Tag Archives: fit and fat

Fitness is for ALL of Us

Ragen Chastain and I are so  very pleased to release our first video on our brand new YouTube Channel: Fitness for All of Us.  We’ve released our fight song to announce our intention to create a safe space where bodies of all shapes and sizes, ages and abilities can rejoice in joyful movement.  Here’s our first video:

For far too long, fitness has been a space relegated to those who have a certain body type or begrudgingly to those who are actively and seeking that body type.  Some have said that “Fit is the New Skinny!” without understanding that “fit” as defined by most is predominantly skinny.  It may include an extra pert rear and muscular legs.  It may include a six pack (or eight pack) and carefully-chiseled Michelle Obama biceps.  But the fit often referred to in the “fit is the new skinny” or even “strong is the new skinny” memes bounce right out of fitspiration with rock hard, totally toned, glistening, fitness model bodies.

But what about the rest of us?  Those of us who have bits that jiggle and flow?  Those of us with rolls and cellulite?  Those of us with big, bountiful bellies and big hips?  Those of us who are not exactly the slightly-upsized Barbie ideal of big boobs, tiny waist, swelling hips and tiny, pointed feet?  That is who this channel is for, it’s for ALL OF US who are interested in fitness in any capacity and at any level.

Because this is so much of what my work is and has always been about.  Fitness should be fun and encouraging and welcoming and physically and emotionally safe for all of us.  Fat and skinny, young and old, high powered athlete and folks who just want to walk their dogs.  Runners and walkers and boaters and swimmers and yogis and dancers and kickboxers and cyclers and multisport mavens.  Seasoned experts and frightened beginners.  Fitness should be for every BODY!

We should be able to get help when we ask for it and be left ALONE when we don’t.  We should be encouraged the same way as everyone else.  We should get a quiet thumbs up or even a shout of welcome for joining the posse for being part of the fitness community, not because somebody imagines that exercise is particularly difficult for us, or that we serve as some sort of weird inspiration for them and especially not because people imagine that we are forcing our bodies to comply to some ideal of shape, size, weight, or any other parameter.

Let us move.  Let us breathe.  Let us enjoy fitness on our own terms.  Above all, let us be.

Hope you like it!

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S.  Want to show us some special love?  Don’t forget to subscribe!

A Different Sort of Tennis Star

You’d think since being rated the top Junior player in the United States, tennis phenom Taylor Townsend would be best known for her prowess on the court.  However, aside from Townsend’s legendary on-court tennis battles, are plenty of battles of a different sort.  Two years ago, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) asked Taylor to sit out of the 2012 Open Junior Tournament due to concerns about her “conditioning”.   And by conditioning, they meant body shape.  And by body shape they meant how Townsend looked in a dress.  According to Tom Perotta of the Wall St. Journal:

Her coaches declined to pay her travel expenses to attend the Open and told her this summer that they wouldn’t finance any tournament appearances until she makes sufficient progress in one area: slimming down and getting into better shape.

“Our concern is her long-term health, number one, and her long-term development as a player,” said Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of the USTA’s player development program. “We have one goal in mind: For her to be playing in [Arthur Ashe Stadium] in the main draw and competing for major titles when it’s time. That’s how we make every decision, based on that.”

But it doesn’t just stop at funding. According to Perrotta, the USTA actually requested that Townsend skip the U.S. Open, denying both her petitions for wild cards into either the U.S. Open main draw or the qualifying tournament. In the end, Townsend’s family decided to pay out of their own pockets for Taylor to compete in the U.S. Open Junior Tournament.  She was ultimately defeated in the quarterfinals by Anett Kontaveit of Estonia.

It’s clear that Taylor knows on which side her baguette is buttered.  In 2012 Townsend said:  “I’ve gotten a lot of great opportunities, great fitness, great coaching,” she said. “I’m doing everything that they ask me to do and being professional about everything.”

