“We try and live up to this expectation that we should be making sure that everything is picture perfect!”

Mum of two, TV-star, entrepreneur, wellness expert and property developer, Lucy Mecklenburgh, knows all too well the juggle of running a business alongside bringing up two young children, Roman 3 and Lilah, 18 months. Each week she is spinning a variety of different plates from boardroom meetings developing her renowned fitness app RWL – (which has been hailed as ‘the world’s most comprehensive online fitness and nutrition app’) to bringing together her loyal community by hosting retreats abroad. Alongside RWL, Lucy also works with many different brands such as developing her own clothing lines, creating content for social media plus she is also building an impressive portfolio as a property developer. As both Lucy and her fiancé (well-loved actor Ryan Thomas) are both self-employed, no two weeks are ever the same, and with that, comes the added pressure that so many of us face day-to-day. We sat down with Lucy to chat about how she manages everything from the strains of running a business, to mum guilt and how having children inspired her to change the focus of her whole app. Lucy is incredibly down to earth, and very humble and it’s an absolute pleasure to have Lucy as our Edition 2 cover star.

Lucy Mecklenburg BROOD Edition 2
LUCY MECLENBURGH COPYRIGHT FOR BROOD MAGAZINE ©

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Lucy Mecklenburg

INTERVIEW WITH LUCY MECKLENBURGH

Tell me what your weekly work-juggle looks like?

“There’s always lots to do for my wellness app – which is 10 years old now, and I’ve also got the wellness treats that I work on, they’re new. Creating content for social media is a huge part of my job now. Whether that be for my app, or for brands that I work with. Doing photoshoots and attending events are as well. That’s kind of my juggle on a weekly basis workwise. Sounds quite a lot when you say it out loud! [She laughs]”

At what point in your career did you become a mum and how did you find that transition?

“Do you know what, I was at a really nice point in my career actually. I was late twenties – which was actually a lot younger than I thought I was going to be. I’d had my app for a long time, it was going really well, and I had got to the point where I was really happy with it and loved everyone I was working with. I had done a few TV shows and then me and Ryan met whilst we were doing the Bear Grylls show – which was probably one of biggest challenges to date, apart from having children! [We laugh] And I was very happy, moving behind the scenes into the business world a little bit more, then I fell pregnant. Having my kids changed my business in a huge way! We had a very small part of the app dedicated to pre and post-natal and now that is a massive part of RWL. I can remember looking at it as soon as I had a baby and just realising immediately that the existing structured-part of the app for post-natal, needed to go. I was like, ‘There shouldn’t be any pressure to work out three times a week and do this and follow this etc. I want there to be loads of information on there that offers information on sleep, mental health, breast feeding. I want there to be support and a community within the app so that people can talk to each other and share in their journeys.’ We have Midwifes, Doctors on there, and that came from me googling things at 2am and getting overwhelmed with information. I wanted a platform that I could trust – so I created it! And now it’s a huge part of the business that I’m really passionate about, and I’m really proud of that.”

What has been your career highlight to date?

“Oh gosh, that is so hard! I think actually getting my fitness app to 10 years was a huge moment for me, because it’s not easy – running a business is not easy and there has been so many highs and lows over the last 10 years within the business, so reaching that point was a huge milestone. I think especially as people would think, ‘Oh it’s just another celebrity fitness fad’ – particularly in the early days and actually I’ve seen a lot of brands come and go but we’ve stuck it out and we’ve got years’ experience now. We didn’t always make the right decisions over the years, but you learn from that and I’m really proud of it. It’s not been easy, it never is but if you stick at something and you work hard then you can make a success of it. Also, to branch out into to doing the retreats abroad and bringing that community together was really important too.”

Charlotte Hawkins
IMAGES COPYRIGHT OF BROOD MAGAZINE ©

What has been the biggest challenge that you have had to overcome since having a business?

“I think accepting that every decision that you make isn’t going to be the right one and being ok with that. Like at first when I made decisions that didn’t work out, I would find it really hard to accept that, but as I’ve moved forward I can reflect and go – ‘It didn’t work out for this reason and I learnt a lesson.’ And actually all the things that go wrong when you start a business are actually the best things to happen to you, because you’re better doing it then, rather than five years down the line because you learn so much. So yes, learning to accept the mistakes that you make and then turning them around into a positive, realising that everything that happened has happened for a reason.”

