Adventure Is Not Just for Sexy People

| August 26, 2013 | 97 Comments

comfort zone

I posted my monthly weight loss and fitness update last Friday. On Saturday, I received this message on Facebook:

Dear WA Friends,

I’ve liked and followed your posts here on FB for some time now. I agree with the premiss [sic] of what you are doing, absolutely!

What I have issue with is many of your posts feature unhealthy, overweight women as some type of fitness examples. I know we all need to start somewhere but the post featuring Jen losing only 5 lbs was just too much.

If this was “Weight Watchers” magazine, I could see articles like that as being inspirational. However, you are “Women’s Adventure” so my expectation is a bit different. Being that heavy and never having ridden a road bike until now makes you look like a poser.

Hearing about someone that heavy has lost only 5lbs after a month pretty much confirms that.

I wish Jen and all of you every continued success but I’m pretty much here [sic]. I didn’t post anything negative on your page but wrote you directly. I would never want to hurt anyone’s feelings but I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Best wishes,
Female Reader (name removed)

Wow. I had to reread it a couple of times before it actually sunk in. Then I burst into tears. I couldn’t believe that a stranger would take the time to write such a cruel email to someone who’s actually trying hard to change. Coming from another woman, it’s even worse. As former Secretary of State Madeline Albright has said numerous times, “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” We work hard to foster a supportive community of women at this magazine. God knows, it’s hard enough having a vagina in this world.

This message was meant to cut me down and de-motivate me. And it worked. After reading it, I felt deeply ashamed: ashamed of my body, ashamed for trying, ashamed for failing, ashamed for working at Women’s Adventure when I am obviously “unhealthy, overweight, and a poser.”

I felt so ashamed, that although I was in tears, I was scared to call my husband for support. I feared that after reading the message to him, he would take the side of the writer—that he would see the light of day for the first time…. “Thank you for clearing the cobwebs from my eyes. My wife is just as you describe her. Why on earth did I ever marry her?”

Dr. Brene Brown of TED Talk fame, and who has more recently gained notoriety in Oprah Magazine, describes shame as “the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging.” By calling me a poser and “heavy” numerous times, the message I heard was: “You don’t belong here.” Even at 37-years-old, I find that this message still has tremendous power. I was instantly flooded with vivid sensory memories of feeling unwanted, unloved as a child and teenager—the odd, chubby girl, the loser.

Our magazine is not just for sexy, buff women. There’s a gazillion other magazines that can show you airbrushed photos of Barbie dolls with cut biceps. Women’s Adventure magazine’s mission is to inspire women to try new things, move out of their comfort zones, and challenge them to grow, improve themselves both physically and mentally. Our magazine celebrates discovery of both the self and the world. We aspire to create a magazine that tells you anything is possible. The journey begins with a single step.

We hope to encourage women to not wait to discover their stronger, braver, happier sides—do it today. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re too old, too young, too fat, too weak.

Don’t wait until you “look good” in spandex to start biking; don’t wait until you feel comfortable in a bathing suit to start standup paddleboarding; don’t put off that dream vacation another year. Go now.

While we will continue to support all of the amazing female athletes who dazzle us with their remarkable accomplishments, we are also here for the woman who has never camped overnight in the woods, the woman who’s never biked 10 miles, the woman who’s never gone snowshoeing in a quiet forest in the dead of winter…but wants to.

Since I’ve started blogging about my journey, I’ve gotten numerous comments and personal messages from other women that simply say: “I’m like you.” It’s as if they’re asking, “Is it really okay for me to be here?

The answer is YES! We welcome you with open arms.

Trying new things and challenging yourself will NEVER make you a poser. In fact, it makes you an inspiration to others.

Adventure is not just for “sexy” people. It is a state of mind. So, go forth, try new things, explore your world, and take one or two people with you along the way.

Be brave. Be kind. Be you.

Last week's 30-mile trail ride in Granby, CO. This is where a challenge takes you.

Last week’s 30-mile trail ride in Granby, CO. This is where a challenge takes you if you let it.

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Jennifer Davis-Flynn

Jennifer Davis-Flynn

A.K.A. "Jenn 2," I'm here to to engage the wonderful community of women adventurers currently wandering the earth! When I'm not skiing, I love to speak Russian, sing jazz, and ride my bike. Find me on Google +
Jennifer Davis-Flynn

Latest posts by Jennifer Davis-Flynn (see all)

Category: Health

Jennifer Davis-Flynn

About the Author ()

A.K.A. "Jenn 2," I'm here to to engage the wonderful community of women adventurers currently wandering the earth! When I'm not skiing, I love to speak Russian, sing jazz, and ride my bike. Find me on Google +

Comments (97)

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  1. Wow! I’m SO glad you wrote this article! Every women should feel that they deserve adventure in their lives. When we stop believing that we have to wait until the weight comes off to experience joy and adventure, our lives naturally lighten up. You are super inspiring! As a coach who supports my clients in healthy weight loss through lifestyle changes and adventure -no diets or supplement, I know that 5 pounds is a great accomplishment! You go girl!!! I’m so glad that Women’s Adventure is here to inspire ALL women!!

  2. Thanks for being a magazine and an online hub that supports ALL women. There is nothing in this world that says to enjoy the outdoors, take risks and push yourself you must have these, these and these measurements and it’s about time someone said it! Here’s to hoping your journey and your posts encourage other women to try something new.

  3. Niki says:

    If the reader who wrote the insulting message is fine with perpetuating the notion that being fit means being skinning, and is fine living in a world where women must fulfill a certain physique, then let her find it in another magazine. What makes Women’s Adventure so great is that it is for every woman, taking on adventures of all sizes, and not trying to force all women to fit one, narrow-minded, overly-branded, cookie cutter mold.

