By Stephanie Stijkel

A DETERMINED woman is aiming to tackle the stigma attached to plus size people and exercise – by going hiking

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Videographer / director: Colin Weatherby

Producer: Stephanie Stijkel, Ruby Coote

Editor: Helen Mckee

 

33-year-old Celeste Mick from Los Angeles, California is a passionate hiker who keeps track of her adventures online.

Having started her hiking journey whilst still living in Hawaii, she now takes on a new trail almost every week.

Celeste told Barcroft TV: “I was actually coming from a really dark part of my life and I was looking for something that would change how I was feeling.

“I didn’t have any hiking knowledge but once I made it to the top, it was pretty intense because I felt empowered.”

Yet, Celeste is not your average looking hiker - with her plus size frame, she is used to people doubting her hiking capabilities.

She explained: “I did feel some people were like, ‘How long did you hike?’, ‘Did you make it to the top?’ Like almost questioning as not believing it.”

And being plus size has created other challenges too; Celeste has to have her hiking jacket, backpack and rain pants customised to fit her frame.

“I’m on the biggest plus size, I guess size range, and it’s pretty hard to find clothes regardless,” Celeste continued.

However, none of these things swayed Celeste’s determination.

Her current goals include hiking every state in America and getting ready to conquest Mt. Kilimanjaro next year. 

To get ready for these challenges, Celeste hikes local trails, practicing walking with a heavy backpack to build up her endurance. 

Her biggest supporters include her mother Estela and her partner Don, who even proposed to Celeste during one of their shared hikes.

Don explained: “I got into hiking when Celeste and I got together, she was kind of knee deep into the hiking game and showed me some of the areas around LA. 

“We were in our own little world. And I was like, ’Okay, this is the perfect time to do it’.”

Celeste added: “I’m wearing like hiking gear, I’m sweating, looking like we were just chased by bears, but it felt like us.”

With her Instagram page ‘fatgirlforthefitsoul’, Celeste tries to break stereotypes and inspire other plus size people to exercise outdoors and not feel ashamed to do so because of their larger frames.  

“I don't come across a lot of plus size hikers,” she said.

“I'm hoping that will change in the future, to see more diversity, on the trail.

“The mountains do not care who you are. They just want you to be there.”

Not only did hiking help Celeste get over a dark time in her life, it has also massively increased her self-confidence.

Making it to the top of a hiking trail has given her a sense of empowerment and a new appreciation of her body and its capabilities.

Celeste told Barcroft TV: “Hiking has taught me to be confident at a level that I never experienced, even when I wasn’t a fat person.

“You have to love yourself in your skin that you're in right now.

“And if things change, you're going to love yourself even more because you learn that you're worth everything.”