Tag Archives: fitness

Searching for Reality among the Dummies

So this week, American Apparel hit the news again with some brand new mannequins.  Apparently they are causing quite a stir because THESE mannequins are sporting prominent nipples and a prodigious crop of pubic hair.  Now some folks have applauded American Apparel for showing women that are more “realistic”.  But I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree.

These mannequins are completely in line with everything else I’ve seen from American Apparel.  It seems that their ads are not only focused on women as sex objects, but I’ve always felt that there was a gritty, DIY Internet porn, especially inelegant focus on women as sex objects.

In any case, I see very little here that makes these mannequins look more like real women.  They are still all the same size and shape.  They are still very tall and impossibly willowy.  They still portray a body that would probably be unlikely to bear children or even menstruate.  Nope.  What I see here is a dirty little boy with a magic marker drawing pictures on his sister’s dollies just to get attention.

And it’s gotten plenty of attention.  Which I am quite sure was the point.  The sad thing is that there are others making a real effort to make mannequins look more like real people.  There was THIS post I did a while back, about a shop in Sweden making more realistic mannequins.  And then there’s this video.  It portrays special mannequins being created from some very unlikely models.  The video is beautiful.  Please watch.  I’ll wait.

I can’t say everything about that video is perfect either.  But I can say that it seems a whole lot closer to the sort of work towards inclusiveness that we need in this space.  I’d love to see a mannequin that shows how clothing looks on a short, modified hourglass with apple shaped tummy body rather than the plus-sized mannequins that are 7 ft. tall  with perfectly flat stomachs.

And how does all of this relate to fitness?  I think so many people go into exercise trying to look like those bodies in the Macy’s store windows.  So many of us have spent years not working at FITNESS (being fit, being able to do certain things that we’d really like to do), but rather working at “FitThis” (being able to fit this pair of jeans, this image, be accepted by this crowd).  And so what?  Is there something wrong with having fitness aspirations for having a “better body”?  The thing is that for most people, physical fitness does not create an overly dramatic shift in the way their body appears.  Only a very small percentage of genetically gifted folks are even physically capable of sporting a visible “six pack” or “eight pack”.  Exercise doesn’t change your body’s bony structure.  It doesn’t make you taller.  And for most of us, it doesn’t make you significantly thinner.  The problem with aspirational “FitThis” is that it takes our attention away from what exercise is very likely to accomplish in our lives (better sleep, better health, better mood, better self esteem, better sex, better sleep…) and focuses our attention on an area where exercise is a lot less likely to succeed.  It sets us up for unrealistic expectations.  It sets us up to fail.

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So I’d like to encourage you to put yourself into your elegant, pricey, fitness store, right at the front, behind the huge glassy windows.  See yourself, happy, healthy and feeling fabulous as the epitome of what you are hoping to accomplish.  Because you are amazing.  You are inspiring.  And you are the ones who keep me doing what I do.

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want some more amazing real life inspiration?  Check out what we’re doing with the Fit Fatties Virtual Event and Decathlon!  We’ve already had our first decathlete!  And there are some truly amazing pictures including our recent 5K finisher who walked the beach with her son and met Santa (an honorary Fit Fatty), a woman who lifted literally a TON of weight wearing jammy pants and lots more gorgeous happy people.  Sign yourself on up!

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Training to Become a Regular Exerciser

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It’s 2014 and it’s time for a new FREE video.  YAY!

In this video (click above) I offer some new tools to help make 2014 the year YOU become a regular exerciser.  Learn how to use your fun inventory to find your exercise bliss, use exercise “speed dating” to try before you buy and participate in my “Rock the Block” (TM) exercise to help you find your appropriate fitness starting point.

Plus learn more about my 12-Week Every BODY Can Exercise  program, designed to help make your exercise program social, successful and super fun!

Happy New Year,

Jeanette DePatie, AKA The Fat Chick.

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!

The True Virtue of the Turkey Trot and Other Tips for Holiday Fitness

Rockin' the turkey trot!

Rockin’ the turkey trot!

Thanksgiving will be here soon (at least if you live in the United States) and we’re swinging right into the major holiday season.  Between the holiday parties and the extra cooking and baking and gift shopping and family obligations, it can be especially difficult to keep fitness in your schedule.  Last week, I explained why the end of daylight savings time might be just the best excuse to start exercising EVER.  In theory, you’re getting an extra hour of sleep and thus, I reasoned, you could trick your body into getting up an hour earlier without too much pain.

So how did that work out for you?  Did you do it?  If not, don’t feel bad.  I’m not judging you.  But if you feel sad that you missed it, guess what: you get another chance!  Today is Veteran’s Day and many people (at least in the U.S.) have the day off.  It’s a perfect day to slide on those tennis shoes and get in a little exercise.  And if you are really especially clever, you can exercise your body and exercise your compassion at the same time by honoring a vet.  You could walk out and participate in a Veteran’s Day event in your area.  You could volunteer at a local Veteran’s Hospital.  You could take a walk and explore a nearby battleground.  You could even walk out to or march in a local Veteran’s Day parade.

