TT Thursday – Mirna Valerio, the Mirnavator ; my Weight Loss Challenge Week 19

TT Thursday – Mirna Valerio, the Mirnavator ; my Weight Loss Challenge Week 19

Mirna Valerio, the Mirnavator

Mirna Valerio, now known as the Mirnavator, weighs 250 pounds and is a long distance runner. A few weeks ago, I wrote about Coach Tulin who at 250 pounds is very fit and works as a coach. At the time, Diane, a runner, introduced me to Mirna Valerio in the post’s comments.  I hadn’t heard of her so I looked into it.  Mirna Valerio, the Mirnavator, is amazing!

Mirna started running in high school but like a lot of people her athletic activites lapsed in adulthood between working and taking care of her family. She gained weight and in 2009 at 299 pounds, she went to the hospital for chest pains which turned out to be a panic attack.  However they warned her she had a lot of inflammation in her body so she went to see a doctor.  Her doctor warned her if she wanted to see her son grow up she needed to lose weight. She was already eating healthy. She didn’t feel dieting would get her back to health so she turned to her old friend running to bring her weight down.

Mirna started off on a treadmill.  The first mile was slow and painful and took almost 18 minutes to finish.  In the next six months she lost more than 41 pounds until her body stabilized around 250 pounds.  She kept running until she began joining marathons.  She’d grown up in a family and schools that was accepting of big body types.  When she ran marathons, she went the distance and didn’t care about the time.  However, she found other people did mind how she looked.  Athletes and marathon spectators were not accepting that a plus-sized woman could run.

She said, “I didn’t start getting comments until I would show up at these races and say things like, ‘I don’t believe you’re still out here,’ ‘You’re kind of heavy to be running, you should walk,’ or ‘You’re going to ruin your knees.’” Some of the comments are virulent.  This next video starts off with one woman going off on a rant, calling her a liar and that there was no way she could be a runner because she was fat. Then the video continues with Mirna’s story.  She comes across so effervescent and bright, it’s a joy to listen to her.

Mirna started a blog on August 18, 2011 proclaiming “This is not a weight loss blog Although I will talk about it from time to time.” (Khan, 2018)

She explains on the same day, “This time around, I did start running again in order to lose weight. However, this is not the primary focus of my blog. It is really about the intersection of trying to live an active life and being a larger person, challenging people’s assumptions about you, trying to model the active lifestyle for both my immediate and extended family, and my journey to prevent totally preventable diseases from entering and subsequently wreaking havoc on my life.

When people see a larger person such as myself say, at a restaurant, or say, at the gym-what are they thinking when they stare in disbelief at the fact that I’m 1. publicly engaging myself in the act of eating and perhaps immensely enjoying a meal, or 2. publicly engaging myself in the act of EXERCISING?”

She states she is comfortable with herself and her body, stating, “I am still in the process of losing weight-but certainly not so that I can feel good about the way others may view me. I really don’t care about that. Rather, I have continued on this journey precisely because it is healthful–and frankly I feel awesome being active. Even better, I’m a BIGGER active person. So go ahead and let go of all of those assumptions that you may have about fat people not being able to do this or that, be encouraging and positive about anyone trying to make the right choices for themselves and their families, and if you need to, get on board yourself!”

In her blog, she’s pretty honest.  She uses the word fat a lot, talks about fracturing her ankle during a run and finishing the race anyways so they wouldn’t see a fat girl coming out of the medic van (she did think it was a sprain at the time), and feeling smug when she passes some skinny people.  She hangs onto her marathon training through a blizzard, her mom going to the ER, her car crapping out and pneumonia hitting the family.  She rents a car leaving very little in savings to make it to a DC Marine Corps marathon.

In 2015,her longest run was 35 miles which took 13 hours to complete. By 2018 she had completed almost a dozen ultramarathons.

She does get tired of people’s comments on running and being large so one day, May 28, 2016, she went off on her own post: (the bold is what others say)

So this post is for all you haters out there. And let me apologize on BEHALF OF YOU to YOUR BODY, for you projecting your own insecurity and feeling of inadequacy on others. I don’t typically waste mental energy caring about what other people think of me or other fat people. But sometimes, the hating comes in waves and it has to be dealt with. I don’t always have a snarky comeback, but some level of snark is definitely deserved, even if it comes days or weeks later.  Here are some things that people have said to me, either to my face or behind my back, or to others along with some of my actual or imagined responses:

For as much as you work out you should be thinner, don’t you think?
No, why?
Because you have some preconceived notion and idea of what it means to be fit and flippin’ fabulous?
Because you haven’t bothered to get off the couch?
Don’t get me started.


Don’t you feel weird going into a gym-you know, cuz everyone’s a size zero and you’re not?
Thanks for pointing out the obvious. So perceptive of you.
What gym do YOU go to? That apparently is not my gym because although my gym has its share of meat-heads, there are tons of different body types, goals, people, sizes. Dud/ette, get out of your house. And another thing, when I walk into the gym, I OWN IT. I rock those machines. I have a good time and don’t EVER worry about haters like you.

