Chubby girl running

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life60 Comments

Let me be the first to readily admit that when I am out there running, clearly I am no gazelle.

And let me also admit that for 6 solid months out of the year, by 'out there,' I really mean 'on my treadmill.'

I started running in January of 2010. I weighed 181 pounds. I could go for about 1 minute at 3.2 miles per hour and then I'd walk it out for four minutes. Then, I repeated the process.

In 2010, by embracing physical activity and cutting out the crap (by way of following the Weight Watcher's Points plan) I dropped 40 pounds, hitting a lean, mean 141. You can see the entire year in scrapbook page form by clicking here.

And then I realized that I was really freaking hungry.


I spent 2011 moving back up the scale, trying to find new ways to eat, trying to figure out how I could eat real food in normal quantities and still maintain that girlish figure I so craved.

2011 didn't quite work out the way I'd hoped. From a weight standpoint, I was even steven. I was planted firmly, so to speak, in the mid 150s.

Now in some respects, that's a positive thing. I was eating to live and not just to see how few calories and fat grams I could put into my body. I was learning how junky carb binges translated to feeling like absolute shit less than an hour after they shot down my gullet. I was figuring out what my body needed and how I could go about filling the bill.

I still didn't get any smaller though, and for some reason, that signaled defeat. Somehow, I wasn't quite as good as I was before. Afterall, seeing more chub meant things weren't rolling along as they were before, right?

But during 2011 and right up until present day, one thing has remained constant: I've kept running.

The past Spring has seen more weight climb onto the old bod. At last weigh (yesterday) I was 160.3. It's not for lack of Moving More that is seeing this happen; nope. It's going right back to eating crap and doing things that are not really feeding my body what it needs.

I know this to be true and I really do know what is needed… I'm just not making it happen.

But still, I'm out there, and I'm running.

There is a church with huge plate glass windows in my neighborhood. I pass by it towards the end of my runs on the days I venture outside. When I reach the church, I'm at roughly the 3.5 mile mark of the run. I'm tired, but not spent. I'm moving more slowly but not at a stand still by any means. I usually feel pretty damned good and am often struck by how proud I am of myself that I am out here, doing this, and that I have learned to really embrace and enjoy the running process and everything it offers to me both mentally and physically.

Then I see my reflection in the windows.

There's always a split second of disenchantment; I look awkward in my gait. My butt makes it looks like I'm smuggling two basketballs inside of my run shorts. The awesome, running gazelle woman in my mind evaporates in a puff of smoke as I realize: oh, yeah… this is what I look like when I run.


And yet, no matter what the scale says to me and no matter how much junky crap I've given in to, that run is exactly the steady that I've clung to and have so desperately needed these past few years. The run says to me, "It's alright, Cath. Lace up, let's go… get the sweat out, clear your head. Every day is a new chance to get it all right."

I've had a few injuries here and there that have kept me sidelined for a few days off and on, but by and large, the running has remained a constant.

I don't have this whole thing figured out yet, and very likely, I never will.

So maybe I'm up a bit on the chub factor today.

Chubby or not, I'm still out there and I'm still a girl running.



If you're interested in making changes to your overall health and fitness, Move More, Eat Well is a 12-month online workshop at Big Picture Classes. The focus of this class is to embark on a personal journey that works with your unique lifestyle in helping you to find ways to make the changes you'd like to see on a fitness and health level. Registration is open all year and you can jump in anytime to join the more than 1,550 women and men who've made the decision to try to make changes in their own lives. Move More, Eat Well revolves around a robust community of users who are all creating a scrapbook/journal of their progress. To learn more, click here.




Cathy ZielskeChubby girl running

60 Comments on “Chubby girl running”

  1. #2

    Keep at it, Cathy! And I think you’re weighing more in muscle now that you’re moving rather than fat. So, no use fretting. It’s all good!

  2. #3

    You still inspire me Cathy!! I think your doing great and look great. It is more about being healthy and how well your taking care of your body. I’m back to heading outdoors now that the weather is somewhat warmer but the food part some days aren’t well for me either. Not going to give up and glad you aren’t either. Be proud of how far you have come and how awesome you are at running. Be gentle with yourself!! Thanks for always keeping it real and being there to inspire us and share this journey with you. Lots of cheerleaders on your side!!

