Health and Fitness

Chatting with Eloise Hall and Isobel Marshall, the girls behind local startup, TABOO


When I think about what I achieved in my first year out of school it was…well, it wasn’t a whole lot to be honest. Sure, I started uni, I changed jobs and I started paying a bit of rent, but I certainly did not have the courage (or vision for that matter) to start my own business! A lot more can be said for local Adelaide entrepreneurs, Eloise Hall and Isobel Marshall, who, fresh out of year 12, took a gap year to set up their business, TABOO.

TABOO is a social enterprise that sells and distributes sanitary products throughout Australia, with all of the profits going towards providing sustainable sanitary care to females across the world who don’t have access to such care. As TABOO prepares to launch their own brand of sanitary items (of which all profit will be donated to various sanitary care projects in developing countries), I decided to get in touch with these two lovely ladies to find out a little more about their journey so far, and their future aspirations for the business.


What was the initial vision for TABOO?

Our vision is to create a brand of feminine hygiene products that enable women to practically support each other. TABOO is a movement that inspires women to empower each other through the shared experience of menstruation.

How did you come up with the concept of TABOO and has the issue of menstrual health care in developing countries been something that has always concerned you?

We were actually inspired by Thank you Water, a company that has adopted the 100% social enterprise model. This concept involves taking advantage of something in high demand and using that market to generate profit for a related social cause. We fell in love with this model and started to look into different products that would fit this criteria. When we fell upon sanitary pads and tampons, we quickly became passionate about the issues and taboo surrounding female menstruation in both third-world and developed countries.


What was the process involved in starting TABOO? What steps did you have to take to make it happen in your year out of school?

Because we were both quite inexperienced in the area of business and entrepreneurship, we relied heavily on guidance from mentors and professionals who had the experience that we lacked. We invested our time into learning how to set up a business, researching and trying to absorb as much information as possible from these various mentors.

We knew that it would take a lot of time and work before we had any actual products to sell, so our first priority was to grow a following, a potential customer base, and a group of people who were as passionate and as invested in this area as we are. At the end of the year, we hosted our first crowdfunding campaign, which was designed to raise the funds for our first batch of sanitary products to sell in Australia. Fortunately, this campaign was successful and we were able to raise $56K! We were blown away by the generosity of so many people and so excited to start producing some sellable items. At the moment, we are finalising these products and working through the logistics of the legal structure and accounting details of a social enterprise.

What was the most difficult challenge that you had to overcome when starting TABOO?

26850655_740913696111447_7756390651018535166_oThe hardest part has probably been juggling and adjusting the responsibility that we have towards our followers, our financial supporters, our mentors and, of course, the girls that can’t go to school because of their period.

We are still very young at 19 and 20 years, and so a lot of what we are doing through TABOO is very new and foreign to us. Like anything, our time commitment and emotional investment in this project mean that we sometimes need to make sacrifices, but we are willing to do this because we are passionate about the cause and want to be successful in turning our vision into reality.

You are both traveling overseas at the moment, are you able to tell us a bit about what you are doing over there?

Of course! As we type this response we are currently traveling from a remote, Maasai village, back to our motel in Nairobi, Kenya. We have just spent the day with a local organisation called Simama Na Dada, who deliver sanitary pads to girls in the villages surrounding Nairobi and host mentorship programs to teach the girls about hygiene, the menstrual cycle, self-esteem, sex, and relationships.


These topics are extremely important to talk about in this context, because some of these girls are likely to be married off, become pregnant or else undergo genital mutilation. Especially at this time of the year, it is crucial to assure the girls of their worth, their potential, and to remind them that they don’t have to succumb to some of the cultural traditions that are harmful to them.

It has been such a learning experience for us to present to these girls. They are the ones who are experiencing all the injustices that we have spent the past year researching into, and it has been crazy to interact with them and understand the issues from their perspective.

We are traveling to India on the 13 July to visit a similar organisation that works in Delhi and Bhopal. We will visit their sanitary projects and learn from their workers as well as hear from the people who are benefiting from the programs.

The purpose of this trip was really to learn about the most effective ways to tackle the issues that menstruation creates in countries like Kenya and India. By doing this, we will, in turn, learn how to best utilise the profits from TABOO’s pad and tampon sales!


