When I first met Candice Falzon, I saw her legs before I saw her. I had never seen a more toned, tanned and athletic set of pins in my life. I think at the time I looked down at my rice paper roll-like legs and thought, god dang, I got some work to do. And work I did. I spent one session in the gym with Candice and it was like a Datsun 180 with engine issues going up against a 2014 Ferrari California. Trying to go curl for curl with a professional Ironwoman is a recipe for misery and disaster. I used to think I was quite strong until I went head-to-head with Candice. This girl can crush bars of steel between her little fingers in the gym, whilst smiling innocently at her victims doing half as much. She ‘cruises’ on the treadmill at a casual 15km/h whilst I sprint on 12. She is part transformer, part Thor, part glamour model and the envy of too many women to name.
Candice has been in the spotlight for the past 14 years, making her one of the most well-known names in sport and media. She was the youngest ever Ironwoman or Ironman to turn professional at the young age of 14 and has remained in the spotlight ever since. Her list of achievements is endless (you’ll need a cup of tea for this). She has won three World Championship gold medals, over 60 state championship medals, with 36 of them being gold and two NSW board titles. On top of that, she has won Queen of Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa, taken out their annual knock out ocean swim series, she was the Round 5 Ironwoman series race champion in 2012, the 2013 NSW Ironwoman Champion and competitor of the titles and she has won 20 Australian Championship medals, 10 of them being gold, eight being silver and two being bronze. That’s also not including all the other sports Candice has represented her state in. Exhausting typing right there.
Image: Candice winning the Round 5 Ironwoman series race.
And, my god, there’s more. She can sing. The girl can actually sing. She appeared on Channel 7’s ‘It Takes Two’ program in 2006 and made it to the last four with Anthony Callea (I personally think her voice carried Anthony the whole way). I often feel the need to ask Candice if there is anything she can’t do, but i’m too afraid to in fear of having my own self-worth crushed like a coke can.
Candice has had some turbulent times throughout her career and some unwanted exposure in the media spotlight, however she has gone from the “s**thouse to the penthouse” as her older brother Pat likes to say and has now found her happy place with her Australian Cricketer fiancé, David Warner. With a new house, their first child due in September and a wedding to plan early next year, Candice has a lot to be happy about at the moment.
There is much more to Candice Falzon then some may think. She is one of the nicest, most humble and down-to-earth women you will ever meet. She has a wicked sense of humour and is a very loyal and honest friend and a wonderful UWW (ultimate wing woman) on tour. However, one thing she is not is an ideal gym buddy. If she ever asks you to go to the gym with her, run. Run fast. Usain Bolt right out of there. You’ll be ashamed, lack confidence and feel like you have the strength of a malnourished meerkat after a session with her.
I fired a few questions at Candice about her diet, pregnancy and how she keeps those million dollar pins in shape (that’s the only thing I really wanted to know).
You have won more titles and awards than i’ve had hot dinners. What do you attribute your success too?
Ha, thank you! I’m really proud of what I have achieved to date. I think the huge passion I have for my sport and the hunger to succeed have been the factors that have attributed most to my success. When I look back at all my results and how many years I have competed for, I know now that I couldn’t have come this far without the passion or drive i’ve had. I turned professional when I was really young at the age of 14 and from as early as I can remember I was that young girl who dreamed big. I unfortunately wasn’t born with huge amounts of natural ability [I call bullsh*T]. It was something I worked extremely hard for. I grew up with the mentality and the belief that anything is possible if you work hard for it, so that’s what I did! I worked harder and for longer periods of time then anyone else. If someone was faster than me at swimming, I made sure that I would be faster one day, regardless of how long it took.
I learnt early on that nothing is a substitute for hard work. Things don’t happen overnight. Even the most naturally gifted athletes have to work hard for success. They may find it easier than others, but they still have to work hard if they want to be the best. In my case it took me 13 years of trying to crack my first professional win. During that time I won lots of other events, state and national titles but not the one that I had always dreamed of.
