Tag Archives: SAD

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!

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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.

You Don’t Need to Sell Soap to Be Beautiful!

fatbabeI was so very excited when I came across this in my facebook feed.  Fat positive blogger and artist phenom Rachele AKA The Nearsighted Owl has a project called The Fat Babe project.  All  you do is send in a photo of yourself and a link to your blog, and she will create a fat and fabulous artist’s rendering of your gorgeousness for FREE!  Postcards and greeting cards featuring  your fabulous form are available for modest fee, so you can send your sexiness to your friends and family.

This is just one of a series of opportunities to be the subject of fat positive art.  Of course Substantia Jones has been doing amazing artistic photography of fat subjects for years.  You can see her work at adipositivity.com.  And if you’re ever in or around New York, you can contact her about being the subject of a fat positive photo shoot.

And  of course, there’s the work of Les Toil, who has been creating artsy drawings of fat chicks for many years.  It costs a little bit more but who can argue with the gorgeousness of the work?  And you get a number of prints and a CD featuring YOU in all your splendor.

I think all of this work is important in many ways.  In light of that Dove Viral Video, with the creepy forensic artist sketching the insecurities of conventionally beautiful women in a mood-lit semi-modern loft to super saturated sugary soundtrack, these artist are working to actually expand our body consciousness–unhindered by a need to sell soap.

So hurrah for the size diverse sketch artists and the pulchritudinous painters and the photographers who help the world view bodies through a wide angle lens!  Who knows, you just might see a whole different view of yours truly, very soon!

Love,

The Fat Chick

Exercising Through the Long Night

winter_treeThe long winter nights can really take a toll on your fitness routine.  For many of us, it’s already dark when we begin our commute home from work.  Coming home to a dark house, we yearn for the comforts of a blankie, the couch, some soup and the remote.  And if you’re an early morning exerciser, you may find it dark out when you get up as well as when you drive home from work.  It’s no wonder the bears hibernate at this time of year.

But this is also a time of year when exercise is especially important.  Lack of sunlight can cause depression and lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  And for many of us, the reduced access to sunlight leads to a drop in Vitamin D levels which can lead to fatigue and depression.  And since exercise is a great way to battle depression, it’s especially helpful when the nights are long.

So naturally, I have a few tips to help keep your workout on track even on the shortest days of the year:

1.  BE SAFE: If your normal daytime workout is now happening in the dark, you may need to take extra precautions.  If you exercise outdoors, wear reflective clothing so others can see you.  It’s especially important to have a charged cell phone with you at all times.  (Lots of cell phones have neat-o apps or music programs available that can track your workout miles and pace or offer special motivational talk or songs.)  Even if you exercise inside, you may  be traveling to and from the gym in the dark.  Be aware of your surroundings, walk in with a buddy if you can, and it’s always a good idea to have some self defense training.

2.  EXERCISE IN SHORTER BURSTS: One of the best ways to take advantage of the limited light is to squeeze in a lunchtime workout.  But it’s pretty tough to get in whole hour or even 45 minutes of exercise and still manage to eat some lunch.  Lunch time is great for a 15-minute burst of more intense exercise.  Put on your tennis shoes and go for a power walk.  You can also potentially get in even shorter (5-10 minute bursts) during your morning or afternoon coffee breaks.  New research is coming on line that indicates shorter more intense bursts of exercise may actually be better for your health than long and slow workouts.  PLUS as an added bonus, short winter workouts are less likely to leave you hot and sweaty.

3.  TAKE VITAMIN D: As I mentioned earlier, the shorter days mean that many of us get less access to sunlight (a primary source of Vitamin D for most people).  Vitamin D deficiency can make you feel depressed and fatigued which can affect your exercise motivation.  Now might be a great time to talk to your doctor or pharmacist and explore whether a Vitamin D supplement is for you.

