Tag Archives: joyful movement

Joyful Movement Taught by 14 Month-Old Ivo


Click on the photo to see a beautiful video…

A friend recently sent me a link to this fabulous video on facebook.  Apparently some dancers were looking for some inspiration for their new dance piece.  And as they were dancing, 14-month old Ivo wandered in and started doing his thing.  The dancers decided to let him lead and the result is the above linked facebook video which is rapidly going viral.

And why is that?  He’s not a world celebrated choreographer.  He never danced at the Bolshoi or studied with Fosse or Graham.  So what is it about this little guy that has made him a facebook phenom at such a tender age?

I admit that I smiled and even giggled a little as I watched this video.  Ivo is terribly cute!  But I think what attracted me most is the idea that Ivo’s performance perfectly embodies joyful movement.  Ivo is not calculating how many fat grams he’s burning or working on his “core”.  Ivo is not wondering about calories or carb loading or fast twitch muscle fibers.  Nope.  Ivo is just dancing because he hears some music and because it feels good and because it’s fun.  The fact that all the bigger people joined in is just an extra bonus feature as far as Ivo is concerned.  Ivo is dancing because Ivo wants to dance.

I think children have so much to teach us about what joyful movement is and what if feels like.  I was inspired by a talk given by the ever-fabulous Deb Burgard at last Saturday’s A Fatty Affair in San Jose (which totally rocked by the way).  In her talk, Deb talked about how as an adult, she wants to bring recess back.  She asks us to remember how great it felt to hear the bell ring and run outside and jump on the swings or the merry-go-round or teeter-totter.  She reminds us of the release that came from just moving our bodies because it felt good, because it was a reprieve from studies and books and because it was fun!

Outside of borrowing a 14-month old kid to teach our fitness classes, I wonder how we can find our way back to this feeling again.  Can we just hop on a swing and pump our legs as we taste the sky?  Can we feel the whoosh of air going by as we spin on the merry-go-round?  Can we respond to an elegant Cello solo by flopping on the floor and kicking our legs in the air?

Look, I’m a fitness professional.  Obviously I believe there is a time and a place for integrating exercise science into our workouts.  Science can help lead us to exercise and help shape our exercise plans so we can exercise safely and effectively.  But I don’t think it’s the science that keeps us exercising.  I think it’s the sky tasting, whoop and swoop and kicking that does it.  So that’s the challenge I’d like to offer you right now.  I’d like to invite you to let Ivo, and your old playground self to inform your next workout.  Then, if you like, you could drop me an email or post in the comments to let us know how it went.


The Fat Chick

Baby Steps

So often when it comes to integrating intuitive eating and moderate joyful exercise into our lives, we hear that we should take baby steps.  And by that, what is usually meant is that we should take a series of very small steps, one after the other.  And when it comes to making any changes to eating patterns and exercise patterns, I agree that baby steps are best.

But maybe what I mean by baby steps is less about how small the steps are, and is more about how the steps align with what feels good to our bodies.  Babies and very young children don’t count carbs or calculate how many MET units they have expended in a particular workout.  They don’t eat based on a point system or in order to look great for bathing suit season.  Babies always look great during bathing suit season.  Babies usually eat when they are hungry and quit when they are full.  They eat what they like and what their bodies tell them they want.  And they “exercise” because it feels good and is fun!

I mean check out the pair that is boppin and groovin’ in the exercise above.  They are taking baby steps towards health.  They are in a loving family situation, they hear music and they just rock out with their bad selves.  It’s pretty obvious that they are having a great time!

Why not take some “baby steps” towards health this week?  What would it be like to let your hunger and your taste buds dictate what and when to eat or not eat?  How about putting on some music and bopping around in your chair or grooving around the living room?  Why not put down your diet books and exercise books and just let yourself fully and unreservedly inhabit your body?

All I can say is go baby go!


The Fat Chick

On being a Shameless Woman: How Forbes Got it Right

Ooooo, I’m so excited about THIS article from the Forbes.com site She Negotiates!  In this piece, author Brooke Axtell talks about why shame doesn’t make us thinner OR healthier, and she rounds up an amazing group of experts including Dr. Michelle Segar and Dr. Linda Bacon.  And I’m resonating so deeply with what is said here that I’m ringing like a big old bell!  The article starts out asking a simple question:

The U.S. Diet and Weight Loss Industry produced over 60 billion dollars in revenue last year. With all the available information and products, why do many intelligent women continue to diet and exercise without achieving lasting results?

Good question!  Why do we keep banging our head on this same wall over and over again?  Why do we keep doing the same things we’ve always done before and expect different results.  Why are we behaving in a way that could be defined as insane?

The article goes on interview Dr. Michelle Segar.  And while I don’t intimately know her work and can’t comment on her personal feelings about weight loss, I couldn’t find much to fault in her interview here.  Basically, her research indicates that if you start trying to change your health and wellness from a point of self-hatred you are doomed to fail before you even start.  The article goes on to state:

Many of the behaviors that improve health, such as getting more sleep and making better eating choices, also lead to experiences, such as reduced stress, that contribute to happier lives. It is the positive experience that we crave and it is far easier to measure on a daily basis. Although many claim that their health is a priority, the truth is that we are far more motivated by wanting to feel good than to improve our health.

Yes, yes and YES!  In my experience with all of the folks that I work with, it’s the immediate pleasure of having fun, of building relationships with classmates, it’s the better sleep and higher confidence and improved sex life that comes with exercise that keeps them exercising.  You can create charts.  You can pull out your calipers and scales.  You can give the “deathfat” speech all you want.  You can even give them a “gold star” for being “good”.  But what keeps exercisers coming back for more is having a good time and feeling good both during and after exercise.  Period.

This is such an important idea.  So often people ask me why I call myself The Fat Chick.  They ask why I can’t just skip over the issue of being “curvy” and tell people to have fun while they are losing weight.  They ask why I can’t just “suggest” that they could or should lose weight.  But I can’t.  Because telling people to have fun while they are on the way to being worthy, while they are in the process of becoming okay just doesn’t work.  I have to tell them that they are okay now.  I have to let them know that they are worthy even if they never achieve the BMI or number on the scale they are seeking.  I have to let them know that we will experience joy right from the beginning of our work together, not after some magic number or arbitrary goal is achieved.  As the article states:

Ultimately, it matters why we exercise and eat healthy foods. This is important not only to sustain our efforts of authentic self-care, but also to resist the toxic messages of a 60 billion dollar industry that depends on women feeling ashamed of their bodies.

Amen, sister.  Amen.  So I’ll keep calling myself The Fat Chick, and I’ll keep focusing on feeling good and having fun.  I will refuse to fuel the industry built on shame that keeps us down and holds us back.  I’ll keep working with people of many different ages, weights and abilities.  I’ll call myself and all of my students worthy on the first day and the last day and every day in between.  To put it simply, that’s what works in the short term, the long term and the whole term.

Thanks for listening.


The Fat Chick