May 31, 2012

Hey, Fat Girl.


Yes, you. The one feigning to not see me when we cross paths on the running track. The one not even wearing sports gear, breathing heavy. You’re slow, you breathe hard and your efforts at moving forward make you cringe.

You cling shyly to the furthest corridor, sometimes making larger loops on the gravel ring by the track just so you’re not on it. You sweat so much that your hair is all wet. You rarely stay for more than 20 minutes at a time, and you look exhausted when you leave to go back home.  You never talk to anyone. I’ve got something I’d like to say to you.

You are awesome.

If you’d look me in the eye only for an instant, you would notice the reverence and respect I have for you. The adventure you have started is tremendous; it leads to a better health, to renewed confidence and to a brand new kind of freedom. The gifts you will receive from running will far exceed the gigantic effort it takes you to show up here, to face your fears and to bravely set yourself in motion, in front of others.

You have already begun your transformation. You no longer accept this physical state of numbness and passivity. You have taken a difficult decision, but one that holds so much promise. Every hard breath you take is actually a tad easier than the one before, and every step is ever so slightly lighter. Each push forward leaves the former person you were in your wake, creating room for an improved version, one that is stronger, healthier and forward-looking, one who knows that anything is possible.

You’re a hero to me. And, if you’d take off the blaring headphones and put your head up for more than a second or two, you would notice that the other runners you cross, the ones that probably make you feel so inadequate, stare in awe at your determination. They, of all people, know best where you are coming from. They heard the resolutions of so many others, who vowed to pick up running and improve their health, “starting next week”. Yet, it is YOU who runs alongside, who digs from deep inside to find the strength to come here, and to come back again.

You are a runner, and no one can take that away from you. You are relentlessly moving forward. You are stronger than even you think, and you are about to be amazed by what you can do. One day, very soon, maybe tomorrow, you’ll step outside and marvel at your capabilities. You will not believe your own body, you will realize that you can do this. And a new horizon will open up for you. You are a true inspiration.

I bow to you.


UPDATE. 2014-03-10
As I stated somewhere in the hundreds of comments below, I stopped coming back to this post a long time ago. Obviously, it has taken a life of its own, and I was always touched and happy when someone would send me a comment or e-mail about it, about them and their journey, and about how they were inspired by my humble words.

A little while ago, some of you have started contacting me about a Facebook post, from someone who ran "at the Westview track". You were angry, calling the author a plagiarist, even trying to do something to make it known to the world. I replied "It's fine, it's the message that matters", thinking the other text was perceived as inspirational and uplifting. I put my personal appreciation of it to the side and went back to other things.

But then something happened. An absolute stranger named Tony decided to react to the text. Himself on a journey to health, he used strong, firm words against the "Westview" text, but made sure to disassociate it from mine at the very beginning. I was very touched, and sent him a thank you message.


UPDATE. 2014-03-17
Lines of messages after lines of messages, Tony and I discussed about the whole story, about inspiration, and about how "Hey, Fat Girl" had come to life on a work day morning some time ago. He got curious about my fat girl, so I told him something no one in the Internet world knew, because it was never intended to be known. The fat girl in my story existed, but she was a man, and one of my best friends.

Tony asked if that friend, Dan, would like to talk with him. He did.

And this is what happened.

I am speechless. Honored that a perfect stranger who knows from very personal experience what it is to be judged made the difference between my text and another. But, most of all, I am delighted that my little words traveled all around the world to come to a full circle, linking two admirable men from different hemispheres of the planet by the immense respect I have for them. Both.

554 comments:

  1. As an ex-"Fat Boy"... That text moved me to tears. Fran├žois, THANK YOU for teaching me this about running when I started out. I've been running for two years, and the hardest run I've ever done, BAR NONE, was the very first one, when Fat Boy me stepped out on the track, ashamed to look other runners in the eye. I will remember that moment of transformation for the rest of my life, and I bow to YOU that you measure worth not in absolutes like race times or distances, but in each miracle that paces the lives of each runner, big and small, slow and fast.

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  2. Flint....simply put, that post ROCKS. To know there are people like you out there who view the "newbies" to running, or even fitness in general, without critical judgment....that you in fact hold them in reverence, is INCREDIBLY empowering. I've been that new girl at the gym-or that post-pregnant butterball RETURNING to the gym-hiding under a huge tee shirt, trying to go during the slow time of day when the gym rats where at a minimum, doing my thing away from the mirrors in the back of the weight room... Now I'm the new girl to running. The "crazy" one with the toe shoes! I felt silly after posting about my half marathon on your FB page- I was SO excited!...but I should know that you're NOT one of those elitist ultra runner types. You LOVE what you do and it spreads out into the world. It means SO MUCH and gives me strength and confidence that runners-people-like you are in my corner.
    Now that I'M the gym rat, you have given me inspiration to approach that obese woman who shows up at the gym everyday that I do, who rocks the cardio and pounds those weights... i want to tell her that I see how HARD she works, that I can clearly see her shrinking and growing stronger, that she is an inspiration....

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  3. I Am that fat girl, and I got a little bit teary reading that. I've been running regularly for about four months now, and it's nice to hear encouragement instead of "have a twinkie, fatty" yelled out of a passing car. Thanks for writing.

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    1. What you're doing is awesome. :)

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    2. The immaturity and meanness of some people will always amaze me. Keep going because you ARE awesome, and I hope no one ever ever tells you otherwise again. :)

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    3. How low into the mucky abyss must people have to sink to yell such a cruel thing at you? That PISSES ME OFF to no end, but don't you listen to them. And neither will I! Everybody who has the flippin' guts to exercise at all is after the same thing - better mental and physical health. Too bad the creeps who yell crap like that don't have the guts to do something positive to help themselves, instead of trying to tear people down. MEAN PEOPLE SUCK!!!

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    4. They want you to fail so they won't be alone.

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    5. I used to be the Fat Girl. Lap by lap I lost 40 pounds and have been a runner for over 12 years now. Every time I see someone who looks like a "newbie", I have a massive urge to call out to them and encourage them to keep going, to not give up. I've never done it because I'm afraid of offending them.
      Sometimes the laps seem impossible, I know, but every step counts. Every. Single One.
      Run on.

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    6. I'm a chubby girl newbie runner and this week a woman running the opposite way started cheering for me and I loved it! It was was at the start of my run and it was hot out and I was thinking "I really don't want to be doing this"...she put an extra spring in my step for the rest of the run. You should totally do it next time.

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    7. I had some run yell fatty run out of their car, just as they had pulled out of KFC and looked like they had already eaten the whole front row of a rugby team. I have lost 20kg and still feel like the fatty running but at least I am running. The douche who yelled at you probably isn't

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    8. To Anonymous who used to be the fat girl: When you see a newbie, don't be afraid of offending them - go over, tell them how great they're doing and run a lap or two with them! As a fat girl newbie myself I'd love it, it would be so encouraging to know someone out there respected what I was doing enough to join in and maybe help a bit.

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  4. Your view of running is THE reason why I love to run. I feel awesome each time I run, proud at each km. For each 180km I ran since I quit my sofa, thank you!

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  5. Thank you! Sometimes when I'm feeling like I don't want to run word like this push me. It hasn't been an easy task with everyone in my workplace asking me why I do something so crazy.

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    1. Just keep going. Get the body there and keep moving. Listen to no one but the ones who support you for you brilliance.

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    2. Eventually, they stop asking and start admiring...keep up the great work!

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  6. As one who vacillates between feeling like a ridiculously puffy, pathetic poser at some times and a seasoned runner at other times, the insecure, shy and easily intimidated girl in me shouts a resounding "THANK YOU, FLINT!" and the confident girl in me says "EXACTLY! WHAT AN INSPIRATION!" Thank you so much for this post, Flint. The next time I feel defeated and think I should just resign myself to being unhappy with my physical form, I will remember and take strength from this post. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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  7. THANK YOU FLINT! As I stopped running after kids, and now 6 years later started it back up again. I am the fat girl on the track every morning at 5am running. Yelling at myself to push it, because I know I can. There are plenty of mornings when I wake up at 4 that I feel like just climbing back into bed, but once I get out there, I LOVE it! And this post, is truly amazing. I printed it out and its hanging on my fridge, I will see it every morning before I go run. This post alone will keep me going! THANK YOU!

