“Discovering the gym changed my life. It became my new coping mechanism, and instead of being harmful and negative, it help me heal myself physically, mentally, and emotionally.”
Name: Simone Collins
Occupation: Graphic Designer for the Arnold Classic Australia and Dohertys Gym
City/State/Country: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Weight: 128 lbs.
Training: CrossFit and bodybuilding
Q: What are your personal passions outside of fitness?
I love music and art. I secretly love to sing, and although I haven’t done it for ages, I love drawing. I am also a bit of a nerd – I love Anime, playing games, watching or reading fantasy/sci-fi.
Q: What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome in your life?
Beating anxiety and depression. I was in a dark place in my late teens/early 20s. I really struggled to find a way to cope with my emotions and mental state. My coping mechanisms were harmful and negative, including self-harm and eating disorders.
Discovering the gym changed my life. It became my new coping mechanism, and instead of being harmful and negative, it help me heal myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. It gave me self-confidence, motivation and a healthy relationship with food.
Q: What was the hardest part of going vegan for you?
I didn’t find it hard at all! I was vegetarian for 10 years before I went vegan, so it was really easy to substitute eggs with tofu, and whey with plant-based protein, which was really the only animal products I was eating.
“For anyone making the switch, I suggest keeping your diet as close as you can to what you are used to, and simply making substitutes to the animal products in your meals.”
Q: What are your top three tips for women who want to compete?
- Be mentally ready – competition prep is as much a mental test as it is a physical endeavor!
- Don’t crash diet! If you feel you have to drop your calories so low, or do tons of cardio to get lean in time, you’re probably not ready for the show. Slow down and prepare for the next one, there’s no hurry, competitions are run all the time!
- Just have fun! Competition prep is hard, but the challenge is extremely exciting and there’s no better feeling than being on stage in your best shape!
Q: What does your daily meal plan offseason look like?
My diet varies a bit, especially now that I’m not prepping for a show. I tend not to count calories or macros in this time and eat more intuitively, to give myself a break from the regiment of competition prep. Here’s an example of my meal plan:
- Breakfast: Huge bowl of oats with protein powder and berries topped with cinnamon and ginger
- Post-Workout: Plant-based protein powder and Greens
- Lunch: 200g tofu, tempeh, seitan, lentils, beans or chickpeas (protein and iron source!) 1-2 roast potatoes or a cup of rice or quinoa (carb source) and unlimited non-starchy vegetables or raw salad, topped with nutritional yeast (b12) Himalayan salt (for iodine) and a splash of sauce (usually no added sugar barbecue, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, salsa or pasta sauce)
- Snack: 4 rice cakes made into sandwiches with 1 chopped banana, fruit puree spread on each one and topped with cinnamon
- Dinner: Same as lunch usually
- Snack: A few walnuts (omega 3)
- Before bed: Plant-based protein mousse (just mix in less water or nut milk!) and flaxmeal (omega 3)
- Throughout the day: A couple of cups or tea or coffee with almond milk. I tend to snack if and when I’m hungry. I try to eat natural whole foods most of the time. Sometimes I like to have a treat here and there, like some mock meat, veggie burgers, vegan pizza, fries, chocolate, lollies etc. I keep this pretty minimal though.
Q: Philosophy on supplements and which ones you take?
- Creatine, now and then
- Super Greens
- L-Carnitine, during bikini competition prep
B12 is crucial for vegan bodybuilders. I manage to maintain high B12 levels simply eating nutritional yeast, however if you’re low, I would recommend a supplement or even injections. Sports aren’t always necessary, but personally I feel they assist my training.
Q: Describe your training regiment.
At the moment I am doing mostly CrossFit.
We start the class generally working strength or a particular lift, then we do a WOD (which is usually high intensity work for time or reps).
We usually have an upper-body focused day, followed by a lower body day, then a “skills day” where we work more on strength and technique.
“I love the CrossFit training style, you develop a great skill base, it keeps you very fit, and it’s heaps of fun!”
I usually do CrossFit 4-5 times a week, and a squat-only day (as I am working on increasing my squat at the moment).
If I do 4 days of CrossFit, I also do an arms/shoulders/chest day in the gym. I also stretch and practice basic gymnastics holds.
Q: If you have to pick only three exercises, what would they be and why?
Can’t go wrong with the “Big 3” in powerlifting! They require the use of multiple muscle groups and I believe you could keep very fit and strong, and even build a decent physique, just doing these 3 lifts.
Q: What tips can you share about fitness?
That anything you want to achieve in health and fitness, you can achieve on a 100 percent vegan lifestyle!
Q: What are the three biggest trends you see in fitness right now?
- Fasted cardio: Seems to work for some, personally it makes me feel gross. I hate it so I never do it!
- Fitness Model Competitions: It feels like every other girl in the gym is getting ready for her first “Fitness Model” competition, which is great, however I hope they are all doing it for the right reasons, and are mentally prepared as well as physically. I often notice these girls have not been training very long. I even met one that had never been to a show, and didn’t even know what federation she had signed up for! Sometimes I think these girls are pushed into competing by their coaches, or want to do a competition just because it’s the in thing to do.
- Nutella: I don’t understand why everyone is so obsessed with it, it drives me nuts!
Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to try a plant-based diet?
“I think the hardest part from a bodybuilding perspective, is trusting that you can still get the same results without animal products.”
But there are plenty of athletes who prove that it’s completely possible, not only to maintain muscle, but to gain muscle or to get lean and shredded for a competition without meat or dairy.