Time for a Little Self Care

Coming off a very busy week after an incredibly busy weekend hosting the first annual Fat Activism Conference.  Over 30 hours of content with over 40 speakers in 3 days!  Followed by two days this week of meetings and proposals and general running around regarding the next projects to come down the pike.  I’m so excited!  But…

But I’m continually surprised by how long I really need to recover from some of these things.  Sure, I took a day off after a very intense weekend like I had.  I knew I’d be tired for at least a day.  But after age 40 after going like crazy for a week and not really getting any good sleep, I kinda have to remember that one day of resting up just might not do the trick.

At the end of yesterday’s meetings and running around, I found myself spent.  Like eat a PB&J for supper and sleep in my clothes spent.  And I’ve decided that today, I would finally listen to the messages my body is screaming at me and take a little break.

Maybe I will get a massage.  Maybe I’ll fit in some time for meditation or maybe just a nap.  For sure I’m going to take time to find myself something wonderful to eat–something that nourishes my body and my soul.  Because helping to change the world, even a little tiny bit, is a whole lot of work.  And we have to remember that caring for others requires that we have energy.  And having energy means that we have to have time and space for self care.

It’s like the old adage about the airplane oxygen mask.  Make sure your mask is secure before you start helping other people with them.  It’s not about being selfish.  It’s about understanding that your effectiveness to help may be severely diminished if you are flopped over on the seat, gasping for air like a fish.

I am incredibly inspired by the speakers I heard this past weekend.  I feel more motivated than ever to do the work that needs to be done to make the world a safer and better place for people of all races, ages, shapes, sizes, types and abilities.  But this work will not be done in a day or a week.  It won’t even be done in a year or a decade.  So I’m going to stare at puppies and take a long nap.  I’m going to eat something fabulous and listen to awesome music and dance in my undies.  I am going to do what I need to do to rebuild my energy and gird my loins.  So I am once again ready to fight the good fight.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Dance Break at the Ball Park!

We just finished the First Annual Fat Activism Conference and I am still a bit giddy. Of course there’s plenty of stuff we can do better next time. And of course it was far from perfect. But WE. DID. IT. I’m talking about 3 days, over 40 speakers and over 30 hours of live content.

And while I am proud of the accomplishments of myself and the very best producing partner in the whole entire world Ragen Chastain, I am even more proud of our movement. Of the over 40 men and women of many sizes, races, sexual orientations, abilities, ages and attitudes who so generously shared the wisdom they have accrued over years and decades. Of the people who texted and tweeted and prodded and questioned and asked for more. Of those people new to the movement taking their very first fledgling steps by sending in a comment or asking a question. Of the many people who shared their thoughts for making this conference better next year and volunteered to help make it so!

And when I feel this level of happy, I have to dance. Well today at least I can dance again. Yesterday I mostly slept. And I mean like A LOT. But today I am dancing and sharing a happy video of other folks dancing as well. I mean how cool are the Durham Diamond cutters. They certainly don’t look like stereotypical dancers. But there they are, running the bases and tearing up the field with their fun moves!

And if you are feeling sad. If you are not dancing because you fear that you missed out on all the awesomeness of the Fat Activism Conference this past weekend, I have some news that will just get you right on up outa your seat. You can still register for the conference and listen to the recordings, but you have to hurry.

Tomorrow is absolutely the LAST DAY to register for the conference and get access to the recordings. So get up offa that thing and run to register today. Seriously, you don’t want to miss this:
Fat Activsm Conference Registration Page

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to stay in touch and get access to FREE STUFF?  Click here to join my list!

P.S.S.  I speak all around the world on the topics of Fit and Fat, Health At Every Size, Body Acceptance, Fat Activism and more!  CLICK HERE to book me!

When the Bully at the Gym IS the Gym

I was horrified to hear yet another story of corporate bullying by a gym against an innocent person.  In this case, the person was somebody I know and in this case the bullying was carried out by the gym’s finance company.  Yet it’s part of a pattern I’ve written about over and over on this blog.

