By Rebecca Drew
MEET the vegan bodybuilding bikini competitor who defied the male colleague who told her she would never be able to succeed in the sport by transforming her body through her new plant-based regime.
Student, Dayna Young (22) from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, went vegan two-years ago, not for environmental reasons, but as a quick fix to lose weight, having never stuck to any diet or fitness regime or change in the past for longer than a month.
Growing up, Dayna was never particularly sporty, but after working at a gym she would poke fun out of girls who trained for bikini competitions and one day she complained to a colleague about this who told her she only joked about them because she was jealous and would never be able to achieve the same results herself.
The next week, she found herself a coach and committed her time to proving her colleague wrong. Dayna stopped binging on anything she could find in the house which would see her eat too much and she swapped this for five small meals a day and stopped training every day for training sessions five to six times a week.
Dayna went from 8st 8lbs to 7st 1lb for her first competition in March this year and now sits at around 8st for competitions.
“I used to think of myself as a quitter and sort of a bandwagoner. I never stuck with anything for long, no diet, workout program, or healthy life change. I would start with the best intentions and be over it before the month ended,” said Dayna.
“Originally my decision to go vegan had nothing to do with animals or the environment. I started because I heard that you could lose weight really fast on a vegan diet.
“Although this is true, my initial weight loss had a lot more to do with the fact that I didn’t know what I was allowed to eat other than vegetables. I’m very glad I decided to educate myself, so that I could continue the lifestyle in a healthy way. It’s been over two years and I have no plans to stop.
“I used to work at a gym and I would make fun of all the girls who did bikini competitions. I would say they were so self-absorbed and unhealthy and conceited and vain.
“While I was complaining to a guy about this once he said; ‘you know the only reason you say stuff like that is because you’re jealous of them and you know you could never do it.’ By the next week I had found a coach and was on my way to proving him wrong.
“I used to be a binger. I wouldn’t eat all day and then I’d get home and just shove anything I could find into my mouth. A lot of the time I ended up eating way too much. Now I eat smaller meals throughout the day so that I’m never starving, and I know exactly how much is in each meal at each time.
“In terms of exercise, I definitely pay more attention to my body. Instead of going to the gym seven days a week and doing lame workouts because I’m so tired I take rest days so that when I get to the gym I can push and actually make progress.”
Since going vegan, Dayna has found that she has better digestion, a lower grocery bill, clearer skin and a motivation to help the environment.
Dayna is proud of herself for sticking to her regime, but she says that she gets mixed reactions from those around her, she shared her words of advice to others.
“I’m very proud of myself for finding something that I’m able to stick with and that I can be so passionate about. Being vegan isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle and I get to be a part of something that can make a change,” she said.
“I get a lot of mixed reviews. I think this has to do with the fact that I’ve never been crazy overweight. I was always just a little chunky. People tell me; ‘oh you looked good before too’ and ‘you went too extreme’.
“I understand where they’re coming from, but they can only see the physical effects of it, they can’t see how much better I feel about myself and how much healthier I am. Most people are really supportive and happy for me though.
“find a good coach. Do interviews, read reviews, talk to people who’ve worked with them. Look at the kind of things they say and talk about on their personal Facebook and Instagram pages.
“Do your research. Your coach makes all the difference in this sport.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/dayna.young55