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Don’t You Think It’s Time You Stopped Pushing Shit Uphill?

One of the earliest memories I have of primary school, one that sticks out quite prominently, is one I thought I’d never have to relive through my own child’s uphill experience.

I remember quite clearly, the night before our sports swimming carnival, I prayed to God that he would give me skinny thighs for the next day. I hated my legs. They were bigger than all the other girls that sat next to me in class. I wanted to be just like them. The last thing I wanted to do was magnify my misgivings in a swimsuit for all my friends to see and acknowledge.

When sitting cross legged, I would always notice how thick my thighs were compared to the rest. I specifically remember in Italian class, we had to use a word that best described us. I couldn’t find one that I thought was particularly relevant, so my friend “helped” by suggesting I use the word “grande”. Grande, meaning big. I was in year 5. I was 10 years old.

Miniature, Miniature Figure, Painter

Let me tell you that I was in no way, shape, means or form “big”. The kid who suggested I use the word “grande” was actually half my size. She was a slight girl with an Asian background who meant me no harm. In her opinion, and compared to her, I seemed “big”.

When you’re a child, you don’t see the big picture do you. You take the scenario at face value.  When your friend tells you that you’re “grande”, you just assume that you are. You don’t at any point break down their perception of the word. You don’t at any point look at their size and nationality and compare it to the standards of your own ethnicity. Nor do you look at how genetics play a factor. You don’t at any point, think that perhaps the opposite could be true.

You never challenge the perceived truth. Perhaps because it is easier to accept negative connotations about yourself than it is to accept positive affirmations. What the actual fuck is that about anyway?

The word “grande” followed me all through life in a negative way, until very recently. I would always use a cover up at the beach, or wrap a towel around my thick thighs. I’d never wear skirts above the knees. I would try to hide them in the bedroom. My thighs were my weak spot. Little did I know that the opposite was true. When harnessed correctly, they in fact became my strength.

Recently my eldest daughter came home crying. It wasn’t the first time. She hated her fat legs, she told me.

See genetics are a weird and wonderful science. You could birth a dozen children, and their body structure could differ each and every time.

My eldest, compared to her siblings, has a different bone structure. She’s visibly bigger than her friends, and in fact her siblings also. Although she’s in no way “big”. I can bet my life it’s far from the perception of big she has imagined for herself anyway.

She’s a tall girl, with a sturdy frame, who happens to have the thickest legs of the kids in her current circle.

Although what she perceives to be a weakness, her father and I see as magnified strength. Literal strength.

My husband and I kind of have a motto than we live by. We don’t push shit uphill. It’s fruitless, it’s soul crushing, and if it’s just not working for you then perhaps it just isn’t meant to be. We advocate finding another way that works better for you.

Mountain, Rarau, Bucovina Romania

Stop pushing shit uphill

In tidier words, I try to use this very same motto with our children. With all of my being, I don’t want them to push shit uphill in life.

I don’t want my kids struggling to conform to what society feels is the norm. I don’t want them to shrink themselves in order to be a ballerina, if their actual strength is in their size.

When I look at my children I don’t validate their own perceived misgivings. Not a chance. Don’t have time for it.

Instead I magnify their strengths as best as I can.

Recently I’ve had a bit of a health kick. It was a very introspective decision, in how I could better my health, both physically and mentally.

I forced myself to try different things. When attempting to lose weight in the past, I’ve always concentrated on a deficit. The goal was always to “lose”. To get smaller, reduce.

Reduce in size.

Reduce the amount of space I took up.

I’ve always just mindlessly gravitated to cardio because of the perception that I needed to apologize for my size. I’d suffer through the intensity of it all because I needed to get smaller.

Because smaller is better.

Sure. Smaller can be better if that is how your body is structured. If your body is naturally small, it doesn’t make sense to try to make it bigger.

So why would it make sense to try to make your body smaller if it’s in actual fact, naturally bigger?

If your bone structure and frame means you have to push shit uphill all of your life in order to maintain a size that makes you miserable, then smaller is not better. It doesn’t make any sense.

After birthing five children, and refusing to suffer through cardio for the sake of losing the baby weight, I discovered weights.

I love the logic and principles that come with weight training. It’s not about “losing”. In fact, the “goals” are in gaining.

I believe there is so much to gain, also. I’m not talking about muscles either. In order to weight train, you must eat nutritious meals. It’s not about dieting, it’s about nourishing your body with the right fuel in order to maximize your strength. About mindset, about believing in yourself. It’s about challenging your preconceived limitations.

About celebrating your size, no matter what it is. It’s about celebrating what your body can do.

Wonder Woman, Superhero, Sky, Power

These are all principles that I like to live with!

All of a sudden, these thighs that I had been hiding all my life, were the basis of my strength. These legs that I had begrudged and hidden, were the very things that were propelling my self worth up along with that barbelle.

These different exercises transformed my body, in a way it had never looked before. It added muscle naturally, to places that were predisposed. Places such as my thighs. Unlike suffering through cardio in order to create a weight deficit, I began enjoying exercise for the mere act of self love. Because it was good for me both physically and mentally.

I do all of my weight training in the garage, because well, getting to a gym when you have five children is just not likely to happen regularly.

My eldest daughter, ever curious often watches me as I exercise.

One day she asked whether she could try to lift the barbelle.

We started slowly, although it was clear straight away that she was a natural.

10 years old. 60kg deadlift.

Both her brother and sister together, couldn’t lift the amount of weight she was lifting, and believe me they tried.

“Oh I think it’s cause my legs are too skinny Mum, they’re just not strong enough.” my younger daughter said, disappointed with her efforts.

Right then at that moment I saw in my eldest daughter’s eyes, a spark had fueled. It became clear that what I had been telling her all this time about her legs, just clicked.

I could see she felt proud of herself. She felt strong, she felt fierce.

All of a sudden the legs that she felt had hindered her all this time, were in actual fact the very things that set her apart. All of a sudden, they were an asset.

It proved to her that she didn’t have to shrink down in order to feel validated. Her strength was actually in her size.

She has finally found a sport that fit. A sport that magnified her strengths and didn’t make her feel inferior to her competitors or team mates. A sport that doesn’t make her think she needs to shrink in size. The opposite actually. She is now excited about training and is even talking about competing in the Olympics.

She’s never had the wrong body shape contrary to her opinion, she had just been doing the wrong sport.

I believe that the biggest gift we can give our children, is to give them the tools to help them challenge the negative thoughts they have about themselves.

Being “grande” is not a disadvantage. Never a disadvantage.

The very thing that makes us different, is the very thing that sets us apart.

It’s time we begin challenging the validity of the truths that people convince us about ourselves.

Maybe just maybe, they’re full of the same shit we’ve been pushing uphill all of our lives.









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