Category Archives: fitness

Now blogging at

So, this blog had a happy ending. I met a guy, we fell in love, now we live together and everything is lovely. (No, seriously. It’ s been over a year and hot damn! Things are good.) There’s still stuff to say and I might occasionally drop in here, but for the most part I’ve moved on to another adventure: running.

I started running about a year ago and blogged a bit about it here. I ran my first 5k last March, did a 10k in October and in a haze of post-race endorphins signed up to train for a half marathon this April. A half marathon?! What was I thinking? Well, what I was thinking was this (and, lord, I have to remind myself of this over and over again, because EVERY DAY I want to quit. Every. Single. Day.): I don’t have a job right do (boo) and I’m kind of floundering. I thought it would be good to have a goal, a big challenge to overcome. My sister got her running start with Team in Training and had an awesome, life-changing experience (she met her boyfriend there, and a group of women who have become some of her closest friends, and now she runs half a dozen races a year). So I went for it.

Anyway, I’m blogging about it – in particular, about the experience of being a fat runner. Come check it out.

(You can also donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and help me meet my fundraising goal.)


running ups and downs

Since coming back for the holidays, I’ve been having a hard time running. Some of it’s to do with a new schedule, new obligations, a new relationship – but most of it is because I had a bad running day.

Runners, you know what I mean? Two Wednesdays ago I was scheduled to run. It was raining, so I took a (lovely, lovely) nap instead. Thursday was beautiful; I worked (as a cook, on my feet – this is how I earn my keep these days) all morning and afternoon and decided to go for a run before dinner.  For the first time in all my training I just couldn’t do it. I was too wiped out, and I ended up walking almost the whole route. I remember thinking that I needed to be careful not to psych myself out about it, not to lose confidence, to think that one bad run means that I can’t do it.

Yeah. Uh, that’s pretty much exactly what happened. And now I’m feeling insecure and worried, and then I went down to DC for the inauguration (!!!!!!!) and didn’t run at all (although I calculated that I walked about ten miles a day the four days I was there), and now I’m nervous about my next run.

On the flip side, I had a great experience last week: I walked up a hill that I’ve walked a hundred times before, and for the first time I wasn’t out of breath at the top. Sounds silly? It wasn’t that being out of breath was terrible; it was that this was the first real indication I’ve had of improved fitness from my running. The running never seems to get easier, I don’t feel stronger, my clothes don’t fit differently – but I can do something that I couldn’t do before. Awesome. I want more of it. It’s enough to get over my running slump. I’m headed out tomorrow!

Confessions of a REALLY fat runner

In the December 2, 2008 issue of Newsweek, on page 20, we’re treated to an essay titled “Confessions of a Fat Runner.”

I’m not sure what to make of it.

My first reaction was of great interest. Hey, I thought, I’m a fat runner! (Whee! I’m a runner! I’m not over that yet.) My interest quickly turned to confusion; the woman who is pictured is not at all fat. No, really. Not just not-fat in comparison to really-fat me – she’s Not Fat.  She’s posing a little weirdly, one leg crossed in front of the other as if she’s trying to hide her thighs or something – but she’s in running pants. You know, tight. She’s very obviously not fat.

She’s a size 14, apparently. This is how she describes herself:

“Most runners are ectomorphs: emaciated and square-jawed. Me, I’m an endomorph, posessed of a soft and thick body that looks as if it was stuffed to order at Build-A-Bear, not sculpted at an L.A. sports club. I look so unlike a runner that, when I first started jogging, passing motorists would pull over and ask if I needed a ride.”

Having read it a few times now, I don’t think there’s a clear point to the essay. Here are some possible conclusions you could draw from what she writes:

  1. Not all runners are thin.
  2. Running doesn’t make you thin.
  3. Running is a fat-friendly sport.
  4. Running is fun.

Ok. I mean, those are generally positive conclusions, and ones I pretty much agree with. (Not so sure about running being fat-friendly. I run by myself; my running is wildly fat-friendly. I’m all “Whoo! You look awesome, fatgirlonadate! Nice job! You are WORKIN’ those skintight bootcut running pants that were obviously intended for pre-teens.” But elsewhere?) She makes a nice point about how she’s run 10 miles a week for the past 20 years and hasn’t lost any weight, but she counters that with a wisecrack about how losing weight would require eating less ice cream, and gee whiz she’s just not willing to do that.

So there’s not much to the essay. But I’d love to hear from an actual fat runner – someone like me, a size 24, except maybe someone who’s been running for more than, oh, a month – in a magazine with an audience as large as Newsweek’s.  I’d love to see someone write about the struggle to find high-quality gear in plus sizes, or the conversations they have with folks whose minds are blown when they realize that the chick who’s eight sizes larger than them runs three miles a day, or what it’s like to run races when you’re twice the size of the other runners.

