Feel Like Your Fitness Efforts Have Flopped? (Corgi Inspiration Porn)

We’ve all been there.  You put on your best fitness gear, you lace up your sneakers or pump up your bike tires or struggle into your swimsuit (a workout in itself) and head out with trepidation to try something new.  Like the little corgie in the video above, we watch our lab buddy get a running start and leap gracefully and effortlessly into exercise.  But when we try it, well, we don’t look quite so graceful.  Sometimes even well-meaning people we love at us laugh a little bit.  And it makes us shy.  It makes us hesitant to hop in again.

Sometime after a time we will look more graceful as we attempt that form of fitness.  And sometimes, like our little corgi buddy, we just aren’t built to sail gracefully into the sea.  It just isn’t in the genes.  Does that mean we stay dry on the dock?  Do we decide to spend our lives watching the labs get all the tennis balls from our safe spot on the sand?  That depends?

Do you like tennis balls?  Do you like getting wet?  Do you have somebody who can fish you out of the water if you get over your head.  Is jumping in the water in any way at all fun?

If so, I say do as our corgi pal does and just jump in again.  Who cares if somebody laughs.  You got the dang tennis ball, right.  So you just tell the one in the bikini to stop giggling and just throw the bloody ball already, lady!

If tennis balls are not your thing, and you’d rather stay dry that is also cool.  But whatever you choose, I strongly encourage you to not compare yourself to the lab who would look equally silly trying to herd sheep.  And if you want to jump in and get the tennis ball, then do it.  Run down that dock, ignore all the giggling and just leap.

It’s up to you.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to hear my speak to your group about Corgi Fitness?  Click HERE to learn more.

Sunrise

Well, I certainly have been burning the midnight oil lately.  In fact, I’ve been burning it enough to see the dawn.  This morning, as I watched another glorious sunrise, I pondered what I would write about today.  And I decided I would write about new beginnings.

So often, when we fall down on things we feel we should do or want to do (like, ahem, writing a blog) we get embarrassed.  We aren’t sure what to say.  We shuffle our feet.  And fight with the urge to apologize.

Sometimes this embarrassment is so acute, we’re tempted to throw in the towel and say the heck with it.  Just give it up.  Just walk away.

But I think that’s a shame.  Because life gives us so many opportunities for new beginnings.  If there are an infinite number of points on any line, it stands to reason that there are an infinite number of places where we can begin as well as end.  There are an unlimited number of places where we can stumble and fall.  But directly adjacent to those places are other places where we can get up again. Every sunrise is a new beginning.  Every breath, every heartbeat is a renewal of who and what we are.

I think about the many, many times I’ve tried to change things.  I’ve tried to introduce the world to the completely renovated, whole-new me.  And it’s true.  Every time I meet the world I am a new me.  I think where I get into trouble is when I believe the new me will stay exactly as I presented it on the day I designated as “whole new me” day.  But the truth is that there is no momentary me that I can crystallize in amber as the one acceptable me from which my future I may not deviate.  Yes, I’m a whole new me until I’m a whole new me again, and again and again.  Hopefully, I’m learning.  Hopefully I’m getting stronger.  But long ago, I learned to see my life and my progress as a curving, squiggly, messy line that sometimes is camera ready and sometimes is not so much so.

Progress

Progress…

I’m waxing philosophical.  (Extreme sleep deprivation does that to me.)  But I’m also saying, here I am.  Whoops, sorry if you thought I had everything together.  Yeah, here I am making some of the same mistakes I made before, ‘cuz I’m, you know, human and stuff.  I’m so bummed if you sought a blog post from me and it wasn’t there.  But let’s pick up where we left off.  Let’s reconnect and laugh it off.  Let’s begin again.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Weighing the Verdict–Punished in the Courtroom for Being Fat

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Recently I ran across this article in Scientific American about how certain stigmatized groups are more likely to elicit harsher punishments than other groups.  In particular, the article talks about a study where participants were asked to read a paragraph about people committing acts that are commonly considered to be “impure” like watching pornography, being sloppy or cursing.  The participants were then told that the people committing these acts in the story had various characteristics.  The study found that when the fictional characters were described as hippies, trailer trash or obese, the judgements of the study participants were much harsher.

