Our new fitness challenge diarist, Vina Silvis, stumbles when it comes to eating healthily and keeping up her energy levels

I love exercise! Currently my weekly workout log looks something like this: 2-3 swim sessions (1 hour each); 2 runs (30 minutes each); 3 spinning sessions (45 minutes each) with a 20-minute run after at least one spinning session; and longer rides or races over weekends.

But I seriously lack the energy to maintain this pace. In the evenings after work I can’t keep my eyes open, but I then wake up tired. Five minutes after arriving at work I’m starving and devour my lunch (if I had the time to pack any!). I usually have a throbbing headache after work. I can add the following to my list of concentration and, at times, blurry vision…

Description: My Poor Diet Saps My Energy

So my main area of concern is not my exercise output or my ability, but my lack of energy.

My meal frequency doesn’t match my activity levels; I might go as far as calling it shocking – disastrous really. I’d eat a banana before an exercise session at 5am, have a low-GI breakfast, like muesli and yogurt, then starve myself until 1pm.

I usually oversleep and don’t have time to pack snacks or lunch – then greedily gobble down anything I can lay my hands on. Usually I’ll raid the sweet drawer or rusk tin at home, and then have dinner at around 7.30pm.

Description: I usually oversleep and don’t have time to pack snacks or lunch

I usually oversleep and don’t have time to pack snacks or lunch

My first (very important) step to the Swazi Adventure Race is to sort out my nutritional needs. I must ensure that I have sustainable energy levels to compete in this grueling endurance race for 7-14 hours.

I decided to consult registered dietitian, Dr Nelly Silvis, who also happens to by my aunt. Together we went back to basics.

We walked about the importance of keeping my blood sugar levels stable, did an overview of my lifestyle and the small changes we’d implement in the coming weeks.

The good news is that most of my symptoms can be alleviated. I will do this by adjusting my meal frequency, and adapting the type of food I eat before, during and after exercise. I will also start to snack regularly. Nelly recommended that I eat a low-GI snack, for example, a yogurt, before I exercise to keep my sugar levels in the safe zone.

During exercise I can drink diluted juice (half juice, half water). After gym, I can have the other half of my juice to restore my blood sugar levels.

Something I’ll implement immediately is to pack snacks and lunch for work. Snack times will be at 9am and 11am, with lunch at 1pm and my afternoon snacks at 3pm and 5pm.

Dinner must be before 8pm, with one last snack if I go to bed after 10pm.

Description: healthy foods

We’re taking baby steps to get me into a routine of healthy eating habits. Besides focusing on my new nutrition regime, life also happens during this new adventure. I recently moved house and am in the process of changing jobs. So my mantra right now is: plan, plan…

Giant leaps with my eating habit won’t be sustainable for more two days before I return to my “don’t care” attitude to eating. But small nudges will work.

Armed with this advice, I hope to attain a lasting healthy eating routine.

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