My experience has been superlative, so far. I found running gear that is working brilliantly (thanks Brooks! thanks Enell! thanks Moving Comfort!). I run through my quiet neighborhood and have received from folks I pass or who pass me only waves, smiles, and wry comments about their own failings (“Hey, I do what I can!” said an old, old man with a crooked smile that I jogged past on Thanksgiving). Every single person I’ve told about my running – and I tell everyone, working under the belief that if I tell people then I’ll be too embarrassed to quit – has been interested and supportive and not at all flabbergasted; three people have started running, or started running again, since I told them what I was doing.

I’m running my first race on March 22*. That’s a week after my thirtieth birthday, and my father might run it with me. Then, a few weeks later, I’m running the Cherry Blossom 5K in D.C., with my sister, who will just off a six-month layoff following a stress fracture she got in training for the Marine Corps marathon.

Wish me luck!

* Yeah, the website’s funky. It’s still showing the 2008 info.

quick comment: employer-based health programs

On December 14, the Minneapolis Star Tribune published an article about employer-based health and wellness programs.

The article didn’t spark any outrage. But the letters in response? Here’s an excerpt from one published today:

But the 400-pound gorilla in the room has evolved into a 400-pound coworker, and those are hard to ignore. Rather than being an invasion of civil liberties, these programs try to make the unduly burdensome costs of health care more fair for both the public and the companies that employ them.

And here’s one from Tuesday:

When the people complaining about this injustice wind up in an intensive care unit or hospice as a result of their own lifestyle choices, they are pirating resources from workers who take better care of themselves but wind up in these places anyhow.

There haven’t been any responses from the other side. So I wrote one, and sent it in today:

I thought I could hold my tongue regarding Maura Lerner’s December 14 story about employers punishing employees for “bad” health behavior. But I’ve been dismayed by the tone of the letters you’ve published in support of these programs.

Yesterday, Sam Boeser wrote: “… these programs try to make the unduly burdensome cost of health care more fair for both the public and the companies that employ them.”

If fairness (rather than an attempt to eliminate behavior society sees as deviant) were truly the issue, I would expect to see rewards for folks who go to church, own pets, and are married – all variables that lead to longer, healthier lives – and punishments for folks who increase their health risks by, say, working the night shift, drinking coffee or commuting by car.

Here’s hoping they publish it!

pre-date jitters, part II: The Man

I got so hung up on the clothes angle that I neglected to say anything about the man in question. Riiight, the man. It’s not all about the clothes!

(But about the clothes: I succumbed. I went shopping, and bought new clothes, and feel much more comfortable in them. I went to this wonderful shop and will have more to say about it soon).

The man shall be known as A, until he earns the right to a not-so-clever nickname. He seems like a very pleasant fellow. He’s a liberal. He’s from around here and knows the place I’m living – before I even told him what it was called, he figured it out, which freaked me out a little bit. He skis. Our email exchanges have been goofy and friendly but hard to say much more about it until we get a better sense of each other in person.

We are getting together for coffee, in the late afternoon – my town is on his way home from work, so it’s easy for him to swing by. He seems like a pro at internet dating; he suggested something low-key and relatively short (anyone is tolerable for the time it takes to drink a latte; the same cannot be said for dinner). My schedule is surprisingly difficult – I’m on sabbatical, so you’d think it would be easy, right? – but we found a time quickly and here we go.

If his pictures are accurate, A is a little bit chubby. I hardly noticed this until, when I told him that I just started running, he said that he had lost 100 pounds when he was a runner a decade ago – and has since gained 50 of them back. He said this casually, easily, comfortably. Then he said (or rather, he wrote – this was via email): “Health/fitness is one of those things I’m going to be struggling with for the rest of my life.” That was it. No commentary about how much he hated his weight gain, or how he wished he was that slim again.

In response, I said: “As for struggling with health and fitness: tell me about it. (I mean, I can commiserate, although if you want to actually tell me about it I’d be quite interested). But I console myself with the reminder that it’s something that everyone struggles with – even folks who are naturally lithe aren’t doing themselves any good if they take their size as an indication of fitness.” A sneaky bit of Health at Every Size. He gave no response to this, in his next email. We’d moved on to other topics, for the most part.

So? I’m thinking this is good news. I’m thinking this is a guy who understands body issues, has been up and down in size himself and doesn’t seem too hard on himself about it. He knows my size, roughly – I haven’t told him, but I have a recent and honest photo on my page, although that’s another story because whenever I look good in a photo it seems like it isn’t really honest; how messed up is that? – and he seems unperturbed. I’m thinking he’s among the first men I’ve met with whom fat acceptance might be a natural topic, at some point, and I’m thinking that that sounds like a relief.

more on running

I did it!

Today, I did my first-ever run, in my fleet and unstoppable new shoes. I had no idea what to expect, whether I’d be straggling along after the first thirty seconds or what. (Actually, that’s not quite honest: I DID have an expectation… I expected that I’d be straggling along after the first thirty seconds). But – joy of joys – it was actually easier, more fun, better than I expected. My training program only calls for one minute of running to start – one minute of running, six minutes of walking, repeat three times and you’re done – and each time, when I checked my watch, I realized that I’d gone over a minute and I wasn’t hurting at all. This gives me hope.

