Name: Paola Deocampo Jackson
Division you will compete in: Bikini
Height: 5’5 ½”
Weight/Competition Weight: 118
City: Pasadena, CA
Years as a vegan: 3 1/2
Why you became a Vegan: I became a vegan after making a direct connection with where my food was coming from. Certain life-changing books and documentaries (i.e. Skinny Bitch, Eating Animals, Earthlings) completely shifted my perception of food. I became vegan because beautiful, intelligent animals have a value far greater than just my next meal. They feel pain and grief just as we do and I can no longer contribute to their suffering.
History Competing: NPC Los Angeles – July 23, 2011 – 9th place; NPC San Francisco – October 1, 2011 – 2nd place; NPC Ronnie Coleman Classic – March 31, 2012 – NP; NPC Gold Coast Classic – February 9, 2013 – 11th place
What drives you to compete: I want to help represent the vegan bodybuilding community, dispelling any notion that vegans are weak and malnourished . I want to be an example and an inspiration for those that want to become healthy and fit, but think that it’s just too hard. I completely transformed my body and health a lot sooner than I expected through a whole foods plant-based diet and, if a former meat-eating twinkie-loving fast food junkie like me can do it, anyone can! Also, competing gives me a renewed drive to be my best self. The process reveals my strengths and weaknesses. I learn something new about myself each time and come out with a greater understanding of who I am and what I am capable of.
What do you see as the biggest advantages of being a vegan athlete: Zero cholesterol! Being a vegan athlete makes it so much easier to lose excess body fat and, since becoming vegan, I have noticeably more energy than ever.
What types of supplements if any do you use?: I mostly rely on a well-balanced, whole foods plant-based diet. When I am working hard at the gym, I drink Vega nutritional shakes.
How would you describe your diet while preparing for a competition: I loosely track calories, but focus most on my macros, making sure that I get a good amount of both carbs and protein. I keep it very simple; oatmeal with protein powder, tempeh and vegetables throughout the day, maybe almond butter on brown rice cakes for dessert. And I drink a LOT of water.
Favorite food in your prep diet: Tempeh, Bok Choy, and Edamame!
How would you describe your training for a competition: I go heavy on the lower body twice a week, since it is the last part of my body to respond to training. I dedicate one of those days to glutes, only. I split my upper body routines into “push” days (chest and shoulders) and “pull” days (back and biceps). I do ab work almost everyday. I increase cardio at about 6 weeks out from competition to lean out. I also increase sleep time and naps for recovery.
Favorite exercises: Straight Leg Deadlifts, Smith Rack Split Squats, Walking Lunges
How many hours a week do you spend training?: About 10-11 hours during prep
Today I am most proud of: How far I’ve come in my journey to good health and fitness. I used to eat junk, wallow in self pity, and sit around doing nothing if I wasn’t out partying. I now know how to live a more balanced life, but best of all, I now live a more compassionate life.