A date with Jessica Sepel
Jessica is a shining bright star who is making a massive difference in this world. She has helped thousands of people by guiding them to create healthy lifestyle habits and achieve physical and psychological balance.
She says: "I struggled with my own body image for most of my teenage years and early 20s. Like many girls, I tortured myself to the point where food was the enemy and my body was a burden.
"Once I started listening to my body, it responded in the best way. It healed itself. I freed myself from the all-consuming obsession with food, and finally found balance. When you feed your body with goodness and love, it is so, so good to you in return. It’s the most empowering, amazing feeling."
We couldn't agree more.
The breathtakingly beautiful Jess has a Bachelor of Health, specialising in Nutritional Medicine. She has contributed to Vogue, POPSUGAR, MindBodyGreen, H+W Magazine, Marie Claire, Daily Makeover, Well+Good NYC, The Daily Mail and Sunwarrior, as well as being featured on Women's Health and Fitness, Australian Natural Health, Sporteluxe, Body & Soul, Fox 11 and Today, just to name a few.
We were pretty damn blessed to be able to have five minutes with Jessica. We were blown away by her kindness and love. We were also very lucky that she shared one of her scrumptious recipes with us - TAHINI SWIRL BROWNIES!! OH MY GOODNESS!! And as always, it's a recipe for our little ones too xo
DATE WITH JESSICA SEPEL
Can you tell us briefly about your journey and your story, and how you found your life's purpose?
I was fortunate enough to be brought up in a healthy home in South Africa, where we were taught balance with food. My mum has always been a really healthy cook, but when I was 13, 14, we immigrated from South Africa to Australia, and my body started changing from puberty. It was a really stressful time, and I discovered fad dieting. This led to fad dieting for many, many years. Restricting food, being obsessive with food, being very controlling with my weight. And I developed a really complex relationship with food and my body. I went off to study health and nutrition after school, and during my studies I started making changes and blogging about these changes, and that's when the blog was created. That's kind of how it all began.
We would love to hear about how you spend your ideal day, and your daily rituals?
So my ideal day is, I'm very committed to a morning routine, so I wake up at about 7 and I practise yoga or I go for a walk in nature, or I do interval training twice a week. Then I have my one coffee a day and a healthy dose of breakfast. I try not to check social media, definitely not emails, until after my morning routine. So I start my day at 8:30, 9:00, and then I start work for the day. I normally have the JS Health community protein smoothie for breakfast. In winter I'll have oats with Greek yoghurt, or the JS Health community protein pancakes.
What is one thing you would tell your younger self?
Not be so hard on myself. I would tell my younger self that you have a bright future ahead, that you're not alone, that you're not alone in what you're going through. I felt very alone with my fad dieting and my relationship with food and my body. So realising when young girls understand that they're not alone and that most people struggling, it really helps. I think it's important that we all come together and support each other.
What is your form of meditation?
I meditate for about 10 minutes every morning, but my meditation is like a manifestation, so I visualise my dreams and my future and it's a gratitude process at the same time. During those 10 to 15 minutes I'm saying thank you for all the things in my life, and I'm also visualising dreams and aspirations.
In order for me to lead a fulfilled life, I needed to let go of something. For me it was alcohol. What is something you had to let go of to move forward?
I had to let go of fad dieting. I actually had to give a commitment to give up dieting for life, because it became an addiction, restricting with food, being obsessive, fearing foods. I actually had to give up the addiction to being a fad dieter and being addicted to obsessions and extremes around food. I had to give up scale watching and being obsessed with my weight. That is the only way that I was going to really heal my body.
What are one or two books that you have read that have helped change your life?
Definitely Dr. Libby's books helped me during my studies. All of Dr Libby Weaver's books. She's amazing in terms of the biochemistry of the body. You know, the truth is, You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay, really did have an impact, changed my mindset. I started realising the power of the mind through that book, and then the power of manifestation and the power of words and the power of thoughts and how your body really does listen to your thoughts.
