Tag Archives: happy

Not Jolly and Not Sorry (Letting go my need to make everybody laugh…)

EnvironmentalAw1

I recently spoke at the Environmental Awards in Irwindale.  My speech was called No BODY Left Behind–Workplace Wellness for All. I talked about workplace wellness in terms of four “i-opening” words–information, incentive, invitation and inspiration.  I must give credit where it is due.  Jon Robison and Rosie Ward and their fabulous new book “How to Build a Thriving Culture at Work” helped to transform my thinking.

I shared a lot about what I thought was working and wasn’t working in workplace wellness.  I talked about how many wellness programs feel unfair because they ARE unfair.  They reward the already privileged in a way that is subsidized by the less privileged.  They only accommodate the needs of the folks that are in least need of the program.  They use shame and peer pressure to try to shove employees into a single vision of “health” which is largely driven by media-fueled unrealistic expectations and the personal bias of the program creators and managers.  They could be inviting.  They could be inclusive.  They could make every BODY feel welcome.  But they usually don’t.  And they often end up causing more problems than they solve.

I think I did a good job at the talk.  But it was weird.  As a speaker, I mostly give upbeat, Rah-Rah, body positive and funny speeches.  And this kind of speech is instantly rewarded.  People watching and hearing the speech cheer and laugh and clap.  People smile and have a good time.  It’s a pretty strong, emotionally positive feedback loop.  And I usually leave the stage feeling awesome.

This talk was different.  People were paying attention.  But people were thoughtful.  Listening carefully.  Letting my words sink in.  This talk was serious.  I had a positive takeaway.  There are ways we can do this better.  But this speech was not fun and it was not funny.

And as I walked off the stage, I wondered.  “Did I do okay?  Did I get through.  Did people hate it.  Did they learn something?”  I felt very insecure.  Sure, there was applause at the end, but no positive, laughing, feel-good feedback loop.

I always feel a little unsure when I release my need to entertain–to be funny–to be jolly.  But I’m always kind of amazed at the response when I do.  As I sat back at my table a woman immediately asked for my card.  Not because she wanted me to do a fun and jolly speech at her workplace (a local college).  But because her school has implemented a wellness program modeled after The Biggest Loser television show.  And my talk made her think that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea.  I’m hoping to speak with her soon.  So I could see a very positive result from straying outside of my comfort zone.

And this was a good reminder.  Being upbeat and positive and funny are great tools.  They are some of the colors with which I can paint.  But when communicating with others about size acceptance and body positivity and social justice for people of all sizes, it behooves me to use ALL the tools at my disposal and all the crayons in the box–even those that aren’t my normal favorites or the most comfortable ones to use.

Which leads me to this point.  I’d like to straight up invite you to attend the Fat Activism Conference.  Some of the people there will be taking a “fun and funny” approach to fat activism.  Some will be serious.  Some of the testimony may be full of pain and not so much fun to hear.  Some of it will be LOLROTF funny.  But what the conference allows you to do is hear a variety of voices coming from a wide range of perspectives all speaking on the topic of making the world better, safer and more inclusive for people of all sizes.  And frankly, today is the last day you’ll be able to get the lowest possible price to attend the conference.  Our super earlybird pricing ends tonight.  So if you’re up for hearing all different kinds of voices sharing using all the tools at their disposal and all the crayons in the box, while sharing ways to make the world better for Every BODY why not register now?

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)
Register for the Fat Activism Conferenece!

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P.A.D.S Saturday will make you “Happy”

If you are wondering what PADS stands for, it is:
Public
Acts of
Dancing
Spontaneously

And for our very first PADS Saturday, we have this totally epic dance to Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy”. This kid decided to bust a move at the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s basketball tournament last Friday. Since then his crowd-pleasing spontaneous boogie has gone viral, and why not. This kid has got some epic moves.

You’ve got the boogie down the steps. You’ve got the point. You’ve got hand claps up, down, behind and under the leg. And you’ve got the layback dance down. This kid is totally and completely committed to this groove, and for that, I salute him. You danced that like a boss! You totally earned the ovation you got at the end.

The dance has garnered so much attention, that word got to Pharrell Williams who reportedly said, “He experienced no limits. Every kid needs to know they all possess the potential to access that feeling.”

