health

'I've spoken to hundreds of women as a dietitian. Here are 6 things I tell every client.'

Healthylife
Thanks to our brand partner, Healthylife

Health. 

It's a particularly big, important, life focus that is so often clouded by misinformation. And that's why it's so important we're getting it from the right people. 

Simone Austin is an Accredited Practising Dietitian, Advanced Sports Dietitian, and a Chair of the healthylife Advisory Board, who knows a lot about living a healthy lifestyle.

So, Mamamia asked her to share the wisdom you might would definitely hear as one of her clients. 

The things we wish we could've known a little sooner.

Here's what she had to say.

Consume health advice wisely.

First and foremost, Simone wants women to be sure that any fitness, health and wellness advice they might receive is coming from a reputable, qualified source.

"Check who's written the information, before you take something as gospel," she says. 

"People are very happy to take health advice from anyone they might follow online, but you wouldn't get your car fixed by the gardener.

"Health advice is one of the most important things you could take on board. Make sure you take [it] carefully."

Resources like the Woolworths Groups' healthylife website are great for getting accurate health information you can trust. 

"It has a Board of certified experts, and everything you'll find on the healthylife site – from free health programs, to tools like the healthylife food tracker – all work to scientific findings, and is evidence-based."

So, you can be sure you're getting your very important health information from accredited experts.

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Find a support system.

Next, Simone suggests building a support system to keep feeling on track and accountable.

"If you're wanting to make some changes in your health, for all you know, a friend or a family member may be on a similar journey [to you]," she says.

"It could be that you want to move more, but you don't have a lot of motivation to do it. 

"Making a time with a friend and having a walking buddy you can be accountable to, or even with cooking, it could be that you've got a buddy that you catch up with on the weekend and you both cook a dish each and you swap it, share it so that you're actually socialising at the same time. It's looking after your health.

"That's one of my biggest things is I think for females, generally we like to communicate and socialise, so why not combine your health and wellbeing goals at the same time as your leisure time?"

Diarise your health goals.

According to Simone, achieving your health goals isn't as simple as setting and forgetting.

To get things done, she recommends putting your health plans into the calendar.

"For those things you want to achieve, don't think they'll just happen. You actually need to diarise your food shopping, or your time with your friend, or some downtime to read your book... whatever it is, actually put it in your diary."

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And when life gets in the way? Simone says not to worry.

"If you can't make it, that's okay. But always reschedule it in your diary. Don't just lose that time for yourself."

Focus on what you need in your meals. Not what you don’t.

It may not come as a surprise to many that Simone often sees women who believe the key to healthy living is cutting out all the foods that bring them joy. 

But, she says focusing on what not to eat is the wrong way to go about getting healthy.

"Think about what you need to eat for the day for wellness, rather than what you don't need to eat," she says.

"Think: 'I want to have a couple of pieces of fruit today, I want to have five serves of veg, I want to have a handful of nuts, and I'll have some dairy... I want to have some meat or meat alternatives...' whatever it might be. 

Let go of guilt.

Perhaps one of Simone's biggest piece's of advice for women who are struggling to meet their health goals is to let go of feelings of guilt that stop them from trying again.

Instead of feeling shame, Simone suggests to try and redirect that into getting curious.

"You might have planned to win something, and it didn't go quite right. That's okay. Stop to think about why it didn't. 

"Maybe you wanted to eat a couple of pieces of fruit each day this week, or up your daily water intake. And you got to the end of the week and it didn't happen. Look at why. Because if you don't look at the why it's not going to suddenly change. 

"Is it because there wasn't the specific food available? Or was it because we purchased things we don't really like, just because we think they're better for us? Did that particular food need time to prep it, and there wasn't enough time in the day? Or you know, like, cutting up the oranges, was it too messy to action quickly in the morning before work?"

Once you've worked out why things didn't go to plan, you can start working out how to avoid running into issues next time. 

"Look at it from that curious and that compassionate lens rather than the guilty-and-wanting-to-criticise-yourself lens. It's not about 'getting back on track', just about what can change next time?"

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Weight is not a sole health judgement.

Lastly, Simone wants to remind women to stop using their weight as the one sole measure of their health.

"There are so many ways to measure your health," she says.

"It will change as you go from being a child, to being middle-aged and to being an older woman – and I think that's really important to realise that things change as you go along.

"For instance, when you're a bit older it's more important to be looking at things like: 'are my bones strong, and am I getting enough protein to maintain my muscle mass so that I can move and do the things I want to do?' 

"It's likely to be more important than knowing exactly what your weight is."

She also discourages restrictive eating which may impact a woman's mental health.

"Consider: 'if I restrict my food intake too much, how is that going to affect my mood?' For example, fasting and eating later in the day doesn’t work for me, because I would get 'hangry' if I skipped breakfast and find it hard to concentrate. It comes back to health being your personal journey, and not just following what works for others."

healthylife gives you insights and inspiration from the world of health and wellness, bringing together reliable health information in one simple, online destination.

Feature Image: Instagram/@simone_austin

Healthylife
HealthyLife, part of Woolworths Group, was launched in 2021. HealthyLife is a digital health hub that includes access to trusted advice from health professionals, health tracking and a specialised range of health products including vitamins, personal care, skin care, nutrition based natural, organic and sustainable products. HealthyLife's Health Advisory Board consists of doctors, a surgeon, nutritionists and a Chief Health Officer, who bring to life advice and propositions for its customers.