Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
My name is Beth Castell, am 31 years old and like to describe myself as the vegan lawyer who lifts.
I live in Adelaide, South Australia and have been here all my life. I am married with six furkids (four dogs, and two cats… I know!), and work as a wills, deceased estates and litigation lawyer.
I’ve been training for about three years, hitting the weights five to seven days per week. I started training to prove that people can build muscle and be fit and healthy on a vegan diet. The animals are my motivation.
I was never really into typical sports as a kid, instead spent about ten years doing ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary dancing.
Training and diet are a big part of my life outside of work, but I love it. I also love to veg out on the coach, create my own macro-friendly recipes and try new vegan cafes.
I’m currently an ambassador for Herman Brot. It was a natural progression from being their number one fan! They offer high protein, low carb, vegan-friendly pasta, bread, muesli and hamburger rolls – pretty much all those typically carby things I had initially crossed off my list.
I am also supported by Lamyong Vegetarian (and Vegan!) Health Foods, and occasionally trade recipes for food. It’s a great (and tasty!) deal!
I have competed in five bodybuilding competitions in the last two years and was fortunate enough to take away a stack of hardware.
In my last competition for ICN, I placed in every division I entered (bikini 30+, bikini open and fitness 30+).
Describe a typical day of training
I used to be a big fan of full body training (and that’s how I got a lot of my newbie gains), but in the last year have moved to more body part splits.
I usually hit legs at least twice per week, and then upper body/back/abs for the rest. Squats and deadlifts (usually Romanian deadlifts) are always a staple, as well as lat pull downs, overhead presses and lateral raises.
I’ve been focusing on and will continue to focus on getting some width to my upper body, working on that V shape and also tightening my glutes.
On work days, I train at Your World Fitness in the Adelaide CBD and on weekends or after work I train in my home gym.
When my husband and I built our house a couple of years ago, we deliberately made a room for a home gym. It’s got a power rack, a couple of benches, a machine that offers leg extensions/curls and a preacher curl, plus an assortment of bars and dumbbells.
Cardio has never been a priority in my training, except during the later stages of comp prep, where I do steady state cardio usually on the stationary bike or elliptical for about half an hour a few times per week.
I usually like to get in a meal about an hour before training – usually a small amount of carbs and about 20 grams of protein, just for some fuel in the tank.
I do like to take pre-workout, always vegan-friendly of course. I’m a big fan of PranaOn and VPA Australia’s pre workouts, otherwise a couple of coffee shots will do the trick!
How do you keep going and push harder?
I think of my “why”. Why am I here? Why do I train? And for me, it’s the animals. I’m working on my vegains to prove that us vegans can be strong, that we can grow muscle and be fit and healthy.
Of course, some days are harder than others and I can’t be bothered, but I make myself go. Because I know that afterwards I’ll feel better and refreshed.
Training is one of the constants in my life. It keeps me centred even when life around me gets tough.
I always want to improve and be better, and I’m not going to do that by giving up. Each day I try to improve if I can, whether it’s one extra rep on one exercise or increasing the weight, every little bit counts.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Right now I am on a short break from training after some elective surgery, but I only have three weeks now until I have the all clear from my doctor to return to training.
It has been a good time to take this break, as I have just finished competing in some bodybuilding competitions and will be travelling to Europe for Christmas.
I’ll be training while I’m away, but mostly with bands, working on getting my strength and mobility back after six weeks of rest after surgery.
For the next couple of years my aim is to build muscle. I don’t intend to compete until Season B of 2021 at the earliest. I’m keen to move up a division in bodybuilding competitions if I can.
Outside of training, I will continue to focus on building my wills and estates legal practice for the business I work for, and keeping up-to-date with the relevant cases and legislation.
How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I’m fortunate not to have had any really serious injuries since I started training. I sprained my ankle pretty badly a year and a half ago, but I was still able to train upper body and then just ease back into lower body training.
The best way, in my opinion, to avoid injuries is to make sure your muscles are warm before you start your active sets. I will do a couple of bodyweight sets and then one or two sets at half the weight of my active sets.
I also make sure I get a decent meal in with at least 30 grams of protein soon after training.
