I completed my first week of Strongwoman training this week. It was tough…the learning curve felt steep, many of the lifts were totally new to me, and I couldn’t lift even 100lbs in a sandbag. Something about the way the weight shifts combined with no really great way to grip it made it a formidable challenge. Humbling. I sucked wind, hard. And when I got to that point — that point where you have a choice to make between stopping and enduring, giving up or persevering, the place between two pains — I quietly gathered my strength and continued.

I’ve been at that place before. All mothers know that place. You first come to that place in labor — that moment when continuing to labor seems like too much to bear, but continuing to have a child wedged in your birth canal doesn’t seem like a great option either.

I probably just lost all of my male readers, but listen up, men. If birth analogies make you feel icky, it’s time to suck it up, cupcake! If you affirm the strength of women (and if you’re here from LBEB, you should), you’ll need to affirm birth and motherhood, because birth and motherhood require great strength. The same kind of mental toughness that is required to rip heavy weights off the floor.

Anyway. Back to that place. You want to give up. You’re done. But you also know there’s no way out but through. So you dig down deep, push your limits and…beauty happens. You gaze upon pure beauty as you hold it in your arms. It feels like glory.

You come to that place again quickly, as a mother. When breastfeeding is challenging, because how do you get this little newborn to keep his dang hands out of his mouth so he can latch on? You feel like you need several more hands. And dang…sometimes you’re doing everything “right” — latch looks good, everything is as it should be — and yet nursing HURTS LIKE A MOFO. You dig down deep, grit your teeth, and do it anyway. When you haven’t slept in days and days and your baby will only sleep touching you, with a boob in his mouth, while being rocked — that requires strength. That kind of love and devotion requires strength. It is a strong love, motherhood.

What I want all women to truly know, and mothers especially, is that they have so much strength. We are born with it. It is our crowning glory. Our society doesn’t want us to know that we are strong, so it tries to tell us to never pick up a weight heavier than 3lbs and to slave away on the treadmill or elliptical. It tells us to give birth on our backs, strapped to machines, and to definitely not yell or grunt or scream. It tells us that we need to weigh a certain amount and we need to eat a certain amount and to fit in a certain size in order to be beautiful. All these things glorify weakness, and are designed to keep us down.

Our strength requires fuel. We can eat food. Lots of food. I believe that one of the leading causes of depression in this country is from starvation. Eat the food! Our bodies were designed to run on real food in real amounts. Physical energy and mental energy come from food. Our brains use something like 25% of our total calories? How can we be expected to problem-solve, challenge the status quo, and think through all of the things we’re supposed to think through as women (careers, family, etc) without fuel? EAT THE FOOD.

Women: we can lift heavy things. Those heavy things might be physical, or they might be emotional or spiritual. We have been given the strength to do great things. We just have to tap into that inner strength. Two of the best ways I know to encounter that inner greatness are through birth, and through lifting heavy stuff. The lessons we learn through these experiences will carry us through many trials, as we learn how to stand strong, and how to not give up when heavy burdens are placed on our backs.