Tag Archives: Genetics

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.

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The Health Continuum

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The day before I woke up in excruciating back pain, I gave a keynote address at a health conference.  And during that keynote I talked a lot about how we need to make the ideas of health and wellness more inclusive.  We need to have a bigger tent where every BODY can participate.  We need to imagine a spectrum where we can all experience health.

I asked people in the audience to close their eyes and envision health.  What does a healthy person look like?  Then I asked them, if by any chance, their vision of health looked like a skinny white woman eating yogurt?  How about salad?  Does she look like she’s feeling orgasmic over these food choices?  Several people in the audience smiled or laughed.  Yup, that was exactly what their vision of health looked like.  But I told them they shouldn’t be surprised.  As a culture we are taught by marketing and advertising and Photoshop that this is what health looks like.  But what happens, I asked, if you are not white, or a man, or not thin, or not conventionally beautiful? What if you really, really hate yogurt?  Do you not get to be well?  Do you not get to experience health?

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At this point, I took some time to define health and wellness.  I suggested that there is no particular state that a person achieves that call be called healthy or well.  While tons of money is spent convincing us that if we just buy this thing, use this product or service or spend money in a particular way, we will arrive at the ultimate hereafter picture.  There is a place that is nirvana.  We call this place perfectly healthy.  Except there is no such place.  If we are alive, we are aging.  If we are aging we are headed towards our ultimate demise.  No matter what product or service we use, we are still, in the end, mortal.

So I went on to describe health as a continuum.  Or you can call it a spectrum.  (I like continuum because it’s one of the only words in the English language that has to letter “u”s back to back, and like the word banana, it’s nearly impossible to stop saying once you have started.  You know, like continuuinuuum…)  A continuum is a scale.  It is a line with no beginning and no end.  The scale increases in a particular value as we go one direction and decreases in a particular value as we go the other direction.  As we move along the scale towards healthy or well, we get more capacity and energy to do the things we need to do as well as the things we enjoy.  We feel better.  We have more energy.  We sleep better.  We are able to relax sometimes and experience peace.  As we move down the continuum away from health and wellness these things (like energy, enjoyment, peace, sleep) are more difficult for us to access, or we experience them less often.  But again, the line has no beginning and no end.  There is no destination called perfect health where we get to arrive.  And there is also no perfect place which we cannot access.

This is important for a lot of reasons.  One reason is that we are all born at different points on the continuum.  Based on genetics and parenting and socioeconomic status and friends and other family and cultural values and lots and lots of other stuff, we all land at different points on this continuum.  And as we go along and live, circumstances will change our location on the continuum.  We will experience stress.  We will get sick.  We might win the lottery.  We might lose our jobs.  We might get married or be in a car crash or fall down the steps.  Stuff happens.  Sometimes that stuff is wonderful and eases the way towards increased health on the spectrum.  Sometimes stuff is downright catastrophic and vaults us towards decreased health on the spectrum.  Were we to look at health and wellness as a state of being or as a location, most of us just wouldn’t be able to get there, let alone stay there.  Most of us would be on the outside looking in.  And most of us have been taught that we should be consumed with guilt and self-loathing for not being there or staying there.  But if we look at health and wellness as a continuum, there is a sane and guilt-free place for everybody.

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No matter where you land on the continuum, there are things you can do to help ease the way towards better health.  Those things you can do might be wildly different from what somebody else can do.  You might be creeping along towards health at a very different point on the spectrum than somebody else.  But everybody can play.  And we can play with the knowledge and understanding that sometimes fate rolls the freakin’ dice and we land in a different spot on the continuum that we neither desired nor planned for.  But from every place, we can strive.  We can move towards the healthy/well side of the continuum with whatever resources we have at the moment.  This is with the understanding that sometimes those resources will be very low.  Sometimes the movement will be very slow or even imperceptible.  And sometimes, it’s okay to just rest there at our spot on the continuum until we have the resources and/or the desire to strive again.  Sometimes we can be there and just breathe out and in for a while.