That, my friends, is what PADS is all about. It’s about seizing the moment.  It’s about letting joy overwhelm you.  It’s about parking shame at the door and not worrying about what anybody has to say.  It’s about fully committing, I mean really GOING FOR IT–damn the torpedoes.

So what can basketball Happy dancing kid inspire you to do today?  If you get a crazy idea, and ACT on it, I want to hear about it right here in the comments.  Extra bonus points for photos and videos.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Dance Break at the Ball Park!

We just finished the First Annual Fat Activism Conference and I am still a bit giddy. Of course there’s plenty of stuff we can do better next time. And of course it was far from perfect. But WE. DID. IT. I’m talking about 3 days, over 40 speakers and over 30 hours of live content.

And while I am proud of the accomplishments of myself and the very best producing partner in the whole entire world Ragen Chastain, I am even more proud of our movement. Of the over 40 men and women of many sizes, races, sexual orientations, abilities, ages and attitudes who so generously shared the wisdom they have accrued over years and decades. Of the people who texted and tweeted and prodded and questioned and asked for more. Of those people new to the movement taking their very first fledgling steps by sending in a comment or asking a question. Of the many people who shared their thoughts for making this conference better next year and volunteered to help make it so!

And when I feel this level of happy, I have to dance. Well today at least I can dance again. Yesterday I mostly slept. And I mean like A LOT. But today I am dancing and sharing a happy video of other folks dancing as well. I mean how cool are the Durham Diamond cutters. They certainly don’t look like stereotypical dancers. But there they are, running the bases and tearing up the field with their fun moves!

And if you are feeling sad. If you are not dancing because you fear that you missed out on all the awesomeness of the Fat Activism Conference this past weekend, I have some news that will just get you right on up outa your seat. You can still register for the conference and listen to the recordings, but you have to hurry.

Tomorrow is absolutely the LAST DAY to register for the conference and get access to the recordings. So get up offa that thing and run to register today. Seriously, you don’t want to miss this:
Fat Activsm Conference Registration Page

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to stay in touch and get access to FREE STUFF?  Click here to join my list!

P.S.S.  I speak all around the world on the topics of Fit and Fat, Health At Every Size, Body Acceptance, Fat Activism and more!  CLICK HERE to book me!

New Study Finds that Losing Weight Won’t Make You Happy

 

In the past I’ve talked about how fat people can be happy without losing weight.  Now a new study confirms something else I’ve known for quite a while, that losing weight won’t necessarily make you happy.  The study, while still managing to pontificate about the “health benefits” of losing weight, points out that fat people who lost more than 5% of their body weight tended to be more depressed than those fat people who didn’t lose more than 5% of their body weight.  In fact, after adjusting for health issues and major life events (like losing a spouse) those who lost more than 5% of their original body weight were more than 50% more likely to be depressed than the group that lost less weight.

The study press release goes on to suggest that of course you should still lose weight because it’s good for your health.  And the study is careful to suggest that correlation is not causation, so we don’t know that the weight loss causes depression.  (BTW this is a good practice that is curiously absent in many press releases about the health risks of obesity, but I digress…)  And the study suggests a few possible reasons why this depression might be happening.  They use a lot of flowery language, but it boils down to:

1.  Constantly dieting and not eating what you want and weighing and measuring every morsel of food you put in your mouth takes a lot of energy and kind of sucks.

2.  When you win the weight loss lottery and your life is not as wonderful as promised, it can be a major letdown.

And I suspect both of these suggested reasons are totally true.  Constantly fighting the fact that your body is HUNGRY and you want to eat takes a lot of energy.  Watching your friends eat fabulous stuff while you order the fish (steamed please, no butter) and vegetables (steamed please, no butter) and salad (dry with cruets of vinegar and oil on the side) gets old really fast.  And don’t even get me started on weighing and measuring and obsessive point/calorie counting.

And let me remind you about the big fat cycle.  One of the major triggers for the big fat cycle of weight loss and gain is fantasy.  We are taught that when we are thin our lives will be perfect.  We will be beautiful.  We will be like movie stars.  Men or women (depending on your preference) will be standing in line to take us out and buy us fabulous stuff because we are gorgeous.  Our health will magically be perfect.  We will be pain free.  We will climb mountains and become CEOs of multinational corporations because that’s what thin people do.  Look out for me, baby!

