Amanda Newhall, 31, knew she wanted to be a firefighter when she was 12, the year two planes crashed into the World Trade Center buildings. “I was in middle school at the time and remember that I followed the news coverage in the days after, and something clicked just like for me,” she says.
It was an ambition that stuck with her throughout school and now into adulthood. “I joined the Explorers, which is essentially junior firefighting through Boy Scouts of America. You make uniforms to wear and go on trips with local firefighters,” she says. When she was 19, she was hired as a volunteer firefighter in Healdsburg, California, where she now works full time.
Being a firefighter is always an intense job, but this year’s forest fires ravaging large parts of the West – including Sonoma County, where she works – have proven to be even more challenging. “It affects our whole city; we really can not get a break,” says Newhall. “Summers are always very hectic due to the wildfires, and the wildfire season seems to last later and later each year. Mother Nature has not yet told us when it will end this year.”
In addition to being a firefighter, Newhall is also a fitness instructor with FireFlex Yoga, a wellness program for first aiders. “Many of the movements [in yoga] mimic what you actually have to do as a firefighter, like deep squats off and on the fire truck, “she says. She adds that it is also recovery-based, which helps soothe first responders’ muscles from the wear and tear they inevitably inflict on their body. just by doing their job.Fire stations buy into the FireFlex program and then an instructor comes to the station and leads the team through a training on a regular basis.Newhall has not been able to go to other stations to teach thanks to COVID -19, but she enjoys teaching her own team.
Being both a firefighter and a fitness instructor means that Newhall needs to give her body proper energy, and she says it is especially important for her to be aware of what she is eating because she has a rare metabolic disease called phenylketonuria. [PKU]. It is a rare DNA defect that affects her body’s ability to break down the amino acid phenylalanine. “I have a fairly mild case of it, but it affects my way of eating because I have to limit my protein intake. Otherwise [amino acids from the protein] will just float around in my bloodstream. “
While many people are focused on everything high in protein, Newhall needs to pay special attention to its intake. Every day, she eats 25 grams of protein from a supplemental formula designed for people who have PKU, and gets an additional 35 grams of protein through food. (The average person as active as Newhall should get recommended 75 grams a day.)
Here, Newhall tells what an average eating day looks like for her, including what she does at the fire station to feed an entire team of first aiders.
“Typically for breakfast, I have my protein formula and some cashew nut yogurt,” Newhall says. She loves that it is portable enough to take with you to work or on a hike – which is one of her favorite holidays. “I like having a breakfast that won’t slow me down,” she says.
Watch the video below to see what a registered dietitian thinks about plant-based yogurt:
For lunch, Newhall likes either a big salad or soup – depending on what she’s in the mood for that day. “Whole grains are a big part of my diet, so it’s typically incorporated in some way,” she says. But she adds that during the day she tends to eat quite easily because her body absorbs carbohydrates slower than the average person and she does not want it to slow her down.
If she gets hungry between lunch and dinner, Newhall says she likes to snack on dried mangoes – especially on days when she’s out hiking. Like cashew nut yogurt, it is also really portable, so she can put something in a resealable bag, throw it in her backpack and gnaw on it when hunger strikes.
Newhall says evening meals are a big thing at the firehouse. It’s the part of the day where everyone gets together to sit around the table and share a meal. (Unless they’re called to an emergency, of course.) Everyone takes turns cooking, and Newhall says it can get pretty complicated because there are so many different types of diners at her station. “A lot of the guys I work with are big carnivores and want to get full of carnivores, but then maybe someone else makes Whole30 or some other specific type of eating plan,” she says.
When it’s her turn to cook, Newhall says she likes to incorporate Chinese, Japanese and Thai flavors into her cooking. “I like to make soba noodles with a creamy cashew nut sauce or a batter with cauliflower rice and vegetables,” she says.
Newhall says she usually skips the dessert because she does not have much of a sweet tooth – with one exception. “There are these glazed donuts with a unicorn made of frosting on them and I just love them,” she says. “My boyfriend will surprise me with one about once a week and it’s always a nice surprise.”
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