I am in China. Everyday this month has been at least 28 degrees Celsius and 70% humidity. Thunderstorms happen daily. During the day I am sweating before I even get to the bottom of the apartment stairwell. ​I run at night when the sun goes down, 8pm sometimes 9pm before the temperature drops a few degrees and it's bearable to be outside. I've been at it now for near  months and can manage 40 minutes of running before I tire. I've unconvinced my body has changed much, I haven't noticed much difference in weight but I am undeterred as I relish instead on how much more stamina I have.

Asia is not the ideal place to have body issues. As a young white female foreigner, a breed of person some of the rural Chinese have never met before, I get a fair share of photos being taken or stares anyway. It used to annoy me but I grew to accept and ignore it. I am overweight, I accept that but I'm still active, still working and although I am not slender I'm also not the human embodiment of a blue whale. I get called fat all the time. I don't just mean by the kids at the school I teach who are using one of the few adjectives they know at but by random adults. The old Chinese mamas will pat my stomach and make some gesture meaning I am bigger than they are.  I brush it off, it doesn't bother me all that much in honesty but over time I noticed I was avoiding any subject involving fashion, clothes, food, eating, drinking or just anything that could lead to my weight being called into question. I certainly don't wear revealing clothes and prefer loose fitting anything that hides my true frame.

Running changed that. Running trousers are tight, fitted, elasticated things that are designed to help rather than hinder running. At first this scared me, I opted for black ones that 'might make my backside seem smaller'. Then I threw caution to the Windstream, I bought brightly coloured gaudy running tights and they soon became my favourite fitness clothes. I stopped caring about my legs and how people viewed me. They should be viewing me as someone who is out running not as some behemoth that looks a certain way.

My change in clothes was a reflection of my inner confidence. Being able to run further and longer was making me feel great.

I hate my arms, I always hated my arms. They are big and wobbly and have no tone or strength. I always hide them. In my new found strength I committed to a racer back top. No sleeves. My shoulders and arms totally on show. Considering the weather this was arguably a sensible move, I was cooling down faster as I ran but I found a new point of pride.

My shoulders were sweating. I liked it.


'sweaty shoulder- armpit girl' Photo Credit to Flickr User 320828282

Not that I find sweat sexy, it's a little more than that. What I liked was not the sweat but the fact that I was ​sweating on my shoulders. I had been running for 35 minutes and my shoulders were glistening in the school track floodlights on show for all to see. I was unashamed of my body, my fat arms and my jiggly butt. I was running. Most importantly that is how I viewed myself, a runner.

By the time I stopped running I was wet, my body damp from my activity and the humidity. I was tired and content in my achievement, unashamed to be seen by the tiny teenage girls and boys who had come out to the track after class (finished at 9:30pm, poor sods) who looked at me with mild curiosity. 'What is the foreign teacher doing?', well she was running, arms on show and in tight florescent trousers. She was doing something positive and she felt positive as a result.

The next day I was called fat again by an old lady down at the market after I was looking at the t-shirts on her stall (mostly to look for wonderful Chinglish text which always cracks me up). She motioned to her wares and then to me, miming that I was too big to fit into her clothes. She was right, I am a UK size 16/18 not a Chinese size... 6? Maybe? I smiled and didn't care. I might be jiggly, but you should see my 20 odd laps of jiggling round a track. It's impressive.

Published by Ee Jay Cee