It was an absolute blast celebrating The Healthy Life at my first book launch party this past weekend. I wanted to share the speech I gave, because this book truly honours all of you too. The Healthy Life would not be a reality without your support and love.
I am so honored to be here with you today launching my first published book – one that is a manifestation of my own story, my passion for healthy food and my commitment to help women around the world heal their relationships with food.
I started my blog exactly 2 years ago. At the time, it was just a space to express my knowledge and personal story in a very organic way – back then I only thought of being a good clinical nutritionist. I never dreamt that my blog would help so many people and become a full-time career.
To think that I am now releasing a hard copy, published book around the world is hard to comprehend. I feel such gratitude for the support and encouragement I’ve received from you all – everyone in this room today has been part my journey so far.
Many people ask how I embarked on this health journey.
I grew up in a family where food was a huge part of our lives, in a very healthy way. Meal time was family time, and it gave our family the emotional nutrients to feel connected and energized from the food we ate.
Not just any food.
Food with thought. Carefully bought, prepared and served with love. It was a natural way of eating and connecting.
But like so many teenagers, when belonging to a social group becomes seemingly more important than family somehow – I lost this loving connection.
And my relationship with food became strained and complicated.
I started to think about why meal times where no longer happy times, and easy times. They become stressful and hard to manage. I became buried in guilt and anxiety around food.
It was the same healthy food I had always had at family meal times – but I had lost the true emotional connection to it – I didn’t trust it.
I had started fearing food due to low self-esteem. I associated fear with food. I became a fad dieter and calorie counter. Every time I sat down to eat I was thinking- skinny or fat. I felt no joy in the experience of eating. I landed up with a toxic relationship with food, rather than a wholesome one. That’s why I am so passionate about helping young people realise and know that having a healthy relationship with food – is actually as important as eating healthy food.
But thanks to the support and love within my family, the love from the JSHealth community, lots of therapy and a degree in nutrition I was able to heal. And that’s how this book was born.
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt about food is that there are two aspects to it: firstly, its obvious physical role in keeping our body cells alive and secondly the emotional aspect: that how we perceive food dictates how we feel.
It is this emotional aspect that I believe we underestimate. You and I can be eating the same balanced plate of food and yet have an entirely different emotional response.
For example: if I look at that plate food and feel gratitude and goodness – my body will embrace the food positively. I feel physically so well and emotionally satisfied. However, if I don’t trust the food and fear it (like I used to) – my body rejects the goodness it can offer. I didn’t feel well.
This was my ‘ah-ha’ moment. The one that changed my life.
I had become disconnected from my own body: I was copying what the magazines told me to eat or what my friends were doing. I had become obsessive and extreme: The two words obsessive and extreme (both of which I embodied) with food are dangerous and are not a part of a healthy way of being. I would eat a tuna salad everyday which resulted in severe mercury poisoning and weight gain. I thought if I drank limitless Diet Coke and 4 black coffees/day with artificial sweeteners – I would have good energy and feel good about myself. Oh how wrong I was.
Why is it were are fixated with how food makes us look, rather than how it makes us feel?
Nowadays when I tune into my body – my body responds in such an amazing way. I feel my body saying ‘thank you, Jess.’
What I now know is: If you are not feeling nurtured by the food that you feed your body – you don’t reap the benefits that food is here to give us.
If you don’t eat with joy, and honour the food, the experience of food and its roots –food can become feared rather than something that is healing.
It’s not only about the food – its about the experience and the love and relationship you have with your body and yourself
This ‘ah-ha’ moment has become the message behind JSHealth, and the foundation of the guidance that I hope my book will give to others: We must appreciate the uniqueness of our body and connect to what it needs. To do this, we must give our body what it needs: to sleep, eat, rest and play – on a physical and an emotional level.
And that’s how the 10 principles in the book were born: 10 principles to guide you on your journey to health and healing: digestion, stress, hormone balance, sleep, beauty on the inside, weight-loss, blood sugar balance, liver detoxification, movement and emotional eating.
Health is holistic and this dynamic is symbiotic: we can’t just focus on one aspect of what we believe our bodies need.
Health is also unique to you. This book is about finding what works for you; what appeals to you; what makes you feel good.
My intention in the book is not to be prescriptive. This book is open ended and I want to empower everyone who reads it to make choices for themselves: for you to know that you know ‘you’ the best.
We are bombarded with so much information … women are becoming confused and overwhelmed.
It’s about tuning in to your body’s needs, and we just don’t know how to do that anymore.
The book shows you that you are your own best teacher.
I want you to see food in a creative way. What works for you. Make the choices.. What appeals to you on that day? It may be different to what it was the day before.
This book is all about how to be kinder to your body. Which took me a long time to learn.
The book can be your catalyst to begin a journey of self-discovery and hopefully you can arrive at a place where you authentically fall back in love with yourself.
I want to take a moment to give special thanks to several of you here today.
Kira: if you hadn’t been the supportive friend you are and suggested to Charlotte, the publicist at Pan Mac, that my book just has to be published, this dream never would have happened. Thank you for your incredible friendship.
Pan Mac, thank you for believing in me and making this dream a reality.
Ingrid – my publisher – this is only possible because of your belief in my message and your belief in me. How can I ever thank you enough? You made this happen.
Charlotte Ree – you are a PR queen – and just so good at your job. It was you who believed in me right from the start and showed my book to Ingrid. I can’t thank you enough, and I have just loved working with you.
Danielle 0 our hard work in helping me put this book together is so appreciated. You are just brilliant.
Rob and Bernie – who photographed and styled this book – I must say I have honestly never seen such gorgeous imagery in a book. Wow, you are talented! Thank you.
The JSHealth team: Olivia (my business developer), Kate (my executive assistant), Kady (my graphic designer) – I could never, ever do this without your support. I’m so blessed to work with people who love what they do. You truly show me that loving what you do is the key to success Thank you for believing in the potential of JSHealth and helping me create my dream job.
Olivia – my business developer – your intelligence and passion for health inspires me daily. I have a big dream for the JSHealth brand and I believe you are the person that can help me achieve that. I hope you will be the CEO of the brand one day soon.
To my family:
Mom – you are my number one cooking inspiration. Thank you for showing me from such a young age what real, wholefoods are and how good they can taste.
Dad – your support and business advice are so, so appreciated. You are my rock.
To my sisters – thank you for your support and putting up with my messes in the kitchen and sampling my recipes with honesty and love.
To my grandmothers, aunties and cousins – you are such a support and fantastic role models for healthy living. You live and breathe health and your support has meant the world to me.
To my girls – I could never do what I do without you. You’re my biggest fans, always there to chat and offer advice. You many not realize it, but so much of my inspiration comes from you.
Dean – no doubt, my biggest fan. Without you none of this would have happened. You were such a huge part of my healing. You encouraged me to start the blog in the first place – when I was drowning in low self-esteem. And now I am living my dream job because of it. I feel so blessed to have someone by my side, supporting my every step of the way.
Noreen and Colin – thanks for being the best second parents. I love you. Your business and legal advice has been incredible.
JSHealth Community – and to all of you inspiring health figures here today: you believed in my message. You celebrated with me. You are healing with me. You are passionate for healthy living, and that is so inspiring to me. You’ve each inspired me in such unique ways, from your cooking skills to your active lifestyles to your dedication to positive attitudes and healthy living.
We are all on this journey together.