Like any thought movement, in the Body Positive Fitness and Health movement there are spokespeople, thought-leaders, and then there are the pioneers. I class this woman in the latter. For many years now, Krista Henderson has bravely been working to change society’s perceptions of what an ‘athlete’ looks like. One of the original (and award-winning) multi-sport plus size athletes, she has fearlessly featured her images and discussed her ‘love your sport like an athlete, train like an athlete, recover like an athlete, then you’re an athlete’ ethos at a time when only few wanted to listen. Her persistence, tenacity and passion for the Body Positive Athlete message has paid off over time and she is now regarded as one of the most prominent figures in this movement in the World, with her site, Born to Reign Athletics regarded as a resource for plus size athletes from around the globe.
I was lucky enough to be featured by Krista on her site, Born to Reign Athletics almost twelve months ago, and have been humbled and honoured by her support and advice ever since. I class her not only as my mentor, but a true friend. A fearless pioneer with a very generous soul, I am honoured today to share the story of the one and only, Krista Henderson.
Being plus size since my teens and into adulthood, came with a big dose of low self-esteem. It didn’t matter that I excelled, even over excelled in other areas of my life to compensate being plus size (looking to be accepted and respected ), I could never shake away the deep shame of not being able to lose weight and keep it off.
And I’m not sure what was worse to listen to, my own inner dialogue or comments and looks from others with pre-conceived notions that I was lazy, unmotivated and needed fixing.
It all changed for me in the summer of 2004. While still in diet, exercise & weight loss mode, I trained for a 25-km bike-a-thon, thinking a try-a-tri would be too much. When I successfully completed it, I decided to go for the triathlon race. With help from my Fitness Director who told me to “train like an athlete”, I completed my first triathlon in August 2004. I was hooked. From there I worked with an amazing triathlon coach and with his guidance, slowly, the layers of shame started to disappear, and my self confidence soar.
I came into my own by mentally and physically shifting to an athletic lifestyle that focused on activities and behaviors that are positive, productive and healthy. And not worry about the numbers on the scale. From there I became a certified Spinning Instructor and Personal Trainer and coached others (part time) for a few years. But I wanted to reach more people so taking it to the next level, I created Born to Reign Athletics to globally connect and share with plus size women, my story, lessons learned and main message that you don’t need to wait to lose weight to be an athlete. Now everyday, I get the opportunity to motivate, inspire and celebrate women of all different shapes, sizes and athletic experiences.
There are still things I personally want to improve upon, I have big athletic goals and will get there. But I no longer feel the need to fix myself. I am already strong and powerful, today!
Follow Krista on Twitter @btrathletics or on Instagram @borntoreignathletics
Tomorrow we get to meet Catherine Andersen, founder of fivemore Active/Lifestyle, who is working to change the conversation that retailers have with their female customers about fitness and health.