Our Three Core Values of Health

I was talking to a new client yesterday and he said he wasn’t as healthy as what he used to be. I asked him what being healthy meant to him.  It got me to thinking about what health is to me. I was making a list of what my core health ‘values’ were. I’ve realized it all comes down to 3 things: Habits, Balance and Gut Health.

The word “health” refers to a state of complete emotional and physical well-being.

I started to brainstorm my own principles of health, what would I say if I was to explain what my coaching was about to a stranger?

Basics of health are things like getting plenty of water, eat plenty of whole foods and vegetables, and get great sleep.  Sleep is something high on my priority list at the moment because it’s something I’ve been struggling with and it has a huge impact on our hormones and immunity, in particular, weight loss.  But those three things are just elements of ‘being healthy’.

Gut Health

Gut health, one of our core values of health

Being happy is a huge value of health that I have, and a lot of it comes from our gut. What we put into our mouths affects our gut health and how we feel both physically and emotionally.  For me good health isn’t necessarily about kilos or how far you can run, it’s about having the energy and motivation to be your best self possible.

As a health and fitness coach I have many clients who come to me because they want to lose weight, but often what the main problem is, is that they have a gut health problem.  Limited diets with lack of variety and not enough fiber is doing more harm than they realize.

Gut bacteria play several important roles in your health, communicating with your immune system and producing certain vitamins.  Your gut bacteria can also affect how different foods are digested and produce chemicals that help make you feel full. As a result, they can affect your weight.  

Signs your gut health needs a check-up include:

  • Trouble with weight gain.
  • Mood issues, depression, and anxiety. 
  • Poor immune system.
  • Digestion issues such as constipation, diarrhea or inflammatory bowel disease. 
  • Low energy levels.
  • Skin issues like acne or rashes.

To learn more about Gut Health, read here


Many of us have the mindset of being healthy means restricting what you eat and forcing yourself to exercise.  Neither of those sounds particularly appealing and definitely not a long term solution. What good health needs to be, is sustainable.  It’s not sticking to a diet for 8 weeks to lose 5kg for your sister’s wedding then letting it all go because it was too hard. Having a sustainable healthy lifestyle links in with habits.  If we develop healthy habits it takes the will power out of living well. It will come down to automatic actions you don’t need to think about, a bit like turning on a light before walking into a dark room.  Instead of having to convince yourself that the salad is the better option when you look at the menu.  


At the end of the day, the key is balance.  We can’t eat perfectly 100% of the time, and why would we want to? Good health and happiness is being able to enjoy a piece of cake at a birthday party and not feel guilty. It takes the good and bad out of being healthy.   I personally believe one of the most unhealthy habits a majority of people hold is to judge all food as good or bad. I cringe when I hear people talk about how naughty they were. Did you steal a chocolate bar from the supermarket? No, you just ate one, hiding in your car at that so no one would see you. Acting guilty, like you had stolen it.  

Food is to be enjoyed.  Slow down, taste it all, and if it’s not good enough quality to be enjoyable why are you eating it? Likewise with exercise, it isn’t a punishment for what you ate.  Find a way to move that you love. It’s ok if lifting weights at a gym doesn’t float your boat, find what does. Or at least find something you can learn to love.  

I’d love to know, what is good health to you?

Author: Jill Lister-Martin. Certified health and fitness coach, Mum, lover of licorice, wine and adventures.

Click here to work with me to lose weight, feel great, boost your confidence and achieve your health and fitness goals. Check out my programs and feel free to book a time to chat and ask any questions.

How to stop Dieting and still get Results.

Stop dieting and still get results.
Lose weight for good.
How food should make you feel.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent a majority of my life worrying about what I put in my mouth. I’ve counted calories, counted macros, cut carbs, tried juices and shakes. I got to the point of wondering if I was going to have to be always be focused on a strict diet to achieve or maintain a weight I was happy with. And most of the time even while I was so focused on what I ‘should be eating’ it didn’t necessarily help me lose weight anyway. Fortunately, an education in nutrition coaching helped put me on the right path. I want to pass on some of that wisdom so you can stop dieting and still get results.