Nevertheless, Townsend has to be feeling more than a little gratified over Tuesday’s French Open results.  The match had some moments that seemed straight out of a movie script.  In the first set of her first match, Taylor got behind 1-5.  She then won12 of the following 13 games to win over her U.S. opponent Vania King 7-5, 6-1. Today (Wednesday, May 28) Townsend (ranked 205th) is scheduled to battle top-ranked Frenchwoman Alize Cornet (ranked 21st) at the 10,000-seat Suzanne Lenglen Court. So surely at this point we’re focusing on her playing prowess, right?  Right?

Well, today’s New York Times article on Townsend is titled “Questioned About Body, Townsend Rises and Inspires”.  Now the article goes on to say that Taylor is playing amazing tennis, and that Wednesday’s matchup promises to be very exciting.  The article contains quotes from Taylor’s new coach (Zina Garrison) talking about how Townsend is “fine”, and how she doesn’t wish her young tennis protege to suffer over criticism or worry about her weight.  So I’ll offer some slight props to the Times for inserting some body positivity into the article.  But let’s not forget that the first three words of the headline are not “Powerful Tennis Star” or “Young Tennis Phenom”.  The first three words of this headline are “Questioned About Body”.

I guess it’s not surprising.  As I’ve reported before, even winning Wimbledon does not protect you from the need to be attractive to men.  The top title in tennis does not forgive you for being less than supermodel gorgeous.

I hope that Taylor kicks some serious butt on the court tomorrow.  I hope she plays really well and ultimately triumphs.  I have to admit that I don’t hold out a lot of hope however, that Taylor Townsend will ever win victory over a public that is most interested in how she looks in her little tennis skirt.

Le sigh.

Love,

Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to take a virtual journey to France and work out with your friends?  Check out our Fit Fatties Virtual Vacations!

And don’t forget to join my mailing list to get access to cool free stuff!

Fit Mom Vs. The Fat Chick, The Cage Match Edition

MamaCatThe online world is absolutely full of people arguing with Maria Kang alternatively known as “fit mom” or “what’s your excuse mom”.  She stirred up a whole lot of controversy with her picture showing her teeny tiny sports shorts and perfectly toned abs next to her three children along with the headline, “What’s Your Excuse?”  Naturally this photo infuriated a lot of women who didn’t feel they should need an excuse to not look like Maria Kang looks.  And there were plenty of women ready to point out that Maria has no right to make assumptions about their lives and their priorities and their choices, based on the fact that they fail to look like fitness magazine cover models.

She stirred up a whole other hornet’s nest of controversy recently by speaking out against a Curvy Lingerie company.  Curvy Girl chose to help boost women’s self esteem by asking their customers to post pictures of themselves on their Curvy Girl facebook page.  Curvy Girls touted this as an opportunity for average women who have NOT been airbrushed or spray tanned, surgically altered or photoshopped to show off their sexy selves including stretch marks, bumps, scars and rolls.  Naturally, Maria couldn’t stay out of the fray and just had to say something about how some of those women (based on some criteria known only to her) should not feel good about themselves because they just can’t be healthy looking that way.  The owner of Curvy Girl then got Maria kicked off facebook, at least temporarily for engaging in hate speech against those who submitted pictures to the Curvy Girl site.

And of course, I can’t sit just idly by.  Oh, honey, no.  I have to jump in here and say, that this is an absolutely perfect, text book demonstration of why I choose to call myself “The Fat Chick”.  Maria describes herself as a fitness trainer.  Maria even looks like our American stereotypical ideal of how a trainer should look.  She also conforms to many stereotypes regarding what a fitness trainer should think.  But I think many of the notions that she has tried (in her not particularly clear way) to articulate during the many multitudes of media interviews are not only flawed but dangerous to her clients and to the world at large.  So, if y’all will bear with me, I’d like to take a quick look at some of them right here and right now.

