Day on a Plate and exercise regimes with Plant Proof’s Simon Hill
When you’re hand-picked by Chris Hemsworth as a fitness expert for his new wellness app [Centr], you’ve got to be doing something right. And Simon Hill from Plant Proof is doing exactly that. A qualified health professional having completed a Bachelor of Physiotherapy with Honours in 2008, Plant Based Nutrition at Cornell University, and currently studying a Masters in Nutrition at Deakin University, Simon has become a bit of a go-to guru when it comes to exploring and adopting a plant-based diet.
The founder of the Plant Proof blog, Instagram and Podcast, Simon uses the various platforms to help those wanting to transition from animal foods to a plant-based diet – answering common fears such as: “Will l get enough protein?” and “How do you get Iron?”.
Inspired by Simon’s vegan lifestyle and some of his truly nourishing recipes, we decided to pull him aside to find out a little more about his own diet and exercise regimes. Here, he talks us through his typical Day on A Plate and workout regimes.
For as long as I can remember, I have always placed great priority on eating well and exercising as consistently as possible. For me, consistency is key: I’d rather have a year of good eating and exercise rather than 2 brilliant ‘health-obsessed’ months and 10 mediocre. It may not be as ‘sexy’ as ‘Dry July’ but it’s damn effective.
Wake-up and work-out
My day typically starts between 5.30-6am when I naturally wake up. Upon rising, I have around 2-3 glasses of water and meditate for 15 minutes before heading out for a workout or swim in North Bondi. I train either at Bondi Beach Fit or Titan Fitness in Coogee. My workouts usually go for 60-90 minutes and typically involve weight training, although I do also love soft sand runs and bike riding if I’m in the mood for a sweat. I place no rules on my workouts – all that matters is that I am moving, getting my heart rate up, and enjoying myself. The perfect start to the day for me is one where I finish my workout with a sense of achievement and satisfaction before a productive day of content creation & writing ahead. Over the years, I have learned that the best way to achieve this is to avoid comparing myself to others. After all, for most of us, recreational health & fitness is not a competition with others. Rather, it’s you competing against yourself with the goal of constant self-improvement – a realisation which will set yourself up to truly feel satisfied with the work that you put into your workout.
When I finish my workout, I listen to my body to decide whether I need breakfast. I don’t mind feeling hungry and think that it actually serves us well to be hungry at times. So, if I’m only a little bit hungry, I will often just keep going with my day and have my first meal at lunchtime. If I had a light day of eating the day before and I am therefore a little hungrier than usual, I will have breakfast. Again, I try not to set rules or have a perfectly fixed routine. One thing that I do make a conscious effort of is to stay hydrated – I carry a reusable bottle with me to ensure I’m drinking water across the entire day.
If I do have breakfast, if I’m heading out, I usually go to Vida Surf Shop for a smoothie bowl or to Bare Naked Bowls in Bronte. If I’m cooking at home, although I love a tofu scramble, I more often than not go with super quick overnight oats with pea protein, chia/hemp seeds and fresh fruit. My favourite fruits for breakfast are berries (all types), bananas and when in season, mangoes. This type of breakfast is loaded with dietary fibre, plant protein, omega 3 fats, micronutrients and antioxidants, whilst being really low in saturated fats and free from cholesterol. I often get asked about consuming too much fruit and sugar, but it’s important we understand the difference between added refined sugars in processed foods versus natural sugars found in fruits. When you consume fruit, the sugars are mixed with dietary fibre and have a different effect on blood sugar compared to refined sugars. So fresh fruit – yes! Adding sugar to your coffee or eating processed foods with added sugars – no!
Currently, I am writing a book with Penguin Publishers on top of my usual work with Plant Proof so, between breakfast and lunch, I often have a small snack to keep me fuelled up. Typically this would be some nuts, hummus, or a banana.
For lunch, I usually cook something fresh. Lately I have been enjoying legume-based pasta – they are loaded with protein, fibre and unrefined carbohydrates. My favourite is chickpea fettuccine which I have been having with diced tempeh, cherry tomatoes, spinach, mushroom, basil, lime & chilli. On top of this, I add nutritional yeast (because nooch is life-changing), dulse flakes (to keep your thyroid healthy), salt and pepper. However, my go-to is a veggie-packed Buddha Bowl. I love making it with a blend of chickpeas, greens, quinoa, avocado, brussels sprouts, and baked cauliflower with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.
In the afternoon, I often need a little turbocharge to finish a productive day working on the social media, blog and podcast content for Plant Proof. My go-to here is something super quick so I can stay in the zone which is usually a Banana Smoothie. I like to use Almond milk as the base (I go for Sanitarium Almond milk because it’s loaded with calcium), ground flaxseed, 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup of berries, and pea protein. Simply blend it up: you can’t go wrong. After this, I like to get some other form of exercise in. If I didn’t get a swim in during the morning, I’ll make time in the afternoon or otherwise, I’ll take the dogs for a decent walk. This way I get the body moving again after periods of sustained sitting during the day.
Before you know it, dinner-time rolls around and you get to stuff your face again! In truth, when every single meal or snack rolls around I ask myself how hungry I really am in that moment and recount what have I eaten prior to this. That helps me work out portion size and also encourages diversity in food selection. Diversity in food selection is probably one of the MOST important things one can do to achieve a healthy diet. So in saying that, if I had chickpea pasta, tempeh and spinach for lunch, I’m going to be having something different for dinner. I’m a big fan of lentils lately! Lentil dahl on brown rice with a big side salad is not only rich in protein, dietary fibre & micronutrients but damn delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever finished a dahl in my entire life and said: “well that was underwhelming”. If I’m eating out in Bondi, I love going to Conscious Feast or Nalinis. I’ve also been enjoying Mark & Vinny’s in Surry Hills: they have plant-based Italian dishes to die for.
If I’m still hungry after dinner and feel like having a little dessert, I make a ‘nice cream’ by blending 1-2 frozen bananas with cacao powder, 1 tbsp of peanut butter, and some almond milk or water.
Bed time for me is around 9pm on weekdays, allowing for a solid 8 hours of sleep so I can hit the next day feeling rejuvenated and focused.
On the weekend…
During the weekends, things are a little different. Although I still wake up early, my mornings have a different pace. After drinking water, I enjoy meditating for longer, usually around 30 minutes. For breakfast and coffee, my girlfriend and I like to go out to Depot, Shuk, Vida Surf Shop or Lox Stock & Barrel in Bondi. After that, if it’s a nice and warm day, I like to head down to the beach for a swim and a walk. I tend not to work out as much during weekends, but I always try to get my body moving. Again, there are no rules. If I’m feeling particularly energetic and well recovered, I might hit the gym for a workout. Other times, I simply make sure I’m moving and getting some form of exercise. Overall, weekends are when I finally get the time to unwind and take a step back to focus on the bigger picture strategy for my business interests, Plant Proof book, and online content.
I often get asked about what supplements I personally take. I have 1-2 serves of pea and/or hemp protein per day, 5g of creatine daily, B12, Omega 3 DHA/EPA, and Vitamin D. The time at which I takes these varies, but it is best to take Vitamin D with a meal that contains a good amount of fats to help with absorption.