Now I gotta put a trigger warning here, and say that the author of the article described those three categories in a way that wasn’t particularly positive.  You can skip on down to the last paragraph if you don’t want to read this part.  But the study and the author suggested that those groups elicited harsher judgements because they were more likely to elicit “disgust” in the minds and bodies of the participants.  The study (as well as a series of follow up studies) indicate that the study participants were also more likely to praise members of these groups for doing stuff perceived as more “pure”.  For example, if a member of the stigmatized groups (fat people, trailer trash and hippies) were described as keeping a neat cubicle, they were more likely to receive a virtual “pat on the head” from the study participants.  And in the study, when the  person described was committing a heinous act not related to “purity” like illegally parking or not tipping a waiter, the stigma they faced was far less likely to affect the judgement of the study participants.

“The assumption people have is that we draw on values that are universal and important,” says social psychologist E. J. Masicampo of Wake Forest University, who led the study, “but something like mentioning that a person is overweight can really push that judgment around. It’s triggering these gut-level emotions.”

After the study, the researchers went on to check the results against real world situations.  And to nobody’s surprise, the scales of justice were not balanced in favor of fat folks.  They looked at the records of all Police Patrol stops by the NY Police between 2003 and 2014.  If the stops were for a crime against “purity” (drugs, lewdness, prostitution) fat people were a lot more likely to be arrested.  In fact, for every point of increase in BMI was equal to a one percent greater likelihood of arrest or summons.

None of this is news to those of us who study weight stigma.  In fact, Sondra Solovay’s excellent book “Tipping the Scales of Justice” was a key work in helping us understand how fat people are treated by our justice system both on the streets and in the courtroom.  And while I’m a little disturbed by some of the wording used by the researchers, I’m a lot more disturbed by the reality of this injustice.  And I’m glad that this work is being done.  I can only hope that this work, in conjunction with so much other work being done about the effect that all sorts of stigma have on policing, judging and jailing actually leads to real significant change in how our policemen, judges and juries are trained.  It’s a big dream, but I think it’s worth having and pursuing.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie, AKA The Fat Chick

P.S. Want me to come talk to your group about size discrimination?  You can learn more about my speaking engagements here.  And you can contact me here to schedule a date!

Listening to your body means listening.

There has been a lot written about the notion of listening to our bodies.  Many people (including me) have written volumes about how our bodies have wisdom that can answer questions like:

1.  What does my body need right now?

2.  What do I need to eat?

3.  What sounds delicious to me right now?

4.  How does my body need or want to move right now?

5.  Do I need to rest right now?

Our bodies do have wisdom.  And we can learn a lot by learning to ask our bodies what our bodies need.  But a lot of people that I work with say that they have a hard time hearing the answer.  And I invariably reply, “I’m not surprised.”  In my experience, we are taught from a young age how to talk.  We are taught to perform and demand and emote and share.  What we are not taught, is how to listen.  Sadly, our culture does not seem to place sufficient value on listening.  And I think a lot of the problems in our world stem from the lack of emphasis placed on this important skill.

One of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett, writes about this in one of his Discworld novels called Pyramids.  In this novel, our hero wanders off to Ephebe, where we find a whole lot of philosophers all talking at once.   Except for one character known as Endos.  You see, Endos is a professional listener.  His job is to sit quietly and absorb what other philosophers have to say.  From time to time he encourages them by saying things like “you don’t say” or “please, continue”.  For this service, Endos is paid handsomely.  Because you can’t toss a grape in Ephebe without hitting a philosopher, but a good listener is worth their weight in wine and gold.

So if we want to learn to listen to what our bodies have to say, it often helps to start by learning to listen, period.  As Endos would tell you, listening is a skill like any other.  It has specific techniques that can be  learned.  With that in mind, I’d like to share some of the listening techniques I’ve gathered and share with you how I feel they can be applied to listening to our bodies.

1.  Be Quiet.  It’s kind of obvious, but if we want to listen to somebody talk, we first need to stop talking.  In the case of listening to our bodies, that means that we should sit quietly and without distraction from television or radios or computers.  And then we need to stop talking to our bodies.  We need to stop telling it what we think it SHOULD want or it SHOULD need.  This is step one, but it is often the very most difficult.