For the average person who isn’t an elite athlete, we shouldn’t need to worry about measuring and calculating everything we eat. It is not sustainable long term. What do slim healthy people think about? Definitely not constantly worrying about what they are eating and if it’s “good” or “bad”.

Have you ever heard the phrase living ‘as if’? What would your life look like if you were already ‘thin’, or you’d already lost the 10kg? You wouldn’t be living on a diet of doughnuts because you wouldn’t want to go backward, but you would also have a very different mindset when it came to food.

If we aren’t on a diet, how do we lose weight?

The key to stop dieting and still get results is through creating good nutrition habits. And as a result, create a sustainable weight loss and still enjoy food.

If you’ve ever been successful in losing a decent amount of weight what happened when the diet stopped? When your focused diet ended, did the weight come back on? I’m pretty sure the answer was probably yes. If you were lucky enough to keep it off, I have no doubt the reason it has stayed because you have established better eating habits.

What is a Habit?

According to our friend Dictionary.com, a habit is:

an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become  almost involuntary

Eg: the habit of looking both ways before crossing the  street.

Habits don’t require will power. They are involuntary actions done after a behaviour is repeated so many times we don’t eve need to think about it.

For most people, living on a strict diet of measured proteins, fats and carbs isn’t a natural habit. Ordering takeaway every Friday night might be a habit, getting a muffin with your coffee every day might be a habit. Alternatively, for many people incorporating vegetables into every meal is a habit they struggle with.

People who have great eating habits didn’t necessarily start that way either unless it’s a life long habit. It is impossible to implement all the healthy eating habits at the one time which is why dieting always fails. If we try to do it all at once we inevitably lose motivation, we are relying on will power rather than habits.

What kind of Healthy eating Habits should I start with?

The key here is to start small. Pick one habit and implement it for at least 2 weeks before bringing the next one in. This isn’t an all or nothing approach. You didn’t learn your old habits overnight so they won’t be replaced overnight either.

  • Eat Slowly- aka eat mindfully. Take your time, smell and taste your food. Turn off the tv and put away your phone. Listen to your mother and put your fork down in between bites. Slow down and listen to your body when it tells you it feels full. If you shovel it all you won’t notice the satiation signals.
  • Drink Plenty of Water. Pick specific times of the day to act as a trigger to drink. When you wake up have a large glass or two, keep a bottle on your desk to sip on throughout the day and make sure it’s empty before you go home. Have a glass before and after you exercise. Find times that you can incorporate more water into your routine without changing anything else. This free online water calculator from Camel Bak is a good on.
  • Incorporate more vegetables into your diet. Once again this isn’t all or nothing, start with making sure you get veggies into at least one meal a day and then make it two meals, then three. This isn’t about being perfect if you need to grab a pre-made salad from the supermarket to get more in, do it.
  • Think about portion sizes. Use smaller dishes and read how many servings are actually in packaged foods. What you might consider being a serve, might in fact be several serves.
  • Incorporate more incidental movement into your lifestyle. When I was younger and dancing full time we used to joke about a teacher who would tell students that “dancers take the stairs”. I never actually heard the teacher say this, is was said before my time, but friends of mine were told and it became a mantra we’d jokingly say whenever stairs came along. The same mantra comes up every time I come across a set of stairs besides an escalator twenty years later. Even my husband says it as we travel through an airport.
  • Become a step counter. This falls under incidental movement in a way, but try and hit at least 10,000 steps of whatever might be a goal for you. I say this with hesitation, I became an addicted step counter at one point (joking/not joking), but it certainly got me moving.
  • Become a food prepper. Make time on a set day each week to cook up a couple of healthy dishes to have throughout the week when life gets chaotic. Alternatively, have ready to grab ingredients for a healthy lunch each day. Tackle one meal at a time. Eating well shouldn’t be hard.
  • Make good sleep a priority. Make sure you get to bed early enough, don’t lie in bed looking at your phone, and have a bedtime routine that helps your body and mind unwind.

