If you’re one of the 30 million people who’ve downloaded Kayla Itsines’ hugely popular SWEAT app, you’ll recognise Chontel Duncan. Known for her happy-go-lucky attitude, incredible workouts and rock-hard abs, Chontel is an entrepreneur and fitness authority in her own right. Along with the SWEAT program, Chontel and her husband Sam own six different HIIT Stations and have two young boys, Jeramiah and Swayde.
We recently sat down with Chontel to find out more about her eating habits, her food philosophy and how she juggles her career, health and family…
What’s a day on a plate look like for you?
Oats cooked with water and topped with sugar-free maple syrup, with a long black coffee. Plus a WPI or WPH (whey protein isolate or whey protein hydrolysate] shake, mixed with just water and ice.
Either rice cakes with 50 per cent fat-free butter and vegemite, veggie sticks with hummus, beetroot dip and avocado dip, fruit salad or another protein shake.
A mushroom burger! Topped with lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, grated carrot, beetroot, avocado, low-fat cheese, American yellow mustard and Fountain low-sugar tomato sauce (phew!). On a wholegrain or rye bun.
Either rice cakes with 50 per cent fat-free butter and vegemite, veggie sticks with hummus, beetroot dip and avocado dip or fruit salad.
Tofu and veggie stir-fry using either egg thin noodles or basmati rice. Flavoured with coconut aminos, garlic, ginger, chilli, lime and honey.
Fit Lato ice cream.
Do you stick to any diets? What is your philosophy when it comes to food?
When it comes to diet and nutrition, having a strict regimen is great when you’re working towards a specific goal, but never allowing yourself to enjoy a bowl of ice cream with your kids on movie night or dinner out with friends will deprive you of the best things in life. I need those little things that make my heart happy! I often get asked ‘how do you stick to a perfect eating plan all the time?’ and I can’t help but laugh. Sure, I eat healthy most of the time, and I genuinely love healthy food, but I’m not one to decline a cheese platter for the sake of maintaining ‘perfection’. I’m also not having a wheel of brie every day, so let’s bring up the old ‘M’ word while we’re here — moderation. This is what it’s all about when it comes to food. Stick to the good stuff that fuels your body for the most part, and allow those little pleasures every now and then. Not only will you enjoy them more, but you’ll find yourself craving them less and less, making the time between those occasional indulgences easier.
Do you have cheat days?
I prefer to think of them as ‘relaxed meals’ rather than thinking of them as ‘cheat meals’. I really love how incredible my body feels when I fuel it with wholesome foods, so if I have a craving for something I’ll make sure to start with a better option – such as a salad, some veggies, a piece of fruit, yoghurt or a protein shake, then wait for a little while before having whatever it was I was craving afterwards.
This will usually prevent me from overindulging but also provide my body with good nutrition first. Most importantly, I never jeopardise opportunities to spend time with friends and family because of how many ‘relaxed meals’ it would result in. I always remember to enjoy myself and to simply make healthier decisions where I can, but to never let it control me. Life is too short.
How can someone start eating healthier?
Start with drinking one glass of water when you wake up in the morning. Take one piece of fruit to work. Add more veggies into your meals. By taking small realistic steps towards a healthy lifestyle you will create lifelong healthy habits.
What advice do you have for someone struggling with their mentality around food?
Knowledge is power, the more you know the easier everything is and less overwhelmed you will feel. I found when I understood food more, everything became less stressful and that is when I found I was living my happiest life – because I was able to work hard towards my goals and relax and make beautiful memories without any stress.
How important is a healthy diet to you?
A healthy diet is really important to me, especially because I hope to have two more babies, of which I hope to breastfeed. I want to be at my healthiest mentally and physically from conception through to postpartum.
What would be your top tips for busy women who want to start working out?
Get organised, the more prepared you are and savvy you become at scheduling the easier it will be to squeeze in a 30 minute workout.
How do you stay motivated to workout with such a busy lifestyle?
I prioritise my health and I’m disciplined from a lot of hard work over the course of many years. I never rely on motivation, as I believe it’s most certainly all about discipline.
What are your top tips for any new mums looking to get back into their fitness?
Find a gym that has a crèche and does group training, you will find there will be a lot of other parents doing the same, so you will be surrounded by others with similar interests. Plus you’ll only be a stone’s throw away from bub and will make some lovely friends.
What are your 3 go-to beauty products?
A microfiber cloth for washing off makeup, Becoyote liquid foundation and dry shampoo.
You can find Chontel on Instagram @chontelducan and @the.duncan.family_ or see her in person (as well as a bunch of other fitness icons) at the Melbourne Fitness Show on the 26th & 27th of October. Tickets available at fitness-show.com.au/melbourne
How do you squeeze in your workouts?