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    1. Isn't it fantastic that you run because you can? Congrats!

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  8. I just cried through this whole post! I'm transitioning from FAT girl to FIT girl right now. I get butterflies when I get to the track and see the thin and the fast are already there. I get so excited when I arrive at an empty track. I've lost 15 pounds and I'm 3 weeks into Couch 2 5k. I can be a runner! I love how it feels.
    I needed your words. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

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    1. awesome for you! keep up the incredible work.

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    2. Keep at it, Mandee, you're already seeing amazing results! Be proud :)

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    3. Just remember that every single person you see was once slow and unfit. We are still there because we are completely terrified of how hard it would be to do all over again, we cannot stop because we are afraid to.

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  9. Simple, beautiful and honest. Well done.

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  10. I recently started the Couch To 5K program and this is just what I needed to read, just when I needed to read it. I'm going to print this out and include it in my journal so your words can continue to provide motivation. THANK YOU!!!

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  11. Thanks for this for all the people of all shapes and sizes out there who are figuring out a way to move because it makes them feel good. We should all be able to move without feelings of shame or embarrassment. Nice to see a photo of a fat woman running, not a headless fat person's butt that is supposed to pour disdain and shame upon fat people. Get over it, everyone, stop judging and start supporting each other whatever your size, shape, speed or appearance...bodies were built to move. We need more posts like this!!! Thanks!

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  12. This fat girl really appreciates your post. I've only heard words of encouragement on the road but my mind often wonders to what "things" people must think. Hey, now I know. Your post really moved me. Thanks!

    As a side note I just completed my first half marathon.

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    1. That's an achievement all in itself!!! Cheers :)

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  13. Just eat less for fucks sake, if you're going to exercise then do resistance training instead of jogging around a track for 20 minutes.

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    1. Thanks for supplying the jerkwad comment on an otherwise inspirational message board, anonymous person. Your negativity is enlightening. Resistance training is so great, because it really beefs up the muscle under my fat layers. I have always wanted to look like a linebacker. Thanks so much.

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    2. You're a horrible human being.

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    3. Oh Mr. Anonymous how easy for you to speak. Let me share some things with you:
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413108001447

      Is that too many sciencey things for you? How bout this one which simplifies it some:

      http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/articles/2008/06/04/eating-habits-not-sole-cause-of-thinness-or-obesity

      The fact is that not all fat people can, as you put it, "just eat less for fucks sake". Some people eat once a day, but the quality of the food is poor in regards to nutrition and the metabolism goes into panic mode and stores everything it can as it does not feel it is getting fuel for a long period of time to come. There is a growing trend that eating 4-6 times a day, with nutritional balanced smaller portions, helps in weight loss. Is that "less" in your eyes? I eat 6 times a day now on a 40% protein, 30% fat and 30% carb breakdown of small portions and I have lost almost 50 lbs. Before I did this, I ate once a day and it was usually crap food such as Fast food joints. I did not get 5 burgers, usually 1 sandwich/burger with fries and a soda. That seems like less to me. Should I go back to it since, clearly I just need to eat less?

      While weight training can increase fat loss, as the amount of calories burned just by having muscle is a ton more than just having fat (about 30 or so), jogging around a track for 20 minutes can boost standing calorie burn. Standing calorie burns as opposed to over time burning when muscles are present.

      So next time you open your wonderful mouth on the internet to place people beneath you and boost yourself up, maybe you should look into other ideas, opinions and what information is out there.

      Thanks

      -Fat girl getting fit.

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    4. It takes a lot of effort to beef up the muscles. While Anonymous is an ass in how they said it, they are also not wrong. Eating properly will do more for weight loss than simply running for 20 minutes 3 days a week. And building muscle helps improve metabolism. Not saying that jogging is a waste of time, far from it, but it is only a piece of the puzzle.

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    5. You're a degenerate troll. Crawl back into your mother's basement please.

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    6. The references pakse linked do not say eating less and exercsing more are not the two most important aspects of weight gain or loss. One article suggests serotonin affects metabolism, particularly in worms. That is certainly not enough "proof" to change the basic biology of "what goes in must come out", or that calories in minus calories burned equals calories gained. One gram of fat has 8Kcals and ten minutes on an exercise bike or treadmill at med-low setting can burn 100Kcals. I weigh 190, and it takes 20 minutes of moderate exercise to burn off one Milky Way Bar...I am not getting "free energy" from a Tesla Perpetual Motion Hydrogen Generator, are you?

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    7. Ha! The replies were hilarious! Anyone who is dragging their fat butts (and I can say that because I'm one of them) around a track isn't going to sabotage all of that by eating junk. Running isn't the only exercise I get, but it is the most public and difficult.
      Oh, anonymous, what's got you so bitter?

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    8. How do you know she doesn't do strength training? All we know is that she runs for 20 minutes at a time, we know nothing else about her.

      Losing weight takes a long time and she might look "fat" for quite a while. Who cares as long as she's on the journey? Hell, she might look "fat" forever, thanks to her build or other contributing factors. Healthy is more important.

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    9. How nice of you to be able to tell, at a glance, how much someone has eaten and intends to eat later that day. For all you know the person you criticized has already lost ten pounds due to eating more healthfully but it's easier to be an asshole and assume that they're not already "eating less for fuck's sake."

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    10. Agreed with Mandee. Working out at the gym isn't as public or potentially humiliating as running where dozens of people can see you. I would like to judge you, Anonymous with the harsh words, and assume that you are super fit and know EVERYTHING. I would like to think that from your one callus comment I know that you are heartless and devoid of empathy or compassion. I would like to think that I know you see the world as black and white. But, I don't know you. And you don't know that woman. Try to think before you type rude and hurtful comments.

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    11. What goes in must come out? No, it's not that simple in biology. i have a combination of PCOS, that messes with one's insulin and hormones, and heavy-duty meds which cause weight gain as a side effect. i eat quite well, but i'm big. Random-insults-shouted-from-cars big. Can't-buy-nice-clothes big. Treated-like-scum-by-doctors big. Do you honestly think i choose this? That if i had a choice of being fat or skinny i would choose to be fat? But, because of multiple health problems i was born with, it's largely outside my control.

      But that doesn't stop people judging. And because of that, it's going to take a lot more than some pretty words on a blog before i subject myself the the abuse and humiliation that comes from exercising in public.

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  14. I am beyond touched. I am fat, I am trying to lose weight. I participate in a 5K each month, go to Spinning class a couple times a week. I always think people are only going to be making fun of me. As runners/walkers loop past me, I encourage them, and cheer them on. I smile so people know I am there and that I am friendly. I have assumed that people were making fun of me out there.
    To find out that this is very likely not the truth has made my day and I will treasure this post as I venture out again and again and again.

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    1. Well let me reach out and give you a high-five, from far away :)

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  15. This is a totally awesome post. I could not be PROUDER of every single person, no matter what shape or size, who gets up and simply tries to better themselves through fitness. Every footstep counts.

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  16. Such a wonderful message.

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  17. I am this fat girl. I had gastric bypass 5/16/11... dropped about 120lbs before I started running. Starting running in 3/2012... training for my first HM in (hopefully) october.

    Thank you... thank you. Simply... thank you.

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    1. Woohoo Good for you!! You will rock it! Good luck!

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  18. This is probably the most single motivational posts I've read. The first few steps are always the hardest. Yes, seeing a women with a six pack in spandex is inspirational, buts its not motivational. I've found that when I stop concentrating on a single end result, but take it day by day, that's when I have the most success. I need to remember this message when I feel inadequate and dripping sweat next to the girl at the gym who seems to float along on a higher treadmill speed. I'm earning this sweat and bettering my life, even if I can't fit into my old college skinny jeans any longer!

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    1. Just remember, "Sweat is your fat crying"!!!!

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  19. This is truly inspiring, I've been running a long time and coaching for quite a while too, I've never seen this vital message conveyed in such an eloquent way.
    Thanks.

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  20. I don't think I have ever read anything more inspiring than this. you are simply amazing for this and every fat and skinny person reading this should take this into consideration the next time they go and work out. I've been obese for a majority of my adult life and am taking the actions now to get healthy. running is my next adventure in this new life style. So again, thank you, this gives me the confidence to stay out there no matter what.