  4. runlongkatie says:

    Jennifer, you are right where you belong. You are inspiring people. Please don’t let one Negative Nelly (cuz that’s what she is; and she must live a miserable existence with all her negativity) deter you from your dreams and goals. The rest of us don’t care how much you weigh. Keep up the good work.

  5. swansroost says:

    Sexy comes from within. It doesn’t know dress size. Shame on that woman for thinking she knows better.
    – signed, Carrying around 15 extra pounds and still doin’ it ALL! :)

  6. Leslie says:

    I feel the opposite of the mean writer…I wish the magazine would show more ordinary looking women – all ages, shapes and abilities. WA is wonderful but it seems a little heavy on the young athlete version of us. My world is full of adventurous women – we carry around our age and well worn bodies all over the outdoors. And we don’t need to impress anyone but ourselves with our adventurous spirits. Keep featuring Jen and ALL TYPES of other inspirational women!

  7. Gigi Ragland says:

    Great response Jennifer. YOU are an inspiration for writing such an elegant and positive message to motivate and encourage all women. “We must be the change we want to see in the world.” I applaud your efforts and support your every step. Go get ‘em girl!

  8. Andrea (Andy) Page Lee says:

    I have been skinny, and a hardcore athlete, and after several botched surgeries, and 13 years of chronic pain, have been heavier, and guess-what, still a hardcore athlete, whether I was walking, crawling, running, or stretching, if that was all I could do that day. And worked harder than I ever thought possible in my oh-so-precious space of my former life, where I was a runner, basketball, and volleyball player. There are no special entry requirements to be a female athlete, except to be a woman, and have the desire to move and find adventure. Madeline Albright was spot on. SHAME on that woman to belittle another woman. I am in my mid-40’s, and I remember what is what like before Title IX, as a young girl, to not have the same rights as boys to play sports. It should be considered a privilege, one in which we as women should encourage all other women who would like to, to get out there and find their love of adventure and sports. Sexy is a state of mind and so is being an athlete. Think of THAT the next time her voice pops into your head.

  9. Erin P. says:

    So, since I weigh a little more than I’d like to I should just stay home? Yeah, ’cause that’s how you get healthy… While I can appreciate the muscle definition of the skinnier me, I’m no less strong because I weigh more. My weight has been on both ends of the scale through the years and I never let it stop me, no one else should either!

  10. Belinda says:

    I’m sure you know rationally that the person who took the time to send a letter that negative must have her own personal issues or she wouldn’t feel inclined to tear others down. That doesn’t necessarily make it easier emotionally, though. Just remember that for this one negative person, there will be 20 more that are positive and encouraging and those are the comments you should try to internalize and use as motivation. There are lots of reasons why someone might be overweight or out of shape: they have always struggled, have experienced a physical or emotional crisis, work all day in a stressful or sedentary job, or, like me, have experienced the fun of falling apart and gaining weight as they age. As my husband would say, yesterday is yesterday and you can’t do anything to change it – all you can do is look forward and focus on what you can do today and tomorrow to improve yourself. Good luck to you, and enjoy all those new experiences that await!
    –PS, I’m 40 and just climbed my first 14’er (albeit slowly and with a bit of protest from my knees).

  11. Donna Elliot says:

    No fear, no more tears. What you write and what you do are an inspiration to other women. Being fit and healthy isn’t easy, but the rewards are great. You not only feel better and more confident personally, but the exquisite views are a reward in themselves. I applaud your efforts and wish you every success in your future adventures. I look forward to your progress reports.

  12. Susanne Wright says:

    My heart is heavy after reading the email. Your response? Brilliant. I live in a resort town filled with amazing female athletes. While they are inspiring, the world doesn’t belong to them. They are only one small part of it. I love you for being real, honest and brave. All of us have a demon or two that we struggle with everyday. Being called out as a poser cuts deep. Real deep. That you made this public instead of internalizing your pain speaks volumes about your courage as a person, and more importantly, as a woman. I send you my support, admiration and respect. You go girl!!!!

  13. Heidi says:

    I have no idea what’s wrong with that reader, but i think she is a definite minority. I was disgusted by her comments. And i truly applaud Jenn2 for losing 5 pounds and looking for fun ways to get active – maybe 5 lbs is nothing to the reader but to many of us 5 is a BIG deal, particularly as each 5 adds up over the long haul. There are many, many of us who don’t let our weight get in the way of getting out there and doing the things we love.. I am 37 just like Jenn2, am overweight (just made the jump down from “obese” by losing a 20 pounds- *1* pound at time) and I climb, whitewater kayak, bike, hike and do anything that i want and surprise people along the way. *You* climb? Why yes I do, don’t let the body deceive you! Why can’t we have inspirational women that are REAL women?? Keep it coming WAM and keep at it Jenn2, you are on your way :)

  14. karenjerger says:

    I am so sorry for the pain that the original negative letter caused you Jennifer, but so glad that it prompted your WONDERFUL response, and the follow-up comments from your readers. I especially connected with the note from Leslie. I feel strongly that all of us should celebrate and support each other in our dreams and accomplishments, regardless of size, shape, age, etc. It would be good to have that support show up in print more often.
    I am a chubby AND adventurous 58-year old woman. I have had, still have, and hope to have more wonderful outdoor adventures in my life. They may not be the things that inspire articles in WA, but they are important to my very being. I have daughters in their 20s who are remarkable women, the kind that show up in your photos and articles. I am ever-so-grateful that they latched on to a love of outdoor adventures early in their lives. I would hate to imagine that as their bodies change, and their lives take twists and turns, that they ever doubt the validity of their dreams, abilities, or adventurous spirit.

  15. Dina says:

    Way to go Jennifer! Keep doing what you’re doing! Focus on those who support you. Ignore the “mean girls”! They have other issues. Easy to say, hard to do but it sounds like you have! Happy for you, the life you lead, the adventures you explore and for us, your readers, who benefit from your experiences. Ride, hike, walk and paddle on – at your own pace!

