How to fall in love with your body again.

A candid, funny, 9 week running challenge diary from a 47 year old plus size lady.

Like Comment

Last year I fell down some steps out of my front door.  I was carrying a large box, I was running late, rushing to a school club I was running at the time while trying to set up my new business.  Everything went in slow motion and all the contents of the box flew all over the ground.  My leg and arm hurt, but I didn't have time to feel sorry for myself.  I picked up the contents of the box and carried on to the car.

It turned out the fall had resulted in a trapped Sciatic nerve of which I tried to live with  for ten months.  I am a plump person anyway and being at a point where I was struggling walking, I had put on over a stone in weight.  I eventually booked an appointment with an Chiropractor who amongst other things worked on me with accupuncture.  

Eventually I was able to walk without a limp and I recovered slowly. Months later I attended a self-development book club and completed a life coaching wheel in the first session.  I identified a few things but what stood out the most was how unhappy I had become with my physical body.

I have worked hard on my mind (mental health) for a few years with meditation and mindfulness and realised how at 47 years old, I had forgotten my physical body.

A friend that had started running a year ago posted before and after photos of herself on social media and the results were astounding.  I remembered how I used to run before I had my Daughter and enjoyed thinking about the freedom and empowerment it gave me as I always hated running at school.

Today I write this with celebration as I have just completed a 9 week running challenge I set myself. I downloaded the Couch to 5K app, chose Sarah Millican's voice to be my coach, bought some trainers and began the journey. The app guides you through safe, healthy patterns of running and walking in stages each week.

Through the book club, we discussed how "pressure" often ensured challenges were completed. I decided to post a photographs of myself on social media with no make up and looking sweaty after every run. I received such a lot of support from friends and even inspired some to start it themselves!

The first week was mostly walking with one minute sessions of running - I really struggled and felt very miserable.  As I ran around the street some kids laughed at me and I felt sad.  My Daughter came with me to support me that day and I felt ashamed.

The following week I decided to get up at 6am while my family were still in bed and I completed the sessions in the dark. I did feel very nervous as it was dark and I was really scared that I was putting myself in a dangerous situation.

As the weeks progressed I began to feel more empowered, I was getting much better and my body was changing  not to mention the endorphins my body was producing. I suffer from PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) which is a hormone disorder which really benefits from cardiovascular exercise. 

I could go from running 3 minutes blocks to 5, then 8 then 12 then 20 etc... A friend donated me some "running clothes" and I felt the part! Yes, it was hard but I dug deep. The last few weeks I could run for 25 minutes at a time so began feeling confident to run in daylight.  I had to take my Mother to a hospital in a different town so decided to run while I was waiting for her. An older chap overtook me that day and decided it was ok to say "come on love, put some effort in".  I just laughed as just being there was the effort!  I have learnt over the years that what people say often reflects more about them anyway. I had always planned to blog about my challenge and right there he had given me some funny subject matter!

So now after 9 weeks of going out three times a week,  I have completed the end of my challenge.  What have I learnt?  I am not ashamed of my size 18 body anymore because it is capable of running 30 minutes non stop, three times a week.  I have taken 2 hours a week out of my schedule for myself, I feel empowered, I have lost 12lb, I have signed up for Race for Life 5K, I have registered for Park Runs and running is now part of my life and I look younger. When I am running I feel powerful and free.


Gail Donnan

Interdisciplinary Psychologist, Trauma-informed EMDR Psychotherapist, Director and Practice Lead, The Trauma Centre - Ripon

I have been working in the wellness industry since 1995. I have a Master's Degree in Interdisciplinary Psychology (Leeds), I am a trauma-informed EMDR psychotherapist, Director and Practice Lead of the Trauma Centre, Ripon which is a community interest company.  I am a qualified teacher, assessor and IQA. I am a trained Meditation Teacher, Bach Flower Essence Practitioner, Qi Gong Instructor and Reiki Master Teacher Practitioner.  I specialise in mental health issues arising from trauma, anxiety, depression and am the published author of two books -"The Gateway - A journey to re-claim your power from Stress and Anxiety" and The Gateway Junior Edition - children's mental health. I have a huge interest in somatic psychotherapy and have an interdisciplinary approach to mental health. 


Go to the profile of Chris Vincent
over 3 years ago

That's a great story Gail and puts me in mind of how the use of Personal Power, as opposed to Will Power, sets the context for success.   Personal Power connects us to others as you describe in your connection to the Book Club/social media and the "pressure" aspect of successful challenges.   Will Power, in my opinion, while ok is an internal, finite resource reliant on our own energies.   Once it runs out there is only us to restore it and that can be hard on our own.   Your story also challenges the body image pressure, with your first thought of success being what your body can do now e.g. 30 minutes running non-stop 3 times a week, and not how "model like" you have become.   Again, Personal Power is present with your entry to the Run for Life 5K and Park Runs to keep you connected to others and top up your energies through the fun and support gained from these.

Thank you for publishing, it is an inspirational story and one that gives my Personal Power a boost.

Go to the profile of Gail Donnan
over 3 years ago

Hi Chris, thanks for reading my story and for your comments. I wanted people to identify with it so kept it real. Interestingly, the book we covered at the book club was The Monk who sold his ferrari which talked a lot about personal power and will power. Kind regards