Jessica Sepel: 4 tips for staying healthy while traveling

Wellness expert, Jessica Sepel reveals how she stays healthy (and still has fun) while travelling.

Healthy living and traveling – these are a few of my favourite things. But healthy living while traveling can be quite challenging! I want to show you that you can make healthy choices during travel. It’s taken several years and even more miles to create a plan of action when I take trips, but now that I’ve got the hang of it, it’s become second nature.

The trick is preparation. Pack smart, research your destination and stick to your everyday healthy habits as much as you can – allowing some wiggle room for local fun, of course! It’s an 80/20 approach. Well maybe it’s more like 90/10 for me. I allow 10-20% of room in my life to have ‘imperfect’ foods. This brings balance to my life and helps me to ENJOY my travels. That’s the point of holidays, correct? Lets not be extreme when it comes to healthy living and eating.

The most important thing for me when it comes to healthy travel is to have as little stress as possible.

There is nothing worse than being excited for a trip but then being nervous or stressed because you’re not sure how you going to manage healthy living on your travels. Well this, my friends, is not healthy. You just have to do the best you can do.

Most people glow with health, lose weight and feel energized on holiday because they have less worries and stress. Stressing out about healthy eating defeats the purpose of this! It takes away the point of your holiday and travels.

How to stay healthy while travelling

Keep moving

I don’t worry too much about formal exercise when traveling, but I do stay active exploring my surroundings. Walking, biking and jogging is always a great way to sightsee. You may even find a fun local yoga or dance class!


Try to spend at least 10 minutes a day alone. Switch off, practice some deep breathing, and journal about your experiences that day. Not only will it help you focus, it will be wonderful to reflect back on!

Legs up against the wall 

I do this whenever I get into my hotel room. It calms my nervous system down and gets the blood flowing around my body.

Do yoga

Believe it or not, you require very little space to get a full body workout. Consider the size of a yoga mat and work within those dimensions. You can easily practice sun salutations and warrior poses, or work your core with planks and crunches. I sometimes do this in the airport and in my hotel room. It looks cool, don’t worry what others think!

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8 ways to naturally ease PMS

Say goodbye to the wild, unpredictable mood swings, bloating and headaches.

PMS for those who have experienced it, can make you feel like a wild woman out of control. What’s worse, more than 75% of women experience PMS each month. When each month arrives it can be a time of frustration, anxiety, depression, moods that fluctuate wildly, fluid retention, bloating, headaches, blended with disrupted sleep.

This wild woman phenomenon is due to the biological and chemical changes that take place during your menstrual cycle. No, you are not crazy! What you are experiencing each month is very real. PMS and irregularities in your menstrual cycle occur due to fluctuations within your hormonal system.

Similar to the changes of season within nature, your body also has its own internal rhythm. When your internal rhythm becomes disrupted through lifestyle changes, stress, environmental toxins, processed foods, lack of sleep and so forth, the balance of yin and yang loses its harmony within your body.

Your time of month should be an easy transition. When a Tai-chi master moves, they are fluid and graceful. In essence, your period should do just that. It should arrive with ease and just flow – physically, mentally and emotionally. Let’s break it down a little further.

A quick lesson in female hormones:

Our brain produces the happy hormones called serotonin. This is the hormone that makes us feel good. When levels are low, depression and even anxiety can occur. Research has shown that low levels of serotonin can be the result of a sensitive reaction to changes in estrogen and progesterone. For this very reason you can feel flat, depressed or anxious around the time of your period.

After ovulation our adrenal gland produces a chemical called aldosterone which can contribute to PMS symptoms such as headaches, water retention and breast tenderness.

Our body produces another chemical hormone called endorphins. Endorphins mask pain and are also released when we exercise. Sometimes painful periods, PMS and depression can occur when our body doesn’t produce enough endorphins. This is why it can be important to exercise during your period.

Our body produces cells called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins help regulate our menstrual cycle and ovulation. Over production of prostaglandins can cause painful periods, cramping headaches and vomiting. Evening primrose oil helps to reduce over production of prostaglandins.

