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150 Minutes

I just ran across this article online that talks about some new studies that talk about how much exercise you really need to do to significantly increase the chances of having a longer better life.  What it found is pretty encouraging.  You don’t need to do hours upon hours of exercise per week in order to see a benefit.  The largest gains were seen for people who exercised about an hour per day. (Just over 400 minutes per week).  Any amount of exercise beyond this (even up to 1,000 or more minutes of exercise per week) didn’t move the needle beyond 400 minutes per week.  But if an hour per day seems  like too much, don’t despair.  The benefits of 1 hour per day were really only slightly higher than those of people who exercised just 150 minutes per week.  And the study indicates that virtually any amount of exercise improves your chances over people who are completely sedentary.  And these benefits happened regardless of whether or not the people doing them lost any weight.

And you don’t even need to exercise that hard to get the benefits.  In fact, one of the new studies shows that moderate exercise is nearly as good as vigorous exercise in improving longevity.  Adding some vigorous exercise gives a slight bump, but you get plenty of benefits from simply walking, dancing around, gardening or other low impact, potentially low velocity activities.  So  you can really get an awful lot of benefit from just including 30 minutes of gentle exercise per day to your daily activities.  This video covers a lot of this information.  (TW: Obesity is briefly risked as a risk factor and as having negative consequences when mixed with sedentary).

Let me be clear here.  Exercise is not morally superior to any other activity.  (Nor does everybody need or want to hear graphic details about every moment of your run or other form of exercise).  Nobody is morally required to exercise.  But for those who are seeking ways to extend and improve their lives exercise is one of many effective steps they can choose to take.  They can also choose to practice mindful meditation, or engage in other enjoyable activities that help reduce their stress levels, find ways to get more and better sleep and spend quality time in social activities if they want to.  But the good news here, for folks who are specifically interested in engaging in exercise in order to gain health benefits is they don’t have to do a whole lot or do it at a very intense level to enjoy those benefits.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Don’t Exercise

Last night I gave a speech at Kaiser provocatively entitled, “Don’t Exercise”.  It was a big hit, so I thought I would share some of the highlights with you today.  The whole idea of the speech is that so often people begin to exercise because they believe that if they do so, their body will look a certain way, as if we could change our body as easily as changing our hairstyle and we could match our new body to a picture in a magazine.  Except this hardly ever works.  Most people are simply not genetically blessed in a way that makes huge biceps or six pack abs realistic or sustainable for them.  Sure there is a very small group of people–like 5 percent or even 1 percent who are genetically blessed in a way that makes big biceps or 6-pack abs reasonably likely.  That is not to say these folks don’t work hard to maintain those traits.  They do.  But there is no question that genetics makes big biceps and six-pack abs a lot more difficult for some people than others.  And sure there is an even smaller group of people who are not genetically blessed but still manage to sport big biceps and six-pack abs for a time.  They do this by being obsessed with big biceps and six pack abs.  And I’m cool with that.  Following Ragen Chastain’s famous underpants rule, they are allowed to spend whatever free time they are privileged to have in any way that makes them happy.  They are the boss of their own underpants.

Where we get into trouble is when we insist that most people can expect big biceps and six-pack abs as a likely outcome from their fitness efforts.  Because frankly, that’s a lie.  In fact it’s so much of a lie, that when you look at many modern ads for fitness equipment and weight loss schemes, following any of their more outlandish claims you may find an asterisk.  This asterisk typically refers to a tiny line of script at the bottom of the ad with three words: results not typical.  This disclaimer is there for an important reason.  The FTC and other governing bodies have sued so many of these companies for insisting that huge permanent weight loss and bodybuilder-sized biceps and butts upon which you may bounce a quarter are typical and even expected results that these companies are adding the disclaimer to A) avoid lawsuits and B) stay in business.  Because while these results are certainly, technically possible with any of these schemes.  These results are anything BUT typical.

So at this point a lot of people ask me what is wrong with those aspirational pictures?  If it gets people to go to the gym it’s a good thing, right?  Well, there’s a problem–which I like to illustrate with this picture:

Quite often I see this image held up as a great example of motivation.  To which I reply–“ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?”  This is a terrible example of motivation.  Here we have a rhino running on a treadmill looking at a picture of a unicorn.  If that rhino runs really hard and really fast and really long, is he going to become a unicorn?  Anybody?  Anybody?  OF COURSE NOT–and for two really good reasons.  1)Unicorns and rhinoceroses are two completely different animals.  There is no documented case of a rhinoceros EVER turning into a unicorn because 2)Unicorns don’t exist.  So, my friends, what happens after that rhinoceros spends several weeks or months at the gym and doesn’t look anything like a unicorn?

