"La Vita è Bella" with Beatrice Lessi

"La Vita è Bella" with Beatrice Lessi

Aug 08, 2023The Goddess Collective

Long-distance runner and blogger Beatrice Lessi talks to The Goddess Collective about extreme experiences, how to find happiness in small things and tips on how to silence your inner critic.

Talking to Beatrice Lessi, 57, you almost feel immersed in a feminist adventure novel. Because before the Italian by birth and choice from Zurich decided to start a career as an ultramarathon runner and blogger, she was a so-called she-wolf of Canary Wharf. More precisely: Beatrice Lessi was a successful broker in London and experienced and lived the gold rush of the financial world during the 90s, but at the same time, she was confronted with the shadow side of this appearance and being, which is why, at the turn of the millennium, she decided to give it all up and start a new life with her new love Marcel in New York. In the meantime, the mother of three lives with her family in Zurich and writes on her blog, www.askthemonsters.com, not only about her passion for sports, fashion, beauty and travel but also about taboo topics such as menopause and the fact that women over 50 are still visible! The inspiring Wonderwoman talks to us about psychological and physical challenges, her dreams, and who Beatrice Lessi is.

Beatrice, the financial sector is still a male-dominated field. Can you tell us about your experiences?
It is a problem per se when women in such professions look good, like to dress nicely, and then - like me - have an accent (although I speak perfect English, you can hear my Italian origin). Because even if these are factors that have been instituted by patriarchy, they make it difficult for women to practice their profession. Be it in the financial sector, science, journalism, or IT, you name it. Unfortunately, you are often not taken seriously, ridiculed and/or belittled.

How did you manage to assert yourself anyway?
I have a very strong will and am a stubborn person. It spurs me even more when someone tells me you can't do it or laughs at me. In the sense of: "I'll show them!" Although this attitude took me very far professionally, and I was super successful as a broker, I paid a high price for it, physically and mentally.

What happened?
I had already struggled with anorexia during my studies in Pisa but was able to overcome it. The situation I described in London made me fall off the wagon: The less I ate, the better my performance became, aka I earned more, and I felt (superficially) great. And I got much more recognition and compliments from society as a result—a vicious circle.

We can relate to that very well. How did you manage to get out of this negative spiral?
Thanks to my love for my husband, Marcel. In addition, during my first pregnancy as a 34-year-old, I rediscovered the joy of eating. I realised that you don't have to change, but you have to understand and accept yourself as you are.

Did you already start doing marathons back then?
Honestly? I was a sports muffin. As a teenager, I even made sure I was excused from gym class so that I could sleep two hours longer in the morning! I owe my passion for long-distance running and ultra-marathons more to my stubbornness. The story goes like this: When I was 40, I accompanied Marcel to dinner with his colleagues, discussing their participation in the London Marathon. This led me to say, "I'll be there next year too." Of course, these guys didn't take it seriously - much like the brokers in my job used to. On the one hand, that triggered me; on the other hand, that reaction spurred me on, and I started training immediately afterwards.

Today you are a successful long-distance runner and participate in ultra-trails like the infamous Marathon des Sables. How did you manage this change?
My husband Marcel is a triathlete. He put together a running and training programme for me and supported me greatly in my endeavours. Ultimately, I did surprisingly well in my first London Marathon over 15 years ago. Since then, I have run various 100-kilometre distances worldwide and even ultra-marathons. What I'm saying is: it's never too late to start exercising or living your dreams - no matter how old you are.

Talking about living your dreams: You completed the Marathon des Sables and ran about 250 kilometres across the Moroccan Sahara. Was there a moment when you wanted to give it all up?
Of course, there was. The Marathon des Sables takes you over scree, through dunes, riverbeds and even past Bedouins. In one week, you run six stages and carry all your food - about 10 to 12 kilograms - in your backpack. In addition, there are extreme temperature differences: during the day, it can get up to 50 degrees in the blazing sun, and at night, you sleep under canvas tents or in the open air at three to five degrees. In addition, you have to expect to be bitten by poisonous snakes or similar. All these circumstances do something to you, both physically and psychologically. Questions like "Why are you doing this to yourself?" are your constant companions.

What helped you to endure this extreme tour?
I'm fascinated by borderline experiences. I want to do what others don't do, especially in a world dominated by men. Giving up was, therefore, out of the question for me. Which in turn leads to recognition. And I like that. So I used the Marathon des Sables as an ego booster. If so, why not? Nevertheless, this extreme tour also gave me experiences that can hardly be put into words. And it made me realise that the little things make our lives worth living.

Can you give us some examples?
You are confronted with yourself and your fears during the Marathon des Sables: You are constantly hungry, you can't shower, it's too hot, it's too cold, you name it. And this is where spirituality comes in: When you have nothing, you start to look at life with different eyes and realise that everyday European life is anything but self-evident. Therefore, the Marathon des Sables was also a spiritual experience: the joy of daily activities, such as the joy of sitting. Or taking off your shoes. And the joy of helping each other or finally being able to accept help.

So much for everyday life; what rituals do you use to start the day?
For me, it's: But first, coffee (laughs)! Then I go for a walk with our dog. That used to annoy me because the weather is so unstable here in Switzerland. In the meantime, I have learned to appreciate nature and connect with Mother Earth, which is also a form of spirituality for me, as these moments help me to clear my head.

What is your retreat?
The bathroom, I always have my peace there.

How would you describe yourself in three adjectives?
Energetic, curious and sexy! (laughs).

You told us at the beginning about your anorexia. What is your relationship with your own reflection like today?
Of course, there are always ups and downs, unfortunately. But I have learned to deal with it and to accept myself. Today I'm at a point where I can honestly say: "I love myself the way I am! Even my wrinkles would have been unimaginable for me in the past.

What is the best advice you have ever received?
The night before my first ultra marathon in Iceland, I met a very experienced runner and asked him for mental tips. He then said to me: "Tomorrow, when you are running, don't allow a single negative thought. If you feel pain, don't think, 'Ouch. It hurts, I'm in pain," but try to turn that thought framework into the constructive. For example, "My body is trying to signal me that it needs a change so that my feet don't hurt anymore." Long story short: If you allow just one negative thought, you're screwed. That's why it's one step at a time."

How do you implement this advice in everyday life?
Every emotion is excellent and important for our further development. But not if it blocks us. That's why I try to trick myself as soon as my inner critic reappears: by power posing before an important conversation or biting a pencil.

You bite on a pencil?!
Yes, literally. It has been scientifically proven that when you put a pencil between your teeth, the corners of your mouth are pulled up, and you automatically have to smile. That releases happiness hormones, and you're in a better mood.

What is your motto in life?
Carpe Diem, Bellissime!

 



More articles