Working in the Nutrition Industry is a dream come true for Michael. A certified Fitness and Yoga instructor, Michael works for Vancouver based company Vega, supporting Toronto’s Nutrition and Fitness Community. Originally from the farm, Michael loves the fast pace of Toronto, and the endless supply of good food and amazing people to enjoy it with. When he’s not working, Michael’s lifting weights or cooking a badass brunch for his friends.
As a Marketing Representative for Vega, I know you’re surrounded by incredible healthy food. However, I have to ask, were your eating habits always so healthy? When did it begin?
Sooooo… I grew up in a town of about 5,000 people in rural Alberta, eating chicken fingers and fries at every meal. My first job was at Dairy Queen, where everything from the soft serve to the pickles came packaged in plastic bags. I remember always having digestive problems, and as a teenager getting acne, but never made the connection back to what I was eating. I was about 13 when my parent’s got divorced, and saw stress take its toll on my mum (she’s British). Add that to a continuously misdiagnosed Thyroid condition, there were days were she physically couldn’t get up and go to work. It sucked. I thought to myself, I NEVER want to be like that. I don’t know why, but at some point my mom had enough of conventional medicine ( I think it was when they told her they were going to inject radiation into her thyroid to kill it, forcing her to go on medication for the rest of her life) and went to see a Naturopathic Doctor who also practiced Chinese Traditional Medicine. It was like night and day! Almost instantly my mum had energy, her weight balanced out; she looked years younger! It was the catalyst that sparked my passion for health, and I continue to learn and grow every single day.
What is your non-negotiable food when it comes to your healthy eating regime? What could you not do without and why?
Coconut Oil! I put it on everything, including my body thanks to Sexy Food Therapy videos! It gives me tons of energy, and I actually don’t have the strongest immune system, so I love the fact that it’s antiviral ( I even massage my gums with it at night time). Haven’t tried it down…there…yet.
Many of the patients I see in clinic are women and many of the men in their life aren’t as health conscious. What advice could you give to women to help their man get into shape without being too pushy?
Men are so damn stubborn. How a handsome, well-mannered man turns into a fit throwing 5 year old when faced with kale on his plate is beyond me. But, pointing the finger at your man (or anyone for that matter) for eating pizza pops can be interpreted as condescending. So the solution ladies? Lie. Sneak vegetables into their food. What they don’t know won’t hurt them. You can laugh behind his back at lunch with your best girls, confessing to them that you pureed cauliflower (of course DISGUSTING to him) and mixed it into his spaghetti sauce. Your dude also takes advice from other dudes better than he does from you, so switch out his run-of-the-mill fitness magazine (full of steroid freak ads promoting crap) and get some reads for him featuring well known athletes who’ve seen the light and made the switch to eating healthier.
What is the biggest nutrition misconception you always have to clear up for people?
One diet does not fit all! I come across some pretty strong opinions on diet. We read one book or join a gym and suddenly we become the leading authority on what everyone should and shouldn’t eat. It’s totally human of us to categorize ourselves in little boxes, so I recommend considering to step outside the box and do what’s best for your body. You might not know right away what is best, which is why there are fabulous people called Holistic Nutritionists out there to help you!
I could be wrong but you must cheat every once in a blue moon. If I’m right, what would be the one indulgence you allow yourself to have?
(Laughs) One? Remember, it never happened if you didn’t Instagram it. You might see a post of an amazing Raw, Vegan, Key Lime Pie that I made, but you won’t see the post of me eating the whole damn thing in one sitting. I love dining out. Italian is my favorite. The wine, the men…
Name a time when you were going through something really difficult and how did food support you through it?
Food has such a direct impact on how I feel both physically and mentally. I feel like I can wake up and face anything when I know I eat optimally. Shitty self esteem as a teenager, changing careers and fearing looking like a failure, breaking off an engagement were some of the tough times I’ve had to go through. Eating well made me feel good about myself inside and out. It made my thoughts and emotions clearer, and still does today. My hard work and dedication to eating and exercising carries over into my work, my relationships, and every other aspect of my life.
And I’m going to get a little personal here (I hope you don’t mind), but what is your biggest turn on and turn off?
As I was leaving a slumber party at some guy’s house, he handed me dental floss I had left in his bathroom. “Don’t forget this”, he said, “I’m not going to use it.”Turn off? Guys who don’t fucking floss! Turn Ons: Personality wise, I love when a guy is super driven, loud (even cocky at times) but is kind to animals and gets along with children. That’s like instant husband material. And if we’re talking physical…bigger is better. Hands, legs… you get the picture.
What is the single most important piece of advice you would give to someone when they’re feeling hopeless about their own state of health?
Take Action. Every small change makes a difference. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Believe it or not, we’re all here to help each other on this crazy journey.
I know you’re a huge Vega lover, so can you share with us your favourite go-to, Vega-inspired recipe?
I’ve consumed at least 2 smoothies a day over the past 6 years… You name it, I’ve blended and drank it. My favourite go-to is this Vega Plant-Based Protein Ball recipe. I love balls. These ones taste good, and are packed with protein, Omega 3’s, and fibre!
VEGA PLANT-BASED PROTEIN BALLS
- 1 cup large flake oats (gluten free)
- 2/3 cup Vega sport performance protein – vanilla or chocolate
- 1/4 cup ground chia or flax seeds
- 2 tablespoons whole chia seeds
- 1 bar vega maca chocolate bar chipped
- 3/4 c almond butter
- 1/3 c maple syrup
- 1 tbsp vega antioxidant omega oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a bowl until a sticky dough consistency is achieved. Round out bite size balls (or bigger if you like em big) and then stick em in your mouth! Stick whatever is left in the freezer for later.
What three words would you use to describe your relationship to food?
Performance, Experience, Empowering.