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  21. While I really applaud the sentiment behind this, a couple of things bother me:

    Statements like, "If you’d look me in the eye only for an instant," & "And, if you’d take off the blaring headphones and put your head up for more than a second or two," are slightly accusatory. Like this woman should acknowledge you while she's working out. Like if only she looked at YOU, she would see validation.

    What if she doesn't need validation? What if she has a mission & doesn't want anyone to look at her like, "Hey fat girl. Good job. Sincerely, Not Fat Girl."

    Some overweight people aren't looking for approval from the people at the gym. To assume otherwise is ... well ... it rubs me wrong.

    "The other runners you cross, the ones that probably make you feel so inadequate" --- That is a mighty big assumption & slightly arrogant.

    I dunno. I mean, I want to be all "Woo hoo! YES! Three cheers to you, person who wrote this, for telling a fat girl she's fat but goddamnit, she's doing something great about!" but I can't.

    Food for thought. I'm not looking to harsh anyone's vibe here cuz, like I said, I applaud the sentiment, the We Support One Another (even if you're a fat girl who doesn't look at me), but there are some people out there who really just quite frankly don't care if someone else assumes they - because they're NOT a fat girl - make her feel inadequate.

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    1. I understand what you're saying, but I just don't think people who are out of shape, and trying to radically change their lifestyle through running, go through the process in an emotional vacuum. I think the many tearful responses this post is generating shows that many people DO feel inadequate when they start running. I know I sure as hell did. Took me weeks to even call it 'running'.

      I'm still dropping weight, so sometimes when I go out running, I get people cheering me in a way which makes me assume they think I've just stepped off the couch or something. I don't find their reaction arrogant or misplaced. I like the encouragement, and the general kindness of the gesture, even if I don't really need it.

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    2. Hey there,

      By no means I tried to rub anyone the wrong way. If, in your example, that person needs no one else than herself and wants to be left alone, I totally respect that. I'll just keep admiring her in silence.

      And I'm a dude.

      :)

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    3. MN - I agree completely. If we remove the "fat girl" part, I'm 100% on board with this message. Like Daniel pointed out, it's a positive message to those starting to run. But the post seems to imply that her size is related to her health which is extremely concerning.

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    4. MN, see my comment way below. I think it's rude and unnecessary for the focus to be on the "fat girl". People of all sizes need inspiration to improve their fitness. Not everyone who carries a certain amount of fat is unfit. Your description was perfect.

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  22. Thanks for sharing. I was that person not that long ago!

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    1. Do you mind if I repost this to my blog? Love the message.

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    2. Of course, feel free to share :)

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  23. Wow. That was beautiful and so masterfully written. Your imagery and sentiment was phenomenal. This piece absolutely needed to be written and thank you so much for being the one to do so. I will be featuring this on my blog next Wednesday!

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  24. the world needs more people like you

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  25. Sorry but I have to say it:

    Its obvious that you dont compete on track. People like this mostly run in lane one, never wants to move for those doing intervall and just jog slowly, blocking the way chatting with friends.

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    1. "People like this"?

      For the record, I started running at the same track Flint goes to, and personally I've never seen the kind of behavior you describe. And I sure as hell made sure to stick to the outside lane... Took me weeks to brave going inwards because I felt I didn't 'belong' there.

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    2. Last time I checked, there were no weight requirements to run at a track. And when there's a competition, it is closed to the public. If someone is walking in lane one, just speed work in lane 2 ;)

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    3. Yes, people like this. The weight is not what I am talking about. The types. They rarely have anything to do on a track, baffles me why someone would run around a track for an hour instead of in the nature, on trails etc.

      Anyway, for us TRACK athletes, you know competing on track, people like this more than not run in lane one when they are training on tracks. Lane one in a slow tempo. Round after round. Over and over. Sure, some nice ones run in the outside lanes, but most doesn't. Which again is strange as it doesn't really matter if you are running for an hour instead of doing intervals.

      Almost every week from spring to late summer I have to yell to get them out my lanes when I practice.

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    4. What makes it "your" lane and not theirs also?

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    5. I was going to ask if you own the gym? They pay their dues, they have every right to use every lane they want to, and every piece of equipment there. I'm not sure why you have such a feeling of self entitlement, but I assure you, most people don't think you are a great as you think you are.

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    6. If I am at the track, doing lets say 1000meter intervals, I obviously have to do them in lane one. Often when Im doing this joggers like these come and just start jogging around in lane one. Instead of showing respect to those who already are there, and use one of th SEVEN other lanes. I always do this myself if others are doing interval training, be that fat joggers or slim pros.

      I do not own the gym, but nobody starts running in front of me on the treadmill I'm running on....

      Self entitlement? It's called being polite, showing others respect. Like I said, if someone is busy using one of the lanes, I simply choose one of the others. There are 8 lanes, plenty to use. And especially when you are just jogging around, then its no need to use the inner lane where people are busy doing intervals.

      Secondly, nobody would just go over and stand right in front of you when you are doing weights in the gym, would they?

      By the tone in your response it seems to me you are one of those who feel entitled to lane one, no matter how many are using it or if the seven others are free. Good luck with that behaviour.

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  26. I'm not that fat now but was, in fact now I'm just a little over weight but when I started jogging through the C25K program last year I did it for me, no one else ME. Then I had an injury and was unable to jog for 3 months. I was miserable during that time. Once I had recovered I started all over again from the beginning of week 1, C25K here I come again. Well I'm what they call a graduate now. I can run 5K and do 3 times a week, I'm not fast, I don't need to be I'm never going to want to race. I'm proud of my achievements and so I should be, Im not over weight as such but I am over 60 years old! Its your life, live it as you want to but try to do it in a healthy manner and enjoy it, I know I do.

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  27. Flint, I shared the link to this on facebook, this is what my good friend texted me shortly after:

    "Ran a few miles today after reading that blog post. . I hadn't run in like 2 weeks, thanks for posting that"

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    1. Oh wow. That's really cool :) Run free!

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  28. Flint, I'm with all of the other "Fat Girls" out there. I've fought the emotional battle more than the physical. Losing weight is easy, sticking with it, and keeping it off is the hard part.

    Thanks for sharing your personal thoughts and encouragements. From those of us who are fighting that battle every day, thank you!

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  29. Thank you so much for writing this.
    I have been struggling for two years trying to get healthy and change from being the fat girl - but even when I keep my head down and my headphones turned up there are still so many people who will take time out of their days to ridicule and make fun of my efforts.

    I've never had anyone, not one soul who saw me trying at the gym tell me anything other than my being there in their space disgusts them.

    I'm going to print this out and post it on the wall of my room so that I know there is at least one person out there in the "fit crowd" who wants me out there with them.

    Thank you so much for writing and posting this.

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    1. Never let anyone dictate what you can or cannot do. The mean people only project their insecurity. What you're doing is awesome, and no one can take that away from you.

      Trust me, I'm not alone cheering for you. There are thousands like me!

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    2. There really are.

      It's just that the ones who understand what you're doing and realise how hard you have to work at it are the same ones who respect you enough to give you space and not interfere with your work out.

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    3. Count me in too!

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  30. Freaking A! Just checked the post this morning and there were 11 comments xD now 41! Too bad there are too many people out there who put down people who try to get fit. Such as "Haha look at thqat fat person trying to run" Itpisses me off,. probably is what lead to me hiding my running for as long as I did. Kudos Flint!

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  31. ♥ That is all. :D

    A single step is better than no step. Haters are going to hate, regardless of venue. Rock on.

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    1. Haters gonna hate, runners gonna run <3

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  32. It was great to read this. I am an on-again/off-again runner, overweight, trying to consistently keep at it this time around. Today was a "What am I even doing out here?" kind of day. I usually run on trails and feel comfortable around other runners. I've gotten smiles, waves, and thumbs up, which make me feel great. But today I ran through my neighborhood - on CITY STREETS. I felt like my shorts were too short and my butt was too big. But I still did my 4 miles. Although I felt way out of place, exposed, and conspicuous, I'm happy that I didn't let it get the better of me.

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  33. Loved reading this and needed to see it. I always feel great after running (well, at least mentally... but usually physically, too). It's getting going without finding an excuse to devote 30-60 minutes of my day to what I know is most important -- my health.

