Having a voice
I’ve been a model since I was 15 and I realised that being a model and the rise of social media, meant that I had a voice. So I was able to raise awareness and tell people about the things I was really passionate about. And hope that would inspire them to do good and to make changes.
My interests are the environment and in health. I didn’t know if it would work but I was like, “well, I really like doing these things and that’s what I’m going to talk about”. Part of that is living a healthy lifestyle and if you’re doing that it already brings us closer to nature. If you’re caring for yourself and your health, your mental health and wellbeing, then you’re in a positive place to appreciate things around you, and that can also lead you to appreciate things like the environment and nature, and change your lifestyle to things that are good for you and good for the planet because those things go hand in hand.
Starting Models of Compassion
I’ve been volunteering since I was 15 with different organisations, just wherever I could get involved. Then I moved to Los Angeles and again I was seeking out organisations to work with, and I wanted to get others involved with me. So I thought, why not create an organisation that works kind of like a modelling agency but instead of sending people to modelling jobs, I could co-ordinate them to volunteer?
So I started my own organisation which is called Models of Compassion and the idea here was to invite people to be role models. They can volunteer if they have the ability to and if not, they can do this crazy thing called social media (laughs) where they use it as a tool to raise awareness and educate others. I team up with a different organisation every month and try to get as many people who express interest to be a part of that organisation. I usually work with organisations that are primarily concerned with the environment, animals and children.
Growing the network
At Christmas I’ll usually organise a group of people to go to an orphanage and bring supplies for the holiday season, mainly in Mexico and Indonesia. In Australia and the US and Bali I’ll organise lots of beach cleanups and then I’m also trying to get involved at higher levels where I can educate myself to make an impact on a bigger scale. So that led me to a conference in Mexico with State and Federal leaders, and also a fashion revolution conference in LA, about how much the fashion industry has affected the environment. And that led me to Indonesia again where there was an annual global conference called Our Oceans which brought together global leaders to talk about what to do about the plastic problem in the oceans.
I’m also involved with an organisation called Parley I've visited different schools in Indonesia and talked to them about the issue of plastics in the ocean and took the children to the beach for a big cleanup.
I became a vegetarian when I was 10 because I loved animals. I think it’s really important to listen to your body and focus on what you put inside your body. I eat local, seasonal and fresh plant based foods. It’s the way I’m happiest and healthiest. I think you get the most nutrition from foods that are seasonal and I like supporting local farmers, buying foods from the farmer’s market because it hasn’t been stored for a long time and it’s fresh and full of nutrition. So the fresher our food is, and the more seasonal, the higher in nutrients.
No matter where I am in the world, that’s how I eat and the more you do it, the more it becomes a habit. Some people think it sounds hard and scary but once it becomes completely normal to seek out a farmer’s market or local store and buy produce and make food - once that becomes part of your routine it’s not hard at all.
I never buy packaged or processed food, it’s not part of my routine and it’s just not normal for me to buy something that’s been made with chemicals to make it last longer and put into a plastic packet.
A typical day of eating looks like
I usually get up and make a big lemon water and then probably a smoothie. What’s in it changes depending on where I am. If I’m in Indonesia where I can get really amazing papaya and mango and tropical fruit, that will go in. If I’m in Australia bananas grow really well here so I’ll use those, but then I’ll always add extra stuff like cacao, or chia seeds or maca - whatever’s on rotation. Something to boost it.
Usually I have a really fresh salad for lunch with seasonal vegies, legumes are great to put in there like chickpeas or lentils. Lots of leafy greens, lots of herbs to flavour it. I’ll usually have nuts or fruit as a snack in the afternoon.
For dinner I like to cook so roast sweet potato or brown rice and veggies through that. Ancient grains like buckwheat are really nice. I like making a whole bowl and adding roast veg, fresh veg, sauerkraut is really good for you and has vitamin b12 so a bit of that, and just really mix it up. Again it’s about whatever produce I can get, roasting/sauteeing them and mixing them with legumes or a grain to make it a whole meal. It’s completely nutritionally sound.
