Having spent the last year preparing and training for my first competition (and achieving awesome results), I have been invited to share my top nutrition and exercise tips with you. I'm passionate about helping others with nutrition and exercise so it’s a real privilege to be able to help you.
Nutrition is key, as is preparation and always having the right sort of foods and snacks available; this is crucial and should be the case both in the fridge and when out and about.
I eat five small meals a day; these always include protein. I recommend eating protein at least three times a day to help maintain lean tissue. As a snack I have protein pancakes, which I love, as they are high in protein and contain nuts and seeds rather than fruit which can be high in sugar (these pancakes also work as breakfast or a dessert). I focus on keeping my blood sugars level; if you crave sweet things, another great snack is avocado or a couple of dessert spoons of nuts and seeds.
Before I go to bed I eat Greek yogurt with a scoop of protein powder for flavour and a generous sprinkle of crushed seeds (such as chia, flax, sunflower and pumpkin). These are full of fibre and protein as well as vitamins and minerals.
My meals consist of green vegetables or salad and either salmon or cod, steak, chicken or lean beef mince, turkey or venison. I cook the vegetables in a variety of different ways; stir-fries are particularly quick and easy. I like to use fresh herbs like coriander and basil as well as fresh spices, including ginger and chillies.
I drink black coffee to keep my dairy intake to a minimum as I get my 'good fats' from other sources. My latest 'love' is 100% pure cacao! Chocoholics take note: it is good for you! It’s a useful source of magnesium, potassium and iron. I simply add a spoonful for flavour or make it into a drink. If you really have a sweet tooth though, try Xylitol as a sweetener instead of sugar.
I am a major advocate for drinking a lot of water as water is very important for many of our body's processes, and you should also use our fantastic supplements; my immune system benefits from many of the ingredients contained in certain Forever supplements.
As for exercise it is crucial to set a goal; make a plan and stick to it! Consistency is key and essential to maintaining good habits and achieving your goals. It's also a great idea to include weight training exercises as this develops lean tissue and will burn more fat. I use HITT (high intensity tactical training) which is short bursts (for added fat burning) and cardio health – your body doesn't get used to it!
Getting good quality sleep for your body to repair and recover is also really important; I definitely notice a difference in how much I ache if I've not had enough hours. Finally I use Forever Garcinia Plus three times a day – because it contains chromium which contributes to the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels – Forever Therm twice a day, and my absolute favourite, Argi+ – l love it!
Throughout this year I've found many of my new habits have rubbed off on my family: Izzy (12) now goes to the gym and Max (10) loves doing press ups and pull ups at home; he has even devised a mini programme! I've been really lucky to have amazing and positive support from my hubby, James, and my entire family – that’s just the 'icing on the shake'!
Sarah Matyjasik, Global F.I.T. Athlete.