You could even use today  an excuse to start training.  I’m training for an event which has become an annual tradition for yours truly–the Turkey Trot.  I usually participate in a 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day that raises money for my local YMCA.  The course is short, fast and easy.  There are plenty of aid stations, and a large percentage of the participants are walkers like me.  I can take my time and have lots and lots of fun!

Participating in the Turkey Trot does mean that I have to amend the rules of 1-hour pants day.  I now have to add about an hour of sweat pants to the mix.  But I have found that this is one race that is scheduled on a day that I am not expected to speak or teach or have any professional obligations.  PLUS, I get to go right home, take a shower and a looooong Thanksgiving day nap right after.  Awesome!

And if a Turkey Trot isn’t right for you, how about a postprandial stroll to check out the early birds who manage to get holiday lights up by Thanksgiving Day?  You could honor their industry while strolling by on your way to a post dinner hot chocolate, or antacid.

Or you could always go out with your cousins and play a little football.  Although I should mention that activity is not without risk.

I don’t want to give you the impression that you have to exercise during the holidays or any other times.  That’s up to you.  You are the President and CEO of your own corpus!  But I am suggesting that if you’ve been looking for another little incentive or boost to get your fitness efforts going, you can honor the holidays and give an extra special gift to your body as well in the form of exercise (or the form of chocolate, ‘cuz chocolate is awesome too…)

And speaking of gifts, I’m pleased to announce that the third winner of The Fat Chick’s Great Pedometer Giveaway is Megan Page Montgomery!  Hey Megan, just drop me an email at jeanette at the fat chick dot com with your mailing address so I can ship your pedometer on out to you!  Yet another great excuse for getting started with a fabulous, shiny, new fitness program.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie

AKA The Fat Chick

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

Fitness Training and Trash Talking

Did you know that it’s “Fat Talk Free” week?  I just found out yesterday and I’m super excited.  A whole week dedicated to not trash talking our bodies?!?  Sign me up!  The day was created by sorority Delta, Delta, Delta.  You can see their video here:

Today I’d like to talk about how to talk to your body while you are fitness training.  We’re all familiar with the notion of trash talking in sports.  That’s where you call out your opponent and do verbal intimidation to help you win (or at least get air time).  If you want to see some amazing examples of trash talking in sports, you can follow this link to the Top Ten Sports Trash Talkers.  Unfortunately many of us have also faced trash talkers, gawkers and mean people who have tried to derail our fitness attempts in various ways.  From having people belittle your fitness efforts to offering unsolicited advice to throwing eggs at you while you run, other people can be brutal about your fitness efforts.

(Honestly, who throws eggs at people who are exercising?)

But as awful as other people can be about our bodies while we exercise, we are often the hardest on ourselves.  It’s so easy to slip into the habit of disparaging our bodies when we work out.  How often do you find yourself making negative comments about your body or your capabilities before, during or after exercise?  Maybe you find yourself saying things like, “I’ve got to work out these flabby thighs.  I hate my thighs.”  Many of us do this so often, we hardly recognize it any more.  When I catch my students saying things like this about themselves during class, I stop them right in their tracks and ask them to apologize to their bodies for being so mean.  I’m serious!  Because it starts with one little comment, one person engaging in a little bit of “Fat Talk” and soon the entire class is feeling bad about their bodies–whether they choose to verbalize it or not.  Because trash talking your body doesn’t just affect you.  It affects everyone around you.  This is why trash talking your own body in public is kind of selfish.  Because  just a few minutes of saying hurtful things about your own body is all it takes to get everybody around you focusing on their own bodies in a hurtful and negative way.

(Fast forward to about 1:00 to hear a discussion about hating your thighs…)

I also sometimes hear my students trash talking their own abilities.  They will say things like, “I’m so uncoordinated!” or “I just can’t dance.”  And again, I stop them right there.  Because if you tell yourself you are uncoordinated or that you can’t dance, you will believe it to be true.  And if you believe it to be true hard enough, you will make it true.  But there is absolutely no reason for this kind of talk.  First of all, everybody struggles sometimes with exercise.  Let me say that again.  EVERYBODY STRUGGLES SOMETIMES WITH EXERCISE.  I don’t care how gifted or athletic you are, when you try something new or significantly increase your exercise efforts, you are going to struggle.  It’s hard enough to do new stuff without telling yourself, before you even start, that you can’t do it.  It’s fine to laugh at yourself a little when you struggle.  There’s no point in taking yourself too seriously.  But if you tell yourself you can’t do it often enough, you’ll be right.  Celebrate yourself for trying.  Revel in the awkwardness that means you are stretching outside of your comfort zone and doing something new and fabulous for your body.

