Ep#13 Jen Dugard Transcript
Donna: Sydney based mum, Jen Dugard is my guest on today's podcast. I first met Jen during a business conference in June this year (2020), and I invited her to join me as a guest because as busy Mums in business, often caring for our own physical health through exercise can fall to the bottom of the list of priorities.
So I invited her on the show to talk about the importance of physical self care and how we infuse that into our weekly routine, without it feeling like a chore. And while we did talk about that, we also talked about a lot more too.
Jen Dugard is the founder of Body Beyond Baby, creator of Fitness Professional Education, Safe Return To Exercise and author of the book: "How To Love Your Body as Much as Your Baby". Jen has over 15 years of experience within the fitness industry and her personal message and mission is to raise the standard of the fitness industry through education and collaboration. And she's been executing this for many years within the pre and postnatal space.
Jen now trains other fitness professionals by teaching them how to look after Mums in a safe and effective way through her accredited course: Safe For Return to Exercise And Mum Safe Accreditation.
Jen regularly presents for key conferences within the fitness industry and she writes for What's New in Fitness and Women's Health Australia. She also sits on the board of fitness Australia.
What I love about this chat with Jen and what she stands for and how she opens up about sharing her experiences, the ups and the downs. Jen shares so much to help others know that they are not alone. And there's always a light at the end of the tunnel, which if you're a regular listener, you know, I'm all about that too.
So settle in for a beautiful chat with Jen Dugard.
Welcome Jen to the She's In Business podcast. It's so great to have you.
Jen: Thank you so much for having me. I'm very excited to be here.
Donna: So Jen, we met a few months ago at a business conference and when I heard about not just what you do, but the way that you do it and the passion that you have, to make a difference in the lives of women, I just knew that I wanted to have you on the podcast. And I think too, as a business owner and a Mum yourself, I'm really interested to know your journey and to share that with our listeners. So do you mind telling us a little bit about what you do and how it all started for you?
Jen: Absolutely, so I essentially now I run a business program for fitness professionals that work with Mums, but as part of that, I support fitness professionals in working with Mums themselves.
And the way that's come about was when my son, Marley was three months old and he was one of those children that slept really, really well, but I was a fitness professional before that. So I was working as a personal trainer in a big box gym and left the gym to have a baby. And then when he was three months old, I was like, what should I do?
And Mums that have sleepers will relate to that, and moms that didn't will just be like, what on earth? There's no way I could have done that! So I then moved into running group exercise with on-site childcare for Mums in Centennial park. So I did that, we had nannies site and the reason I chose to run exercise sessions with nannies was because I really felt for myself, I wanted to have time out. As much as I loved my baby, I needed that self-care time. And I really found that Mums needed it too. Like they needed to come together and connect with each other, but also be able to just have that little bit removed from their child. Not everyone, some people wanted to bring their child with them and that's completely okay.
And I also had a passion for helping women to understand how to move back in or move forward. Try not to use the words go back. Cause I don't like the whole get your baby body back and all that kind of thing, but move forward on their physical or their exercise journey safely and effectively. So, I spent 10 years doing that. And I still, although now I'm working with the fitness professionals, what they do with Mums and our website, bodybeyondbaby.com.au it’s the go-to place for moms to find a fitness professional that knows how to work with them. So I very much am across the mums in business and cause a lot of our, although not all our trainers are Mums, the majority of them are moms, but also that face-to-face trainer working with a mom and really understanding, what she needs in her fitness journey.
Donna: Yeah. That's amazing. And I can totally relate cause like, My kids different businesses, but like, I started a business with my first child when he was like six months old. So I was like, I need to do something else. And then I sold that business with my second child. I had like a three month old, sorry, a three-year-old and a six month old. And I started another business. Like, it's just that journey that I think sometimes happens when you do feel like you're a Mum that's maybe made for a little bit more than being a stay at home mum. And that yes. Definitely. He was a lot of people listening that would relate to that. Absolutely.
Can you tell us about the benefits of self care when it comes to physical self care? Cause I know that that's a part that sometimes is the first to go as a busy Mum in business. You know, we're so focused on getting our business up and running and making sure that's growing and then we're juggling the kids at home and making sure, we're creating this beautiful home and we're in as present as we can whenever we can. And then usually the thing that falls off the list is our own self-care and physical self-care is a component of that, that I teach within my program that you see is really neglected. So, can you tell us the benefits of physical self-care and then maybe we can talk about ways to infuse that into our lifestyle?
