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Celebrity Families

Megan Gale opens up about motherhood and the bittersweet birth of her son

The former model reveals how loss has taught her to live her most meaningful life.

By Paul Ewart
While she's walked down runways from Paris to Milan decked out in priceless couture, and has shared big screen time with Hollywood stars such as Russell Crowe and Charlize Theron, it was becoming a mum that prompted Megan Gale to transform the way she lives her life.
"The nature of my old job was deadlines," the 44-year-old tells Good Health. "You know, 'quick, we need to get the shot because the light goes!', 'quick, change your outfit and get back on the catwalk!'."
"It was 'go, go, go' all the time. I became programmed and conditioned to think that it was normal. That would then drip-feed into my private life, so even when I wasn't working, I'd be racing around. I'd only stop when I was burnt out.
"Becoming a mum has changed it all. It's made me slow down and re-prioritise what's important. Things I used to get upset about, I don't get upset about any more. Your kids are so special and so precious, you don't want to waste time worrying about things that don't matter, or worrying about things that you have no control over."
"Things I used to get upset about, I don't get upset about any more." (Image exclusive to Good Health)

Precious moments

Of course, motherhood changes most women, but in Megan's case giving birth to son River, now five, and daughter Rosie, almost two, has also resulted in a brand-new career.
Launched in May this year, Mindful Life is Megan's new passion project – a lifestyle brand that aims 'to help people lead a more mindful and present life'. It's a revelation she herself discovered after the birth of her first child.
"I had other parents coming up to me when I was with my newborn son, saying 'What a precious time; you should savour it'. Telling me they wished they could go back and relive time with their kids. It started to resonate with me.
"I didn't want to regret rushing through it all – the mealtimes, the bathing, the getting ready for bed – because, like it or not, they're going to grow up."
Megan is mum to son River, now five, and daughter Rosie, almost two. (Image: Instagram @megankgale)
So, one of the first products released under her brand was a skincare range for kids that's free from chemical nasties.
"I think of these products as tools for parents to connect with their kids," she says. "Rather than rushing through the bath routine, let them splash around as you play games with them. Afterwards, give them a little massage while you read their bedtime story. There is just so much power in being present for these moments."
Megan's new passion project Mindful Life is a lifestyle brand that aims 'to help people lead a more mindful and present life'. (Image exclusive to Good Health)

So natural

Megan is the first to admit this epiphany about the value of being present hit her later in life. But the impact it's had on her own life is so great that it's a message she wants to share.
She concedes that, before launching Mindful Life, health and wellness was unfamiliar territory for her, but adds, "It's an area I've always been drawn to. I like how it's evolved into this very naturally. It just came through being pregnant, rather than being inspired by trends, or another celebrity."
Of course the long-term success of any business is never a given, but there are two things she knows for sure: "I feel like a) I've worked the hardest I've worked on anything and b) it's the most authentic thing I've put my name to."
"Becoming a mum has made me slow down and re-prioritise what's important." (Image: Instagram @megankgale)
Authenticity is something Megan prizes. When we catch up, she's dressed in a loose T-shirt with minimal makeup. We relax on a sofa, and our conversation is punctuated with jokes and plenty of side-tracking. A big part of Megan's relatability is this down-to-earth nature, alongside the simple fact her own life has been far from zen-filled – becoming an entrepreneur included.
"Doing this has been the most challenging thing I've done," she says.
"It wasn't a case of me partnering with someone to get financial backing – this is all me, my money, and I'm the team. It's certainly not all unicorns and fairy floss!"
"Doing this has been the most challenging thing I've done," Megan says of her business venture. (Image: Instagram @megankgale)

A hard goodbye

Speaking of trying times, our chat turns towards the bittersweet birth of her first child, River, in 2014.
His arrival was preceded by the death of Megan's partner Shaun Hampson's father, by a month, then followed by the passing of her own father 14 weeks later.
"We had a lot of death and mourning, but at the same time new life," she says.
"Shaun's dad had prostate cancer, mine had lung cancer. Having a baby in the family is such a joyous time, but Shaun's mum was mourning, and my mum was caring for my dad, who was quickly deteriorating. I couldn't be there for my mum and dad back in Perth as I obviously couldn't fly after a certain point, then I had a newborn to take care of. I was in Melbourne just before he passed away and I was really worried about getting to see him in time, so I wrote a five-page letter telling him things I'd never told him, reflecting on some moments and memories, and letting him know what was important for me about our relationship. I sent it off and he phoned me and thanked me for it.
"Later on, I had a feeling I had to get back to Perth, so I jumped on a plane and by the time I arrived he'd already been put on morphine. Within 48 hours, he had passed away. I knew instinctively I had to go and see him. It made me thankful he hadn't just been taken in an instant – and we had a chance to say goodbye."
River's arrival was preceded by the death of Megan's partner Shaun Hampson's father, by a month, then followed by the passing of her own father 14 weeks later. (Image: Instagram @cocoonbynaomi)

