Wednesday, May 25, 2011

...bUiLdiNg bLoCkS...

When my first child was born, my husband and I had been married for almost 5 years and we were thrilled to have her. I wanted to be the perfect Mom...which now makes me laugh because "she" (the PERFECT Mom) doesn't's like wanting to be a's a cute thought but NOT gonna happen! Anyways, she was our only child for 3 years. I doted on her. Everyday, I read to her and dressed her to perfection with perfectly matching bows on her head. I would sit and play with her and do puzzles in her room. One day when my daughter was about 2, my sister gave me a big tin of wooden building blocks that one of the kids she was a nanny for had outgrown. Savy LOVED them! Her favorite thing to do was for her and I to carefully build as tall a building as we could and then she would crash it down to nothing and we would laugh.When Savy turned 3 she started attending preschool. She was amazingly above average in intelligence but a little immature socially so it was really good for her. One day, I went to pick her up and her teacher stopped me. The conversation went a little something like this:

TEACHER: (stern look on her face) Mrs. Christensen...we are having a problem during freeplay time with Savanna.

ME: (stressed but trying to look calm and use my sweet Mommy voice) You are? I'm sorry. What is going on?

TEACHER: Savanna is making the other children cry! (looking at me like I'm training her to be a ninja assassin at home for fun)

ME: (getting really worried and stressed as to what is coming next) What is she doing?!?

TEACHER: (excited to tell me) We play with wooden blocks...

ME: (interrupting) Oh! Savy LOVES blocks! We...

TEACHER: (cutting me off) Yes...I'm aware! Every time the children build something, she runs over and knocks it down, claps, and laughs!!! I have told her repeatedly that this is UNACCEPTABLE behavior and she continues to do it day after day!

I explained that I had unknowingly taught her that behavior and in turn went home and taught my daughter that it was okay to do that at home, but when we play with's better to help them build things rather than always tearing them down.You are probably wondering what on earth this lovely little story has to so with being strong. Well, I immediately thought of this story today when I innocently posted a beach pic of myself (the one at the top) with my son a couple of years ago on the "Strong is the new skinny" FB page asking what people like to do that works their body (like me digging a hole in the pic with my son) but is not a traditional exercise movement. I was about 10 lbs thinner, very tan, and very lean. I received a comment that said...(and I quote)... "You look sick, skinny, unhealthy and freaky! Take a brek."

You'd think this would anger me or hurt my feelings. It did not. Okay, well...I considered leaving a comment that simply said, " (insert person's name), BITE ME!" for a minute, but I controlled the urge. What I DID think was how sad it is that WE AS WOMEN tend to tear each other down. We want to blame men...and there are some jerks out there...for the fact that we feel the need to be beautiful and wear the right clothes and have the perfect hair and body, but it's really women that are the problem!We are all guilty at some time. We've all done it...myself included. We talk behind people's backs or pick apart what they are wearing...the skirt is too long...she shouldn't have cut her hair like that...she's gained weight...she's lost too much weight. I even see it with my children. It is such an epidemic. We as women are tearing each other down, just like Savanna tore down every building made of blocks! Sometimes, it's innocent. We say things and laugh like it's just a game, but don't stop to think about what it is that we are doing or how it may make the other person feel.One of my goals with "Strong is the new skinny" is to build an army of men and women that can inspire each other and build each other up. Just like it was inappropriate for Savy to knock the other kids' blocks down, it's wrong for us to knock other people down or judge them harshly. It's okay to have differing opinions. It's not okay to be mean.
My challenge to anyone that reads this, is this: Think before you speak or type. Change the way you look at other people. Stop being B**CHY and judgmental and look for the good. You don't have to like what everyone else wears or how they look or how they train or what they think. Be STRONG enough and confident enough in yourself to not make comparisons out of insecurity and teach your daughters to do the same. Let's all work to build each other proverbial block at a time...and make something amazing! THAT is how you make the world a better, stronger place.


