Tag Archives: perfectionism

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


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.


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.

Never Good Enough: How a Big Body Means “You’re Doing it Wrong”

One of the things I find deeply frustrating as a fat woman is the assumption by many complete strangers, that I am not doing enough for my health.  And the more I appear in public and on television, the more I hear this criticism leveled at me. No matter what I’m doing for my health, clearly I’m not doing it enough, because, well look at me.  And if I should claim to be doing something far beyond what another person is doing, then I must be lying.

For example, I am a fitness teacher.  I exercise pretty regularly and moderately.  But many people believe that clearly, I’m neither exercising hard enough, nor the right way, because look at me.  I’m still fat.  I should lift more weights.  I should exercise at a higher intensity.  I should do Fred the Celebrity’s Super Insane Fitness Plan.  Forget that I might get injured.  Forget that I would hate it and quit after a few workouts.  The folks that know everything about everything are glad to let me know that since they are thin and I am fat, I’m not working out as well as them.  And when I tell them, that when I was training for the marathon and walking/running up to 35 miles per week I still maintained this weight, they tell me I was eating 4,000 calories per day, or lying.  People who are conventionally thin, don’t get this treatment.  If a conventionally thin person says that they exercise 45 minutes per week, they are usually told, to keep doing what they are doing because they look great.

The same is true with eating.  Many people assume that since I am big, I eat nothing but junk food, I eat large amounts of food and I eat all the time.  In pre-interviews for certain public appearances, I am grilled over and over about what I eat, when I eat, how much I eat, and so on.  No thin woman is asked these questions.  It is assumed that if they are thin, they are eating well.  But the producers ask these questions of me because A) they think their audience will wonder (and they are probably right about this) and B) they just can’t imagine that I’m not eating the whole house because, well, look at me.  We have been conditioned so deeply to believe that fat people do unhealthy things and fat people do healthy things that we assume that we know, by looking at someone what their habits are.  In the name of full disclosure, I would say that my eating habits are pretty average.  I eat more than some and less than some.  I eat more junk food than some and less than some.  Some of those who eat less than me weigh more than me.  And many people who eat more than me weigh less than me.  As comforting as the idea is that we can control every aspect of our appearance and our health outcomes with our behaviors, it just isn’t true.

So all we can do is what seems to be best for us at the time.  There is no perfect exercise regimen.  There is no perfect diet.  There are no perfect people.  There’s just people.  So the next time you look in the mirror and decide that your size means you aren’t doing the right healthy things or doing enough healthy things, maybe that’s the time to just stop.  You don’t have to put yourself into the same box that society does.  Make your own plans and build your own life.  Build a life that is joyous and right for YOU.


The Fat Chick