My friend had a contract at Gold’s Gym.  Her husband recently passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.  With everything going on, she was currently out of the state and unable to use the gym.  When she called to cancel the memberships of her and her husband, the gym’s financing company–ABC Financing said they would be charging for a final month.  When my friend asked if they could waive this final month’s fee as neither of them would be using the gym and she was dealing with significant financial hardship, the guy at ABC Financing LAUGHED AT HER.  He laughed, out loud, over the phone to a woman who just lost her husband.

What is wrong with these people?

I would say that part of what is wrong with these people, is that they work in a business based–at least in some cases–on not providing services to half the people who have paid for it.  The truth is, over half (67%) of the people who pay for gym memberships never use them.  Many gyms depend on this revenue.  Perhaps they are afraid that if they make it easy for people to get out of contracts, they will do just that.  Perhaps they are afraid that people will one day realize that the glowing promises of glistening six-pack abs and perfectly defined Michelle Obama arms are not going to be fulfilled.  Perhaps they are afraid that folks will realize that making ridiculous claims about what fitness products can do, then constantly blaming the exercisers for not achieving those results will ultimately get old.  Who knows what it is in their minds?

Not all gyms are bad.

There are any number of good gyms out there who treat their customers well, offer good products and conduct fair business practices.   But there are plenty who don’t.  So I’d like to offer you a few bits of unsolicited, free advice:

1.  Ask to try a gym before you buy.  I’d say you need a good week to get to know the instructors, get a feel for the gym’s environment and see if you will be treated well.  Please don’t take a 15 minute tour and then succumb to the high pressure tactics in the sales office.

2.  Ask to take the contract home so you can read the fine print.  Some gym membership contracts are fair.  Some are deals crafted by the devil.  You will never get to the bottom of it while sitting in the sales office with somebody breathing down your neck.

3.  Understand what the written policies are about getting out of your gym contract.  It does not matter what the sales person says.  It matters what the paper says.  There should be some situations and some grounds for you  to legally terminate your contract with them.

4.  If you feel you are being pushed or coerced, leave.  You can always come and sign up another day.

5.  Consider a month to month or pay per use gym even if it costs more.  If there’s a 67 percent chance you’ll never go to the place, pay as you go may wind up being a lot cheaper, right?  Plus I have found that gyms that need to keep earning your loyalty every month tend to do a better job at that.  If you find yourself going to the gym regularly, month after month, you could consider signing up for a year-long contract then.

6.  Do your homework.  Do a google search with the name of your prospective gym and “complaints”.  See what’s written there.  Is it one or two disgruntled people, or a busload of them?  See what the Better Business Bureau and the FTC have to say about them.

Finding the wrong gym can be a real disaster.  Finding the right gym can help you build a fantastic fitness routine you can follow for life.  Spend the time to do it right.  And make sure that the bullies at the gym don’t work there.

Speaking of being bullied, we are only hours away from the Fat Activism Conference.  Are you signed up yet?  Three days and over 40 awesome speakers for just $39.  Or pay what you can.  Build your personal and communal anti-bullying toolkit.  Sign up today!

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

New Study Finds that Losing Weight Won’t Make You Happy

 

In the past I’ve talked about how fat people can be happy without losing weight.  Now a new study confirms something else I’ve known for quite a while, that losing weight won’t necessarily make you happy.  The study, while still managing to pontificate about the “health benefits” of losing weight, points out that fat people who lost more than 5% of their body weight tended to be more depressed than those fat people who didn’t lose more than 5% of their body weight.  In fact, after adjusting for health issues and major life events (like losing a spouse) those who lost more than 5% of their original body weight were more than 50% more likely to be depressed than the group that lost less weight.

