Tiffiny Hall, who first rose to fame as a Gladiator then a trainer on The Biggest Loser, has many titles tucked under her black belt. This strong mama, to two-year-old Arnold, has many talents. Tiffiny is a 6th Dan taekwondo instructor, a Logie nominated TV presenter, a sports coach (she is transforming lives with her health and fitness online program TIFFXO.com) and has published many books, both health and nutrition based as well as many children’s books.
Turns out writing really is her thing! Tiff has a Bachelor of Arts/Media and Communications majoring in creative writing and journalism and a Diploma of Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne! Of course she also has a Cert III & IV in Fitness and a Diploma of Sport Coaching with a specialisation in martial arts, plus she is currently completing a dual Diploma in Business and Fitness and her pilates qualifications. Go mama!
Tiff commenced her writing career as a journalist, before publishing her first health and fitness books, and in recent years has moved into children’s books. Her latest book, co-written with husband and comedian Ed Kavalee, is called ‘A First Time for Everything’. This gorgeous picture book is a hilarious and relatable story (based on Tiff and Ed’s first year as parents) that perfectly captures all the messy, glorious chaos of a baby’s first year. We chat to Tiff about writing, fitness, life in the spotlight and the endless juggle of motherhood!
Firstly, tell us a bit about your little family.
Arnold just turned two and we survived! Ed and I are busy, like any family, juggling work schedules, Arnold’s routine, family and fun. But it’s a glorious chaotic mess. We are out of the firsts and moving onto the seconds, about to tackle toilet training!
What made you decide to pursue arts, media and comms at uni?
I loved writing. I scored a perfect 50/50 for literature, classics, philosophy and english in VCE. I won the John Marsden award for creative writing and was mentored by John himself for many years. I loved creative writing but also media. Back then media was very different. No social media. I studied print journalism and broadcast. Both have come in handy as I still write so much, everything from my tiffxo blog, magazine articles, books, EDMs, fitness programs. Even though I gave away journalism after I worked in my first TV job, I still use those skills every day.
You have such a diverse career across both writing and fitness. Your love of fitness came from your own mother. Tell us more about her.
Mum was one of the first females to earn her black belt qualification in a male dominated sport. She has taught women fitness and been all about empowering women for decades. I grew up watching the effects of her training women – they always left class smiling, feeling more confident and telling her things like ‘they had more guts’. Guts to go for a work promotion, buy a house, put themselves out there. So it wasn’t just the ‘physical’ mum was impacting, I saw her shifting women’s ‘mindsets and self-esteem’. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to impact women’s self worth. Mum role modelled healthy eating and exercise but none of it was strict. She walked her talk, but she was was all about fun and loving food. No deprivation of food or exercise by punishment. It was never about working out to ‘look’ good, but working out to ‘feel’ good.
With such a public fitness profile you were no doubt expected to ‘bounce back’ after Arnold was born. Tell us what you really did!
Ha! I didn’t. I bounced forward ever so slowly. There was so much pressure. I said “no” to that and instead slowly and safely returned to exercise. I knew that if I punished myself to bounce back I would hurt my relationship with exercise which I love and cherish. I also didn’t want to jeopardise my milk supply by going too hard, or sacrifice one precious moment in the baby bubble with my first born. I soaked up that time, returned to fitness when I was good and ready and took my members and audience along for the ride. I didn’t want to be a bad example and mislead women. I feel the responsibility of having a public fitness profile and wanted to teach women responsibly, that connection to your body again after birth (no matter how you birth) takes time and self love.
How has becoming a mum changed you?
Gosh I am so much more flexible and patient. If my day is derailed I say “ah-well, there’s always tomorrow”. I am the Master of a reset! I don’t turn a bad day into a bad week or punish myself or berate myself. I am so much more forgiving and give myself a break. I say “girl, there’s a lot going on. You’re tired, take a bath, don’t do that workout!” I take the pressure off. As mums, we think we need to do it all and be it all. I say “take the pressure off and do your best”. I used to be a perfectionist. Now I’m a recovering perfectionist – and I strongly believe good enough is good enough!
What’s your favourite thing about being a mum?
The phases! I love the phases. Solids to eating with cutlery, from bassinet to cot, from bath seat to sitting in the bath on his own, to having a shower with dad. From Arnold’s obsession with cars to construction trucks and diggers, to his most recent obsession with Paw Patrol – I just love the phases. Crawling to walking to talking. He is talking! There’s nothing my son doesn’t say. His favourite phrase is “Hakuna Matata – no worries” or “Gee whiz mumma!” It kills me. So cute.
Best piece of advice for a busy mum trying to make time for a healthy lifestyle?
Find a coach and an expert your trust. Have a plan that includes Plan A and Plan B. Plan A doesn’t always happen when you’re ready to go and your baby does a poonami, so you need Plan B! There are so many ways to give to yourself without being strict. Find something flexible that works with kids, because you can’t be rigid with kids. They come first and we have to work around them.
And finally, there are plenty of funny references in your book ‘A First Time for Everything’. Care to share with us your funniest parenting moment to date?
It’s got to be the first time Arnold laughed. Ed was trying so hard with jokes and faces and as a professional comedian he was really taking it to heart that he couldn’t make Arnold laugh. Then one day Ed tripped on the lounge room rug and Arnold burst out laughing. As did I! That made it into the book.
A First Time for Everything by Tiffiny Hall and Ed Kavalee and Illustrated by Anil Tortop. Published by Allen & Unwin. allenandunwin.com RRP $19.99.