I like to eat natural sugar so dried fruit, dates are really sweet they taste like caramel and dried figs. I’m not afraid of sugar at all, I just like to eat unrefined, non-processed sugars. Coconut sugar is good, coconut nectar, maple syrup - all of those things are sugar, they’re just natural sugar and I think they’re fine. I'll do yummy sweet desserts with chia or mix them with cacao butter and make chocolate. I do have a sweet tooth.
I think working out’s really important because you get your entire central nervous system going and it also boosts your whole mood. It’s so important to do it even when you’re travelling, just because you’re away and you don’t have your favourite studio around the corner doesn't mean you should miss it. I’ll look up studios in the area and go and do yoga or pilates class or a boxing class. Or I’ll walk which is always good anyway when you’re in a new city and you can see everything. Or I’ll find a park or a big open space or even in my room and do a little workout at home.
I mix it up - whatever I feel like that day. If I’m really tired and I feel like resting then I’ll rest, and if I feel like I want to do a gentle yoga or a vinyasa flow and then other days you want to punch a boxing bag. I just listen to my body and do what I feel like.
I really get into nature. Going for a walk or a hike or the beach, being near the ocean is really healing. Anytime in nature is good for the mind and soul and maybe that's not accessible for everyone, maybe they don’t live near a national forest! But you can always find a park. Find a spot in the shade under a tree and take time to recharge and take note of the little things. I think a lot of the time we get caught up in our head with things that seem like really big problems and I think that nature really grounds us and brings us back to realising that everything is working around us and we’re all a part of a bigger picture. That helps centre me.
[Ed's note: it's actually been proven that spending time in nature repairs human brain cells, and this is actually a tool that premium athletes use]
I don’t use any chemcals, they’re not made for us. We’re from nature and synthetic chemicals are really just making us become reliant on them to keep using them. Once you switch over, there’s a bit of an in between phase where your body is getting used to it but at the end of the day the absolute best things for us come from nature. And so everything I use is natural and has no chemicals. I wash my face with a really mild cleanser, I change products all the time, it really depends on what is available in that country. I like Ere Perez, I like the Body Shop, they have good natural products and a good backstory to what they do, I also look at the packaging, so if it comes in a glass jar that’s a good thing.
I use a face oil before bed that really hydrates my skin. I make my own face mist with rosewater or essential oils in a can and I refill it and mist all day. In terms of cosmetics I usually have a lot of makeup on my face for work so in my downtime I try not to have lots on my skin. If I’m super tired I’ll use an RMS concealer under my eyes. And I brush my brows - so important - I do it with coconut oil, you don’t have to buy brow gel.
I have a bamboo reusuable cutlery kit that I take everywhere with me, I whip it out of my backpack and people are like, ‘what’s that?’ and I’m like, ‘ that’s my reuseable bamboo cutlery and I never have to use plastic cutlery ever!’
And it’s the same with work. A lot of the time on modelling jobs they’ll bring in food packaged in plastic and little plastic water bottles for everyone and I’ll bring in my prepacked food in a container and my reusable water bottle, I’ll have a mug to make tea in - I like to lead by example, but literally, that’s how I live my life and so its normal for me and it’s fun when people ask me questions about it. And then I’ll share it on social because that’s documenting my life and that’s how I live it. I usually have a big canvas bag and take it everywhere with me, with all my lunch and stuff in it and then if I need to buy groceries on the way home they’ll fit in there too.
It would have to be a positive mindset. I feel like I always see the glass as half full and it makes a big difference to every day. I’m always happy and it changes your outlook on things. I did a challenge on social media once because it takes 30 days to make a habit. So every day for 30 days, for example, I’m going to tell a friend one thing that makes me happy. So every morning you say to your friend, today I’m really happy for sunshine or this morning I’m really happy for chocolate. Whatever it is, you start your day with a happy thought. You’re setting your mind up for a positive day. And it was a super successful challenge and I got lots of people writing in thanking me saying how their mindset was more positive.
All pics from @nataschaelisa Instagram