Tag Archives: endurance

Functional Fitness Means LOTS More Painting

I get asked a lot about functional fitness.  What does it mean?  How does it impact Quality of Life?  What is Quality of Life?  To me, Quality of Life, means the ability and energy you have available to do the things you love to do with the people you love.  Quality of life is not guaranteed.  It is not a status that you unlock or a level you achieve.  Quality of Life like “health” is a continuum. It fluctuates from day to day.  And each of us has a different default level from which we fluctuate.  Many things impact our quality of life including genetics, family, socioeconomic status, age, gender and fitness level and social network.  And only some of our quality of life is under our control.  We can, if we wish, work to improve the things over which we have some control. Fitness level is one of those things.  And functional fitness is the process of using exercise to increase our abilities to do things in our everyday lives.

LiftBoard

This has come home to me in a very personal way as we engage in the “eternal, internal, house painting project”.  I am not kidding you.  This has taken a week longer than forever.  There are days when I never want to look at a texture gun or a roller or a paintbrush EVER AGAIN.  However, I can state in no uncertain terms, that this bloody, everlasting, wall pigmentation project would have never even gotten off the ground if I hadn’t worked over the years on my functional fitness.  I primarily teach dance classes, but I do some yoga and resistance training and walking/running as well.  And all of this has helped prepare me for the rigors of home remodeling.  Whether it’s lifting one end of a 14-foot-long 2×12 board or rolling paint on to a ceiling or climbing a ladder or performing the equivalent of 100 squats in a two hour period in the course of spraying texture on the wall (using the power tool that my husband and I have affectionately dubbed the “poo flinger”) my more traditional fitness program has made this possible.  I’ve increased my aerobic endurance, upper body strength,  flexibility, balance and sheer bloody-mindedness so that I can do this painting stuff with my hubby for approximately eleventy billion hours per day.  I even have the strength (in theory) to bludgeon him to death with a HVLP sprayer.

PainterDown

Which makes me wonder, “Is this a good thing?”  Why don’t we just hire somebody to do this?  Hey, HUSBAND!  Why don’t we just HIRE SOMEBODY TO DO THIS?  I guess the main reason is that my husband really loves to do this kind of thing, and he wants us to do it together.   And even if I don’t love painting quite as much as he does, I do love him.  And I am deeply grateful that I currently have the strength to do that.

Does that mean everybody has to exercise this way?  Does that mean everybody is even capable of getting to the point they can exercise this way?  Of course not!  Everybody is in a different place on their fitness continuum and everybody has different priorities for how they fit exercise into their lives.  There is no moral imperative to work out or to ever wield a painting implement.  But I will say that exercise helps move you towards a point on the Quality of Life continuum which may give you more energy and more choices about how to spend that energy.  And that my friends is why I exercise.  Oh, and of course, because it’s fun.  Well except maybe the painting part.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. ‘m SUPER excited to announce that after months of planning, Courtney Marshall, Candice Casas, Ragen Chastain and I are launching the call for proposals for a new anthology about fat people in the fitness/exercise/athletics/dance world. We plan to include first person stories, interviews, academic pieces, poetry, and art. You can get all the information (including about how to submit a proposal) at www.fatfitnessanthology.com Let me know if you have any questions, deadline for proposals is July 15!

Advertisements

Try, try again and again and again and again and again…

text text

Fifth time’s the charm for Diana Nyad

I’ve been meaning to write to y’all about Diana Nyad.  As I’m sure many of you know, Nyad fulfilled a lifelong dream and became the first woman to swim the 110 miles from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.  One hundred and ten freakin’ miles kids!  The swim took 52 Hours 54 Minutes 18.6 Seconds.  (Any of you who have ever competed in an endurance event know why I’ve included this detail in such exactitude…)  This is an amazing feat for any athlete.  Oh and did I mention that Diana Nyad was 64 years old when she did this?  Wowza!

I think the fact that Nyad completed this swim is deeply inspirational.  But I think the thing that I found most moving about the whole thing is that she completed this on her fifth attempt.  Yup.  Five times Nyad assembled a team, got in her swimsuit, called the media and started swimming.  Four times Nyad was pictured in the media being pulled from the boat or sporting welts from potentially fatal jellyfish stings as in the picture below.

