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Wednesday, February 4, 2015



It’s true. I am.

I know, you’re hung up on the word “fat”—it stings. And then, maybe secondarily, you’re snagged on the idea of me being athletic because I really am fat. In our society, so many other adjectives get a free pass, but the word “fat”…it hangs in the air like puff of smoke, threatening the atmosphere with cancer. That’s a topic for an entire essay, much like an incredible piece written by LesleyKinzel of XOJane entitled “FAT: Usingthe Other F Word”. It’s a fabulous read. “Fatness, we’re told, is an aberration, not a permanent state of being,” Lesley asserts. Touché.

Rest assured, though, by using this descriptor, I am NOT tearing myself down. I may get frustrated with my body sometimes, but I’m not going to fear that word any more, as long as it isn’t used with malice. If you are reading, know this: I love my body, and I’m proud of it. I might get frustrated with it from time to time, but that isn’t going to stop me from being present in my own life, and enjoying what I deserve: I am an athletic fat girl.

Face it, fat is just an adjective. So, if “that word” bothers you, than let me put it another way: I am an athletic girl who wears a size 12. I am a fit girl who jiggles. I am an active girl who has tummy rolls, and thigh chub.


What do I mean by active? I mean that I work out. A lot. Around six days per week, I perform cardiovascular activity like intense circuit training, stairstepping, running and the like. I have a nice home gym (including an Olympic weight bench), and I’m a runner. On the weekends I run 5ks for fun, and though I’m certainly not “The Flash”, running over three miles really isn’t anything for me. I know I should push myself more--and harder--but I happen to be a busy lady, and a mom…and I have a to-do list. My fiancé regularly accuses me of “overdoing it” and begs me to relax on the couch…something I’m not good at, in the least.

I’m also a superbly healthy eater and I love to cook. My diet is comprised of whole foods and I work with an amazing dietitian. I watch my portions and even though know that hard numbers can be triggering (and everyone’s needs are different), I’ll throw it out there for the people who may be critically wondering: my intake is around 1400 calories or less per day. (I’ve played with eating more, but I tend to gain even more weight).

pretty food I made pretty food I made pretty food I made

When I was younger (and lazier), I didn’t have such healthy habits—in fact, I had an emotional eating disorder, and I still remain aware of that part of myself. In my twenties, I revolutionized and overhauled my perspective on health and self-care, and made permanent changes. That lifestyle has now become a habit for close to a decade. Since then, I’ve been pretty mystified with my weight. Angry, confused…yes. All of those emotions. I’ve cursed my body and wondered why, with the same amount of work and effort (if not more), I didn’t look like other athletic and health-conscious people I knew. I spent a lot of time at the doctor’s office trying to figure it out, and I’m embarking on a third round of hypothyroid testing as we speak. My mother has been diagnosed and medicated for hypothyroidism for many years. My aunts on both sides of the family, as well as my grandmother, have also suffered from the condition. I feel that an answer may be on the horizon, but for now, all I have is a question mark.

Over the years, as I have struggled with the unknown, there was always someone on the sidelines waiting to tell me that it was “definitely the diet pop” (my one and only vice, in moderation) keeping me fat—or, perhaps, that I should focus more on the weight training aspect of my fitness routine. So, I tried changing those things as well, and nothing happened. My body remained the same. I became even more stoic in my food tracking. The “calories in/calories out” adage did not seem to apply to me (and by all accounts I would be a size six by now if it did).

Why am I telling you this? It’s not to impress anyone or to whine (okay, maybe it is to whine, a little). Still, I’m not expecting to impress anyone because, let’s face the music: when I’m walking down the street, it’s unlikely that many people would think of me as an athletic person. Our society is so wrapped up in six-pack abs and perfection that we can’t envision health coming in any other sort of package. Yet, it does. Health and radiance do come in many different packages.

There is an incredible amount of pressure on us as we navigate through society. It is this sort of reality that makes me feel empowered by a shopping cart full of healthy food at the grocery store, and mortified when one of my boys at home request donuts or chocolate milk. I don’t want to deprive them of the occasional treat, but I hate buying those items, because I imagine that someone is looking in to my cart and saying, “AH, that’s the reason you wear XL yoga pants.” Yes, people are that sort of judgemental. I know it’s true, and I’ve done it, myself.

Image courtesy of Huffington Post

Even at my doctor’s appointments—food and exercise log in hand—I feel pressured to give my “speech” about not understanding why my body is STILL overweight. “It’s okay, you don’t have to convince me,” a sweet nurse recently told me at an appointment. “You can’t fake test results. You have the labwork and resting heart rate of an athlete.”

OH! Belly fat! When are you going to get the memo?

As you can imagine, it’s hard enough to be a bit of an anomaly. It’s taken me a very long time to accept the vessel I’m in, but it turns out that my acceptance isn’t the only part of things, contrary to popular belief.

“Who cares what other people think?” well-intentioned people have said to me, thousands of times. Seriously? EVERYONE! Everyone cares what people think. As a human, you don’t live in a vacuum, and we all know it. Let’s drop the façade. My goodness, we are a socially constructed human culture. And we all want to be accepted and seen for who we truly are. Does a lawyer want to wear a clown suit every day to work? Hell no, a lawyer wants to be seen as a lawyer.

An athlete wants to be seen as an athlete.


On the left: the picture that I carefully posed in to flatter myself...on the right, a less than flattering shot taken a few moments later with my girlfriend LaVange, who PLACED in the race for her age bracket for the Ludington Lakestride 2014, by the friggin' way.

I know there are others out there, like me, putting in that work. They might feel frustrated, and misrepresented. Worse yet, when a healthy girl (who happens to be fat) has a hard time establishing her identity in society, she is told it is her fault, and that she is exclusively responsible for her sense of self. “Just love yourself.”

I’m all about consciousness. Truly, I am. And while it may be up to you to love yourself first, before anyone else can (and every other cliché bit of self-help advice out there that is actually true), what other people think matters, too. You deserve to be validated by others for who you are, what you do, and how hard you work for it.

You have the right to be present in your own life. And you deserve to be recognized and seen. I hope for all human beings everywhere that a higher level of perception will bring us to a point where we can validate each other based on our actions, and not our thigh gaps. I have a lot of faith we will get there, because the climate is already changing, and the weather feels great. It sounds cheesy, but it makes me feel hopeful. I know there is peace in embracing and celebrating the authentic self.

As far as athletes go, I’m not telling you that I’m an elite performer, the strongest girl I know, or even a minuscule threat to the other runners on race day, because I’m not. I probably never will be (though I have fun dreaming about it).

But I AM fit. And I’m fat. And that’s okay.

Check out this amazing video,  from “This Girl Can”. 
This is my anthem. This is my jam.

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