Tag Archives: flying rhino

Don’t Exercise

Last night I gave a speech at Kaiser provocatively entitled, “Don’t Exercise”.  It was a big hit, so I thought I would share some of the highlights with you today.  The whole idea of the speech is that so often people begin to exercise because they believe that if they do so, their body will look a certain way, as if we could change our body as easily as changing our hairstyle and we could match our new body to a picture in a magazine.  Except this hardly ever works.  Most people are simply not genetically blessed in a way that makes huge biceps or six pack abs realistic or sustainable for them.  Sure there is a very small group of people–like 5 percent or even 1 percent who are genetically blessed in a way that makes big biceps or 6-pack abs reasonably likely.  That is not to say these folks don’t work hard to maintain those traits.  They do.  But there is no question that genetics makes big biceps and six-pack abs a lot more difficult for some people than others.  And sure there is an even smaller group of people who are not genetically blessed but still manage to sport big biceps and six-pack abs for a time.  They do this by being obsessed with big biceps and six pack abs.  And I’m cool with that.  Following Ragen Chastain’s famous underpants rule, they are allowed to spend whatever free time they are privileged to have in any way that makes them happy.  They are the boss of their own underpants.

Where we get into trouble is when we insist that most people can expect big biceps and six-pack abs as a likely outcome from their fitness efforts.  Because frankly, that’s a lie.  In fact it’s so much of a lie, that when you look at many modern ads for fitness equipment and weight loss schemes, following any of their more outlandish claims you may find an asterisk.  This asterisk typically refers to a tiny line of script at the bottom of the ad with three words: results not typical.  This disclaimer is there for an important reason.  The FTC and other governing bodies have sued so many of these companies for insisting that huge permanent weight loss and bodybuilder-sized biceps and butts upon which you may bounce a quarter are typical and even expected results that these companies are adding the disclaimer to A) avoid lawsuits and B) stay in business.  Because while these results are certainly, technically possible with any of these schemes.  These results are anything BUT typical.

So at this point a lot of people ask me what is wrong with those aspirational pictures?  If it gets people to go to the gym it’s a good thing, right?  Well, there’s a problem–which I like to illustrate with this picture:

Quite often I see this image held up as a great example of motivation.  To which I reply–“ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?”  This is a terrible example of motivation.  Here we have a rhino running on a treadmill looking at a picture of a unicorn.  If that rhino runs really hard and really fast and really long, is he going to become a unicorn?  Anybody?  Anybody?  OF COURSE NOT–and for two really good reasons.  1)Unicorns and rhinoceroses are two completely different animals.  There is no documented case of a rhinoceros EVER turning into a unicorn because 2)Unicorns don’t exist.  So, my friends, what happens after that rhinoceros spends several weeks or months at the gym and doesn’t look anything like a unicorn?

Yup, the rhino quits–usually just 4-6 weeks into their workout program (on average).  So DON’T EXERCISE in order to change your rhino body into a unicorn.  If you do that, your exercise program is most likely, statistically and in all probability doomed.  Because unicorn bodies are “*results not typical” for most fitness programs.

There are thousands of good reasons to exercise–many of which I have talked about extensively on this blog.  Exercise because it helps you feel better.  Exercise because it improves your mood or improves symptoms of depression or helps you avoid getting sick.  Exercise because it feels great and is fun and allows you to socialize with awesome people.  Exercise because it improves your quality of life in so many important ways.   Exercise for all of these reasons and so many more that are typical.

And if you want a picture to get you going, might I recommend the Flying Rhinos?  We have a brand spankin’ new store where you can get hats and mugs and posters and stickers and stationery and stuff to inspire you.  Get out there with your rhino body and just get rock ON with your rad rhino self.


Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to come talk to your group?  Click HERE to learn more.

Turtles, Penguins, Whales, Hippos and other “Insulted Spirit Animals”

As a person who previously did an awful lot of slow running, it’s hard to avoid the wonderful writings of John “The Penguin” Bingham.  At the ripe old age of 43, John started running, slowly.  And I mean slow.  John started by running down his driveway.  And every week he ran just a little further, but not necessarily a whole lot faster.  Jeff has since become a fitness icon.  He is spokesperson for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s team in training.  Early in his effort, John took on a mascot or “spirit animal” calling himself “The Penguin”.  He says he picked this animal for it’s waddling, shuffling gait.  Since choosing that moniker, John has written a column for Runners World called “The Penguin Chronicles”.  It ran for over 14 years.

I love so much about what John has to say.  He has a number of wonderful books that encourage exercise beginners.  And how can you not love his motto, “waddle on”.  But I will say that John was lucky in quite a few ways as a beginning exerciser.  He was white, he was male, he was relatively prosperous and relatively thin.  And this is said in no way to diminish his amazing accomplishments.  But I will say that he got the chance to choose his own mascot, before one was bestowed upon him by 16 year old boys as he ran down the street.

Those of us guilty of RWF (Running While Fat) have not always had that opportunity.  Some of us have been called elephants, or hippos, or as my dear friend Ragen Chastain explains, we’re called “land whales”.  Ragen says:

The thing is, there are fat animals that live on land and I feel like they’re not getting their due.   There is just no need to make up animals when you could call me an elephant, hippo, or rhino.  Or, go the extra mile and do some research (I mean, do you want to be just an adequate hater or do you want to really excel?)

Recently, on Ragen’s facebook page, some of us were ranting about the whole “land whale”, “hamplanet” and “land blimp” phenomenon and talking about how great it was if we could choose our own mascot.  Nora suggested “Flying Rhinos”, Sara developed a killer logo, and we were off to the races.  Literally.  We created a division within the Fit Fatties Forum and created an awesome new mascot, that we chose for ourselves and wear with pride.  Wanna learn more?  Here’s some details:

Introducing the Flying Rhinos

The Flying Rhinos are a way for people of all sizes who want to carve out space and obtain visibility and respect for fat people in the fitness world to be public about our involvement, show our pride and solidarity, and recognize each other when we’re out and about.

We live our mission out loud, wearing our official Flying Rhinos shirts in everything from our own movement activities and classes, to organized races, sports, and events.  We have our own group on the Fit Fatties Forum to discuss our training, get support, swap stories and race reports, talk about events we’re in and plan meet-ups offline to do events together and/or just hang out.

Our official shirts help us show our Rhino pride and recognize each other when we’re out and about. If you want to order a shirt either for you individually, or for your team (whether it’s for an organized sport, a 5k, a charity event or whatever) just e-mail ragen@danceswithfat.org.  When we have a big enough order we place it and split the cost among the people making the order.

Who Can Join?

Everyone, of every size, who participates in movement at any level and is committed to body positivity is welcome to become a member of the group, and wear the official shirt.  Wear it to yoga, wear it to roll your wheelchair in a 5k, wear it at the pool, wear it to your Krav Maga class, wear it to Zumba, wear it going around your block or in a marathon, put together a softball team or a team for a charity race and we’ll get you some shirts. Roll with the Rhinos for a fun, supportive, body positive, rocking good time.

Wrapping it All Up:

In closing, I want to encourage  you to choose your own mascot.  Don’t let some socially underdeveloped cretin choose one for you, yelling it at you as you run down the street.  I don’t care what kind of mascot you choose.  Be it a penguin, a turtle, a mustang or a flying rhino.  Just remember, that you have the power to choose how you define yourself in the world.  And remember that every animal whether it’s a turtle, a manatee or a racehorse had to take its first few tentative strokes or wobbly steps in the world at one time.  Don’t worry about wobbly, just take a deep breath and begin.


Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)