Chatting with Maxine Schuiling of Sugar Free Sundays

Maxine Schuiling is an evidence-based wellness blogger, the owner of Macro Mixes (an online store that sells high protein, sugar and gluten-free baking premixes and instant porridges), and the host of a health podcast Maxichats. Being a former UCT student, Maxine can relate to the struggle of trying to maintain a balance between studying, having a social life and focusing on your health/wellbeing. We sat down and had a chat with her hoping to gain some insight on her experiences:

 

1. What made you decide to pursue starting your own business, since you are pursuing a career path that is quite different to what you studied (BSc in Chemistry and Biochemistry)?

Maxine: I always knew that I wanted to work for myself. I see it as putting in the hours to work on my own dreams and projects as opposed to somebody else’s. I am aware of how hard people work in their twenties so I wanted to work on something fulfilling during this time.

I wasn’t passionate about chemistry and biochemistry. I only did a focus in chemistry in second year because my best friend did it. However, it was a good choice because it is a universal course while being interesting and not dated. To be honest, the final year was really tough because it was a lot of hard work. I also didn’t get to socialize as often as I wanted to (and I am an extrovert) because the course was time-consuming. However, studying taught me to work hard and persevere.

 

2. How, when and why did you start Sugar Free Sundays? Did you anticipate its success?

Maxine: I started the Sugar Free Sundays blog in my third year to share my passion for baking, health and wellness, and to share my experiences of trying to find a balance between studying and other aspects of my life. Because I studied biochemistry, I also had background knowledge in how the metabolism works. During my studies, people would ask me if they could purchase brownies from me. This was limiting because it’s time consuming and I would be making it from home. I also couldn’t reach a large audience. When I started selling the Macro Mixes premixes people were able to make it for themselves conveniently, and therefore it wasn’t limiting. I still wouldn’t categorize my blog as a success. I just see it as a way of sharing my experiences doing things that I’m passionate about and how I try to find a work/life balance. I also always enjoyed writing. At one point I even did travel and fashion blogging!

 

3. How do you balance having a business (Macro Mixes), being an evidence-based wellness blogger (Sugar Free Sundays) and having a podcast (Maxichats)?

Maxine: Coffee (laughs). The way I see it is that nothing is going to happen for me if I don’t make it happen! It is a challenge, but when you are truly passionate about something you always make the time for it. I keep a balance by prioritizing my time well, working smart, setting realistic deadlines for myself and enjoying the process! It’s important to have compassion for yourself and not aim for perfection. I have learned to extend timelines for things that I truly enjoy doing so that I can actually enjoy the process more without putting too much pressure on myself to just get things done.

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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4. Do you ever feel like being on social media is overwhelming as a full-time wellness blogger? If so, do you feel like you sometimes cannot keep up with constantly updating, or need to take social media breaks?

Maxine: I do find it overwhelming but I never feel the need to take a social media detox. It depends on what you are going on social media for. If you are using social media platforms to seek validation or to see what others are doing that you aren’t, you are constantly going to feel let down and be in a perpetually vulnerable state. However, if you are passionate about something and you would like to share that with others, that feeds your soul instead of taking from it.

 

5. What advice would you give your younger student self?

Maxine: Spend less time projecting your perceptions and ideas on what others think of you! The time spent on you preceding to assume what others are thinking solely based on a situation is an absolute waste of time as it is completely out of your control, and it’s also emotionally taxing.

I would remind myself that I am not responsible for other people’s feelings and emotions if I am truly just trying to be the best version of myself and they find fault with that. Also, I would try not project my insecurities on others, but rather see my insecurities as a way to work on having more self-love and self-compassion.

 

6. What does a typical day look like for Maxine Schuiling?

Maxine: As soon as I wake up, I make a cup of coffee and have breakfast/a snack before getting back into bed and going on my phone for a few minutes. I  take some time to focus on myself by journalling about things that I want to be in the forefront of my mind for the rest of the day so that no matter where the day takes me I remember those things. This can be anything from reminders, such as wanting to have a chat with my gran, or writing affirmations if I feel I need to do that. I will even remind myself not to avoid my pain if I feel it coming, that it is okay to feel anxious and I can handle it because I’m so strong. We were built to handle a range of emotions, so I often remind myself that I shouldn’t ignore the way I am feeling, thus avoiding an emotional crash later on. I also meditate everyday to practice discipline as I generally am a calm person already. Every day is different for me so I don’t really have a routine but I do attend meetings, get my work done, and make time to move my body or exercise.

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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7. Do you ever go through periods of de-motivation, and if so, how do you get yourself out of that “funk”?

Maxine: I don’t really go through periods of de-motivation, but rather frustration. This occurs when I can’t do things that I want to do leading to a sense of apathy and feeling overwhelmed. For example, sometimes my mental health stops me from doing certain activities because I’m not in the correct mental space to do it or I feel like I didn’t get as much done as I planned. Before, I used to slack when I felt this way by baking or snacking. However, I realized that when I experience negative emotion I shouldn’t do something afterwards that I associate with enjoyment such as baking or snacking. I want to be able to bake or snack when I actually feel like it as opposed to using it as a distraction. Now, I try and do things that will benefit and motivate me during my “funk” period such as going for a 10 minute walk, listening to a podcast or do some breathing exercises. Basically anything that takes me from resistance to acceptance. These actions don’t motivate me immediately, but instead of resisting my emotions I have learned to acknowledge it and move on. It also helps to tell myself that “it’s okay” all day long!

 

8. What advice would you give to somebody who is new to a health journey and is not quite sure how to go about it, given the overload of information, good or bad, out there?

Maxine: It’s important to have realistic expectations for yourself. See it as a journey with many ups and downs. Accept that you are there to learn and you will fail many times before finding what truly works for you, and always give yourself so much compassion and grace along the way. After all, you’re doing something to benefit your wellbeing!

 

9. What is your definition of living life on your own terms?

Maxine: Putting the time in to make sure that everything I need to feel validated comes from within. Knowing that I am living my best life when I don’t need external validation because you will always be let down otherwise. This comes from realizing that you are enough, even waking up today is enough. You don’t have to achieve something or get somebody else to tell you that you look nice today. We can all be better, but work on yourself from a point of satisfaction and accept that you’re not perfect. Always work on your wellbeing and then you will have so much more to give to what and who is important to you.

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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10. Do you have any advice for anybody who would like to pursue their passion as a daily purpose (such as starting a career from it, for example) but aren’t quite sure how?

Maxine: Figure out what you’re truly passionate about and what drives you. Make a list of your strengths. If I have any self-doubt I talk to a loved one, like my mom. She gives me support and makes me realize that I have nothing to lose. It doesn’t matter if I fail because I am at a stage in my life where I am able to.

 

11. How do you navigate having a strong sense of self and portraying it in your brand in a space where you are by all means going against the norm/status quo (such as health fads)?

Maxine: I have a strong sense of purpose and I am confident in my beliefs. I stay true to myself although I am open to learning from others. I have also learned how to filter through the noise well.


 

Be sure to check out  Maxine's blog, Sugar Free Sundays, where you can listen to her podcast and shop her products!