Nutrition & Health
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Author: Rachel Hickey (interviewer) Date Posted: 7 May 2022
What is your sport/exercise of choice?
Can I have more than one? Top of the list would be running, then netball, yoga and strength training a close second. As a kid I did Little Aths, Cross Country and played Netball. I say I really started running in 2007, I had just finished university and started working full time as a secondary school teacher. I needed something to help clear my head when I got home from work before settling in for a night of marking and lesson plans.
Running makes me feel free, it allows me to focus my mind on nothing but how my body feels. I now love to run first thing in the morning, it allows me to set my intention for the day and spend some time on me before being pulled in every direction from mum life to work life. Running makes me proud of my strength, determination, persistence and grit. Over the years running has shown me that I am stronger than I believe I am and I can always push harder no matter what is happening in my life.
How many children do you have?
I have two girls, Grace aged 3 and Matilda aged 6.
What challenges have you faced as a mother in regards to your fitness/exercise?
During and after both pregnancies I managed to remain active and then return to my movement practice around 4-6 months postpartum. However, I have never been able to hit any PB since falling pregnant with Matilda in 2014. It has been a long, hard journey and it has probably only been the last 3-6months that I have actually been able to fully process this and move past chasing those times. The biggest reason for not being able to get back to my 2012-2014 times would be only being able to manage 3 runs a week instead of 5 like I was doing pre kids and the lack of recovery/rest/sleep time.
How have you overcome this challenge?
To overcome this I first tried working as hard as I could to see how close I could get, when this didn’t work I had to look within and really discover why it was important, why was I actually running? I had to work out what was most important. It has been a long, hard slog but in the last 3-6months I think I have really felt at ease about where my health and fitness is at and can return to just really enjoying moving my body.
What has been your greatest achievement in your sport/exercise?
Of course some of those PB’s, but what really stands out after all this time is running the Great Ocean Road Marathon in 2019 and Matilda joining me to cross the finish line.
Hearing my girls cheer for me from the sidelines.
Winning our Club Netball Grandfinal in 2012 with an amazing group of girls most of whom I still play with today.
How do you incorporate exercise into your daily/weekly routine?
I add my workouts/runs/netball games into my calendar like all my other meetings/commitments. I get it done first thing when possible, before the kids are out of bed. I do home workouts so I don’t have to waste time travelling or organise for my husband Brian to be home to watch the girls.
Do your children have any involvement in your exercise/sport?
Matilda runs with me once or twice a week. I run with Grace in the pram every few weeks and she has just started riding her bike while I run. Grace and Matilda often join in my home workout and yoga sessions. Both girls come to watch me play netball when we have early games. The girls always come and watch me at events/fun runs. Matilda now joins in occasionally too.
Do you have any future goals?
I ran the Melbourne Half Marathon in December 2021 and since then I have just been enjoying the flexibility in my training and the freedom of not following a training program. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I find a new event to throw myself at.
What advice would you give to any mothers wanting more physical activity but may be unsure as to where to start?
Start small, grab a friend (although I absolutely hate training with others), try a variety of sport/movement practices and find something that you like. Don’t beat yourself up when you miss a session, just focus on trying again. Roll the mat out in the middle of the kids play area and just start, they will either keep playing, join you or sit and watch mumma making time for herself, you won’t always get a full workout done but something is better than nothing.
Anita Ramage: @anitaramage
I've always trained at the gym but my style of training has changed over the years since I had the kids from mainly group fitness classes, to bodybuilding/sculpting and now more functional strength and conditioning which I've been doing for the past 6 years. I've definitely been the fittest and strongest I've ever been since starting this type of training and I love it. I'm one of those people that actually really loves to train hard - the grosser the workout, the more I want to do it. The sense of achievement after a hard workout knowing you gave it your best is kind of addictive.....or maybe that's the endorphins.
As well as training in the gym I usually have other sporting interests which over the years have included competitive bodybuilding, obstacle racing, trail running and now triathlon. I got into triathlon after some injuries (stress fracture in my leg and a few months later ruptured bicep tendon) stopped me from running and weight training so when I could I took up riding and swimming and so now am putting them all together. I love the challenge of trying new things and working hard to get better at them.
2 children (boy/girl twins) almost 12 years old
Finding the time to fit training in around kids and working can be challenging and life gets very busy. The mothers guilt that goes with spending time doing something for yourself can also be difficult to deal with.
I have always scheduled training into my week like any other commitments. When the kids were babies I would workout at home during their sleeps. Now they are older it means getting up early to train and be home in time to get them ready for school. If you are a working mum, planning and preparation is essential. If you are training in the morning, have everything ready and laid out the night before - training gear, kids uniforms and lunches made to minimise the morning rush.
I also know that I am happier and less stressed if I get my training in and that helps make me a better mum for my kids.
I don't have a single greatest achievement, I have lots of races/performances that I am proud of for various reasons and I am always happy if I can see improvements from my previous race.
