“Eat the rainbow.” “Pick one habit, and stick to it.” “Eat food, not much, mostly plants.”

These were just some of the takeaway messages from the professionals who took part in the Inspiring Positive Lifestyles Breakfast, on World Diabetes Day 2019.

Sponsored by Victoria University and the Susan Alberti Medical Research Foundation, the event, MC’d by Mel Jones AOM, focused on tangible ways to empower women and girls to achieve a healthy lifestyle, and encourage positive change.

Guests included industry partners, and VU’s Professor Peter Dawkins, Vice-Chancellor; Professor Marcia Devlin, Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor; Kashif Bouns, General Manager Western Bulldogs Community Foundation; Bec Rowe, Physiotherapist, Corporate Wellness Specialist; and Luke Fishley, Senior Executive, Loyalty Medibank.

Olympic gold medalist, Taekwondo champion and naturopath Lauren Burns OAM, kicked off the breakfast by sharing her thoughts on adopting a simple approach to wellness.

Lauren's motto, inspired by a fast-food hamburger that remained unchanged for six years, is: “If it can go bad, it’s good for you. If it’s stays good, it’s bad for you.”

VU’s Professor Alex Parker, lead researcher in the Institute for Health and Sport, has spent more than a decade working to translate research findings into practical measures. Alex talked about the alarming suicide rates among young people and the established linked between physical activity and better mental-health outcomes, especially for adolescents. “Physical activity levels in early childhood (for children as young as three years) predict activity levels right through to young adulthood, highlighting the need to engage the family in health-promotion efforts.”

VU’s Professor Clare Hanlon, the Susan Albert Women in Sport Chair, opened her address with an inspiring story about her 90-year-old neighbor Mavis, who enjoys yoga and walks a kilometre a day. In closing the sell-out event, Clare added:

“Choice empowers us all. What can we do to create a positive lifestyle for ourselves, our families, our employer, our community? We need to broaden our ideas. Why don’t we have healthy options at check-out counters, large-scale events and canteens? Healthy options empower healthy choice.”