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Claire Schultz-Mace

Date of Birth: 27/07/1977

Where do you live? Dereham

Several years ago I became seriously ill and was fighting for my life. I was finally diagnosed with Crohn's disease. I initially lost a lot of weight then due to medication my weight ballooned. I struggled to eat, had horrible side effects to the medication and my self confidence was shattered. I wanted to lose the weight but struggled as although my calorie intake was really low, the steroids and medication meant it didn't shift!

When I started to feel better I started at Zumba classes where my confidence grew. I met so many lovely women and still go along today. I could be myself and didn't feel self conscious.

I came off the medication but the weight remained. I have to be careful what I eat and still struggled to eat enough. It was then that I decided to up my game. I heard that running was a great way to lose weight. I went for my first run and felt like an elephant! I was determined to keep pushing but was in tears because I thought I looked enormous! I came home and wrote about my feelings on my Facebook page with the hashtag "fat girl running"! The response I had was of support. One of my close friends called me up and told me off for saying I was fat! But it was how I felt!
I continued with my writing about my running attempts and soon came to realise that other female friends felt exactly the same. It was then I decided to set up a Facebook group called #fatgirlrunninguk. I initially wrote about my journey to fitness. I shared successes but also when I felt bad. More and more people joined in and did the same. It was the best therapy! Other women of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities felt the same!

I now have members from all over the world! We share recipes, goals, feelings and achievements. To know that something I have posted about a bike ride I have done or a pool swim has inspired someone to get up and have a go fills me with pride!

Alongside the Facebook group I am lucky to be part of Triharder's women's cycling group. This group was set up to help ladies who lack in confidence on their bikes. Its all about getting out there, having fun, getting active but mainly improving self confidence and belief.

I have some incredible people behind me from triathletes to body builders. All have made a huge difference to my life by supporting my page My husband is also my cycling and swim coach and is utterly awesome!

You can follow my journey in my Facebook group #fatgirlrunninguk.

Who inspires you?

I am inspired by any woman who gets out of their chair and has a go. Doesn't matter if they walk a few hundred yards or competes in a Ironman!

What are your tips of getting/staying active?

To those who are worried about how they look or not being good enough look at how far I have come. The bravest thing is making the first step and once you start keep going. It doesn't matter how long it takes and always remember - THIS GIRL CAN!