What have you found the hardest thing about being a parent?

“I really struggled with the early days. Maybe more so as Roman was my first and a lockdown baby. I think its because you’re going from what is a selfish life – we don’t realise it but we all do whatever it is that we want and you only have to think about yourself and then all of a sudden you’re have this amazing thing given to you and your totally responsible for and suddenly everything revolves around them. You suddenly think – ‘What was I doing with all my time before I had children!’ [We laugh in agreement] I just found it really tough. Also, Roman was quite poorly and so I would also say the worry of being a mum was something that I hadn’t prepared for, and I think that it probably the hardest thing about becoming a parent. You have that worry because you love them more than anything you’ve ever loved in your life before.” [Roman was diagnosed with an unsafe swallow.] I think that the fact people don’t talk enough about how hard it is – especially that first 6 months – is really tough. Even at 6 months I remember thinking with Roman, ‘God, this is still really hard and I’m not feeling completely fulfilled.’ And then you start thinking, ‘why am I not feeling fulfilled ‘just as a mum’. And actually, being a mum is the hardest job in the world and we crave adult conversations and work environments and I think that’s really normal and natural. I think you need good friends around you, like I remember ringing my friend one day and saying, ‘I’m really bored! I’m watching Peppa Pig on repeat, I’m washing and ironing.’ It just felt like Groundhog Day every day and actually I needed to make a decision to change that, to reach out for help; share more between me and Ryan; to arrange some childcare so that I had some time for me – whether that was in a work capacity or meeting friends for coffee, you need that. I don’t think that day in day out ‘just being a mum’ wouldn’t work for me.”

Mum guilt is something that most people encounter in one way or another, what has your experience of Mum guilt and how have you dealt with it?

“Hugely! I remember going to work, quite early on – because I had my own business you see so I didn’t get a maternity leave as such and also I really missed it, and I really wanted to get back in and see what was going on because I have to run a business, and I can remember going in for a day and feeling like an awful person because I wasn’t pining for my child. I felt guilty for not worrying and missing my child. I can remember thinking this is ridiculous. We’re so hard on ourselves, if my friend would have said that to me, I would have said, ‘Well that’s good, you’ve been to work, your brain has been focused on other things and then you’ll go back to your child thinking I can’t wait to see them!’ But I felt so guilty. I think just being busy – I’ll have a week where I’m really busy with work and I always feel like I need to let them stay up an extra hour before bed, because I feel guilty because I’ve not seen them as much as I would have wanted to. Unfortunately, I think – especially for us women – because I’m sure Dad guilt exists but you don’t really hear of that as much, but the phrase Mum guilt is used so much and I feel like whatever we do whether we’re a working mum, whether we stay at home, or whether we do a bit of both, whatever we do there’s always going to be that guilt and that pressure put on us. You can’t wait.”

Do you think that pressure comes from ourselves, or societal pressures, or a bit of both?  

“I think it’s society and us. I think society can be too quick to deem things either right or wrong when actually we all just need to support each other more. Even like childcare, everyone has an opinion on childcare, when actually a lot of the time the mums and the dads have to go back to work, they don’t have a choice they have to, so they need childcare. But even if its not down to needing to go back to work, its that they want to that’s ok. Having childcare in place is absolutely ok and actually my son absolutely loves nursery, and he does way-more in a day than I could ever think up for him!”

Becoming a parent changes your life so dramatically that its can be easy to feel like you have lost of identity, did you experience that feeling at any point?

“Oh 100% you do lose your identity. I can remember thinking one day, ‘When was the last time I put make up on, I’ve not got out of my joggers or pyjamas for weeks – and that was probably even worse than it would have been because of covid – but me and Ryan tried to make an effort so that I would feel like myself, so we would do date night every other Friday for example. We have this thing now that we call a mini reset, where we look at what is working and not working in our week, what can we do to make this situation better? For example, childcare – what’s working and what’s not working, and what can we do differently. It gives us an opportunity to say, well next week I need to make time for this – be that going for a walk on our own, or to get a coffee etc. We try and plan our weeks as much as possible because our lives are so crazy and we don’t have a 9-5 job, the mini resets really work for us, and it helps us to improve our lives. Everyday is a real juggle and when you are putting your children first, it can be hard to make sure you get what you need out of your week as well, there never seems to be enough hours in the day to fit everything in!”

We usually ask what tips you would give to other parents, do you think that is your number tip?

