As a clinical nutritionist, best-selling author and founder of JS Health Vitamins, JS Health Program and the JS Health App, Jessica Sepel is one of the lead Instagram innovators helping others to change their attitude towards food and revolutionise their health…
How did @JShealth come about?
I’ve always wanted to be a nutritionist. I was quite young when I was on holidays at a health retreat with my grandmother, and there was a nutritionist giving a talk on healthy eating. I remember looking at her and thinking that’s what I want to do when I’m older. That dream stayed with me for many years and when I finished high school, I completed a Bachelor of Health from Macquarie University in 2010 and completed an Advanced Diploma in Nutritional Medicine in 2012.
Shortly after, I was practicing in a nutrition clinic and created my blog, where I wrote articles and posted health recipes that I’d created. I actually had my blog on private for months but my now husband, Dean, convinced me to make it public. Within a few months, I started getting visitors and the audience grew organically. After years of blogging, I launched an e-book and my signature 8-week Program. From here, the JSHealth brand really took off.
“Within a few months, I started getting visitors and the audience grew organically. After years of blogging, I launched an e-book and my signature 8-week Program. From here, the JSHealth brand really took off.”
In the last few years, I’ve written two best-selling health books, launched the JSHealth App and the JSHealth Vitamins range. Now, we have a full-time team and recently moved into our very own office space in Double Bay. Looking back, I truly can’t believe how far the brand has come, from the early days as a little health blog. That said, it’s been years of hard work. As they say, nothing comes easily. It’s all about determination and never giving up on your dreams.
What motivated you to start posting on Instagram?
I started my Instagram as an extension of my blog. It was a way for me to document my struggles with body love, weight, and my complex relationship with food. Slowly, my social media following started to grow. It was all very organic and unplanned. This was long before the days of Instagram influencers. I soon realised that plenty of people were suffering with the same issues that I’d been battling.
So, social media became a platform where we could share our experience with one another, and provide a sense of strength and community. I’m truly blessed to have this community. It means everything to me.
What’s the main mission of JS Health? How has Instagram helped you to achieve it?
The JSHealth philosophy is about helping people to live healthier, happier and more balanced lives. I teach the un-diet approach, which helps women end the toxic cycle of dieting and embrace their bodies. I’m so passionate about this, having gone through 10 years of disordered eating and nearing on a serious eating disorder.
I believe that Instagram has helped me to share these and willing to share my past struggles with dieting and body image. Also, I always think of the young girls who are battling through the same issues that I was. I would have done anything to have someone that could guide me through this journey. To be of service has always been – and always will be – at the core of everything that we do.
What inspired you to help others on their health and wellness journey?
As I mentioned above, I battled through years of disordered eating and negative body image issues. I was completely obsessed with my weight and restricting my caloric intake. It was seriously damaging on my mind and body. Slowly, as I started to study nutrition at university, I realised the damage I was doing.
So, I looked inwards and commenced my healing journey. I got real with myself and asked why I was dealing with these problems. And the truth that it wasn’t just about the food, but how I felt about myself. That was the real issue. So, I decided to throw away my scales and investigate how I could develop a healthier relationship not just with my body, but with myself.
How did you grow and market your business?
Instagram is an incredible platform that helped me foster JSHealth as a brand. A strong, loyal community naturally leads to organic growth for a brand, so we’ve been very lucky in that respect. From the beginning, I opened up about my fears, my daily struggles and how I’ve found healing. In fact, I still do this today. It’s so important to share who you really are on social media. We’re so surrounded with everyone’s ‘highlight reel’, so it’s important to share the real day to day.
What was the hardest part of getting JS Health off the ground?
From the outside, it looks glamorous but the truth is that I face setbacks and rejections all the time. It’s important to remember why you started and be fully committed to spreading your message. We all have special gifts to share with the world. I was persistent and pushed through the really challenging times.
“It’s important to remember why you started and be fully committed to spreading your message. We all have special gifts to share with the world.”
What are the best Instagram features for marketing a business?
I love Instagram Stories to show the REALNESS of life and show the behind the scenes of my business and how we create things.
What’s the biggest misconception about Instagram?
The biggest misconception is that everything comes easily and that life is always glamorous. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, there are days where you go to events with a great blow-wave but usually, I’m dressed in jeans and a simple t-shirt, sitting at my desk working away until late!
As a health guru, what’s your go-to cheat meal?
I don’t believe in ‘cheat meals’ and don’t promote them because I believe they’re part of the diet culture that’s pervasive in society. From clinical and personal experience, I’ve seen that limiting our food intake can lead to disordered eating and an unhealthy obsession with food.
The JSHealth philosophy is all about balance, nourishment and mindful indulgence. I eat well 80 per cent of the time and allow 20 per cent for some of my favourite foods. It might be a dessert after dinner, a wine with friends or a croissant on the weekend. Whatever it is, I ensure that I eat mindfully and enjoy the experience. This approach has completed changed my relationship with food and is something that I discuss in great detail in my new book, The 12-step Mind-Body-Food Reset, which is on sale now!
Top tips for getting yourself motivated when you’re feeling down?
- Enter the stress-free zone: I take 20 minutes to calm my mind and body. I’ll put my legs up against the wall, do a few yoga poses or make a tea and curl up with a book. I avoid looking at my phone and checking social media during this time. It helps me get centred and more mindful.
- Unplug: Our obsession with phones and computers give us so much anxiety. That’s why it’s important to unplug and spend time in nature, with loved ones or just with yourself. I switch off all social media off by 7-8pm
- Talk to a loved one: We all have support networks. Sometimes you just need a good chat or a laugh with a loved one when you’re feeling down. It always helps me feel centred.
How has Instagram changed the direction of your life?
It’s definitely helped the JSHealth brand to grow organically. And it’s also provided me with so much support, love and encouragement. I truly think of the community as my besties. Over the years, we’ve shared so much. It’s very special to me.
As the founder of JS Health, JS Vitamins and the author of two books, do you have any other creative projects on the go?
Yes, I love creating. I’ve just launched our new AM+PM Vitamins, our Protein + Probiotics Powder, launching my third book, The 12-step Mind-Body-Food Reset on 24 September, plus we’re overhauling the JSHealth App, adding plenty of new recipes, workouts, health guides and more. Oh, and I’m formulating some incredible new vitamins – stay tuned!
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made on Instagram? What’s your advice for those just starting out?
I think it is a mistake to only show the good times and perfect images. I used to do that more and now I try and share a more casual stripped back version.
In a sea of foodies & health and wellness influencers, what’s your advice for making content that stands out from the crowd?
Be yourself. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Post content that feels unique and authentic to you. Express your own point of view. The world needs it. Put your energy into your lane.
“Be yourself. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Post content that feels unique and authentic to you. Express your own point of view. The world needs it. Put your energy into your lane.”
My top tip for creating stunning, on-point content is a great camera, good lighting and beautiful fresh food.
Words of wisdom for other women wanting to make their dream a reality?
Don’t be afraid to shine your light. No doubt there are other people out there who need to hear what you have to say. Remember to be yourself and be true to yourself and you can’t go wrong.