How I manage my health: Justine Cullen

How I manage my health: Justine Cullen


Each week on Women’s Health news, we’re learning how different women manage their health alongside their careers and other work.

This week, meet Justine Cullen, Editor-in-Chief of JONES Magazine, who has learnt to embrace her handy NordicTrack stationery bike as her most prominent form of exercise during this lockdown.

Justine was a guest on the third season of our Women’s Agenda podcast series, The Leadership Lessons. Her book Semi-Gloss is out now.

Most mornings I…

Wake up with the birds. Our bedroom is high and very open and it feels a bit like sleeping in a treehouse. In the mornings the sun pours in which I know many people would absolutely hate, but to me it feels like a much healthier way to wake up than an alarm (or my two year old screaming out my name, which usually happens about five minutes later). Then I have a cup of green tea and attempt to beat my husband in a quick game of backgammon before we start the crazy of the day. My first meal is usually this muesli I make that I’ve become addicted to with goji berries, coconut flakes, dried blueberries, oats, chia seeds, pepitas, sunflower seeds, almonds and other good stuff. I have that with plain Greek yoghurt and some Manuka honey at about 11am.  I’m not really a breakfast person. I can’t always hold out til then but if I can and stick to an 16:8 intermittent fasting routine my body definitely feels better for it.

My exercise routine is…

I missed out on that gene that makes people enjoy exercise. Outside of an intense Pilates stage in the early noughts and a running phase when I used to travel a lot (early morning runs were always a different lens on a city and manage jet lag), I would generally rather do literally anything else. But at the beginning of COVID and working from home we bought a NordicTrack stationery bike and while I half expected it to be a handy place to hang my clothes, I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve embraced it. I’m happy to jump on there and do a quick half an hour HIIT cycling class with one of the iFit trainers between meetings – a fast cadence helps with any work frustrations too which is handy. I never do more than half an hour though because I just get too bored, plus I’m a big fan of the ‘minimum effective dose’ theory of exercise – the smallest dose required to get the desired outcome. For that reason I’m also a big fan of a set of 75 kettle bell swings. It only takes a couple of minutes and works out your whole body. I used to keep one under my desk at work and would whip through a few before the rest of the team arrived in the morning. You don’t even need to wear activewear for it (win). 

My favourite workout is…

Either a good long walk with my husband – we have some great steps and hikes around where I live on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and lots of good real estate watching, which is good for making me forget I’m exercising – and Yoga with Adrienne. There are so few online yoga instructors who aren’t incredibly annoying. In fact, I think she may be the only one. I sometimes wish her classes were a bit harder but the trick is to favourite the ones you really love so you can go back to them over and again. Any time I find myself in a too lazy/too busy phase I start doing one of her 30 Days of Yoga series and it immediately clears my head and gets me into a routine again. It blows my mind that it’s all free, what a gift she’s given the world and what an incredible crutch she’s been for her millions of subscribers throughout this crazy time we’re living through. 

I find balance in…

Setting my own boundaries and knowing when to say no. I’m getting better at it as I age. I also have a little portable infra red sauna and when I’m feeling out of whack a quick 30-45 minutes in there with a book is an excellent band-aid for whatever has me in a flurry. 

On health, I encourage women to…

I would never dream of telling another woman what to do with her own body. But if I did I think it would be very boring, moderate advice. Eat what you want when you really want it but the rest of the time make health-ish choices. Don’t put too much processed crap in your body. Drink a bit less, move a bit more and go to bed a bit earlier than you think you want to. Have sex. Meditate. Listen to your body and your spirit, especially when it’s telling you that it’s tired. Check your boobs. Make time to be selfish and non-productive. Don’t worry about ageing. Exercise your brain as well as your body. It all helps. 

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