    Anyway, thanks for getting this fat dude up off his ass today. It had been about a week and a half since my last run, and this made me strap on my Luna Sandals and fly! Thank you, thank you!

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  34. Maybe she can receive your positive mental vibes in lieu of a thumbs up.

    I fret (probably too much) over what to say in this situation. I was exactly where that person was, but I know when they see me they don't see that (though it's taken me a long time to adjust to that, and I know I still have room to improve).

    I worry a "you're doing awesome" sounds condescending and go instead for something we share, maybe the weather, someone who is passing both of us, variations in terrain (does not work on a track), if in a race how far we have to go/have gone, or maybe clothes or something engaging that can lower the barrier and create camaraderie across ability levels.

    It's hard when you've seen yourself as something negative to not hear that when others say something they think is positive to you. I'd rather say nothing than risk hurting someone's motivation, even though I meant well.

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    1. Thank you
      The welcoming from runners has boosted my confidence and motivation.
      As a person who was fit then toppled with illness and injury I am thrilled to know that I can find acceptance as I trudge through my seemingly insignificant goals.
      Walking 100 feet without becoming short of breath was my first goal. It was the hardest.
      Now I walk or bike 2-5 miles a day. Running the distance to my appointments is the next goal. (2 mi) Hopefully to be strong enough to join the local Search & rescue team.

      I have a facebook friend who is a runner. Marathons, trail runs, 5k for a lark... His weekend running activities and the pics he posts after events keep me motivated. The bond these runners have is amazing.

      Thank you Robert
      Thank you Runners!!!

      Delete
  35. Great post Flint! I reposted this on the Luna FB.

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  36. Yes! I always want to high five these people and say "keep it up man!" but I usually don't, simply b/c i don't want them to think I'm mocking them (since there's no time to explain that I'm being genuine). Still, I always throw out a smile and a friendly face.

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  37. This was amazing, thank you! Last weekend, I participated in my first race after completing the Couch to 5k program. I'm 5'4" and 200lbs and my goal was to finish in under 45:00. My official time was 41:01.1 and I ran the whole thing.

    One morning, I was out on a run, sweating buckets and huff-puffing my way up a steep hill. A random dude I passed said "Yeah, baby!" and gave me a high five when I ran by. I could have kissed him, that's how great he made my day.

    I'm printing this off and sticking it on my fridge. Thanks again. :)

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  38. Thank you for posting this. I randomly found this online and was afraid to read it- the words "hey fat girl" really turn me off and I hate the term fat! Anyways- I am so glad that I read this post- wow wow wow! As a woman over 200 pounds who has been running for 4 years, completed my 1st half marathon last October and will run my 1st full marathon in less than 2 weeks- there are days when I am out on a run and I wonder what the skinny people think of me! I will wonder no more..! Thanks for this great insight! You made my day.

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  39. God bless you. I WAS that fat girl. I'm not anymore.

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  40. Thank you for posting, this fluffy girl (for the time being)will hold her head up high when she jogs :)

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  41. Reposted this all over myfitnesspal.com, my Facebook and My Blog. You are amazing for saying this. As a "Fat Girl" I often wonder what fit people think of me and my efforts. Your post is AMAZING and will remind me every day that I have support on my journey.

    Amy

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    1. Thank you for posting! I saw on MFP and followed it here!

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  42. I love this! This made me cry! I was that fat girl, and I felt ashamed working out in front of all the healthy athletic people, like I even didn't deserve a space on the gym floor. Sometimes I wish I could have some sort of flashing sign or badge that says "I've lost weight myself, I know what you're going through, just keep on going because you're awesome!"

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    1. I've just shared this post on Facebook and twitter! :D

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  43. Oh. Em. Gee. I heart you, this post, and every runner that drags their a$$ off the couch

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  44. saw this on MyFitnessPal, and it was very motivational. Thank you.

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  45. This was posted on myfitnesspal.com and I just had to come and say Thank You for such an inspirational and motivational post. I wish every person who has thought about running but felt too embarrassed to do so would/could read this. And I hope you won't mind when I pass this along in my Weight Watcher meeting... I know a lot of people will appreciate it... and will hopefully be inspired to get moving! Thanks again from a former Fat Girl, now a Fit Runner. :-)

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  46. You touched many with this one, thank you. I read it on myfitnesspal.com because someone else was touched by it and shared it with us.

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  47. This is a great post.
    I have been the Fat Girl. And now, I'm the skinny runner.

    Very well written and such a great perspective.

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  48. You probably have no idea how many hundreds of people this is spreading to who are touched, moved, gratified, (and trying to hide the teary face after reading it at work) and awed. I'm the fat girl too - and thank you for SEEING me and recognizing. Someday I will run with my chin up, I promise.

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    1. You have every reason to have your chin up! And while you're at it, you might just wink or smile at another runner who needed just that :)

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  49. This is amazing...I used to be that Fat Girl too. Thanks so much for posting, because I will be sharing it with everyone who ever tells me "I'm too fat to run." You are awesome.

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  50. I am the Fat Girl. This single post makes me realize maybe I'm ashamed at the gym when I shouldn't be. Thank you, I needed this.

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  51. This is awesomeness on so many levels. Thank you.

    - a former fat girl

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  52. What a great thing you have written! Completely awesome!

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  53. This is an amazing post, thank you!

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  54. While I understand the sentiment behind your post, that you are trying to be a positive influence, I think you could have been far more thoughtful in expressing yourself in your goals. "Hey, fat girl" gets the clicks, but it rubs me the wrong way. That person you are addressing is an individual, but you reduce her to "fat girl," something that she has heard from society as long as she has been fat. Adult females (as in your example photo) are women, not girls. Also, are there no "fat boys" at your track?

    Not everyone who is fat is just starting their journey to being a runner or toward better health. Some people are coming back to if after health issues, both physical and mental. Maybe she just birthed some "skinny boy's" child. By being fat, it doesn't mean she was accepting a physical state of "numbness and passivity."

    Why should she have to stop her routine to acknowledge you with your clumsy attempts at encouragement? She has a career, a family, volunteer or worship activities, errands to run and many other things on her plate. Maybe she this is her time for herself, to get out of her head. Maybe she wants to get away from people who, like you, who first see her as a fat. Her time isn't about you.

    Encouragement and overall thoughtfulness is important, but like our bodies, it something that needs to be exercised to improve. Perhaps, you are beginning your own transformation toward thoughtfulness and non-judgmental encouragement of others. One day, very soon, maybe tomorrow, you’ll step outside among people of all physical types and marvel at your capabilities.

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    1. i dont think he could have been more honest about his admiration. being offended is just a way of telling the world that you cannot control your emotional reactions and you want other people to control them for you. so many people have taken encouragement from this. if it didn't do anything for you, then move on. it's just a blog post.

      Delete
    2. He wasn't saying "Hey fat girl" because HE is calling her a fat girl, but because that is what she calls herself.. and what she is imagining other people are calling her. He is trying to say that he doesn't think of her that way when he sees her. You missed the point, AJ.

      Delete
    3. AJ, I very much like how you comment ends and you might just be right about that.

      I am sure you understand I never wanted to "look down" at anyone with this post, at the contrary. It is meant as an expression of respect and support, nothing more.

      Delete
  55. Thank you, this made me cry. I used to be skinny and fit but over the years have piled on the weight and now I'm fat. I am embarrassed when I go to the gym for my workout and out on the road when I walk because I've let myself get so fat. I do feel ashamed when fitter, thinner people get on the treadmill next to me or pass me on the road. There is so much hatred towards fat people today and I've become aware of it in a way I never could have when I was thin.

    I know I'm not the only one who feels this way, there are many people who feel "too fat" to go to the gym or go for a walk, we feel you're judging us and staring at us with disgust.

    I'm glad you said "Hey Fat Girl" at the beginning because that's what we're thinking *you're* thinking. As I read this you reminded me that's the way I used to feel about fat people at the gym when I was thin and fit. So happy for them, that they were at the gym, so inspired by them. Even though I didn't know them, I wanted to tell them, encourage them.

    I've been on both sides, so I know.

