Tag Archives: body

Exercise from the neck down and the neck up.

Integrating the head and the body through exercise!

We are doing a lot of fun and useful exploration in my Every BODY Can Exercise group right now.  Quite a bit of it focuses on the awesome benefits that come from regular physical activity.  One particular benefit that comes from being more active is that we come to inhabit our entire body more fully.  Many of us who are sedentary (especially if we have low self esteem about our bodies) come to live a life that exists primarily from the neck up.  We live mostly in our heads and become “cut off” from the physical sensations that are found from the neck down.  We shy away from full length mirrors.  We look at ourselves as others define us–as merely a pretty face.  Exercise forces us to reconnect with sensations in the rest of our bodies.  We need to use our kinesthetic awareness to know where we are in space, whether or not we are doing the movements or the choreography or the activities correctly.  We need to inhabit our bodies in a way that allows us to keep  our balance and live in the moment.

Yet, even though physical activity reconnects us with our entire bodies, it is by no means exclusively a “below the neck” experience.  We absolutely need to engage our minds as we exercise.  We need to constantly assess whether or not the movement is pleasurable and safe.  We need to understand our pain levels and whether they represent simple resistance that will dissipate once we overcome the initial impedance caused by inertia or they represent a significant problem in form or substance likely to lead to acute injuries down the road.

One issue that I see quite commonly in beginning or returning exercisers is that a release of tension held in the body, and reconnection with sensation in the body leads to a rush of emotions as well.  Even just a few minutes of movement is often enough to leave the beginning exerciser awash in tears.  There are many reasons for this.  But I think one of the strongest reasons is that our bodies are meant to be experienced in their entirety.  Reconnecting the head and the heart and the rest of the body and reestablishing communication among all the parts leads to a dramatic shift in the effectiveness of both mind and body.  There is an electric current that runs through bodies and heads that are well connected and getting along nicely.  This current can fuel all kinds of thoughts and activities.  But this current can also be quite jarring when it is first experienced.  And it seems, that often this current can vibrate some of our emotions loose and leave us reeling.

This is why I think it is so important to approach physical activity in a way that integrates body, mind and soul.  Resistance to exercise can come from any of these places.  Whether its a misunderstanding about what exercise means or a fear deep in our bellies that warns us that exercise may hurt or cause our hearts to beat too quickly or cause others to say cruel things to us–whether it’s a feeling of unworthiness that makes us loathe to take the time to care for ourselves or a lack of organization that keeps us from integrating exercise into our lives, it’s important to remember that many barriers to exercise are not physical.  In fact physical activity involves a whole lot more than that.

It involves our whole minds, our whole hearts and our whole bodies.  Not only all of these things, but each of these things in their completeness.

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

 

 

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Taking Your Spirit for a Walk

We’ve been talking a lot about pedometers and counting steps and walking towards physical fitness in the last few weeks.  But walking does a lot more than strengthen your body and mind.  Walking can also have a profound effect on calming and lifting your spirit.  There are many approaches to using walking to speak to your soul.  So take a deep breath, and let’s explore some of them together:

Love walking: Going for a walk with somebody you love deeply can be a great balm and help for both of your souls.  If you walk with one of your children, this can be a time for you to really listen to them and focus on what is happening in their life.  In order for this to work however, you really have to focus.  That may mean muting your cell phone or turning it off altogether.  (But don’t leave your phone at home.  A fully-charged cell phone is one of  your most important pieces of fitness safety gear.)  This can also be a time for you to observe nature together.  If your child is young,  you may want to be prepared with some games that you can play as you walk like iSpy or simply naming the colors, animals, plants and shapes you encounter along the way.  Love walking with your significant other can be a time for you to share the details of your day, or even just to hold hands and enjoy some silence together.

Social Walking: Walking can be a great time to catch up with friends and share thoughts and feelings about what is happening in your lives.  And walking regularly with a good friend can help you keep your walking program on track.  Having a great jaw session can help bring the fun into fitness and help you forget that you’re exercising.  And don’t forget, laughing while walking also engages your abdominal muscles!

