When Mark Lenihan went vegan three years ago, he was worried his new diet would affect how he performed physically.
But the personal trainer now believes he has gotten stronger, built more muscle and has more mental clarity.
Lenihan was vegetarian for two years before he went vegan. He was inspired to make the transition after watching documentaries that “raised his consciousness” to the effects of mass meat and diary production.
“I thought eating a plant-based whole food diet would consist of just leaves and potatoes,” he told HuffPost UK. “But if you have limited knowledge in an unknown area, you’ll be looking at it like it’s impossible.
“Once you do the research you’ll find that there are many options and it’s possible to build a healthy, fit, functional physique on a plant-based diet.”
He shares his vegan lifestyle journey on his Instagram account, showing people how it doesn’t hold him back on his fitness journey.
Here, Leniham speaks to us about his weekly training plans and nutrition.
My Motivation 🙌
How do you stay motivated?
“I don’t always stay motivated. Sometimes you’re going to feel excited, pumped up, ready to go and motivated. Sometimes you’ll feel sad and lazy. You’re going to experience a full range of emotions, but they don’t matter. What matters is that you are disciplined. You can train your willpower like you train you muscles. Build willpower and get results.”
Do you have any specific goals you’re aiming for?
“Yes, but I only share my goals with a few people.”
What’s your ultimate workout track and why?
“I love hardcore hip hop because it’s powerful and aggressive and sometimes you need that for an extra boost. Anything with a hard banging baseline, I feel like certain musical frequencies effect how hard you can push yourself.”
My Food 🍅
What do you eat throughout the week to complement your training schedule?
“I generally eat two really big meals a day. My first meal will be between 12-3pm and the last between 8-10pm. I’ve been adhering to intermittent fasting for the past five years. I’m not strict with it but it generally works for me.
“My diet consists of lots of fruit such as kiwis, mango and pears and I like smoothies with bananas, berries, cacao, vegan protein and avocado and I get my protein from beans, lentils, quinoa and green leafy veg.
“At first protein was something I was concerned about and if you are training hard you’ll need more protein. Depending on your goals, having a post-workout smoothie with a tasty vegan protein added will sort you out.”
What are your pre and post-workout snacks?
“I normally train fasted but if I’m not fasting I’d have a bunch of fruit, preferably watermelon, pre-workout.
“Post-workout I’ll have a massive smoothie with bananas, a few dates, bit of flat leaf parsley, half a avocado, super greens and some plant milk or just water.”
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about food?
“What you eat affects how you feel. You eat crap, you feel crap. I thought eating a plant-based whole food diet would consist of just leaves and potatoes.Once you do the research you’ll find that there are many options and it’s possible to build a healthy, fit, functional physique on a plant-based diet.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned about veganism is to be flexible in your approach: transition slowly and don’t judge others. I’ve been thriving on plants with more energy and vigour since going vegan, but I don’t think I’m better than anyone because of this. Everyone is at different stages and seeing myself in others can help humble me any time I need to be.”
My Training 💪
Talk us through your week in fitness.
“I think training and working out can look very different: Training can be progressive and periodised and also specific. You train when you have a goal. Working out should be varied and is generally for staying healthy or fatiguing muscles or burn calories or getting a sweat on. It’s nice to do a bit of both.
“I train Mon/Wed/Fri for strength, mainly bodyweight training. I like to train for specific goals like handstands. On Tues/Thurs/Sat/Sun I normally rest but sometimes depending on what my focus is, I might do yoga and deep stretches or some light practising of skills.”
What’s your favourite type of workout and why?
“Bodyweight or calisthenics (gymnastic exercises to achieve bodily fitness) is the most fun for me because you don’t need any equipment and I generally do it in nature as I love being outdoors.”
What’s your favourite way to spend your rest day?
“I don’t like to sit on my ass except when I’m meditating. On a physical rest day I’d like to exercise mentally but at least one day a week, I’ll rest by hanging out with friends/family.”
My Journey 🌎
What do you credit to your success in your fitness journey?
“For me, consistency is key to becoming better, stronger, smarter and more successful in anything. Also, involving myself with the right companies and people that have similar values to me helps.
“Being willing to always learn more, doing my best to show humility with my actions too. I read - books teach me a lot. Also having a specific niche and accepting that you can’t please everyone, all the time is important.”
What’s one of the most memorable moments in your career and why?
“I’ve noticed, with the people I’ve trained, when they discover health and fitness, they change internally. Their mindset shifts from an epicurean lifestyle (YOLO/live for the moment) to a more stoic way of life which is postponing momentary short-term pleasure for long-term gain for their future and others.
“The first step to transformation is awareness: becoming aware of the choices you make and how they effect yourself and others is a beautiful thing.”
Was there ever a low point where you wanted to throw the towel and how did you get past it?
“About two years ago I had no classes and no clients, and wasn’t producing any content of any value for anyone. It was a low point but setting goals, learning and working helps. I also found that building willpower can support you to overcome low points.”
‘Fit Fix’ is a weekly dose of fitspiration from leading athletes and fitness fanatics. Each week we chat to stars about their weekly workouts, the food they eat and what keeps them going.