Aussie surfers Mikaela and Eliza Greene have put down the boards and picked up the power tools as they take part in renovation reality show House Rules. We chat to the sisters (who are currently ranked among the top 150 female surfers in the world) about their love of the sport, their fitness regimes and how their comp experience is coming in handy on the show.
When did you first start surfing, did you love it straight away?
Mikaela: I started surfing for fun at around age three, but I only started taking it seriously after a family surf camping holiday up in the North West of Western Australia.
Eliza: I started surfing at such a young age because my sister Mikaela (three years older) was already learning how to surf. I believe I was first put on a surfboard at just the age of three. My story is quite unique when it comes to surfing, I absolutely hated it. I was such a ‘little princess’ as mum would call me and at such a young age I was more interested in shopping and makeup than being down the beach. At the age of nine, my mum entered me into my first ever Western Australian state surfing competition called The Ripcurl Grom Search. Which somehow I ended up winning, from this moment onwards, I fell in love with the competition side of surfing. This then lead to my junior life being filled with hundreds of state and national competitions, weekend after weekend filled with nothing but surfing events or training and now I couldn’t picture the surf and especially the ocean not being such a huge part of my life.
When did you realise you wanted to surf competitively?
Mikaela: I went in my first ever proper surfing competition at 11 years old – the Inaugural Taj's Small Fries in Yallingup, WA. I placed 3rd in the U/16 Womens, after that I was hooked!
Eliza: At age nine - I won my first ever State competition.
Are you still surfing competitively?
Mikaela: I am definitely still surfing competitively! Eliza and I are just taking a brief hiatus to fix our family home and give the rest of the teams on House Rules a beautiful forever home too. I've had total FOMO watching the competitions continue with out me, but its given me a hunger to come back harder and better than before this break.
Eliza: [We] still surf on the World Qualifying Series Tour, our aim is to be the first two sisters to ever qualify on the World Championship Tour.
What does a week of training look like for you?
Mikaela: I try to get in the gym at least three times a week, if a gym is unavailable I will mix it up with some beach runs/work outs. I like to focus more on body weight training as opposed to heavy weights.
Eliza: It really depends what surfing event we have coming up. A week of training for Mikaela and I always consists of surfing at least once a day (we normally aim for two surfs in a day), in the gym three times a week (for strength and conditioning) and I also do yoga every week to maintain my flexibility.
If we have a surfing event that is going to require us to surf in big waves (The Margaret River Pro Trials) Mikaela and I will train a month before doing underwater breath holds. We will usually use the ocean with a rock/weight and sit on the sand holding our breath with a trainer or each other (Note: never do breath training by yourself). There’s something about being a professional athlete and learning so much about your body that is so rewarding. Three years ago, when we started underwater breath training, I couldn’t hold my breath for more than 45 seconds under water before I would start to panic and gasp for air. Training my diaphragm and working hard on keeping a positive mental state of mind whilst I was underwater took a lot of dedication and hard work. After two weeks, I’d smashed my goal of holding my breath underwater for two minutes and my record was two minutes and 24 seconds. It’s really amazing to see what the human body is capable of doing. Training for surfing enables us to push our bodies to a place I didn’t even think I’d ever be able to achieve.
What is your day on a plate?
Mikaela: I am a very opportunistic eater, I'll eat whatever is in the fridge or pantry at the time haha. I try to be as healthy as possible but I am a total sweet tooth and chocolate is my absolute weakness! I am of the opinion that I don't want to regulate what I eat too much, I would rather just exercise more to burn off the extra calories. I usually try to follow a high protein diet with lots of eggs, white meat and green veggies but I won't say no to three bowls of pasta either. I'm lucky that my body is pretty forgiving with my indulgences – I have a fast metabolism and I love exercising so its a great combination.
Eliza: Do you know what, a day on my plate is anything I feel like. I think if you’re too worried about what you’re eating rather than getting outdoors and exercising and living a healthy life, you’re missing out on the best things that life has to offer. I think it’s so important for women (especially young girls) to focus on being mentally fit before physically fit. I go through phases of being super healthy and really cutting out refined sugar, but I also am the biggest chocolate eater in the world. So, if I’m feeling like a piece of chocolate and I’ve worked out all day, of course I’m going to eat some (let’s be honest, even if I haven’t worked out I’ll probably still eat it too haha). I honestly eat anything, but when I’m in training and trying to be the healthiest version of myself, I eat mainly protein (chicken, fish, eggs etc) and salad/vegetables. I snack on nuts and fruit, drink plenty of water and I just try to keep everything I’m putting in my body homemade and refined sugar-free as much as possible. I always crave sweet food, so I find making my own chocolate bliss balls (all vegan, no refined sugar) definitely curbs my cravings when I’m being healthy.
Mikaela’s body can process pasta, rice and other carbohydrates a lot better than mine.
Has having a sporting background helped you during the House Rules process?
Mikaela: I think having a background in sport has prepared us for the physical exertion during renovating, but it hasn't prepared us for the sleep deprivation, basic knowledge for renovating and the structural composition of a house. We are complete reno rookies but I believe we have an eye for design, we are very fast learners and most importantly we are keen to learn and try knew things. I think these things definitely help us on our journey through this competition.
Eliza: I think more so mentally than physically. We’re used to being in an environment that’s stressful and you have pressure to perform and succeed. With surfing, not being in a controlled environment, you lose a lot more than you win. So, we’ve learnt how to lose graciously and to win humbly. We’re also used to being in an environment (the ocean) where waves don’t always go your way, so you have to adapt and think on the spot and come up with a new game plan. I think having this knowledge and competitive experience has definitely helped us mentally on House Rules.
House Rules airs Sunday 7.00pm and Monday – Wednesday 7.30pm.