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    1. Do not be ashamed of who you are. If you are not comfortable with your body, gather the will and do something about it, whether it's running, swimming, going outside more often, changing food habits, walking your neighbor's dog every day or just a happy mix of all that. The fantastic thing I've learned is that you CAN do something about it, and you WILL see all sorts of positive results if you keep at it :)

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    2. Oh I am doing something, thanks, Flint! :) I'm 56 with shot knees, can't jog anymore these days, my knees swell up like balloons and I'm forced to stop doing anything while they heal but I can walk and I'm up to 3 miles a day. And changed my eating habits drastically. I'll get there. Not as fast as when I was younger, but eventually. :) I need to lose 40/50 pounds. But more than the weight is the way I feel, I miss being thin. :)

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  56. where oh where is the huge "LIKE" button!!! Thank you for posting this and I would love to link it/repost it to another forum - with full credits to you of course.

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  57. Thank you for this. This was me a couple of years ago. I took up running because it scared the living daylights out of me and I wanted to conquer that fear. Because I was much heavier than I wanted to be and desperately wanted to get into good shape. And I had to self talk every step to keep myself from quitting from extreme self doubt. I was just getting to where I could call myself a runner without feeling like a fraud when I found out I was expecting another little one (my fourth girl) and had to stop. So, now I am the slow chubby girl out on the paths again. THANK YOU.

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  58. Thank you so much for these words of inspiration, flint! Coming from a "fat girl" who has recently had a 2nd child and is trying to work up the courage to get out and run you have just given me that boost I need :). Oh, and the fact that you are a dude makes this even better lol

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  59. Brought me to tears when I read it on MFP. Thank you for posting!!! http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/617199-hey-fat-girl

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  60. Greatly inspirational post! I needed that! Everyone does every once in a while! It's funny how people inspire others without realizing it. Just goes to show how we should always try and be the best we can because you never know who's watching. One could change the course of another with a simple smile :D

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  61. Awesome post! We have a club in Silicon Valley called the FHAC-U (Fat Humans Athletic Club -United). Anyone can join and we walk/jog/run only 3 miles and it includes food and beer on trail. Its not about size, its about the attitude of gettin' out for a bit of exercise and havin' some fun with others. Anyone of any weight, race, sex, yada.... look us up if you're anywhere near the Bay Area's South Bay and just show up at an event.

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  62. I just want to say thank you for posting this. As a fat girl who has only recently started running and training for my first 5k in August its extremely moving to know that there are runners on the track who do have my back, even in all of its sweat covered glory. Maybe now when I am running I will try to muster the courage to make eye contact with people instead of staring at the pavement and pretending if I can't see them they can't see me. My cousin is my motivation on this journey...he ran frequently, simply because he could. He was killed in a hit and run accident on 12/13/2007 and its because of him that I have the courage to keep going back, even when I hear people snicker at me on the way by.

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  63. Flint,

    I copy and pasted this to a forum on www.myfitnesspal.com and included your blog address and gave you credit, of course. I just want you to know that I adore everything you wrote here, and although I don't have a lot to lose, this really spoke to me. There were also 13 pages of responses to the post since 11:00 am. You have really touched a lot of people with this thoughtful post. Thank you for that. It is nice to hear such kind words from an ultra althete.

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    1. My words are sincere. Every time I see someone out there trying hard, I am inspired and moved.

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  64. This is great! I never lose weight, but I do run, and I try hard. Hey, at least we aren't sitting on the couch. I think most people are pretty encouraging. Getting ready for a bunch of 5ks this summer even if I am a fat girl.

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  65. I saw this on MFP also and also linked it to my gym group. It resonates with me and I have a feeling it will be the same for a few other people at my class. Thank you for noticing those of us who sometimes only wish to be shadows. You help us to shine.

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  66. Love this! Wish I had seen this when I first started running. Will be sharing this post :)

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  67. I have to say, I originally found this post in MyFitnessPal, as Amy said she shared it above. The title got my attention and my dander up, as I AM that fat girl. I almost didn't read it, but I couldn't possibly imagine the moderators allowing something overtly negative, so I pushed on and clicked the link. This is my third time reading it, and I have tears running down my face wishing everyone else out there had even a miniscule amount of your compassion!! The people who are supposed to be family, friends, lover, are not supportive and are even worse than the stranger yelling obscenities as they drive by, to them it's not fast enough and I never should have become fat to begin with. I hide my exercising, and I don't share that I am trying to anyone (well except you all now, and the folks at MyFitnessPal), and I go to the track here down the road. It's called a track, but it's a one lane asphalt loop around a church play yard, open to the public, with a mile marker on it, but no clue as to how many laps makes a mile. My body is not ready for straight running, lots of rugby injuries and car accidents, and now the added 100 lbs, it's too painful physically, but I do a quarter lap jog, and a brisk paced walk, and I go when all the senior citizens are doing their laps, because they say hi, and chat with me with no malice in their eyes or tone. A lot of times I bring my 3yo son and he rides his bike doing laps while I walk or jog to keep up with him (he's my cover for being there). It will be a while before I hold my chin up while I"m huffing and sweating, but I will always remember your compassion and that you are cheering me on from afar... Thank You!!

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  68. Thank you! I just started C25K after spending the winter losing 55 pounds....with 35 left to lose, I am too embarrassed to run outside and if anyone is at the high school track when I bet there, I go home and do the dreaded treadmill again. I assumed people would be making fun of me...thanks for letting me know I was wrong. You just gave me the courage and motivation to do it anyway!!

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  69. OMG! You just made me cry. This came at the perfect time, as i've been feeling pretty discouraged lately. I am that fat girl still trying to run and some days i still feel like i don't belong to that "elite running club". I feel like i'm on the sidelines looking in and longing to belong. I have been running for about 6 months now...i have lost 70lbs in the last 11 months and still have 30 to go...so i still feel like that fat girl trudging along. Thank you for your inspirational words...its making me realize how far i've come and not focus on how far i have to go!
    thank you

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  70. Thanks so much for this! I really needed to read this right now, I had a minor meltdown last week when I felt massively looked down on by some super fit folks in a class at the gym (the instructor was awesome and helped me see that it was hard class and I was doing great by even making it through). Anyway, last fall when I started my journey, I could barely walk a mile in almost 1/2 an hour and I was completely winded. I just ran my first 5K in April and tomorrow I am doing my first "Mud Run" - 5K complete with some pretty serious obstacles. It's so wonderful to think that there are people out there like you, cheering on all of us "Fat girls" (yes, you're right, that's what we say in our heads). I'll think of you tomorrow when I finish my run! :)

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  71. It's funny I found this on the evening before my 1 year anniversary of running. As I look back through my RunKeeper I see I did 1.28 miles at a 14:05 mm on 6/2/11. Those 17 minutes and 57 seconds seemed like the longest of my life. But I kept at it rain or shine, when it was 95 degrees or 25 degrees, shedding my baggy clothes for a fitted tech ts and cute running skirts as I slowly lost 30 lbs over the year and logged close to 700 miles. So many times I wanted to stop, but I Kept pushing forward and here I am with a few 5ks and 2 half marathons under my belt! I've learned that running is more mental than physical so never be afraid to take those first steps no matter how slow or painful. You've got nothing to lose.

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  72. I hope you don't mind. I absolutely loved this piece and link to it in my blog.
    http://backatsquarezero.blogspot.com/2012/06/best-intentions.html
    I was that girl and my blog is a tale of how far I have come.

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  73. How beautiful! I am crying like a big baby reading this to my girls and husband. I am making this transformation currently, 100 pounds down and 100 to go. I know this person you write about, intimately.

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  74. Thanks so much for this post. Like many others here it made me cry. Fat, skinny, in-between... a little encouragement helps. My elderly parents live on a beautiful walk. In the evening they sit on their front porch and cheer for the folks walking or running by as if they were watching marathon runners.Your words here are doing the same.

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  75. This post made me cry...I just recently started to walk and jog a little on my mission to running and I have to tell you, there are times when I get out there to jog, I will be crying because it does feel like everyone is looking and laughing but I am out there and I have logged over 70 miles in my 2 month journey. I have also lost a few pounds, and after having heart surgery, I am doing what I have to do for me...thanks so much for posting this!