Jen: Yeah, I think it's an interesting question, because if you're talking specifically to Mums in business, one of the biggest aspects of self-care for me is that it's the part of your world that you're not giving to someone or something else. So when you're the Mum and you're taking care of their house, I have to say on the worst house take caretaker. ever! Like for me, it's I get, I do fit fitness, gives me over house care. So if you looked at my house and just be like, oh my goodness, but I can get to the gym. So, um, so I flip that, but yeah. So if it's the only way that there's very, it's very hard to get you time. Isn't it? When it's yeah. And what is ‘you time’ anyway? I think one of the biggest things. I'm never ever going to say to somebody, you need to prioritize self care to the detriment of yourself. Because I think sometimes we layer this layer of judgment over the top of the fact that we're not doing the self-care. So it's, it's not even the fact that we're not doing the self-care it's guilt that we carry around about not doing this healthcare. We know we should be doing.
Donna: Yeah, you can totally get yourself stuck in that loop.
Jen: Absolutely. And then if you are a Mum in business, so I use my training in the gym. To push myself, which teaches me that I can do hard things that are not just being a Mum. And I say, not just being, not being a Mum, get let's get rid of the, just, yeah. So I put myself into physical situations. In a fitness environment, because I know that if I can do the hard fitness thing, it carries over into every other area of my life. So it carries over into the business and it also carries over into mother's motherhood. So I guess for me, I can do fitness probably better than I do motherhood.
So I've, I've done a hard workout in the gym. I know that I can get through the hard thing with my kids, I think for no matter what, what category you fit into. Knowing that you can, that you have done something. It could be sitting outside in the sun cup of tea. It could be walking the dog, be signing up for the gym membership or getting an online program, so you can do it at home. But it's that thing that you do for yourself. And I also kind of want to just talk about the, when we say, look after yourself to look after your children or to be the best Mum you can be. I kind of have a problem with that because. You as a female, you as a woman have the right to look after yourself because you should be looked after not so that you can be all these things for everyone else. Yes, of course. It helps you to be those things, but you are a valuable human who deserves to look after herself for herself. Yeah. I don't know if I specifically answered your question.
Donna: But I know, but I think it raises a really good point. Like, you know, I do talk a lot about looking after yourself so that you can show up in other areas of your life. But I think the big lesson that I learned was when everything kind of felt like it was crushing down, which we can talk about a little bit later. The biggest lesson that I took out of that was that, I hadn't honored myself at all for a really long time. And because of that, like that was the center point that then everything else started to unravel. And so I totally agree with you. Like we should, as, as a woman, as a person, as you know, the creature on this earth honor ourselves and make time for ourselves too, because, and I think the other thing too, is that, you know, we only get one vessel, which is our body. And we need to take care of that because once it's gone, we're gone too.
So, you know, it's really, really important. And the funny thing is like, I'm a dancer, I've danced from a really young age and you know, my bricks and mortar business is a dance studio, I can get in there and dance, anytime like movement is like part of my soul. But being motivated to go to the gym or a PT session, like that's a different challenge for me, which is really interesting, but I think it's just, yeah, it's, it's something everyone has their little something that maybe is that in ground being that they've always done it in a particular way, or they've got some point of resistance and it's working out, or what is that resistance point and how can I work through that?
Jen: Yeah and also what we think about like, do we need to call it exercise? Like I've started calling it. I think your example of dancing is perfect. Like, is it exercise for everyone? Maybe it's not it's movement. How do you like to move your body in a way that physically makes you feel good? Because I also think the fitness industry has done a really good job of making us believe that it has to be really hard and really horrible for it to be with something. And that for a Mum, a new Mum, especially can be incredibly detrimental to her selfcare. So we need to have a huge awareness around. Not punishing ourselves more in the quest for self care, which is really the quest of what other people have told us it should be.
Donna: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Agree. Let's talk about postnatal depression, because I feel like we need to talk about that a whole lot more than we already do.I think we both have a passion for supporting women emotionally through different phases of life because we've had different experiences too.
Jen: Yeah. So, I mean, like I said, at the beginning my son was a really, really good sleeper. I have a history of depression. So from my late teens, early twenties, which I now think was related to being on contraceptive, which I anyway, that's a whole, other podcast but I, someone who was really on the lookout for postnatal depression after my first child and it just didn't happen. And I had this child that slept and everything was roses, and I started a business, not as roses as it can be as a new Mum. And then when my daughter came along two years later, so that the birthday is actually on the same day, and then they're born two years apart. Random, totally random. Yeah. Wow. But after she was born, she never slept.
