Interview: Top Vegan Bikini Competitor Samantha Shorkey

July 7, 2014

Interview: Top Vegan Bikini Competitor Samantha Shorkey

Most vegans I know have that one other vegan person we really admire and relate to–call it girl crush, spirit animal, etc etc. If you don’t have one yet, prepare to fall *hard* for Samantha Shorkey, who blazed onto vegan bodybuilding scene as the 1st place winner of her 1st bikini competition ever in June 2013. Vegetarian since age 8 and vegan since 2012, Samantha has been advocating for veganism with PlantBuild team and as Vega brand ambassador. But looking insanely gorgeous in a sparkly bikini isn’t the only thing about Samantha–she is whip-smart, candid, and incredibly funny (and not the “funny” that every celeb interviewer attributes to a “girl-next-door” starlet. Really, laugh-out-loud funny.) Find out how she gets that body–and how she keeps it all in perspective!

PD: Thanks for joining us and welcome to Peaceful Dumpling! First–what motivated you to become a bikini competitor? 
SS:  I’d been lifting weights and going to the gym for a few years already.  Learning about bodybuilding was the one and only good thing I took away from dating a personal trainer for four years 😉  I was already doing a lot of research on www.veganbodybuilding.com and had read the “Vegan Bodybuilding Bible,” aka Robert Cheeke’s book Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness, cover to cover. I couldn’t help but notice how few vegan female competitors existed.  I always loved the look of “jacked” bad ass b!+ches and my ex had always told me I had a great shape for the bikini division.  So after we broke up, I added up all of these factors up plus the fact that I’m an ego maniac and a pretty competitive person and decided to give it a shot!

Interview: Top Vegan Bikini Competitor Samantha ShorkeyPD: For those of us who are not familiar with bodybuilding competitions, could you please explain what your division means? Do you choose your division based on your preference or natural physique?
SS:  There are usually three divisions: physique, figure and bikini.  In a nut shell, “physique” refers to the SUPER JACKED chicks.  The typical “figure” girl shape resembles the letter “Y” and is more about overall symmetry with quite a bit of muscle.  And “bikini” is a softer look: long and lean, not as much muscle.  This body looks more like the letter “x”: tiny waist with a big arse and shoulders.  I am a bikini competitor.  To be honest, I prefer the figure poses but my body is pretty “hourglass” shaped so that’s why I do bikini.  But if I continue to get “jacked on the beanstalk,” who knows– I just might give figure a go!

PD: Tell us about your training, off-season and in-season. What do you do to get so sculpted? 
SS:  You know, I’m always trying new things and testing my body’s responses to different types and levels of training.  I used to do a ton of cardio, especially right before a show, but now I’m actually doing the same amount in the on-season as the off–which is only about 30 – 45 minutes.  For weights, I’ll go 5 days per week when I’m prepping for a show with high reps and sets; and only 3 – 4 times per week in the off-season.  I usually train two muscle groups per session.  Staying fit and consistently getting stronger boils down to just that: consistency and dedication.  That means a week off from the gym here and there is fine but year-round, you gotta make time for workouts and continually push yourself.  I’ll do the same program for four to six weeks but as soon as I’m not sweating like a pig by the end of it, I switch it up.  And whether on or off-season, I genuinely just love working out.  It’s the competition diet part that sucks 🙂

PD: Speaking of diet, what are some go-to meals or favorite pre-/post- workout snacks?
SS: My go-to, easy-to-grab-and-pack healthy snacks are raw green beans, raw almonds, single packages of Vega Sport protein powder in vanilla or chocolate.  I just mix them with water and make a little pudding mmmmmm.  It’s also easy to have apples on hand and eat ’em with almond butter. I also love rice and beans, veggies and hummus, unsweetened apple sauce.  When I’m prepping for a show, I’ve also been known to keep bricks of tofu in my purse and cans of kidney beans.  I have a brutal sweet tooth so I’m always inventing new, SUPER healthy vegan desserts.  A lot are huge fails haha.  But I share a few of my faves in my eBook, Jacked on the Beanstalk: Plant-based Fuel for Vegan Athletes.

