Fat Girls Can Run Too

Fat Girls Can Run, Too
By Christina Leeper


Before and AfterOn August 11, 2014, my life changed FOREVER.  The emergency room doctor looked me in the eye and said, “Mrs. Leeper, you are going to be dead by Christmas if you don’t do something NOW.  I don’t want to upset you, but that is the reality that we are facing.”  For once in my life, I was speechless.


I was 44 years old at the time….obese….smoking over a pack a day….diabetes out of control….let’s face it, folks:  I was a hot mess.  I was that person that NEVER went to the doctor.  I rationalized that I didn’t “have time” to exercise and I definitely “couldn’t afford” to eat healthy.  I was plagued with “not feeling well” just about all the time – so much so that I actually didn’t notice that it was becoming nearly a constant thing.   Then, on August 11, 2014, I was at work and I REALLY felt bad.  I told my manager I was going to drive myself to the Emergency Room.  When I got there, they took me to the little triage room to check my vital signs.  The automated blood pressure machine started beeping, and the sweet girl who was typing in the numbers looked up.  I watched all the color drain from her face as she tried to control her voice.  “Mrs. Leeper,” she said, “I am going to be right back.”  Then, she bolted from the room.  Confused, I looked up to see what my blood pressure was.  The screen said it was 242/212. 


My Very First 5K Folly Beach SC November 2014Two days later I went to my new partner in wellness, Martha Fletcher (she’s awesome, by the way, as is everyone at my doctor’s office).  Not only was my blood pressure was out of control….my A1C (long-term measurement of blood sugar) was 11 (it’s supposed to be under 7).  I should weigh around 135-165 – my weight that day was 280 pounds.  I couldn’t walk one flight of stairs without wheezing.  Martha said I needed to get it together.  I cried a lot.  But we made a plan, and I got it together.


I started walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day, three days a week.  I was really surprised at how fast my body got used to the exercise….I moved it to 4 days a week.  Then I started increasing the speed of the treadmill, and then the incline.  And then one day, I realized that I could not progress any more just walking.  IT WAS TIME TO RUN.


I have been obese just about my entire adult life.  I could spend a lot of time talking about why – let’s just say I am someone who enjoys eating my feelings, which makes me feel bad about myself, so I just eat more.  But I had a secret dream, one that I hadn’t told anyone, not even my family:  I wanted to run.  It looked like so much fun!  But Fat Girls Can’t Run, right?  That is what I believed for over 20 years.  Fat. Girls. Can’t. Run.  So here I am, walking on the treadmill, and I realize I was about to run.  First lesson that I learned about running.  I HATE RUNNING ON THE TREADMILL.

My Second 5K Mt Pleasant SC December 2015


I made a daring decision.  I was going to run outside.  Where people could see me.  I had heart palpitations just considering it.  So, I started running REALLY early in the morning.  It was still dark, and the only other people out were other runners.  Nobody would see me.  BONUS:  Sunrise is a beautiful time of day to be outside.  I started using a Couch-to-5K app and did jog/walk intervals.  30 minutes, three days a week.  I was hooked.  I got my first pair of Brooks.  I got my first knee brace.  I got my first armband to hold my phone.  Lesson learned:  SHOPPING FOR RUNNING STUFF IS FUN.


Then, I discovered Moon Joggers.  What an amazing community!  I learned many lessons very quickly – such as “If you are going faster than a walk, then you are a RUNNER.”  Whoo-hoo!  I was a runner!  I started running in the daylight.  Other runners would smile at me and say hi, or give me a high-five as we passed each other on the trail.  Holy cow, this is FUN!!!


Race BlingI ran my first 5K.  I discovered virtual races.  Lesson learned:  YOU GET COOL MEDALS IF YOU RUN VIRTUAL RACES.  Medals are FUN.  I love my bling!


Oh, by the way, I lost 59 pounds, and did my first 10K in March.  Then life happened, and I had to quit running for a while.  I’ve gained back 20 pounds.  But I haven’t given up.  Because #FatGirlsCanRunToo – and I will always be a runner.  I may have to start my C25K over again.  I may have to haul out the knee brace.  But, dammit, I am going to be back in my skinny jeans by the time cold weather hits, because I know how good it feels, and I want that feeling back.  The moral of the story:  Nike had it right….you have to Just Do It.  Don’t think about it, don’t make excuses.  Get off the couch and walk for 30 minutes.  Keep doing that until you know it is time to take it to the next level.  Then pick up the pace and run.  It’s amazing.  It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.  Let it be the best thing that happens to you, too.

2015 Cooper River Bridge Run 10K Charleston SC

Running Selfie






*If  you have not signed up for our 2016 MERCURY RISING  (one of the paid registration options) do so now and you’ll be able to save 25% on our virtual races in 2016! (Use code RUN2MERCURY to save 20% on MERCURY RISING)




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