We are very excited to have sports dietician Harriet Walker as one of our guest bloggers for Feather and Barb. In her first post, Harriet gives us an insight into some of the things she has learnt during her many years working with nutrition clients and offers some advice on how you too can create some better habits.
I’ve talked to a LOT of people about nutrition. I’m talking in excess of 300 people divulging their deepest, darkest (and tastiest) food confessions. Like, I frequently leave consultations wondering why I hadn’t thought about breaking up a block of Kit Kat into Nutri-grain and honey macadamias for the ultimate ‘trail mix’ to Netflix and chill with.
So while you ponder that combination, I also want to share some of the more healthful things I have learn from my clients. Not only how they reached their goals, but how they maintained them. Because, well we all have the capacity to hang tight for eight weeks while cutting out all joyful foods, but to be honest, I think the REAL skill is being able to sit in a room with donuts/mini sausage rolls/salt and vinegar chips and not feel like there is a vortex pulling you face-first into the plate.
I have complied a tick box activity that you can run over, based on the habits of the people who successfully maintain a healthy and functional body year round, and who still manage a beer or burger on the regular - yes these people exist. And I promise you, they are not the people whose personal introduction is fused with their preferred eating style (e.g. “Hi I am Sarah, I am Frutarian).
You will note, there is very little to do with food here, it’s more about attitude and perspective. Because success in anything is usually correlated with attitude and perspective. If you chase quick fixes, you get you get weak results. Whereas strong foundations lead to unfaltering results!
So here we go, run through this list and tick off what you have got going on, and note down where you might need some extra focus.
o Food choices are based around mostly healthy choices (about 80%). Lots of colourful vegetables, some fruit, some lean meats, whole fibrous grains, protein rich dairy and healthy fats.
o No foods are banned and foods are not labelled as ‘good’ ‘bad’ ‘toxic’ etc. Favourite foods, whatever they may be, are enjoyed on a semi-regular basis, without feeling guilty. There is no failure if it’s a part of your regular diet!
o A large proportion of food is prepared at home and healthy convenient options are on hand at home and the workplace.
o Food is not a part of your identity. The way you eat is simply what is enjoyed and what supports your training and lifestyle, and is unlikely to be a major topic of conversation.
o Sleep is prioritised over binge watching television or scrolling through social media (7-8 hours preferably)
o Coffee is enjoyed, but not relied upon to get through the day (see above point)
o Alcohol is enjoyed, but not essential to have a good time, to deal with issues or to destress.
o Exercise is enjoyable and done regularly, not as a punishment, but as a lifestyle
o Training or planned exercise is seen as important for achieving goals, but missing a session due to illness, injury or to connect with other doesn’t cause you distress.
How did you go? So this is not a exhaustive list, but just the more common habits I have observed in my most successful clients. And it’s not about feeling bad about your current situation - life happens, and at any one time, you might drop the ball, even if you know what your should be doing. It’s more about awareness, and doing what you can, when you can, so you are not always starting form square one. If there is something on there that you think is keeping you from reaching your goals AND keeping the results, you know help is only one conversation away.
Harriet Walker is a fully accredited sports dietitian and personal trainer. She has worked with hundreds of clients, including professional athletes, to help them reach their nutrition, health and training goals. When Harriet is not working in the nutrition, you will find her competing at a local and national level in a number of sports including surf boat rowing and strong woman competitions.
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