  16. rachel says:

    The beauty of adventure and the adventure of being beautiful have nothing to do with images. I know, I know…we’re all sure it does. The lovely picture, the amazing vista, those smiling pretty people. Most of us know a “barbie” who struggles and I’ve seen “heavy” people float into the most ethereal of yoga poses–what’s beautiful about both is the heart. Most of us have hit a stretch on the road when we wanted to quit. Likely we’ve all done a face plant in the office, the wilderness, in relationships. I love WA’s commitment to beauty without boundaries. Love the cut delts, love the soft curves, love the long layovers, love the lost luggage, love the hard uphill, whoop it up on the fast downhill. Continue your unabashed passion, Jenn2, and watch it spur others on in ways you may never understand.

  17. Eva Surls says:

    Sexy comes from within AND out. What we need is a shift in our definition of physically “sexiness”. When I’m out riding my bike, running, hiking, or any other form of exercise, while I am usually sweaty, stinky, and really, really red in the face I also feel really good about what I’m doing (even when I want to quit because it’s uncomfortable). I’m having fun and living life to the fullest, THAT IS SEXY! Jenn, I am professional athlete and own my own business based on being “fit” (by fit, I mean healthy) and active (we have a guide service for mountain biking in Western NC). Reading your Summer Slim Down: Progress Report is incredibly inspiring! 5 pounds represents so much more than just weight, it signifies hard work, of both a physical and psychological nature. Seeing your smile and reading your journey inspires me! AND trying something new for the first time doesn’t in any way make you a poser, it makes you ADVENTUROUS!!! Don’t stop just because ONE person has a negative response, instead keep going for all the thousands of WOMEN you are inspiring to get active and have fun! Thank you for sharing your journey!!!

  18. Diana says:

    Please don’t let this letter stop you in anyway. See above?? There are SO MANY of us out here that are overweight and are very active. Accept all these (above) comments as support!!

  19. kimpdx says:

    Thank you. Thank you for sharing your journey, thank you for your bravery in sharing this hurtful message that so many of us carry inside, and most of all thank you for showing us that we all belong here and we can all have adventures, too, and we don’t have to look a certain way to do it. Thank you!

  20. Melissa says:

    Way to go, Jenn! I am so so so impressed with your strength and your ability to process the rudeness of others and turn it around into a positive action statement. You rock, lady. Good luck with your ride this weekend. Cheers.

  21. amy says:

    Screw her and her attitudes! She is obviously struggling with her own self-esteem issues and must be in a lot of ~probably~ unacknowledged pain about her own self.

    Right on to you Jenn and all of us who live and adventure despite the demeaning structure and limiting belief systems that oppress all of us. I am 58 and must contend with not only the usual ~stupid~ perceptions about my body, my weight, etc but also, my age, as in: aren’t you supposed to be in the back ward now? What are you doing here? Ummm, living and you?

    Keep on doing what you are doing . . . no justification needed. EVER!

  22. This article, and the responses to it, are the reason I love WA. Like many here, I have been on both ends of the weight spectrum, and while society clearly prefers the low end, it is not always the healthiest place to be. I have also spent many years in Boulder (go Buffs!) and know that the fitness culture is pervasive. I love that you’re getting out there and going for it without waiting to be a size 2. If there is a mind-body connection (and I strongly believe there is), you are already healthier than the critical “Female Reader.” Speaking of the critic, in re-reading her letter/post, I felt a sense pity for her. I truly do not think she was trying to be either intentionally cruel or judgmental, it just came across that way. Unfortunately, most of the messaging women and girls receive from the media and, frankly, other women is that our worth is based on our weight, and our ability to perfectly maintain these constantly evolving and changing soul-shells no matter what – pregnancy, work/family overload, illness – there are “no excuses.” The idea that one is a “poser” because she is either a newbie to a sport or hasn’t attained some fitness ideal is absurd. That “Female Reader” is unabashedly comfortable in voicing her distaste tells me we have a long way to go before we stop being mean girls and start seeing the awesomeness that is in each of us.

  23. Kim Lorello says:

    As a woman cyclist and outdoorsy person, I have had my share of negative hits from men riders….basically because I’m not 19-25, and wondergirl….I am middle pack in a group. I am not super skinny….either. Where is the rule book that says, to go outside and participate a female must be some kind of hardcore athlete, or super young, look like a model in 500 dollar super apparel to go outside and hike, bike or participate? That’s just crazy. Yesterday, I took a female rider out on her first ride– she had a bike that barely shifted, had a warped wheel, and the bottle holder had rusted out and wouldn’t hold a bottle. Did she ride fast? No. Do I care? No. I’ll ride with her and if she sticks with it a few rides…I will try to locate her a decent bike. Along the way, yes as women there will be a few that belittle us, but we each choose what we do for others who come into our path. Let’s choose to help each other, not tear each other down.

  24. Marie says:

    Thanks so much for having the bravery and vulnerability to share your response to this letter with us. One of the things I like most about the magazine is the diversity of women who are presented and like an above commenter if I wanted to look at and hear stories of cookie cutter women I have endless choices in the magazine world to find that.

    Personally, my hardest and most challenging adventures have been the tasks I’ve taken on to delve into my internal workings and triggers etc. This has proven to be way scarier than all the mountains I’ve climbed, rivers I’ve kayaked, and trails I’ve moutain biked on. I can imagine that the journey of weight loss, trying new sports, and self discovery is a challenging one too!!

    Anyways, I appreciate that the magazine highlights stories that broaden the perspective of adventure. And at the same time can pull off that off while giving us readers all the juicy outdoor adventure stories we want too.

