Tag Archives: frustration

All the Comebacks We’ll Never Say

TRIGGER WARNING: I’m going to talk about verbal abuse.

So I don’t know if you got a chance to see this, but it’s pretty awesome. Chelsea Handler lays a stupid kind of mean spirited fat joke on Andy Richter and BOOM, he comes back with an amazing zinger that not only puts Chelsea in her place, but gets Conan laughing his fool head off. If you haven’t clicked on the video click at the top of the page yet, go click it. I’ll wait.

See??? BOOM! I mean, don’t you wish you could come back like this when somebody says something mean or stupid or obliquely snide to you about the size of your body? I wish I could. Usually I do, in my head, 20 minutes later. In the moment however, I don’t often come up with something wonderful and witty to say. I guess now, even after it’s happened to me and all my friends and colleagues so many times, I am still surprised. Afterwards I’m not surprised at all. But in the moment, especially when a complete stranger decides to comment on my body, there’s often that moment of shock. I’m not talking about when people make rude comments to each other about me so I can hear them, or make obnoxious mooing sounds, or shout things across the street. I’m talking about when people confront me directly and say mean, stupid or downright horrible things. There is still a moment of shock. Still a feeling of violation. I feel it in my body like a punch to the gut. And often I’m standing there, mouth flapping open and closed like a recently caught fish wondering WHY a person who doesn’t know me, who has no reason to hate me just threw verbal poo at my head. Sometimes I am able to recover sufficiently to say something reasonably intelligent, and sometimes I just walk away shaking my head. But it’s safe to say, I’m almost never as quick on my feet as good old Andy Richter up there.

Now I am a professional speaker. I have had extensive training in speaking off the cuff. I’ve studied improvisational theater. So I often feel I should have been come up with something witty to say. And so the verbal beating I have taken from a complete stranger is often followed by me beating myself up for not handling the situation better. I find myself, after the fact, reliving the confrontation, calculating and discarding dozens of “comebacks” or “burns” I should have used and feeling battered and miserable.

I’m telling you this because I want you to know. I want to share that even though I’ve been in the space of body love and size acceptance for decades, and even though I’ve been in public debates and had speech training and have given literally hundreds of public talks, I don’t always have a witty comeback when somebody publicly attacks me. I’m telling you this because I am trying to learn to focus my anger where it belongs–not at myself for failing to “burn” somebody who is mean to me, but at the person who was being mean to me! I tell you this, because you may be one of the millions of other people in this world who do not have a witty comeback ready when somebody is mean to you. And I want you to know that’s okay. We all love the fact that Andy Richter can come back at Chelsea that way. We cheer because he does something we all wish we could do in the moment that somebody is mean to us–execute the perfect, 10-point, sustained audience laughter burn. But I want to suggest that we can appreciate Andy’s talent while at the same time relieving ourselves of the responsibility to be him.  And I want to suggest that maybe instead of beating ourselves up for not being funny in the face of cruelty, we should focus our anger outwards and self care and love inwards.  Just a thought.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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ScaryBack

Well I’m back here telling you that the pain in my back is, well, back.  Last week after I gave my speech at the Duarte Health Fair, I took a little nap and woke up in pain.  Like whoooooaaaa pain.  I went out for my birthday dinner.  Had a little pizza and went to bed.  When I woke up,  in the middle of the night I found I could barely walk.  I took some aspirin and cried and tried and tried to get comfortable.  After a long while, I found I could manage if I lay on my back with a pillow under my knees.  And until yesterday, that was about all I could do.  Whenever I moved from that spot, I was in agony.  Yesterday, I finally progressed to the point where I could sit upright so now I can write my blog.  And there was much rejoicing (yayyyy).

Why am I inviting you to this pity party?  I’m not really sure.  I do want to make it clear that I am not some kind of persona, but rather a person.  That means I get injured, I get sick, I get frustrated and I get discouraged sometimes, just like you.  And I do want to do a shout out to all of you who are in chronic pain.  This week, I had a teeny, tiny, appetizer, snack-sized reminder bite of what that is like and I have decreed, “It sucks.”  In the short space of a week, I’ve had to cancel many appointments and have a discussion with my husband that I wasn’t really able to do much to help him as I had to rest for half an hour after the giant effort of washing my hair.  I haven’t styled my hair for a week.  I can just about manage to stay clean.  I’ve had to call everybody to cancel my class–three times.  I had to explain to my doctor that while I was very clear that it would be better for me to get out of my bed and keep moving, I might use my laser-eyes power to kill him where he stood (if I had laser-eyes destruction capabilities).  I stood in Target, waiting for my prescription for pain killers to be filled, shifting from foot to foot, and hating the fact that I was asking them, please for the love of God, please hurry.  And this is just a teeny taste.  This is only one week.

