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The health lessons Steph Gilmore has learnt so far

When you’re a seven-time World Surfing champion and Roxy athlete, staying on top of your health is pivotal. Here, Stephanie Gilmore shares her knowledge on how she fights fatigue and stays safe in the Aussie sun.

Hot chips and lollies are terrible fuel

I wish my younger self figured out a little earlier that it’s impossible to run a fast car on hot chips and lollies. I used to eat a bowl of pasta and wonder why I’d feel tired 10 minutes later. Your body is your most prized possession and it’s an unbelievable machine that will last a long time if you fuel it right. Now, I stick to fresh food, such as salads and organic meats. I know I feel off or low on energy when I eat really heavy, starchy foods, so I stick to eating what feels light and easy to digest.

I drink green tea and veggie juices, but I also enjoy a nice wine or dessert every now and then.

I’ve learnt that it’s important to maintain your wellbeing through a balanced lifestyle.

The ‘toughen up’ approach makes me sicker

Australians have a ‘toughen up’ mentality, but I think it’s more important to listen to your body.

In 2013, I contracted Ross River fever, which is a mosquito-borne disease, and I didn’t pay attention to it until I was competing in a surf comp and I was so tired. I initially thought it was a chest infection, so I just tried to show up and compete even though deep down everything hurt. I went to a doctor afterwards who put me on antibiotics for bronchitis, but when it didn’t do anything, I went back to the doctor and had a blood test. There’s no treatment for Ross River fever, so I had to just ride it out; it took me about a month to recover.

It stays in your system for life and attacks when your immune system is low, so that really encouraged me to stay on top of my health and wellbeing.

Sunscreen is non-negotiable

When I was younger, my parents would tell me to wear sunscreen and a hat, but I didn’t listen – I was too excited to get out and surf, so I’d spend all day in the sun and get badly sunburnt, but I didn’t care. Now I’m more aware of how harsh the sun is in Australia so I slap on sunscreen every day, without fail. I wear a cream sunscreen and follow that with a thick, zinc-based cream.

I also try to surf either in the early morning or late afternoon, rather than in the heat of the day. Sun safety is so important, so I get skin checks every six months.

While I haven’t had anything removed, my dad has and I’ve got a couple of moles that I need to monitor. I think it’s crucial to stay on top of protecting your skin and always be cautious of the sun.

Magnesium is the best travel buddy

I travel a lot and it can really throw out my body clock. I like to keep active and get the blood flowing when I land, and drink heaps of water and green tea, but one thing that really helps is taking a magnesium supplement. It helps relax my system, improve my digestion and rebuild my muscles – it gets me back on track. When I take it, I can show up to wherever I need to be without feeling like I need another four days to recover.

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