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How to stay connected while social distancing

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While social distancing is necessary to ‘flatten the coronavirus curve’, feeling psychologically disconnected is seriously bad news for your mental health and wellbeing. Here’s how to stay connected while isolating at home.

Feeling lonely and blue stuck at home during the coronavirus crisis? You aren’t alone. 

‘Throughout history and across cultures, being forced into social isolation has often been regarded as the worst form of torture,’ says STRONG Australia Psychologist Sarah McMahon

‘Famous experiments conducted over the 1950s and 1960s by Psychologist Harry Harlow demonstrated that feeling loved and connected is far more important to our wellbeing than having our basic physical needs met.’

In that heartbreaking experiment, baby monkeys were taken away from their mothers and raised in lab cages. While isolated, the monkeys showed disturbing behaviours such as circling their cages and harming themselves. What’s more, when they were introduced back into the group, they had no idea how to interact with their peers. 

But there is something you can do to reduce the iso-blues. Numerous studies indicate that having high-quality social support can enhance our resilience to stress. You might be physically apart from your work bestie and training buddies during this time, but it doesn’t mean you have to be emotionally isolated, too. 

Here’s McMahon’s top five tips for staying connected and looking after your mental health during social isolation:

1. Connect with an online fitness community. Miss catching up with your gym buddy in between sets? There’s a plethora of virtual fitness communities available through apps and social media, where you can access live zoom at-home workouts, online personal training sessions and chat rooms for all your health and fitness banter needs. It’s a great way to keep moving and meet new people with a common interest, while staying safely inside.

2. Join an online book club. Did you let your New Year’s resolutions slide? This might be a good time to set new goals, such as finishing a book every week or fortnight. Not only will you get a rush of endorphins as you accomplish the task, but reading a good book will also activate the same parts of your brain that make you feel socially connected. For an extra positivity boost, find an online forum where you can discuss your latest and greatest reads.

3. Rekindle lost hobbies, or find a new one. Many people have extra hours in the day that would usually be spent commuting to and from work. Finding a hobby or taking an online short course are productive ways to utilise your spare time, and will make you feel far better than sitting around watching Netflix.

4. Schedule virtual lunch or dinner dates. Videoconferencing allows you to eat with friends and family members located anywhere in the world, while sitting in your own dining rooms. Seeing other people’s faces, even if they aren’t in your physical presence, will help reduce any negative feelings associated with social isolation. The best part? There’s no dress code.

5. Consider going old school. Need a break from the virtual world? Pen your thoughts to paper – because journaling is your mental health’s best friend – or post an old-fashioned letter or postcard to your loved one.

Healthy savoury pancakes

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After a healthier, savoury alternative to the high-calorie syrup-covered pancake stack, that you can enjoy any time of the day? These falafel pancakes are gluten free, dairy free and vegan friendly, and are made with high-protein chickpea flour.

Falafel Pancakes Recipe
By Faith at The Conscientious Eater

Ingredients
1 cup water
1 medium-packed cup coriander
1 medium-packed cup parsley
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp sea salt
2 cups chickpea flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 tbsp chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Lemon Tahini Dressing
3 tbsp Mayver’s Tahini
1 cup fresh basil or herb of choice
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp sweetener of choice (e.g. honey, coconut sugar, stevia)

Method
1. In a blender, blend the water, coriander, parsley, cumin and sea salt until smooth.
2. Sift the chickpea flour, baking powder and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Add in the chopped onion, minced garlic and herby liquid mixture. Lastly, add in the apple cider vinegar. Stir until combined.
3. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, drop the batter by ¼ cup increments and use the back of the measuring cup to spread the mixture into a pancake-shaped circle. Cook for two minutes or until bubbles appear around the edge of the pancake. Flip the pancake over to allow the other side to cook for another two minutes. Continue this process until all the batter has been used.

You’ll find more healthy recipes in our February/March digital issue, which we are sharing with our readers for FREE!

Ultimate breakfast bowl for all-day focus

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Nothing beats a tasty brekkie bowl any time of the year – particularly when it’s not only tasty, but will also help you feel energised and ready to start your day. It’s time to ditch the bacon for the brain-boosting impacts of salmon.