Wow, you’re really hungry.
Yep. That would be because I just ran 20 miles. What did YOU do today? Right.
Also, I love food, and I’m not going to let you make me feel bad about enjoying and partaking in nourishment. Unlike a lot of people, I don’t starve myself to fool people into believing that I care about what they think about my body. Never been a part of who I am, and sorry for you, never will be. Next topic.


Just because we’re working out, running, or god forbid doing Zumba, it does not mean that we have a problem with our body image. When you allude to that in your thinly veiled criticism masquerading as compliments, it simply means that YOU have a problem with YOUR body image. Get some help.

She gets pissed off at doctors too and in the same post said when she changed doctors, she wrote on the intake form

This particular post went viral, catapulting her into fame. Suddenly magazine writers were knocking on her door, news teams wanted their shot, and REO did a video.  She wrote a book, A Beautiful Work In Progress, published October 2017.  She has since given up her position teaching Spanish and cross-country running in high school and is now a public speaker on body positivity and health while continuing to run marathons. Yesterday she ran four miles in Brooklyn.  Her blog has moved to Instagram where she continues to post frequently.

Mirna said recently in Runner’s World, ” I fell in love with running in high school, when I used it as a means to improve my general fitness, not to achieve a certain body ideal. I loved how it made me feel: powerful and capable of handling anything that came my way. Now, almost 25 years later, I continue to run for that same reason—to be my best self, not someone else’s version of my best.”

A Beautiful Work In Progress


So now I have a new hero.

Week 19 Weight Loss Report

photo of scale at 213
photo taken 10/19/18 morning after so I dropped a little more. Hitting 213! yay, no ounces

Okay, my weight loss progress.  Last week my new low was 215.2.  Today I hit 213.9 so a loss of 1.3 pounds.  I’m consistent with just one or two pounds a week — way better than a plateau or gaining — but still! It feels so slow! Gah!  Ok, I admit it.  Patience is not my middle name.

Because I am cooking more at home (and gaining confidence in it!), I didn’t go out as much to avoid eating out.  This had a side effect of not walking as much.  It was raining too which put a damper on any impulse to walk the half mile to the bus stop.  However, this week, I’m making plans to go out and do some photographing and some geocaching.  I connect going out with eating so I am hoping replace that “eating” with geocaching which is an search-and-find activity.  Without a car, that means I’ll be doing that by walking.  Photographing doesn’t quite replace the eating while going out because I want to photograph food so that’s a temptation.

I did find my bicycle lock finally.  Yay!  So now I just need to get the tires done and we should be riding as well.  I am not ready to be a marathon runner but maybe rider?  In Japan, I had no car and I used to ride my bike into the countryside to do photoshoots.

On HealthyWage, I have added on two more challenges yesterday.  Mornings when I first wake up is when I weigh my lowest so I weigh myself at night as during the day I go up a pound or two.  So yesterday, I weighed in at 215.2 for two more 6% off challenges.  But I must have mistyped.  It showed my start weight at 152.2!!! I wish! And the goal weight in 3 months was 143.2.  Needless to say I panicked and sent them an email to please correct it and that the video I sent would confirm the weight of 215.2.  This morning I checked and they had fixed it.  Phew!  The start weight is 215.2 and the goal weight for those two challenges is 202.3.

I’ve completed my goal weight of 219.7 for HealthyWage Going for Goal Jackpot Challenge and will be allowed to weigh in on October 26th, next Thursday.  Not that it matters really but I’m #59 out of 541 participants in that challenge.  All my other challenges are going well, I’m in the green, except for the big HealthyWage HealthyWager challenge.  I’m behind there but have a month and a half before it’s over.  Honestly, I may lose that one.  It is a goal of 65 pounds weight loss.  I’ve lost 38.2.  If I lose 40 or 50 by the deadline and don’t make the 65, that’s still pretty good.  I don’t need to be thin but I’d like to be able to walk 8 hours without my knees whining.  I’m up to two, maybe three hours on a walking photoshoot of murals. Considering how I was huffing at half an hour when I first started, that’s good progress.  I can’t stand as long though.  I don’t know why standing is harder than walking.  Kind of weird to me.

I will say this though.  Without HealthyWage, I know I wouldn’t have lost this much.  I’ve tried to lose weight off and on for decades but was pretty stuck at 250.  I got as low as 235 once (a loss within 3 days due to not eating because I was very upset about something) but gained it back within a month (when the problem was resolved and I was no longer upset). It was very frustrating.  It can’t just be about forking the money out initially on the weight-loss bet because I’ve given money to gyms and fallen off the wagon.  It’s a combination, I think.  The prospect of winning money is something to look forward to which balances out that initial dread of long-term dieting.

