Q+A W/ FOUNDER, Stephanie Elswood
Taylor Swift famously said, “I don’t know about you but I’m feeling 22.” If feeling 22 means being as accomplished as Stephanie Elswood, we will (gladly) take it. Stephanie started her Instagram @healthychefsteph as part of her eating disorder recovery. Her profile now has over 200K followers and has turned into a community for sharing recipes, fitness routines, envy-inducing travel pics, and spreading awareness for her non-profit, Stay Sassy.
Steph was vegetarian for many years before deciding to take the plant-based plunge with the help of her BFF, Zanna. She is a huge advocate for Veganuary (check out our Q+A w/ the non-profit here) and emphasizes the health + environmental benefits of leading a completely plant-based lifestyle!
by CHLOE.: Hi Steph! Thanks so much for chatting with us. Please introduce yourself.
Steph: Hey! My name is Stephanie Elswood and I run the Instagram @healthychefsteph. I started it in the hope to help me overcome an eating disorder. I used my page to share my recipes and recovery journey to make myself accountable! Fast forward three years and it’s my full time business! I now run a charity called, Stay Sassy and we have an events series where I have combined my love for dancing and my passion to increase female body confidence. It is a 3 hour event I teach the ladies how to walk in high heels, followed by a dance routine and then we have a workshop afterwards educating them how to love themselves a little more and feel comfortable in their own skin.
bC: Talk to us about your plant-based journey. What inspired you to adopt a vegan lifestyle?
SE: My best friend Zanna! She had been vegetarian for a while and had just made the transition to veganism. We went away for a long weekend and I started asking questions about why she started. The more I asked, the more I wanted to know. The more I knew, the more I wanted to research! With the influence of Zanna, I educated myself about the effects on the environment, the cruelty to animals and the health benefits!
bC: What encouraging words or advice to you have for people starting the Veganuary challenge?
SE: Vegan food can be delicious and so easy to prepare! You don’t have to live off of leaves and matcha. When cooked correctly, plants have such amazing flavour and can leave you just as satisfied as meat.
bC: Tell us about how your business started!? Why did you decide to dedicate your life to wellness and health?
SE: I was struggling with bulimia whilst attending a full time dance college. My health plummeted. I had no energy, no personality, I was extremely underweight, my skin was grey and my hair started falling out. I was missing classes due to panic attacks, I had no confidence and new I had to make a change. I went into full time therapy and they helped me discover that food was not the enemy. I fell in love with cooking again and wanted to become the healthiest version of myself. Now, I am so proud of myself and happy to have a balanced relationship with food and exercise that I want to inspire and encourage other people to do the same. I would never want anyone to ever go what I went through.
Posting consistently and regularly has managed to grow my followers to over 200,000. It has been a long and gradual process! I now post a mixture of food, fitness videos, travel and lifestyle content.
Stay Sassy is probably my biggest achievement to date. I picked the smallest venue I could find as I was terrified that no one would come! I sold out the 25 places in 15 minutes. It was a day that I’ll put together promo videos and every event has grown each time! I still can’t get over the fact that we always manage to sell out. Each event gets bigger, the girls get more confident and I have the opportunity to meet so many incredible women. We now have such a close community where we all feel safe around each other.
bC.: As a dancer, talk to us about your personal training style? What does a typical workout look like for you?
SE: My training style varies! I mix it up so much. I love HIIT circuits and combining exercises to make it feel like a dance routine but also love lifting heavy weights!
My weighted workouts usually consist of supersets combining two exercises without rest in between. I enjoy working at a rep range between 8-12 and usually do 3-4 sets. For example: Bulgarian Split squats (8 reps each side) into walking lunges (10 reps each leg).
I then love to finish with a sweaty finisher. My favourite one at the moment is: burn 10 calories on the rowing machine then perform 10 burpees. I do this 8-10 times and try to complete it in the fastest time possible.
bC: In January you are releasing your first ever e-book, congrats! What can we look forward to finding in the book?
SE: Thank you so much! I’m so excited for everyone to see it! I just want to show people that with a few simple steps and limited ingredients, you can create a delicious and filling meal! I use items that you can find in any supermarket and show you that it can be affordable to be vegan!
bC: You are so young, and already have an incredible career! Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
SE: Thank you so much! In the next 5-10 years, I would love to have taken Stay Sassy on tour. A huge dream of mine is to open a Stay Sassy studio with dance classes, mental health workshops and a safe place for women to hang out and have coffee.
The ultimate dream is to write a curriculum for young children on how to control their internal monologue. I want to be able to help educate them and give them the skills needed to boost their own confidence, to know that they have the ability to shift their mindset to a positive one and that self belief and hard work can help to achieve anything they set their minds to.
Favorite place you’ve ever visited? THATS SO HARD!!! Maldives, Australia or Slovenia.
Juice or Smoothie? Juice.
Favorite app? Clue (tells you about your periods lol I love it).
Favorite piece of clothing you own? My Nan’s Jumper.
Spirit animal? Cam from Modern Family.
Best thing to happen to you today? I got tickets to see Ariana Grande!
How do you de-stress? I cry haha and then I speak to my Mum or boyfriend.
Where were you born? In Kent.
Watcha reading? The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.