My name is Amber Sperling, and I’m a business professional, bikini competitor, fitness fanatic, cross fitter, green belt in karate-do and passionate about sharing the health benefits of a plant-based diet. I am driven by results, and motivated by challenges. In all factors of my life, I consistently drive myself to perform above the standard. I take great pleasure in my work, I obsess over details and I am on an endless quest for success. I condition my body with strength and endurance training, and enjoy writing in my health and wellness blog. I also train in Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate-Do, for my mind, body, and soul. My boyfriend Richard has been a large influence in my life; together we foster a healthy lifestyle. As a vegan athlete, it’s my mission to break stereotypes and be an example for others on how to build a healthy, lean, and muscular body while sustaining a plant based diet.
When I was sixteen, I tried a vegetarian diet for a year, after watching
a PETA film. I was unable to maintain this diet, and resorted back to my
original meat based diet.
Ultimately, I chose a plant based diet for my health and the environment. Since adopting a vegan diet I’ve felt energized, healthy, and I can’t remember the last time I was sick. My skin is clear and radiant, my hair is fuller, and my nails are strong. I feel alive!
I’ve always been athletic, and involved in sports as a child. As my mother would say, “You were always muscle bound. Ever since you were three-years-old you were working out!” I didn’t commit to fitness until about two years ago, when I first started routinely running for exercise. I didn’t realize how out of shape I was until I jogged that first lap around the gym. I was winded out of breath, had cramps, and felt like I was going to die! I thought to myself, how could I be so winded, I haven’t even gone a full mile! Looks are deceiving, I may have looked slim, trim and fit, but I wasn’t. I guess the countless hours spent studying in college deterred me from being as active as I was in high school. Eventually I built up some stamina, and was able to run a full mile, but it didn’t happen overnight. After about six months of frequenting the gym, I realized my fitness routine had become a lifestyle; I changed my diet by weaning myself off of processed food and animal products, and eating a diet rich in plant-based protein. I built up my speed and distance and was in the routine of running the distance of a 5k, 3-5 days a week.
I eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day, and drink a gallon of water a day. I don’t eat processed food, my diet consist of whole foods. I always start my day off with a protein shake, oatmeal, and grapefruit. The rest of my meals consist of grains (oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, and TVP), beans and legumes (black beans, garbanzo beans, and lentils), vegetables (carrots, broccoli, spinach, kale, green beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, sweet potatoes, squash, ect.), fruit (apples, bananas, berries, grapes, oranges, ect.), nuts and seeds (pecans, walnuts, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds). I also eat tofu; drink unsweetened almond milk, and use oils and spices for cooking. When cutting body fat for a show, I reduce my calorie intake by 300 calories a day, and reduce the amount of fruit in my diet.
When I started getting tired of the routine task of running, I gradually started easing strength training into exercise plan. In February of 2013, I ran into my old college fitness instructor, Peggy Barber, at the gym, and she encouraged me to compete in a fitness competition. This was a pivotal point in my fitness regime. By putting a date on the calendar I was empowered, and motivated to work harder. I created a strict plant-based diet and exercise plan to follow. I was lucky to have such a supportive team behind me backing up my desire to maintain a plant-based diet in an industry mostly dominated by competitors over indulging on whey protein, chicken and egg whites. Although, I still remember stumbling across the people that said I couldn’t build muscle on plant-based diet.
Within twelve weeks, I was on stage for my first bikini competition, and I believe I made a statement in the fitness industry that athlete’s do not have to eat a meat based diet to obtain a muscular build. After my bikini competitions, I decided to try crossfit. My first intent was to train in crossfit for a couple of months to build my upper body. But after two weeks of intense sweat grueling, breathe taking workouts, while being cheered on by fellow gym goers’ as I tried to crank out my last set, I felt more at home than ever. After our gym dominated G.L.B.R.T. crossfit competition, and my team took 6th place of 26 teams, I am hooked, and I want to continue competing in this sport.
I wake up early in the morning before work to do a fasted cardio session, and return to the gym after work for strength training. When I am three weeks out from a competition, I like to do cardio 2-3 times a day to cut fat. During the week days my training session looks like this: 45 minute fasted cardio early in the morning, in the afternoon I will start my workout with a 30 minute cardio session and follow it up with a strength training session, if time permits I will finish with a 30 minute cardio session. During the weekends, I usually go for long runs and do cross fit workouts.
I take flax seed oil for a source of essential fatty acids, I also noticed a difference in my skin from taking 3000 mg a day. For a protein powder, I prefer Ground-Based Nutrition’s super food protein smoothie. I take 5 grams of glutamine twice a day for muscle recovery.
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