Latoya Shauntay Snell is a freelance chef, photographer and founder of Running Fat Chef
, a food and fitness blog that documents her experiences as a plus size marathoner, Ultra marathoner and obstacle course racer. She has been featured on multiple platforms such as Redbook magazine, BuzzFeed Health, Self Magazine and Women’s Running.
In the recent brief interview with Athletico, Latoya gave very insightful answers to our questions, hence once again proving that struggle not only makes you a better athlete but also a better soulful person.
Prateek: In a world where people body shame every person who doesn’t fall under the ‘Standard’ beauty category, how do u stay peaceful and focused every time some dumb person tries to demean you ?
Latoya: Through working alongside my husband Eric in photography, I realised that the ‘standard’ is established by small group of social influencers. At some point in history, particularly fashion, being today’s definition of plus size was desirable until someone else stepped in and changed the rules. We have to question ourselves on why we allow others to dictate how we look, feel, respond or live. I came to the realisation years ago that I am a rebel against such standards. When you’re shamed simply for being who you are and then judged when you conform, at which point do you find your true happiness? It took years of practice to speak to myself on a positive level. Nobody can take away my self worth if I don’t give them that power.
Prateek: We live in a world where people support strong women superficially and feel threatened by those women from inside, do you think people target you more because you are a strong woman who dared to fight against all odds to prove her strength or because you don’t fall under the regular norms of the athletic world?
Latoya: I’m inclined to believe that it’s a mixture of both. Most times, when we are chastised for being who we are from others, it’s a reflection of that person’s insecurities. Unfortunately, we live in a time where people thrive off of appearances. Such platforms that I love like Instagram and Facebook can be destructive to our emotional well-being. In turn, when a person like choose to challenge those norms, especially in the world of athletics, it’s frowned upon. While a small audience May embrace it, a vast majority are not open to change. Examples of this is demonstrated throughout our daily lives, especially as a woman. Sure, improvements are being made but it wasn’t that long ago that women weren’t showed to vote. We were discouraged to go to work, be vocal or have equal rights. In turn, I’m never certain of a naysayers’ state of mind until they’re willing to engage me in open dialogue.
Prateek: Any 5 tips you would like to give to new runners which you wish you had been aware of before starting the running regime?
1. Learn how to breathe properly while running, especially as an endurance runner.
2. If you opt to participate in a race, learn how to create pseudo tunnel vision. New runners tend to look at everyone else on the pavement and start self doubting their abilities because there are people who run faster than you. When in doubt, think of the story about the tortoise and the hare.
3. Your nutrition is incredibly important. At one point, I learned a valuable lesson about what works with my stomach before hitting the trails or pavement. Some food will not sit well in my stomach. It can cause an upset stomach to triggering things such as runner’s trots. If you want to humour yourself, do a Google search about runners referring to runner’s diarrhoea as the “gingerbread man.”
4. Wear reflective clothing: If you are running at odd hours of the day, reflective wear can save your life.
5. If you find yourself struggling to keep up with a certain pace, music may help. Fast music can subconsciously make you move faster while slower beats can help you slow down.
Prateek: With wide variety of sports around why did you choose running, what is that one thing you feel about running that completely separates it from rest of the sports?
Latoya: I NEVER thought that I would stick to running. Initially, I took on running simply because of my long distance MySpace friend Rob signed up for a half marathon. When I started meeting others on the pavement, I felt like I made a new family through movement. What separates running above all sports is knowing that I am still granted this gift of mobility when I thought my sciatica and herniated disc would hinder me from walking or staying in the culinary field. Running is my Reality check that I’m still here. Some days are smooth sailing and others are exceptionally rough. If you talk to most runners, they tend to have the same testament.