I train 6-7 days a week - strength, running, riding, swimming - sometimes twice a day now that I am focusing on triathlon. I train most mornings, leaving before the kids are awake so I can get back and help with the before-school routine. I enjoy getting out for early morning rides on the weekend because I get to catch the sunrise and am back early enough to enjoy the day with the family. it's a win-win in my book! I have a wind trainer at home so I can do some of my bike training at home and I am also very lucky to have flexible work arrangements meaning I can take a longer lunch break to fit a swim in and make my hours up later in the afternoon if I need to while the kids are doing homework. You really just need to find a way to fit it in that works for you and your family and be committed to yourself to make it happen, make it routine, but also be flexible to work around things that come up.....because with kids, things come up!
Over the years the kids have had different levels of involvement, they used to sometimes come to the gym with me and used to play and sometimes try and do some of the workouts with me. They sometimes also ride their bikes while I run. During lockdown they really got into doing workouts with me which was pretty fun. But they also play sports themselves so when we exercise as a family it is usually a bush walk or a beach walk and we've just got a dog so there are lots of walks with her.
My current goal with triathlon is to do an olympic distance which means a lot of swimming and open water training for me as this is my weakest leg of the race.
I am also keen to get back into trail running and would love to run at Ultra-Trail Australia in the Blue Mountains.
Start small and build habits gradually. Choose to do something you enjoy. Join a supportive training community whether it is a run club or social sporting competition or a strength training facility. For example the gym I train at uses a small group training model so you are always working out with other people and they are all really supportive, but the group is small enough for the coaches to oversee everyone and cater to individual needs.
Work out when it is going to be best for you to do your exercise, schedule it in the calendar and let the family know you will be off duty for that time and if necessary arrange an alternative carer for your children.
When first returning to exercise after having a baby it is important to be guided by a qualified professional.
Anything you would like to add?
You don't need to be great to start, but you do need to start to be great. Don't underestimate the power of consistency.....even something seemingly small done well and consistently will give you results.
I train at Perform 360 at Enoggera. My triathlon coach is The Active Project. I am a Fisiocrem sponsored athlete. I have a Cert IV in personal training and taught group fitness for over 10 years - think Step, Pump, Boxing, HIIT and Bootcamp - and am thinking about getting back into some coaching.
Emma Smith: @smythesmith2
Football (soccer). I started in 2004 at the age of 20. I'd moved to Perth from Geraldton (country WA) to go to uni and I was missing being involved in team sports. A girlfriend had enjoyed playing football and suggested we join the University team. Two years later I was the club president! I love it because it's a true world game, I've made friends from all over and learnt about so many cultures. It's easy to get into, there’s minimal equipment required, and as long as you have a decent work rate you can be competitive straight away!
Liam who is 4, and Jack is 11 months
So many... First is sleep deprivation. It's a difficult balance to get enough rest while also fitting in exercise. With team sports like football, training is almost always in the evening. At the moment my training starts at 7pm and doesn't finish until 9pm. I'm usually in bed by 8pm. Generally it's just fitting it in amongst all your other responsibilities and the judgement call of where it lies in your priorities. My partner Scott also plays football, so we need to make sure our teams don't train on the same night so we can help each other out. We have no control over our game times though, and there's often a clash.
Ahhh usually with a Red Bull! Something that gives me enough momentum to get organised and out the door. Once I get going it's fine.
We also call on grandparents to help when there's a clash with our matches.
I was a national University all star in 2008, and I was selected in the WA state futsal (indoor) side in the same year. Only four years after starting the sport!
We always walk Liam to kindy and back and for work I take public transport which keeps a certain level of movement each day. I'm also active with my boys - lots of physical play.
With sports, you need to find something that you love doing, then the motivation is easily there. I love team sports because you get exercise as well as the social interactions that you often miss as a parent. And if your team is relying on you then you have to go.
Liam has tried some football classes, but he's a bit of a class clown and is too busy trying to make the other kids laugh. He's also tried basketball and seems more interested in that now.
I'm turning 40 this year, so my main goal is just to stay involved and able to play for as long as I can. I have started a football analysis business called Squared Ball, which allows me to be involved at a high level, even if my personal ability is no longer there.
The hardest part is to get started, so celebrate the smallest active additions to your routine. Even a 5 minute walk around the block is enough! Or walking your kids down to a playground. Every small step helps you build to the next level.
Get yourself some nice exercise gear and lay it out the night before, so you'll want to put it on and feel good!
How long does it take to get active again after having a baby?
There's no right answer! And it can take YEARS to get close to where you used to be, so don't even think about it, just develop your own new normal. It's so important to listen to your body, exercise doesn't have to be uncomfortable to be good for you! Do what you enjoy and what feels good.
Be kind to yourself. Your body has done an amazing thing in bringing a little person into this world. Celebrate and reward yourself!
This concludes our Mother's Day interview series. Thank you so much to all the mothers who agreed to be interviewed, we're in awe of your spirit and dedication! Happy Mother's Day to all!