Tag Archives: functional fitness

Functional Fitness Means LOTS More Painting

I get asked a lot about functional fitness.  What does it mean?  How does it impact Quality of Life?  What is Quality of Life?  To me, Quality of Life, means the ability and energy you have available to do the things you love to do with the people you love.  Quality of life is not guaranteed.  It is not a status that you unlock or a level you achieve.  Quality of Life like “health” is a continuum. It fluctuates from day to day.  And each of us has a different default level from which we fluctuate.  Many things impact our quality of life including genetics, family, socioeconomic status, age, gender and fitness level and social network.  And only some of our quality of life is under our control.  We can, if we wish, work to improve the things over which we have some control. Fitness level is one of those things.  And functional fitness is the process of using exercise to increase our abilities to do things in our everyday lives.

LiftBoard

This has come home to me in a very personal way as we engage in the “eternal, internal, house painting project”.  I am not kidding you.  This has taken a week longer than forever.  There are days when I never want to look at a texture gun or a roller or a paintbrush EVER AGAIN.  However, I can state in no uncertain terms, that this bloody, everlasting, wall pigmentation project would have never even gotten off the ground if I hadn’t worked over the years on my functional fitness.  I primarily teach dance classes, but I do some yoga and resistance training and walking/running as well.  And all of this has helped prepare me for the rigors of home remodeling.  Whether it’s lifting one end of a 14-foot-long 2×12 board or rolling paint on to a ceiling or climbing a ladder or performing the equivalent of 100 squats in a two hour period in the course of spraying texture on the wall (using the power tool that my husband and I have affectionately dubbed the “poo flinger”) my more traditional fitness program has made this possible.  I’ve increased my aerobic endurance, upper body strength,  flexibility, balance and sheer bloody-mindedness so that I can do this painting stuff with my hubby for approximately eleventy billion hours per day.  I even have the strength (in theory) to bludgeon him to death with a HVLP sprayer.

PainterDown

Which makes me wonder, “Is this a good thing?”  Why don’t we just hire somebody to do this?  Hey, HUSBAND!  Why don’t we just HIRE SOMEBODY TO DO THIS?  I guess the main reason is that my husband really loves to do this kind of thing, and he wants us to do it together.   And even if I don’t love painting quite as much as he does, I do love him.  And I am deeply grateful that I currently have the strength to do that.

Does that mean everybody has to exercise this way?  Does that mean everybody is even capable of getting to the point they can exercise this way?  Of course not!  Everybody is in a different place on their fitness continuum and everybody has different priorities for how they fit exercise into their lives.  There is no moral imperative to work out or to ever wield a painting implement.  But I will say that exercise helps move you towards a point on the Quality of Life continuum which may give you more energy and more choices about how to spend that energy.  And that my friends is why I exercise.  Oh, and of course, because it’s fun.  Well except maybe the painting part.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. ‘m SUPER excited to announce that after months of planning, Courtney Marshall, Candice Casas, Ragen Chastain and I are launching the call for proposals for a new anthology about fat people in the fitness/exercise/athletics/dance world. We plan to include first person stories, interviews, academic pieces, poetry, and art. You can get all the information (including about how to submit a proposal) at www.fatfitnessanthology.com Let me know if you have any questions, deadline for proposals is July 15!

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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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