Then we (at least temporarily) get  thin.  And we are the same.  Our lives are much the same.  A few people who weren’t interested in dating us before may become interested.  But instead of feeling elated about that, we feel hurt and kinda pissed off.  We wonder why we weren’t good enough to date before.  And we wonder about the fear of dating somebody who will drop us when we gain some or all of the weight back.  People tell us how fabulous we look now.  And again, it kind of hurts.  We wonder what they thought about how we looked before we lost the weight.  We still feel pain.  We still get sick.  We fail to climb mountains or climb the corporate ladder.  We are simply smaller versions of ourselves with the same frustrations, insecurities, problems, challenges, frustrations and crud in our lives as before–except without cookies.  No cookies are anywhere.  And people wonder why weight loss can be accompanied by a side of depression?

This is why a behavior-based approach to health is so much better.  There is no before and after.  There just is.  I feel better when I exercise, so I exercise.  I don’t have to do something I hate.  I don’t have to do things that feel like punishment.  I don’t have to build up some ridiculous fantasy about how my life will change when I do it.  I find exercise that I like.  I know I feel better when I do it.  So I do.  It’s pretty simple really.

I know that when I eat too much of certain things, I feel kinda icky.  So I don’t usually eat too much of certain things.  Sometimes I do.  Sometimes I know I’m going to feel kinda icky and I eat it anyway and I enjoy it.  But I don’t like feeling icky so the next day I probably won’t eat too much of that thing.

I know when I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, my body feels better.  I don’t count servings or weigh or measure my broccoli.  I don’t eat fruit or vegetables because I won’t allow myself to eat anything else and I’m starving.  I just kinda know I feel better when I eat fruits and veggies so I do.  I eat the ones I like when I am hungry for them.  I don’t imbue them with magical powers.  I am not suddenly going to grow taller or develop forearms like Popeye because I’ve downed a little spinach.  Fruits and veggies feel good, so I eat them.

It may seem revolutionary to some.  But I think when we stop focusing on how our bodies look and start focusing on the messages our bodies are sending us, we feel better.  And I don’t really know if I need a study to tell me that.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S.  We are only a few days away from the Fat Activism Conference.  It’s only $39 or pay what you can.  Check it out here!

P.S.S. Looking for a fabulously funny speaker who can talk about body image, HAES, eating disorder prevention, fitness and more?  Book me here!

80 Odd Years of Happy

The title of this post might refer to the notion that you’ve been hearing that infernal song for 80 years.  But in this case it does not.  It refers to a whole bunch of folks, some well into their 80’s dancing around to that infernal song.  Which is happy-making indeed.  And I feel like sharing this video with you because I feel like we could all use a little happy in our lives today.

It’s been kinda a rough week.  Many of us have been deeply saddened by the passing of Robin Williams, a deeply talented movie icon who brought joy to so many of us.  And many of us have been deeply angered by George Takei’s need to not only present a deeply troubling meme bashing disabled people on his feed, but also his ridiculous need to defend his actions using the tired “people are just too sensitive trope”.  I’m not going to post the awful meme here on my blog.  In case you’re curious, I am going to post a link here to Lisa Egan’s article about it which explains the whole thing so much better than I ever could.

Nope, today, I am going to simply post this video and share a little of the love I feel about it:

I am aware that there are some problems with this video.  I think it’s pretty likely that this is a branded entertainment piece for the retirement community.  And the super high production values lead me to believe that the retirement community spent a whole lot of money on this thing.  That said, I love the fact that there are so many people of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities doing their thing in here.  See that George Takei?  Old  people dancing!  People with walkers boogying down.  Put that in your meme and stuff it, George.

I also love the way the video depicts old people as being powerful and vibrant and fun.  I think as a society, we are so quick to dismiss older people.  We see them as a problem or an expense.  We see them as a throwaway society.  But all people in our society have value.  Everyone has something to give.  I was reminded of this yet again with another amazing video I came across in my Facebook feed today.

As a person who works as a producer this is something that I think about constantly.  How can we get everybody involved?  How can everybody contribute?  How can we help everybody not only feel valued but also be valued?

