How do I measure my success?

On Monday night I attended a Branch meeting for all Sports Dietitians in Queensland. One of the ladies was recapping a seminar that she had attended in Melbourne. The speaker discussed how we as Dietitians are to measure our success, and also defining what it means to me to be successful in my field.

I have had to ponder on this for a few days to figure out what it really does mean to me. As a dietitian my ultimate success would be one that thrives off Olympic Weightlifting. Personally, I do not just want to focus on how a person looks on the outside and provide information on how to do that; but become a true Sports Dietitian. One who focuses on nutrition for training at 100%, muscle recovery, maintaining the correct body weight and nutrition for competition.  I personally want to become solely an Olympic weightlifting sports dietitian and thrive off this. This is what I will class as successful and I know it is what I want to do.  However, I do not just want to be the one who just tells them what to eat and when. I want to experience their athletic career with them, and I want them to know I am with them 100%.

I was talking with my coach Miles Wydall one morning and how the first few years of coaching his goals were to go to the Olympic games, commonwealth games as a coach. Once he had done that, it was more of the goal of seeing his athletes compete and the joy they get from competing. The same goes for me, I want to be there for my clients on the rollercoaster rides they take. The bad training days or lifting sub-optimal lifting in competitions, the days they hit PB’s, when making weight becomes easier and easier. I want to be the one who can go to the Olympic/Commonwealth Games, Oceania’s to be able ensure athletes are eating exactly what they need to. I want them to know I care and am here to see them perform at 100%.

The question of how do I become successful has not only affected how I approach my own business, but also my personal life. How can I measure my success as a person? What do I need to do to feel like I can be successful in myself and what does that mean?!

I want to be successful in my own nutrition choices, my own training, how I talk to or about people or whether I am a person that others can approach. The elements which affect my own mental health and wellbeing which are the aspects I personally feel I struggle with.

I struggle to keep my nutrition consistent, sometimes I just give up and say screw it, I am over watching portion sizes and I just want to eat for training. Then the struggle with how I feel and look. I am just alike 80% of the population out there and struggle frequently. You would think I would be able to put my own advice into practice, but sometimes I just can’t mentally. But sometimes I think admitting what is wrong is just the beginning of the process to change. I have struggled for the last 8 years of disordered eating. When I have goals I am focused and centred. But when I don’t, life gets messy and I relax.

I am slowly finding the happy medium and am getting better and better each year. I know I will get it one day, but it is all a process. I will not give up and it is something I ask you to do. Don’t give up just because you struggle.  Be a role model to your kids, and family who may be also struggling with their own body weight. Be their inspiration and motivation and help them.  Every single person influences another in one way, so take advantage of it for the better.

I guess what I am starting to realise, is that life is such a journey, I can look back at what I have done and learn from my struggles and set backs, and decide what step forward I am going to take next. What small thing I can take control of and be proud that I have changed.

That is what I want to ask you? What one SMALL thing can you change for your health and well being? Email me and let me know, truly have a think of what you want to be most successful in and one is one thing you can change now to take one step in that direction.

Breakfast Cereals

This week out of request, I have been asked to discuss breakfast cereals.

Some people want a quick convenient option, or just prefer to eat cereal in the morning. So today instead of saying no, I want to show which are the best options to buy that isn’t full of added sugars!

Before I do though, I need for you to understand, cereals are high in carbohydrates and if eaten in large quantities, can lead to body fat gain. So make sure you look at the individual serve size. (usually ½ C of cereal). Most cereals are low in fibre and protein, and as a result are usually hungry after an hour post consumption. My definition of high fibre for cereal is anything over 5g per serve if you would like a reference guide.

So to compensate for this, I usually ask clients to add ½ scoop of protein powder on water (shake) to their meal. This will prevent hunger and ensure you are consuming enough protein at brekky! I also utilise cereals that are high in fibre to prevent hunger.

So what are the best cereals to buy?

  • Goodness Superfoods Digestive 1st or Protein 1st is one of the best cereals out there! It is very high in fibre which will keep you fuller for longer, and is also high in protein.
  • Freedom foods – Active Balance, either Multigrain and cranberry or Buckwheat and Quinoa – Gluten Free, Nut free, Wheat free. The buckwheat and quinoa is the better option of the two
  • Oats – 1/3 a Cup or 1 sachet – full of fibre to help keep you again fuller for longer!
  • Untoasted Muesli – try to avoid lots of dried fruit and again pick an option high in fibre
  • Special K Original
  • Gluten Free Weetbix
  • Uncle tobys shredded wheat
  • Uncle Toby’s plus range: Protein, antioxidant & omega 3

Remember – this is all off the recommended serve size! Serve with low fat/skim milk.

