Dancing with Body Diversity

I ran across a video in my feed yesterday and I have to admit made me smile.  It’s not perfect.  The song lyrics  have some problematic phrases.  And I wish the leadership of the dance was a little bit different.  But with all of that said, this dance held at a technical high school had some promising elements.  One element is the diversity of body sizes and types found in the dance.  This wasn’t 50 typical, thin, blond professional dancers and one or two token fatties.  This was a cross section of a school with single digit and decidedly double digit dancers collectively shaking their groove thing.  And some of those folks could really move!  I find the whole thing pretty exciting!  Here it is if you’d like to take a look:

Body diversity is so important for so many reasons.  When I was in high school, I didn’t really have role models that showed me that fat people could be happy or dance or be sexy or have sex.  I didn’t really have anything to counteract the dominant message that the ONLY way to have these things was to get and stay socially, acceptably skinny first.  That’s why I love this video.  There are people of all kinds of sizes and all kinds of SHAPE gettin’ down.  The bigger students aren’t all modified hourglass plus-sized models.  Not that there is anything wrong with being a modified-hourglass, size 12 plus-sized model.  It’s just refreshing to see that people come in all DIFFERENT shapes.  Some have a lot up top.  Some have relatively small bust and a lot of booty.  We’re looking at round, square, apple, hourglass, pear and every other shape and fruit you care to name.  So we get to see that bodies don’t just have to be one size to be awesome.  Bodies don’t need to be just one shape to be awesome.  Bodies don’t have to be one height to be awesome.  Bodies don’t have to come in one color to be awesome.  Bodies don’t even need to all work the same way to be awesome.  Bodies of all different kinds can just rock the house together.

I wish I had this to look at when I was a teenager.  I’m really glad that teenagers get to look at it now.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S.  Want to book me to come talk to YOUR teenagers about body diversity?  I’m booking talks right now for spring.  Send me an email at jeanette@thefatchick.com to make sure you get the date you want!  I can work within most schedules and budgets!  You can learn more about me here.

P.S.S. Want to get a book about how to move your body joyfully and safely at any size or shape?  Buy my book here.

Another study indicates fitness more important than fatness for longevity

Functional fitness kitty adds activities for daily living (ADLs).

Recently on one of the lists I was introduced to another study which suggests that one of the most important things we can do to have a longer life is to exercise–at least a little bit.  The study report begins by pointing out that in the past there has been an assumption that exercise helps people live longer indirectly because it helps them lose weight or change their body size.  However the paper goes on to state that recent evidence suggests that physical activity (including recreational activity and activity accumulated during work hours) seems to help people live longer regardless of whether or not there is a change in BMI or body size:

Whereas it could be hypothesized that PA exerts its influence on mortality indirectly through reducing adiposity, recent data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) suggest that PA is unrelated to change in body weight and inversely, albeit weakly, associated with change in WC (12). Thus, PA may interact differentially with BMI and WCin relation to all-cause mortality.

So the study went on to test this question.  Is it the change in body size or the activity itself that affects longevity?  And the answer seemed to be pretty clear that physical activity helps people live longer whether or not their was weight loss or a change in body size.  And furthermore, the test indicates that the biggest differences in longevity seem to be between the completely sedentary and the moderately inactive groups.  In other words, they hypothesized that the place where there is the greatest impact in longevity is moving people from the group that doesn’t do any exercise at all to the group that does a little bit of exercise.  More exercise helps a bit more.  But moving out of the completely sedentary group seems to have the most impact.

The greatest reductions in mortality risk were observed between the 2 lowest activity groups across levels of general and abdominal adiposity, which suggests that efforts to encourage even small increases in activity in inactive individuals may be beneficial topublic health.
Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.100065.

So what does this mean to us?  First of all, let me plainly state that nobody is  under any obligation to prioritize their health or engage in any activity if they don’t want to.  Your body is your own and you get to decide how you want to live.  But if you are somebody who is interested in living longer, perhaps one of the best things you can do (outside of being rich and born to parents with great genes) is to do at least a little bit of exercise.

So what does this mean to public health?  To me it suggests that if we really want people to live longer, we need to focus on helping them get more active.  Outside of the fact that most weight loss attempts fail, and about 1/3 of the time lead to people getting larger, outside of the fact that many of the more radical weight loss schemes (like surgery) can lead to life-altering side effects, is the simple fact that getting people to exercise even a little bit seems to have a more dramatic effect.  And getting people to exercise–provided they can do it in a safe environment–seems to be a lot less risky.

