Since retiring from swimming five years ago, Olympic gold medallist Stephanie Rice says she’s transformed her entire body and mind.
From non-stop training in the pool for up to seven hours a day, Stephanie now does a bodyweight workout for no more than 20 minutes daily on her balcony. She’s also ditched her previously meat and dairy-heavy diet and transitioned to vegan eating. As a result, Stephanie says she feels happier and healthier than ever.
The 29-year-old motivational speaker and businesswoman has just released her first ever eCookbook entitled Vegan Goodness in conjunction with Vegie Delights.
“I’ve done a lot of introspection and personal inner growth to get to this point and am just happy that everything is finally in sync, especially as I was a bit lost after I retired and didn’t know where my life was headed,” she says. “For me the vegan lifestyle just works really well. I’m certainly not saying that everyone else should become a vegan as well, but I do think people should consider having more meat-free days. People may be surprised at just how good it makes them feel.”
Here, Stephanie talks about what she loves most about a plant-based way of life, exploring her spiritual side through angel card reading and how her perfect Sunday night in involves back to back television…
How would you best describe your healthy eating philosophy?
My eating philosophy is a holistic one – it’s connected to my exercise plan, mental thought processes and lifestyle. I feel everything you do needs to be in sync. There’s no point in doing a great work out and then racing off to eat junk food straight afterwards!
Do you follow a specific diet? What do you love about plant-based eating?
I’ve been a vegan now for five years and I just try to vary what I eat from day to day so I don’t get bored and my body’s getting a variety of nutrients. For dinner I may roast some sweet potatoes seasoned with rosemary. I then make a salad of fried kale, cucumber, nuts and tahini sauce. My dinners usually only have about four things in them as I like to eat really simply!
“I just love with plant-based foods that they have such a positive effect on my brain.”
What does your current fitness regime look like?
I usually exercise five times a week first thing in the morning on the balcony of my home. I like to just work out in solitude and don’t want to waste time driving to a gym! I generally follow a YouTube fitness video like one from Kayla Itsines – I think it’s important to vary your routine so you don’t get bored, so I change it up every day. I do a full body weight workout building up a sweat for no more than 20 to 30 minutes.
Apart from swimming, what other fitness activities did you enjoy growing up and have these carried over to your adult life?
I grew up playing hockey and cycling, but sadly I don’t do them anymore! I played team hockey for seven years which I just loved. However I rolled my ankle during a game and wasn’t able to keep up with it because I was swimming by that time. I also did a lot of cycling and was even earmarked for the junior Olympic cycling team. However whilst I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it. Now I play a little mixed touch football now and then with my partner and friends. I’m not very good at it, but it’s fun!
What are some little things you do every day to improve your overall health and fitness?
I always start my day off with a big glass of water with half a lemon squeezed into it wherever I am as I find it really wakes me up. I also try to do a short meditation practice, even just three to four minutes long to “sign into” my brain. I also do a good stretch for a few minutes which gets the blood pumping.
What is your favourite meal of the day and what does this look like on a typical day?
I guess it would be breakfast. Usually I’ll eat half a cup of oats with chia seeds, flax seeds and almond milk. I’ll also have a black coffee with soy milk.
How do you keep sugar cravings at bay? What snacks do you opt for to satisfy a sweet tooth?
I don’t really get too many sugar cravings as I eat fruit every day, like a slice of watermelon with a squeeze of lemon on top for a snack. If I do feel like something sweet there are lots of great snacks you can make with cacao or agave instead of sugar which satisfy any craving! Sometimes on the weekend I’ll bake up a vegan choc cherry slice and then freeze it, so I can grab a piece whenever I feel the urge.
What is one aspect of your health that you think you can improve on and how?
There’s always room for improvement in anything you do, but to be honest I’m just really content at the moment with my physical and mental health.
Do you have any meal prep tips you can share with us?
Thinking ahead is really important and being organised in any aspect of your life is always going to make a difference. So if you’re wanting to be more healthy, or have a better chance of transforming your body, that helps. Always make sure you have the right foods available to you. I go to the organic markets near me every Sunday morning and buy all the following week’s groceries, so I know I always have things to cook up. If I don’t do that I’m more likely to just order in from Uber Eats which I know isn’t going to be as healthy! Also I’ll cook in batches. If I cook up some baked sweet potatoes for dinner I’ll make three lots worth which I can freeze so I know I’ve got something healthy to eat for those days I can’t be bothered to cook.
How do you practice self-care? What is your idea of relaxing on a Sunday?
I’m quite introverted and I get my energy from being quiet. As I’m a really home body so I like to spend time with my partner Rory watching US TV drama series Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med – they’re so good! I’m also quite a spiritual person so I might take 20 minutes out to do an angel card reading, a meditation, or visualising goals. I’ll look at Pinterest photos of say houses or interiors as I’m interested in that. The meaningful stuff is important to me – I rarely go to any events or shows where I have to socialise.