What are the cereals to avoid??

The following cereals are just a few of the not so good options! Why? Because they are low in fibre, low in protein and full of added sugar. Unless you eat a full bowl full – usually 4 times the amount normally needed, it will be hard to be satisfied. These products are high GI, which means it will take your energy levels on a rollercoaster ride and leave you craving something else sweet within an hour or two.

Cornflakes! These are a high GI food (will give you an energy level spike and plummet not long after)
Coco pops or really anything chocolate based!
Fruit loops
Anything really advertised as clusters/granola clusters! To bind these together, they use additional honey/sugar/oil etc. A lot of extra unnecessary carbohydrates that will not help prevent hunger!

So if you are interested in consuming breakfast cereals, make sure you are making the best decision possible!



“Backyard Nutritionists”

This week let’s talk about ‘backyard nutritionists’. When I am talking about a ‘Backyard Nutritionist’, I’m talking about people who are giving nutritional advice but who have very little-to-no studied knowledge – yet still offer personalised nutritional advice and meal plans to their clients or friends.

Why am I so worried and frustrated by this?

First, are these people really looking out for your overall health? Meal plans might be designed for body fat loss or muscle mass gain, but does it mean it is still giving the body what it needs to thrive and survive for the rest of its life.

Second, I have studied hard to get where I am today. For the past 6 years have worked to increase my knowledge as an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Sports Dietitian. I do not know everything and am learning new things every day. However I do know how to provide a good nutritionally balanced diet to enhance training and performance, prevent sickness, and increase quality of life. And I know this well enough that I have been accredited by two National bodies.

I know I cannot stop others from providing nutritional advice, nor will I ask them too. However what I want is for people to become more aware. Just because someone uses the name nutritionist, nutrition coach and dietary advisor does not instantly qualify them for the task. Sadly, ANYONE can call themselves a nutritionist, there is no law against that. However no one can call themselves a Dietitian without being qualified.

So I want to encourage you to look carefully at the information you are reading or hearing. Critique it. Do not be afraid to ask questions and delve into why the nutritionist has planned this for you.

Let me give you an example of how important the right information is by breaking down as basic plan and showing you how it can affect the body. This way you can understand how and why I plan the way I do.

Most of you are aware that high protein, low carb diets are all the rage at the moment for body fat loss and training. It is the most typical diet plan I have seen from my clients coming to me after seeing a ‘Backyard Nutritionist’. So here is a sample plan that might follow such a diet:

Breakfast:  150g of steak + 1-2 C of fibrous vegetables (greens, carrot, cauliflower etc) + 30g of almonds

MT: 150g of chicken or steak + 2 C of fibrous vegetables + 20g of almonds

Lunch: 150g of chicken, fish or steak + 2 tbsp of coconut oil + 1 C of fibrous vege

Pre Training: Protein shake

Post Training: Protein shake

Dinner: 150g of chicken, fish or steak + 300g of sweet potato + 1 C of vege

Now let’s consider this plan a little more carefully:

  1. This meal plan contains a total of 600g of meat a day. HOLY! Are you trying to ruin the persons bowel! The cancer council stated many many years ago, consuming more than 500g of red meat a week can lead to bowel cancer. I am sure if you have been listening to the news over the last couple of weeks, you will have heard many things about bacon, processed meats and red meat to be linked to this. Imagine if the person above decided to consume 540g of steak in one day! Would that sound ok with you?
  2. You might also consider that this is not a nutritionally balanced diet. Every plan I write, I ensure that each person eats enough vitamins and minerals to prevent sickness, osteoporosis, increase energy levels and boost their immune system. This diet does not provide sufficient vitamins and minerals for anyone. I did a quick analysis and this is what I found it was lacking:
  • Iodine: Responsible for producing the hormones that control our metabolism
  • Calcium: Required for muscle contraction, bone health and prevention of osteoporosis
  • B vitamins Folate and Thiamin: control our energy levels, prevent cracks and sores around the mouth. Thiamin also controls nerve function and muscle contraction
  • Iron: unless the above person is having red meat at every meal, iron intake will be low for a female. Iron is essential for helping supply oxygen to the cells in our body. It gives us energy and helps fight infection
  • Omega 3 and 6s: These fatty acids are essential for regulating blood pressure and preventing inflammation. Important factors for those who train excessively.
  • Vitamin C: Important for keeping the Immune system functioning well.

