Do you call yourself fat? I don't call myself fat. Want a word that literally atom bombed my body image growing up? HIPPO. When I was in elementary school when my friends used to fight we would call each other mean names. They called me hippo. It left a huge festering infection in my psyche despite the fact that I pretended not to care. Was I actually overweight as a little girl? Absolutely not. I wasn't teeny tiny but stick thin wasn't my body type. So instead of looking in the mirror and seeing a happy healthy girl who could run faster than the boys, I would ask myself, "Why am I not skinny like X or Y." And so it began.
Then I went to college and drank margaritas and sugary drinks. So I slowly packed on a few pounds. Then my brother passed away and brownies became the only way my friends could make me feel better. So an already morphed body image coupled with a devastating weight gain pushed me over the edge. Looking in the mirror and seeing myself at 200 pounds while trying to grieve a loss was overwhelming. My Mom put her foot down in the gentlest way possible, sensing that I was drowning in my own skin, and offered to pay for a weight loss program. For a while I declined because I was so mortified that I needed help. It was a devastating blow. But then, I finally agreed.
I felt traumatized that I let myself get to that point. I felt embarrassed. I remember sitting in the office trying not to cry. It was like ripping off a band-aid. The way the plan worked, there were specific meals I was supposed to eat throughout the day and I was required to work out 5 days a week for 30 minutes a day. I started out riding the stationary bike. After a month I got on an elliptical for 45 minutes and started doing some resistance training. A semester later I lost 40 pounds. It was just like what Justin is experiencing, the weight just fell off. I started to look and feel like myself again. I started feeling attractive. Then I quit the program continued eating healthier and going to spin class regularly. I didn't find running until I graduated college and felt like I had nothing going for me. A marathon, 6 half marathons, a 10k, a 5 miler, and 1 5k later, I am now a runner. Fat? Absolutely not. Am I a skinny? NOPE. Am I healthy and fit? HELL TO THE YES. I am a US size 8/10. I run 35-45 miles a week, and couldn’t be happier.
So I was a little taken a back when I stumbled upon a blog titled “The Fat Girl’s Guide To Running.” At first I thought to myself, “Great. Another woman calling herself fat.” And it rubbed me the wrong way because there’s always that teeny tiny part of me that is slightly sensitive to the fact that I still struggle (and will always struggle) with my body image. So I started reading and discovered that Julie’s blog, “The Fat Girl’s Guide to Running” is exactly what you would expect it to be: hilarious and awesome. She has posts like “The pitfalls of being an overweight runner,” “Why Fatty Must Run,” and my absolute personal favorite “Fat women are lazy and discussting.” (Don't judge this book by it's cover. That article is a drop kick to a disgusting internet troll.) She’s setting the bar high and saying just because you are overweight doesn’t mean you can’t be a runner. And not only is she making you laugh along the way but she’s flattening internet trolls and haters.
Yesterday morning I saw a tweet from Active magazine to an article titled “Why Beginners Should Wait to Run A Marathon” and I thought to myself FUCK OFF. (Excuse the French.) Seriously! Stop telling people how to live their lives y’all! I ran my first marathon 6 months after my first run. I ran it because I wanted to. And I trained myself to successfully complete the single most important feet in my life to date. So please don’t tell someone they can’t run because of their weight or because they are a beginner! Just do you. If you want to run a marathon but think you haven’t been a runner long enough, think again. With hard work, anyone can run a marathon. I don’t like the word fat. I’ve said it once and I will say it a million times. Stop stressing about your weight. If you don’t like where you are at, make a change. How? So glad you asked, I’m dying to share:
Step 1: Get Healthy. Cut all alcohol and processed foods out of your diet. Eat strictly fruits, veggies, proteins, and complex carbs. I know, it blows, but it’s literally a few weeks of your life and then you get to eat delicious treats again (in moderation). Make your meals ahead of time and measure portions. PORTIONS ARE KEY! 3 meals a day, 6 meals a day, 10 meals a day it really doesn’t matter. Find what works for you. There really isn’t a secret.
Step 2: Get active! Start with walking at sunrise and sunset for 30 minutes. Or get a gym membership and sweat for 30 minutes a day. Or start running-Do the Couch to 5k challenge! Start bike riding! Just get outside and sweat for 30 minutes a day. Twice a day for 30 minutes is even better. If you’re competitive set a goal! But get out there!
Step 3: TELL NO ONE. Just do it for you. If there’s someone who you consider a cupcake buddy (I have 5, they leave me treats or we go to literally buy cupcakes once a week) let them know “Hey, I am trying to get healthy so I am gonna skip the cupcakes. Maybe we can go for tea?” I guarantee they will be like “You are a badass I am so impressed.”
Step 4: START RIGHT NOW! Not tomorrow, RIGHT NOW. Just do it. If you don’t do it now, you won’t do it. Set a goal and stick to it. Don’t say you want to lose 20 pounds if you really want to lose 50. Don’t be afraid to fail. You can’t fail because there’s no deadline. You will fluctuate, you will cheat and that’s OK! Live your life! Don’t let the scale stop you from having a glass of wine or a piece of pizza. Just enjoy it if you decide to have it. Then keep going.
Step 5: Start looking in the mirror and liking what you see. Start loving yourself. If you don’t love yourself, why should anyone else? I’m serious about this. The second you look in the mirror and see something you don’t like name 5 things you do. Because you know what people aren’t noticing when they look at you? Your weight. GET OVER IT. (I know, easier said than done.)
Getting active and falling in love with running is the best thing that ever happened to me. It freed me from constantly obsessing over what I eat and drink. When I signed up to run my marathon, a partial reason was because I was convinced I would drop those final 10 pounds I could never shake. I DIDN’T LOSE 1 POUND! But I got TONED and was reminded it’s not about what you weigh. You could weigh 120 pounds or 180 pounds and still be able to complete a marathon if you train for it. You just have to be crazy enough to sign up. I’m just crazy enough to do it twice. Here’s to the NYC Marathon and all the Fat Runners because you aren’t really fat runners, you are just runners. Until tomorrow friends, #RunSelfieRepeat.