Friday, September 23, 2016

The Fat Activism Conference

I'll be speaking at the ONLINE Fat Activism conference starting TODAY September 23 and ending SUNDAY Sept 25! Please sign up and listen to the great variety of speakers on all different subjects.  

My talk is entitled The FATASS BADASS ATHLETE and will be presented from 8:30-9AM Pacific Time on Saturday September 24.

Really hope you can join in!

Register for this ONLINE conference HERE


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Secret is Out

Well it's not really a secret anymore, but this big writing project that I've been working on and alluding to every now and then...I can finally announce! The contracts have been signed and I have already started on the journey.

I'm writing a book.
In none of my wildest dreams did I ever think all the good things could happen all at once.

I've been on TV a few times
I've been written about in a number of publications
I've had the opportunity to participate in a bunch of amazing events all over the country
I did a FASHION PHOTO SHOOT (Remember? Wildest dreams...)
I have a couple of high profile sponsorship/ambassadorship opportunities.

This one right hyeah, y'all. RIGHT HERE.

I'm over the moon again and now I get to WRITE MY VERY OWN BOOK. 

I've always been a writer, but I never imagined that I would be writing about my running life, or that ANYONE would ever be interested in it. I always thought I'd be writing a book of personal essays at some point after I had experienced some life. 


I hope that my experiences, fledgling wisdom and knowledge that I have accumulated over the past few years will be helpful to people considering becoming and embodying the athletes they already are. 

A Beautiful Work in Progress is scheduled to be published in October of 2017 which seems far away, but I know that in the blink of an eye that date will be here, staring me in the face as I await whatever is to come next. It's also my birthday month and the older I get, the shorter the years are so yeah basically this is tomorrow.

I took this title from a talk I gave to some middle school students at the Latin School of Chicago in January and thought that in terms of who I am and what I hope I represent, this phrase best describes all of the things that I endeavor for in my life's work, both in process and product, never allowing myself to forget the progress that I have made, and the fact that our raw humanity is indeed beautiful.

I am forever thankful to my literary agents Jane and Miriam at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management in NYC for believing in my writing and in my story, and for their extraordinarily conscientious and generous editing of the many drafts of my proposal. I am also thankful to Tanya Mckinnon of Mckinnon Mckintyre for having that initial conversation with my completely green self back in September of last year. I am also elated to have on my team, Margaux Nissen Gray, my publicist.who has been at my side since I started not being able to handle all of the requests for interviews, writing, appearances, etc. all by myself.  

And finally, I am grateful for the opportunity to be an author because acquisitions editor, Erin Calligan Mooney at Grand Harbor Press believed that I could actually bring this book to fruition and that it might be remotely interesting to some!

This is so exciting, friends. As I say a lot when I'm having a difficult time on the trail and I forget that I have the exquisite privilege of running that not everyone has, I AM LIVING THE DREAM! I have the exquisite privilege of writing a book This is my dream, and I am living it. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Updated on June 1, 2016: GLOBAL RUNNING DAY

If you're not a runner yet, you can become one today !
It's easy to become a FATRUNNER. Here's how:

1. Embrace the name.

  • Many times, nomenclature makes decisions for us. It's time to take the name and do something with it. Use it as a weapon, a sign to let people know who you are and what awesomeness you are about to achieve. LIVE IT. Be proud. Be active. And even though many of us are trying to lose the fat for health and wellness reasons, EMBRACE it and LOVE it. 

2. Decide to run. 

Tammi Nowack Photography

3. Look in the mirror and smile, even if it doesn't feel genuine. Sometimes, we have to fake it until we make it.

  • Thank your body for how it has supported you thus far. Make a promise to your body that you will honor and nourish it, as it has you. 
  • Have a favorite mantra? Now is the time to repeat it several times. I like this one from Christiane Northrup, MD:  "I love myself unconditionally right now."

