Tag Archives: stress

Diminishing Distress Dials Down Diabetes

First do no harm. Diabetes scare tactics just might kill you.

I recently ran across this article on Diabetes Hub which describes two important studies which correlate distress with poorer outcomes for people coping with diabetes.  The first of these studies involved a randomized trial of 150 women with uncontrolled diabetes.  What the study found is that those women in the study who were able to reduce their level of disease-related distress had significantly improved glycemic control.

Typical sources of disease related distress included fear of getting sicker and feelings of isolation or overwhelm in relation to disease management and treatment.  The EMPOWER study tested various forms of treatment interventions and found that regardless of treatment methodology, those people who were able to lower their distress were more compliant with treatment protocols:

HbA1c dropped much more substantially in those in whom distress was lowered, compared to those with whom distress was unchanged or increased,” Dr. Cummings said. “Medication adherence, self-care behaviors, and diabetes empowerment and self-efficacy were all substantially improved in the group with lower levels of distress at the end of the trial.

The doctors admit that they don’t quite know why lowering distress has such a significant effect on glycemic control among people with diabetes.  However it seems that working to lower distress among people with the disease is an important treatment goal.  According to Dr. Cummings:

We’re surprised at the number of these women caring for children, grandchildren, and other members of their families, often while working, and yet not finding time to care for themselves. It is clearly an important cultural phenomenon that we need to understand better.

The article went on to discuss data gathered from another important study: the national Reasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) cohort study.  Dr. Cummings noted that in this study which included 4,000 black and white adults 45 years and older with diabetes and nearly 18,000 adults without diabetes, those subjects with diabetes were more likely to suffer from depression or distress (26.7% vs. 23.2%, P < .001) or both (10.1% vs. 6.2%, P < .001), compared with those without diabetes.  Those people who had diabetes and also symptoms of distress or depression had higher risks for stroke and CV death than people with diabetes without depression or distress.

What all of this seems to make clear to me is the deep need for compassionate, blame-free, stigma-free, evidence-based health care for people coping with diabetes.  The notion of scaring people straight or using dire warnings to fuel completely unrealistic weight loss goals may be more than counterproductive–they might prove especially medically dangerous for this population.  Many forums for people with diabetes are filled with horror stories about how members were stigmatized, told their conditions were their fault and told that if they didn’t get thin, they wouldn’t live to see their children or grandchildren grow up.

But maybe what really needs to grow up is our approach to helping people with diabetes live better, longer and happier lives.  Maybe we need to spend a little less time pointing fingers and a little more time holding hands as we help people make small, incremental, manageable and realistic changes in their lives.  It’s just possible that fear tactics are doing more to harm people with diabetes than to help them.

That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited to be giving a presentation at the upcoming Take Control Of Your Diabetes Conference on September 26 in San Diego, CA  The event focuses on helping people with diabetes take positive, small and sustainable steps to better health.

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Can we get a little FREAKIN’ PEACE around here?

HolidaySwing

Here in Southern California, the holidays are a special kind of stressful.  People here just sort of just plum lose connection with any sort of common sense for a few weeks.  And in the week before Christmas, the whole area vibrates with a special sort of near-nervous-breakdown energy that makes me want to stay inside and pull the covers over my head.  In the last two days, I have seen some death-defying, I gotta get the eggnog before 7 PM maneuvers that left me screaming.  On Friday, I watched a van driver flick on his emergency lights and pull over the shoulder.  I had plenty of time to observe this as the freeway was in its usual “Friday Before a Holiday Parking Lot” mode.  I thought to myself, “oh, that poor van driver person.  What a yucky day to break down on the freeway.”  I then watched as said van driver BACKED UP OVER 1/2 A FREAKIN MILE ON THE FREAKIN FREEWAY.  Why?  The driver had missed the desired ramp.  After the backing maneuver, the van bumped up over a lane divider and pulled in front of exiting traffic to exit at the desired ramp.

“SERIOUSLY?  ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME?” I shouted.

That is only one of many incidents of horrible driving, deeply problematic mall stampeding and grocery store aisle smackdowns I’ve witnessed in the past few days.  And I have to tell you, it’s made me slow down, stop, and think.