Prayer Walking:  I’ve known some people who have found a lot of joy in using their walking time for prayer.  You can take time during your stroll to pray for friends and family.  You can even take time, as you walk the sidewalks in your neighborhood to pray for the people who live near you.  Aside from allowing you to really focus on prayer a few times per week, I’ve talked to some prayer walkers who find that turning focus away from the physical benefits and towards caring for other people helps them to prioritize their walking program and be sure to carve time out for it.  And spending time sending love out to the universe is sure to have benefits for you and for everyone you touch.

Walking Meditation: Walking is a rhythmic, repetitive process that can really lend itself towards meditation.  Some people find it easier to meditate while they are sitting very still.  Some others find that the physical action of walking really helps them with their body awareness and aids their meditation practice.  There are many forms of walking meditation–from quite simple to more complex versions.  However, here’s a few tips for engaging in a walking meditation:

1.  Silence is golden.  Bring your fully-charged cell phone with you, but mute or turn it off during your walk.  Unless you are using music or spoken word specifically tailored to your meditation, you may want to leave your MP3 player and earbuds at home.

2.  Take some time before you start to become centered in your body.  Take a few deep breaths.  Feel the breaths move your tummy in and out.  Check in with your hands and feet, and sense how your body feels before you start out.

3.  Take the easy path.  Try to walk somewhere that will not require you to dodge a lot of people or obstacles.  Some gurus suggest that you pick a relatively short, straight path.  When you come to the end of the path, stop, reconnect with your body, turn around, and walk again.

4.  Spend time as you are walking checking in with your body.  How does your breath feel going in and out?  How do the soles of your feet feel where they are touching your shoes or socks, and how does each footfall ground with the earth? How do your arms feel?  Does your body feel light or heavy?  How does the air feel as it touches your skin?

5.  Send yourself some body love.  A walking meditation is a wonderful time to send positive messages to your body.  You can even choose a mantra–a brief phrase that you repeat to yourself over and over as you walk.  The best mantras are rhythmic in nature and allow you to put a syllable on each step as you walk.  Here are a few of my favorites:

I am worthy.

I am enough.

I am grateful.

Thank you body.

So what do you think?  Are  you interested in taking your spirit for a walk?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences as you give some of these techniques a try.  Don’t forget to share in the comments section!

And yet another one of our faithful readers will be receiving a jump start to his fitness program!  Rob Gokee, you’ve won a free pedometer!  Don’t forget to send me an email at jeanette at thefatchick dot com with your mailing address so I can get your pedometer out to you!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie

AKA The Fat Chick

P.S. Want to get access to FREE STUFF?  Just opt in RIGHT HERE!

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

Never Good Enough: How a Big Body Means “You’re Doing it Wrong”

One of the things I find deeply frustrating as a fat woman is the assumption by many complete strangers, that I am not doing enough for my health.  And the more I appear in public and on television, the more I hear this criticism leveled at me. No matter what I’m doing for my health, clearly I’m not doing it enough, because, well look at me.  And if I should claim to be doing something far beyond what another person is doing, then I must be lying.

For example, I am a fitness teacher.  I exercise pretty regularly and moderately.  But many people believe that clearly, I’m neither exercising hard enough, nor the right way, because look at me.  I’m still fat.  I should lift more weights.  I should exercise at a higher intensity.  I should do Fred the Celebrity’s Super Insane Fitness Plan.  Forget that I might get injured.  Forget that I would hate it and quit after a few workouts.  The folks that know everything about everything are glad to let me know that since they are thin and I am fat, I’m not working out as well as them.  And when I tell them, that when I was training for the marathon and walking/running up to 35 miles per week I still maintained this weight, they tell me I was eating 4,000 calories per day, or lying.  People who are conventionally thin, don’t get this treatment.  If a conventionally thin person says that they exercise 45 minutes per week, they are usually told, to keep doing what they are doing because they look great.

