Running one of Sydney’s top PR firms, responding to global clients all hours of the day, taking an adorable French Bulldog for walks and hosting industry events… It takes some serious stamina – and a few slices of vegemite toast for brekky. Founder of the Audience Agency, Montarna McDonald talks us through a day in her life and the foods that get her by, as well as her ‘everything in moderation’ philosophy – we love!
I’m Montarna McDonald; Sydneysider, fashion obsessive, French Bulldog owner, travel lover and founder of The Audience Agency.
I’m 26 and live in the Eastern suburbs with my boyfriend Nick and Harper, our dog. I’ve worked in PR since my late teens and launched The Audience Agency in 2014 after a clutch of job offers and approaches from brands following my early career in the industry. We rep Stylestalker, Tinder, Fame and Partners, Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel and a selection of other heritage and contemporary brands.
My days start at 5.45am when I scroll through my phone in bed before hitting the shower and slipping in to a chic but comfortable outfit for the working day.
I have super hectic days where food and breaks aren’t a priority, and I’ll admit I probably don’t get enough sleep with work emails coming in from global clients all night. So I’m the kind of person who lives for my morning coffee – the guys at Gypsy Espresso in Potts Point know my arrival time and order to the smallest detail (7.45am and skim capp).
If I have the time, I’ll squeeze in a training session with Chris Feather at 98 Riley St gym. PR requires some serious stamina and Chris keeps me on the right track with weight bearing exercises that I can run through in 30 minutes – I’m always watching the clock in the morning as the showroom gets so busy! Gym workouts aren’t so much of a priority for me now Harper is by my side, as I can kill two birds with one stone and take her out for a long walk making that my days’ exercise.
I’ve recently discovered the amazing lifesavers that are food delivery boxes. I love that I can still get a healthy meal in no time and there is minimal waste, plus I’m enjoying using the kitchen in our new house to prepare dinner. If for some reason I forget to order my trusty recipe boxes, I’ll have toast with vegemite for breakfast. If I have time to spare, I’ll head to one of my favourite cafes for a classic Sydney lunch.
My mornings are packed with meetings, staff catch ups, client briefings, and bags of adrenalin. I have a team of five and we work across a selection of fashion, lifestyle, beauty, tech and hospitality brands. Every day is a different ball game and we balance the proactive side of PR with the running of our busy product showroom. I sip on still water throughout the day and am constantly jumping up from my desk to chat to visitors or brainstorm ideas with my team, so I never sit still for too long.
Again if it’s not a delivery box day, I’ll grab sushi or a sandwich for lunch and try to take five and wade through my inbox. Then it’s in to the afternoon rush which could be anything from taking editors out for coffee, running client showings, accompanying a client to a TV or radio studio for an interview, or sitting down with my new business manager to work on proposals and discuss new client prospects.
I’ll try and clock off before 7pm – unless I’m entertaining clients or going to an industry event – and I’ll put my phone down for the first time in the day and enjoy whatever my boyfriend is cooking for dinner – it could be anything from a spaghetti Bolognese to a steak with salad. I generally don’t drink much alcohol during the week as I need a clear head in the office so it’s sparkling water and sometimes a herbal tea before bed, and it’s head down lights out around 11pm.
At the weekends I usually eat out for my meals – I love Asian food and seafood so it’s a mix of that. I also love a wine at the weekends, a nice chilled Chardonnay.
What Jess Thinks:
Mon – would love to offer a suggestion to avoid checking your phone as you wake up. Could you perhaps check it after/during your morning coffee? I hate the idea of checking social media/emails first thing – extra stress on your body 🙂
Produce boxes (such as Hello Fresh) is such a great help for busy bees – helps you prepare a healthy dinner when you get home without having to rush around the shops. Teaches you how to cook with healthy produce.
With the toast and vegemite for breakfast. I would love to suggest to add some avocado and or a poached egg to that to get some good fats and protein in to keep your energy up during the morning for all those meetings! You will find you are not collapsing by lunchtime. It will keep the afternoon slump at bay too. Love that you try and clock off by 7pm! This is so important for your health and nervous system. Also love the idea of the alcohol free during the week and then enjoy it as a treat on the weekends – this is balance.
I may suggest you keep some healthy snacks in your office such as raw almonds, greek yoghurt, berries, my protein balls, green juices and maybe some dark choc when you need an energy hit. Bed by 10pm would be idea – chamomile tea and a bath prior! Heaven.
Overall impressed with your desire to make healthy choices where possible considering how busy you are. You need to focus on downtime whenever possible!
Fruit: my go-to snack in the office, and when I’m overseas in a hot country I love a fresh fruit platter for breakfast,
Italian food: I would eat it every day if I could! I must have some Italian heritage down the line… Ravioli, lasagne, spaghetti – my culinary heaven.
Lollies: A girl can have one vice! I’m a sucker for a bag of Haribo on a Friday afternoon in the office.