  25. Leigh says:

    Your response is spot on, and I’m glad to see all shapes and sizes of women enjoying outdoor adventures. But ” God knows, it’s hard enough having a vagina in this world.”??? Really? Why play to the stereotype of women as the weaker, disadvantaged sex?

    • Jennifer Davis-Flynn Jennifer Davis-Flynn says:

      Hi Leigh, thanks for your comment. I never intended to imply that women are the weaker sex. What I meant was that women still have to fight for their rights, for respect, and for recognition every day, across the globe.

  26. Deb Gore says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for that response. Excuse my language, but to hell with the person who wrote you that letter. If anyone should feel ashamed, it is the author of that letter. Clearly the author has her own image issues, and I suppose for that reason I could give her a shred of sympathy because she is so shortsighted about the culture of what it truly means to be an empowering woman in the outdoors who seeks adventure in her life. My mantra to you, keep on being the fierce woman you are!

  27. Sheila Berry says:

    There are far more of us who are inspired by your journey and courage to share it with us, don’t let one person’s negativity get you down. She obviously has issues of her own she’s dealing with.

  28. Sheila Zachowski says:

    There is nothing “sexy” about being mean and cruel…

  29. Kay McCormick says:

    Wow, I never comment on these type of things but I can’t stop myself! Jennifer the only shame is that you let this closed minded, bigot, get to you. Keep up the good work and keep trying new adventures! Celebrate those 5lbs!!

  30. robyn says:

    It’s in my nature to listen to the one voice that doesn’t like me than the 99 that do. I admire what you are doing and you have motivated me to get healthier too.

  31. Judy says:

    Knowing you personally, and having observed you smoke the moguls or rip a double black diamond, in white out conditions off some of the most challenging mountain ranges from the East coast to the West, makes the reference to you as an adventure ‘poser’ absolutely hilarious to me. However, I know this was a hurtful remark, made by a person who lacks the insight, information and knowledge that different athletic pursuits benefit from a variety of body types. I suppose a well seasoned successful long distance runner, would be, (by ‘Female Reader’s standards), a “poser’ if she had never done any downhill skiing, and began her journey with lessons and gentle slopes? If she is truly ‘adventurous’, and wants to qualify as such by Female Reader, shouldn’t she just fling herself off the side of the mountain and assume her fit and toned physique will get her safely to the bottom? Each sport has a learning curve and builds different muscle groups. But then, most people authentically involved in athletic pursuits, already KNOW this. I am glad you were able to eventually expose who the true poser was, and encouraged her to continue her education all things adventurous.

  32. Shana says:

    Beautiful! I am heavier than I would like to be, even though I have always been very active. In 2007, I trained to run a marathon. I thought for sure I would be the only one who didn’t look like a runner, but I was so pleasantly surprised to see so many people of all shapes and sizes running that race. I love running, it makes me feel good, even if it doesn’t get me back into my size 5 pants that I wore before I started having health problems.

    I love Brene Brown’s work, and am reading one of her books right now. It is also usually the person making the comments who feels threatened in some way, but it doesn’t make it easier to read or make it ok. Thank you for your brave and vulnerable response!

  33. Lynne Gerber Knutson says:

    What I love so much about WA is that the women are real. I can relate!! Reading WA got me out of a long funk. It changed my life. Thank you!

  34. Lorette Waggoner says:

    I wish you could have used a different lead line……it implies that heavy people can’t be sexy….and that’s what people read to click on through. I almost didn’t cause it made me mad! I agree with your reply and applaud you for sticking up for those of us on the higher end of the BMI. Beauty and sexiness comes from within and a healthy self confidence. Receiving a letter like that can really challenge your view of your self. And, like you said, it’s work to lose every single one of those pounds. Keep at it. And, thanks for your reply.

  35. Sarah says:

    I have battled fat my whole life – I was only skinny when I lived on a diet of blow pop’s and cigarettes in college.
    Yet, somehow, hiking and backpacking became my hobbies as an adult (I hated strolls even as a kid!).
    I’m still fat, 40 and have 3 kids (youngest is 18 months) and hike. It takes hard work to lose weight, especially if one is also working at getting stronger – I work out a lot and the scale doesn’t go down (though the pants get looser).
    Sounds awful, but I prefer hiking with other “real” women who have had the ups and downs of life – and know how it can be.
    So keep at it, and hey, haters can write their own blogs and columns ;-)

  36. Dani Renee says:

    If we women waited to hit the outdoors until:

    1.) We thought our bodies were perfect
    2.) The world thought our bodies were perfect

    ….we would never step outside.

    The courage it takes to post any aspect of your journey in the public eye is of far greater value that conforming to society’s twisted notion of what women should look like. On the road of life, people like that reader are just angry squirrels* throwing acorns at passing cars in hopes of derailing their journey. Ignore the angry squirrel. Keep driving.

    *No offense to squirrels.

  37. Jennifer Davis-Flynn Jennifer Davis-Flynn says:

    Wow. I am speechless. All of your wonderful, dear comments have actually made me tear up. I really don’t know what to say….except thank you. We are so happy to be a part of your lives! I’m even more inspired now after hearing all these personal stories. Keep sharing. Keep the conversation going.

  38. Joy Cannon says:

    Sad! I’m always thrilled to see people of all shapes and sizes out being active. They’re miles ahead of the person sitting on the couch. Wherever one is on their journey to a happy, healthy, fit and active self, they shouldn’t be judged for getting out there and doing it. I’m sorry this person was so judgmental!

  39. Kate says:

    Wow! I can’t believe someone would share such a horrible opinion as that one on social media. Terrible! I think it’s awesome that you’re getting on a bike and giving it a go…I don’t think I’d have the courage to do that. And I thought adventure was for anyone who wanted to get out and explore. Good response on your part!

