Marcella Torres

melissa schwartz 3Division you will compete in: Bikini

Age: 35

Height: 5’2”

Weight/Competition Weight: 125/117-ish maybe

City: Richmond, VA

Years as vegan: Sixteen years (since I was 19)

Why you became vegan: My best friend gave me a copy of Diet for a New America by John Robbins to read, a book that discusses the reality of factory farming and the sustainability issues that are associated with animal agriculture. Before I even finished the book I threw out every animal product in the house and never looked back. This was after a lifetime of cheese addiction and struggles with obesity! Information is a powerful thing.

History Competing: Plantbuilt 2013, Women’s Bodybuilding Division, 2nd Place

What do you see as the biggest advantages of being a vegan athlete: Eating a larger volume of food with more carbohydrates during contest prep. Faster recovery. Did I mention more food?

What types of supplements if any do you use?: I supplement with B-12, occasional DHA, and Sunwarrior protein – about 1/2 scoop to 1 scoop daily just for convenience.

How would you describe your diet while preparing for competition: Mostly whole foods plant-based, and I eat the same breakfast and lunch every day to keep things simple. In fact, I think Derek (pro physique athlete, husband, and teammate) and I have been eating the same giant salad with tofu for lunch since the first Plantbuilt competition in 2013. Even healthy food can be comfort food if it’s familiar and habitual! Dinners are more variable – lots of pasta and bean and rice dishes with lots of vegetables.

Favorite food in your prep diet: Every day we have vegan Butterfinger ice cream after lunch: frozen banana base with peanut butter, vanilla, and cinnamon, with coconut whip topping. It’s pretty magical, and minimally processed.

How would you describe your training for a competition: Focused and efficient. I used to spend 2 hours in the gym daily, but with 2 small kids, a business to run, my day job, classes, PhD dissertation work…I have to be realistic about what I can expect from myself! Since the bikini division is all about the glutes, and I have limited time, 75% of that time is allocated to glutes and legs. Since I can’t afford time out with injuries and I have a chronic hamstring strain, I spend about 20 minutes before each workout on mobilization, activation, and dynamic stretching. So my training bores the crap out of even me right now, but it seems to be more effective than those 2 unfocused hours I used spend in the gym doing every damn thing: I’m 10 pounds heavier with lower body fat than I was at 8 weeks out last time around! Go figure!

Favorite exercises: I will define “favorite” as the exercises I do most often. That would be hip thrusts, glute bridges, and hip thrusts, and every variation of hip thrusts.

How many hours a week do you spend training?: Only about 5 hours lifting, maybe 2 hours of running or HIIT, and about 7 of dance training. This is less than half of the time I put in for my last comp, due to life constraints, and that’s ok!

Today I am most proud of: Living true to my principles and influencing others to do the same.

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