Tag Archives: Health At Every Size

Resolve to have More Creative Resolutions

Diet_NoIt’s the time of year when all of us size acceptance and HAES (R) folks start talking about why you shouldn’t diet as your New Year’s Resolution.  And I’m sure you’ll hear plenty of good reasons like: it doesn’t work, it makes you crabby, it messes up your metabolism, it will probably make you fatter, it fills your life with shame, it messes up your self esteem and it doesn’t work.  (I know I said “it doesn’t work” twice, but I think it’s important enough to bear repeating, um, again apparently.)  But you know what?  I’d like to add another reason for not making dieting your New Year’s Resolution to the pile.  And that reason is: it’s a really boring resolution.  I mean, is that seriously the best resolution you can come up with?  “I’m going to go on a diet,” is just not original and it’s not fun.

I strongly believe that if you can inject a little more fun into the New Year’s Resolution process, you’ve got a much better chance for success.  I’ve often said the same about exercise in general.  Fun makes everything better.  And into every person’s life comes the moment where you need to decide if you are going to put time and energy into your resolution or if you’re going to sit on the sofa, eat some cheesy poofs and watch that Saturday marathon of Project Runway reruns.  If your resolution doesn’t have any fun in it, if it’s not sort of enjoyable in some way, which do you think you’re gonna pick?  Let’s get real here.

Bored kitteh finds New Year’s Resolutions boring…

That is why I am SUPER excited about a few things we’ve got coming down the pike here!  For one, I’m still collecting photos and videos for our New New Years Resolution project.  I’d like to make a new video like the one last year, but this time, I’d like to feature YOU.  But in order for this to work, I need your photos by midnight on January 31st.  So PLEASE send your photos to projects@thefatchick.com ASAP!

Next I want to tell you about a little debauchery that Ragen and I are cooking up on the Fit Fatties Forum.  This year we are hosting a Fit Fatty Decathlon as part of our Fit Fatty  Virtual Events series.  What is that?  So glad you asked!  The Fit Fatty Decathlon is a series of lots of events that you can choose and complete on your own or with friends.  Register for the events, complete 10 of them, submit photographic evidence, post on Facebook (‘cuz otherwise it never happened) and you my friend are a Fit Fatty Decathlon Finisher!  Some of the events are pretty typical (walk/run/roll a 5K).  But some of these events include sustained temper tantrums, playing with dogs, hula hooping and running after toddlers!  (Extra points if you do all of these at the same time.)  You can learn all about it HERE.

custom_tote_bagBy the way, I should mention that prices for the Fit Fatty Decathlon are scheduled to go up significantly (like I mean a lot) after January 1.  There’s even a contest for submitting the wackiest idea for your own event.  I mean come on.  How much fun is that?  So stop your darn procrastinating and SIGN UP RIGHT NOW!  Here for your clicking convenience is that LINK AGAIN.

Whatever your new year brings to you, I hope you find a way to approach it with fun.  Life is full of challenges.  And sometimes life just sucks!  Having a little fun can help get you through.  Here’s to a year full of love and light and laughing until your belly hurts!

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want a gift to help you learn how to feel good about your body?  This month I’m giving away “5 Things That can Help You Love Your Body Right Now! for free to members of my clique.  Just opt in RIGHT HERE!

5 Reasons Santa is a Healthy Role Model

Three Santa's for one.  Perfect for animating.

Yep, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  All the weight loss companies that sell all the things are lining up at the door and chomping at the bit to hop on the New Years Resolution gravy train.  And in the great tradition of American holidays being celebrated earlier and earlier (with the Christmas season now starting around Labor Day) some folks are determined to start celebrating the annual fat bashing holiday during Christmas.  And one way they are doing this, I’m sad to say, is bashing Santa for being fat.

Every year now, as sure as ugly holiday sweaters and crabby Christmas relatives we are getting media reports that Santa is a bad role model for our children because he is (cue dramatic music) morbidly obese.  And every year now, this makes me CRAZY.  Now if you’re wanting links to these horrible articles, I ain’t gonna post ’em.  You can just google that nonsense if you want to know.  No, this year, I’m going to focus on why Santa is a good role model for health, and I’m gonna post it right here.  So here I go:

Five Reasons Santa is a Good Role Model for Health

Santa-Exercising1.  That Boy is Fit!  Talk about cardio.  The guy delivers presents to every kid in the world in one night!  He delivers to over 2 billion kids in one evening which must make it close to a billion chimneys that he’s going up and down.  And the whole time he’s carrying a massive sack of toys.  I mean his naughty nice book alone weighs over 3 Tons!  That’s gotta count as resistance training, right?  I would argue that in order to pull this off, Santa’s functional fitness must be truly impressive.

