I was ecstatic when Julie contacted me about publishing her article on the true reason behind her exercise. I identify 100% with the struggle between differentiating if I'm bike riding for weight loss or riding to feel good. My entire life, my work outs were solely to become a skinnier and "better version of me.  Never to feel good. Never ever ever. The neat part is that just the other day I rode into work and a co-worker jokingly said "How many pounds have you lost?" I found myself shocked that my instant response: "I'm not riding to lose weight! I love all of my pounds!" I've come so far. Read on to find the perfect example more eloquently stated than I could hope for.
So, yesterday when I was jogging–yes, that’s right, I’ll give you a second to go back and read that again . . . mmhm, you read that correctly the second time too: jogging. Me. I was jogging. YesterdayAnyway, when I was doing that thing yesterday, I had some time to think. Being that I AM NOT a jogger, when I embark on such a mission, it is natural that I would do my best to think about anything other than that fact that I am, indeed, jogging.
What was I thinking about? Ah, I’m glad you asked. I was thinking about why the hell  I was out in the rain in my slightly-too-small bright green hoodie determined once again to get through the Couch to 5k challenge. Why was I doing this to myself? Why did I insist on setting myself up for failure? Actually, I wasn’t thinking that. My determined self was thinking about how proud of myself I was for not giving up despite past failed attempts, and that I would finish at all costs this time, and actually really and truly become the runner that I have always wanted to be.
Where did this determination to be a runner come from, you ask? Well, I can tell you that it used to come from a place of self-loathing, and that is why I never got through the program before. Let me back up for just a minute if you don’t mind and let you in on something pretty personal and pretty big (pun intended): I have struggled with my body image for as long as I can remember. Even when I was a child. Depressingly enough, I actually came across my first journal ever and found an entry where my 8-year-old self wrote a tear-stained page about needing to diet because she was too fat.
Now, I’ve always been a chunky girl–big boned, thick, stocky, however you want to call it. I wasn’t an obese child, but I’ve always been a bit above “average” in the weight category. I never heard about it from my family, who has always been loving and supportive, and I wasn’t really harassed at school, except for that asshole Brian what’s-his-face who called me pudding pop the summer before 6th grade (oh yeah, I remember his last name now: Born–that’s right, I’m calling you out BRIAN BORN. I had a crush on you and you were mean. I still remember. Jerk.). It’s funny the things we remember.
ANYWAYS. The point is, I’ve never had any more reason than any other chubby-cheeked-girl-who-was-a-little-bit-bigger-than-the-other-girls to hate my body, but I did. I hated my body for a long time, and the worst part is that body hate is a normal thing for most girls. We’re taught to hate our bodies–to believe that they’re never good enough, which translates to meaning that we’re never good enough. Thanks society. You’re. Awesome.
About two-and-a-half years ago I decided I’d had enough of that shit. I remember sobbing uncontrollably in my boyfriend’s bedroom because I felt so disgusting, despite the fact that he loved me and found me attractive, and you know what?  I realized that even more than I hated my body, I really, really hated feeling like that. I hated the mood it put me in. I hated the way it made him feel bad. I hated the way I couldn’t go out without comparing myself to other women or looking at my reflection in store windows as I whaled past and thought bad things about myself. I started looking online for self-esteem motivation.
This wasn’t the first time I had resorted to a desperate internet search in such an emotional state,only for it to be in vain because the first things I would find were articles telling me to buck up and just diet and exercise until I loved myself. This time was was different though (obviously, or I wouldn’t be writing about it). I found a Tumblr page called FuckYeahChubbyGirls. Believe it or not, it was the first time I’d read about women who loved themselves not despite the fact that they were chubby or fat, but because of it. The page was full of daily-updated submissions from women who looked like me, and they loved themselves. This was my first step toward changing the way I thought about myself.
Soon, I learned about Fat Acceptance, and the radical notion that EVERYONE’S BODY IS DIFFERENT, and that we should embrace and love our bodies because of their beauty and capabilities  no matter what size they are, because guess what? Fat isn’t a bad word, it’s just an adjective. We are the ones who give connotations to words, and we also have the power to change those connotations.
Since that summer, I’ve done a lot of thinking and perspective-changing. I proudly call myself Body-Positive, and I do my best to learn even more about it and to discuss it with others when I have the opportunity. Accepting my body hasn’t been easy though. I still have times when I find myself slipping back into my old thought patterns and wishing I looked different (read: thinner). I’ve learned that when I feel this way, I need to accept my feelings (rather that chastise myself for them), and then figure out where they’re coming from and alter that part of my life. Sometimes that means not hanging around with certain people as much. Sometimes that means confronting friends about the way they talk about dieting and weight. Sometimes it just means taking a break from certain types of media and spending more time in clothes that make me feel good, around people that make me feel good.
So, how does this all relate to jogging? Well, ever since I started my journey toward self-acceptance, I’ve had trouble with beginning a regular exercise regimen, or for that matter even deciding to eat healthier, without falling back into my old way of thinking. When we grow up learning to associate exercise with weight-loss, it becomes really hard to exercise without thinking about weight-loss. Every time I’ve started the Couch to 5k program (which, in case you’re not familiar with it, is a way to build up your stamina by increasing jogging/walking intervals over 9 weeks to get to the point where you can jog 5k, or for 1/2 hours without stopping and now I sound like a commercial, I swear I’m not) I’ve made it into a way to get thin. I’ve grappled with this irritating association of mine for quite some time now, (sacrificing exercise for self-esteem) and I finally realized that I can make exercise goals, but that I just need to learn to think about them differently.
So here’s the deal: I’m jogging because I love my body and I want to do something to appreciate it. Just like putting on makeup or wearing a sexy outfit, jogging makes me feel good. It makes me feel my body–my calves, my thighs, my butt, my stomach, my lungs, my boobs, my arms, my fat–and it reminds me that I occupy a bad-ass, powerful, beautiful machine. I want to be able to do more with that machine–like climb a mountain or run a marathon, because it gives me a sense of accomplishment, and because it’s time that I can give to myself.
When I’m jogging, I’m setting aside a half an hour of my day where I’m disconnected from the communication machine (well, ok, I use my phone to run the program and listen to music, but you know what I mean). I have a half hour to think, or not think; to get outside and breathe fresh air; to get out of the house and transition from work to play. I’m challenging myself to do something that I couldn’t do before, and dammit, I’m going to succeed because that’s what I do.
And just for you, since you made it through this entire post, here’s a picture of me after my first jog yesterday. Here’s to another step in loving myself and posting a picture of me red-faced and sweaty, without makeup, without self-loathing, and with a whole lot of amazing.
FuckYeahChubbyGirls also had a profound effect on me as well, as well as the hundreds of similar Tumblrs. Thanks for contributing Julie. Visit her blog for this article and other that are equally wonderful.