I don’t know about you, but I’m in awe of Eloise and Issy and what they have managed to achieve in the past year. Not only is the work they’re doing helping thousands of females in developing countries, but it’s also lifting the taboo that has shrouded the topic of menstruation and periods for far too long. If you’d like to stay in the loop, check out TABOO’s website here. You can also follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. If you’d like to make a donation, I have posted the account details for TABOO below.

TABOO Account details

Account Number: 304759489 

BSB: 015056


Health and Fitness

The Art of Meditation

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My first experience with meditation was waking up to the sound of my mum obediently chanting the phrase “Om Mash-i-Myah” in sync with a blunt male voice on a CD recording. My initial thought: Shit, I’ve done it. I have finally driven mum mad. For many years after that, I saw meditation as a strange, seemingly ritualistic, practice that only free-spirited hippies engaged in.

As I came to realise that this was certainly not the case, even then, the idea of meditation was far more appealing to me than actually taking the time out of my day to do it. It seemed that every time I sat down with the intention to meditate for ten minutes, I either fell asleep or became even more panicked by the idea that I was wasting precious time. Time which could be spent on other far more productive tasks like reading what Pitchfork had to say about Kanye’s latest album release (spoiler, they’re not fans). Not to mention, in an age where technology is omnipresent and virtually inescapable, the idea of ‘switching off’ for as little as ten minutes a day seemed to me like a near impossible feat.

But, here’s the good news. As it turns out, it’s OK to let your mind wander during meditation. In fact, it’s completely natural. I think a lot of us – certainly I did – have this idea that you’re not allowed to think at all while you meditate, and that your mind has to be completely blank. But that’s not quite the case. See, what I have learned is that it’s not about stopping thoughts, it’s about letting them pass by, accepting them as they come into your mind and then returning your focus. Simple as that.

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After realising that I have been completely misinformed about the art of meditation, I’ve decided that I want to give it another crack and make it part of my daily routine. Even if it’s for as little as five minutes each morning in-between waking up and doing my exercise, I feel like there are far too many benefits to give up on meditation completely. Not only does it significantly reduce stress levels(something I tend to feel much too often given that I am a 20-year-old uni student with hardly any real responsibilities), it can also increase focus, enhance creativity and improve general happiness and well-being.

Now, I’m not at all expecting that I’ll be ‘born again’ through meditation or that it’s going to lead me on an epic journey to self-discovery. But, I am hoping to gain a greater level of self-awareness and clarity of thought. The reason I am doing this is not to become a changed person, but to be able to reflect deeply on the issues that I would otherwise run from, and to be able to address the pent-up feelings or emotions that I probably don’t even realise I have. I know that it won’t be easy, and it’s going to take a hell of a lot of practice before it begins to come naturally to me. But, eventually it will, and hopefully, I’ll be a better person for it.

If you’re looking at giving it a try for yourself, here are a few useful apps that I would recommend:

  1. Headspace
  2. The Mindfulness App
  3. The MINDBODY App
  4. Smiling Mind
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Health and Fitness

The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

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Photo by Samuel Silitonga on

Perhaps the thought of exercise sends you into a state of anxiety, but how about that feeling you get once you’ve mustered up the energy to slip on some sneakers and head out the door? My guess is that you feel pretty damn happy with yourself. Maybe you even feel a little more energised than before! Well, that’s because exercise has some pretty remarkable benefits for our mental health.

Now, I’m all for a day of doing absolutely nothing every once in a while, but if I spend too much time lazing about streaming the entire six seasons of Gossip Girl on Netflix, not only do I get a severe case of ‘bot rot’ but my mental state can suffer as well.

Exercise has the ability to stimulate your ‘happy chemicals’, also known as endorphins. You’ve probably heard of them before and that’s because these little hormones are what give us those euphoric highs that we experience when we’re jumping out of aeroplanes, crossing the 100m finish line and, dare I say it, having sex. In fact, there is strong evidence to suggest that physical activity is an effective form of treatment for depression and anxiety. Considering that most medication can tend to make sufferers feel even worse, the prospect of exercise acting as a form of therapy is an exciting one.

