This week, in our Friends of The Happy Pear series, we catch up with fitness enthusiast and model, Jess Redden. 24-year-old, Jess, is currently studying to be a pharmacist, and, in this interview, we chat with Jess about how she manages to balance life as a busy student, with her health and fitness routine. She also tells us about her love of baking, reading and yoga. We really enjoyed this interview and we hope you do too!

Do you have a morning routine?

I am most definitely a morning person! My usual morning routine would be waking up at 6am, to get ready for a 7am training session. I go to a boxing class three mornings a week, and on the alternate days, I do yoga or pilates. After that, I make breakfast and usually meet a friend for a coffee and a chinwag before getting ready for work. I work in a pharmacy and my shifts start at 12.30, which is so perfect for me, as I get to do all the things I love in the morning before work!

What is your favourite meal of the day?

Without a doubt, breakfast has to be the winner in my eyes – it’s something I look forward to when I go to sleep! Even at dinner, I’ll sometimes dream of breakfast foods! I love making my own smoothie bowls and pancakes. I usually have eggs and avocado, followed by what I like to call my ‘breakfast desserts’, which range from my banana ‘nice cream’, to some freshly made banana and pecan oat bread!

How do you keep fit?

Fitness is one of my great loves in life, it gives me so much energy and it clears my mind, allowing me to focus on my day. I think keeping fit and being active instills such a positive attitude in yourself. I am a creature of habit but I also love trying new things, so, although I have quite a fixed regimen with my day to day fitness routines, I love nothing more than trying out new exercise classes! On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I do an hour of boxing in the mornings. We have such an amazing group of positive and kind people, that, rather than going for the boxing itself, I often go just to see my friends! I also train with my personal trainer, Steffan. We focus on resistance training, which I love, as you can see and feel yourself getting stronger each week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I do yoga and pilates, and then on the weekends I usually go for big walks with my friends. Aside from the time I spend in the gym, or in a group class, I am always on the go and running around the place, so that also helps to keep me fit!

What is your favourite meal to cook?

I would consider myself more of a baker than a cook but I do love cooking as well. Before I go to sleep, I scroll on Pinterest looking for nice dinner recipes and ideas. I love whipping up something simple and tasty for dinner; usually steak, chicken or fish, with some nice salads and sweet potatoes. I love all meals and there’s very little I won’t eat but one of my favourites would be miso-glazed baked cod, roasted asparagus, butternut squash and baked corn in a cream cheese and parmesan sauce, or sweet potato casserole with a pecan crumble topping.

How do you look after your mental health?

No one should take their mental health for granted. I like to take the time each day to stop and think about how lucky I am, and how grateful I am, for all the positive and supportive people in my life. Although I lead a really busy life, I find that when I get stressed or anxious, there are small things I can do that restore my balanced mindset. Sometimes I ditch my car and cycle to where I am going; I always find this clears my mind. Baking is another one of my great passions and I find it really therapeutic. I almost always bake on a Sunday! I only recently discovered ‘kundalini’ yoga and it’s my favourite type of yoga at the moment. It is a form of restorative yoga and I can’t describe the kind of tranquility I experience after it. It is so important to slow down sometimes. We all have busy periods, but if you don’t take the time for yourself to just simply reflect and be in the moment, you will eventually burn out. One of my great escapisms is reading. My friend Sinead and I have our own little book club and she always has the best recommendations.

How important is sleep to you?

I don’t believe we can function properly without a sufficient amount of sleep each night. I definitely notice a difference in my productivity and energy levels after restless nights. I go through periods of bad sleeping patterns, which can be one of the most frustrating experiences. My friend, Thea, gifted me an electric diffuser, which I add essential oils into, and this really helps me relax and get a restful night. Sleep is so important, as it protects your mental health and physical health too.

Do you have any beauty tips to share with us?

I think that when you feel beautiful on the inside from good sleep, good company and positivity, it really does make you glow. No amount of foundation or concealer can do that for you! I try to drink lots of water to keep my skin hydrated and get as much sleep as I can. I don’t really wear makeup, so my beauty tip would probably be ‘less is more’. I think a minimalist look is so much more beautiful than a thick face of makeup. Also, eating plenty of vitamin C-rich foods, such as oranges, red peppers, broccoli and kale, can help to prevent and treat UV-induced sun damage, which evens out your skin tone.

Is eating healthily important to you and why?