1.  Everyone, if they tried hard enough, could look like Maria Kang.  Um, no.  There are many, many factors that go into how a person looks including age, race, gender, socioeconomic status, genetics, fitness level and so on.  The vast majority of people in the world could do situps until the end of time and squats until their bums fall off and they will never, ever look like Maria Kang.  I’m not saying that Maria doesn’t work very hard to look the way she does.  I’m sure she spends an enormous amount of time, energy and money making that happen.  I am saying that she is coming from a different starting place from many of us,  I think this may be a case of “born on third and thinks she hit a triple”.  I have participated in many running races and track events in my life despite the fact that I am not naturally gifted with any athletic talent for running.  Despite a serious training regimen and a lot of determination I think Usain Bolt’s record is safe from me.  That said, he probably can’t hit a high “C” or sing the soprano role in a French Opera like I can.  I think that’s true even if Mr. Bolt really wanted it and trained for it.   He just doesn’t have the right kind of body to accomplish that.  And that is OKAY.

2.  Well at least all fitness teachers should look like Maria Kang.  Again, no.  A thousand times no.  Fitness teachers work with all different kinds of people.  Therefore, fitness teachers should look like lots of different kinds of people.  Some students will be extremely motivated working with a teacher like Maria.  Some would be put off or even terrified in working with somebody who looks like her.  One very important reason I call myself “The Fat Chick” is to get across the notion that while some fit people look like Maria, plenty of others look more like me.  In fact, on the Fit Fatties Forum, there are THOUSANDS OF THEM who look more like me.  There is not just one way to be fit.  There is not just one way to look.  Maria looks like a fitness teacher, but SO. DO. I.

3.  But some of those women just don’t look healthy.  Um, how the heck do YOU know Maria.  You absolutely, positively, truly cannot look at a person and determine if they are healthy.  You cannot look at a person and determine if they have healthy habits.  You.  Can. Not.  As my dear friend Ragen Chastain says, the only thing you can know for sure when you look at a fat person is your own bias towards fat people.  This notion that you can tell that fat people are unhealthy by looking at them has caused untold harm to people of size in this world.  Because it’s not just attention-seeking personal trainers who harbor these biases.  It’s also doctors and nurses and college admission officials and tenured professors and office health care managers.  It’s our mothers and fathers and second cousins who all feel that our size should generate concern which in turn generates the need to generate unsolicited advice.

4.  But saying that fat people are unattractive and unhealthy doesn’t mean I’m a bully.  I hate to burst your bubble Maria, but that’s EXACTLY what that means.  You are taking a stigmatized group and you are using faulty logic to justify your attempts to further stigmatize them.  Yup.  That makes you a bully.   Even if you don’t believe you are being a bully, and even if you take care to point out to anyone that will listen that you are not a bully, you are still being a bully.

5.  But Maria is just trying to help.  The question I have here is, “Help who?”  Clearly Maria is trying to help herself.  No doubt that she will enjoy a certain notoriety for her part in this whole brouhaha and her facebook and YouTube hits are no doubt off the charts.  But if you are going to help people, if you are going to help normal, everyday people get fit, it’s important to do your homework.  You should know as a fitness instructor what is likely to hurt (shaming your clients) and what is likely to help (encouraging and empathizing  with your clients).  When you are responsible for teaching others, it’s so important to read the research and really understand what is happening rather than simply repeating something you heard from somebody somewhere.

In a way, I am extremely grateful to Maria.  She’s made the dialog come to light, she’s made the bias come out in the open, and she’s contrasted my own approach to fitness in such a clear way that my role as “The Fat Chick” has never been clearer.  As a fitness teacher or trainer you could always take the tack of asking people, “What’s your excuse?”  But I’ve always found it quite a lot more effective to ask, “What do you need?” or “How can I help?”

Love,

Jeanette DePatie

AKA The Fat Chick

P.S. There is a lot of great advice about how to go from zero to moderately active in YOUR life in my book–The Fat Chick Works Out!  Now get both the book and DVD for only $25.