I have been reminded yet again of all the people I know, all the students and family and friends who are suffering from chronic pain.  Friends that have been enduring for years and have no idea if or when their pain will ever end.  I have endured chronic pain for spurts throughout my life.  And it sucked.  And it crushed me in  my tracks and humbled me.  But I have enjoyed the privilege of not being in pain most of my life.  I honestly feel such respect for those who manage to endure month and year after year often while maintaining work, family, friendships, and maintaining the ability to think and to feel and even to laugh.  I give you mad props.  And the next time I ask a student in chronic pain to keep moving, that it will help them, I will give a silent prayer of gratitude that nobody really has killer, laser beam eyes.  Right? Well unless you are a cat that is:

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Stupid F@#!ing Injuries

Medic!

If you’ve done any sort of exercise for any length of time you’ve probably experienced some sort of pain or injury.  I know.  I feel ya.  I’ve experienced injuries of many shapes and sizes and they all, unequivocally suck.  But of all injuries I’ve faced, I have to admit that I’ve had the hardest time coping with the stupid f*$%ing injuries.

If you’re wondering what I mean, let me explain.  There are injuries that sound justified or even tough.  Like, “I got a stress fracture training for that Ironman race”.  Then there are stupid f##$ing injureis like, “I tripped over my own shoelace and now I’m going to be in traction for a month.”  It doesn’t sound sexy.  Nobody’s thinking, “wow what dedication and stuff, the guy walked in SHOES, with LACES.  And they came untied and he just KEPT GOING!”  Nobody is making YouTube videos with inspiring music behind them documenting your “tripping over your shoelaces” comeback.  Like I said, it just sucks.  Because as much as your knee or your back or your shoulder is hurting, you also have to deal with the agonizing blow to your pride.

I had a reminder of this just this past week.  I hurt my back, working on the remodel of our house.  Okay, that doesn’t sound too bad, right.  Oh, did I mention I was SWEEPING at the time?  Yup, all I was doing was sweeping and my external obliques let out a rebel yell:

OMG it was so embarassing.  My husband asked me what was wrong.  And I replied that I had just experienced the dumbest injury in history.  He told me to take some Advil and go lay down.  At first I told him, no–that I didn’t have time to lay down.  And in his infinite awesomeness he replied,

“Jeanette, tweaking your back is not the dumbest injury in history.  That kind of stuff happens to everybody.  But if you don’t take the time now to lay down and you make this worse and you allow a little injury to become a massive, got to lay in back for a week injury, now THAT would be pretty dumb.”

God, I love my husband–that is when I’m not trying to kill him for being annoyingly correct all the time.  But you know what?  He had a point.  I wish I could say that the injuries I suffered were some sort of sexy battle scars from the hard core exercise wars, but the truth is, the worst injuries I’ve ever had have been stupid !@#$ing injuries.  Including:

1.  Meniscus tear from jumping up on some exercise mats to get some exercise equipment for one of my classes.  Result: 4 weeks on crutches, massive physical therapy.

2. Torn ligament in the sole of my foot from catching my sandal on a single cement step at my parents house.  Result: 6 weeks on crutches, massive physical therapy.

3.  Tweaking my back from sweeping.  AAAAARGH!

Look there’s a point to all this and here it is.  We alllllllllll experience stupid f!$%ing injuries from time to time.  It happens to everybody.  Get over it.  The only thing that you can control is how you cope with it after it happens.  You can rest, get diagnosis, and get treatment OR you can ignore it and allow a small f#$%ing injury to become a MASSIVE f!#$%ing injury.  And as my husband says, that’s the dumbest kind of injury of all.

Hang in there!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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When doctors are wrong.

drmistake

I recently watched this video–a TED talk–by Dr. Peter Attia. You may have seen it as it’s become quite a viral sensation over the last few weeks. But even if you have seen it, you might find it useful to watch again. So here it is:

While I don’t agree with absolutely everything Dr. Attia has to say, I do think he brings up a few important points.  One issue is that some doctors, scientists, and other medical professionals are really starting to question the causal nature of the link between obesity and diabetes.  I think this is an important area that will require a lot more study.  And I think it is our job to continue to push for this continued study.