For so many reasons, I think it’s time to move outside of the weight loss rhetoric about the war on obesity and just move into an environment focused on making it physically, emotionally and financially safe, comfortable and accessible for all folks to integrate physical activity into their lives.  That is, if we are ready to stop worrying about making money upon broken dreams and start helping people actually have better lives.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. I’m setting my spring speaking schedule.  Want to book me to speak to your group or school?  Send an email to jeanette@thefatchick.com.  I can work to fit most programs and budgets.  You can read more HERE.

The 3500 Calorie Fallacy and the Invisible Man

Lord knows I don’t often agree with Dr. Sharma.  His views on bariatric surgery are very different than mine, thus I will not be providing a link.)  But this week in his “Obesity Notes” he presented something that got me quite jazzed.  (By the way, as a music major, I would suggest that the “Obesity Notes” are F-sharp and B-flat.)

Some “obesity notes”…

This week he talked about the 3500 calorie weight loss fallacy and about how even the top medical journals seem to fall into it.  This old chestnut (which has to have been quoted by trolls in the millions of times) goes like this:

If you cut 500 calories per day, which adds up to 3,500 calories per week, you will lose a pound per week.

Which on it’s face seems pretty logical, right?  I mean science says that one pound of fat has a caloric content of about 3,500 calories.  So logic dictates that if you cut 3,500 calories from your diet, you will lose 1 shiny, gorgeous pound.

3500 glisteningly gorgeous kilocalories…

Heck a patient  information page found in even that most sciencey of the scientific magazines JAMA says:

A total of 3500 calories equals 1 pound of body weight. This means if you decrease (or increase) your intake by 500 calories daily, you will lose (or gain) 1 pound per week. (500 calories per day × 7 days = 3500 calories.)

Seems  logical, right?  Except for just one problem.  It absolutely doesn’t work.  As one doctor pointed out in a letter to the editor, the fallacy is pretty obvious if you think about it.  1 pound a week is 52 pounds per year.  Not only is this far above and beyond what the average dieter loses in a year, it leads to a conclusion that is patently absurd.  If this equation were linear in just a few years, many dieters would have zero pounds and would simply disappear.

Hmmm, maybe if we feed trolls a little less…   But alas no.  There are no disappearing dieters running out there, because OBVIOUSLY as a person begins to lose weight, certain metabolic changes start happening in the body that make it harder to lose weight.  This is because the body doesn’t want people to starve OR disappear.  The body wants to self-regulate to manage through times of want and times of plenty.  This is an extremely well-known and well documented scientific fact.

Yet many, many trolls (and apparently well-known scientific journals) are inclined to say things like, “Duh, it’s thermodynamics!  If you eat less, you will lose weight.  Just cut 3500 calories and you will lose a pound you (insert insult-y troll name for fat person here).”

But if you feel inclined, and if you have the spoons, you can feel free to tell those trolls that while we wish it were that easy to make some people disappear, it just ain’t so.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to talk about the 3500 calorie and other great stuff at YOUR school or organization?  Click HERE for my speaker page.

P.S.S. Want to have help getting into exercise?  Click HERE to buy my book or DVD.

FDA Approves New (Torture?) Device for Fatties

I guess I should have seen it coming.  We’ve seen forks that talk to you and bracelets that shock you for eating too much.  We’ve seen painful patches you sew on your tongue, balloons you blow up in your guts and dramatic rerouting of your internal plumbing and drugs that cause high blood pressure, irreversible heart damage and death all in the name of weight loss.

Today, the FDA approved a new implanted electronic device for helping fatties lose weight.  Now, we don’t know that this product will fail as so many have before it.  It’s possible that this will be the miracle all the fat-hating world has been seeking.  But I have to say, I has a concerned.

Concerned kitteh is concerned.

First of all, let’s talk about the device.  According to the FDA News Release:

The Maestro Rechargeable System consists of a rechargeable electrical pulse generator, wire leads and electrodes implanted surgically into the abdomen. It works by sending intermittent electrical pulses to the trunks in the abdominal vagus nerve, which is involved in regulating stomach emptying and signaling to the brain that the stomach feels empty or full. Although it is known that the electric stimulation blocks nerve activity between the brain and the stomach, the specific mechanisms for weight loss due to use of the device are unknown.

Okay, first off, this abdominal lobotomy machine somehow uses electricity to block nerve activity between the brain and the stomach.  Is anybody else even a tiny bit uncomfortable about this?  I mean isn’t that connection between your mind and the fuel tank of your body kind of important?  What about cravings for things our bodies need?  We just do away with all of those?  Personally, I think that the link between my stomach is kind of important.

And then we get to the part that says, “the specific mechanisms for weight loss due to use of the device are unknown.”  Um, okay.  So somehow disrupting a key process of your body makes you lose weight, but we aren’t sure why.  It could be that you get the feeling of being full sooner.  It  could be that the tiny device is receiving signals from aliens from another star system that, frustrated with efforts to starve the human race by planting celebrity “fat shots” into the National Enquirer, have turned to more direct methods.  (It does stimulate the “Vagus Nerve” after all.)