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

Even more research on Fitness and Fatness

For the 1,000th time, fitness is more important than fatness when it comes to overall health outcomes.  In the midst of the holiday hubub, I came across yet another study regarding weight vs. exercise as a determinant of health.  This was actually a metastudy, which means the scientists gathered together a lot of other studies and used math and science to determine what most of those other studies said.  And it’s no surprise, at least to me, that fitness is much more important than body size in determining how long and how well people live.

This metastudy analyzed the results of 10 other studies.  And these studies in turn measured the results of tens of thousands of participants (the largest single study included 21,856 participant) and perhaps more importantly measured these people over a significant span of time (ranging from 7 to over 16 years).  It’s important to note that the studies analyzed included both enough participants to be statistically significant and were conducted over a long enough period to see what was actually happening in the lives of the participants.  Many of the studies cited regarding the effectiveness and efficacy of weight loss are conducted over a period of three years or less.  Given the fact that long term studies indicate that weight loss participants tend to regain all the weight that was lost and often a little more in the 3-5 year range, it’s clear that the duration of the study is an important factor in determining actual results.

And what were the actual results in this case?  I think they were pretty astounding.  The metastudy indicated that unfit people, no matter what they weighed, had twice the risk of dying during the study than fit people.  And the study showed that if you are fit and fat, your mortality risk is about the same as if you are fit and thin.  That means that all those thin and unfit folks had about a 50 percent greater chance of mortality than the fat and fit folks during the course of the study.

Whoa.

So here we are heading into the holidays.  This is a time when we have access to fabulous food and friends and fantastic food and family and well, FOOD.  This is a time when many of us feel more and more panic regarding weight and body size, culminating in a full blown panic that hits full force right around January 1st.  We live in a society where the commercials are full of food porn shots of holiday turkeys lovingly basted in butter and mountains of chocolate until December 25.  Only to be replaced on December 26 with shots of impossibly tanned and ripped bodies exhorting us to make 2014 the year where we too get to look like a movie star.

Bah Humbug!

The bad news is, no matter how many mashed potatoes we eat or avoid, and no matter how many crunches and squats we do, we are probably NOT going to look like the perky fitness models gracing those commercials on January 1.  The good news is, we don’t have to.  You don’t have to look like that to be a successful exerciser, and you don’t have to look like that to achieve massive health benefits from engaging in regular exercise.  And that regular exercise doesn’t have to include 2 hours per day at the gym or running marathons.  We’re talking about a cumulative total of 150 minutes per week here.  Eventually.  If you aren’t there yet, don’t worry.  You can get there!  Just start wherever you currently are with your fitness level and increase gradually, up to 10 percent per week until you get there.  Some studies show that even as little as 75 minutes per week of exercise can have a significant effect on health.

So, so what?

Why am I being such a Negative Nelly and bursting your exercise bubble?  Why am I not suggesting that you’ll look like that hateful woman with the three kids and the super flat abs and very tiny shorts who is all over the internet and your television asking you what is  your excuse?  (Because, of course, she says, if you do some exercise surely you’ll look a lot like she does!)  I’m telling you this because exercise is not only a wonderful way to improve health outcomes, but is also a wonderful tool to help you feel better, feel better about yourself, enjoy a better quality of life and have a darn good time.  And far too often, I’ve seen people approach exercise thinking it will make them look like a supermodel, only to give up a short time later when they find that they are not accosted by modeling agencies or Hollywood directors eager to make them millionaires or at least take them out to very expensive restaurants to tell them how pretty they are.

God, I’m GORGEOUS!

Exercise is wonderful.  I’ve seen exercise work magic in the lives of many, many people.  But it rarely works the sort of magic seen in “before and after” photo shoots.  The sad thing is, by looking exclusively for the “magic of exercise” as seen on TV, many people miss the magic that is right in front of them.

Here’s wishing you a calm, lovely, peaceful holiday.  And a 2014 that is full of all the magic that a moderately active lifestyle can bring to you!