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  76. Printed and hung on my work cube wall, and my fridge. Thank you!
    Had a rough past year after a pregnancy and a c/s that didn't heal nearly fast enough. Summer is here, no more excuses. C25K round #3 (1st attempt this summer) here I come. Thank you for giving me just that tiny bit more of motivation I needed. I am that fat girl, running at dawn and dusk so less people will see me struggle. Nice to know that there are some of you out there cheering instead of jeering.

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  77. Your post really hit a chord with me because I just became this girl a month ago. I started running in my small town last fall but I did it in the morning to avoid as many people as possible. I stopped running in winter but picked it up again a month ago. I wear headphones and blare the music up very loudly as to not hear my panting or possibly people trying to bring me down, how sad that we have to worry about that? Anyway, I ran passed this guy I see around often and he gave me a thumbs up. I was very shocked but happy.

    I would end up seeing him more on my routes and he would wave. A couple of days ago I actually saw him at the store by my house and he said "Hey you have a lot of supporters around here." It kind of made me a little nervous knowing people notice me but it also felt awesome. Then, the next day this other woman came up to me when I was outside of my house and asked me how I am losing weight because she's noticed me and I am "looking good". Honestly, knowing these people are watching me and are cheering me on makes me feel great and it's a huge motivation to keep going. Of course there are jerks out there who will want to bring people down but there are just as many who want to see you succeed.

    I am glad that you shared this and are one of those people. =)

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  78. Thank you so much for this post. I am a weight loss blogger who started at 455 pounds and despite having lost 113 already, still hang my head in self-imposed-shame whenever I try a new physical activity. I did my first half-marathon at 350 pounds and finished with no spectators except the race organizers and my amazing friends who wogged (walk/jogged) the race with me. I've popped a stability ball in the gym, and fallen off treadmills. I will say that for every silent snicker or snide look from onlookers, there have been twice as many people who have been cheerleaders and who have pushed me onward. Pull strength from those who lift you up, not those who keep you down.

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  79. I love this. In theory, I am that girl you are talking about. But this Sunday I am doing my 3rd half marathon. I dont go fast, but at least I am doing it.

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  80. Thanks for providing some prospective from the other side of the street. I'm a fat girl who loves to hike. I've got a 10 mile trip tomorrow and in preparation earlier this week I went to the running store near my house to get Smartwool socks; for a moment I was terrified to go in because I was afraid the runners would be silently judging me (they were SUPER nice by the way and not judgy at all). Once I lose a little more weight I'd like to start running, in fact I dream about running all the time. It's nice to know that when I'm ready that there will be people cheering me on. :)

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  81. Thank you so much for this post! It's awesome to hear that someone recognizes "our" hard work, and the fact that "we" are trying to become healthier. (and we blare our headphones to drown out all of the negative comments!). RR

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  82. I'm totally that fat girl. I've only been running for five weeks and I know the pains. I was so ashamed for doing what I'm doing. Once, when a bus passed the track, I dove under some bushes so they wouldn't see me. One day about two weeks in, I stopped at the side of the track for a breather, considered giving up right then and there, and this woman who I had never seen before her yelled across the park, "Go get it, honey! You got it going for ya!" and when I read this post I thought of her. Thank you, running lady, you made this possible.

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  83. I am not much of a runner, i run for softball and i am trying to get into it. I use to be the "fat girl" my insecurity in general is being improved and im still on the bigger side. I have always been an avid workout/ sports girl..but was never nor will ever be a size 2 and am glad of these hips for that! but Ive started boxing (which I lovve) I work out 6 days a week and am eating right. In college i had lost close to 100 pounds and gained much of it back but alas im in the groove, Im a firefighter have been for 10 years. My motto that I remind myself besides being happy ...when Im at the point of I gotta stop I say hey if you have a fire tonight and have to go interior and do search and resuce are you going to be able to save them and carry them our or are you going to be the one needing to be saved. I than work out for at least 10 more minutes...lets go peeps Im so proud of anyone working out and when I see the shy girl in the gym thats on the heavier side all i can do is smile with my headphones in and say a prayer thanking god for them and giving them encouragement!

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  84. Simply beautiful!!! I've found this post on Pinterest and I loved it!
    Thank you so much for your beautiful words.
    I'll translate them for my Italian readers... so motivating!
    Simona

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  85. I understand what you are trying to do here. Many people, especially heavier-set ones, are made to feel ashamed to be in public no less go to a gym, or run outside. In the face of this discrimination, it takes courage to stand up against people's shallow judgements in the name of health and fitness.

    However, this blog post exposes the author's own judgements and misconceptions about body shape and size. As someone who is finishing up their master's degree in dietetics, one thing I have learned is that you should know, is that there is very little if anything you can tell about a person's health by their body shape or size no matter how big or small. Your blog and the picture you posted shows that you are of the camp that thinks that there is something wrong with fatness, and that people who are heavier than others are automatically out of shape, and overeat; and that thinner people are automatically healthier. You also insinuate that thinner people do not and should not suffer from the same kind of embarrassment of being in public as heavier people do. All of this, while well intentioned, is extremely discriminatory and rude toward anybody who is heavy.

    I'd think you should know that the girl you described could be of any size. I've seen thin people winded after a 20 minute run, and I've seen heavier people who are able to run (not walk) marathons alongside the thinner people. I'm sure this is a newsflash for you, but not everyone who is heavier is out of shape, and not everyone who is thin is in shape. This paradigm you've described here is extremely dangerous to health because it promotes thinness as a barometer for health, not fitness. Furthermore, the title and theme of this blog post is extremely offensive in the way that the "N" word is offensive to African Americans and the word "Fag" is offensive to homosexuals. Calling someone fat is not based on health, it, much like those other hurtful words are, based on ignorance and hate. So while I see what you are trying to do here, the way you are doing it promotes this type of ignorance and hate. Also I find it extremely telling that the picture you used for your blog is of a girl who by any standards, even stereotypically, is not someone who deserves to be called "fat girl" or be ashamed of her size. Your standard of thinness appears to be extremely high, and to use a picture like this as your model for the girl who can barely run 20 minutes without being winded exposes your own prejudices against people with more fat than you.

    I invite you to google "health at every size" (healthateverysizeblog.org) or check out the health at every size blog, and educate yourself about health and size acceptance before making these judgmental, callous, and shallow blog posts using back-handed complements to heavier people. If you take it upon yourself to be educated about health and size, you'll find that fit people can also be fat, and that the only thing anyone can diagnose by looking at a heavier person is their own level of prejudice toward heavier people.

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    1. BLAAA blaa bla....you're missing the point!

      Thank you Flint. I'm a wanna be jogger (only 1/2 blocks at night) but this is mind changing. I WILL begin and not feel bad, so thank you!

      Delete
    2. Actually I don't think I am. I know you are. But enlighten me.

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    3. BCC,

      I don't know where to start. I have a very hard time understanding the anger in your tone, but let's not consider that right now.

      You seem to be making a whole lot of assumptions for someone who blames others of assuming too much. Do you know what size I am? Do you know who I run with? Do I even need to be asking these questions?

      I am not trying to redefine anything, to judge anyone, nor do I have the pretention of knowing anything. I am just a guy who runs, and I am a guy who runs with a lot of people. It just so happens that I know a lot of people who found themselves out of shape and overweight and who had the courage to face their fears and go outside, exercise, better their health and aim at higher goals for themselves. I just wish to let them know how much they inspire me.

      Now if you want to call me racist, homophobic, callous and - sorry, the other insults I forgot and I'm not reading your comment again - other names for trying to cheer out that girl who gives her all at the track, well I guess that's your prerogative.

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    4. Flint, thats the thing. You think you are giving credit to the "fat girl" for being brave for running on the track, but you are actually giving her a back-handed complement. You are assuming that she would be running on the track because she wants to lose weight. Like I said above, a person's fatness isn't an indicator of fitness. Your blog post says otherwise. Everybody deserves credit for trying to improve their fitness, not just the heavier ones. Why you focus on the "fat girl" is beyond me.

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    5. BCC, I focus on the "fat girl" because she's inside every one of us. I can already hear you say she's not inside everyone - Let's just say I know for sure she's inside me. I could've written "hey, old man" or "hey, unfit person looking like you're having a hard time out there" or just anything really.

