Friday Fitspiration is Racefully’s interview series, where we catch up with the world’s inspirational figures in health, fitness and wellbeing!
Today, we’re chatting with Nellie Acevedo, the fabulous mum, runner, and super-blogger behind Brooklyn Active Mama. A mother of two and CEO of her own company, Nellie has run eleven half marathons and is currently training for her second full marathon, this year’s TCS New York City Marathon.
When Nellie picks up the phone, it seems only natural that she should have such a strong community of readers on her fitness blog. You can hear the smile in her voice, her New York accent both confident and warm. The sincerity in her introduction makes me want to start asking for fitness tips right away.
Nellie’s blog covers a broad list of topics, from fitness to fashion, and ranges from the comical to the unapologetically vulnerable. One of her most popular posts, “Why I won’t apologise for my body image” stands out in particular:
“I don’t fit anyone’s stereotype. I am not the next fitness star. I have no interest in becoming a thin girl. My end goals are not to be in a bikini. My end goals are just healthy . . . why should I let a magazine tell me how to feel?”
“Fitness became about doing things I never thought I could do.”
Nellie’s approach to her body image is as welcome as a post-run water fountain. But the fitness blogger isn’t afraid to talk about her own struggles getting to where she is today.
“It’s taken me a long while to get here – in the past I was reducing my calories to 1100 a day, obsessing with fitness magazines…that’s all been a part of my journey.”
The mother of two pauses to reflect, and you can hear the smile come to her voice. “It was actually having kids that helped me recognize my body for what it is – strong, powerful. In particular, it was after my first c-section, when I found out what my body really went through. It actually felt empowering – that my body could do that.”
For Nellie, that sense of empowerment made its way into her fitness routine. “Fitness became about doing things I never thought I could do. I started running and weight training, and the heavier I went or the longer I ran, the more my body inspired me. Fitness became about outdoing myself.”
From raising a family to marathon training, and now starting her own business, Nellie’s day to day list runs long. And yet, she’s keen to move away from the image of the super mom and opens up about her own obstacles:
“As a mom, it’s about keeping on top of all the little things before they overwhelm you. There are a lot of spinning plates – is the fridge clean, do the kids have snacks for tomorrow, whose birthday party are we attending today? On fitness, the one thing that works for me is getting your daily fitness out of the way early. Get it done before your brain even knows what’s going on.”
“You don’t have to be a perfect runner . . . Just put one foot in front of the other.”
With so many runs behind her, it’s surprising (and inspiring for a steady 5k runner like myself), to hear that Nellie is a self proclaimed “average runner.” When I ask if she considers herself a competitive runner, she laughs. “I don’t have a competitive bone in my body. I want to cross the finish line – that’s my motivation.” Her words of advice for other women looking to tackle their first race – be it marathon or 10k – reflect that ethos. Above all, Nellie stresses the importance of focusing on personal goals over the standards set by the media.
“You don’t have to be a perfect runner. We’re flooded with images of perfect bodies, professional athletes with amazing speeds, people who have trained for their whole lives. There are others of us out here. We’re working hard, we’re crossing finish lines. My biggest piece of advice is to create a really good plan. One that you feel comfortable with – that doesn’t seem overwhelming to you. Make sure that it works with your schedule before you commit to it. Just put one foot in front of the other.”
“Hold each other up.”
Nellie closes our chat by pointing to the role community plays in fitness and body positivity:
“I think what inspires me most about them [my readers] is the mutual support, and the willingness to be vulnerable with one another. A couple of years ago I was going through a lot of madness, and I gained 20 pounds. Writing about that and sharing it…It was the hardest post I ever published, but I got the most amazing reaction, because it was real and it was honest. We relate to each other and hold each other up.”
Nellie will be running the TCS New York Marathon this November. She’ll also be acting as one of their official social media ambassadors. You can keep up with Nellie’s upcoming training, fitness, family, and fashion tips on her Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. Check out her blog at Brooklyn Active Mama.