Find a way to keep yourself accountable

The idea behind creating good habits to stop dieting and still get results is that habits remove the need for willpower, they become automatic actions. However, in the start, there does need to be a bit of focus to get the habits running on autopilot.

A great way to get habits going is to find a way to keep yourself accountable. Create a visual reminder and tick it off when you’ve successfully completed your habit for the day. There are also plenty of great apps available to help with habits. There are apps to track water intake, log food, track exercise. I’m pretty sure there’s an app to track just about anything else you want to work towards.

Another form of accountability is to enroll support from other people. Make a commitment with your better half to eat veggies for dinner. Commit to a gym class with a friend each week. Find a coach who can help you with your nutrition and fitness goals.

How to Stop Dieting and Get Results

I know it’s tempting to try and live off lemon water and cheese cubes in the lead up to your sister’s wedding, the operative word being ‘try’. I get it, you need to lose weight RIGHT NOW. But it is with healthy habits that make weight loss sustainable and enjoyable. Healthy habits aren’t an all or nothing approach. You can live well, lose weight, keep it off and still enjoy food without feeling deprived or guilty. Food is meant to be enjoyable. Life is meant to be enjoyable and feeling guilty about what you eat shouldn’t be part of the journey.

Author: Jill Lister-Martin. Certified health and fitness coach, Mum, lover of licorice, wine and adventures.

Click here to work with me to lose weight, feel great, boost your confidence and achieve your health and fitness goals. Check out my programs and feel free to book a time to chat and ask any questions.

Changing the conversation about getting out Pre Baby Body back.

Stemming from a Pre and Post Natal Fitness accreditation weekend with Body Beyond Baby’s Jen Dugard, (which was great by the way for anyone fitness professionals who work with women). I’ve been thinking a lot about our general perception of what happens to our bodies after we have a baby. That old ‘Get your Pre Baby Body Back’ chestnut.

I remember back in the day when I had babies. I read somewhere that if you didn’t have a body like Elle McPherson before you have a baby you won’t look like Elle afterward. Besides referencing Elle McPherson making it sound like a long time ago, it was only 11 years, it was the best advice I heard. I didn’t have a body like Elle, even if I were a foot or two taller. But in my own little competitive mind I thought, but wouldn’t it be great to bounce back really quickly.

Reality Check

The reality is that our bodies aren’t ever the same after having babies. Other than stretched abdominal muscles and a pelvic floor that has held up both our insides and a growing human being for 9 months. It then has to push the same baby out again. The idea of getting out Pre Baby Body Back is like peeling an apple then trying to put the skin back on, it might look similar but there have been some fundamental changes.

There is a huge amount of change that goes on in our bodies, and just because the baby is out doesn’t mean all of those changes go away overnight. Your tummy stretched to capacity over 9 months then you’re left with a weird soft squidgy bulge like a deflated balloon. It took 9 months to get to that point so realistically it can take 9 months or more to return to what is your new form of normal. The uterus alone takes at least 4 weeks to return to its usual size after birth.

I’m pretty sure we all think we’re Invincible

In our crazy lady minds, we think we can do it all. I have 2 gorgeous boys who are a year and a half apart. Both were over 4kg, and both thankfully 2 weeks early by their own accord. At the time I owned a ballet school, and my second was due the day of our theatre rehearsal for the end of year performance. Being self-employed and expecting myself to be a superhuman, I taught classes on Saturday, had Sunday off, delivered him on Monday, spent a few days in hospital, then his first full day out of hospital was spent in a basket under the table in the kitchen, while I ran a full performance run through and photo day.

Most people didn’t even realize I’d even had a baby. I remember one mother saying she’d tried to call me a couple of times during the week, Sorry, I told her, I was in the hospital having a baby. And it’s that thing where you still look like you’re pregnant after you’ve had a baby because all the baby making fluids and stretching is still there. I battled on, put on a performance for 200 students then fell in a gigantic heap.

