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Introducing Dietician, Amy Giannotti

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I’d love for you to meet Amy Giannotti, a Dietitian, Running Coach, Strength and Conditioning Coach, Yoga Teacher and speaker whose ultimate goal is to help people feel happy and healthy. Amy believes that by putting herself first she can best serve others and she takes a holistic approach to health and wellness. She works 1:1 with clients online and from her private practice in South Yarra, Melbourne and also shares her knowledge and experience with large groups of people.

After some challenging times in her past when she restricted herself to the point of missing out on social events, Amy now catches up with friends even if it involves alcohol or ice-cream. The only health trend she follows is wearing activewear each day and she refuses to drink green smoothies or take protein supplements.

Here’s a little more about Amy…

Tell us what you’re most passionate about.

My ultimate goal is helping people to feel healthy and happy! I serve as a mentor to my clients and take the time to understand their lifestyle, values and goals. I support them across all areas of health including, their nutrition (fuel and tools), their physical health (exercise, fitness and sports-related goals and dreams) and their mental health through yoga and meditation. Only with strong foundations and balance can we achieve great things!

What’s your definition of health?

Like the WHO definition, health for me equally encompasses physical, social, mental and spiritual health. You can be very fit but at the same time very unhealthy. You can ‘eat clean’ but have poor social skills and anxiety around food. You can be what our society may consider ‘lean’ or the ‘thin ideal’ but have a very poor relationship with food, your body and exercise.

How do you prioritise yourself daily?

  • I respond to my appetite, fuel and nutritional requirements which is quite easy as a dietitian! My regular shop, meals and snacks, as well as planning ahead and cooking at dinner time for lunches, are all habits that I know support me well.
  • I have a regular mediation practice which helps me to better manage my stress levels and avoid burn out. It allows me to calm my mind, feel grounded and comforted and keeps me on my path. Meditation also helps with my sleep which has a great impact on other areas of my health and wellbeing.
  • Daily exercise is a great habit and tool to help clear my mind, release stress and maintain a healthy body. Something I came to realise (I learnt the hard way!), is that you can’t have exercise as your only stress coping mechanism. Throughout the week I have a mix of strength, cardio, yoga, gymnastics and rest, along with walking my dog, which means that I don’t train hard every, single day.
  • Going out and catching up with friends even if it includes alcohol and ice-cream (yum!) is really important for my health. I experienced a few chapters in my life where I withdrew from many social events and opportunities because I was too focused on my fitness and performance in triathlons. In the end, that led me down a very lonely, unhappy and unhealthy path.

What’s one health trend that you refuse to follow?

I’m not one to follow any diet trends as diets lead to restrictive eating and set people up for failure because they’re not sustainable long-term. Dieting is also the number one risk factor for developing eating disorders which are serious mental illnesses with the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. I believe that if you are eliminating certain food groups you are depriving yourself of specific nutrients that can lead to nutrient deficiencies and illnesses.

If a health trend is wearing activewear all the time, then I’m in that group! I refuse to drink green smoothies, buy any protein bar or powder, or drink out of a jar because in my opinion, it lacks any superior benefit and is generally overpriced. I also don’t drink vodka and soda like many assume. I know it’s lower in energy but I think it tastes disgusting!

What’s one food you couldn’t live without?

One? I’ll take 7! Porridge, sweet potatoes, green beans, mushrooms, bananas, salmon and milk.

What’s one thing that you’re most recently grateful for?

Yoga. It’s taught me so much. It’s helped me to gain more clarity and peace, know myself more and in general it makes me feel happy.

What are your top 3 tips for staying healthy?

  • Eat from all five food groups most days.
  • Move in a way that you enjoy each day.
  • Have a supportive social network.

What’s one thing that’s challenging you at the moment? 

A back handspring. I’ve been working on it for a very long time and I’m now at the stage where I just need a spotter. I’ve been so close for so long and it’s been frustrating! The hardest part has already been achieved which was being ‘ok’ with jumping backwards and landing on my hands, not my head or neck!

I love gymnastics as there are so many elements and it requires you to practice lowering stress levels and anxiety so you can complete a skill, while also having flexibility, strength and power. This is different to triathlons which are heavily dependent on pushing yourself physically and mentally for a long period of time.

When do you feel like your truest self?

When I’m standing in front of large groups, especially at schools, sharing my knowledge and experience. This is when I feel that I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

What’s your go-to meal?

If I have been away for a while the first meal I’ll make is salmon with sweet potato, steamed vegetables and a stuffed mushroom full of rice, spring onion and some dip (olive is a favourite of mine!). It’s simple, satisfying and delicious.

What’s one piece of advice you’ve been given that you’d like to share with us?

It’s from my Dad: “I am proud when I hear about the medals and results you achieve in triathlons, but one day you might find that you are sitting in your room, staring at all your medals by yourself…”.

He said this when I spoke to him about my thoughts of pulling out of the upcoming World Championships in Triathlon in Chicago. I had qualified and had been training hard for it, all while ignoring everyone and everything around me. At that stage, I already had flights and accommodation booked and my Australian uniform was on its way in the post.

A day before this conversation with Dad, I woke from a dream that was a true wake up call to where my behaviour and choices were leading me. I was way off my life path and my health and happiness were suffering. I’d become so selfish and hated myself for this. I felt so trapped and like I couldn’t win in trying to balance everything in my life. It was like I was constantly treading water to survive. The advice or lesson that I took from all of this was that sometimes you chase the wrong goal which can take you off track. If you ever feel like this is happening, pause and look around to see where you can make adjustments.

 What’s one book and podcast that you’d love us to know about?

An oldie but a goodie is Rick Kausman’s ‘If not dieting, then what?’. It’s a great read for those who may be struggling with their relationship with food or feel trapped in the dieting cycle.

Another one is Vanessa Alford’s ‘Fit not Healthy’ which is great for people who struggle to have a rest day from exercise and feel a bit stuck in their exercise routine. It outlines when balance is lost, and a dependence or addiction to exercise has developed. It’s a true story and shares how this ripples through to impact other areas of your life, particularly your relationships.

Some of my favourite podcasts are ‘Food Psych’ by Christy Harrison and ‘The Mindful Dietitian’ by Fiona Sutherland. They’re fantastic for anyone recovering from an eating disorder or wanting to gain greater understanding as a partner, family member or friend of a loved one with an eating disorder. They’re equally informative for health professionals.

Want to get in touch with Amy or see more of what she’s been up to? Click the links below.

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