Danielle Heatley is a part time teacher and a full time mum living in Langwarrin. Last month she married the love of her life, Glenn. With two young girls, Zara, 5, and Harper, 20mths, work and a hardcore gym regime thrown into the mix, Mama life is very busy for this 40-year-old mum. But when it comes to juggling it all, it’s easy to see Danielle is one of these super organized people who makes us envy her efficiency. What many people don’t know, however, is that Danielle, friend of Mama loves to share, is half the person she used to be… half the person but double the inspiring woman.
MLTS: When I first met you and found out you had lost 42 kilos in 13 months I was so impressed! Tell me about your weight loss and how you achieved this success?
Danielle: Glenn and I had been engaged for 18 months but I was reluctant to set a date for the wedding because I knew that I didn’t want to get married at the weight I was. Finally we booked a date just five months after I had Harper and I had 13 months to lose weight. I looked at my year and worked out that I needed to lose about 3kg a month – so instead of looking at the big number I wanted to lose, I just focused on the 3kg. I ended up hitting my wedding weight goal two months before the wedding and then lost another 3kgs by the wedding date. I had to get my engagement ring resized six sizes smaller and they had to resize my wedding dress down five sizes. For the first 20 kilos I just focused on getting the food component right – which is about 80% of it. I then joined the gym and had a personal trainer (my angel Pru!) and then eventually started doing boot camps as well.
I believe that I was successful because I didn’t eliminate anything, I just had a balanced diet (which still involved treats so I didn’t lose my mind!) and then I incorporated exercise into my daily life. I feel I have done it slowly and in a maintainable way.
MLTS: You’ve made exercise a big part of your routine now, how do you find the time with work, kids etc?
Danielle: It’s funny because I used to make excuses before like “I didn’t have time” – and that was before kids! Now I’m probably busier than I have ever been in my life and I do more exercise than I ever have before. I also schedule it in at the beginning of each week so its in the diary and just part of what I do each week – plus I actually genuinely love the feeling of exercise and am a crabby person if I don’t get to go! I read a quote the other day that said; ‘today I will love myself enough to exercise’….that’s how I look at it now. Happy Mum – Happy family!
MLTS: Do you think losing weight has made you a happier person?
Danielle: Ummm that’s a hard question because I would say that I was genuinely happy before. I still had a wonderful partner, two gorgeous girls, a loving family and a job I loved but there were things I wasn’t happy about for myself. I didn’t like how I looked in my clothes, I wasn’t happy at all about the state of my health and I didn’t like the fact that my weight was something that people saw first. Life is definitely easier now. I feel happier looking in the mirror and I feel happier shopping for clothes – going into places that I have NEVER shopped at before (my bank balance isn’t happier!) but the biggest plus is that I’m just about (a few more kilos off) being in the healthy weight range and I’m fitter, stronger and healthier on the inside. That definitely makes me happier.
MLTS: Do you think feeling happier with yourself has made you a better mum?
Danielle: Yes – I like the messages that I feel I’m giving to our girls. In our house we talk about being healthy. I have been very conscious to not mention the “fat” or “weight” words. When my girls come to Weight Watches with me, I always say that we are going to check if we are healthy. Every day Zara will ask me, are you going to the gym today. Sometimes I say not today – and she says well make sure you go tomorrow because you want to be healthy. We also discuss “sometimes” foods and there are much more healthier options in the fridge/cupboard now than before. I would say that my head feels lighter and clearer and I feel more positive about day to day things.
MLTS: What about Hubby, how does he fit into things (re support, your new lifestyle etc)?
Danielle: I don’t think I could have done it without the support of my now husband Glenn – especially the exercise side of things. He is often a gym widow – we have even met in the carpark of the gym after work so I can get to a class on time and then he takes the kids home to bath and feed. He eats anything I put in front of him and tries all the new recipes with me. He even lost 10kilos when I first changed how we ate. It’s funny though because although I know he is super proud of me, he always says he never saw my weight. I think that added to the fact I was doing this for myself and not for anyone else. I wasn’t trying to impress or look good for anyone.
MLTS: What things do you do with the kids now that you couldn’t do before?
Danielle: We love being outside and incorporating exercise into our weekends now. I can now run around with my two girls, they love it. Zara now says; “Mum, lets race”! I will run around with her and chase her on her bike, rather than just sitting and watching.
MLTS: Have you got a favourite place on the Mornington Peninsula that you like to go with Glenn and the kids?
Danielle: We love going to the Frankston foreshore as well as the great playground there. A visit is always followed up by an ice-cream while walking along the pier.
MLTS: When you look at what you have achieved, can you believe how far you have come?
Danielle: To be honest, no I can’t. I often forget and its not until I see pictures or put something on that I haven’t worn in ages that I get a reminder. I think it will take a while for my mind to catch up with my body. It sounds strange but if I go into clothing shops I always go to the rack and then go straight to the back to find the largest size. Sometimes clothing assistants think its strange that they then have to go back and get me a size that is three or four times smaller.
MLTS: Have you reached your goal or do you still have further aspirations?
Danielle: Not quite yet on the weight front – I would like to lose about 8kgs more and become a lifetime member at Weight Watchers. My goal is to be there by my 41st bday in September! I keep setting new fitness goals though – my next one is to participate in a fun run which I will complete on Mothers Day. I don’t really enjoy running and I find it hard but Pru my trainer has encouraged me. It scares me but that’s how I know its a good goal because I really have to work for it!
MLTS: How do you feel when people say you are an inspiration to other mums?
Danielle: I’m flattered but I really don’t think I’m any different to any other mums – we are all inspiring each other in all different ways. We need to be kind to each other and know that we are all doing our best (about 90% of the time anyway…the other 10% we are just surviving and not being very inspiring at all! Ha ha!).
MLTS: What would you say to other mum’s who may be in a similar situation and not happy with their health/bodies but they’re not sure they could achieve what you have?
Danielle: What do you say to your children when they say they can’t do something? You would encourage them and tell them to believe in themselves. Well, you need to model that talk as well. Believe in yourself. Believe you can. Believe you will. Break down your goals into little ones and know that every little thing you do helps. Its about all the little good choices you make on a daily basis.
Fantastic advice. Thank you so much for chatting with us at Mama loves to share, Danielle, you really are one inspiring Mama!