Women Who Werk

Feminist: noun.

‘’The doctrine of advocating social, political and all other rights of women equal to those of men.’’

I started playing on a ‘mixed football team’ at the age of 5. I was the only girl on the whole team. For 5 Years straight.

I was an athletic girl. Fast. Fearless. Not to toot my own horn, an asset to the team.

But the boys didn’t pass the ball to me often, simply because I was a girl.

This is where it stated.

Meaningless inequality because of my gender.

This progressed to mixed cross country races later in school, where I was deemed a ‘cheater’ because I simply crossed the finish line before all of the boys.

Later in high school, when you’d expect everyone to be a little wiser. A little more mature.

I fortunately took my gift of athleticism and worked hard. Was a national level athlete at this point. And with achievement comes some limelight (to my dismay).

The lime light I received to celebrate my achievements was far too emasculating to some close- minded individuals.

.

The boys ALWAYS to run before the girls. Track and field. Cross county. Even swimming.

As their participation was reduced to a walk. And I was fortunately the first of the girls races, to catch the boys who started before us.

A group of ‘footy boys’ from my grade decided to make a human wall, during this race. So when I approached them I simply

Could not get past, unless I wanted to run in the gutter full of water around them.

When approaching I politely asked them to move. But no cigar.

I had to physically push past these larger boys, injuring myself in the process & affecting my mental state half way through my 4km race – in order for my race not to be completely obstructed and my race performance to be dismantled.

This didn’t end there, sadly. But I’m not one to sit back and let someone, let alone a whole group make me feel inferior when I haven’t done anything wrong.

I continued to be bullied by boys.

Because I was simply taller than them. Because of my athleticism.

Because I was loud, enthusiastic, didn’t follow the crowd. (and was little bit crazy!)

Because of my diligence to school work.

Because I had dreams.

Because I did not take them stealing my lunch box, as a sign of ‘flirting.’ I did not accept the teacher’s view that ‘they only

Annoy you and call you names because they like you!’

No, that was not, nor will ever be acceptable. That is an excuse for their behaviour. Which was deemed to be ‘okay’ and had no punishment for making me feel inferior or harassed.

It’s not ‘’boys will be boys, Lani.’ This behaviour simply not okay. And allows those boys to think they can treat women like that, later in life.

I have been 6’1’’ since I was about 16.

But I take the gift of height as a privilege.

And feel sad for those boys. that chose to be intimidate by something I simply can’t help. Genetics.

Or something that doesn’t in any way concern them like the way I live my life, or my Athletic achievements. (Until the day that boys start competing against girls).

This misogynistic philosophy It may stem back to stories like mine.

The things little boys, are lead to believe while they’re growing up, deciding what kind of person they’re going to be…is okay.

Let’s make sure it ends here.

Childhood.

Real men teach their children not to discriminate based on gender or even race for that matter. Based on appearance, ability or behaviour.

My philosophy is a person should only be judged, simply how they move through the world and how they treat others.

These experiences, although not completely terrible. Weren’t nice.

But they made me the person and the athlete I am today.

It taught me not to be complacent with someone’s preconvinced perception of you, your ability or what kind of person you are for that matter; on first glance.

And it additionally assisted with encouraging a strong intrinsic mental drive from a young age. Which eventually assisted with being able to win a gold (X 2) medal for my country.

I describe myself as a Feminist for this reason.

Not because I believe in a notion of men-hating, oppressed, hard-down-by righteous females who don’t like sticking to rules; like so many people are wrongly educated to think being a Feminist entails.

I am a Feminist because I am a fighter.

A fighter for simple equality – equal opportunity, rights, wages, treatment, attitudes and parody amongst genders.

Equality in the mentality that women are equal to men. In their value, their place in the world, the workplace, politics, rights in history and in future history.

In that women are capable, forceful, fierce human beings.

And I will not let anyone underestimate me because of my gender.

This open style of Feministic mindset is important to explore, in a world where in some cultures, it’s traditional to ask your husband for permission to simply purchase yourself a gym membership. Where men are culturally expected to dictate their wive’s every decision.

Where women aren’t allowed to drive an automobile, let alone be independent in their own decision making.

I encourage you to teach your Son’s when they begin football training, or are on a mixed-gender class.

Your husbands in a work environment where their superior may be a female.

Your male mates, who feel intimidated by a powerful woman.

Encourage equal thinking. Eliminate this superiority complex based on someone’s thought process, hundreds of years ago.

