Self-care Series: Brit Williams
At &Breathe, we're extremely passionate about our parental self-care mission. It's so important to make time for yourself in your parenting journey - self-care isn't selfish! After all if you're not at your best, how can you be at your best for those around you?
Brit Williams is the founder of SW London-based Fit Brit Collective, creator of Stronger Together mum & baby exercise classes and author of Mind, Body, Bump: The Complete Plan for an Active Pregnancy. A former fitness journalist turned women’s health coach, she is passionate about developing bodies fit for empowered lives and enabling women to achieve the strength in body and mind that will support them through pregnancy, parenting and other major life changes. Find out more about Brit
&B: How do you manage to balance work/life/mumming? Is it possible?!
BW: I definitely think it’s possible, but only if we forego the expectation of any one ‘perfect solution’. Childcare I can trust has been essential for me. I’ve been lucky that my daughter has taken to nursery really well, and when she was very little we hired a nanny so I could work uninterrupted (while writing my book Mind, Body, Bump), and still be around to breastfeed and sneak in regular cuddles with her. Whenever I spend more time missing her than I do enjoying my work, I recalibrate and scale back my work commitments. Equally, if I’m pulling my hair out when I’m with her and feeling stressed about the professional things I’d like to achieve, I re-address our childcare choices and make small changes.
Career vs Kids
&B: How has being a parent influenced your career and passion for your work? Has your passion changed since you had your daughter?
BW: I’m every bit as passionate about my work as ever, but in some ways that passion has taken new direction. My own personal experience showed me that the maternal body is hugely under-represented in the fitness industry, so I get really excited about any opportunity to educate and support women about pre-natal and postpartum training or maternal body confidence. I love being self-employed, but I also think we need to challenge any companies who show reluctance to hire working parents or support flexible working. There is nothing like parenthood to fine-tune your productivity. If someone can get a small child up, dressed, fed, cleaned, bag packed and out the door in one piece in under an hour, think what they can do with an hour to focus on just one task!
&B: What do you hope to teach/pass on to your child(ren) by the way you live your life/mission?
BW: That how we do something is every bit as important as what we do. Soon after launching my brand Fit Brit Collective – a couple years before my daughter was born – a client coined my growing community ‘SW London’s fiercest and friendliest fitness family’. I’ve always had high expectations of myself and of the people I work with, but that expectation comes with an ample side of love, support and friendship. Contributing to a positive emotional environment for people is the only way to play a proactive role in their personal development, and I believe we all have a social responsibility to create that supportive landscape for each other. I hope Marnie learns that ambition and kindness can and should go hand in hand.
on keeping fit
&B: How do you like to keep fit and active? And make time for it amongst training others?
BW: Weight training is my bread and butter – I commit to at least three sessions a week, and I always schedule these sessions in when building my client timetable. Anything else is a bonus. I also use the Bugaboo Runner to jog to and from coffee dates, Monkey Music classes and the local park when I’m with my daughter. It means we spend less time travelling and I can prioritise my own wellness during what would have otherwise been wasted time (if we had chosen to drive or take public transport). It also means I show up to most social engagements with flushed cheeks and a shiny forehead, but fortunately I live in Wimbledon, where activewear is practically the dress code.
on eating healthily
&B: What's your best foodhack secret to eating healthily? Is it a recipe or an approach?
BW: This will sound biased as I am an ambassador to Mindful Chef, but their farm-to-table food boxes have genuinely transformed the way I cook. Ordering a couple meals for the week by recipe rather than ingredients means I pick up new cooking tricks – like using a peeler to make sweet potato noodles – every time I try a new dish. When I order our regular food shop, I loosely plan out meals for the week so I can both reduce food waste and have an action plan every time I go to the fridge. I tend to cook for the family – rather than make meals for my husband and I, plus separate meals for our daughter – which saves me time overall. I love the Young Gums cookbook, but I’ll also go rogue and use the slow cooker to throw together simple one-pot dishes. I also have my favourite orders at local restaurants like Pho and Itsu saved on Deliveroo; if I do get caught with an empty fridge or a late night on deadline, I can order a healthy takeaway rather than snacking the cupboards dry.
&B: What's your favourite thing to do to relax?
BW: Yoga. It’s that ‘little extra’ bit of exercise that I fit into my week when I can, but it doesn’t always happen. I’ve not quite grasped the habit of meditation, but moving through a vinyasa flow is my favourite way to get out of my head. I’ll book a class with a friend on a weekend morning or log on to Yoga Today to take a quick online class while my daughter naps or during a work day.
#1 Selfcare Tip
&B: What's your number one self-care tip for mums or dads?
BW: Break the association between leisure and luxury once and for all. Rather than feeling guilt about some form of self-care you choose to do for yourself, focus on how that activity will improve your ability to give back to your family. I ask postnatal clients to tap into this during personal training sessions. When they’re feeling distracted by family matters, I ask them to seek out new strength from movement to create positive momentum beyond their training. If they need to refresh their motivation, I ask them to dedicate a particular exercise to someone who needs their strength most. I find this approach helps them stay more present in the moment so its benefits stretch further. If your mind is wandering during a quiet walk, or a massage, or a night with friends, etc, check in with what you need (strength, energy, calm?) and how that benefit will spill over into your family life (to support them, play with them, remain patient with them?).