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With all the extra publicity my blog has received over the last few weeks both in the UK and further afield unsurprisingly I have split opinion in this whole fit and fat debate, there are of course the “good on ya” brigade who whether big or small themselves can see the value in me simply accepting the way I am and enjoying the sport of running anyway and these guys have been in the majority it must be said, but I have also noticed a growing set of protesters who think it is impossible to be larger than what is considered the norm and still be healthy, I would go even further than this and say that some of these individuals are actually incensed that I should suggest such a thing.

A couple of weeks ago I was accused on Twitter by a well known ultra runner/author in the UK of encouraging women to “stay fat”, well how very dare I do such a thing…in all honesty I don’t care one way or another if the ladies who follow my blog get bigger or smaller, why is someone elses changing body mass my concern? I care more about their mental wellbeing and their sense of worth than I do about what numbers their scales tell them, or if they are able to wear a pair of size 8 skinny jeans or not.

One chirpy chap responded to my latest Huffington Post article with the following condemnation,

“With such an attitude, no wonder you are so damn fat – i am sure you like to tell yourself it’s not your fault, but your dna or metabolism or whatever’s fault.”

My days of blaming anyone or anything for my size are long gone, I am the size I am so just deal with it.

It’s not like I expected everyone to agree with my way of thinking, the world is full of twats just waiting to have a go…talking to the Daily Mail about my story was asking for it I guess, but that article brought me more followers to my Facebook Community than anything else I have done…so I have no regrets. Besides the article was fine, it was the subsequent comments that really brought it home to me that what I am doing is still so important.

Comments ranged from people with genuine concern for my knees (which I can assure you are fine)

“Running with that much weight on is a huge stress on the body and will surely mean long-term health problems. She may be fit, but she certainly isn’t healthy.”

To assumptions that eventually running would make me slim

“If she keeps this up, she will not be fat for long.”

It makes me laugh how people feel so comfortable assessing my health without even knowing me. The most obnoxious comment has to go to this guy though (and yes it does appears to be a guy)

“I believe every medical professional would beg to differ. There is NOTHING healthy about being fat. Just because you do some healthy things (i.e. running), doesn’t negate the fact that you overindulged by consuming more calories than you burn. Nice try.”

The debates (and near on arguments) which have unfolded on the comments pages of these articles makes me sit back and think about how we will ever accept that some people are naturally larger than others. I am not for a minute suggesting that overeating and inactivity and the reliance on convenience food does not play a part in the worlds widening waist band, but I am thinking that even if we all ate exactly the same foods and did exactly the same amount of exercise our weights would still be very very different.

A few months ago at a weight stigma conference I attended the key-note speaker gave a talk titled The War on Obesity makes me sick. At the time I listened with great interest at concepts that were kind of new to me, sparking a new way of thinking yet still leaving me a little unable to respond (which is why I never blogged about it until now that is)

You see the process of writing this blog over the past 4 years has forced me to stop and really look at myself and  to find some kind of solace and understanding about my current weight situation and the more I read and the more I talk to other women just like me I realise that I am not “doing it wrong”, there is no “miracle cure” just round the corner and my life is not going to get better if and when I get slimmer…so Dr Deb Burgard not only does this war on obesity make me sick, it has MADE me sick having spent close to 20 years brain washed by the media and diet industries into thinking that being overweight is some kind of disease that I should be ashamed of, well I am not ashamed so how about that?

So what did this Deb lady talk about?

At that acedemic event in Canterbury this colourful american lady opened my mind to a new way of thinking with one simple slide, she showed me a collection of photographs depicting certain breeds of dogs, she then asked us to consider the differences between those breeds, their characteristics and their lifestyles. That concept has stuck with me, it’s an image I can’t get out of my mind. So much so I recently asked the ladies in my FatGirlRunClinic retreat “If you were a dog what dog would you be and why” in relation to their running of course, and they got it, just like I did that first time.

Now I am not a dog person at all, I don’t actually know much about different breeds and I have never owned one as a pet so maybe I am not the best person to make these analogies but shit I am never going to be a Greyhound!!!!!, If anything I am a Great Dane…but my quest to become a Greyhound all these years has played havoc with my Great Dane make up and I am now this frustrated overweight Neopolitan Masstif (look it up) with one hell of an attitude.

This world would have you believe that there is only one breed of human being, one acceptable human form…the ones on the covers of magazines and the glamorous figures cast on tv, but this is simply not healthy. This quest that we have found ourselves on to become this thing that we just can not be is making us so sick and so unhappy and it has to stop.

If you starved a Pitbull Terrier by constantly feeding it the diet of a Chihuahua what would happen to it over time? Similarly if you forced a St Bernard to endure the life of a Basset Hound how miserable and broken would that poor dog become? So why is this concept so simple to see this when we are talking about dogs but impossible to accept when we speak about humans.

Whether you are fat or slim, tall or short, if you fit the accepted idea of normal or you do not you must see how damaging this worlds obsession with the perfect body is, and its not just women these days either. How much more of our lives are we going to waste in the pursuit of happiness a happiness that is never going to come, not if we keep fighting against what nature intended us to be.

You know how earlier I said I have never had a pet dog..well I realise that is kind of a little white lie. My dad in fact had a dog when we were little, a tawny brown Greyhound called Jans Vest (after my mums thermals). It wasn’t our pet though as it was kept in kennels of course miles away from where we lived, it never won anything and I only ever visited it twice as my Dad got bored and got shot of it once it failed to make him his millions.

