changing the narrative: overweight does not mean overwork

as always, please check out my instagram @a_better_ben

I have said this before, but growing up overweight, or “fat”, was not easy. It was not easy for all of the obvious reasons including being slow, less popular, ridiculed, finding clothes sizes, and on and on. These things start to impact you even if you think you are trying your hardest. Actually, when you think you are trying your hardest and you are still viewed as fat, that is when it hurts the most. Everybody will tell you what you are and how you should fix it.

“If he only tried harder.” “He should bike, running would be bad for his joints.” “How can somebody be responsible if they cannot be responsible for themselves.” “He thinks he is trying, but he really isn’t if he is still that big.” “I would never let myself get like that.”

The comments go on and on. But ultimately, people put us in a box based off of our attributes. I was lucky enough to be featured in @runnersworldmag and I spoke about this. People see me as big and assume I cannot be an athlete, I can’t be a runner, I can’t be fit, and I can’t take care of myself. They assume I am a big guy who probably plays too many video games and is destined for a life of mediocrity. But I run, therefore I am a runner. I bike, therefore I am a biker. I hike, therefore I am a hiker. Put all of that together and I take care of myself and am getting fitter.

This morning on my run I stopped 2/3 of the way through. I was not feeling it and my hip didn’t feel right. I was beating myself up and was ashamed until I realized this was a holdover of other people’s box of perception I never recognized. It was the outcome of “If he only tried harder.” The amount of times I had been told that I just need to work harder and it will all be better… too many times.

But what could have happened had I pushed through. Potentially nothing. I could have hurt myself. I could have strained something or injured myself and been out of the game for weeks. Every coach will preach the importance of listening to your body and to take care of it. I am allowed to take care of my body. I do not have to overexert and I do not have to prove to anybody that I am trying hard enough. Screw them. I am successful and I know what is right for me!

So it is time to change the narrative. We need to redefine for ourselves how we work to better ourselves. We can step out of the box that society placed around us. Shed the baggage of “they must be like this” and “they need to do this”. Change the narrative to one where you define what you need to do. Work with yourself, work with your doctor, work with you coach, ignore everybody else.

I have lost 65 pounds by being true to myself over the past year and a half. Finding what works for me and finding the pace that is sustainable for me. Through this process I can say I am a runner, I am fit, I try hard, and am getting better, I am proud, and now I can say I know my limits and what level of work is best.

I know it has been a while since I posted so thank you all for reading!

Take care!

Ben

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