Foodie talk with Tiffiny Hall


Foodie talk with Tiffiny Hall

You’ll know her as the buoyant blonde with a black belt from the Biggest Loser, but Tiffiny Hall (trainer, ‘ninja’ and not-so-secret foodie) has much more up her sleeve than what you see on prime time TV. We speak to her about food, fitness and her new program, TIFFXO.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your food philosophy?
Let’s just say growing up in a house of taekwondo black belts has never left me short of healthy [ideals]. But that’s not to say there weren’t bumps in the road to discovering my own philosophy toward food – I’ve tried every fad diet out there! But I think I’ve got it pretty down pat these days.
I’m all about balance when it comes to healthy eating, and treating yourself with love. I believe you should never, ever punish or deprive yourself. I eat in a way that respects my body, fuels it for exercise and nourishes it to be healthy – ta ta, calorie counting; catch ya later, fat-free alligator! I indulge every now and then but, hey, I own the indulgence. I love every mouthful and never feel guilty, like a cheat meal but without the cheating. I’m 80 per cent health ninja, 20 per cent naughty ninja; that’s my philosophy and I live by it.

What does ‘healthy eating’ mean to you?

The two most important relationships in your life are, first up, your relationship with the most awesome person in the room: you! The second is between you and food. To me, that is what healthy eating means: having an enjoyable, sustainable relationship with food. Eating clean, lean and green, but never mean. In the wise words of Homer Simpson, “You don’t win friends with salad.” So keep it balanced, always complement your diet with a fun workout and keep the guilt out of it, okay?

What are you favourite foods? They don’t have to be healthy ones.
Okay you got me – trifle! Talk about a weakness. Thick cream, vanilla custard, fresh berries – is anyone else salivating? When it comes to savoury stuff, I’m a sucker for seafood. Barbecued fresh on a summer day or my sister’s prawn salad, the simpler, the better.

Why is it important to both eat healthy and exercise? (Can healthy eating be a substitute for fitness and vice versa?)

Food and fitness are like yin and yang, vegemite and butter, Beyonce and Jay Z: they are better together. Your body needs a varied workout regime to stay fit, agile, energetic and even flexible. But – and it’s a big but – without a healthy meal plan to nourish and keep you sane, a) how is any of it sustainable? and b) how will you balance what you put out with what you take in? Your body (and mind) needs food for fuel, calories to burn and energy to go, go, go – don’t forget that.

Do you think it’s necessary to cut fat, sugar or gluten (etc.) out of our diet to be healthy?

The short answer: No. No way. Now that’s not to say that there isn’t any fine print that needs to be mentioned. Let’s start with sugar: save it for the occasional treat. Fat? It gets my two thumbs up. There’s a lot of outdated misinformation floating around about saturated fat and cholesterol, but keep it clean and you’re in the clear. Good fat foods like avocado, nuts and eggs - these are all your friends! So is full-fat dairy – I don’t go for low-fat anything, I just keep my quantities in check. Plus I find the full-fat varieties keep you satisfied so you need less anyway. Gluten is a tricky one, we tend to consume far too much of it these days, but go easy and I’m cool with it, as long as it doesn’t affect you. Let me finish with a golden oldie: everything in moderation!

Most of us recognise you from The Biggest Loser as a trainer. Has this been your most challenging gig so far?
The Biggest Loser is right up there, for sure; although each gig so far has been a big challenge in its own unique way. I’ve worked with morbidly obese people and helped them to halve their body fat percentage and reverse their bio age and I’ve worked with athletes to get them in tip-top condition and with teenagers, kids, fit and fit-ish people. The hardest challenge with each of these has always been helping to break that mental barrier – changing the ‘I can’ts’ into ‘I cans’, or turning the quitting into sticking.

Your new online fitness program, TIFFXO, combines healthy recipes with 20-minute workouts and mindfulness exercises. Can you explain to us why practising mindfulness and staying stress free is crucial to the success of any regime?

Positive thinking really helps because I know when I think well, I feel great. In all my years as a health and fitness gal, I’ve realised that the key is to train the mind first and the mind will train the body. As a trainer, I see so many women hating themselves, punishing themselves, feeling guilty – there’s that word again. And I’ve learned that you can’t hate yourself healthy; you have to love yourself healthier – hence the ‘XO’ in TIFFXO. Self-love is sustainable, self-loathing is not.

A practice called ‘poomsae’ is also part of your program – what is poomsae?
It’s kinda like tai chi – but better! Each poomsae tells a story of strength, inner balance, nature or conquering a fear, and I’ve linked empowering mantras to the movements to help my TIFFXO ninjas really get in the flow.

Photography: Brent Parker Jones

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