I have always been a big foodie- I blame my mum! My mum always makes the most incredible home-cooked meals, she really is the best chef and baker I know! As a teenager, I ate what everyone my age ate. Our typical school-day would involve a sausage roll and chocolate muffin for our morning break, followed by a chicken fillet roll, a chocolate bar and crisps for lunch. We went through a phase in 6th year of having fast food nearly every day before study! Reflecting on it now, my diet has completely changed. I think there has been an explosion of health and fitness in Ireland and healthy food is so much more readily available than it ever was before. My taste buds have really changed, and now my favourite types of foods are fresh wholesome and organic. I try and stay away from processed foods. My energy levels, gut health, skin, and general mood, are all rooted in what I put into my body, so I keep it healthy – with the occasional treat thrown in!

It’s that time of year again; autumn is around the corner and many people are heading back to college. You are currently studying to be a pharmacist in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, so, how do you stay healthy while also being busy with college work and exams?

Between studying, exams, and making lectures on time, it can be hard to focus on your own personal mental and physical health. It’s important to pay close attention to your diet and to avoid unhealthy eating behaviours, such as binge eating and mindlessly snacking. I follow some easy tips throughout the college year to keep me on track; I vary my meals and pay attention to portion sizes. Eating breakfast is my number one top tip, I couldn’t make it through the day without eating a substantial breakfast each morning. Keeping healthy snacks on hand also stops you from stocking up on the vending machine goodies. I bring a lunchbox to college every day, filled with my own homemade snacks or other nutritional snacks, such as pumpkin seeds with dried cranberries & apricots. I always carry around a litre of water with me in college. Staying healthy whilst going back to college, for me, is all about routine.

Do you have any tips for staying healthy on a student budget?

Some students fall into the trap of eating their meals on the go and not preparing breakfasts, lunches or dinners. During my first degree, I ate all my lunches from the café in UCD. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as most colleges now have lots of healthy options, but eating out so often can bleed your bank account dry! From last year, I started making packed lunches and doing a weekly shop every Sunday; I found this saved me money throughout the year, as I wasn’t mindlessly spending money on food throughout the day.

Do you recommend meal prepping etc to stay organised or do you have any other tips?

When I go back to college next week, I will definitely be prepping my meals in advance. I love overnight oats and chia seed puddings for breakfast; you can eat them on the go and they are so quick and simple to make. For lunch, I usually have some form of protein with lots of veggies, as well as a bag dedicated to snacks!

Now for our quick fire round of questions! Where we grill our guests on a variety of topics to get to know them a little more!..

Our Happy Pear Happy Hummus or Sweet Beet Hummus?

Sweet Beet Hummus.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My parents.

What is your coffee order?

I’m an awkward one – I get a flat white with half coconut milk and half almond milk!

If you were a fruit or vegetable what would you be?

I would be a kumquat – mainly because it sounds funny!

Our Happy Pear Country Veg soup or Tomato Red Pepper and Basil Soup?

Tomato Red Pepper and Basil is my favourite soup.

Do you have a nickname?

Some of my friends call me ‘J’ or ‘JR’.

What is the one thing you can’t live without?

Is peanut butter a valid answer?! We can live without lots of things but we can’t live without hope and imagination – our imagination and thoughts create our future.

Where is your favourite place on earth?

Dubai – I’ve had some wonderful trips there.

What is your greatest fear?

My calculator running out of battery in an exam and not having access to one! I brought three calculators to my last chemistry exam, so I don’t think my fear will ever become a reality!

Our Happy Pear Tiffin Bar, Raw Energy Bar or Chia Mulberry Bar?

I could eat a barrel of the Tiffin bars, they are my favourite snack at the moment.

What are some words of wisdom that you follow?

Don’t look back and ask why. Look forward and ask why not?

What is your favourite way to enjoy our Nuts about Chocolate spread?

On some freshly baked banana and pecan bread!

What are you working on right now to better yourself?

My pharmacy degree.
Thanks, Jess! If you would like to keep up with what Jess is up to, catch her on Instagram @jessredden1 and on her Facebook page @jessreddenhealth. And if, like Jess, you want make your health a priority, then why not sign up to our online Happy Heart course, which is packed with lots of quick and delicious recipes, as well as tips for getting you into your best shape! Whether you want to loose weight, boost your energy levels, or simply learn more about a wholefood diet, then be sure to sign up for our next course, which begins on Monday 4th September, on