For weeks, I woke up feeling like I was going through the seven stages of grieving by proxy of the internet. People love what you do until they realize the act has a pulse.
Before I place another blurb on here, I need to trim the excess garbage that's been clouding my ability to write freely for over two months. Running Fat Chef is a food and fitness blog ran by an individual -- Me. At times, I think people look at a space that I created initially as an open journal and think of it as a business venture. Whilst I would love to say something metaphorical and inspiring like 'look at yourself as the most profitable asset in your possession', this is not the case. This space evolved from a simple plea from multiple friends seeing me elaborate on things in an unadulterated, colorful manner, urging me to look beyond social media to opening up my virtual home to thousands of people -- and I am thankful for all of you, even the ones who serve as unnecessary watchdogs or simply watch to wait for my next 'failure.'
Through this space, I managed to talk about my personal adventures and observations of how people try their best to navigate through spaces that aren't open to people like me:
I'm as skeptical as a person comes -- I don't believe in crystal balls and at times, I question if humanity truly exists but it doesn't stop me from trying to preserve the bit of magic that I have within me nor pretend to have a blind eye to the compassion, warmth and love that I receive from thousands of people I possibly may never meet. When I started this blog and encountered my first deliberate piece of hate mail, I questioned 'why me' and secondly, 'why do they hate US so much' referring to millions of people who fit into the census form of the other box in relation to our body types or fitness ability.
Why I Detoxed From My Own Blog: Kanye West Style (Hold the Trump and Arrogance) Edition
A few hours ago, I stepped on the scale for the sake of this blog: It read 247 pounds. Before a multitude of emotional highs and lows took place over the course of two months, I was hovering 242 pounds. After I took a verbal internet beating over defending myself with my STILL unapologetic and exceptionally colorful vocabulary from a man who questioned race results (he could've gone directly to the source because that's what journalists do), I went down to 227 pounds within two weeks. To some, I can hear the premature congratulations kick in. To me, this is mortifying. I lost 15 pounds in two weeks to stress induced by proxy of harassment. Let's insert this 'comforting' statement next: 'What do you expect: You're a public figure. You gotta have thick skin,' says the person who has a private account and don't order a Texas sized anything in front of some family members because they'll tell him/her about the next diet plan, need to eat more or awkward side eyes about the death on their plate. While my life is very public, countless plus size, physically challenged and what I define as 'the other box' athletes experience what I now reference to as 'another day in the office': 'Concerned Trolling.' And yes, this happens in places like the workplace, your local church, in the cafeteria, doctor's office and within my safe space: The Fitness Community.
Quite a number of things have changed since I birthed this blog in 2016. I went from being an everyday person who happened to love fitness in my late twenties to becoming a brand ambassador to a half dozen companies and an athlete for HOKA ONE ONE and Superfit Hero. As much as it feels less and less weird by the day, being an athlete for major brands means that you represent more than just yourself -- your community, that respective place and whether you like it or not, a figure for people who feel like your message resonates with them. For many, this was a win in the body positive and fat acceptance community -- both spaces where I fully identify with on a ridiculous level. This unfortunately didn't go over well with a selective group of people who rambled the typical: You're promoting obesity propaganda or even some who belong to these communities who feel like I don't fit the bill. I am at a good peace within myself that I am not here to change people nor will their shitty views change what I am doing for myself and how I now represent a number of communities.
Shortly after, I went viral again through the Huffington Post by writing a blurb about what people saw as liberating but I found myself exceptionally broken. One middle finger, a bag of Cheetos that I didn't eat (nor do I actually care for much) and a kettlebell later, I revisited a place that's now a familiar playground for me: The place of uncertainty to the public. And honestly, at the beginning of May, I'm still here.
In between that time, I've lost and gained followers along the way, requested to censor myself even in jokes and at times, parts of my desire to even blurb. What hasn't changed is my desire to keep on running and at times, I considered doing this without a platform because the pressure of being perfect is not something that I signed up to be. And what I've realized through this entire ordeal is that I'd still be criticized if I opted to shut this entire platform down. I'll still be called all sorts of names and the harassment may never end because you know, even when you're not public, there's going to be someone out there claiming that I'm promoting something that makes them feel like I'm dropping a trashy soundtrack in the middle of their downward facing dog.
I am no stranger to being in creative jobs; by day, I am a freelance journalist, photographer (whenever I actually pick up the camera these days), former chef thanks to this new career in fitness and heavily thrive in artistic careers. Frankly, there's no rules for this shit -- and the public eye thinks that there's some but I don't subscribe to many claim actually exist. In respect to my new profession as an influencer - an occupation that is scoffed at but people don't want to openly admit that they love, including myself - I hate most of the trends that's running rampant on the Internet. You're expected to be extra positive and bubbly, never have a bad day and whatever happens, you're never EVER depressed. Thankfully these artificial standards are changing because WE, the people, are frankly tired of this Barbie doll masquerade.
Due to not following the rules months ago, I both lost and dropped sponsors within that time period because my stance hasn't changed: Be true to one's self, even when the world turn its back on you. I owe an explanation to my reflection but not the public -- as long as it's not a criminal offense. For a month, I almost regretted my own personal growth. I could ramble on for hours about why but I refuse to bother. Instead, I want to focus on why I stayed and it's because I love what I do and how I do it, with or without backing. And for those who chose to stay, to support whether through love, well wishes, through sponsorships or being that 2AM phone call/text/TMI Instagram message -- thank you.
With this being stated, know that my profanity level isn't leaving any time soon. I don't promote or wear any brands that I don't believe in or who aren't strong enough to stand by my truth. I'll be sipping Tequila through a straw for the next group of people who are critical about my way of life -- a bottle of water and electrolytes when I'm running. My life isn't abundant or fruitful from embracing petty moments - even though it feels good sometimes to go there - but through the joys of learning through hard moments, not embracing this survivor's mentality with my life and actually living transparently. This makes some people uncomfortable but that's my living room; welcome to my sofa and you might as well go grab a drink from the fridge for yourself.