So I probably went back to my mother's group and apologize to all of the women that I'd say, you just do this, this, this, and this and they sleep. And I was like, no, nothing to do with me. Everything to do with the little human and she, I just never got any sleep. So I think that was the trigger for experiencing postnatal depression.
Second time around my marriage started to, to kind of go downhill. And I think there was also a level of I've done this before. Why can't I do it this time? Yeah, because I'm a second time Mum. So surely if I've done it before I started a business, I kind of cruise through motherhood for the first two years. She was born in and kind of the whole world came crashing down. So for me, exercise was one of the things that kind of got me through. It was the one constant in my world that I could keep going to, and this research around movement and postnatal depression, and, and also not only movement, but the connection and a lot of like in Australia, we're really lucky. A lot of us do movements outside. So you've got the sunshine, you've got the connection with other people. You've got the actual movement itself, but when you're going through that, it can be very hard to move into the movement because it's that kind of energy creates energy and a cycle of non energy creates a cycle of continued non-energy.
So for some people it's really important that if you know your, what your feeling is, is not normal or it's beyond, you know, a couple of days of feeling down, that's ongoing to ask for help, um, or to put yourself into an environment where there's a little bit of an accountability around just getting you to an exercise environment or a place that you're going to meet other people and connect.
Donna: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that that's so true, like having, just taking that first step and then what's the next step and what's the next step. Yeah. I felt that with my first baby. He wasn't a great sleep, but it wasn't an awful sleeper.
Wasn't great though. And I could feel myself on that edge of, of that spiral of depression. And that was where, like, I was like, okay, I need to do something else. Like this is, I just can't sit with this all the time. And I think that's one of the reasons that drove me to starting my business, which sort of sounds a little bit like why would you do that to yourself? Start a brand new business when you already feel like you're a alone, but like, it worked for me because I could extend myself in a different way and use my brain in a different way that didn't involve, being a Mum and raising a new baby. But the thing that I found really tricky, I don't know if this has ever happened to you or you speak to women within your community that do, but I had so many people say to me like, well, meaning people, but like, what are you doing this for? Like your husband brings in enough money, you've got a three-year-old and a six month old. And you know, you're saying that it's stressful. Why don't you just quit? But I knew that if I had, gone ‘Okay. Yeah. I'll quit my business’ that I feel like that little spiral of depression would have opened up for me again, like it did with my first baby.
And I would have possibly gone into that. Have you like, as far as a business owner and in making sure that you could still show up for your people in business while that was all happening?
Jen: Like it, as hard as times have ever been, there's always this inbuilt part of me that knows I can keep going. And again, maybe that's about the exercise and the ability to put myself through challenging things.
But I think what you were talking about before I wrote down, like to make notes, cause I forget what you're saying, self identity. So, women as mothers, we want to find an identity or hold on to part of our identity that's not now someone's mother. So I think that when I'm listening to what you were saying about building a business, that is you not being a Mum or that is you allowing this part of you. That is not, being a Mum to still be alive. It's keeping that spark alive. It's funny. I've seen, I had a beautiful client and she came to me. So she started training with me in the park and she then started her business. So her journey was that she'd lost her job after she'd been pregnant. And her self-confidence and her self worth was really low. She was one of these women that experienced. Yeah, they got made redundant when they're on maternity leave, which is an awful thing to happen to anybody. So not only was she feeling not great about herself and her body, she was feeling, then she got this redundancy and her journey was that she came and did some exercise and started to build herself confidence through feeling good about herself again. And then she went on to launch this beautiful like of awesome business that supports other mums. And I remember her saying to me, it's because I did this, I was able to start my business. Yeah. So I think it can go one way or the other way. It's like whether it's self care, whether it's fitness, whether it's starting a business, what is that part of you? That is you are alongside being a mom. You're not separate to that person, but how do we help her to have her place and to still thrive?
Donna: Yeah. I love that. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I think you're exactly right. It is about that self identity and keeping that part of you alive. It's so important, isn't it? Yeah.Yeah. Really important.
The other thing that I think connects us a little bit is our experience through marriage breakdown. Um, and I read about this. I didn't know about that, about you until I saw, I think it was on your website, I saw that you'd been through this and I was like, oh my goodness. It happens to more people than we realize.
