(Body) Love is Patient. (Body) Love is Kind.

As I thought further about my recent post about marrying my body, I wondered what is really the hard part of this for me?  What about the commitment to love my body do I find the most challenging.  And I remember that passage from the bible that is so often read during wedding services.  You know, the one that begins, “Love is patient.  Love is kind.”  And it occurred to me that right now, I’m doing okay with the kindness part of living in my body.  But the patient part, not so much.

It is so hard being patient with our bodies.  Especially when we are hurt or sick.  I have definitely been losing patience with my current illness.  And so one day, I thought I would just muscle through.  I would just do the stuff I did when I wasn’t sick.  I would suck it up and power through.  I did all of that.  And I paid for it.  Oh dear God I paid for it, with interest.  After two days of barely being able to move again, I thought maybe a different approach was in order.  Maybe I should, you know, do the stuff I tell other people to do all the time.  Maybe I should figure out the gentlest and most gradual way possible to go forward and do that.

Except I suck at patience.  I mean I really, REALLY suck at it.  I want to be better TODAY.  I want to be able to plow through and using will power alone be perfectly healthy right now.  The idea that I am still in pain and struggling at this point is INCONCEIVABLE!

But I am.  Why is it that I can have so much patience for helping other people with their struggles and helping them find a gentle and loving and gradual way through and be so utterly bad at it myself?  This is not my first rodeo.  I’ve dealt with chronic pain before.  I should be better at it by now.

Except it is really, really hard.  I am so very glad that we have our RASCAL challenge starting on Sunday.  I’m really looking forward to picking just one or two kind things I can do for myself each day to feel better.  I  am looking forward to making kindness and self-care my agenda and my to do list for a while.  And I am blessed beyond blessed to have a loving family and all of you great people to help me get there.

So even though I’m happily married to my body, I’m willing to admit that we are going through a bit of a rough patch.  We’re working through our troubles.  I just try to continually remind myself body love is patient, body love is kind.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Marrying Me: A Day Full of Love

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I hope you’ll forgive me for being a bit tardy.  You see, yesterday, October 14 was National Love Your Body day.  It was also the 19th anniversary of my marriage to the absolute best guy on the planet.  So it was a day with a whole lot of love in it.  And as I contemplated my lucky, love-filled life, I had some thoughts about marriage and loving and loving your body.

I think my husband would be one of the first to say, that learning to love my body proved to be a very important turning point in our marriage.   While I hated my body, I was unable to believe that anybody else could love me or my body.  Before I learned to love my body, I felt lucky that anybody would even profess to love me.  And when my husband told me he loved me and thought I was beautiful, I thought he was lying–either to me or to himself.  But as I learned to love my body, I came to accept that my husband was telling the truth–both to himself and to me.  And I still count myself lucky.  But now I feel that I’m lucky to love and be loved by somebody wonderful and kind and special.  I no longer feel like he is with me out of pity or sympathy.  I no longer believe he is with me despite my body.  I now accept that he loves ALL of me.  So of course, I feel very, very blessed.

And as I thought over our years together before we were married as well as the nearly two decades we’ve been married, I thought about the things that make a marriage work.  And I thought about how we are in many ways married to our bodies as well.  We can’t really leave our bodies (more than temporarily) while we are alive on this earth.  And while many of us live in a state of being disconnected from or even divorced from our bodies, we really only get one.  So it’s a good idea to learn how to reconnect with and even love the skin we’re in.

So with that in mind, I thought I would have a little marriage ceremony for me and my body.  Since I’ve already learned to love my body (most of the time) it’s more of a restatement of my vows, but here goes.

I Jeanette DePatie do take my body

From this day forward.

To have and to hold,

To love and to cherish,

For better or for worse,

For richer for poorer,

In sickness and in health,

Until death us do part,

Amen.

So please accept my somewhat belated wish that you had a happy Love Your Body Day.  And let me humbly suggest that you do a little restatement of vows of commitment to loving your own body–to love and cherish all the days of your life.  And let me also suggest that one of the best ways to love and cherish your body is to commit acts of radical self acceptance and love like the over 100 acts of love outlined in the new RASCAL program created by Ragen Chastain and I.  It’s a great way to spend the rest of the year loving and being kind to yourself.  We’re only accepting sign ups through THIS SUNDAY so, REGISTER HERE RIGHT NOW!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie AKA The Fat Chick

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“You look great! Have you lost weight?” And other phrases on “What NOT to Say!”

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Want to start out with a trigger warning.  I’m going to be talking about illness-induced weight loss and our society’s often idiotic response to it.

