An update on my winter – talking travels, the Olympics and a broken hand

Spring is here! Although the winter weather is still lingering in Melbourne at the moment.

As I mentioned recently I was featured in MiINDFOOD magazine talking about lung health and nutrition. But other than that and the wintery dishes I have made in the kitchen that I updated you on in June I haven’t really posted about what I have been up to all winter.

In July I spent most of the month in North America. Some time on the west coast in the Pacific North West and the other portion of the trip on the east coast in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

A good chunk of the holiday included venturing around Twilight territory and completely nerding out when visiting the small town of Forks, Port Angeles and the amazing beaches that made up La Push. We then spent many days exploring the green, dense, and overgrown Hoh Rain Forest of Olympic National Park, and also hiked some of the most beautiful treelined mountains in both Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park.  It was the start of the wildflower season – maybe a little too early into the Summer – but the flowers began to bloom and it was so gorgeous.

Words really can’t describe how much I enjoyed Washington state.

August was all about getting back into the swing of things and suffering through the last month of Melbourne Winter.

Luckily the Olympics got me through. I found myself up at 3am most nights for a good week and half watching the live stream of the women’s artistic gymnastics. As expected, the USA women dominated the team and individual events. But there were some pleasant surprises with individual medals from The Netherlands, Great Britain, Germany and Switzerland. And a very sassy floor routine from Rebecca Andrade of Brazil. Here is a video of her routine to her not exactly classical choice in gymnastics floor music –  Beyonce. Unfortunately yet to get footage on YouTube of her actual routine in Rio.

From gymnastics to cheerleading.

My cheerleading comeback was finally happening as I was preparing for my first competition back in almost 2 years. Well it was finally happening until I broke my hand mid-way through August when a stunt came down pretty hard in the final minutes of training. It has now been 6 weeks since I broke it and I am just out of a splint and slowly getting back into life with a weak right hand. Yes, I am right handed. 

So while I wait for my hand to heal completely, I keep busy with frequent visits to my favourite cafes around Melbourne and try their Spring inspired brunch specials.

See my blog post from last year about my Spring brunch essentials.

– Jenna

Time flies when you’re in your mid-twenties

Last week I had my 26th birthday – which means it has been a whole year since I moved back to Melbourne. I just can’t believe how time flies.

These days I have been busy but still very much enjoying life (with the exception of a cold that just hung around way too long).

A year on in my current job and I am loving it. There are so many areas of dietetics to dabble in and learn about – I just can’t see myself getting sick of clinical dietetics.

My weekends since an adventurous April with James have been less about adventuring outside of the city and more about staying in. A lot of that has to do with the weather which has cooled down dramatically in Melbourne. But we have been busy in the inner suburbs checking out some new brunch scenes around Melbourne amongst other things.

Little Henri cafe – Thornbury

Reading about cronuts while looking across the room at said cronuts at Rustica – Fitzroy

At home I have been making quite a few cream-based sauces to accompany my dishes. It must be the winter blues kicking in and I must admit, I have indulged on the creamy sauces a little too often (weekly) at home. I think it’s time to hold back now.

The sauce I make is the good old butter, flour and (skim) milk trick. Creamy pesto pasta with green beans and peas has been a favourite. And I have finally found a packaged pesto paste that I like from Terra Madre, Northcote. I previously disliked all packaged pesto and would only get my fix by slaving over the food processor to make my own. I am a little relieved to know that now I can have a jar in the pantry if needed.

I’m also enjoying warm roasted vegetable salads as I do every winter.

A recipe that I have made this chilly season, much like last year, is the Moroccan fish with orange salad by Healthy Food Guide. It would have to be one of my favourite autumn/winter recipes. I enjoy changing it up with the green veggie options, as well as the grain (works well with couscous, quinoa, brown rice etc).

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See my article in the Medibank Be magazine from last year on fresh produce that I love during the winter months.

Fitness-wise I have finally returned to cheerleading after a long 14 month break and a dragged out injury. The comeback is proving harder than I thought at the ripe old age of 26. I now know why the elite gymnasts are in their peak at 16 years – a pulled hamstring every two weeks at 26 doesn’t make for a productive training schedule.

