Your Health and Weight Story – what are you telling yourself?

What story are you telling yourself? Have you ever had one of those moments when something you have been pretending is so fine is actually not? And until someone calls you on it, you were quite happy to continue to sail along the sea of denial? I had one of those moments this week when my beautiful dog Lulu, unfortunately pulled one of her claws out of her paw.  Akin to ripping off a nail, I knew it would be painful and took her straight up to the vet. After tending to the problem at hand, the vet gave her a general check-up and proclaimed that Lulu was in good health with the exception of one thing.  At this point, the vet started to look a little awkward. She said, “Lulu appears to be carrying a bit too much weight and I am struggling to find her ribs, have you looked for them lately?” Well. Lulu is a Miniature Schnauzer and alternates between extremely fluffy or shorn like a sheep. Given that the weather is getting a bit chilly, I have decided to keep her fluffy for a bit and have been telling myself that while she does appear rounder than usual, her fur must be quite voluminous. But, back to the vet who has me pinned under her watchful gaze, waiting expectantly for some kind of explanation.  I am wildly casting my mind around for some good answers and clearly coming up with none, so she starts firing questions at me.  Are you giving her too many treats? Is she being fed from the table? Is she being exercised regularly? Are her portion sizes too big? While I am doing my best impersonation of a rabbit in the headlights, I then start hoping fervently that the vet does not look at Lulu’s medical file which lists my occupation.  As a Dietitian. The anonymous quote that I love to share with others now floats through my consciousness, “Knowing and not doing, is the same as not knowing.”

“Knowing and not doing, is the same as not knowing”

Of course, I wanted to deny all of the obvious reasons as to why Lulu was ballooning. But, whether you have two legs or four, the inescapable biological fact is that if your weight is increasing, there can only be two possible avenues.  Too much going in (food) or too little going out (exercise). It’s simple yet so complicated.

In my case, reflection on ‘how did we get here,’ forced me to realise and admit that Lulu’s food intake was not being measured (and visual judgement is NOT the same as actually measuring), the kids were giving her their leftover bits and pieces and if she put on her puppy dog eyes whenever food was near, she might just get some. From little things, big things do indeed grow.

Have you been in that position where the blinkers are on and you’re telling yourself one thing but doing another? It might be what you are eating (or not), how much exercise you are doing, how you manage your stress levels or even how much sleep you are clocking up.

Within moments of my revelation with the fluffy one, the vet had several of her staff in the room brandishing written material and providing verbal advice. It’s the same with our own health and well-being, sometimes it takes someone else to point out the obvious to us.  And sometimes you need support to turn the ship around.

 Do you need to check the story you are telling yourself?


Food Revolution Day

Food Revolution Day
Food Revolution Day

In eleven days time, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day 2015 will kick off all over the world. It is a cause close to my heart because I am a proud Ambassador for Food Revolution Day and I am a parent to three young kids. With their mum being a Dietitian, our kids have grown up learning how to make healthy food choices and why an active lifestyle is important. The thing is, not everyone has access to this kind of hands on practical education at home or even at school. This is evident in the current global obesity epidemic with 42 million children under the age of five either overweight or obese.  As a Dietitian I find these statistics staggering and that is why next week on the 15th May, I will be side by side with the children at Deanmore Primary School helping them prepare a Squished Sandwich, Jamie Oliver style with millions of other kids around the world. Jamie Oliver is doing everything he can to make a difference to the health of our children through food. With his trademark passion he is encouraging us all to support his mission through signing a petition to get some action in governments around the world and I am right behind him. His letter galvanizing our action is below.

“Hi guys, Jamie here I urgently need your help to make a real difference. We’re currently facing a global obesity epidemic, with 42 million children under the age of five either overweight or obese across the world. The bottom line is the next generation will live shorter lives than their parents if nothing is done to rectify these alarming stats. So I’m asking that you do two simple things – first, please sign this petition to show your support for compulsory practical food education in schools across the world, then, most importantly, share it via your social networks. It;s essential that we arm  future generations with the life skills they urgently need in order to lead healthier, happier, more productive lives.  I passionately believe this is every child’s human right and I hope you agree. If you can help me get millions of people to sign this petition, we can create a movement powerful enough to force all G20 governments to take action.  Food education will make a difference to the lives of the next generations, so please help. I can’t do it without you. Sign it, share it and let’s inspire governments to do the right thing. Big love Jamie Oliver x “

For more information on Food Revolution Day go to I would love each and every one of you to join me. What are you waiting for? Sign it. Share it.   

The Lightness of Being

There is no doubt it is controversial and it sure has got people talking.  I am referring to the graphic images that West Australian’s have been confronted with over the past couple of weeks since the launch of the LiveLighter campaign.  The Grababble Gut.  As a nation, we’re the heaviest we’ve ever been. As at 2010, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated that more than 4.3 million Australians, roughly one in four, were obese. In Western Australia, the story is much the same. More than 60 per cent of us are either overweight or obese. Despite claims to the contrary by supplement companies and unfortunately as frustrating as it it can be, there is no magic pill.  Keeping your weight in the right and healthy place for you always comes back to the tried and true equation, you have to make healthier choices, perhaps eat less and exercise more.  There is simply no evading this, but the payoffs are huge. Cathy O’Leary, Medical Editor of the West Australian newspaper had some really interesting comments with regards to the health promotion methods employed in this campaign in her ‘Health campaign takes guts’ article and I agree with her.  Its not rocket science and we don’t need fancy measuring tools to know when we need to lose weight particularly the ‘toxic’ kind around our middle bits and surrounding our organs.  But it isn’t easy either. I have been talking about this campaign on radio 882AM 6PR over the past few weeks and it has certainly provoked some reactions, positive and negative with regards to the effectiveness of ‘scare tactics’ and graphic images.  One of our listeners, Helen emailed in her thoughts which may resonate with some of you.

