If you are looking for weight-loss inspiration porn, this is not it. This is the story of a fat woman who enjoys running and eating healthy for the sake of running and eating healthy.
First, I have nothing but respect for those who endeavor to lose weight and find success in it. I never want to diminish another’s success or minimize where they may find happiness. Rather, I want to provide a counter-narrative about someone who started on that journey but found success in unexpected places. I want to provide a narrative about someone who is tired of being bombarded with headlines celebrating people leaving the curvy club.
Second, yes, I use the word “fat.” I know the term “fat” is one fraught with scarred histories and mixed feelings for so many. To me, the term “fat” is no longer a powerful weapon that anyone can use against me. It is instead an apathetic adjective whose indifference flies in the faces of all those who have used it for hurt. People who are quick to respond with “no, you’re not fat…” have good intentions, but they send a clear message that fat equals bad. So with my embrace of my curves and the word itself, I try to reinforce that fat equals fat. It does not need to be loaded with needless judgement.
I have been a runner for a few years now. I went from not being able to run a mile to doing my first 5K to doing my first half-marathon within the span of a couple years. About a month ago, I completed another half-marathon in a record time. While training for the half-marathon, I ran 3-4 days a week. Each week, I ran an average of 15-25 miles. In addition, I worked out with a personal trainer 3 days a week for an hour each session.
I ate fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch, a veggie burger for dinner, and 80/20 carb/protein snacks between meals. I drank black coffee with my breakfast and drank only water throughout the rest of the day. Last but not least, I got my 8-9 hours of beauty rest each night. (I know, I was very fortunate to be able to do that most nights.)
That was the routine for months, so I should have been shedding the pounds, right?! If I believed every headline in the runner’s magazines or any fitness blog I read, that would be the start of a long journey that would have a big payoff. I was not expecting a big loss; the research says 1-2 pounds a week is sustainable, so that seemed reasonable. Yet every week, I stepped on the scale and was surprised that while the weight fluctuated, it always came back to 220 pounds. Ironically, I saw the greatest loss the week I was sick, didn’t work out, and ate with reckless abandon.
The danger of the articles that celebrate a person’s success in losing weight is that it reinforces the message that being fat is bad. It reinforces that one can only achieve happiness (or be worthy of celebration) once the scale hits a certain number. I read most of the articles as, “My life was a pile of dung. Then, I started running and lost 200 pounds! Now, I am the most amazing unicorn that ever existed; you, too, can escape the dung and be an amazing unicorn if you lose 200 pounds!”
Even the best articles that highlight the slow, persistent dedication required send an implicit message that anyone who does not have what they define as “success” on that journey is undisciplined and undeserving of the accolade “healthy.” I want to reiterate that this is not feedback on the individuals highlighted. But we have to wonder how inspiring such articles are and if there is a better way to frame the message.
Along my journey, I’ve learned that it’s not just me, and there are many who work hard to be their most healthy selves, regardless of the scale. My partner has provided a lot of helpful validation that my weight is not reflective of my discipline. (My partner is one of those people who can eat a whole pie and still somehow lose weight, while getting dirty looks from me as I eat a piece of fruit and call it “dessert.”) If nothing else, this process has helped me see those headlines and think, “They ran for a year and lost 110lbs. That’s great and very different from my journey.” I hope your journey is whatever you need it to be and has a lot of unicorns along the way.