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Exclusive: Olympian Victoria Pendleton reveals surprising life change since quitting sport

The Olympic champion shared some great advice

Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton acheieved success at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, but after her retirement from the sport, she embraced a surprising lifestyle change.

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Speaking exclusively with HELLO!, she revealed that she's embraced a vegan diet,saying that she was only eating meat because her nutritionists at the time were advising her to for the protein content. However, she explained that when it came to snacking, it could be difficult for her to stay healthy as the only options were "crisps or chips", but as more vegan products become available it's become much easier – which is handy as the cyclist is a keen cook!

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WATCH: Victoria Pendleton powers through on the Sip Sip

Revealing her general go-to meals, Victoria told us: "I love to cook lots of curries, lots of chickpea curries, vegetable curries, like to experiment with the different flavours of the spices."

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And for her daily diet, she revealed: "For breakfast, I tend to have something simple like porridge, which I make with water, but then I might add a little bit of peanut butter or some fruit to it.

"And then for lunch, I tend to have things like corn crackers and salad and hummus, something quite light. And for an evening meal, a chickpea or vegetable curry with rice or chapatti, maybe with a dahl on the side. But if I was feeling crazy, I might cook two different types of things at the same time."

But just like any of us, Victoria has a sweet tooth, revealing that she usually goes for some dark chocolate and joking that because of the antioxidants in the treat it does count as "healthy"!

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Victoria has partnered with SlimFast

Her other go-to healthy option is the SlimFast Vitality, balanced nutrition shake, which she has recently partnered with, and she even drove the Sip-Sip, a spin on the London tuk-tuk taxis, around the streets and parks of London earlier in this month.

Discussing the partnership, she revealed she'd been a fan of the shakes ever since she was a "young athlete", adding: "I've been in situations where I've been busy on the go and just struggled to find anything that's healthy to eat and ended up with the option of a bag of crisps; having something that's sort of simple, quick and easy for a hit of healthy when you're on the go was like something that appealed to me."

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As pandemic restrictions are poised to be lifted she explained how it'll be easy to fall back into old habits when it comes to diet and exercise. "A lot of people had time to spend and look after themselves and choose the right foods and whatnot," she said. "But when life gets busy, and things start moving at high pace, it's very easy to slip into convenient habits or old habits."

Offering some advice, she added: "You don't want to undo the good work, you don't want to go backwards, you don't want to fall into the trap of eating a way that you don't want to or not getting the exercise in that you really want to, life's too short to be wishing you were somewhere else doing something looking different, feeling different. It's easier to commit in that way if you're just prepared, be organised, and give it your best shot."

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Victoria won gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics

Studies have shown that a healthy diet is linked to better mental health, something that Victoria is all well aware of, as the star has been open about her own battle with depression and anxiety, even having even contemplated suicide following her "unpleasant" divorce from her ex-husband Scott Gardner.

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One of the ways Victoria faced her demons was through counselling, seeing two therapists at the same time as they both worked for her so well. She admits she was taught to "look for the joy in your own life".

She added: "I took myself to Costa Rica, which is the place that I really had a lovely holiday there a couple of years ago with some girlfriends on an adventure surf retreat and I thought I'd really love to go back there.

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The star is a huge fan of surfing

"Being in a place that genuinely makes you happy, doing a sport that generally makes you happy, really helped turn things around, it made me feel glad to embrace life a little bit, you've got to look for whatever makes you happy. It could be something small, it could be a cupcake from your favourite shop, or catching up with someone you haven't seen in a while. But you have to incorporate it into your own life. We don't sometimes prioritise joy, we're too busy doing what we should do to think about what really makes us happy; so whether it's a sport, whether it's a hobby, whether it's an art, it's got to be something that makes you happy."

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But despite Olympic success, some might know Victoria for her incredible stint of series 10 on Strictly Come Dancing. But despite finishing in eighth place, she revealed that she'd "never been" invited back to compete in the show's Christmas special.

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The athlete hailed the product as "quick and easy for a hit of healthy"

"I'd love to do it," she revealed. "But definitely ballroom definitely not Latin, definitely ballroom." The campaign for Victoria starts here!

Victoria Pendleton is supporting the launch of SlimFast Vitality shakes.  Packed with 23 vitamins and minerals and suitable for a vegan lifestyle, new SlimFast Vitality balanced nutrition shakes offer a quick hit of healthy that also pack a punch in taste. Visit Slimfast.co.uk or @slimfastvitalityuk for more information.

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