The truth about nutrition. Advice from a professional nutritionist.
So I always start off these chats just by asking. Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
Yeah, sure. I got into nutrition probably about 12 years ago. My first degree was a food science degree when I worked very much in the food industry. I worked in product development with so many bad guys like Coca-Cola and ice cream. So you can see the disparity of what's being put out there and what's being marketed to people.
However, I really took a career direction because, post-kids, I put on a lot of weight, and it got to the point where it's creeping up, put on a stone two stone. You hit a point where you think no more. I joined a weight loss company and lost three stone, and it really, really did spark my interest. And at the same time, I was looking for a career change. So I went back to university, and I did my master's in nutrition, physical activity and public health. And it was really focusing on the main 5 non-communicable diseases. So diabetes, cancer, mental health, and metabolic syndrome. Everything was diet and exercise-related—even things like diabetes, where they're prescribing metformin. The research showed that diet and exercise were proved by studies to be just as effective.
I also noticed that a lot of the people who were coming to
me for weight loss had underlying health conditions and really the weight was
like a symptom until they addressed their digestive issues or the stress
levels or their sleeping patterns, all these lifestyle things. They wouldn’t
fix the problems. So it was interesting to see that sort of the change in direction.
And I went and trained in functional medicine too. To really understand what
biomedical tests were around, to understand the gut markers ectara.
And the other thing I was working with at the time was my ACL injury. I went skiing. I wasn't as fit as I thought I was. I tried to do more than I should have done and fell on the slope, snapping my ACL.
That was really traumatic Trying to recover from that
because it's one of those injuries where you have to recover enough so that you can have the operation
But I found that my passion was Zumba and Pilates, they were my thing I absolutely loved them, and I was never a gym buddy using the treadmill and rowing machine.
You have to find what you love to be able to keep doing it, otherwise, it stops. Same with diet. Same with exercise. But this injury was starting to impact that. And I thought gosh, you know, I don't want to be in a position where I can't do my Zumba. So I also started to work on the pain side, and I work with some energy medicine technologies called scanR, which is really phenomenal for post-injury.
So I've got a real passion and, interest for people who are either right at the start of the journey, maybe their GP has said you now need to exercise you’re at risk of diabetes. Or people who maybe go to the gym and are doing some stuff, but they might have maybe plateaued in their weight and not getting the results. And those people are really fascinating to work with.
Then you've got the people who are really top of their game, athletes who really need the fine detail in terms of what you need to do, maybe with the macronutrients, at timing of foods, etcetera. And then you've also got the people who are, recovering from some type of injury which is hugely interesting.
So I keep learning so I can help everyone. Recently I've been training in DNA, the genetics are hugely interesting in helping people find, out how they going to have an active lifestyle, and how they are going to have a healthier lifestyle. My biggest thing is you've got to meet people where they're at. We want everyone to eat healthily we want everybody to exercise. But there’s no point just saying here’s the diet eat that or you need to go do 6 hours in the gym. It’s just not going to work.
But when you take a personalized approach and really consider the person, you can start with their DNA, you can start with their whole life history to where they are right now. So it's just been an evolving process for me using sort of experience from my own life, and how it's driven me. Every time I get a client and I can’t answer a question it makes me want to learn more.
That's fascinating. So, it's almost like your injury has really pushed and driven your passion to help other people. And it seems like you've literally just never stopped learning. You can never know too much about a certain topic. That’s amazing, Your journey, it's really inspiring.
So when you get a new client what can that client expect
from your program?
Yeah, so initially I need to know all about them. So we always start with a really detailed health questionnaire because my belief is every part of their life has built up to where they are right now. Right from the point you were born. Everything contributes. So that gives us the history. And then there's where they are now. But the single question I want to know from anybody is what is your happy end result?