The good news is that you don’t have to suffer anymore…help is on hand. Hooray!

Say goodbye to PMS and help ease your symptoms the natural way:

1. Give yoga, meditation and breathing exercises a try. They can help balance your hormones, calm your mind, and de- stress you. Welcome to the Zen Den!

2. Embrace gentle exercise. We can all do with an endorphin hit. To maintain your internal rhythm, keep your body moving with gentle exercises such as walking, qi gong and yoga. Aim for 20 minutes each day.

3. Say hello to the Magic Moxa Stick. Grab yourself a moxa stick and wave your magic wand over your belly at the time of your period. Moxa will help ease period pain, cramping and create a healthy menstrual flow. Other alternatives are a hot water bottle or heat pack to ease cramps or discomfort. Relaxing and having a nice warm footbath can help to relieve a headache or assist with relaxing the body and ensuring a more solid, sound sleep.

4. Add a scoop of Magnesium Power. Foods that are high in magnesium such as dark leafy greens, nuts, avocados and magnesium powder help assist hormonal balance. We recommend a scoop of magnesium powder post ovulation to help increase your progesterone levels and balance excess estrogen.

5. Avoid foods high in sugar, coffee and alcohol. No processed or packaged foods. By cutting out all the crap, your body will start to love you again. Eating foods high in sugar spikes your blood sugar levels, creating an increase in insulin levels which then affect your hormonal balance.

6. Delve into Acupuncture & Chinese medicine. Acupuncture helps to regulate and balance your hormonal system, while Chinese herbs assist in balancing your entire menstrual cycle and creating a healthy menstrual flow.

7. Enjoy a cup of tea. A cup of tea dissolves everything. Herbal teas such as ginger, chamomile or rose petal tea can be great for warming or calming the body and reducing unsettled emotions or discomfort associated with PMS. The Angea “PMS” Medicinal Tea and The Angea “Flow” Medicinal Tea will treat PMS symptoms, balance your hormones, ease any uncomfortable dullness, uterine cramping and painful periods.

8. Block that Estrogen. There are specific foods that can minimise PMS. Eating foods high in fibre will help relieve constipation, sweeping your bowel, metabolise your hormones and eliminate waste product. Brassica vegetables are high in phytochemicals and potassium which help minimise estrogen dominance and balance your hormones. Try broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, swede, bok choy, brussel sprouts and cress.

How to avoid that extra layer this winter

IsoWhey Sports athlete and former elite gymnast, Lauren Hannaford has revealed her top tips for beating the bulge during the cooler months.

Let’s face it – nobody likes exercising in the cold, wet or dark. What we do like is indulging in wine, cheese and Treat Yo Selfworthy food. As winter draws nearer, it’s not uncommon for our list of excuses for pilling on the kilos to get longer and longer. But not this winter! IsoWhey Sports athlete, Lauren Hannaford has revealed her top tips for beating the bulge during the cooler months.

How to avoid that extra layer this winter

You can do it, put your back into it

During winter many people take a break from their regular fitness schedule due to the cold, wet and dark weather conditions. I constantly remind my clients that fitness isn’t a seasonal activity, it’s a lifestyle. If you have created a fitness routine that makes you feel great, then don’t let winter distract you from your goals.

Feeling unmotivated? Buy a new workout outfit that makes you feel fit and fabulous. The night before a workout, lay out your favourite workout outfit at the end of your bed so you can quickly get changed and race out the door.

Write it down

Staying consistent through winter is all about setting realistic goals. Schedule your workouts in your diary like you would for a doctor’s appointment or brunch with a girlfriend. Make sure you pick a time that you know you are most likely to go, otherwise you’re just setting yourself up for failure. If you’re not a morning person, don’t arrange a morning run and if you are always dead exhausted after a long day at work, then night time sessions are not ideal for you.

