“I have really fond memories of my childhood – being Polish, it was all about food and family.
I grew up in a Western Sydney townhouse surrounded by other Polish families, so there were lots of communal meals and long summer days riding our bikes into the night. I’m still close with all the kids I used to play with. Our next door neighbour, Mrs Nick, had a paddock filled with horses and freesias, and the smell of those flowers still takes me back to those glorious days of 20 cent lolly bags, milk bars and roller skates! She also taught me to play the piano before I could even speak English.
My family came to Australia as refugees in the 1980s without very much at all, but I never felt like we wanted for anything. My parents always worked hard and are still so grateful for the opportunities this country has given us. Their example definitely inspired my own strong work ethic and contributed to my drive and ambition. While my parents have never pressured me to achieve any sort of success (actually, they’ve always done the opposite and told us not to stress!) I’ve always wanted to make the most of my education and opportunities, and to make their sacrifices worthwhile.
Learning to take good care of ourselves physically and emotionally is something I am deeply passionate about.
At the time when I was working and studying, it seemed like an absolute dream to get to be doing breakfast television while also studying Atmospheric Science. It wasn’t until after I stopped that I realised what a huge physical and mental toll waking up at 3.30am for work and then studying late into the evening had had on me after so many years.
Another very challenging period in my life was after I had my first child. I experienced big and beautiful emotions of unconditional love and excitement, but the physical recovery, issues with breastfeeding and lack of sleep brought some dark times too. I didn’t know much about how to support myself postnatally the first time around, but I couldn’t help but think that sheer exhaustion shouldn’t be my normal.
The challenges of my first postnatal experience were in some ways a hidden blessing, as all the questions I had led me to put my journalist hat on and start my own research.
I connected with a bunch of incredible practitioners like my acupuncturist Marlene Farry and postnatal depletion expert Dr Oscar Serrallach, who not only provided me with support but a lot of wisdom around the whole postnatal experience. I learned about the importance of replenishing my stores after pregnancy and birth, and how to nourish myself with rest, wholefoods and practices that traditional societies in places like China and India have been doing for thousands of years. I adopted a lot of these elements for my second birth and the positive difference that made to my milk supply, mood and overall wellbeing and recovery was incredible. While I’m not an expert in this field, the food aspect really interested me, so I’ve shared some of my favourites on my website, and I’d love to get them into a book! In Western society there can be a lot of focus on baby rather than mum, or if it is about the mother it’s all about post-baby bodies and ‘bouncing back’. I’m passionate about shifting the conversation to one that’s more supportive, creating a community around new mothers and honouring those sacred few weeks after birth.
Byron is definitely our home now. I’ve been really fortunate in that a lot of work opportunities have sprung up here over the last few years, and a lot of the brands and clients I work with want to shoot here, which is great! We’ve got an amazing community here and life is pretty slow for the most part, which is wonderful for the kids.
I start my day with a warm cup of herbal tea and exercise. Early morning is my preferred time to get the body moving, whether it’s a beach walk or strength training. I’ll generally do this a couple of times a week, as often the kids like to hop into our bed when they wake up and I don’t want to miss out on too many of those first morning cuddles! Then it’s time to cleanse with NIVEA Naturally Good Micellar Wash with Organic Aloe Vera and apply the NIVEA Naturally Good Sensitive Day Cream with Organic Chamomile, which I love. You can spend a fortune on skincare but then there comes along a day cream like this that’s effective and affordable. It makes a great base under makeup, and it’s also soothing and helps with redness. I always follow this with sunscreen, which is a must with all the time we spend outdoors.
Then we head out as a family for coffee, and I’ll have an oat or almond latte. It’s one of the highlights of my day, both because I love coffee but also so enjoy the ritual of the kids riding their bikes to the café and getting to have our chats with our neighbours and friends. It’s a real community. Then we head home for breakfast, which might be avocado on toast with sauerkraut, scrambled eggs, pancakes or porridge with berries – whatever the kids are having!
I cleanse again at night with the same NIVEA Naturally Good Micellar Wash with Organic Aloe Vera, which is very effective at removing all makeup (including eye makeup!), sunscreen and impurities from the day and leaves my skin feeling clean and fresh. I’ll follow with the Dr Sam’s Flawless Nightly Serum by Dr Sam Bunting two or three times a week, and then a rich moisturiser like either Sodashi Rejuvenating Face and Neck Moisturiser or Sodashi Calming Face and Neck Moisturiser. After my shower, I moisturise my body with the NIVEA Naturally Good Oat and Nourishment Body Lotion. It comes in a bottle that can be squeezed and rolled up like toothpaste, so there’s less wastage.
For my everyday face, I keep it very natural and minimal.
I absolutely love getting my makeup done for events but when I’m doing it myself for a night out, I can literally do it in about five minutes. I’ve been using the same products for years and years, since my TV days, so I have my process pretty much down. Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation in 6.5 is my go-to base, followed by NARS Bronzer in ‘Laguna’ and NARS Blush in ‘Orgasm’, and some LUMA Illuminating Highlighter on my cheeks. I favour warm browns on my eyes as they bring out the blue (a great tip I learned from makeup artists I have worked with), and I use a MAC palette for that (Ed. note: try MAC Eye Shadow X 9 in ‘Amber Times Nine’). I usually go with a natural pinky nude lip like Huda Beauty Power Bullet Matte Lipstick in ‘Prom Night’. If I’m going all out, though, then MAC Matte Lipstick in ‘Lady Danger’ is a killer red.
I like to take a balanced approach to food, health and wellbeing. I absolutely love food and for me it’s not about cutting things out but more about balance, enjoyment, nourishment, and including as much deliciousness as possible which does mean cheese, baguettes and wine!
I didn’t appreciate my cultural background growing up, and longed for ‘normal’ Aussie school lunches like devon sandwiches or sausage rolls rather than my salami and pickles on rye! Now, though, I feel grateful for my cultural food foundations, which have very much influenced my common sense approach towards cooking with real, unprocessed food like our grandmothers used to.
I prioritise home cooking and real food as much as possible, but while I’ve always enjoyed gentle exercise like Pilates and yoga, it’s only really been this year that I’ve also prioritised regular exercise.
A lot of my interest in that came from wanting to feel strong again after having kids, but it also really feels like a treat to have that time for myself. Classes are my go-to, whether they’re Pilates, yoga or strength training, as I find that I get a lot more out of it when there’s other people around and someone to really show me how to do it properly.
I make a remedy paste which is full of amazing things like turmeric, ginger, lemon, cinnamon and honey. It makes for a delicious golden latte, which I’ve been enjoying in the afternoons.
I’ve also been taking Superfeast Jing (an adaptogenic mushroom blend) to boost immunity and often pop a spoon of Superfeast Tremella (another adaptogenic mushroom used for hydration) into a warm drink or a smoothie. I also regularly take magnesium before bed and I love a warm bath with Epsom salts and essentials oils.
Switching off from social media and technology is important, and really beneficial for my mental health and wellbeing.
During ‘these times’, the news (whether from traditional sources or Instagram) can offer a fairly distorted or negative view of reality, when in truth there is a lot of beauty and positivity in the world and on our doorstep. Exercise always makes me feel physically and mentally stronger, and getting outside, spending time in the garden with the kids or cooking brings me lot of comfort and happiness. Doing something for someone else also feels good; I’m enjoying whipping up a batch of muffins or loaf of bread and dropping it off on a neighbour’s doorstep. The other day we opened the door and found we had a jar of preserved lemon on ours! These exchanges and random acts of kindness are good for the soul.”