Because when you understand what that is, you understand their motivations and especially if you can link it to something. So it really is taking that personalized approach so you understand. Why somebody's there? Why Somebody picked up the phone and said Kirsty, I need some help. And the health history is a great place to start. And then from that, depending on the information I get, we will look at well is DNA investigation appropriate it tends not to be for some of the younger people. I found a lot out, Retrospectively, which I wish I'd known 20 years ago because my DNA sports report told me that I was susceptible to injuries and if I'd known that I would have been aware of that alongside the Zumba, I really needed to be doing a little bit more conditioning to prevent that risk of injury.
We've got the health history. Then we look at, do we need to do some DNA to gather what they are susceptible to. Do we need to do any functional biomedical testing? Is there underlying health conditions there?
Then what we want people to do is have a lifestyle prescription. So this is the right eating plan for you. What we want to stay away from is here’s the diet. Do that lose the weight then when you stop the diet you put the weight back on. It's looking at how we can get somebody from what they're doing to something they can work with going forward, but not necessarily step off, you know, in a couple of months’ time. Also, we all have predispositions. When it comes to genes, MTHFR is quite a big one. We may need to sort of supplement to help people with some of the metabolism. OK, So what is the right eating plan for them? And how do we keep them being physically active, But also you have to consider their stress, downtime, and relaxation because if they are in a stressful environment, they may throw it all out the window. So it is about building up that bigger picture of where somebody is, and where the want to get to and mapping out that journey. It's a bit like delayering and onion don't come for one appointment. Think of this as I’m going to take the next three to six months to give yourself a journey. We know it takes 21 days to change a habit. Take it bit by bit and change those habits. Get yourself to a point because it becomes self-perpetuating it snowballs once you start to feel better and look better. You do want more of it and you get to a point where you think no, this is working for me. It becomes very natural.
That really comes through, I guess with these programs where it’s a lot on the client to have to stick to it; motivation can become a bit of an issue. Are there any techniques that you use to make sure that your clients are always motivated to achieve their goals?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, initially, we need to attach their goals to some emotional gain for them as I mentioned working with meditation, and mindfulness.
I'm always looking out for limiting beliefs. You know the undesirable habits that they can't change because one of the things I do is make called rapid transformational therapy and it's where we work with people in the subconscious mind. It's like a hypnotherapy technique. And for people, who are really struggling to break those habits, they want to, but what they've got is subconscious programs running them, and it can be way back in childhood. If I come across a client who is plateaued or is stuck. Right, OK, what is going on there is a deeper level here. In the subconscious mind, I'll offer those sorts of sessions that can be like a two-hour session where we really regress somebody back to where did those habits occur, why and try and reframe them. And that's super powerful for anybody who wants to but can't. That's more extreme cases. What we need to do is find that also if you can break down some of the stages to tiny bite size. Like one two small ones, such as just up your vegetable count per day for the next two weeks. If you can break things down into bite-size as soon as people get those wins, that's when the snowball effect starts. So that’s super powerful.
It’s almost the diet but also the physical side, but also psychological as well. Trying to break habits and become like sort of fight like a mental battle and doing what you're used. It’s so interesting.
Absolutely. And you don't want somebody spending all day worrying about the
fact that they, Had a little bit of a relapse. They need to relax and get back on it the next day. It shows that you're conscientious, and yet you're worrying about it. So, it's taking the fear out of things, taking that fear of failure as well away so that you know somebody thinks, oh, I can start again tomorrow. It's not the end of the world.
As a nutrition advisor, what’s the critical thing that motivates
you to do what you do?
I worked with a lot of people who do have digestive issues, and they are in a lot of pain and when you can take somebody who has been in a lot of pain and has really struggled to operate in their daily life. And helping them it means a lot, like helping people with migraines. Their life is, is so much better. You know, speaking from experience, I would lose two or three days on a migraine. So I've got clients who had been the same, which gives them much more opportunity in life. And that is very rewarding in a sense.
I've got your quote here on SPORTSESSION. It reaches beyond your current limitations. What does that mean to you?
It is interesting, and this comes back to the limit of belief. It’s
that old quote whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right. And
sometimes it just takes somebody to say we'll give it a go. We did this
exercise with rapid transformation therapy. If you take your arm, put it behind your back, and see how far it goes. And then, if you close your eyes and
ask to do the same thing again, you go much further. Well, why is that a lot of
it is the mind kicking in, you know, trying to protect you, which is its job?
