Tell us three things about yourself
- I never give up – I believe that you are never defeated in something if you fail, you are only defeated when you quit.
- I don’t believe in luck – it is simply where opportunity meets preparation.
- I was an exercise physiologist in my former life and have a strong belief in the value of preventative health, the importance of exercise and the power of wholefood nutrition in improving health and longevity.
What’s been the biggest health challenge you’ve overcome and what did you learn from this experience?
I suffered for 10 years from 15 years old until 25 years old with eating and body image disorders. My mind, body and soul were ravaged with poor self belief, starvation, binge-eating/purging and excessive exercise. Many of those years were so consumed with the pursuit of skinny and control of self that many things got left behind – the things that bring great joy in life such as friendships and intimate love, the evolution of my career and appreciation of the natural world around me. Even going out for a meal with friends was torture!!
It was only when I reached a cross roads and was accepted into medical school that I realised 2 things – firstly that I was never going to be a perfect anorectic (they don’t exist) and secondly that I didn’t want to put any more time or energy into the pursuit of skinny – I needed that energy to learn to be the best doctor I could be PLUS achieve all those other things in life like falling in love, buying a house, having a baby. Although it was a difficult journey back to living with much stumbling along the way and a realisation that it will always be with me, life has been nothing short of a magnificent journey since I conquered the spectra of eating and body image disorders.
What’s your top tip for getting your day off to a great start?
There are 2 = Meditate and smile!
About 7 years ago when I was going through a bit of a life crisis I stumbled across an amazing book called Buddism for Busy People by WA author David Michie. Since then I have also read his other book, Hurry Up and Meditate. It amazed me that meditation has been scientifically proven to deliver highly effective stress relief, boost our immune systems and dramatically slow the aging process. It has also been shown to make us much happier and more effective thinkers. Not only that but you can achieve some pretty significant effects from as little as 10 minutes of meditation a day – perfect for my lifestyle.
The second tip to getting the day off to a great start is to smile and given I am always the first one awake in our household it is often a smile sent out from my balcony to the morning!! It is recognised that a smile induces powerful positive physiological and emotional reactions in ourselves and others. Smiling can help reduce the level of stress-enhancing hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and dopamine; increase the level of mood-enhancing hormones like endorphin; and reduce overall blood pressure. I once read that it stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that chocolate cannot match! I make sure that the first thing my little girl sees every morning is my smile.
Your brekky usually consist of…
Breakfast in a hurry – Juice PLUS+ Complete super smoothie with almond milk (made in the thermomix), frozen berries, handful of spinach, frozen banana, ground linseed and Complete powder – often in the car on the way to work.
Which foods do you eat to nourish your body and give you vitality?
Fruit and vegetables are at the top of my list. They are a powerful dense source of phytonutrients and antioxidants that have been shown to be essential to reduce all-cause mortality. As much as I can, I aim to get the wide variety of colours to cover the spectrum of phytonutrients and I try to take them raw.
In order to satiate and provide me with energy I try to get good quality protein and fat into each meal. Again I tend to get these from plant-based sources such as avocados, chick peas, virgin olive oil, oils, water washed soy and fermented grains, though I don’t mind organic chicken or eggs either.
I also take a wholefood supplement, Juice PLUS+, which is made from more than 30 different fruits vegetables and grains and is backed by over 25 published studies. It gives me that insurance if I am not able to get the optimal amount of fruit and vegetables each day due to a busy schedule.
Why is fitness an important part of your life?
Exercise has been part of my life since I can remember. Being fit provides me with vitality and having that enables me to optimally perform everything from surgery, consulting my patients, delivering lectures, running a business, household duties, study commitments and still leaves me with enough energy to give time and attention to my family at the end of the day. There have been times in my life where I have let my fitness slip – and I really noticed the difference. Therefore for me, having fitness and strength is ESSENTIAL to my life. The other great benefit to exercising for me is the relaxation and mental cleansing by that ‘time out’ just for me.