  40. Jenny Fox says:

    I am so sorry you had to receive that letter. Unfortunately, in a town like Boulder (I live here, too), it’s so common to see world class athletes that the rest of us seem morbidly obese by comparison. I love that you are finding adventure in your life, I love that you’re not waiting to have a perfect body to do it, and I think it’s inspiring to read your blog. I’m 43 – have always been active and I’m still tremendously strong, but I think the writer of your letter would have a few choice words to say about my body as well… 43 years and two children have left me with a bit more of a belly and a booty than I would like, but inspired by women like you I’m continuing my fitness quest. Even though my body is not quite aesthetically perfect, it’s a pretty strong body and can do more or less whatever activity I ask it to, whether it’s running or yoga or biking or hiking (with a 50-pound pack to carry all of the kids’ stuff, too!) and sometimes I need to remind myself that it’s a pretty damn good body. I am blessed with good health. And you are, too – good luck with your endeavors and I look forward to reading more about your adventures!

  41. Keep on keeping on! There are so many of “us” out here who claim our rightful space in the outdoor world! Check out more of your sisters or a kindred adventurous spirit at http://www.traildames.com!

  42. QHShowoman says:

    FYI, being sexy has nothing to do with being thin, or buff, or fit, as you’ve implied in your essay (did you even realize you were doing that?). You can be sexy at any size or fitness level. Stop buying into the societal BS that wants you to believe otherwise.

    • Jennifer Davis-Flynn Jennifer Davis-Flynn says:

      Great point! By using the word “sexy” I meant the glossy, commercial, packaged version of “hot” that we are sold every day in the media. Sexiness definitely comes from within. You can “feel” it in someone before you actually “see” it. At least to me!

  43. Jenny Fox says:

    I agree. I finally had to love my body – it made two awesome kids, it does what I want it to do – and no, I won’t be a runway model anytime soon. My husband is absolutely fine with it – he’s more impressed with me being able to backcountry camp (not car-camping, although that is fun, too) with two kids (carrying a very heavy pack) than with me having a “sweet bo-hiney”. He thinks I’m sexy. I think I’m sexy. All good.

  44. Karen B says:

    5 pound weight loss in one month is a very good loss – more likely to stay off. “1 pound per week” off is maintainable afterwards. Good job!

    I bet your hubby is very supportive of you and loves you no matter what – don’t doubt it.

  45. Amy Ledesma says:

    THANKYOU SO MUCH! I am really starting to like you people . I am fat and not very healthy but Im going hiking because I want to, Also because I can. Don’t let any shrew demotivate you. Love your retort.

  46. Stephanie says:

    It’s pretty distressing that someone actually took the time and energy to write what is essentially a mean letter. I mean, what kind of person *does* that??

    Keep doing what you’re doing, Jenn!

  47. Donna says:

    Just lost 10lbs myself. It is hard work especially at 48.. Sexy isn’t a size. I am sexy at 200+ lbs. I want to be more active that is my inspiration to lose weight. I have done more Cardio and lifted more weights this year than I have in my whole life. Keep going Jen.

  48. Marissa says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I’m sorry you got that terrible message. I’ve never felt like I quite “belonged” in the adventure circles because I feel overweight. But I guess when you look at it objectively, I climbed two peaks yesterday and I’m doing an olympic tri on Saturday. So apparently, I’m a badass adventure woman, and you are too! Keep rocking that spandex. Feeling healthy feels a lot better than feeling skinny.

  49. Liz says:

    I’ve been in the outdoor industry for over a decade, and despite numerous personal and professional achievements still feel like an outsider sometimes because my body doesn’t fit a certain mold. I would say it’s mostly self imposed, rather than something I feel is reflected back at me from others. What I don’t understand is a position that the more women that participate in a sport or activity it some how lessens its value for the uber athletes. When I see a woman step outside of her comfort zone, I understand how hard it had to have been to quite the inner self critic and hop on that bike, or climb that route. For that she deserves my full respect, regardless of performance. Because let’s not forget, we wouldn’t be here in this space, having these adventures if someone (men or women) hadn’t made us feel included.

  50. Eartha says:

    Thanks for finding the courage to share this with everyone. That woman who wrote to you is probably a skinny bitch who has a distorted view of what women’s bodies should look like. I applaud you for what you do and what you wrote. Keep going! I love you <3

  51. deb says:

    Be brave. Be kind. Be you. You are! She’s not.

    We are grateful to be part of your journey. We learn from it and take inspiration from it. Thank you for sharing every part of it with us.

  52. Dawn says:

    Kudos to you Jennifer…you are the voice of real women everywhere. if by( the woman who wrote the letter) definition you are a poser, than I too am a poser. Active is not a size or weight requirement, it is a state of mind, a will to get out and get moving. Thank you for sharing your journey with us….YOU ROCK!!!!!

  53. Julie says:

    Do NOT waste another thought on that reader! A person whose grammar is that poor is the one who should be embarrassed. Fair?

  54. One thing that I love about women’s cycling and even racing is that you usually can’t tell the best athlete by body type. Sports like cycling involve power, muscle memory, skill and a host of other factors. I try to remember this even now when I line up in a 35 or 40+ crit. or mountain bike race. Having a fancy kit, low body fat and sculpted arms doesn’t matter.

  55. You have so much courage to write this in response, Jennifer. I’m also glad you have taken the bold step to publish this reader’s letter. It’s a shame that the outdoor industry has fallen into the same trap as the beauty industry in the way it portrays which types of people “belong” in the outdoors. Women’s Adventure Magazine is lucky to have someone like you on board. Keep encouraging women to get out and explore!

  56. Jennifer says:

    Jennifer, thank you for sharing your painful experience. WAM is for and about ALL adventurous women! You are a strong, beautiful, powerful woman!