A lot of people said that I would never win an Ironwoman, but those people didn’t realise my desire, hunger and motivation to achieve the goal I had set out to achieve. Looking back now there were plenty of times when things got tough and I questioned my own ability, but I was never going to give up trying after all the hard work and sacrifices my coaches, family and I had made for me to get there.
Over the years competing in the Ironwoman series, you have dabbled in the whole food plant-based 80/10/10 diet by Dr. Douglas Graham. How did you find it?
As an athlete, you are always trying to find an edge over your competitors. If someone told me as a young girl that hopping on one leg 45 times morning and night whilst screaming my name and punching the air was going to help me win, then I would do it.
I was always on the look out for ways to improve my athletic performance. My Mum, who acted as my nutritionist and number one supporter throughout my career, came across a book by vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier called Thrive. After reading it, everything in Thrive made perfect sense. It explained how fuelling your body with the right foods affected individual performance and how certain foods can either hinder or enhance your athletic abilities. Overall, it focused on a whole food, plant-based diet with no meat or dairy products and avoiding all processed foods.
Thrive and 80/10/10 made me look at nutrition and fuelling my body in a different way. The sporting world is so caught up with the idea that meat needs to be a staple part of your diet. This book educated me on so many different ways that I could fuel my body to perform at its best. I got into the habit of having green smoothies before a race and I really enjoyed them (I still do). It filled me up and provided me with lots of energy and I never felt ‘heavy’ going into an event after having one. The last thing you want to feel is heavy and lethargic heading into a big event. I eat a bit of meat again now, but these books definitely taught me a lot about the other side of the fence.
Did you see any changes in your physical performance?
I stuck to a vegan diet for quite a few months and noticed some big changes in my running times. Over long distances, I was faster then I had ever been.
What principles of the diet have you taken with you into everyday life?
I still love my green smoothies and have them regularly. I also eat a lot of bananas, fruit and drink coconut water. I definitely include a lot more plant-based foods into my diet now.
Do you take any supplements?
I am a big fan of BSc. They have a huge range of products and have just recently (within the last year) released an organic vegan range as well. I take the Immugreens Vegan Alkaline Superfood and also the organic vegan protein.
You travel the world with your partner, Australian cricketer David Warner, how do you manage to keep fit whilst on the road?
I am very lucky that I get to travel with David and support him when he is on tour. We get to go to some amazing places, however it can be difficult sometimes to maintain my level of fitness when i’m on tour with him. It’s very important for me, both physically and mentally, that I keep up some level of fitness when I’m away.
Thankfully, most hotels we stay at have a gym so I generally stick to the treadmill each day and if I’m lucky enough there will be some free weights I can get my hands on as well. If we are in a good area, I always like to get outside and go for a walk or jog too. If I’ve been training and working really hard at home then sometimes I use my time away as a rest period, which is really important as well.
Tell me about your usual workouts and make me feel terrible about myself…
My workouts now are very different to when I was competing professionally. When I was training for competitions, I would be up at 4am and in the pool at 5am for a two hour swimming session covering no less then six kilometres. I would then eat breakfast and rest up for the next session at 10am. This would either be specific sprint training or work in the gym for about an hour. I would then head to the beach at 4pm for two hours in the surf. This routine would be done six days a week with Sunday being a recovery day.
These days (before I was pregnant), I will try and do cardio five times a week. Whether that be running, swimming or boxing. I also try and get to the gym for a weight session three times a week.
NB: Candice is NOT doing these workouts now she’s over seven months pregnant. Calm down people.
Junior Warner is due in September. How have you been maintaining your fitness?
Now that I’m over seven months pregnant, exercise is starting to become a little harder and I can’t do what I usually like to do. I was jogging 3-4 times a week up until a month ago and maintaining a very light and low impact gym programme. As I’ve been getting bigger and more exhausted by the afternoon, I’ve found power walking excellent. I have also enjoyed swimming laps as I find it very relaxing and the water supports all the weight of the baby.