      This post is about cheering heroes and brave people who get out, get fit and enjoy their bodies. They inspire me beyond words, and beyond blog comments about the imprecisions of my points of view.

      Delete
    6. Yes, I understand what you did. You are saying there is a "fat girl" inside every one of us, but as something negative you have to overcome; because being fat is bad/wrong, am I right? If you could have substituted "fat girl" for "unfit person looking like you're having a hard time out there" you are confirming that you think that just because somebody is fat, it means they are out of shape. It changes the meaning of the blog without the use of "fat girl". If you think being fat is bad, why don't you say so? Even some other fat people think fat is bad, which is why they are dieting, and trying to lose weight. Obviously I disagree.

      If this is really just a post about running why not just say "hey struggling runner"? Its because you think that fat is bad, and being fat is the result of poor health choices. Correct?

      Delete
    7. BCC,
      It was meant as an inspirational article, to give hope to those of us who are struggling and to make us realize that there is a network of support and love out there. Most of us- I know I am- are doing this for ourselves, but it is still gratifying to receive support from that wider network. There were some stylistic choices made in the wording that you seem to take issue with, but ultimately it is a piece of writing. You accuse the author of equating fat to being a bad thing while also making the argument that fitness comes in all shapes and sizes. I agree with the latter, but your first argument, I feel, is more dangerous than the accusation you have put before the author.
      Sure, the "thin ideal" is a huge problem and can lead to all sorts of body-image issues and can even progress into serious health concerns such as body dysmorphic disorder, but the alternative can be just as serious. Many fitness bloggers across the internet and most people trying to get healthy are trying to attain the fitness level that is ideal FOR THEM--to reach their state of health and comfort, and it's different for everyone. That's not saying that the end game is to all shrink down to a four and contort our bodies to look like carbon copies of some single image of health; in fact quite the opposite. Fitness--true fitness--is about finding what works FOR YOU.
      I don’t think that fat is healthy. There are people who will always naturally carry more weight, of course. There are people who will always have larger frames and never have that "waifish" look. And they may be healthier than most.
      But this... open letter, I guess you could call it, is not for them. It's for girls like me, who want to change their lives for the better and become healthy. Not thin, healthy. I can't emphasize that enough. Being overweight, I'm sure you've learned in your studies, can have detrimental long-term health effects. Fat shaming is a horrible thing and can cause more damage, and I agree with you on that front.
      What I disagree with is this attitude that fat is good. I'm sorry but I personally don't want to—and indeed cannot— accept the health problems, the difficulty with physical activity, the risk of early death or chronic conditions that come with high body fat. So I, like so many others, am trying to make that change and be healthier.
      Again, we are all different shapes and sizes and health can be found in all of these body types. But carrying more weight than your body should naturally have can be troublesome, and I think that that is the main point here. Also, there might be a girl there trying to gain muscle tone, or an old man trying to keep his range of motion. You will find all types out there in the world getting healthy, not just "fat girls." There are some who would be offended, or who would think it presumptuous to receive the encouraging response that was described. But again, this isn’t for them. This is for me, for all of us who have gone out there and made that courageous leap toward health but still feel a little unsure, a little out of place. We fat girls sometimes need that little cheer or smile or nod to keep us going through what is a challenging and hard-won effort, and as you may deduce by the overwhelming positive response to this post, I am not the only one who feels this way.
      Thanks for your time, and I hope that you can enjoy the rest of your day.

      Delete
    8. Anonymous, reread what I wrote.

      I never said fat is good or bad. It just is. If you want to get into fat around vital organs (visceral fat) versus subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin), that is another discussion. This blog post tries to inspire the proverbial girl with a certain amount of subcutaneous fat to keep fighting the good fight and get in shape. Just because one has a certain amount of subcutaneous fat, doesn't automatically mean they have a proportionate amount of visceral fat. This leads to the idea that if she has a certain amount of subcutaneous fat deemed as "too much", she must not be in shape. This is a simplistic view of health, and is wrong & dangerous.

      Carrying more weight than you should? How much is that? And don't tell me that everyone should have a BMI 20-25. That is not supported by the scientific literature, and is only supported by the media. Just because someone is heavier doesn't automatically mean they are carrying more weight than they should. They may be carrying exactly the right amount of weight they should, but you can't tell by looking at them. I'm sorry, but you can't.

      If fitness is about finding what is right for you, then why focus on fat people? Maybe some people are healthier having more fat than others? You can't generalize and say that someone with a BMI >25 is automatically less healthy than one <25. There are many factors that go into how much body fat you carry. Not all of them negative. You are generalizing that a person who has a high (higher than what?) amount of body fat, only does so because of lack of fitness and a poor diet. Again, this is not always true. You can be fit and fat at the same time. Believe it or not, but having a higher amount of body fat doesn't guarantee health problems.


      You are taking this blog and changing it against what the author intended. While you personally may not equate thin healthy as automatically healthy, the author does, because by using the term "fat girl" it means that she is fat and must not give up striving for fitness until she is not fat.

      Everyone deserves credit for trying to improve their health, not just people with a certain amount of body fat. This blog focuses on the "fat girl" because the author things that fat girls can't be healthy, and that they need encouragement to improve their fitness. Newsflash: EVERYONE needs encouragement to improve their health.

      Delete
    9. BCC,

      I would very much like it if you stopped postulating what I think.

      I don't know what it is you are trying to prove here, or the reason for your tone. This is not a scientific blog, and we are not trying to discuss the virtues of subcutaneous fat and Body Mass Indexes.

      We are throwing high-fives and cheers to people who are trying to get healthier, happier and who run free.

      Delete
    10. If I am wrong about you, let me ask you then.

      1. Do you think everybody who is fat lacks this confidence you describe in your blog post?

      2. Do you think all fat people as shy and unfit as the "fat girl" you described here?

      Delete
  86. Reposting this on my website- www.1001ThingsToBeHappyAbout.com

    I'm skinny on the outside, but fat on the inside. I feel fat. And I'm recovering from major illness and surgery that have left me so exhausted I can hardly think about running. ButI'm doing it. Clinging to the outside track, feeling like a loser for my gasping breaths.

    Thank you for posting this. Look for it on my inspiring blogs page.

    :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't be hard on yourself like this :(

      Hey, you're going outside, you're actually running at the track! Isn't that hundreds of times better than being ill? Give yourself some time, some good rest and some love, then put on your best smile and go for it ;)

      Delete
  87. I am that fat girl that started running like you mentioned and how I wish I had met someone like you instead of the mean, hateful people that I encountered.

    I would like to repost this on my blog. I will give credit to you and a link back.

    Thank you for writing this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You *have* met someone like me. There are thousands. They just didn't say anything, and thought to themselves something along the lines of what I wrote :)

      Delete
  88. As another former fat boy (almost 300lbs) to a now slightly chubby boy (about 190lbs) I couldn't agree more with this post. So beautiful. I used to be. That person struggling, listening to my headphones, now I run for the sheer joy of it. But most importantly, I have an incredible amount of respect for all those just starting their journey as a runner. A wonderful world awaits you!

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  89. There are many comments but I have to add one more. I am overweight, but I also have another challenge to overcome. I had a spinal cord injury because of a violent crime. I can walk on my legs, but I cannot feel them. I have been walking for exercise and for therapy. Recently, I have been starting to jog. It's difficult for me and I feel awkward and clumsy. I tend to hang my head down when these super-fit marathon-type runners go by. If only they knew what I had to overcome to get to this point, maybe they would be the ones inspired. Six months ago, I could barely walk with a walker.

    Thank you for the inspiration to keep going.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You gave me shivers. What you are doing is awesome. Keep your head up, enjoy your mobility and enjoy your life. May the healing of your body also help to the healing your spirit.

      Delete
  90. As a fat girl running on a track, thank you.

    I cringe at the track stars who lap me and would much rather run on an abandoned street where nobody could see me. (unfortunately, chronic shin splints have forced me to keep to soft surfaces rather than concrete). I try to keep out of others' way and don't make eye contact with anyone. My favorite running days are the ones when I show up and the track is empty.

    Years of struggling with depression and a desire to lose weight are hard to face. I compare myself to everyone around me even though I know I shouldn't. I started running 3 months ago with C25K and am running my first 5k race next Saturday. I never thought I'd be able to do it, and now I can't wait. Running is the first regular work out that has EVER stuck for me. I may not be great at it... but I'm doing it.