But one issue that I want to particularly want to highlight here is how hard it seems to be for doctors to admit they are wrong.  Dr. Attia is clearly deeply moved.  He feels a tremendous sense of remorse for how he treated that poor woman with diabetes.  Once he realized the level to which he had allowed stigma to affect his treatment of this woman he was devastated.

Many of us would be quick to state, well he should be.  He may have deeply hurt this woman.  He may not have given her the best medical care.  Many of us don’t go to the doctor because we are so afraid of being hurt just this way at the doctor’s office or the hospital.  Some of us have died because of this.

To which I would respond, “Yes, that’s true.”

But I think it’s also important to see what this video has to teach us about doctors and what it might be like for them to understand that they were wrong about something.  We look to doctors to fix everything.  We ask them to make us well and to bring us back from the brink of death.  It takes a certain amount of arrogance to hold a person’s beating heart in your hand and endeavor to fix it.  And I imagine there is a certain amount of pain when you have to tell somebody or tell their family that you can’t fix it.  You can’t make it all better.  You are not god.  And I’m not sure that the pain ever goes away.

Please understand.  I am not making excuses for doctors who bully and stigmatize fat people.  It is wrong, and it needs to stop.  Now.  That is why I am working so closely with the Size Diversity Task Force and the Association for Size Diversity And Health on the Resolved project.  We need to share our stories.  We need doctors and the public to understand that weight stigma is extremely damaging to fat people in medical settings and is sometimes even fatal.  There was a period of years in my life when I was quite sick and might have died based on the assumptions that doctors had made about me.  So I get it.  This must change.

But I think, if we want our work to be effective, if we want things to change, we need to be perceptive and understand what it means to help doctors understand that they are wrong about this.  We need to understand this–not so we can let them off the hook–not so we can let them down easy– so we can find the best path towards an actual solution, so we can understand why many doctors are so resistant, and so we can better understand why this is taking so long.

The issue of weight stigma in medicine is complex and nuanced.  But I do know one thing.  It will only change if a lot of us continue to work together to bring about change.  I would love to hear your thoughts about this issue.  And I would love to have your continued support to make the Resolved project a success!  Click here for more information about how you can participate.

Love,

The Fat Chick

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Just What the #$%&! am I Supposed to Eat!?!

eatmyshorts

So have you seen the article in the New York Times that says it might be okay to eat salt again?  It seems some recent research is calling into question the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 1,500 milligrams a salt per day.  Now on the one hand, this question is almost moot, because it’s nearly impossible to achieve 1,500 milligrams of salt a day and do things like occasionally eat food that has had any processing, eat out once in a while, or you know, live in the modern world.   On the other hand, there are some indications that consuming sodium levels as low as 1,500 milligrams per day might actually be harmful.  So it probably does merit a second look.

So according to the article, several recent studies have indicated that a sodium level goal of 2,300 might be better than 1,500 milligrams per day.  Some of these studies have even indicated that the 1,500 level might actually be dangerous for some people–potentially increasing risk for heart attack and death.  The American Heart Association has fired back suggesting that the more recent research has flaws and that they don’t want to confuse people by giving them the message that a little more salt is okay, because you know, people might then go hog wild and eat lots of salt.

And then, near the end of the article is this little gem:

Although the advice to restrict sodium to 1,500 milligrams a day has been enshrined in dietary guidelines, it never came from research on health outcomes, Dr. Strom said. Instead, it is the lowest sodium consumption can go if a person eats enough food to get sufficient calories and nutrients to live on. As for the 2,300-milligram level, that was the highest sodium levels could go before blood pressure began inching up.

Okay.  So the advice that has been cemented in stone, that is inevitably printed on that bad, multi-generation photocopied piece of paper handed to every fat person in the universe by their doctor when they go in for a check up or to get that funny looking mole checked out is based on what now?  It’s no wonder that we are confused about what to eat.  The competing nutritional studies along with the sensationalist, usually premature reporting is enough to give any potential diner whiplash.  Eat margarine!  No, eat butter!  Eat olive oil.  Eat nuts.  Eat red meat.  Don’t eat red meat.  Eat fish.  But watch out, most of the fish is full of toxins.  Eat dairy.  Don’t eat dairy.  Eat low fat.  Eat low carb.  Eat only plant-based foods.  Plant-based foods are genetically modified and full of pesticides.  OMG.  Eat my shorts!  It’s no wonder that we are going crazy trying to figure out what on earth to have for lunch every day!  Add to that the woeful lack of education among GPs and pediatricians about nutrition and you get the typical photocopied sheet of “black coffee, one piece of wheat toast, and one glass of orange juice” advice.

