SOS! The Shades of Shame (and why I no longer wear them)

It was a rainy morning in late March when I first coaxed my overweight body into a tentative run. New trainers: check. Giant sports bra: check. Black leggings: check. Black baggy T shirt with comedy logo (because fat wimmin are just soooo funny): check. And finally, most importantly, a pair of oversized Shades of Shame to protect me from the mocking glare of passers by as I lumbered past them, the ground shaking in my wake.

That first run was not good. Despite the fact that my "duck waddle" version of running was actually slower than most peoples' walking speed, I could not manage 30 seconds without getting totally out of breath and feeling like I wanted to collapse - how was I ever going to run for a full minute? By the time I got to the end of the promenade, I was red in the face, wheezing and about ready to quit. Obviously I was too fat to run, best leave it to those younger and fitter than myself and go and join the water aerobics class instead.

I sat down on a bench to catch my breath whereupon a rather concerned PT and her protoge came over to enquire about my well being. "I'm a bit out of shape" I commented wryly, whilst trying very hard not to throw up. "Oh, I was just like you when I started" said the lady who was out with her PT "But I kept going and managed to run a marathon last year!" I looked at her somewhat incredulously. Here was a lady around my own age, obviously in better shape than me, but still curvaceous and clearly not an Olympic athlete. I thought to myself "Dammit, if she can do it - so can I!" We chatted for a while longer whilst I caught my breath, then I set off back down the promenade , walking for the length of one lamppost and then duck waddling to the next, still red and panting, but feeling more determined and focused then I had been before.

That was several months ago and I am now on week 4 of the c25k program. I still run like a duck and I still wear the same baggy comedy T shirt, but I no longer wear the Shades of Shame. Why? Because I am proud of being a fat woman who has taken the decision to start running (I am also not quite as fat as I was). I am starting to get to know the other people who regularly use the same run route as me and we often make eye contact, giving each other a little nod of encouragement or even a "thumbs up" as we pass.

And when I see someone larger, or older, or slower than me, I do not feel the need to point and stare (as I was worried that others were doing to me when I started) but I find them inspirational.

So if you are worried about what others may think - don't be. Just get out there and do it. Be proud and ditch those Shades of Shame because all of us, no matter how big or slow or unfit we may feel, are lapping those still sitting on the couch.

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29 Replies

  • So true! Ha ha, I had a good laugh at your very funny post. I think most of here will identify your trying to hide your identity from a world not ready for us. After a few weeks of stealthily hauling ass through the local woods like ninjas we think "sod that" and come out in all our glory. I couldn't believe how much flab one could stuff down a lycra legging. They're not bad are they! They sort of haul it all up, suck it in and hold it there.

    If you keep running - and I'm sure you will - the weight will shift. You'll get all into healthy eating as well as you become obsessed with eating right to best fuel your runs. Once you start running you'll find you want to keep moving more. I walk everywhere now and it's a great calorie burner. I borrow a dog and head off into the blue. I've lost a lot of weight. It can be done

    Good luck and just hang in there! Oh, and by the way, it's fun!

  • misswobble I love the name! Thank you for your words of encouragement. I am trying to eat a balanced low cal, high protein diet and the weight is shifting - slowly. And yes, you are right, it is fun! I actually look forward to my run days now :)

  • My son gave me the name some years ago as I waddled to the table with his dinner. Miss Wobble was a waitress in a telly programme. LOL

    I eat from all the food groups but stick to the healthy stuff. You can make great food for yourself. There's no need to be bored. I posted up a pic of my post run dinner the other day. I think it might be in 10k or race support pages.

    I'm pleased you look forward to your run days. Always think positive!

  • Fab post! I think most of us were like that at the beginning. For my first run I dressed all in black in the naive hope that no one would see me! But, as you've discovered, very soon we don't give a toss what others think because we're out there doing our thing and getting healthy.

    Well done on getting to week 4 and for ditching the self consciousness.

  • I love this post :) How lovely that those ladies gave you inspiration when you needed it. Definitely something to pay forward.

    My dog can walk alongside my jog. I keep telling myself that if both my feet are off the ground at the same point, even if only for a split second, then I am running :)

  • ... and you are running !

  • Oh my goodness yes, I went out skulking and shuffling in black, after dark but I don't give a hoot now though I'm still guilty of putting on a show and speeding up a bit for an audience.

  • You little monkey! Me too!!!!

  • I'm guilty of that too! :)

  • OMG this was me too. My face was so red, felt light headed and queasy, needed to go and lie down whilst my other half wanted to call a doctor. That seems so long ago now, glad you found some inspiration. Keep going, I'm so looking forward to your future posts.

  • Oh cathalicious, you made me laugh out loud! You are not alone, I can tell you that. I think many of us were/are hiding our wobbly bodies as we plod along. Great that you have ditched the Shades of Shame 😎 Thanks for an inspiring post.

  • Love this post :)

    I went out in dark Lycra from day 1 and felt SO self conscious it was actually causing me real anxiety.

