Wholesome Stef: From eating disorders to self love
Scrolling through Wholesome Stef health influencer Stefanie Jung’s Instagram feed filled with colourful food and impressive yoga poses, you’d be forgiven for thinking life is all sunshine and rainbow acai bowls. But she’s quick to dispel this myth. After struggling with an eating disorder at a young age, a long journey of self discovery has lead Stef to become the holistic health coach, yoga teacher, body positive mental health advocate she is today.
Sharing all she has discovered to help her followers with their own health equilibrium, we were keen to track Stef down to talk top wellness tips and tricks + discuss her very personal journey to being her strongest, healthiest and happiest self yet…
What made you start your health and fitness journey?
I used to be a fad dieting, self-destructive, calorie-counting treadmill junkie that obsessively stepped on the scale up to five times a day. I had a very distorted relationship to my body and my “inner mean girl” was constantly telling me that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, skinny enough… the list goes on. After years of self-loathing and eventually hitting absolute rock bottom, I realised that something needed to change. And so I started working with a health coach who herself had gone through an ED [eating disorder], and with her help – I was able to overcome my own struggles and rebuild a loving relationship with myself.
As I started getting better and started to explore the power of nutrition, intuitive eating, mind/body connection and a holistic lifestyle in general, I realised that I also wanted to give back and help others with their food/body image/self love struggles. And so my own journey began, and this is also the driving force behind the health coaching work that I do now.
Has Instagram impacted your journey?
Definitely, in so many different ways! For starters, I have met incredibly inspiring like-minded individuals that have helped me so much in my own journey and that have become friends over time. It has also helped me stay accountable and has ensured I check in with myself on a regular basis and ask myself: “How are you doing Stef?”. I try to truly walk the talk, and when things are not going that well, I will always try to talk about it on my social media rather than hide it. It’s made me have to deal with my sh*%t on the spot!
What’s your day on a plate look like?
I don’t believe in dietary labels and love mixing things up and trying new things. That means that no day ever looks the same, although I also enjoy being in a good meal prep routine. I eat a very balanced, mainly plant-based diet with lots of fresh unprocessed foods. If I do eat animal products, I make sure I buy organic produce of the highest quality. I listen to my body and nurture it with whatever it asks for; that may be a vegan salad with quinoa, spinach and sweet potato or some dark chocolate. Some staple meals of mine are: tofu stir fry with buckwheat noodles and leafy greens, a green smoothie with vegan protein powder, hummus with veggie sticks as a snack and a warming oatmeal for breakkie.
What are you top five health rules?
- Find your keystone habit, and make it a priority to implement this habit into your day to day. For me, it’s sleep. If I don’t get my 8 hours, everything else falls apart and it becomes much harder to stick to my other good intentions.
- Drink loads of water. Make it your mission to drink at least 2-3 litres day.
- Listen to your body. I know it’s cliché, but it makes all the difference. Have an early night in when you feel like it even though you promised your friends to go partying, skip that workout when you feel too sick to exercise, and have that piece of dark chocolate at ‘that’ time of the month. I really think that self awareness and being kind to your body is the most important and the only way for us to have a sustainable healthy lifestyle.
- Eat real, whole, foods. Try to incorporate as many veggies as possible. And stay away from anything that has ingredients you can’t pronounce or don’t know what they are.
- To me, being healthy also includes self-care and self-acceptance. Taking time for your mental health is as important, if not more so, than your physical health (because your physical health always suffers if your mental health is not in check). Plan in weekly dates with yourself to journal, meditate, go for walks, be in nature, hang with friends, or whatever it is that lights you up and refuels you.
What’s your favourite kind of workout?
I love a bit of everything – yoga, weight lifting, reformer pilates, boxing, running, surfing, barre… I do it all. I’m a big fan of variety and challenging my body in different ways, so I’m always on the look out for new places to get my sweat on. I recently did my 200 hour yoga teacher training in India, so now I also teach yoga and regularly practice myself. On my active rest days, I enjoy going for coastal walks with friends, booking myself into a yin class, or going surfing.
Which are your 3 favourite health & fitness accounts to follow on Instagram?
- @jessicaolie for beautifully raw and unique yoga flows
- @tanyapoppett for the best workout videos
- @sarahs_day because she’s the coolest and most authentic chick ever, and her Insta stories crack me up every day
And can I add one more?! 😉 In that case, @sailingthroughfitness, because she is my bestie and absolute soul sister.
What’s your biggest tip for someone trying to stick to their own healthy eating and workout routines?
That health is a journey, not a goal. It took me many years of dissatisfaction and body dysmorphia to realise this, but now I understand the importance of “enjoying the ride”. If you are always working towards that one far distant goal, then you will never be happy with yourself in the moment.
But to give some more concrete tips:
- Consistency is key – so check in with yourself and your progress/mindset regularly through journaling, meditation, going for walks etc
- Have an accountability partner
- As soon as things get boring, switch them up! Otherwise chances are you will fall off the bandwagon.
What does being “healthy” mean to you?
For me, being truly healthy isn’t just about what you eat and how much you train – it’s about so much more than that. You can eat all the kale in the world and live from juice cleanse to juice cleanse, but if you are not nourishing your soul on a deeper level, your body and mind don’t thrive. I think that being truly healthy means nourishing your body with whole foods, exercising because you love your body (not because you hate it!) and living a life that fulfils you and makes you happy. It’s something that I had to learn the hard way, but now I truly understand the importance of having the right mindset.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I don’t really like the word “guilty pleasure” because it has a negative connotation to it. It’s totally fine to treat yourself from time to time, but my hope is that we can do those things without feeling guilty afterwards. That said, I love an occasional ice cream and I can also never say no to some dark chocolate. Oh and raw vegan cheesecake, there’s always room for that.