Wellness Wisdom for Busy Women is not about the perfect body or the perfect morning routine. It’s about real women who understand that good health underpins every area of their life and shapes who they are and how they show up in the world. Get a glimpse into the lives of women just like you and find out how these women prioritise wellbeing… no matter how chaotic life is!
This conversation is with Zoe Morosini, a Clinical Nutritionist and social scientist who has made it her mission to show women how to change their eating habits so they can live life unencumbered by ill-health or unhelpful mindset towards food.
Whether you’re wanting to change the way you eat so you can become a healthy weight or to manage a particular health condition, Zoe is here to show you what to eat and how to stick to it. Her clinical practice centres around all aspects of women’s health including reproductive, immune, thyroid and gut health.
Having worked with Zoe – both personally and professionally for a couple of years, I cannot speak highly enough about her. She is caring, she is compassionate and, perhaps most importantly, she is non-dogmatic in her approach which means she actually works with the human in front of her rather than trying to fit them into a particular protocol or methodology. And I so appreciate this about her.
If you’d prefer to watch, head over to Instagram when you’ll find the recorded conversation or click play below to listen while you multitask.
How did you get to be where you are today?
I think I’m only just starting to get a picture of what that [wellness] actually means to me, to be honest with you. And I think that’s the joy of being very close to 40! There is an evolution that has to happen really (or certainly for me). Knowing myself and knowing what’s right for me and knowing where I want to do. That’s a cumulative thing over the period of my life but where did it begin?
I think I’ve always, I’ve been brought up to take care of myself. It comes from birth, right? That’s a core value of mine and even though I know I was influenced quite deeply by – and I’m a people pleaser – what other people thought of me and, I think, in conjunction with a society that really values aesthetics, especially aesthetics in women, I inevitably went through a period of reckoning and of understanding myself which with regard to my body and my health.
But it was always there. There was always this foundation of respect for food, respect for myself, even if I didn’t necessarily follow through on that and that led me to retrain. I was in social science and I was working in development and I retrained in nutrition just because, at the time, it appeared to be a good idea. But then I fell in love with nutrition so much. I loved working one-on-one with people in nutrition and I never left.
But I think it’s coincided; my business and my personal journey aren’t really separate and they never will be!
There is a perception that if you work in the wellness industry you must always be well. How have your own health and wellness challenges informed the way you work with clients?
There’s some value in lived experience.
I think we’ve all heard that story of going to a practitioner. A post-partum practitioner is a great example, someone who’s young and, not to say that they can’t add value, but there’s something about being heard and there’s therapy in that when somebody has also gone through a postpartum period. I guess there’s just a bit of truth in that. It doesn’t mean you can’t be a good practitioner if you haven’t but it is potentially easier.
For me, mindset is key. It influences so much of my behaviour which I think is an obvious thing but it’s not in the health industry.
You know, the number of people that I see in my clinic who say “I’ve got fatty liver. I’ve gone to see a GP and the GP says well, weight loss is the answer and off you go”. There’s no acknowledgement of the fact that, of course, they know that weight loss has to be a part of it but it’s never that simple and so to be continually told that that is what you have to do but you don’t know how to do it, or you don’t know where to start, or you’ve been trying for however long and you still haven’t done it. It’s incredibly difficult to hear that. I have experienced that and so for me, I guess, mindset just has to be a part of it because it has been such an integral and critical part of my own journey. How can you not consider it?
At Vitalita, we believe wellness is about creating a life brimming with vitality. In your own words, what does wellness means to you?
I think for me it’s around, of course, physical and mental health and of course there are a lot of dimensions to that. But it’s also about protection. I think there are two elements to it.
- Protection – Protection of my being, whatever that might be. Protection of my sense of self, whatever that might be. My physiology, you know protecting my body as it evolves and ages
- Personal – There’s the non-protective component and it’s about fulfilling deeper desires around the kind of person I want to be, and the kind of contributions I want to make to the planet and to my family and my relationships.
So there are two elements and the pursuit of those things is what wellness is to me.
You are so real and relatable. A couple of weeks ago you shared that you hate working out at home, particularly when your kids are around. But that, sometimes, you just have to do it anyway!
It’s so funny. It is actually this mix between a ramshackle, just trying to go with the flow type scenario, versus systems and routine, hardcore systems and routine.
And when I think about it, in my mind, it’s this go with the flow type scenario but it’s absolutely not! It’s absolutely not. Like, if I think about my day, it’s to the moment in a lot of respects. There’s utter flexibility in that but, for example, I don’t know a time when we didn’t do a meal plan for the week. The plan itself is flexible but I can’t remember a time when we didn’t do a weekly shop in response to that meal plan. My husband and I sit down and we map out our week in terms of who does what. It’s painfully fair, painfully fair to the point where he would get up and get the kids, we alternate getting the kids, we alternate who puts them to bed, we alternate who go to the markets. It’s like I do Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and alternating Thursdays and he does every alternating… so you know like it’s to the calendar but that enables pure flexibility and it means that I can predictably get the exercise that I want to get. I can get the rest that I want to get. It enables complete freedom within that predictability.
