Very Different Concerns

Concerned puppy is very concernedIn preparing for the IRONMAN I’ve been spending a lot of time on triathlon forums and I’ve learned that my concerns are often very different than those of athletes who aren’t fat.


When it comes to clothes I see a lot of concern in the forums about what the best options are, which shirt has the best moisture wicking, which wetsuit allows the most freedom of movement, which padded bike shorts have seams that cause the least chaffing.

My concern is usually more along the lines of  does even a single option for this type of clothing exist in my size?  (often the answer is no) And then, how I can get it custom made, or make due with the one option that exists but isn’t really right for me.


From my forum reading alone I could write a novel about bikes and bike accessories – which are fastest, lightest, most comfortable etc.

Unfortunately my novel wouldn’t really help me much since my concern is about whether or not I can find equipment rated to hold my weight at my height (5’4 with super short legs and a “super long torso” according to the seamstress who used to make my dance costumes) Not an easy fit as it turns out.


Quality of sidewalks, elevation changes, and shade all factor very highly in discussions about where and when to train.

I have to ask myself different questions.  I can almost never complete an outdoor run without having someone yell some anti-fat slur at me so I don’t even try to prevent that.  The questions I ask myself are more along the lines of how likely people on this route are to throw things at me, or lay hands on me and try to pray the fat away.


Everyone worries about injuries, but I have to worry that if I get injured a doctor will refuse to treat the injury, or refuse to treat it aggressively, because, as a fat woman, I’m seen as less worthy or deserving of care.

I’m likely to be diagnosed as fat and prescribed weight loss when I have injuries that thin people get all the time, and for which they are prescribed very specific interventions shown to help with the actual injuries (it’s happened to me previously for a toe I broke when my dog tripped me going up the stairs, a shoulder that was separated in a ballroom dance incident, and strep throat.  Seriously, I was prescribed weight loss for strep throat.)

I know that if I get injured it may very well mean a conversation with the doctor with me saying something like “Do thin people get this injury?”  “What do you prescribe to them?”  “Can we try those interventions before we amputate my stomach to try to treat shin splints?”

Race Schedule

On the forums people joke about not wanting to announce their race schedules so that their friends don’t razz them if they don’t do the race.  I have to worry that people from fat hating internet groups with too much time on their hands, terrified of being proven wrong by me – again, will start a petition trying to get the race directors to refuse to let me compete. Or worse…

Race Day

People have lots of fears about the race, but as far as I’ve seen, I’m the only one who has to worry if the two people who threatened to show up at my IM and drown me during the swim will actually try to follow through.

So as a fat person I’m constantly told (by people whose business it is most definitely not) that I should exercise. But apparently I’m meant to do it in my house, with the blinds drawn, in a toga fashioned out of a bedsheet, and only in ways of which people who stereotype and stigmatize me approve, or they will feel justified in engaging in behavior from hate mail, to street harassment, to murder.

I say fuck that. And fuck every single person who perpetuates it.  I’m grateful for the triathlon forums and the discussions there that are relevant to me, and I’m super extra grateful for the Fit Fatties Forum and Facebook page for being a safe space where I can discuss everything else.

More Cool Stuff:

If you have questions about my IRONMAN journey  the FAQ might help!

If you’re looking for a place to talk about fitness from a weight neutral perspective, check out the Fit Fatties Forum. and the Fit Fatties Facebook page.

Book Me!  I’m a professional speaker and I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Buy my book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

About Ragen Chastain

Hi, I’m Ragen Chastain. Speaker, Writer, Dancer, Choreographer, Marathoner, Soon to be Iron-distance triathlete, Activist, Fat Person.
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7 Responses to Very Different Concerns

  1. lsstrout says:

    And I’m glad you blog so the rest of us can discuss our issues and cheer you on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kiki says:

    Your workout ethic and general attitude are so inspiring! I love virtually following your milestones and achievements, but I especially love your accounts of never giving in to haters trying to stop you from what you clearly love! Rock on!


  3. Karen Williams says:

    December 2, 2014 at 4:13 am
    Hi Ragen. I have been a triathlete since 1984. I have struggled with my weight since I was 10. I am a medical professional. I say – GO FOR IT!. I have some advice. My largest was 212 lb and I did a short course tri at that weight. I have done a marathon near that weight. For the swim – technique is the most important thing. You have an advantage over the skinny chicks. You float better. Get technique down and you’ve got the advantage. In the bike the fit and the shorts are the most important. If you have to mortgage your house to get a good pair of shorts do it. They will be ugly. They don’t make pretty for your size. So what. Comfort counts. Second, the bike fit. There is a thing I call an ass-meter. I am sure there is a more technical name for it. It measures your sitz bones. Get a saddle to fit those bones. I ended up with a mountain bike saddle which makes biking a lot more comfortable. You have an advantage over skinny chicks in the bike if it is windy. You have more ballast and won’t get knocked on your ass with a gust. In the run the 2 most important things are body glide and the surface you train on. Stay on trails to avoid the impact to the joints. (Trails have the added benefit of not as many butt-heads making fun). New Balance shoes also help with impact. Good support with the bra is important. Funky makes great clothing for all sizes for exercise. You have an advantage on the run. You have reserves to draw on. The skinny chicks, if they have not done their nutrition right, will bonk. Lastly, Ironman Arizona 2015 filled up the day after 2014 IM AZ finished. If you want to get into IM AZ 2016 you need to volunteer at 2015. You get second try to register right behind the racers in 2015 Good Luck and have fun with the Journey!


  4. I found your blog today, you are my hero.


  5. expendableenergy says:

    dont psyche yourself out. everyone has worries about training and the race day. part of being an ironman is overcoming those mental obstacles. to keep on putting one foot in front of another when everything, everybody, and sometimes yourself is telling you cant. keep on keeping on youll get there!


  6. Courtney says:

    I have trouble finding regular gym clothes (even something as basic as knit pants!) in my size. I haven’t looked for specialty equipment since the 1999. I took a scuba class when I was a size 16, and they didn’t have a single wetsuit that would fit me. They had to open a custom order and then re-order it for the customer. (They asked her for permission–I wouldn’t have done it otherwise.)


  7. Kelley says:

    Have yall tried Junonia? I used to get lots of activewear there.


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