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Taking Care of All of You

03.05.2012 Olga Allon

I’ve learned that exercise alone can’t keep me feeling great - what I eat and drink has a huge effect, both physically and mentally. I’ve also learned that the right nutrition helps me get the most out of Bikram, or any other exercise.

For me, nutrition needs to help maintain my energy levels while keeping me lean and toned. But finding the right balance takes time – there’s so much conflicting information. It’s a case of doing your homework and then checking what works for you.

My big tip is don’t be too prescriptive, or too hard on yourself. Set guidelines rather than rules (which you’ll just beat yourself up about breaking). And make small changes, ones you can stick to. If it’s going to work long-term it has to be sustainable.

Over the years I’ve shifted from eating more carbs to eating more protein. But you have to be adaptable – if you’re training for a marathon you’ll need to up the carbs. I once cut out as many fats as I could, but I’ve found that oily fish, and the fats in nuts and seeds, help boost my energy levels and give my skin a lift. Get to know and listen to your body – Bikram definitely helps with this.

I swear by little and often. In the UK we often skip breakfast, have a sandwich for lunch and then a large meal in the evening. I’ve just got back from holiday, and a buffet breakfast meant I was having protein (in the form of eggs) right at the beginning of the day and I really noticed the difference.

At the same time I recognise that’s not going to happen every day. Targets have to be realistic - and I have to take into account that most mornings I’m rushing to get myself and my children out of the door on time! I can aim for that at weekends, though, and I’ve also made a vow to always have breakfast, however small. It kick starts your metabolism so it doesn’t go into starvation mode.

I also make sure I always have a bottle of water with me, and I start the day with a glass of hot water and lemon. Apparently it’s good for your digestive system, but more than anything it makes me feel instantly more alert.

I definitely changed after having children. I want to set them an example, to make sure they have a healthy attitude to food rather than any complexes. Although, talking of kids, one of my weaknesses is their treat box… Again though, it’s about moderation. A treat now and then is fine. I don’t want to feel I’ve spent my whole life on a diet.

One of the great things about Bikram is it affects what you want to eat. You feel so cleansed after a class that unhealthy food is the last thing you want. You actually crave the good stuff!

While I was on holiday, a friend watching me choose the healthy options at the buffet asked me if I wasn’t tempted by a big plate of chips. Well, yes, I could very easily scoff some, but I know I’d only enjoy them for a minute or two. In the long run, light food makes me feel better.

Keep sweating – and I’d love to hear your top nutrition tips.