4. Put on your running clothes

  • Do you only have sweats or jeans? Yoga pants or cargo pants? Have a favorite t-shirt that makes you feel and act fabulous? WHATEVER, they're running clothes so put them on.

5. Put on your sneakers, kicks, tennis shoes, gym shoes, wedges, stilettos, sandals, Doc Martens. Or not. You can run barefoot too. 

  • Shoes tattered and falling apart? Totally fine, because that's why duct-tape and Crazy-Glue were invented. 

6. Look in the mirror AGAIN and admire yourself for being a badass fatrunner.  

  • Repeat your mantra again, several times until you start believing it or until you start feeling crazy. Either totally works.

7. Leave your house. Lock the door if you're in Brooklyn.

8. Take a breath, or several if you're asthmatic. (Maybe you should take your inhaler too...)

  • Seriously, there are a lot of people out there with asthma and sometimes this makes us scared. Talk to your doctor about exercising beforehand. If they discourage you from exercising without trying to find a safe balance for exercising, find another doctor. Our bodies were meant to move and there are tons of successful athletes dealing with asthma.

9. Take a selfie to record this momentous occasion--YOU KNOW YOU WANNA POST THIS ON INSTAGRAM!

10. Run. 

  • Run-walk. Walk-run. Run to the lamppost. Breathe. Take another selfie. Run. Again.
Originally posted in March 2015

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Haters Gonna Hate: A Rant

Here's a little glimpse into my head from March 3, 2014

I'm fat and I'm a little bit angry.

I'm pretty much in love with my body. It can do so much that it couldn't do years ago.  And if I am able to continue what I am doing now for years, it will continue to surprise me and reciprocate the love that I have given it over my lifetime. Sometimes, I get disappointed or angry with it, but like any long-term, committed relationship, it usually comes right back to love and respect.

Also, and thank goodness for this, I didn't grow up in a body-dysmorphic family culture where girls are encouraged not to eat too much, or to worry so much about their appearance that it blocks them from being who they are. I am so thankful for this.

So this post is for all you haters out there. And let me apologize on BEHALF OF YOU to YOUR BODY, for you projecting your own insecurity and feeling of inadequacy on others. I don't typically waste mental energy caring about what other people think of me or other fat people. But sometimes, the hating comes in waves and it has to be dealt with. I don't always have a snarky comeback, but some level of snark is definitely deserved, even if it comes days or weeks later.  Here are some things that people have said to me, either to my face or behind my back, or to others along with some of my actual or imagined responses:

For as much as you work out you should be thinner, don't you think?
No, why?
Because you have some preconceived notion and idea of what it means to be fit and flippin' fabulous?
Because you haven't bothered to get off the couch?
Don't get me started.

You run too much. All you do is run. You run in the woods. You run in the rain. You run in ALASKA. Do you ever think about doing anything else? 
Yeah. Like, I work. I raise my kid (along with my hubby.) I read. I write. I travel. And yeah, I run because I like doing it. Have you not found something that you love doing whenever possible? Something that nourishes you and renews you? No? Sorry but not sorry.

You might wanna stop running so much. For a big girl like you, you may be better off on the elliptical or like, playing tennis.
Why are you so concerned? Last time I checked, getting any exercise is better than getting no exercise. Do you know what's more dangerous on the knees and heart? Not doing anything. And by the way, my joints are just fine. But my brain hurts trying to explain basic shit to you.

Wait. You're black. 
Not this again, and yep, I am.
Guess what black folk? White people don't own the outdoors. No one does, in fact, except for Mother Nature. No one owns your health and well-being, except for you. I'm really sick and tired of black people from ALL socioeconomic strata saying to me or to others who spend considerable time outdoors, "WE don't run in the woods. You know, because of..." Because of WHAT? Have we forgotten who our ancestors were and how they lived?

