Whether she's racing around the track, doing yoga in the gym or cutting it up in the kitchen, NASCAR driver Danica Patrick knows better than most what it means to live an on-the-go lifestyle.
Just like with the engine of a high-performance car, Patrick knows how important it is to get the right fuel and take care of her body, so when it comes to her diet and work-out routine, cutting corners simply isn't an option.
Of course, she has her own set of rules to make sure she's running on all cylinders all the time.
Here, the 34-year-old NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pro provides her secrets to looking and feeling like a champion. These are Danica Patrick's nine fitness and food tips for a healthier you.
1. Eating healthy starts with finding a balance that works for you.
To eat healthy would be to take in the appropriate amount of calories for the day based on the amount of exercise you do and your size. It would be to have a balance of vitamins, nutrients, carbohydrates, proteins and fats that serve you well.
2. Getting three nutritious meals a day is a major key to success.
For breakfast, I will either have chia pudding with some fruit and nuts and some random toppings, like coconut, or I'll have a breakfast hash I make, which is lean turkey, apples, kale, peppers and onions. For lunch, I eat a lot of salad, fruit. Any kind of protein, I don't care. Chicken, salmon. [caption id="attachment_1452823" align="aligncenter" width="803"]Instagram/Instagram[/caption] [For] Dinner, I really try and focus on vegetables. Whether it be squashes or zucchinis, or even ones that aren't as nutrient based, [like] cauliflower, carrots. And usually some kind of protein. I [also] love sweet potatoes.
3. When it comes to making healthy food taste delicious, it's about preparation and pairings.
You have to understand how to prepare food. So, if you're dicing up butternut squash and roasting it in the oven, make sure that it is the right temperature. [Make sure] that it's going to get a little brown on the edges and have a little bit more texture so that it's not a mushy mess. If you're going to cook onions, don't just put [them] in a pan for a second and go with it. Caramelize them! Take the time to cook them all the way through so they're translucent. [caption id="attachment_1452852" align="aligncenter" width="803"]Instagram/Instagram[/caption] Maybe number two most important would be pairings. Certain foods just go together. Making sure the flavors match up, and the textures and everything.
4. Knowing your seasonings and keeping it seasonal will make eating healthy that much easier.
There are so many seasonings out there that add flavor that don't have calories. I think of healthy food and I think of a lot of flavors and textures and variety. [caption id="attachment_1452868" align="aligncenter" width="803"]Instagram/Instagram[/caption] Another thing is eating seasonally so that food is actually ripe. The difference between a ripe strawberry and an unripened strawberry are about a million miles apart. That's why I feel like farm-to-table restaurants are becoming so much more popular because the fruits and vegetables being put on the table are ripe naturally.
5. Greens and grains are essential building blocks for energy and a healthy diet.
The couple ingredients I try and get in every day would be some kind of green, so spinach or kale. I made a smoothie running out the door today, and I grabbed two big handfuls of spinach and stuffed it in a smoothie. I love fig bars. I literally have Nature's Bakery fig bars in my car, so that I can just grab one. I eat lots of other things, like trail mix. [caption id="attachment_1452882" align="aligncenter" width="803"]Instagram/Instagram[/caption] I also like getting chia seeds in. I'll put [them] in chia pudding or I'll put [them] in a smoothie. I make my own granola.
6. If you only have 30 minutes a day, do a workout that will make your feet "leave the ground."
There are a lot of things you can do to get your heartrate up. I would say anything that makes your feet leave the ground. Whether it's burpees, whether it's high knees or jump squats or anything like that. If you're a cardio queen [or king], instead of going out for your boring 30-minute run, go do some interval stuff. I do 30 seconds on and off of sprinting, not running. You should be out of breath. You should barely be ready for your next round.
7. It's important to take in the proper fuel before and after a workout.
For me, some kind of fruit is nice before a workout because it doesn't feel real full. It has some sugar in it. Afterwards, if you can, a protein shake of some kind is OK. Make sure you get a quality protein to mix with. If not, something more natural. I think the easiest thing to do is get a whole chicken at the grocery store and just pull the chicken off of it. You can put that with anything.
8. Yoga is a great challenge, but it may not be the most beneficial workout you can do.
I've done [yoga] since I was a teenager, but I only got serious in the last year. If I had to pick a workout, and I only had 30 minutes, I would NOT do yoga. You can definitely challenge your arms and your balance and your strength [doing yoga], but I think that if you really want a great workout in 30 minutes, you need to do something else. I don't do [yoga] for fitness, I do it because I think flexibility is important to your entire fitness plan. You need strength, endurance and flexibility. I think mentally it's a great thing, too, to kind of slow down and focus on your breathing. [caption id="attachment_1452911" align="aligncenter" width="803"]Instagram/Instagram[/caption] For me, it's a great challenge and discipline in being humble. I think it's a good exercise in being patient with your body. Progress happens over time, not overnight.
9. Eating healthy and working out is as much about feeling good as it is about looking good.
The changes in my diet that I've had over the last handful of years have really helped with just keeping my energy level up all day. Some days, you're just out of energy. You're just really tired and you don't know why. That's what used to happen to me, and with eating better, I don't have those days anymore. When you eat right and work out, you notice little things change.