Welcome to ShippShape Fitness & Nutrition!
Welcome to our first blog post! I guess I should firstly share a little of our story and to start, I'll give you the rundown on what ShippShape is about and how it began.
Since we were young, there have been three main constants that have shaped our paths to where we are today:
1) Our love of food. 2) Our love of sport. 3) Our love for animals.
Although we had very different taste preferences as children, we both shared an incredible love and fascination with food. If I had a dollar for every time Katie has told me that "Food is her life" then I wouldn't need to be here writing this blog! She was often referred to as "Katie I Like That" due to her endless assumptions of liking particular foods before ever trying them. My grandfather would be preparing radishes for example, when lil Katie would ask "What are those Pop?" "These are called radishes Katie." " Oh yes, I like that!"... before shoving multiple in her gob just to prove everyone wrong when they questioned her love for such radishes. Whether she actually enjoyed those or not will remain a mystery, but never seeing her eat one again has led me to believe the latter! On the other hand, I was extremely fussy and precious when it came to food. My love for food more accurately related to volume I think. I never really understood how kids from my school could return home with food still in their lunchboxes, when mine was definitely emptied before lunchtime even came about! I was always an average size kid for my age but just with an above average appetite I'd say. Both of us took part in many sports during our schooling years, which definitely warranted many post training or post game meals. Our parents are lucky they stopped at three kids, because I reckon their weekly shopping bill could have easily resembled that of Tom and Kate Baker's from "Cheaper by the Dozen" some weeks!
When it came to that time of our high school days when it was time to begin thinking of what we wanted to do after graduating, neither of us had nutrition in the front of our minds. Unlike our eldest sister Ally, who knew from an early age that primary teaching was to be her career path, we were both unsure of what lay ahead for us. Katie was tossing up between studying Interior Design and Business, while I considered careers in Architecture and Sports Science. Due to being a year apart in age, I already had one year of Exercise and Sports Science study under my belt before Katie began studying her Business degree her first year out of school. Although Katie excelled and enjoyed that year of Business study, she quickly discovered that it wasn't the career for her, nor was it her passion. I was enjoying the Exercise and Sports Science degree but was also finding it difficult to see myself working in that field. However, in my second year I enrolled in a Nutrition course which shifted my idea of what I wanted to do. It dawned on me at that point that working with people and their food choices would definitely be something that could get me out of bed with a purpose every morning. The following year, Katie and I had both been accepted to study Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of the Sunshine Coast. The funny thing is that we didn't even know that the other had applied for the same course! We knew that we had applied for courses at the same university, but didn't realise that we were going to be studying together until we reported our good news to the rest of the family! Funny how the world works sometimes. Midway through our course, we decided to drop the Dietetics component and focus solely on the Nutrition side of things, in order to play a role in preventing disease from occurring rather than to help treat already ill patients with medical nutrition therapy. The three years definitely had their tough times, but getting that valuable piece of paper at the end of the day is up there with our proudest achievements to date and was just the first stepping stone towards our goal... ShippShape.
Our other obsession growing up was sport. Athletics carnivals were our favourite days of the school year. Inter-school sport every Friday was a weekly highlight. Club Rugby League and Netball were necessities and areas in which we could let loose and have fun with the vast amount of friends we made from these teams. Katie's main focus was always netball, yet she excelled at other sports like Athletics and Touch Football. My main outlet was Rugby League and Union, yet Athletics was also a major part of my life growing up.
Being such a dominant theme in our lives, it was hard to see the future of ShippShape not involving exercise and fitness as part of a holistic approach to improving and assuring health in our clients. So, we decided to continue our study and aim to become qualified Personal Trainers as well. Venturing to the Gold Coast this time, we began our study at the Human Performance Centre in Miami. These 12 weeks would prove to be vital in the creation of ShippShape, as the idea hadn't completely been developed after the nutrition degree. The lessons throughout this course contained much more than what was previewed on the surface. "Exercise Protocols Targeting Fat Loss"? Add in some "How to ensure your self-talk is positive". "Periodisation and Planning"? Get some "How to make your dream job your day job" with that. However important the science behind training and coaching techniques are, these subliminal teachings that we received at HPC would prove to be as important, if not more important, for our future. Triggered inside of us was a desire to go out and make our passions for fitness and nutrition a reality (whilst also meeting a bunch of legends that we are privileged to call our friends!).
Now the last piece of the puzzle was of course, the animals. From a very young age, we were always surrounded by pets and adored each and every one of them. We have always been a dog type of family, but we also had birds and chickens that we loved to care for and tell our deepest, darkest secrets to. There are so many pets (family members) that we remember and think about everyday. Currently though, we are graced by the presence of our Labrador Retriever Gus, Border Collies Nugget and Bear, as well as five chickens and two ducks. We could talk about our pets and how cool and unique each one of their personalities are all day, but we'll spare you that for now.
Before I talk further about how animals have influenced ShippShape's procedures, I must return to when we were studying our Personal Training. At the time, Katie and I were both dealing with certain diseases that had been evident in various parts of our lives so far. Katie was struggling daily with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and chronic migraines, while my life-long struggle had been with inflamed skin that comes with Psoriasis. The commute to and from the Gold Coast totalled close to 4 hours (lucky it was only twice a week!) which gave us plenty of time to listen to health and nutrition podcasts that we enjoyed. We noticed in a lot of these podcasts that the evidence for the health benefits of a whole-food, plant-based diet was astounding. We were both in desperate situations and were looking for the next thing that could help relieve us of some of our symptoms. So, on the 28th June, 2017, Katie and I began eating a vegan diet, consuming only whole foods for the majority of the time, with a small amount coming from processed options. The results were extremely encouraging, with many of our symptoms easing after only a couple of weeks. Throughout the 12 week period of our course, we received body scans at the beginning, middle and end, which showed that we were also dropping body fat, gaining muscle and increasing bone density while on this vegan diet! We haven't altered from our vegan diets since that day and don't ever plan on looking back!
Fast forward to the beginning of 2018. Initial planning stages of ShippShape are well underway. Everything we wanted to do and achieve with this business was quite clear, except for one major issue. We were torn. We had originally decided to provide nutrition plans to every type of customer, vegan or non-vegan. However, I'd begun to understand more intricate details about the vegan lifestyle and the conditions that the victims of the meat, dairy and egg industries endured on a daily basis. I'd stopped focusing on how a vegan diet affected me and my skin after experiencing positive results and started understanding how my eating habits affected the animals. Katie was already well aware of what happens within these industries from her time trying a vegan diet some years prior. Although we knew our customer base and potential growth rate might decline, we made the decision to only prescribe vegan meal plans for our customers. I used to think that we had become vegan on June 28th, 2017, but in retrospect, we were just whole food, plant based. It wasn't until March of this year that I say we adopted the entire vegan lifestyle and the ethos it entails.
We are extremely proud of what ShippShape is all about and the services we offer. Providing nutrition and fitness support for people in need without the use, abuse and consumption of animals is our overriding passion.
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