Women to watch: Leanne Ward

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Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian and STRONG Australia Dietitian Leanne Ward developed a passion for health and fitness from a very young age. She eventually gravitated towards a career in nutrition, loving its potential to help prevent and fight disease. Ward sat down with STRONG Australia to share her nutrition philosophy, what she loves most about her job, and how she manages to unwind from her busy day-to-day life.

SFMA: Can you tell us how your career started?

Ward: After graduating as a dietitian in 2013, I secured a job in a Brisbane-based hospital, working across the surgical and acute medical wards, ICU, gastroenterology out patients and the specialist pelvic health clinics. In 2015, I completed a Sports Nutrition course, which fuelled my passion for helping clients nourish their bodies for peak performance. 

SFMA: What is it that you love most about the nutrition industry?

Ward: I love that the power of nutrition can prevent and/or heal diseases. What we put in our mouths is a very powerful medicine. I love teaching women how to nourish and fuel their bodies with real food (that tastes delicious too).

SFMA: What is your nutrition philosophy? 

Ward: I believe that anyone, regardless of their age or what stage they are in life, can find health and happiness. I believe in wholesome, natural and nutritious foods. 

My philosophy is around balanced eating: eating well the majority of the time to nourish your body but also allowing yourself to nourish your soul with the occasional ‘soul food’. This is the term I use for the food and drinks that make your soul happy. It might be wine and cheese to one person or chocolate and ice-cream to the next. It’s an individual preference.

SFMA: What does your day on a plate look like? 

Ward: I focus on whole foods – the sort of foods our great grandparents ate. You won’t find me subscribing to any diet trends or labelling the way I eat. I eat food – real food. My diet is fuelled with a diversity of plants to feed and nourish my gut bacteria. My favourite quote is from Michael Pollan: ‘eat food, not too much, mostly plants’.

SFMA: What does your weekly training regimen look like? 

Ward: I focus on weights and walking. The weights help me to feel mentally and physically strong, and I love knowing that I can carry a fully grown man out of a burning building if I ever needed to. I do five days of weight training a week, using a split program from my exercise physiologist. I don’t focus on cardio from a weight-loss perspective, but I do like to walk for my own mental health. I pop on some soothing tunes or a podcast, and walk around my neighbourhood for an hour, a few times a week. It’s a great de-stressor!

SFMA: What do you like to do to relax and unwind?

Ward: I love going for a long walk and listening to music or a podcast. I also enjoy drinking a glass of wine and reading a good book. You might also find me just dancing around the kitchen to my favourite songs while I bake.

📸: Hawke Anderson