Hello, Happy Friday & Happy Halloween (or Happy Happy-ween as we say in my family ever since a super adorable voicemail from my nephew almost 15 years ago)! Hoooww is everyone today?! Getting ready for a spooky & fun-filled evening, I hope. I am dressing as a flapper tonight… get ready for photos galore next week.
I am unbelievably honored & excited to announce that today’s recovery series post features the amazing Miss Jessica Sepel. Jess is one of Australia’s leading health bloggers, nutritionists and wellness coaches. I had the awesome opportunity to hang out with Jess earlier this week when she was in LA, and we hit it off as if we had known each other for years. Kindred spirits do that, ya know… And I feel SO lucky to be able to call her a fast friend.
I am inspired by Jessica in the sense that she knew food and negative body image were controlling every aspect of her life, so she committed herself to understanding nutrition so she could make a change and help people develop body-peace once and for all.
Ready? I will let Jess take it away!
Recovery Series #7 // ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ►
Full name: Jessica Sepel
Current Location: Sydney, Australia
Q: Jessica, thanks so much for joining us today for TBB Recovery Series. It means a lot to me (and all of us!) that you are here and willing to open up about your struggles. Can you tell us a bit about your journey with food and eventual descent into the tricky waters of ED territory?
A: Like so many young women, I spent my teenage years and early 20s struggling with negative body image. I tortured myself to the point that food was the enemy. Hating my body was impacting every aspect of my life.
Q: Did your eating struggles with food stem from somewhere… i.e. body image issues, a traumatic event, a desire to look a different way, a need for control, all of the above?!
A: Yes, my eating struggles stemmed from this desire to be and look perfect. I never felt good enough or thin enough or accomplished enough. I felt constant pressure. I compared myself to my friends. I probably also used food as a way to control some emptiness in my life after my immigration.
Q: When you were in the midst of your ED, what did your obsession and a typical day in the life of Jessica look like?
A: I was sleep deprived and crippled by anxiety, gulping down four “calorie-free” black coffees a day. I was eating low-fat everything, calorie counting and fad dieting, and depriving myself from foods – which meant I ended up bingeing. I was also exercising intensely twice a day, but actually gaining weight! The scary thing is, I thought my lifestyle was normal. Healthy, even.
Q: What kind of changes did you see and feel in your body and mental state at the peak of your obsession?
A: I was tired. No zest for life. I felt consumed by it. It was just EXHAUSTING. My poor body was under so much stress. I suffered from hormonal havoc. I was listless and miserable; completely and utterly out of touch with my own body. I try to look back at that time with love, because I was trying to find my way.
Q: Do you see a correlation between a specific personality type (extreme, all or nothing personalities, etc.) and falling into the difficulty of eating disorders?
A: Definitely – I think a lot of it has to do with control. A lack of it, or simply needing to feel more of it. Food and exercise are things we can control, at least in a relative sense. It gives a sense of security, but it quickly controls us instead. And the desire for perfection can easily be taken too far, especially when we’re comparing ourselves to others. It’s the perfect storm.
^ Jess playing around with The Balanced Blonde App!
Q: Okay, enough of the difficult stuff. Tell us what RECOVERY looked like for you! How did you begin the recovery process, and what did “getting help” look like?
A: I started seeing a good psychologist who helped me tap into the root of my pain and learn to manage stress. This also helped my build up my self-esteem and my relationship with food. I cut out toxic food, scenes, and relationships that didn’t serve me and embraced whole foods, self respect and love. I also made sleep a priority – I now believe rest is the true key to recovery and healthy living.
Q: How did friends and family react to the change? Were they relieved when you realized and acknowledged that you needed help?
A: Yes, my mother was so relieved. No one really knew how bad it was though. I felt talking about it made me feel worse.
Q: What has the best aspect of recovery been?
A: When I realized that I had the ability to change my life through proper nutrition and self-care, I began to feel myself come alive! Through my self-healing, I began telling myself I was worth it; I was capable of helping other people on their own journey to health. I realized I could have a career where I would wake up each day and feel excited about what I was doing. Through my work with clients and now with the release of my book, my dreams are truly manifesting into reality!
Q: What are some tips you’ve found that help in the difficult moments for maintaining balance, health and loving your bod?
- I believe in the power of positive affirmations and try to start my day with them in mind.
- I go into the Stress Free Zone. I commit 20 or 30 minutes a day away from technology and other distractions and use it to center myself.
- I write in my gratitude journal. As corny as it might sound, it keeps me grounded and stress-free. You can’t feel stressed when you feel grateful.
- I switch off from social media. I try to put my phone away starting at 8:00pm, and also try to spend a full day, typically Sundays, unplugged. (TBB Sidenote: THIS IDEA ROCKS)
- I don’t deprive myself! I truly believe that indulging on occasion is good for you.
Q: What is the BEST part about blogging? Has your blog helped you overcome the difficult times you went through with over-exercising, or is it ever a trigger for you? I know many bloggers (including myself) find the act of blogging itself occasionally triggering — especially surrounded by food, health, wellness and fitness questions all day long!
A: OH YES! Blogging about my experience has healed me. It has been my therapy in so many ways. I feel so connected and supported by a community who has helped heal me. It’s so amazing to know we are not alone and we are all trying to figure it out together.
I definitely do get triggered by being in the industry, though. Recently I have been more in the spotlight on television, radio etc. and I find my old feelings of not being good enough pop up. But I have the tools now to re-center myself and tell myself that it’s my mean girl talking. Not all of our thoughts are real.
The JSHealth community is so inspiring. To have such a tribe of readers who are committed to a healthy life motivates me to wake up and do what I love to do. I am so grateful.
Q: Favorite quote?!
A: A rested body is a healthy body. We need to rest more.We are nothing without our health. Healthy living itself keeps me motivated, energized, and gives me a feeling that I can do anything and everything.
Q: Anything you’d like to add?
It was an absolute pleasure to answer these questions. Thanks for inspiring us all.
Jess and I squinting in the Beverly Hills sun…!
In a short, I am so grateful to know this beautiful and inspiring girl. What part of her recovery story really stuck with you?! I am quite struck by all of it. PS… What is everyone dressing up as for Halloween today?!