Do you practice gratitude?
Yeah, I practice gratitude very, very religiously. I wake up, I really cannot remember the last time I woke up without doing a gratitude practice of some sort. It's the best way to start your day, and I've noticed the days that I don't start with a gratitude practice, I don't seem to attract as much abundance, whereas when I start my day, even this morning, I did a whole gratitude practice for the JS Health community, just thanking the universe for my job and for the community that I've built up. As a result, today I've had more JS Health community members email me and Instagram me, saying how much JS Health community helps them change their lives, so just my gratitude that that's actually amazing. Just my gratitude for them.
What are three things you're grateful for?
My job, my JS Health program girls in the office. My husband is just the best thing that ever happened to me, he really reminded me of my self-worth and that I had a good life to live. My family is so important to me; my health. Those are the things.
What is one piece of wisdom you would like to pass on to our youth?
That we need to support each other. There's not enough support, especially for females. We need to speak about the hardships and the challenges. We mustn't be afraid to be vulnerable, and sharing our stories is a really great way to support each other.
And younger girls, obviously I'm very passionate about spreading this message of having a healthy relationship with food and your body, and that we don't need to be extreme with food and health in order to live a healthy life. I know there's a much more balanced, realistic, sustainable way to live a healthy life.
WHAT DID I CHANGE?
- I ditched processed foods and sugar for good
- I started eating beautiful wholefoods
- I learnt to love good fats
- I reduced my gluten intake to the point where I’m now 90% gluten free!
- I enjoyed caffeine and alcohol only occasionally
- I drank tons of water
- I loaded up on green veggies every day. Some might call it an addiction
- I healed my gut with probiotics
- I boosted my self-esteem and changed my relationship with my body and food
- I reduced the stressors in my life
- I cut out toxic scenes and people
- I slept more
- I threw out toxic products (like fake tan!) and made the switch to natural skin and household items
- I exercised less, but smarter
- I tuned into the mind-body connection
- I gave myself the chance to REST
WHAT WAS I DOING WRONG?
- I drank too much alcohol and caffeine
- I poured artificial sweetener into everything
- I beat myself up whenever I indulged
- I ate low-fat products as well as processed foods and daily tins of tuna.
- I had a diet mentality. I was a fad dieter who never ate any fat, but couldn’t lose fat either
- I was stressed and anxious
- I wasn’t sleeping enough
- I was out of touch with my body – in fact, I hated on it
- I was a spray tan junkie
- I exercised twice a day – which didn’t do my stressed-out body any favours!
TAHINI SWIRL BROWNIES
These sugar-free, dairy-free and gluten-free Tahini Swirl Brownies are so good… You won’t even believe they’re healthy! Raw cacao powder and rich dark chocolate are full of antioxidants and magnesium, plus coconut flour and chia seeds give an extra boost of healthy fats and omega-3s, making this a sweet treat that’s equally nutritious and delicious! Enjoy as a healthy 4-5pm snack or after dinner treat!
Tahini Swirl Brownies
Makes: 8-10 slices
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/3 cup raw cacao powder
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup tahini, plus extra 1 tbsp to swirl
- 1/4 cup maple or rice malt syrup
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp almond milk
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1/3 cup dark chocolate (85%), chopped
- pinch of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Whisk eggs in a large mixing bowl then add coconut flour and raw cacao powder and stir to combine.
- Add tahini, maple or rice malt syrup, almond milk and chia seeds and mix until just combined. Stir through chopped dark chocolate.
- Spoon mixture evenly into a lined baking tin. Add dollops of extra tahini and then running a knife through the dollops, create a swirl.
- Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, or until an inserted skewer withdraws clean.
You can read more from Jessica Sepel here and connect on social here;
Instagram - https://instagram.com/jshealth
Facebook - https://facebook.com/JSHealth
Twitter - https://twitter.com/JessicaSepel