You know what I want for the holidays this year?  Just a little bit of peace.  Just a little bit of space to breathe and appreciate and enjoy.    And that’s my wish for you as well.  I hope this holiday season (or what’s left of it) allows you to find a little bit of peace.

I wish you peace on the road–free from people screaming, cutting you off or as my friend jokingly puts it, “using the fellowship finger”.

I wish you peace as you shop.  May the people around be considerate and kind. May they only have positive things to say about the way you act and the way you look and who you are.

I wish you peace as you eat.  May you enjoy every bite and allow it to nourish you both inside and out.  May you enjoy holiday gatherings free from food policing and body shame.

I wish you peace with your family.  May everybody around you be grateful for all you have done to make the holiday special, even if all you were able to do this year is to allow your beautiful self to take more breaths and exist on this amazing earth.

I wish you peace with your body.  May you declare a cease-fire in any war you may have waged against your good self.  May you appreciate the staggering awesomeness of the body you have right now.  May you pamper and find joy in the skin you are in.

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And I wish you a peaceful new year.  May you find a way to scoff at those in the world who believe the way to greet the new year is to change everything that makes you, well, YOU.  May you face the new year with courage and optimism.  May you choose for yourself a path that is strengthening, enriching, enlightening and encouraging.

Sleep in heavenly peace my friends.  Sleep in heavenly peace.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

More Steps Towards Awesomeness: Thanksgiving Edition

All that holiday activity makes me tired!

Well it seems I have the jump on the competition when it comes to holiday travel.  I’m flying out to New York City tomorrow for some super secret fabulousness.  I’ll tell you all about it as soon as I possibly can.  But as I frantically stuff things into a suitcase, I thought I’d give you just a few MORE ideas about how to rack up more steps on your pedometer–HOLIDAY STYLE!

1.  The Airport or Train Station: Is a great place to walk.  After you’ve spend endless hours snaking through lines, stripping nearly naked for security and dragging a metric ton of luggage on and off the shuttle bus, you may have some anxiety to walk off.  And given the delays so typical during this season, you will probably have a lot of time to kill.  So why not spend some time getting extra exercise trotting around the terminal?  You’ll have plenty of time to sit very still, nay crammed like a sardine when you get on the plane!  One thing I’ve started to do to ease this process is to always wear exercise clothes while I’m traveling.  If you want to walk down the jetway in 4-inch heels then I say get down with your bad self.  But I travel in a nice pair of athletic pants, a sweat wicking top, a sports bra, an athletic jacket and tennis shoes.  This way, I’m ready to bust a move whenever the urge strikes.  And given all the other ways travel is uncomfortable, I figure I can at least get around wearing comfortable clothes.

2. The Grocery Store: Thanksgiving is the mother of all grocery shopping holidays.  Unfortunately, everybody in the known universe seems to go there at the same time.  Why not do yourself a favor and stock up on groceries this week?  You might not have time to formalize your list, so grab a cart and go up and down all the aisles.  (Just be careful not to pick up too many impulse items!)  Grocery stores have gotten bigger and bigger.  So carefully carting down all the aisles can really add up to quite a distance.  Don’t forget to park further from the door for extra steps.  And for heaven’s sake, be polite and walk the ten extra steps to return the cart to the rack.  I’m talking to you.  Yes, you!  I can see you trying to cantilever that cart up to the light pole to save yourself 15 extra steps of walking.  I can see your cart rolling loose across the parking lot and terrorizing little old ladies and shiny cars and their new paint jobs.  Seriously.  Return your cart!  (Rant ends.)

3. At Home:  Okay, let’s be honest.  We are all frantically cleaning our houses right now, trying to convince our mother-in-law that their son did not marry a pathetic, housekeeping-challenged, slug.  It’s pathetic.  Around this time of year, I tend to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat murmuring things like, “Behind the fridge.  What if she looks behind the fridge?!”  I could tell you to just chill out.  But this is an awesome time for getting in extra steps.  Put on some cleaning music. (Acid Death Metal works well for this, and has the added bonus of being extremely annoying to any obnoxious neighbors.)  Clip on a pedometer, grab a broom and get to it!  One technique you can use to get in extra steps is to put things away precisely where they belong on the first trip.  Typically, I pile all the stuff that needs to get put away at the bottom of the stairs or perhaps in a large cardboard box that I will ultimately drag into the garage and try to forget.  But if you take each thing and put it away, not only will you have the satisfaction of someday being able to find that thing again, you will also get in some extra steps.  Plus you get the privilege of standing at the door, looking at your domain, and reciting that line from Poltergeist, “This house is clean!”

