Tag Archives: exercise

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!

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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)

Docs Admit Diet and Exercise Don’t Equal Weight Loss, Then Jump to Wrong Conclusion

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An article hit my feed from LA Times today and it seemed to offer some refreshing news.  It seems 4 doctors, weight-loss specialists set out to say what so many of us have been saying for so long now.  They admit that for the vast majority of obese children and adults in this country, telling them to eat less and move more is a prescription for failure.

They acknowledge that once a fat body begins to lose weight, a whole lot of processes, hormonal and otherwise kick in.  Hormones increase hunger signals.  Metabolisms slow down.  The body struggles to maintain the weight.

Furthermore, the 4 weight loss experts admit that a body that has lost weight are biologically quite different from bodies that have never been fat.  One states:

“Few individuals ever truly recover from obesity,” the authors wrote. Those that do, they add, “still have ‘obesity in remission,’ and are biologically very different from individuals of the same age, sex and body weight who never had obesity.” They are constantly at war with their bodies’ efforts to return to their highest sustained weight.

So far, so good.  Many of us have been pointing out the studies that show these results for years.  So after this, those docs recommend a behavior-based approach where we focus on exercising and eating well for their own sakes (as both have been demonstrated to improve health regardless of whether or not they are accompanied by weight loss), right?  Right?

Well, as it turns out, no not so much.  The docs are suggesting that we simply increase awareness of other tools for weight loss (pills, potions, surgeries and devices) and turn to them sooner.  They suggest we increase fear mongering in the overweight to help keep them from becoming obese.  They suggest a greater focus on weight maintenance for those who have lost weight in order to help them keep it off.  (They somehow neglect to tell us how this is going to work or how it will help.)

The funny thing is, that the doctors see the stigma.  They see how telling patients to just eat less and move more is cruel, since it for the most part doesn’t work.  They see how stigmatizing fat patients and simply labeling them as non-compliant isn’t the answer.

But they simply substitute in another bad answer.  And this bad answer is likely to drag along much more devastating side effects than the original bad answer.  At least suggesting people move their bodies more and eat more nutrient-dense foods is likely to improve health, regardless of whether or not it leads to the holy grail of weight loss.  While pills and potions and surgeries and devices are slightly less ineffective than diet and exercise alone for weight loss, these methods can also carry significant dangers like increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, heart defects, permanent disfigurement, malnutrition, depression, suicide and death from other causes.  And there is not much evidence that in the long run, the few people who do sustain weight loss from the pills and potions and surgeries and devices end up any healthier than the people who stayed fat.

Meanwhile, there is ample evidence that eating well and exercising have a positive impact on health regardless of whether they are accompanied by weight loss.

So why on earth are we not just focusing on healthy behaviors here?  Why do we insist on focusing on weight loss at all?  Well these docs do label themselves as weight loss specialists and that may have a lot to do with it.  And as a society, we do love to blame fat people for stuff.  So I guess they took a few steps out into the light and then fell into a deep, dark hole.

Oh well.

I for one am going to continue my focus on living the best life I can in the gloriously wondrous body I have now.  So if you’ll excuse me, I’mma gonna get on with it.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to talk about evidence-based medicine and wellness at your school or organization?  Learn more HERE.

Another study indicates fitness more important than fatness for longevity

Functional fitness kitty adds activities for daily living (ADLs).

Recently on one of the lists I was introduced to another study which suggests that one of the most important things we can do to have a longer life is to exercise–at least a little bit.  The study report begins by pointing out that in the past there has been an assumption that exercise helps people live longer indirectly because it helps them lose weight or change their body size.  However the paper goes on to state that recent evidence suggests that physical activity (including recreational activity and activity accumulated during work hours) seems to help people live longer regardless of whether or not there is a change in BMI or body size:

Whereas it could be hypothesized that PA exerts its influence on mortality indirectly through reducing adiposity, recent data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) suggest that PA is unrelated to change in body weight and inversely, albeit weakly, associated with change in WC (12). Thus, PA may interact differentially with BMI and WCin relation to all-cause mortality.