2.  He gets plenty of rest.  Sure, he’s got his workshop to manage, but outside of that, the guy essentially gets over 360 days per year off from work.  That’s a lot of time to read, do a little yoga and check out some progressive relaxation CDs, right? Most of us are deeply stressed either from long work hours or insufficient funds or both.  Santa is modeling that plenty of rest helps lead to a long productive life.

3.  He is vibrant in his later years.  Many accounts put good ‘ol St. Nick at over 1,000 years old, yet he’s still not retired.  Santa has a full life including regular television appearances, marching in annual parades and showing up at malls all around the world.  Can you show me one other health and fitness guru today who is rocking it out after living for a millennium?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.

4.  He has a strong social network.  As possibly one of the most popular guys in human history, Mr. Claus has a lot of friends.  He’s got his maximum 5,000 friends on facebook (stupid friends limit).  And when it comes to correspondence, Santa still kicks it old school.  The guy gets over 500,000 letters per year.  (Again there is some serious resistance training involved with simply emptying his north pole mailbox each day).  Plus he’s got the elves, and a marriage that has endured for over 150 years (possibly because they have never appeared on a talk show together).


5.  Santa has a positive outlook on life and healthy self esteem.  As a worldwide celebrity, Santa seems confident enough to rock his signature look year after year without a stylist or even shopping for new clothes.  He also seems to be genuinely happy with himself and with his lot in life.  He is well known for his hearty laugh and can often be seen literally shaking with mirth.  Despite a few truly misguided rumors, Santa has never advocated for a diet or weight loss plan.  He eats a lot and exercises a lot and loves a lot.  And all of that seems to be working out pretty well for him, all things considered.

So what lessons can we take home from this jolly old elf?  I would say the lessons are these:

1.  Do what you love to do and do it well.

2.  Exercise regularly.

3. Work hard, but get plenty of rest.

4. A life focused on giving is filled with joy.

5. When you find your signature look, just rock it out!

6. You’re never too old to have fun.

7.  Take time for your friends.

8. Love yourself just the way you are.

9. Diets don’t work.  And besides, nobody likes  a skinny Santa.

10.  Just relax and enjoy the holiday season!

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. If you’d like some more hints about loving your body, I’m giving away a free present “5 Things You Can do To Love Your Body Right Now” to everybody on my “list”.  If you’re not already a member, you can join my list right here.  And in case you missed it, I talked all about body image on the Katie Couric show yesterday.  Here’s a link, and here’s another one.  Oh and don’t forget to send your photos and new year’s resolutions to me by December 30 so you can be a part of the 2014 New Year’s video!

Do I owe it to anybody to lose weight?

Ahhh, the holidays!  It’s a time for sharing food, family, friendship and GUILT.  I recently shared some thoughts about setting boundaries for the holidays here.  (And of course, there’s always this video.)  For the most part, I find people can learn to respect the boundaries we set about talking about (or choosing not to talk about) our weight.  After all, our bodies are our business, and not anyone else’s.  But there are always those few people who find it their “moral obligation” to police our bodies.  And those people will usually use one of the following arguments to keep talking about our weight and our bodies even when we ask them to desist:

1.  What about your children?  Don’t you want to be around to see them grow up, get married, have children of their own, and retire?  First of all, let me remind you that you won’t be there to care for your children if you spend the rest of your life in prison.  So, put down the butter knife and back away slowly.  Seriously, this is like DEFCON 5 in the guilt wars over your body, so I can see how it might make you very upset to hear this, but let’s talk it through, okay?  First of all, please remember that weight and health are not the same thing.  Most people only have a limited amount of control over how much they weigh.  And while there are some things we can do to help increase our odds of having a healthy life, none of us knows how many days we have left on this earth.  One of the things that you can do to increase your odds for a long, healthy life is to manage stress.  So as much as you want to strangle Aunt Thelma for asking this question over the holiday ham, please remember to take a moment and just breathe. Some other things you may be able to do to increase your odds are to exercise regularly, sleep well, eat a wide variety of healthy foods (especially fruits and vegetables), and engage in some regular activity to help manage stress.  Note I said that these are things you may be able to do.  Obviously, if you’re working two full-time jobs and taking care of a few children, stuff like stress management classes, regular exercise, or getting any sleep may not be possible for you right now.  Not everybody has access to the same opportunities for healthy stuff (more on that in a minute).  And maybe if Aunt Thelma is so concerned about your health, maybe she can babysit your little darlings three times per week while you take an exercise class, meditate, or just have fifteen minutes to go to the bathroom all by yourself.

2.  But my health insurance rates are higher because of fat people like you.  Oh dear.  First of all, I strongly recommend assiduously avoiding any discussion of health insurance during holiday gatherings this year.  Put it on the list with climate change and which direction the toilet paper roll should go into the holder as points not to be discussed during the holidays.  But if your gentle attempts to deflect a discussion about how the size of your hips affects your Cousin Tony’s insurance premiums fall on deaf ears, here’s a few things you should know.  First and foremost, there is only a narrow window of things that we have any control over when it comes to health.  Fall Ferguson discusses this in a great post on the ASDAH blog here.  In particular, she mentions the CDC’s discussion of Social Determinants of Health and references this diagram:

As you can see, health behaviors only account for a relatively small section of the overall determinants regarding whether or not a person is healthy.  And notice it says health behaviors.  To be very, very clear here, body weight is not a behavior.  You cannot tell how healthy somebody is or whether or not they engage in healthy behaviors by looking at them.

