I’ve been more lax in updating this blog than usual. There are all the usual reasons: work, a lot going on personally, having the attention span of a gnat sometimes. But a big reason is a mistake I made. I was getting a lot of followers randomly even when I didn’t publish anything new. What the heck? So I googled this blog. Big mistake. Though 99% of the places it got picked up were super supportive, there was one feed that felt like getting punched in the face. How bad was it? Well, not really bad at all.
Most of the commentators were like the last two comments. Cautiously supportive and really supportive. And then there were the first two comments. Literally the only negative ones I’ve ever seen (though I didn’t really look that hard after reading these). These two comments brought me to my knees. Why? I think for a couple of reasons:
- They made me feel so misunderstood. I don’t feel that I’ve ever said being “massively obese” was ok. I know it’s not.
- These people were verbalizing my inner most fears. That people find me worthless because of my weight.
- There was too much truth in there. yeah, (now 5 1/2) years later, not only have I not dropped all the weight I thought I would, I’m bigger than ever.
These two comments alone sent me into a shame spiral and a little bout of depression. I felt like a fraud. Like this whole blog and anyone I’ve inspired is just all a massive amount of bullshit. Like peoples’ support wasn’t real. And what else were people saying behind my back? I had even had an experience lately with a close friend that left me shaking my head. I was, bizarrely, tracked down through social media by a casting agent that found my blog and youtube channel and wanted me to audition for a reality show. It was by a big time producer that I was a massive fan of. I told my friend (who was also a fan of the producer) and one of the first things he said was “well…do they know what you look like?”. Meaning, do they know how fat I am? It was hurtful and truthful and when I didn’t get cast, that one off hand comment had me convinced my weight was why.
And then just like that, the comments didn’t matter. Yes, I’m “massively obese”. And though many don’t believe it, it’s something that I’ve worked on changing my entire adult life. If it were easy, there would be exactly zero fat people in the world. There are many factors that contribute to it and then number one thing with me is mental. I won’t go all into it here but I’ve had a pattern for decades of using food to self soothe when anxious, depressed, stressed, bored, awake, etc. Then feeling horrible when I eat poorly and guess what? there goes the cycle again. But what these commenters don’t understand is that yes, I know I need to lose weight. But I’m also pretty healthy. That concept is one that is so hard to grasp for thinner people and a misconception that I and my fellow Athenas constantly battle. Just yesterday I had the results of my blood work. All my numbers are good. I’m not diabetic. Nor am I pre Diabetic. My heart is healthy. There are many thin people in worse health than me. I’m not remotely saying that I’m 100% healthy. My weight issues are leading to joint problems and I’m well aware that my luck with blood work will run out if I don’t continue to make changes. But please don’t believe that I can snap my fingers and be thin.
I race Triathlon because I LOVE IT! I love training, I REALLY love racing. And my whole goal with this blog is to just share my personal journey with it. To say to anyone that is struggling, to just get off the couch and move. YOU CAN DO IT. Whether it’s just walking around the block or swimming one lap at a time, just move. Obviously get your doctor’s guidance when taking on anything physical. But dang it, just move a bit. This blog also allows me to connect with other overweight folks and hear their stories and get inspired myself by them. It’s also accountability. If I don’t train and race then I have nothing to write about.
As for the negativity, why is it always so easy to believe the negative over the positive? Why does one less than supportive comment do more harm to the psyche than 100 great comments? Pretty aggravating, right?
I wrote the above on my flight home to Boston where I had a 10k on the schedule for the weekend. I write below 5 days later on my flight back home to Key West. Having dropped out of the 10k.
okaaaay….you know what’s worse than what strangers and friends say to you? what you say to yourself! Right? Running has always been a MASSIVE hurdle for me. Pretty dumb as a Triathlete lol. But it’s true. I have run an entire mile exactly once. More than 2 years ago. wtf. And it’s all a mental block. I know I have the lungs and the legs but what I severely lack is any sort of positive self talk when I’m running. I say things to myself that I would murder a stranger for saying to a friend. When I’m running I almost feel like I’m not worthy of running. Things most often said to myself during a run include such lovely things as:
“who do I think I am? I’m not a triathlete. You can’t be a triathlete if you can’t run!”
“I’m just not tough enough for this sport”
“Ugh. You’re so fat. You’re disgusting”
“why would anyone that looks like you, wear this much spandex?”