Please. Make up your own damn mind!

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Your Weight, Does Not Weigh You Up

The scales. A dreaded world in an average person who is aspiring to better themself physically’s – vocabulary.

For some people, you may simply wish the number was just a little lower. For some a whole lot. And for some, realistically they wish the number was higher.

Truth is, the scales do not weigh up what kind of person you are. They do not define you. And never should dictate your happiness.

As a personal trainer, I’ve coached various people of both sides of the scale. Some needing to put on weight for health reasons, some needing to lose weight for health reasons. Some needing one of either for self esteem reasons. But there comes a point, if someone from either side becomes so fixated on reaching that magic number on the scale. Then the real ‘personal training’ needs to come into play.

Meaning, I will implement different strategies, that I too have used for myself: Train your mind to firstly be stronger than their body By encouraging a new belief system. By training the mind to know that even if someone isn’t progressing via a number on the scale; that does not mean that aren’t excelling in other areas.

This could be measurements. Bust, waist, hips and thighs, arms. 

Their body mass percentage (BMI). Meaning, even though the scales aren’t changing – they couldn’t be putting on muscle mass through resistance training. Hence, decreasing their body fat percentage but increasing their muscle mass – causing the scales to even rise; because muscle does in fact weigh more than fat. 

Their habits – the invidivifual could be changing bad habits such as: Walking more places than transport (accidental exercise!) Simply being outside more Often. Or creating a habit to visit the gym, Fitness class, or outdoor activity – because they’ve realised how beneficial endorphins from exercising, Really are! Eating healthier, leaner,  nutrient rich foods. Or the right portions of food for their goals – As well as simply eating enough food for the goals. And water: the good ‘ol 8 glasses per day.

Scales certainly aren’t my best friend either. I struggled a little at young age. Where in grade 4 at 10 years old, as part of a mathamatics exercise, I was made to weigh myself each week and make a comparison. I couldn’t understand why I was heavier than some of the boys in my grade. Because I was tall. Always tall. Always taller than everyone until I was about 16 (the boys started to catch up!)

Tall girls, we naturally weigh more. And that’s okay!

Nowadays, You’d think I’d be fixated on the scales on a daily basis, being a professional athlete? Wrong, I actually never weigh myself unless a coach or a form asks me to or out of simple curiosity.  It does not track my performance. Because my athletic performance is based on other areas, like: strength tests, running times and how I am feeling, in myself.

At fourteen I strutted down my first runway as a model. At 6’1” I was the tallest girl there. But during fittings, where I had to self-consciously bear-all to a room of 40 or so women, all onlooking. Who were competing for the other woman’s outfit she was made to try-on. And then be judged by four agency professionals, to whether I would be chosen to walk in that particular outfit.

I noticed here, I was physically different in other areas to women my age. Not negatively; because I knew I had something those other girls didn’t have (a few national Athletics championship titles under my belt). But being an athlete all my life – my shoulders were naturally broader, legs wider, I had baby abs. And My bum was more rounded. Also because I was brought up with a good belief system of taking good care of myself, eating a balanced diet (being Coeliac and lactose intolerant paid a part, too!). And genetics. Never forget your natural body type is probably a gift from your parents.

I Started weight training at sixteen, in our little Family home gym – courtesy of Dad’s life-long passion for health and fitness. This was to encourage my goal of getting stronger and faster as a track and field athlete. A few months went by and I gradually noticed my body made some cool changes. I developed more sculpted shoulders, and ”back gainz” I didn’t think were possible for that tall, skinny girl from the beach. My thighs got thicker, abs more chisled. I developed a little ”Beyonce-Butt!” And honestly, I loved it!

Here, I also developed what would be a life long passion for Olympic Weighlifting. Through functional training here, my skills as an athlete have only excelled! It’s one of the best ways for weight loss endeavours too; as you are using multiple muscle groups all at once, your core is constantly switched on and your whole body is being trained! In lifting,  I have found a new stress release: Just some gangsta rap and the barbell and myself.

Call me narssastic; but My body has become one of my proudest assets. Not because of the way it looks; that’s just a by-product of the hard work. But because of the way it operates to fuel My Passion. It’s broken down on me a few times with injury and illness. But the rest of the time it’s like a bad-ass fine tuned sports car.

