If you don't already know her or follow her on social media then you're missing out...
Steph and I met on Instagram around 3 years ago and became friends through supporting each other's fitness journey. We met in person at the first ever Girl Gains Australia event (@girlgainsaus) back in August 2016 and I knew straight away that she was a complete gem! Our fitness journeys are very different but we bonded over our mutual love for health, nutrition and exercise. Fast forward two years - she is now one of my closest friends and we run the Girl Gains events together in Sydney.
Steph is a complete weapon in all aspects of life - she works for @noshu (the best sugar-free cake mixtures in the world FYI), runs her social media account @betterbeingsteph like a boss, eats the most delicious and nutritious meals every single day, trains regularly, writes epic snack reviews and has also recently launched her own website https://www.betterbeingsteph.com.au/. Wow, that was a mouthful!
Anyway, onto the juicy part...
1) Firstly, I'd like people reading this to know a little bit about you. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into health and fitness?
I am 24 years old, living in Sydney Australia.
I have a Bachelor of Science majoring in Biology with Honours and always thought I would work with animals, but after my own experience with being overweight as a child and then suffering an eating disorder, I fell into a passion for health and fitness in a bid to regain my own sense of self and wellbeing!
I currently work in the Health Food industry, focusing on marketing, admin and product development, and use my Instagram page as a little side-hustle and outlet to share my journey.
2) Over the years you've been open and honest about your struggles with your relationship with food. Can you explain a little bit about this and is there anything you wish you could go back and tell your old self?
Where do I even begin?! I’ll try to keep this short!
Basically, I grew up being overweight with very little care for nutrition and what I was putting into my body. I had a huge sweet tooth, and I ate for enjoyment - not for nutrition or health. I was naive and ignorant, and I really took my body for granted with the sh*t I fuelled it with.
By the time I finished high school I’d tipped myself to the other end of the spectrum and had developed a restrictive eating disorder. I was sick of being bullied for my weight and feeling ‘ugly and fat’ next to my friends, so I thought that simply not eating was the way to find happiness and confidence. I started to view food as being ‘bad’, developed numerous food fears, and became so anxious and scared of eating that I became so ill.
It’s been about 6 years since I was at my ‘worst’, and I’ve definitely come a long way since then. My relationship with food now is so much healthier and sustainable than it’s ever been, and while I have a few slip-ups here and there, and a few food ‘rules’ or fears that resurface at times, on the whole I’ve finally come to view food as one of the most empowering and enjoyable parts of life!
Going back in time, I wish I could tell myself just how empowering and incredible it feels to fuel my body with what it needs and what it loves.
3) You started your Instagram account (@betterbeingsteph) as a personal diary to track your progress. Do you think social media has an overall positive or negative effect on people's lives, including their relationship with health and fitness?
This is a tough question! Honestly, I think the pros of social media far outweigh the cons, so long as you’re exposing yourself to the right content, and not investing your everything into your account and the image of yourself you’re trying to put across.
I know I’ve fallen into the trap of becoming consumed with Instagram and stressing about every single like, engagement rate or comment I received. It started to take up way too much of my time, and I lost sight of living because I was too busy trying to make my life look a certain way instead of actually living it. Then came the issue of exposing myself to pages filled with content that was making me feel inadequate, anxious or competitive, and it was just really toxic and destructive.
What we do and read online can really impact us, and even the littlest of things can consume us, make us doubt ourselves, feel bad about ourselves or question what we’re doing. When it reaches this point, that’s when social media becomes really negative and damaging - especially when it comes to body image, self-perception and genuine life quality.
I think learning the distinction between being ‘present’ online, and living online is really important in terms of not letting it consume you, but unfortunately I don’t think there’s any way to avoid the issue of what we can come across online - because unfortunately a lot of idiots have big social media platforms, and bullsh*t can easily be spread around and touted as ‘healthy’ or ‘ideal’.
Here I think it’s up to us as viewers/followers/consumers to be discretionary with what we seek out on social media, and what we believe or derive inspiration from. Whether that means deleting negative comments, un-following any pages that make you feel bad about yourself, or backing up whatever you read online with more information/facts/sources - it’s honestly up to you to make social media either an empowering or destructive avenue for you and your journey.
For me, the friendships I’ve made, the opportunities I’ve received, the outlet it’s given me, and the journey it’s documented for me make all the negatives minuscule in comparison!
4) What is your current approach to nutrition and training?
Honestly, it’s a little all over the place for me at the moment! I have just recently taken on some coaching for my diet and workout routine, and am now entering a phase in my life where ‘working out and eating healthy’ becomes less about ‘looking’ a certain way, and more about feeling and living a better way.
I’m a huge advocate for eating and training in a way that makes you feel your absolute best - whatever that entails for each person. If something doesn’t make you feel good, it’s not right for you - no matter how much you think you ‘should’ be doing it or how engrained it is in your routine/beliefs. Strip it back, look at the bigger picture, and only train and eat in the way that genuinely leaves you feeling empowered.
I guess this is a piece of advice I’m still trying to apply to myself!
5) What does a typical day in your life look like?
Wakeup at 5am and get into my gym gear! I drink herbal tea first thing in the morning, take my supplements, eat a small pre-workout meal, drink a long black and head to the gym!
I train for around 60 minutes before heading to work for a 9-5 office job.
My days are always a little different depending on what needs done at work, but typically I’m in the office working until 5pm.
Then it’s straight home for some meal prep for the next day, dinner and a bit of ‘down time’ before heading to bed by 9pm ready for my early morning wakeup!
6) If you could only have one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Egg white oats with fruit and peanut butter on top.
Without a doubt.
7) What are your plans for the future - career, health & fitness and general life?
I’m still trying to figure this one out myself! Ideally, I would love to own my own brand that encompasses my ethos about health and wellbeing - maybe a snack brand, or an organisation that works towards building healthy habits amongst women at all ages and stages of their lives.
Whatever I do, I want my career to challenge and serve me, whilst also benefiting and empowering others to look after themselves!
And life wise - I just want to reach a point where I’m happy, I’ve learned to love myself a little more, and my body is truly healthy.