Tag Archives: gratitude

How Long Do We Have to Hate Our Bodies?

It’s not new, but it recently surfaced in my Facebook feed–an article on CNN.com called What the Dying Really Regret.  In this article Kerry Egan, a hospice chaplain who has spent a lot of time consoling those with little time left on this earth, states:

There are many regrets and unfulfilled wishes that patients have shared with me in the months before they die. But the stories about the time they waste hating their bodies, abusing it or letting it be abused — the years people spend not appreciating their body until they are close to leaving it — are some of the saddest.

In this article, the chaplain talks about how, even as they are in hospice, nearing the end of their lives people have not learned to make peace with their bodies.  And how many people, close to losing or actively losing many of the wonderful things about their bodies regret that they never truly appreciated their bodies until they were nearly gone.  She talks about the sadness of it and the waste of it.

I have absolutely no doubt that this is true.  I’ve talked to quite a few women in their seventh and even eight decade that have never learned to make peace with their hips or their thighs or their bellies–hips that have shaken to music of many eras, bellies that have borne babies and thighs that have propelled them inevitably forward to a ripe old age.  And I see the part of them that has been carefully educated to be smaller, to be less than, to show no excess warring with the part of them that wants to stop worrying about it all and just eat the damn cookie.  And it makes me sad.

I say carefully educated, because this body hatred–this need to make ourselves smaller and less than–is something we learn.  In her brilliant piece, Egan states:

…unlike the foolish or best-intentioned mishaps, the terrible accidents, the slip-ups that irrevocably change a life, this regret is not a tragic mistake. It’s intentional. It’s something other people teach them to feel about their bodies; it’s something other people want them to believe.

But in this sad story, there is some good news.  Behavior that can be learned can be unlearned.  We can choose to love our bodies before it is too late.  We can choose not to spend years or decades or a lifetime not hating something so precious, so finite, so personal and so wondrous.  We can chose not to squander our lives and resources on something so unproductive.  We can choose to spend that time, loving ourselves, making ourselves bigger, making our lives better and making things better for everyone around us.

When people ask me why I do what I do, I tell them that this, this is why I do what I do.  Because we are all so precious and life is so precious we simply can’t waste any more of it agonizing about cellulite.  We need to be dancing with our children and our spouses.  We need to be writing our poems and righting the world’s wrongs.  We need to be teaching our children and our parents and everybody how to share this wonderful world before we lose our wonderful world.  And if I, in some tiny, tiny way can help a person get to that place–to the writing and righting a little bit sooner–even by one single day, then I am doing something worthwhile.  Because while one single day may not seem like much to me now, it can seem like forever to someone facing the end of their days.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Recursive Recrimination–Beating Yourself Up (For Beating Yourself Up)

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Several decades ago, I made the decision to not let negative feelings about my body rule my life any more.  I decided to stop putting my life on hold until I reached a certain size or shape.  I decided that all the things I was waiting to do until after I had the “right” body, well I was going to do those things right away.  I have never regretted that decision.  It was a massively important turning point in my life.

However, when I decided to become The Fat Chick and make this decision extremely public, I hesitated.  Because I wasn’t perfect.  I wasn’t perfectly healthy.  I wasn’t in perfectly physically fit.  I wasn’t the ideal poster child for fat people.  And sometimes I had bad days where I didn’t feel perfectly happy about my body.  How, I asked, can I inspire others to love their bodies and love exercise again when I don’t always exercise and I sometimes frown at what I see in the mirror.

Working with a very wise coach and my super smart husband I came up with the answer.  I have it on a post-it note on the window in my office.  It reads, “The Fat Chick is not a ‘persona’, she is a person.  And people aren’t perfect.”  Getting past this little post it allowed me to finish my book and be on national television and face down another pile of hate mail and ugly comments on my YouTube videos.  It has allowed me to get on with things–even when I’m feeling far less than perfect.  And it’s allowed me to stop beating myself up for beating myself up.

