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Gemma Atkinson has opened up about how she deals with parenting scrutiny, how she's combatting the pressures to 'bounce back' after birth, and how motherhood has changed her.
The former Hollyoaks and Emmerdale star, 37, says as soon as she had her daughter Mia, now two, who she shares with her fiancé, Strictly Come Dancing pro Gorka Márquez, she cared less about what others thought about her.
"I think I found scrutiny more difficult before I had Mia," she tells Hello! magazine. "But the minute I became a mum, everything just gained a new perspective for me and the opinion of Joe Bloggs on the internet was really insignificant to how I was with my daughter at home."
The radio host and presenter of The Toddler Club says her "concern in life now is, 'Is my family healthy and happy?'" as welcoming her daughter shifted her focus. "What people think of me now is nothing to do with me," she adds. "It's to do with them. They don't know me personally so why should I take it personally?"
Her words of encouragement to other mums are, "You know your body and your baby better than anyone else. It's fine for people to give you all this advice, but ultimately, it's your baby.
"So you've got to trust your own instincts and do your routine which will be completely different from other people's but that's okay. Don't compare your child to anyone else's because they're all completely different."
But that doesn't mean it's been all plain-sailing for her. "From the minute I announced I was pregnant, I was flooded with questions of 'When are you going to start training again? Are you worried that your body is going to change? When are you going to get your body back?'" she says.
"And it just dawned on me that it's such a massive fear for so many people, that having a baby will effectively ruin the body and the mind and I just thought it's completely not the case."
That's why she wants her new book The Ultimate Body Plan for New Mums (which she says is actually aimed at anyone who's ever had a baby) to offer something new. "A lot of pregnancy books make it sound like it's all cardigans and floral aprons and baking while your baby's asleep – and this is a reality check on it all," she says.
"It's all about finding yourself again after having a child, strengthening your pelvic floor, and focusing on how you feel your best – not necessarily about having to get back into your pre-pregnancy jeans."
Atkinson says getting back into shape after having Mia was "the last thing" on her mind and so focuses on subjects that aren't as talked about in the book too. "I've been as honest as possible with the good and the bad – there's a section on piles for example, things that you don't expect."
It seems children weren't always a part of her 'plan' either. "I never thought I'd have kids because I was more than happy to be on my own with ten dogs," she explains.
"And that was kind of the dream for me! It wasn't until I met Gorka I thought, 'Oh, I could actually have a family with him,' because it was just different. It shocked me at how natural a process it was for me because I know a lot of people struggle and it's difficult."
She adds, "Becoming a mother definitely made me more patient and it's kind of surprised me at how natural I've dealt with things, whether they've been easy or not."
After having Mia, Atkinson didn't do any exercise for about 16 weeks. She then started slow with walks and then began to lift heavy weights again when her little one was was six months old. "I focused on my strength rather than my size."
She now tries to do between three and four times a week of training at the gym, along with a yoga day and walking the dogs twice a day. In terms of diet, she says, "I always go with 80% what my body needs and 20% what I like, so there's lots of grains and vegetables and pulses."
But, at the weekend, she adds, "if we fancy a pizza, we will have one or if we're going to the cinema, we'll get some pick and mix. Nothing is off limits. I am aware that a chocolate bar every day isn't going to be good for me but chocolate one day a week is fine."
Atkinson echoed this message last week, saying she's "the heaviest I’ve been in my life [apart from when she was pregnant with Mia]", as told to The Sun. "But I’m also lean, strong and healthy. Weight doesn’t bother me.”
Watch: Gemma Atkinson and Gorka Márquez got engaged on Valentine's Day!