Lifespark Nutrition was founded by Kate Walker in 2010, with a vision to help their clients get the most out of life with the support of healthy eating and nutritional advice. As a mum and registered nutritionist, Kate is passionate about helping other mums feel good about themselves, reach their wellness goals and wear their clothes with confidence. She wants to help as many women as possible who need support to get themselves back on track. At Lifespark Nutrition, they provide nutrition services to help make your weight loss or wellness journey easier and faster with support, clarity and focus, helping you to break old habits and feel great. Here Kate talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the inspiration behind what she does, and her business journey so far.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
I have always had a love of healthy food and exercise and living a healthy lifestyle, so it felt natural to do a degree in nutrition and exercise at university and a post graduate certificate in Health Science. My passion for my business came from the love of teaching and motivating others about the effects of good nutrition, movement and lifestyle habits, and desire to help guide them through a transformation to improve their wellbeing. I set up my in-person and online clinic Lifespark Nutrition back in 2012 to literally ‘put the spark back into people’s lives’.
As a Registered Nutritionist and a mum now, I feel it’s even more important for women to look after their wellbeing rather than putting everyone else first. It’s amazing how your habits change – being reactive to the rest of the family rather than being proactive with your own. Helping parents reach their wellness goals is so rewarding. Particularly, helping mums feel good about themselves with better energy levels, clinical strategies to reduce bloating, less brain fog, better mood, less snappy at the kids, and fitting their clothes again – it is the best!
Seeing the joy on their face when they are so proud of themselves for making the prescribed adjustments and just feeling so much better to get through the day is so rewarding.
There is also so much ‘noise out there’ telling people how to lose weight or what to eat, but a lot of the time it’s just not practical and not sustainable long term. I like to work with my clients, providing them tailored nutrition and lifestyle plans that gets results in the easiest way possible that works with them/ their family life and can be easily maintained. Many people come to see me for weight loss but also digestive issues, fatigue issues and hormonal concerns. I also do pregnancy and postpartum nutrition plans.
Now, I also have a side company called Nutra-licious which helps mums with healthy snacks for the kids or themselves. They are premade mixes that can be made into different snacks from bliss balls to biscuits to raw slices. These are great as it gets kids in the kitchen, making their own super healthy snacks but without the mess!
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
I was working in a gym as personal trainer and group fitness instructor and there was a spare room being offered to me for consultations once I had finished studying, so I jumped at the opportunity to set up my Lifespark Nutrition practice. I have been going ever since but have moved gyms due to locating from Auckland to Tauranga and currently working with Ocean Blue gym, and I have an online and home clinic for consultations.
With Nutra-licious, the idea came from seeing many mums, including myself, going back to work and all of a sudden you have less time for prepping meals snacks. I saw many mums relying on premade packet snacks like muesli bars and little biscuits, and most of them are not nutritionally dense, have empty calories, are high in sugar, full of additives, and leave the kids hungry an hour later. Children need very nutritionally dense snacks/meals because they don’t eat a lot at any one time, so what you do give them needs to be helpful for their growth and development – not just to fill a hunger gap. I always love trying to get my son helping me in the kitchen so he has an appreciation of healthy food, but baking was always a bit of a mess – plus I’m not the best baker! Making raw snacks came much easier and quicker for me. While I like using my food processor to make bliss balls, I didn’t want to use dates/dried fruit due to the sweetness and stickiness of them for little teeth, plus we couldn’t take nuts into some playcentres. I tried to use fresh fruit instead of dried fruit so that again it is less sweet and contains many added nutrients. That’s how the idea of Nutra-licious was born: using that over ripe banana in the fruit bowl, mixing it with the ground up seeds, coconut and spices like cinnamon or cocoa powder, rolling it into balls or other fun shapes for raw cookies or slices and popping it in the fridge or freezer – all while my son can make these himself and have fun (he was 3 at the time). I went to the local markets and it was a big hit with the mums in the area, so I’m hoping to expand production now.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
I realised and got feedback from many of my clients that they have higher motivation and do better when they are on a set challenge or programme, rather than just one-off sessions for a few weeks. Many of my clients are mums with school-aged children now trying to get themselves back in shape, both physically and emotionally, or going through peri menopause and menopause. While many people think ‘they know what to do’ in terms of eating healthy and exercise, this doesn’t necessarily transfer to creating action or changing habits and it’s easy to fall back into bad habits. Having a strategy can be very helpful, so I created a couple of fantastic programmes to really help support clients and keep them accountable and motivated. One is the Shred IT 8-week weight loss Programme for those who may not need a tailored plan – they just need support with menu planning, knowing what to eat and when, portions and shopping lists plus easy recipes.
The other is my 12-week Vibrant Women Kickstart Programme, which is a more tailored programme and walks you through many facets that can impact your health and wellbeing like stress, hormones (including PMS and peri menopause), gut health, nutrition and sleep. This is a weight loss programme but with a more in-depth wellbeing transformation to really boost energy levels and help women feel amazing again.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
At times you want to just stay at home and see your child develop, but at the same time, having some space to yourself and keeping your head in the work game and upskilling is important. I always try to attend conferences and seminars on the latest nutrition and lifestyle research. I currently balance work/life with seeing clients 3 days a week while my son is still young and before we start the rush of the school routine next year. I still pretty much work 5 days a week with admin, etc., but I see most of my clients on these days and a few online consults in the evening. You have to set up boundaries (which I am not that good at), and when it is your business, you tend to feel on call 24/7 or thinking about things. Let’s just say that there is never time to watch TV! I’m either working on programmes or in the kitchen doing the meal prep or making Nutra-licious snack packs to send out. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with juggling things and often get the mum guilt when I have to work, but at the same time, helping other mums to feel better, which impacts their family life, is my driver. I always try to put my phone away and be present when I’m with my son and meals times are important family time for me.