What about supporting the weight of your giant arse?
I was hoping you could help me with that one…
Right. Ok. Have you been craving any particular foods?
Thankfully, I haven’t really had any cravings. I have just been trying to eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables so I’m providing enough of the right foods and nutrients for my baby. I think it’s important to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle throughout a pregnancy. If you’re making poor food choices all the time and not eating a nutritiously adequate diet, then how is your baby getting the nutrients it needs to grow and develop?
I concur sister. You’ve also purchased some organic baby products for the new bub (hooray, organic!). What were they?
Our babies health and wellbeing is of upmost importance, so David and I are really conscious of providing a safe and healthy environment for our little one to grow up in.
We have chosen to use Gaia products for the baby. It’s Australian made (from Victoria) and all natural and organic. They have won a bunch of awards and all of the products are 100% cruelty-free and all bar one are vegan. I really wanted a natural range that was sensitive, gentle and non-irratiting and I think Gaia products are fantastic for that.
We have also opted for an organic cot mattress (read about organic bedding here and here). We chose the Lullaby organic cot mattress from Pottery Barn Kids. As babies spend so much time sleeping and in their cot, we thought it was really important to buy organic so our baby didn’t have the threat of breathing in nasty chemicals or being in a toxic environment. Further, we have also purchased organic cotton sheets, bamboo cotton blankets and have chosen to go with glass bottles over plastic.
I have found the whole experience really enjoyable and it has been refreshing to find that most shops and online stores have a natural or organic option for most of their products. I’m still buying things and getting the nursery ready but whenever I shop, buying organic and as natural as possible are my main priority.
You have your own swimwear line, Finz by Candice Falzon, how did that range come about?
I have spent most of my life in swimwear so I know what feels good and what is suitable for racing and training. I have always been known for my bright coloured swimwear, so when I was given the opportunity to collaborate with Finz on my own range I was really excited. Designing my own swimwear is something i’ve always wanted to do.
With my first range I predominately focused on finding out where my main market was. We had some great success with the range and I’m just about to start work on the second range which is really exciting.
Image: Finz by Candice Falzon
Can we expect to see you competing again one day?
At the moment I’m feeling great. I’m saying now that I definitely want to compete at next seasons Australian Champs in mid-April, but of course our baby and David are my number one priority. I’m not sure if I’ll compete in the Ironwoman event as making 5am swim training every morning with a new born might be a bit of a challenge! But I’d still like to race in the board events and help out my team the Manly Surf Club where I can.
Favourite fruit? Watermelon or tomato
Favourite health product? BSc Immugreens
Best place to travel? I love the beach so anywhere along the coast. In saying that, Mallorca would have to be up there with one of my favourite places. Also, Mykonos and Santorini!
A perfect weekend is spent…. with David. When he is home, we spend every Saturday hitting up all the local farmers markets. Bondi beach has a great market for fresh fruit and vegetables and so does Fox Studios. We tend to have breakfast somewhere local, go for a nice walk by the coast and just relax. In summer we’ll swim and just enjoy each other’s company.
Sunday’s are usually spent watching either of our favourite footy teams. If we can get to the game, that’s great, but otherwise we will just watch it at home.
Favourite role model and why?
Anna Weatherlake my parents. They mean the world to me. My Dad is my hero. He is 70 and still works, goes to the gym and surfs. Dad is without doubt a living legend in my eyes and has always taught me the importance of hard work and dedication. Both my parents still work because they love it, not because they have too.
Mum is my best friend and my biggest fan. Growing up she would go to the end of the earth to watch me compete and help me achieve my goals. She has the biggest heart and the most strength and courage of anyone I know. If I turn out to be half the mother my Mum was to me, i’ll be happy. She is an angel and I’m lucky to call her my Mum!