What part of health are we not understanding? Have you looked around lately and noticed that we are DROPPING LIKE FLIES (and I mean dropping dead) because of heart attacks, complications with diabetes, hypertension, and general obesity related illnesses? So why berate ANYONE who is out there doing their thing, fighting preconceived notions about what it is to be black and to be healthy? Let's get out of this mindset. It's not only hurting us, it's killing us.

Read this for further commentary.

Don't you feel weird going into a gym-you know, cuz everyone's a size zero and you're not?
Thanks for pointing out the obvious. So perceptive of you.
What gym do YOU go to? That apparently is not my gym because although my gym has its share of meat-heads, there are tons of different body types, goals, people, sizes. Dud/ette, get out of your house. And another thing, when I walk into the gym, I OWN IT. I rock those machines. I have a good time and don't EVER worry about haters like you.

Wow, you're really hungry.
Yep. That would be because I just ran 20 miles. What did YOU do today? Right.
Also, I love food, and I'm not going to let you make me feel bad about enjoying and partaking in nourishment. Unlike a lot of people, I don't starve myself to fool people into believing that I care about what they think about my body. Never been a part of who I am, and sorry for you, never will be. Next topic.

And this:

Have you gained weight? 
Let me say this: It is never a good idea, in fact it's downright inappropriate to ask someone IF THEY'VE GAINED WEIGHT unless you're their WEIGHT LOSS SPECIALIST. Or someone who has embarked on a weight-loss mission with them. It is never your right to ask something so personal or potentially devastating no matter what your relationship. And also, comments about what a person eats. Same rules apply. 

You run really slowly
Yep. But have you done a marathon? Yeah, didn't think so. Next comment. (Even if you have run a marathon, why are you concerned about my pace? How does it affect your life? It doesn't, right? Moving on...)

This one was from a woman I sat next too on the Super Shuttle to the cruise terminal in Seattle. We had started up a conversation about what cruises we were doing, etc...

Well, how many marathons have you done? (I have now done 7 marathons and 7 ultras as of May 2016)
Four so far, plus an ultramarathon. I'm hoping to do many more. I really like marathons.

Well I've run over 150 marathons all over the world. You'll get tired of them soon enough. So what else are you doing to lose weight?
Um, I'm not really trying to lose weight. I just love to run.

I really have no comment for this, except for, it made me a little sad.

 One more thing. I'll let the screen-shot speak for itself:

Here's my final commentary to all you haters out there:

There are many of us dealing with the repercussions of a fat-shaming society. We don't need YOU to remind us that we

1) are not an idealized version of what a human is supposed to look like according to unattainable and simply unrealistic beauty/being standards.

2) don't look like the Nike models or the Fit Magazine models when we are working out and doing our thang. We don't care, but why do you care so much?

Just because we're working out, running, or god forbid doing Zumba, it does not mean that we have a problem with our body image. When you allude to that in your thinly veiled criticism masquerading as compliments, it simply means that YOU have a problem with YOUR body image. Get some help.

In the end, we love ourselves and our bodies. Maybe not all of us are fully aware of this, but we do. If we didn't love our bodies, we wouldn't be doing this.

That's all.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Slow And Steady Does NOT Win The Race

Flashback Friday
This was originally posted on September 5, 2011, two years into my running renaissance:

First Marathon: Marine Corps 2011
I'm all about being positive in general (actually, most of my friends would probably disagree heartily), but the old adage "slow and steady wins the race" just ain't true. For me, that is.

For every time someone asks me if I won the race I just did, I should actually get a medal.
I won my age group in one race last year--I was the only one in the age group, but it was an accomplishment nonetheless!

I run at a pace that many very fit people can walk at. Some people might call it a jog but I specifically remember someone, it may be John "The Penguin" Bingham, saying something to the effect of "if it's not a walk, then it's running." I may be grossly oversimplifying what he did or didn't say, but I'm pretty sure he was confident that his own slow pace qualified as running.