If you’ll forgive me for feeling all the feels in this very public way, I just want to tell you this.  We are a deeply troubled world.  We can make things better, but we need all the help we can get.  So let’s begin with a deep commitment to not exclude or throw away a significant percentage of the population who don’t meet some arbitrary standard of age, ability, weight, sex or beauty, OK?  Every BODY has value.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. We are only 10 days away from the Fat Activism Conference.  Join us in making the world a better and more inclusive place for people of all sizes.  Register today at www.fatactivismconference.com.

Because I’m Happy…

I think one of the most difficult barriers I’ve encountered on my journey towards self acceptance is the constant barrage of input telling me that people in larger bodies can’t really be “happy”.  In stark contrast to the “fat and jolly” stereotype is the notion that all fat people are unhappy deep down.  And this information is everywhere.  From our television and magazine advertising to barroom pop psychology to well meaning friends and relatives, it seems like a lot of people are pretty sure I would be a lot happier if I would just lose weight.

“But I am pretty happy,” I tell folks. Their reply, “Not really.  If you were really happy you wouldn’t be fat.”  Sigh…  One of the pieces of prejudice I find most daunting is the notion that all people who are fat are eating to compensate for some life deficiency.  Either we were sexually abused as children, or didn’t get enough love at some stage or are facing some buried psychological trauma.  “It’s not your fault you’re fat,” they state, while patting you on the head.  “We just need to fix what is broken with you emotionally, and the weight will just flow off your body.”

Think I’m making this up?  No lie, when I was getting one of my fitness certifications, one of the teachers pulled out a magic marker and headed towards the big paper pad she was using to sketch out the “fitness wisdom” she had to impart.  She drew a picture of a fat person (small oval over big round body–it was no Monet).  Then she drew another circle inside the fat tummy circle.  “Fat people have a hole in their lives,” she stated.  “There is something missing inside them that they attempt to stuff full with food.”

hollowfatpersonI was mortified.  And I was pissed.  This clearly wasn’t in any of the written materials that she or we had received with the course.  This teacher was just making this stuff up and stating it as fact in a training course that is designed to train people to teach exercise to other people.

But most of the extremely thin people in the room simply nodded their heads knowingly and accepted it as fat fact.  Along with this notion is the notion that if we lose weight, if we become visibly and socially acceptably skinny, all our problems will melt away and we will finally be happy.  This idea is so pervasive that people spend billions of dollars in pursuit of the happiness level of thinness.  I believed it.  I got thin.  For a little while after a ridiculous diet that made me very sick, I was thin.  And I waited for the happy.  And waited.  And waited…

There was some euphoria over increased clothes shopping opportunities.  There was some afterglow from the constant validation and encouragement I got about how much better I looked.  (Although there was also frankly a lot of pissed off wondering what people thought about how I looked before.)  But did I experience magical, mystical happy–smiling while eating a salad, orgasmic swooning over eating yogurt happy?  I’d have to say that never arrived.

Oh God, I think I’m… AHHHHHHH!

And now that I’ve lived and loved in a fat body for a while, I can say I’ve found a modicum of relatively reliable happy.  Am I happy all the time?  Nope.  Do I swoon over yogurt?  What, are you kidding?  But I’m pretty happy most of the time.

That is why I was so very, VERY excited to see this music video by Pharrell Williams and what seems to be half the population of Los Angeles.  Take a look. I’ll wait…

Honestly, this music video is what got me on this whole subject with you in the first place.  First of all, I have to apologize.  This great song is likely to leave you with an earworm that lasts for days.  Sorry about that.  But on the upside here we have a video with lots and lots of people who are boogying down and singing about being happy.  And remarkably none of these people look the same.  There are kids, young people, middle aged people and old people.  There are men and women.  There are single people and families.  There are people who are extremely mobile and some who are less mobile.  There are people of all different colors.  There are thin people, fat people and in-betweenies.  They all look happy as hell, and there is not one single carton of yogurt or salad in the entire music video!

Happy2

The video is actually compiled from a much bigger project called 24 Hours of Happy.  Go check out the website.  It’s the coolest!  I’ll wait.  The website contains a 24-hour long music video to this song compiled by Pharrell and his team. I have absolutely no idea how much raw footage they shot, but I imagine it must have been epic.  The net result is a web-based clock.  At any given moment, you can click in and watch Angelinos of all stripes shaking their thing.

