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Body

DWTS' Sharyn Casey reveals despite juggling life as a mum and her demanding job, she's having the time of her life

''Women should know that it's important to look after themselves. If your own cup is full, you're better for everyone.''

By Erin Fisher
For a woman who is used to talking on live radio, interviewing celebrities and musicians, and presenting a dancing show on national TV, you would think that sitting in a café chatting about her own journey would be a breeze.
The last thing I expected to hear was, "Sorry, I'm such a flustery mess. I've never done this before so I'm feeling a little bit nervous."
Being on the other end of an interview is a novelty for Sharyn Casey, and having been through some tough times, it's not surprising that sharing her story is making her feel a bit nervous.
Nonetheless, she radiates vibrant energy and has a natural honesty that makes her instantly easy to like, laughing about how, just as she was giving herself a much-needed pep talk in the car ("Okay Sharyn, you've got this"), she then took the wrong motorway exit. We've all been there.
It's the first time we've met, but Sharyn has entertained me on so many drives home that I feel like we are already well-acquainted.
Having worked in radio with The Edge for more than a decade, she is currently the hilarious female voice in the afternoon drive show trio that is Jono, Ben & Sharyn.
She is also the narrator of the TV show Googlebox NZ, and is currently gracing our living rooms alongside comedian Dai Henwood as she co-hosts Dancing with the Stars for the third time.
When she isn't bouncing between radio, TV and media events, Sharyn is also the proud mother of her gorgeous one-year-old boy, Tyson.
After a long and difficult journey with pregnancy struggles, miscarriages and uterine surgery, having a child has been a dream come true for Sharyn and husband Bryce Casey, co-host of The Rock's Morning Rumble show.
"It sounds cheesy, but it's the most rewarding thing ever. And the most relentless thing ever," she grins.
Finding the balance between work and motherhood is still an ongoing journey, but one that she believes has made her a better parent.
"My job is part of who I am, so for me, not being at work felt like an itch I couldn't scratch," the Timaru-born presenter explains.
"I noticed that for me personally, when I work, I'm also a much more present mother. Because I go and do something with my brain, something that's a part of me, when I go home I'm far more focused. I don't think I appreciated my time with Tyson as much as I do now."
Recovering physically has also been part of the process. Since undergoing a C-section, regular Pilates has been crucial in getting her strength back.
"The only thing anybody told me was that my nipples would be sore and that it would be hard to lose the weight. That was it.
"It wasn't that my core wasn't going to be able to hold me up, or that I was going to be hunched over giving him a bottle all the time, or that I would need to have a strong back. All I was worried about was fitting back into my jeans, not how I was going to rebuild my entire core," she says.
Two or three times a week, she attends reformer Pilates classes at an Auckland studio run by her best friend Kate Hanline, someone she can't speak highly enough of.
With Kate's specialised training in pre- and postnatal exercise, Sharyn has been able to improve her posture, core strength, reduce her pain and cut down her number of appointments at the osteopath.
"After about three weeks, I already felt different. It made my body feel strong in a way that I had never felt."
She admits that enjoying exercise isn't something that comes naturally, but Pilates taps into her competitive nature and keeps her interested.
"I'm really competitive. I'm like Monica from Friends. My sisters and I weren't even allowed to play social sport because we were so competitive. At Pilates, I'm kind of competing with myself and seeing if I can do it on the hard level.
Sometimes Kate will recommend I do the easy option and I'm like, 'Excuse me? I will do the hard one, thank you very much!' But halfway through, I'll often have to change it back," Sharyn laughs.
Reformer pilates classes run by best friend Kate Hanline have improved Sharyn's posture and core strength.
Seeing positive changes in her body has also had a profound impact on her relationship with food.
"It's definitely made me more aware of food. I like feeling healthy and fit, and I could see the difference it was making to my body.
"I met a naturopath who helped me get into a better rhythm with my eating, but I can't stick to a diet 100 per cent. Never have. I used to torture myself trying to, then I'd get so angry at myself when I couldn't. But I won't beat myself up about it any more."
Given that prepping Tyson's meals is the extent of her culinary skills, she is grateful Bryce is the chef in their house.

How Sharyn looks after herself physically and mentally

Not only has Pilates boosted her physical health, but it's become a non-negotiable part of her self-care regime.
"I've realised that for my mental health, I need to exercise regularly," she says.
"When I was at home on maternity leave and breastfeeding, I watched a lot of RuPaul's Drag Race. At the end of every show, RuPaul would say, 'If you don't love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?' It just kept ringing true.
"If I don't look after my body and my brain, how am I supposed to look after somebody else's body and brain?"
Sharyn has always been very open about her experiences with anxiety and depression, which stem back to a history of bullying in her younger years.
Determined that Tyson wouldn't adopt similar patterns or go through the same struggles, Sharyn looked into therapy, trying several different people until she finally found a strong connection.
"It's like dating. Not many people marry the first person they go on a date with, so if you don't click with a therapist you go to, that's cool, go see another one. I connected with my fourth, and she's definitely changed my life," she shares, and encourages people from all walks of life to try therapy themselves.
"Getting it all out is a massive relief and I always feel amazing after I've been. It's helped me with my anxiety, confrontation, being nicer to myself and to understand why certain things work in my brain the way that they do. I also think it's made me a better mum, because I'm mentally calmer."
Friends still call her "Sharanoia" in jest, but she says she's come a long way in terms of prioritising mental health and self-care.
"Everybody needs to take care of their mental health just as much as their physical health. Mental health, fitness, eating healthy – all of those things come under the same umbrella."
Dancing with the Stars is now back on Three and Sharyn's eyes light up just talking about it.
For her, it's a joy to be involved in a show that is so fun, uplifting and all about raising money for charity.
"What I love the most is there's nothing mean. These people are completely out of their comfort zones, so yes, sometimes the judges have some funny feedback, but it's never nasty. It's always positive."
Another perk of the job is that when you're used to kicking around the house in leggings with a baby on your hip all the time, you're suddenly able to get dolled up for each show in glam gowns.
Despite working on a dance show, Sharyn reveals she herself has two left feet, reminiscing on her first season of the show when her one-minute dance routine was cut down to 10 seconds.
"I'm very uncoordinated and people who come to the live show have seen it. The biggest fear for me is falling on my face. The judges look like they're gliding in the highest high heels, then there's me; a giraffe in the hallway, just trying to make it to the stage without falling down!"
Admittedly, being on reality TV and live radio is a strange line of work given her anxiety and experiences with bullying at school, yet it has ultimately strengthened her resilience.
"I used to worry about it, but I've learned off Jono and Ben that if I cried every time someone said something horrific about
me, then I wouldn't get anything done. I would just be at home crying all the time," she says, reflecting on how lucky she feels to work alongside such inspiring men.
"They are the nicest, most gentle people you will ever meet. People will say really mean things about them, but they don't care. They just stay in their lane and they live a way happier life. They have both taught me a lot about caring about the s**t that actually matters."
Amidst her busy work schedule, that means her primary focus this year is on being a good mother, wife and friend.
In the past, Sharyn has been guilty of working herself into the ground, but has learned that in order to be at her best for her family, her friends and her career, self-care needs to be bumped much higher on the priority list.
The topic is something she is passionate about and she hopes she can continue to use her voice to have a positive impact.
"As New Zealanders we tend to think it's selfish to say you're putting yourself first, but I don't think so. Women should know that it's important to look after themselves. If your own cup is full, you're better for everyone."

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