I'm not always last, although I tend to be last when the number of participants is under say, a thousand. Yesterday, as I completed the Charm City 20 Miler with an amazing pace of 15:30 (I managed to pump out solid 13 minute miles the first 7 or 8 miles then slowed down MAJORLY after the 14-mile marker), I chatted with myself (internally, that is): I know I'm going to be last and that's OK! No it's not OK to be last. Didn't I pass that girl at mile 5? Did she pass me while I was in the port-a-potty? Really, it doesn't matter if I'm last-at least I'll have finished. I just hate having all those people at the finish waiting for my slow butt! That's what they're there for-for you, silly! But what are they thinking? This fat girl had better hurry, I wanna go home.

I was worried that there wouldn't be any FOOD left after the race. I have a friend (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) who is much faster than I am, so she gets to the finish, picks up a hot dog and Gatorade for me (brats and Zico, if it's a fancy race...), and waits and waits and waits for me. Good thing or I wouldn't get any of the post-race refreshments. At a 10K in Upstate New York last year (a pretty well-known Turkey Trot, that's all I'll say) I was dead last. So last in fact, that as soon as I stepped off the timing mat, they rolled it up, almost tripping me in the the process. And then I walked through the finisher's area. There were no oranges, bananas (except for the very, very green, not-edible-unless-they're-boiled ones), no potato chips, no Fig Newtons, no Nutri-Grain Bars, no anything, except for a couple of liters of Saratoga Springs water. I was so angry, I contemplated taking an entire case. Alas, my car was about a half mile away and it was cold as hell...

There are race organizers who WILL wait for you, however, no matter how long it takes (I know this from personal experience). The NJ Trail Series ( was founded and organized by Rick and Jennifer McNulty, a couple whose goal is to "make running fun again". The first time I went out for one of their events, I DNFed. It was a 10 mile trail run in 2 loops. It took me so long to do the first one that I quit half-way. I distinctly remember Rick asking me if I was going for the second loop-I may have looked at him as though he had three heads (AM I GOING TO DO ANOTHER LOOP SO YOU CAN WAIT ANOTHER HOUR AND FORTY FIVE MINUTES? HA!)-No, I think I'm done. We'll wait, whatever you decide, he said. Wow, I was tempted to do another loop, but the anxiety of having people wait for me in the woods, no less, was too much to bear, so I declined. But, I've learned that they really will wait! One particularly grueling 13.1, I was last by at least 20 minutes from the penultimate person, but they were still out there, watermelon, snacks and all! Thanks, NJ Trail Series- You have made running fun again. Race directors have a lot to learn from you!

So no, I have not won any races, and I don't expect to, EVER. But that's OK by me. I'm not in it to win it-sorry for the cliché but it's true. I have no desire or physical capacity to even try to win--I'm in it for the thrill, the workout, the friends, the running community. And if you don't quite understand, sign-up for a local 5K and see what I'm talking about. You'll get hooked, and you'll only care that you're out there.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Please Leave Your Food Anxieties At The Door

I'd Like To Enjoy My Meal, Please

Original Post: April 13, 2015

Fat person eating in Spain.
About 10 months into our courtship, my then boyfriend and I went out to eat with some friends at the Pink Teacup in New York's West Village. The food was sumptuous--exquisitely prepared macaroni and cheese dripping with grease, collard greens simmered in a smoky broth, and fried catfish. MMMM! And then there was dessert. Bread pudding soaking in something alcoholic. I ordered a slice. And then I ordered another.

My boyfriend noticed this and surreptitiously placed his hand over mine with the intent to stop me from enjoying my dessert.

"It's not too much?"

I don't know if it was the (very) nasty I-WISH-HE-WOULD look I gave him or the fact that I said in a low voice that I was going to eat what I wanted, where I wanted, in front of who I wanted, and when I wanted and don't ever say anything like that to me again that ended that particular conversation. Six months later I married him. That was 15 years ago and to this day he has not made another attempt to ask what he thought was probably an innocent question.