The same is true with eating.  Many people assume that since I am big, I eat nothing but junk food, I eat large amounts of food and I eat all the time.  In pre-interviews for certain public appearances, I am grilled over and over about what I eat, when I eat, how much I eat, and so on.  No thin woman is asked these questions.  It is assumed that if they are thin, they are eating well.  But the producers ask these questions of me because A) they think their audience will wonder (and they are probably right about this) and B) they just can’t imagine that I’m not eating the whole house because, well, look at me.  We have been conditioned so deeply to believe that fat people do unhealthy things and fat people do healthy things that we assume that we know, by looking at someone what their habits are.  In the name of full disclosure, I would say that my eating habits are pretty average.  I eat more than some and less than some.  I eat more junk food than some and less than some.  Some of those who eat less than me weigh more than me.  And many people who eat more than me weigh less than me.  As comforting as the idea is that we can control every aspect of our appearance and our health outcomes with our behaviors, it just isn’t true.

So all we can do is what seems to be best for us at the time.  There is no perfect exercise regimen.  There is no perfect diet.  There are no perfect people.  There’s just people.  So the next time you look in the mirror and decide that your size means you aren’t doing the right healthy things or doing enough healthy things, maybe that’s the time to just stop.  You don’t have to put yourself into the same box that society does.  Make your own plans and build your own life.  Build a life that is joyous and right for YOU.

Love,

The Fat Chick

4th of July Reprise–A Declaration of Body Independence

 

Enjoy your independence my little chickies!

NOTE: This is a rebroadcast of a post I did in February. I’ve been thinking a lot about bodies and the rights we have to love them and care for them in any way we choose. I want to reiterate that health and happiness can be defined any way we wish and that nobody has the right to dictate what those terms should mean and how we should pursue them (or not). Enjoy your freedom my dear chicklettes.

Love,

The Fat Chick

The Fat Chick in front of Independence Hall

So on my recent trip to Philadelphia, I saw Independence Hall.  Besides being a gorgeous building, this was a site where some pretty amazingly radical things happened.  For one, the Constitution was created here.  For another, the Declaration of Independence was both written and signed here.  This along with an excellent blog post by ASDAH Secretary, Fall Ferguson, JD, MA.

All of this together got me thinking about the notion of body independence and how our current national obsession with the size and situation of bodies is so very antithetical to the ideas the founding fathers scribbled down in this building.  And being the type of person who will follow an idea to its furthest reaches, beyond all reason, and with a preemptive request for forgiveness from our founding fathers, I’ve decided to lay out a draft of a
Declaration of Body Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all bodies are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
My body is my own to care for in whatever way I wish.   No one has the right to tell me what to eat or how to move.  If I want a cookie, I shall have one.  If I want broccoli, I shall have it.  I shall boogie down with my bad self, or not as I choose.
I have the right to compassionate, competent and equitable health care.  This includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual care.  Whenever any Form of Medicine becomes destructive of these ends, it is my right to alter or abolish it and institute a new form of medical care–seeking a form that will seem most likely to effect my Safety and Happiness.
I have the right to look the way I look.  I may wear tiny prints or vertical stripes.  I may expose my fleshy arms as I embrace my freedom.  Fashion shall dictate no law that keeps me from dressing and expressing myself as I darn well please.
I am endowed with the unalienable Right to walk down the street unmolested by individuals (well-meaning or not) wishing to ply me with “cures” purported to change the size of my body to meet their ideal.
I am allowed to create my own definition of health and seek it (or not) as I see fit.
When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce me under the absolute Despotism of size oppression, it is my right, it is my duty, to throw off such Forces, and to provide new Guards for my future happiness.
So, my little chicklettes, cast off the chains of oppression!  Launch a body revolution!  Viva la resistance!
Love,
The Fat Chick