Now, back to your Cousin Tony.  He seems to think that if you would just lose weight, you would suddenly cost the health insurance companies less and somehow his premiums would magically go down.  Well to start with, as a fat person you may be denied access to health insurance altogether.  I have a number of fat friends for whom this is the case.  So you may not be affecting his premiums at all.  Also, if Tony wants to keep his insurance premiums down, then perhaps he can help raise your “social/societal” characteristics or socioeconomic status.  After all, that has nearly twice as much effect as the whole healthy behaviors category.  All he has to do is, pay you enough money to move you into a different economic bracket.  No?  Well maybe Tony can pay for child care so you can go to the gym more often, or pay you enough so you can quit your day job and get eight full hours of sleep for once?  What’s that you say?  Tony isn’t interested in paying for any of this stuff?  Well maybe at least Tony can commit to fighting for social justice.  Tony can take his pick.  He could find for bias free healthcare or reasonable working hours or access to healthy foods or good preventative medicine.  No?  Well then maybe Tony just needs to shut up.  Oh and let me remind you just one more time; Tony cannot tell whether you engage in healthy behaviors just by looking at you.  Speaking of which:

3.  I don’t like having to look at you because your fat body hurts my delicate aesthetic sensibilities.  Most of the time, the answer to this statement is simple.  Just. Don’t. Look.  If your Dad’s friend Jim finds it uncomfortable to look at your fabulously fleshy frame, he can just look the heck away.  You are under no obligation whatsoever to be attractive to anybody’s gaze or be considered as an object of lust. This situation is far less simple however, when you are talking about your spouse or your kids.  I am unbelievably privileged to have a husband who thinks my fat body absolutely rocks his stripy socks.  But I understand that not all women (or men) have a spouse that thinks this way.  I have seen marriages get hopelessly tangled around one spouse helping another to lose weight “for their health” all the while not discussing the real issues around body size and sexual attraction.  I have seen kids use weight as a tool to hurt their parents (and vice versa).  I have seen kids who ask that the “thin parent” be the one to appear at school functions and do public things with the child in order to “escape embarrassment”.  First, let me say that if this is happening to you, I’m sorry.  You absolutely do not deserve this, and my heart hurts for you.  Second, let me tell you that this situation is far beyond what I can cover in my humble little blog.  There are no funny or glib comments that I can make here that will make this problem just go away.  Let me suggest that you do whatever is in your power to find help.  Maybe you can get some family counseling.  A lot of counseling is available on a sliding fee scale based on your income.  Perhaps a clergy person can help.  If your family is not willing to go to counseling with you, maybe you can at  least find some counseling for just yourself.  And let me also offer some hope here.  I have known people in this situation that were able to find help.  And I have known marriages and families that have come through this with relationships intact and stronger than ever.  Find some help, and hang in there.

Summary  There is so much more I could say about this topic.  In terms of my own health practice, I’d really like to get a little bit more sleep.  So let me wrap this thing up.  Regardless of what you decide to say to your Cousin Tony and your Aunt Thelma, please remember this: you do not owe it to anybody to lose weight.  You don’t owe it to yourself, and you certainly don’t owe it to anybody else.  Your body is your business.  If Aunt Thelma and Cousin Tony are actually concerned about the state of your life and the state of your health, I’ve already suggested some things you can request.  They can pay for your meditation classes or do a little free child care (as long as they aren’t expecting weight loss, or any other specific outcome in return).  However if Tony and Thelma are just trying to pass a little holiday guilt and judgement along with the gravy boat, they can just step the heck off.

Ho, ho, freaking, ho.

Here’s wishing you a holiday that is peaceful–or at least calm enough to avoid homicide.

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Looking for a little help?  How about joining my personal training program?  Prices are going to go up in January, so why not lock into some holiday savings right now?

P.P.S. Want to get access to FREE STUFF?  Just opt in RIGHT HERE!

What are the odds?

Hey there!  Sorry I haven’t blogged in a few days.  I’ve been on the roller coaster and hanging on for dear life.  Seems like that’s the way of it, doesn’t it?  First you’re on top of the world, and then BOOM, sick in bed with a terrible, nasty, icky head cold.

It’s not like I haven’t taken prophylactic measures.  I’ve been taking lots of vitamin C, drinking lots of water, washing my hands raw and all of that good stuff.  I’ve been doing my very best to get good sleep and trying my best to manage stress.

