Regardless of what activity that I choose to pick up and drop off, I LOVE running. I cannot emphasize it enough to people. There's something that is incredibly liberating about the journey. During these summer months, I say random obscenities to myself at 4am asking why am I getting out of bed to go run to nowhere. I live in Brooklyn, NY. I kinda sorta live in the hood depending on who you talk to throughout the week. There's some terrible stuff that runners don't like to talk about and I take pride in sharing every ounce of TMI with or without filters to anyone who will listen.
If someone would have warned me about the glorious "Gingerbread Man" or what's best known as Runner's Trots, I don't know if I would have been so open to running. Hell, nobody could have told me that I would be interested in running yet it's been 3+ years (or rather 1176 days, 21 hours because I like to be petty and pretentious once in a blue). Honestly, people gave me the Splenda version of the joys of running when I started out. I can safely say that I did not do ENOUGH research on how to run, how to breathe and did not look into the Couch to 5K program seriously until I impulsively signed up for a half marathon simply off of a pure neurotic impulse triggered by my friend Rob, affectionately called Slo/Sloetry, who said that he would sign up. Did I mention that we never met and we have been friends since Myspace days and he lives in another country? Yeah, I'm a little off but this is the beautiful thing about being a runner. There's a lot of us "crazy" folks running after NOTHING but stale bagels, free water, sugary bananas and at the better races, candy. Sometimes there are medals, tee shirts and hats involved. But to be honest, almost all of us are running for an epic experience. A memory. A cause. A personal achievement unlocked. Running just because we ran our entire lives from everything else so this is the one thing that actually makes sense.
Unfortunately, I didn't know anything about Fat Athletes though. As an African American woman, I certainly did not see plus size athletes of color. I wanted to be inspired so bad some days and I didn't have a public figure to really look at. Nope. Scratch that. I didn't know they were out there because of lack of research. If I would have known about Mirna Valerio, the kick ass plus size ultra runner of Fat Girl Running from the beginning of my journey, I could have saved myself so much trouble. I learned about her probably a few months before everyone on the planet turned into play doh as I did. Instead, I learned the hard way. Basic trial and error.
I walked, skipped, did some exercises in between and joined a vinyasa yoga studio in Forest Hills, Queens called Living Yoga. Thanks to my friend and yoga instructor, Latesha, I felt a bit better about doing things above society's stereotypes for black women in 2013. I didn't have to feel like I had to be ultra skinny, exceptionally flexible, eat nothing but salads and smiled all day. Shortly after doing yoga, I followed two plus size yogis who just happen to be killer in community. I followed Jessamyn Stanley's Tumblr page before she made her way to Instagram and found out about Dana Falsetti shortly after through Instagram.
As I read back all of what I just typed, I had such a narrow minded idea of what fitness as a whole was about. Unfortunately, we have the media and a very harsh society to thank for this. We live in a world where "fat people" are allowed to call smaller framed women skinny bitches and in turn, people retaliate by calling plus size people derogatory terms. We continue this vicious cycle of being mentally unhealthy and in turn, it translates into our daily lives.
When I decided that I wanted to run, I didn't think I wanted to be a runner. I looked at it as some gateway to get a medal, knock out a new bucket list item and lose some weight. It tapped into my personal goals and the adrenaline junkie in me. I am thankful for the days that I had no idea on what the hell I was doing and ran across a group of incredible women from Black Girls Run. Strangers, who are now an extended family to me, taught me all of the basics. I learned how to breathe, the benefits of sneakers, wicking clothing and how to increase my stride. The best lesson I learned from the Bedford Stuyvesant's chapter was that I was not TRYING to be a runner: I am a runner.
Dammit, I am a runner! But I'm fat. I was still in my 200s. I still sweat under my boobs and my love handles. I could not run a 8 minute mile. But let's take a moment to thank all of those wonderful memes that float around the Internet: Whether it is an 8 minute mile or 14 minute mile, it is still a mile. If you are walking, then skipping, then running for a half minute just to walk again, YOU are a runner.
So, with all of this said, please do not correct me when I use the fabulous hash tag #fatrunner. "Fat is such a dirty word." Says who? Pardon my expression but bitch please! I love eating some fattening stuff and I'm not thinking about how dirty of a word it is when I'm indulging in it. Newsflash: Whatever nice way that you want to glamour it up, I will still identify myself as a fat runner with pride. Sometimes, I am wrongfully corrected on it because it actually makes the other person feel uncomfortable. If it don't apply, let it fly but if it does to you, please take my word on it that I am not offended. I cannot say this for my other counterparts but I love this fabulous hash tag. Through it, I am part of an incredible community that I didn't think existed. It is 2016 and I never felt so good to see that people around my size and weight running.
I am thankful to say that I am muscular, fit and FAT! I may not remain fat forever but I absolutely love this community. Screw a BMI. This is the most incredible that I ever felt in my life.
In case you haven't read my pseudo About Me page (only pseudo because I just cannot follow the guidelines of a proper biography format), please understand that I am a grade A potty mouth but I do value respect and gratefully return it to others when given to me. In addition, I should note that this is NOT a weight loss guide. I am not a nutritionist yet nor a fitness instructor or any sort. If you are still here with me, please know that you can be a marathoner like me and NOT lose an ounce of weight. I know that scares people reading that but please don't let this discourage you from participating in the sport or from following my blog.
I created this blog because I want to unapologetically speak freely about this entire experience called life. I love food and fitness. I LOVE people and traveling and being long winded. I love it when people pick my brain about something I'm passionate about. To be honest, I also created this blog because a bunch of my Facebook friends, long time buddies and Instagram followers asked me when the hell am I going to put this into one constructive space. I will continue to share through these platforms but I will try to link those things to here as much as my schedule allows me to do so.
You get to a point in life where you want that happy balance between being a part of something, finding your purpose (or voice) as well as being comfortable in your own skin. For a long time, I wasn't comfortable with any parts of it. Being sick and disabled really hardened me but it's a lesson I keep with me as I am still battling through several things. Through this blog, I hope that sharing my experiences will help someone, maybe make them chuckle at times, question some things or even tell me off because I am not aware of something. This blog is my glass house. This blog is here to make people feel uncomfortable and comfortable at the same damn time. Know that you are not alone and for others to learn that what you look at as a minor thing might be a hard thing for someone else. I am not looking to be a teacher through this blog but more like an interactive student.
Please know that I am much more than just a runner. I am a parent. I am learning how to pole dance. I love sports in general. If you are a down to earth person (or even a bit snobby), I am sure there's something that I can love about you. Each and every person out here has something magical about them. We are all in our own pursuit of happiness. Find your happy. I found parts of my happy through being a fat athlete.
Pardon me. I'm being incredibly rude. My name is Latoya Shauntay Snell and I am a running fat chef.