Aside from being a super cool project, the thing I love about this is that it helps demonstrate an idea.  Happy doesn’t look the same on everybody.  You don’t have to be a particular color or size or shape to be happy.  You don’t have to be young.  You don’t have to be thin.  You don’t have to eat dairy products of any kind.  But it is still possible for you to be happy.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Privilege and wealth and security and a lot of other things can certainly make happy easier.  And there is absolutely no doubt that the rampant discrimination that accompany fat stigma can make it much harder to find happy.  But I do know that I found it extremely helpful on my journey to learn that happy was at least possible at any size.  It made it much easier for me to fight for happy for myself and for all my fat brothers and sisters.

So I will continue to blog, because, I’m happy…

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. If you like, you can join in the happy RIGHT HERE.

After Happily Ever After…

Watching this video really got me thinking.  It’s hilarious and awesome because it ties into something we all so desperately want to believe.  We want to believe in happily ever after.  We want to believe that once we achieve that one thing, after we reach perfection, then everything will always be okay from that point on forever, amen.  Right?  It starts with the whole princesses thing, and then for many of us, it becomes the whole weight thing.

I spent many years indulging in “happily thin ever after” thinking.  I believed that once I was thin, insanely rich and handsome men would swoop by in super yachts and pick me up and take me off to James Bond-style vacations (without the sorta violent parts) in exotic places.  I dreamed that academy award-winning directors, stunned by my new svelte beauty, would discover me in a local Starbucks and offer me a three picture deal. But mostly I dreamed that I wouldn’t feel self-conscious any more, I would always feel fabulous about how I looked and that I would then have the courage to do anything I needed to achieve my dreams.

And then for a while, I got thin.  And you know what?  Absolutely none of the stuff that I believed in my happily ever after fantasy came true.  None of it.  No yachts. Not even a canoe.  No vacations to exotic places–violent or otherwise.  No three-picture deal.  (Although I did get a latte…)  And I still felt self-conscious, and unhappy about my looks and fearful and all of that stuff.  I still wasn’t equipped to do everything I needed to achieve my dreams.  I still felt miserable a lot of the time.  And I thought, “What a rip off!” I was pretty annoyed that the whole getting thin thing was not as advertised.  I mean I was averaging 700-800 calories per day.  My hair was falling out.  My digestive system was no longer working properly.  I was no longer menstruating.  I was exercising 2+ hours per day.  And you know what, I was THIN.  But the awesomeness I expected, just didn’t happen.  I did have more places to shop for clothes but not more money to use for that purpose.  I did have less trouble dealing with doctors, relatives and complete strangers who no longer felt it necessary to have “concerned conversations” with me about my weight.  And for a while, I got a ton of positive attention from friends and family.  And then it became like no big deal.  I didn’t get positive attention any more.  I got tired of feeling sick and tired all the time.  And I just wanted to EAT!  After over 12 months of this crazy regimen, my metabolism tanked to the point that I was gaining weight at 1,000 calories per day.  So not surprisingly, I gained it all back and then some.

Society promises us that when we are thin, our lives will be perfect and exciting beyond our wildest imagination.  Many of us who experience becoming thin (temporarily or otherwise) find ourselves totally unprepared for finding out the truth about being thin.  The truth being that most of our problems are still with us, and our wildest imaginations go a long, long way beyond the lives that we experience as thin people.  I was so moved when I read this account of a woman who had lost a lot of weight after weight loss surgery.  Not surprisingly, she experienced an intense letdown when she realized the wonderful, perfect life she was promised in the doctor’s office never really materialized.  And she was also completely unprepared for the loss of her sense of identity and her sense of self that can come with such a dramatic change in the shape of your body.

I am sure there are those out there who are eager to tell me that it is our fault we don’t experience the perfection that comes with weight loss.  We weren’t thin long enough.  We didn’t get thin the right way.  We didn’t use the right products or achieve the correct level of enlightenment.  But you know what?  I don’t think there is any magic bullet that makes life perfect.  I don’t believe that there is a moment after which you live happily ever after.  I like to believe I’ve reached a moment after which I have a reasonably good chance of being happy a lot of the time.  I like to believe that I’ve reached a stage where I feel reasonably content in my body and am equipped to make the best of what life has to throw at me.  But happily ever after is a fantasy I’ve happily learned to outgrow.

Love,

The Fat Chick