Ever since I felt a sniffle, I’ve been rubbing menthol on my feet and sucking a zinc lozenge every few hours and drinking massive quantities of tea.

I’m doing everything that statistics suggest I should to prevent and minimize colds.  So why am I still sick?

I got sick because I got sick. No matter how many steps you take, you can stick get sick at any time.  Does that mean I shouldn’t have taken those steps to try to minimize my risk and minimize my symptoms?  Well no.  The steps didn’t have many potentially negative side effects and weren’t too difficult.  And they might have worked.  And who knows, things might have been worse had I not taken those steps.

But this is the thing about statistics and health.  If there’s a 1% chance of getting sick, that means that out of every 100 people, about 1 will get sick.  And no matter how many remedies you try, no matter how strong your immune system may be, that one person might be you.  And as tempting as it might be to believe you didn’t get sick because of the mouthwash you used, or the special ritual you followed, you might not have gotten sick because of dumb luck.

So as much as we may wish to believe that we are “healthy” because we are virtuous people who eat whole grain cereal and do yoga, I think we need to give at least a passing nod to all the other stuff that goes into it.  As Fall Ferguson writes in her post on the ASDAH blog: there are many, many factors that go into whether or not a person is healthy.  Doing healthy stuff is just one of those things.  So where does this leave us?

We may wish to do stuff that increases our odds of being healthy.  How much stuff we are able to do may well be decided by our socioeconomic status or access to good healthcare.  How effective those healthy behaviors are may well be decided by our genetic makeup.  How much stuff we choose to do is up to each and every one of us.  It’s time we give up the notion that being healthy is “virtuous” and being sick is a sign that we are “weak, lazy, undisciplined or unconcerned”.  Sometimes we just got sneezed on by the wrong person at the wrong time.  There are no guarantees.

So even though I feel tired, and cranky and stuffed up and sneezy and sick, I choose not to bother feeling guilty.

Love,

The Fat Chick

P.S. Still waiting to hear when our Katie Couric episode will air.  Will keep you posted!  oxoxoxoxox

 

Exercise, Empowerment and Free Botox at the Finish Line

OMG does my makeup look okay?

My friend and colleague Kjerstin recently posted this article about the upcoming “Diva 5K” in Miami Florida.  The race, which exhorts women and girls as young as 8 years old to “Run like a Diva!” is offering an amazing prize package including botox (for winners 18 and older) and teeth whitening and laser hair removal (for winners 15 and older).

I cant even…

To my mind, one of the best things about participating in an event like a 5K is to empower women to think about their bodies in terms of what they can do rather than obsessing about how they look.  Women can focus on being strong, and capable.  Women can focus on being healthy and vibrant.

Unless we’re talking about the Diva 5K where women are encouraged to be wrinkle-free, white toothed and OMG hairless!  Apparently all participants will get a chance to be greeted at the finish line “where handsome young men from the local dance schools will sweep you off your feet.”  Because heaven knows, we can’t be interested in walking or running or otherwise exercising for our own sakes.  Goodness NO, girl.  We run to be thin, hairless, wrinkle-free and gorgeous for the hot “MENZ”!  Jeez don’t you know anything?

As a fitness instructor with several decades of teaching under my belt, I find this sort of thing so intensely frustrating.  We claim as an industry that we want people to exercise.  And then we make ridiculous promises to people that we know are false, and we trivialize the unbelievable potent real rewards that come with being fit.

The fitness industry has always promised that if you exercise hard enough, you’ll look like a hot, young, supermodel, AND a hunky hot man will be waiting to sweep you off your feet.  I’ve rarely seen that notion put into practice in quite as concrete a manner as we’re seeing with this Diva 5K, but it is a common notion nevertheless.

Yet, in reality, a 5K will make you look like a supermodel ONLY under the following conditions:

1.  You looked like a super model BEFORE you started training for a 5K,

2. You have a hair and makeup crew near the finish line ready to bathe you, do your hair, airbrush your skin and make you over, and

3.  Your finishers photos are heavily retouched in Photoshop.

Here’s a quick demonstration of what I’m talking about:

The sad thing is that the TRUE benefits of exercise (like lower stress levels, better blood glucose levels, better mood management, better sleep, a stronger sense of self esteem, a stronger immune system) THOSE benefits are often downplayed or overlooked.  The transformations of the people that I have taught have had very little to do with looking like a model.  I’ve seen a Mom, for the first time ever, have enough stamina to take her kid to Disneyland all day.  And a man, who for the first time in twenty years can take his wife dancing again.  I’m talking about people who can now bend over and tie their shoes, or walk their daughter down the aisle without pain or get their blood pressure or blood glucose levels under control.  I’m talking about young women who for the first time in their lives look in the mirror and see power and competence and confidence rather than simple disappointment that they don’t look like the “after” picture they have been taught to envision for themselves.