I can also say I am a regular swimmer now. I love the low impact sport (especially when battling with niggling muscle pains) and the feel of the water as I swim at a fast past on a keen day or a slow and steady pace on those days I just don’t feel like doing all that much. It is such an easy way to stay fit and a good excuse to wash my hair.

The colder weather has seen less of the hiking but I look forward to doing some small hikes on my upcoming trip to Washington state in the USA next month. I’ll blog about it the first chance I get.

Catch you all a little later in the season.

– Jenna

Lighthouse adventure at Wilson’s Prom

I recently mentioned on Dietitians Day (Friday 11th March) I would be hiking around the southern point of mainland Australia.

On our 6th visit to Wilson’s Promontory National Park, James and I decided to finally make our hike to the lighthouse happen. We hiked a total of 46km over 2 days and I clocked up 66,000 steps on my FitBit. It was tiring carrying large packs on our backs but so rewarding with the amazing views we saw.

The day started at 5am on day 1 with a nutritious breakfast and then we drove into Wilson’s Prom having stayed the night before in Leongatha. We were greeted by deer at the entrance of the park and then on our drive towards our hike starting point we saw wombats, wallabies and the amazing sunrise.

The hike started at 8:30am after a second (easier to digest) breakfast from Telegraph Saddle.

Clean and fresh at the start of the hike

The trek to the lighthouse was peaceful and quiet as we didn’t see a single other hiker the whole day. There were three main legs to the hike. The first part was mainly downhill, so we were still quite energetic once we arrived at Telegraph Junction. We then trekked predominantly uphill through Halfway Hut towards Roaring Meg. The walk uphill was tough because there was a lot of fog and no views to help our motivation levels! The only motivation I had was our snacks and the knowledge that we had an amazing destination at the end of this.

"We are walking towards there!" Jokes, we couldn't see a thing.

“We are walking towards there!”
Jokes, we couldn’t see a thing.

Hummus and Bakers Delight mixed seed sourdough

13km to go. This calls for hummus and Bakers Delight mixed seed sourdough

The last leg to the lighthouse wasn’t too bad as we knew we were getting close. The final paved track up to the lighthouse, however, was the worst part of the whole hike to the destination.

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Giving our shoulders a break with 3.1km to go.

When the lightouse comes into view. So close yet so far!

When the lightouse comes into view. So close yet so far!

The hardest struggle at the very end. So steep.

The hardest struggle at the very end. So steep.

Once at our destination we were greeted by a wombat out front of our accommodation and the Wilson’s Prom lighthouse keeper (so to speak). We were lucky enough to be the only ones who hiked to the south-east point that day, so we received a personal tour of the lighthouse and learned about how the technology of lighting up the sea and sky over the years has now turned to being completely self managed.

Our cottage was definitely the best part. Self contained with a bed that felt like sleeping on clouds, a clean shower with hot water, and a fully equipped kitchen. A telescope and comfy couch were also great to appreciate the views outside our living room window.

We experienced the sunset, an early sleep, and sunrise the next morning before leaving heaven and hiking back.

With sore and stiff muscles we took a different route to get home, via Waterloo Bay. This was a much more scenic way to walk, but overall about an hour and a half longer than the way there (also more difficult).

We again broke up our walk into three parts, with the first part being the most difficult.

My not so favourite part of the walk was the leech infested stretch. On the track from the lighthouse to Waterloo Bay, James and I had to remove a fair few leeches from our shoes and even some that had made their way up our legs. Eager to get out of the damp track and into a dryer and more open section, we finally started to feel a sea breeze and hear the waves of the beach. We were then rewarded with the most amazing views of Waterloo Bay and Little Waterloo Bay. The view looking back on the lighthouse where we had come from was also a nice spot to take photos and have an early lunch.

Lunch time. Resting the legs.

Waterloo Bay

Waterloo Bay

From Waterloo Bay we walked inland towards Telegraph Junction on a relatively easy leg of the trip – a lot of this part was on a boardwalk or flat sand track. Because this day was the start of the long weekend, we passed many hikers who were beginning their camping trip.

Once we got to Telegraph Junction we needed to walk back the way we came on day 1 – to Telegraph Saddle. We remembered this part of the hike on day 1 was easy and downhill. Therefore it would be hard and uphill on day 2. And that it was.