“Yes, I would say the mini resets, but just communication too – with your partner and people around you. That could be your mum or your mother-in-law, and you could say to them ‘this is what would be helpful for me this week. I think communication is so important and when you have kids you have to have that, you really do.”

How easy have you found asking for help? We all put ourselves under so much pressure, sometimes reaching out for help can feel like admitting defeat – that we can’t do it all. How did you find that?

“I think society puts so much pressure on us and you look on Instagram and you see everyone’s houses that supposedly look perfect and clean, I can tell you now, that there will be a pile of clothes behind the camera, and that it’s been placed at a perfectly placed angle to hide it! [We laugh] I’m guilty of doing it as well, because we try and live up to this expectation that we should be making sure that everything is picture perfect. I love that there is a change in social media though now because its real life is being normalised. There are people doing funny reals that are showing the reality of everyday scenarios that we can all relate to, and you find yourself going, ‘Oh my god, I’m so glad she thinks that as well, or she has to deal with that as well.’ I love that people are normalising the mundane and stressful parts of parenthood too. I think sometimes you wait until you’re at rock bottom before you ask for help, and it doesn’t need to be that way. I remember calling my mum once and admitting that I was really struggling and that I needed help, and of course she was straight around! I think it is really hard to ask for help though, especially when you’re a new mum.”

Do you think the same applies in business too, that it can be hard to admit that you need help as we feel the need to portray success?

“Yes, I think so. I’m 10 years into my business, it’s not been plain sailing, I’ve made lots of mistakes and that’s ok. Anyone who’s in business knows that it’s really, hard work and there’s going to be loads of things that come along to challenge you. But you shouldn’t feel embarrassed by that because you can grow from that and make better decisions going forward because you’ve learnt a lesson. It’s a bit like life in general, you have to grow certain things to grow, and it’s those things that make your stronger in business and as a person. And I couldn’t do it at the beginning but now I could for help if I needed it. Learning to delegate is a skill, to trust someone else to take care of things in your business can be really hard, but you learn that you aren’t always the best person to deal with everything and actually someone else can do a much better job, so you learn to trust them and let them get on with it.”

Did you feel more pressure to ‘snap back’ after having a baby and being in the public eye, as well as having a fitness app, and how did you deal with that?

“I think everyone presumed that I would be really small, really quickly but actually as soon as I had Roman, I didn’t care – I did not care! And I thought I really would, and I had put on 4 stone whilst I was pregnant and he was a big baby, but he wasn’t 4 stone, that would have been a hard if he was! [She laughs] But I thought I would really care but I didn’t. I had such little sleep, and I just was really kind to myself. I decided to just wait and then start to move once I felt ready, and I thought I would have had that 6 week check and be straight back to training, when actually I didn’t start training again until Roman was 6 months old. And I would always say to say anyone, please don’t put yourself under any pressure you’ve just done a huge thing. I mean obviously I would say please look after yourself in terms of eating good to make sure your well in all aspects, but if you’re not ready to train and you’re exhausted then it doesn’t matter. I’m a lot kinder to my body since having children. A healthy body is a lot more important than achieving this so-called view of perfection in any way possible! My biggest concern used to be my appearance, now it’s about making sure I’m as healthy as possibly so that I can be around for as long as possible for the kids. And being a healthy role for the children is massively important, and that goes past trying to encourage them to eat healthy food, it’s about how you talk about food and how you talk about your body in front of them. I would never talk about my body in negative way in front of my children. I don’t ever want Lilah to her me say, ‘I’m not going to eat that because I’m on a diet’ and so many people do without fully realising they are even doing it or understand the damage that can do to a child in the future. I think the best way to promote good health is by encouraging them to be active in a way that they enjoy.” 

And to end our interview on positive, what do you love most about being a parent?

“I think just all those proud moments. Like today when someone has said to me, ‘You should be so proud of Roman, he’s got amazing manners, he’s such a funny character’ and I started welling up. I think that being proud of them and watching them grow – there’s no feeling like it. As much as there is all the worry and all the other stuff, it’s all completely worth it! [She pauses] But I don’t want anymore! [We all laugh]”

Lucy Mecklenburg
IMAGES COPYRIGHT OF BROOD MAGAZINE LIMITED ©
Simon Wood
Written by Lolo Stubbs
Tom Pitfield and his daughter Iris

PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD

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