This Plus-Size Triathlete Takes On The Idea That Only One Type Of Body Can Be Athletic

"Just sitting around waiting for unsolicited advice on workouts and 'diet' ..."

When doctors told Leona Foxworth she may not be around to see her my young nieces graduate from high school, she decided to begin in a fitness journey that now has the power to inspire so many others. 

Foxworth began training, getting stronger, and making healthy lifestyle changes. She joined a running club and a community of support. Since then, she has run one half-marathon, one 10-miler, one sprint triathlon, two 15K runs, and "countless" 5K runs. And, in a video for Iris titled "A Letter to My Body," Foxworth talks about life as a plus-size athlete and looking forward to a newfound sense of life in New York City. 


"I'm ready for new adventures and new ways of proving that you [are] strong and you can do anything," she says in the video, addressing herself. "And helping other women see that they are as well." 

But Foxworth admits that it wasn't always easy, and she understands what it feels like to not believe in yourself

"It is so easy to believe in others. It is so easy to encourage others," Foxworth tells A Plus in an email. "However, believing in yourself is the hardest and bravest thing you can do. It takes real courage to believe in yourself. It is OK to be afraid and it is okay to have days where it does not seem like you are an athlete or that you cannot be strong. It is those days that you lean into others who believe in you ... I constantly have to remind myself that I am strong and that I am brave and that I can do this. I have to remind myself that I need to believe in myself as much as I believe in my nieces, or that I believe in my friends and teammates."

And training is a challenging process, too.

"When I was training for my first triathlon, my No. 1 goal was simply to finish. I did not have any other goals," Foxworth says. "The challenges I faced getting there were some chronic injuries that kept flaring up and then also a fear." She adds that she has never been a strong swimmer, and before the triathlon, she never completed an open-water swim. 

But through the support of her coach and triathlon club, she got through it. "When I was in the ocean on the day of the triathlon and I started to panic, I had a friend that was near me and she helped me through my panic and stayed with me for a few minutes making sure I was OK," she explains. 

Foxworth also addresses those misconceptions that society tends to place on plus-size athletes. This includes:

"That either we are completely unhealthy, we are new to working out or living healthy, and are just sitting around waiting for unsolicited advice on workouts and 'diet' advice, that our only goal in working out is to lose weight and be super skinny, or that we are lazy," she says. But Foxworth is living proof of just the opposite. 

As she continues on her journey, Foxworth wants to be able to run a mile with no walk breaks. She also wants to run a faster 5K, and then, once those are done, she wants to train for another half-marathon. 

"Thank you for sharing your story. You inspire me to keep going no matter what. I wish you the best and I hope you reach your goal," one person comments on Iris' video, available above. 

Finally, Foxworth tells us she aims to complete a full marathon by 2020 — and we can't wait to see her succeed. 

Cover image: Svet_Feo /


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