When I started The Fat Girls' Guide to Running ten years ago, I was really on a weight loss journey.
I was a frequent participant in weight loss clubs, bought all the current diet books, and thought losing weight was the thing that would bring me happiness and success.
A few years after writing the blog, did I give up all about diet and weight loss?
It was exhausting, depressing, and unnecessary for the majority of people reading my blog, who generally weren't looking for motivation to lose weight, but rather inspiration to show themselves exactly the way they were without judgment.
I started reading a lot about The Fat Politics, The All Sizes Health Movement and what would be the start of the Body Positivity Movement in UK.
There is a belief that when you give up the diet and your body turns positive you give up, give up, accept a life where you can eat EVERYTHING and never have health goals.
It has never been the case for me.
I have always been interested in improving my health and taking care of my body, and that is why I continue to read health books, watch documentaries, work with mindset coaches and train. .
I stopped talking about my weight and felt really liberating.
A lot of times people would say, "I guess because of your brand you can never lose weight" which is ridiculous ... suggesting that I can't be body positive and a size fitness advocate. more if I'm no longer plus size.
I wasn't on an active diet, but that didn't mean I wasn't open to being smaller.
In 2018, I stood on the red dot and gave a talk on Living a Greater Life in the Body you are in now (almost 5,000 people have watched it now), I have run online coaching programs on this type of empowerment and have written books on the subject.
My online groups are now generally non-diet areas. I am not an activist to enforce this, because I do not believe in the shame or the discomfort of people while they are on their own path. I'll just post sweet reminders as to why it's important to have a diet-free space online.
- Because the dietetic culture, that is to say everywhere else
- Not everyone is trying (or can) to get smaller
- We prefer to focus on fitness and wellness regardless of weight loss or gain
I can't deny that sometimes I wish I could share my own battles more openly with body acceptance, I mean we all have these days, right? But I don't want to be seen as a hypocrite or influence the decisions of others on their journey.
People on both sides of the body positivity movement can be pretty mean… and I've been ashamed in public and in private whenever I've mentioned wanting to change my body.
My weight has been fairly stable for the past 6 years or so… donate or gain 10 pounds (I rarely weigh myself)… I've been a consistent height of 18 and that's fine for me. I wear swimsuits at the beach, dance like no one is watching in a nightclub, and I'm on stage in front of hundreds of people… I'm generally good about who I am.
I know I continue to be judged for my height unfortunately this is the world we live in ... and I also know that as I get older there is always the possibility that carrying extra weight could be accompanied by some health indications ... but it is also true for people who smoke, drink excessively or never eat their vegetables.
During the recent lockdown, although my weight increased significantly… and so many old demons have reappeared.
I could feel it in my clothes… the ones that didn't fit anymore. I couldn't fit into many of my size 18 clothes anymore, and since many of us don't go out anywhere, the need to tuck into my tighter clothes wasn't a problem at first.
Exercise has always been the key to maintaining my weight.
When I move my body and have fitness goals, I am more consistent with my diet, I drink less alcohol (normally just if there is a chance), I sleep better… I am more happy.
But without exercise… everything seemed to slip.
My stress level was at an all time high. I was having panic attacks at the supermarket, I didn't want to leave my house to do my shopping, I couldn't have it delivered to my home… things had changed.
Teaching a 7 year old at home, spending all my time in my 2 bedroom apartment, trying to keep my businesses afloat, they did their job… one thing I could have delivered to my house was a crate of red wine that was becoming a bit of a nighttime ritual to help relax and block out what was going on in the world.
Things have stabilized now.
I get out of the house a bit more (still not as much as I would like), but fitness is still a logistical challenge with my 7 year old at home all the time.
5 weeks ago, I took delivery of a peloton bike. As part of our Thrive Inside initiative, I had used a turbo trainer and my road bike in my room before to do weekly workouts… but I knew I needed more than that.
And Peloton has been fabulous in helping me get my fitness mojo back. I work out every day and eat better, and the red wine hasn't been in the house for a few months now.
I had to come to terms with the fact that my body had changed, and I was unwilling to accept it in the long term. Not because of how he looks, not even how he might be judged by others ... but how I felt in it, unable to run, lower back pain if I walked a distance, and unable to fastening my shoes with ease (my flexibility has taken a huge hit without my twice weekly CrossFit classes)
I know I need goals, I know I need external accountability, I know I need structure.