I'd like to note that at this particular juncture in my life, I was running, swimming, working with a personal trainer, living in a fourth floor walk up in the Bronx, walking everywhere, and just being plain active every single day of my life. My then-boy-toy-now-hubby was very, very much aware of this and in fact offered to run with me one morning. But that, my friends, is another story...

I like food. I enjoy eating good, quality food. Whether that food is a salad, or a piece of homemade apple pie with cheddar baked into its crust, or some good ole-fashioned bracciole with pasta and gravy simmered all day on a Sunday, or my mom's crispy baked chicken I'm going to eat it--and that is with or without your approval.

I'm being so bad right now.
Are you really going to eat that?
Aren't you on a diet, though?
I really shouldn't be eating this.
Wow, I'm going to need to run a marathon tomorrow after this meal.
I'll just have half. I mean I really shouldn't even be eating half.
I probably shouldn't eat this.
I'm gonna have to put my fat pants on after this.
I'll just eat this salad and be hungry all effin-day.
You eat too much.


From the personal stories told and showcased on shows like Biggest Loser, Extreme Weight Loss, to the less sensational shows such as AE's Heavy, there is always a plethora of "before" pictures in which fat people are "caught" engaging in the ritual and necessary act of eating. The following may be controversial statements. People eat. Skinny people eat. Fat people eat. Fat people, in fact, need to eat too.

So why is there this incredible shame attached to doing what we as humans, as living and breathing animals of this planet? Why do we have this obsession with what others put in their mouths?
Why do people feel the need to sabotage their own food experiences and others'? There are no easy answers here. I think about this on a daily basis--not a day goes by that I don't hear someone engaging in this type of behavior. I  often catch myself doing the same thing.

This is not to negate the existence of the major epidemic of obesity that we are currently dealing with in the US. This is not to deny that fact that we are facing a real problem with the very low quality of food that many people either have to eat or choose to eat. Also, my purpose here is not to ignore the real issues with eating disorders that many men, women, and adolescents have. This is not any of that. The issue here is that negative food talk is so pervasive and omnipresent in our society that it has become normalized. We are accustomed to excoriating ourselves and subsequently projecting our negative and destructive feelings towards food on others. This isn't fair. It is especially unfair for fat people who may already be dealing with compromised self-image.

We have enough of this to deal with. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that many of us who are either overweight/obese/perceived-as-being-abnormal-because-we-have-big-bones-big-thighs-and-big-asses have dealt with, at some point in our lives being looked upon disdainfully when we eat, NO MATTER WHAT WE EAT. Salad? People are judging. Fries? Judging. Chewing gum? Drinking water after a sweaty workout?  Fried chicken? Let's not even go there. 

We have deeply held beliefs that aren't always substantiated by research and science about what constitutes a healthy appearance, lifestyle, diet. Let's deal with the REAL and very complicated root causes of obesity and what causes people to be unhealthily fat (it's not always as simple as calories-in-calories-out, folks.) Let's do this without judgment, without yelling at fat people, without portraying them in reality shows as unwieldy, out of control, and gluttonous; without parading them (us) in front of the world so that everyone can gawk at their profound shame.

Concerned about a friend who eats what you perceive to be an unhealthy diet? This is a dilemma, I admit. Have you considered why a person may be eating what and how they're eating? Have you modeled healthful eating yourself without relentlessly and thoughtlessly forcing your own food values and choices on others? Have you considered WHY you are worried? Have you considered that your concern might actually just be judgment?

But sometimes our concerns are just that, genuine concerns--that we can choose to express carefully, lovingly and respectfully without shaming in the process. Let us stop interrupting our own and others' enjoyment and pleasure in eating and nourishing our bodies and minds.

Live and let eat.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Potato Chips and Eggs

This is my second ever post on the blog from August 10, 2011

Go Daddy Go 5K in 2009. That had on the left would be my boy's.