The final push back to the carpark at Telegraph Saddle was exhausting and tough to say the least. But knowing there was a bottle of Gatorade and snacks in the car waiting for our return was the final bit of incentive I had to keep pushing. Well, that and my supportive other half encouraging me.

A sweaty kiss and hug at the end of our loop marked the end of our beautiful adventure.

We did it.

Highly recommend this hike for those interested in seeing the south-east point of Victoria.

Already looking forward to our next visit back to the Prom.

– Jenna

Studying the effects of technology on health behaviours

It feels weird to say that I am still a student. This year I have finally been working as a health professional after two university degrees yet I have somehow found motivation to pursue study in an area of great interest to me.

This university semester I have been completing a single online unit with the University of Tasmania. The study has involved looking at the use of different forms of technology to measure levels of health.

In my five and a half years of study, I tended to mainly look at the role of nutrition and food on the outcome of health and disease states. But it was great to take a step back from nutrition and look at other behaviours (i.e. physical activity) on the risk of developing chronic diseases. Examining this is important for me as in many cases when working with clients, both food and exercise play a role in achieving health goals.

A day of great physical activity hiking up, down and through the desert in Moab, Utah.

A day of great physical activity hiking up, down and through the desert in Moab, Utah (USA).

WHAT THE EVIDENCE SAYS

  • 6-10% of all non-communicable disease (i.e. chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes) deaths can be attributed to physical inactivity (study link).
  • Physical activity lowers the rate of heart disease (including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke), metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and falls.
  • Being physically active leads to greater cardio and muscular fitness levels, healthier body weight and composition, healthier bone mineral density and many more benefits.
  • Even if someone is physically active (e.g. trains regularly or performs any type of planned exercise on a regular basis), if you spend most of your day sitting down at a desk/computer, your all-cause mortality risk increases (study link).
One of the many gorgeous nature walks in the Dandenongs (Victoria)

One of the many gorgeous nature walks in the Dandenongs (Victoria)

THE DIRECTION OF THE FUTURE

With quantified self technologies emerging such as FitBits, Jawbones, smartphone apps and more, society is definitely becoming more aware of health, how to measure healthy behaviours and relying on these technologies to in some cases see results.

But before all you health professionals get worried you may lose your job to an electronic device, we all need to consider the fact that many people may engage in monitoring their health levels however the devices could very well do nothing about changing their actual behaviours and motivation levels.

There have been many days where I look at my FitBit data; the number of steps I have completed and the number of ‘active minutes’ I have achieved in any given day and have seen a very low number on the screen. But some days when I am not motivated, I don’t exactly run outside to increase the figures to see better results.

Weight training with friends is always fun - especially when you use people as weights.

Weight training with friends is always fun – especially when you use people as weights.

While devices, apps and other forms of health monitoring technologies are a great way to keep an eye on activity levels, there are still many cases where people need to increase their motivation and receive individualised health advice from university qualified experts to actually experience that healthy lifestyle change.

As health professionals we should use these new forms of technology to help encourage physical activity! A big message I have learnt throughout my study is that rather than expecting people to respond to public health messages or campaigns (which often show to be ineffective in changing health behaviours), let’s get clients/family/friends to respond to fun and readily available methods for improving health. For example we can now make outdoor activities more meaningful as we can quantify exercise levels through activity trackers. Or for those young kids (or old kids!) who rely on sedentary video games for entertainment – how about we encourage games or consoles that require whole body movements (e.g. Wii Fit and motion capture technologies).

I think it is important for health professionals to work with these new apps and devices. I know when I work with clients and community members I always take note of those who use FitBits and I like to develop daily goals that can be measured with these devices to better engage my clients and to keep them motivated in between appointments.

I could go on all day about health motivation and using technology for motivating and then measuring change. But I will end by saying that overall the unit was a fantastic way to see how in some cases technology can be an effective tool. While in other cases, it may not be an effective tool for improving health and it may not be suitable to all people. Those such as the elderly, the severely ill or even those who are unable to afford such technologies will find it difficult to benefit from their use. If you are interested in using these technologies for measuring health or even to see if it will improve your motivation levels, I highly recommend you give something like a FitBit or a smartphone app a try.

However, if you are unsure and would like tailored advice, talk to a professional. An Accredited Exercise Physiologist can help with advice regarding physical activity and an Accredited Practising Dietitian can assist you with healthy behaviours surrounding food and nutrition.