And here’s why:
‘Salmon is high in protein, and contains vitamin D, E and a range of B group vitamins and antioxidants. There are few foods that offer so many key nutrients in a single serve, which is why salmon is frequently referred to as ‘brain food’,’ explains nutritionist Susie Burrell.

But salmon’s high levels of omega-3 fatty acids are the real game changer.

‘Salmon is one of the richest sources of omega-3 fats. Over many years, research has shown that individuals who have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood experience a range of health benefits, including a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease and inflammation,’ says Burrell. 

Omega-3s have also been shown to be good for your noggin in a plethora of recent research. In a study published in the JAMA Network Open journal, involving over 2000 participants across 11 countries, scientists found that those suffering from anxiety experienced significant improvements in their symptoms when they downed omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), particularly compared to those who skipped their PUFAs. So getting enough fatty fish and high-quality omega-3 supps into your diet is paramount for your body and mental health. 

For your omega-3 fix, try this recipe:

Hot smoked salmon breakfast bowl with figs, avocado & poached egg

Serves 2

Ingredients
150g TASSAL Hot Smoked Natural Salmon, skin removed then broken into 3 pieces
1tsp olive oil
100g baby spinach leaves
1 avocado, cut in half, peeled then sliced
2 figs, cut in half
2 eggs, poached
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
2 tbsp chopped pistachio nuts
A few parsley leaves
6 vine cherry tomatoes

Sauce:
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
Pinch smoked paprika

Method
1. Place the cherry tomatoes on an oven tray and lightly roast in a preheated 200°C oven for 10-15 minutes or until skins are just beginning to split. Remove them from the oven and set aside. Combine the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the spinach leaves. Toss over heat for 2 minutes to lightly wilt the leaves. Divide wilted leaves between 2 serving bowls. Top with the TASSAL Hot Smoked Salmon, slices of avocado, fig and a poached egg.
3.Finish each bowl with 3 roasted tomatoes, a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds and a few chopped pistachio nuts. Drizzle with sauce and garnish with the parsley leaves. 

Optional: serve with sliced sourdough bread.

Mini abs and glute workout

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Want a simple workout you can perform anywhere – from the comfort of your living room to the beach or on a weekend away? Try these mini resistance band moves for abs and a bum you’ll remember.

Trainer source: Christine Johnson

Before you begin
Find the right band – opt for a cloth-based band over latex that won’t irritate your skin, and make sure the inside of the band has grips for leverage so it won’t pinch or move during the exercises.

Find the right length band to suit your height and frame, which will make the exercises more effective and also prevent injury.

How to progress
Once you can perform the reps comfortably, progress to a stronger band. Resistance can also be added by placing a second band just above the current band.

MOVE #1 – Banded quadruped hip extension with leg lift

 

 

 

 

Do: 3 sets of 20 | Rest for 45 seconds

Targets: Glutes, hips, abs, hamstrings

Achieves: Builds glute muscles; strengthens hips, abs, and hamstrings

Starting position: Keep your hands under your shoulders with your fingers closed and facing forward. Place your knees under your hips shoulder-width apart, maintaining a 90-degree angle. Keep your head and spine neutral. Place the band slightly above the knees.

Step 1: Press your right leg out and bring it to hip height.

Step 2: Lower your leg to return to starting position.

Repeat with the opposite leg.

Trainer tip: Always keep your toes pointed out, engage your core, and contract your glutes. As you get stronger, add more reps to ensure you don’t plateau.

Benefits: The hip extension is a highly effective glute workout, which stimulates the most gluteal growth. It helps prevent lower back pain and lower extremity injuries, while improving posture.

MOVE #2 – Leg raises

 

 

 

 

Do: 3 sets of 30 | Rest for 45 seconds

Targets: Anterior hip flexors, abdominal muscles, internal and external obliques, lower abs, quads

Achieves: Improves back stability; improves flexibility; builds abdominal strength.

Starting position: Lie on your back, facing upwards. Let your arms lay on your sides with your palms facing down.