Yup, the rhino quits–usually just 4-6 weeks into their workout program (on average).  So DON’T EXERCISE in order to change your rhino body into a unicorn.  If you do that, your exercise program is most likely, statistically and in all probability doomed.  Because unicorn bodies are “*results not typical” for most fitness programs.

There are thousands of good reasons to exercise–many of which I have talked about extensively on this blog.  Exercise because it helps you feel better.  Exercise because it improves your mood or improves symptoms of depression or helps you avoid getting sick.  Exercise because it feels great and is fun and allows you to socialize with awesome people.  Exercise because it improves your quality of life in so many important ways.   Exercise for all of these reasons and so many more that are typical.

And if you want a picture to get you going, might I recommend the Flying Rhinos?  We have a brand spankin’ new store where you can get hats and mugs and posters and stickers and stationery and stuff to inspire you.  Get out there with your rhino body and just get rock ON with your rad rhino self.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to come talk to your group?  Click HERE to learn more.

Get me to the Dressing Room Please

As a “plus-sized” person, I know that my options for buying clothing are much more limited than my “straight-sized” friends.  It is not all that uncommon, especially in certain parts of Los Angeles to go to a mall that doesn’t carry any plus-sized clothing whatsoever.  But I am also deeply aware, that as a “midsized” fatty, my options are far more plentiful than many of my larger friends.  While it’s fairly common to find at least some things up to a 2x or 3x, beyond that you’re often stuck ordering from a catalog, which not to put too fine a point on it, sucks.  Here’s why:

I am notoriously fussy when it comes to buying clothes.  Not only do I need to love them and need to be able to afford them, I want them to fit.  And there’s the rub (literally at times).  Not all women are built the same way.  And I wear anything from a 1x to a 3x depending on the cut of the garment and the arbitrary way the garments are sized.  That means when I go into a fitting room, I might have 20 or more garments to try on.  And often I don’t buy any of them.  Not a big deal, when all you have to do is hang up your rejects and put them on the dress rack outside the door.  Sometimes a deal breaker when you have to order all those clothes and pay multiple shipping charges to return them all.  I have to admit, I very rarely mail order clothing these days.  Because when I have to have them shipped in 3 sizes and I am very likely to return most, or all of them, it gets quite expensive.

I understand my privilege.  Buying clothing in a store is possible for me much of the time.  I have the means to buy a few nice quality pieces of clothing a year.  And I have the means of transportation to go look and a job that allows me to sometimes shop for clothing when the stores are open.  But I am very aware that for people over a 3X there is often only one store in the mall that carries ANYTHING in your size, and woe be to you if their hourglass-shaped fit model is differently proportioned than you.

There is really no excuse for not carrying plus-sizes in your stores–especially if your company MAKES plus-sized clothing (I’m talking to YOU Old Navy and J. Jill).  For the most part, if a store makes plus-sized clothing but refuses to carry them in the store, I refuse to buy clothing from them.  After all, if you can’t give me a few square feet of rack space so I can haul some stuff to the dressing room so I can try stuff on, you don’t care enough to get my money.  And I am lucky enough to have some money to spend.

So what do you say clothing companies.  Our clothes may come in different sizes and shapes, but our money and credit cards are the same size and shape as everybody else’s.  Why not let us spend some of it with you.  I’ll meet you at the dressing room.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to come talk to your group?  Click HERE!

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Recursive Recrimination–Beating Yourself Up (For Beating Yourself Up)

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Several decades ago, I made the decision to not let negative feelings about my body rule my life any more.  I decided to stop putting my life on hold until I reached a certain size or shape.  I decided that all the things I was waiting to do until after I had the “right” body, well I was going to do those things right away.  I have never regretted that decision.  It was a massively important turning point in my life.

However, when I decided to become The Fat Chick and make this decision extremely public, I hesitated.  Because I wasn’t perfect.  I wasn’t perfectly healthy.  I wasn’t in perfectly physically fit.  I wasn’t the ideal poster child for fat people.  And sometimes I had bad days where I didn’t feel perfectly happy about my body.  How, I asked, can I inspire others to love their bodies and love exercise again when I don’t always exercise and I sometimes frown at what I see in the mirror.

