Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
My name is Samantha Shorkey. I am a certified personal trainer and the first-ever vegan World Naturals (WNBF) bikini pro. I share my knowledge and experience via my blog and podcast at JackedontheBeanstalk.com.
When I’m not changing diapers (I have a five-month-old baby boy named Harry) or glued to my laptop writing/recording, I’m training vegans for competition or “veg curious” peeps simply wanting healthier lives.
My biggest “client success story” was a meat eater turned vegan who won Bodybuilding.com’s $200,000 12-Week Transformation Challenge, beating out 345,000 contestants worldwide. Read the full story on how we did it here.
As a journalism graduate, I’m honoured that I’ve been able to combine my passion for fitness, veganism and writing into a full-time career. My life’s motto is “I don’t preach, I inspire.”
And since launching the “Jacked on the Beanstalk” brand in 2013, I like to think that I’ve been blazing trails and breaking stereotypes in the competitive bodybuilding world proving just how possible it is to get “JACKED ON THE BEANSTALK.”
Describe a typical day of training
Well, it sure has changed since having a baby! What used to be a solid two hour “BEAST MODE” workout in the gym every day has sadly turned into a 30 minute bodyweight/kettlebell workout at home during Harry’s naps (if I’m lucky.)
But before I got pregnant, I would typically do weights 4 – 5 times per week. When I was cutting weight, I’d do cardio 5 – 6 days per week but only four days per week in the off season.
I believe it’s important to not go too “cardio crazy” in the off season because your body will always adapt and when it’s time to cut weight, you’ll have to do hours upon hours to give it a new challenge and lose more fat. So I’ll typically only do 20 minutes of cardio in the off season and it’s more for general cardiovascular health purposes.
When I’m prepping for a show, however, I’ll do about 45 minutes to an hour of cardio almost every day. Usually (HIIT) high intensity interval style. I hate running but it’s a great way to slim down my thighs (aka my trouble area.) For weights, I’ll usually do two muscle groups per session and legs twice per week.
How do you keep going and push harder?
For me, it’s honestly my “meditation.” Not only is it therapeutic and a form of “self-care” for me but it’s a priority in my life. And even now, as a severely sleep-deprived, house-bound new mom, I still muster up the motivation to be active in SOME way every day. Even if it’s doing 20 minutes on an exercise bike while I pump milk or 20 squats holding onto my baby.
It’s easy to use the “I’m too busy” or “I don’t have time” excuse. But what I always ask myself (and my struggling clients) when this mindset takes over is: do you really not have ANY time for exercise or are you just not willing to MAKE the time for it to be a priority?
Because we ALL have the same 24 hours every day to choose how we’re going to spend our time. And how we spend our time is how we define our priorities. So if you’re choosing to skip the gym tonight, that’s fine. But what you really should be saying is that you’re not willing to MAKE the time for it.
But in all honesty, working out has been such a big part of my life for so long that I genuinely look forward to every workout. I think it’s actually harder on me as a new mom to NOT be working out like a maniac anymore!
Instagram, @samshorkey - photo by Donovan Jenkins
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I’m totally laughing at this question because motherhood has been such a MASSIVE life changing, WTF HAVE I GOT MYSELF INTO experience! Especially for a self-absorbed, super regimented, aesthetics-driven, health freak like me.
To suddenly have to put someone else’s needs above yours has been quite the adjustment to say the least haha. And to suddenly have to forget all of your daily routines and plan your entire life around an infant’s schedule hasn’t been easy.
Thankfully he’s so damn cute, he’s worth it. And although I don’t get any kind of maternity leave (the joys of being self-employed!), I’m grateful to have a vegan coaching business that allows me to work from home and be flexible with my working hours.
After having a baby, I’m definitely not feeling “shredded” these days nor am I following my strict vegan bikini competitor diet. But that’s okay because this is a new chapter of my life and I’m embracing it and enjoying the ups and downs that come along with it.
I also have so much more respect for my clients who are mothers and feel like this experience has made me an even better coach because I can now relate to the many postpartum struggles.
And hey, I’m proud to say that whilst fumbling my way through motherhood, I’ve somehow managed to keep my vegan podcast going (which is a LOT of work but so much fun) and write an entire “vegan bodybuilding cookbook” which will be printed and published in the very near future.
My next project will be an e-book all about vegan pregnancy and getting back to a healthy place (body, mind and spirit) post baby. So all my fellow vegan moms can look forward to that!
How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I LOVE my yoga wheel for not only opening up my hips but also for giving my spine and chest a really good stretch when I wheel it along my back.
I’m also a big advocate for foam rolling ESPECIALLY before leg days. Most of us actually have weaker glutes than quads and when your quads are the dominant muscle group, they’re always going to try and take over and do all the work.