Love,

Jeanette

AKA The Fat Chick

P.S. There is a lot of great advice about how to go from zero to moderately active in YOUR life in my book–The Fat Chick Works Out!  Now get both the book and DVD for only $25.

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

Right Now Show Episode 012–Fit-lanthropy: Making the World Better for EveryBODY!

In this episode of the Right Now Show, we talk about “fit-lanthropy”–my term for combining fitness with raising money or otherwise helping other people.  I also unveil a brand new video highlighting some of the fit-lanthropy programs available.

As promised, here’s some more links to get you started.

To get $5 off my book, “The Fat Chick Works Out!” simply follow this link, and enter “fit-lanthropy” in the discount code box.

To learn about how to join the Hot Flash Mobs for Menopause Awareness Month, follow this link.

And here are some great charity fitness training programs:

Joints in Motion (The Arthritis Foundation)

Team in Training The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)

Relay for Life (The American Cancer Society)

The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

Fight for Air Walk (The American Lung Association)

Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes (The American Diabetes Association)

Tour de Cure (The American Diabetes Association)

Out of the Darkness Walks to Prevent Suicide (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)

Fit Fatties Across America–California, Baby!

Well hello out there.  I’m so very proud to announce we have reached my home state, California in the Fit Fatties Across America project founded by myself and the amazing Ragen Chastain!  We’ve walked, shimmied, swum, cycled and boogied across this great country of ours for a total of over 2,500 miles!  And it’s only just March.  It’s just so darn exciting to see what we can do together.

I’m especially excited about the way that we are busting stereotypes with this cool project.  Many people hold the prejudice that if fat people never exercise.  They think we just sit on the sofa all day eating bon bons.  (What the heck IS a bon bon anyway?)  But our mighty group of plus-sized exercisers have racked up over 2,500 miles in just over eight weeks. It’s a testament to the power of the Health At Every Size approach to wellness, and it’s super fun!

Aside from the Fit Fatties Across America project, the Fit Fatties Forum is a great way to be inspired by exercisers of ALL sizes.  Our forum currently boasts over 1,500 members as well as over 350 fabulous photos of fat people dancing, swimming, cycling, shimmying, lifting very heavy things, aiming arrows, and flashing some flaming hula hoops!  The pictures are amazing.  What a fabulous, myth busting, stigma shattering resource for men and women of all sizes!

Now, my loyal readers, I’d like to enlist your help.  Some of us local California peeps are planning to meet at the beach to do the final leg of the Fit Fatties Across America project together on Saturday, March 19.  But that means that as a group, we need to clock just over 200 miles in the next two weeks.  Will you help us get there?  If you’re not already a member of the Fit Fatties Forum, would you consider joining?  It’s totally FREE!  And if you’re already a member of the Fit Fatties Forum, would you consider entering your exercise totals for the next two weeks so we can reach our goal?  And if you are a member of the Fit Fatties who lives in the LA area, would you consider joining us on March 19 to finish the last few miles of this great project together live, and in person?  Let’s dip our toes in the big blue ocean together!  Let’s show ’em just what a few fatties can do!

Love,

The Fat Chick

 

ROUND numbers: Fit Fatties Forum nears 1,000!

Hello kids!  Sorry for the semi-demi-advertisement here, but I just realized that we are only one even dozen members away from hitting 1,000 on the Fit Fatties forum.  Now I admit, I’ve been pretty distracted getting ready for today’s Bi-coastal Hot Flash Mob (woo-hoo!) and hadn’t realized that we were quite so close to achieving this nice large and ROUND number.  Wanna help?  Let’s get there today!  1,000th member gets a copy of my DVD The Fat Chick Works Out!  Even if you’re a beginning exerciser.  Even if you’re just thinking about starting to think about exercise, you’re welcome on the Fit Fatties Forum.  And you’ll be surrounded by a supportive, loving community that can’t wait to answer your questions and rock out with you!

So join already.  Upload a picture.  Share your general awesomeness!  And if you’re already a member, share with your friends!
Love,

The Fat Chick