“you don’t deserve to do this”
UGH!!! Who says these things?! I know everyone has moments of self doubt but when it gets to a degree such as this, something needs to be done! Jeepers. So about 6 months ago, I started to really work on this part. I also signed up for 3 running races making up the BAA (Boston Athletic Association) Distance Medley. a 5K in April, a 10k in June and a Half in October. I was going to turn myself into a runner dammit! I also read some fantastic books on running and talked to runner friends who seemed to have nailed it. And I started training. The self doubt, ok, let’s call a spade a spade. It’s self hate. No doubt about it har har. The training for sure has it’s ups and downs. But I was able to quiet the voices a bit.
I did the 5k in April. Now here’s the thing, these races all take place in my favorite city on earth: Boston. And it was a glorious, beautiful day. It was a picture perfect spring day with flowers blooming, green green trees and grass, sunny blue skies, unicorns prancing about, you get the picture. I was so happy to be home and so thrilled to be running. Throughout the race, I had literally zero negative things to say to myself. I was happy! I finally felt a runner’s high. Though I didn’t run the whole thing as originally planned, I didn’t beat myself up about it either. I just enjoyed the moment.
The end of April brought another test of this Positivity Experiment: the Key West Paddle Classic. It’s a 12.5 mile paddle race around the island of Key West. My plan was to do it in a kayak. Things did not go well lol. It was so incredibly rough. Through the harbor we were getting nailed with 4 ft ways coming at us to our left and then the waves were bouncing against the sea wall and coming back at us on our right. No paddle boarders could stay on their boards. I WAS TERRIFIED. I had the very real concern that if I flipped over, I would drown as I’m not sure I could get myself back on the kayak. It was a very real, legit life or death situation. What could I do? well, I could keep paddling like a mofo. And I did! I made it around the island. Hardly any self hate involved because I was too busy trying not to die, lol. The lesson there is that if you concentrate on racing, you don’t have a ton of time to speak poorly to yourself. I got 1st place in the Kayak Division. I also was the only one. You can look at that two ways: I’m the only one dumb enough to do it in a regular non-racing kayak or the only one brave enough. You can make your own call on that, just don’t tell me which you choose 😉
In May I was scheduled for a race but work and the depression mentioned above led to a terrible time of self doubt which I let affect my training. I didn’t race. I blamed it on work but I’m sure I could’ve gone.
June was shaping up to be a big month! A Sprint Triathlon, a 10k and a member of a relay team doing the Swim Around Key West (when you live on a small island, lots of things involve “around the island”). I was a little nervous about the Tri. Not because I couldn’t do the distance, but because I wanted to make a good impression on MultiRace (the group that puts on the race). I was chosen to represent them this year as an ambassador and I didn’t want to embarrass myself or them. A funny thing happened though: I had an absolute blast! I didn’t do as well as I hoped (how could I, when my training lacked) but man that was fun. I did the race with two good, fun friends and saw more fun, familiar faces during the race (shout out to my BASE Performance teammates) and I also took 1st place Athena 40+. Interesting to note that I was the only Athena to compete in either the Sprint or the Olympic. Again, am I brave for doing it at this weight, or dumb? This one is easy, I’m neither. Just someone that likes to race!
And that brings us (FINALLY, sorry) to the BAA 10k this past weekend. The week before my triathlon, I stubbed my foot. This is not news. I am clumsy and constantly am stubbing toes and tripping. Yet I still don’t wear shoes in the house. Anyway, it hurt but nothing seemed too bad. I was able to work out in the week leading up to the triathlon. Halfway through, I started feeling some pain at the ball of my foot. Then on the run, that pain was AMPED up. Every time I started to run, I was in pain. It was difficult to push off the ball of my foot. Despite that, I still enjoyed the run. The problem was after the race when it hurt to walk. Two days later, I still wasn’t walking without pain. I went and saw the foot doctor (Southernmost Foot and Ankle Specialists, holla!). The X-rays showed no break. PHEW! Dr Mick said it was soft tissue damage. He said I could still run on Sunday, but that it wasn’t the best idea ever. I of course heard “you can run on Sunday”. I hobbled around for a few days completely fooling myself. I toed (ha ha) up to the start on Sunday and took off. I made it about .2 miles and was like “nope. I’m out.” Not only did it hurt like a mutha to run, but 3 days of walking funny around the city had me realizing that the weird gait I was sporting was starting to wreak havoc on my knee and on my hip. Was 6 more miles worth jeopardizing the rest of my season? HELL NO! So I simply stopped my Garmin and went to the finish to wait for my friends to finish (they ROCKED it). Now usually in this situation I would endlessly criticize myself. I was a quitter. Every person that doubted me was right. The voices in my head were correct. But this time it was different. I knew that pulling out was the right thing to do so I let it go. FOR SURE I’m upset that I didn’t get to run. That I’m out of the Distance Medley. But oh well! I’ll still train for my next triathlon in July, I’ll train for the Half Marathon in October and I’ll do the Swim Around Key West this weekend (cause I don’t need to push off on my foot). I’m going to keep training and keep the nagging self hate to a dull roar. And I’m never, ever going to Google my blog again!!