So that’s three extra sneaky ways to get some extra exercise in and add to your step count this Thanksgiving.  And maybe, just maybe, the walking will relieve enough stress to keep you from being homicidal by Black Friday.

Love,

The Fat Chick

P.S. Don’t forget to join my mailing list to get all the latest super secret announcements and of course to get FREE STUFF!  Just opt in RIGHT HERE!

Right Now Show Episode 005: The Big Fat Cookie Cycle

In Episode 005 of the Right Now Show, we explore the cycle of dieting, deprivation and desperation that I have dubbed “The Big Fat Cookie Cycle”.  Learn a few reasons why dieting typically fails and why the Health At Every Size(R) approach seems to be so much more successful.

Here are some important references offering more information on Health At Every Size:

The Fat Chick Works Out! Book and DVD

The Association for Size Diversity and Health

Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight

Big Fat Stats

And finally, if you’re enjoying the show, don’t forget to subscribe at: http://www.youtube.com/jeanettedepatie.

Thanks so much!

Love,
Jeanette
AKA The Fat Chick
http://www.thefatchick.com

The Holiday Magnifying Glass

magnifierThe holidays are here with all the extra activities and fun and stress. Just to be clear, I love the holidays!  I love the decorations and the visiting and the food and the music.  But I think the holidays also bring special challenges like the one I call the holiday magnifying glass.

I coined this term because it seems to me that everything is just a little bit bigger during the holidays.  Schedules are fuller, bills are bigger, and emotions run higher.  Everything is just a little more intense.  I find my highs are higher.  I can say I’ve experienced true holiday joy (both with and without eggnog).  Unfortunately joy is not the only emotion I find heightened during the holiday season.  I also tend to experience more fear, more stress, more anxiety and more anger.  And I don’t think I’m alone.

Los Angeles is a pressure cooker the whole year through.  But it seems this sense of increased holiday intensity is especially apparent here in La La Land.  The mean people are meaner.  People will risk their lives (and yours) to cut you off on the freeway, to steal the parking spot near the store all to get somewhere fifteen seconds sooner.  The nice people are also nicer.  I’ve had people make room for me to enter the road from the gas station, store keepers be extra nice, gentlemen holding doors.

It seems like the holidays bring more of just about everything.  I think a lot of it has to do with rampant expectations.  Johnny has to have exactly the same number of presents as Sue.  The house has to look perfect.  I have to make my special cranberry chutney and 18 kinds of cookies and roast a whole ox for the next holiday feast.  I’ve talked a lot about managing holiday expectations on this blog.  I’ve talked about it a lot because I think it’s important, and also because it’s something that I personally find extremely challenging.  But sometimes when you’re in the moment under the holiday magnifying glass, when you’re in the middle of opening gifts or hosting the holiday feast and it’s too late to not make the 3 kinds of homemade latkes or simplify your holiday plan you need an emergency technique to get you through.

Here it is.  It’s not exactly earth-shaking rocket science, but it seems to work.  When everything is magnified, when it all seems way too big, just take three steps back.  When you step back and give yourself a little perspective, everything seems a little smaller.  Take a few steps away.  Go sit in the bathroom and take a few deep breaths.  Step back from the holiday table and stop obsessing about the way the napkins are folded.  Don’t just look at the car in front of you, take in the entire road.  Step back from the temper tantrums happening with the kids and realize that this too will pass (probably in much less time than you think.)  When in doubt, literally and figuratively take three steps back and three deep breaths.  And give yourself the holiday gift of just a little perspective.

Love,

The Fat Chick

Being in Flow

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If being in flow makes me a lone wolf, I’ll howl at the moon…

You know in this multitasking, multitrack, insanely busy world, I’d like to put in a word about the joy and power of being in flow.  Wikipedia defines flow as:

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.