    Thank you for posting this. It's encouraging and brought me to tears. Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're not great at it? Are you kidding me?!? You'll be running a 5K in a week! That's awesome! I wish you enjoy every single step of it, and end it tired, amazed and exhilarated!!! :)

      Delete
  91. Wow. Thank you for writing this. This was an amazing post. I was that girl, along with so many others. You brilliantly put into words and onto a page the exact feelings and fears of so many. Reading this took me back to my first real attempt at running. It was mortifying. That was almost 3 years ago and I was 33. Last weekend I finished my first half marathon, something I never thought I could ever do. My goal now is to help motivate and support others in their running journey. Running has really changed my life. :)

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  92. Thank you for writing this and sharing it. In one week I will be going my first half marathon. At the beginning of the year I couldn't run for 30 seconds. No joke. Down 20 lbs and so much happier (and incorporating weight training and healthy eating), I can honestly say running has brought me back to life. I may not look like the most fit person while running through my neighborhood, but I am more fit and healthy than I have been in years. For this I am proud. Often I am passed by people who are far leaner, more fit and much faster runners than I, but they always smile and nod, and it is a good feeling to be acknowledged. It's not why I do it, but that nod, whether online or on a good run, is validating. Again, thank you.

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  93. As an "ex fat girl" (I lost 110 pounds) I appreciated this post. Wish I had seen it 5 years ago!

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  94. While I appreciate the sentiment of this post, the words, "Hey, Fat Girl" are the very reason she's avoiding you (if she is). You've judged her in the worst way and it's anything but respectful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh for chrissake.. all of you people who are upset at the title "Hey, Fat Girl" are COMPLETELY missing the freaking point. He is not calling her a fat girl, he is echoing how she thinks of herself, and how she imagines everyone else is thinking of her. Seriously.. way to completely miss the point and nitpick a beautiful post.

      Delete
    2. No, you're missing the point. He has never spoken to the woman, so how in the world would he know she considers herself a "fat girl"? Really. It's clear he considers her one. Tone it down, sweetie.

      Delete
    3. Correct, not everyone who looks like this imaginary girl feels the way the blog describes. And one shouldn't assume that just because someone is "fat" that they feel this way, or that they should/do lack the confidence described here. It is a arrogant and stereotypical blog post at best.

      Delete
  95. Thank you! Love the title. As a former and somewhat still.... Fat Gurl, I can say that :)
    I am tearfully laughing as I re-read. And will think of it often as I run!
    Thank you so much.

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  96. I promise to look up next time I'm running on the trail or the road. Thank you for your inspiring post.

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  97. This was lovely. I'm currently that 'fat girl' running along the sidewalk and trying to make myself more fit. I've been laughed at by kids, and while I know they weren't talking about me in particular, I heard people at the local sports shop laughing about 'fatties running' and it FELT like they were laughing about me.

    However, a couple days ago I passed someone on the street while I was panting and huffing and sweating buckets, and she smiled at me and told me to 'keep it up, you're doing great!" This morning I started on my fourth week of the C25K program, and I felt like I could run even longer than the program said (I didn't - don't want to push myself too far too fast), and I read this lovely post that brought a smile to my face.

    From a fat girl to a fit boy - thank you.

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  98. What an absolutely wonderful post. As an overweight runner, this means a lot to me. It is HARD to put yourself out there because of all of the judgement in the world.

    Thank you.

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  99. This is beautiful. Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.

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    Replies
    1. I absolutely agree <3

      Delete
  100. Wow...how did you know. When I read the line about the blaring head phones I thought you were watching me at the track Friday night. Through tears, your words have srengthened me. Thank you. Friday night, after a few weeks of walk/running, I set out to see how for I could go.......I ended up running one complete mile before I stopped. Prior to that I had only ran 1.5 minutes at a time. IIn the end I did 12 laps around the school track and only walked three. I was slow. Very slow. Walkers could have passed me. But I did it. Thank you for this post. I would love to link to it. This is the first time I have read your blog and I am so glad I stumbled upon it.

    Tara....
    wortheveryounce.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tara, this is extraordinary. Congratulations, girl! Don't push yourself too hard, though, and remember to give yourself rest and love in between your runs :) You can be very proud of your achievements, and I hope you keep going <3

      Delete
  101. I stumbled on a link to this post, and it brought tears to my eyes. I've lost 133 pounds over the last 2 years with diet and exercise. I have a little ways to go and in the I've take up running about 6 months ago. I can't tell you how much this post means to people like me. I go out to run, and my heart is beating SO fast before I even take to the road, because of the thought that someone might see me. Thanks for letting me (us) know how REAL runners feel about us. = )

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    Replies
    1. I am no more real than you are, my friend. That's the beauty of it; we are ALL runners :)

      Delete
  102. Wow, this brought tears to my eyes. I dream of running, I am that fat girl who walks around the track occasionally pushing out a struggled burst of running. I walk head down, earphones ignoring the world, day dreaming because I'm mortified to be me. I loved this post it is truly awesome and encourages me to get back into walking and every now and again running, around my local track instead of hiding inside with only workout DVDs,. Thank you, seriously, thank you!!!

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  103. i too am that FAT GIRL!!! I have been over weight for many years, all my adult life actually and I am 37 y.o. I have been exercising for a couple yrs off and on losing, gaining, more gaining than losing. I started the C25K just this week. I feel I have more determination than ever. I have too felt embarassed to go outside and walk/run/jog because I am terrified of what others think. My husband has been my support system. He encourages me to get out there. I am doing this for me and me alone. I suppose a small part of me feels bad when my husband and I go out together because of people possibly thinking "wow, look at that cow that he is with" or something along those lines. I want to feel better, look better, and be healthier. So, to all that are embarking on achieving their healthier inner person, I salute you and encourage to accomplish it and say to hell with what others may say or think about you. After all, what you think of yourself is most important!!!! I wish you all amazing luck and have fun!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  104. I have had luck with diet and supplements. Found this free sample of Raspberry Keytones, it has worked wonders. Here's the link for a free sample

    http://affiliategateways.go2cloud.org/SHoC

    ReplyDelete
  105. I came to this blog through Skinny Emmie, and I am so glad I did. What you posted was amazing. LOL, I did have some explaining to do at work as I burst into tears, but I got past that.

    I am also that girl. I'm learning to run, and have signed up to run my first 5k this September. I'm currently on week 3 of a c35k program. I just started running for 3 full minutes at a stretch...and although I'm not in love with it yet....there's a definite like!

    Thank you for posting this, cause even at the weight I am it's nice to know that others just don't see a fat girl running.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nicole, I encourage you to continue your program. Hopefully, some day very soon, you'll have what I call an "episode"... A moment where what before felt like a huge effort becomes much easier. Whether it's in your breathing, or how you feel after a run, or during, SOMETHING will click and put a huge smile on your face. It will be a first of what I wish you is a long series of well-earned successes :)

      Delete
  106. I am that fat girl too. Running down the road with my two kids and my two dogs. It is hard, and so many days I don't go out, even when I know it will make me feel better (physically, spiritually, emotionally)...

    So thank you, as the tears streamed down my checks while reading this, it is so nice to know that there are other people out there that get and are proud of me too.

    ReplyDelete
  107. I will echo what many others have already said. This post moved me to tears. I have always harbored a secret desire to be a runner but have always been to scared to try, preferring exercises that kept me indoors and able to hide my wobbly bits. After reading your blog you can add one more hash mark to the growing list you must have of people you have inspired to simply run. Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. I had a very good friend who used to say "Running is in our genetic memory". I think there is great truth in that. Run free!

      Delete
  108. I admire everything about this post. As a runner and a nutritionist, it had a profound effect on me on so many levels. It also prompted me to write a post: http://theloudandclear.com/2012/06/04/you-are-awesome/. thanks for the inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Kim!

      "Good job" ;)

      Run free!

      Delete
  109. If you can't run, WALK! That's what my doc told me. So my daughter runs her 3 miles. We meet up at the edge of the park where I walk a circuit and walk home. I can now walk 1mile to her3, so that's a pretty good clip.

    ReplyDelete