  57. Kristy McCaffrey says:

    We all have insecurities and sadly it keeps us from trying things we’d really like to at times. I like the balance here at WAM, showcasing some of the best female athletes out there alongside everyday women, because I’m an everyday woman. Jenn, you’re story and journey have value, maybe not to everyone, but to many. Online interactions can be wonderful in connecting us all to a larger community, but they also allow people to hide, to voice meanness in ways we would never do face-to-face. Adventure is a state of mind, not one specific activity. Jenn, you’re brave to showcase your journey in trying something new. It’s inspiring. Stay with it!!

  58. 911shazza says:

    I know I could stand to lose some weight, but I have never let that stop me from following my dreams. Last year I finished Ironman Canada… which I thought was a pretty great achievement. I was chatting triathlon with someone last week, and Ironman came up, and I had mentioned I had done one, and the first question he had for me was, “oh, did you finish?” … I know I’m not in perfect shape, but geesh… you don’t have to be perfect to follow your dreams, and I know there are a lot of people out there that aren’t in perfect shape, but they do this stuff and do it well. They might not be the fastest, but they get it done.

    So keep on doing what you are doing!! You are out there being active and trying new things, and that is what matters, not the shape you are in!! Go to any of the big races out there, people of all shapes and sizes are competing!! Don’t let a comment like this derail your efforts, because what matters is that you are out there doing and not sitting on the sidelines… you ARE inspiring. Don’t let one comment like this slow you down!!

  59. Jen says:

    Way to kill ‘em with kindness. And kudos to you for going confidently in the direction of your dreams.

  60. Kristin says:

    Thank you for sharing and writing this…I wish I could frame it and read it over every time I allow my self to feel inadequate to participate in an adventure.

  61. Stephanie says:

    Let’s see…I’ve been mountaineering, rock climbing, river rafting, white water kayaking, sea kayaking, paddle boarding, xc skiing, downhill skiing, backpacking, bungy jumping, cliff jumping, flown a plan, driven a race car, and I trail hike/run and mountain bike every week…and I have NEVER, that’s right, NEVER been on a road bike. If that makes me a poser, so be it. I have done all this carrying around a few extra pounds. I am considered overweight and I love my adventurous life, and the joy it brings to me. I hope you are able to allow all this amazing support to squash the negativity of one, and turn it into energy to power whatever you see as an adventure, because it is different for everyone. And thank you for being part of a magazine that embraces it all!

  62. Annette says:

    I’ve always been “heavy” and “active”, and at 37 still struggle with that. I’ve been a “star” high school athlete and an amateur triathlete and a hundred things in between, all at about 40 lbs overweight. Add a freak snowboarding accident and a year plus of being inactive, and I’m struggling more than ever. But I went rock climbing on Sunday and mountain biking yesterday and little by little it will come off. I go road biking and swimming and hiking and a hundred other things, and you know what I see more than anything? Smiles of encouragement and looks of admiration from other women. See that in your everyday life and ignore the people who just “have to be heard” even when no one wants to listen.

  63. Matt says:

    Thanks for being an inspiration, not just to women but regular folks of any gender. Keep up the good work. Your magazine is now richer for having you!

  64. Anne says:

    Jennifer-I just discovered your magazine when a friend posted this on FB and I feel compelled to write to say THANK YOU. THANK YOU for being vulnerable enough to share your journey and truth. THANK YOU for understanding that real change happens from the inside, out. THANK YOU for being wise and encouraging all women to step out of their routines and try new activities—it makes us feel scared and vulnerable but is a key to real change. My life has been transformed in the past 7 years by doing exactly that, and using Steadiness as the alternative fuel to willpower. You are beautiful and brave and I’m subscribing to your magazine today—can’t wait to read and learn more about your path!

  65. Amy says:

    I too just discovered your magazine through a post on FB. As a “heavy” woman adventurer, I am so glad some idiot took the time and effort to write that terrible letter because your response highlights the good, and I am now a proud new subscriber to your magazine. Now I want to get on my bike and have a kick-ass adventure!

    • mariann davis says:

      I’m speechless….Such beautiful words from all your fans…women do support women but there are a few who don’t understand the meaning of self love and emotional courage (yet)…you have both…and NOW you are giving that gift to all your readers….thanks for sharing those beautiful and important gifts and most certainly…thanks for sharing your best gift of all…your inspiration.

  66. Kirsten says:

    I just cheered on my mom at her third triathlon (she’s 51). The most inspiring women to watch–besides my mom!–were not the hard-core athletes that finished in record times. It gave me shivers to see women of all ages, sizes, shapes, and abilities (one blind, many 60+, lots first-timers!) cross that finish line. Seriously, it was SO cool and still brings tears to my eyes now. Thanks for your eloquent and lovely reply, and for supporting us normal, non-airbrushed ladies in all kinds of adventures.

  67. Ira says:

    Who says skinny equates to healthy? that is an all too common misconception. It’s like the writer of the hurtful letter doesn’t get the concept of what WA is about at all. I feel sorry for her small thinking. Your response was on target and you are beautiful. Never ever let someone make you feel any less. Thank you for what you do.

  68. ninacrucial says:

    Well said! Thanks for sharing!
    “Be brave. Be kind. Be you.” Fantastic! Reading it I felt like the next line would be “Be CRUCIAL.” Be “Crucial” is exactly this philosophy that I follow and I try to share with others to inspire them to change themselves (and consequently change the world!) through sports, fitness and love. You are the only crucial factor in changing your life, you just need to gather up the courage to make the decision to do it. When we change ourselves, we also change the environment around us, helping others and making a difference in the world. Each person is crucial to the whole. You are following your dreams, going after goals, improving your quality of life – that is admirable and inspirational! Keep on your path and stay positive, you are an inspiration to many.
    Be free. Be the change. Be CRUCIAL.