4.  DRESS FOR SUCCESS: Make sure if you’re exercising outside in the winter that you are properly dressed.  That means wear layers that you can put on or take off as you feel too hot or too cold.  Make sure to protect hands, ears and other areas sensitive to cold.  And it can be especially important to wear sweat-wicking, technical fabrics in the winter, as sweat soaked cotton can leave you dangerously chilled at the end of your workout.

5.  EXERCISE IN THE MORNING: I know that all you night owls are groaning right now.  But after we set the clocks back in the fall, you tend to have more access to daylight in the hours before work than after.  Now’s a great time to get up just a little earlier in the morning, and get in a short burst of exercise right before you head off to work.  If you have a long commute, you could leave for work a half-hour earlier and get in a quick walk or jog somewhere near the office.

6.  CHANGE AT WORK: If you are a night exerciser, it can be especially challenging to get in a workout when it’s dark after work.  Once you get home and start checking your email and spend a few minutes/hours on facebook, getting changed for a workout can seem like a monumental task.  And let’s face it, exercise clothes are just as comfy for sitting on the couch and watching some tube as they are for exercising.  One strategy that seems to work for a lot of people is to change into your workout clothes before leaving work and exercise before arriving at home.

These are just a few strategies to help keep you enjoying the lifelong benefits of exercise even when the days are super short.  And don’t forget the main strategy: have fun!

Love,

The Fat Chick

Daylight Savings Time: Here Comes the Sun

Today is the second day of daylight savings time here in Southern California and since I’m typically an early riser, I’m enjoying the little extra jolt of sunshine in my day.  I love the sunshine  and since I live in So Cal, I get access to way more of it than most.

Many of us have come to fear sunshine because of it’s association with an increased risk for skin cancer.  But if you manage your exposure, you can enjoy the health benefits of sunshine without a lot of risk.  Some researchers recommend daily sun exposure for about half the time it would normally take you to get a sunburn.  Others recommend that you spend 15 minutes in the sun each day without sunblock or sunglasses (the sun’s rays come through they eyes to stimulate the pituitary gland and helps control hormone production in other glands).  A good way to get this 15 minutes is to combine it with little bits of exercise throughout the day like parking your car a little further from your destination, going for 10 minute walk breaks throughout the day or walking a few blocks to a lunch destination.

There are lots and lots of health benefits to sunshine.  Here are just a few:

Promotes Better Sleep: Daily access to sunshine helps to regulate your circadian cycles.  This makes it easier for you to fall and stay asleep.

Reduces Cancer Risk: The Vitamin D you get from sunshine has been shown to reduce risks of colon, breast, prostate and rectal cancers.  And higher Vitamin D levels in the bloodstream seem to increase your likelihood of surviving a cancer diagnosis.

Lowers Cholesterol Levels: Cholesterol that lies under the skin is turned into Vitamin D3 which both increases the level of this important vitamin in your body and can significantly lower cholesterol levels.

Strengthens Immune System: Sun exposure increases production of red and white blood cells which tends to strengthen the immune system.  Studies also show that Vitamin D may help activate T-cells which are the body’s first line of defense against pathogens.

Reduces Risks of Osteoporosis: Sunshine is one of the most potent sources of Vitamin D.  Higher levels of Vitamin D have been shown to help increase absorption of calcium from the intestines and increase bone density in post-menopausal women.

Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes:  Increased levels of Vitamin D in the system also appear to be associated with lower incidence of type 2 Diabetes.  Although it is not clear which sources of Vitamin D are most beneficial in reducing Diabetes risk, there is a link that bears further investigation.

Improves Mood: We’ve all heard of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but beyond that, sun has the power to make us feel better, make us less depressed and may even help us to think more clearly.

There are many other potential benefits to sunshine from increasing optimism, to improving milk production in lactating women to a link to lower risk of stroke, neuro-degenerative diseases, allergies, multiple sclerosis, hypertension and psoriasis.

So my dear friends, get on out there and feel the sun on your face–at least for a little while.  But don’t stay out there too long.  As I often say, you don’t need to feel the burn to get the benefit.

Love,

The Fat Chick