Look, we all have days where we feel powerful and strong and invincible.  And then we have days where we don’t.  This is normal.  This is life.  But when we make the decision to stop hating our bodies and hating ourselves for the way our bodies look, there is a tendency to want to exchange one sort of perfectionism (the search for the perfect body) for another (the complete cessation of negative body thoughts).  I get it.  First I mourned for all the perfect things I imagined would happen in my life once I had the perfect body.

And then I had the honeymoon period where I believed I would never feel bad about my body again and I would remain perfectly healthy and nobody could ever hurt me again.  And then I had the bad days where I didn’t feel perfectly happy or healthy in my body AT ALL.  And then I started beating myself up for beating myself up about not having the perfect body in a perfect recursive storm of self-recrimination.

Sometimes I just have to STOP.  Take a few deep breaths and tell myself that I am hereby absolved of the need to be perfect in anything.  This includes being perfect at self-acceptance.  This includes being perfect about body love.  This includes being perfect about not needing to be perfect.

I take another breath and try to be grateful for the whole, non-perfect, f’ed up mess of it.  Try to be grateful that I can breathe.  Try to be grateful that I have a life to muddle through and mess up.  And try to remind myself that I don’t need to be perfectly grateful either.

I don’t always get it right.  But that’s okay.  Because I am a person, and people aren’t perfect.

I hope this little blog post helps serve as a reminder for some of you who are currently in the process of beating yourself up for, well, beating yourself up.  You have the permission of the universe to be profoundly imperfect.  Because the universe made us that way.  You are a person, and people aren’t perfect.  And that’s totally okay.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to talk to your group about being imperfect?  Click HERE to learn about my speaking.

P.S.S. Want to buy a book or DVD to help you in your fitness journey?  Click HERE to learn about them.

Can we get a little FREAKIN’ PEACE around here?

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Here in Southern California, the holidays are a special kind of stressful.  People here just sort of just plum lose connection with any sort of common sense for a few weeks.  And in the week before Christmas, the whole area vibrates with a special sort of near-nervous-breakdown energy that makes me want to stay inside and pull the covers over my head.  In the last two days, I have seen some death-defying, I gotta get the eggnog before 7 PM maneuvers that left me screaming.  On Friday, I watched a van driver flick on his emergency lights and pull over the shoulder.  I had plenty of time to observe this as the freeway was in its usual “Friday Before a Holiday Parking Lot” mode.  I thought to myself, “oh, that poor van driver person.  What a yucky day to break down on the freeway.”  I then watched as said van driver BACKED UP OVER 1/2 A FREAKIN MILE ON THE FREAKIN FREEWAY.  Why?  The driver had missed the desired ramp.  After the backing maneuver, the van bumped up over a lane divider and pulled in front of exiting traffic to exit at the desired ramp.

“SERIOUSLY?  ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME?” I shouted.

That is only one of many incidents of horrible driving, deeply problematic mall stampeding and grocery store aisle smackdowns I’ve witnessed in the past few days.  And I have to tell you, it’s made me slow down, stop, and think.

You know what I want for the holidays this year?  Just a little bit of peace.  Just a little bit of space to breathe and appreciate and enjoy.    And that’s my wish for you as well.  I hope this holiday season (or what’s left of it) allows you to find a little bit of peace.

I wish you peace on the road–free from people screaming, cutting you off or as my friend jokingly puts it, “using the fellowship finger”.

I wish you peace as you shop.  May the people around be considerate and kind. May they only have positive things to say about the way you act and the way you look and who you are.

I wish you peace as you eat.  May you enjoy every bite and allow it to nourish you both inside and out.  May you enjoy holiday gatherings free from food policing and body shame.

I wish you peace with your family.  May everybody around you be grateful for all you have done to make the holiday special, even if all you were able to do this year is to allow your beautiful self to take more breaths and exist on this amazing earth.

I wish you peace with your body.  May you declare a cease-fire in any war you may have waged against your good self.  May you appreciate the staggering awesomeness of the body you have right now.  May you pamper and find joy in the skin you are in.