 I have transformed myself through persistence and hard work. No by anyone else’s idealistic view of what I should look like. Certainly no man’s view, that ”I can’t possibly have better abs than him, because it’ll make them feel emasculated.” Or the notion that a woman shouldn’t be able to lift more than a man – because that’s not what society’s expectations deem as being ‘okay,’ or ‘beautiful.’

Hell No! I am proud of this body I was creating and am still working on, for my art. For a purpose. In order to make me the best athlete I can possibly be. And be happy and healthy; most importantly in the process.

The myth that women shouldn’t lift heavy because they will become ‘too masculine’ is only perpetuated by women who fear hard work. And by men who fear powerful woman.

This applies to you all; ladies. I will never be a champion Body builder (without performance enhancing mechanisms) because genetically I do not have the right length of muscle, or produce the level of testosterone to create that look. And you won’t too, trust me (unless you have crazy-good genetics!)

Weight training – if done right; with excellent form only improves strength, increases metabolism to aid with weight loss and digestive function, improves muscular endurance or hypertrophy; depending on how you are lifting. As well as your body’s natural function and reduces the risk of illnesses such as arthritis and osteoporosis. Phew!

I can proudly say I am approximately 8kg heavier than that skinny girl on that runway, those years a go. And I’m genuinely Happy with that!

I am the fastest I have ever been. I am lifting the heaviest weights I ever have. I am the healthiest I have felt. I’ve been fortunate to have run for my country; twice over. And I have a gorgeous partner who loves me regardless of what I weigh. I don’t think he even knows, or cares to know.

 But – most importantly – I feel the happiest. 

The number on that scale does not define me.How I perform on that track and that field, encourages me. How my actions make other people feel their best, makes me feel my best. How I feel – mentally, spiritually and health wise. That’s what Defines me.

Personally, I am constantly striving to create my best self. Whatever that is; is always evolving and being worked on. I aim to never settle and vow to continue to work on myself, every single day – as I encourage you all to do.

It’s important in this world – with so Many opinions and expectations on how think, how to look and how to feel, being thrown at us daily. To not just believe what’s being thrown your way. Take the time to do your research and make up your own mind. We must not be complacent with the way the world operates and strive to keep learning, always.

It’s okay to not look the way that society deems to be is aspirational, but to be happy whatever skin you are in!

So, I encourage you – do whatever you can, wherever you are, with whatever you have – to create your idealistic self. Not anyone’s image or expectation of you. Your vision, your dream. Go get it!
And never stop wanting to better yourself or let any number define you.

Training For Purpose

 

Why do you train?

Someone once asked me: ”Why do you put yourself through it?  The training. The pain. The disappointments. The ongoing commitment, for so little reward?” I said:

”Because I have a big goal. And I want it; more than anything in the world.”

 We all have a goal. We all have a visionary ‘better version of ourselves.’ But in a materialistic Kardashian influenced, society – it’s easy to lose sight of who you are bettering yourself, changing yourself, creating yourself, for. 

 Personally, I have a pretty big goal that I’m always training for. The Olympic Games. But it’s easy to lose sight of that, in the daily grind of ‘Do I have to get up in the dark, this rainy day and get my ass to the gym…’ 

 Small steps. And perspective. 

You want your dream body. Key word ‘You.’ And that’s exactly who you should be training for.

Not someone’s pre-conceived notion of what you should be, how you should act or what you ought to be doing with your life. You my friends, should always be the judge in your ”court room of life decisions.”

 It’s sad to think, that allegedly 1 out of every 3 women in Australia, will resort to some form of body enhancement surgery in their lifetime, to alter their physical appearance. If their notion is to better please themselves; then okay; fair enough.

But the generalization would be to make themselves more appealing for someone else. It’s easy to get influence via the media, of what is inspirational, what is deemed fashionable or sexy. I too, am susceptible to the influences of the material world; my friends would vouch for me on all the horrible spray tans I’ve rocked over the years…All to look out most ideal; right?… But to whom?

The hot guy you’ve been crushing on? The boss you’ve been trying to impress? The lecturer, you aspire to receive a perfect grade from?

 No. It’s you! And should always be you.

It would all be worth it.

Because, I’m doing it – for me. And it’s always been for me. Not to prove anyone wrong, to make anyone proud. But to create the best version of myself, for myself and see what we can do with all these gifts; I’ve been blessed with. 

Take some time to day to reflect. Who are you training for – Metaphorically and physically?..Sometimes readjusting your priorities can make you that much happier, stress free and operate with a clearer mind.

 Keep on – training for you.