Ever felt ‘mother guilt’ for taking time out for yourself? Mum, model and TV personality Rachel Finch doesn’t. Here’s her unconventional ‘happy and healthy life philosophy’ for pregnancy, birth, motherhood and beyond…
Rachael Finch, mum to two-year-old Violet, is a health enthusiast from way back. But how does she stay fit physically and emotionally, and at the top of her game when it comes to career, relationships and parenting? Well, she doesn’t give in to ‘mother guilt’ for a start. “It’s healthy in my eyes to have alone time – I never felt guilty for giving that to myself. It’s about balance,” explains Rachael. And speaking of balance, Rachael has been named Australian Women’s Ambassador for New Balance, to celebrate women and movement.
Here, Rachael gives a rare insight into her personal journey and her health and fitness philosophy, from pregnancy and birth, to juggling relationships, parenting and her career….
What’s your fave fitness styles?
“I’m a big believer in doing what my body needs. If I’m sore, I might do a pleasant yoga or Pilates session. If I wake up with quite a lot of energy, I’ll go for a long run. It really depends what I feel like – a gym session, Pilates or yoga class, skipping, running…”
Have you always been into our fitness?
“Yes, I started Little Athletics when I was three. My mum says she remembers me running down the track with nappies on! This was just the beginning of my involvement in athletics. Ever since, I’ve had a pretty big journey with every sport under the sun – touch football, volleyball, netball, soccer, swimming, cross country…”
Do you enjoy exercise?
“Sport is amazing! It’s one of the best, natural feelings to work out. I find it really enjoyable exercising with other people – as I’ve gotten older I’ve craved more team sports, whereas when I was younger I competed a lot in individual sports. I love having fun with my friends in a team environment and exercising – it’s one of the best things we can do for our body.”
What exercises did you do when you were pregnant?
“I ran, just a nice light jog, until five months. I also did lots of swimming, Pilates and yoga to help take the pressure of the weight, and I danced until about eight months!”
How did you feel towards the end of your pregnancy?
“Exhausted and tired! You start thinking, ‘I just want to get this baby out and get back to normality!’ But of course when baby comes along it’s a complete lifestyle change.”
The birth: How did you prepare?
“I tried to mentally and physically prepare. I knew the worst case scenario was it was going to be the most painful thing in the world, so I braced myself for that. I focused on getting myself as fit as I could and providing my body with all the vitamins and minerals it needed to be in tip-top shape to give birth.”
How did you cope with sleep deprivation in the early months?
“I need eight to nine hours of sleep a night, so for me, broken sleep was a big issue – the thing I struggled with the most. During the early months I’d say to myself, ‘This is what I’m in for every two hours. Yes, I’m tired and grumpy and feeling absolutely shit right now, but I knew this was coming and in a few months, it will get better – this is just a phase.’ I’d keep reinforcing positive affirmations all the time.”
Image courtesy of Instagram.
How long after Violet was born was it before you resumed exercise?
“I was in hospital for two or three days after I had Violet. The first time we went out for a walk she was about one week old. It was more like a cruise down the pathway more than a walk though! I started slowly with pram walks just to get out into the fresh air. Over a few weeks I increased the duration to a 30 minute walk along the beach, then slowly began to walk faster, building up my fitness. Listening to how my body felt was key. At no time was I setting goals to be back at the gym by five weeks or anything unrealistic. Instead, it was more like, ‘OK today I feel a little bit better, my muscles don’t ache, so I’ll do this…’ It was definitely a gradual process.
You were working six weeks after Violet was born. How did it go?
“I was covering the Melbourne Cup on Channel Seven and had to stop every three hours to express my milk for Violet! Her dad was looking after her throughout the day while I worked and I’d look after her at night.”
Did you ever feel overwhelmed as a new mum?
“Yes, I did feel overwhelmed, especially when she was waking up every two hours wanting a feed. I knew this was going to be one of the hardest things to happen in life, having a child which depended on me, and I tried to prepare myself in the best way possible, but you can never really fully prepare yourself.”
Image courtesy of Instagram.
What approach helped when you felt overwhelmed?
“Taking it day by day. Life becomes stressful if you make it stressful. I’d ask myself, ‘do I have to do it all right in this minute?’ Taking things minute by minute, day by day helps. If I had a busy day ahead I’d think about everything I needed to do: I have this on at 10am, then a photoshoot from 2-5pm, so that means during that time I’ll drop her at grandmas then pick her up post shoot, organise dinner, gather everything I needed and Violet needed… I have to think that far ahead, making sure everything is organised.
Time management and planning is a big thing for mums, but at the end of the day it’s so important to relax. That’s why I love yoga so much – it teaches you to relax and be in the moment. When Christmas comes, we all say, ‘where did the year go?’ Well, the year went because we didn’t stop and appreciate it in the moment. I love enjoying every day and not stressing about the little things. As long as Violet is healthy and happy, smiling and eating her food, that’s the main thing.”
Do you ever stress about getting to timetabled ‘mum and bub’ classes on time?
“I just exercise in my own time! Or I aim to get there 15 minutes earlier – eliminating stress allows you to work-out more freely. Sometimes I put Violet in the little crèche at my gym, or drop her at day care for an hour gym session, then pick her back up.”
Image courtesy of Instagram.
Do you exercise with Violet?
“I never bought a jogging pram, but I do take her for walks in the pram to the park for her to play. I do exercises on the side of the play area! Anything from sit-ups to push-ups, lunges, squats, yoga… it depends on what I feel like. Other days she might come with me for a power walk, or to dance classes. I love having her with me and try to coordinate it so she has someone with her while I’m exercising if that’s possible, like grandma or dad. Other times I’ll go for a run on my own, or do a yoga class and leave her with her dad. I take things day by day, depending on what my family are up to and how my body is feeling.”
Violet is two years-old now. How often do exercise now?
“I work out around four to six times a week.”
What’s your health philosophy?
“A healthy approach for me doesn’t come down to one thing. It’s about food, fitness, lifestyle, time management, sleep, relationships, joy, spirituality, career … all of these things equate to healthy living.”
Do you feel ‘mother guilt’ taking time out for yourself?
“It’s healthy in my eyes to have alone time – I never felt guilty for giving that to myself. It’s about balance. The first two months it was just Violet and me. After that, when I started to feel a bit better, my energy levels were increasing and she was getting used to the breast feeding structure. But if I’m spending 20 hours with my child and give myself a couple of hours to clear my head, I see that as being healthy and important.”
Mums often struggle with routines and fitting exercise into their day. Any tips?
“Don’t ever feel pressured to adopt a certain lifestyle or habit or routine with your child because everyone is different. You know what works for you with the resources you have – some women don’t have the privilege of having a support network to look after their child and get some exercise. Don’t add pressure or make it difficult for yourself, just do what works for you.”
You’re the Ambassador for New Balance now. How do your values and health philosophy align with theirs?
“I love that Balance has a similar positive ‘healthy living’ philosophy – encouraging people to make healthy decisions in their life. I value feeling good naturally. I value the feeling of always trying to better yourself, whether by making better lifestyle choices or career decisions. Balance is a real advocate for that – inspiring, innovative and creative, whilst staying true to their core values, to inspire people to make positive life decisions.”
What is the #girlsrunthiscampaign?
“It’s really simple and positive. Women post pictures of themselves on Instagram that demonstrate the ways they celebrate movement… We’re giving away lots of clothing and prizes too, but it’s nice momentum to encourage a community of people celebrating movement and being active. Images could be them stretching with friends, going to the gym, running, getting out and staying active.”
What is your life philosophy for pregnancy, birth and motherhood? Tell us below…