I’ve done several races in my life ranging from a 5K Turkey Trot to a full on marathon.  And yes, I have won some medals.  And I plan to run some more.  But if you’re standing at the finish line waving a gift certificate for free airbrush tanning or liposuction for me, I’d advise you to beware.  I just might use my hard-won leg muscles to kick you somewhere soft and very private.  Even if you ARE a hunky guy from the local dance class.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie

The Fat Chick

P.S. Speaking of handing out rewards, I’m happy to announce that our second winner in The Fat Chick’s Great Pedometer Giveaway is Susie Kline!  Yay Susie!

Knock it off, Michelle Obama!

AAAAAARRRRGGGH!  We’ve recently gotten news that Michelle Obama is to appear on the upcoming series of the television show, “The Biggest Loser”.  Apparently her topic will be somewhat benign.  She is to talk about the importance of drinking water.  And given the show’s somewhat checkered past in dehydrating clients to help them achieve weigh-in goals, a focus on drinking water might not be such a bad thing.  But the fact that the FLOTUS plans on appearing on this piece of crap show at all is not, to quote Martha Stewart,  a GOOD thing.

A fair amount of criticism has recently been leveled, especially by the size acceptance, eating disorder prevention and anti-diet communities against the First Lady for making this choice.  There’s this amazing video showing dozens of people from the community (including me) speaking out against Michelle Obama’s upcoming appearance.  And there’s even a petition you can sign asking Michelle to “just stay home”.  We haven’t heard much from her camp yet.  But I imagine if we do hear from her or her people about this appearance, she’s likely to scoff and say that she’s just talking about the importance of drinking water for goodness sake.  What can be bad about that?

My response?  Plenty.

Here’s a few reasons why I think Michelle Obama should just knock it off, and refuse to be on The Biggest Loser:

1.  The show is built on the notion of shame.  And as I state here and here and here and in my submission for the video, SHAME DOES NOT HELP.  It doesn’t make people healthier.  It doesn’t make people happier and it doesn’t make people thinner.  It makes people less happy, less healthy and it tends to lead people into disordered behavior around food and exercise.

2.  The show is based on BAD SCIENCE.  I wrote so much on this topic in the past, I had to create a two-part blog post.  The “weight loss” techniques depicted on that show are contrary to accepted professional practice and can be downright dangerous.  It needs to stop.

3.  The show routinely tortures its contestants.  Check out these interviews between Golda Poretsky and a former Biggest Loser contestant.  The cult-like experience of this former contestant demonstrates the unhealthy power dynamic between contestants, directors, producers and other show staff.  And the long term health prognosis for many of the former contestants is not very good.

4.  The show uses the magic of editing and other Hollywood tricks to further mess up people’s expectations around exercise, health and weight loss.  Sometimes weight losses that are depicted as taking a week actually take longer.  People’s fluid levels are manipulated to help them look like they are losing more weight than they actually are.  Extreme exercise is described as an important weight-loss tool even though it is not that closely related to winning weight-loss totals.  It’s described, oxymoronically as “reality television” even though it bears little resemblance to the real world.

5.  This show is unhealthy not only for those who participate in it, but also for people who simply watch.  Several studies came out showing that the show negatively impacts viewer opinions regarding people of size.  Additional studies show that those who watch the show wind up LESS INCLINED TO EXERCISE than those who don’t.  So much for “Let’s Move!” Michelle.

Look, I think it’s awesome that Michelle wants to encourage people to engage in healthy habits.  And it seems in many ways, she has toned down the weight-loss rhetoric in her “Let’s Move” campaign verbiage.  But even if she doesn’t appear with a weight-loss message on the show, simply being on the show adds weight and credence to a television program that is irresponsible and just needs to go away.

Feeling good and mad over this whole thing?

Good!  Let’s do something about it!

1.  Sign the petition.

2.  Share the video.

3.  Join weight neutral exercise spaces like the Fit Fatties Forum.

4.  Stop watching the show.

5.  Help spread the word about Health At Every Size(R).

Go get ’em!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to get access to FREE STUFF?  Just opt in RIGHT HERE!

Try, try again and again and again and again and again…

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Fifth time’s the charm for Diana Nyad

I’ve been meaning to write to y’all about Diana Nyad.  As I’m sure many of you know, Nyad fulfilled a lifelong dream and became the first woman to swim the 110 miles from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.  One hundred and ten freakin’ miles kids!  The swim took 52 Hours 54 Minutes 18.6 Seconds.  (Any of you who have ever competed in an endurance event know why I’ve included this detail in such exactitude…)  This is an amazing feat for any athlete.  Oh and did I mention that Diana Nyad was 64 years old when she did this?  Wowza!

I think the fact that Nyad completed this swim is deeply inspirational.  But I think the thing that I found most moving about the whole thing is that she completed this on her fifth attempt.  Yup.  Five times Nyad assembled a team, got in her swimsuit, called the media and started swimming.  Four times Nyad was pictured in the media being pulled from the boat or sporting welts from potentially fatal jellyfish stings as in the picture below.

