“Instead of being ashamed of doing what you do or being what you are, I ask two important questions: Why not celebrate it? Why not be proud of the fact that the body you are in can do great things?”
What is a runner? How do we define an athlete? What does it truly mean to be fit and healthy?
Challenging stereotypes, today’s guest demands that we broaden our limited definition of these terms.
She may not be fast, but she runs. In fact she runs a lot, an impressive slew of ultramarathons to her name.
She’s also not skinny. In fact, she’s big.
250 pounds big.
But Mirna Valerio is without a doubt a runner.
In fact, the force of nature affectionately known as The Mirnavator is one of the most inspirational athletes I have ever met — a true ambassador of sport on a mission to empower women of all shapes and sizes to proudly embrace their bodies, expand their horizons, and own their truth.
Carrying herself with grace, an intelligent self-confidence and a smile so gleeful it brightens all in her path, Mirna’s appeal has less to do with her ability to run long distances and everything to do with her unapologetic celebration of her personal truth.
Mirna’s joyful self-acceptance is both real and rare. It’s both authentic and bold. It’s as infectious as it is inclusive.
And it’s incredibly empowering to the millions of people who suffer body shame issues silently.
When she’s not running, the Brooklyn native (now living in the North Georgia Mountains with her husband and teenage son) is a Spanish teacher, diversity practitioner, cross-country coach, and author of the wildly popular blog Fat Girl Running. She also writes frequently for Women’s Running Magazine and recently released a remarkable memoir I thoroughly enjoyed entitled, A Beautiful Work In Progress.
She’s been profiled in the Wall Street Journal and Runner’s World and on NBC Nightly News. She’s also an ambassador for a variety of brands like REI, Merrell, Skirt Sports and Swiftwick. Just this week Mirna became one of the faces of JC Penney’s newly launched Here I Am campaign.
I first came across Mirna’s story by way of a mini-documentary produced by REI called The Mirnavator that went viral. Hooked, I was determined to share her powerful story with you. Mirna more than delivered.
Much like past episodes with Josh LaJaunie, Adam Sud, David Clark and my most recent episode with Charlie Jabaley, this is an incredibly inspiring underdog every person story.
But unlike those tales, Mirna’s journey is not one marked by dramatic before and after photos. On the contrary, this is a story about body acceptance and body positivity.
It’s a conversation about self-empowerment and self-acceptance. It’s about tackling stereotypes, overcoming prejudice and the importance of inclusion. And it’s an exchange about the need to redefine how we think about and define athleticism, the spirit of sport, and fitness in general.
But more than anything, this is a conversation about owning your truth.
I adore Mirna and I absolutely love this conversation. I think you will too.
Please stick around to the very end for a treat. In addition to her impressive accomplishments, Mirna is also an extremely talented, Julliard-trained opera singer. I was able to convince her to take us out with her angelic, etheral voice. It’s insane!
Peace + Plants,
Photos courtesy of Nicole DeBoom / Skirt Sports
Thanks to this week’s sponsors
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Check out Mirna’s new book: on: A Beautiful Work In Progress*
Background, Context & Reference
- Connect with Mirna: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
- Mirna’s Blog: Fat Girl Running
- Mirna’s sponsors and affiliations: Custom Performance | Merrell | REI | Skirt Sports | swiftwick
- VIDEO: REI Presents: The Mirnavator | REI
- VIDEO: Here I Am: Plus Size Athletes Fit at Any Size | JCPenney
- Runner’s World: Ultra: Is it possible to be fat and fit? Healthy and happy as well as heavy? At 250 pounds, distance runner Mirna Valerio provides an inspiring example by John Brant
- NBC News: ‘Fat Girl Running’ Blogger Challenges Stereotypes Miles at a Time by George Itzhak
- CNN: Plus-size runner leads the way for overweight athletes by Ryan Bergeron
- The Wall Street Journal: Weight Loss or Not, Exercise Yields Benefits by Rachel Bachman
- Women’s Running: Mirna Has The Best Response For One Hater Calling Her Fat And A Fake by Mirna Valerio
- SELF: An Open Letter to Women Who Aren’t Putting Their Needs First bu Mirna Valerio
- Huffington Post: The One Morning Habit That Changed Mirna Valerio’s Life by Abigail Cuffey
- ELLE: Mirna Valerio Is Not Here To Be Your Before-and-After Inspiration by Krista Soriano
- People: ‘Fat Girl Running’ Blogger: I Want to Shatter Stereotypes About What a Runner Should Look Like by Gabrielle Olya
- Daily Mail: Fat Girl Running: Georgia teacher weighs 250 pounds and runs ultramarathons, breaking the stereotype that long distance runners are thin – and fighting back against critics who say otherwise by Ann Schmidt
- BRIT + CO: Mirna Valerio Wants You to Know She’s More Than Just a Fat Girl Running by Amanda Scriver
- Book: The Four Tendencies* by Gretchen Rubin
Notable People Discussed
- Gretchen Rubin: host of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, NYT bestselling author and podcast guest
- Lorraine Nubar: head of the Juilliard School’s Pre-College voice department, and a member of its faculty since 1978
- Rachel Bachman: writes about fitness and exercise from The Wall Street Journal’s New York office
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy
- RRP #317: Where Do You Thrive? Gretchen Rubin On Playing To Your Strengths & Building Better Habits
- RRP #311: Ultra-Athlete Samantha Gash On Suffering For Your Passion, Running Across India & Why Service Is Paramount
- RRP #339: How Charlie Jabaley Lost 120lbs & Overcame A Brain Tumor To Become An Athlete
- RRP #152: How Josh LaJaunie Lost 200 Pounds, Ran an UltraMarathon & Transformed His Life
- RRP #113 : How David Clark Overcame Alcoholism, Lost 150 Pounds & Conquered Badwater
- RRP #175: How Adam Sud Lost 100 Pounds, Kicked Adderall, Reversed His Diabetes & Found A Life
*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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