Do you want to know how to release self-neglect, overcome self-destructive thought patterns and begin the journey in rebuilding a loving relationship with yourself?
Well in this weeks edition of her of the week we are joined with the beautiful Stef from @wholesomestef who explains how she battled and overcome her eating disorder and became a holistic health coach, who now teaches self-love practices, body positivity as well as how to create a healthy mind/body connection with yourself! She gives us an insight into her daily rituals, meditations tips and resources as well as other amazing women's health advice!
Tell us a bit about her behind @wholesomestef?
I’m originally from Germany, but I have moved around a lot (incl. Paris, Dubai, London, Switzerland, the US) and found my way to Sydney 2 ½ years ago with my partner Phil. We both come from super international upbringings, speak multiple languages and love to travel, and because we had heard such great things about Australia, we just had to come out here and explore it for ourselves! And Sydney certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Professionally, I’m a holistic health coach and yoga teacher, but I also work full-time for a brand entertainment agency. Talk about trying to juggle it all!
My health coaching focuses on helping young girls and women heal their relationship with food and their body’s, and ultimately themselves. It’s for anyone who’s ever been on fad diet after diet, with no success other than developing self-destructive thought patterns around food and body image. It’s for anyone who looks in the mirror and feels fat and unworthy. It’s for anyone who has gotten caught in the vicious cycle of self-loathing and emotional eating. Why can I help with this? Because I’ve been there myself.
What sparked your passion for health and wellness?
I grew up in a really active and healthy family; my childhood memories are filled with mountain hikes, camping trips and lots of delicious homemade food that my mom made. But somewhere along the line I developed an eating disorder and lost sense of what “healthy” really meant. I became obsessed with controlling my food, exercising excessively, weighing myself up to 5x day, binging/purging and I was completely convinced with the idea that being skinny(er) would make me happy(er).
Eventually I hit rock bottom and realized that I couldn’t keep going like that. And so I started working with a health coach who herself had gone through an eating disorder, and with her help I was able to overcome my own struggles and rebuild a loving relationship with myself. As time progressed, I started to explore the power of nutrition in mental health, intuitive eating, mind/body connection and self care rituals, and that’s when it all really came together for me. Health is so much more than what you eat, it’s also about how you eat and your mindset in general.
Which people or books have had the most influence on your growth and why?
I am obsessed with anything by Geneen Roth, especially her book “Women, Food and God”. Her belief is that your relationship to food is a direct reflection of your relationship to life itself. In that sense, food is like a doorway to discovering yourself and the belief systems that you hold on to. I couldn’t agree more with her philosophies and they have helped me tremendously in overcoming my eating disorder. I also love “The Highly Sensitive Person” by Elaine N. Aron, “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle and “Mastering Your Inner Mean Girl” by Melissa Ambrosini.
What does a typical day in the life of Stef look like?
I work full time in a brand entertainment agency and have my own health coaching business and wellness blog “on the side”, so my schedule is pretty jam-packed. I’m a big fan of having a regular routine; that said I also like to switch things up every now and then. At the moment a typical day looks something like this: wake up at 5:30am, train at F45, head to the office for a full day of work (a job that I LOVE!), have a health coaching client session at night or work on my blog and be in bed by hopefully 9:30pm.
I also go to a lot of health and fitness events that I get invited too, which I love because you always meet such incredibly motivating and like-minded people. On weekends I still love to wake up early, go for a run with a friend or a walk with my partner, head to the farmers market to do my weekly groceries and meal prep for the week ahead. Because my schedule is so hectic, meal prepping for the week is a big priority for me and it honestly makes all the difference in how my week goes!
What’s your favourite go-to podcasts at the moment?
There’s so many awesome podcasts out there that it’s really hard to choose, so I’ll give you a couple. Low Tox Life is great for general health and wellness info, The Psychology of Eating is amazing if you are struggling with emotional eating and body image issues, Happier with Gretchen Rubin will 100% give you a positivity boost and The Melissa Ambrosini Show has got a bit of everything around health, relationships and wealth.
Recent research has uncovered that around 70 million people around the world are dealing with some form of eating disorder. Through your journey of overcoming eating disorders what would be your most precious advice for readers that may be currently battling with this and how did you overcome it?
