In a doctor’s eyes, Katie Karlson is obese. She’s 5’9” and weighs more than 200 pounds. But those stats don’t tell you that she has worked out at least four days per week for the past six years or that she’s been a vegan for the past 10 months. By those standards, she’s healthier than most of us. But she knows many people see her and think anyone with her body type could never be healthy, let alone fit.  

In a super-inspiring Instagram post, Karlson commiserates with all the other big girls (and guys) at the gym. The ones who were told they weren’t athletic when they turned the color of a ripe tomato while jogging in gym class. The ones who were taught to think of exercise as punishment—suggesting that in the process of nourishing themselves, they were doing something wrong. 

Check out her wise words below—and see if she changes your mind about what healthy looks like: 

Here's to the big girls who work out. I'll be honest — it still makes me cringe to refer to myself as big, but at 5'9 and 200+ lbs. it's an accurate descriptor. I've worked out 4-6 days a week every week since February of 2010. That's almost 7 years. I've been vegetarian since August 2015 and vegan since March 2016. I have practiced Transcendental Meditation for 2 years. I eat so many vegetables. I'm healthy AF. And yet my BMI places me squarely in the "obese" category. That's right — not even overweight. Straight-up obese. My doctor's office file says I have non-morbid obesity. I don't think of it that way. I think of my body in terms of the fact that I just did a 52-minute @fitnessblender lower-body workout and I feel great. When I was young, a kid and a teen and even into my 20s, I believed the people who told me I was out of shape, unathletic. I love my dad dearly, but he was one of them. I felt humiliated to huff and puff and turn red and drip sweat when I exercised. I hated to be worse at *anything* than anyone. I saw exercise as punishment. I believed Jillian Michaels when she said I should want to die in the midst of a workout. But I overcame it. I still struggle with my body. But I don't struggle with how I feel in it. I feel fantastic in it. So fuck BMI and fuck diet culture and fuck Lululemon for not carrying my size. But it doesn't matter because my workout pants don't need to cost $90. Here's to the big girls. We are amazing. And if you're a big girl who doesn't work out, you're amazing too. You have nothing to prove.

A post shared by Katie Karlson (@katieakarlson) on

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