Tag Archives: fitness

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)

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Feel Like Your Fitness Efforts Have Flopped? (Corgi Inspiration Porn)

We’ve all been there.  You put on your best fitness gear, you lace up your sneakers or pump up your bike tires or struggle into your swimsuit (a workout in itself) and head out with trepidation to try something new.  Like the little corgie in the video above, we watch our lab buddy get a running start and leap gracefully and effortlessly into exercise.  But when we try it, well, we don’t look quite so graceful.  Sometimes even well-meaning people we love at us laugh a little bit.  And it makes us shy.  It makes us hesitant to hop in again.

Sometime after a time we will look more graceful as we attempt that form of fitness.  And sometimes, like our little corgi buddy, we just aren’t built to sail gracefully into the sea.  It just isn’t in the genes.  Does that mean we stay dry on the dock?  Do we decide to spend our lives watching the labs get all the tennis balls from our safe spot on the sand?  That depends?

Do you like tennis balls?  Do you like getting wet?  Do you have somebody who can fish you out of the water if you get over your head.  Is jumping in the water in any way at all fun?

If so, I say do as our corgi pal does and just jump in again.  Who cares if somebody laughs.  You got the dang tennis ball, right.  So you just tell the one in the bikini to stop giggling and just throw the bloody ball already, lady!

If tennis balls are not your thing, and you’d rather stay dry that is also cool.  But whatever you choose, I strongly encourage you to not compare yourself to the lab who would look equally silly trying to herd sheep.  And if you want to jump in and get the tennis ball, then do it.  Run down that dock, ignore all the giggling and just leap.

It’s up to you.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to hear my speak to your group about Corgi Fitness?  Click HERE to learn more.

Quis traversum elit? Is your fitness tracker running your life?

Click to check out an interesting article about the “quantified self”.

Quis traversum elit?  Who is tracking the trackers?  I feel compelled to write about this as I’ve run across so many people on our Fit Fatties Forum and on Facebook who are sharing the fact that they have become a slave to their fitness tracking devices.  Don’t get me wrong.  Fitness trackers can be wonderful!  For many people those gorgeous, full-color interactive graphs are just the thing to get them up and moving  in the morning.  But I feel like I need to address the fact that interest in these things can and does sometimes tip a bit towards obsession in some people.

I have experienced this myself in the past.  I was wearing one of those trackers that shared your steps and speed and cadence with a group of friends online.  I distinctly remember almost missing a plane because I was obsessively walking the terminals to “get in my daily steps” before midnight.  Every day I would pull up those stats.  If the stats were good, I had a good day.  If the stats were bad I was despondent.  Sound familiar?  If  you think this sounds a little like an obsession with numbers on a scale, I would say you’re right!

I think another dangerous aspect of this is that we are encouraged to hit these goals regardless of how our bodies feel on any given day.  Just like the body signals when it is full or hungry or needs cheese, the body signals when it needs rest.  If we continually ignore our body’s signals in order to maintain an appropriate slope on a pretty digital graph, things can get kinda dicey.  We’re risking chronic physical exhaustion which can lead to overuse injuries and even chronic illness.

So what’s a person to do?  Here’s a few tips:

1.  If the graph feature of the tracker is making you feel a little bit obsessive, turn that part off or ignore it.

2.  Try to build rest days into your schedule.  Instead of insisting that you work out every day, how about 5 or 6 days a week?  Then take a break when your body says you need to.

3.  How about keeping a journal where you map how your body is feeling on any given day.  Then maybe you can identify that Thursdays are tough and plan a yoga session or a meditation session for that day.

4.  Remember that cardiovascular fitness is only one part of wellness.  Maybe schedule in some other forms of wellness work like stretching or weight training or breathing exercises.

5.  If you are truly becoming obsessed with your tracker, maybe you need a trial separation.  This is true even if you spent a metric butt-ton of money on it.  Try taking it off for 2 weeks and see if the effect on your OVERALL well being is positive or negative.

Hope this helps you in all your wellness endeavors.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to speak to your group about fitness trackers and all kinds of other wellness stuff?  Send me an email at: jeanette at thefatchick dot com.  You can learn more right 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.

Oh the Places You’ll Go (with fitness)

Yesterday we officially launched our Fit Fatties Virtual Vacations with a virtual sunset cruise in Paris.  And it really got me thinking.  Of all the super wonderful and awesome things about exercise, I think one of the things I love most is how exercise can be and can fuel adventures in our lives.  Whether it’s just walking a little further down the path just to see what’s there, or getting on an airplane and exploring the world, I love how fitness can open new worlds for folks.

