Last week I attended 9 to Thrive in Melbourne, a two day Business Chicks expo aimed at women in business. Business Chicks describes the event as “not your average, yawn-inducing expo” and I would have to agree.
While it was primarily a ‘business’ expo there was an overarching theme of wellness during the two days, both from the exhibitors and some of the one-on-one stage conversations and panel discussions. It featured big names like Michelle Bridges, Zoë Foster-Blake, Nadia Bartel, Luke Hines, Mia Freedman, Damon Gameau (That Sugar Film) and Justine Flynn (Thankyou).
I wanted to share some of my top ‘take-aways’ from some of my favourite panels over the two days (sorry folks, this is going to be a long one!).
Michelle started off her one-on-one conversation by getting everyone up for 10 squats. I was impressed at her ability to squat in her enormous heels but what else can you expect from Australia fitness queen? She then shared how her life has changed since becoming a mother, and her thoughts on motivation and body issues.
Michelle admitted that her training has taken a backseat since the birth of Axel and there are often weeks where she might only train once or twice. Her priorities have changed and it has had an impact on the things and people she says ‘yes’ to.
“By subtracting, I have been able to give more to the things that matter.”
Michelle has often been quoted as saying that motivation is a myth and she stood by that claim at 9 to Thrive – sometimes you just have to get it done. She added that exercise doesn’t always have to be fun but it is something we just have to do.
“There are so many excuses that get used. Honestly, I don’t enjoy putting my clothes away; I would rather have a pap smear. But I do the things that I have to do to get on with my life.”
Michelle gave three tips to help us all deal with body issues – which she admitted has been a big concern ‘since the beginning of time’.
- Check your internal dialogue – check what you are saying about yourself. If you wouldn’t say it to other people, why say it to yourself?
- Check your external dialogue – stop judging other people.
- Get outside yourself – help people, do charity work. It will make you realise how lucky you are.
“You don’t have to be photographing yourself in a bikini doing a backwards headstand in the Bahamas and posting it on Instagram to inspire other people – just be you.”
Michelle’s go-to meals
BBQ – salmon steak with broccolini, eggplant and salad
Entertaining – fish pie that is “decadent but delicious”
Anything slow cooked – “I call it chop and chuck”
The What Should I Eat? panel, featuring Damon Gameau (That Sugar Film) with wife Zoe Gameau (also an Australian actress best known for a role on Winners and Losers), Amy Crawford (The Holistic Ingredient) and Luke Hines (Trainer Luke and former contestant on My Kitchen Rules), went beyond just what we put in our mouths.
Luke believes that our modern lives are surrounded by stress and negative self talk but being healthy and happy should be the goal.
“Being healthy and happy has to be paramount because that’s what we’ve got at the end of the day. We can’t wait for someone else to do it for us so we should all make small sustainable incremental changes to be happy and healthy,” he said.
One way he recommends doing this is by taking a mindful and loving approach to food, which he believes is equally as important as the food we eat.
“Ask yourself how many times you sat down to eat last week without doing something else? Intuitive eating is removing those distractions and engaging with food. Food should be celebrated, so put away the phone and turn off the TV,” he said.
As for the actual food we put in our mouths? There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ diet to follow because we all respond to food differently. Luke lives a paleo lifestyle but admits it is not for everyone.
“Life should be fun. We’re all different. I have a way that I enjoy to eat but it’s not for everyone. Life should come first and we shouldn’t feel anxiety about that.”
“Don’t make decisions out of fear, always come from a place of love. Sometimes self love is the best place to start because if you can love yourself, you can love other people.”
Damon Gameau and Zoe Gameau
The couple have a young daughter and it is obvious when hearing them speak that they come from place of wanting to create a healthier world for her to grow up in.
Zoe said that health was not just about ourselves but also about the world around us and our friends and family.
“We need to think about our impact on the planet and the broader circle around us. When you are healthy it gives the people around you a sense of relief and your wellbeing can shine out and offer assistance to others,” she said.
The couple try to eat as naturally as possible but agreed that it is not sustainable 100% of the time. When it comes to sugar, Damon said he understands that if he eats some, he will eat a lot so he just tries to steer clear. He said understanding our own response to different foods can help guide our bodies on what we should be eating.
“I eat predominantly real food and the occasional treat. We’ve got to be human with this and take the cover off,” he said.
“You’re all OK, you’re doing the best you can,” Zoe added. “No one is perfect.”
“If you’re time poor, grab something raw” – Zoe
Amy food philosophy is that she likes to eat what she could grow or raise in her backyard. While she admitted she wouldn’t keep a cow in her yard, in theory she could and so she eats beef. She and Damon were in agreeance that how your body responds to food is the best indicator of whether you should eat it or how much of it you should eat.
“We’ve lost touch and trust with our bodies – if eating (certain) food leaves you feeling crap, don’t eat it.”
Her key message was to literally trust our guts more than we do.
“We’re 100% responsible for our own health. No one can make choices for you so trust your intuition.”
In response to a question from the audience, the panel also gave their top tips for eating well if you’re time and money poor.
Luke – Make dinner that you can also eat for breakfast and lunch (such as frittata or roast vegetables).
Amy – Time spent on social media each day could be better spent in the kitchen. Also roast vegetables to use across multiple meals.
Damon – Be prepared. Take snacks so you eat more regularly and are less inclined to snack unwisely.
Zoe – Put everything in the oven to cook while you do something else.
Definitely the most popular appearance of the expo, Zoë had people lining up for her Go-To beauty products and thousands of people packed in at the main stage for her one-on-one conversation. She spoke about starting her career at a boys magazine and using a made up quote from a media mogul on her resume to get her foot in the door with women’s magazines – ballsy!
Zoë is an extremely funny and likeable woman who balances an amazing array of business pursuits – she’s a best-selling author, blogger, beauty writer, the founder and creative director of Go-To as well as mother to adorable toddler Sonny.
But she has no interest in doing something if it isn’t fun and she can’t make it funny – it is an approach that shines through in her books, blog and even the copy on her Go-To products. But she is empowered by saying no!
“It is powerful to say no because it means you’re saying yes to yourself.”