I’m overdue for an another athlete-mom interview, so check out this interview with an amazing mom of seven kids, yes seven!! If you think its tough to get and stay fit with just one or two children, read on to see how Lesley has done it with in her words, “seven wonderful children ranging in age from 7 to 21.” Read on to hear about her life as a stay at home mom, to a single and super fit working mom, now in training for her second Ironman!
What are the ages and names of your children?
My first three are boys. Andrew 21, Craig 19, Benjamin 17. Then came the three girls. Shayanne 15, and twins Emily and Katie 13. Then the youngest little guy Eli who is 7.
How active were you prior to having your children?
The amount of physical activity that I did before having children was none! I was busy studying for my Social Work Degree. Shortly after graduating University I had my first baby, and they tumbled forth in rapid succession!
As a stay at home mom, my workouts were composed of running up and down stairs to change diapers, weight lifting was the laundry (which I liken to the eighth wonder of the world) and carrying car seats everywhere, running up and down the sidelines at the kid’s soccer games cheering them on and carrying them into the house when they were exhausted after their big game! I was fully immersed in raising my children. When the twins were born I had six kids aged seven and under. I also had a marriage where I was alone 80% of the year as my now “Wasband” travelled overseas most of the time. As time passed I was becoming increasingly lonely and frustrated as I knew I was losing myself, and wondered if I would ever find myself again.
How did you find the time to find physical activity (and yourself :)) again?
My fitness journey began one day when I happened upon a kickboxing studio where my oldest son was competing in soccer. I gave it a try one night, and from that day on I went everyday for 6 years (one of those years I was pregnant with my last child and actually trained intensely right up until the day I had him….EASY BIRTH/ EASY RECOVERY!!!) until I earned my black belt in Muay Thai and Kickboxing. I entered the ring and won a Canadian Championship bout in Vancouver. I started training for my bouts at the Talisman Centre where I began another chapter, teaching the Get Ripped Program (Lesley is currently in 9 of the Get Ripped DVDs). The creator of the program had seen me at Talisman and begged me to teach it. I was incredibly reluctant to do so as I still hadn’t found myself and had NO confidence at all. Upon her insistence I started to teach the program. Right around this time my “wasband” came home from his travels one day and decided that our marriage was over. At that moment my days as a stay at home Mom were over. I hadn’t worked for 14 years. I was now single-handedly raising 7 children 99% of the year! Teaching fitness became my profession and my passion. What I didn’t know at that time was that it was something I was becoming really good at and my children and a wonderful group of highly supportive women who were participating in my classes were being so incredibly supportive that I started to find out where and who I was! I somehow gathered up a huge following who continue to encourage and support me every day. I have found that having that positive support system to be integral to anyone who is trying to juggle family and a fitness goal.
How did you get into triathlon?
Three years ago I was approached by a triathlon coach who expressed that I would be a great triathlete and would I consider trying out the sport. I have always had the philosophy that people should try things once….Well here I am three years later training for my second Ironman!
How do you balance your training with work and family?
My training schedule for this incredible undertaking is somewhat hectic and sometimes exhausting. I choose to swim early in the morning way before my kids are up, and run while they are in school. My long bike rides happen while they are with their dad on the weekends, and thankfully when they are not with him they are so supportive that they almost push me out the door!!
What do your kids think of their active mom?
My children have shown incredible support of my goal to compete in Ironman and all of the races I compete in. They understand it’s importance to me, and have joined me in my sport by competing in a few races of their own. I know they are proud and inspired by my tenacity, and my overwhelming desire to constantly get back up and keep going when times are rough.
I am blessed that they continue to allow me to fulfill my goal this year of improving my time at Ironman Canada. It is also my goal to be the very best single working parent that I can possibly be, however it is a very fine balance of hard training, work, family and a lot of encouragement and determination.
Any advice you would give to other moms while trying to stay active while raising a family?
As a mom I think it is so important to keep yourself close to the top of the totem pole in life. Remember in addition to being a mom, a wife, an employee or employer, you are also a woman who should forever be challenging herself to personal goals and personal time to achieve those goals. My experience has allowed my children to understand the importance of goal setting, the long-term benefits of fitness and proper nutrition, the ability to create and maintain balance in their lives and the life long lesson that when life hands you a challenge, you are the only factor that can hold you back. There is ALWAYS a way, and there is no such phrase as “I can’t”. I’m proof of that.
As a side note, I now have a wonderful man in my life now who is also training for Ironman and supports me every day and allows me to do the same for him. To every challenge in life there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Think positive and surround yourself with positive people and you will accomplish everything!
What kind of work keeps you busy these days?
I am now what I call a Life Coach. I teach mostly women how to pick up the broken pieces and make themselves whole again through proper fitness and nutrition. My goal is to teach them to become whole for the rest of their lives, not just for the moment. I create individual fitness programs on line for those women who have children and just can’t get away from home, or if they can get away just for a while a program that will suit their needs at a fitness facility. I also teach Fitness classes at Talisman Centre and Heaven’s Fitness, and am a personal trainer who will come to people’s homes to train them there or if weather permitting, in the great outdoors.
To all you ladies who are striving to reach a goal and have children in your lives… I am well-known for this saying….YOU CAN DO THIS!!!