The Downtime Agenda

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  • Words — Samantha Dick
  • Images — Marnie Hawson

Jacqueline Alwill is a highly sought-after nutritionist, personal trainer, whole foods cook and mother. When she's not improving the health and wellbeing of others, she's taking time to look after herself.

Jacqueline Alwill, health nut.

Talk us through a typical day —

I always struggle with this question, because I have no one day that is the same as the next. There are some non-negotiables in my days, including meditation in the morning, cuddles, and a yummy brekky with my son Jet. I enjoy movement through walking, yoga, running or working out in the gym. I crave some seriously good nourishment and cuddles at the end of the day. Within that time, I work and factor in my downtime too.

How important is downtime to you?

Imperative! But I’ve only just recently figured out how to give it to myself. Previously, I felt like if I had a bit of downtime I would be missing out on opportunities. However, with experience and learning, I soon realised just how valuable taking time out is. It gives me greater clarity and focus when it’s time to switch on again.

What do you do to unwind?

Reading is one of my favourite ways and I fell in love with yoga last year. Once upon a time, I used to cook to unwind. These days, whilst I still absolutely love being in the kitchen and creating,  I think it’s better to step away from it a little. It is easy to lapse into work mode instead of switching off.

Where are you when having downtime?

Power Living Yoga at Bondi Beach, then literally on the beach or very close. Whether I’m on the coastal walk or up on the Northern beaches, you’ll find me by the sea.

You have a thriving business and a beautiful son Jet, how do you make time for yourself?

Meditation was a huge step and I am so grateful to have it in my life. Exercise is also incredibly important. It is my ‘moving meditation’ and fuels my body with good energy. I make these things a priority in the day, as life is just better when I do. Fortunately, now that Jet is at an age where we can communicate really well with each other, he understands when I need to have some time out. It could be something as simple as a nap. He understands that and we do so together (with plenty of cuddles too).

Are there consequences for you in not getting enough downtime?

Yep. It’s called crash and burn. Without downtime, it’s easy to fall into the routine of keeping on working and then I’m wired. And wired isn’t a good thing for me (or anyone really!), so the inevitable happens, which is burning out.

Where is your best vacation spot for Downtime?

We head up to Avalon fairly frequently as our family is there and I grew up just on the beach next door, Bilgola. It’s easy to chill out when it feels like a home away from home. I’ve travelled a fair bit on my own and still feel Bingin, on the Uluwatu Cliffs of Bali is one of the ultimate places to really tune out from life and be at peace.

Any food recommendations for stress reduction?

Whole foods are the way to go although that’s very broad! Stress produces an inflammatory response in the body so I focus on foods to reduce inflammation such as nourishing fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds, salmon and trout), fermented foods (kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi), colourful vegetables and fruits that are rich in antioxidants (sweet potato, capsicum, broccoli, kale, carrots, berries, camu and cacao). My one other little trick which most people just love is to find your comfort food and transform it into one filled with good nutrition. Because those foods make you feel good when you eat them and less stressed right? For me it’s things like bread and pasta, so my solutions have been a delicious Buckwheat Seed Bread and Raw Chocolate for a sweet treat.

What are you reading right now?

Ha! Oh this is a good one. So recently I was in at my publisher’s (Murdoch Books) and we were talking about books on our bedside. I mentioned that mine were all kind of health related books so they popped a copy of Maestra in my hands – it’s an erotic thriller. Kind of different to the norm! I mix it up reading Maestra some nights and Rising Strong (Brene Brown) on others – just depending on how I feel I guess!

Tell us a bit about what’s on your downtime playlist.

Actually I don’t have one at the moment. If I’m out and about I try to disconnect from technology more and more these days. And at home, if it’s Jet and I he kind of chooses the tunes – which is actually pretty great. Vanilla Ice has been on repeat a fair bit of late.

What’s your favourite movie of all time?

The Big Blue. It’s an oldie, about deep sea diving. The cinematography is insane.

Your ideal Sunday in 3 words.

Beach, food, cuddles.

Who is your downtime partner in crime?

My son, Jet. He is my magic.