For many reasons, I had a hard time making female friends when I was growing up. I never felt like I was “girly” enough, whatever that means. There were many years of my life that I wasn’t showing up as my full self because I was trying to be some arbitrary version of a woman, most likely based on the media I was being fed as a developing person. But somewhere inside me, I knew I wasn’t being authentic; I knew I wasn’t showing up as my full self.
As I got more into the outdoors in my twenties, I started to feel more like myself. I started to appreciate my body for what it was capable of in the mountains, instead of how it looked in a business suit. I craved spending weekends out in the woods with no mirrors or pretense. But I still found it hard to make female friends who shared similar interests while I was living in Boston.
When I moved to Colorado, I made it my mission to find more female friends. I wanted to find ladies who loved going outside, who were down for an adventure, who wanted to have the suffer fests in the mountains that I was growing to love. I started using Bumble BFF - yes, there’s a friend dating app - it’s amazing. I went on friend dates, found some great people, and found some that weren’t a great fit. Eventually, I had a few amazing women who motivated me to go for it, to try harder, to suffer with.
A few years went by, and I knew I wanted to take more responsibility and be intentional with finding even more badass women to surround myself with. So, I planned a climbing weekend and invited a few women I knew and they invited a few they knew. Before we knew it, we had a full-on lady crew who liked to push themselves, and also loved s’mores.
During this weekend, I watched each woman climb up the vertical faces of Shelf Road and I thought to myself, ‘Wow, these women are freakin’ rad.’ Some were newer to climbing, and I watched them push through fear or go for big moves. Some had more experience and made hard climbs look like a breeze. I left that weekend feeling like I wanted to keep these new friendships going. I wanted to keep up with these multi-faceted, strong women.
I got back home to Boulder and found myself excited to start fueling again for my workouts, to start giving my body the recovery and nutrients that it needed, because I wanted to keep adventuring with these new friends. I have always found it kind of hard to fuel just for fueling’s sake. With my history of eating disorders and disordered eating, I go through iterations of different disordered eating behaviors and have to find new tools to cope pretty consistently. But now, I felt like I had a whole new reason to keep my stamina, endurance, and strength high. I had badass things to do with these badass women.
Since getting back from this epic trip, I have found myself planning more hikes, more training sessions, and more outdoor climbing trips (an activity that still scares the heck out of me). We meet up for early morning hikes on our favorite trails, chat about life, and get super out of breath. We find commonality in the burning of our quads and our love for that type of pain. We get excited about all the things we could do together: climbing, skiing, camping, hiking, running, and mountain biking. And I think to myself, ‘Wow, I never thought I would have this.’ And I let myself feel oodles of gratitude and smile to myself.
People decide to fuel for many reasons. Some may say that finding the motivation for fueling should come from within. That you should intrinsically want to take care of your body. And while I think that’s partly true, that is harder for some people to achieve depending on where they’re coming from on their own food journey. When I found I was more motivated to fuel my body after being around strong, powerful women, I think I unlocked something within myself. And I’m leaning all the way in.
It’s a popular mantra to say: “You need to love yourself before you can love others,” but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think you can do it at the same time. You can have others show you love or inspire you, and it can show you what is possible for yourself, even if you’re not there yet. Sometimes, you just need someone to show you what your life could be like in order for you to start seeing that for yourself.
I’m thankful for meeting rad women who have shown me what a life of outdoor adventure could look like in its fullest potential. I’m even more grateful that meeting these women has motivated me to give my body what it needs so I can keep getting it after it with them. When I’m surrounded by strong women, I fuel to be strong, too.