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I’m a hiker, rock climber, kayaker – and I’m fat

Fat girls can’t run marathons. Fat girls can’t backpack. They can’t rock climb. They can’t hike. They can’t ride roller coasters. Heck, fat girls can’t even snorkel. Except that I have. I’ve done all those things while being quite overweight. And I bet others have too.

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But apparently there aren’t enough of us to constitute plus size active wear? Have you tried finding size 22 zip-off hiking pants when you go to REI? Sport Chalet? Sport’s Authority? You can’t. They simply don’t exists past size 12.

You can find them online. The downside being that there is only one style and you can’t try them on. Not that it matters. whether they fit well or not, you are buying them anyway because your only other choice is going on a backpacking trip slugging around in jeans. As if there wasn’t enough extra weight on my body already.

That goes for wetsuits and running clothes as well. I ended up buying a size 2X men’s wetsuit with cut-off ankles and wrists from a guy I found on Craigslist. I drove an hour out of my way to pick it up. I even tried it on in his apartment. Yes, it was awkward, but it was only 25 bucks. We most definitely need more availability for plus size active wear. How are we supposed to lose the weight anyway if we can’t get some quality exercise gear?

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And don’t get me started on the naysayers trying to dissuade you from realizing your dreams. A guy on a Runner’s World forum flat-out told me that I should find another hobby because I run too slow. He even posted this article for me on the cons of having “plodders” (the slower of the “runners”) run marathons. The nerve! Sure, I run slowly, but who cares? It’s better than not being active at all.

Although I try not to believe any of the above statements that I “can’t” do anything I want to do, the fact is, as I have gained more and more weight, these things have become increasingly problematic. Sure, I trained for and completed a marathon while 70 pounds overweight. But I got plantar fasciitis in the process and had to take (a lot of) time off from one of my favorite things to do: running. I can’t keep up with others when I hike, I carry more weight than anyone when I backpack, and I’m afraid to have people delay me when I rock climb because I’m so heavy, so I don’t do it anymore. I don’t even try to ride roller coasters nowadays. The ride operators at the theme parks used to be able to ‘smoosh’ me into my seat and buckle me up, but now they just can’t. Ugh! CAN’T! I hate that word! I should be able to do anything I want to do! But I can’t.

I have learned a lot from being a plus-sized active woman. Not the least of which is that I can do many things I set my mind to. But does that include losing this weight? This has been the hardest battle of my life, and that’s saying something, as I’ve had my share of trials, losses, and heartbreaks. But I’ve also had my share of triumphs. I have overcome things I never thought possible.

But can I do this? There are as many reasons for being overweight as there are overweight people in this world. And I have more than a few reasons working against me right now. And not only does the weight make it harder to do the things I love, but the weight-related health problems are a trial all their own (ever had sleep apnea? That thing is not good). But I am working with my doctor to get healthy. Most of all, so that I can go back to doing the things I love.

Because sometimes fat girls can, but other times, not so much.

Originally published on BlogHer.

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