I’m doing the Distance Medley (well 2/3’s of it) to raise money for the Shawn Thornton Foundation which is dedicated to helping people with Parkinson’s live a better life in honor of my Uncle who has the disease. To Donate: https://www.crowdrise.com/dashboard/kathygilmour2/kathys-baa-distance-medley-for-parkinsons
I think it takes courage and self-love to get out onto a triathlon race course (no matter the length). I’m outwardly skinny but had to work hard at lowering my blood pressure; size does not always indicate health. When I raced Ironman Waco 70.3, there were athletes of every shape and size out there, and I loved it. The camaraderie was amazing; we were all suffering together, and that was all that mattered. When I saw a picture of you racing, my first thought was, “That is one bad ass bitch!!” (Feel free to embroider that on a pillow, girl. 🙂 ) See you out on a race course someday soon!!
I am so happy I found your blog. I have been overweight since high school, and obese for the past 7 or 8 years. But I am still one of the better athletes in my peer group (despite being 100lbs heavier). I just decided to train for triathlon (swimming is one of my main sports – the other two are more nerve wracking) but I was cautioned today that I had to be slim to do a triathlon. I was like… Uh I can already run the 5k, bike the 20k, and swim the 750m on their own (which is way more than most people can do), so actually I thinkI will do just fine with a decent bit of training! Can’t wait to read more of your blog!
I came across you blog because I searched “fat triathlete” because I myself do triathlon and lately have gained a lot of weight due to being out of commission for a surgery and basically making myself “feel better” with food. I am not sure what I thought I would find, but I am glad I found this. I believe that everyone no matter their size, shape, color, etc. deserves to do what makes them happy. Do not for one moment let those haters make you feel anything less than amazing. I can guarantee that you blog, at the very least, has inspired someone to even consider doing something they may not have thought they could before….. and that is amazing. Keeping being you and loving it!
I think you ARE brave, but not because of doing triathlons “at this weight”, as you say, but because you put yourself out there. That’s more than most of us can say. Those of us who know you well Iove your big heart and your big sense of humor. ❤
I really think we can be our own worst enemies. I totally get what you’re saying about the negative thoughts carrying so much more weight than a 1000 positives things. From the outside, I can tell you that you are amazing. I admire you so much and love following your triathlon training and races! You are an fantastic ambassador for the sport. Keep on keeping on and know that you fucking rock. ❤
I’m really sorry you were attacked by internet trolls. That’s so cruel. (It’s one reason I’ve stepped away from almost all of the endurance sports-related pages on Facebook I used to read.)
Pain has a purpose. I’m glad you listened to your foot & took it easy. I have a very hard time with this, so perhaps you should remind me to listen to my own advice. 😉
I love your blog. I haven’t signed in for a bit. I’m not much of a facebooker either. It’s interesting to me how many humans just don’t love themselves. I mean, super successful, gorgeous (skinny..or “normal” size people) that hate themselves. It seems we humans are bad at just loving ourselves. I have gotten larger and larger over the years, due to excessive laziness. I admire your gumption, your humor, your thoughtfulness. Oh yeah, and how many cool things you throw yourself in to (DJ, stand up comic, zip lining across a gorge, etc, etc). You ARE inspirational, and amazing. Smart, beautiful, fun. Geez girl, you have it so much more together than most humans. If you lost a ton of weight, you’d be perfect, then you’d never have all the rest. I don’t think anyone is allowed to be perfect. Nice work.
Hi Kathy –
Just read your post and in all sincerity YOU ARE A ROCK STAR!! You are not only inspiring but REAL!! Moving your body & having fun are the keys to success. We all have our struggles and kudos to you for starting to change your self-talk to the fun (& accepting!) side! It saddens me that some people are so quick to publicly judge when we are all on this (not so easy) ride of life together. Keep writing & sharing your journey – you are keeping more fellow athletes going than you know!!