It’s how the MIB know what’s what…

Now let’s talk about efficacy.  You know, whether or not it works.  The FDA approved this device despite it’s failure to meet the primary endpoint.  What does this mean?  It means that the device using group would lose at  least 10 percent more excess weight than the control group.  But despite missing this important marker, the device was approved because AAARGH, DEATHFAT, PANIC!  Now let’s look at the statistics.

The release states that a clinical trial was conducted with a whopping 233 patients.  The group with the functional version of the device lost 8.5 percent more weight than those with the non-functional version of the device and kept it off for 18 months.   So far that’s as far out as they have studied.  Despite the fact that most weight loss products, programs and potions work for 18 months.  Despite the fact that virtually every other weight loss product, program, plan or potion starts to fail shortly after that, leading to mass failure and frequently even higher weights within 5 years.

But that’s okay, because the FDA has rules, right.  The press release states:

As part of the approval, the manufacturer must conduct a five year post approval study that will follow at least 100 patients and collect additional safety and effectiveness data including weight loss, adverse events, surgical revisions and explants and changes in obesity-related conditions.

So the manufacturer (which has NO conflict of interest, right?) will conduct an ongoing study on less than half of the original patients to see if this thing works long term and/or causes more problems than it solves.  Uh huh.  In the mean time, the company that has created this thing faces unmitigated joy as their capital and stock prices rise.  By time we figure out that this thing is causing really big problems, or doesn’t work long term or is receiving signals from the Vega system, the guys that created this will be on their second yacht and summer home in Vail.  But that’s okay too, because AAARGH, DEATHFAT, OBESIPANIC!!!!!

I’m sighing deeply right now as I contemplate just how many more folks will sell their cows for this handful of magic beans, and how big and angry the giant will be, and who will be around to slay it.

Don’t mind me.  I’m going to do something I know will improve my health long term.  I’m just gonna shut off the computer and go for a walk.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to hear Jeanette speak at your organization about sensible, sustainable, and research-driven ways to improve your health?  Click here.

P.S.S. Wanna buy stuff that will help you start and stay exercising?  Click here.

Belty at CES: Comfortable Technology or Uncomfortable Community Rorschach Test?

If you follow the technology news at all,  you know that Vegas hosted the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week.  And if you follow the news at CES at all, you’ve probably heard about a new gadget from France that has been one of the darlings of the media this week.  This gadget, called Belty, is a smart belt.  Following the wildly popular electronic wearables trend, this digital belt adjusts to you–loosening or tightening to keep a steady grip on your waist.  So for example, if you stand up, the belt tightens.  When you sit down, and your tummy is slightly squished it loosens.  If you eat a meal, it loosens slightly.  If you come back from your high colonic, it tightens slightly.  Get the idea?

The belt also functions as an activity tracker and buzzes gently to let you know if you have been seated and sedentary beyond a certain set limit.  The belt is not yet for sale, nor is there a clear indication when it might be.  The product is kind of silly and the name is ridiculous.  So one might wonder just why it has garnered so much press.

Well some have speculated the media attentions stems from the fact that it is new, and extremely visual and lends itself to iPhone video shots of the belt developer/model’s crotch.

But I think the real reason this thing is in the media so much is that it provides an opportunity for everybody to weigh in on the “obesity crisis”–often while utilizing extremely bad puns.

Stuff tv’s headline is simple and accurate.  “Hands on with Belty–The smartbelt that adjusts itself to your waistline.”  Simple and factual.  Thumbs up for Stuff TV.  USA Today says that “Belty wants to make losing weight a cinch!” Get it?  See what they did there?  CNBC calls the product “A smart belt that knows when you are getting fat.” (Sort of like Santa Claus, it knows when you’ve been eating…) Yahoo Health says “World’s First Smart Belt Self-Adjusts to Signal Daily Weight Fluctuations”.  Well okay, it does tell an app on your smart phone when your waistline changes in either direction.  Some have suggested that the app shames its wearers with headlines like “Adjustable belt shames you into exercising more”.

Actually the belt does contain fitness tracking information.  It does buzz gently if you have been “sitting too long”.  But there is little evidence that the app does any shaming of any kind.  It tracks your waistline, but unlike other apps I’ve reviewed, it doesn’t call you names or  yell at you.  It buzzes gently, but it doesn’t give you an electric shock like the pavlovian bracelet I’ve talked about before.