Potentially fatal jellyfish stings raise welts on Nyad’s arms in 2102.

And then, at age 64, Diana Nyad got back in the water and tried again.  The fifth time was the charm!  I think there’s a lot we can learn from Diana, and I wanted to share a few of those lessons here with you:

1.  You don’t have to look like a supermodel to be a super athlete:  As you can see from the picture above, Nyad is strong and powerful and unbelievably fit.  But she doesn’t look like she’s ready to hit a runway any time soon.  She even seems to be sporting a little hello/goodbye arm action up there.  But she’s not worrying about that.  She’s not demanding to be photoshopped.  Even after her successful attempt, she looked like hell.  That’s what happens after you swim for over two days in the open sea.  You look like hell.  She doesn’t seem overly worried about it.

2.  Winning Athletes Build Winning Teams:  Diana did not do this thing alone.  She had a team of 35 people working with her during her successful attempt including kayak paddlers who kept watch for sharks and even a jellyfish expert who scooped jellyfish out of her way as she swam.  She didn’t go this alone and she expressed deep gratitude for all the people who helped her.

3.  Treat Failure as a Learning Experience: Diane didn’t simply try the same thing five times.  She learned from each of her record attempts and made adjustments.  In particular, when jellyfish thwarted one of her attempts, she had a special jellyfish mask designed to help her avoid that particular problem.  Even that caused problems on her latest swim, causing her to drink a lot of seawater and risk dehydration from vomiting.

4.  You Can’t Control Mother Nature: One of the things that caused serious problems for Diana in the past was the lightning storm that ended at least one of her record attempts.  By the same token, Diana says that during this last, successful attempt, the gulf stream behaved in a way that was very favorable for her.  You can’t know exactly what the weather is going to do.  Nature cannot be controlled but must always be respected.

5. Even Super Athletes Face Embarrassment: Five times Diana told the media she was headed for Florida.  Four times she didn’t make it.  Four times her name was paired with photos of her being dragged from a boat, falling short of her goal.  Four times the caption said that she failed.  I have a hard time imagining how much grit it takes to try again and how much guts it takes to call the media for the fifth time, at age 64 and say, “yeah, but this time, I’m gonna make it!”  That is some serious, serious courage.

 

6. Sometimes You Gotta get out of The Water so you can Swim Another Day: Four times, Diana had to make the decision to get out of the water and stop trying.  Four times, she had to accept that in order to avoid permanent damage to her body and live to try again she had to stop.  On one of her attempts she had to stop after swimming for over 40 hours.  Yes it’s painful to stop and admit temporary defeat.  But the most important thing is to live to try again another day.

7. Successful Athletes Ignore the Nay-Sayers: I’m sure there were many people both close to Diana as well as complete strangers who told Diana she was crazy.  In fact some accounts suggest that friends and family begged Diana to give up this attempt.  And while it’s extremely important to consult experts on whether it’s okay to go forward, to get cleared by your doctors, to talk with the anti-jellyfish mask people, you don’t have to listen to everybody who’s got an opinion on your body or what you’re trying to do.

Lest you think that these rules only apply to ultra-endurance athletes, I can say that I have used each of these lessons in a much more humble way in my own athletic endeavors.   I only completed a marathon after the third attempt.  When the training for earlier marathons led to pain and cortisone shots and stress fractures, I took time off and healed completely.  I learned from each try and adjusted before trying again.  I ignored lots of people who said I would never make it.  I enlisted the help of some truly amazing people to get across the finish line.  And when I crossed that finish line, I looked like poop warmed over.  It wasn’t pretty.  But I did it.  And each time I told everybody in the world I was gonna do a marathon, and then had to tell them that I was taking some time off to heal but would do a marathon next year, I was embarrassed.  But I got over it.  The third time I tried I told everybody.  I solicited donations for the Arthritis Foundation.  I took the risk of being embarrassed again.  But I have to tell you, crossing the finish line was worth all the embarrassment I ever felt.

At this point, I’d like to offer one more lesson Diana Nyad has to offer us:

You’re Never Too Old for Fitness!  And those of you in the Bay Area will get a unique opportunity to show this to the world on September 18.  Learn the menopause mambo and then come on out to dance a Hot Flash Mob for menopause awareness.  Show the world that women of all ages can shake their collective groove things!

Love,

The Fat Chick

 

Why BMI stands for “Blatantly Meaningless Information”

Yup, higher shoe size means higher BMI. Maybe we should re-institute foot binding for better health?

The LA Times has published another awesome article, this time taking aim at BMI.  The article headline states “For nearly 1 in 5 Americans, BMI may tell the wrong story”.  Although one of the main studies actually places the misdiagnosis statistic closer to 2 in 5 Americans, I have to give the LA Times credit for posting this story which goes on to detail something that many of us in the HAES (R) universe already know: BMI is not a good predictor of individual health.  In short:

Having a high BMI does not mean you have poor metabolic health.  Having a low BMI does not mean you have good metabolic health.