One of the most fun parts of the whole Fit Fatties Virtual Decathlon project was checking out the photos of the fun adventures people had while finishing their virtual events.  Some folks did a 5K or 10K or marathon for the first time.  Some people tried belly dancing lessons or hula hooping or tap dancing for the first time.  Folks went to museums, climbed mountains, toured college campuses and sports stadiums.  Some people exercised by themselves.  Some created spontaneous dance parties and even met Santa Claus on the beach with their kids.

Another thing that was super cool about the virtual events is the way that people started to see adventure in everyday activity.  Some people got badges for epic snow shoveling (and shoveling and shoveling), massive lawn mowing and wood splitting.  Folks even found adventure in having a temper tantrum and smashing stuff the ex left behind.  Clearly there was some catharsis going on.

I know that as my fitness level increases, my sense of adventure also tends to increase.  I’m more brave.  I’m more ready to try new things–whether it be hula hooping or trying just one more yard sale in search of the find of the century.  None of this takes me away from listening to my body.   However fit I may be, I always allow myself the right to try something and then say, “No, thank you.  This isn’t for me.”  One of my extremely talented students described this as her 10 minute rule.  “I try to be adventurous,” she says.  “But I always give myself an out.  If after 10 minutes, I don’t like it, love it or feel like I’m having fun, I give myself unabashed permission to simply walk away–no guilt and no strings attached.”

How about you.  As we move into summer vacation time (at  least in my part of the world) are you ready to try something new?  How about a water aerobics class, or some gardening, or riding a bike or surfing?  And how about instead of thinking of fitness as a guilt-laden obligation, we start thinking of it as an open-ended ticket to new adventures?

Love,  Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. It’s not too late to join our Fit Fatties Virtual Vacations!  Just click here!

Why the First Ten Minutes of Exercise are the Hardest

DISCLAIMER WARNING STUFF FIRST

It’s very important to know your body.  There are certain warning signs that may let you know that your body is in distress.  I talk about some of those signs in this document here.  I call them the dashboard indicators.  If you are new to exercise you should read up on these signs before you begin.  If these dashboard indicators appear, you will need to STOP and figure out what’s going on before you continue with exercise.  If  however, you are not experiencing these dashboard indicators and just hate the first ten minutes of your workout, then please read on.

WE NOW RETURN YOU TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED BLOG…

It’s a common theme with my exercise students.  They often say, “After about ten minutes of working out, I feel pretty good, but those first ten minutes, really SUCK!”  First of all, let me assure you that the first ten minutes are fairly hard for everybody.  And there’s actually a pretty clear and well-understood reason for it, too.

WARNING…SCIENCE TYPE STUFF AHEAD

When we go from standing or sitting still to exercising, our body demands far more energy in the form of oxygen than our body is ready to supply.  Our muscles need a chemical called ATP in order to contract.  But the aerobic systems in our bodies only have about ten seconds worth of ATP laying around at any given moment.  After ten seconds your body needs to start making ATP.  Your anaerobic systems can supply maybe another two or three minutes worth of ATP, but after that, your body needs to switch over to the aerobic system again to start producing more ATP.  Your body doesn’t know that it needs to switch over to the other system until your oxygen is significantly depleted and your carbon dioxide levels have started to go up.   And even after your body knows to switch to the aerobic system, that switchover from the anaerobic system to the aerobic system can be kind of rough.  At this point, you begin to breathe harder and your heart rate rises.  But by this point, you not only need to create enough ATP to keep moving, you have to repay your “oxygen debt” where your body’s need for oxygen lags behind your body’s ability to make oxygen.

This sloth may be experiencing an oxygen debt.  Or not…

This period of time, while you are working through the “oxygen debt” can feel pretty yucky.  You may feel a burning sensation in your legs and feel significantly out of breath.  Your heart rate will ramp up pretty quickly and after just a few short minutes, you may feel like running right back home.  But if you stay with exercise for just a few minutes longer, you may well find that your efforts “smooth out”.  Your body’s need for oxygen lines up with your body’s ability to deliver oxygen and you feel a lot better.

Many, many exercisers (including me) experience this sensation.  Being really fit may help you move through this transition a little more quickly and smoothly but won’t necessarily help you avoid this “oxygen debt” altogether.  But there is something you CAN do to make this transition a little easier–a proper warmup.

Doing a gradual ramp up to exercise, starting slowly for a few minutes before you start to run or cycle or dance away can really help you through the “terrible ten” minutes at the start of a workout.  Start with a walk, or a very slow roll on the bike or a very slow dance.  This signals your body to “start the aerobic energy pipeline” without creating such a huge oxygen debt.  Less oxygen debt means less discomfort and a shorter period of discomfort.  Try a warmup before your next workout and see if you don’t feel better.