No, I'm not referring to the actual ingestion of these food items, but to the great advice on form I received during a running program sponsored by The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. This was in 1998, my second flirtation with running regularly. I was working in CORPORATE AMERICA, single, and carefree. One day in the office during an extended "break" in which I would spend much coveted time with the PAPER version of the New York Times. (What is paper? you may be asking yourself...) I happened upon a small ad announcing a free 8-week running class for women that would meet on the Upper East Side. WOW! I had been running on and off around the 1.5 mile loop in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx for a couple of months and always looked jealously as the super-runners who would 1. bounce around at a seemingly effortless pace while I lumbered around and 2. subsequently lap me, twice. So this would be a great opportunity to run and to prepare for my very first RACE, the Avon 10K that would take place at the end of the eighth week of the program.

That first day, we convened at the hospital, listened to a panel of seasoned running enthusiasts, former Olympic athletes and sports medicine doctors who talked about the benefits of running. We did a brief aerobic warm-up, stretched and went out for a run on the East River Esplanade. Being a born and bred New Yorker, I'm embarrassed to say that I hadn't even known that the Esplanade existed before then. Anyway, they started us out slowly-run to the street lamp, walk to the next one, run past one street lamp YOU CAN DO IT, walk to the next one. This is how it went for the first few weeks. Panel, questions, stretch, run, stretch and snacks-see ya next week.

I looked forward to those Tuesday evenings. The participants in the program were friendly and encouraging as we had all come for the same thing-to be part of something awesome and healthful. I also looked forward to completing the homework they gave us, which was absolutely doable and plain fun. Run 1-2 miles alternating 1 minute of walking with 2 minutes of running. I could do that. I've always been an early riser, so I enjoyed getting up at the crack of dawn, greeting Tony and Maria, the superintendents of my apartment building, crossing the street and running the loop in Van Cortlandt Park. (If you a New York City resident and have not yet experienced the wonders of VCP-GO NOW! You won't be disappointed. The loop is a cinder pathway-so easy on the feet and legs. There is also a wonderful cross country trail that is used on the weekends for high school (and college?) meets, along with an oval track.) So it is absolutely imperative to get your run on in the Bronx.

We did speed workouts, hill workouts. Today the goal is to do ten hills, ok? NO, NOT OKAY. Of course that's just what I was thinking, but I did it, albeit not without a tremendous amount of mental effort. They coached us on form-keep your shoulders relaxed, your elbows at a 90-degree angle pretending that you're holding potato chips (I preferred to imagine the Cape Cod brand) or eggs in each hand. I still abide by this advice today. People may laugh or scoff, but the potato chips have saved my shoulders and neck from muscle soreness. So eat that!

During the 5th week, the crazy people who ran the program thought it would be fun to do a three mile run without stopping for walking. Just to make sure we would do it, they paired some of us slower-I-need-to-walk-now-please runners with trainers. I got a former Olympic discus thrower-GREAT! She ran right behind me, encouraging me the whole way, even up the damned hills and stairs. I worried that I was running too slowly, but she just kept on keeping me on. I finished my first 3 miler without stopping, running with an OLYMPIAN. We even got to meet GRETE WAITZ. I wish I had had more of an appreciation of who she was back then, and how she would help set a precedent for women in the marathon distance. May she rest in peace!

After getting through the first 3 mile hurdle, the next two weeks were 4 and 5 mile runs, respectively. We had one final panel that last week of the program and then they gave us our T-shirts. My first race tee! It's torn in many places, has missing seams, but it's one shirt I will never throw away for obvious reasons. That Saturday we met before the race to give each other final words of encouragement. It was bittersweet; these people (both participants and coaches) had given me the gift of running, camaraderie and personal accomplishment, and I probably wouldn't see them again. The gun went off and we started running. I ran 4 miles without stopping (a first!), and alternately walked and ran the last 2.2. The rest is history. (Well, not really but I'll get to that in future posts...)

Thus began my burgeoning addiction to potato chips, eggs, races and t-shirts.