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And I wish you a peaceful new year.  May you find a way to scoff at those in the world who believe the way to greet the new year is to change everything that makes you, well, YOU.  May you face the new year with courage and optimism.  May you choose for yourself a path that is strengthening, enriching, enlightening and encouraging.

Sleep in heavenly peace my friends.  Sleep in heavenly peace.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Red Carpet Walk–No Diet, No Girdle, No Regrets

PGA_AwardsYou know what I did last night?  I went to a the Producers Guild Awards in Beverly Hills.  You know what I didn’t do?  Give even one hoot about whether or not I was thin enough to be there.  I wore something I had saved up in my closet.  I didn’t have on sky-high heels or even a foundation garment.  No Spanx.  No control-top pantyhose.  (Hell this is LA, who wears pantyhose?)  I sat at my table in the Beverly Hilton–right where, just one week ago the Golden Globes were held.  I was in the same room (separated by literally miles of tables of course and more handlers than you could shake a stick at) with Ron Howard and Brad Pitt and ate as much as my stomach could comfortably hold, because it looked good and I was hungry.  I went to an awards show and had fun and felt good and was comfortable as can be.  And it was awesome.

Today, for Healthy Weight Week, the question was asked, “How might life be different for someone who decided to stop hating their body.”  And I’d humbly like to suggest, that this, THIS is how life is different.  I didn’t even think about going on a diet to get ready for this event.  I pulled something beautiful out of the closet that I knew would fit, because I’m no longer weight cycling.  I had very fancy clothing in my closet that didn’t require me to put on a girdle or a corset or even stomach-punishing pantyhose to fit.  When I was standing in line to have my picture taken at the step and repeat, my friends talked about their January juice fasts and cleanses and body programs.  I then outlined my program: I find exercise that I really love and do it as much as I can because it’s fun.  Then I eat whatever the F*$! I want as long as it tastes good and feels good in my body.  I think they are more than a little bit jealous.

And when my beautiful salad arrived and the waiter asked if I wanted dressing, I said yes please, and a little bit more please because, hell yes I wanted dressing.  When he asked if I wanted bread, I took without apology, the big, yummy parmesan triangle thing right on the top, large enough to sail a small boat, and I enjoyed the heck out of it too.  When the inevitable chicken composed with 4 grilled baby vegetables arrived, I devoured most of it.  When dessert showed up, I devoured that too–ice cream and all.  Not because I might not get to eat naughty food tomorrow.  Or because I knew I wasn’t planning on allowing myself ice cream ever again.  Just because it tasted good and I was hungry.

And yes, I definitely went to the after party in the penthouse and shook hands with Morgan Freeman (who by the way, is just as nice as you’ve heard).  And I didn’t worry even a little bit about if he thought I was fat.

Despite what you may think, not everybody in LA goes to these celebrity shindigs.  I am very, very grateful to be on the national board of the Producers Guild of America and get to go to this type of event from time to time.  But I’m even more grateful to my sisters and brothers in  acceptance for teaching me to go and feel completely at home in my body and completely unconcerned about looking very, very different from the vast majority of those treading the red carpet.

I am so grateful.

And that is why I post my glittery picture.  Partly because I’m excited to show you a picture of me all dressed up.  But also to let you know that this fat girl is here and she is representin’!  In sparkly, but comfortable shoes.  With a full tummy and an even fuller heart.

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

Arriving

I had a chance to put some of my steps technique into practice yesterday as I jetted off on a last minute jaunt to New York City.  I’m going to be interviewed on the Katie Couric show today and it’s due to air tomorrow (Thursday) on ABC.  To say I’m excited, is an understatement.  Thrilled, terrified, hopping up and down with adrenal glands working mega overtime, that’s just the half of it.  But I have to tell you a little secret.  One of the most exciting things so far was arriving at the airport yesterday.  The show sent a driver to pick me up at the airport.  And as I descended the escalator to baggage claim there he was: a very nice, well-dressed man holding up a sign with my name on it.  It may seem like a little thing, but to me it really wasn’t.  I have been flying for over 25 years, and I have always wondered whether one of those well-dressed guys at the airport would hold a sign up with MY name on it.  Yesterday it happened.  I, well I “arrived”.