So the study went on to test this question.  Is it the change in body size or the activity itself that affects longevity?  And the answer seemed to be pretty clear that physical activity helps people live longer whether or not their was weight loss or a change in body size.  And furthermore, the test indicates that the biggest differences in longevity seem to be between the completely sedentary and the moderately inactive groups.  In other words, they hypothesized that the place where there is the greatest impact in longevity is moving people from the group that doesn’t do any exercise at all to the group that does a little bit of exercise.  More exercise helps a bit more.  But moving out of the completely sedentary group seems to have the most impact.

The greatest reductions in mortality risk were observed between the 2 lowest activity groups across levels of general and abdominal adiposity, which suggests that efforts to encourage even small increases in activity in inactive individuals may be beneficial topublic health.
Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.100065.

So what does this mean to us?  First of all, let me plainly state that nobody is  under any obligation to prioritize their health or engage in any activity if they don’t want to.  Your body is your own and you get to decide how you want to live.  But if you are somebody who is interested in living longer, perhaps one of the best things you can do (outside of being rich and born to parents with great genes) is to do at least a little bit of exercise.

So what does this mean to public health?  To me it suggests that if we really want people to live longer, we need to focus on helping them get more active.  Outside of the fact that most weight loss attempts fail, and about 1/3 of the time lead to people getting larger, outside of the fact that many of the more radical weight loss schemes (like surgery) can lead to life-altering side effects, is the simple fact that getting people to exercise even a little bit seems to have a more dramatic effect.  And getting people to exercise–provided they can do it in a safe environment–seems to be a lot less risky.

For so many reasons, I think it’s time to move outside of the weight loss rhetoric about the war on obesity and just move into an environment focused on making it physically, emotionally and financially safe, comfortable and accessible for all folks to integrate physical activity into their lives.  That is, if we are ready to stop worrying about making money upon broken dreams and start helping people actually have better lives.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. I’m setting my spring speaking schedule.  Want to book me to speak to your group or school?  Send an email to jeanette@thefatchick.com.  I can work to fit most programs and budgets.  You can read more HERE.

Hippocratic Hypocrisy?

An article recently released in Lancet magazine calls out some prominent researchers who presented at the Association for the Study for Obesity conference on September 16-17, 2014 in Birmingham, UK.  Apparently they served up their research papers on how to “help people with obesity” with a hefty side dose of sarcasm, stigmatizing comments and downright nastiness towards people of size.  I can’t say I’m surprised, but I am glad that they are getting called out on some of their nonsense.

The article stopped short of naming names, which I found disappointing.  But I am glad that somebody is taking the time to point out in print that there’s not a lot of do no harm and an awful lot of hypocrisy going on at these conferences.  For one thing, these “obesity researchers” know better.  If they have done any homework at all, they know that stigmatizing overweight and obese people does not lead to better health outcomes.  In fact, it causes overweight and obese people a lot of stress, leads to poorer health and actually tends to increase weight–the very thing they are making fun of fat people for in the first place.

Want to know what I’m talking about?  TRIGGER WARNING–I’m going to share some serious fat shaming stuff here.  If you don’t want to read some really icky stuff that people said, skip down until after the video, okay?  As one researcher criticized a media source that suggested exercise isn’t particularly good for health exclaimed, “Exercise is rubbish?  That is precisely the message obese people want to hear.”  This exploits the stereotype that fat people hate to exercise and are lazy.  I think many of the thousands of people in our Fit Fatties Forum, you know the ones who are training for marathons and triathlons and Ironman competitions, the ones that did TWO 5Ks over the Thanksgiving break just because, I think they might take issue with this stereotype.  And if we want people to exercise more, I think a very brief search of the literature would indicate that shaming folks is not an effective tool to increase exercise adherence.

Then out of the mouth of another researcher who has published researcher on weight stigma and it’s effect on fat people, we got this little gem.  She said if people lost weight, “They would have a lot of sex, which is probably good as they won’t have had it for a while.”  Hmm. I wonder where in the body of research on fat people it suggests that fat people don’t have much sex?   A pretty brief search indicates that some studies show that larger people, are often more attractive to the opposite sex, have more sex and have the big O more often than their thinner counterparts.  But yes, the way to help people live a better life is to convince them that they are utterly sexless and unworthy of sex as they are.  NOT!

Finally, we have the researcher who was receiving one of the “best practice awards”.  She stated that the work they had done in reducing the weight of some of their patients, “provided more space for commuters on the London tube.”  Insert rimshot here.

