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Meditation, running and a plant-based diet: wellness…the Lewis Hamilton way

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You could say it’s been a good start to the year for Formula One star Lewis Hamilton.

He is favourite to win a seventh world title this season, thus equalling Michael Schumacher’s record. The 35-year-old just celebrated his latest collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger at London Fashion Week, which this time featured American R&B singer-songwriter H.E.R, and on Monday he was crowned Laureus world sportsman of the year alongside Lionel Messi. Meanwhile, Mercedes is reportedly tabling a contract worth as much as £180 million to keep him for three more seasons after this one ends, having been linked with a possible switch to rivals Ferrari. 

He’s in good shape, too. Hamilton, who lives in Monaco, recently shared with his 14 million-plus Instagram followers that he’s had one of his best winters yet training-wise ahead of racing which commences again in March, having trimmed down to 73 kilos  – and running, meditation and a vegan diet may be to thank. He is vocal about his passion for plant-based living on social media, and last year co-produced and featured in The Game Changers documentary, which follows elite vegan athletes. Last year he also invested in new meat-free burger chain, Neat Burger

Still buzzing off Sunday night’s show, we sat down with Hamilton for the launch of PUMA’s LQD Cell Hydra and Zone XT collection in London, for which he is an ambassador, to discuss how he stays fighting fit.

On early starts…

Usually I’m up at around 6:30-7am to walk the dogs then go for a workout, but it varies depending on my travel regime. I’m generally a night owl and have struggled in the past to get to sleep because I finish my working day late and eat late, but I’ve been working really hard this year to shift that so I’m eating earlier, going to bed earlier and waking up earlier – then I can be much more productive and fit in a workout before work.

On his current fitness regime…

I love running, I don’t really like being in the gym, at least for cardio, I prefer going on bit of a journey and enjoying the views. I mix it up with Muay Thai boxing, play tennis with my dad, squash, and I love swimming – I’m a bit of a water baby.

Then when I’m in the gym core work is always great and I like doing weights but I can’t go heavy. Last year I was 78 kilos, I was really quite bulky and had a lot of water retention. This year I’m solid and more defined, with weights I do shorter sets with more reps.

On following a plant-based diet…

I’ve been vegan for nearly three years, h​onestly I wish I’d found it earlier. Like most people I didn’t really know a huge amount about it before and I loved meat but then I was shown what was happening in the background, where this food was coming from, animal cruelty to the most extreme, it just broke my heart and I decided I didn’t want to contribute to that industry so I thought, how can I change my ways? 

Then I started meeting people and studying it and realised there were scientific benefits to [veganism], and I started thinking about how I could be the best athlete I can. I used to wake up really groggy in the mornings, struggle with getting into work, [bloating] and gut problems (I was probably allergic to dairy) and really fluctuated with my energy levels.

[After going plant-based] my skin cleared up, now I wake up in the morning feeling super fresh, I can actually run further and I have less respiratory issues – I used to struggle with asthma, I don’t really have that anymore. 

It has just changed everything for me and I haven’t lost any muscle. My taste buds have shifted and now I eat things I never thought I would like hummus, falafel, avocado and beetroot, in the past I’d been very narrow-minded about my diet. I think it’s also a shifting of your mentality, before I used to just eat for pleasure and now I think more about about how to refuel my body so that I can go on my run later and still feel energised. 

If you’re considering a plant-based diet I recommend switching gradually. People I’ve introduced to [veganism], like my dad, have struggled going from hot to cold. I gradually weaned myself off the cravings one step at a time, I was pescatarian for about 8 months and then I went hard after that – now I don’t miss a single thing. 

On mindfulness…

Meditation is a new thing for me, and I think it comes in many different forms. Before races, I’m always stretching, I’ll be on my own and in my mind, not on my phone. Mindfulness is so important, particularly for someone in my job, but I think for anybody. This winter I’ve started meditating in the mornings, taking a moment to myself with no distractions or things to worry about just to clear my mind. It’s been so good for me, we’re always on the go and you’re always giving your energy out, it’s important to replenish and think about you, even if it’s just for eight minutes in the morning. 

Breathing has been a really important thing that I’ve never really appreciated, we often don’t breathe deeply, and meditation has really helped with that. I’m just looking into all of these new things at the moment so life is just getting better feeling-wise. It’s also allowing me to be more engaged in all the different things I do, like when I’m collaborating with engineers, I used to arrive at work and fall asleep in meetings because I was juggling so many balls, now I’m hyper!

Lewis Hamilton is a PUMA ambassador alongside Adriana Lima. The new LQD CELL HYDRA training shoes are available at PUMA online and in stores worldwide now.

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