3 Inspiring Women Share What Fit Means to Them

We’re drip-fed a stereotype of what fit looks like: lean, slim and magically, maddeningly sweat-free. But real fitness is messy, sweaty and comes in every shape and size.

Featuring our favourite new season sportswear picks from Very, we spoke to three women who are breaking down the stereotypes to find out what fit means to them, and why they love what they do.

Rini Jones (@abrowngirlruns), marathon runner

‘I got into running at 21 after moving to Paris as part of my degree; a friend signed up for the marathon and it sparked the idea in my head. I’d had quite a chequered past with disordered eating and exercise in my teens, and training for a race helped move the focus away from what I looked like and onto what my body could do.

‘My family’s reactions were complex. When I completed my first marathon, they were surprised, proud even. But when that first turned into a fifth, the novelty quickly wore off. Once I started lifting weights, their confusion turned to concern. In South Asian cultures, women are meant to be soft and demure, not strong and muscular. Even now, my family will say to me: “You look great, but don’t get any bigger.” I think to myself, “Don’t they understand that I can run for four hours straight, that I can squat 80kg?”

Ian Harrison

‘I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve rocked up to the start line and not seen a single other brown woman. Even now, I can’t think of a major campaign in which I’ve seen a South Asian woman running.

‘I’ve run at lots of different sizes. I’ve been thinner, I’ve been bigger than I am now, and I’ve been able to complete a marathon at every size. You don’t have to look a certain way to run, which I find really affirming. I didn’t expect to get messages from so many other women when I started my Instagram page, but it’s hugely motivating. I want to be the representation I wish I’d seen in my teens.’

Clara Holmes (@rollinfunky), boxer

‘I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is an inherited connective tissue disorder. It means my hips can no longer support me, and I’ve been a wheelchair user since I was 25. For the first five years after I became wheelchair bound, I was definitely grieving.

‘But I didn’t want to take that into my 30s. I could be here for the next 20, 30, 40 years – I don’t want to live like that. I had to accept that this was my situation, and start putting things in motion to improve my life. That’s when I started exercising again.

Ian Harrison

‘I began with stretching, then moved on to using dumbbells and resistance bands at home. Last year, I joined a gym and I’ve just been growing in

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One Houston woman’s inspiring battle against breast cancer

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

Houston’s Zulia Mejia leans on the simple yet powerful message from Yoda to get her through her battle with cancer.

“Yoda uses the force, I turn to God as my force,” Mejia said. She is battling invasive ductal carcinoma HER3 negative stage 3C breast cancer, but was happy to share with Chron that she is cancer-free at the moment.

Mejia is the epitome of a warrior ready for battle. Her life changed after her diagnosis. A single mother of two young children, Sabían, 13, and Zuly Estela, 7, she had no choice but to lace up her gloves for the fight of her life.

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“What made me go and check it out was a lump I had noticed in my left breast back in October 2019,” Mejia said. “Being 39 at the time, I thought, I’ll be going to get a mammogram soon, and I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about.”

According to Mejia, she kept an eye on it, but the lump continued to grow. Around the same time, Mejia was faced with having her gallbladder removed, shifting her focus from her breast to that surgery.

“After my recovery from my gallbladder surgery in January, I made an appointment with my OB/GYN letting him know that there was a lump growing fast that needed to be looked at,” she said.

Zulia Mejia was inspired to do this photoshoot with the encouragement of Hector Martinez of Herobuilt.

Zulia Mejia was inspired to do this photoshoot with the encouragement of Hector Martinez of Herobuilt.

Courtesy: Hector Martinez/Herobuilt

March 4, 2020 is a day that Mejia will never forget.

“I had my mammogram in February of this year, and I got the call in March from my breast specialist that I had cancer.”

Overwhelmed and scared were some of the words this 40-year-old mother used to describe the roller coaster of emotions going through her mind.

“I’m a single parent. No one in my family has it. What am I supposed to do? And then I said to myself what I’m supposed to do is accept what it is and move forward. You have to be strong because you have children that need you,” Mejia said.

Mejia and her two children, Sabian and Zuly Estella.

Mejia and her two children, Sabian and Zuly Estella.

Nina Hernández from Texas Coastal Photography

It’s that mentality that helped Mejia push on.

“After being diagnosed, I went in, and I asked, okay what do we do next?” Mejia said. “What’s the point of attack? What do I need to do because I’m ready to put it behind me.”

In April, Mejia began cancer treatment.

“It was almost a blessing in disguise when COVID hit,” she said. “I wasn’t required to be at work and didn’t have many days to take off.”

The next few months were full of chemotherapy treatments.

“Right after treatments, I chose to have a double mastectomy surgery on September 17, and that’s the process that I am at right now. I am healing,” Mejia said. “Having my breasts is part

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