My exercise philosophy…
Key word: Active, that does not mean compulsively exercising 2x a day to ‘burn away’ your ‘diet sins’! This is a seductive and prevailing psychology and one that is dangerous to genuine wellbeing. Science is telling us to exercise less, but smarter!
I’ve noticed people have listed the importance of exercise. Good! because exercise is so important for the health of our cardiovascular system and amazing for the mind! But don’t take it to the extreme. We are not designed to push our bodies to the limit, day after day. Yes, we must keep active but general movement, play and 2-3 times of 30 minutes interval training a week is in my opinion enough for our bodies to burn energy, keep hearts healthy and keep our metabolism at optimal level. When it comes to weight- I believe that 90% of it is about what you put into your mouth!
If we overdo it at the gym we exhaust our adrenals, which are a central part of our endocrine system-hormones. Over training in this way depletes us, and leaves us hormonally unbalanced, releasing the stress hormone cortisol, (which enhances belly fat storage + blood sugar imbalance) which leads to fatigue, insomnia and musculoskeletal breakdown. An intense workout daily when you’re highly stressed can temporarily feel good, but then powerwash you with aches and fatigue. Distress causes the body to go into crisis response: it cannibalizes muscle, stores fat, induces fatigue, introduces nerve pains, allows muscle strains, enables injures, exhibits anxiety and depression, impairs cognitive function, creativity and problem-solving, manifests flu-like illnesses and eventually fosters disease. Why? Because your body is smarter than you are. It’s doing everything possible to make you tone it down, slow it down and recover. And the longer you ignore its requests, the louder the demands will become.
Long term this can result in ‘sympathetic dominance’- “persistent condition wherein the sympathetic nervous system is active and the parasympathetic system nervous system is under active.” It is my belief that this is a huge part of why people cannot lose weight. This means your body is constantly in fight or flight mode. When your body is in this state of ‘trying to run away from the tiger’ (or modern day equivalent stress: financial, family or relationship struggles)– it will try and protect your body by sending the blood to the peripheral organs (legs, arms etc) and shutting of your digestion (because your body knows you need your legs to escape, not your digestion!), it will release glucose for energy (because the body’s preferred choice of energy is glucose, not fat) and shoots out cortisol – the stress hormone (long term this is the number one fat storage hormone as mentioned above)- this leads to a cascade of hormonal havoc. Hormonal imbalances will make it very hard for you to achieve the body you are wanting.
If you read my blog- you know that I harp on about the fact that exhaustion and stress are the number one health killers and weight gainers! It is crazy to me how so many people I meet decide to go to a spinning class at 8pm after a 12-hour day when their body is screaming at them to slow down and rest. BUT on that note- I will say that if spinning is what you feel like at this time and it genuinely revitalizes you and makes you feel good (and does not disturb your sleep!!!), then of course I encourage you to participate in it. But if you are exhausted and then you go and exhaust your body even more, it is my belief that you can expect a health disaster. And for most- weight gain.
I advise most people with very long hour jobs to enjoy restorative exercise most days after work or on the weekend, such as yoga, pilates, brisk walking and meditation would be your best options. Or simply lying with your feet up against the wall for 10 minutes to allow the blood to flow through your body and allow your body to rest and repair. When I advise people to cut back on their extreme exercise regime, they are at first incredibly resistant and scared! And when I ask them to just try it for one week by swapping the crazy workouts to less times a week or to more restorative versions they are amazed at the results. I believe when the body is rested and in a state of parasympathetic mode and hormonal balance, you are better able to burn fat.
Mind body connection:
Try lower impact activities with a mental health aspect to enhance your joy and body-awareness. When you build a mind-body connection you learn to become in tune with what your body needs. When you do what your body needs- your body listens to you in return and you will look and feel better than ever.
As mentioned above, I am a big fan of yoga, pilates or body balance to get you back in touch with your real self, and get you out of the habit of clock watching through cardio staring at the TV, or blasting your music while trying to forget about your body to block out the pain which is actually your body telling you what it really needs. This is not the point.
How I start my day:
6:00/6:30 am – I wake up and practice 20 diaphragm breaths (with my eyes still closed) and think of 5 things I am grateful for, I mentally or physically write them down. Sounds corny but it keeps me grounded. You can’t feel unhappy when you feel grateful. I believe gratitude can bring your health to new levels!
I enjoy a cup of my signature metaboost drink (amazing cleanser and anti inflammatory) or warm lemon ginger herbal tea with 1/2 squeezed lemon.
7:00am– I choose a 30-40 minute session of physical activity before my day: either a 30 minute jog, interval training such as HIIT – high intensity interval training – run and sprint for 20 minutes and the rest is core work, yoga and weight training. I do this 3-4x/week. I work hard, and then I give myself the next day off to recover. Recovery means a happy body and a healthy mind!
I also love yoga, weight training and pilates – I swap it up all the time. I never push myself to any extreme but enjoy a quick hard workout that induces sweat. I make sure that I include 2 rest days each week as mentioned above- where I do absolutely nothing or enjoy a brisk walk or lite yoga. I do not allow myself to ‘feel bad’ about not exercising on the days I am too busy or simply do not feel like it.
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!