In Big Fit Girl Louise Green shares her fitness journey, advocates for a size inclusive fitness culture, and offers practical tips for getting started. Green is a plus sized athlete–a former runner and now boxer–and a personal trainer based in Vancouver. She personally got beyond thinking of exercise as thing one does to get thin, adopted an active lifestyle without a focus on the scale, and is now keen to spread the word.
More than 2/3 of women wear size 14 or larger yet our images of the fit, active person are inevitably of someone lean and small. Green started her fitness journey with a 5 km running program and along the way discovered all sorts of advantages to an active lifestyle that have nothing to do with losing weight. Green writes, “To weather the peaks, valleys, and plateaus of your athletic journey, you must base your success on more than just the numbers on the scale. You are in this for the long-term, and exercise has many benefits that have nothing to do with what you weigh.”
Green’s book celebrates the plus sized active woman and encourages everyone, regardless of size, to find the active thing they love. Green writes, “Whether you are an avid walker, a triathlete, a ballroom dancer or an Olympic weightlifter, or if you aspire to be all those things and more, your presence as a plus size woman working out in our society is creating a much needed shift. And because we don’t see women of size as much as we need to in advertising, television, movies, or other media, it’s up to us–you and me–to inspire others to join our ranks.”
The book is a combination of personal narrative, practical fitness and nutrition advice, inspirational messages and stories from larger women athletes, and body positive cultural critique and analysis. In fact, Green’s message fits in well with the message of inclusive fitness we try to share here on this blog. It’s fair to say that if you like our blog, you’ll like Green’s book.
One worry–and it’s a worry I share about my own writing– is that Green, like me, is at the bottom end of what counts as plus sized. Yes, we both have weights that fall outside the kind of normative thinness praised in contemporary North American culture. But we’re both the kind of big that when people talk about “fat women” in disparaging terms, they’re going to say to us, “Oh, I didn’t mean you.” Why does that matter? I wonder and worry about this a lot when I decide to count myself in, or not, in various fat positive circles. It does mean that some barriers that larger plus size women face won’t be ones that we confront.
Some larger women may say, “oh, it’s fine for you but I couldn’t do that.” Some of the obstacles in terms of finding gear, finding a sympathetic coach, and facing scorn may be much higher.
I also worry about a body positivity that is based on the athletic potential of larger women. Our bodies are worth love and respect even if we don’t work out, and don’t have health as a goal.
But these are small worries about a wonderful book.
And hey, we’ve featured Louise Green before on the blog. See (Updated) Plus sized endurance athletes, we exist!
Canadian Running reviewed her book here.
Fit and Feminist reviews it here.
Oh, and here’s her TED Talk, Limitless: Let’s Think Again about Athleticism:
You can read more about the book in this CBC profile, ‘Big Fit Girl’ challenges body stereotypes with new book. Refinery 29 also reviews it, Lies The Fitness Industry Tells Plus-Size Women.
Big Fit Girl is published by Greystone Books. They’re also publishing our book Fit at Mid-Life: A Feminist Fitness Journey in spring 2018. Maybe we’ll meet up with Louise on the book tour circuit and go workout together. I’d like that!
You can order the book from Greystone here.
And here’s what they’ve got to say about it:
In this kick-ass call to arms, Louise Green describes how the fitness industry fails to meet the needs of plus-size women and thus prevents them from improving their health. By sharing her own story of how she stopped dieting, got off the couch, and got fit, Green inspires other plus-size women to do the same. She provides concrete advice about how to get started, how to establish a support team, how to choose an activity, how to set goals, what kind of clothing and gear work best for the plus-size athlete, and how to improve one’s relationship with food. She also showcases similar stories from other women.
LOUISE GREEN is a plus-size athlete, a personal trainer, and the founder of Body Exchange, a plus-size fitness boot camp with seven locations in Canada. She has written for numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Daily Mail, Glamour, and the Huffington Post, among others. She lives in North Vancouver, B.C.