It’s always inspiring to meet a working mum who finds a way to nail work/life and fitness balance. We caught up with SJ, super-fit, incredible mum of two (Ava 15 months and Jack who is 8) from WA, who trains like a demon six times a week, works part time at KPMG and still manages to find the “zen” we all crave. SJ and her fiancee went through 6 IVF cycles and 5 embryo transfer to have little Ava too… all in all, she’s a pretty special lady and I loved hearing her thoughts on mum-life.
1) Thanks for the chat, SJ! Tell us a bit about you – what’s a typical day in the life of Sarah-Jane?
I am currently working part time as a Senior PA with an amazing organisation KPMG supporting a team of people in our Management Consulting area. KPMG have been flexible and supportive in particular with juggling family and work commitments.
I start work at 9.15 so I can drop my oldest son at school and make sure he is settled for the day. Prior to KPMG I was working as full time as EA/Office Manager in an extremely busy and demanding organisation – it was truly not a sustainable role for me due to how consuming of a role it was and the stress associated with that.
I really like routine (that’s a bit boring I know!) On my non-work days in the mornings I get the kids ready and sorted for the day. Get the big boy off to school and then do all the bits around the house that need attending i.e. laundry (sooo much laundry), tidying up and cooking. As I am in competition prep mode now I tend to do small preps during the day or when I have time to make things easier for myself i.e. cook a big batch of vegetables or batches of protein pancakes.
Most of my time during the day is taking up chasing around Ava. When she has her midday nap I get to eat in peace and do other things around the house.
Once the school pick is done I am usually rushing around taking the kids to appointments or taking my oldest to one of his many sports.
When the dinner rush is over and the kids are in bed for the night, I get some downtime and enjoy some trashy TV and then I head to bed really early (like nanna early) to do it all again the next day!
Work days are pretty similar except the mad rush is even more crazy when trying to get the kids ready for the day!
2) You are a super-gorgeous, super-fit mum; what’s your fitness regime and honestly, how do you find the time?
I love training and in particular strength training. I also really thrive on being pushed out of my comfort zone so I enjoy Crossfit. I have a strength program that I follow as I have a strength coach. I am currently on a four day push pull program based on squats, deadlifts, bench and pressing with accessory work. I also Crossfit twice a week.
All up I train 6 days a week with one rest day. The only way I find the time is by wanting to make the time. Training is very important to me physically and mentally. It helps me to relieve stress and also bring my anxiety levels down.
I am lucky to have found Crossfit Quarter – who run mum & bub classes during the day and I can take my youngest with me. The coach is fantastic with Ava and I love that she is with me during my workout (although it does slow my times down a bit-HA).
When I train during the week I go either at night (once the kids are in bed and my partner can hold the fort) or on my lunchbreaks at work (I make the most of the time away from the house and then when I am home I don’t have to think about going out again). On the weekends I tend to tag with my partner (he trains early like 4am) and then I head off once he is home to take the kids.
I really prefer early AM training though so you and done and set up for the day. I find as the day goes on the list of excuses to not go gets longer.
3) That sounds like a well-oiled machine! Do you find it hard juggling so many aspects of your life along with motherhood?
Honestly, I do and sometimes I feel like I am out of balance or am I neglecting an aspect of my life but I know that I am doing the best I can and I really am trying to be a good role model for my kids. I am lucky that I have a good family support network, a partner who picks up a lot of the slack at home and a very accommodating workplace.
4) Many women are nervous about the gym, sometimes because they are not naturally athletic and feel self-conscious among those who are, what would be your advice to women in that situation?
We all started somewhere and you know what most of the men or people that you are intimidated of are not really looking at anyone else but themselves (not even joking). The gym environment can be very intimidating, but I highly recommend seeking an experienced strength coach/trainer who will teach you the basics of weight training with correct form etc.
A great trainer can make all the difference in your self confidence in a positive way. Kev aka Strengthelite was the first trainer that pushed me to start lifting heavy and push what I thought were my limits. I am very grateful for that and it has set me on a path where I enjoy training.
5) What’s your top three tips for women who want to be healthier and stronger, but are struggling to make time in their lives?
a) Make yourself and your health a priority. The knock-on effects of exercising and eating well flows onto your family and you are being the best role model for your children. Too many women do not prioritise themselves and often feel guilt about taking time out to take care of themselves and they shouldn’t, it is so important to have some time to focus on you. Even if you take 20 minutes and whack on a yoga DVD which goes onto my next point.
b) Find something that’s your jam that you really enjoy whether it be simply walking the kids to the park and doing an outdoor workout or dust off that Jillian Michael’s DVD. Exercise does not have to cost money if budget and cost is a concern there are heaps of videos on Youtube now where you can exercise at home.
c) Focus on nutrient-dense foods rather than if foods are good/bad, low in fat etc… I have been following a flexible approach to my diet for this comp prep and plan on following it post too as it is teaching me that I can eat some treats if I focus on getting my macronutrients in (Carbs, Fats & Protein).
6) What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since becoming a mother?
Mother’s guilt. The guilt of putting my son in long daycare when I was working ridiculous hours and missing out on the school gate conversations. Once my son started Kindy I reassessed working full time and I know for me it was not what I wanted. I was missing out on meeting the other mothers at school and who Jack was playing with. Once Jack was in pre-primary I started doing a more flexible full-time role then decreased my hours down to part-time.
7) What’s your ideal way to spend quality time with the kids?
My ideal way is to spend time outdoors – take the kids down to the river and let my son fish with his dad; go swimming with both kids and have a picnic. There’s nothing better than a relaxed afternoon outdoors with the kids and just being together.
Thanks so much SJ!