In her most revealing interview yet, Turia Pitt opens up about finding herself again after the fire, motherhood and the love of her life.
What is beauty to you?
Beauty for me is nature. Seeing an incredible sunrise or being able to go for a good surf or a big hike – gets me every time.
How has motherhood changed you?
It’s changed my priorities for sure. I’d rather spend the better part of the day with my son, Hakavai instead of training like a madwoman for a massive endurance event. I still want to challenge myself, but now I temper them with the reality of being a mum and wanting to be around for my boy.
What do you love most about it?
I love taking him down to the beach, sharing my obsession of books, seeing my partner Michael with him and just hearing him laugh. It’s the best.
What are the values & morals you hope to instil in Hakavai?
I want Hakavai to know that everyone has hard times – he will too, and I want him to know that he will be able to get through them. There’s things you can do to feel better or improve.
Do you want more children?
We’d definitely love to add to our little family. Not sure on the numbers – somewhere between a small brood and complete chaos.
Your love story with Michael is beautiful in itself. Has your relationship changed since becoming parents?
We’re always been a solid team and having a baby has just made our relationship even stronger. Michael was so capable and perfect in the early days after Hakavai was born that it was kind of annoying! He has this tendency to be irritatingly perfect.
Any plans to tie the knot any time soon?
Not right now, there’s so much going on it’s not a big priority at the moment.
Describe your dream wedding?
I’m a girl of extremes, so either a big party with all our friends and family or else just a few of us out on a boat in the Maldives.
What do you love/admire most about Michael?
He's really kind and open-hearted – he’s always encouraging me to see the best in people. And he’s always so calm – nothing really bothers him.
You’re always smiling and such an inspiration to people, but do you still have down days?
Absolutely! I either accept it and tell myself that tomorrow will be better, or I decide to turn it around. I have a list of things that make me feel good and a list of things that have the potential to make me feel not-so-good. So when I feel down or flat, I can choose to do the things that make me feel good.
What is your biggest fear?
Lack of progress. I don’t want to be in the same place that I was 12 months ago.
It’s been seven years since the ultramarathon. How many operations have you had to date, and does it get easier over time?
I’ve lost count at this point – it’s literally hundreds of procedures. It has gotten easier over time, but I guess it’s not the operations that have changed but my attitude towards them. My body’s strength, health and function are things I want to keep improving so it sounds kinda weird but I actually look forward to them now.
What would you like women to understand about body image?
That it’s not the only thing, or even the most important thing that has an impact on your happiness. Confidence also comes from things like your skills or your physical fitness. Don't fall into the massive trap of thinking that you have to look a certain way or look like some airbrushed Insta girl to feel happy and confident.
Have you always had self-confidence and self-belief?
My parents always taught me that nothing was impossible, and I’ve always been a pretty confident person. Before the fire, I was athletic, I had a good job, I had an awesome boyfriend, I had a big circle of friends, I raised money for charities. I was killing it and my confidence was sky high.
DId that all change after the fire?
Yep, the fire changed everything. I found myself in a hospital bed with my physical abilities completely stripped away. I was made redundant from my job, I was socially isolated. I also lost pride in my appearance. Instead of spending my weekends rock climbing in gorges with Michael, I was constantly in and out of operating theatres. So, yep, as you can imagine, I wasn’t feeling confident.
How did you find yourself again?
I had to slowly rebuild my ability to do the things that made me feel confident: running, surfing, challenging myself physically, raising money for charities, studying, reading and getting smarter. I also started taking pride in my appearance again. The more my body could do, the more confident I became.
A lot of teens struggle with bullying and self-esteem issues. Did you?
I had really bad eczema and got teased for it at school, my parents got divorced, I went to three different high schools in three years, my teacher told me I wasn’t smart enough to get the grades I wanted – it’s not easy!
Where did the idea for your new book Good Selfie come from?
I get lots of questions from teenagers about how to get through tough times or just crappy days, questions about how to be more confident and how to smash some goals. That’s what ‘Good Selfie’ is – a whole bunch of these questions and my answers plus my best tips and tools for teens to nail life.
Good Selfie is on sale from April 2. Purchase at www.turiapitt.com and all good book stores.