Thinking about it tonight, what a poor little sod, born and raised purely for the entertainment and enterprise of others. Who on earth would want to be a Greyhound anyway?

  1. January 5, 2015

    Funny this, as only today did I use this analogy…I’m really a st Bernard, surrounded by Jack Russell and bull terriers trying to be greyhounds….I’m a size eighteen, prob ought to be a sixteen, but happy as Larry, and slowly running , and cycle daily….I wish the haters would go and just be less sanctimonious, its so dull, and so predictable.

  2. January 5, 2015

    Thanks for the “If you were a dog what dog would you be and why” — that’s really an important point. I think I would probably be a heavier set Collie.

    Enjoy your health and the ability to run and be free. I was hurt in April and it caused a cascade of problems that has made running really difficult. I miss it. Hoping for a comeback this spring and some small winter runs in the interim. I wish I could be more like you and train for some stellar runs!

    Thank you for writing your blog. It must be super stressful to read ignorant comments and negative feedback, even at times it sounds like really personal attacks. ((Hugs)) Thank you for everything you do for a mostly silent majority who think you’re awesome.

  3. August 15, 2014

    Interesting post!

    I have never thought about it from this perspective before.

    Keep up the great work!

  4. August 10, 2014

    I came to your website through the Mail – I was so excited that there was someone out there who seemed to have the same struggles that I do, I nearly cried! I’m not really a joiner-inner, though, so this is the first time I’ve commented – but this is such a brilliant post, I couldn’t help myself.

    I love the dog analogy – and I take my hat off to you for your attitude towards the haters: I am so fed up with the gym trainers who insist their equipment must be faulty (not, I really am that fit) or those who shout abuse as I heft along the streets, and even those “friends” who say, “I don’t understand why you’re so fat” – or that lovely ex who asked me if I “stuffed ice cream secretly every night” because it was the “only way” I could be this size. (That’s why he’s an ex 🙂 ) I am disgusted by the way people think they can comment freely on you just because you’re fat (I’m fat, not deaf) or assume they know about your lifestyle and diet choices, and that these are fair game, because clearly, you’re just suffering from poor diet choices.

    Thank you for giving me the tools to frame what I have been thinking, for giving me an easy analogy to explain, and above all for your courage in being out there as a poster girl for all of us who will never be slim, but are still trying to do the best we can and be as healthy as possible.

    Thank you too for inspiring me not to give up, to accept myself even if no-one else can, and to keep causing earthquakes on the streets of Liverpool!

  5. August 9, 2014

    Hi I love your blog been following it for a little while and recently done my first 10k.

    I just want to say it’s not just women who et this stigma. Men do too, my husband completed 10 marathons in 10 days most of which were inside 5 hours on a tough course. He has been a runner for yrs (being military) but at one point his weight crept up. He lost it and more (he will never be a skinny rake) moving in with me he went from being a single man who ate scrambled eggs and baked beans to eating a full and rounded healthy diet. I cook everything from scratch. (He put on a little weight as he was firstly eating properly and secondly enjoying his food and having seconds) when he announced his challenge he literally had people laugh in his face and people who believed he could not do it. He was so hurt by these assumptions (although he never admitted it). This week the doc called him in (was an letter and an assessment that was never asked for by my husband) he has been told not to eat carbs after breakfast, so come Monday here goes our family meal time with a toddler suddenly becoming a lot more difficult.

    He is amazing and has inspired me to run my first 10k but I wish people would stop commenting and voicing an opinion on how he should be!

  6. August 8, 2014

    Being thin does not mean you are healthy.

    Screw all those judgmental people. If any person wants to feel better and get healthier by moving their body, we should support them. We simply do not have enough support for overweight exercisers.

    Over time, regular walking and jogging will probably result in a more attractive appearance, but far more important is lowered blood sugar, increased balance, increased strength, and so forth.

    Your critics would have us all waiting to run until we’ve got a perfect diet, ha!

  7. As someone who quit her job to get fit 6 weeks ago I can say that my diet has improved (although I will admit that some “crap” is still consumed because it gives me pleasure), my number of hours exercising is in double figures and my exercise ranges from weight training, core strengthening and running – do you know how much weight I have lost. . . .

    3 pounds

    In fact I actually gained to begin with (the loss does not include those gained pounds). I actually struggle to eat my 3 square each day. I am a size 16 and no matter how many diets etc I try I always end up a 16 (I have been for the last 20 years). The one time I became a size 12 I was severely ill, unable to consume solids and very unhappy – it was amazing how many “you look good” comments I got, until I got well and then I got “we were so worried about you”.

    I’ve given up on diets because overall I eat moderately healthy and with a bit of naughtiness and I will always revert back to this. In fact I remember on one very popular diet I had 3 courses with processed low fat cheese in it – how is that healthy?

    My aim now is to be fit, healthy and strong and if I remain a size 16 then I’m all for it.

    Sorry for yet another long comment but I am tired of being made to feel like a “fat failure” and beating myself up just because I do not fit the ideology of the fashion world. Yes I would love to be able to walk into a shop and easily buy a pair of trousers but do you know what the fact I can’t means I’m a little more unique!!

    • I have come to the conclusion that my natural body size should be a 16, that is where I feel happiest and healthiest at, but whenever I have been there before, it was never enough!!

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