was so insecure growing up and trying to hide that insecurity is what ultimately caused my eating disorder. I have a perfectionist mentality, so admitting that you have some flaw or at least a perceived flaw, was really difficult for me.
One thing that really struck us about your story is that you talk about both being overweight and unhealthy, and being on the complete other end of the spectrum, underweight and unhealthy. How were you able to find balance in your diet?
Finding balance was a long journey of self acceptance. After losing so much weight, body dysmorphia really took over and all I could see was more weight to lose where there was none. If people tried to speak out of concern, I shrugged it off or got upset. So the biggest thing was realizing I had a problem and then caring enough to try and fix it. I didn’t really see it as a problem until I started having a lot of health complications. I realized that it could impact me for life, and that was my motivator.
I relied on my Mom and closest friends to encourage me and to understand the problems I was having. I believe in baby steps rather than making drastic changes that ultimately won’t last. So I took baby steps and challenged myself to view myself differently, eat certain foods and not controlling every single meal in my day. It took about a year, but I got there!
In 2015 you transitioned into a vegan diet. How has that transition been for you?
The transition has been fantastic, although I was very cautious initially. I took baby steps because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be vegan; it was more of an experiment. I started transitioning because I noticed that dairy really antagonized my fibromyalgia pain. I had already naturally stopped craving and eating meat and other than fish. Once I gave up dairy, I figured, why not try to cut out eggs too?
Once I started to just feel better and better, I fully committed. It took me about a year from the time I first became curious about becoming vegan to the time I actually committed. Within 3 to 4 months, I knew it was right for me. Fibromyalgia took away my ability to workout and I couldn’t even work in a lab anymore, but now I have both of those things back because of my good health. Since I took baby steps, I was able to find alternatives and ways of cooking that I enjoyed without being overwhelmed. The longer I am vegan and the more research I do, the more passionate I am about the ethical & environmental reasons, and I couldn’t go back.
I think one of the major concerns for veganism when it comes to athletes and bodybuilders is a fear of protein deficiency. How have you been able to maintain the adequate level of protein through supplements and diet to continue with your fitness goals?
I was just talking to a coworker about this today! There are so many sources of plant protein. If you eat a whole foods diet, you’ll cover the bases without even realizing it. For example, a cup of broccoli has 4g of protein, there’s even 5 grams of protein in a serving of oatmeal, but people assume it’s pure carbs.
Personally, I like to get my protein from beans, lentils, quinoa, soy (tofu + edamame), seitan, nuts/nut butter, flax seeds and chia seeds. Initially, I didn’t love foods like beans and lentils, so flavored pea protein has helped me a lot to supplement with on days I just need a little boost. It’s also fun to bake with all the assorted flavors to get protein in a healthy dessert without even realizing it. I average around 80g of protein a day and I never feel like I’m struggling to get enough of it.
What has been the most satisfying part of sharing your journey with others?
Oh man… all of the opportunities and experiences that have been brought into my life that I never could have predicted. I get the sweetest messages that leave me speechless, because I can’t believe I have impacted people in such a strong way. In reality I feel like it’s the opposite, because my readers and the people I’ve interacted with bring me so much joy. I feel like I’m the one that owes them something. I’ve always had self confidence issues because of my weight and the outpouring of love and acceptance from people is invaluable. It’s helped me grow into a better and more confident person. I’ve made true connections and friendships across the world that can’t be replaced.
Any really inspiring stories from people who follow you on social media or online?
I often get a message or email from a follower struggling with disordered eating, looking for help or advice. Each story is different and I get so emotionally invested. I give my advice or direct them to someone who knows best, then I try my hardest to keep in contact or follow up on social media. Many times I watch the person totally overcome their struggle and just bloom into such a happy, vibrant person. So maybe my advice helped, maybe it had no impact, but it just really warms my heart to witness so many genuine stories.
What True Nutrition products are you excited about?
I absolutely love the custom oatmeal generator and the vegan pea protein! Both products have so many flavors to choose from. I’m a flavor hoarder and love to have as many as possible to choose from! I’ve had a lot of really bad vegan protein brands and some not-so-bad-but-still-bad vegan protein brands, so finding such an array of flavors that actually taste good is like hitting the protein jackpot.
What are your goals for the rest of 2016?
In general, I am taking this year to fully rediscover myself. A lot of stable things changed in my life in 2015, and I wasn’t entirely sure who I was or what I wanted to do for a really long time. So I am putting all of my efforts into myself. As far as specific goals, I aim to read 30 books by the end of the year, complete a 100 km road bike ride, improve my web development skills and my skills at work as a biochemist.
Any big stories or projects we should be on the lookout for?
Yes! I’m so excited about a project I’m working on for 2016. It’s in the beginning process right now, so I can’t say what yet…but I can say it’s bigger than my last big project which was my 30 Under 300 cookbook last Fall.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is looking to start taking their health and wellness seriously, what would it be and why?
First, decide why you want to take it seriously, and remember to never forget that reason. When it gets hard, you have to remember why. Once that is established, just never get overwhelmed and certainly don’t beat yourself up over the little things!
Looking for plant and vegan protein? Shop our selection HERE!