February 1, 2017
So this is a post I have thought about writing for a long, long time.
And today seems like as a good a day as any to pluck up the courage and simply write it.
I am often asked,
what will you do when you lose all your weight?
when talking to people about my blog.
Now this bothers me for a number of reasons, but mainly
- There is an implication there that the only reason I run is for weight loss
- That I can’t lead up this Too Fat to Run movement if I ever become small
- It proves that weight loss is still seen, over and above anything else, as the ultimate goal in life for a woman.
I started running more than 10 years ago for weight loss, no shadow of a doubt and at points during the last 10 years running it has helped me to slim down…when I was training for the London Marathon in 2011/12 I almost got into a size 14 pair of jeans…and weighed around 13 and a half stone.
Then I had a baby…and life became a little bit more complicated.
But weight loss is not the reason why I run. I run for a whole heap of reasons now.
Because it’s kind of my job is quite high up there, because it helps me live the kind of lifestyle I want to live, because I want to be a good role model to my 4 year old daughter, showing her that exercise is not something just slim people do…or only done when you want to lose weight, but also and probably most importantly I run for my self esteem and to keep my depression at bay.
In 2007 after starting a new job, leaving a 5 year relationship, the death of my grandad and purchasing my first home, I had a bit of a breakdown. The stress of my hectic life and the realisation that I was actually an adult now made me a bit depressed. The doctors said I had chronic fatigue syndrome, which had led to depression and I was signed off of work and put on anti depressants.
I spent 3 months watching crap TV, and making daily trips to the local library to keep my m ind occupied as I was bored as hell.
I could not exercise, I was exhausted all the time, even though I wasn’t doing anything. I had put on weight, I was drinking too much at the weekend, I was in a pretty bad place.
Then one day I woke up and decided this was not the life I wanted to live.
I hadn’t put on my running shoes for months and I thought it was about time, so I went for a run. I can’t remember where I ran or for how long, but what I do remember is I felt a sense of relief that I wasn’t completely useless after all.
A few months later I was entering 10K races again, I came off the pills, I went back to work, and life started to feel manageable once more.
So you see when people obsess about my weight in relation to my running, they don’t see the whole picture. I may still wear a UK size 18 and be considered obese, but I am happy and well mentally…and that for me is paramount.
But do I actually want to lose weight?
As the founder of Too Fat to Run, as a plus size athlete, and simply as a human being I am neither for or against weight loss for any given individual other than myself.
There are of course some benefits to being lighter for some people, but not at any cost in my opinion. Weight gain is as complex as weight loss for women, and I don’t think it is my place to advise against either.
So I focus on helping women to feel better about their bodies, and to create healthier habits around exercise and self care, with of course promotion of mindful, healthy eating. Often this leads to weight loss but if they also choose to actively lose weight that is completely up to them, and fine with me.
I of course go through spells of wanting to slim down. I try not to obsess over the scales though and I simply hate restricting my eating through diets…they just make you feel like crap and muck up your metabolism.
Now I know there will be people reading that comment thinking,
Well there you have it, there’s your problem, you eat crap and you still expect to lose weight
I love healthy, unprocessed food and I know lots about the science behind nutrition, and 80% of the time that is exactly how my diet looks. I meal prep. I buy fresh produce. I avoid processed foods. I eat in moderation and to hunger and I have long spells of being completely alcohol free.
But there are also times when I am stressed and busy when I do overindulge…I am human, and life sometimes gets in the way…who for example doesn’t want to have a bit of birthday cake at a party? Or a few drinks on New Years Eve.
Maybe I don’t want it enough some might say.
You see my reasons for wanting to be smaller are not to do with aesthetics, or any kind of pressure to look a certain way. For me its about how I feel in my own body, and at times wanting to feel more confident and comfortable in my clothes.
I also want to ensure I am not in any kind of denial about what carrying excess weight might be storing up for me in the future….although there is no evidence at present of pre-diabetes, or heart disease.
Like lots of other women I work with though, sometimes I get frustrated with it all.
I am doing 3 sessions of CrossFit a week at the moment, and running 30-40 miles a month, and I am following nutritional advise dished out by a qualified nutritionist at my CrossFit box.
There has been zero movement on the scales.
I feel stronger, my 5K time has improved by 10 minutes or so in the last 6 months, my clothes fit better, I feel more agile, more confident and happier than I have in a while.
But still there is the fact that I am 17 stone.
People continue to judge, continue to make comments like
I have no idea why you are so big, you do so much exercise
Well, I don;t know either I’m afraid…perhaps my body is just meant to be like this.
In a few months time I will be speaking at the Elevate – Physical Activity, Health and Performance Conference on a panel entitled “Can you be Fit and Fat” and I am starting to prepare my argument now…because I am sure it will be an argument.
The much promoted concept of move more and eat less is all well and good for some, but let me tell you that simply does not work for me. I train bloody hard 4-5 times a week, and my body needs more than just a salad to fuel it.
At a guess I would say most of the people who work in the health and fitness industries have no experience of being an overweight, middle aged, working, single parent…so how can I be sure their advice counts for anything?
I don’t have the answers when it comes to weight loss, mine or anyone else’s, but what I do know is loving and appreciating your body at whatever size it is is far more healthier than depriving, punishing and hating it all the time.
Perhaps if we all tried this more often we would really get to the bottom of the worlds health problems, and the world would be a happier place…imagine that!!!
This month in The Clubhouse, our online running club, we are working with Food Freedom emotional eating coach Rachel Foy, where we will be looking at what it means to actually Love the food we eat. On Monday 13th Feb we will also be coordinating a 14 day For the Love of Running Challenge…showing that Running can really help you fall in love with yourself again.
To find out more about The Clubhouse and to sign up click here