  1. Yes! This post makes me so happy. I just posted something on my blog relating to a) how sick I am of women degrading themselves and b) how I always feeling guilty around others for how stick thin I am and how much I workout. Sometimes I feel it's impossible to explain to others that you can workout just because it makes you feel like a badass, not because you're staying 'in shape' or trying to lose some pounds, get a six pack, or whatever. It's equally hard to explain to others that there is also not a dying need for everyone to workout all the time... if it's not your thing, it's not your thing, NOBODY should be chastised for (what is assumed to be) "not taking care of" their body. That's why it's theirs not yours.

  2. Julie, Congrats on finishing that run! Running intimidates me so much. I get scared that I can’t go as far as I’d like to, or that my knees will hurt after pounding away on the street. Here’s to you and getting off that couch and finishing your 5K! I’m sure you’re body will love you for it.

  3. I've had the exact same experience of trying Couch to 5k and failing because my motivation was completely out of whack. Instead of getting excited about the potential of my body being able to run 5k, I was excited about the prospective of losing weight- and when that didn't happen, I fell right off the wagon. Now I run for enjoyment and exercise, and it is absolutely thrilling to know that my body is strong and happy. Congrats Julie! I hope you enjoy the program and keep loving your awesome, capable body.

  4. I love this "it reminds me that I occupy a bad-ass, powerful, beautiful machine." I think everyone needs to get into the mindset that exercising doesn't have to be about losing weight, it can be about having fun and feeling good (too/insteadt/etc.).

  5. This makes me so happy. What a realisation that exercise doesn't have to be about losing weight, just appreciation of your body, a bit of you time. I love that, it's so difficult to think differently though! I ride a bike now and again, but haven't over the winter as it's been too cold. Definitely getting back onto it when the weather is nice!

    Thank you for this post!

  6. This is badass. I have always loved athletics. Going, doing, sometimes watching. But I never loved anything more than what running can do for you. It used to be a way into another world. A little world of my own where I can strive to go longer, faster, harder and not have to think too much about anything else.

    I always loved the aches and pains that came after it too because like you said- it made me feel my body.

    It's awesome that you know you can set a goal based on the athleticism and not the weight loss association!

    I used to be a cross country runner (read: really thin), and ever since my injury and no running I've been body bashing like crazy. Until a little ago I also decided to just focus on my athleticism and achievements in that. It makes me feel a lot better. And now I laugh at the scale ^_^

    So inspiring girls!!!

  7. such a great post!i can relate so much! exercise is incredible for my mood. i love to do the richard simmons tapes. yeah, he is about losing weight, but his main message is about loving yourself. and i love seeing all the different bodies dancing!


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