Step 1: Raise both of your legs slowly so they are perpendicular to the floor.

Step 2: Pause at the top and slowly lower to the floor without resting your legs on the ground.

Repeat.

Trainer tip: Place your hands under your glutes (with your palms down if more stability is needed). Brace your core and avoid arching your back. Increase resistance by adding cables, bands or a dumbbell between your feet.

Benefits: According to one Harvard study, improving the core leads to better posture which can lead to a leaner and taller appearance. It also helps us perform day-to-day activities more easily, such as carrying those pesky shopping bags.

MOVE #3 – Glute bridge

 

 

 

 

Do: 3 sets of 20 | Rest for 45 seconds

Targets: Glutes, hamstrings, spine, adductors (thigh muscle), abs, external and internal obliques

Achieves: Sculpts glutes; helps prevent lower back pain

Starting position: Lie on your back with your arms beside your body, palms facing down. Bend your knees at 90 degrees. Place the resistance band above your knees and keep your legs shoulder-width apart.

Step 1: Lift your hips and push through your heels. Engage your core and glutes.

Step 2:
Push your knees outwards at least 30 degrees and roll to the outer sides of your feet.

Step 3:
Bring your hips and butt down slowly to starting position.

Repeat.

Trainer tip: Keep your spine neutral and toes pointing slightly outward.

Benefits: Bridging with hip adduction yields the highest glute muscle activity, which is important for growth.

MOVE #4 – Scissor kicks

 

 

 

 

Do: 3 sets of 30 | Rest for 45 seconds

Targets: Hip flexors, abs, external obliques, quads

Achieves: A stronger core

Starting position: Lie with your back flat on a firm surface. Keep your arms beside you, palms facing down. Keep your legs on the floor less than shoulder-width apart, bending your knees slightly.

Step 1: Lift your right leg up to a 45-degree angle with your toe pointed out. Bring your leg down.

Step 2: Lift your left leg up to a 45-degree angle with your toe pointed out. Bring your leg down.

Repeat.

Trainer tip: Press your lower back into the floor, bracing your core. Don’t let your legs or feet touch the ground.

Benefits: A strong core helps prevent lower back pain and improves flexibility, helping to perform other activities and exercises.

Photography: Joe Mikoli

For more quick and effective workouts, purchase a print or digital copy of our February/March magazine.

Sami Rose on social media and body image

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📸 credit: @lifeportraits_fitness

Online Personal Trainer and body positive influencer Sami Rose has spent the past five years growing her business and social media account, and working with women all over the world to adopt a balanced and realistic approach to diet and exercise. But this doesn’t mean she hasn’t suffered from her own bouts of body hate and online bullying.

SFMA: What’s your definition of strong?

Rose: To me, strong is about being empowered – physically and mentally. Women should feel they’re capable of tackling any goal because we are! A strong woman is one who is unafraid to back herself and work towards what she wants, whether it be fitness, business or relationship goals, or how she wants to feel within herself.

SFMA: Do you think that social media influences women’s perceptions of an ‘ideal body’? 

Rose: I think times are changing on social media and it’s amazing! A few years ago, Instagram was about the ‘perfect’ image. Now, people use social media to connect, share stories and talk openly about their struggles. It’s less of a highlight reel, and it’s nice to see more people sharing their fitness journeys and their unedited photos. I hope the fitness industry continues showing people that ‘fitness’ isn’t just one look, and everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their own body.

SFMA: What has been your personal experience with body image issues?

Rose: I used to get a lot of online trolling – when I was lean during my competing days (anonymous accounts would call me ‘disgusting’) and then when I was gaining weight afterwards (people suggesting I was ‘lazy and fat’, and questioning how I could be a personal trainer). It took me a long time to accept my body, which was 12 to 15 kilograms heavier than what I was used to.

SFMA: What advice would you give women to help promote body positivity?

Rose: You are more than your body! I used to pressure myself to look a certain way to impress others. I thought I’d be more liked, more successful in my business, and more popular on social media if I ‘looked the part’. But since taking a more relaxed approach, I haven’t experienced any of the negatives I was so fearful of – my business is thriving and my social media account continues to grow. I now appreciate aspects of myself other than appearance, and I allow those qualities to shine, and that’s what draws people to me – not what my body looks like.

