Jessica Sepel is a clinical nutritionist, best-selling author, international health blogger and the voice behind JSHealth and @jshealth. She is passionate about helping people overcome fad dieting and disordered eating, having gone through her own struggles with food.
Her philosophy is focused around balance, rest and building a healthy relationship with food. She recently launched the JSHealth app, which features a world-first nutrition clinic, hundreds of healthy recipes, a daily meal planner, health guides, body love support and more.
Tell us about your life journey and how this inspired you to start JS Health.
Just a few years ago, I felt totally disconnected from my own body and alone in my thoughts. At age 14, I discovered diets and became an obsessive fad dieter for years, to the point where I was verging on a serious eating disorder. This way of thinking was my ‘normal’ and I couldn’t see past it.
During that time, my self-esteem was shot. I lost too much weight, too quickly and then that number on the scale would yo-yo. Since I could never maintain the ‘perfect’ diet or ‘ideal’ weight – which I now know don’t exist – I was caught in a toxic cycle. Food governed my life in an unhealthy way, and I tormented myself by bingeing and then restricting myself with food.
I thought that being thin would make me more lovable. Looking back, it had the opposite effect: it didn’t make me feel any more loved by others, and I definitely didn’t love myself. I used food to reward and punish myself and always compared myself to others. I channelled all that self-hate into my body, and my body became my biggest burden.
It was time-consuming, stressful, and incredibly exhausting. On the outside, I ‘had it all’, but the sad thing was, the amazing things about my life didn’t matter because I was distracted by the endless and futile pursuit to be perfect.
Then, something clicked. I realised hating on my body was affecting everything, so I committed to understanding what nutrition was all about. When I learnt how the body actually works, my mentality changed.
Fast forward to now: I’m a completely different person. I’ve taken control of my life, my eating habits and my thoughts. I studied nutrition for five years: I completed a Bachelor of Health and then two years of Nutritional Medicine.
I remember sitting in my nutrition lectures being absolutely blown away by what I was learning. That feeling hasn’t changed. I began experimenting with wholefoods, and shifting my mindset to be more positive. And slowly, I started healing my relationship with my body.
This is when I started blogging about my journey in a blog – from fad dieter to wholefood eater. I named the blog JSHealth and from then onwards I created a platform for women to come together and support each other to live a healthier and more balanced life.
What was it like to start JSHealth?
It was a total accident. It was scary and daunting, but it was meant to be. I was just blogging about my journey and experience; I had no desire to do anything more with it. I just wanted to be a nutritionist in private practice. JSHealth as the brand took off organically. I think women can just relate to the realness of it.
And what has been the biggest challenge?
I had to give up a private practice, which was hard because I loved it. But the business of JSHealth just took up too much time and mental capacity. The challenge is still feeling quite exposed. Having a presence on social media comes with a lot of pressure.
How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success?
You have to see failure as part of this journey. I’m OK with it. Every single project we have created has come with immense challenges. We have had to pull the plug on certain projects, which could be seen as a failure. But instead I have chosen to see it as ‘it just wasn’t meant to be’. The trick is to keep going when challenge or failure hits. Once you pass that, success will come.
What does the first hour of your morning routine look like?
I wake up and do a gratitude practice. I make a piccolo coffee, practice yoga, take my probiotic and enjoy a JSHealth breakfast. The biggest trick is I won’t let myself check social media or emails under after my morning routine.
What is the best or most worthwhile investment you’ve ever made?
My best investment is focusing all my love, time and care on the JSHealth community. I truly care about them. My focus has always been on the people, not the numbers.
What new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?
Learning that things take time. Not everything can happen immediately. The slower, the better.
What is the book (or books) you’ve given as a gift, and why?
You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay – sounds a little corny but the principles in this book changes my perspective and mentality, from negative to positive, from lack to abundance.
What is your best tip for feeling good?
Relieve the pressure to do it all right, to do it all perfectly. Take it one step at a time.
Looking for more interviews like this? The Wellness Guide features fascinating conversations from experts in fitness, nutrition, mindfulness and motivation, with practical advice on how to ground these lessons in your own life.