Catch me if you can!, originally uploaded by maltoodle.

*This isn’t my embroidery. Click through to see who owns it.

I don’t have a lof of self esteem, especially when it comes to body image. That should be no surprise to anyone. I wear a size 14. My butt bounces when I run. No matter how much weight I lose, I still feel like a loser.

It’s hard for me to run outside. On the treadmill, nobody can see me and I’m free to jiggle all over the place. Out in public I get paranoid. People stare, especially men. I feel completely self-consious. I am the only fat runner in the neighborhood. The running track next to our house is full of skinny women in tiny shorts.

Anyway, I was out for a quick 3 mile run yesterday (an “easy 3″ even though it isn’t exactly easy for me yet.) I saw a morbidly obese woman on a Rascal Scooter out walking her little dog. As I got closer, I waved hello and yelled, “Cute dog!” She smiled and started clapping and cheering for me as I ran past her. It almost made me cry.

It was a weird feeling. I started running so I wouldn’t end up like her–sick and disabled. Now I run because I love it–even though I’m slow and fat. I was bracing myself to be judged harshly for my appearance, but somebody out there treated me like a hero. It was a moving experience.

What could we all do if we didn’t fear criticism? What could we all do if we had a little encouragement? I’m going to run 1000 miles this year. I left my fear three miles back.

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