Inspiring Leaders: Julie Creffield

Julie Creffield, founder of Too Fat To Run, is an international public speaker

Too Fat To Run is a global campaign to encourage plus-size runners to stand together and be counted in the mainstream running world. The associated website and award-winning blog, the Fat Girls Guide to Running, is the world’s only resource specifically designed for plus-size runners and today attracts two million unique visitors. Since launching the site in 2010, its founder Julie Creffield has become an author, international speaker and a role model to thousands of women the world over.

I am one of 6 children.

I have two brothers and 3 sisters and I think coming from a large family really shaped who I am. I was always told as a child that I was a bit of a show off or an attention seeker and I guess this was true to a certain extent as I jostled for love and attention growing up. I learned a lot of negotiation and influencing skills early on as a means of survival, and was driven to make my own money so I didn’t have to rely on anyone. My siblings are proud of me now, but I reckon they still think I am a little strange too…I am a little strange.

I was the first person in my family to go to university.

I never imagined going off to do a degree, it didn’t even feature in my plans as a teenager. But a teacher encouraged me to apply and I found myself with a place to study Performing Arts at Winchester University. I wasn’t academic at school despite being bright and opinionated. I left 3 years later with a first-class degree and a wealth of hands on experience which saw me walk straight into an arts related job. I think it is difficult to know what the opportunities are out there as a young person without good role models, how do you know if you want something if you have never seen it. I like to think my nieces and nephews will at least consider it now as a result of knowing someone who has taken this path.

I have been made redundant 3 times.

Almost all of my full-time jobs have resulted in redundancy. Maybe it was just a sign of the times in the public sector but it had an enormous effect on my confidence. Even though it was the role being made redundant not me personally it still at the time felt quite personal. The final time this happened I was seven months pregnant with my first child and it was a massive wake up call. I decided there and then that I would never rely on anyone else for my livelihood and it was going to be entrepreneurship for me all the way moving forward. I am not sure how employable I am these days anyway, I don’t like being told what to do.

Success always seems to follow a period of failure.

Most of my significant high points in my career have come immediately after a significant low point, either a relationship breakdown, a major mistake or misjudgement or something not going to plan. It is almost like I need that hardship to motivate me to push through to the next level. I also think the universe sends me challenges to see how committed I am to the things I think I want, to see how important they are to me. I work best when I am under pressure or if people tell me I can’t do something or my ideas will never work, understanding what motivates you as a person is really important. I can’t be around yes people or people who have little ambition as I think my life and business would become stagnant.

I have never been smaller than a size 16.

Now I know this is pretty much impossible because I must have been at some point, but if I ever was I don’t remember it. I used to think that only slim people could be successful or wealthy and whenever I was looking for a career change I’d always start and then fail a new diet regime. I now know that my success has nothing to do with my body size and more to do with how I value and appreciate myself. I still think there is an issue with women not wanting to show up in the world when their body doesn’t conform to what the world sees a successful woman body looking like. This makes me incredibly sad. That so many women have so many gifts and talents to give to the world, but are held back because of lack of confidence and fears around being judged. Just think how much time women waste on trying to be smaller rather than focussing on living bigger.

The CV
  • Living Bigger Lives, Keynote Speaker
  • CEO, The Fat Girl’s Guide to Running
  • Director, Urban 8 Creative Solutions
  • Olympic Development Manager
  • 2012 Volunteering and Community Sport Manager

 

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