Working with a very wise coach and my super smart husband I came up with the answer.  I have it on a post-it note on the window in my office.  It reads, “The Fat Chick is not a ‘persona’, she is a person.  And people aren’t perfect.”  Getting past this little post it allowed me to finish my book and be on national television and face down another pile of hate mail and ugly comments on my YouTube videos.  It has allowed me to get on with things–even when I’m feeling far less than perfect.  And it’s allowed me to stop beating myself up for beating myself up.

Look, we all have days where we feel powerful and strong and invincible.  And then we have days where we don’t.  This is normal.  This is life.  But when we make the decision to stop hating our bodies and hating ourselves for the way our bodies look, there is a tendency to want to exchange one sort of perfectionism (the search for the perfect body) for another (the complete cessation of negative body thoughts).  I get it.  First I mourned for all the perfect things I imagined would happen in my life once I had the perfect body.

And then I had the honeymoon period where I believed I would never feel bad about my body again and I would remain perfectly healthy and nobody could ever hurt me again.  And then I had the bad days where I didn’t feel perfectly happy or healthy in my body AT ALL.  And then I started beating myself up for beating myself up about not having the perfect body in a perfect recursive storm of self-recrimination.

Sometimes I just have to STOP.  Take a few deep breaths and tell myself that I am hereby absolved of the need to be perfect in anything.  This includes being perfect at self-acceptance.  This includes being perfect about body love.  This includes being perfect about not needing to be perfect.

I take another breath and try to be grateful for the whole, non-perfect, f’ed up mess of it.  Try to be grateful that I can breathe.  Try to be grateful that I have a life to muddle through and mess up.  And try to remind myself that I don’t need to be perfectly grateful either.

I don’t always get it right.  But that’s okay.  Because I am a person, and people aren’t perfect.

I hope this little blog post helps serve as a reminder for some of you who are currently in the process of beating yourself up for, well, beating yourself up.  You have the permission of the universe to be profoundly imperfect.  Because the universe made us that way.  You are a person, and people aren’t perfect.  And that’s totally okay.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to talk to your group about being imperfect?  Click HERE to learn about my speaking.

P.S.S. Want to buy a book or DVD to help you in your fitness journey?  Click HERE to learn about them.

Paradoxically(?!) Fatter Diabetics Live Longer

A few days ago a new study was released which indicates that of people living with type-2 diabetes, those in the overweight category live the longest.  They even live longer than those in the “healthy weight” category.  Newspaper articles like these (TRIGGER WARNING FOR UBIQUITOUS HEADLESS FATTY SHOT) are quick to cite this as another example of the “obesity paradox”.  In case you are unfamiliar with this term, the obesity paradox refers to the fact that despite the fact scientists arbitrarily chose to name a lower weight category “healthy weight” or “normal weight”, the pesky fact remains that those of a higher weight on average live longer.  And while people in the “overweight” category are more likely to contract certain diseases than those in the “healthy weight” category (such as cardiovascular disease) they are more likely to survive these diseases for a longer time.  It’s vexing.  Because, not only does this mess up the whole color scheme of the pretty BMI charts, it also means that we’ve been telling people to slim down to a weight that just might not be in their best interest.

One wonders how long the medical establishment is going to cling to this description of the “obesity paradox”, when the solution is so very simple.  Change your labels.  Change your definition of “healthy weight”.  In fact stop saying “healthy weight” altogether.  Because while certain weights have some advantages over others in some arenas, they are more dangerous than others.  For example recent research indicates that the fattest people are the least likely to suffer from dementia at an early age.

The medical establishment and world at large are unlikely to change these labels any time soon however.  The reason?  Cash.  Money.  Cabbage. Moolah.  Being able to charge over and over again for obesity treatments that don’t work is big money.  Adding the word “obesity” to your research proposal increases the chances of getting funding and increases the amount of funding you are likely to get.  Heck, as Harriet Brown’s excellent article in the Atlantic states–even mentioning the word “obesity” in a medical exam might mean you are able to collect more money for that patient.  That’s why we classify obesity as a disease, even when expert panels in the medical establishment recommended against it.

I wonder when we are going to publicly accept the real obesity paradox.  That we have a situation that occurs naturally in a certain segment of the population, that in some cases is potentially harmful and in some cases is potentially beneficial.  Yet we label it a disease and focus billions of dollars towards trying (unsuccessfully) to change it, without any evidence that changing it will in fact, make people healthier, happier or live longer.  That, to me, is the quintessential definition of a paradox.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Want to book me to speak at your event?  Click HERE to learn more.