PD: Do you have a favorite body part? And how do you work it out?
SS: Funny that you combine these two questions!  My favourite body part is probably my ass which is funny because I hated my ass for many, many years AND it’s my least favourite body part to train!  So I would actually answer this two-part question with the answer being my back.  I’ve always liked how shredded my back looks.  I also thoroughly enjoy working it out with lots of pull-downs, pull-ups, rows and cable movements.  That reminds me I’ll have to post a good back workout on my blog soon!

Interview: Top Vegan Bikini Competitor Samantha Shorkey

Interview: Top Vegan Bikini Competitor Samantha Shorkey

PD: That’s so funny!! I love working out the back portion of my body too. When I first started exercising I was so focused on the front side of my body–then I realized other people can see all sides of me! I’ll have to learn your back routine on your blog. Now, what would be your advice to women who are trying to lose weight or shape up?

SS: First and foremost, don’t be so damn hard on yourself.  Easier said than done right?  For whatever reason, whether society is to blame or not, pretty much every woman wants to change something about her body.  It’s funny because I always thought I had a great body and ironically enough, competing has technically created the “best” body I’ve ever had but at the same time, it has also created new insecurities for me and now, like most competitors, I judge and scrutinize my body far more than I should.  A trainer I greatly respect and admire shared a great quote with me after my last competition.  It was ““I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.”  I always remind myself of this whenever I’m discouraged by my weight or appearance.

My second piece of advice would be to just make consciously GOOD food choices 80% of the time.  You could apply this ratio to your daily food consumption or weekly.  I find that as long as you eat healthy MOST of the time, you’ll make progress and get results.  But portion control is also super important.  Yes, almond butter is healthy.  But if you eat an entire tub with your apple everyday, you’re definitely going to be consuming more calories than you’re burning.  Eat small portions often.

If you’re really struggling to lose weight, hire a coach or nutritionist to customize a meal plan for you.  Lastly, preparation is key.  When you have all of your meals planned, prepared and presented right in front you, you WILL eat them and it will force you to eat better.  People think I’m a freak whipping out tupperware containers 24/7 but I literally keep food with me at all times.  And tons of water!  People often mistake thirst for hunger.  Before you reach for your next meal, drink a glass of water first.  It will help fill you up.  I also drink herbal tea like a mumma jumma!

PD: One thing I noticed with your work, especially on your site Jacked on the Beanstalk, is how you always seem to have a holistic perspective, which is so rare in an industry characterized by extremes. 
Even though you are literally being judged on your looks and physique, you seem so confident and balanced. What would you say to those of us who might be struggling with self-confidence and body image issues?

SS: Haha, aww man!  I probably should’ve read this last question before answering the one above it 🙂  Yes, this so-called “sport” is a shallow, aesthetically-obsessed world that can make you feel like a king when you win but soul-destroying when you lose.  I’ve discovered that underneath all the oiled-up, naked bodies, rhinestones and fake tanner, there is much evil too– and one that creates major body image issues, eating disorders and addictions.  I’ve come across a lot of girls who’ve battled eating disorders or body dysmorphia in the past and think that competing is the answer.  Trust me, it is NOT.  Never once in my life did I ever think I had “thick” thighs.  In fact, I always thought I had great legs– long and strong.  But when you hear from judges that your legs aren’t tight enough, you can’t help but look at your legs and think “not tight enough.”  What keeps me balanced is remembering just HOW subjective this whole thing is and laughing about the ridiculousness of it all.  Sure, maybe to these judges (total and complete strangers mind you) my legs are “thick.”  But to me, they’re long and strong and they’ve crushed enough workouts to create one hell of an ass!  These bad boys also power me up 10 flights of stairs like it ain’t no thing AND I only have to shave ’em once every couple of weeks!

Competing is a great goal and I don’t regret the choices I’ve made to be a competitive bikini athlete.  What’s kept my head on straight is never allowing myself to compare my body to others’.  I simply build the best body Samantha Shorkey is able to create.  I create this body on a strict vegan diet without the use of any weird powders or potions.  I feel good and I’m healthy.  Trophy or not, that’s a glorified win right there! 

