The Joy of Not Giving a Sh*t – Inspiration Friday

dance like a toddlerI’ve always been inspired by people who persevere through criticism and living outside social norms, but it turns out that the ability to do that is critical to my chances of IRONMAN success. But let’s back it up a little…

I hate carrying a water bottle while I walk/run.  I. hate. it. I find that it makes my form weird, as I drink it starts sloshing around which is irritating, and I think that carrying it causes muscle imbalance that is throwing off my swim*  The water from the fountains near where I train is very warm and very gross, and the little shops that sell water aren’t open in the middle of the night early morning  when I’m doing my long workouts and most need water.

*Yeah, this is a not true at all, it’s a totally BS attempt to construct a “good reason” why I shouldn’t carry a water bottle, but the truth is I just don’t like doing it.

So I’ve been exploring options – I’ve tried smaller water bottles to accommodate my little hands (that didn’t work…so. much. sloshing.) and water bottles that have have various hand grips (no joy) and after hearing me complain Julianne offered to become a moving aid station and just hand me water at various points (tempting, but I feel bad enough asking her to wake up and help me with sunscreen.) I tried hydration backpacks but they chaffed horribly. So I started researching and finally found a fuel belt that would fit me.  Sort of.

The catch was that I could’t find a belt that would fit around my waist without causing all kinds of chaffing issues.  So I found a belt (fitletic Hydra) that fits up higher around my ribs, just under my sports bra.  I currently use a Hippie Runner running belt in the same way, so it’s not a new idea to me. It is a little strange though.  There are people who share the same trail as me who carry water bottles (who can do this? It sucks so much!) and people who wear hydration backpacks, but you don’t see a lot of fuel belts.

Last year, this would have tripped me up. One of the things that this IRONMAN journey has forced me to deal with is self-doubt/fear of looking foolish that I haven’t had to deal with in quite a long time.  The world of athletics – clothes, gear, etc. – is not made for fat people and so often we have to engage in some combination of making do and innovation.  This leads to people (and especially those who have easy access to the clothing and gear that they need) offering “help” in the form of unsolicited, unhelpful advice.

When I started, this would really throw me – I was a rank beginner at two of the three disciplines and impressively terrible at the third so if someone questions what I was doing, I questioned it to. This combined with people’s tendency to engage in outloud sizeism and fat shaming (last week two runners passed me on my long walk/run while I was eating an energy gel – as they passed one said to the other “you know she’s not going more than a mile but god forbid she miss a chance to eat.”) This happens with reasonable regularity and, unlike with dancing, I don’t have the defense of being good at what I’m doing to cushion the blows.

My trolls inadvertently helped me out with this – their ceaseless criticism of me and every single thing I do, say, and write has helped to desensitize me to criticism, and helps remind me that what other people think is just not important unless I decide it’s important.

Do my neighbors think I’m odd for doing walking squats in the yard? Probably.  Do people think Phyxius (my little Frankenbike) is ridiculous.  Definitely.  Will people think it’s strange that I’m wearing a fuel belt around my ribs instead of my waist?  I’m sure they will.  Do I care?  No.

Now, as you might imagine, that doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to speak out against fat shaming bullshit, it just means that I’m not allowing the potential for, or the aftermath of, fat shaming bullshit to affect to my decisions. (To be clear, it’s not the only way to deal with it and if fat people choose to make decisions to avoid dealing with fat shaming – that isn’t their fault but becomes their problem – that’s an equally valid choice.)

For me, it’s the joy of not giving a shit.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff!

IRONMAN Sale:  I’m having an ongoing sale on my books,  DVDs and downloads to help pay for my IM – you get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! To check it out, you can go to No money?  No problem!  If you feel like it, you can leave a comment or send me an e-mail ( saying something encouraging, that’s incredibly helpful as well!

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!



About danceswithfat

Hi, I’m Ragen Chastain. Speaker, Writer, Dancer, Choreographer, Marathoner, Soon to be IRONMAN, Activist, Fat Person.
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10 Responses to The Joy of Not Giving a Sh*t – Inspiration Friday

  1. ex-R says:

    Hey, me again! I like this post, it’s got spunk. I totally agree with you about squats in public. They’re gonna think you’re weird, and who cares? I started doing a program that has squats and weird stuff mixed in, and I realized people were going to see me and I froze in fear. And then I realized, wtfever. At least I’m not sitting at a computer judging people.

    Funny story about your ‘trolls’ – they banned me no-questions-asked over there once for jokingly defending you a couple times. Like, way over-the-top satirical statements. They’re not people that can take any sort of criticism themselves. The mods threatened to doxx me over it, so they’re hypocrites at the very least. Constructive criticism is one thing, way-past-borderline-obsession is a whole different pony. There’s a guy that walks down my block rambling about the President and some conspiracy about alien invasions non-stop, too – not really gonna heed his advice to prep my soul for the oncoming ascension. I’m sure he knows a lot about aliens, but hey, I got things to do.