  3. #5

    Same thing happens to me. Only difference is I walk three miles but it is keeping me healthier. Funny thing, I was watching a nutritionist on CNN the other day, and she said we really only taste food for the first three or four bites. Imagine if we only ate three or four bites of a cookie, or chips, or fishes, or, or, or, or. I think we’d starve.

  4. #6

    You have MUCH to be proud of! I figure as women who have had children, we’re doing the best we can. We KNOW what we need to do to get the chub under control, but who the hell has the time to work out 2-4 hours a day?! Or the will to give up chocolate?! I’m just not that dedicated I guess. And some day, I might be a grandparent. Grandmas’ are supposed to be soft and cuddly . . . right? Keep up the great work. You are truly an inspiration!

  5. #7

    I have decided that my 50 year old body just does NOT want to look like my 25 year old body…and that is OK with me! Your story sounds just like mine. I figure that as long as I’m consistent with my workouts and at least TRY to eat well most of the time, if my body doesn’t want to be skinny…oh well. I’m doing better than a large majority of women my age! (But I REALLY want my thighs to shrink…at least a little!!)

  6. #8
    Leanne in CA

    You are awesome! You are healthier than you were years ago and you continue to keep a positive attitude!! Hang in there and have a fabulous week.

  7. #11
    Denise Alekseev

    When I started running, I actually GAINED weight. I realized a lot of it was muscle mass. This year I have changed *both* my exercise *and* eating habits, and that has made all the difference. Hated Weight Watchers, I was SO. DANG. HUNGRY. It’s all about balance, babe. You know that! (BTW, I *wish* I was 160…!)

  8. #12

    Good for you! You’re an inspiration to me. Why? Because I foolishly voiced the following words last October: “If a 74 year old woman can run a half marathon, I can run a half marathon”! As soon as the words were out, I wanted to grab them with my fist and shove them back in my mouth! Did I mention, I HATE to run? I found a “Couch to 5k” training plan online and decided to try it. And because I’d just completed 90 days of P90X, I decided I could skip the first week on the running plan. I thought it sounded lame. Let me tell you – I couldn’t run 3 minutes and quickly decided I’d better stick to the plan. Running is HARD! But come October, 2012, I’m running a half marathon – come hell or high water! I’m getting my inspiration from you. Thanks Cathy.

  9. #13

    Haha! Well, that’s my attitude TODAY. It may change when I try to fit into one of my dresses for an event on Friday!!

  10. #14

    Oh, sister, I so hear you. I have been running since the summer of 2010 and it has so become a part of my routine. I hoped it would help me lose some chub…and when I combined it with an almost no carb diet for two months last year, I did drop 10 lbs. Over the last 12 months, about 8 of those pounds have come back. I was pretty ticked off about it, but then I realized, my clothes still fit…my legs are still buff. I feel awesome when I run. So, I need to stop being obsessed with the number on the scale and focus on the the way I feel. (Easier said then done, as you well know…but we can keep working on it). Also, your post made me think of a meme that I totally relate to:

  11. #18

    I relate to the divide between the way we feel about our bodies and what we see reflected back to us. Which is the reality? I prefer to think that how we feel when we run, when we are moving our bodies and committing to a healthful routine, is what’s real. Then we cloud that reality with what we think we’re supposed to see in our reflection.

    I don’t see basketballs or awkwardness. I see a healthy, beautiful, 46-year-old woman that is kicking ass when she runs.

  12. #20

    VERY similar experience here. I didn’t lose quite as much as you did, but about 25 pounds, also via Weight Watchers and exercise, though I’m a cyclist rather than a runner. I still need to lose about 15 pounds more, so my problem is not gaining back, but stalling out. (I guess they call it a “plateau.” Plateau, my patootie–it’s freakin’ wasteland!)

    Anyway, what keeps me going is cycling. Pulling on the shorts, filling up the hydration pack, and clipping into the pedals and hitting the road (well, metaphorically–we try not to hit it actually).

