Natalie Dau shares how she manages to spend time with her daughter while juggling her fitness commitments.
When Natalie Dau turned 46 years old earlier this year, she kicked off her birthday celebrations by competing in a friendly burpee challenge with her husband and their nine-year-old daughter, Lilianna. It’s clear that Natalie doesn’t run a typical household – and she isn’t your typical mum either. She is also an athlete, personal trainer, and entrepreneur – she runs her own fitness website called The Daily Escape.
Yes, she literally lives and breathes all things fitness, but this hasn’t always been so. Natalie was previously working in the corporate world where frequent business trips and late-night conference calls were the norm. She made a career change in 2013 as she was looking for a new challenge, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Most notably, she’s become a formidable competitor in obstacle course races. In 2015, she was talked into trying out the first Singapore Spartan Race by the CEO of Spartan Race Australia. “I had no idea what I was in for,” she says.
After the first race, she was hooked and has since gone on to compete in these events on a global level. Her biggest fitness achievement to date is finishing first from Asia in the men’s and women’s category of the Spartan World Championships in the USA last year.
You may think that juggling all these commitments will leave her no time to be a mother, but she has always made it a point to be present for Lilianna. In fact, Natalie has played a key role in developing her daughter’s active lifestyle.
“As part of my time management, I try and get a lot of my exercise in when she is at school or before she wakes up, and then I am free to watch her participate in her own sports,” says Natalie.
As such, Lilianna started swimming since she was six months old and was doing mini tennis and dance by the time she was two.
Now, Lilianna does Brazilian jiu-jitsu, basketball, swimming and athletics. It has always been Natalie’s intention to expose Lilianna to various basic sports – the ones that will lay the foundation for her to do anything, she says.
Sounds overwhelming? Not for Lilianna. Even on Mondays, her only free day of the week, she chooses to do some physical activities.
“On Mondays, I relax, watch TV and sometimes go for a swim or downstairs to skateboard,” says Lilianna. “I want to be like mummy.”
Growing up in a household where fitness runs in the blood, and seeing her mother head out to run or hit the gym is nothing unusual to Lilianna. That’s why eating healthy and exercising has become part of her lifestyle, says Natalie.
Under Natalie’s guidance, Lilianna has learned to make healthy food and lifestyle choices on her own. She has only ever eaten at McDonald’s once in her life and she absolutely doesn’t mind that. Instead, she starts every morning with a smoothie and regularly packs salads to school.
And when it comes to spending quality time as a family, working out together trumps other activities. They go for runs and Natalie brings Lilianna along for her athletics training twice a week and bootcamp workout once a week.
In Natalie’s words…
I work out because… it makes me a nicer person.
To me, being a good mum means… leading by example, empowering my daughter to be strong, and inspiring her to be the best that she can be.
My daughter inspires me to… try new things and be a better human.
My biggest time-saving tip is… always be prepared for the next day. I go to bed with my clothes planned ready, food organised and bag packed so I can hit the ground running. Literally! The investment in taking those 10 minutes at night to do so pays dividends the next morning.
If I only have five minutes to work out, I will… do push-ups, air squats, sit-ups, dips and burpees for 50 seconds each, taking 10 seconds of rest after each exercise.
When other mums tell me they don’t have time to work out, I say… you need to make time as no one else is going to do it for you.
To me, working out is as important as… eating.
My motto as a mum is… don’t sweat the small stuff as no one is perfect. We are all doing the best we can.