Meet Davina Maree
Davina – the founder of Vegan Fitness Academy, turned vegan in her early 30’s. Since then, has advised and coached many people along their journey into veganism. As its not as easy as discontinuing the consumption of animal products, especially when you walk into the aisles of the local supermarket and animal products are everywhere. It’s about the kind of foods your body requires to ensure sufficient nourishment. Throughout her journey, Davina has encountered many others who have tried to go vegan and have lasted only a short time, as they did not have sufficient knowledge on the subject matter. At VFA, the intention is to share the knowledge that Davina has acquired over the years to help pave a smooth transition for you into veganism, or to further your knowledge in veganism and what the body requires to not only survive, but to thrive; plant-based.
In the Beginning
When Davina was a child, she was naturally drawn to raw fruits and veggies. During the cooking of Sunday’s roast, her mum would always tell her off for ‘picking’ at the foods and not waiting for dinner, when the food was actually cooked (back in those days ‘cooked’ meant the broccoli was mushed, the carrots were super soft and the peas were all mushy) When veggies are cooked so thoroughly, they lose nutrients through the cooking process, thus there is a decrease of vitamins and minerals. This was very unappealing to me, and so Davina kept going back to picking the veggies when her mum wasn’t watching. Davina always loved veggies. She ate animal products too, however, it was not her go to. Davina would always choose fruit/veggies over meat, as it made her feel more energised, lighter and cleaner.
Fitness & Nutrition go hand in hand
Davina grew up in a family bakery and from a young age, she learnt a lot about nutrition. In fact, Davina learnt a lot about the correlation between nutrition and fitness. In the bakery days, Davina’s siblings were the cooks and Davina was front of house, meeting, greeting and selling the pastries. Davina was responsible for making the food look presentable and bought it out to the front of the shop, where she served customers. Davina met a lot of people as you do in a retail environment. Through this chapter, Davina saw a link between the people who would come in for a meat pie, tomato sauce and a coke, who often appeared overweight, unhealthy and unhappy, to the customers who came in for a salad roll and a bottle of water, these type of people looked healthier, happier and often slimmer.
On the days that Davina worked at the bakery, she would eat more bread, pizza rolls and other goods that contain almost zero nutritional value. On these days Davina knew that she needed to exercise to work off the excess food consumed.
Before Davina turned vegan, she decided to become a fitness model. When Davina first engaged a bodybuilding coach to train her to the stage, Davina was provided with a heavy training program and a meal plan that was over the top. It consisted of up to 4 whey protein shakes and tuna/chicken for most meals every single day. High protein/low carb. At this stage, Davina had no knowledge on how to become a fitness model, so she trusted the word of her new found coach, however, later discovered that the coach had less knowledge about nutrition that Davina did. Nonetheless, Davina trusted my new coach, and thus the journey to stage began. My meal plan was unstructured. With this meal plan, Davina would starve up until lunchtime, then be required to eat a heavy lunch, which was difficult to finish due to the size and was left feeling heavy and tired. By day 4, the bloating was unbearable, Davina was left feeling so heavy and couldn’t even train. At this point, Davina decided fitness modelling wasn’t for her.
From here, Davina gave up on that dream and threw herself into her office job, as a distraction from my dreams that failed before they even began. Six months later Davina took a holiday in Hawaii and had some well-needed rest. During this time, she heard from an old friend who had previously competed as a fitness model. She connected me with her omnivore coach (who has since transitioned to veganism by the way) The new coach believed in IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) which is a style of dieting that allows you to still eat the foods that you love, as long as they fit the macro breakdown that it calculated to allow you to reach your goals. For Davina, this meant more control for me over what she chose to eat. Davina chose the foods that she wanted to eat as long as it fit the macros that the coach provided. This concept was brilliant; pick and choose what to consume, rather than be told, chicken, tuna and protein shakes. With Davina’s previous knowledge of micronutrients, she understood how to eat to ensure sufficient vitamins/minerals consumption.
At the start of her 12 week prep, Davina met a beautiful girl, Sarah at the gym. They clicked instantly and quickly became good friends. They started training together, 4am 6 days every week. Sarah was vegan and came from a massive carnivore culture, it was impressive to hear that a huge meat eater had totally ditched all animal products. At this stage, Davina was keen to try, but didn’t want to jeopardise her comp prep, so Davina made a commitment to go vegan once she had completed this journey to the stage. Davina’s body sculpting journey took her from her hometown of Melbourne to the Australian titles in Canberra, then to Las Vegas to represent Australia at the INBA World Titles ‘Natural Olympia’.
Once Davina returned from Vegas, she turned vegan overnight. Though bearing nutritional knowledge acquired over the years, Davina decided that in order to ensure her success as a vegan, she hired a vegan coach to teach the ins and the outs. This vegan coach happened to be a fitness model too, which fit Davina’s goals. Davina then spent 12 weeks with this coach to learn how to be a strong, fit vegan, and how to build muscle on plants.
During this time, Davina fully immersed herself into veganism. Davina lived and breathed veganism. After only 2 weeks, changes became apparent. Strength increased, recovery sped up. Body odour became odourless, eyes and skin became brighter and had much more energy than ever before. Through this vegan comp prep, Davina was consuming three times more carbs than she had in any of my previous competitions.
The most valuable thing Davina ever did for health was turn vegan.
Fitness & Bikini Model Competition Success
- 2016 ARNOLD Classic Model Search, Melbourne
- 2016 Fitness and Health Expo – INBA Southern Cross, Melbourne
- 2015 INBA – Top 10 Sports Model – Natural Olympia XVIII, World Championships, Las Vegas
- 2015 INBA – National Championships, Canberra
- 2015 INBA – 2nd place Sports Model First Timer, Vic
- 2015 INBA – 2nd place Sports Model Novice, Vic
- 2015 INBA – 3rd place Sports Model Over 30’s, Vic
- Sports Nutritionist
- Life Coach
- Certificate in Nutritional Medicine
- Cert III Group Fitness
- Cert IV Personal Training
- Boxing Instructor
- Pilates Instructor