What does a healthy mind and body mean to you?
An equilibrium of the ultimate healthy lifestyle we should all be aiming for! Living healthy involves a mix of physical, mental, and emotional components. Our health begins in our insides and doesn’t stop at our skin. The body won’t go where the mind won’t let it!
Our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes heavily impact on our biological functioning; something I quickly worked out when I graduated from university and started working abroad. Time poor and highly stressed with being constantly on the go, I couldn’t work out how or why I was feeling so lethargic when I was exercising and eating healthy. Over the years I’ve learnt that it is just as important to nurture your mind as it is to nourish your body. Managing your thoughts, fears, worries and insecurities whilst maintaining a balanced diet, combined with regular exercise…that’s a healthy mind and body!
Tell us about your work with the Touch of Goodness Foundation in helping teens build body confidence…
Since being crowned Mrs Australia International for 2014 I have directed my charity work with the Touch of Goodness Foundation to focus on building teenage self esteem and tackling body confidence issues – all part of ‘sharing the goodness.’
As a long-term youth worker and a professional model, I’ve witnessed firsthand how the modelling industry can misrepresent to our youth, and the negative impact this often has. I’ve learnt that as high as 80 per cent of women across Australia say the images of women on television and in movies, fashion magazines and advertising make them feel insecure. Body image is closely linked to self esteem, and low self-esteem is a serious social problem that can only be tackled by those very people who our youth look up to: models and beauty queens.
My own journey is a far cry from the glitz and glamour that my name and profile is often associated with today. By sharing my own story – complete with being raised by a quadriplegic mother, surviving a sexual assault and enduring a miscarriage – with my knowledge of how the industry actually works, I’m really aiming to inspire and empower teenagers to focus more on inner beauty than to strive for the digital perfection. I don’t wake up looking like my campaign images; I have a team of highly specialised professionals to create my look for that.
What are your favourite healthy foods?
You will always find me with a fruit salad, freshly squeezed juice or fruit smoothie. Yum! I’ve been experimenting with different green smoothie recipes of late too. The bright, fresh flavours and immune boosting nutrient rich ingredients do wonders for your body! All the things I despised as a child I absolutely adore now too. Meals with sweet potato, broccoli, green beans, pumpkin… count me in.
How do you like to keep active?
I’ve had a fitness routine since I was 15 and have always been self-motivated to be active – I can thank my parents for their example. The past few months has been a bit of a challenge; maintaining my model work, establishing a new business, developing my blog and throwing myself into charity work have all been clashing priorities. My active lifestyle had dwindled and I needed to get my motivation back to ensure I was in peak condition for representing Australia at the Mrs International pageant in Florida this July. I enlisted the help of a personal trainer, and Blake Worrall-Thompson’s ‘6 weeks to sexy’ program has been knocking me back into shape physically and emotionally. It’s a combination of strength training and cardio, with nutrition and wellbeing tutorials. I’m dead on my feet after every session, though I’m addicted to the results and always go back for more!
You dedicate a lot of time and effort to charity work – what inspires and motivates you?
I was exposed to the importance of helping others from the age of nine when my mother was in a car accident. Something as simple as a school run on November 10, 1992 was the difference between seeing her as a fully functioning and able mother in the morning, to a quadriplegic; unable to do the day-to-day activities most take for granted, in the afternoon. She went through years of rehabilitation and I saw her slowly but confidently become ‘at peace’ with her condition.
Unable to work and being reliant on carers didn’t hold her back and I quickly joined her in various disability advocacy initiatives. With such an independent woman and devoted father as my role models, I took advantage of the strong sense of community and work ethic I inherited from them. To this day I will never know how she raised twins as a quadriplegic, though her philosophy resonates with me everyday: “life is not a dress rehearsal.” That’s why I do what I do.
What are your favourite travel destinations?
I’ve made a point of saving my hard earned dollars for travel over the years – it really is the only thing you can spend on that makes you richer! You learn so much about yourself when you’re out of your comfort zone. I’m not an adrenalin junkie, though I do love a challenge and pushing the boundaries. There have been quite a few highlights to date:
1. Living and working in Washington DC following my graduation from university was the perfect base to see a lot of the United States.
2. I also lived and worked in London after university, which was an easy starting point for travelling around the United Kingdom, Europe and the Middle East. I loved immersing myself in the culture, cuisine and ancient history.
3. My tour through South America was an unbelievable journey too. Over five weeks my husband and I hiked to Machu Picchu in Peru, homestayed on Lake Titikaka in Bolivia, toured Chile’s best beaches and vineyards and slept under the stars in the Amazon. We love ‘off the beaten track’ destinations, though we also don’t mind a touch of luxury every once in a while.
4. Bora Bora was heaven on earth and I’d go back in a heartbeat. Swimming with stingrays, scuba diving with sharks, stand up paddle boarding and relaxing in the sun…it was pure bliss.
You describe yourself as a ‘crazy dog lady.’ What do your pets, Leo and Maya, bring to your life?
For a converted cat lady, more than I ever could have imagined! We adopted Leo (our Boxer) the year my husband and I married in 2008, and Maya (our long haired Chihuahua) the following year. For an odd pair they make the best of friends! They’re definitely fur babies; I miss them when I leave the house for work and have been known to ring the kennel whilst aboard to check they’re okay.
My husband is an Air Traffic Control Officer in the Air Force and amongst his training, exercises and deployment we went through a two-year period in our marriage where we only lived under the same roof for three months. Whilst I had friends and family to catch up with it didn’t take away the fact I didn’t have my soulmates by my side. Having Leo and Maya with me meant I always had happy little faces and wagging tails to come home to. Their constant unconditional love and companionship kept me sane. Now that my husband is home safe we’re back to our happy little complete family again.
What are some things you do to relax and unwind?
Both of my career paths (the first as a graphic design consultant and the second as a model) definitely haven’t been conducive to a lot of free time. Finding ways to relax and unwind, and more to the point making time for it, has been a craft I have perfected over the years. Some of my favourite activities include:
1. At the top of my list is vigorous exercise! It’s been my best stress-relief for as long as I can remember and I always feel incredible afterwards.
2. Walking my two pooches means I can take a break from the daily grind, and I love taking them to the beach with my husband. We’re that couple that walks our dogs holding hands, haha!
3. My husband and I are both foodies so scouting out new restaurants and planning our next travel adventure is one of our favourite and relaxing past times.
4. Herbal tea and meditation before bed is essential to clear my head and ensure a good nights sleep.
5. When time permits I enjoy disconnecting from social media and going camping where there is no reception. It’s good for the soul.
What are your goals for the next five years?
Bigger, better and bolder plans – I never do anything in halves! I would love to continue my work with teens far past my title as Mrs Australia and encourage fellow models, pageant titleholders and public figures to be more vocal about their work to ‘keep it real’ as well. I want my model and lifestyle blog Chic Nation to continue to flourish with more relevant articles for teens to learn about beauty, modelling and the life lessons that have lead to the position I find myself in today.
And ultimately I look forward to starting a family with my husband; I can’t be a crazy dog lady forever! Although we’re saving for a travel adventure to Africa at the moment… Anything is possible and I can’t wait to share my journey with you.