To find out what Rose’s day on a plate looks like, read the full Q&A in the December/January edition of the magazine.

Join the Just Ski Nice 24-hour SkiErg Challenge

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Could you last 24 hours smashing it out on the SkiErg for a good cause? We are beyond excited to be partnering with the Just Be Nice (JBN) Project – an Aussie social enterprise that provides housing, employment and improved mental health to those in need – to support their latest fundraising endeavour.

Men and women from gyms across the nation will be jumping into teams of four at 8AM Saturday March 14 and skiing through the night for 24 hours straight.

The challenge is a great example of how hardship is more easily endured with support and the right teams of people around you. Something we aspire to bring to every person who needs help,’ says Founder of the JBN Project and 24-hour Just Ski Nice participant, Josh Jones

Feel you have what it takes? It’s not too late to sign up! Simply reach out to Josh at the JBN Project or fellow challenge organiser Clay Carey for further details and to get involved. Or if you would like to donate, head to their Go Fund Me page

Team spotlight
In celebration, we interviewed one of Melbourne’s elite all-female teams on why they are pumped to get involved in the challenge, their greatest fears for the day and how they will be prepping to perform the extraordinary! Read our Q&As with Kylie Massi, Narissah Shaw, Sarah Fry and Georgia Beeby.

Their game plan
Fifteen minutes on, 45 minutes off the SkiErg each – although this may change as the night goes on, depending on how everyone is feeling. Hydration, fuel and fun are top priorities, say these amazing women. 

Watch a little snippet of the girls’ training in this video:

Q&A: 24-hour SkiErg Challenger Narissah Shaw

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Could you last 24 hours smashing it out on the SkiErg for a good cause? We are beyond excited to be partnering with the Just Be Nice (JBN) Project – an Aussie non-for-profit organisation that provides housing, employment and improved mental health to those in need – to support their latest fundraising endeavour.

Men and women from gyms across the nation will be jumping into teams of four at 8AM Saturday March 14 and skiing through the night for 24 hours straight.

A competitive state netball player, triathlete and Ironman World Champion qualifier – is there anything Personal Trainer Narissah Shaw hasn’t done? Only a 24-hour SkiErg challenge. Her intense training regime and fearless attitude has left us with no doubts that she’ll make it to the end  of this event with a breath or two to spare.

HOW I FOUND MY FIT
I found my love of fitness when I first started playing netball, aged eight – I played at a competitive state level right up until my early twenties. I realised I wanted to make the industry my career and so completed my certificate three and four in fitness shortly after. Fitness is my happy place and I believe every single person can benefit from exercising in one way or another. 

WHY I’M SKIING
I am an extremely goal driven person, so I love having an objective to my training and an event to look forward to. The Just Be Nice Project is an awesome cause –  what better way to complete my first 24-hour challenge than to raise awareness for mental health. 

HOW I’LL PREPARE FOR THE ERG
For the past two years, my training has been focused on competing in endurance triathlons. After recently qualifying for the 70.3 Ironman World Championships, I have now added high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts using the SkiErg into my usual routine.

MY GREATEST FEAR
I’m honestly not scared about the event at all – I’m just so excited for it to begin! I’m looking forward to the sense of community I know I’ll experience on the day.

MY TRAINING
I train 12 times per week  – which includes swim, bike and run sessions – plus two Pilates classes. 

MY DAY ON A PLATE
Meal 1 – High protein superfood smoothie.
Meal 2 – Avocado on toast with ricotta and two poached eggs.
Meal 3 – High protein smoothie.
Snacks: Crackers and nuts.
Meal 5: Steak or chicken with sautéed green vegetables.

Read more about the challenge here. Narissah’s team members include Sarah, Georgia and Kylie.