Throw out the scale, I mean it! If your day is dictated by the number on the scale, throw it out. I know that sounds incredible hard for someone who is addicted to that validation, but as long as you obsess over that number, you won’t be able to move on.
The thing is: you don’t have to do this by yourself. Reach out, open up to someone and get help. I would have never in a million years been able to heal myself if I didn’t summon the courage to be vulnerable and talk about my inner demons with my partner, family and friends. Simply talking about your struggles can be so therapeutic and healing, so please don’t feel like you need to battle this out yourself.
Do you have any favourite practices related to gratitude, mindfulness or self-love and if so what are they and how do you practice them?
YES! I just recently spoke at a yoga/self care workshop, so I’ll share a couple of things that we discussed there. A big problem is that people think self care has to be this hour-long process of dry body brushing, oil pulling, meditation, doing yoga, journaling and so on…But it doesn’t have to be that complicated! What matters is that we are consistent with our practices and that we show up for ourselves EVERY SINGLE DAY. That’s why I love the concept of #micromoments of self care – incorporating small acts of self love and self care into our day to day. For me that means saying three things that I’m grateful for before jumping out of bed in the morning, taking a couple of deep breaths while in the shower and tuning into how good it feels (rather than rushing through the chore!) or talking a 5 minute walk around the block during my office lunch break. Self care doesn’t have to be timely, and many simple or even mundane things you do on a daily basis can be an act of self care if you are present and are in the right mindset.
Another thing that I’ve been doing lately is incorporating #fridaynightselfcare! The last thing I want to do after a long week is go out and be social or drink, so instead I have been booking myself into a Friday evening infrared sauna session. I preempt the fact that I’ll feel this way, and schedule it in advance so I don’t end up collapsing onto the couch watching Netflix and eating chips. It’s honestly made the biggest difference in my self care and it gives me the recharge I so desperately crave after a full working week.
What are the biggest benefits you’ve gain from meditating?
Do you have any tips and resources to offer readers out
there looking to start?
Meditation ebbs and flows in my life - sometimes the practice is very much present in my life, sometimes it isn’t. Right now I’m not meditating as much as I would like, but when I do I notice an IMMEDIATE difference. The stress and anxiety just melts away and I feel so much more clear-minded and calm. If you are just starting out, I recommend trying some of the apps that are out there; One Giant Mind and Headspace are my favourite. I’m also a big fan of writing meditations, which is a combination of journaling and meditation. Have a look into it!
What are your favourite must have products/items at the moment?
1. My FitBit Versa – I love tracking my daily steps and measuring my sleep quality. I can also play music through the watch onto my wireless headphones when I’m running, which means I don’t always have to take my phone with me!
2. Essential oils – I use them daily to support my health and wellbeing. For example, I sprinkle lavender oil onto my pillow at night to support my sleep, I use wild orange in my diffuser for a little energy kick and I use a special immune boosting blend in the morning that I gargle with.
3. My Unit Nine yoga mat – I’ve been using them ever since I moved to Sydney and am absolutely obsessed with them. The design is gorgeous, they have an incredible grip and the founder Anna is an absolute sweetheart.
Tell us, what’s next for @wholesomestef?
I’m currently working on completely redesigning my website. I’m doing it all solo so it’s taking a bit longer than anticipated, but I can’t wait to give my brand a make-over and take things to the next level. I’m also working on an e-book and have a cool content series with GoodnessMeBox coming up that we shot recently. So all the funsies!
On a personal front, I’m looking forward to a long weekend in Orange with my partner to just unwind and not do anything for a couple of days. Hopefully the new website will be live before then so that I can leave my laptop at home and completely disconnect! 😊
Takeaway #1: Reach out and always utilise the support and resources around you, don't struggle through something alone
Takeaway #2: Self-love doesn't have to be timely or complicated, try incorporating #mircomoments of self-care into your daily routine!
Takeaway #3: Consistency is key! Small differences consistently each and everyday results in significant results!
Thank you Stef for taking the time to share all this amazingly valuable information and advice! For more wellness inspiration, self love coaching and body positivity follow Stef on Instagram @wholesomestef or on Facebook at Wholesome Stef