The study press release goes on to suggest that of course you should still lose weight because it’s good for your health.  And the study is careful to suggest that correlation is not causation, so we don’t know that the weight loss causes depression.  (BTW this is a good practice that is curiously absent in many press releases about the health risks of obesity, but I digress…)  And the study suggests a few possible reasons why this depression might be happening.  They use a lot of flowery language, but it boils down to:

1.  Constantly dieting and not eating what you want and weighing and measuring every morsel of food you put in your mouth takes a lot of energy and kind of sucks.

2.  When you win the weight loss lottery and your life is not as wonderful as promised, it can be a major letdown.

And I suspect both of these suggested reasons are totally true.  Constantly fighting the fact that your body is HUNGRY and you want to eat takes a lot of energy.  Watching your friends eat fabulous stuff while you order the fish (steamed please, no butter) and vegetables (steamed please, no butter) and salad (dry with cruets of vinegar and oil on the side) gets old really fast.  And don’t even get me started on weighing and measuring and obsessive point/calorie counting.

And let me remind you about the big fat cycle.  One of the major triggers for the big fat cycle of weight loss and gain is fantasy.  We are taught that when we are thin our lives will be perfect.  We will be beautiful.  We will be like movie stars.  Men or women (depending on your preference) will be standing in line to take us out and buy us fabulous stuff because we are gorgeous.  Our health will magically be perfect.  We will be pain free.  We will climb mountains and become CEOs of multinational corporations because that’s what thin people do.  Look out for me, baby!

Then we (at least temporarily) get  thin.  And we are the same.  Our lives are much the same.  A few people who weren’t interested in dating us before may become interested.  But instead of feeling elated about that, we feel hurt and kinda pissed off.  We wonder why we weren’t good enough to date before.  And we wonder about the fear of dating somebody who will drop us when we gain some or all of the weight back.  People tell us how fabulous we look now.  And again, it kind of hurts.  We wonder what they thought about how we looked before we lost the weight.  We still feel pain.  We still get sick.  We fail to climb mountains or climb the corporate ladder.  We are simply smaller versions of ourselves with the same frustrations, insecurities, problems, challenges, frustrations and crud in our lives as before–except without cookies.  No cookies are anywhere.  And people wonder why weight loss can be accompanied by a side of depression?

This is why a behavior-based approach to health is so much better.  There is no before and after.  There just is.  I feel better when I exercise, so I exercise.  I don’t have to do something I hate.  I don’t have to do things that feel like punishment.  I don’t have to build up some ridiculous fantasy about how my life will change when I do it.  I find exercise that I like.  I know I feel better when I do it.  So I do.  It’s pretty simple really.

I know that when I eat too much of certain things, I feel kinda icky.  So I don’t usually eat too much of certain things.  Sometimes I do.  Sometimes I know I’m going to feel kinda icky and I eat it anyway and I enjoy it.  But I don’t like feeling icky so the next day I probably won’t eat too much of that thing.

I know when I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, my body feels better.  I don’t count servings or weigh or measure my broccoli.  I don’t eat fruit or vegetables because I won’t allow myself to eat anything else and I’m starving.  I just kinda know I feel better when I eat fruits and veggies so I do.  I eat the ones I like when I am hungry for them.  I don’t imbue them with magical powers.  I am not suddenly going to grow taller or develop forearms like Popeye because I’ve downed a little spinach.  Fruits and veggies feel good, so I eat them.

It may seem revolutionary to some.  But I think when we stop focusing on how our bodies look and start focusing on the messages our bodies are sending us, we feel better.  And I don’t really know if I need a study to tell me that.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S.  We are only a few days away from the Fat Activism Conference.  It’s only $39 or pay what you can.  Check it out here!

P.S.S. Looking for a fabulously funny speaker who can talk about body image, HAES, eating disorder prevention, fitness and more?  Book me here!