    Maybe not quite as quickly as you, but around week 5/6 I too started feeling more confident and bought some quite 'loud' running clothes! I still feel a bit wobbly when running new routes but am getting better!

    As you've said, if you see someone out trying they are inspirational and thankfully I haven't encountered any negativity yet. Loads was anticipated but the worst I've had is a couple of runners who haven't nodded back.

    So glad you are proud of your efforts- you really deserve to be.

    Well done, happy running :)

  • great post! We should all be proud! And remember some of the starers are possibly c25 k'ers wondering if you are doing c25k! I find myself doing it often, thinking what week are they on, oh nice trainers etc!

  • What a brilliant post! Really inspirational too. Well done for removing the shades of shame. I was really anxious when I started as I am quite big myself, but I've not had any negative comments when out doing my runs. I bumped into my osteopath last week while running and she congratulated me on my hard work!

  • Thank you all for your replies! I think it is great that we can share these experiences and know that we are not alone. It is also very inspiring to see that many who have replied are C25K graduates who felt exactly the same in the beginning. The rest of us will get there in the end :)

  • Great post... well done you. This should inspire anyone with doubts...!

    We have all done it... ( or many of us), greys, blacks, we would wear indivisibility clothing if we could..but then , you reach a stage as Irishprincess says, where we just don't give two hoots for other folks and their sneers!!!

    Thing is... now, are you ready to wear a t shirt that says... " I'm out here, and I'm doing it!"

    "Self confidence is the best outfit. Rock it... and own it " Yeay!

  • Actually my T shirt says "Brains, Beauty, BOOTY" ;P

  • For my birthday last week my friend bought me a T shirt that says "I'm so Glamorous I sweat Glitter" :D It could be a little looser, to be honest.. but it soon will be!! I love it!

    BTW, Diamonte Sandal is my stage name as I sing with a band, and we are ALL about the SPARKLE!! :D :D

  • Wonderful... I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Bootilicious ! Yay , Well done Cath !

    You sock it to 'em girl, unleash your inner Beyoncé ! :-)

    What an amazing post , I loved it !

    Welcome aboard , I can only echo what everyone else has said, keep that positive attitude and determination going and you will smash this programme , I can tell !

    All the very best to you and please keep posting, it will be great to read of your progress .

    Good Luck ! :-) xxx

  • Thank you for the welcome poppypug! Seems a lovely friendly community you have here, looking forward to getting involved.

  • I love this post. Well done for keeping going, it's going to be worth it!

    I have a "bank" of nice running memories I think of when it's tough:

    The lady who cycled past me in about week 1 or 2 and called out- "Keep going. Running saved my life!"

    My friend who drove past and shook her hand in the air as if to say "Go get em"

    My kids who for once didn't criticise my running outfit and said I looked like the pink power ranger. (I think that's flattering!)

    And today the old man who passed in his car (I had to move to the the side of the lane) and said "Thank you young lady".

    I'm 47!

    Made me smile, anyway! Wouldn't have happened if I'd been on the couch.

    Well done and keep going.

  • Great idea to keep a "bank" of positive memories @jo4t15, I shal try to do that myself :)

  • Love it - as well as all the replies!

    I too started while I was (and still am) overweight and felt very self-conscious at first, but now I am out there, loud and proud.

    Go all runners of all shapes, ages, sizes and ability - we rock!

  • Well said, good for you.

  • I loved your post!! I was mortified when one or two people mentioned in the pub that they'd seen me out and about. I thought: I can't go on now, I look ridiculous. And realised my cloak of invisibility had slipped off. But you know? They were all really admiring that I was doing it, even the youngsters. Those amongst them who do run have no difficulty with my slow speed, as with all real experts they are happy to share their enthusiasm. I suppose one or two wonder what I'm doing it for (be honest, so do I sometimes!!) but I'm standing taller, tummy pulled in and at a recent family wedding was flattered by comments at how great I was looking.

    And you feel blooming amazing when you conquer a difficult run! I'm going to risk my Aldi purple capris this week! That'll show em!!

    Keep at it and amaze yourself!

  • @Old_trout Glad to hear that you are running proud! I think that most of the feelings of shame and embarrassment are in our own heads and that other people either a: don't care or b: admire you for doing it.

    Have fun in the purple capris. Pictures maybe? ;P

  • Lovely post, I really enjoyed reading that. You are so right. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

  • What a great post, really made me smile! I remember the first time I ventured out in lycra, it was down a quiet country lane and I was so paranoid that someone would see me. By the time I got to week 2 of c25k I didn't bother as much as I rarely saw anyone until further down the weeks when I saw two much more professional runners down the lane. One had been trying to get passed my wobbly behind for some time but I hadn't realised then I felt mortified thinking that he'd have watched me running from behind ( poor soul, what his eyes must've gone through!) - but as he passed me, he gave me such a cheery hello that it made me feel much better. Further on, another fit lycra clad runner also gave me the loveliest hello - they were both so much fitter and running so much faster but it really didn't matter. Just goes to show that for all the idiots that point and laugh, there are many more who do the complete opposite :)

    Keep up the good work!

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