A decade ago Turia Pitt was running an ultramarathon when a grassfire caused burns to 65% of her body. Doctors weren’t sure she’d survive, but she encapsulates what it means to have ‘grit’.
She went for a run with three time Paralympic gold medalist and two time Commonwealth Games gold medalist, Kurt Fearnley, who also who famously crawled the Kokoda Trail ,on his ABC-TV program One Plus One this week and had a conversation about determination.
She wrote on Instagram: "Had a delightful chat with @kurtfearnleyinsta about relationships, racing, the Kokoda Track and how the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time."
She admits that she gets more frustrated by the small things she can't do - such as open a jar of pasta sauce - rather than the big ones, especially if she's in a bad mood, feeling disheartened or hasn't been for a run.
"I will think I could open this jar of pasta sauce if I didn't get trapped by that fire," she admits. "As hard as I try, there are things I can't do ... and that hurts my ego. I'm a proud, strong, motivated individual and when you realise there's something you can't do and it's not a 30km mountain run or an iron woman event, it's something simple that most people can do, I find that really frustrating."
On the show, Turia reveals how important she thinks to have a positive inner voice that celebrates the small wins along the way. She also says people need to remember that it's OK to ask for help when you need it.
Here's what Turia had to say to Prevention recently about what she's learnt about life since her accident.
1. LIFE THROWS US SOME CURVE BALLS, ROLL WITH IT
Hasn’t 2020 been a lesson in that! So rather than trying to protect ourselves from hard times, we should accept them and say to ourselves, “I have the inner resources to deal with any situation that comes my way.”
2. MAKE MENTAL HEALTH A PRIORITY
[Turia suffered burns to 65% of her body in a grass fire while competing in an ultramarathon in 2011], I saw a psychologist and she was instrumental to my recovery. You get your car fixed by a mechanic, your teeth cleaned by a dentist, your face beautified by a beautician. Your heart and head deserve nothing less than a professional to help you. There are some bloody amazing services out there. I always recommend Lifeline and Beyond Blue.
3. CAREER ISN'T EVERYTHING
Yes, work is Important, but it’s not the most important thing. Yes, you want to feel like you’re moving forward with your goals, but this sense of progress doesn’t always have to come from your job.
4. NATURE IS THE BEST MEDICINE
It's amazing what a bit of fresh air and sun can do for your mood. For me, it's simple: whenever I go for a run or a surf, or push my baby in a pram, I always feel so much better.
5. MAKE A CONSCIOUS CHOICE ABOUT WHO YOU LET INTO YOUR INNER CIRCLE
I’ve had two very strong personalities as role models. My mum and dad. They both love me unconditionally. I’ve been lucky in life, but, while you don’t get to pick who your family is by blood, you can choose who gets to be in your inner circle. Pick people who make you feel good about yourself and vice versa.
6. BE THE KIND OF PERSON YOU WANT TO SPEND TIME WITH.
So, if you want to meet outdoorsy, adventurous people, try joining a local hiking club. Think about how you want to use up your time, and then start doing those things.
7. GETTING OLDER IS INEVITABLE.
No one escapes the ravages of time. I’m 33 and if I get to my 90s, it’ll be an absolute privilege.
8. HAPPINESS IS AN OUTLOOK, NOT AN OUTCOME.
Some days we’re happy, some days we’re sad; both are valid emotions and are part of the full spectrum of the human experience. In fact, I’ve dedicated a chapter of my new book, Happy, to this very quandary!
9. GIVE BACK FIRST
Giving back is a great way to give yourself perspective on your own life.
10. MAKE TIME FOR YOU
Every day I carve out time for me. Sure this means sometimes the laundry doesn’t get done, there are dishes in the sink and we’re eating toasted sandwiches for dinner, but I know that when I don’t get enough “me” time, I can’t show up for my family or friends in the way they deserve.
Turia’s new book, Happy & Other Ridiculous Aspirations (Ebury, $34.99), is out now.