Occupation: Holistic Health & Wellness Practitioner
I was diagnosed with CFS at the beginning of 2011 following a slow decline in health over about 20 years. This diagnosis put a swift end to an 18-year corporate recruitment career and a business I had put my heart and soul into – yet at the same time it created the catalyst for the most monumental, amazing transformation I could ever have asked for. I am now a Reiki Practitioner and a student at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York, studying to become a Health Coach. I have a blog where I share recipes and chat about the ‘ingredients’ that played a huge part in my recovery. I am working on a gluten/sugar/additive free recipe book I hope will be published early next year. In February I will become a Certified Practitioner of Hypnosis, NLP & EFT.
Health is to achieve a mind, body and spirit balance in life – through ensuring you nourish all facets equally. Health is something I will never, ever take for granted again. I recognize now that one reason I became so unwell was because of the complete lack of balance in my life. I worked very, very hard throughout my career and it consumed me. I moved so fast in all aspects of my life that I would never slow down enough to learn to meditate (for example), or to appreciate the slow and gentle pace of yoga. Spiritually there was no connection. I whole-heartedly believe that my ability to find this balance has hugely impacted on my return to health.
Interestingly I had always believed my diet to be really healthy. Prior to my diagnosis I was the fruit salad queen – every morning for breakfast I’d eat fruit salad with low fat yoghurt. For lunch I’d have cans of tuna with beautiful big salads, maybe sushi. I’d have fresh fish probably 5 times a week and would incorporate tofu and other soy products. Whilst I ate a little meat there was never any skin on the chicken or fat on the lamb. In fact there were next to no saturated fats (at all) in my diet. Little did I know what that diet was doing to my body. The turning point was my diagnosis and the toxicity readings. My mercury count was so bad it didn’t rate on their scale. My body was full of heavy metals, in part as a result of my diet.
I have since learnt that (good) saturated fats combine with heavy metals and aid their removal from our bodies. I am no longer able to eat fish (for their mercury content) and I barely eat fruit (sugar content). I am not allowed soy (for it’s impact on protein absorption). My gluten/sugar free diet consists of organic whole foods, green juices, animal protein (which I have learnt my body cannot cope without), nuts, seeds, good saturated fats (with a heavy leaning towards coconut oil) and dairy. And the odd berry!
It is hugely important to me that I move my body every day and whist I am still a way off my fitness capability of a few years ago I walk twice a day and do some strength work at home. I give myself Reiki every night when I go to bed.
Reiki – it balances me, grounds me and keeps me spiritually connected. Reiki has taught me how incredibly powerful my intuition is. It has taught me valuable lessons around mindfulness and listening to my body.
Walking my dog (Wilson) – in the parks, on the beach, in nature. I can’t tell you the daily joy these outings give me! If not walking the dog, swimming with the dog in the ocean.
My mother. Four years ago Mum was diagnosed with 2 brain tumors and thyroid cancer. Following brain and thyroid surgery (and months and months of treatment) she is miraculously still with us. Not only was mum’s recovery miraculous but her positivity, strength and courage was nothing short of incredible. I did not hear mum complain once about her predicament – she had the most positive attitude you could possibly imagine. Fundamentally Mum believed she would live and it was that steadfast determination and belief that ensured she did. I have gained so much strength from her.
I have lived in a number of big cities and seen quite a lot of the world but without question it is Coles Bay, Freycinet Peninsula in Tasmania. It is the most spectacularly beautiful place in so many ways. We have a family holiday home and I was fortunate to live there for 4 months last summer during my recovery.
Now that’s a tough question – I am food MAD! My favourite healthy meal would probably have to be a breakfast smoothie. In fact I think I could dedicate a recipe book just to my smoothie recipes! I love having fun with these – throwing all sorts of ingredients in and seeing what happens.
As for snacks? I’m nut mad. I activate them, spice them up, and turn them into nut butters. You name it. They are my greatest weakness!
That is forever changing but at the moment it is Monk Bodhi Dharma in Balaclava – the most gorgeous little vegan café I have ever stepped foot in. There is so much love in that place.
My current goal is to complete my portfolio of recipes and find an interested publisher (also my current mantra!). The first book will be called Cooking for Me and will I hope, be the first of many in a series of whole food cook books.
Please share with us one of your favorite healthy recipes:
Throw all of the above in a blender and blend until smooth. If you don’t use Coco Quench (which is quite sweet) and instead use another (non sweetened) milk you may like to add a little stevia during the blending process. I let mine sit for 15 mins to let the chia seeds work their magic and thicken it up even more. Then top with coconut flakes and a sprinkling of lemon rind and go grab a teaspoon!
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?
Let me know your email address so I can send you an eBook '7 Days on my plate' - a little gift from me to you!