It's what it does. But if you can do it safely, controlled way, you can
always go that a little bit further. And that might be where you want to go. To
that next level, and that’s why I used that quote.
All you have to do is just try, you know, people, as you're saying in the subconscious think they can't do something and you know, it's just taking that step in the right direction I feel like that's what we're really trying to do here at SPORTSESSION we've got such a plethora of sports and Wellness coaches and activities you never know you could just stumble upon your inner passion it might be surfing it might be dieting, it might be football. And once you find that sort of inner passion that you didn't necessarily know about, then you don't look back. That thing that fires you up. And it obviously has those positive effects in every aspect of your life. I've always told myself that the hardest thing to do when starting a sporting activity is to give it a go. You may not love it in the first session but then you go to the second one, and you slowly become more and more confident; you don't look back.
I have two kids. When they were little, we tried so many different hobbies, and we made it OK for them to say I don't want to do
that anymore. But we made sure they replaced it with something. So, my son tried
football. I really didn't like it. But loved rugby. So it’s just allowing people
to say I don’t want to do that. I was so happy when I found Zumba instead of the gym. It's inspiring people to find out what they want to do because we
are born and geared to be healthy. But it's finding the way that we want to.
And it's also interesting, just going back to some of the DNA stuff. When I got my DNA sports report, it said you're more prone to exercise in the morning. And I thought that was so true. Why didn't I know that years ago? Now I get up in the morning, and I’m like, yes, I want to go. Then I was looking at caffeine; it’s great for some people, and for others, it isn’t. Now I know I can take caffeine half an hour before a Zumba class, which makes it extraordinary. And other people wouldn’t be able to do that. I can't stress enough the personalization aspect of it and how important that is.
The DNA is such a life hack. I mean, with many people trying things and knowing about their routine or habits is almost trial and error. You see, I can have a coffee first thing in the morning. That works for me. Others will do it, but then they won't even necessarily be aware that it's actually having adverse effects on their performance. It’s so essential for someone to understand themselves. Because they may not have even registered or understood why sometimes you feel or do the things you do, and it's just a direct result of your behaviour. It's so fundamental.
When I did the training, we studied athletes. It was so
interesting. E.g. they studied rowers, and they all had eight similar genes predisposed for strength and endurance. It’s really fascinating. And to have
found mine out retrospectively, it makes so much sense. And you only have to do
it once as well because your DNA isn't going to change. But your expression of
the genes is modifiable.
I think this is interesting. Is breakfast a myth, or is it indeed fundamental to a healthy lifestyle?
That is interesting because I don't know if you've researched intermittent fasting, but that is becoming quite high profile, especially for people with health conditions. If you look at the most extreme aspect of that, where we're really going for that autophagy, you've got eating within an 8-hour window. People are maybe starting eating at 10:00 o'clock in the morning or 12:00 o'clock. If you think starting at 12, you're getting all your food in between midday and 6:00 o'clock in the evening to give you that 16 hours where you're going to really hit the maximum autophagy. So again, I can't stress enough it's personalization.
What are the most common food misconceptions?
The low-fat myth. When making something low-fat, they're taking the fat out and replacing it with something. What are they replacing it with? We got to be careful with things like diabetes, the metabolic syndrome, because there are too many hidden sugars in foods and I do see when something is now low fat, doesn’t mean they have used a healthy alternative. We know we need good fats. You know, the avocados, the coconut walls, etcetera. And I would encourage people to replace any of the sorts of high animal fats with some of the healthier fats rather than going low fat that's a real big myth that I see.
Another one is processed foods. For people trying to be healthy
by going gluten-free, then I would recommend swapping the breads for potatoes
or rice. But when you start buying gluten free breads or products three times
the price, they fall apart. They don't taste great. There are better ways of
going gluten free than replacing a bread with a gluten free bread.
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