Interview: Top Vegan Bikini Competitor Samantha Shorkey

Samantha with trophy!


Samantha’s Essential’s List

Samantha in 3 words: Honest, brash and considerate.  Haha I just asked my cousin Paula to answer this one and these were her choices!  “Brash” haha.

Must have vegan beauty product: Alba Body Cream in Papaya Mango!  So moisturizing and I love its oh-so-tropical scent!  I slather it on everyday then I close my eyes and pretend I’m in Hawaii.  You think this interview will land me a sponsorship with them? 😉

Favorite city/country to visit: The beach capital of Vietnam: Nha Trang.  One of my fave moments of all time: lying on this gorgeous beach eating the tastiest, spicy tofu, drinking REAL coconut water, getting a full-body massage whilst a little, old Vietnamese lady chopped fresh mango with a giant machete.  It was an amazing experience!  Though I try to forget the pedicure part…. Vietnam’s beauty tool hygiene… NOT the same!

Favorite vegan restaurant/bakery:  Oh that’s an easy one.  Veggie Grill!  Except we STILL don’t have them in Canada!  Which is perhaps a blessing in disguise because I’d literally be eating there everyday.  Mmmmmm mini buffalo chick’n wrap…


Your Mantra: I say this ALL the time and try to apply it to this vegan bodybuilding adventure of mine: “when you do something from the heart, other people really dig that shit.”

Guilty Pleasure: Hmmmm…a big-ass scoop of peanut butter sprinkled with vegan chocolate chips?  That and lifting heavier than dudes.

Coffee or Tea:  Coffee all the way!  But I’m a fiend for herbal tea during competition prep.  My sweet craving saviors are Hain Celestial’s Bengal Spice (seriously tastes like cinnamon hearts) and Stash Licorice Spice tea.

In 5 years, I’ll be…36 years old AHHHH!!  I have a huge fear of getting old and looking haggard.  So in five years, I sure hope my healthy vegan diet has me looking young as morning and fresh as dew. 🙂  I would love to be a successful, vegan health & fitness guru by then.  Maybe even “vegan Jedi” status.  I’d love to have my only job be helping other vegans get fit & healthy and promoting a plant-based diet to the massive network I will have created by then.  Hopefully I’m married by then too.  Even if I’ve yet to meet “the One” haha.  On that note, I don’t see myself competing by the age of 36 either.  It takes its toll on your body, not gonna lie.  In five years, I hope I’ve mastered how to eat healthfully and stay in great shape but without “dieting” and spending your entire life in the gym.  And finally, I hope I’ll have no regrets!

When you feel most beautiful: I’m gonna now end this great interview by coming across as the biggest, most cliche meathead ever.  But honestly, I feel most beautiful when I’m at the gym, wearing my skin-tight Lululemon gear, blasting metal on my iPod, hammering weights and staring at my huge pipes in the mirror.  I like to call it “mirror effing” myself.  Am I allowed to say that in this interview?! Have I lost all credibility with this finisher?!

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I think we can all agree “mirror effing” oneself is totally allowed on record or otherwise. As ACE-certified trainer, Samantha will also be offering vegan fitness coaching services soon. To keep up to date on Samantha’s news, check out her blog Jacked on the Beanstalk–she’s also on Twitter (@samanthashorkey), Facebook (/jackedonthebeanstalk), and Instagram (@samshorkey).

More inspirational interviews:  Top Vegan Figure Competitor Claudia Lailhacar

Celebrity Trainer Ashley Borden

Celeb Yoga Instructor Kristin McGee

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Photo: Harry Leonard; Rayan Nima

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Originally from Portland, Oregon, Juhea now lives in NYC with her Oreo cookie cat, Zeus. When she is not writing, she enjoys running in Central Park, yoga, and teaching Barre classes. Follow Juhea on Instagram @peacefuldumpling, Google+ and Pinterest.

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