I wonder sometimes about the life that led me to this point.  I wonder about the hard work and the sacrifices I have made.  I wonder about the many, many sacrifices my parents and my husband have made.  I wonder at the support of my dear friends and the multitudes of blessings I have received, and I guess my feelings all boil down to one thing.  I feel grateful–deeply and humbly grateful for this moment.  As my dear friend Kate advised, I’m breathing deeply and joyfully.  And I’m trying to savor every dang moment of this victory.

I don’t know how the taping will go.  I’m praying that it will go well.  But whatever happens, I’m grateful for this little moment.  For Rocky who drove me to the fancy hotel next to the studio and for that tiny little sign with my name on it.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie

AKA The Fat Chick

P.S. The episode is due to air on ABC tomorrow.  So tune in and see how I did.

oxoxoxo

Grace

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So often we feel the world does not offer up what we deserve.  We feel like while we work and slave and give, the world is stingy with its rewards.  But I wonder sometimes if the rewards come unrecognized and without remark.  I wonder if when the rewards have come to me, my overriding feeling is not gratitude, but rather, “it’s about time.”

But this holiday season, I’ve had such astonishing instances of grace in my life, I can’t help but notice them.  By grace I mean moments where I receive gifts that are completely undeserved and that I can’t possibly hope to pay back.  There is no tally or reason that I can use to justify these gifts.  There’s no global gift exchange that has this stuff on the registry.  There is no way to completely even up this reward system.  All I can do is fall on my knees and be grateful.

It makes me wonder how many other slightly smaller instances of grace have passed by unnoticed and unmarked.  The fact I have a wonderful family.  The fact that I have another brand spanking new year in front of me.  The fact that I have sunshine and clean water and air to breathe.  The fact that I have friends and a mission and meaningful work to do.  None of these things are “earned”.  They are gifts, pure and simple.  And one of my great overarching goals for the new year is to spend more time recognizing these gifts every day.

My dear friends, I hope your new year is full of all that you hope for and all that you need.  And whether or not you’ve earned it, or deserve it, or it’s your turn, I pray that your life is full of outrageously wonderful gifts for which you would have occasion to feel unreservedly grateful.

Love,

The Fat Chick

The Power of a Few Kind Words

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Over the weeks and months that I’ve been writing this blog, a number of you have left nice messages in the comments.  I wonder if you realize the impact you have?  Do you know how just a few kind words can be enough to make my whole day?  They make me feel important.  They make me feel appreciated.

So many of us walk around in our lives feeling unappreciated.  We feel like nobody notices what we do.  Our hearts are heavy with the thought that no one understands what we are going through.  But do you realize what power you have to change that for those around you?  Do you see how just saying sincere thanks to people in your lives, from the woman at the Drive Thru at the bank to your best friend, to your mom, to your spouse can have an impact on them?  And do you know what an impact it can have on you?

When you sincerely thank those around you, when you applaud them for the work they do, when you allow them to see that their efforts matter to someone, they feel good and you feel good.  It’s a two-fer one deal.  Now let me be clear.  This is something I really wish I was better at doing.  With my staunch Midwestern upbringing, it’s easy for me to politely thank perfect strangers, while at the same time be kind of lousy at thanking and encouraging those closest to me.  I get busy.  I forget.  I don’t like to gush.

But when I look around me at the people who are most successful and the most happy, they are also the people most encouraging to those around them.  So I am trying to be better.   I am trying to get my head out of my proverbial butt a little more.  And I am trying to verbalize what I am often thinking: how blessed I am to have smart, loving, joyful, generous, kind and awesome people in my life.  I’m trying to remember to say thanks.

So my little chicklettes, you are indeed truly awesome!  And thanks so much for listening.

Love,

The Fat Chick