Part of my recent health journey includes a little bit of illness-induced weight loss.  Some of it is explained by the fact that the pain and the pain killers made me not want to eat, and part of it as a result of some anemia that I’m facing.  Which has led a few nice, and well-intentioned people to remark and then ask, “You look great!  Have you lost weight?  How did you lose in?”  Now I know that they are trying to be kind, but it’s honestly kind of hard to keep the sarcastimonster in check.  Because the sarcastimonster wants to shout, “I do not look great, I look terrible.  I am a little thinner because I’m in excruciating pain and because my body is not processing food properly right now.  But thanks for the compliment.  If you’d like to try out my ‘Excruciating Pain Weight Loss Program’ (patent pending) I can arrange it for you.  Just come a LEETLE bit closer while I grab this hammer.”

Yup, the sarcastibeast gets a little, um, TESTY when I don’t feel so well.  But the sarcastibeast is right about one thing.  It’s always risky complementing somebody on their weight loss.  First of all, “You look great.” coupled with “Have you lost weight?” implies that before the person lost the weight, they didn’t look as great.  In fact, you’re saying before they probably didn’t look great at all.  Which is decidedly not cool.  Secondly, unless the person you’re talking to has been talking ad nauseum about their latest weight loss program you never know why they are losing weight.  If they have lost weight through deliberate weight loss, they are most likely going to gain that weight back again in the future.  And you just told them that the weight loss made them look great.  If they haven’t lost weight through deliberate means, they may have started smoking again or they may be grieving or they may have cancer.  And you’ve just told them that when they get better, they won’t look as great.  And their weight loss may not have been healthy at all.  I got a lot of compliments the last time I went through a major crazy weight loss program.  I was living on less than 1,000 calories a day.  My bowels no longer moved and my hair was falling out.  My menstrual cycle had stopped completely.  I was cold all the time.  I was very sick, and truth be told, I didn’t look that well at all.  Yet people complemented me all the time about how healthy I looked.

Complimenting somebody on weight loss may cause somebody who is already coping with something that is kinda a big deal to have to cope with something else.  They make come to see their illness-induced weight loss as a silver lining.  Think I’m kidding?  Joan Lunden has been battling a particularly aggressive form of cancer.  She even appeared, bald and smiling, on the cover of Time magazine.  (I’ll bet nobody said to her, “You look great!  Have you lost hair?”)  Last week, during a wonderful interview on the Today show about the challenges and lessons she’s experienced while coping with cancer, Joan started talking about the hidden “benefits” of cancer.  She mentioned how contemplating your own mortality tends to focus your life and help you see what’s important.  And then she leaned over to Hoda (who also has battled cancer) and smiled knowingly as she mentioned that since she started battling with cancer, she’s lost weight.  (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)  This reminds me of a friend of mine who admitted she has a whole closet full of clothes that don’t fit her.  She bought a whole bunch of clothes when she lost weight during chemotherapy.  And now that she’s well again, those clothes don’t fit.  But she doesn’t give those clothes away, because when she was wearing those clothes, during chemotherapy, people said, “You look great!  Have you lost weight?”  Which leads me to another point.

Saying “You look great!  Have you lost weight?” gives somebody who may be sick something else to worry about.  And something else to worry about is the last thing somebody needs when they are sick.  Because the sick person begins to wonder, what will happen when they get better and regain the weight?  What happens when they stop smoking for good or recover from the eating disorder?  What happens when they stop chemo and recover from cancer?  What happens when their red blood cells multiply and their body starts getting oxygen again?  What happens when they are no longer in pain and they start eating again?  What if all this wonderful stuff happens to their body and they start gaining weight?  Will they no longer look great?  It may even make the person wonder if getting better is such a good thing.

Which is patently ridiculous and extremely unhelpful.

On today’s episode of my new show, “What NOT to Say!” I’d like to make a suggestion.  As a society, we’ve learned that unless she’s wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words “baby on board” we’re never to ask a woman if she’s pregnant.  I’d like to suggest that commenting on a person’s weight loss should be in the same category.  It’s invasive.  It’s potentially risky.  It’s potentially rude.  And we just shouldn’t do it any more.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie, AKA The Fat Chick

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The Health Continuum

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The day before I woke up in excruciating back pain, I gave a keynote address at a health conference.  And during that keynote I talked a lot about how we need to make the ideas of health and wellness more inclusive.  We need to have a bigger tent where every BODY can participate.  We need to imagine a spectrum where we can all experience health.

I asked people in the audience to close their eyes and envision health.  What does a healthy person look like?  Then I asked them, if by any chance, their vision of health looked like a skinny white woman eating yogurt?  How about salad?  Does she look like she’s feeling orgasmic over these food choices?  Several people in the audience smiled or laughed.  Yup, that was exactly what their vision of health looked like.  But I told them they shouldn’t be surprised.  As a culture we are taught by marketing and advertising and Photoshop that this is what health looks like.  But what happens, I asked, if you are not white, or a man, or not thin, or not conventionally beautiful? What if you really, really hate yogurt?  Do you not get to be well?  Do you not get to experience health?