And so I'm back, and I'm coming back to it when it comes to breaking my health goals over the next few months.
I signed up to do the Prudential Ride 100… .YES I WILL HIKE 100 MILES FROM MY ROOM… to earn money for pancreatic cancer in support of my dear friend Bryony Thomas who was diagnosed in December.
You can find out more and donate here
No one can tell you what you think about your body. You decide what is appropriate. There is no shame in deciding that you want something different when done from a place of love.
Have a great week and know that you are loved.
Most people think of course as a solo venture. And while runners appreciate ( read : need ) quality “me time, ” there’s something quite powerful about running in a pack.
“Most of the time people join groups for the social experience, but the cool thing about a course group is that you can be a part of it without saying a word, ” says Scott Miller, founder of the Boulder Trail Running Breakfast Club. “It’s a great opportunity to connect. ”
Here, Miller plus five other course club founders, share tips for building—and sustaining—your own course club.
Jessamy Little, who founded the Cass Runners Club, a 100-plus person course group in London comprised of her business school classmates, suggests asking potential members what days, times, and locations work best with their schedules. Some groups may favor an early morning sweat sesh, while others may prefer meeting after work. “A recommendation for a newer club is to have two set running days, ” Little says. “One during the week that is more focused on ‘getting it done’ and one on weekends that can have a more ‘fun and footloose’ vibe. ” For Little’s group, the weekend runs were geared toward exploring new areas of the city.
“Don’t get discouraged if not a lot of people show up at first, ” says Marnie Kunz, founder of Runstreet, an NYC-based company that leads art runs—urban runs that pass by street art in cities across the U. S. When Kunz held her first art run in 2015, just one person came : a man on a bike. Kunz was disappointed, embarrassed, and considered canceling the whole thing. But the next week a few more people showed up, and then a few more. Soon, word got out. Runstreet has since hosted more than 200 runs in cities around the country “Realizing that everyone starts from scratch really helps, ” Kunz says.
Kunz stresses the importance of having your own website that houses all information about your runs along with photos. “Social media platforms can change—and not everyone is on every platform—so it helps to have everything in one place. ” Keep your communication consistent across platforms to help create a streamlined brand.
Let people know what they are getting themselves into, Miller says. His Boulder, Colorado-based group of 100-plus members meets every Saturday for a long trail run ( anywhere between two to six hours ) followed by a group breakfast. Because the group’s runs cover a wide range of terrain, he wrote several articles explaining the general variétés of conditions runners can expect and the group’s approximate pace along with safety tips.
The articles are published on the group’s MeetUp page, and when a new person signs up, Miller sends them the reading material. “If your group is not a beginner group, you need to make that clear, ” Miller says. “You don’t want people to show up and have a bad time. I try to be really descriptive about the time, distance, and elevation of our runs so people know what they are in for. ”
Many members of Miller’s group take photos during the runs and post them to the group’s page. He says it helps draw new members. “When people are looking for a running group and they see pictures of runs in amazing areas, people smiling—both men and women—they see that it’s a mixed group that likes to be social and have fun. ”
Frankie Ruiz, cofounder of the Miami Marathon and founder of the Baptist Health South Florida Brickell Run Club, a free, once-a-week, Miami-based group of about 400 runners, can count on one hand the number of times he’s cancelled runs throughout the program’s nine-year tenure.
“Our main message is that we don’t cancel, ” he says. “If it’s really rough out, we’ll go to a stationnement garage or go indoors and do a core séance. ” He says this has helped build the club’s reputation as a consistent amenity offered by the city. “Even if a runner doesn’t show up, I think there’s a comfort knowing that there is something in your city that doesn’t stop. ”
“If you have new people coming in, you can’t assume that they know the rules and guidelines, ” Ruiz says. “Communication needs to be all the time. ” Even though the group’s “weather-proof policy” may be well understood among current members, every time the skies get gloomy, the club blasts their social channels with reminders that the runs are still on. It also helps to communicate the planned route, distance, and pace in advance so that new members can plan their fioul and attire accordingly.