    And you know what else? I love love love it when I see my doc and I register her ongoing surprise over how otherwise healthy this nowhere-near-svelte, 59-year-old woman is in terms of blood chemistry, blood pressure, and heart rate.

    Just gotta keep showing up–as we do. Brava to us!

  13. #21

    Brooke, thanks for sharing that link! I always surprise myself when I see a photo someone’s taken of me bicycling and I think, “Who’s that pudgy girl on my bike?” Yikes–of course it’s me!!! 🙂

  14. #22
    Peggy M

    I’m trying to shift from a carb burner to a fat burner & part of that means paying more attention to my food intake & accepting that moving heavy stuff & occasional sprinting are more important that the kick butt workouts we seem to believe we need. But I still enjoy a good run. We’ve all had these ideas pushed at us from every angle at what is supposed to work & honestly, it seems like most of that is all wrong.

  15. #23

    My kids innocently sneaked my iPhone and made a video of me running on the treadmill once. We sure did have a good laugh–but admittedly, my confidence did take a bit of a beating that day. Seems like I’ve been dealing with body image issues so much this past year, and I am sick of it. It doesn’t help that for some reason all my mommy-friends inhale brownies and beer and still look like Barbie dolls. Not to mention all the chaos that mid-life hormones add to weight-issues. But, then I received a call from my sister last week to tell me that one of her best friends had died suddenly. From complications due to her extreme weight and lack of mobility. She was not yet 30. She had a very sad and scarred life which led to her eating disorder, yet a kind and generous heart which she shared with my sister daily for over 15 years. My family has shed many tears this past week for a young woman that we miss very much. And I have found a renewed appreciation for my chubby short legs and every mile that they can carry me. Thanks Cathy. And basketballs? I think not. 🙂

  16. #24
    madeline St onge

    Good for you Cath, I am with you on the weight loss too, I sear we are twins, Keep going up and down

  17. #25

    Oh Cathy, I’ve been a fan of your books, blog and classes for years and this post may be my favorite because it is so real and it is so me! I’ve been with you on this journey…kind of. I started at 181 too but while you kept going to 140 I stopped around 160 and then gained it all back! Out of painful desperation (arthritis pain) during the holidays, I jumped or rather limped back on the wagon and am at exactly 160 too where I have been sitting for over a month! I’ve been running for years and it is the one thing that links me to health even when I am far, far away in every other way.

    Here is a shot of motivation for you to stay in the battle. If you have Netflix streaming, check out the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. I also like Forks Over Knives, Food Inc and the Beautiful Truth. They inspire me to get out my blender and juicer. Also, the cookbooks by Tosca Rena, Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet book and Frank Lipman’s Revive Book. My one little word for 2012 is Revive. My other favorite is using the FREE website Sparkpeople. It is like on-line Weight Watchers and Facebook smashed together and it is free. Thanks to these books/documentaries/websites and your BLOG, I am hanging in there. This time I want to be like Cathy and at least visit 140 for a bit!

    You rock!

  18. #26

    I’m always amazed at how you seem to write exactly what is happening to me. And you write it well I might add. Although I’m proud to report I’ve lost 4.5 pounds in the last 2 weeks.

  19. #27

    Mid-life hormones!! The bane of my existence. I already eat pretty healthy, have removed almost all junk from my diet, and only indulge a few bites when I do give in. I move more these days, and more vigorously, and do you know what I have to show for it? I’ve merely halted for now the pounds that have continually crept onto my frame these past six years. Not dropped any off, just HALTED. Eat better, move more and no loss to show for it! My frustration meter has pretty much blown a gasket. Thank you, Cathy, for sharing your own struggles and victories, and letting us know it’s a daily part of life. At least we can be thankful we’re still in the game, right?

  20. #28

    This made me tear up, as I had almost the exact same experience last weekend: I ran past a big window, caught my reflection, and thought “holy $*@$*#, do I really look like THAT?” because in my head I look lithe and easy on my feet. In real life I run like I’m afraid I’m going to pee my pants.


    Add to that the fact that I cannot seem to lose any weight at all (even training for my marathon last fall, I lost a grand total of 32 ounces. 2 entire freaking pounds!) and yes…I so understand.

