Who Is Melanie Lillis?
I am a 25 year old, passionate, driven, a little crazy and quirky girl, with a major love for Health and Nutrition. I am a qualified PDHPE high school teacher finishing my uni degree in 2013. I have been teaching for over a year and knew half way through that my passion for educating was supposed to be directed in a different way. I have always absolutely loved Nutrition and knew that I needed to embark on a new career. I grew up very sporty and was an elite athlete, competing for Australia from the age of 18-24. I competed in sport aerobics which is a sport that has played a major part in what sparked my love for nutrition. Being at an elite level, I had to experiment with many different ‘diets’ to achieve different outcomes e.g. Weight loss, higher energy levels, increase muscle mass etc. It was throughout my sport that I discovered the profound effects that food has on the body and how different bodies react so differently to foods. I not only became more educated on diets but I also became aware of the psychological effects that dieting can have on an individual and how this can have a large impact on their health. This is why I decided to also start studying eating psychology which I graduate from in September. I can’t wait to share what I have learnt in this new certification with the nutritional knowledge I currently have.
I am a really easy going person and I love people and their stories. This ‘job’ for me isn’t really a job. Being able to help people achieve their ultimate goals is like a dream come true. I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else.
What is Nutritional Therapy?
Nutritional Therapists work with individuals to enhance their health and wellbeing through diet and nutrition. I assess their current diet, their macronutrient balance (carbohydrates and fats), I do a vitamin deficiency analysis, and I examine their current lifestyle and environmental factors which may be affecting their health.
Sport has played a major role in your life, from Netball, Gymnastics, Athletics and ‘Competition Sport Aerobics’ – what is Sport Aerobics?
Sport Aerobics is a mix between Gymnastics, Dance and American style Cheerleading. It is a high intensity 2 minute routine which has to execute certain elements such as fitness, strength and flexibility. I was in a team of 8, so we had to be perfectly synchronized whilst moving and changing positions around the stage at 165 beats per minute – whilst keeping a smiling face ;). Here is the link to our 2010 World Championship routine if you want to check it out…
What was it like winning Silver and Bronze for Australia in the World Championships in this Sport?
It was honestly one of the best feelings I have ever felt. Although we are only on stage for 2 minutes within each round, the training that goes into that 2 minute routine is intense. We do four 3 hour training sessions and one 5-6 hour training session leading up to the world titles. We have to perfect every leg line, arm line, position on the stage and to get us ‘routine fit’.
The feeling that the work we had done, had paid off was one of the greatest moments of my athletic career. One I will always remember.
From your experience, what are your views on current diets connected to peak Athletic performance?
Each diet will depend on the person, the training they are doing, and their goal. There are so many ‘athlete’ diets out there which aim to get different results. I believe that everyone’s bodies react and work differently to certain foods and that there is not one specific diet that will work for everyone.
Aiming to reach ‘peak athletic performance’ requires a total balance of macronutrients- carbohydrates, protein and fats.
Athletes train hard, therefore they need more carbohydrates, proteins and fats then the normal person. Each athlete will differ in their levels of macronutrients depending on their personal goals e.g. Endurance athletes would need a higher carbohydrate diet because they require sustained long lasting energy.
The athletes who are trying to cut weight, such as boxers, are known to cut their carbohydrate intake quite low a couple of weeks leading up to their competition (depending on the weight they have to use) in order to lose weight fast. I don’t recommend a low carbohydrate diet to anyone, yet certain sports require extreme measures, so that’s a personal goal which depends on the individual.
Having a balance of good carbohydrates, proteins and essential fats will decrease the chance of someone having a vitamin deficiency. When you have a vitamin deficiency you will start to experience many different symptoms which may affect your health. This will have quite a big impact on an athlete’s peak performance if it has not been addressed and fixed after a period of time.
Imagine a perfect world populated with healthy active people … what would this look like to you, compared with the world we currently live in?
Health can be described in so many different ways. I define health as an energetic state of congruency that originates beyond biology, but can express itself through the body, however it may. So when I think of health I don’t think “slim body, abs, and people pumping weights at the gym excessively”, I picture people being completely in tune with their body and understanding the profound connection between mind, body and spirituality. I picture food only being sourced from 100% organic whole foods and people not being on “diets”. The word ‘diet’ wouldn’t even be invented. I also don’t picture people going to a gym per say – I picture them doing only the type of exercise that makes them truly happy e.g. Yoga, Dancing, playing footy with their mates, or running around the backyard with their kids. I picture less disease ridden people and healthier elders. Ideally, I would love to see us get back to our natural instincts – Eating only natural foods, and being connected with nature.
Mel in ‘chill mode’ – where would we find you hanging out?
I am absolutely obsessed with the beach. You will find me here nearly every afternoon, and always on the weekends. I never grew up near a beach, but now I would never be able to live away from it. I find it so mesmerizing and it really brings me back to earth. We can get so caught up in the whirl wind of the world that life passes us by too quickly, so being grounded and slowing down has become very important to me.
If I’m not at the beach I will be going on an adventure with my partner, which is usually a drive down the coast to check out some cool markets, have a nice lunch and enjoy just enjoy each other’s company.
If I’m not doing either of the above I will literally be laying on my bed usually being a little nerdy, reading a book about nutrition.