For me personally, exercise is a huge stress reliever. Whenever I am feeling upset, frustrated or uptight, there is honestly no better feeling than pounding some pavement for 20 minutes. As well as stimulating the release of endorphins, physical activity can trigger a release of serotonin, which is another feel-good chemical. So, when I get home from my run and I’m red-faced and covered in sweat, I don’t feel anxious anymore. Instead, I feel like I have accomplished something. I feel positive. I feel motivated.

So, the next time you’re feeling a little dejected or stressed out, don’t flop into bed and let it eat away at you, make it go away! After all, healthy body, healthy mind.


Health and Fitness

The benefits of jumping rope daily

It’s 6 am in the morning and your alarm goes off. You let out a groan and roll to the other side of your bed, you can’t even be bothered reaching for your phone to shut the damn thing up. You lay there for a while, contemplating whether it’s worth leaving the confines of your cozy sanctum. It’s cold outside, your body aches and you’re eyelids feel like they’ve got sinkers hooked through them. Twenty minutes pass and you’re still lying there overthinking the next two hours of your life. You may as well just get up now. You grab your rope and head outside into the crisp morning air. It’s still dark and the street is dead quiet. You start to jump. You focus on your breathing and listen intently to the whir of the rope as it cuts through the air. A steady beat forms as your feet hit the ground. You’ve found your rhythm.


I have always had a passion for fitness, but if someone had told me a year ago that I’d be jumping rope every day I would have flat-out laughed in their face. See, I was of the opinion that skipping was merely a childhood past-time that I had abandoned when I left primary school. But that changed when I came across a YouTube clip of two fully grown men jumping rope and having the time of their lives while doing so.

Brandon Epstein and Dan Witmer are the epitome of easy-going. They call themselves the ‘Jump Rope Dudes’ and dudes they are indeed. But their laid-back ethos does not take away from the fact that they are two extremely determined and hardworking individuals, who have built a business from the ground up in order to help people live healthier, happier lives. So, after flicking through a few of their videos (which you can access here), I decided to dig out my old plastic rope and give her a twirl.


I was pretty uncoordinated to start off with, after all, I hadn’t jumped rope for about 10 years. But eventually, I stopped getting myself tangled and managed to find my rhythm. I have now been jumping rope for anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes daily for the past two months, and I have never felt more invigorated. Below are just a few of the benefits that are associated with skipping and are some of the reasons why I plan to continue incorporating it into my daily routine.

  1. It’s super efficient and allows you to burn more calories in a shorter period of time compared to most other forms of exercise. In fact, studies have shown that when performed at a high intensity, skipping for 30 minutes can burn up to 700 calories!
  2. You can jump rope anywhere, all you need is a flat surface, some good quality sneakers and, a rope.
  3. When using weighted ropes (such as 1/4LB, 1/2LB, 1LB, or 2LB), you are utilising a variety of different muscles from the shoulders down. This helps to maintain muscle mass and condition the body. Additionally, heavier ropes offer more resistance, which helps to burn more fat in less time.
  4. Despite what you may think, jumping rope has a lower risk of injury when done correctly. This is because the impact goes through the ball of your foot rather than the heel, allowing for the calf muscles to absorb the impact rather than your poor poor knees.
  5. Because you’re making rapid and explosive movements which require coordination, skipping allows you to increase speed, agility and mental alertness.
  6. Skipping builds up your endurance, especially when done for long periods of time.
  7. By jumping rope for anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes a day you are drastically improving your cardiovascular endurance.
  8. It’s inexpensive(well, depending on how much you’re willing to lash out on a rope). If you are thinking of incorporating skipping into your workout program, I would invest in a good quality, durable rope. Try and go for something that is easy to adjust and that uses ball bearings to connect the rope and the handle, as these tend to last longer. I personally have invested in two ropes from Crossrope, which are a little steep, but they do make a difference and the weighted ropes provide for a more intense workout!
  9. And last but not least, it’s fun!

So, there you have it. I am a firm advocate for skipping and I hope this article has encouraged you to try it for yourself. It may not be for everyone, but for some, it will have you buzzing for the rest of the day.