So in order to build up your ass, you should foam roll your quads before leg day. It’s a great way to tell your quads to just chill and let the other leg muscles like your glutes and hams do some of the work.
When it comes to diet, I try to consume a lot of ginger and turmeric because they’re both reputed to reduce pain and inflammation, in addition to cinnamon, garlic and bromelain (which is found in pineapple.)
How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
A typical day of eating would look something like this:
- Breakfast: oats with some fruit, almond butter, Jacked on the Beanstalk protein powder and almond milk. And a big cup of coffee (or three.)
- Lunch: Tempeh or tofu with veggies and rice or quinoa.
- Dinner: A HUGE green salad with chickpeas and a tahini dressing.
- Snacks: An apple & peanut butter, veggies & hummus or a rice cake with steamed spinach, black pepper, chili flakes & tahini.
I try to get approximately 40 – 50% of my daily calories from carbs, 30% from protein and 20 – 30% from fats. My go-to starchy complex carb sources are yams, squash, quinoa and oatmeal. For fats, I love almond butter, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and flax seed oil.
I also make sure to drink a minimum of two or three liters of water every day and I ALWAYS drink a big glass of lemon water every single morning.
For supplements, I’m a big fan of Performance Lab BCAAs to help build, repair and maintain the muscle I’ve built, a high quality B complex (I like AOR brand) and a good quality multivitamin. I love the Performance Lab multivitamin.
What has inspired and motivated you?
I live by the mantra “I don’t preach. I inspire.” I love knowing that my body is a garden, not a graveyard. And I’m proud to have built every bit of muscle on my hot bod eating nothing but plants. I’m certainly no weakling either.
I lift heavy and listen to metal while I do because it makes me feel extra cocky. Seriously, nothing helps me bench press or deadlift more weight than having something hard and heavy like “The Faded Line” by Lamb of God pounding through my headphones.
You’ll often find me rocking some sort of passive-aggressive (but cute and witty) pro-vegan tank top at the gym too. It’s honestly quite motivating to put on a vegan shirt and get down to heavy lifting business. I don’t preach but I do want everyone in there knowing this strong babe is vegan.
Instagram, @samshorkey - photo by Melissa Schwartz
Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
Tip #1: Commit to exercising for even just 30 minutes a day, three of four days a week for six weeks. Pick days and times that work for you and your schedule and stick with it, no matter what. Mark those workouts in your calendar.
Make sure everyone important in your life knows that those times are for your workouts just as you would with any meeting or important event. And yes, your health and fitness ARE important!
Even if you only have the energy or desire to walk on a treadmill or around your neighbourhood during those 30 minutes or do a half hour yoga video at home, it doesn’t matter.
Whatever it is, just promise yourself that you are committed to exercising for 30 minutes, three times a week.
Tip #2: Once you’ve slayed that 30 minute commitment for six straight weeks, make a new six-week goal to increase the intensity of your weekly workouts (and the time if you can spare it) by 15%. That means you’re going to jog for 30 minutes instead of walk, you’ll do a half hour aerobics video at home instead of yoga or a 45 minute cardio class or weights session at the gym etc. etc.
The key to progressing and getting your fitness in check is CONSISTENCY. Once you master the commitment of consistency and making exercise a priority, the hard part is over.
Then it’s just a matter of slowly increasing the intensity to always keep it challenging, never boring and you avoid hitting a plateau. And on that note, NEVER force yourself to do exercises that you hate. Do what makes you feel like a bad-ass.
Tip #3: Never work out because you’re feeling guilty about eating half a pie or because you hate your body and doing it as a means of finally “loving yourself.” Focusing too much on being lean can pull us into the “I’ll be better when…” syndrome (but there’s never an ending to the “when!”)
What’s especially messed up about this cycle is that when the focus is on weight loss, you’re always focusing on something negative… losing instead of gaining. Focus on adding instead of subtracting and gaining instead of losing.
For example: adding healthy foods instead of taking unhealthy foods away, gaining strength and health instead of losing pounds. Or adding positive behaviors instead of subtracting negative behaviors away.
It’s the positive behaviors and thoughts that will eventually crowd out the less desirable behaviors and thoughts. And trust me, it’s so much more enjoyable to feed yourself healthy foods and loving thoughts/actions rather than punishing yourself, criticizing yourself and restricting yourself.
Are you taking on clients right now?
Always! I love my work and I’m not stopping any time soon. Always happy to share my “meatless meathead” ways with anyone who wants to learn.
And if they’re not quite ready to embark on the whole coaching experience yet, I encourage everyone to check out my podcast (Jacked on the Beanstalk: The Podcast) where I cover all things vegan health and fitness plus a lot of random weird things like farting and bloating.
I also sing (horribly) on each and every episode.