“Just listening in to your story regarding fat and our society.  I have two boys, one thin as a rack one chubby. They have the same activity level and same diet.  I worry about my older boy but really don’t know how to help him lose weight short of boot camp and strict diets but I don’t want him to have diet hang ups and body issues.  So we let him be and try to monitor what we can.  We eat takeaway maybe once a month, I cook 99% of our meals as we have severe allergies in our house.  I don’t want my boys at 7 and 10 worrying about how much fat and sugar are in their cereal, thats my job, but to be fair its hard finding yummy good food not full of salt, sugar and fat.  We are a working family and I’m lucky enough to be able to cook every night and I bake from time to time.  But families just don’t have time to be on top of this stuff all the time.    How do we help our kids and ourselves?”

Good question Helen. One of my own annoying traits to make things way more complicated than they need to be and it is easy to fall into the trap of ‘paralysis by analysis.’ This is the phenomenon where you analyse and think about something so much, the end result is zip, zero, nada. This does make changing behaviours challenging.  I often share four strategies for removing barriers to change and they are: 1.  Too much information makes it too hard to do anything.  Make sure your information is accurate and from a reputable source.  Choose one thing you are going to change and conquer it before moving on to the next target. 2.  Know where you are at – Assess your current position, what are your goals, blood tests, fitness levels, dietary assessment and use technology to track your progress. 3.  Be a certified practising health accountant – be accountable to someone (professional or personal) 4.  Get support from those around you and don’t use ‘busyness’ as an excuse.  Recognise that when you are busy and under the pump and it is difficult to control everything, things that you can in fact control like nutrition and exercise fly out of the window.

Be like a postage stamp.  Stick to one thing until you get there.

Beverley Sills




What a Scoop

In the past 48 hours Scoopon, a daily deal website, broke all sales records and offloaded 675 000 discount vouchers.  This equates in $1.3 million in sales. But we are not talking about consumers buying movie tickets or a beauty treatment.  We are talking about $1.3 million worth of Hungry Jack’s Whoppers and fries. I don’t eat fast food very often and don’t get me wrong, I am not a fast food wowser.  There is a place in an otherwise healthy diet to enjoy these types of food occasionally.  But don’t we live in a country where 61% of our population is overweight or obese?  Last night I was interviewed on Channel 9 TV in Perth for my professional opinion in the wake of this landmark bargain burger mania. I said what I thought and clearly HJ’s are not in the business of providing healthy food however, it is disappointing and I believe irresponsible to promote this kind of deal. It can be hard work to make healthy changes to lifestyle and eating habits to improve  health and so many of us are budget conscious when it comes to buying food.  At $2 for one Whopper and fries its a deal thats hard to beat. And its not just the burger and fries.  What about the drink, thick shake or sundae that may go with that order? Watch out for my list of meals for $2 that I am now inspired to create and share with you. Come on fast food industry, get with the program.  

Rising Sea Levels

Whilst flicking through my local community paper last week I came across a very clever Letter to the Editor.  Mr Dick Percsy of Swanview was quite the comedian. According to Dick, “Media reports suggest that 60 per cent of Australia’s population is overweight or obese.  Other expert reports indicate rising sea levels. Is it possible that these two factors have bearing on each other?  In other words the continent is sinking due to the excess weight of the population and is threatening Perth’s beach-side suburbs.”

Sea urchin, radish salad and fish fluff

My heart was touched today. I was privileged to visit Nishikasai Elementary School just out of Tokyo. The Grade Four students sang and danced to entertain their overseas guests and then we sat in their classroom and ate lunch with them. 99% of elementary schools provide lunch for their students and today this consisted of rice with kelp and fish fluff (very fine fish shavings) , grilled salmon with miso, radish salad, miso soup, fruit and milk. It was divine. All students sit at their desks and eat together and a catering company prepares the meals onsite. The kids were so excited to have us sitting at their desks and it was truly amazing how much two cultures can communicate when they have absolutely no language in common. Despite no English these 9 year olds knew what a kangaroo did ! Our Indian friends on tour with us explained their lunch program which is free and provided to 130 million children each day. Our Australian team couldn’t really explain to the other countries why we do not have a lunch program. Any explanation didn’t seem adequate next to 130 million meals per day! What if we could though? Each school meal costs parents $2.00, it ticks all the nutrition boxes and no home preparation, what an innovative and progressive idea. Each school has a nutrition teacher who may also be a Dietitian on their staff full-time, they are truly advanced in this area and their long term vision inspiring. Around 10% of children here are overweight and only 4% skip breakfast. Statistics to dream about in Australia.