(Photo Courtesy: USA Today Sports)
Now that we’re officially into the off-season of the two sports which are most near and dear to my heart (college football and college basketball specifically), it has allowed me to not only breathe a sigh of relief, but also to get out into the fresh air and enjoy a little bit of life outside the bomb shelter I call an apartment.
Good times! Well, unless you’re the guy who collects my cable bill every month from September to March.
But beyond the whole “bright blue skies” and “birds chirping” thing, my newfound free time has also allowed me to attend events I might not otherwise be able to. One of them came Thursday, when Jamba Juice sponsored a Fitness Expo, where the guest of honor was none other than Venus Williams.
Ever heard of her? You know, the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, who also happens to be a Jamba Juice franchise owner? Well yeah, Venus was in attendance on Thursday and working hand-in-hand with both her sponsors and the expo, to promote health, wellness and overall fitness in a fun and (to steal Jamba Juice’s term) “fruitful” way.
Anyway, after the event, Venus was nice enough to also chat with the media, where she discussed her diet routine, staying healthy on the road and how she keeps her hair looking so darn good, under such adverse conditions (admittedly, that wasn’t my question).
You’ve been at the top of tennis for what feels like forever. How have your training and fitness changed from 10 or 15 years ago to now?
When I was a teenager, I’d like, forget to eat. It’d be like three or 4 o’clock and I’d be like ‘Oh, I’m supposed to eat.’ Now, I can’t possibly do that or I’d have no energy. So that’s a huge change.
Also as you get older, you get wiser and are always looking for ways to improve your performance. You try to look at different options, try different things. When you’re a professional athlete you never reach what you think to be the top, so you’re always looking for nutrition and wellness ways to get there.
How many times do you work out a week? Also, how do you keep your hair looking good with how much you work out?
Well, that’s a complicated question!
Working out is my whole life. I even have to decompress from working out. I’m (almost) brainwashed and wired for workouts. So we’re talking five or six days a week. So when we’re playing Wimbledon, it’s like three weeks in a row without a break.
For the hair, you have to ‘Fake it, til you make it!’” I don’t have a secret formula, I’m sorry!
When you’re on the road, how do you eat right and stay healthy? You obviously don’t have the time to prepare your food, what do you do to stay nutritious when you’re traveling, on the road and on the tour?
On the road it’s hard if you aren’t prepared. I like to try and have my meals ready for when I’m on the plane and traveling, things like that, because in the airport there are no healthy food options. It’s very difficult.
So I think the best thing is to be prepared and have a game-plan. That’s what I try to do. I have help with my food (from trainer Samantha Monus). Also because my diet is more specialized (Venus was recently diagnosed with autoimmune disease) it’s a little more difficult for me to get what I need. So a lot of it I’ll bring on the road. I’ll bring my sprouts and wheatgrass with me, try to find sprouts on the road. If we’re in exotic places we’ll try to find other cool stuff that we can’t find here.
What do you eat before a match? Do you have fuel during, at all? Do you do sports drinks or gels or anything to keep your endurance up?
For me, I’m not a foodie, so for me eating is a challenge. If I could live off fruit drinks and smoothies I would be an extremely happy person.
Since I don’t like food a lot, I will eat and eat enough before my matches so that I have enough energy. I usually eat enough to fuel myself for the entire match, but lately I’ve been doing like, beat and orange juice (drinks) on the court with electrolyte (drinks). That’s my latest thing. I’ll do the protein drink on the court, green juices, green waters on the court as well.
That’s my routine. Because I don’t eat a lot, it’s hard.
Do you have a heavy meal before a match?
I’ll have pasta, rice, those kinds of things. I like to have something heavy, just because in a long match if you run out of gas you stop being prepared. You try to be prepared all the time.
You said you have a specialized diet, can you just expand on that?
Recently I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease and so there are a lot of things I need to not have a lot of. I also need less sugar and to reduce the amount of meat I eat. I’ve gone heavy on raw vegetables and things like that.
It’s a lot more specialized for me now. It’s hard for me- especially at hotels- to find the things I need to make me feel good.
Can you break down the amount of meals you eat on a competition day and then on a non-competition day as well?
A non-competition day that’s like a day off, so if I’m not doing anything I’ll just have green juice in the morning, a wheatgrass shot with ginger, protein shake, various things. Sometimes I’ll just take whatever (fruits/vegetables) are left and I’ll throw it in a blender with protein so I don’t waste anything.
For me that’s enough. Sometimes I’ll eat heavy in the afternoon but then won’t eat much for dinner. Like I said, I’m a light eater.
Definitely on a practice day or competition day I’ll eat a lot more.
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