I make sure I get approximately seven hours of sleep each night, and usually get in about 30 to 40 grams of protein immediately before bed, usually made up as a protein mousse from vegan protein powder, which assists with recovery.
How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I loudly and proudly follow a vegan diet, and have been vegan longer than I have been training.
I have tracked my food on and off (more on than off!) for the last three years, with my main focus on getting enough protein, followed by fat and then the remainder of my calories comprising of carbs.
I aim to have at least 30 to 40 grams of protein at a time so as to hit the leucine threshold, and will do so four to five times per day.
As for fats, depending on whether I’m preparing for a comp or not, I will usually aim for around 40 to 60 grams of fat.
Ideally, I recommend that 20 to 30 per cent of a person’s calories should come from fat, focusing on getting polyunsaturated fats, then monounsaturated fats and a lesser amount of saturated fats.
My main protein sources are tofu, tempeh, home made or purchased mock meats – often known as seitan (which are usually made from gluten flour and rice, pea or soy proteins), textured vegetable protein (“TVP”), and plant-based protein powders.
Many veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds also have protein – think broccoli, spinach, chickpeas and peanuts!
I love being vegan as it makes me feel happy, healthy and in line with my morals and beliefs. Being powered by plants means I build muscle and fuel myself without causing any suffering to animals.
I’m not scared of artificial sweeteners, in fact my preferred sweetener of choice is sucralose. I’m quite the sweet tooth and am happy to have sweet goodies particularly if the sweeteners are from very low calorie sources.
I take and recommend creatine, b12, magnesium, zinc and plant-derived DHA/EPA. My fave supplement companies that are either vegan or vegan-friendly are PranaOn, VPA Australia, Macro Mike, Kind Life, Bulk Nutrients and Myprotein.
If you’re looking at plant-based proteins, go for a blend such as pea and rice protein blend for a better amino acid profile.
What has inspired and motivated you?
It’s more who has inspired me than what. Vegan athletes, such as the almighty Simone Collins (who is my current coach), Anastasia Zinchenko (my former coach and modern day wizard), Dani Taylor and Giacomo Marchese (both of Vegan Proteins), and of course Robert Cheeke (the father of vegan bodybuilding).
These people are taking the bodybuilding world by storm and doing amazing things. These people have similar goals to me; to educate inspire and encourage people about veganism and fitness.
I am constantly setting goals and plans for myself, which also helps keep me on track and motivated. I’ve always pushed myself, and take the view that (almost!) anything is possible.
I dream big and aim high, and try to celebrate even the small wins.
Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
Go vegan? Haha!
But seriously, if you’re wanting to get into bodybuilding or going to the gym, the best thing to do is start. Do it for a few weeks and you’ll soon form a habit, which will keep you going.
It’s such a mental health booster as well. Filling yourself up with endorphins and feel good vibes makes it hard not to feel good about yourself.
Seek advice, get a trainer or a coach, and focus on your form. Make sure you’re doing the movements properly before you even start using the weights! Don’t go heavy before you’ve nailed your form. Keep yourself safe.
If you’re wanting to lose fat, there are two ways about it – exercise more or eat less (in terms of calories). You need to know how many calories you’re eating to start with.
Use an app like MyFitnessPal to track your calories for a few days and then reduce that number a little bit. And/or increase your exercise. Calories in vs calories out.
Avoid the gimmicks like juice cleanses, “detox” diets, fat blasters and other nonsense. Keep it simple. And be patient.
If it looks like a shortcut, avoid it because you’ll likely end up with less cash and be back at square one in a couple of months’ time.
Also don’t forget to focus on your mental health. Working on your diet and training will definitely help you, but make sure you set aside some “me time”; relax or meditate, keep a journal, and/or speak with a counsellor or therapist.
Are you taking on clients right now?
I will gladly take clients who need wills and estates legal advice in South Australia!!
But as for, coaching and training, stay tuned! I have zero qualifications in that area YET.
I intend to study Personal Training or something similar within the next couple of years as I would really love to help others with their own fitness goals.
Where can we learn more about you?
Ready to get really fit and inspired?
I’m Mads Phikamphon, founder of Bulk Hackers.
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