And it's not spoken about enough. I don't think, because it's something that I've also been through. And I feel like it's part of my story and part of my journey and where I'm at now. And I, although at the time. Really didn't enjoy the experience, I’m actually quite great before it now. So can you tell us about what happened there?
Jen: So I guess off the back of Indie, being born, my daughter being born and then experiencing postnatal depression over time that followed that my husband and I ended up separating. It's funny when I look back on it now, I think there's a whole lot of, self worth stuff wrapped up in that, in that, from being a teenager all the way up until we separated, I think I was always going outside of myself for validation.
Yeah, there was just this part of me that almost didn't feel worthy of the relationship that I was in. But also I think that no one really tells you as a parent Mum and Dad/ Mum and Mum, whatever. That your relationship is going to change when you become a parent. And we're so used to what this ideal, relationship or marriage looks like that when children come along, especially the second one, like the first one, you kind of juggle it between you still connected. You don't have to divide and conquer. You can do things together. You like this little family unit, but then number two comes along. And all of a sudden this relationship is different. It's even more different than it was with number one, you don't talk to each other unless you're communicating about who's doing what and who's doing the other. If you are Mum at home, a lot of Mums running businesses are still running the home. So Dad goes out somehow he gets his life back. Um, and I say this with all due respect, but he's got his identity outside of the home.
You're trying to run a business and look after the children. And there's just no space as much as we try. And we, again, layer on that judgment of what's happening in a relationship. So Ben and I did separate, we actually separated for three years. We both had other relationships. And then somehow, we tried to come back together a couple of times in that three years. And it was just like, wait, we kind of moved into that friend zone and I think that's normal. And I think it's really fortunate for Ben and I, that we came back together. Really unfortunate, like for some, couples that I think will probably move into that zone and then completely move away from each other separately and never have the opportunity to come back together.
And we were really lucky that neither of us had gone in that three years, moved into a really serious relationship because we could have, and no matter then how much we might've thought maybe we should have come back together, we never would've done. So it was like a circumstantial, but I think that the key message is your relationship is changing and it's different and it may be broken, but it could be fixed.
Maybe not immediately. I'm not saying that this is not supposed to add a layer onto people that have separated because absolutely some relationships need to end and people need to go their separate ways. But I think that it'd be really interesting if we, as a society to move through that transition period with more awareness of what was happening and then potentially more gentleness or compassion for ourselves and our partner.
And then, know that it's gonna, you are gonna come out the other side. Like it's not going to be 18 months later. It's not going to be two years later. It's going to, but if you can be friends and know that that's your person for two, three years, while you're doing that, like our kids are now 11 and 13. And I know that sounds like a really long slog, but you're able to get some of that relationship back again. Yeah. And I guess, you know, if we had more awareness, maybe we would have had found more time to connect or there's so many layers of things that were going on. Both for myself, probably more for me than there was, was Ben. And I always shared this from my journey because I, his journey is different. So I talk about his experience at all.
Donna: Yeah. So many things that you spoke about there that raised for me, like, I think that was very similar to us. Like we separated for five months, but I actually thought that we were absolutely done and dusted. And we worked really hard to repair from that, but I think the first part, particularly for my husband in asking for help, you know, in, in going, okay, we actually need to go and get some professional help from a counselor to help know ‘How do we repair this? How do we bring it back together?’ And I don't think that's talked about enough, you know, in going it's okay to ask, just like, if you're going through depression, like it's so important to ask for that help and to get it from the people who know how to help you navigate through that.
And that's why I want to talk about it more cause to make it, you know, not a shameful thing to go through that. Like it's totally normal when you have, children and you're juggling a business and there's been changes in your life that you've never experienced before, of course, that's going to put pressure in different areas on how you work together as a couple.
Absolutely. Yeah. So I think that's amazing that you guys brought it back. Like that's just incredible. So well done, you! Same. I'm really proud of us. I am really proud of us. And I say that to my husband all the time. I'm like, wow, like, look at us, go. Yes, absolutely life could have been so, so different.
Yeah. You know, and look at us like we're, talk much more, you know, our communication is so much more effective now. We love more like everything about our relationship is 120%, 200% better than it was. And it wouldn't be if it wasn't that we went through that challenge together.
Jen: Yeah. And I think you then have that resilience of, and Ben, and I will say, I just don't feel connected to you right now.
