Spotlight Series: Sofia Y.

Today on the PumpUp blog we got to know Sofia and uncovered the many layers that this amazing 18 year-old from NY truly has. Ever thought about going vegan? Sofia talks all about her vegan lifestyle and why it works for her. Have you struggled with body image or an eating disorder? Yep, Sofia tells us how she battled her anorexia and bulimia. You know you want to learn about Sofia’s story, so keep reading! 

Sofia joined the PumpUp Fam in March of this year, she learned about it from people on Instagram saying how great it was. Sofia says, “I didn’t want to post too much exercising stuff and food stuff on my Instagram because I felt like my friends would think that I was trying to be like a health-freak or something like that. PumpUp is a great community; it made me feel comfortable and I love its positive vibes and how everyone’s so nice and supportive.”

We wanted to know what Sofia’s life was like before she began using PumpUp and a lot was different. “Last year I was still a meat eater, even though I did try vegetarianism and pescetarianism (eat fish) for around 2 weeks each. However, I was still eating junk food.” Food was an especially difficult area for Sofia as she had been battling eating disorders. She lets us know, “I struggled with eating disorders, mainly bulimia, which developed from anorexia. I’ve tried not eating ANYTHING, which led me to water fasting for 14 days straight. My mind was messed up. I cried everyday and I was so hungry. It was terrible.” Sofia’s workouts were also inconsistent, “I would focus a lot on my cardio because I thought lifting weights would make me look “manly”, and I didn’t want to have any muscles. I wanted to be skinny like models. I would always come back home from school in the afternoon and search for unhealthy snack. Donuts, croissants, cookies, chips, cakes, muffins, you name it.” This was Sofia’s life last year, and she has definitely grown and changed as a person. She began to embark on a journey that was healthy for the long-term.

Since January of 2014 Sofia started to really kick it into high gear. She says, “I met this guy who was super fit and healthy, so he really inspired me to be my best as well. I started training 5-6x a week. I fell in love with it and I fell in love with that man who supported me. I started practicing yoga. Of course I still couldn’t do a headstand then. But one night 2 weeks later, I was trying it, and I succeeded.” That one night got Sofia hooked on yoga, and as she says, “I became addicted to yoga and the beauty of it. I started to practice every single day for at least an hour.”

Sofia’s struggles with her appearance didn’t just go away overnight either. She tells us that despite working out she was binging almost every night. Finally she decided to try something new and that was veganism.  She says, “I’ve tried it before last year at one point for 2 weeks, and it worked really well. I loved how this diet made me feel, so I officially transitioned into veganism around February, 2014.” Sofia watched a ton of videos, documentaries, read books, and questioned experts, that all made her realize a vegan lifestyle was one that suited her perfectly. Being vegan helped Sofia stay conscious and aware of animals, nature, our food markets, and most of all what she was putting into her body.

“After joining PumpUp in March, I was already well into my healthy routine, but being apart of the PumpUp community gave me more motivation and reasons to stick with it.” Sofia explains to us how other PumpUp members have coached her along the way. She says, “The members of PumpUp act as if they are my couch cheering me on through my workouts, I’d feel so useless if I couldn’t finish my workout! Seriously though, PumpUp has really helped me stay on track, stay healthy, eat the right foods, do the right thing, and most of all be the best that I can be.”

Want to know how Sofia lives her days now? “I wake up early in the morning to hit the gym and workout. Then I come back home, shower and get ready. I make myself a nice smoothie and drink it while driving to school. That’s my morning… and I FREAKING LOVE IT.” We love your transition into a way healthier lifestyle and a healthier person Sofia, keep it up!

Why Sofia Turned Vegan and Why It Works:

“One saying really stuck with me, “If you can’t stand the way how your food’s made, don’t eat it.” I can’t stand the meat factories, and the horrible environments where they keep the animals before they are butchered. I can’t stand the genetically modified food they feed to the animals so they grow fatter, so they have more meat to serve to consumers. I can’t stand watching innocent animals die because WE want to eat a burger, a NY strip steak, or a chicken Parmesan. So that’s why I decided to become a vegan. I became a vegan to boycott meat or any animal products. I don’t feel the need to have that kind of food, and I can get just enough nutrition from plants. My motto? Don’t ask me about my protein if you don’t want me to ask you about your cholesterol ;)

I receive my protein through leafy greens, beans, and tofu. I receive my vitamins and carbs through fruits and starchy plants like potatoes and rice. I receive my fats from fruits like avocado and spreads like hummus. I stopped limiting my calories.