END TRIGGER WARNING.

Look, when we talk about “best practices” for researchers, we are looking for people who not only seek to eradicate bias from their work, but also have enough self awareness to recognize their own bias.  I ask you, when researchers who are RECEIVING AN AWARD FOR BEST PRACTICES feel it’s okay to round out their acceptance talk with a cheap joke at the expense of the subjects they are reportedly trying to help, I call foul!  When you have somebody who has published research on weight stigma, demonstrating some malicious and completely unfounded stereotypes about fat people at a professional conference, I think we really ought to step back and take a look.  This not only calls into question the researchers who presented these horrible slurs, but also the committee that selected them to speak and the organization who decided to give one of them an AWARD for best practices in research.

This is something that I find deeply frightening.  The notion that the people who claim to dedicate their lives to “helping” us, hold us fat people in such deep-seated and largely unquestioned contempt.  The truth is that we all hold bias in some form or another against some group or another.  But it is only when we choose to or are forced to confront it that we can move forward without damaging those we claim to wish to help.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to book me to come and speak about Weight Stigma?  Click HERE to learn more.

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Radical Self Care

RASCAL

I am so excited to announce our new challenge on the Fit Fatties Forum called the RASCAL challenge.  This stands for Radical Activist for Self Care and Love.  In this challenge, we encourage you to think outside the box about what self-care means and we challenge you to prioritize self care in your life.  Given my current focus on healing, this challenge just could not have come at a better time.

One of the reasons I’m so excited about this challenge is that it helps us broaden our definition of what is included in the definition for “health”.  Some of us believe that being healthy means being thin.  If we are thin, we are healthy.  If we are not thin, we can’t be healthy.  I’ve talked quite a bit about this in the past.  There are lots of studies that indicate that simply isn’t true.  In particular, this study shows that healthy behavior is a better predictor of future health than BMI.  But this begs the question, what is healthy behavior?

Of course joyfully moving your body is a wonderful healthy behavior.  Of course eating in a way that is in tune with your body’s needs as well as your spiritual and emotional needs is a healthy behavior.  But is that all there is to wellness?  Eat an apple and go for a walk and you’ve got it covered?  I don’t think so.  To me health is nuanced and multidimensional.  And health involves self-care.  (Insert deep sigh here…) Why is it that so many of us are so good at taking care of other people and so lousy at taking care of ourselves?  Are we conditioned that way from birth?  I don’t know.  But I DO know that self care gives us the strength to help others.  Think about what the flight attendant says before you take off.  “First secure your own oxygen mask, then you can help small children and those around you.”  In other words, breathe.  Take a moment to care for yourself.

And that moment may involve eating something wonderful or going for a walk.  Or it may involve simply breathing.  Maybe your self-care moment is spending just a few seconds of your day simply being.  Maybe it means getting a little extra sleep.  Maybe it involves asking for help.  Maybe it involves doing a booty-shaking victory dance.  Maybe it means calling a friend and reconnecting.  Maybe it means writing a letter to someone who wronged you.  Maybe it just requires 5 minutes of quiet and a cup of tea.

Self-care is different for each of us.  But it is absolutely critical to our well being.  That’s why I’m so excited about the RASCAL challenge.  We’ve come up with over 100 official Radical Acts of Self Care and Love, and we’re challenging folks to do one of those acts every single day.  Aside from the intrinsic rewards that come from self love, we are ACTUALLY rewarding you with badges and encouragement and prizes for taking care of yourself.  Seriously.  How cool is that?

I hope you’ll join me in spending some time to take care of yourself this month, either by taking the challenge or simply choosing to do it on your own.  Because the world needs you to take care of you.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Want to book me to speak to your group about radical self care?  Click here!

Want to join my mailing list and get free stuff?  Click here!

Making Fitness About Fun, Not About Weight Stigma

Today, I’d like to direct you to the blog I wrote for Weight Stigma Awareness Week.  BEDA is doing absolutely amazing work in this space, and I am very proud to be called to participate.  You can read the blog post here.

Thanks so much for your support!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to speak at your school, organization or group?  Click HERE to book me!

P.S.S. Want to get free stuff, click HERE to join my list!