Why I Stayed -- And What I Did During the Writing Break
Since February, I signed up for an old school black mama's long grocery list full of events to keep me honest in my training schedule. Despite what I announced to the Huffington Post, I am signed up for over ten marathons, a handful of ultra races and over 30 events for the entire year. And yes, 80 - 85 percent of these fees and travel expenses come out of my own pocket. In short, your girl travels fabulously broke but living her best life. Last year's travels taught me that I really don't care much about the medals anymore, even though I still get excited about collecting them for five seconds. Instead, I chose to fork out extra expenses to make sure my family comes with me on some of these adventures.
Nothing matches my first year of running but it doesn't stop me from trying to find a similar magic. The first year I started running - training in October 2013 and racing in 2014 - I ran at some of the best speeds that I haven't been able to match until this day. I know what it feels like to be in the middle of the pack and the initial fear of what it's like to be dead fucking last for the first time. Each experience left me with an adrenaline rush that makes me exhilarated for the next race.
As I adjust to a fairly new diagnosis with endometriosis - one that's been with me for over two decades but not diagnosed until 2017 - running makes me feel empowered and defeated depending on the day. For Mother's Day, I wanted to complete the NYRR Japan 4 Miler and I experienced a new first. I made it about a quarter away from the start line and hurled from the physical pain that endometriosis and fibroids played on my body as I'm going through menstrual cramps. At first I submitted to the idea that I wouldn't be able to run but it hurt that I couldn't even stand up long enough to cheer my running buddies on as they started their race. In turn, I spent my day lounging around in half wet gym wear and my husband's sweatshirt watching documentaries about history and running.
I wish I could tell you that I have an abundant of happy days or how running healed me on dark moments but the days were kinda even for a month. It's getting much better despite having hiccups like yesterday but the best thing that I did for myself was sign up for an exorbitant amount of events that will keep my mind occupied.
While fighting to pull myself out of a dark place, I thought back to the highs and lows of last year and how it led me to doing my unofficial marathon tour. Attempting to knock out 247 miles in a two month period was both nuts, a spiritual journey and a test on my physical limitations. Until that point, I never attempted to do a 100K -- let alone run a marathon six days later but it happened. I didn't blow people's mind with some dynamic time. Instead I remember thinking to myself that I'd do it again. And with this thought, I explored ways of doing it twice this year.
At the moment, I am preparing my mind and body to venture off to the Cleveland Marathon. The last time I stepped foot in Ohio, I was unknowingly pregnant with my son and was a traveling poet (p. 12, A.E.I.O.U Tour, on right in photograph) -- approximately 13 years ago. Cleveland Marathon is my third marathon but fourth attempt out of five locations on my list. Prior to this, I attempted to take down the Big Sur Marathon course -- a 26.2 mile hilly adventure with over 2500 feet of elevation gain and completed the Providence Marathon with my eldest godson Zeph, who finished in a bit over four hours.
In between this period, I did a number of interviews with different magazines, featured in short videos and even took part in an advertisement for ELOQUII, which is very different than my fitness life but I felt like I abandoned my second home: Running Fat Chef. Although I refused to allow a bunch of people to strip away the reasons why I run, I neglected to acknowledge to the reasons why I write. As my friends stated to me in 2016, social media is cool but it's not an actual blog -- at least not the way that I want it to be.
I miss writing race reports about my successes and failures during races and a part of me is exceptionally pissed at myself for not doing a blog about that one time I ran without a sports bra for 26.2 miles simply because I was being mopped on the floor for a few weeks in the media. I have my share of things to learn about navigating in the mainstream media and I'm sure there will be more days filled with anger, 'fuck this shit' moments and tears. On the other hand, I have WAY MORE supporters and vibrant people here supporting me on this journey. Instead of flexing my hand on Instagram with cute pictures or playing Mortal Kombat with keyboard thugs with the switchblade nails, I'll be doing my best to keep you abreast of all of the 2019 races that I've done so far - good, bad or ugly - along with what's to come.
P.S. I did say TWO marathon tours. To peek at my calendar as a whole, click here. But for the short of it, here's what happened and what's to come:
Marathon Tour #1
- BIG SUR INTERNATIONAL MARATHON, APRIL 28, 2019 - Did Not Finish
- PROVIDENCE MARATHON, MAY 5, 2019 - Completed
- NYRR JAPAN RUN (4 MILER), MAY 12, 2019 - Did Not Start
- CLEVELAND MARATHON, MAY 19, 2019
- VERMONT CITY MARATHON, MAY 26, 2019
Marathon Tour #2
- BMW BERLIN MARATHON, SEPTEMBER 29, 2019
- CHICAGO MARATHON, OCTOBER 13, 2019
- DETROIT FREE PRESS MARATHON (Tentative), OCTOBER 20, 2019
- JAVELINA JUNDRED 100 MILER (Tentative), OCTOBER 26 - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2019
(Gotta figure out my finances y'all)
- NEW YORK CITY MARATHON, NOVEMBER 3, 2019
- ROUTE 66 5K, NOVEMBER 23, 2019
* USE MY AMBASSADOR CODE FOR $10.00 OFF: 2019IAMLSHAUNTAY
- ROUTE 66 MARATHON, NOVEMBER 24, 2019
* USE MY AMBASSADOR CODE FOR $10.00 OFF: 2019IAMLSHAUNTAY
Latoya Shauntay Snell
For my pretentious ass bio, check out the about me page but for anyone interested in who I really am, make me a good meal at your house and I'll tell you a dope ass story.
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