It’s no secret that exercise is important to me. It’s how I start each morning or unwind after a long day at my desk. It gives me an opportunity to clear my head, blow off steam and get some much-needed me time.
I realized my passion for nutrition and healthy living when I left high school and started my chef’s apprenticeship. I was a chef in WA and joined the local gym to get fitter, feel more energized, tone my muscles and lose some body fat. I became interested in fitness and nutrition not only to keep my weight in check, but also I had an ultimate goal of competing in my first fitness figure competition.
I was, and I still am, fascinated at the body’s ability to change composition, based on how you eat and how you train. In the early days I was a real gym junkie…training 6 days a week and carefully monitoring my diet to support the high intensity workouts I was putting my body through.
I achieved my goal and competed in the Australian National Fitness Figure Championships, winning second place! The whole journey was a massive personal achievement for me and during that time I learnt a lot, in particular how to fine tune exercise, diet and lifestyle to strengthen and support a women's physique.
The way I exercise has changed over the years from weight training, road cycling, kickboxing, submission wrestling, surf lifesaving, yoga, Pilates, stair climbing and jogging. I’ve loved them all. These days I’m more into Pilates as a way of toning my body and walking to unwind and meditate, rather than going ballistic at the gym, I have learnt to listen to my body and train accordingly.
A women’s body adapts quite quickly to how you train it as well as the diet you give it. Your body loves to move. If you exercise regularly it will reward you by slowing the effects of ageing, increasing energy, reducing fatigue, stress and depression, improve circulation, lowering body fat and cholesterol, increasing our immunity and toning muscles.
Muscle shape, weight loss and tone doesn’t just happen on it’s own – our muscles need to be both encouraged (via exercise) and nourished (when we eat well). Muscle is a metabolically active tissue, which burns energy not only during exercise but also at increased levels in the hour or so after exercise. It’s one of the best ways to encourage your body to utilize more fat as fuel. Resistance training will also help to shape and sculpt your body.
The way I eat has been tweaked over the years to suit my body. I’ve never been one for counting every calorie, but I was always mindful of what I ate or drank and how the food made me feel after eating it. What you eat nourishes the body as well as the mind…..It makes you feel great and supports your health in every way. Healthy eating and getting regular exercise is a way of life.
There is a lot of confusion and conflicting information out there with nutrition “gurus” promoting all sorts of diets and perfect eating plans. Extreme diets or people who push strict dietary ideologies are not helpful. I find that a lot of people stress over finicky nutrition details rather than focusing on the broader picture – that is, that one should eat natural whole foods, focus on fresh fruit and veg and keep it simple. Much of my eating and training program from when I competed in fitness figure is also in my book The 80/20 Diet.
The key nutrient for weight loss and body shaping is protein as it’s essential to regulate the appetite, support lean muscle, boost metabolism and encourage significant weight loss. I suppose that’s how I started my own range of clean protein supplements, as there was nothing on the market that worked for my digestive system and made me feel good, so I decided to create one that did.
When I cook at home, I keep it simple and fresh. It’s mainly plant-based using vegetables, fruit and protein such as fish or organic eggs. Cold pressed olive oil is my oil of choice.
I eat when I’m hungry, not when the clock tells me to. I also eat according to how my body feels, my health, my activity level and what’s in season. Your body is a finely tuned machine that needs the right nutritional balance accompanied with adequate exercise and quality rest.
Train well, Eat Clean, Be Consistent, but most of all have fun.