We did a Q&A with Leiden’s newest health and wellness expert, Alex Tobin, this week. Alex shares with us how her passion for nutrition and health began because of her own health challenges. She reveals to us that she was headed to burn-out town, working long hours and living a high stress life until she made changes and experienced the benefits herself.
Here at Leiden our health and wellness experts aren’t like others. They not only have formal qualifications in health and wellness but they’ve overcome their own health challenges and have loads of personal experiences making them experts in the field. We believe overcoming your struggles and personal experiences are just as important as formal education. Alex helps us to understand why, sharing with us some of her personal struggles with her health and wellness journey.
Liz: What is your background and how did you get into health and wellness (Nutrition)?
Alex: Wellness was always on my radar thanks to my Mum, however, it wasn’t until I was working my first full time job in my dream role in the magazine industry, but seriously struggling with the long hours and highly stressful days, that my interest really piqued. I wasn’t coping and was headed straight to burn-out town so I started consuming every piece of health and wellness information I could get my hands on.
What started as personal research to alleviate the effects of my desk job quickly turned into a full-blown fascination. I began studying simply as a way to learn more for my own personal curiosity. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know.
L: Tell me about your studies in nutrition. What type of qualification did you gain and what did you learn about?
A: I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I could remember so I completed a Bachelor of Communications (journalism) after I finished school. As someone who dropped maths and science as soon as possible (writing and languages has always been my forte!) I was pretty nervous about jumping into studying nutrition (and the chemistry and human anatomy that would come with it).
As a way to immerse myself and test the waters I initially enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where they offer an all online, one year Certified Holistic Health Coaching course. I learnt from leading doctors, PhDs, researchers, and authorities in nutrition today (such as Dr Mark Hyman, Dr Andrew Weil, Sally Fallon, and Dr Deepak Chopra) and absolutely loved it.
I wanted to learn more and gain a recognised accreditation so I am now studying an Ad Dip in Nutritional Medicine at The Australian Institute of Applied Sciences.
L: What inspires you about health and wellness (nutrition) and why are you keen to work in this field?
A: It seems simple, but the effect it can have on the rest of your life. Most people don’t know just how good they are designed to feel and the flow on effect from that is amazing. I’m passionate about helping others to discover that.
L: What is a challenge that you’ve faced on your health and wellness journey that you can share with Leiden readers?
A: When it comes to challenges on my health and wellness journey I can safely say I’ve dealt with them all. It has been an area I’ve struggled with for many years and is probably the reason I was so drawn to Nutrition, as the saying goes ‘we teach what we most need to learn.’
I developed terrible body image issues in my late teens and looking back, that was probably the catalyst for so many of the challenges I’ve faced. It kick-started many years of crash dieting, rapidly losing and then gaining back weight more times than I can count. Not liking how I looked and feeling like I couldn’t get a handle on my health despite all I knew took a definite toll on my mental health.
It wasn’t until I took a step back, recognised my patterns and made a conscious decision to just be healthy (as opposed to the exhaustingly endless cycle of getting fit for summer/an event/that dress) that everything started to fall into place. It sounds easy on paper but it has been certainly been a process!
L: What’s a key message you’d like to share with Leiden readers to inspire them on their nutrition journey?
A: When your health improves, so does everything else too. When I started really taking care of myself the side effects blew me away. Yes, my skinny jeans fit me better and my self-confidence sky rocketed but it felt like my brain switched on for the first time. I slept better, was more productive at work and my moods improved dramatically. It’s easy to reason away looking after yourself when it is only about fitting into a pair of jeans but when you can see and feel the flow on effects in other areas of your life it is incredibly motivating.
L: Something fun — your favourite healthy snack and why?
A: Like a good tune I usually put my favourite snack on repeat until I can’t stand the sight of it anymore, so I tend to burn through my favourites pretty quickly. However, one constant is usually the inclusion of peanut butter, I’m slightly obsessed. I’ll eat it on apples, bananas, on a toasted piece of sourdough or throw it in a smoothie. I’m yet to meet a combination I don’t like!
Alex is really keen for Leiden readers to have access to the type of articles that she wishes she had armed herself with to prevent the burn out that her and her colleagues experienced. She enjoys writing for people who worked full on desk jobs and are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, nutrition, and anything health and wellness related. Stay tuned to see more from Alex soon.
Illustration: Johanna Dziadkiewicz