Tag Archives: back

Back

ScaryBack

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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BACK (sorta)


 

Hello my dear readers.  As you may have noticed, I’ve been gone for a while.  Fortunately I had the opportunity to meet and speak with over 400 schoolteachers this past week and share the word about shame-free fitness and Health At Every Size for children.  It was wonderful, engaging and fun.  It was also a set of 7 grueling days with a very intense schedule.  Nevertheless I planned to continue blogging while away.

Alas, the universe had a different plan.  Shortly after I started at the conference, I reached for a piece of paper in my bag and something in the region of my lower back and right hip went completely out of whack.  My friends at the conference insist that it makes a better story that I hurt myself busting a move, that the limbo initiated my lumbago or SOMETHING.  But the truth is, I was sitting in a chair reaching for something in my bag, and I had that MOMENT.  There’s a moment when time stops and that surprising pain comes and all you can think is “WHOOOOOOAAAAA, that can’t be good!”.

I managed to fulfill all my obligations at the conference and even have some fun.  But sitting aggravated my pain the most and I simply couldn’t bring myself to blog last week.  Sorry about that.  But I thought I would take this moment to share a few thoughts with you about my back experience.

1.  Sometimes poop occurs.  It just does.  I could make myself crazy wondering if it was tension or a posture problem or lack of sleep or the size of my hips or the tilt of the universe that caused that pain.  But at the moment that the pain occurs I need not to focus on that.  I just need to deal with it.

2.  Dealing with it means that sometimes your plans have to change.  When pain or a serious setback happens, it’s time to reorganize priorities.  Some stuff will not get done.  You can either triage and choose which things you can do, or you can try to do everything and end up able to do nothing.  You wanna know how I know?  Experience.  So many times, I’ve been in denial about the fact that I can’t do everything.  So many times I’ve ended up at that point, in pain, completely spent, where I can’t do anything.  I really don’t want to do that any more.

3.  Pain is a sign that something is out of whack.  It could be posture.  It could be schedule.  It could simply mean something in my body isn’t working properly.  As I am healing this week, I will start, very gently to figure out what is out of whack.  I’ll see my doctor and start reviewing things in my life to see if I can figure it out.  But I may have to accept that the discovery process may be long and challenging.  And I may have to accept that I can never figure out exactly what caused this episode.

The good news is that hundreds of school teachers, councilors, administrators, and other employees were exposed to the notion of shame-free exercise and the Health At Every Size(TM) approach to wellness–many for the first time.  So I’m going to take an aspirin and take my leave glad for a job well (if shakily) done.

Love, Jeanette DePatie, AKA The Fat Chick

P.S.  Don’t forget about the Fat Activism Conference coming up soon. Click here to register for the Fat Activism Conference!

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See Fatty Run, Can Fat People Run Safely?

halfinish2I am frequently asked both on Facebook and in the Fit Fatties Forum, “I am fat.  Is it still safe for me to run?”  So I thought I’d take up this question in today’s blog post.

The short answer is that most people, given proper form, equipment, time and training can learn to jog or run safely, but not all.  There is little evidence that it is inherently unsafe for people of size to jog or run.  Plenty of fluffy folks finish 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon races every day.  There is little to no evidence that running causes pain or loss of cartilage in the knees–no matter what your size.  However, if you already have problems in knees, hips, ankles, back or feet, you should proceed with extreme caution as running can make these problems a lot worse.

BadKnees

If you have “bad knees” you should get cleared by a doctor before you start running.

Frankly, fat folk should approach running in the same way that thin people do.  You should probably start by being checked out by your doctor.  If you are coping with joint pain or back pain of any sort, you should probably also see a joint or sports medicine specialist and get cleared for exercise before you begin.  Once you get the all clear from your doctor(s), then it’s time to gear up.  Start by getting yourself a great pair of shoes.  The best way to find those great shoes is to go to a running store, and get fitted by a professional.  This is not the time to choose shoes because they are your favorite color or because they are on sale.  Good shoes that fit properly and meet the special needs of your particular tootsies are critical for safe walking and running.

Choose function over fashion for your fitness footwear.

Choose function over fashion for your fitness footwear.

Once you’ve got the all-clear and are geared up, you need to start SLOWLY.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  If you are not already walking regularly, you should start with a walking program.  There are lots of different schools of thought about how to move from walking to running.  I am personally very partial to Jeff Galloway’s Run Walk Run approach.  I started by walking 10 minutes and running for 30 seconds.  I ran from telephone pole to telephone pole.  I eventually trained to the point I could do a marathon.  I know lots of people who have safely used this approach.  Going all out each workout as hard and as fast as you can is not noble.  It is not bad-assed.  It is a recipe for disaster.  There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about having to quit your running program after 4 days because you hurt yourself.

Once you’ve been running for a while, it is also important to PROCEED SLOWLY.  Most sports programs recommend that you ramp no more than 10 percent per week.  That means if you are running one mile per session this week, you can run 1.1 miles per session next week.  Note that this progression is much, MUCH slower than many of the published and printed running programs out there.  While many of the programs that train you for your first 5K or marathon are great, I find that many bodies are simply not designed to ramp up that quickly.  That’s why I took my first marathon program, cut it in half, and trained for a half marathon instead.  That’s why, when I do 5K or 10 K training programs now, I tend to spend two or even three weeks at each level before I move on.  If you’re doing a total of 3 miles of training this week, it’s probably not cool to do 6 miles of training next week.  It might work for you.  It might leave you a total wreak.  Learn to learn from and listen to YOUR body.

There are lots of other things you can do to help keep yourself safe.  Make sure you stretch.  Do a proper warm up.  Add cross training to give some of your running muscles a break.  Add strength training to build up the muscles and ligaments around your joints and help to stabilize them.  Make sure to work on your form.  Proper running form–including how and where you place your feet, stride, and even arm placement, are very important.  Running is a repetitive motion.  Very small problems in your form can lead to very big pain down the road.

