Taste of Health Francesca Ballicu | 5 years ago

Eat Like an Athlete

Follow a day in the life of fitness instructor Cristina Gillespie.

As a trainer for MADabolic, an innovative interval-based strength and endurance training program, Cristina Gillespie’s job is to make health a top priority – for her athletic clients, but also for herself. “I live a primal type of lifestyle, but I do let in some dairy, wine and dark chocolate,” she admits. “I’m kind of gluten free in that I don’t eat a lot of grains and breads. I’ve worked with a ton of people who follow this diet and experience muscle gain and fat loss.” Because Cristina works with athletes, there’s not a lot of room for slacking in her own diet, but she does cheat for “good” pizza (“good” meaning healthy) as well as chips and guacamole. The primal lifestyle that she follows is essentially the paleo diet. That means she mostly eats meat, veggies and good fats like avocados. As a busy mom, how does Cristina navigate breakfast, lunch and dinner while staying true to health? You’re about to find out…


“In the mornings I get up, get the kids ready for school, teach a class at MADabolic and then eat,” she says. “Breakfast is usually pretty simple. Today I scrambled eggs and put avocado on top. Some days I make egg muffins with veggies in them – they’re so healthy and easy to grab on the go.” Rise & Shine Egg Muffins Ingredients:
  • ½ pound chicken sausage
  • 12 eggs
  • Chopped red pepper (to taste)
  • Chopped broccoli (to taste)
  • Chopped onion (to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups or use muffin liners. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle some oil in the pan. Stir in chicken sausage until it is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. Whisk together eggs, red pepper, broccoli, onion, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add the sausage. Spoon mixture by ⅓ cups into muffin tin and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.


For Cristina, lunch is usually a big salad with protein. She keeps it simple but fresh and delicious. “If I haven’t brought my own lunch, I love a grilled chicken salad with mustard and a side of fruit,” she says. Because she tends to have her protein-packed breakfast a little later due to hectic mornings, she eats lunch at 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Does she snack? “No. Eating a fat with a protein allows me to go longer without eating,” she explains. Chicken Salad with Tangy Mustard Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1 pre-grilled chicken breast, sliced
  • 2-3 cups greens (romaine, spinach, arugula or kale)
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 cup baby tomatoes, cut in half
  • ½ cup cucumbers, sliced
  • ¼ cup green or red onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon almonds, sunflower seeds or walnuts
For the dressing:
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Toss greens, raisins, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and nuts together. Add the chicken; drizzle dressing over the top to taste (can make more or less depending on preference, simply reduce the ratio of olive oil to vinegar).


For dinner Cristina creates her own healthy plate – filling it with two-thirds vegetables and the remainder with a lean protein like chicken or fish topped with a healthy fat like olive oil, pesto or a creamy layer of homemade cashew hummus. “I make my own cashew hummus because I don’t eat chickpeas, and it’s delicious with so many different things.” Cashew Hummus Ingredients:
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • water (added gradually for desired thickness)
  • chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
Directions: Soak cashews in a bowl of water for at least three hours. Drain and rinse a few times, then drain well and place in food processor. Add remaining ingredients to food processor and puree until well-blended. The texture will be very thick. Add water, ¼ cup at a time, until desired thickness. Sprinkle the top with freshly chopped parsley before serving. For flavor variations, keep the base and add roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic or olives. For each of these recipes, remember that you can always substitute certain vegetables in favor of ones you and your family like better. Have fun and experiment! In addition to eating as healthfully as possible, Cristina exercises four days a week at MADabolic for 45 minutes at a time, and does a one-hour yoga class once a week. For more information about MADabolic, visit http://www.madabolic.com. Do you wish you had a community to inspire you and support the choices you make to improve your family’s nutrition habits? Now you do. Join the conversation, or start your own, using #TasteOfHealth