2.  Be Encouraging.  My body is not going to talk to me if my body is sure I am going to scoff or treat it with disdain for the things it has to say.  If my body says, “I’m hungry,” and then I tell it, “You can’t be hungry because it isn’t noon yet,” we’ve got a problem.  Next time I ask my body what’s up, will it answer?  If I want my body to tell me things, I need to take a cue from Endos and be encouraging. I need to say things like, “Fascinating!  Do continue.”

3.  Be Patient.  Our bodies are used to being ignored.  It might take a while for our bodies to communicate with us again.  We need to give it time and space.  We need to accept that we won’t always get answers the moment we ask for them.  We need to treat our bodies with respect and patience.

4. Be Impartial.  If our bodies are convinced that we will judge it and treat it harshly for letting us know what it needs, it will stop telling us.  We need to listen to our bodies without judging.

5.  Be Responsive.  If we constantly respond to our bodies needs by denying those needs, our bodies will stop talking.  If our bodies learn that they are rewarded for telling us what they need by GETTING WHAT THEY NEED they will become more communicative.

I have lots more I could say about this, but I’d like to practice some active listening with you right now.  Do you have some thoughts about your experiences in learning to listen to your body?  I’d love to hear them.  Please share in the comments section below.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to listen to me talk at YOUR group, classroom or organization?  Click HERE to learn more about my speaking programs.

Obesity Society Recommends Half of America Should Waste More Time and Money

This week, I came across this little gem from the Obesity Society.  And let me state for the record that while a society composed of rad fatties would be cool, this society is not it.  Nope this society is composed of a whole lot of people who think that fat people should not live on this planet.

In light of my recent posts about how intentional weight loss efforts don’t work, how intentional weight loss (when it does occur) tends to be temporary and fleeting, how there’s no real evidence that intentional weight loss in itself helps people be healthier (nor is there likely to be such a study anytime soon as you can’t get people to keep the weight off long enough to study it), and how behavior modification does make people healthier whether they lose weight or not, in light of all those things the Obesity Society press release title is at least good for a laugh:

Sixty-five Percent of American Adults are Recommended Behavioral Weight-Loss Treatment, Study Shows
Of those, 83% should be considered for pharmacotherapy, 23% could be candidates for bariatric surgery

Yep, weight loss efforts don’t work, so MORE people need to try them.  Yes!  Bariatric surgery has tons of sometimes irreversible side effects (including suicide and accidental death) and often doesn’t result in permanent weight loss or improved quality of life, so clearly THAT’S what we should do.  Yes, most of the weight loss drugs approved over the last 25 years were eventually pulled because they resulted in minimal up front weight loss, almost no permanent weight loss and caused little problems like heart defects, high blood pressure, heart attacks and death.  So OF COURSE we need more people to do that.

Honestly, I don’t even know what to type any more.  The evidence continues to pile up saying:

1.  We don’t know how to help people lose weight long term.

2.  We don’t know if that elusive long term weight loss will make people healthier.

3.  We do know that a lot of the stuff we try to help people lose weight makes them sicker and sometimes dead.

4.  We do know that modest behavior changes in eating well, stress management, getting good sleep, coping with stigma, and joyfully moving our bodies helps us be healthy without bad side effects whether or not people lose weight.

And we keep adding 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 and coming up with the answer:

We just need to keep doing that stuff that doesn’t work even harder with more people.  It takes a COMMITMENT people!

I think I need to recommend a little “Weight Loss Headline Bypass Surgery” so I can just look at the actual research.  Because these conclusions are making me feel a little bit crazy.

Yup, that’s my prescription.  And I think the prognosis is pretty good.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie, AKA The Fat Chick

P.S. Want me to  come speak at your  organization?  Click HERE to learn more.

Docs Admit Diet and Exercise Don’t Equal Weight Loss, Then Jump to Wrong Conclusion

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An article hit my feed from LA Times today and it seemed to offer some refreshing news.  It seems 4 doctors, weight-loss specialists set out to say what so many of us have been saying for so long now.  They admit that for the vast majority of obese children and adults in this country, telling them to eat less and move more is a prescription for failure.

They acknowledge that once a fat body begins to lose weight, a whole lot of processes, hormonal and otherwise kick in.  Hormones increase hunger signals.  Metabolisms slow down.  The body struggles to maintain the weight.

