Tag Archives: Independent Lens

Olympic-levels of FUN!

The Fat Chick with Olympian Cheryl Haworth, Filmmaker Julie Wyman and awesome producer Barbara Multer-Wellin at the Pasadena screening of Strong!

I am so excited and blessed that my dear friend Barbara Multer-Wellin and I had a chance to meet two absolutely amazing women–3-time Olympian Cheryl Haworth and extraordinary documentary filmmaker Julie Wyman before the screening of their movie Strong!  What an awesome film!  (I am trying for the WR for the most superlatives in one blog post ever, so work with me here.)  It is such a joy when you meet famous people who are so warm and down to earth and funny.  We laughed our heads off!  And I do want to give a shout out for the film.  I’ve seen it at least 4 or 5 times now (I’ve lost count) and it seriously gets better every time I watch it.  The film is beautifully shot and really portrays Cheryl’s strength, sense of humor and well-grounded sense of self.

Part of the sense of self that Cheryl portrays in the film is a sense of ambiguity in her feelings about her physical appearance.  I want to applaud both Cheryl and Julie for allowing us to see that ambiguity.  During the panel discussion last night, Julie spoke about the great temptation to have the movie be a message and have everything tied up in a neat bow at the end.  But life rarely works that way, and the openness of both Julie and Cheryl in allowing us to see that struggle for body acceptance is one of the most powerful things about the film.  Self acceptance, especially when one does not meet certain societal standards for body size and shape is hard.  The film shows us how hard it is without offering simplistic, preachy solutions.  I found that deeply meaningful.

So for heaven’s sake my little Chicklettes, go see this film!  If  you’re in Southern California, you can join me for a free screening followed by a panel discussion in Long Beach at 6 PM on May 29.  And there are still a few other screenings scheduled throughout the country.  Or at least plan on watching it on PBS when it airs in July.  Just don’t miss it!


The Fat Chick

But won’t you lose weight if…?

At the San Bernardino Valley College screening of “Strong!”

Last night at the panel discussion after the screening of StrongI at the San Bernardino Valley College, I got asked a very common question.  People assume, that if I did a marathon or if I ate healthy or if taught aerobics, I would have lost weight.  And audience members were, as always, floored when I told them, yes I did those things and no I didn’t lose weight.  They usually follow this question with a tentative, “well you lost inches, right?”.  To which I usually respond, “well I didn’t get any shorter!”  Seriously, it seems very hard for folks to believe that a person can do healthy things, even extraordinary physical things and not get thin.  This seems to fly in the face of EVERYTHING that they’ve heard.  And I’m sorry about that. But it’s still true.

When I started teaching fitness, I went from very little exercise to over 4 hours per week.  Did I get svelte?  Did I get slim?  Nope!  When I bumped my teaching up to 9 hours per week, I lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 pounds and ended up with a ligament tear in my knee.  I gained one 3-pound pair of crutches for a net weight loss of 0.00.  While training for the marathon, I routinely walked and ran 15 to 20 miles per week.  Near the end it was well over 30.  And you know how much weight I lost? Zero. Zip. Zilch.  I felt better.  I was stronger and healthier.  And no doubt some of my weight shifted around a bit.  But the fact is, I didn’t get thin.

And here’s why that’s important.  Wouldn’t it have been a shame for me to have crossed the finish line of my first (and only) marathon feeling like a failure?  Can you imagine? Going 26.2 miles in one day without dying and feeling like a FAILURE?  Well that’s precisely what would have happened had I not learned to separate the concept of fitness from the concept of weight loss.  Since I wasn’t worried about losing weight, I can tell you that crossing that finish line was one of the most amazing moments of my life.

So that’s it.  That’s why I call myself The Fat Chick.  Because I think it is so very important to let fitness stand on its own as an accomplishment.  Because I want people to understand that not all folks who exercise look like fitness cover models.  A lot of them look an awful lot like me.  In fact, if you’d like to see some exercisers of size, don’t forget to hit the photo gallery of Fit Fatties which I developed in concert with the lovely and amazing Ms. Ragen Chastain.

And remember my little chicklettes, if you want to see what an athlete looks like, just check in the nearest mirror.