    On the other hand, I know that if I stopped running I would be mental, so even if I really do never lose another ounce of body fat, I will keep on chugging down the road because of what running does for my mental state.

    I just will try to avoid the big windows. 🙂

  21. #30

    Have you stopped to consider that maybe some of the ‘weight’ is actually muscle and not flab? I started running a few years ago and like you, my number has creeped slowly upwards. Yes some of that was due to a crappy diet, but I was aware of the change in the *shape* of my body.

  22. #34

    Amy, now you know that people rarely lose weight during marathon training, right? My neighbor is training for her second this June, and shes also noticing no weight loss during this time. Remember: you will kick some ass on those 26 miles, at whatever pace you run!

  23. #35
    Mapetiteusine Asouvenirs

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience : it helps me staying motivating for sport ! I’m running for a very long time now, but cannot run anymore more than 5km a week whithout knee tendinitis… So in addition, I’m trying to make gymnastics at home, but it is far less funny than running… But when I read you, It give me some courage to go ahead ! Thank you so much !

  24. #36

    There are bazillions of reasons why your regular exercise is good for you and very few of them, tragically, show in a reflection. Simply maintaining 20 pounds of your original weight loss is a really good thing! I just about fell on the floor the other day when I saw the total number of miles you’ve run — that’s halfway across the freaking country, woman! Go, CZ!!!!!!!

  25. #37
    Heather H.

    This morning I ran past two groups of high school kids waiting for the bus and got odd looks. And I know it’s because I don’t look the way I think I look when I run. But at this point in my life I don’t care what high school kids think. I’m not in high school anymore! And thank God for that!

  26. #40
    Pamela K.

    You go girl! I just ran my very first 5K yesterday and you were my inspiration in getting started on a fitness regiment. Stay the course, Cathy! We’re rooting for you!

  27. #44
    Vicki J

    Cathy as I approach 48 having seen all sides of the scale I have come to realize its no the number that matters its how I feel. I will never be cute and model skinny again.. I have earned my extra bumps and curves. But I can keep moving and keep making choices that are good more than they are bad… maybe you are at YOUR perfect weight.. minus that twinkie!

  28. #45

    Cathy, thank you so much for your inspiration to “eat less and move more”
    I have followed your journey since you started this and have finally
    Jumped on the band wagon 30 days ago. Running is still hard but every time
    I get out there and run it gets easier.
    I commend you for being so honest in letting everyone know that it is
    a constant challenge and things sometimes go the opposite direction that
    we want them to go.
    In these past sgort 30 days I have learned so ugh about myself.
    Again, Thank You!

  29. #50

    Simply inspirational! Thank you for your transparency. It encourages me to keep trying. I just started running in March – could only run for 1 minute at a time. I’m at least 70 lbs overweight and have been for years. It will take a long, long time for me.

    Thanks again.

  30. #52
    Carla S.

    Keep it up, Cathy! To paraphrase a quote I read on a running website, “There will come a day when I cannot do this. Today is not that day.” Over the past year and a half, I’ve been in treatment for breast cancer. There were days when I definitely could not run. But I ran when I could (made a brief appearance in Runner’s World magazine), and completed two marathons last fall. Not fast, but done. I’m grateful to be able to run and I’m inspired that you’re still at it, too! 🙂

  31. #55

    Cathy, I thought about this post this morning, as I watched all the awesome bikers zoom past me in their fancy jerseys and perfect form. Then I realized, “You know, I’m not just ‘the awesome, running gazelle in my mind.’ ” The awesome fit lady in my mind is who I am deep down! She’s the me who’s confident enough to stand up for myself and try new things. So I say let’s don’t worry about how we look when we’re training – let’s hang on to the awesome feeling, because that’s the reason I keep it up.

  32. #56

    Amen. You know, I went on a run yesterday, and I felt strong, and I even went at a faster pace than I normally go and I thought: Im awesome. : ) Muffin tops are inconsequential, right?

  33. #58

    oh cathy I have missed thee! I have been in your shoes; the up, the down, the up, the running, eating well and sinking back into crap. just remember one thing – ONE! you are SO very beautiful! that’s it! just remember that, k? ciao!

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