As most of you know, I have always believed abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. It is 70% diet and 30% exercise . I have always maintained that by getting into the kitchen and cooking you control the ingredients you put in your body and the weight just falls off. This is the philosophy behind “COOK IT OFF”.
So you can only imagine how excited I was to when a friend introduced me to Jessica Sepel last week. She is an amazing clinical nutritionist and wellness coach . She currently lives in Australia but she was born in South African. So we share a common love for our birthplace and the rhythms of Africa. YEBO !!!!
Jessica herself, struggled for years with her relationship with food and body image. She got to the point where food was the enemy, and her body was a burden. By studying nutrition, she learned how the body actually works and her mentality shifted. She began eating in a way that healed her.
She is an author of “The Healthy Life” and her work has helped so many people. She doesn’t believe in depriving herself. She believes health and nutrition are a lifestyle. Extreme restrictions rarely work in the long term. Her book teaches you how to live your best, healthiest life.
Jessica is warm, funny, honest, approachable and down to earth, not to mention drop dead gorgeous. I’m talking Hollywood A list movie star hot. Jess believes in being flexible and listening to her body and realizing no 2 days are the same.
Like me she believes good health starts in the kitchen. Jess doesn’t subscribe to any dietary labels. She believes we need to fuel and nourish our bodies with real, whole foods. That means clean, unprocessed foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. No additives, no preservatives, and no artificial ingredients. Something I believe in wholeheartedly.
We have such similar philosophies so I knew you would love to hear more from this incredible woman. I am so glad Jess she has agreed to answer some questions for you
MM:In the past you struggled with your relationship with food and body image. What advice would you give to others battling these demons?
JS: Accept that this is a journey and that it won’t be a perfect one. Make a conscious decision every day to wake up and make decisions that are going to benefit your body in the long run. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling – one of the best decisions I made (with the help of my mum) was to talk to a psychologist about the deeper, emotional problems that were underlying and harming my relationship with myself and food. Then, slowly make small swaps (I talk a lot about this in my book, The Healthy Life), as I think this is the easiest way to make long term sustainable change. Make life easier for yourself by taking things slowly – drastic changes are sometimes not the best changes.
MM: I am not a huge fan of strenuous workouts that increase my appetite. I know you believe in exercising less, but working out smarter! What does this entail?
JS: Listen to your body! If you feel like going for a run, go for a run. If you feel like yoga, do a yoga session (there are even great videos online – from sites like doyogawithme and positivehealthandwellness). If you feel bored with your workout, try something else and experiment – most gyms offer free introductory classes these days, so get involved that way. Also incorporate incidental exercise into your daily routine – go for a walk with your girlfriends or partner, go rock-climbing or trampoline-ing with the kids.
MM: When you travel you indulge and don’t beat yourself up about it. What plan do you follow if you get back to your routine?
JS: Honestly, travelling is the one time where sometimes those niggling thoughts do come back. But I just remind myself that my body will not break down if I indulge a little more than usual. Becoming overly stressed and anxious is what will make my body break down! I wrote a travel ebook about this, because it was really something I had to work on myself, but the crux of it is that we must learn to trust our bodies again – no matter where we are in the world.
MM: What top 10 foods do you believe everyone should include in the diet?
JS: I think that everyone is different and has different needs, and as long as you’re getting lots of vegetables and a balance between carbohydrates, good fats and proteins, you should eat intuitively.
My top 10 favorite foods are:
- 1. Cauliflower
- 2. Cinnamon
- 3. Sweet potato
- 4. Quinoa
- 5. Salmon or a white fish
- 6. Spinach
- 7. Almond butter
- 8. Coconut yoghurt
- 9. My sugar free granola
- 10. Garlic
MM: What do you mean when you say health is holistic?
JS: It’s not just diet, and it’s not just exercise. It’s both – and also your mindset. Your body hears everything that your mind says, so I truly believe we need to approach health in a way that addresses both the physical and mental aspects of our wellbeing.
MM: I couldn’t imagine living without gluten and I see you recommend avoiding it. Why is this?
JS: Gluten can be inflammatory in the body to many people, even if you haven’t been diagnosed as coeliac or gluten intolerant. I recommend removing gluten from your diet for two weeks and slowly re-introducing it to see if it makes a difference to your feelings.
MM: I am a big believer that stress has a huge impact on the body. What advice can you give my readers to help balance daily stress levels?
JS: Prioritise rest. You’ll be far more efficient at the tasks you need to do if you can concentrate and are well rested.
MM: I see you limit alcohol and I couldn’t exist without my evening glass of red wine when I cook each night. . What are your thoughts?
JS: I think we need to eat (and drink) everything in moderation. Deprivation is the first step to breaking our relationship with food and with our own body. I am partial to a glass of wine when I’m out to dinner with friends, or as a once a week treat – however it’s not something that I rely on in social situations to feel happy or comfortable, or that I rely on to distress an relax. I think that’s the difference between indulgence and over-reliance.
MM: I absolutely love to cook. What is your favorite thing to make and can I share this recipe with my readers?
MM: I have a large South African following so I am wondering what is your favorite South African food?
Jessica recently got married to Dean Steingold. I know how amazing it is to find your soul mate. The Mayo family wish you a huge big mazeltov. May both your lives be filled with mazel, blessings, simchas, exciting adventures, special people, laugh out loud fun, incredible journeys & moments that take your breathe away.
Check out her amazing healthy wedding celebration