I am a teensy bit obsessed with weight loss shows. I literally cry every time I watch The Biggest Loser and Extreme Weight Loss. I follow the coaches and many of the contestants/participants on their social media and I feel like they are my friends. I feel like I can relate to them, having been overweight for many years. So imagine my delight when The Biggest Loser’s Jackson Carter announced a fundraiser 5k on the Ogden River Parkway, one of my favorite go-to running spots.
I have struggled with my weight most of my life. When I was around eight, I plumped up a bit. This in itself wouldn’t have been so traumatic except I was now bigger than my older sister. Being only a year apart, people often referred to us as the “Rabino Twins,” and at one point in time someone told me the only way they could tell us apart was that I was “the bigger one.” (Thanks a lot, ass hat. Almost 30 years later and that still haunts me.)
In my 20s and early 30s, my weight yo-yoed. At my heaviest I weighed more than I did when I was nine months pregnant, pushing pretty close to the 200-pound mark. Luckily I began running when I was 31 and my weight has been relatively stable, aside from my last pregnancy.
Today I guess I would be considered pretty fit. I try to exercise five to six days a week and eat relatively healthy. But I certainly allow myself indulgences every now and then. (Let’s just say I would not be a pleasant person without chocolate and wine in my life. Even WITH them, I don’t think anyone is going to accuse me of being the sweetest person they know.) I recently went to North Carolina for my BF’s wedding and South Carolina to visit my old childhood stomping grounds of Goose Creek and Charleston. Of course I had to indulge in all of the southern delectables I can’t get in Utah. Even when I did, though, I couldn’t fully enjoy the splurges because I have a super naggy inner fat girl. And she can be very loud and obnoxious.
I don’t wear the battle scars of my weight problems externally, but I know what I have been through and what a struggle it is on a daily basis to do the right thing and make good choices. So imagine my surprise when I showed up for Jackson Carter’s fun run and I ended up feeling FIT SHAMED. (I had to Google that to be sure it’s a real thing. It is!)
There were probably about 100 runners for the event. It was a chilly morning, but everyone was in good spirits and having a good time. Since it was October, many participants were in costume, me included. (Hey, I was hoping to snag a prize with my Ace Ventura costume. It was not in the cards. I just looked like a crazy lady in a tutu.)
The run was a quick out-and-back. I am not fast by most running standards. In fact by serious runners’ standards, I’m downright molasses. I have run five full marathons, but there’s no way I’m ever qualifying for Boston or anything. On that day, however, I was one of the fastest and fittest. To these other runners and walkers, this was EASY for me. Because it was an out-and-back course, I passed people on the way back as they headed to the turnaround point and I headed for the finish. I smiled encouragingly, gave thumbs up and high-fived as many of them as I could. “Good job. Way to go. Looking good. You got this.”
Everyone gathered at the finish to cheer in the last two people. I could tell that for the man and the kid with him, they had just achieved a huge accomplishment. I had goosebumps and felt so happy for and proud of these complete strangers. The magic of the finish line is just that feeling of camaraderie: “We did this. Together.”
Later I was chatting with a lady, making small talk about Jackson, The Biggest Loser show, the event. I made a comment about how great it was to see all these people, especially those who were working toward their weight loss goals. She looked me up and down and said, “Well yeah. But you’re a runner, right?” I swear, if there had been a cartoon bubble over her head, the word runner really would have been italicized. And in bold.
It was so weird, that accusatory tone. I’ve had people call me a runner and say it with awe. Some say it with the tone that lets you know they definitely think you are cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. But I’ve never been called a runner and felt guilty about it.
Is that how they saw me? I wanted to explain that, no- I used to be overweight. I have been where you are. I am proud of you and I don’t even know you. You are awesome and amazing and inspiring. I have journeyed your journey. Because there is a part of me that is The Biggest Loser. But there is also a part of me that is the coach.