Leanne Ward: The Fitness Dietitian

If you’re looking for motivation to get off the couch this afternoon and go out and enjoy the sunshine, this is it! Having learned from a young age about the importance of healthy eating and a balanced lifestyle, Leanne Ward AKA The Fitness Dietitian has spent her lifetime inspiring others to lead their best possible life. For Leanne, it’s not about dieting or quick fixes, it’s about taking care of your body every day. There is no denying the passion Leanne has for a healthy mind, body and soul. Here, The Fitness Dietitian shares her tips for helping others on their journey of a healthier lifestyle; trust us, you’ll be inspired!

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What inspired you to become a dietitian?
I have always been interested in health and fitness from a young age. My mum always taught me how to modify a recipe to make it healthier and we’d spend hours cooking meals from scratch in the kitchen using fresh herbs and spices. My interest in food stemmed from here and I always wanted a job where I could help people and make a difference to their health and nutrition. Dietetics was the perfect fit to combine both of those!

How did you get involved in the industry?
I studied a few degrees at university (all relating to science, health, and nutrition) and did some volunteer work and data collection during this time. This gave me a feel for a few areas and led me down the path of a Master of Dietetics.

What is your main health & wellness mantra?
Nourish, sweat, discover! Nourish your body, sweat regularly and discover something new each day.

What are your top 5 tips for improving your health?
1. If you have the opportunity always choose whole foods.
2. Aim for 8 hours sleep a night.
3. Fill half your plate with coloured veggies or salad first, then add protein, carbs, and fats.
4. Get sunshine and fresh air daily.
5. Surround yourself with positive people who take care of their health.

What are your favourite places to eat in Brisbane?
Trang (Westend), Vietnamese Avachat Café (Mitchelton), Vege Rama (West End), Kunara Organic Café (Nundah), Kathmandu Newa Chhe’n (Paddington), Press’d (Newstead) & The Corner Store Café (Toowong)… oh and Sushi Train!!

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Do you believe that nutrition or exercise is more important? Or is there a balance that needs to be struck between the two?
They are both equally important. Not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. I don’t believe one can be ‘healthy’ without a healthy balance of both!

A lot of people declare themselves to be time-poor as an excuse for not eating well or exercising. What would be your advice to people who fall into this category?
Invest in your health; you’ve only got one body to live in. No one ever finds ‘spare time’ to do the things they need to do. It’s all about prioritising the things that are important to you. Health and fitness are ALWAYS top of my to do list. Sure my house may not always be clean, I may be late for my lunch date and my car may be a month late for its service but I prioritise my health so my body will look after me in the long run. You will never find time to do it if it’s not a priority. Make your health your TOP priority.

There are a lot of new diet and fitness trends around at the moment; what do you see as the best and worst of these trends? Are they just a fad or are they here to stay?
I believe that we are all individuals and what works for some of us won’t work for all of us. Diets, in general, don’t work long term and fitness ‘trends’ can quickly become too routine. The best way to look after yourself if to keep constantly changing up your routine. This way it’s fun, interesting and challenging for your body. If you eat the same thing day in and day out then your body can quickly adapt to this and same goes for your training. Try out these new things but don’t rely on them for long-term results. Instead of ‘fad diets’ try experimenting with whole foods – buy interesting new ingredients, try new spices, use a different cooking method, trial a new recipe, your body will run much better on whole foods rather than a restrictive ‘fad diet’. The best way to look after yourself is with a healthy balance of whole foods and a daily dose of exercise (whatever that may be!) – it’s also the best way to sustain a healthy body in the long term.

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What has been your biggest challenge since becoming a dietitian?
Trying to promote moderation and NOT dieting when everyone wants that quick fix and so many other people are promising these quick fixes masked as ‘diets’ to vulnerable people. Everyone who has ever lost weight considers themselves an expert in nutrition (when they’re not) and write their own ‘diet’ as they believe what works for them will work for everyone else. It’s hard to promote the message of moderation when everyone wants instant results. Companies/people promise the world from a pill, shake or diet but I’ve seen people fail over and over and over again. I’ve seen many, many clients and know that everybody’s life, goals, and bodies are different so everyone needs an individual approach. Balance eating around whole foods and tailor this to your own personal lifestyle. Just because it worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you (especially if that person is promoting a quick fix!). Give up the dieting and quick fixes and work on a healthier lifestyle one small step at a time. I like to remind my clients that they didn’t gain 10kg in a week so they shouldn’t expect to lose it in a week either!

Finally, if you can only give us one piece of advice to inspire us, what would it be?
You don’t have to be perfect. Society places so much pressure on us to be perfect that we just end up cracking and giving up. Remember: strive for progress daily, not perfection. Enjoy that piece of cake, skip that gym class or order that extra glass of wine but just don’t make it a regular thing. If you prioritise your health the majority of the time, there will always be room for cake and wine.

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