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Emma Hurst
From Bodybuilder to Politician. How I Still Keep Fit and Healthy with a Plant-Based Diet

Emma Hursts Stats When We Talked with Her 💪

38 years
160 cm
54 kg
(119 lbs)

Follow Emma on Instagram and Facebook

👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training

Hi! My name is Emma Hurst. I’m a politician for the Animal Justice Party in NSW Australia, a psychologist, and vegan plant-built bodybuilder. For the last 15 years I’ve been fighting for the rights of animals with a background in campaigning, political lobbying, and media work. I have been vegan for 20 years.

Prior to being elected to Parliament I competed in bikini division bodybuilding. After being told I couldn’t compete on a bodybuilding stage because I was ‘too old’ and being vegan would be too disadvantageous, I set out to prove my opponents wrong – and did so by taking out gold in three back-to-back competitions in a single year!

My success made it clear that we can choose to live compassionately and still be competitive on stage, and I also proved to myself that I can achieve anything I put my mind to – and that age was definitely no barrier.

⏱ Describe a typical day of training

I lift heavy and try to progress each week.

With long days in Parliament that can start at 5 a.m. and continue until after midnight, finding a regular training regime has become very difficult. Even so, I am currently training for two charity runs that will raise money for animals affected by fire and drought conditions in Australia. On top of this I fit in four training sessions a week with a 2/2 split upper and lower body training. Cardio is every day to ensure I keep moving.

With only a one-hour block each day to train, I have to go hard in each session and ensure my food planning is on point. I track and prep my food over the weekend so I don’t have to think about nutrition during the week.

I also train early so I can’t get caught out later in the day with work – no one else is up at 5 a.m. so I can make sure my workout gets priority then. I lift heavy and try to progress each week. The runs are often 5-10k or intervals for fat loss.

If I get extra time on the weekend, I love to do circuits so I can fit weights and cardio into one session. Everything is about getting the most out of the short amount of time I have to train.

The only supplements I ever use are coffee and vegan protein powders – the more simple the better. 🙂

👊 How do you keep going and push harder?

I get up without thinking – once my alarm goes off I go into preparation mode. Once you start thinking about the workout, or the weather, or how much sleep you’ve had the harder it is to get started.

If you get up like clockwork and keep routine, you find yourself outside before it has even registered. I’ve found that you can’t rely on motivation alone as motivation is often not often there – especially if it is cold and dark outside when you get started.

I create clear goals to keep me going. I follow the SMART acronym – goals should be Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based.

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At the moment comps are out of the question with my time restrictions, but 10k runs are achievable. I’ve linked my runs to raising money to keep me both motivated and accountable. It gives me an ethical purpose to continue moving and a reason to prioritize my health.

🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

I have only worked out the next six months! My goal is to find a good place of consistency with training, with my new work schedule and finding a good balance – especially with increased travel on the horizon.

I would love to get back on stage again but perhaps in a few years or when I get my head around the workload and how to balance the two.

Any category in bodybuilding is super hard – it requires a lot of work and dedication and it isn’t something to go in with half effort. But competing again certainly isn’t off the cards.

I love to challenge myself and see what I can achieve. I’m keen to see what can be done with longer distance runs or other fitness challenges – I am always on the lookout to see what the next challenge could be.

🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?

I have tight shoulders and poor flexibility. Yoga just isn’t my thing. I try to fit in regular massages when I can and I spend a lot of time on the roller. I have torn muscles more than once and the recovery time just isn’t worth it.

🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?

My calories work out to about 1600.

I follow a whole foods plant-based diet. My carbs and protein are moderate and my fats low. In a typical day, I may have a smoothie in the morning with berries, greens, coconut water and protein powder, lunch I’ll have scrambled tofu or proats (protein and oats), afternoon tea will be peanut butter on rice cakes, and dinner will be mostly veggies like broccoli and cauliflower with seeds. My calories work out to about 1600.

I ensure I get two ‘treat meals’ each week to allow flexibility with eating out and social occasions- especially as this is so important for my work. During the week if I have cravings for sweets I try and stick to natural sugar free chai or herbal teas like licorice tea.

I stay away from most supplements and always have. A coffee in the morning is my main ‘helper’.

👍 What has inspired and motivated you?

There are so many amazing vegan bodybuilders and athletes. People like Vegan Fitness Model who coached me through my first comps and got me into shape, as well as Rich Roll, Morgan Mitchell, and Patrik Baboumian just to name a few!

✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?

Just get started! Make sure to get a good, highly recommended PT to guarantee you are using good technique, write you a program, keep you accountable, and create goals that inspire you and that you are comfortable but challenged to achieve – if I can fit in time for fitness, honestly, anyone can!

🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?

No, but I can highly recommend Crissi Carvalho.

📝 Where can we learn more about you?

My current work can all be found here at my website.

My most active channel is my Facebook. I’m also on Instagram.

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