Now all this is not to say that we shouldn’t be concerned about what we eat.  But it is to say that nutrition is a very complicated science.  And that while we let the scientists duke it out about exactly how many milligrams of this and percentages of that we should consume, maybe we should simply focus on what foods feel good in our bodies and what tastes delicious.  I believe our bodies have wisdom, and that we benefit when we learn to listen to what our bodies have to tell us.  It may be hard to hear our “smarty-pants inner-selves” amongst all the screaming about “vitamin this” and “mineral that”.  But I for one, plan to make the effort.  Oh, and would you please pass the salt?

Love,

The Fat Chick

The Power of Being Wrong

Yesterday I posted a story about some women who verbally attacked me.  As I mentioned, I think these women were willing to go to these lengths of nastiness simply to avoid having to admit that they were wrong about anything.  And you know what?  I’ve met so many people like this.  I’ve met people who will give up friendships and jobs and deals and money and even marriages all because they are not capable of admitting they could have possibly been wrong about anything.  I’ve watched people lose everything simply because they were unable to utter those little words, “I’m sorry.  I was wrong.”

How often do we watch somebody on the freeway, pull a totally ridiculous, dangerous and downright illegal move, and then honk their horn and flip people the finger as they speed away.  “Nope, can’t admit I’m wrong,” they think.  “Better make sure everybody else knows it’s their own fault.”  So they compound the originally dangerous situation with an ever more dangerous situation and put their life as well as the lives of those around them at risk.

What is this all about?  Why will we hurt other people and even act outside of our own best interests just to be right about everything?  I know that I see it sometimes in myself.  Sometimes I will fight for hours or even days against admitting it even when I KNOW down deep that I’m wrong about something.  But I’ve learned over the years that as hard as it is to force those dreaded words past my tightly clamped lips, it is the right thing to do.  And if I want to have friendships and family relationships and a marriage that works, I have to do it.  You can be right ALL the time or you can have friends.  You can’t have both.  Unless you want to be alone, you have to learn to say it.  Let’s practice together now:  “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”

There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?  Well, no.  It’s easy to say those words out of context.  But it is good practice for later.  Nobody is right all the time–not even me.  If we can learn to simply admit it, apologize and move on, the whole world will be a much better place.

Love,

The Fat Chick

Why does doing good sometimes feel so bad?

In yesterday’s post, I shared with you a glowing report about an amazingly awesome activism event–Take Back the Beach.  It was powerful and wonderful and moving.  It was a  special and discrete moment in time where things went well, everyone got along, and changing the world seemed not only possible, but inevitable.

And then I came back home to my email inbox. And that mailbox was filled with the real-life frustrations that come when many people within many groups try to make the world a better place.  Along with the magic moments of transcendence and transformation come many days of messy arguments over who holds what power and who is making the rules and who is following the rules and who gets the credit, and who gets to speak and who is heard.  Sometimes it’s really hard to hold the thread and keep the focus.  It’s easy to forget that it’s really about making the world a better place.

I wish I could say this experience is unique to one group, but I’ve experienced it in so many places and with so many organizations.  Sometimes it’s tempting to go off into a corner and just try to do activism all by yourself.  But that doesn’t work either.  To make change you need a lot of people, all working at the top of their game, all sharing to the best of their abilities.  Everyone needs to be valued.  Everyone needs to be recognized.  And each and every time, you have to realize that there is no group of people, anywhere in the world that is going to get it right all the time.  People are fallible and relationships are messy.  We are all by turns proud, defeated, aggressor, and victim.  All you can do is try to build groups with enough strength and elasticity to bend and not break when the wind blows through.  And then you try again.  And then you try again some more.  Wash, rinse and repeat.

That’s why it’s so helpful to have those special moments in the sun, like Take Back the Beach.  It helps me so much to have these memories to treasure and hold close and remember why the heck we’re doing this in the first place.

My little Chicklettes, please remember that the road to making the world a better place is never a smooth one.  Sometimes reaching a wing out to help somebody else simply results in two feathery butts bouncing on the ground.  But sometimes you and the entire flock will soar!  Here’s to remembering your days of high flying.

Love,

The Fat Chick