Five Minutes With Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill

Three time world champion and former Olympic athlete, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill tells us about the pressure to bounce back after pregnancy and how she identifies herself today.

What does your daily routine look like?

Every day is completely different and can involve a lot of randomness with two kids! First, I drop Reggie [four-years-old] off at school and then take Liv [one-year-old] to nursery, but some days we’ll go to play groups, swimming or tennis lessons. I’ve also been developing my app, Jennis, and keeping myself fit.

What do you eat in a day?

I have a light breakfast, because it’s always a mad rush in the morning! I’ll have a coffee first thing and grab some granola and yoghurt. For lunch, I’ll have a salad, some kind of sandwich or soup, and then in the evening, I eat with my husband once the kids have gone to bed. We’ve been using the Mindful Chef boxes (from £25.75), that have lots of tasty recipes that are nutritionally balanced.

How do you fit in exercise as a busy mum?

It’s hard because I don’t always have the time or the energy, but I tell myself I want to do three workouts a week and if I do that I’ll be happy. I write down when I want to slot it in and that makes me commit to it. I’ll do a hill run when the kids are at school and nursery in the morning and then I’ll try to do a little circuit in the evening – this literally takes 20 minutes and I work myself pretty hard. It’s just about forcing yourself to create that time and if you know you can do it at home, it’s so much easier, because you know you’ll feel amazing after.

How did your workouts change when you were pregnant?

It was different for both of my children. When I was pregnant with Reggie, I was still training full-time, but everything slowed down a bit when I was pregnant with Liv. I still stayed very active, but training wasn’t about pushing myself to exhaustion or trying to make physical changes, it was about keeping a certain level of fitness. I had great support from my physio and coach to guide me to the right exercises that were safe.

You’ve gone from Olympic athlete to a mum of two, how would you identify yourself today?

I don’t see myself as an athlete anymore. I will always see myself as a sporting person, but first and foremost, I am a mother. Even though my kids are small, I want them to have as much time with me as possible, but I also want them to see me working and having a career, as well.

Did you feel any pressure to ‘bounce back’ after having baby Reggie?

I felt a lot of pressure and not just externally, but from myself as well. Even when I was pregnant, there were some people who said ‘you won’t do it’ and ‘I don’t think you’ll come back after having Reggie’, and that was disappointing to hear because I was still very focused and determined to come back and finish my career. I also did what every new mum does, where you look at your body and you think ‘I just want to get back to where I was’ and it’s hard to accept that your body has changed so much. After giving birth, you expect everything to go back to normal straightaway and that’s just not the case – it takes time.

Read the full interview with Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill in the October issue of Health & Wellbeing.