Will run for donuts.
That’s what he shouted at me. Will. Run. For. Donuts.
I had just gotten into my groove. My headphones weren’t slipping out of my ears, my pants weren’t rolling down in the front or back. My feet hadn’t gone numb yet, like they eventually will. My bright pink shirt swayed perfectly with every step. I was sweating, of course. The sun was hot and welcome, stinging my arms, my face. Levi would be back from his dad’s house soon, and they were all going to stay for a cookout, for Mother’s Day.
Everything felt right.
I turned the corner, the workout in my ear telling me to pick up my pace in 10 seconds and sprint for 30. It was an intersection, one I’ve run so many times before, hundreds, at least. As I turned, I saw the black Jeep as it swerved slightly closer to me than I would have wanted it to. My headphones tell me to run, then silence as I push. In that single pause from the instructor, I hear the man before I see him.
“Will run for donuts!” He shouts at me, leaning towards his passenger side to make sure I hear him. For a brief moment I don’t register what he’s saying, so I slide my earbud out and slow down, just as he shouts it again, laughing.
I looked him in the eye and didn’t flinch.
I popped my earbud back in, and continued the sprint.
Once I was out of sight, I stopped running. I took my headphones out and stood there, on the side of the road. I suddenly wished I had a long sleeve shirt on, and a shirt underneath that to pull over my butt. I couldn’t help but pinch my upper arm, reminding myself that no, I’m not a runner, and yes, my body is a big body.
But that only lasted a second. Because I’ve been here before. In this moment, this shame. My body running, it upset that man. It triggered something inside of him that he doesn’t know how to let out. So he used me, an easy target. Who wants to discourage a bigger person from exercising? Or any person from exercising? Someone who battles their own demons, I’d imagine.
And we all battle our own demons.
So I sucked it up, and kept running.
I ran the full 5 miles that I set out to do. I ran it strong and I ran it well. I ran it not to prove that man a point but to prove to myself that I am more than what my body seems. I am powerful, not in spite of this body but because of it.
My whole life has been defined around how I look. And I did that, I put those restraints on it, those chains. I chose to care immensely how I look, and what it does or doesn’t allow me to do.
I have always been bigger. There were periods in life where I was smaller, sure. But to me, it was never small enough. My worth was always tied to what I weighed. I became an athlete, pushing myself to new limits that I loved. I often shocked people at the gym, the fascinated looks they’d give me making me feel pride, but deep down just a sadness. People can only assume what they see, and no one ever expected me to be strong, underneath it all.
I am the biggest I’ve ever been. I can say that without shame. It just is a fact. I’m big. I work out constantly, because I love it. I love seeing what my body can do, the lengths I can push it to.
I’m just tired of explaining. Of excuses. Of looking at myself with disgust. I just want to be.
But I’m the only person stopping that from happening.
There is a deep self hatred that God is gently trying to squeeze out of me, little by little. I can feel his nudge, to just let it go, the definitions I’ve had of living in a bigger body, and just exist.
The less I try to control it the more my body knows what to do, how to nourish itself. I’ve spent so long not trusting it. It’s time I hand over the reigns.
In perfect timing, my coach, Jay, invited me back into the boxing ring. I whispered it to him, my fear of showing my body, having people see the way it moves as I move. He laughed, a loud, ridiculous thing. “Why on earth would I care what your body looks like?! Why would anyone care? Shut up with that bullshit, you’re stronger than you know you just have to realize that.”
So in two weeks, I’ll be in a boxing tournament. Because a man thought it was ok to make fun of me while I was free, connected to my body. Because he thought donuts were something I desperately need, as any fat girl would. But also because I have a coach who believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself.
And I’m in the mood to be surprised.
And, well, I heard first prize gets a lot of donuts.