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Having a stretch at Pyramid Rock in Phillip Island (Victoria)

Thanks to the University of Tasmania for a very stimulating unit. I’m off to charge my new FitBit Charge (with built in heart rate monitoring technology) – an upgrade from my FitBit Flex which has been measuring my fitness for the past year and a bit.

– Jenna

An update on my food, my adventures and my life.

So my latest couple of blog posts have been about the berry saga and providing nutrition through a tube.

But they didn’t give me a chance to talk about myself and what I’ve been up to. So read on if you’re interested.

I recently cut my hair…

(Don’t mind me, just slowly approaching my quarter life crisis)

I’ve gone back to school…

After 13 years of school and then 5.5 years of full time university study I am somehow wanting to fill my brain with more knowledge and assignment deadlines.

I am completing a single online unit with the University of Tasmania where I will be looking at the effectiveness of technology (such as the Lorna Jane running app or my handy-dandy FitBit) on healthy behaviour change.

I feel like it is a topic that needs to be researched. I always wear my FitBit and connect up to my health monitoring apps on a regular basis. But does it actually result in a healthy behaviour? Do we actually achieve our goals with it or is it just a fun way to measure how little we actually get moving throughout the day? … or how much we get moving on a good day!

I guess I’ll be finding out over the course of the semester.

My latest creations in the kitchen are…

Summer means making icypoles! Recently I tried a layered lemon juice and coconut water one. Very refreshing!

Summer means making icypoles! Recently I tried a layered lemon juice and coconut water one. Very refreshing!

I finally got around to baking a ginger slice, just like the ones I saw in cafe's and bakeries around New Zealand last month.

I finally got around to baking a ginger slice, just like the ones I saw in cafes and bakeries around New Zealand last month.

My tofu & brown rice bowl has been made a few times recently. Check out my recipe here.

My tofu & brown rice bowl has been made a few times recently. See the recipe here.

Brunching and indulging on the peninsula…

Brunch at Dees Kitchen in Dromana: Broccoli and feta fritters with toasted pepitas, natural labne and a poached egg.

Brunch at Dee’s Kitchen in Dromana: Broccoli and feta fritters with toasted pepitas, natural labne and a poached egg.

Afternoon tea at A Mini Kitchen in Rye: This slice of cake and this amazing cafe across from the beach is just too cute to handle. WARNING: Cake description may make your mouth water. Banana and walnut layer cake with peanut butter buttercream, ganache and salted caramel popcorn.

Afternoon tea at A Mini Kitchen in Rye: This cafe across from the beach is just too cute to handle. WARNING: Cake description may make your mouth water. Banana and walnut layer cake with peanut butter buttercream, chocolate ganache and salted caramel popcorn.

And food product of the week goes to….

CHOBANI.

Chobani have a new product range out. Perfect when you need to have breakfast or a snack on the go.

Chobani have a new product range out.

The new Chobani Oats come in  4 different flavours including Banana Maple, Apple Cinnamon, Coconut and Cranberry.

Chobani Oats are:

  • Perfect when you need to have breakfast or a snack on the go
  • Great tasting
  • High in protein (more than 10g per serve)
  • A source of fibre (more than 2g per serve)
  • Made with real, wholesome, steel-cut oats.

Hope everyone is enjoying their last few days of Summer!

– Jenna

Real-food supplements to assist your training

These days many athletes are spending loads of money on supplements in hopes that these products will provide them with adequate energy during workouts and assist with optimal muscle recovery after workouts.

While not everyone has the luxury of spending mega dollars on supplements that may or may not help them achieve their fitness goals, the good news is that there are so many natural foods that can provide you with the same desired outcomes with more nutritional content as well.

Here are some natural substitutes to the expensive and highly processed supplements on the market these days.

SWAP: A protein shake.

FOR: A real food smoothie

Swapping a protein shake for something that contains real food is a much cheaper and more natural option.

A berry or banana smoothie containing 1 cup of low fat milk, 2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt and a handful of fresh fruit can provide you with about 14g protein, more than enough for a healthy recovery post-training.

Not only are you providing your body with high quality protein thanks to the milk and yoghurt, but the fruit provides a natural flavouring and contains a whole heap of nutrients such as dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.

 

SWAP: A protein bar.

