"My doctor told me I was too fat to run. Here's what I did next."

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“Tell me about your weight?” my doctor asked. I knew where this was going.

“The problem is you are just too unfit to run this marathon,” he continued. If rolling your eyes was a more acceptable way of showing your contempt I would have done so, but instead I simply replied, “What you mean is I am too fat?”

He just smiled and sat back in his chair.

You see, despite my size 18 frame I am a runner. I have, in fact, been a runner for the last ten years, running everything from 5k fun runs to full marathons. I run because I love the feeling of running and I love the community of runners in which I have made many friends. But I admit I also run to keep control of my weight, and to help me lead a healthier and happier life.

Julie in action

As an obese woman - and that is what I am according to my doctor - I of course have concerns about my weight. Most women these days do, what with our cultural obsession with 'thin'. But after years of yoyo dieting and obsessing about my weight I am now at the point where I will not let my sense of worth be based purely on my physical appearance.

I had pulled a muscle in my back while picking up my young daughter three weeks before I was due to run a marathon. However, the trip to the doctor to sort it out left me absolutely enraged, because as far as I am aware fitness is not something that can be assessed via a quick look at me. Despite me trying to convince him that I was someone who exercised regularly, my doctor was adamant about his original diagnosis.

When members of the medical profession make inaccurate assumptions like this about what an overweight patient is capable of, what hope do we have? I am sick of doctors telling overweight patients to try swimming or walking for weight loss when they are capable of so much more. I did go on to run that marathon just three weeks later, but his comments and the way I was treated in that consultation room will stay with me for a while.


Activity of any type makes you feel great. When you feel great you eat better (and sometimes even less), then you lose weight and tone up, and then you feel great and want to do more of that 'physical activity' stuff.

The opposite of this is feeling lethargic and lazy, eating for comfort, getting depressed, feeling hopeless. I know, because I have been there too. As an overweight person you often feel like the journey ahead is too long, too difficult, too embarrassing.

Which is why I wrote the ebook Getting Past the First 30 Seconds, which you can download from Amazon for less than the price of a Big Mac. The book lays it out so that you understand why running is hard and how you can make it easier, even if you are fat.

That doctor wrote me off with his 'Too fat to run' attitude, so I now run in a hoodie with those words as a slogan. However, I included a big fat question mark to encourage other people big and small to challenge their perceptions of what we believe those around us are capable of.

So I ask you the same: are you "Too Fat to Run?"

Has anyone ever made a wrong assumption about your fitness and capabilities?

This post originally appeared on The Fat Girl's Guide to Running and has been republished here with permission. You can follow Julie on Twitter here and on Facebook here.

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