This year, I embarked on the most physically challenging endeavor I’ve ever done: a Mount Everest expedition. As a professional athlete, I have trained hard and pushed my limits, but I’ve never put my body through something like that before.

It was an Everest base camp hike –about 17,200 feet above sea level. I hiked for 14 days, 8 hours a day. We got to do one challenge above base camp and climbed up to 18,000 feet; that was as high as I went on the climb.

Sam Clayton Everest Climb

There were three key aspects on which being adequately prepared ­­­–before and during the trip– made all the difference and allowed me to achieve this goal: nutrition, fitness, and mentality.

How I Prepared for a Mount Everest Expedition

Embarking on such an adventure required careful preparation, so I was diligent about being in optimal shape, adjusting my nutrition to fuel my body’s needs, and getting in the right mindset.

I Am Samantha Clayton Quote Card

Nutrition: The Crucial Role of Protein

My first objective was to shed some extra pounds and get lean, so I relied on our Formula 1 meal replacement shakes to do it effectively. Our F1 shakes contain around 17 g of protein, which is crucial since protein helps you feel full longer. This enabled me to train while being on a calorie-restricted diet.

When I got to my desired weight, I had to ensure I was still strong throughout the expedition. Protein helps prevent muscle breakdown and promotes muscle growth, so focusing on consuming the right amount was important.

Sam Clayton Using Rebuild

Before I left for the journey, I packed my bags with Herbalife24 protein and hydration products, making sure I had sufficient protein to last me for weeks. The expedition requires extreme physical effort, which would had made me lose muscle. Instead, the convenient powdered protein helped me keep my nutrition and strength in optimal levels.

Fitness: Changing the Way I Trained

My typical training consisted of doing HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and lifting heavy weights, but to be better prepared for the Mount Everest climb, I needed to do more endurance-based training.

About six months before the trip, I started to switch how I trained. It was not easy, going from being in and out of the gym in 35 minutes to doing slow and steady work on the treadmill for two hours. It completely changed my body composition – from super muscular to a leaner and toned figure that could endure longer workouts.

Mentality: Conquering Fear

Mental preparation is just as necessary as physical, and the main thing for me was getting over fear. I knew I would make it when it came to the hiking, but the thought of flying in and out of the Lukla Airport in Nepal – the most dangerous airport in the world – was daunting. And, of course, I also feared how hard the climbing would be and what climate conditions we would be dealing with.

But I told myself to trust the process and the experts: it was a good time of year to go, I was part of a group, and we were with very experienced guides. I believe that being in a group is what gets you through. You make great friendships with your teammates and motivate each other. Some days I struggled, and somebody would walk at the back with me. And on other days, I was leading the pack and pulling everybody else forward.

What I Learned From the Experience 

This was a life-changing trip. I tend to worry about everything. But throughout the climb, I realized how much energy I wasted worrying and how it slowed me down. It helped me put things into perspective: there will always be something you can’t control, but you can choose to focus on what you can –like your attitude and your preparation– and how these play a big part in achieving a goal.

I also realized that, for me, the most fantastic part of the expedition was the struggle to finish. The three days it took to hike back down were much harder because I no longer had that big goal to look forward to.

That was also a major learning: the journey matters more than the destination. Life is actually the things you do to accomplish a goal.

So, if someone is planning to take on a big challenge, this is my advice:

Samantha Clayton

Samantha ClaytonOLY, ISSA-CPT – Vice President, Sports Performance and Fitness Education

Samantha Clayton serves as the vice president of Sports Performance and Fitness Education at Herbalife. She is also the Vice Chair of the Fitness Advisory Board. Clayton represented Great Britain at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in both the 200m and the 4x100m relay events. She is a certified personal trainer with specialty certifications in group fitness, youth fitness programming, senior fitness and athletic conditioning. Clayton has an associate degree in pharmaceutical science and studied chemistry at the University of Wolverhampton. She then went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in public health and a master’s in medical nutrition from American Public University and Arizona State University, respectively. As a mother of four, she enjoys cheering for her kids at their sporting activities. Her favorite Herbalife product is Herbalife24® Rebuild Strength.