Channel your inner Masterchef

Winter months are notorious for increasing our appetites, making it tempting to grab a sugary snack or reach for that second slice of buttery ciabatta bread. To combat excess calorie consumption, prepare your meals at the beginning of the week and cook your own food whenever you can. Whether you prefer to cook your meals on a daily basis or do it in bulk on a Sunday afternoon, winter is a great time to spend in the kitchen and store extra portions in the freezer.

Bottoms up!

When the weather drops it’s easy not to notice your body’s need for hydration. You might think that you don’t need to drink as much water, but when you exercise you are still draining your body’s fluid stores. Try and drink 2 big glasses of water before each meal. Not only will it help fill you up but it will maximize your daily water intake, help keep your skin clear, your body hydrated and keep you energized throughout the day.

Eat mindfully

Many people seek comfort in food during winter because they are cold, bored, stressed, feeling sad or lonely. Avoid emotionally overeating by putting down your fork and thinking why am I eating. Am I hungry or am I eating for the sake of it? Learning to eat mindfully and becoming more in tune with your state of hunger will significantly help you ward off weight gain.

Why lactose intolerance doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up on dairy

Turns out, most lactose-intolerant people can comfortably handle dairy in moderation.

If you’re intolerant to lactose, the sugar naturally found in cow’s milk, you’re probably aware of the not-so-pretty side effects of devouring spoonfuls of Messina ice cream or eating your entire body weight in Brie (hey, no judgement here). So no one would blame you for wanting to avoid the foods that set off your symptoms. But don’t rush to give up the fromage just yet. Turns out, most lactose-intolerant people can comfortably handle dairy in moderation.

“A diagnosis of lactose intolerance doesn’t mean you need to give up on dairy foods forever,” explains Blake Robinson, Nutritionist and Dietitian at Dairy Australia.

Blake says there are three key things to remember when it comes to lactose intolerance. First up, it’s about understanding that everyone has a different lactose threshold.

“So while some might be able to tolerate up to a glass of milk at a time, others may have more success with two smaller serves spread across the day,” says Blake.

1. So how exactly can lactose-intolerant people enjoy dairy foods, you wonder?

Well, dairy products contain varying amounts of lactose, depending on processing methods. In fact, many dairy foods do not contain large amounts of lactose, if at all. Yoghurt with live active cultures, for example, is lower in lactose and is generally easily digested thanks to its probiotic bacteria, which help to break down lactose, and most cheeses are very low in lactose, especially harder varieties like cheddar, which contain virtually zero (and all along I’d been thinking the total opposite!).

“Some dairy products naturally contain less lactose than milk, are very low in lactose or are in fact lactose free. Most hard cheeses, for example, are virtually lactose-free so cheddar, parmesan and Swiss varieties are very unlikely to cause any symptoms. Similarly, the friendly bacteria in natural yoghurt helps to digest the lactose – so the longer it’s in your fridge, the lower it becomes,” says Blake.

2. Still not convinced ?

Why not try low-lactose and lactose-free milks and yoghurts, which offer the same nutrients (including calcium, potassium, protein, magnesium, vitamin A and B12), minus the bloat inducing lactose – I for one love lactose-free milk in my teas and am always buying a few cartons of Liddells Lactose Free Milk for my fridge.

3. But, hang on…

Before you go diving into that cheese platter, make sure you listen to your body to find out exactly how sensitive you are, because understanding your own personal lactose threshold is so important. Some people may be able to tolerate some haloumi in a salad or milk in their smoothie, while others may prefer to enjoy two smaller amounts across the day. With this being said, self-diagnosis is not the answer! Before you decide to cut out any food groups from your diet it would be best to speak to your doctor or a health professional about any symptoms to avoid missing out on any vital nutrients or health benefits. If you experience adverse responses to dairy, like bloating or an upset stomach, be sure to see a medical professional.

But guys…at the end of the day, it’s all about moderation and choosing whole, real foods which means… (drum roll)… you can have the best of both worlds – indulgence and health.

Welcome to my life :-)

How much protein do I really need to eat?

Melanie Katz from Fernwood Fitness reveals how much protein we really need to eat when we add weight training to our workouts.