Furthermore, the 4 weight loss experts admit that a body that has lost weight are biologically quite different from bodies that have never been fat.  One states:

“Few individuals ever truly recover from obesity,” the authors wrote. Those that do, they add, “still have ‘obesity in remission,’ and are biologically very different from individuals of the same age, sex and body weight who never had obesity.” They are constantly at war with their bodies’ efforts to return to their highest sustained weight.

So far, so good.  Many of us have been pointing out the studies that show these results for years.  So after this, those docs recommend a behavior-based approach where we focus on exercising and eating well for their own sakes (as both have been demonstrated to improve health regardless of whether or not they are accompanied by weight loss), right?  Right?

Well, as it turns out, no not so much.  The docs are suggesting that we simply increase awareness of other tools for weight loss (pills, potions, surgeries and devices) and turn to them sooner.  They suggest we increase fear mongering in the overweight to help keep them from becoming obese.  They suggest a greater focus on weight maintenance for those who have lost weight in order to help them keep it off.  (They somehow neglect to tell us how this is going to work or how it will help.)

The funny thing is, that the doctors see the stigma.  They see how telling patients to just eat less and move more is cruel, since it for the most part doesn’t work.  They see how stigmatizing fat patients and simply labeling them as non-compliant isn’t the answer.

But they simply substitute in another bad answer.  And this bad answer is likely to drag along much more devastating side effects than the original bad answer.  At least suggesting people move their bodies more and eat more nutrient-dense foods is likely to improve health, regardless of whether or not it leads to the holy grail of weight loss.  While pills and potions and surgeries and devices are slightly less ineffective than diet and exercise alone for weight loss, these methods can also carry significant dangers like increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, heart defects, permanent disfigurement, malnutrition, depression, suicide and death from other causes.  And there is not much evidence that in the long run, the few people who do sustain weight loss from the pills and potions and surgeries and devices end up any healthier than the people who stayed fat.

Meanwhile, there is ample evidence that eating well and exercising have a positive impact on health regardless of whether they are accompanied by weight loss.

So why on earth are we not just focusing on healthy behaviors here?  Why do we insist on focusing on weight loss at all?  Well these docs do label themselves as weight loss specialists and that may have a lot to do with it.  And as a society, we do love to blame fat people for stuff.  So I guess they took a few steps out into the light and then fell into a deep, dark hole.

Oh well.

I for one am going to continue my focus on living the best life I can in the gloriously wondrous body I have now.  So if you’ll excuse me, I’mma gonna get on with it.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to talk about evidence-based medicine and wellness at your school or organization?  Learn more HERE.

A Joyous Sufficiency

I’ve been adding more meditation time to my life and this has been a wonderful decision.  I was deeply encouraged by a dear friend (Thanks Gina!) to pursue this and it has helped me in so many ways.  I am feeling less stressed.  I am feeling more grounded.  My dreams at night are rich and vivid!  There are so many good things.

In my work with a coach last year and in my meditation this year, I have come across many tools and phrases that I use to help keep me centered and feeling whole.  But in all those tools and phrases, for me one has stood head and shoulders above the rest.  I simply tell myself, “Jeanette, you are enough.”

I often need to tell myself this phrase over and over.  Because throughout my life, I have often felt I wasn’t enough.  I wasn’t tall enough or thin enough or smart enough or rich enough.  I wasn’t sexy enough or talented enough or kind enough or a good enough friend, daughter, sister or wife.

And in my life when I have felt the deepest despair, I wonder if I am even under there.  Under the awards and the press clippings and the degrees and the friends  list and the family ties and the wardrobe and the public smile.  Under the niceness and the smile I share even when I feel like crying am I under all that?  Is there a me there somewhere?

But through my meditation work, I am starting to understand that I am a joyous sufficiency.  I am enough.  Not my money or my work or my friends lists or my accomplishments.  Not my friends lists or my awards or my photographs or my resume or my portfolio.  I am enough.  Just me.  Whatever I bring, or do, or desire or act upon. I AM just fine.  I AM.

I share this because I hear you.  I hear you when you are frustrated and sad and feel like you will never live up to what you think the world wants you to be.  I hear you when you fail yet again to capture the perfect selfie that will convince you that you have convinced the entire world you are okay.  And for those moments, whenever they come up, I want to say something.

Breathe.  You are okay.  You are enough.  You ARE.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to come talk to your group about the importance of understanding “joyous sufficiency”?  Email me at jeanette at the fat chick dot com.  Learn more here.