whoa…i think i was just fat shamed

unnamed (9) I made a quick stop at my neighborhood Walmart on the way to the beach today. I purchased SPF 50 lip balm, and a package of dog bones for the two-year old dog my son drove across three states, and then asked me to babysit, for eight months.

As I was standing in the checkout line contemplating changing my new dog’s name, the Walmart cashier asked me: How long have you been running? And I realized my sun visor displayed the words Run Happy. “Oh,” I replied,” several years.” Do you enjoy it? She asked. I laughed, and said something like I didn’t really enjoy doing it while I was doing it, but I was always glad I had done it when it was over.

Then the cashier said…If you have enough discipline to make yourself do something you don’t like to do, like run, then why don’t you just discipline yourself, and control what you eat; then you won’t have to exercise to lose weight?

I almost couldn’t process what she said fast enough, before I heard my mouth responding…

“So you are assuming then, that I have a poor diet, and I only run to control my weight, and that I want or need to lose weight, is that correct? Maybe I run to control my blood pressure, or to control anxiety and depression, or for a stronger immune system and healthy bones, or because heart disease runs in my family. Maybe running is how I deal with stress. Exercise is a part of my life, and it has nothing to do with my diet. For me, it is not one or the other, it is both. So please don’t project your negative assumptions on me.”

As I left Walmart, I realized, I was fat-shamed. I’m not skinny. I’m aware of that. But I AM very fit, and healthy and strong. And I work hard every single day to feel good about my middle-aging body. I am my own worst critic, I assure you; I constantly have to remind myself that my forty-eight year old body has seen a lot of life, and birthed three babies, and carried me through seven half-marathons, and up mountains and through endless bicycle rides. Do I wish I looked like a runner? Hells yes! But I’m not less of a runner because I don’t look like one. Would I like to be thinner? Absolutely! But I’m not willing to do what it takes (for me) to maintain a size 4/6; I don’t want to be miserable and never eat Talenti or cupcakes, and starve myself. I want to enjoy food. And guess what? I’m just as healthy now, at a size 8/10, as I was when I was a size 4/6 (extra perk: people don’t try to feed me now).

After Walmart I met my girlfriend at the beach, where we sat for four hours in the sun…and I wore a bikini, in public, for the first time ever. And we talked about dog names.

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