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At this point, I took some time to define health and wellness.  I suggested that there is no particular state that a person achieves that call be called healthy or well.  While tons of money is spent convincing us that if we just buy this thing, use this product or service or spend money in a particular way, we will arrive at the ultimate hereafter picture.  There is a place that is nirvana.  We call this place perfectly healthy.  Except there is no such place.  If we are alive, we are aging.  If we are aging we are headed towards our ultimate demise.  No matter what product or service we use, we are still, in the end, mortal.

So I went on to describe health as a continuum.  Or you can call it a spectrum.  (I like continuum because it’s one of the only words in the English language that has to letter “u”s back to back, and like the word banana, it’s nearly impossible to stop saying once you have started.  You know, like continuuinuuum…)  A continuum is a scale.  It is a line with no beginning and no end.  The scale increases in a particular value as we go one direction and decreases in a particular value as we go the other direction.  As we move along the scale towards healthy or well, we get more capacity and energy to do the things we need to do as well as the things we enjoy.  We feel better.  We have more energy.  We sleep better.  We are able to relax sometimes and experience peace.  As we move down the continuum away from health and wellness these things (like energy, enjoyment, peace, sleep) are more difficult for us to access, or we experience them less often.  But again, the line has no beginning and no end.  There is no destination called perfect health where we get to arrive.  And there is also no perfect place which we cannot access.

This is important for a lot of reasons.  One reason is that we are all born at different points on the continuum.  Based on genetics and parenting and socioeconomic status and friends and other family and cultural values and lots and lots of other stuff, we all land at different points on this continuum.  And as we go along and live, circumstances will change our location on the continuum.  We will experience stress.  We will get sick.  We might win the lottery.  We might lose our jobs.  We might get married or be in a car crash or fall down the steps.  Stuff happens.  Sometimes that stuff is wonderful and eases the way towards increased health on the spectrum.  Sometimes stuff is downright catastrophic and vaults us towards decreased health on the spectrum.  Were we to look at health and wellness as a state of being or as a location, most of us just wouldn’t be able to get there, let alone stay there.  Most of us would be on the outside looking in.  And most of us have been taught that we should be consumed with guilt and self-loathing for not being there or staying there.  But if we look at health and wellness as a continuum, there is a sane and guilt-free place for everybody.

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No matter where you land on the continuum, there are things you can do to help ease the way towards better health.  Those things you can do might be wildly different from what somebody else can do.  You might be creeping along towards health at a very different point on the spectrum than somebody else.  But everybody can play.  And we can play with the knowledge and understanding that sometimes fate rolls the freakin’ dice and we land in a different spot on the continuum that we neither desired nor planned for.  But from every place, we can strive.  We can move towards the healthy/well side of the continuum with whatever resources we have at the moment.  This is with the understanding that sometimes those resources will be very low.  Sometimes the movement will be very slow or even imperceptible.  And sometimes, it’s okay to just rest there at our spot on the continuum until we have the resources and/or the desire to strive again.  Sometimes we can be there and just breathe out and in for a while.

You know it’s funny, in a physician heal thyself sort of way, how I gave this talk the day before I found myself tossed violently to a very different spot on my own continuum.  As I woke up, dazed and in pain, I looked around.  Oh, so I’m here now?  This is my spot on the spectrum today?  Okay.  I’ll just have to see what I can do.  Maybe tomorrow.  After I take a pain killer and watch some telly and gather my forces.  It has made all of this a lot easier to bear.  And I offer this in the hopes that it will be a useful visualization tool for you as well.  Or not.  Because we’re all different.  And just as there is no place called health, there is no single immutable path towards wellness either.  There’s just all of us, muddling along in our own way, as best we can.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie AKA The Fat Chick

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Radical Self Care

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I am so excited to announce our new challenge on the Fit Fatties Forum called the RASCAL challenge.  This stands for Radical Activist for Self Care and Love.  In this challenge, we encourage you to think outside the box about what self-care means and we challenge you to prioritize self care in your life.  Given my current focus on healing, this challenge just could not have come at a better time.

One of the reasons I’m so excited about this challenge is that it helps us broaden our definition of what is included in the definition for “health”.  Some of us believe that being healthy means being thin.  If we are thin, we are healthy.  If we are not thin, we can’t be healthy.  I’ve talked quite a bit about this in the past.  There are lots of studies that indicate that simply isn’t true.  In particular, this study shows that healthy behavior is a better predictor of future health than BMI.  But this begs the question, what is healthy behavior?

