“I left high school knowing I wanted to help people and do something ‘health related’. I changed to Sport and Exercise Nutrition after First Year Health Sciences and haven’t looked back since! Everything we learned in class, I was able to test out on myself and see results.
Sports and Exercise Nutrition has really close links between the Nutrition and PE aspects; throughout the degree, I could see that what I was learning for one paper would help me understand the same principles from a different perspective in another paper. It provides a thorough understanding of human health related to nutrition and physical activity and having an honours degree where I am equally qualified as a nutritionist and exercise prescription consultant has been a huge advantage.
Since graduating, I have been working at Sport Wellington as the Active Families Advisor. Active Families is a nationwide programme aiming to help children and their family/whanau lead a healthier lifestyle through improved nutrition and physical activity habits. We meet together once a week to play sports and games to show kids that being active is fun, easy and cheap. I also try to enter teams into organised events such as triathlons, fun runs/walks and group tramps and get families involved with the community. During the sessions, we play games highlighting the importance of a healthy diet for kids.
In addition to this, I work individually with families at home to address family nutrition and lifestyle goals. My main long term goals include getting families/children to eat a better diet on a budget and become involved with organised sports/activities which will help them make sustainable changes for the future.
While the main outcome of the programme focuses on weight loss and some family members have had incredible success with this, my greatest satisfaction comes from seeing how much fun kids have when they try new activities and it increases their confidence and self-esteem."
Paulien Van Geel
Active Families Advisor / Sport Wellington