  69. Maya says:

    I am crying right now – at the bonding of all these women that is happening right here in reponse to your posting a reply to this woman’s letter to you. Thank you for having the courage to take something that was so hurtful and private and turn it into an example and use it to teach all of us – remind – all of us that women should NOT be judged by their image, whatever their size. I am a yoga instructor and have my own studio and I see SO often women coming in, unsure if they can do yoga because they do not look like the airbrushed women on the cover of Yoga Journal. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your honesty and for bringing this out into the light where it belongs!

  70. Kira says:

    Let’s review: you’ve pushed your boundaries. This little twit of a small-minded letter writer hasn’t. And if pushing your boundaries isn’t adventure…uh…what is? Yes, it’s great to see that top 2% of hardcore athlete-ettes pulling off amazing feats, but it’s not inspiring, because it seems so far out of our reach. Until someone like you comes along to show that adventure is within the “normal lady’s” grasp. That we can push our own boundaries. And that IS inspiring.

  71. Mary Ellen says:

    Jenn, I have a story to share with you that will answer the nasty woman’s assumption that people who weigh more are “posers.” Ha! About 10 years ago, I entered my first mtn. bike race at Killington, Vt. In my early 40s at the time, I had two young children and, while not being “buff,” I was certainly “fit.” I rode three times per week, lifted weights with a personal trainer and ran occasionally. As I lined up in the “first timer” section, I looked around to size up the competition. I didn’t care about winning, but I certainly did NOT want to come in last. Just to my right, I spied a woman considerably larger than myself; being raised in the 70s, I had the same prejudice that you experienced…if she was large, she couldn’t be fit…I had found the person I could beat!!

    I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG. SHE LAPPED ME DURING THE RACE, COMING IN SUBSTANTIALLY IN FRONT OF ME.

    Talk about a large slice of humble pie served up on my smaller-asssed plate!!

    That day, I FINALLY learned the lesson about body types. People come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you are XS or XL does not matter. What does matter is your health, fitness and ability to use your body to experience the type of life you want to enjoy.

    Don’t listen to her. Don’t let it stop you from going out an grabbing that feeling of accomplishment, exhilaration and pride!! I went on to compete in a few more bike races, ride a half-century road ride and participate in a few sprint distance triathlons. Now, in my mid-50s, I am an avid hiker, cross country skier and yogi. And I still haven’t put the bikes away!!

    Fitness is not about size. It is about life-long health. Keep going!!

  72. zoe says:

    What a beautiful, inspirational article. Thankyou x

  73. Wendy says:

    Oh but Adventure is for sexy people, because we are all sexy! I myself struggle with weight, actually need to lose about 25 pounds. After a ride on my road bike, I got off the bike, sweaty, that salty residue stuck on my face, no make-up and grease on my leg. I was shocked when these really nice guys, who were also biking struck up a conversation with me, the overweight sweaty girl. Later I had mentioned my encounter to a male friend who replied, “Nothing is sexier than a woman out there really participating in a sport!”

    Great job on losing that weight, the reply….for sticking up for all us not so “skinny” athletes out there!

  74. Rose says:

    sex·y [sek-see]
    1. concerned predominantly or excessively with sex; risqué: a sexy novel.
    2. sexually interesting or exciting; radiating sexuality: the sexiest professor on campus.
    3. excitingly appealing; glamorous: a sexy new car.

    Why is fitness, adventure, and fun equated with sex? I have no need to be and do not want to feel sexy. Alien to this society & culture? Without a doubt. I do want to go on adventures, have friendly conversations, be part of groups, have fun, and not be discarded because I am heavier than I used to be, had 8 orthopedic operations, older, and not as fit as everyone around me. Life is for living and I am still here enjoying it.

  75. Obviously the negative (expletive deleted) who wrote that letter has never actually done a long distance hike. “Cause we all know there’s NOTHING sexy or attractive about it (unless you think B.O., sweat, and ground-in dirt are sexy). That’s not why we do it. In fact, some of us relish the time of being “anti-sexy” and not giving a rat’s behind about how we look. On the trail we are free from societal pressures and stupidity. Nor does the writer know that women tend to gain weight on the trail, losing fat but gaining muscle that weighs more. But what’s most pathetic about the writer of the negative comments is how she missed out on the true beauty — the support and camaraderie that is almost universally shared in the hiking community regardless of appearance.

  76. Gail Storey says:

    Jenn, your post was one of the best pieces I’ve ever read in Women’s Adventure, and the encouraging, supportive comments bear that out! One of my favorite comments is Donna Saufley’s, above, since she’s the premier trail angel for Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers. Donna speaks the truth, as I can attest from stopping at the Saufleys on my own PCT hike before setting out across the Mojave. And like Donna, you’re a major force for good in the world with your inspiring courage–the true meaning of women’s adventure. You totally rock!

  77. Sissi G says:

    Jenn2, you are incredibly brave sharing your journey with us. 5 lbs is a big deal and you should be very proud of your accomplishment! It took hard work and dedication. I believe that being fit and working at it every day is sexy. Just because a woman is thin does not mean that she is more fit or more beautiful than you or deserves more opportunities. It just means she is different. It takes a strong and very brave woman to do what you do every day. When I started my journey I refused to share my goals with anyone because I was afraid that I might fail. But I learned that the only failure in life is quitting. The rest are just lessons being learned and experiences being had. I hope that every woman out there, no matter her circumstance, can see the beauty and strength that each of us holds. We just can’t be afraid to let it out for the world to see.

  78. andrea says:

    It is so intimidating starting a new sport. I started skateboarding this year because I had always wanted to try it, and when my best friend heard me say so, he got me a sweet deck with neon green grip tape and started taking me with him to his favorite spots, including the skate park, which is pretty much a bunch of adolescent boys who are really good at it. I thought they would totally think I was a poser with my bright flashy board and lack of skill or balance, but I was wrong. Here I am, a geeky looking lady with glasses, falling down every five minutes, but you know what they said to me? “Wow a girl skateboarding! Cool!”. I stuck with it, going out at least a few days a week all summer, and on my 30th birthday I learned how to drop in on the half pipe. Now I bust out an Ollie when I cruise into the park and those kids are like “ohhh, heck yeah!” And I feel like a real skater now. You are obviously not a poser. You are a big girl who is kicking ass at learning something new. You rock. Anyone who insults you deserves your disdain, not your tears.