In fact, all the while that some are touting the weight loss benefits of the product, others are criticizing it for “promoting obesity”.  To be clear, it doesn’t appear that the product plays happy theme music when your waistline increases (although that would be kinda cool).  There’s no “fat cat” feature that deposits money in your bank account as your girth gets larger.  Some have suggested that by the very fact the belt ever loosens, thus making you less miserable when your pants are too tight, encourages people to pile on the pounds.

The amazing thing to me isn’t that there’s a big, clunky, digital belt that gets bigger and smaller by itself.  The amazing thing to me is the sheer range of value judgements we impose on such a piece of tech.  The level of emotional stuff that the media and people in general are willing to heap on any product that has anything to do with body size, waist size and weight is remarkable.

Look people, sometimes a whirring clunky digital belt is just a belt.  Let’s just reclaim our collective minds and move on, okay?

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to hire me to speak?  Click HERE!

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B

OMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM My Plan for 2015

Well, like everybody everywhere I’m thinking over 2014 and making plans for 2015.  At first I was a little worried that my post for today wouldn’t be all that original, or exciting or awesome.  And then I said, aw the heck with it.  I’m not going to worry about that, because my plan for 2015 is Laugh More. Worry Less.

After all. Bobby McFerrin’s video for Don’t Worry Be Happy has over 30 Million views, so there’s probably something to that, right? (Of course, now I’m worrying that I don’t have enough views on my YouTube channel. Aaargh!  Time to sing….)

In 2014, I faced (and am still facing) a number of health problems.  It kind of sucks.  I spent some time this morning worrying that I did some stuff to cause those health problems.  And then I remembered that I was supposed to be doing less worrying this year.  Because worrying doesn’t seem to help me to get healthier or feel better.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that worrying makes everything worse.  So I need to stick with the program here.

Then I started worrying that I am starting my whole new year worrying about worrying.  So I said the heck with it and ate the leftover creme brulee from last night’s French New Year’s Eve dinner.  And then I felt better.

So I’ve amended my plan to Laugh More. Worry Less.  Eat dessert for breakfast.

And then, as I looked for videos to add to this post, I found out there is a super cool dance to Bobby’s song in the game Just Dance. And aside from rocking some super fun dance moves, I had to admire the dancers in the video for their fabulous socks. As many of you know, I’m a bit of an over achiever, so I had to add on.

So my grand 2015 plan is: Laugh More. Worry Less. Eat DESSERT For Breakfast. Dance Whenever Possible. AND Wear Awesome Socks.

Seems like a workable plan.

Thanks for all of your love and support over the past  year.  I hope your new year is full of love and laughter, devoid of needless fretting and as full of dancing, awesome socks and creme brulee as you can possibly handle.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. If your new years resolution includes the desire to do some physical fitness type stuff, why not head over to fit fatties and sign  up for the Virtual Decathlon?!  Last year was EPIC and you don’t want to miss it.  Click HERE to join in the fun!

Stuff that Weighs More than Me: 8 “Tiny” Reindeer (+1)

Haven’t done one of these posts in a while.  And given the fact the airways are about to be flooded with weight-loss dreck, I thought I’d get in there early with some holiday stuff that weighs more than me.

I always laughed when I heard that line in The Night Before Christmas that described a miniature sleigh and 8 tiny reindeer.  Look, I understand that the poet is seeing the sleigh and team from a distance, and that there’s some poetic license at work here.  But there is nothing small about a sleigh able to carry presents for the entire world on it.  And reindeer are anything but diminutive.

Actually reindeer are really super cool.  Here’s a couple of cool reindeer facts:

1.  They have specially developed noses with lots more surface area to warm the cool winter air as it enters their bodies.

2.  Several species have “trick knees” that click when they walk.

3.  Reindeer are the ultimate in long-distance runners.  Some species are known to travel over 3,000 miles in a single year.  On average in the migration season they travel 10 to 30 miles per day.  They can run at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour and can even swim at 4-6 miles per hour.  Once they learn to cycle, they will be eligible for “Iron-deer”(TM) status.

4.  Reindeer are thought to be the only mammals that can see ultraviolet light.

In short all reindeer (not just Santa’s) have super powers!  And they are not diminutive.  Let’s look at the stats:

Mature Male Reindeer pulling Santa’s Sleigh (8)

Juvenile Male Reindeer (with glowing shnozz) pulling Santa’s Sleigh

Juvenile Male Reindeer:

  • Length: 65-80 Inches
  • Shoulder Height: 40-50 inches
  • Weight: 200-250 pounds

Mature Male Reindeer:

  • Length: 71-84 Inches
  • Shoulder Height: 50-60 inches
  • Weight: up to 700 pounds

Santa’s Sleigh Team Total Weight: 5850 pounds

Conclusion: Stanta’s Sleigh Team Weighs More than Me

Hope you are having a wonderful time with everybody you love!

Affectionately Yours,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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