Naturopath, nutritionist and former bodybuilder Jess Blair knows a thing or two about juggling healthy habits with motherhood.
As the mum of two boys, Harlem and Taika, with rugby league legend Adam Blair, she gets that family life can be challenging — and throw you a few curveballs every now and then — which is why she's passionate about good health in all its incarnations.
Here, she shares her take on healthy living including the one piece of advice she wishes we'd all follow.
What's your wellbeing mantra?
Making sure you are looking after yourself from all avenues: mind, body and spirit. Making sure you are eating well, sleeping well and also talking to yourself in a positive light.
How has motherhood changed your outlook on health and wellbeing?
It's definitely changed me for the better. I don't speak to myself in a negative way or about negative body image as I don't want the children to hear that — or learn from that. I also show them the importance of food for energy and as medicine and I don't use food as treats for good behaviour. I want my boys to grow up with a healthy relationship with food and to learn how to be the healthiest versions of themselves.
What are three healthy habits you try to stick to?
I prioritise sleep — always have — so I make sure I get eight hours wherever possible. I try to drink enough water during the day and I also try move every single day, even if that's going for a quick walk or a run around with the children.
Do you think health and happiness are linked?
Absolutely; mood has a lot to do with what we eat. Around 90 percent of our serotonin (happy hormone) is created in the digestive tract. Having good, wholesome, nutrient dense food can help create healthy and happy habits. Having foods that diminish serotonin production will be hugely detrimental.
How do you incorporate healthy living into everyday life?
I think people think 'healthy' is restrictive. My family and I don't follow any diet; we eat healthy, organic, whole food and real foods as much as possible. We keep active, but make it fun by spending time outside where we can and also all making sure we are in bed at a decent hour every night (it makes it easier with broken sleep and a baby/toddler).
As a nutritionist, what's a question you get asked time and again?
I always get asked if we need vitamins. It's a case by case basis, but with our poor soil quality and busy lives even with a perfect diet we can all use some support at some point in the way of vitamins and minerals to reach optimal health. There is so much we can do with food, however sometimes in the short term vitamins and minerals can be hugely beneficial.
What are your diet dos and don'ts?
Do not deprive yourself and do pick a healthy eating regime over a diet. Be kind to yourself and remember you are always more than the number on the scale, so don't let that ruin your day or define you.
How do you stay balanced with such a busy schedule?
I am super organised, from packing the children's lunches at night time to putting their clothes out the night before. I also put my training schedule in my diary on a weekend for the upcoming week. And I always make sure I have healthy snacks at home and also in my bag for when meetings or work runs over time. I also prioritise my sleep which helps my energy levels stay for those busy days!
How do you beat the winter slump and stay motivated?
I think we all lack motivation at some time, especially in winter, Sometimes it's hard to get out of bed when it's still dark. I always plan my workouts in my diary, just like a meeting that I wouldn't miss. I aim to go three times a week and do a walk or two. I also think picking an exercise that you enjoy is important.
What's your favourite winter meal? And snack?
I'm all about eating what is in season, so winter is soups, lots of vegetables and slow cooked meats. Yum! My favourite winter snack is a nice almond milk chai latte or a hot cacao.
What's a great workout for mums who are time-poor?
Walking. You can do it with the kids in tow, outside and at anytime of the day. It's perfect for entry level and great for everyone. Otherwise reformer pilates is also great for everyone, most gyms include it in their classes, too!"
Any tips on recovering post-workout?
Post-workout it's essential to eat within 60-90 minutes, if you know you won't have a meal in that time, make sure you have a shake post training. My favourite post-workout smoothie is coconut water, blueberries and vanilla protein with some crushed ice.
What's the biggest misconception about being healthy?
That it's depriving. I think people think healthy means they can never have the foods they like again. It's about fuelling ourselves with the best foods we can, but also if you want some chocolate sometimes, that's ok too.
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