Um, but we can have that conversation cause we know we're going to do these ones and you know, the life, life cycles are going to be in and out all the time. Yeah, my person and I, there's no part of me when we're not connected that says this isn't the person that I want to be with. It's okay, this is either we need to do something about it or there's a level of acceptance for now in the short term.
Obviously, if that continued for a long time, But it's like looking at the big picture, like what we're both going through at work, what's happening with the kids? Like what, what is the season of our relationship right now?
Donna: Exactly. Right. I love that concept of talking about like that your life is a series of seasons or connected together.
And we even, we flow through those seasons and some seasons are going to be tougher than others and then throw out different challenges that we need to tackle in different ways. Yeah. And I talk a lot about that in my Ready To Rise program with my ladies, because, just like a motherhood journey has ebbs and flows and seasons, so does your marriage, and so does your business and it's unrealistic to think that it's all going to be peachy a hundred percent of the time, or we're going to get this perfect balance between those three things, a hundred percent of the time. Sometimes work's going to be great and your mothering journey might feel a bit crappy at that time. And then it's going to change and flip. Yeah, the more we talk about those things. I think the better off that we all are going to be as women moving through and that we can then pass on to the next generation of women who are coming up (our children) so that they have clear, realistic expectations of their relationships and of themselves and of the environment around them. So, yeah, it's really impactful stuff. Yeah.
So, Jen, where are you at now with your business? Because you talked about at the beginning that you trained women and you worked with them through their journey, but now you train, the trainers is that right? And you have that program that you, you sell to other trainers who are wanting to deliver that same journey to women.
Jen: Yeah.So just say the education to fitness professionals that want to work with moms. So we do pre and post. Specific to mums. I'm not enough of the industry knows how to specifically work with Mums, which I think is when that needs to change. And then there's a membership like a program after that, where they can choose to continue their education and working with women and mums whilst being supportive in the business world and having that community of other fitness professionals around them.
And what that does for mums themselves is we're creating this network of fitness professionals that, do know how to work with them safely and effectively so that a mum can go, oh, I've got to go to, if I'm in Tamworth, I need to find a trainer. Is there a trainer on the body of your baby website that works with Mums?
And we're just about to do a big rebrand called Mums Safe. So if women are looking for a trainer, ideally you want to work with a mum safe trainer, because that means that they've got, base level of education in pre and postnatal. And then they're committed to that ongoing education to make sure that we're always learning and they work hand in hand with a women's health physiotherapist so that they understand the woman's body from the inside out. And they, um, Yeah. They're looking after her properly.
Donna: Yeah, that sounds incredible. Yeah. Super cool. Yes. Cool. Yeah. So if people want to find out more about you and the things that you offer, and you've got a book too, hey!
Jen: I do have a book. I wrote it now. I realize it's eight years old now. So the book, How To Love Your Body As Much As Your Baby.
So it's very much written for a mum and you can get it on Amazon. Or I noticed it popped up in one of the online bookstores that I don't actually know how it got there, but, um, it is out there on the internet. Um, so you can, order that, and it really takes a woman through understanding her body, understanding nutrition, understanding all that kind of, that kind of stuff.
And the other thing that we have for Mums themselves is on the body of your baby website. There is a program called ‘Safe return to exercise for new Mums’. And this is designed to bridge the gap between her six week checkup and moving into exercise because at the moment we're not doing that well, enough women are not educated about their body.
They're not educated about how it's changed, how they don't understand their birth story. So that program is a five space program that takes them from tick of your six week checkup, or even before that, and then into the exercise that they want to do.
Donna: Wow. That sounds amazing. That sounds great. And what's the next chapter for you?
Like have you got plans past that point? Cause it just sounds like you are just a dynamo.
Jen: The big plan is that we have Mums Safe trainers all across Australia, New Zealand. So at the moment there's 70 mums safe trainers across Australia, New Zealand. and Singapore. The short-term goal is to grow that to 360 trainers. Um, and also start to add some more education to ‘Safe return to exercise’. So we've got, I'm working in hand-in-hand with the physio at the moment to, to launch ‘Safe return to running’. So continue our education to the trainers, which can then educate and support more and more Mums.
Donna: Amazing. Awesome. Well, we'll put all your links in the show notes so people can find you there.
Thank you so much for your time today. It's been really fun talking to you, and I love that we've opened up a few, topics that don't usually get talked about. So that's amazing
Jen: All about starting the conversation and being brave enough to start the conversations. No one else's having.
Donna: Yeah. That's exactly right.
Jen: Thank you.