Be sure to address back and other joint pains early and often.

When it comes to running, pain is a very important teacher.  Some people can run without experiencing any significant pain.  For some people, pain happens a whole lot.  In any case, pain is not to be ignored.  It can tell you when you need to adjust your form.  It can tell you when you need to add more cross training or strength training.  It can tell you that the purple tennis shoes you bought because they were on sale were a bad idea.  It can tell you that you need to stop running for a while so you can address a problem in your back or your joints.  It can tell you that running just isn’t for you right now.  DO NOT IGNORE PAIN.  Listen to it.  Learn from it.

Happy trails to you!

Happy trails to you!

So can fatties run?  Can running be safe and enjoyable for people of size?  Of course!  People of all sizes simply need to approach running with caution, gear up, start slowly, ramp slowly, and listen carefully to their bodies.  Here’s wishing you happy trails!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Stupid F@#!ing Injuries

Medic!

If you’ve done any sort of exercise for any length of time you’ve probably experienced some sort of pain or injury.  I know.  I feel ya.  I’ve experienced injuries of many shapes and sizes and they all, unequivocally suck.  But of all injuries I’ve faced, I have to admit that I’ve had the hardest time coping with the stupid f*$%ing injuries.

If you’re wondering what I mean, let me explain.  There are injuries that sound justified or even tough.  Like, “I got a stress fracture training for that Ironman race”.  Then there are stupid f##$ing injureis like, “I tripped over my own shoelace and now I’m going to be in traction for a month.”  It doesn’t sound sexy.  Nobody’s thinking, “wow what dedication and stuff, the guy walked in SHOES, with LACES.  And they came untied and he just KEPT GOING!”  Nobody is making YouTube videos with inspiring music behind them documenting your “tripping over your shoelaces” comeback.  Like I said, it just sucks.  Because as much as your knee or your back or your shoulder is hurting, you also have to deal with the agonizing blow to your pride.

I had a reminder of this just this past week.  I hurt my back, working on the remodel of our house.  Okay, that doesn’t sound too bad, right.  Oh, did I mention I was SWEEPING at the time?  Yup, all I was doing was sweeping and my external obliques let out a rebel yell:

OMG it was so embarassing.  My husband asked me what was wrong.  And I replied that I had just experienced the dumbest injury in history.  He told me to take some Advil and go lay down.  At first I told him, no–that I didn’t have time to lay down.  And in his infinite awesomeness he replied,

“Jeanette, tweaking your back is not the dumbest injury in history.  That kind of stuff happens to everybody.  But if you don’t take the time now to lay down and you make this worse and you allow a little injury to become a massive, got to lay in back for a week injury, now THAT would be pretty dumb.”

God, I love my husband–that is when I’m not trying to kill him for being annoyingly correct all the time.  But you know what?  He had a point.  I wish I could say that the injuries I suffered were some sort of sexy battle scars from the hard core exercise wars, but the truth is, the worst injuries I’ve ever had have been stupid !@#$ing injuries.  Including:

1.  Meniscus tear from jumping up on some exercise mats to get some exercise equipment for one of my classes.  Result: 4 weeks on crutches, massive physical therapy.

2. Torn ligament in the sole of my foot from catching my sandal on a single cement step at my parents house.  Result: 6 weeks on crutches, massive physical therapy.

3.  Tweaking my back from sweeping.  AAAAARGH!

Look there’s a point to all this and here it is.  We alllllllllll experience stupid f!$%ing injuries from time to time.  It happens to everybody.  Get over it.  The only thing that you can control is how you cope with it after it happens.  You can rest, get diagnosis, and get treatment OR you can ignore it and allow a small f#$%ing injury to become a MASSIVE f!#$%ing injury.  And as my husband says, that’s the dumbest kind of injury of all.

Hang in there!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Thursday Theater: With a Thankful Heart

Good morning my dear Chicklettes! This Thanksgiving I am grateful for so many things! And, in addition to my wonderful heart, I am especially grateful for the amazing and wonderful gift of my whole mind and my entire body:

  • Feet that step and skip and dance,
  • Legs that have carried me towards my loved ones and all that I dream,
  • Knees that flex under the load I sometimes have to carry, and kneel in awe of the beauty of this world,
  • Thighs that make a lap for holding warm, squirmy, squiggly children and a resting place for the chin of my fabulous dog, Max,
  • Hips that sway and shimmy and shake to the beat of the beautiful old earth, and make a place to rest my hands when arms akimbo, I face the dangers and toils of this world,
  • A round, soft bottom that cushions me when I fall,
  • A warm, generous tummy that creates the energy I need to live and love and shakes merrily when I giggle and gufflaw at the delicious absurdity of life,
  • A broad back that allows me to bend down to help others and help shoulder their load,
  • An expansive chest that swells when I breathe the rich and wonderful air, that powers my speech and my song, that gives me a place to cradle that which is beloved,
  • A powerful neck that allows me to turn my head and see not only that which is right in front of my eyes, but all of the wonder that surrounds me,
  • Lips to kiss,
  • Tongue to taste,
  • Teeth to bite when the need arises,
  • Eyes that convey the beauty of the universe to my mind and allow others to see into my soul,
  • Ears that record the music of the earth from the soft shushing of the surf to the boom of a storm to the whisper of a lover sharing a secret,
  • And a heart and mind capable of recognizing the incomprehensible nature of the gift which I have received.

Here’s hoping that Thanksgiving is full of all that makes you happy and joyfully devoid of the stuff that tempts you to choose to relinquish your peace.

Love,

The Fat Chick