Fran Ellis is a Nutrition Coach and Personal Trainer, helping to educate successful women to come up with solutions so they can make tangible long-term changes to their diets and lifestyles. She lives with her five-year-old twins and husband in Dubai, where she has been for the last 13 years.

Fran Ellis, Nutrition Coach

Tell us a bit about you as a mum…

I am a mum to 5-year-old twins Bailey and Blake, and if I’m honest, their arrival hit me like a tonne of bricks. I went through a fertility struggle to get them and had such a huge desire to be a mother. I think I’d assumed I would take it all in my stride and be a natural.

I am an expat and have lived in Dubai for the last 13 years, so I didn’t have family around to support me, so it was a tough gig in that first year. I was a sleep deprived mess, but I also felt that I completely lost my identity as a strong independent woman as I was reliant on my husband’s income. I had never felt so vulnerable. It meant I completely ate whenever I felt like it and justified it as I was breastfeeding twins.

I had worked as a Personal Trainer for five years before getting pregnant, but I didn’t have the confidence to go back to my job because I had put on so much weight. Six months after having the twins I was still 13kg overweight, and I felt terrible.

Desperate to get back to work and regain some of my identity, I actually went back to a previous career that was desk-bound, but that made me even more miserable as I wasn’t doing what I loved and I missed my babies.

I felt desperate to lose weight, and I was tempted by every fad going. It was then I decided to educate myself not only on nutrition but also the psychology of change so I could help myself and future clients. I spent the next two years training as a nutrition coach and it was transformational for both myself and my career.

Getting back to my old self was a huge journey, but I feel that it lead me down a path that I needed to go on to help other mums in the same situation as me.

Enjoying expat life in Dubai

Tell us about your current job…

I am a Nutrition Coach, and I coach women through a habit based curriculum to lasting and sustainable lifestyle change. I make change accessible to anyone and make sure that it fits around their own specific circumstances. As mums, I understand that any change needs to be suitable for the whole family. I keep it as real as I can.

I love seeing my clients literally transform their lives. I had a client recently who saw herself as ‘an inactive, crafty mum’. Now she goes rock climbing with her daughter regularly. She just completed her first Tough Mudder obstacle course, and she ran her first 10k. On top of that, her daughter helps her in the kitchen to create amazing meals, and she is teaching her some of the principles she has learned with me. All of this would have been inconceivable to her 12 months ago. She is currently sat in Thailand in her red Bikini that she had set her sights on 12 months ago. It’s freaking amazing. And how lucky am I to get to be part of such huge transformations, and in helping shape the next generation.

Diet culture makes me really angry, because I was sucked in for 25 years. Through coaching mums that there is a better way that still helps you achieve results, I hope I have an impact on helping to crowd out this industry for the next generation. I don’t want my kids to grow up in a world where they are on one diet after another continuously gaining then losing the same weight over and over.

How easy have you found being a working mum?

At the beginning it was tough, I knew I needed to work for my sanity, but I also need to contribute to our monthly living expenses. But it was also tough when I was doing something I didn’t enjoy. The key to making this work for me has been finding something that challenges me and feeds my soul.

I feel terrible when its half term and I have to spend most of the time working, and they get left at home with childcare. But I do feel I balance it all out. We have amazing weekends at the beach or pool. Their childhood is something I could have only dreamed of, so I can’t feel too guilty.

I think guilt is part of the story as a mother anyway. If you are a stay at home mum, part-time working mum or full time working mum, you will always find something to feel guilty about. I also recognise that guilt is a redundant emotion, so when I notice it creeping in, I try to squash it and just get on with what I need to do.

How have you found trying to balance being a mum with your current role?

By design I work for myself, there are huge advantages to this when it comes to being a mum. I can be at every school play and sports day and I don’t need to get anyone’s permission.

On the other hand, working for myself in my own business means there is always something to do, and sometimes I allow that to creep into family time. For example, right now I’m writing this, and I’ve put the TV on for the kids so I can get it done! It is Friday morning (weekend in Dubai), but we are going out for a lovely brunch on the beach in a few hours, so I call that balance.

What has kept you going throughout your journey so far?

I want to make a difference to others and I want to have a huge impact.

I am building a business not just for myself but also for my family. I don’t want all the pressure to be on my husband to earn all the money, and I don’t want my kids to think that only men can provide for a family. I also want to upgrade our lives, and I want to have more fantastic holidays while they are young enough to still want to spend all their holiday’s with their parents.

My secret dream is to build an online business that allows us to take the kids out of school for a year and travel with them and really give them an education to remember.

What advice would you offer anyone who is about to return to work after having a child?

Guilt is a redundant emotion. I know you will experience it but try to let it wash over you and get on with your day.

Make family time count. I love story time so much when they both cuddle up to me, and we read, these are the memories we will always remember.

There are many benefits to kids to having a working mum, focus on them.

What’s the best piece of advice someone gave you about combining motherhood with a job?

It’s a tough gig, but you are stronger than you know, you’ve got this.

Anything else you would like our members to know about you?

Don’t forget to make some time for you. It’s so important just because you spend time working away from your kids it doesn’t mean it isn’t important to look after yourself, and you will be a better parent and a better human for it.

Book a regular manicure appointment, meditate for 10 minutes, read a book, go to an exercise class. Your needs are super important because it is you that keeps everything together for everyone else.

Also, get mornings right, they are the most stressful time of day as a working parent. The children might be tired and hard to get moving, and there will often be a last minute poo request as you walk out the door! The more planning you can do the night before the better. This is a work in progress for me, but I know on days it works well I feel like I have a massive win before 7.30am.

I am running a free Healthy Habits 5-day challenge for busy mums and would love you all to join me HERE