Part of the journey, I think, has been the realisation for me, as I age, that exercise has to be a non-negotiable. So if that has to be non-negotiable, what do I have to shift or make happen in my world to make that happen?
I get confidence and, for a person who has vulnerabilities around their eating and around their body shape and all of those things, there’s nothing like being able to go into the gym and feel confident. That is huge! Then there’s the obvious – I eat better when I exercise and I have incredibly different energy levels. My body, I’m like my Dad and I have injuries that I live with and musculoskeletal vulnerability so I get pain in my joints and in my muscles if I don’t exercise. It’s about actually just feeling really well, and the older I get the more vulnerable I am to those things.
Is there anything you’d say to women watching who feel frustrated with their progress (or lack of)?
Like I said earlier, I think it’s very hard to divorce my personal journey from my clinical practise and that can be both good and bad. But it’s a journey that I’m absolutely on myself. The journey for me is around the process; focusing on the process and the value that you get out of every moment and what that is doing for you in life and for your soul and your existence and your purpose on this earth. That is, to me, the only way that you’re actually going to achieve the things that you want to achieve.
And that doesn’t mean that weight loss lacks purpose. There are some absolutely astonishing, life-changing things that can happen out of weight loss. I think it’s crazy to think that it doesn’t. But there are so many things that can make it so difficult and if you’re not spending that time while you’re in the thick of it, in the difficulty, in the struggles of it, if you’re not spending that time actively focusing on the good stuff that you’re doing, you’re going to just make it harder for yourself. And you don’t need to make it any harder. But if you can spend every day going “Damn, look what I just did!” You may not have reached that perfect goal just yet but if you can look what you did as being better than last week or even the same as last week, then you’re going to have a hell of a time!
I don’t see clinical value in not creating a solid platform for which to make decisions.
Anyone can tell you if you’re trying to lose weight when you’re hating yourself or when you are not feeling confident or when you think to yourself that you can’t do it or when you’re starving all the time or when you put the pressure on himself to do this by your sister’s wedding, the challenges are astronomical. They explode. They are exponentially higher than if you give yourself the platform of self compassion; the platform of time; the platform of solid, consistent, mindful decisions, there’s a world of difference between those two mental platforms and what I find is the people that make that a priority, it [weight loss] happens and it happens permanently because they change their life. They don’t just change their body, they change their life!
You’ve got a great sense of humour and you post about wacky wellness trends all the time. What is the one wellness fad that grinds your gears?
Oh dude, I can’t even begin. So many!
Just a couple of weeks ago, I saw someone on social media who should have known better. I’m not going to say who was. They were posting about exercise, warning people to be careful about exercise and that, when you exercise but don’t worry about your nutrition, you can get #fitchub. So, you’re fit but you’re fat. It’s very black and white – you’ve got to be looking after yourself and you’ve got to do both [exercise and nutrition] at the same time or there’s no value in doing either.
I was gutted!
Speaking of humour, tell us about the #donttellzoe hashtag
There’s a lot of joy in my extended family and I used to get these text messages whenever my cousins were travelling with photos of them in Switzerland eating ice cream or whatever it was.
I’d just started nutrition and I was helping some of my family out, just you know as I was starting out becoming a new clinician and, at one point, we were at a family gathering and one of my other cousins came up to me and he said that anytime anyone is eating anything crap they say “Don’t tell Zoe!” It was just a joke. But he made the point that there was something deeper in this, particularly for my clients, and that is that there is shame around the food that we eat and that we don’t tell anyone about.
Certainly, for myself and with my own eating journey, one of the most freeing things was for me to tell my husband about how much I was struggling with it and to cast light on what was dark for me for what years. Even though he knew, I told him the extent and then I began telling other people the extent and we all started talking about it. And one of the most beautiful things I had was when somebody said to me, “I don’t think you’ve got much of a problem at all”.
Interestingly, with #DontTellZoe, the things that people do end up telling me privately, they’re not that bad! The problems we think we have, we inflate them to be astronomical problems.
What call to action would you encourage women to take?
Wellness is highly personalised, as we’ve said.
I’m gonna go philosophical but I think that the pursuit of wellness is about surrendering to what is honest, honest for you and true for you without it hurting other people and sometimes it takes a lifetime to realise that.
It’s about what’s honest and true for you and your body and the pursuit of that is wellness. It’s different for everybody.
Most people that sit across from me who want food advice, are not necessarily looking for food advice. It can be done through food and it and I wouldn’t be in the industry that I’m in if I didn’t believe a part of it was done through food but it’s not really about food at all, most of the time.