So, fatherhood, Jamie… Congratulations! How is it?
Fatherhood is the one job I had no idea I wanted. It has been the most incredible eye opener for me. As someone who has struggled with direction and motivation, little Nell has made everything make so much sense, leaving me more motivated than I have ever been to look after her and Camilla. I couldn't be happier.
How has it been different from expectations?
I’m not sure I fully understood my own expectations. You do your best to prepare yourself for it and guess at how it may feel when the day comes, but I now understand why people struggle to describe the feeling of becoming a parent. It’s a very strange thing – to me it’s best described as blissful chaos.
Has it been harder or easier than you thought it would be?
It’s definitely a lot to take on, but it doesn't feel that way because it all makes sense at the time. It’s also always enjoyable, even in the difficult times, though I have to acknowledge that it’s different for every parent as every couple’s dynamic is different. Cam is purely breastfeeding, meaning I can't help with night feeds (something I expected to be doing) so she is bearing the brunt of most of the sleepless nights. I am doing my best to compensate during the day, taking care of the things that she can't. She has pumped a bottle here and there for me, which I greatly appreciate as feeding Nell was another incredible experience, but even pumping isn't as straightforward as I would have thought. I would say the toughest thing for me is knowing how to best provide support to Cam. I believe mums really do have a monumental task on their hands, a task that Cam is passing with flying colours and I'm incredibly proud of her.
How did you prepare for it?
I just stayed focused and excited. I tried my best to trust we’d work out what to do – and to control my nerves. Becoming a parent is a daunting prospect, especially these days, but there’s a reason they say it’s the most rewarding and most important job you can do.
What’s the best bit of advice you could now give a soon-to-be dad?
Take every day as it comes, and trust yourself and your instincts. There’s no better feeling, and you'll smash it!
What are you doing to look after yourself as a busy dad?
I gained a fair bit of weight last year, during Cam’s pregnancy and in the early days with a new baby. It’s easy to forget about exercising and cut corners in terms of cooking and food choices when there’s so much already on your plate mentally, but I have begun to turn that around, squeezing in a bit of me time to exercise and also making sure I prepare healthier meals for myself and Cam. It’s important to be functioning at your best when duty calls!
How have the lockdowns been for you?
They’ve been okay. In our situation, there have been benefits to staying at home that we have tried to focus on. This is obviously not the situation for everyone and it’s a horrible thing to think how difficult this past year has been for so many.
What’s had to change for you?
My routine. Routine is important and we've all had to formulate new daily routines focused solely on the great indoors. Ours has consisted of lots of household chores, Zoom calls and laptop time to keep occupied.
What have you learnt during lockdown?
I will never again take being able to see people for granted. Freedom, family and friends are things to treasure. I’ve also learnt to look after my health. Even when times get tough, it is something we should prioritise.
This latest lockdown comes at a bad time of year for many people. Any tips for getting through it?
There are things we cannot control and dwelling on those is a very destructive thing for the mind. Because your mind wants to solve problems, this is very frustrating, like trying to open a door with the wrong key. To give yourself the best chance of coming out of lockdown with the best possible tools and mindset, switch your attention to the things you can control: use this time to focus on your health and happiness; start exercising; make sure you’re feeding your body the right things; pick up your phone regularly and strengthen relationships with friends and family; learn new things; read, write and study.
Have you watched, read or bought anything good recently?
It’s not new, but one of our favourites is 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown. I've read a great book recommended by my boxing trainer: The Pressure Principle by Dr Dave Alred. I’ve been pretty excited about an adjustable push-up plate, which has been helping with a shoulder injury I suffered a while back.
How important is general mental health to you?
Overall health is a marriage between the mental and physical. It blows my mind that we consider our mind different to our body. If you can stay positive, you will give yourself the best chance physically; if you can stay active, you give yourself the best chance mentally. Physical health and happiness go hand in hand. Everything you do exercise wise should be done for both of those things. The same goes for talking to others, nurturing relationships with family and friends, limiting social media and negative news intake. All of these things will affect both your mental and physical health because the two are infinitely connected.
Take us back to 2017 now… Why did you go on Love Island?
I was approached to go on and actually I didn't want to initially. I was in a bit of a dark place and didn't think it was right for me. Clearly, I'm glad I did. It has been a ride with plenty of ups and downs but ultimately it has given me the two people in my life that I’m most proud of. I'm no longer in a dark place, I've learned an incredible amount about myself and what’s important. Most of all, though, I feel content.
You were pretty ripped back then. What do you do to keep in shape these days?
I’m a boxing fanatic, but I’ve started to fall back in love with running. With the gyms closing, regularly getting out onto the roads has been pretty crucial and I forgot how good it is for my general well-being.
What makes boxing special for you?
Boxing is a great discipline. My gym now is Amigo’s in Sidcup, but I was first taken into a boxing gym when I was nine or ten. As a combat sport, it teaches you so much about how your brain works, helps you understand your emotions and how to harness them, whether that’s fear, anger, nerves. It’s so much more than just exercise; it’s an education in yourself, and it’s very humbling.
Finally, alongside that, how important is nutrition?
Nutrition is incredibly important. Without the right fuel, a car will not run properly, and it’s effectively the same when it comes to us as people. Eat bad foods and you'll feel worse. I know it can be difficult to stay on top of, but it’s worth investing time in eating properly. And in those situations where you don't have time, healthy, nutritious, grab-and-go meal replacements like YFood can really help.
Jamie is an ambassador for YFood, which delivers complete, healthy meals in handy drink or bar form. Find out more about the brand here.
Follow Jamie on Instagram here.
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