What is your current exercise routine?
I aim for 4 sessions a week and diarise them at the beginning of my week – that way I tend not to book things over them. Inevitably however life gets in the way with at least 1 session – but I still have my ideal 3 sessions factored in!
Due to time contsraints it is usually 30-40 minutes of predominantly interval cardiovascular exercise (usually running or stationary bike) with some resistance thrown in (squats, lunges, push ups, dips, core conditioning). I combine this with getting outside and appreciating the natural world around me. There is nothing like a park bench to do a workout on.
I aspire to get back to some group exercise like boxing as I find working out with others (or even a trainer) pushes me to a higher intensity and is more social but right now my life doesn’t allow that – so maintenance it is!
Describe what motivated you to choose your current business or career path?
I have worked in the health and well-being industry for over 20 years. I started off as an exercise physiologist working in corporate health and then at 25 years old returned to medical school to achieve my dream of becoming a doctor. I became especially passionate about women’s health and pursed obstetrics and gynecology. I love being a part of that special intimate time of helping bring new life into the world however it is an incredibly demanding job on my body and my family. Now I am working towards a subspeciality qualification in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. This allows me to marry my two interests of preventative health and reproduction. I look forward every day to helping couples have a family where it may not have been possible before.
What business or career challenge have you overcome and what one piece of advice would you like to pass on to others?
I wanted to become a doctor as early as 13 years of age. I have always loved helping people so it seemed the logical pathway. I didn’t receive a high enough score in my final high school exams to get into medicine and I was devastated. I didn’t know what else to do with my life.
To make a long story short I tried for 7 years running to get accepted into medical school – I excelled in my exercise physiology degree, I did further courses and exams, I sat several interviews and although I wasn’t successful…I never gave up.
I got to 24 years of age and realized that I couldn’t put my life on hold any longer so I decided to give it one last go – and after an exam and an interview I got accepted to the University of Sydney Medical School. I was actually in 2 minds when I received my letter of acceptance – I thought I was too old!! Can you believe it?! So once again my advice – never, ever give up on something you truly want in your life.
Your favourite book or movie of all time is…
The Neverending Story – it is all about the strength of self-belief and the power of dreaming. I have seen this several times (even as an adult) and always feel uplifted at the end! I even have a little version of Falcor, the Luck Dragon, in my life – that is my Moodle, Charlotte.
And lastly, do you have a recipe you’d like to share with us?
I am a big fan of the simple frittata together with a simple salad. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, weeknight or weekend – this is a perfect meal in a fast-paced lifestyle. It can contain imaginative ingredients or leftovers from the bottom of the crisper in the fridge.
Here is one I make without any dairy – though a good organic goats cheese adds a real kick!
- 6 eggs
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves washed
- 1 cup button mushrooms thinly sliced
- 1 small bunch fresh basil chopped
- (you can add cheese if you like – parmesan/goats cheese/feta)
- Preheat the grill to ‘high’ or oven to 200˚C
- Whisk eggs with 2 tablespoons of water until well combined
- Heat oil in a heavy based (ovenproof) pan
- Add the tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms and cook slightly
- Pour in the whisked eggs and allow to cook through for about 10 minutes
- Sprinkle basil across the top along with cheese if desireBake for 10-12 minutes until well risen and golden brown
- Slice into wedges and serve with beautiful garden salad with a dressing of virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Do you live in Perth and would love to hear Dr Tamara Hunter speak about health & wellness and the power of fruit and vegetables? Tamara is an incredibly powerful speaker, and does in-home presentations along with the gorgeous and informative Sarah Devlin and myself :-). These relaxed and fun presentations are for you and your friends if you’d like to learn some great strategies for optimising your nutrition to improve the health of YOU and your family. Email me or leave a comment to make your inquiry :-). If you have any questions for Tamara, feel free to leave a comment below.