Trash talking has no place in amateur fitness efforts.  It may have a place in competitive professional sports, if only to pump up TV ratings.  But in real, every day life, trash talking will only harm your fitness efforts and the efforts of those around you.  There’s only a few days left in “Fat Talk Free Week” but I’d like to invite you to take this time to practice happy body talk and happy body thoughts while you work out.  Be your own cheerleader!  Sit yourself on the stool in the corner of the boxing ring and massage your own shoulders.  Tell yourself you can do it often enough, and you’ll be right!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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

A Sensible Approach to Healthy Kids

Folks of ALL ages dancing their hearts out!

Folks of ALL ages dancing their hearts out!

I have to admit that the blog post I did on Monday broke my heart.  The idea that it is even possible that a six-year-old girl may have died because of weight stigma is just so sad.  I need to reiterate, that none of us can know precisely what that doctor was thinking.  But the testimony she gave at her own trial makes me more than a little suspicious.

And you know what?  It doesn’t have to be this way.

There are far simpler ways to help kids be healthy.  Not the least of which is simply helping them find safe places to play and joyful places to move their bodies.  Because one of the best things we can do to help kids be healthy is offer them fun ways to get exercise. Yet another study came out this week that indicates that cognitive abilities among kids have a lot more to do with fitness levels than BMI.  But this fact, doesn’t seem to deter those who feel the best way to help kids be healthy is to send home a BMI report card.  Despite the fact that BMI is very loosely correlated with health in young children, and that focusing on BMI makes kids more likely to develop eating disorders, and that focusing on BMI tends to lead to shame in kids which not only makes them develop other bad health behaviors, but also tends to make them gain weight, we are STILL PERPETRATING THIS NONSENSE IN SCHOOLS.  Let’s focus on helping kids be healthy without increasing the risk from eating disorders.  Remember this chart?

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Helping kids be healthy can be positive and fun.  This past weekend I led some fitness demonstrations at a local event.  The City of Hope hosted its Foothill Fitness Challenge event here in Duarte and over 1,200 people showed up.  It was so much fun!  I led two fun dance demonstrations and was so excited to see moms and dads and kids all dancing together and having a good time.  Check it out:

It made my heart so happy.  Little kids and big kids and grandmas were all dancing together.   If we want to help kids be happy, LET’S DO THAT!  Let’s find some kids, put on some music and dance with them.  Sure maybe it’s simplistic, but it’s also fun and is likely to do no harm.

So what do you say?  I challenge you to connect with a kid and go out and play this week.  Dance, bike, throw a ball around–whatever makes you (and them) happy.

Love,

Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

What fitness looks like*

Today I was tagged in a post  by the super awesome Kimber Simpkins pointing me to a gorgeous new slideshow on Mind Body Green entitled I Am A Yogi.  It was posted by photographer Robert Sturman as the first entry in what he hopes to be a big group of photos on Instagram portraying yogis of all shapes, sizes, ages, races, creeds and situations.  Sturman says:

Whether you’re a CEO, serving a life sentence in prison, living with cerebral palsy, living with breast cancer, a full-figured human being, a burn victim, living with HIV, living at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, 95 years old, or are just plain human, I invite you to post a picture on Instagram — just one per person, please! — and say a little something about yourself. Use the hashtag #iamayogicelebration and tag @robertsturman any time through the end of September.

I am pretty excited about these slides as I think it gets at a very important part of the work I and other allies like Ragen Chastain do in the fitness industry.  This work includes helping the world widen their visual definition of how fitness looks.

This so important and so necessary in a world where fitness, especially fitness for women has turned into a code word meaning, “any and all activities necessary to make your body fit my culturally predetermined definition of somebody I would like to have sex with.*”  Blogger Kevin Moore had a lot to say on his scathing teardown of the “strong is the new sexy meme” here.

Strong isn’t really replacing skinny; being skinny is no longer enough. Now, ladies, you need to be skinny and ripped. It’s an additional layer of self-loathing  (perfectly suited for hypergymnasiacs), just in case people had started to get desensitized to the omnipresent and psychologically crippling display of corpse-thin women in the media.

I’m not saying that the women in these ads are not fit.  I’m also not saying that they are not sexy.  I AM saying that they don’t get to be the only visual definitions for the words “fit” or “strong” or “sexy”–at least not in my vocabulary.

Sure, sexy can look like those women, or it can look like these folks who performed with me at the More Cabaret Gimme More! Show this past Sunday.  (All taken by the amazing photographer Robert Ray.)

That is an important part of the work that Ragen Chastain and I do with the Fit Fatties Forum where we have over 300 images of men and women of all sizes getting out there and having a glorious good time being fit and enjoying the skin they’re in.

I really think if we’re going to define the “new sexy” or the “new fit” that definition needs to be (ahem) a little broader.

Love,

The Fat Chick

*I know I’m ending a sentence with a proposition.  So for the grammarians out there just add “…” and a word that you would like me to use to describe you.  For example–“This is what fitness looks like…smarty-pants.”

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