Feel you have what it takes? It’s not too late to sign up! Simply reach out to Josh at the JBN Project or fellow challenge organiser Clay Carey for further details and to get involved. Or if you would like to donate, head to their Go Fund Me page

Q&A: 24-hour SkiErg Challenger Georgia Beeby

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Could you last 24 hours smashing it out on the SkiErg for a good cause? We are beyond excited to be partnering with the Just Be Nice (JBN) Project – an Aussie non-for-profit organisation that provides housing, employment and improved mental health to those in need – to support their latest fundraising endeavour.

Men and women from gyms across the nation will be jumping into teams of four at 8AM Saturday March 14 and skiing through the night for 24 hours straight.

Fit and sporty CrossFit Gym Owner and Head Coach Georgia Beeby is more than ready – physically – to take on the challenge. But her biggest fear about the event may (or may not) surprise you.

HOW I FOUND MY FIT
For as long as I remember, I have always enjoyed being active; when I was a child, I was forever climbing trees, riding bikes and playing sports with my three brothers and, when I reached school, was always top of my Physical Education (PE) classes. I even knew I wanted to own my very own gym from a young age – which I’ve now owned for three years. 

WHY I’M SKIING
Josh [Jones, founder of the JBN Project] is a good friend of mine and posted about the SkiErg challenge on his Instagram. I instantly thought it looked like a fun and challenging idea, and a great way to raise money for a good cause, so I couldn’t say no.

HOW I’LL PREPARE FOR THE ERG
The week prior to the event I will train slightly less than normal. I’ll also prioritise sleep, hydration and nutrition. 

MY GREATEST FEAR
My greatest fear is getting blisters (haha)! I am most excited about the community aspect of the event: an awesome group of like-minded people getting around a fantastic cause, exercising and having heaps of fun.  

MY TRAINING
I train CrossFit five to six days per week, run roughly 30km per week including one hill/ sprint session, and I participate in Muay Thai at least once per week too. 

MY DAY ON A PLATE
Meal 1: Oats.
Meal 2: Tuna and rice or eggs.
Meal 3:  High volume carbohydrate meal, such as a banana sandwich and strawberries.
Dinner: Fish or chicken with lots of potato or rice, and heaps of veggies.

Read more about the challenge here. Georgia’s team members include Kylie, Narissah and Sarah.

Feel you have what it takes? It’s not too late to sign up! Simply reach out to Josh at the JBN Project or fellow challenge organiser Clay Carey for further details and to get involved. Or if you would like to donate, head to their Go Fund Me page

Q&A: 24-hour SkiErg Challenger Kylie Massi

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Could you last 24 hours smashing it out on the SkiErg for a good cause? We are beyond excited to be partnering with the Just Be Nice (JBN) Project – an Aussie non-for-profit organisation that provides housing, employment and improved mental health to those in need – to support their latest fundraising endeavour.

Men and women from gyms across the nation will be jumping into teams of four at 8AM Saturday March 14 and skiing through the night for 24 hours straight.

CrossFit Coach, mum and Challanger, Kylie Massi, shares her secret to keeping fit at fifty and how she’s prepping for 24 hours on the erg.

HOW I FOUND MY FIT
After many years of avoiding any real fitness activity, I decided at 40 years of age to get back into it. I began with a goal to complete a 10km fun run, which I did, before I was introduced to CrossFit in 2011. Although the idea of training at a gym was not my idea of fun – I’d never touched a barbell or dumbbell before – I was instantly hooked. After a lot of encouragement from some amazing coaches, I dove into CrossFit competitions and ended up competing in the Masters 45 to 49 age group at the CrossFit Games in 2015, 2016 and 2017.  

WHY I’M SKIING
I’m always looking for opportunities to challenge myself and to contribute to important and effective causes. This challenge combines those two passions – what Josh [Jones, founder of the JBN Project] is achieving with the JBN Project is incredible.

As a team event, it also means I will be sharing the load, pain, suffering and fun with others. What a better way to meet a bunch of committed people – ordinary people doing the extraordinary! 

HOW I’LL PREPARE FOR THE ERG
I won’t be changing my usual training routine much. I’ll simply add a few additional cardio sessions using the SkiErg, to ensure those muscle groups are as prepared as possible for the 24 hours. 

