Note: this post mentions body image and dieting.
For a long time, I avoided exercising, scarred by memories of being forced to play lacrosse in driving snow, or being screamed at by P.E. teachers while I “ran” around playing fields (i.e. hyperventilated by a fence until they let me walk). It became connected with deep feelings of inadequacy and shame, and in my head, my weight was the reason. My occasional gym stints were self-punishing, and unsurprisingly, when I don’t feel good about something, I stop doing it pretty rapidly.
However, over the years, as I ditched dieting and started viewing my body in a more neutral way, I had the fortune to come back to exercise and movement with a new mindset. Hard as it may be to put on my spandex and leave the house, when I do, I typically feel great, both physically and mentally. I know that it doesn’t really change my body externally (I cycled 350 miles across Asia and lost zero weight, so it’s just not going to happen), but now that I’m focused more on how I feel rather than look, it’s much more rewarding. My chronic illness means I’m not always able to move as much as I’d like, but when I can, I enjoy lifting weights, swimming, doing yoga and cycling.
One thing I find particularly inspirational is following plus size athletes on social media. Any time I think “oh I can’t do crow pose because I’m too heavy” it’s a huge wake up call that I’m definitely capable of it if I work hard! So here’s a round up of some of my favorites – and the patterns from the new Cashmerette Activewear collection that you can use to make your own workout gear.
Jessamyn was one of the first curvy yogis I started following on Instagram, and her practice – and particularly her inversions – are so inspiring to me! She also wears awesome funky leggings, which you can make yourself, using the Belmont Leggings pattern.
Louise Green is an amazing athlete, and she’s the author of Big Fit Girl, which is all about helping plus size women become athletes and stop focusing on losing weight. Crop the Spruce Tank and add some Belmont Leggings to get her minimalist look.
Krista Henderson is a 5-time award-winning, plus size athlete in triathlon and indoor rowing, and she runs Born to Reign Athletics, which has a wealth of information for aspiring and active plus size athletes. The Spruce Tank in a chlorine-resistant lycra with the crew neck (and maybe even an added neckline zipper) would be a fantastic option for a triathlon.
Mirna is a marathoner, ultramarathoner, and trail runner, who’s completed a 100k race (WHAT!), and ran the Marine Corps Marathon and NYC Marathon back to back. I have to admit it: this probably means I can’t use being plus size as the excuse for not being able to run for 5 minutes…
Amanda is a joyous dancer, who set up the hashtag #BreakingTheStereotype, to challenge preconceived notions of what dancers should look like. You can read all about her amazing journey – culminating in appearing in a Katy Perry video! – at Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls here.
Amanda is a big fan of athleisure separates, and would totally rock a Cedar Dolman Top.
Rachel came relatively recently to powerlifting, but she’s already won a gold medal at the Northeast Regional Championships! Her Instagram videos are a joy to watch, and you can easily make your own compression shorts using our Belmont leggings pattern – just cut the pattern at mid-thigh and size down by 1 or 2 sizes.
That’s a whole lot of inspiration for one post! Do you have any more curvy athlete icons? I’d love to add more to my social media readers!