The surfing foodie on health, sleep and life in the surf world
Tarnea O’Meara – also better known as the surfing foodie – is a Queensland surfer and currently competing on the World Qualifying Series to make her one big dream come true: surfing on the biggest stage in women’s surfing, the World Championship Tour (WCT). But the 22-year old is not only an absolutely ripping surfer babe: while travelling all over the world to chase waves (and WQS points) she manages to fit in some time to study nutritional medicine. As everything related to health, nutrition and recovery naturally sparks Tarnea’s interest we had to sit down with the rising star and talk surfing, sleep and health.
1. To get to know you a little better, tell us how your passion for surfing started and when you realised that being a professional surfer was something you wanted to focus on?
I was watching my brother surfing on holidays one day and was like…that’s awesome!! I want to do that. I started watching little videos and the surfing lifestyle caught my attention! I decided that I didn’t want to be in an office for my job, so surfing it was! It also became an outlet for me, I was so much happier when I was in the water and when I got out. Making it my career is a given.
2. How did growing up in a health conscious surrounding influence you in studying nutritional medicine and how does it support you in everyday life?
Well, at first I said I would never have anything to do with it, but I went on my gap year and felt like absolute crap when I got back. That was the turning point for me. The realisation that it can change people’s lives, help others to be at their optimum and find their vitality again.
3. What are the biggest struggles when it comes to qualifying for the WCT?
It's a rollercoaster of emotions and mentally tough. You have to be in the mind-set that you belong there just as much as the other girls. That you are good enough. There is no room for doubt in this sport. It’s brutal, and if you lose one heat, then you’re gone (you just flew 14hrs, spent 5k getting there), there are no second chances! I’m so tough on myself and I struggle a lot with that - sometimes I find it hard to back myself. And honestly, the second hardest is financial… I work part time in between everything to get me to these places around the world for the competitions.
4. What foods do you find best to support healthy energy levels? Is there anything you find helps or hinders good quality sleep?
Fresh, spray free, and clean food! I find lots of fresh vegetables, greens, fish and some protein occasional really keeps my energy up. If I have processed foods, I can just tell my body is working hard to filter out those toxins that came with it. Eating too much heavy foods (like red meat, lots of nuts, heaps of fats) at night really hinders my sleep as well. I like to eat early (5:30 pm ish) and light at night… with the occasional treat. Or if I have an caffeine after 2pm, I definitely won’t be able to sleep for a while!
5. Besides getting in the water every day – tell us your favourite workouts to stay fit for surfing.
HITT! You get it done and dusted in a short period of time. You raise your heart rate quicker at more intensity. I also love mobility stability, stuff that challenges my balance and use muscles you didn’t think you had.
6. We all know the feeling of experiencing muscle soreness after a strenuous work out… What are your top 5 recovery tips and how does food and sleep affect this?
- Yoga – or a good stretch
- Magnesium supplement – natural and good quality…always quality over quantity
- Epsom salt bath – soak for 20 min whilst watching your favourite episode
- Hydrate – water water water
- Sleep – your body's optimum way to recovery is to rest and digest with a good amount of quality sleep
- Eat clean and eat well – a bit of protein to recovery but mostly veggies and green and alkalising foods
7. We know you are a big foodie and love anything related to healthy, nourishing food. What is your favourite go-to recipe and what do you regard as the next big health food trend?
I’m the biggest salad fan…every type of salad you can make. I just love salad! It can consistently change and be as different or as plain as you like. For a breaky though, I love fresh CADA (Coconut, Apple, Date and Almond mix)! I have linked the recipe here if you wanted to try it!
The next trend is definitely fermenting and gut health, broths and soothing foods for your microbiome. There is so much antibiotics and compromising medications that we rely on but don’t realise that these can destroy our abilities to absorb food and nutrients for our health in the future.
8. How important is sleep to you? Do you think you get enough?
Super important! It's part of my recovery, functioning, resting and mental/emotional stability. I sleep like a baby in my bed and will feel terrible the next day if I don’t get enough. Its one of the most important parts of our lives.
9. Can you explain the term JERF to us?
JERF! Just Eat Real Food! It’s that simple. Avoid the processed and be a JERF!
10. What are the biggest challenges for your sleep routine while travelling the world and what do you miss most about JUNO when being abroad?
Jet leg is not that fun and I miss the comfort of my own bed and my Juno. If I could take it with me, I would! It takes about 5 days for me to get back into my sleeping pattern sometimes and have that rested quality sleep. So you have to make sure you are at the competition well before it starts to be at your optimal. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and it can be super expensive to stay at places that are half decent. So you end up in a dodgy hotel sometimes with the worst beds and competing with inadequate sleep (I’m learning from my mistakes haha!).