I love chopped up fruit during the day; watermelon, honey-dew and papaya – but my addiction to food delivery boxes means I don’t often snack during the week as the nutritionally-balanced meals keep me full and satisfied. After dinner sometimes I’ll have a chocolate digestive biscuit if I’m craving something sweet.
I’m probably not exactly a ‘pillar of health’ myself but my Mum always taught me that you can’t go wrong with having everything in moderation and not over thinking your eating too much – as it can take over your life. I feel like I’m conscious of what I put in my body and I know the warning signs if I get too run down or don’t look after myself properly during busy work periods. It’s important not to beat yourself up and just make sure you get back on track.
Hi Jessica, I believe in synchronicity so when I was guided to you .on FB I was intrigued and inspired. I turned 46 last week and my husband bought me your book. I wanted to thank you for sharing your wisdom in such a beautifully presented way. My copy is now filled with tabs and post it notes with actual notes throughout. I am dairy intolerant since having my gallbladder removed 15+ years ago, I don't eat meat, very minimal gluten and was told 12 months ago my gut was not digesting my food properly so I wasn't receiving sufficient nutrients and taking supplements would be a waste of time. My weight fluctuates tending to gain rather than lose but now I believe I have a tool to help me bring my body back into balance that I need for my health and longevity of life - so again thank you. The first few steps to creating a stronger path forward for my health has found its foundation in your beautiful book, The Healthy Life.
With kindest regards Samantha
I'm writing this email because I wanted to tell you how much I love your blog and how you really helped me in my health journey. Thank you for sharing all your advices and experiences.
When I started my studies, I was drinking lots of coffee and I was eaten the wrong foods, and feel bad about it, I wasn't at my best. So I had done some research on the net but at first I didn't found advices that are for me, and then I found your blog. It was exactly what I was looking for, good advices and healthy recipes. Now I'm following your advices on rest more, and snacks between meals and prep the meals and take time for myself to reconnect with my body and let go my anxiety, etc, and I have a more balanced life and have a new relationship with food thanks to you.
I bought your book and it's honestly the best book I have ever bought. I suffer from IBS and anxiety. I have paid so much money seeing naturopaths however after reading your book and all of your tips I'm noticing so much of a difference, so simple and easy to follow. And symptoms have dramatically decreased. Also you have helped me to relax. Currently drinking the protein health smoothie! Thankyou your amazing.
Hey Jessica! I haven’t yet brought ‘The Healthy Life’, but I do have the clean life and your slim down plan! I would like to thank you so much for the knowledge your share and the message you put across about health and wellness. I’m studying Nutritional Medicine in Melbourne and absolutely love the philosophy that you share with your JSHealth community. The work you’ve done to show people that leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t boring, tasteless, difficult or depriving is amazing and hope to share the message myself one day. You’ve inspired me to start my own blog , to share the message and have taught me so many things about my own health! You should be proud of your achievements! Thank you again
I searched for help and tips through the Internet and found Jessica Sepel. This is seriously not exaggerated, but she was the reason why I have dared myself to eat again, to have snacks in between, to nourish my body. I could slowly improve my negative thoughts about my body image and my stupid anxiety of gaining weight. Besides, The Cleanest Gut was awesome too! A huge thank you! Especially from my mum. Seriously, without you I wouldn’t be where I am now!
Congratulations on your new book! It looks absolutely gorgeous. I’ve been following you on Instagram for a few years and you’ve inspired me to slowly but surely eat healthier without giving myself a hard time when I don’t. It made me so happy (and weirdly proud) to see the Daily Mail article on The Healthy Life. I remember trying out your recipes before you even had your eBook out! I can’t wait to get my hands on the book. Keep up the great work.
Cooking in this way truly brought out the foodie in me and has instilled a huge passion for health and wellness! Life throws you hard and frustrating things sometimes but I truly believe that this is where we learn more about ourselves and what our passions in life are! Thank you for inspiring me on my journey to health and wellness!
I am a yoga teacher in Johannesburg and am thrilled to have bought your book today. I love making healthy, nutritious food for my family, friends and fellow yogis! Thank you for this book and your inspiration (had to share a pic of my book on my recipe stand in the kitchen).
I bought your beautiful book during the week and told my bestie to go out and buy it also! I love love love it. It is the book I would give to my younger self if I could (I am 41 years old). Everything is just so sensible and informative and is definitely a book all teenagers should have. This should be a text book for girls becoming teens. I will love going back and re-reading it many many times and can't wait to make more of the recipes. Thank you Jess - you are an incredibly inspiring woman and you should feel so proud
My fiancé bought your book and we have cooked some of your meals. Amazing! I love your outlook on a healthy lifestyle and your hints and tips with preparing tasty meals are fantastic. Thanks for reviving us to live a healthier lifestyle and get our bodies wedding ready.
I want to empower you to make good choices, every day. I want you to enhance your understanding of health and nutrition. I'm committed to making sure you live the best life. Because you deserve it. Are you ready to start feeling great?
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