Jacqui Felgate: ‘I wasn’t as happy as I could be’

New House of Wellness co-host Jacqui Felgate opens up on making bold life decisions, motherhood, lessons learned from the pandemic, and finding joy.

She has covered the Olympics and Wimbledon and hosted the AFL’s Brownlow Medal count but it is being able to cheer on daughter Georgia at an Auskick footy game that has brought new joy to Jacqui Felgate’s life.

After two decades working weekends and long hours as a newsreader and sports presenter, Jacqui made the decision earlier this year to step away from her role at Channel 7 to embrace new challenges and prioritise her family.

Jacqui and husband Michael Felgate live in bayside Melbourne with their two daughters Maddie, 9, and Georgia, 5.

“I’ve always put my job first and I think it’s time now to put my family first,” Jacqui says.

“Being in one place for a long time, it wasn’t working for me, but most importantly it wasn’t working for my family anymore.

“And I wasn’t as happy as I could be.”

Tackling mother guilt

She admits that she has suffered moments of motherhood guilt at missing out on milestones in her daughters’ lives due to the busy pace of her career.

“It’s a really easy thing to say, ‘Everything looks great on the outside — you have a glamorous job and a glamorous lifestyle’, but the reality is that like any parent who has to work, you worry all the time,” she says.

“I worry that I’m not doing enough for my kids and I’m not doing enough for my family and I’m not doing enough for myself.

“I think over the past few years, there have been many points where I thought, ‘Am I really coping here and is this the best decision for me?’”

Taking a leap of faith

Having also spent the past two years covering the pandemic, the heavy toll of news reporting meant Jacqui felt ready for a change.

“It’s turning 40, and it’s that change of life time — it’s time to make a change and to take a leap of faith,” she says.

Jacqui is now relishing her new role as a co-host on The House of Wellness TV alongside Jo Stanley, Luke Darcy and Luke Hines, which allows her to embrace health and wellbeing.

“Wellness is what I want to do,” she says.

“I want to feel better in my job, and at home, and be less stressed.

“I think we’ve all been so stressed over this last period and wellness to me is taking the time for yourself and for your family.”

How Jacqui achieves wellness

Jacqui credits horse riding, pilates and running with maintaining her physical and mental health.

“Being able to make the time every day, even just a little bit, for exercise is the best thing because it’s so good for your mental health,” she says.

When she is out exercising is also when Jacqui finds the time to step away from work commitments and maintaining her Instagram social media profile, which soared in popularity during the pandemic because of her concise coverage of issues affecting everyday Australians, such as coronavirus testing wait times and RAT availability.

“Exercise is great as when I’m doing a class, run or a horse ride, I don’t take my phone with me,” she says.

“So I take a break then, and I think it’s important to do that.”

The social connection

While she admits updating her social media feed can be a constant presence in her life, Jacqui adds that she sees so much benefit from connecting with her followers and fellow Australians.

“I love it,” she says.

“There is always something happening in the world and if I get sent information by people I will of course keep posting it.

“I love the news and just because you don’t work in a newsroom anymore doesn’t mean you aren’t passionate about the world around you.

“There are so many funny things that happen.

“It doesn’t have to be a big news story — I do lost dogs, and I found someone’s lost dog, and I got so much fulfilment out of that.”

Living, loving life

Jacqui also gets fulfilment out of taking her daughters horse riding, sharing her wardrobe with her close friends and the odd cheeky glass of rose.

And as she turns 40, Jacqui adds that she’s never felt more confident in her own skin.

“I think when you’re 40 you become more confident in yourself and you care less what people think,” she says.

“I would never have had the courage to quit my job and take a new role if I hadn’t been at this stage of my life, where I have enough confidence and self-belief.

“You always question yourself and your worth and your ability.

“And learning to not do those things and say, ‘I am good enough at what I choose to do’, comes with age.”

Quick-fire Q&A with Jacqui

Who would you love to interview?

David Attenborough.

He’s an advocate for the planet and changed the face of broadcasting and was the original environmentalist.

To be in a room with him would be an absolute life goal.

Your favourite winter dish?

A nice big bowl of lamb ragu.

I love pasta and eat it all year round!

What sporting team will always have you glued to the couch?

The Geelong Football Club.

I took my mum to the AFL Grand Final that Geelong won in 2007 and then I put her on the train afterwards and went out with some friends, and I met my husband that night, so it’s always been a memorable game.

Your first job?

I worked at Red Rooster and I stuffed the chickens. My first job and my worst job!

Your idea of a perfect day?

Watch my kids play sport, have a horse ride and then go to a winery for lunch. I love Victorian food and wine and especially the Mornington Peninsula.

Three things you can’t live without?

Family, my pets — I’ve got a horse and two dogs — and I can’t live without wine.

For more winter wellness content, pick up your free copy of The House of Wellness at your local Chemist Warehouse.

Written by Erin Miller. Picture by Tina Smigielski.