New Electronic Food Police can Cyber Bully You About Eating Habits

Ahhh, gone are the days where you could simply count on your Uncle George or your Mother to track every morsel of food you put in your mouth.  And past are the days where you simply penciled your sins into a small tracker page in your purse so you could pore over the results every week in your “Fat Bashers”(TM) meeting.  Now you can count on a digital plate to track how much you’ve eaten and a little wristwatch to track how fast you’re putting the food into your face.

The Bite Counter watch subtly clocks the movements between your wrist and your mouth, and is being developed by researchers at South Carolina’s Clemson University.  Here’s how they determined the effectiveness of this puppy.  They tracked 77 people for a week and determined that the average calories per bite were 17 for men and 11 for women.  (I presume, during the study that the women were either taking “petite”  bites or had teeny tiny forks.)  They multiplied that times 100 (a suspiciously round number if ever I heard one) and said that since 1100 calories and 1700 calories represented low calorie diets, 100 bites is the optimal number of bites for people trying to lose weight.

They also noted that those who counted their bites ate fewer calories than those who didn’t.  (At least during the short-term study).  And the researchers suggest that the bite meter could be used to measure the rate of speed at which the food was consumed–suggesting that eating more slowly leads to weight loss.

Another device used to measure how fast somebody eats is the new talking plate.  FANTASTIC.  Now I can have a battery operated widget to ask me if, “I really need to eat that?” and ask me why I haven’t finished my broccoli.  It’s like a digital gateway to disordered and non-intuitive eating.  YAY!  (Not.)  The plate also claims to measure my fullness (how I can’t imagine.)

Except all of this is based on some notably faulty assumptions.  Low calorie diets have not been proven to lead to long-term weight loss–ever–for all but a tiny fraction of participants.  There is absolutely no reason to believe that these gadgets wouldn’t fall into the familiar pattern of lose some weight in the short term, gain it all back in the long term, and then a little more.

But the thing that absolutely terrifies me about these new measuring devices is the probability that fat people will ultimately be shackled to them by insurance companies and corporate wellness programs in the name of cost cutting and discrimination–oops I mean better health.  The research behind them is shaky and has been called out by other scientists in the community, the reasoning behind them is flawed in a way that seems obvious even to the most casual observer.  But I predict, that in short order, we’ll have fat people on food oriented house arrest in order to keep their corporate insurance policy.

Big Brother is here and he’s watching you–eat.

Want to learn new ways to fight against injustice for fat folks?  There’s still time to register for the Fat Activism Conference!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Important New Editorial discusses Weight Stigma in the Gym

I recently came across this editorial discussing a subject very close to my heart.  It’s called “Obesity Bias in the Gym: An Under-recognized Social Justice, Diversity, and Inclusivity Issue”.  The article starts out by defining obesity bias this way:

“the tendency to negatively judge an overweight or obese individual based on assumed and/or false character traits. The bias that exists is not based on health risks associated with obesity, but is attributed to personality flaws such as being lazy or stupid. (p. 67)”

 

And it gets right down to the business of discussing the harms of this bias citing an increased vulnerability to problems like depression,  low self-esteem, disordered eating, body image problems and avoiding exercise altogether.

The editorial sums up a lot of the important research that has been done on this topic over the last decade.  The article is very rich and dense and I strongly recommend that you read the whole thing.  But as I’ve been doing with some other research lately, I thought I would entice you with a summary of 10 important points to be found in the article:

1.  The article cites a study by Chambliss, Finley and Blair comparing fat bias among 180 first-year and third year physical education students with 164 first year and third year psychology students.  Not surprisingly the phys. ed students showed higher levels of fat bias than the psychology students.  What is more disturbing is that third year phys. ed. students had higher levels of bias than first year students–suggesting that implicit fat bias got worse as these students progressed in their education.

2.  The article cites a study by Dimmock, Hallet and Grove that found that personal trainers had an unconscious preference for working with thin clients rather than fat ones.

