“Big” Girls Can’t Climb… (or can we?)

Big. Took that little gem with me from my k-12 years. I was a full head taller and pounds bigger than most of my classmates. People always guessed me older and when they found out I was younger, they’d say, “Oh my, you’re a big girl!”

Which I heard as… freakishly tall, fat, abnormal.

And shaking an old identity can be tough, even at my age.

The internal conversations that still go down in my head – beating myself up, interrupting, name calling – would rival any recent presidential debate.

So here’s what happened. On Wednesday I did the incline. It’s a well known local workout that boasts over 2700 steps and 2000 feet in elevation. The last time I did it was years ago and for whatever reason I thought it would be a good idea to try it again. My hubby was supposed to go with me but one of our kiddos needed to stay home. He encouraged me to go alone. The following conversation unfolded in my brain through the morning.

Waking up:

Old heavy me: Probably shouldn’t go. Could be dangerous without Brian. What if your heart gives out? What if you trip? What if a mountain lion leaps out of the woods to eat your big ol’ delectable self? 

New me: You can do this. A gazillion people do it alone every day. It’s not a big deal.

Driving to town:

Old me: Do you even know where to park? And did you see that little cloud over there? I hear there’s rain coming. What if you get struck by lightning – headline the local paper? Big Woman Struck by Lightning then Eaten by Mountain Lion Better do it next week.

New me: Shush. I’m going.

I arrived at the incline and walked the steep hill to the check in point. I was breathing heavy already, but was feeling pretty confident. 

Until I looked up. 

Yikes. I started my watch. Go.

I surprised myself by going further than I thought I would before needing my first break.

New me: Good job. You got this.

Old me: It’s 20 steps. Don’t celebrate yet.

New me: See that tree? I’m going to that tree – and then a little bit farther before I stop to breathe.

Old me: If you don’t die first.

A quarter of the way up:

Old me: See? You’re dying. I told you. Hear your heart? It’s about to explode. Stop. Sit. Be done. 

New me: You’re fine. You’ve practiced for this. Remember the hike two weeks ago? Last week? The work outs at the gym? You are strong. Your heart is strong, Just breathe.

At the halfway point:

New me: Look at that! Made it halfway and only stopped a few times. You’ve totally got this. Smile at that person going by – it’s a good day.

Old me: Look. That guy is a 100 and he’s passing you. 

Three quarters up:

Old me: These steps are all different shapes and tilted. See there? You almost lost your balance. You’ll be the first person to ever tumble back down the entire thing – bouncing and screaming the whole way down.

New me: I don’t like you.

Thirty steps from the top:

New me: I haven’t stopped in a long time!

Old me: ……

Ten steps from the top:

New me: This might be my best time yet!

Old me: …..


New me: I did it! I did it! I did it! Would anyone notice if i do a jig right here and now? I’m doing it. I’m shaking these hips. Go hips, go!

Old me: ……

So it was my best time. Now I’m two days out and I’m not sore (well, not really). I’m strong. I’m healthy. I don’t have to listen to the voice that’s plagued me since I was in the kindergarten and came in last in the 100 yard dash. 

So friends, join me. I don’t know what lie you might believe about yourself – Old. Frumpy. Not very smart. Slow. Big. Little. Too shy. Too afraid.

Be done with it. It’s time to be the man/woman you were created to be. Healthy, strong, fit, loving, brave, intelligent, capable, creative, unafraid.

Whatever lie plagues you, silence it in the doing.

You’ve got this.

For more from Elsa, click here.

24 Responses

  1. Needed this today Elsa! Pandemic inactivity, weight gain and heart issues have me wondering if I can get back to a hike back up that mountain. But I’m actually okay, and the only thing stopping a renewed activity plan is doubt, malaise and well, the opposite of you, the new “old” me. . My old “young” me was can do and believed whole heartedly in the benefit of exercise, especially in combating depression. I was in the groove. Now I’m off track. Now the new “old” me is tired out more easily and is like, “what’s the use?” Which is a lie. There’s a great deal of benefit and potential improvements for me if I get going again in a regular plan of strength training and just moving through space more fervently. I’m just avoiding one more hard thing. But I’ve got my exercise clothes on and your blog just encouraged me. We can do it. You, combating that “old me” inner dialogue, and me, combating the “new me” inner dialogue. I hope that makes sense! Thank you!! I loved your story.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing this, Shari! I totally get it and praying that your “old me” wins out! We’ve got this!

  2. Congratulations!! Over 2700 steps!! I’ve been doing the 48 stairs in my building and it’s getting easier each time! You’ve inspired me! It’s a step by step process! I love you Elsa!!

  3. You’ve captured so well the battle of the voices in our head! The key is choosing to listen to the truth narrative! Thanks for sharing the battle & congrats on both victories–the inner one & the upward one!

  4. As a bigger woman myself I admire your honesty and determination to overcome all those stupid voices in our heads! Keep it up! You are killing it!!

  5. Dearest Elsa
    You continue to bring a huge smile to my face – job well done girlfriend.

    Please never stop sharing your life’s journey.
    Such an inspiration to many of us.
    I will start walking again tomorrow for sure.
    Blessings and hugs

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