SHINING A LIGHT ON HEALTH
SUNSHINE COAST NUTRITIONAL GURUS KATHRYN CHANDLER AND TARA LEONG SHARE THEIR TIPS TO LEADING A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE
In a day and age where nutrition advice is given out left, right and centre, two Coast women have set out with the goal of demystifying and simplifying messages around living a healthy lifestyle.
Holistic health coach Kathryn Chandler and nutritionist Tara Leong, both based in Noosa, are big advocates of promoting a whole approach to health.
Their mission is to educate, inspire and encourage people to make healthy choices and give people the tools and tips they need to live a better lifestyle.
Growing up, Kathryn was heavily involved in dancing and when she was in her early 20s she moved to Brisbane to pursue her professional ballet career.
She said it wasn’t until she had been involved in the industry a few years that she came to realise how negative the ballet world was in terms of promoting an unhealthy body image.
Plagued by thoughts of not being good enough, a desire to lose weight and having developed unhealthy habits, Kathryn said she knew something had to change.
“I saw a very dark side to the ballet industry and after a couple of years dancing professionally, I realised it was not for me,” she said.
“So I began researching ways to be healthy, followed inspirational blogs and started working on myself a lot.
“I was feeling amazing, eating well and I decided I really wanted to help others as well.”
Kathryn said she wanted to provide people with the right knowledge and advice so she became a qualified nutritionist through the Institute for Integrated Nutrition.
She is now a certified holistic health coach and wellness blogger and has started her own business on the Coast.
“I have so much love for the community here on the Coast and I have a very important message to share,” she said.
“Social media has a lot to answer for in terms of how much pressure it puts on people to look a certain way and I think we need to start spreading some more positive body-image messages.
“We are in a time now where everyone is so stressed out and in our fast-paced lives, we really need to be putting our health first.”
Tara also started out with a dance background and was a ballet teacher and personal trainer before she decided to take a holistic approach to health.
She said she found the messages she was receiving about health to be “very confusing” and so set out to go back and study nutrition at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
“I wanted to get a good education and really have evidence behind the advice that I was giving,” she said.
“There are a lot of people on social media without qualifications who are giving people health advice.
“It’s really scary because people are unaware of what they don’t actually know and people are very susceptible to the messages they receive.”
Tara said she would love to see more acceptance of different body sizes and shapes, less focus on diet and weight loss and a bigger focus on healthy behaviours.
“We need to concentrate less on restricting our eating. People should give themselves permission to be hungry and to eat when they feel like it but be mindful of what we are eating,” she said.
“Our brains become rebellious teenagers when we tell ourselves that we can’t eat something and then that just makes us want to eat it more. When we are so focused on food, that is when we binge, go to the fridge and instead of having one biscuit we eat the whole packet. Then we restrict ourselves because we feel guilty and then the cycle begins.”
With all the mixed messages people receive about health, Tara said she believed there should be restrictions and guidelines around people who gave advice on health and nutrition on social media.
“Young teenagers are especially being influenced online and if they are learning the wrong messages from the start then this is really harmful,” she said.
“The food products people go out and buy are influenced by the people who are promoting them on social media and the problem is that what they are promoting might not actually be good for us.
“We have the power to take control over our own health decisions and not believe the click bait we are bombarded with.”
Tara said developing a healthy relationship with food was key, as was thinking positively about our bodies. “Research shows when people think positively about their body, they are more likely to treat it well,” she said.
Kathryn’s top three tips to focus on living a healthy lifestyle;
Really focus not just on nutrition, but gut health. We have a lot of happy hormones in our gut and if they are not right, then we are not absorbing all of the nutrients from the foods we are eating.
Mindful movement is key. A lot of people go in to the gym and slog it out and work out as a punishment for over-eating or to look a certain way. I’m a big believer in doing movement that you enjoy and you are more likely to go back and do something if it makes you feel good. Sometimes it is better to do something more restorative that is good for your body and for your mental health.
Stress management. I strongly encourage people to engage in meditation, ideally every day and deep breathing exercises. I also practise gratitude and write down three things that I am grateful for every day. This helps to focus on the positives and it’s easy to reduce stress when you look at all the things you are grateful for in life.
Tara’s top three tips to focus on living a healthy lifestyle;
Check the facts. Make sure when you are looking for information about health that you are always checking the author’s credentials. Click on the “about” section of the website and check out who has written it and what credentials they have. You want to make sure you are getting the right information from the start and that it isn’t going to cause any harm.
Make slow changes. Start off changing things really slowly and make small changes that are realistic. Many people think that to be healthy and to make changes, you start a diet. You don’t have to follow a keto or a paleo diet. It could just mean adding more fruit to your diet throughout the week.
Find your own approach. I believe in individualised eating. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. My husband has grown up not eating until 11am and that works really well for him but if I try to do that, then I turn into a zombie by mid-morning and can’t concentrate on anything.
HOLISTIC APPROACHES: Tara Leong (main image above and far right with daughter Lucy-belle Leong) is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Kathryn Chandler (right) is a holistic health coach and wellness blogger.