I remember coming across the ‘Running with Curves’ Facebook page for the first time and thinking ‘wow, this Body Positive Fitness movement really is happening, and its big.’ It was such a heartening thing to see someone else passionately encouraging people of all shapes and sizes to pursue their passion for running without the fear of being judged for their shape, size or ability. I knew that in time, with a lot of hard work along the way, I could start making headway promoting the same message in Australia.
As I mentioned in my opening post, when it comes to any advocate, activist, thought-leader or pioneer, there is usually a personal experience that sits behind the passion and fuels the fire. I had a sense that this theory applied to Jill Angie: runner, triathlete, Founder of Running with Curves, writer, virtual race director and personal trainer. It turns out that Jill has a story which will resonate with many women of all ages and explains why she is such an amazing role model for so many women all over the World. I am honoured to feature the personal story of Jill Angie.
It all started in middle school. I was bullied by the cool kids, and was deeply ashamed about it. Instead of talking to my parents or a teacher, I held it all inside, which developed into extremely low self-esteem as I grew older. Eventually my entire world revolved around worrying whether people liked me, whether men found me attractive, and obsessing about my unhappiness. I did whatever I could to make myself feel better: food, alcohol, sex, shopping, anything to avoid the pit of loneliness I felt. It led to me being fat, broke and single by my late twenties. Outwardly I was a bubbly, easygoing woman, but inside I was in complete despair.
Diet after diet left me even heavier, and eventually I turned to running to lose weight. I didn’t lose much, but I stuck with running long enough to complete a 5K. I didn’t know it at the time, but that moment of crossing the finish line sowed the seeds of change within me. I’d love to say it was an overnight miracle – girl crosses finish line and the next day becomes the person she always knew she could be. But in reality, it took over 10 years to understand that I was worthy of everything I craved.
Running helped me develop the strength and courage to stop trying to fit in and start standing out. To stop judging myself by my appearance and start recognizing myself as a unique individual with something to contribute. To understand that fitness comes in all shapes and sizes. Becoming a runner helped me feel like I finally fit in somewhere – and also taught me that I don’t need to.
My mission is to help women feel valued, included and inspired to be their best selves through running, and to realize that the only opinion about them that matters is their very own.