The funny thing is that now I don’t feel like I’m dieting.  I like vegetables.  I like eating healthy.  Sure, I miss sugar, salt and carbs, my major food groups but I’ve found food tastes just as good without them.  You just have to season differently is all.  Eating healthy can be as quick as nuking.  I often don’t eat until I am very hungry so before I’d nuke something or boil ramen, too hungry to think about cooking.  Now if I feel the same way, I just eat a tomato or carrot or something.  It fills me up just the same. You don’t have to cook a lot of vegetables which makes them fast. It’s been kind of a revelation. Sounds silly but true.

Oh, and the cooking classes introducing me to fresh herbs.  Who knew they tasted so much better than the dried?  Amazing.

The other thing is blogging.  I highly recommend it.  Knowing I have to come in and face you and report weekly on my progress keeps me on the straight and narrow (well, mostly).  I seriously don’t want to come in and report I pigged out for a week so most days I follow the plan.  Blogging keeps you honest with yourself and the people you’re talking to.  That really helps when you’ve committed to making some changes.  It’s not to say that blogging always works.  I tried the weight loss back in January including telling you in this blog and fell off the wagon fast before starting a new attempt again in June. In June, it worked and I’ve been steadily plodding along since then (I wanted to say rolling but at a pound a week, that’s not rolling!)  Blogging helps in making a commitment but not by itself.  Like in cooking, things have to combine together to work.  Blogging and HealthyWage is the main ingredients, the meat that had to combine to work.  Walking/taking the bus and cooking are like the potatoes and carrots.  And all of your support is like the fresh herbs, citrus and a touch of spice that makes it good.  That’s what makes you go back for the third and fourth helpings and for our analogy here, it’s what keeps me going when I’m frustrated, bored or just tired of it all.  It keeps the whole effort fresh and I’m ready to go for another week.  I really cannot thank you all enough as we go into our fourth month together.

References and disclosures:

The Minervator Instagram

Fat Girl Running
Mirna Valerio’s blog from August 2011-August 2017

‘Fat Girl Running’ Blogger Challenges Stereotypes
by George Itzhak, NBC News, September 1, 2015

‘Fat Girl Running’ Blogger Stops Body-Shamers in Their Tracks
by Stephanie Booth, CafeMom, September 21, 2015

This Ultramarathon Runner is Redefining What an Athlete Looks Like
By Gulnaz Khan, National Geographic, March 1, 2018

5 questions for Mirna Valerio: The ultrarunner, writer, and Merrell ambassador teaches us to love our bodies and overcome negativity
by Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan, SNews, August 22, 2018

Mirna Valerio Shares Her Advice on How to Own Your Run With Confidence
By Mirna Valerio, Runners’ World, April 13, 2018

Affiliate disclosures:

I am an affiliate for HealthyWage because I like them and I think it helps people a lot to have that extra incentive to lose weight.  In the post text, they are affiliate links only but down here you can also choose to join by a friends link.  If you join through the links above, I’ll get a small fee whether you or I succeed or fail. However, they also have a friends link where we both earn only  if we both succeed — the added motivation of social pressure! If you join up by clicking this friends link, it adds a $40 to your HealthyWager award if you complete your goal and $40 to my HealthyWager award if I complete my goal.  Neither of us gets the $40 if either person fails.   I think the $40 is for HealthyWager challenges only and not the other ones like the 6% individual challenge or the team challenge. The HealthyWage affiliate link doesn’t matter if anyone succeeds but there is no benefit for the friend, just for the affiliate no matter what kind of challenge they join. Joining through the friends link also lets you view your friend on the dashboard: you’ll see their name and what % they’ve lost so far but not the actual weight.  That’s private unless you make it public.

I am also one for Amazon: “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.” This has no effect on your price.

A Beautiful Work In Progress

Confessions of an Unlikely Runner: A Guide to Racing and Obstacle Courses for the Averagely Fit and Halfway Dedicated

The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer


8 Replies to “TT Thursday – Mirna Valerio, the Mirnavator ; my Weight Loss Challenge Week 19”

  1. Thanks for sharing this wonderful article and kudos to Mirna Valerio for achieving success in aspects of her health and fitness. I am currently on military diet to address big portions that I usually eat and I turn to running for my exercise of choice.

    1. Cool. How is that working out for you? I can’t do running because it’s too hard on my knees but kudos for those of you that can run.

  2. I follow Mirna…she is an inspiration to many long distance runners. Congrats on your continued weight loss.

  3. Moving right along. Good work. Its fairly typical that after an initial start, healthy long term weight loss goes at about a pound a week.

    Loved the article about Mirna. In triathlons, which I do a bit of, there is a competitive class called Athena, for women 165 pounds and up. I like that it acknowledges that there are a lot of different bodies out there being active!

    1. Oh! that’s what Mirna meant when she said Athena in her writing. I thought it was just a reference to the greek myths because the goddess Athena was legendary for running swiftly

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