FOR: Natural yoghurt topped with nuts

While many protein bars can contain approximately 15-20g protein, depending on the exact product, a 170-200g tub of natural yoghurt with a small handful of chopped almonds can also contain up to 20g of protein. This natural alternative will also nourish your body with probiotics from the yoghurt as well as fibre and healthy fats from the nuts.

Tip: Any nuts can be added on top of yoghurt, or even a mixture of many nuts and seeds. Try almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and many more.

 

 

SWAP: Caffeine-containing pre-workouts. FOR: Some zzz’s and fresh fruit.

Do you find that you won’t train at your best unless you take a “pre-workout” or a high sugar, high caffeine energy drink before training? There is a natural remedy to this issue, it is called sleep. Ensure you are getting your 8 hours of sleep each night so that while you are awake your body can function optimally. If your body is getting enough rest and adequate nutrition from a healthy well-balanced diet, then you shouldn’t need to rely on pre-workouts to prep you for a big training session.

If adequate sleep alone doesn’t prepare you for a tough workout, try having some natural sugars found in fresh fruit to provide you with an all-natural energy boost!

 

What’s your favourite real food pre or post workout snack?

– Jenna

Stars, bows and everything in-between

Well I’ve had some very busy and exciting times since my last blog post. Let me catch you up on all that’s new in the nutrition world as well as the life of Jenna.

STARS

The new Federal Government Health Star Rating system has finally launched!

This new system of rating food products out of 5 is a program that is very close to me as I have had the opportunity to study the system and work closely with it on a recent project.

The system rates food products from 1/2 a star (not the healthiest option) to 5 stars (pretty darn healthy) for the different packaged food products on the supermarket shelves.

Now before I go any further, I’ll let you all know that my beloved Chobani yoghurt has rated 5/5 stars. But we didn’t need the Health Star Rating system to tell us that!

While the rating system does not look at all micro-nutrients such as vitamins, it is still a great holistic way to rate a food product as it aims to looks at the overall nutritional profile of a food. The nutrients the system examines is energy (calories/kilojoules), sugar, saturated fat and sodium (salt). The system also looks at whether or not the product includes fruits, nuts, vegetables and legumes in it’s recipe. From here a rating out of 5 stars is produced.

Head over to the official Health Stars page for more info on the great new initiative or drop me an email if you have any questions. Also keep your eyes open in the supermarket isles as more and more products will be including the new Health Star Rating system on their product packaging.

You can't get much healthier than the 5-star rated Weet-Bix for a breakfast cereal

You can’t get much healthier than the 5-star rated Weet-Bix for breakfast

 

BOWS

Last weekend I put my cheerleading bow in my overly teased hair for the final time this year and competed at the Australian All-Star Cheerleading Federation Nationals which were held on the Gold Coast.

My team competed a great routine.

We won our division and were also lucky enough to win Grand Champions!

 

AND EVERYTHING IN-BETWEEN

  • Check out the latest blog post over at Scoop Nutrition where you’ll see exactly what all of us food-loving, healthy-living dietitians have on our wishlist for Christmas! (hint hint Santa).
  • A recent trip out to Wilson’s Promontory National Park saw me hiking through heavy rain and the strong sun (within a matter of hours). One day I even clocked up over 30,000 steps on my FitBit! Wilson’s Prom has sort of become a tradition every December and it’s safe to say it is one of my absolute favourite places in Australia. I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you enjoy nature, exercise and bumping into a wombat or two!
  • This morning I caught up with foodie friends Mardi, Sarah and Emma for some Sunday brunch and a much-needed mocha to get me through this terrible weather. Although I was the odd one out with my breakfast choice, it was a great morning spent talking food, fitness, life and the use of the word dongle.

Sardi Cafe - Church Street, Hawthorn

Sardi Cafe – Church Street, Hawthorn

Hoping the weather in Melbourne warms up soon. It is supposed to be Summer after all.

– Jenna

Article in Australian Cheerleader Magazine

Check out the latest issue of Australian Cheerleader Magazine where you’ll find an article written by yours truly.

The main article is a two page spread (pages 40 and 41) discussing healthy eating for a typical competitive cheerleader.
Also check out page 45 for some competition day snack ideas.

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To read the latest issue of the magazine, which is available online for FREE, click here

– Jenna