Giovanna Fletcher – author, host and mother of three – is the definition of a woman spinning multiple plates, but when I manage to pin her down for a quick catch up (in between filming and the school run) she's the definition of cool, calm and candid. For any listeners of Gi's, as she's known to friends, podcast, Happy Mum, Happy Baby (which has even featured Kate Middleton as a guest), you'll be pleased to know she's just as personable off-air as she is during episodes too.
Her honesty about all things parenting, mental health and everything in between, infused with a dose of sunshine, has helped her to win over a legion of fans – many of whom will be tuning into her virtual event, Happy Mum Happy Baby: The Virtual Meetup (15 - 18th October), over the next few days. But it hasn't always been plain sailing, Gi admits.
Like many, she's experienced self-doubt over her parenting ability and worried that others are judging her. "I remember early on with Buzz [now 6, who she shares with McFly's Tom Fletcher] being in a restaurant and thinking these two people on a nearby table were really judging me," she shares. "But about half an hour into the meal, they turned around and we got chatting and they were really lovely. So what my mind had been telling me was going on, wasn't actually happening." The experience, she says, taught her that changing her own outlook could have a hugely positive impact. "Most people are just going about their day, they aren't judging you."
Gi also shares that when it comes to body image and mental health, harnessing the power of a positive mindset has been a game changer too – as has changing her relationship with exercise. "I no longer view fitness as a way of punishing my body, or something to do in order to be thinner," she says, adding that being challenged to run a 10K in her underwear by friend, Bryony Gordon, has helped her fall in love with the feeling of running, rather than fixating on any appearance-orientated results. "I've discovered to joy of it. I still don't know if I love running while I'm doing it," she laughs. "But I do love the feeling that comes after."
She adds, "If I'm getting frustrated or bogged down by life, I know I can go out for a 30 minute run and when I come back, yes all those things will still be there, but they kind of feel elevated above my head somehow."
This shift in how she views exercise has helped Gi to change how she views her body too. "Before having kids, I thought my body should look a certain way and despite me always pushing it, it never did," she says. "Then, when I was pregnant for the first time, with Buzz, I suddenly felt really empowered – I felt sexy and suddenly owned my body." Her second pregnancy, with son Buddy, 4, she admits, was tougher. "In comparison, I actually found it quite challenging because everyone was commenting on how I looked – it was all 'Look how big you are!' and 'Is it twins?'. Everyone's got something to say, but I've learnt you just can't take it personally."
Engaging with body confidence accounts on social media has made a difference too, says Gi, as did having the revelation there's no point in buying clothes based on the label size. "Growing up, I'd be like 'Oh, no, I can't buy that! I can't be that size', whereas now I focus on 'What can I wear that makes me feel good?'. Shop sizes vary so much anyway, I have everything from a size 8 up to a 14 in my wardrobe. Right now I'm living in my 14s and that's totally fine!"
For Gi, confidence has also come with time and she's happy to add that it's an on-going journey. "I feel very differently about my body now in comparison to ten years ago. We're almost taught how to feel about our bodies as teenagers, we take on board messages from the things we watch, the things that people say – not even directly to us. It's a learned habit and constantly evolving."
All of these topics, and more, will be up for discussion during her virtual event throughout the rest of the week, Gi happily informs me, as our call draws to an end. "I want everyone who tunes in to feel part of an empowered community. Motherhood can be difficult, it can be lonely, figures show the leading cause of death for mothers in the first year is suicide – feeling connected with others is so important. The panels we have planned will be on everything from anxiety to food to fitness."
With that, our time is up – Gi needs to pick up her little ones and get ready for another busy week. We can't wait to tune in.
To sign up to Happy Mum Happy Baby: The Virtual Meetup, simply click here.
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