PADS Saturday

Okay y’all.  I’m not gonna lie.  It was an awesome week and a tough week all rolled up in one.  So I felt that I needed to have a PADS Saturday and share it with you.  If you’re new, or missed the previous posts, PADS stands for Public Acts of Dancing Spontaneously and it  is something that never fails to make me feel better.  And this Saturday’s clip is a doozy.

So you never know what’s gonna happen in NYC.  On this particular day, Coyote of Coyote & Crow decided to perform Grateful Dead’s Version of “Me & My Uncle” at Bedford Ave. Williamsburg NYC.  The song is awesome and naturally it got some toes tappin’.  And then this little girl decided to take it to 11.

I love that she feels free to dance her little heart out.  I love that she doesn’t feel like she needs to be Beyonce or Lady Gaga.  She just boogies down in her hat and little pink coat.  And that’s my wish for all little girls everywhere.  That they can love themselves and love their bodies and live outside of self consciousness long enough to bust a move in the subway if the feeling takes them.

Here’s to lifting your heart and dancing through your day.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Speaking With My Sisters

Yesterday I had the honor and privilege of speaking as a panelist at Digital Hollywood on a panel hosted by the Alliance for Women in Media.  It was a part of a track of women’s programming hosted by the Alliance along with Women In Film, Women Network, and Girls In Tech Los Angeles.  Throughout the day there were panels and screenings and networking events presented by women for women, and it was glorious.

There is nothing quite like hanging out in a room with several hundred powerful women who are following their path and living in their power.  There was a lot of discussion of lifting one another up.  We talked about the new economy approach of focusing less on competition and a whole lot more on collaboration.  We talked about our dreams and inspired one another.

The evening ended with a powerful (and wildly entertaining speech) by Michelle Patterson, President of the California Women’s Conference & Women Network.  The speech touched me in a number of ways, but one thing stood out in particular.  Michelle reminds us, that if we are to succeed, we must learn to ask for help and also learn to receive that help.  I think for many of us, this is a particularly difficult lesson.  We aren’t comfortable asking.  We think we shouldn’t need help or that we don’t deserve help.  Or we just can’t imagine how someone might help us.  But all of us need help from time to time.  And this was a really important reminder for me–that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness.  If you are convinced you can accomplish all your dreams without help, you are either naive or simply not dreaming big enough.  Because big dreams require big, beautiful, powerful teams to accomplish them.

But throughout this day, I learned another equally important lesson.  Don’t assume you don’t have the ability to help.  I went to many panels.  And like many people around me, I rushed up to the podium afterwards to speak with the panelists with whom I resonated.  I connected with panelists that I thought might be able to help me.  And I asked for help.  I also wanted to offer help.  But initially, I was hampered by the belief that I wouldn’t be able to help.  Some of these women were CEO’s of very large companies.  Some of them were successful screen writers or famous actresses or technology mavens.  I wondered what I could possibly offer.  But then I decided to take a different tack.  I chose not to believe there was nothing for me to give and I simply asked.  What is the one problem you are trying to solve right now?  What do you need?  Can  I connect you with somebody?  How can I help?  And it was magic.  Many of the panelists were taken aback when I asked.  They stopped, and thanked me for asking.  And then they told me what they needed.  And you know what was amazing.  In many cases I WAS able to help.  I couldn’t necessarily do the things myself, but I knew somebody who could.  I gave out names and offered to make introductions.  And I felt powerful.  It was good.

So that was my lesson from yesterday.  Never assume you are not worthy of help.  Believe in your self and your passion enough to dare to simply ask for what you need.  Be direct.  You’ll be surprised how often people will give you what you ask.  And never assume you are not worthy to give help.  You never know what you have to offer someone or how you can connect with others if you don’t ask them what they need.  Even if you can’t help, asking someone what they need is a profound way to honor them.

So, I’m asking.  Right now, I particularly need to find speaking gigs.  I am working on an important speaking certification and need to get 20 more speeches in before the end of the year.  With that in mind, I’m offering a special “gotta get 20 speeches” discount.  There will never be a better time to book me to speak with your group.  Don’t assume you can’t afford me, because I gotta do 20 speeches.  Can  you book me?  Or do you know somebody who can book me?  Just send me an email at jeanette at the fat chick dot com and let me know what you’re thinking.

And I’m asking.  What do you need right now?  Can I connect you with somebody to help you with a particular thing?  What is standing in your way of reaching your goal?  How can I help?  Again, feel free to comment or send me an email.

What can I say?  Yesterday was a very good day.  And I believe today can truly be phenomenal for all of us.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)