Also, when I told some folks in my community what I was doing, several asked if they could run with me. I rebuffed most of them, until I got worn down by rebuffing and said yes to one woman, with whom I’m not too close. This was serendipitous, ’cause it turns out that she’s a triathlete, loves to help new runners, and was completely supportive of my taking-it-very-easy-to-start-with strategy (and also totally convinced that I could be ready for a 5K by mid-March, which is my stretch goal). So yay! This gives me more hope.

In the comments on the last post, several people asked for info on the awesome store where I bought my shoes and the awesome super-beginners running program.  Here they are:

Awesome store: Bryn Mawr Running Company. I went to their location in Media, PA.

Super-beginners running program: How to Get Started Running. (More gradual than the Couch to 5K program mentioned by a commenter).

You didn’t ask for it, but here’s a couple online stores that I found that carry plus-size running gear:

Two Roads Fitness (carries a variety of brands, up to size 24 or so in many; this is where I bought my running pants, yet to be delivered)

Team Estrogen (carries SportHill in plus sizes, up to a 32. To find it, go to “apparel” and then narrow your search by “plus size”)

Happy running!

it’s official!

I am now a runner. Well… I guess, as of today, I am a person who owns running shoes. Tomorrow, after I take my first training run, I will be a capital-R Runner.


Brooks "Adrenaline"

Here’s the thing: My beautiful and beloved sister started running last year. She trained for and completed a half-marathon this spring, and was in training for a full marathon this fall when she broke her leg. We’d all bought our flights to DC to watch the race by then, so we showed up anyway. I love watching marathons. I love cheering for everyone as they go by, and I always stay until the very last person (followed by the ambulance that marks the end of the race) goes by. It is inspiring.

Anyway, we watched the Marine Corps Marathon at miles 18 and 19 (just across the Capitol Mall; a mile between them for the runners, just a few steps for the onlookers). This means that everyone who was going past us was kicking ass, whether they finished the marathon or not. They all made it to nearly 20 miles! And you know what? They all looked completely different. There were people so thin you’d think they couldn’t run around the block without keeling over. There were people so fat you’d think they couldn’t run at all. People who trained hard and got big muscles. People who trained hard and got lean and wiry. People who trained hard (everyone trained hard; you can’t just up and run 19 miles on a whim) who didn’t look any different from when they started. It gets you thinking: Hey, maybe I can do this.

So, my dad (6’7″, over 300 pounds, 65 years old) and I (5’11”, around 300 pounds, 29 years old) decided to train for a 5K.

We did some research and chose a super-beginner running program, one that starts with buying shoes (check!) and some verrrrry easygoing runs (20 minutes 3 a week, to start – with one minute of running to every 6 minutes of walking!). I’ve been looking forward to the actual running, but I was psyching myself out about the buying of running shoes.

My runner-sister insisted that we get real running shoes. Like, from a running store, one that will analyze your stride and measure your feet and pick out the perfect, ninety-bazillion dollar shoe that will make you fleet and unstoppable. The kind of store, that is, that I imagine to be hostile to a fat person.

Here’s what I imagined: Walking into a store filled with attractive, super-fit people in slim-cut workout pants. Tripping over my words as I tried to explain that, yeah, um, even though I’m so damned fat, I’m going to run. Trying to do so without equivocating – “Yeah, I’m trying to get in shape so I decided to start running…”. Huffing and puffing on a treadmill as they watched and decided I needed the super-duper-heavy-duty-“keep this chick from falling on her face” motion control shoes. Buying the first shoes I found, fleeing, leaving the super-fit to laugh and set bets on how many runs I’ll make before I quit.

Here’s what happened: I walked into a store filled with attractive, super-fit people in slim-cut workout pants. I tripped over my words as I tried to explain that I needed some shoes ’cause I was just starting to run. I did not make any comments about trying to lose weight or get in shape (neither of which are my goals in doing this). I walked up and down the length of the store a couple of times, as a charming super-fit man named Gunther and a charming super-fit woman named Karen watched the way my feet moved. Was unreasonably proud of myself when they said that I didn’t need the heavy-duty motion control shoes (for people with severe pronation) but the medium-duty stability shoes. Tried on a bunch, with lots of attention and help from charming and friendly Gunther and Karen. Got advice on which to buy. Bought some. Was told that there was a sale on apparel, and when I asked whether they had my size, was pleased to note that Gunther didn’t seem to notice that I might need a special size – and that he was chagrined to say that they didn’t carry plus-sizes. Left, with cheery goodbyes from Gunther and Karen and requests that I stop back in to let them know how the shoes are fitting and how the running is going.

In short: It was awesome. Now I have shoes. I am going to run tomorrow and I am going to be fleet and unstoppable. Go me!