Balance and quality are two of the hardest things to achieve in most areas of life. For athletes juggling full-time jobs and families, this is even harder. We often resort to nutritional 'quick fixes' and mindlessly clock up 'junk miles' to make us feel like we've accomplished something.

We chat with Lisa Thompson: co-founder of The Farm Wholefoods, distance runner, mum, ex-IT consultant and all-round champion when it comes to balancing multiple commitments. She shares with us some inspiring thoughts on the joys of running, wholesome eating for athletes, making the most of training amidst a busy schedule and quality over quantity when it comes to food and training.

Photography by Mary Boyagi and TomMarkHenry.

You’ve been a competitive runner pretty much from childhood and spent an extended period of time in the Ballarat athletic community. What was that like and how has it shaped who you are as a runner?

Ballarat was an amazing place to run and train. I trained with some talented runners (who have gone onto the Olympics and are competing in the World Championships this year) and it was a real eye opener to see how these guys and girls trained. Whilst I am nowhere near as serious or competitive as I was then and unfortunately a few too many injuries took their toll on me, I still love the purity of distance running and hope to still be competing for as long as my body allows.

What do you love about running? What’s been your biggest achievement as a runner so far?

I love the freedom running gives you. You literally don’t need any equipment and you can head straight out the front door and run. My biggest achievement would have to be getting through some serious surgeries (heart and hip surgery) and a handful of other injuries but always having the passion and desire to come back and be able to run, irrespective of the level I was competing.

How did you and Josh meet?

Ironically on a plane! We both travelled a lot in our previous jobs so it was quite fitting. I’m a Melbourne girl and was living there and Josh is from Sydney and we happened to be on an early morning flight between states.

What made you guys introduce more whole foods into your diet?

We had always been quite healthy however after having our first daughter, Indi, we embarked on a paleo challenge through our gym. It was really then the start of broadening our approach and challenging our mindsets to traditional types of eating, especially mine being from an endurance athlete background where its very common to believe a high carb diet is the right way to eat.

You and Josh launched The Farm Wholefoods together a few months ago. How did you come up with the idea? What prompted you to take the plunge?

We have both always wanted to start a company of our own and were constantly talking about different ideas. After doing the paleo challenge and venturing into some health food shops we felt there was a gap in the market to bring a combination of the bulk foods and wholefoods café together and really showcase the foods in both their natural and made format.

We had also just had our daughter and I had lost the passion in wanting to return to my previous career (IT), so we thought why not start a new business whilst we have a newborn! (makes perfect sense ☺)

 

You and Josh are clearly advocates of the “paddock to pantry” philosophy: from your simple ingredient labels (making healthy shopping easier) to the lovely cafe demonstrating how to use fresh produce. You also hold events educating the community about healthy eating. What positive changes in your lives have you seen as a result of eating less processed foods? How has this affected your athletic performance?

The results have caught me by surprise, as they have been quite dramatic. I’ve always been a healthy person, however my traditional views of healthy eating (high carbs due to my endurance running) seem to not necessarily be the best source of nutrition for me. Previously I had suffered with bloating and swelling in my stomach and even after seeing a few doctors I never really had any answers.

However since cutting gluten from my diet I no longer have a swollen and bloated stomach. I also have more energy than previously and I feel really strong and healthy in my training.

The one vice I wasn’t able to completely give up was chocolate. But I have managed to manage the portions a lot better.

We love the delicious creations on the cafe menu. What are your guiding principles and sources of inspiration for the recipes?

Josh’s Mum (Deena) is the main creator behind most of the recipes. Deena has eaten a diet of wholefoods long before they become a bit more of a buzz word, so her knowledge in the area is amazing. She also loves to cook and we love to eat so we are happy to be taste testers.

Our staff are also fantastic in suggesting new ideas. All our floor staff have nutrition qualifications and are passionate about wholefoods which has been great in being able to filter the information back to us to keep the menu relevant.

What are some of your favourite ‘go to’ foods to fuel your training? What are some treats/ indulgences? How does compare to what you were eating before as a runner?

Previously my diet would look something like this: Breakfast – cereal or toast, Lunch – Sandwich, Dinner – Pasta. Snacks would have been muesli bars or chocolate.

Now I rarely consume any gluten products or heavy carbohydrate foods and live on proteins, salads and nuts. However I absolutely could NOT forgo my chocolate or coffee.

What races are you currently planning for? How do you balance training with parenting and running a business? What does training look like now compared to before?

My main race I am focussing on is a 3km track race in November. Once that is done and dusted I have unfinished business with the Marathon. I want to do the Melbourne marathon (for home town nostalgic reasons) and the New York marathon. Training these days looks VERY different to my pre baby and business days. Once upon a time I was a part of the high mileage group who believed the more km’s you did the better. My body however did not agree with me.

Time is definitely limited these days but I think I get more quality in than quantity. Now I only run about 40kms a week but I go to the gym 2-3 times a week and do plyometrics circuits and a pilates session. I believe these are crucial and wish I had started these a long time ago rather than running junk miles.

We know it’s only been a few months but here’s a long term question :-) What legacy do you and Josh want to leave through The Farm Wholefoods?

We definitely have long term and grand plans for The Farm Wholefoods. We are about to launch our website where people anywhere can purchase the quality foods we have available in our bulk food section online. However we hope to grow and expand and be able to send a message that wholefoods eating is actually easy and you don’t need to be either a whiz in the kitchen or have a degree in nutrition to make great foods.

Hopefully we can also take The Farm to Melbourne so I can share the love in my hometown.


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