“You need to have that triangle of nutrition, exercise and rest, with mindfulness in the middle holding it all together. If you lose that balance everything comes tumbling down.”
Teresa Cutter, founder of The Healthy Chef, nutritionist, author, chef and personal trainer spoke to Bondi Beauty about fitness, work-life balance and cooking to nourish the body and the mind.
From her bright, youthful complexion and toned figure to her glowing personality, Teresa, aged 51, is a walking testament to the fact that her approach to fitness, food and beauty well and truly works wonders.
Teresa has won multiple awards for her cooking, fitness and products, including a gold medal in the Salon Culinaire chef competition, Silver Medal and second place in the Australian Fitness Figure championships.
Her cooking has served the likes of Elle MacPherson and Megan Gale, and she has written 7 cookbooks that focus on healthy, balanced living.
Here are some pearls of wisdom from Teresa on food, fitness, and staying healthy and mindful among the demands of a busy working life:
Growing up in a household of busy working parents, Teresa’s home diet wasn’t always healthy and home-cooked.
“Because my parents worked like crazy to put us through school, dinner was a lot of fast food, a lot of KFC … it was a pretty bad diet to be honest,” Teresa said.
“I remember when I was 9 a group of older students came into my class to do a weigh-height ratio survey as part of their studies. And when they came to do that, I realised that I was the biggest and heaviest in the class based on their results.”
“It just took that snap moment to realise that I had to do something, so after that I just made the choice to change. So, I started cutting down my food portions and refused the deep-fried foods.”
“I started adding in some incidental exercise like walking to school instead of taking the bus, decided to enrol in some sports teams and started getting into fitness.”
Teresa’s saving grace, and the inspiration behind her love of cooking, was her Polish grandparents and their dedication to cooking beautiful, simple and fresh meals.
“My grandparents had grown up in that traditional European culture of biking everywhere and having your own veggie garden – so it was at their home that I fell in love with cooking to begin with,” Teresa said.
Teresa got straight into cooking after high school, starting out in 5-star hotels in WA and becoming a fine dining chef and pastry chef.
She began to take a keen interest in health and fitness after visiting an exercise physiologist and receiving tips on how to best exercise and eat for a lean and toned body.
“I had been doing weights training in the gym, but had become quite big. I remember coming home one day and breaking down into tears saying ‘I can’t fit into my bras anymore what is happening!’ So, I ended up going to see an exercise physiologist and he changed the way I trained, changed the way I ate, and I never looked back,” Teresa said.
“By making some little adjustments to my training – lifting lighter weights but doing lots of repetitions, I got that healthy, toned body I wanted.”
“That got me right into the gym and competing – I got to love it so much that on my days off and at night time when I wasn’t working as a chef I did the training to become a PT.”
Being a full-time chef, and often working from early in the morning to late at night, Teresa was forced to figure out how to balance her busy schedule with health and mindfulness.
“When I was younger, I always remember watching the Richard Simmons Show,” which had a fitness class, and some motivational speaking, a quick class on basic healthy cooking, and then right at the end he would talk about mindfulness and meditation – focusing on loving yourself and being at peace,” Teresa said.
“That really cemented that foundation for me where you have a triangle of nutrition, exercise and rest, with mindfulness in the middle holding it all together. If you lose that balance everything comes tumbling down.”
After qualifying as a PT Teresa’s healthy recipe making abilities really began to flourish.
“I started making recipes and giving them to the clients I trained, and it was a no brainer to me because I knew what food worked well and how to make it quick, easy and delicious,” she said.
“People began introducing me as a nutritionist, so I decided to go and actually get my nutritionist degree as well, which really balanced out my training and knowledge.”
Teresa’s love of creating beautiful, healthy recipes with fresh produce blossomed further when, in 2006, she opened her own healthy café in Avalon, which was frequented by many of Sydney’s celebrities including Megan Gale and Elle MacPherson.
Teresa’s recipes were simple, healthy and fresh.
“If you use great quality produce and you nurture the food, then people know they are eating great food, and the food’s going to make them feel great,” Teresa said.
“It’s that whole philosophy of keeping it simple – that is so important. There’s no need to add anything extra if it doesn’t need it. It’s about making it easy to prepare and tasting delicious. It doesn’t matter if it only has two or three ingredients, that’s still a recipe.”
In Sydney, Teresa wrote and published her first cook books, and, eventually decided to launch her own range of premium wholefood supplements.
“All of the supplement products [made by the Healthy Chef] were created out of a need that I had personally. So, protein was the first thing I designed, because I could never take a protein supplement because they were always filled with artificial ingredients that made me feel unwell and bloated,” Teresa said.
“So, I started to design products that had no fillers or added preservatives, so that when people have them, they actually feel good having them.”
Her brand, The Healthy Chef, has a wide range of health-boosting products including wild-caught marine collagen, organic proteins and superfoods, and healthy drinks including chai, organic matcha and the ultimate sugar free hot chocolate.
Click here to find out more about Teresa and the Healthy Chef’s incredible and naturally healthy product range.
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