3.  The article also references a study by Shapiro, King and Quinones indicating that trainers expected less of their fat clients, expected them to have a lower work ethic and to have poorer performance, and also indicated that these trainers received poorer ratings from their fat clients (who may have picked up on these negative vibes).

4.  The article discusses a study of weight-based teasing of 11 to 19 year-old students.  The study indicated that teachers were aware of the teasing 55 percent of the time, but at times ignored or even joined in the taunting.

5.  In a study by Vartanian and Novack, 97 percent of the adult participants  had experienced some weight stigma, and nearly half experienced weight stigma at least once per week.  One of the common results of this stigma was exercise avoidance.

6.  The editorial discusses that weight stigma in physical education environments is often seen as socially acceptable and is internalized and reenforced by fat people in their own lives.

7.  The importance of understanding and lecturing about weight bias in the training of physical educators was discussed.  However while changes in explicit anti-fat sentiments were observed, there was little change in the implicit biases phys. ed. students felt towards fat people.

8.  The editorial notes that physical activity seems to be a more important predictor of health outcomes than body size and notes that fit and fat seems to be healthier than unfit and thin.

9.  Thus the editorial discusses the need for physical activity for people of all shapes and sizes and,

10.  The editorial reenforced the need to educate the educators and insist that we create safe and welcoming spaces for people of all sizes to engage in physical activity.

 

Wow.  It really gets my blood moving and reenforces in me the need to fight for physically and emotionally safe spaces where folks of all sizes can exercise.

And if you are feeling revved up as well, I’d like to remind you that the Fat Activism Conference is less than 10 days away.  Join us to hear over 40 speakers talk about making the world a better and safer place for every BODY.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S.  And don’t forget to join my mailing list for lots of free stuff!

80 Odd Years of Happy

The title of this post might refer to the notion that you’ve been hearing that infernal song for 80 years.  But in this case it does not.  It refers to a whole bunch of folks, some well into their 80’s dancing around to that infernal song.  Which is happy-making indeed.  And I feel like sharing this video with you because I feel like we could all use a little happy in our lives today.

It’s been kinda a rough week.  Many of us have been deeply saddened by the passing of Robin Williams, a deeply talented movie icon who brought joy to so many of us.  And many of us have been deeply angered by George Takei’s need to not only present a deeply troubling meme bashing disabled people on his feed, but also his ridiculous need to defend his actions using the tired “people are just too sensitive trope”.  I’m not going to post the awful meme here on my blog.  In case you’re curious, I am going to post a link here to Lisa Egan’s article about it which explains the whole thing so much better than I ever could.

Nope, today, I am going to simply post this video and share a little of the love I feel about it:

I am aware that there are some problems with this video.  I think it’s pretty likely that this is a branded entertainment piece for the retirement community.  And the super high production values lead me to believe that the retirement community spent a whole lot of money on this thing.  That said, I love the fact that there are so many people of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities doing their thing in here.  See that George Takei?  Old  people dancing!  People with walkers boogying down.  Put that in your meme and stuff it, George.

I also love the way the video depicts old people as being powerful and vibrant and fun.  I think as a society, we are so quick to dismiss older people.  We see them as a problem or an expense.  We see them as a throwaway society.  But all people in our society have value.  Everyone has something to give.  I was reminded of this yet again with another amazing video I came across in my Facebook feed today.

As a person who works as a producer this is something that I think about constantly.  How can we get everybody involved?  How can everybody contribute?  How can we help everybody not only feel valued but also be valued?

If you’ll forgive me for feeling all the feels in this very public way, I just want to tell you this.  We are a deeply troubled world.  We can make things better, but we need all the help we can get.  So let’s begin with a deep commitment to not exclude or throw away a significant percentage of the population who don’t meet some arbitrary standard of age, ability, weight, sex or beauty, OK?  Every BODY has value.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. We are only 10 days away from the Fat Activism Conference.  Join us in making the world a better and more inclusive place for people of all sizes.  Register today at www.fatactivismconference.com.