So why is this important?  Well for a lot of reasons.  First off, if your doctor is using BMI to determine whether or not you should get further screenings or tests, he or she is using an extremely unreliable metric to make this determination.  This means as a fat person you may be exposed to a lot of tests you really don’t need.  This means as a thin person, your doctor may miss some stuff that is really important or even life-threatening.  I often wonder if a significant proportion of the medical costs associated with fat people are because we have so many more tests done.  Or even if higher percentages of certain diagnoses among fat people are in part because we look so much harder for these diagnoses among fat people.

Another reason that BMI bias is such a big problem is that the workplace wellness gurus are using it to coerce or even force us into interventions that may be entirely inappropriate for us.  For example, I’ve been talking a lot about this Michigan “walking program” for fatties.  BMI was used as the sole determinant as to who had to participate.  Those with higher BMIs were told they either had to wear a pedometer that reported their steps to the “home office” or they had to go to Weight Watchers.  There was no initial fitness assessment done.  There was no assessment of eating behaviors.  The program simply assumes that people with higher BMIs don’t engage in fitness and eat very poorly.  It’s entirely possible that people in the program had to reduce other, more strenuous and more enjoyable exercise programs in order to comply with the stupid walking rules.  It’s entirely possible that people in the program with well-balanced healthy eating habits were encouraged towards more disordered eating habits after their new stint with Weight Watchers.  It’s almost certain that people with low BMIs who are also sedentary and eat nothing but junk food were patted on the head and told to “keep up the good work”.

But we’ll never know because they never tested this stuff.

You know what?  When company money and government money and my money gets spent on stupid health programs that are just as likely to make people less healthy than before, and nobody bothers to test the hypotheses because “fatties” I get pretty annoyed.  In fact I’m crossing right over the line towards enraged.

It’s not like this research is all new.  It’s not like the problems inherent in the BMI as a measurement of individual health haven’t been known for decades.  But as long as entire industries are set on putting their fingers in their ears and chanting, “La, la, la, I can’t HEAR you!” I’m just gonna have to keep on saying the same things over and over and over.  As long as people walk around with misdiagnosed brain injuries because doctors simply think they need to lose weight, as long as thin people miss out on important medical screenings because they are assumed well, and as long as some insurance programs think it’s okay to strap a piece of hardware to my a@@ to track whether I’m moving enough just because of my dress size, I’m gonna keep on talking.

You hear that universe?  I’ll keep shaking my chubby fist and you and shouting that your BS. Measuring. Instrument. is not a valid way to understand anything about who I am.

Love,

The Fat Chick

 

 

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Proof Please

Web_Proof

So very often these days we hear that the world has deemed to help the portly because they so desperately need help and the world is being nice–and stuff.  Millions upon millions are invested in trying to prove that fat people are unhealthy, and if they would just eat a little less and move a little more, all their problems would be solved, everybody in the world would be healthy, and good, quality health insurance would cost everybody $1.  The fact that despite the millions of dollars spent, nobody has been able to prove these or demonstrate any way to make this magical weight loss happen on all but a fleeting and temporary basis doesn’t seem to deter anybody from testing this hypothesis again and again.

And even when the proof is not available, or indeed the available evidence says that your “weight intervention” causes negative effects and makes people fatter current policy seems to involve simply ignoring those pesky little facts.

Take the current practice of weighing and measuring kids at school and then sending home “BMI report cards”.  Despite showing again, and again and again that shame doesn’t make kids thinner or healthier, showing that shame causes kids to engage in more unhealthy behavior, that shame makes kids fatter, we still do this.  Why?  The National Eating Disorder Information Center issued the following statement regarding BMI testing in schools:

What the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) seems to be ignoring in its advocacy of weighing and measuring the height of schoolchildren is the risk it carries not just to increase body-based bullying from student’s teachers and peers, but the risk to children’s developing self-stigma and poor body image.

Body-based bullying continues to be the most common cause of bullying in youth. 29% of girls and 15% of boys are already teased about their weight at home. By grade seven, up to 30% of girls and 25% of boys are teased by other students. Poor body image has been found to stop youth from engaging in social, academic and physical opportunities. It limits willingness to express an opinion. In perpetuating focus on body shapes and sizes rather than on encouraging health providing attitudes and behaviours in children regardless of size, what are our schools (and public health) teaching?

However, it seems that plans to do BMI testing and BMI report cards in schools is continuing throughout North America.