While there are plenty of vitamins and minerals from vegetables, unless you know how much to provide exactly of certain vegetables, then you will be lacking all of the above!

  1. It is very low in carbohydrate. For a person who is trying to perform and train consistently, this is not enough carbohydrates to see good advances in training or in muscle mass. Your muscles need carbohydrates to fuel the muscle repair process. Without carbohydrates the quality of muscle will not increase at a very fast rate.
  2. Because it is a low carb diet, in the first few week of following it, there will be a lot of body fluid and muscle glycogen loss. Carbohydrates hold onto fluid and following a low carb diet can drop 2kgs of carbohydrate and fluid stores. This is why WEIGHT loss happens so quickly in the beginning, because it is fluid rather than FAT loss. Yes you will lose some body fat, but no it will not be 2kgs.
  3. One of the most important questions for me when trying to write a plan for my clients is whether the diet is sustainable. Would you be able to follow this meal plan for the rest of your life? This type of diet may have the person motivated for the first month or two because they are seeing results. But what happens when you get over it, or you have a cheat meal? Would binging come into this? Would eating meat become so unappealing that you would go back to consuming the diet you previously had done, plus more? For me, complete restriction is not the way to go unless you have to make weight for a competition or it is imperative for training.
  4. Final question to ask yourself is whether you would you actually enjoy eating this way. Some people would, but the majority would not. At least not long term. Think about what do you want from life as a whole. Life is not just about your looks. Nutritional advice, while going a long way to helping with sports performance and weight loss, is mostly about becoming more healthy and finding a better quality of life altogether. You only have one life and get one chance to live. Would a life with a diet like the above be really worth it for you? And remember, this is not just about the short term gains. What effect would eating like this have on your body in the long term? Just because you do not see the effects of having a poor nutritionally balanced diet right now, does not mean you will not later on in life.

I have seen a many problems emerge from people following advice by unqualified people. Their results may have begun well, but they turned into extreme digestion issues, cold sores, skin break outs, fainting and, in some cases, their body as started to go into shut down mode.

So if you ever receive dietary advice from an unqualified nutritionist, don’t hesitate to question the plan and their rationale for it for you. Your nutrition is a serious business and that’s why I take your nutritional care seriously. The food we eat it is our fuel and gives us life. Ask and make sure you know that what you are doing is right!

For those PT’s, trainers or coaches who do refer or even just encourage their clients to see a qualified Nutritionist, Dietitian – Thank you! A good quality diet makes such a difference in how someone performs, behaves and trains. You are greatly appreciated.

Finally, for my clients – I hope you see the above as a testimony to why I care so much about providing you with personalised care and advice. I do not take our relationship for granted. As I said – I take nutrition seriously and, more specifically, I take YOUR nutrition seriously. Thank you for trusting me and believe me when I say that I will always work hard to ensure you receive the best plan and advice that I can give you.

Italian Quinoa with Basil Oil

1 cup of quinoa raw

¼ sundried tomatoes low fat

100g low fat feta – diced into small cubes

¼ C of pine nuts

200g of chicken breast, diced



1 bunch of basil

Juice of ½ lemon

Pinch of salt

1/4 C of olive oil



In a medium saucepan add the quinoa along with 1 ¾ C of water. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down to a simmer for 10-12 mins. Or until the quinoa opens. Set aside to cool

While cooking, heat a small pan to low and add the chicken breast. Cover and cook for 8-10minutes. Flip the chicken once turned white and cook for another 4-5 minutes until cooked through.

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and drop ¾ basil leaves in for 20 seconds. Drain in colander and run under cold water for 1 minute so that it doesn’t continue to change colour.

Put the basil leaves in a tea towel and roll it up. Ring out excess moisture by twisting. Then place in a blender with salt and lemon juice. Turn on and gradually add the oil until it all combines, set aside.

Dry roast the pine nuts in a small frypan on high heat for 1-2mins

Gently fold in the tomatoes, pine nuts, feta and remaining basil in a bowl with the quinoa. Be careful not to mix to harshly otherwise the quinoa will bruise and become stodgy.

Pour the basil oil over when serving.