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The Queen of Balance: How Jess Rowe gets her killer abs while still eating chocolate

She’s ditched perfection for authenticity and now former Studio 10 co-host Jessica Rowe explains why she is living life on her own terms.

By Paul Ewart
In today's world of hyper-perfect, painstakingly curated Instagram posts, where we are guilt-tripped by a daily assault of images of ridiculously organised kitchen pantries, fat-free washboard abs, and multi-tasking yummy mummies, Jessica Rowe is an absolute breath of fresh air.
Messy, unfiltered, down-to-earth – and fabulously funny to boot, you can't help but fall for her easy charm and infectious snort-filled chuckle.
And, personality aside, her 'crap housewife' social media posts are the ultimate antidote to this slew of Insta-perfect one-upmanship.
"It's exhausting!" a giggling Jessica groans to Good Health & Wellbeing.
"Especially with social media where people present their front-of-house image to the world, you know that filtered 'Look at us, aren't we all terrific?' and 'Look at our beautiful home and children'.
"To me, the worst thing you can do is look at that, then compare it with your own life. No-one has it all together.
"Some people are just better pretenders than others and I'd like to see more of us drop the pretence and artifice. Life is hard enough without pretending that you have to be amazing at something all the time."
Jess always keeps it real on social media. (Image: Good Health)
In fact, since Good Health last caught up with Jessica, her mission to champion bad cooking, messy homes, and real-life disasters has grown even stronger.
Leaving her co-host gig on Ten's Studio 10 a year ago, she's now giving it her all as a full-time 'crap housewife'.
The accomplished journalist, television presenter, and author has recently released a new book, The Diary of a Crap Housewife, which she hopes will help us all to embrace a perfectly imperfect life.
"What began as something for myself has struck a chord with so many other women," she says, smiling.
"My entire philosophy behind it is sharing my real life without a filter, it's basically showing the meals I cook for my family and how messy my bench-top is.
"People who see the chaos have gone, 'Ah, it's not just me, look she's like that…' It's basically giving them permission to put their hands up and go, 'I'm a crap housewife'. I think what we need to do, is just to be more honest with one another.
"If you're honest with yourself first and foremost that also gives permission for people around you to be honest too."
She got sick of seeing perfectly curated images on Instagram, so she started to celebrate her messy, imperfect life. (Image: Good Health)

Sharing and connecting

"When I left Studio 10, I thought, 'What am I going to do with this time?' Then, I thought, 'You know this book you've been talking about – get cracking and do it!'
"It's another way of connecting with women and giving each other the power to support one another in our stories and experiences.
"I want to share some of my stories about how I've dealt with different things in my life. To give readers a sense of the fact that it's not just you, that you're not alone.
Jess says quitting Studio 10 was the best thing she ever did. (Image: Good Health)

‘We’re too judgemental’

"I think, as a generation, we've never had so much choice, which is wonderful, but at the same time with that choice comes ridiculous amounts of pressure that we put on ourselves and that we put on one another, we're too judgemental of ourselves, but also of other women and we need to let go of that."
Speaking of pressure, though happily married to fellow journalist, Peter Overton, for the last 15 years, and blessed with two daughters, Allegra, 12, and Giselle, nine, her life has been far from untroubled.
Indeed, Jessica has been very open about the wheels falling "spectacularly off" in her own life.
(Image: Good Health)
Case in point – becoming a mum.
"I think there's this myth around motherhood that it's this sort of magical, easy thing, which just comes to you and makes your life amazing and better. But it isn't always," says Jessica, matter-of-factly.
"No-one can really tell you how it will be until you experience it yourself. For me, the most jarring example of the wheels crashing off was when I suffered from postnatal depression.
"I was brought to my knees at a time that was meant to be the happiest of my life, and it just wasn't. From the outside, I had everything I had ever wished for, I was finally a mum after going through IVF, I had this beautiful, healthy baby, a wonderful husband and this charmed existence, but I had never felt so wretched.
"It's so shocking when the expectation from people around you and society is that you should be [happy]. It should be amazing, but I had never felt so » terrible, and it was such a struggle for me to recognise what I was going through. Once I knew I had postnatal depression, it was very hard to ask for help, because I felt like a failure.
"I thought I had no right to feel the way I was feeling and I felt so ashamed. Asking for help was the best thing I had done, and I learned that the bravest and strongest thing you can do is to ask for help."
Jess and Peter with their daughters Violet and Allegra. (Image: @jessjrowe/Instagram)

Personal godsend

Turning to her husband in her darkest hour, Jessica went to see a doctor who prescribed anti-depressants.
While she acknowledges they're not the right choice for everyone, in terms of managing her own internal equilibrium, the TV presenter hasn't looked back.
"They've been a godsend," she says. "Medication is a personal issue for people, but I think people should realise the value of it and how much it can help.
"Alongside the value of exercise and getting enough sleep. I know that when I'm getting tired, it's not good for me.
"Also, the ability to say no to things. To not feel like I have to do everything and say yes to everyone. Learning to realise that I don't have to keep everyone else happy and just being kind to myself."
It's clearly working. Holiday snaps posted late last year on the TV star's Instagram made headlines thanks to her amazingly toned beach bod, but even these aren't what they seem says Jessica.
"I'm glad that picture wasn't taken from behind!" she giggles.
"As my daughters will tell you, I've got heaps of cellulite. They say to me, 'Mummy, why have you got such a flobby bottom?' It's all smoke and mirrors."
Peter and Jess sharing a laugh on holidays. (Image: @jessjrowe/Instagram)

Leading by example

While she may own her flaws, her toned tummy is thanks to a weekly session of Pilates ("I do it with a good friend, which means I'm less likely to cancel as it's a chance for us to catch up") alongside weekly walks.
"I've started going for weekly walks with friends – a walk and talk. That's another fun way of doing exercise. I think you need to find stuff that works around your lifestyle that you enjoy doing. It's the same with my diet. I'm naturally healthy, but it's also about balance. Growing up we'd have healthy food, but there'd also be chocolate biscuits in the fridge. Today it's very much the same in my family.
"I really put an effort into speaking positively about food and my body, because I know my daughters will follow my example."
This positive example also extends to being mindful, especially when it comes to technology.
"For me, mindfulness is about being present in what I'm doing," she explains. "Part of that involves putting away my phone. I'm really becoming more and more aware of that now through my daughters, because they have their own devices and I need to model good behaviour myself if I'm asking them to do the same. I can't tell them to get off their iPads if I'm constantly distracted on my phone.
"We all know that feeling when you're engrossed in something or are really enjoying having a conversation with someone, and then your phone pings and you look at it, which instantly takes you away from that moment.
"That can really drain us of our energy because we're feeling pulled in all different directions. Kids learn so much by looking at us – they're such sponges. I think it's so important as parents that we are mindful of that."
Check out those abs! (Image: @jessjrowe/Instagram)

Be open to reinvention

Just as she's helping her own children evaluate what's important, since leaving her full-time TV gig, the veteran journalist has had time to learn what's meaningful in her own life.
"I am always open to new opportunities," Jessica says, excitedly.
"The older I get, the more I'm open to new things that bring me joy, both in my professional and personal life. After Studio 10, I was able to reinvent myself and to do something that is good for my soul.
"What I've learned more and more is that we need to have that leap of faith in our lives. It's how you learn and grow. I'm not for living a safe, small life. I want to grab those opportunities while I can. Who knows what they will be, but there's so much more out there, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what that is."
The brand new issue of Good Health is on sale now. (Image: Good Health)

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