 

For me, being in flow is a powerful force in my life.  I find as I get older, I seek more and more opportunities to be in flow, to be absorbed by a single task or experience, and to live in the moment.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am as busy as the next person.  And don’t think for one minute that I’m not spending a significant portion of my life trying to do two things at once:  driving and talking on the phone, eating dinner and watching TV, walking down the street and thinking about what I’ll make for dinner that night.  I’m as guilty of trying to do two things at once as the next person.

But can I let you in on a little secret?  I really, really suck at multitasking.  I am not good at trying to do two things at once.  And my experiments in multitasking–well they usually end in tears.  Driving while talking on the phone means ending up in a part of town where I never planned to go.  Eating and watching TV often results in me not really enjoying my food or the TV very much.  Thinking about dinner while walking down the street just may mean walking right into another person or even a light pole.  (True story, sigh…)

The truth is, I’m more effective doing one thing at a time, and I’m much, much happier.  In fact, I’m happiest when I get to live in flow.  This happens when I start writing my blog and an hour goes by and I didn’t even realize it.  This happens almost every single time I teach an exercise class.  It happens when I sing in public.  This happens when I speak in front of others.  This happens when I fall into a really great book.  I find myself actively seeking more opportunities to experience this wonderful state of flow.

Flow is the experience of living in the moment and being utterly and joyfully absorbed by only one thing.  Time passes quickly.  Worries about other, unrelated things, melt for a while.  Flow is being with another person and giving that person your full undivided attention.  Flow feels good.  And it is my instinct that flow is really good for you.  There’s not a whole lot of evidence regarding the health benefits of flow.  It’s hard to induce and hard to recognize and measure.  One study, done on pianists shows that the players not only performed better in a state of flow, but also experienced lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, and a relaxation of the major face muscles.

I know the more I’m in flow, the less I’m worrying or obsessing over things I can’t change, and the better I get at doing whatever the heck it is that I’m trying to do.  I just worry sometimes that in our hyperactive, wired, highly stimulated world, I’m more than a little bit too antiquated to keep up with the pack.  Oh well, I guess there’s a place for the the lone wolf too.  I wonder if I’ll achieve flow howling at the moon?

Love,

The Fat Chick

Shoppercize

If you’re like me, you’ve got a fair amount of pre-holiday shopping to do.  While I don’t typically participate in the Black Friday shopping insanity, I do have to hit the grocery stores to buy a few supplies for our Thanksgiving day and I will need to shop for baking and craft supplies soon.  Some people love shopping during the holidays–the excitement, the decorations, the crowds and the bargains really appeal to them.  Other people (like me) hate shopping during the holidays–the tension, the incessant holiday music, the noise, and the crowds make me nuts.  But love it or hate it, holiday shopping is a great time to get in a little fitness during a very hectic time of the year.

I have found that if I think of shopping as a sort of annual, extreme sports, fitness project it’s a little easier to get through it.  I call it “shoppercize”.    As with any fitness event or sport, preparation is key.  I make sure to wear the right gear (good sturdy athletic shoes, clothing in layers that breathe well), to warm up (doing some stretches before I get in the car) and and hydrate (with non-alcoholic beverages) before I begin.

I like to put on a pedometer or step counter when I shoppercize.  It helps me deal with the intensely stressed out crowds if I can foster a sense of accomplishment.  I set a goal for distance or number of steps before I head off for my shopping trip.  Then whenever I get to the store, I plan to park as far away as possible.  This way I can properly managing my expectations (since the darn lot will probably be full anyways), manage stress (since I’m not circling around the lot like a wheeled vulture spending thirty minutes to beat the other vultures to the one close parking spot) and I get in a little extra fitness (which is registered and logged on my handy pedometer).  Cool.

If I’m headed off to the mall, I try to shop early in the morning.  I usually arrive before the stores open and get in a mall lap or two and have a nice calm cup of coffee before the stores even open.  Usually the mall is less crowded first thing in the morning.  And if it gets too crowded to deal with, I just leave.  At least I got some exercise and a nice cup of coffee before it all went pear-shaped.  I can still feel a sense of accomplishment.

I doubt I will ever love holiday shopping–at least among LA crowds.  But love it or hate it, shoppercize is a great way to add a little fitness to your holiday while removing just a little of your holiday stress.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and happy shoppercizing!

Love,

The Fat Chick