Jessica Morris was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 11. For some, a diagnosis of this nature would halt the momentum of an active life but for Jessica, it was the catalyst for growth and just the beginning of Jessica Morris Health – a wellness brand that has been featured on Rogers TV, Proud FM, and Healthy Planet commercials.
Since she quit a full-time job with Vega in 2015, Jessica has dedicated her life to helping others regain theirs as a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor Specialist and Indoor Cycling Instructor. how does this Unstay so positive in times of adversity? Does she ever have a cheat and does it look like mine? And how does she prevent herself from letting it all go during the holidays?
But how does this University of Toronto Graduate stay so positive in times of adversity? Does she ever have a cheat day? With the holiday season upon us, how does she prevent herself from letting it all go at carby parties?
I caught up with her for those answers and more for this month’s edition of #Truboss!
BT: I’m going to come right out and say it. When I think body goals, I think Jessica Morris. Not just because you have a healthy appearance but it’s also because you’ve overcome adversity and made great strides to be in the condition that you are today. Beyond admirable.
JM: First off, thank you for such a sweet introduction, I am officially blushing as I type this. My story is quite unique but not uncommon. At the age of 11, I was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes. I had no idea what that meant. All I remember is my family doctor telling my mom and me that I had type 1 diabetes and watching my mom’s eyes water up quickly made me realize that I was diagnosed with something that couldn’t be solved simply by taking a pill. Rather, I learned that it was a life-long disease that was passed down genetically. I was told that I would have to take numerous needles on a daily basis, and would have to watch what I ate, and how I exercised. From that moment on, I knew my life would drastically change, and that I had a lot of learning to do.
I was set up with numerous doctors and dieticians who had put me on a “Canadian Food Guide” meal plan which consisted heavily of bread, pasta, milk, and meats. I even remember my dietician telling me that if my blood sugar dropped to a low number, that I should squeeze a tube of icing sugar into my mouth, to help it rise quickly…shocking, I know! I thought to myself: there must be a better, healthier way.
After all the books I read and research I did, I made the decision to take my health into my own hands, found the benefits of eating a whole food, plant-based diet, and I cut out all sugar, milk, and gluten from my diet. It kept me feeling energetic, gave me clear skin and helped me to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and even take less insulin.
Fast forward through a decade or so, I began to realize just how critical nutrition was to not only my body, but those around me. I became fascinated with nutrition and exercise and its potential to better one’s health and ultimately happiness.
BT: Most of us can let “facts” and our mind shape our perception of what is and isn’t possible . You only saw the possibilities and now you’ve created a brand and business that helps people feel and look their best! How were you able to stay so positive when diagnosed at such a young age?
JM: I’m not going to sit here and tell you that since day one, everything was a breeze and that I never had any struggles growing up, but I will say that I had to make the decision to make my health my number one priority at a young age, which allowed me to mature quickly.
There were (and are) days where I wake up feeling sorry for myself and think “why me”, but then I quickly remind myself of how lucky I truly am: I can control my disease with medication and a healthy lifestyle. I once read a quote at an early age that always stuck with me, and that I remind myself of when I am feeling helpless or hopeless. The quote says, “When something bad happens you have three choices. You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.” -Unknown
What struck me about this quote was the idea of “choosing” my attitude every single day. I have decided to allow the fact of having diabetes strengthen me instead of destroying or defining me.
BT: There must be days where you don’t feel like doing that extra squat. How do you overcome those mental hurdles when you just don’t feel like putting on your running shoes?
JM: I can promise you that there are days where I don’t feel like doing that extra squat or am really feeling ‘out of it’. If that’s the case, I will not push myself to the point of training just for the sake of training, and I will rest instead. It is important to be able to decipher between knowing when to let your body rest, and when to push yourself because you know you’re making excuses. For the days where I ‘just don’t feel like training’ and I know that I should, the first thing I do is start playing my favorite playlist and throw my workout clothing on. Once my music and gym gear are on I automatically feel the need to move—so I head straight to the gym.BT: What’s one song on your workout list that gets you fired up every time?
BT: What’s one song on your workout list that gets you fired up every time?
JM: I wish I could choose a favourite but I have way too many. I can definitely say that the hip-hop genre of music is my favourite to workout to. Drake, 50 Cent, The Game, Tory Lanez, Ty Dolla $ign and some British rappers like Stormzy and Giggs get me going every single time!
BT: We all lead busy lives and it’s easy to use “time” as an excuse for not getting into the gym. What can we do every single day to get our heart pumping and blood flowing no matter what our schedules look like?
JM: That is a very common excuse, but like I said, it is an excuse. People need to prioritize their health, and simply make time. Whether that means setting their alarm clock 30-45 minutes earlier, to get in a sweat before they go to work—or even making an effort to take the stairs, walk or go to the gym on their lunch break, or even get a standing desk at work. Every step and movement count. If you don’t make time, you won’t achieve your goals, so start planning!
BT: You Instagram a lot of tasty looking eats! What’s your go-to homemade meal for one?
JM: Funnily enough—anything that is quick and healthy is my go-to meal. I make a lot of stir-frys, salads, bowls and sushi. As long as my meal is colourful, nutrient-packed, delicious and easy to make—I’m a happy girl. It just goes to show, there is no excuse to eat poorly when you can create a fast, easy and delicious meal for yourself at home. I post a lot of recipes on my website if you’re interested in seeing more!
BT: You must have a guilty pleasure/cheat day from time to time. What does a cheat day look like for you?
JM: To be honest with you, I truly enjoy eating healthily, and most of my friends laugh at me when I confess my ‘cheat meal’ to them: sweet potato fries from Fresh or vegan ice cream would be at the top of the list.
BT: The holiday season is upon us and we are going to be inundated with parties and get-togethers with carb heavy meals. How do you suggest we combat those holiday heavy meals so that we aren’t put in the position to GO HARD in January to rid the extra weight and cholesterol?
JM: That is a great question, and I receive it a lot. My recommendation for anyone who wants to avoid holiday weight gain are as follows:
1. Always eat a small protein and fibre-rich snack before heading to a party i.e. handful of mixed nuts, some lean meat, a protein shake, or even some veggies and hummus.
2. Fill up on veggies when you first arrive at the party
3. Limit your alcohol intake: drink a glass of water (or two) between each alcoholic drink, or better yet, be the designated driver.
4. Choose healthy options and if there are none, bring your own. If you are on a special diet or don’t know what will be at the party you’re going to, bring your own healthy dish. This way you are guaranteed to have a healthy option at the party.
5. Allow yourself a treat. If you can maintain the first 4 steps, allow yourself a little treat at the end of the night, as long as you know you won’t regret that treat (i.e. it won’t leave you feeling bloated or gassy).
Just remember, you are the only one who can control what goes into your mouth. Don’t feel pressured to consume anything you don’t want to—just because everyone else is!
BT: What kind of advice can you offer aspiring entrepreneurs who are interested in launching their own business for the first time?
JM: Be yourself, be honest and build relationships. At the end of the day, you can have hundreds of certifications and diplomas, but if you have no solid relationships or are not an honest person, you will get nowhere. If you have good intentions, work hard and are passionate about what you do, people will see that and be drawn to you, and what you have to offer.