    I’ve seen other larger women running with fuel belts around their ribs before in my area. Hadn’t thought much of it until reading this. Just figured it was more comfortable for them. I doubt you’ll get any grief.


    • ex-R says:

      P.S. I really want to thank you for approving these comments and letting them dogpile it on Reddit, which they are doing now. It certainly is interesting to witness the conjecture when you know the truth yourself, and gives me much to reconsider having simply believed them in the past.

      I probably won’t keep up much anymore. I said what I needed to get off my chest, and I feel hanging around now that they’re discussing my comments would fan the flames. That would actually be trolling, which is most definitely not my point in commenting. I just wanted you to know that at least one person from that tribe, who vociferously opposed you, agreed that the Reddit groups have grown insane and out of control. Hopefully I’ve inspired a few more to rethink their participation in the obsession.

      Good luck with your ventures and stay safe out there!


  2. Stacy says:

    I used to take criticism and hateful comments pretty hard. I’d lose sleep over it, get stomach aches, and generally get acute anxiety. I’ve gotten much better over the years though and more and more I get sharp moments of clarity when the criticism or hateful comments just kind of roll off my back and make me laugh at their ridiculousness. Those moments are coming more and more as I get older and I know that comes from, in large part, reading blogs by people like you who go through MASSIVE AMOUNTS of criticism and hateful comments and come out of it STRONGER. It makes me realize that I, too, can learn to let the criticism make me stronger rather than tearing me down.

    Thank you for all you do to help make things brighter and better for people like me – who read about your journey and take strength from it. It means more than you can know.


  3. standgale says:

    F*** those runners. I always think its a shame you can’t punch people who really deserve it.

    If people are going to criticise you anyway, no matter what you do, you might as well do what you want, so good on you! I think this is probably true of a lot of things, so its a useful lesson for us readers too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bethany says:

    Facebook showed me a little sidebar ad for a Flip Belt, so I headed over to their site to check it out. I’m always looking for a good way to carry things when I do half marathon training. Well, they consider a size 14-16 an XL, and that’s as high as they go. I emailed them to ask if/when they intend to expand (zing!) to bigger sizes, and reminded them that there is a lot of money to be had for companies who understand that athletes come in all sizes. No response yet, but I’ll keep ya posted!


  5. Angela says:

    I just can’t understand why some people feel that the only way to feel better about themselves is to tear other people down. If what we’re doing makes us happy (and isn’t harming anyone else), why on *earth* are other people offended and feeling the need to criticize?

    I thank you for having the gumption, courage, and tenacity to follow your dreams. You have inspired me so much.

    A friend introduced me to your blog “Dances with Fat” about 2 1/2 years ago. For over the past 2 years, I have regularly practiced yoga, gone swimming, belly danced, and rocked the elliptical in public. I’m not ashamed to do any of those things anymore. I hear your words in my mind saying, “If you don’t like what you’re seeing – you’re free to look away”. I try to move every day, not to lose weight – but because moving feels good and will likely contribute towards my over-all health.

    Thank you for helping me choose to not accept the shame that others try to make me feel for being fat. I will live my life on my own terms. There is *so* much joy in just not giving a sh*t. 🙂


  6. Always impressed by your resilience and wonder how you’ve managed to get to the point (other than growing a thick protective skin from the trolls, but even then, c’mon … you’re human and ceaseless trolling / criticism / random hatred spewed at you takes its toll) of knowing that you’re not going to give any emotional air-time to the hateful critics/trolls. There’s logic and then there’s human emotion, which doesn’t always align with rational thought 🙂 Curious to know if you’ve had professional training or skill-building or therapy (or all the aforementioned) to arrive at this enlightened approach. Your resilience is admirable and tremendously impressive.


  7. Finally heard back from the Flip Belt people. Here’s what they said:

    Hi Bethany,

    Thank you so much for your feedback! We work hard to accommodate all of our customers. Unfortunately, we do not offer larger sizes at this time. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please continue to follow us on our social media and check back with us in the future!

    Have a great day!

    Somehow “inconvenience” doesn’t seem like the right word…


    • “Inconvenience” definitely doesn’t seem like the right word, nor does “work hard to accommodate all of our customers” seem to reflect what’s happening here. Ugh. I may put together a blog about this, do you mind if I use their e-mail?



  8. Jessa says:

    I feel you SO MUCH on hating carrying the water bottle. Drives me crazy. I bought some camel pack thing that lets me take two with me (one on each side of my back, basically), that, in all seriousness, makes fanny packs look hip and cool, but whatever, solved my problem. (I should note that I’m only training for sprint tri pace, so my carrying water is way less of an inconvenience than your carrying water, so I can’t even imagine what it must be like for IM training when it is so obnxious during 5ks…)

    I love reading your updates!


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