Wellness tips from an Olympic gold medallist

Lauren Burns won gold in taekwondo at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, was awarded the Order of Australia in 2001 and has a string of other international titles and achievements to her name.

The Olympian, motivator, cook, author and mum spoke to Lucy Stewart about how she stays happy, fit and healthy.

What made a Taekwondo Olympic gold medallist seek out a career in health and wellbeing?

I saw a Naturopath when I was three-years-old who helped me enormously with my childhood bronchitis and I’ve always been interested in complementary medicine, whole foods and a healthy lifestyle.

During my taekwondo career, I had a scholarship with the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) - they had a strong Athlete Career and Education program where they encouraged athletes to have something alongside sport.

What does your work schedule look like?

I speak at a lot of corporate, community and school events so my weeks are incredibly varied. I am very structured with my time and will either work from home, the local library or a café. Working from home allows me to be organised, test recipes for clients and make some part of the family meal in the evening. 

What is your fitness regime and how do you fit exercise into your busy life?

Movement is an integral part of my life and mental health. I really enjoy being active and feel great when I exercise – even a simple walk gets the endorphins buzzing. A couple of times a week I get up early to train before getting the kids ready for school, or I’ll go for a walk and listen to a podcast. I’m not able to kick anymore due to an old knee injury but I do love martial arts and combat sports so I’ve found a great boxing coach.

What do you do to support your recovery after exercise?

Depending on what type of exercise I’ve been doing, I often take a magnesium supplement, have cold showers – especially after very strenuous sessions, and make sure I have good quality nutrient dense protein and essential fatty acids after training.

What are some of your favourite meals to cook at home for your family?

We have a lot of variety in our meals, with a strong emphasis on plant-based meals. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was three, but my husband and children eat meat. I’ll often make food that can be taken for school lunch the next day, like Dahl and brown rice or Spanakopita made with silverbeet from the garden and there’s always salad or steamed vegetables on the side. We have plenty of soups in winter like creamy broccoli, cauliflower with cannellini beans and rosemary or vegetable minestrone.

What are some snacks we might find in your handbag or desk drawer?

I usually have a trail mix with organic nuts and seeds, goji berries or sultanas that I can snack on during the day. For something salty, I toast cashews and pepitas and add a little Tamari. I also like a piece of fruit.

How do you practice self-care as a busy working mum?

I’ve always been a big fan of planning – it gives me clarity about my goals, intentions and what I need in my life. I have weekly, monthly, one-year, five-year and 20-year plans, which are fluid and adapt to our changing needs.

Self-care for me means making time to see friends, cooking, having regular time with just my husband away from the children, being grateful and actively practising gratitude in my day, and regular exercise.

As a mum, what do you think are the most important 'healthy living habits' to pass on to the next generation?

Being able to feed yourself nutritious and delicious food is a basic life skill. I try to let my kids do a lot of cooking – they really enjoy it and I’m often pleasantly surprised with what they come up with.

Personal connections and relationships have a huge impact on wellbeing, so valuing friendships and engaging in social situations with children at a variety of ages is incredibly valuable.

Being active, getting out and moving your body, whether it’s a walk, bike ride or organised sport. It’s important to encourage children to be active even when they don’t feel like participating, and remind them that they will feel better after they have exercised.

What does your ideal weekend look like?

I love reading. Most weekends are busy with kids activities, social engagements and doing things around the house but reading in bed with a cup of tea on a Sunday morning would have to be the absolute ideal. It doesn’t happen very often, so I cherish it when it does.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given or a saying that you like to live by?

Learn how to say no.
And always pre-heat the oven.
Life is Long, so don’t be afraid to commit to something, it most likely won’t be forever.

This article was brought to you by Oriental Botanicals

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