This week, we bring you an interview with Sheridan Taylor, who is a Muay Thai Kickboxer ranked no.7 in the UK at 55KG, British IKF champion, Southern IKF champion, ISKA International Champion and ISKA English national champion. Alongside being a professional athlete, he is a personal trainer, and also creates custom meal plans for those who want to start their own fitness and healthy eating regimes. Before his next fight, which is planned for the 30th of November 2019 at Harrow Leisure Centre (Bryon Hall, HA3 5BD), he very kindly sat down with us to discuss the secrets to his success, and how important meal prepping has become in his life.
What got you into fitness?
“As a young kid, I have always been around and raised in a fitness type of environment. My dad was five times British boxer and the first-ever English man to train in an all Thai kickboxing gym in Koh Samui. My mum has always helped me develop a strong and driven mentality alongside all my siblings and members of the family. To me, she is the most mentally strongest woman that I know. My parents made me into the man I am today, and they push my motivation in my fitness career.”
“Growing up I was never forced or pushed to do fitness or a sport, I just grew to love the challenges myself, whether big or small. These challenges could be from learning how to ride my first bike, winning my first professional fight, to learning to push myself beyond my limits. It wasn’t because I felt like I had to do ‘fitness’ or because of my health in the future…because realistically all the health and achievements that have come my way are a bonus to me. The right mind-set Is what got me in and through anything in life.”
What got you into meal prepping?
“Meal prepping for me started from a young age, whether it was made by my parents or myself. It’s a good way to stay consistent and being from a Thaiboxing background staying consistent, eating right and training to be in top shape starts in the kitchen!”
“I’ve always worked in London, so I’m surrounded by high priced food stores and without meal prep, I would be spending a fortune day after day. Meal prep helps me save a lot of money, prepping a full week’s worth of food to stop me from going off track and being forced to grab a ‘quick bite’. In day-to-day food stores or packaged food companies, if you read the back of a food package it includes ingredients and chemicals we didn’t even know existed… Why put that into our bodies? So the best thing about meal prep is that I know exactly what is in my food and how it’s stored.”
Did you have any perceptions of what meal prep would be like, and have they changed?
“Throughout my course of learning how to meal prep it has always got easier, the more you do it, the better it gets. The first stage of meal prep was to not get too ambitious with my meal prep skills and stick to what worked for me, making sure I didn’t waste or cook anything wrong, and as time went on, I just got used to what I enjoyed eating and what worked well to meal prep too. Even if you’ve mastered the meal prep basics, you may not be completely satisfied with the food you’re heating up as it could turn soggy and bland by its second day in the fridge, so then you’re a lot more likely to throw it out and end up having to buy alternatives, putting you off track. Meal prep should be easy. You don’t really need to fuss with complicated cooking techniques to make healthy meals. So, my advice is that experimenting with your cooking styles can be helpful.”
“Finally, cook in bulk, this helps me a lot especially if I’m short for time and just want to get it done. Most of the time I roast my protein, vegetable, and carbohydrates on the same tray just to save time.”
Describe your meal prep/healthy eating regime
“I always meal prep my meals on a Sunday and incorporate well balanced whole foods. The more colourful the better! When I am not on fight camp or dieting for whatever reason, I try to limit myself to 1 cheat meal a week or perhaps 1 small cheat snack every 2 days. I feel this works for me as I don’t overindulge or get the urge to binge all in one sitting, because of the restriction I put on myself through dieting. I give my body what it wants to a limit, keeping me sane and on track.”
“I think that if you feel like you’re being forced to diet or aren’t enjoying it, you are more likely to binge and destroy what you may have achieved in a week in one day. So, having those little treats here and there are a good way to not ruin your moment/goals and feeling like the diet is taking over your life.”
What challenges have you encountered with meal prepping or fitness? How did you overcome them?
“The biggest meal prep challenges for me was finding what worked best for me and making sure I enjoyed what I was prepping, getting better every time and making it enjoyable to do. Keeping consistent every week and not going off track.”
“The most recent challenge that I have encountered and overcome in my fitness career would have to be my second to last fight which I took on 24-hour notice for the ISKA British title against Adrian Wuu in the Victory kickboxing series in Ipswich. The reason for this is because if it wasn’t for me always staying prepped and consistent with meal prep and training I wouldn’t have been able to of made the weight and take that fight in such short notice, and go on to be ISKA British champion.”
How do you adapt meal prep leading up to a fight?
“I usually have 4-6 weeks’ fight camp giving me loads of time to slowly taper down week by week.”
“I try not to go too strict from the beginning of the diet, as going from normal eating to a full strict diet can be very off-putting and for me in the past, has led to coming off track as the weeks go by, making it harder and harder to lose the weight.”
“I make sure all food is prepped on Sundays for the week ahead, mixing my dishes up throughout the week, so it doesn’t seem to be the same meals every day. I would develop two dishes through the week switching day by day. I feel like my body adapts to it well and doesn’t get into a boring cycle of eating the same foods every week.”
What do you eat before a competition?
“Whether I am on or off fight camp I always eat fresh whole foods, to me, I feel like this is the best way to keep my body and mind-set in its best shape in preparation for fights or day to day goals.”
“I keep the veggies high and portion control on proteins and carbohydrates to my daily intake. When on fight camp my food, sources change week by week depending on how much I would have to lose, but on the day of the competition, after weigh-ins have been complete, I fuel myself with high carbs and fats to regain the energy that I had lost or trimmed down through the 6-4 weeks’ fight camp.”