We’ve combined forces with Fernwood Fitness to bring you Lift the Nation – a campaign to inspire women to start lifting weights. One of the questions we always receive around weight lifting is how much protein we really need to eat when we add weight training to our workouts. Melanie Katz from Fernwood Fitness dishes up the advice.

How much protein do I really need to eat?

Lifting weights alone won’t help you build lean muscle mass. Not matter how heavy your bar is, if you’re not fuelling your body properly, your efforts on the gym floor will go unrewarded.

This is where protein comes into play. Proteins are made up of amino acids – the building blocks that form our muscles, tendons, ligaments, hormones, immune functions and even our brain matter.

When we lift weights, we create tiny tears in our muscle fibres. Our body responds by creating new muscle fibres to repair them, in turn creating more lean muscle mass. This means if we’re trying to build muscle without consuming enough protein to get the amino acids we need for our bodies to repair, we won’t see the results we’ve been working so hard for.

Here’s what you need to know about eating protein for muscle growth:

We need to eat it every day

When we consume excess fats and carbohydrates, they’re stored in our cells as fat and glycogen so we can tap into them when we need extra energy. Protein behaves a little differently – it can’t be stored by our bodies. So if we want to increase our muscle mass to achieve a leaner physique and keep our metabolism revving, we need to top up our protein supplies every day.

How much protein do we need?

The formula is approximately your body weight in kilograms x 0.8. For example, if you weigh 60kg, you’ll need 60 x 0.8, which equates to around 48g of protein a day.

Best sources of protein

Meat is your go-to source, but there are also loads of vegetarian-friendly options to help you build muscle mass.

We’re also not against protein powder, with a 30g serve giving most women half their daily required protein needs (plus they make a nifty post-gym snack too!). Look for organic powders without added nasties made from organic whey, or pea or brown rice for vegans.

100g chicken or meat 22-25g
1 egg 5.5g
Half a cup soybeans 14g
200g yoghurt or 40g cheese 10g
1 cup dairy or soy milk 8.5g
1 cup cooked quinoa 8g
A quarter cup pumpkin seeds 8g
Half a cup legumes 8g
1 cup cooked rice 4g
30g serve of protein powder 26g

Give your fridge a healthy make-over

When muscle gain is the goal, a little bit of food prep can ensure you’ve got lots of natural muscle-building snacks on hand at all times. At the start of the week, try poaching some chicken breasts, boiling eggs or grilling meats that you can keep in the fridge. These are great to add to lunchtime salads and sandwiches. For breakfast, try adding nuts and Greek yoghurt to your morning muesli, or topping your toast with salmon, ricotta or eggs.

Bonus benefits

Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, which means that calories from it tend to keep you feeling fuller longer than calories from carbohydrates… which can be very helpful when you’re trying to control your calorie intake and shift a few pesky kilos – yay!

The Importance of Shape

You may think you know when you look in the mirror, or you may be too busy trying to cover up unshapely areas to really see yourself as you are. Do you know how much fat you’re carrying, compared to how much muscle? Do you know where you tend to gain weight–upper body, lower body or around the middle? Until you know the answers to these questions, you are not ready to make your personal plan for losing weight and keeping it off. Understanding your body is the first step to reaching your best personal shape. As someone who teaches both doctors and the public about obesity, I believe weight loss has been overemphasized and body shape underemphasized. You have probably read about the Body-Mass Index (BMI), which is a weight-to-height ratio. If your BMI is greater than 25, you are considered overweight, and if it is greater than 30 you are obese. This ratio has been a powerful way for scientists to document the obesity epidemic in this country and its effects on health and disease. However, when it comes to you as an individual, it can be misleading. A football player can be considered overweight on the BMI scale, but if the extra weight being carried is muscle, he is not really fat. A thin woman can have a normal BMI, yet still be over-fat. So shape counts.