I used to limit myself to only having no more than 500-1000cal a day to now unlimited (around 2000-3000 calories.) And want to know the best part? I have not gained any fat weight. I’ve gained muscle and lost fat overall. I feel much healthier, stronger, happier, and more awake. I can wake up in the morning without feeling greasy because of the food I ate from last night. I can eat 2 bowls of rice or a whole basket of oven baked no-oil, no-salt potato fries without feeling guilty. And that is awesome.”

Sofia’s Favourites:

Fave Part About PumpUp: “I love being able to communicate with all the lovely members of PumpUp. I love it when people comment on my post, something about that just makes me so happy. I love it when people ask me questions about anything from “How did you start yoga?” or  ”Where you get that mason jar?” I love to inspire and be inspired by people.”

Best Advice: “Do not give up. Even if your progress is slow as hell, just keep doing what you are doing (ok, maybe kick it up a level), but keep doing your thing, don’t care about what people think of you. You WILL be rewarded.”

Go To Drink: “Oh you better believe my favourite drink is my chocolate banana smoothie! It is so delicious and easy to make. Just blend bananas, cocoa powder, and water together.”

Fave Meal/Snack: “One of my favourite meals is curry vegetables/tofu with rice and my 2 favourite snacks are watermelon and avocado on bread.”

Motivational Saying: “Don’t give a shit about what people think and what they say, just keep doing your thing, just keep working through it. Dance with it. Flow with it.”

Sofia’s Frappana Recipe:

“It’s a smoothie-coffee blend my friend and I invented. Basically blend your freshly brewed black coffee, banana, agave syrup/coconut sugar, and any kind of non-diary milk together. Super easy and yummy. Perfect on a Monday morning when you just need that kick of caffeine but you also want that sweet fruity smoothie as well. I have a video of it on my Instagram for everyone that wants to take a look!”

Want to know who motivates Sofia to keep pushing and living her healthy life? That’s easy, “My biggest motivation is my boyfriend, he’s also a member of this app! Also my friend, who I’ve inspired to start this healthy lifestyle. She became obsessed with working out and lifting weights as well. We would show each other our progress and gains.”

In starting her journey Sofia has learned to do a ton more cool ways to do handstands and headstands. She says, “I’m much more flexible than before, and definitely workout at least 6x a week now. Even on rest day I’d have the urge to workout cause I’m just so used training being part of my day and posting it on PumpUp right after.” And we love that you post – because seeing your pics motivate all of us! What is in store for Sofia now and what does she want to accomplish? “I hope to lose more body fat, gain more muscles, and be more flexible.”

With any success comes hard work and at times we have setbacks. Sofia understands this first hand. She says, “Because of my eating disorder history, I have to remind myself that I’ve come so far and I don’t want to go back to that horrible days. I’ve worked so hard to build up the healthy body of mine. I don’t want to screw it up again. I have to fight through my cravings of eating junk food like bakery goods (they are my weakness). I found a vegan bakery and satisfied my sweet tooth there. One time I wanted to eat fries so badly I ran out in the pouring rain and drove to Burger King’s drive-thru just to get a large order of French fries. Did I feel disgusting afterwards? Yes. Did I sort of regret it? Yes. But I get that we are only human, we all have setbacks. The next day I just get right back on track. I hit the gym like I normally would and I sweat all those negativities out.”

To stay active Sofia hits up the gym a lot, and also walks her dog everyday. She goes out with friends to the beach and they do yoga and go paddle boarding. She says, “I just try to be fun while being active. I don’t necessarily need to go the gym and seriously train but I like it.”

More About Sofia:

“I am trying to become a yoga instructor, but it costs a ton of money to take those classes, so I’m still figuring out. I just graduated high school and I’ll be starting university in September for a Pharmacy major. I’m also an artist. Well, I don’t want to speak too highly of myself because there’s always room for improvement and growth, but I do like to believe I draw and paint pretty well.

I play piano as well, stop attending lessons after I’ve reach NYSMA level 7. Unlike a lot of girls, I love to watch sports and not just to watch those good-looking players running around with a ball. A ticket to see the world cup would be a dream come true!”

We at PumpUp LOVE everything about your journey Sofia. We are so proud with how far you have come and how you have turned your life around to be so much healthier. Sharing your story, your pics and your knowledge on PumpUp is so inspiring and we hope you keep all of your hard work up. Follow Sofia @sofiayang1204 because she’s just all around awesome.