This also reminds me of another recent situation I had recently reported.  Blue Care of Michigan is still touting the positive results of their “enforced march” walking program for fatties despite the fact that there is no evidence at all that those who participated either lost weight, or had any positive health outcomes associated with the program.  They apparently did nothing to track the original fitness level of the plus-sized participants and had no idea whether or not these folks were already active.  They just told these people that unless they wanted to pay an additional $2,000/year they had to participate.  They also forced those who participated to either be a member of Weight Watchers or wear a monitor which counted their steps during the day.  Just like a prisoner, they were forced to wear a physical implement on their bodies that told their insurance overlords what they were doing throughout the day.  Just because their BMI is over 30.  They declared this project a success even though nearly 1/3 of the 12 percent of participants who bothered to respond to the survey said they hated the program and found it coercive.  For more information, you may wish to read this article from my friend and colleague Jon Robison.

Throughout all this rhetoric about making fat people into “healthy thin people”.  Throughout all this spending on proving that fat people can become thin people on more than a very temporary basis and that making fat people into thin people will make them healthy there is one thing continually missing and that thing is proof.

When the available evidence points to the opposite of the fat people can become thin people, or fat people can’t be healthy people or fat kids just have ignorant parents rhetoric, the powers that be either request more money to re-test the hypothesis or simply ignore the inconvenient facts.

You may have heard of iatrogenic effects in medicine.  Dictionary.com defines them as: (of an illness or symptoms) induced in a patient as the result of a physician’s words or actions, esp as a consequence of taking a drug prescribed by the physician.

And good old Dictionary.com also defines iatrogenic as relates to social welfare: “(of a problem) induced by the means of treating a problem but ascribed to the continuing natural development of the problem being treated”.

Some experts have suggested that the “obesity crisis” is a textbook example of iatrogenic effects in both medicine and social welfare.  But I wonder if the “obesity crisis” isn’t responsible for iatrogenic effects in the economy as well.  If the response to the mounting pile of evidence that “diets don’t work” and “shame doesn’t work” and “fat people can be healthy” is always, “let’s pay for more tests” or “let’s do the weight loss junk but try harder this time” the obesity crisis will continue to be very, very expensive.

But I think the treatment for the economic effects of the hysteria surrounding the “obesity crisis” may be as simple as this.  Demand proof.  If your insurance company wants to put you on a walking program without doing an intake of any kind or presenting any data regarding the efficacy of the program, demand proof.  If your kid’s school wants to measure their BMI along with everybody else’s and send home a BMI report card, demand proof that this makes kids happier or healthier.  It’s not easy.  It’s not fun.  But the rights of fat people to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness demands that we, the fierce fat folks, demand proof.

Love,

The Fat Chick

 

 

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

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Body Hatred–We have an “App” for That!

iphoneappsadArrrrrrrgh!  A good friend recently shared this link with me.  (Warning–following link leads to stupid picture and ridiculous article.  Please check your sanity points level before you engage.)  It’s an article about an upcoming Anti-obesity app that will show people how they will look in the future if “their diet and exercise habits don’t change”.  Developed by the same folks who created an anti-smoking app that shows people what they will look like if they continued to smoke, the idea is that people become so horrified at their future, fatter selves that they will magically stick to restrictive diets and vigorous exercise programs and will stay svelte and beautiful for-EVAH.

Except maybe not.

It’s instructive that the story suggests that people using the app will be able to enter queries asking “what I will look like in four weeks, eight weeks, 12 weeks, 26 weeks or a year.”  Because one year is about the point at which many weight loss attempts start to go south and regain becomes common.  It’s interesting that the article does not suggest you will be able to ask what you will look like in five years.  Perhaps that’s because by that point, you have a 90-95 percent chance of looking the same or even larger than when you started.

Also, it’s been widely reported that bodies metabolize food and exercise very differently.  I’m wondering how this “app” will account for that.  We all know there are some people who eat a lot of junk food and spend a lot of time watching TV but never gain weight.  We also know some people eat a lot of fruit and vegetables and exercise quite a lot but don’t lose a lot of weight.  So how will this app account for those differences?  My guess–it won’t.  It will be based on some ridiculously over-simplified, generic, set of statistics that are custom-built to have the biggest impact on your “avatar” that has little or possibly even NO basis in reality.

beforeafterThere are many things about this upcoming app that make me angry and a little crazy.  But maybe one of the things that makes me most upset is the notion that this app, built by researchers at a freaking UNIVERSITY are working with the notion that shame will help make people thin.  Just how many research studies do we need exactly to prove that shame doesn’t make people, especially young people thin?  Seriously?!  And does the app have a convenient “Thinspo” feature that allows people with eating disorders utilize these visualization features?

Come on colleges and universities!  I mean, totally fabulous “Love Your Body Week” programs aside, you’ve got a way to go here.  It’s not just Professor Terrible that’s the problem.  It’s the fact that you approve and even allocate funding for projects like this stupid app.  It’s the fact that fat people are less likely to be admitted to your universities than thin people.  Maybe it’s time to stop focusing so much on people with big fat wallets and start focusing on being fair to people who are simply fat.

Love,

The Fat Chick

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

or

Book me to speak at your special event!