Shapes are personal and go beyond the usual apple and pear. Women can have three typical body shapes–upper body fat, lower body fat and both upper and lower body fat. Men usually only get upper body fat. The upper body stores fat in times of stress and some people can lose and gain weight rapidly in the upper body. The lower body fat in women responds to female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone and stores fat for breastfeeding a newborn baby. Women who have both upper and lower body fat will lose their upper body fat first. Women with more upper body fat tend to have more muscle than women with lower body fat and will need more protein in their diet to help control their hunger. Losing weight is harder if you have lower body fat rather than upper body fat, but the medical benefits of losing your upper body fat are greater. Losing weight around your neck, face, chest and waist usually goes along with losing fat on the inside as well. So as you look better, you are also improving your health tremendously.

Finally, there are two more body shapes to consider: The shape you can change and the shape you can’t change. It is important to know the difference and work on the shape you can change, while adjusting your wardrobe and attitudes to the shape you cannot change. Due to low metabolism, many women with lower body fat can’t lose weight just by cutting calories. These lower body-fat cells are resistant to both exercise and diet. Only a personalized program can help make sure you get enough protein to control cravings and build or maintain lean muscle.

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In general, women store body fat on their hips and thighs, while men and menopausal women tend to store fat around the abdomen.

However, genetic differences and hormone balance means that individuals can vary greatly in the areas where fat is stored on their body.


The causes of weight gain can be many, and vary greatly from person to person. Some common causes include:

  • Excess kilojoules from an unhealthy diet high in sugar, processed fats and processed foods
  • Excess kilojoules from sweetened beverages such as juice, soft drink and sports drinks
  • Excess kilojoules from alcohol
  • Lack of regular physical activity
  • Stress / anxiety which triggers emotional eating, and / or reduces an individual’s motivation to be physically active

Other factors that can influence weight include some medications, genetics, hormonal imbalance, insomnia and menopause.


The causes of weight gain can be many, and vary greatly from person to person.

The Blackmores naturopaths can help provide personalised advice and support on the most appropriate natural therapies for your needs.


Just as poor diet and lifestyle choices can contribute to weight gain, a healthy diet and lifestyle can play a big part in helping to maintain a healthy weight.


  • Eat whole grain varieties of carbohydrate foods such as bread, pasta, rice and breakfast cereal
  • Eat 2 portions of fruit every day
  • Eat 5 – 7 servings of vegetables each day
  • Aim for 1 – 2 meals each week that include fish and seafood
  • Include protein-rich foods with every meal such as lean meats, seafood, eggs or tofu
  • Drink 6 – 8 glasses of water a day, and have water instead of fruit juice, cordial or soft drinks
  • Moderate / minimise your alcohol intake, including at least 2 alcohol free days (and nights) each week
  • Eat a wide variety of different foods each day, and each week
  • Don’t cut out all fats. Include moderate amounts of plant fats such as avocado on a sandwich, nuts as a snack, or olive oil on a salad
  • Eat slowly to aid digestion, and prevent eating large portion sizes

Physical activity

  • Give yourself time when starting a new exercise program. Plan progressive increases in your duration, intensity and frequency over a few months
  • Aim for 3-5 30 minute cardiovascular workouts each week including activities which make you puff and utilise large muscle groups such as cycling, walking, jogging, paddling and swimming
  • As your fitness improves, include interval training at least 2-3 times a week, with short bursts of more intense effort
  • Include resistance training 2-3 times a week to strengthen your muscles, prevent injury and boost your athletic output
  • Exercise before breakfast when you can
  • Incorporate variety into your exercise program, constantly changing the activities, location and even people you exercise with
  • Once in a while, include a fun element to your exercise program, such as playing outdoor games with your children, bushwalking, bodysurfing, team sports or walking your dog
  • However you get moving- find an activity that you enjoy


  • Prioritise getting enough sleep
  • Plan relaxing activities into your schedule
  • Manage your time well so you don’t feel too busy to exercise, or prepare a healthy meal
  • Use your weekends to be extra active and prepare healthy meals for the week ahead
  • Find an exercise buddy- enlist friends, family or work colleagues into your healthy lifestyle by training together, or swapping healthy recipes


See your doctor for a check-up before starting  a weight loss or new exercise program.

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