Where we should be focusing instead

Rather than trying to get our pre-baby bodies back, we should be focusing on a time of resetting our bodies and making them healthy and strong. A great point made by Jen throughout the Safe return to Exercise training was that we spend so many years treating our bodies badly, ruining our metabolism with yo-yo dieting, that this can be treated as a great opportunity to reset the clock. Fortunately, many women really look after their bodies when there is a baby on board, we nurture it, eat well, stop drinking alcohol and coffee, and refrain from our unhealthy vices, then once the baby is out we return to putting our own needs and health last.

Once we become Mums, the motherly instinct to put yourself last kicks in. Instead of showing our darling offspring how to love themselves and have a good relationship with food and their bodies, we focus on the negative. Our own negative, which does not go unnoticed, and becomes what our kids learn to know as ‘the truth’.

Do you know when it’s ‘safe’ for women to return to exercise? The generally accepted time period is 6 weeks if it’s a natural birth or a few extra weeks for a cesarean. As a fitness professional, to be covered by insurance all you need to do is check they have had their 6 weeks check up and you’re good to go. I had my boys in Melbourne, but here in New Zealand, the 6-week checkup is all about the baby and not the mother. Yes, she’s had her 6-week check, and cleared to exercise but no medical professional has actually looked at her for weeks.

Where to Begin

We need to start slow and we need to start the rebuild our poor stretched tummies from the inside out.

The very basic start for returning to exercise needs, to begin with, the pelvic floor, and preferably a visit to a women’s health physio to check you are actually doing pelvic floor exercises correctly. According to the Continence Foundation of Australia, research shows that up to 50% of women trying to do pelvic floor muscle exercises by reading how to do it get the technique wrong. For both men and women, practicing the wrong technique will not help and could even make the problem worse.

Instead of thinking about getting our Pre Baby Body back, we should focus on creating our best bodies now. Feeding ourselves nutrient-rich food as fuel, moving and stretching and strengthening to make our bodies strong. We need to lead by example for our babies and show them how a strong healthy woman looks after herself. Of course, we want to drop the excess kilos, but weight loss is a byproduct of all our internal systems working properly, when we have a fiber-rich diet for digestion, and flourishing gut flora. If you are breastfeeding your baby is still taking its nutrients from your food. It’s not about ‘dieting’ to lose weight, it’s about eating whole foods and providing good milk for your baby.

Starting Points for creating your Best Body Now

Eat plenty of whole foods. That is food as close to its natural state as possible like you’ve just picked it yourself. Aim for at least 8 serves of fruit and veg each day.

Take the time to be selfish Warrior Woman. Look after yourself so you are the best Mum you can be. Happy mother, happy baby. Find someone to watch the baby while you have some self-care time. Even if that just covers half an hour for a bath, or walk down the street by yourself.

Ask for Help. If you’re struggling with life, nutrition or getting moving, there are plenty of people who can help. Send us a message if it’s about nutrition or exercise, or talk to your local doctor. Neither babies or motherhood come with manuals, but plenty of people have done it before us. On a side note, If your baby isn’t a sleeper, get someone who can help you learn to settle and create bed routines, even if it’s just a friend who’s done it in the last few years.

Use Exercise as a way to clear your mind and improve your emotions. It doesn’t need to be excessive exercise to start with. Grab the pram and get out the door for a walk. Find a Mums and Bubs class or just follow along to a youtube video in your lounge room. Exercise lowers stress levels, boosts your self-confidence and helps you sleep better the opportunity arises.

See a Women’s health Physio. Make sure your pelvic floor is on track to recovery, and get any rehab exercises for abdominal separation, pelvic floor or prolapse.

Ditch the Idea of Getting your Pre Baby body back. Wear your stretch marks with pride, liken them to a scar from a shark bite. It looks a bit gnarly, but it’s a sign that you faced a battle and won. Be a stronger and healthier version than you were before.

For Pregnancy accredited nutrition and Pre and Post Natal accredited Exercise coaching, check out our Programs. We can discuss exactly what you need to be doing, for your healthiest self Now.

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Best Body Now Vs. Get your pre baby body back