But If You Run...Why Aren't You Skinnier?
“Ok so I have a question. I am not asking it meanly by any means.. because obviously I follow you and like your posts for a reason! You work out constantly! Always running. How are you not very skinny and toned? Again, im not asking that in a bad way. I like you the way you are.. but you are constantly working your ass off. I dont understand how the results arent huge. Do you eat whatever you want? I love food myself and cant seem to cut carbs out of my diet. I hope you dont take offense to this question. I just have always wondered this.. because with as much running as you do.. i feel like your metabolism would be quick.”
This is a message, word for word, I received this week. But it’s not isolated. I get emails and messages like this just about every week. And they all ask the same thing —
“If you run and workout as much as you say you do...why aren’t you skinnier.”
Or — “If you run marathons...why aren’t you skinnier?”
Or— “If you run...why aren’t you skinnier?”
I don’t care who you are, if your body type isn’t skinny, slim or slender, we all field this ignorant question from everyone from our friends and family to co-workers and complete strangers.
Which is frustrating because nine times out of ten, it isn’t asked intended to hurt or criticize, but out of genuine curiosity.
For decades, we’ve all been served the same poisoned punch. Health has been sold with one look — skinny. The less fat on your body, the healthier you are. That’s the punch we’ve all been force fed our entire lives.
And it’s bullshit. It’s poison. It’s making people sick and it’s warped our perception of what a healthy body actually looks like.
Health is not a look.
A healthy body comes in all different shapes and sizes. Skinny isn’t the healthy body, it’s one body type.
I run 50 miles a week. I strength train twice a week. And another two days a week, I sit on a bike with a load on its wheel that, according to my Garmin, is in the top 1% of people who ride. (When I say I’m strong, I have data to back it up.)
“But surely your diet must be shit because you can’t workout like that and look the way you look.”
That’s the poison punch talking.
I eat really, really well. It’s my job to eat well. I focus on proper portion sizes and fueling with lean meats, fruits, veggies, and whole grains. But eating well means balance. Did I have half of a pint of ice cream after my 20 mile long run this weekend? Yeah. I did. Not because I earned it, because that’s what balance looks like. I don’t have desert every day, I have it within reason when I want it. More often than not, it’s once or twice a week. You can’t outrun an unbalanced diet. I’ve tried. But the truth is, you feel and perform better when you eat well. And not just in running, in every aspect of your life.
That’s why I eat well. Not because my life’s mission is to lose weight.
Not anymore. I’d rather kill myself than live my life trying to hit an unhealthy and unrealistic number on a scale. I refuse to define my worth or health by the number on a scale or my dress size. (Your worth isn’t tied to your waist size. Stop drinking the punch.)
The times in my life when I was at my unhealthiest were when I were at my skinniest. The only times I ever hit 155 pounds (the goal weight I aspired towards for my entire teen and young adult life) were when I worked out obsessively. I’d go to the gym for two hours, twice a day. I cut carbs and ate 1000-1200 calories a day. I made myself throw up if I ate anything I didn’t think I earned. I dissected every single “problem area” and was convinced that other people judged me the way I did myself I was an anxious, insecure, controlling, depressed, starved and desperately unhappy shell of a woman.
Today, I’m 165-175 pounds (depending on the day. PLOT TWIST, your hormones can make your weight vary from day to day. Another great example of why your weight isn’t a great indicator of your health. I was 170 pounds on Saturday after my 20 miler and 165 on Sunday after my 3 miler.)
For years, the food industry sold us this idea that weight loss is as simple as calories in versus calories out and if you’re overweight, it's because you aren’t working out enough. And HOT TAKE—That’s bullshit poison punch.
I’m not here to say that an unbalanced diet is a healthy one. But I’m also not here to police people’s diets. After my brother passed away, brownies and processed foods were the only things that felt good. Do I wish I would have gotten into therapy and found healthier ways to grieve sooner? Yes. But I was doing my best to stay alive and not kill myself. And gaining over 75 pounds taught me a great, great deal of empathy and gave me an understanding about weight loss and what it is to move through the world as a larger person that I’m incredibly grateful for.
Every single body is different. There is no one shape, weight, or size that is healthiest or strongest. There is no before or after version of yourself that is better or worse. They’re all just you.
We have to start to unpack the way we perceive health because the health, fitness, and weight loss industries are still serving poison punch. We need to start to talk about our traditional feminine beauty ideals (thin, nice, quiet, spend your money on appearance and take up as little room in the world as possible) because they’re making us sick and holding us back.
And Lizzo can’t do all the work for us.
Health is not a look. It’s a lifestyle.
You are not defined by how large or small you are. You are not a before and after version of yourself. But thin and skinny are just one body type of many.
The next time someone asks you why you aren’t skinnier if you run, please help them understand why they’re perception is wrong. Don’t get angry and lash out. Don’t let it hurt you. PREPARE YOURSELF because it’s going to happen. Let them know that health comes in all different shapes and sizes.
Running isn’t about being skinny. Skinny is just one of many beautiful body types. Running is about feeling strong, challenging yourself, and connecting with a supportive and inclusive community.
Encourage whoever asked you why you aren’t skinnier to stop drinking the poison punch and to wake the fuck up. Because if they look at you and judge you for your weight, imagine what they say to themselves.
This isn’t about strong not skinny. It’s strong in every size.
Because running can’t give you a different body type. It will just make you strong.