TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Personal trainers and nutritionists came together for the first Soul Veg Fest at Total Fitness Body Zone Saturday to teach the community about different approaches to healthy eating and fitness.
According to the Shawnee County Health Department’s most recent health needs assessment survey, over one-third of adults in Shawnee county are obese and almost 25 percent don’t exercise.
Nutritionist and vegan chef with Enliven Nutrition and Wellness Nicole Purce has dedicated herself to tackling the issue of obesity by showing people creative and natural ways to eat healthy.
“You learn that eating just the simple things, one meal can change your life,” said Purce. “It’s all based on what you do and how you do it. As a community that’s fighting obesity, it’s the way to go. We have to change.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is most common in African American adults, followed by Hispanic adults.
Personal trainer and owner of Total Fitness Body Zone Anthony Cay said a major contributing factor is an unhealthy diet.
“Because of our cultures, we have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol,” said Cay. “When we eat our comfort foods or cultural foods, it isn’t the best thing for us.”
That’s why he and other nutrition experts wanted to present the community with healthy alternatives to traditional favorites.
“Our challenge is to find a way to still be able to keep that flavor that you had as you grew up, what’s your comfort food, what feels good to you and still be on the healthy side,” said Cay.
While breaking old habits can be difficult, Purce said the first step is just giving it a try.
“The first step starts with you,” said Purce. “The mind is the hardest part to have to overcome. It’s that thought of ‘I can’t, I can’t’, and know that yes, you can.”
The event featured several vendors that offer vegan dishes, like Globe Indian Cuisine and Topknotch Vegan Vittles.