But it can also be extremely helpful just to realize that this is perfectly normal.  It doesn’t mean that your body is defective.  It doesn’t mean you suck at exercise.  It just means that you have to get your body to accept, “hey, we’re gonna exercise now.”  Your body may respond like a seven year old kid saying, “I don’t wanna go to school!”  You may find it helpful to sneak up on your body by starting out with a warmup and gradually working into the whole exercise thing.  But you may just have to accept that the first few minutes are gonna suck and slog through it.  Better miles are ahead!

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

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What is a “healthy weight”?

I have to admit I was taken aback when I was named one of “Healthy Weight Week’s Top-35 Healthy Weight Blogs”.  I am actually aware of “Healthy Weight Week” from many years back.  I know that Francie Berg started “Healthy Weight Week” 25 years ago in an effort to change the dialog from weight (a number on a scale) to health (decidedly not a number on a scale).  This is part of Francie’s program which includes the annual “Slim Chance Awards” which chronicles some of the dumbest, most dangerous and least likely weight loss schemes of the year.

While I am firmly behind the notion of moving away from the number on the scale as an indicator of health, and I am deeply gleeful at the notion of poking fun at some of the most ridiculous diet schemes of the year (and the epic race to the bottom that THAT entails), I have to admit a fair amount of discomfort about putting the words “healthy” and “weight” together in any given sentence.  While I think the spirit of the week is a really great thing, the name of the event still seems to imply that there is a particular “healthy weight” for each person to be.  And I think that this notion is both simplistic and dangerous.

Because, you know what?  There is no magic number.  There is not a spot on the dial of the scale that, once attained, will make you immortal or even impervious to health problems or pain or sickness.  Even if you reach that number using Health At Every Size(R) techniques or intuitive eating or super fun physical activity plans.  Even if  you attain this place by deep meditation and perfect self-love (as if that even exists) and flowers and love and light.  There is no number on the scale that will make you perfectly happy or well-adjusted or even sane.  It’s just a number on the scale.  There is no perfect weight.

And there is no perfect health.  Nobody is in “perfect health”.  We’re all crumbling away–sometimes gradually and sometimes precipitously–towards our eventual demise.  I’m sorry to be a little bit morbid.  But I think that this notion of “perfect health” is something we need to put to bed right now.  I mean right this very minute.

There are many ways to define health.  Just as there are many ways to define Health At Every Size (R).  But I favor a definition that sees health as a continuum rather than a condition.  I think moving away from health is moving in a direction where we are less able to take advantage of our current physical condition to enjoy the things we love the most.  Moving towards health is living in a way that allows us to take greater advantage of our current physical condition and squeeze more of the things we love the most out of the remainder of our lives.  It doesn’t sound super sexy.  I sincerely doubt it will sell a lot of tennis shoes or create a great bumper sticker.  However, I think this definition of health allows everybody a spot at the table.  It doesn’t separate the haves from the have-nots.  It defines health in a way that can you can keep with you for your entire life.

This is particularly important in my work as a fitness instructor.  I work with many people who are coping with many levels of physical challenges.  From joint difficulties, to disease, to chronic pain conditions to plain old aging, many of my students and readers find it difficult to identify themselves as “healthy” as it is commonly understood.  And for many of my students, the notion of “perfect health” seems so remote that it might as well be another planet.  And this distance from the notion of “perfectly healthy” can be extremely demoralizing.  “How can I even start?” or “Why bother?” they ask.

And that’s why I choose to talk about health in terms of a continuum.  I tell them, “If we can do five minutes together today, we are going to ROCK those five minutes.  We are going to count it as a success and then we are going to do a booty dance of victory to celebrate!”  Because even though five minutes of exercise can’t move them to a “perfect weight” or “perfect health”,  it can move them towards a life that contains a little more energy and allows them to fit in a little more awesome.  Even as their teacher I am neither a perfect weight nor am I in perfect health.  However, my life contains a significant amount of awesome that I am happy to share.  And to me, helping your life contain even just a little more awesome is a worthy goal.

So, I am deeply honored and deeply grateful that I have been selected as one of the unfortunately-named but super-well-intentioned “Top 35 Healthy-Weight blogs”, because it gives me the opportunity to share my thoughts on this very important topic with you.  And I thank you, as always, for listening.

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. If you’re interested in a fitness challenge tailored to your specific body and capabilities, I’d like to invite you to consider the Fit Fatties Virtual Events and Decathlon.  We’ve got all kinds of events both traditional (1 Mile Walk/Run/Roll, triathlon, 10 mile bike ride) and extremely non-traditional (romp with your kids or your dogs, engage in cheesy dance moves, shovel snow out of your driveway, tromp around a museum).  Join in the fun!

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