Weather presenter Renee Wright on overcoming health challenges and prioritising her wellbeing
A BELOVED FACE ON OUR TV SCREENS, RENEE WRIGHT HAS OVERCOME HER OWN HEALTH CHALLENGES WHILE LOOKING AFTER A YOUNG FAMILY AND PRIORITISING HER WELLBEING. SHE SHARES HOW SHE KEEPS EVERYTHING (MOSTLY) IN BALANCE
On the day One News weather presenter Renee Wright meets with Good Health and Wellbeing for lunch, she greets everyone with a bear hug and quickly apologises for being in her “embarrassing” gym gear. Her morning has been the usual rush of getting the family organised and out the door on time, and recently there’s been the added worry of a son in a thigh-high cast following a skiing incident. Life’s busy to say the least, but despite the hectic pace, Renee’s relaxed and down-to-earth approach means she’s learnt to take things as they come.
“With three small children, there’s always a curveball in there somewhere,” she laughs. “They all need help getting organised before school and we have our good mornings and our not-so-great ones. Sometimes I’m yelling like a fish wife! But we always have a good chat on the way and most days everyone heads off with smiles.”
With a schedule that includes weather presenting for the weekend news bulletins and television voice-over work one day a week, Renee is happy with her balance of career and family life. At home, the daily hustle revolves around keeping Leo, 6, Giselle, 5, and twoyear-old Arabella on track with their routines, and with husband Charlie out the door by 5am and not back until the evening, Renee is in sole charge of meal, bath and bedtimes. It can be a wild ride, but she says staying active and making her wellbeing more of a priority are some of the keys to keeping the plates spinning.
“We’re all trying to do our best and sometimes you feel like it’s a good day, and other times it’s more like ‘Thank god for tomorrow, so I can try again,’” says Renee, 37. “I think you have to be kind to yourself. You can beat yourself up with worry and everything else, but it really doesn’t help in any way. It’s important to tap in to what makes you feel more relaxed, whether it’s a fitness class or going for a walk, and to make sure you do something for yourself each day. You can’t lose yourself in that mindset of ‘I’m a mum’ as this is all-consuming, there’s no let up, and you will get worn down.”
While boot camps were once her go-to, Renee has found a new exercise favourite – resistance training and stretches at reformer Pilates class.
“I was losing motivation to throw myself around [at boot camp],” she says. “It just started to feel really hectic, and I was wanting some quiet time. With Pilates, it’s about being aware of your body. The movements are slow
‘We’re all trying to do our best and sometimes you feel like it’s a good day’
‘It’s important to tap in to what makes you feel more relaxed’
but I find it so challenging physically. I think you have to give it at least three tries before you even start to think it’s vaguely okay. In your first class you think, what have I signed up for?! When I first started I would get headachy and shaky. You’re working lots of little muscles that you wouldn’t normally use, and I feel stronger.”
She aims for at least three reformer classes a week, alongside a group personal training session with two girlfriends. “I still see a boot camp instructor each week and that social aspect is a key part of it – we have a good goss, even while we’re punishing ourselves,” laughs the former radio producer. “A big plus of Pilates is that you get a good stretch at the end. It’s perfect because I get a lot of back issues from carrying the kids and
I have hip problems from childbirth… what that does to your body is just a whole new world!”
Renee has also used alternative therapies for healing, when she was battling TMJ, a painful condition that involves dislocation and inflammation of the jaw bone. “It came on during a particularly stressful time in my life, and my surgeon suggested I try dry needling before looking at other treatments,” she says.
“It was painful, but the results were amazing. It’s like it puts your body back to ‘factory reset’ and you feel better in 24 hours. They use needles like acupuncture, and it’s thought to get to places that other treatments can’t reach. The therapist turns the needle to release pressure on the muscle, and you really feel it when they hit the right spot, your muscle twangs and it hurts. It’s about targeting those areas on the body where you carry stress.”
While heading off to work is a bane for some, the popular presenter says that even after more than a decade in television, she still enjoys being on screen. In a niche industry, having the opportunity to do the work she loves is always a thrill, and the pre-camera routine is precious downtime to gather her thoughts. “I know I’m so lucky that in the weekend, I get to go and do my job, have those hours to myself, and have someone do my hair and makeup – that will never get old, ever!”
For this working mum, the key to keeping things manageable has been learning to say ‘no’ to things that don’t fit in with her life. It’s a simple little word that causes angst for many of us, but it’s especially hard if you’re prone to being a people-pleaser.
“I’m a yes person, very much so,” admits Renee, who was first in front of the camera at just 18 months old, as the star of a TV commercial. “In my 20s I was ‘yes, yes, yes’ all the time, as you’re just trying to please.
But as you get older, you realise that some things just don’t matter. I think having the confidence to say no is something that comes with age. Also being a mum of small kids has made me learn to say no more, as you honestly don’t have the time. As a mum you do tend to put yourself last on the priority list, but you still need to take some time to recharge your own batteries.”
For Renee, that’s where the exercise comes in. But aside from the muscletoning benefits, she says it’s the mental strength she gains from a workout that has the biggest impact on her wellbeing. Recently, when the tragic death of a dear friend and colleague came as a shock, she knew the clarity she would get from a workout would help her to cope.
“When I first got the news I didn’t know what to do, so I thought, ‘I’ll just
‘I think having the confidence to say no is something that comes with age’
‘As a mum, you still need to take time to recharge your own batteries’
Renee’s on-the-go life on Instagram
keep going’. I went along to class – I might have been crying on the reformer, but it was just about going through those motions, as I always feel better afterwards. Lately there has been a lot going on, but I think that having physical strength does something mentally as well. It makes you feel that you can take on the day.”
When it comes to keeping energised, the Auckland-based presenter takes a back-to-basics approach. Other than magnesium tablets, supplements aren’t a big part of her health regime, and she never got on board with the green smoothie craze. She’s not one to carefully monitor her diet, but she knows that processed and highsugar foods can put her in a funk.
“I end up thinking, ‘Well I’ve had some chips, so I might as well eat all of these Skittles and a whole lot of chocolate now too’. My issue is that even if I go a little bit to the dark side, I’m 100 per cent there after that. I can’t say I’m a sweet or savoury person, I’m both, which is terrible!”
But far from agonising about calories or diet fads, Renee’s simply making the most of her new workout routine, and focusing on keeping herself and her young family happy and healthy.
“Exercise is such a big part of my day-to-day wellness,” she says. “It’s those mental gains you get from it, and I think that’s what surprised me more than anything. The more you move, the more it helps your stress levels, and it just allows you to keep everything in perspective. It’s important to take that time for ourselves.”
‘The more you move, the more it helps your stress levels’