Prioritising health

It was another wake-up call for Megan about the fleeting nature of life. It helped her press 'pause' and appreciate what's truly important.
"I really believe in the saying 'health is wealth'. Because if we don't have our health and aren't thriving, then we can't be the best mum, partner, daughter, businessperson, or whatever. I don't think we stop enough these days to connect with other people, and to connect with ourselves."
Megan certainly walks the walk. Admitting she doesn't have as much time for exercise as she did pre-babies, she still fits in a workout when she can, though she's had to adapt her regime slightly.
"Every woman is different, but after I had both of my kids, my flexibility changed. My lower back is now shot, so I have to be mindful about that and how I move my body. It's just different afterwards; your bones move, your body goes through this amazing transformation. It doesn't necessarily go back to what it was."
"Every woman is different, but after I had both of my kids, my flexibility changed." (Image: Instagram @megankgale)
One constant has been yoga. Megan has consistently practised for seven years, only stepping away from it during both her second trimesters, but hitting the mat again after giving birth.
"I absolutely love yoga. It's great for my mind, my body, my emotional state… just on every level. I go twice each week in Melbourne, one Vinyasa flow style class, one Yin. Pilates was something I loved, but I haven't had time to get back into it. I also used to love to run, but now I find it jarring on my body."
WATCH: These celebrities love yoga. Post continues after video...

10-minute workout

Of course, having an elite athlete as a partner doesn't hurt either in the fitness stakes.
Her fiancé of eight years, former AFL player Shaun, is often on hand to provide expertise for at-home workouts.
"I could never go for a run or do weights with him; he's too fast and too strong. But he came up with a great cycle routine which is just 10 minutes. You warm up for two minutes, then you cycle for 30 seconds like the devil is chasing you, then bring it back for two minutes, then pedal madly for 30 seconds, repeating it four times all up. You burn a lot of fat and toxins in your body and maximise your aerobic energy. We do that together sometimes on the spin bikes we have in our little home gym set-up."
WATCH: Megan Gale watches partner Shaun Hampson on Australian Survivor. Post continues after video...
It's a similar story with her diet: healthy foods, but with a dollop of moderation.
"I'll have a burger and I have a bit of a sweet tooth too, but it's all about balance. I rarely drink, but occasionally I'll go out for a few cocktails, or have a glass of red.
"At home, meal times are organised chaos. As parents, we're very much about routine. We're eating by five, then it's baths and bedtime. By seven or eight they're asleep. Shaun and I will work for a bit, then by nine we might put the 'tools down' and hang out on the sofa watching Netflix together."
"I think rituals are important for all of us. We are all busy but everyone can steal five minutes." (Image exclusive to Good Health)

Recipe for calm

As well as mindfulness, there's another ritual in Megan's wellbeing arsenal that she's keen to impart.
"I think rituals are important for all of us," she says. "We're all busy, but everyone can steal five minutes."
"I do deep belly breathing every night when I'm in bed ready to go to sleep. I take a breath and count from one to 10, and with each breath I think of something I'm grateful for. It could be beautiful weather that day, my kids being healthy, that I have a roof over my head… whatever comes to mind. Often I don't even get to 10 because I'll have already fallen asleep. It's a beautiful way to go to sleep, and is a nice acknowledgement of life, and thinking about what I have, rather than what I don't. It puts things into perspective."
"I'm proud of where I'm at in life and what I've achieved in that time." (Image exclusive to Good Health)
This is a philosophy Megan also embraces when it comes to getting older. Given the fact she's earned a living from her looks for years, you might expect it would be harder for her to accept than for the rest of us.
"Nah, it doesn't faze me at all," she says. "I'm not embarrassed about it, nor do I want to hide it or change it. I'm proud of where I'm at in life and what I've achieved in that time. My 20s and 30s were great. My 40s too, because I got to become a parent, and now that I'm in this health and wellness space I can talk with more authority because I have these years of experience."
Clearly Megan's fourth decade is the culmination of her hard work over the past 25 or so years. However, rather than racing ahead with overly ambitious plans, she's heeding the burnout lessons from her youth, and is instead taking things slowly – and mindfully.
"Pardon the pun, but I'm taking baby steps," she smiles. "I don't want to get too ahead of myself."
"It is something we'll get round to," Megan says of getting married to her partner Shaun Hampson. (Image: Instagram @megankgale)
The same goes for her personal life. Since Shaun popped the question, Megan has been plagued with questions about nuptials.
"It is something we'll get round to," she says. "We have so much on. Also, I want my kids to be part of it. I want them both to remember the day, rather than looking at photos years down the line with no recollection. But yes, I do want to get married and to be a family in that traditional sense."
Ultimately though, Megan has a bigger viewpoint. Regardless of whether she's faced with challenging times, or just trying to get through the day-to-day, she has a mantra that helps.
"I try to take the 'glass half full' view," she says. "Losing my dad was awful, but I was thinking that thank god I at least got to share the last month with him; thank god I could be there at his bedside before he passed; thank god he got to hold his grandson. I could have been angry, resentful and upset about my dad having cancer, but what could I do? It had happened. Instead, I focused on the fact that at least I've got my mum, my brother, Shaun, my son…
"I know it's hard in times of despair to be positive, but I think trying to find some strength within to look at what you do have, rather than what you don't or what you've lost, is so important. If you can do that in tough times like that, then it's so much easier to find happiness every day."

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