Danica Bonello Spiteri, who turns 39 years old today, is a Specialist in Sports and Exercise Medicine. A lover of sports, adventure and the outdoors, she’s also a triathlon athlete: “this is my 25th year in the sport and I still love it … there’s always something new to discover,” Danica says. Add the roles of wife and mother to the mix, and it’s a difficult juggle, but one that she has learnt to pull off.
Any family would need to adapt for the birth of a child, yet Danica reveals the necessary adjustments were made ahead of the birth: “my life doesn’t have to stop if I have a child, rather my child will get involved and is an important part of it …but my life has to go on,” she asserts. This belief has fuelled her success in maintain a healthy and positive balance in the important elements of her life.
Credit: Angie Conti
Indeed, Danica kept up with her training regiment well into her pregnancy: “I kept running till I was 32 weeks. I was able to run 5km and it would take me approximately 35 to 40 minutes,” she divulges. Although she had to stop due to the heat and lower pubic pain, she maintained her swimming training throughout: “I was swimming three times a week. I’d cover about 2.5 to 3km in about an hour or so up until a week before I gave birth,” she continues.
An advocate for health and fitness, Danica highly recommends mothers to remain active during pregnancy: “There’s very easy things like fast walking, some easy cycling…but that might turn into a struggle if the handles are too far forward and they bump with your tummy,” she shares from personal experience. Pilates is also high on her recommendation list and Danica highlights its benefits: “It helps you to be fitter and stronger even for the delivery and it helps you to recover faster afterwards,” she says.
Danica gave birth to six-and-a-half-month-old daughter Tiffany Jane through C-section due to some pelvic issues. Despite its aftermath and the physical and emotional strain of learning to take care of a new born, Danica returned to training a fortnight later. She opted to breastfeed her child fully: “Although it was very difficult in the first two weeks it’s one of the most amazing experiences of motherhood,” she says. Danica has found society has been quite accepting of this: “You can see that I feed the child before going for races so she will be comfortable.”
Credit: Angie Conti
Juggling four important roles – mother, wife, doctor and athlete – is not easy but it comes with different: “it’s important to have a very supportive husband,” Danica says before continuing: “In the beginning it was hard to find that balance, but somehow my husband Etienne and I managed to work together hand in hand and now it’s much easier,” she says. Indeed, it’s all about time planning, communication and management between the couple as well as a mutual understanding of what you’re able to do when the baby is asleep.
Now, Danica takes her little girl with her to work: “I have a baby carrier so I strap her to me,” she reveals, adding that Tiffany Jane is happy to feel her body heat and heartbeat and often sleeps 2-3 hours at a stretch, leaving her mother’s hands free for a few hours. The young tot also accompanies her mother and father during training sessions: “I hope she will enjoy some form of training as she grows up,” Danica says, before insisting that her child’s happiness is the most important and she would be supportive of whatever dream Tiffany wanted to achieve when she grows up. Danica explains further: “I want her to be strong, determined woman who never gives up and never lets anyone bring her down and I want her to find her own space and her own path in life.”
Credit: Danica Bonello Spiteri
The power mum received her fair share of criticism for her lifestyle, but Danica is sure of her approach: “Sometimes when you’re out on a social event you still get silly comments such as: Didn’t you have any relative to leave her with?,” she narrates. “My answer is I did not bring a child into this world to leave her with relatives but to take her out and about with me. She’s part of our family, she’s important to me,” Danica concludes.
Back to competing on local and international circuits, Danica has grown stronger and fitter over the last few months and managed to reach the podium on several occasions: “I have been making it a point to take Tiffany up with me on the podium. The main idea is to empower women that yes we can still be mummies but we can still be athletes and do well in races,” she says.
Rock on Danica!