"I didn't know any runners and the ones I chose to see were always thin and skinny."

By Blake Bakkila
Updated June 26, 2018

You've probably seen selfies of Kelly Roberts—the 28-year-old runner from Brooklyn, New York who gained social media fame after she posted photos of herself posing with unsuspecting hot guys during a half marathon in 2014.

On Sunday, Roberts posted a more personal and empowering image for her 60K Instagram followers. Wearing leggings and her trademark sports bra while at the finish line of a race, she opened up about rejecting the pressure to be thin and learning to appreciate her body.

“When I decided to run a marathon, I remember envisioning the weight I’d lose training for a marathon,” Roberts, who is the founder of She Can & She Did, recalled. “I didn’t know any runners and the ones I chose to see were always thin and skinny. I, like so many others, thought I needed to be thin and skinny in order to be beautiful, desirable, confident, strong, happy, and successful."

She also encouraged people to identify the strength within themselves. "It wasn’t until I joined the #SportsBraSquad that I started looking in the mirror or seeing photos of myself and ACTUALLY seeing my strength,” she wrote.

Though she runs a popular blog about her relationship with running, Roberts only went for her first run four years ago, she tells Health.

“I was just desperate enough to start running,” she says. “I’d graduated from college, had just lost 75 pounds and was grieving the loss of my brother. I felt like I had nothing to be proud of and didn’t know what direction my life was going. Running gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”

From there, she entered races in New York. It was during the New York City Half Marathon in March 2014 when her hot guy selfies went viral. Her hashtag? “#hotguysofthenychalf.” Needless to say, people couldn’t get enough of her man candy-per-mile coverage of the event.

“I started sharing my story on my blog after I went viral,” she says. “Four years later, it’s turned into a really empowering storytelling platform where women can join me in my mission to redefine what strength looks like.”

For her, strength isn’t filtered or Photoshopped. As she described in her Instagram post last week, strength is raw and real.

“It hurts,” she explained about her definition of strength. “It isn’t always fun. But I keep choosing to fight and push myself because I love it. But weight loss isn’t my goal. Strength is. It’s not tied to a time or a number on a scale. It’s the feeling I get knowing I’m giving everything I have towards my best self.”