By Adam MacDougall, News.com.au
WHEN Tara Rushton played football for her local team, she was far from being a star. And she was just fine with that.
“I came off the bench, and I didn’t really have much impact,” she says.
“I was playing with an all-girls team in my local area in a mixed-age group. I’d find myself coming up against 16 year olds who were, well, much faster than I was.
“It was so much fun, and such a good thing from a social perspective, but I was not very good. I was there for vibe and buzz — as a bit of a morale booster.”
And so Tara understands better than most the importance of having a strong team around you.
At work, she’s surrounded by her colleagues at Fox Sports. At home, husband and NRL star Cooper Cronk — who knows a thing or two about strong teams himself — is her teammate.
“So we have a pretty healthy household,” she says.
“It’s predominantly organic, low-sugar and gluten free. I’m not great with dairy either, so I don’t have much of that as well.
“But it’s all about the how you start the day for me, and that means high protein and healthy snacks, like a dairy-free protein shake.”
As a football commentator, Tara says she’s constantly on the move but found time in her busy schedule to go running everyday in November to raise money for the men’s health issues through the Movember Move initiative.
“I’m always on the go. I travel weekly for matches, and if I keep moving it just makes me feel really good,” she says.
“And to be honest, I find it meditative. If I’m being active and doing something that I enjoy it gets me out of bed and makes me feel good.
“But everyone is different. You need to listen to your body and do something that you really enjoy, be it going for a long walk with a friend, doing a dance class or playing a social sport.
“Do something you love and it won’t feel like a chore. If you’re sleeping well, and you’re exercising and eating clean and healthy, then you just feel really good.”
The secret to Tara’s workout regimen? Start early. Working out in the morning not only gets your exercise out of the way, but sets you up for a healthier day, too.
“I try and get my exercise done first thing in the morning, and I find if I get up earlier, I sleep better, too,” she says.
“For me, its all about the routine and sticking to a habit. So I set the alarm pretty early, then I do my 50 minutes and it sets me on my way for the day.
“If I do something in the morning that gets the endorphins pumping and I’ve started my day in a really positive way it takes me feel good. And it encourages me to set healthy habits for the rest of the day, too.
“I feel sharper, and I can adjust to a really dynamic environment, And because I’m always going from one pitch to the next, and jumping into a car or onto a plane, it just takes out the fatigue a little bit for me.”
As a frequent traveller, Tara knows the dangers of the airport snacks only too well. But she says to resist the sugary snack table she packs her own healthy foods when she’s travelling.
And living in a healthy household with a professional footballer, the rest of her diet is just as impressive.
“Breakfast might be two hard-boiled eggs and half an avocado, for lunch it’s a big salad with lots of chicken or lots of fish, and for snacks, I love fruit, so mangoes, frozen grapes, lots of nuts,” she says.
“I always take fruit with me, and I drink a lot of water. It makes me sleep better and it’s better for my skin under the heavy makeup I wear on air.
“It’s about taking the healthy option, because in the long run you’ll feel better for it. When you feel really good, you look really good and you feel really confident about yourself.”
1. What’s your favourite healthy food?
Homemade guacamole and carrot sticks. Mine has avocado, salt and pepper, lots of fresh chilli, a squeeze of lemon and a touch a Worcestershire sauce.
2. What’s your favourite treat meal?
My mum is Burmese, and she makes a lot of Burmese curries. So it would be a bit of mum’s cooking.
3. What’s your favourite exercise?
I love pilates. I do Megaformer pilates on these huge beds. I try to do it four times a week.
4. What’s your favourite motivating music?
Has to be Macklemore. I’m right into it at the moment.
5. What’s your best motivation tip?
Take baby steps. Set small goals that are specific to you, and don’t look at what anyone else is doing. Just get started. Take the plunge and find something you enjoy.