MY GREATEST FEAR
I’m so excited to simply be involved and put myself through a 24-hour test. Being 50 years old, I’m always a bit nervous about how my body will cope. But I’m physically prepared and tend to do well mentally and emotionally in the face of a challenge.

MY TRAINING
I normally train five to six days per week, following a typical CrossFit program covering strength, cardio and gymnastics. I make sure I stretch and recover as much as possible. 

MY DAY ON A PLATE
On waking: Water with apple cider vinegar, flat white.
Meal 1: Scrambled eggs with mushroom, spinach, broccoli and avocado, or avocado toast. Plus, another coffee.
Snacks: Lollies, peanut butter or chocolate protein bar, fruit, almonds.
Meal 2: Dinner’s leftovers, a Muscle Meal or a hamburger from a café.
Meal 3: Protein bar, vegetable sticks with hummus, or cheese and gluten-free crackers.
Meal 4: Protein with rice and vegetables or pasta with various toppings.
Meal 5: Ice-Cream and a glass of wine most nights.

Read more about the challenge here. Kylie’s team members include Narissah, Sarah and Georgia.

Feel you have what it takes? It’s not too late to sign up! Simply reach out to Josh at the JBN Project or fellow challenge organiser Clay Carey for further details and to get involved. Or if you would like to donate, head to their Go Fund Me page

Q&A: 24-hour SkiErg Challenger Sarah Fry

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Could you last 24 hours smashing it out on the SkiErg for a good cause? We are beyond excited to be partnering with the Just Be Nice (JBN) Project – an Aussie non-for-profit organisation that provides housing, employment and improved mental health to those in need – to support their latest fundraising endeavour.

Men and women from gyms across the nation will be jumping into teams of four at 8AM Saturday March 14 and skiing through the night for 24 hours straight.

Since the age of eight, Personal Trainer Sarah Fry has kept active with dancing and DIY workouts. Now she shares why she has decided to ski into the wee hours of the morning for the best of causes.

HOW I FOUND MY FIT
When I was eight years old, I started dancing and I knew that to perform better, I needed to get stronger. I started creating little fitness workouts for myself at home until I was old enough to train with my Dad. I first stepped into a gym at age 12 and I’ve  never looked back – I’ve always wanted to teach others how good fitness could make them feel. Once I stepped into the industry at age 18, I have been passionate about getting in front of more and more people, to help educate them on what works best for their own body.

WHY I’M SKIING
I absolutely love a challenge, so as soon as I heard about a 24 hour SkiErg mission I knew I wanted to be a part of it. It’s such a unique opportunity – I definitely encourage others to jump on board and do something truly challenging!

HOW I’LL PREPARE FOR THE ERG
I have incorporated a few more ski erg sessions into my workouts, as well as ensuring I get to two classes at The PITT each week. My training usually consists of multiple high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, so not too much had to change – the challenge is simply holding me accountable.

MY GREATEST FEAR
I think the challenge will really start to set in around 2am–3am, when I would normally be asleep. But that’s the aim of the game! I am most excited about everyone being in the same room, with the same goal on the day. I can’t wait to be part of my all-female team, showing support to one another and showing the boys how it is done.

MY TRAINING
I perform three to four strength sessions per week, as well as three to four Pilates classes, two high intensity classes at The PITT, two running sessions and one boxing session at FightFit in Collingwood. 

MY DAY ON A PLATE
Meal 1: Coffee and two eggs with either broccoli or zucchini, and avocado.
Meal 2: Oats or a fruit smoothie.
Meal 3: Large salad with an egg and salmon or roast veggies with chicken.
Meal 4: Big salad or roast veggies with a protein.
Snacks: Fruit, protein shakes, eggs, nuts.
Meal 5: Omelette with veggies and avocado or a large poke bowl.

Read more about the challenge here. Sarah’s team members include Georgia, Kylie and Narissah.

Feel you have what it takes? It’s not too late to sign up! Simply reach out to Josh at the JBN Project or fellow challenge organiser Clay Carey for further details and to get involved. Or if you would like to donate, head to their Go Fund Me page