Of course joyfully moving your body is a wonderful healthy behavior.  Of course eating in a way that is in tune with your body’s needs as well as your spiritual and emotional needs is a healthy behavior.  But is that all there is to wellness?  Eat an apple and go for a walk and you’ve got it covered?  I don’t think so.  To me health is nuanced and multidimensional.  And health involves self-care.  (Insert deep sigh here…) Why is it that so many of us are so good at taking care of other people and so lousy at taking care of ourselves?  Are we conditioned that way from birth?  I don’t know.  But I DO know that self care gives us the strength to help others.  Think about what the flight attendant says before you take off.  “First secure your own oxygen mask, then you can help small children and those around you.”  In other words, breathe.  Take a moment to care for yourself.

And that moment may involve eating something wonderful or going for a walk.  Or it may involve simply breathing.  Maybe your self-care moment is spending just a few seconds of your day simply being.  Maybe it means getting a little extra sleep.  Maybe it involves asking for help.  Maybe it involves doing a booty-shaking victory dance.  Maybe it means calling a friend and reconnecting.  Maybe it means writing a letter to someone who wronged you.  Maybe it just requires 5 minutes of quiet and a cup of tea.

Self-care is different for each of us.  But it is absolutely critical to our well being.  That’s why I’m so excited about the RASCAL challenge.  We’ve come up with over 100 official Radical Acts of Self Care and Love, and we’re challenging folks to do one of those acts every single day.  Aside from the intrinsic rewards that come from self love, we are ACTUALLY rewarding you with badges and encouragement and prizes for taking care of yourself.  Seriously.  How cool is that?

I hope you’ll join me in spending some time to take care of yourself this month, either by taking the challenge or simply choosing to do it on your own.  Because the world needs you to take care of you.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Want to book me to speak to your group about radical self care?  Click here!

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Back

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Well I’m back here telling you that the pain in my back is, well, back.  Last week after I gave my speech at the Duarte Health Fair, I took a little nap and woke up in pain.  Like whoooooaaaa pain.  I went out for my birthday dinner.  Had a little pizza and went to bed.  When I woke up,  in the middle of the night I found I could barely walk.  I took some aspirin and cried and tried and tried to get comfortable.  After a long while, I found I could manage if I lay on my back with a pillow under my knees.  And until yesterday, that was about all I could do.  Whenever I moved from that spot, I was in agony.  Yesterday, I finally progressed to the point where I could sit upright so now I can write my blog.  And there was much rejoicing (yayyyy).

Why am I inviting you to this pity party?  I’m not really sure.  I do want to make it clear that I am not some kind of persona, but rather a person.  That means I get injured, I get sick, I get frustrated and I get discouraged sometimes, just like you.  And I do want to do a shout out to all of you who are in chronic pain.  This week, I had a teeny, tiny, appetizer, snack-sized reminder bite of what that is like and I have decreed, “It sucks.”  In the short space of a week, I’ve had to cancel many appointments and have a discussion with my husband that I wasn’t really able to do much to help him as I had to rest for half an hour after the giant effort of washing my hair.  I haven’t styled my hair for a week.  I can just about manage to stay clean.  I’ve had to call everybody to cancel my class–three times.  I had to explain to my doctor that while I was very clear that it would be better for me to get out of my bed and keep moving, I might use my laser-eyes power to kill him where he stood (if I had laser-eyes destruction capabilities).  I stood in Target, waiting for my prescription for pain killers to be filled, shifting from foot to foot, and hating the fact that I was asking them, please for the love of God, please hurry.  And this is just a teeny taste.  This is only one week.

I have been reminded yet again of all the people I know, all the students and family and friends who are suffering from chronic pain.  Friends that have been enduring for years and have no idea if or when their pain will ever end.  I have endured chronic pain for spurts throughout my life.  And it sucked.  And it crushed me in  my tracks and humbled me.  But I have enjoyed the privilege of not being in pain most of my life.  I honestly feel such respect for those who manage to endure month and year after year often while maintaining work, family, friendships, and maintaining the ability to think and to feel and even to laugh.  I give you mad props.  And the next time I ask a student in chronic pain to keep moving, that it will help them, I will give a silent prayer of gratitude that nobody really has killer, laser beam eyes.  Right? Well unless you are a cat that is:

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Making Fitness About Fun, Not About Weight Stigma

Today, I’d like to direct you to the blog I wrote for Weight Stigma Awareness Week.  BEDA is doing absolutely amazing work in this space, and I am very proud to be called to participate.  You can read the blog post here.

Thanks so much for your support!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to speak at your school, organization or group?  Click HERE to book me!

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