  79. Jerry Cleveland says:

    I belong to an outdoor group consisting of all types of people some svelte some not. We go out and do whatever we want and we have the nicest group of people you would ever want to meet.

  80. mellochhead says:

    Love this, thank you :)

  81. shppingup says:

    I’m sorry that this happened to you and think this is a magnificent response. And also, I have struggled and struggled to find a women’s magazine that focuses on ‘doing’ rather than ‘getting skinnier’ and I have been disappointed more times than I can count.

    I will now be checking out a copy of WA as soon as I can find one.

  82. Omega Dea Cooper says:

    Jenn 2, thank you for your transparency and courage in sharing this painful incident with us. If we buy into the marketing idea that one has to be like a cover girl on any women’s magazine then we are lost. Our personal expression, creativity and happiness should not be denied or questioned because we don’t fit a physical profile or have survived on this planet longer than 25 years.

  83. Love to do stuff says:

    Ok so its September and I am a little slow on commenting on this article. I just want to tell you what I am thinking after reading what that downright unhappy, and obviously severely insecure woman wrote to you! I love (sarcastic) her attempt to look anything but insecure and insincere with the toss in of ” I would not want to hurt feelings.” Well sugar, you did not really hurt feelings, you just made your shallow mindedness quite apparent, and reminded us all that we still have to fight the unfortunate battle against ugly personalities and unintelligent comments such as yours every day. Shallow and sad you are. The “poser” is the letter writer, who pretends to be a kind, concerned and loving person yet all the while just enhancing the idea that some people are selfish, judgmental and narrow minded.
    Jenn2 you are so interesting and you are a chick I would be proud to call my friend, and even more proud to brag about as I do all my GF’s! As a woman who is 5’6 and 134 pounds, I do not look skinny by any means (someone told me the other day I have the muscles and size of two women) AND my life is filled with adventure. to name a few: backpacking trips, road biking, hiking, swimming, X-country skiing, snowshoeing, running, skydiving and almost anything that excites me and gets me outdoors. My doc. says I am in excellent health. So, when I did my first Triathalon at 40 years old and placed in the top 10 of my age category, did I look like a poser because I don’t weigh 105 pounds? What about when I am kicking butt with my pale legs on a 70 mile bike ride from Lyons to Fort Collins including Carter Lake and Rist Canyon… do I look like a poser? How about when I attempted to learn to rock climb and decided (after a while) I sucked and did not enjoy it enough to continue, but was still joyous that i had tried it? Nope, still did not look anything but happy, and neither does any one of us who decides that we are interested in something and try it! This is why those of us that do have rich beautiful lives and seriously awesome memories of our days (regardless of color, shape, scale weight, size of our bank accounts or lenght of our hair) can’t be bogged down or held back by comments from those who just don’t understand that life is about experiencing and sharing the joy of doing stuff!

  84. Martha says:

    I don’t understand why women cut each other down either, and I’m sorry someone went out of their way to make you feel bad about yourself. That’s just rotten. However, the way you handled the whole situation has given me utmost respect for women’s adventure, you, and all the things you guys do. Your message was well received, thank you for the gentle reminder to live in the here and now, and not wait until we look a certain way to start enjoying our lives!

  85. Steph says:

    Wow I can’t believe that reader feels like that… I am overweight but still manage to complete endurance events (35 miles last Sunday). Adventure is certainly not elitist, it is open to absolutely anyone who gets out there and gives trying new things a go.
    Well done on the weight loss- I think 5lbs a month is fantastic, it’s far more likely to stay off then trying to lose weight quickly and means you won’t be losing valuable muscle.

  86. Gena Saarberg Jorgensen says:

    Wow itis nice to see others who fight with the poser feeling. I am active and enjoy challenging myself but worry I am going to be “called out” by those whom I feel have actual athletic ability. I was the girl who babysat, played in orchestra and volunteered at the library in my youth. I never ever thought of myself as athletic. I recently did Tough Mudder and had mud in my teeth from smiling the entire time. I LOVED every minute of it. Although, I did question my sanity for signing up and vowed to never do it again many times during the course. I was so pumped I finished that I thought I was going to explode with happiness. The craziest thing was no one called me out. My evil self-sabotaging self told me it was going to happen but it didn’t. The even crazier thing is I can’t wait to do it again. I also realized I wasn’t the poser. The people who talk smack while sitting on their butts are the real posers. I feel sorry for them. Life is so much better when you actually enjoy it.

  87. Missy E says:

    Your article has prompted me to post here for the first time.

    I’m just like you and I think the woman that wrote to you needs a reality check.

    Keep doing exactly what you are doing.

  88. Love this article! Thank you for writing this. It speaks so much truth. :)

  89. Cathy K. Brown says:

    I know i am late to the party here, but i wanted to thank you for this wonderful article. I am a 53 year old woman, struggling with weight and health, who loves boxing. And so often i worry about how i must look from the outside, this old round little dumpling of a woman “posing” as a boxer. your article helped me to articulate to myself the triviality of those outside voices and the importance of my own, internal voice.

    I do wonder, though, how far we get in shaming the letter writer for shaming another woman. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, months or years or even decades from now, when the letter writer has gained more experience in the world and in her own body, if the letter writer was able to think back on her letter, and the responding article and all of the comments, in order to learn about inner strength, the values of diversity, and compassion even for those with whom we disagree.

So what do you think?