You know it’s funny, in a physician heal thyself sort of way, how I gave this talk the day before I found myself tossed violently to a very different spot on my own continuum.  As I woke up, dazed and in pain, I looked around.  Oh, so I’m here now?  This is my spot on the spectrum today?  Okay.  I’ll just have to see what I can do.  Maybe tomorrow.  After I take a pain killer and watch some telly and gather my forces.  It has made all of this a lot easier to bear.  And I offer this in the hopes that it will be a useful visualization tool for you as well.  Or not.  Because we’re all different.  And just as there is no place called health, there is no single immutable path towards wellness either.  There’s just all of us, muddling along in our own way, as best we can.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie AKA The Fat Chick

P.S. Want to book me to speak to YOUR group about the wellness continuum?  Click HERE!

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How to Have a Movie Star Body (It’s not what you think…)

In a recent interview, Elizabeth Banks dared to step outside of the common, “I look like a movie star because of my alfalfa smoothies, my personal trainer and my guru” rhetoric to admit that she really can’t take that much credit for her gorgeous body.

In a recent interview in New You Magazine Banks said:

I didn’t quite believe I was pretty for a long time. I never thought about it. I’m very genetically blessed, I cannot deny it, but I work hard at keeping myself together. Yes, I have nice cheekbones and skinny legs but I can’t take any credit for it.

 

As Lily Carlin points out in her recent Huff Po article on the topic, this is very, very refreshing.  Typically lean and leggy celebrities, or at least their publicists insist that the actresses get this way because of their special diet (paleo, vegan, clean foods, air–with accompanying celebrity recipe book $29.95), special exercise routine (pilates, yoga, dance, calisthetics–with accompanying exercise DVDs $19.95 each) and special spiritual routine (with accompanying spirit book, diary or retreat with guru $1499 and up).

I think this is one of the great lies of the fitness industry.  There are an awful lot of genetically gifted folks out there some of whom were born on third and think they hit a triple.  Some, like Elizabeth Banks understand that there is a strong genetic component to their conventionally good looks and are grateful and circumspect.  But there are also plenty of folks out there who are convinced that everybody could be as thin and gorgeous as them if they only tried.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I know that many movie stars take a great amount of time and energy to “maintain” their looks.   They exercise a lot.  They eat in a very prescribed way.  And no doubt this energy has some effect on how they look.

But the reality is, we are not all starting from an equal place.  So I could put in as much or even twice as much energy as them and not end up looking like them.  I am not genetically gifted in that way.  For one thing, I’d need to grow about 6 inches taller, and I don’t really see that happening.  Let me explain it this way.

Usain Bolt is a great runner.  Michael Phelps is a great swimmer.  I am a naturally gifted singer with over three octaves of range and at one time, a fairly reliable high “F”.  I can put just as many hours of running in as Bolt and I will never run like him.  I don’t have the right kind of body for that.  I could swim 6 or 8 hours per day and never swim like Michael Phelps.  And I’m pretty sure that both of these guys could take 2 hours of singing lessons per day and never achieve a high “F”.  Their bodies are not designed for it.

Does that mean I should give up swimming or running?  Does that mean these fellas shouldn’t even sing “Happy Birthday”?  OF COURSE NOT!  But it does mean that we need to adjust what we see as “success” in each of these situations.  I like to walk and run.  But I am under no delusions that I will run like Bolt.  I love to swim.  But I will never swim like Phelps.  So I define success in these areas in a way that feels right and natural to me and my body.  When I do a 5K, I feel pretty good.   I don’t worry too much about my time.  And if I swim some laps and take a water aerobics class, I feel pretty good.  I don’t worry that much about how fast I did it or even how far I went.

Most of us can accept that we will not be Olympic athletes when we exercise.  So why is it that we believe that exercise and a special diet will make us look like a movie star?  Why are we still looking at those articles touting 3 simple moves that will make us look like Julia Roberts.  There are really only a few simple moves that are likely to get us there: 1) Encourage movie star’s mom and movie star’s dad to get it on.  2) Watch movie star mom get pregnant with us.  3) Win genetic lottery (maybe).

Check out this video:

See what I mean?  So am I saying why bother?  Am I suggesting there is no point to exercising and eating well?  I think you know me well enough by now to understand that I will suggest no such thing.  While  you are the boss of you and under no moral, ethical or other obligation to eat well and exercise, I think that eating well and exercising are kind of awesome things.  I think there are many, many benefits to both.  However, I think those benefits are unlikely to contain a movie star body for most of us.  And I think getting real about those expectations can help us enjoy our food and have a lot more fun exercising going forward.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. The Size Activism Conference is coming up SOON!  Don’t miss it!  Click here to register: Fat Activsm Conference Registration Page