Potentially fatal jellyfish stings raise welts on Nyad’s arms in 2102.

And then, at age 64, Diana Nyad got back in the water and tried again.  The fifth time was the charm!  I think there’s a lot we can learn from Diana, and I wanted to share a few of those lessons here with you:

1.  You don’t have to look like a supermodel to be a super athlete:  As you can see from the picture above, Nyad is strong and powerful and unbelievably fit.  But she doesn’t look like she’s ready to hit a runway any time soon.  She even seems to be sporting a little hello/goodbye arm action up there.  But she’s not worrying about that.  She’s not demanding to be photoshopped.  Even after her successful attempt, she looked like hell.  That’s what happens after you swim for over two days in the open sea.  You look like hell.  She doesn’t seem overly worried about it.

2.  Winning Athletes Build Winning Teams:  Diana did not do this thing alone.  She had a team of 35 people working with her during her successful attempt including kayak paddlers who kept watch for sharks and even a jellyfish expert who scooped jellyfish out of her way as she swam.  She didn’t go this alone and she expressed deep gratitude for all the people who helped her.

3.  Treat Failure as a Learning Experience: Diane didn’t simply try the same thing five times.  She learned from each of her record attempts and made adjustments.  In particular, when jellyfish thwarted one of her attempts, she had a special jellyfish mask designed to help her avoid that particular problem.  Even that caused problems on her latest swim, causing her to drink a lot of seawater and risk dehydration from vomiting.

4.  You Can’t Control Mother Nature: One of the things that caused serious problems for Diana in the past was the lightning storm that ended at least one of her record attempts.  By the same token, Diana says that during this last, successful attempt, the gulf stream behaved in a way that was very favorable for her.  You can’t know exactly what the weather is going to do.  Nature cannot be controlled but must always be respected.

5. Even Super Athletes Face Embarrassment: Five times Diana told the media she was headed for Florida.  Four times she didn’t make it.  Four times her name was paired with photos of her being dragged from a boat, falling short of her goal.  Four times the caption said that she failed.  I have a hard time imagining how much grit it takes to try again and how much guts it takes to call the media for the fifth time, at age 64 and say, “yeah, but this time, I’m gonna make it!”  That is some serious, serious courage.

 

6. Sometimes You Gotta get out of The Water so you can Swim Another Day: Four times, Diana had to make the decision to get out of the water and stop trying.  Four times, she had to accept that in order to avoid permanent damage to her body and live to try again she had to stop.  On one of her attempts she had to stop after swimming for over 40 hours.  Yes it’s painful to stop and admit temporary defeat.  But the most important thing is to live to try again another day.

7. Successful Athletes Ignore the Nay-Sayers: I’m sure there were many people both close to Diana as well as complete strangers who told Diana she was crazy.  In fact some accounts suggest that friends and family begged Diana to give up this attempt.  And while it’s extremely important to consult experts on whether it’s okay to go forward, to get cleared by your doctors, to talk with the anti-jellyfish mask people, you don’t have to listen to everybody who’s got an opinion on your body or what you’re trying to do.

Lest you think that these rules only apply to ultra-endurance athletes, I can say that I have used each of these lessons in a much more humble way in my own athletic endeavors.   I only completed a marathon after the third attempt.  When the training for earlier marathons led to pain and cortisone shots and stress fractures, I took time off and healed completely.  I learned from each try and adjusted before trying again.  I ignored lots of people who said I would never make it.  I enlisted the help of some truly amazing people to get across the finish line.  And when I crossed that finish line, I looked like poop warmed over.  It wasn’t pretty.  But I did it.  And each time I told everybody in the world I was gonna do a marathon, and then had to tell them that I was taking some time off to heal but would do a marathon next year, I was embarrassed.  But I got over it.  The third time I tried I told everybody.  I solicited donations for the Arthritis Foundation.  I took the risk of being embarrassed again.  But I have to tell you, crossing the finish line was worth all the embarrassment I ever felt.

At this point, I’d like to offer one more lesson Diana Nyad has to offer us:

You’re Never Too Old for Fitness!  And those of you in the Bay Area will get a unique opportunity to show this to the world on September 18.  Learn the menopause mambo and then come on out to dance a Hot Flash Mob for menopause awareness.  Show the world that women of all ages can shake their collective groove things!

Love,

The Fat Chick