I recently took the time to chat with Marley-Jo (MJ), who is a female police offer, triathlete and mother of two children, one of whom has severe learning difficulties and epilepsy. MJ works long hours in Highway Patrol and often survives off two to three hours’ sleep, as her son, Denver, struggles to sleep. Yet she still makes time to train and values it all the more as a result of her circumstances. Sport is a luxury, which many in other countries cannot afford. Marley-Jo certainly does not waste a moment and understands the importance of health, fitness and nutrition in not only performance, but also productivity and maintaining quality of life.
Hi, my name is Marley-Jo Collier, most people call me MJ and I am 38 years old. I currently live on the Far North Coast of NSW.
I am a country girl at heart and grew up in Monteagle just outside of Young, NSW, on a little farm mainly harvesting cherries, plums and grapes. We also had cattle and sheep on the farm.
I am now married with 2 children, both of whom are boys! My eldest little boy, Denver, is 3 years old and my youngest, Loxley, is 2 years old.
Denver has non-verbal autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, developmental delay, restrictive food intake disorder and epilepsy. Loxley is a bouncing, energetic, boisterous 2-year-old, who loves a good tantrum.
Things are ‘full on’ in my household – between juggling two toddlers – one with a disability, attending therapy a few times a week with him, my training and work commitments, I don’t have much time for anything else.
As it is for many, sport for is definitely an outlet for me and my mental health. I am a sponsored athlete and I love the freedom of having such awesome companies backing me in sport and, most importantly, in following my passion.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAREER & WORK LIFE
I am a police officer currently working in Highway Patrol and I am considering a career change, after twelve years of working in the Police Force.
Before I was in the police, I was a mid-wife. Then I did my police training and ended up in Highway Patrol, which I have been in for the past 9 years, after my initial 3 years of police training.
Out of 1600 highway patrol officers, there are only 50 women, which definitely has a bearing on the work environment!
It has admittedly been difficult being a mum and working in a male-orientated role. Nevertheless, I do love my job and have simply decided to look at transitioning into a more administrative role.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR MOVE FROM BODY BUILDING INTO TRIATHLON
I have always had a passion for a healthy lifestyle and been involved in sport since I was 6 years old; primarily swimming and running and, later in life, hockey and women’s rugby league. I competed as a triathlete as a teenager and in my early 30s decided to take up body building as a sport. I won fitness model at Coffs Harbour ICN and as a result I qualified for the Nationals in Melbourne in 2017.
I had body dysmorphia post pregnancy, after giving up body building, and I didn’t have time to go to the gym multiple times per day, as I had grown accustomed to doing. So one of my friends suggested I give triathlon a go.
I enjoyed body building, but it is a huge mind game that can get the better of you. You push yourself and like being competition lean, but you cannot sustain this weight healthily. You also need to put weight on to build muscle again.
I found it was becoming self-destructive constantly trying to put pressure on myself to get back to being competition weight and so I decided it was best to stop the vicious thought pattern and spiral of unrealistic comparison and expectation.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?
Most of the time I ride on the trainer as Denver, because of his disability does not like me leaving him. Even though my training is not necessarily relaxing, it is very good for my mental health. Some nights, I am lucky to have 2 hours’ sleep, as he doesn’t sleep either. So, I use the time I am running or cycling (most of the time I am running with the pram) as my down time, even though it is obviously not physically ‘down time.’
Exercise, for more, is about keeping my mind and body healthy so that I am able to look after a disabled child, as well as a second child.
If I didn’t exercise, I wouldn’t have time to myself and if I didn’t move my body, I wouldn’t have the resilience and robustness to tackle the rest of life and look after my kids.
People think it is easy to be fit and healthy, but it takes a lot of hard work and discipline. Good nutrition is also very important. I find sometimes I skip meals because Denver won’t eat so, again, I make sure I prioritise self-care. I am flexible and opportunistic in life, as I just don’t know what is round the corner each day.
Why do you choose Bindi?
I was finding that when I was out exercising, I was getting very dehydrated, especially as I do quite long runs, predominantly with the pram. So, one of my friends suggested I try Bindi, and I gave it a go and loved it!