  1. Hi Marsha! Great blog. I just started following you on FB and am enjoying it! I love that you emphasize being strong over being skinny. I do that with my fitness business as well. I am a fitness trainer in Ohio. And I see a lot of what you mention above (women tearing other women down), but I also see a lot of women tearing themselves down constantly--which is just as bad. And I can't say I'm innocent--I've been battling some weight gain that seemed to be a 40th b-day gift along with some hormonal issues! And I find myself having to constantly repeat, "You are still strong and healthy!" I also notice with many of my female clients, that women almost fear being strong. It they look strong (muscular) instead of skinny, they won't be feminine anymore. I try my best to encourage a healthy lifestyle, not a skinny lifestyle.
    Thanks for your words of wisdom! And, you do look great, by the way!

  2. I agree J.J. and thank you for the sweet words. The irony to all this is I too have been really having a hard time with some weight gain I've had due to some "girl problems" I had and some serious upheaval in my personal life. I'm still in great shape but I can tell a difference so its funny to be put down in a pic where I was in the best shape of my life. It's okay. There are always haters out there. THEY are the unhappy ones! I'm sure that you still look great and I know you are setting a great example for other women out there! Cheers!

  3. Marsha I talk about this all the time......about how as females we tear each other down when we should be supporting each other, getting through the "male" obstacles and glass ceilings and sexist behavior etc.......but instead we hurt each other. We make ourselves feel "better" by tearing down another female. It's so sad......I'm so careful not to tear up another woman OR be silent when I hear a woman tearing one up......sometimes we need to speak up and say hey she's trying let's give a girl a break, right???? CrossFit is all about teamwork and partnership yet even there I hear little things.....

  4. you are an inspiration to all women :)

  5. Thanks for posting this Marsha. As a female, my dad told me to stay away from girls because they are "catty, vicious, and mean." I used to laugh when he said this and I still do, but now, after a little life experience, I understand what he meant. Because of this, I try to surround myself with people who are uplifting and I try to be as uplifting as possible to those around me. I no longer have time or energy to deal with the snarks that have nothing better to do than tear people down. I still have to contend with that snarky attitude towards myself in my head, but I can usually shut her up with watermelon (ha! It used to be chocolate.) You have made such a great analogy. Thanks for your thoughts!

  6. Marsha, You inspire me to be more every day. Thank you for this blog and your facebook community. It is great to have a daily source of motivation to draw upon.

  7. I was kinda the same way when my oldest was born almost 26 years ago. Thought I had to become like father knows best and start wearing cardigans and smoking a pipe . I've made lots of dumb mistakes but my kids still love me and want to spend time with the old man. I want to be a fly on the wall at my funeral. :-) lol

    BTW, nice blog and results, Marsha.

    ~ Barney (aka IronBear138)

  8. I had a similar thing happen to me about 4 weeks ago. I posted "during" pics of my crossfit/clean eating journey (because I didn't have a "before" and I'm not done yet) and some anonymous commenter wrote the words "Vanity is a sin." That was all and it REALLY bothered me. I took the pics down and felt ashamed. I feel pretty sure it was a woman. I hate when we tear down one another. I get a rude anonymous comment about every 6 months.

  9. Marsha, I'm just starting my whole family on eating healthy (Paleo) and getting fit (Crossfit). It's a long journey. I've lost 37kgs so far (74lbs) and had an old female acquaintance tell me that I'm starting to look too skinny (believe me I've got a long way to go for that). My immediate thought was "Thank you, no ones called me skinny for years" and then it struck me that maybe it wasn't a compliment.
    Keep up the good work Marsha.

  10. Its my pleasure to look at your page and to enjoy your excellent topics, I appreciate it very much. I feel great that about these articles, as all of them make sense and are very useful.

  11. Saw the title of this blog and liked it; read the first post and really liked it; noticed the Thoreau quote on the page and loved it. I use that quote in my own e-mail signature! Thanks for blogging and more power to you!

  12. Wow I just found your blog, and you are an AMAZING inspiration! And I think living by strong as the new skinny is a lovely thing.

  13. I am someone who has hidden behind my weight for so many years and for the last 4 months I have been working hard eating Paleo and working out. I'm not where I want to be weight wise but I am learning slowly that it's not about me having the body of a swim suite model but that the body I do have be strong and healthy. Thank you for this post, it's the first one I've read by you and it's exactly what I needed to hear because I am currently struggling with a so called friend putting me down and rubbing in my face how much more weight she has lost than me even though I know I'm stronger than she is.