“ I would say my favourite dish for before a competition is:
Protein source – chickpeas or kidney beans or fresh cooked salmon
Carbohydrate Source – rice or quinoa
Vegetable source – variety (spinach, mixed peppers, carrots, peas etc.… I love all veg)
High salts to replenish and lots of water.”
Do you continue to meal prep after a fight?
“Yes, I do continue to meal prep after fights. The best thing about meal prepping after fights is that I can make my favourite meals that I might not have been able to incorporate while on fight camp. Home-cooked meals for me are the best. Coming from a large family, I have always enjoyed a well-cooked meal, being able to meal prep and enjoy those dishes are an achievement in itself. The best thing when growing up was that I tried all varieties of food groups, from all areas of the world, developing my taste buds, so now when meal prepping I can mix it up and enjoy, instead of having bland and boring foods.”
What advice do you have for people who are training and want to live a healthy lifestyle?
“My advice is to stay consistent, enjoy the process and surround yourself with people that will support you in whatever you do. It may be hard at the start but it will subside. One of my favourite quotes is “it takes 21 days to create a habit and it takes 90 days to create a lifestyle.”
“If you don’t enjoy the training or don’t want to live a healthy lifestyle then that’s your decision, but good health isn’t just about healthy eating and exercise, it’s also about having a positive attitude, a positive self-image, and an overall healthy lifestyle.”
“Everyone has a choice and it’s down to you on how you approach that turning point, make it a lifestyle not a short-term goal, there are no short cuts and people’s bodies are different, one step at a time, one goal at a time.”
“My top tips to always have in mind to have a healthy lifestyle:
- Drink lots of water
- Get enough sleep
- Exercises every day, whether big or small
- Enjoy the things you do.
- Be happy in who you are and what you have/will achieve.
- Keep your mind clear and positive remove all negativity
- Set goals.
- Smile and laugh.”
Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?
“My family is my biggest inspiration, and a family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in my life who want me in theirs, the ones who accept me for who I am and are there for me in my high and low times. They are the ones who have and would do anything for me no matter what. To me, family is the most important people in life, whether they are blood-related or not.”
“My biggest inspiration in life, in terms of fighting, is to keep going and always give 100%, carry on fighting around the world and to always represent my local town. Being able to give whatever I can back into my local communities and grow to be a better person day by day. I really want to inspire and be an influence on people and make a name for myself.”
Any favourite recipes you can share?
“My favourite meal prep recipes must be my power breakfast porridge bowl! only because breakfast to me is the most important meal of the day and it’s my most high carbohydrate source to kick start my day leaving me with lots of energy….It honestly just tastes so good!”
- Porridge oats - 40-100G
- Chia seeds – 1 tbsp.
- Flax seeds – 1 tbsp.
- Hemp powder – 1 tbsp.
- Cinnamon – 1 tsp
- 1 square of 80% Dark chocolate - (optional)
- crushed walnuts or cashew nuts – small hand full
- pumpkin seeds – small hand full
- desiccated coconut shavings – a small handful
- Almond or Peanut butter – 1 Tbsp.
- Frozen Blueberries – 60-80g or 1 small banana.
- Coconut or almond milk (a dash of)
“My tip to this is to put boiling water to the oats first and mix till half developed and then add some more and put to boil or microwave to expand. Then I mix in the seeds and powders to increase volume and let soak up. I then add my almond or coconut milk to keep the creamy texture and then add my toppings. The best part about it for me is the cold and hot mixture from the porridge and the blueberries… YUM!”
“This breakfast is something I always incorporate weather on or off fight camp, Just different type of measurements.”
How have Igluu containers helped you?
“Igluu containers have made a massive impact in my day to day life, whether it is being able to keep my food fresh, to the variety of container sizes for all types of food that I store in them. Before I discovered igluu containers I was using take away containers that never got my food to last past Thursday, wasn’t freezer, dishwasher, or microwavable friendly, as well as not being able to find the space to stack or store them anywhere. Igluu containers have all those aspects and more! As time went on I researched more into what meal prep containers were the most aesthetically pleasing and beneficial for me, igluu contains were just that. Looking into igluu containers and seeing that not only did it achieve what I stated above but they are BPA free. They are by far the most economically friendly and best containers I have ever used to date and the company and team are always on the ball when you need to get in contact.”
Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into meal prep?
“Yes, meal prep doesn't have to be something you hate or dread to do. Rather than making last-minute food shopping trips and guessing about the numbers. create a list and plan! Successful meal prepping revolves around having a plan. This is crucial. Try to wing it and you'll likely end up with unplanned macros, forgotten veggies, or, worse, food illness if not done properly. so, take your time to develop your meals.”
“Meal prep has proven for many people like myself, to be the key to reaching your fitness and healthy lifestyle goals. It may be a pain at first but when you finally get the hang of it, the results will go through the roof. Don’t get me wrong it’s not all fun and games spending the time to prep and cook meals but like I have said throughout, consistency is key and once it turns into a habit, it then becomes a lifestyle. I personally like to pick a day where I have the most time (for me this is Sunday mornings) to produce my meals and get it sorted for the week ahead. Not only does it help me look forward to the meals I’m going to eat, but it makes me feel satisfied that I am prepared for the week that is yet to come.”
For those of you who are interested in following Sheridan Taylor's progress in Kickboxing, or wish to get in contact with him regarding his tailored meal plans, the best way to currently reach him is through his Instagram account.