Tag Archives: virtual decathlon

Oh the Places You’ll Go (with fitness)

Yesterday we officially launched our Fit Fatties Virtual Vacations with a virtual sunset cruise in Paris.  And it really got me thinking.  Of all the super wonderful and awesome things about exercise, I think one of the things I love most is how exercise can be and can fuel adventures in our lives.  Whether it’s just walking a little further down the path just to see what’s there, or getting on an airplane and exploring the world, I love how fitness can open new worlds for folks.

One of the most fun parts of the whole Fit Fatties Virtual Decathlon project was checking out the photos of the fun adventures people had while finishing their virtual events.  Some folks did a 5K or 10K or marathon for the first time.  Some people tried belly dancing lessons or hula hooping or tap dancing for the first time.  Folks went to museums, climbed mountains, toured college campuses and sports stadiums.  Some people exercised by themselves.  Some created spontaneous dance parties and even met Santa Claus on the beach with their kids.

Another thing that was super cool about the virtual events is the way that people started to see adventure in everyday activity.  Some people got badges for epic snow shoveling (and shoveling and shoveling), massive lawn mowing and wood splitting.  Folks even found adventure in having a temper tantrum and smashing stuff the ex left behind.  Clearly there was some catharsis going on.

I know that as my fitness level increases, my sense of adventure also tends to increase.  I’m more brave.  I’m more ready to try new things–whether it be hula hooping or trying just one more yard sale in search of the find of the century.  None of this takes me away from listening to my body.   However fit I may be, I always allow myself the right to try something and then say, “No, thank you.  This isn’t for me.”  One of my extremely talented students described this as her 10 minute rule.  “I try to be adventurous,” she says.  “But I always give myself an out.  If after 10 minutes, I don’t like it, love it or feel like I’m having fun, I give myself unabashed permission to simply walk away–no guilt and no strings attached.”

How about you.  As we move into summer vacation time (at  least in my part of the world) are you ready to try something new?  How about a water aerobics class, or some gardening, or riding a bike or surfing?  And how about instead of thinking of fitness as a guilt-laden obligation, we start thinking of it as an open-ended ticket to new adventures?

Love,  Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. It’s not too late to join our Fit Fatties Virtual Vacations!  Just click here!

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Why we need to “broaden” the Definition of Exercise

If you haven’t seen it already, I am sorry to be the one to bring this to your attention.  The news agencies have begun to pick up on a “study” that shows that fat women exercise, on average, for one hour per year.  Now naturally, I found this highly suspicious.  Nearly every fat person I know exercises more than that.  It seemed extremely unlikely to me, so I held my nose and started reading the articles and checking into the study.

Now the articles that are reporting about this study sport headlines like: “Obese Women Get One Hour Vigorous Activity Per Year”. (Warning, link leads to article with obligatory “headless fatty” picture.) But let’s look at a few things here.  First of all–the study asked the participants to wear accelerometers for 10 hours per day for 4 days.  Based on the findings from the accelerometers they extrapolated how much “vigorous activity” each participant got over the course of a year.  There were not a lot of participants in the study, and the participants were not all fat.  In fact, nobody in the study got very much exercise based on how they defined exercise.  Even those in the thin categories only got about 10 hours of exercise per year–far, FAR below what is recommended for good health.

So what is going on here?  Well the main thing that’s happening, is the the study makes the definition of “vigorous activity” extremely narrow and then reports how few people fit their definition of activity.  The study uses accelerometers which are known to only measure a very specific type of physical activity.  Typically accelerometers are good at recording lower body movements of a certain type (walking, running, climbing stairs) and not really good at recording many activities of daily livings (ADLs).  Further more, it appears that the study uses a short period of time to calculate the activity.  (4 days is considered the minimum by some standards and below the necessary threshold of measured time by others.)

The main issue here is that while the study’s definition of vigorous activity is really narrow, may of the headlines don’t reflect this.  I’ve yet to see a single headline that says “Fat people spend nine hours less per year running and jumping rope than thin people.”  But in essence, that’s what we’re talking about here.  It just gives the fat people a lot more ammo to throw at people of size.

It also gives people of size more reason to believe that they are both inactive and unhealthy.  And believing you are inactive and unhealthy can help make you inactive and unhealthy.  A recent study involved two groups of  hotel workers who had moderately active jobs.  In the study, one group of workers were told that their daily work “counted” as exercise and the other group were told that their daily work “didn’t count” as exercise.  Then they took a host of health metrics down the road.

According to the study:

Although actual behavior did not change, 4 weeks after the intervention,the informed group perceived themselves to be getting significantly more exercise than before. As a result, compared with the control group, they showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index.

In other words, if you believed the activity you are doing “counts” as exercise and will help make you healthy, it is more likely to do just that.

In this light, it is difficult to understand what good will come from narrowing people’s definition of what constitutes healthy activities.  In my certification process, I was taught that there are three main categories of exercise–cardiovascular training (aerobic exercise), resistance training (strength training) and flexibility training (stretching).  I was taught that all three of these are very important to health.  But the “fat ladies get one hour of exercise study” only counts a small percentage of one of these categories as exercise.  It doesn’t count resistance training or flexibility at all.  It doesn’t count cardiovascular activity based in water or that primarily uses the upper body.  It doesn’t count many forms of walking, cycling or jumping as vigorous activity despite failing to take body weight or heart rate into account.

In fact, of the 60 activities listed in the Fit Fatties Virtual Decathlon, less than ten of them would be likely to be accurately measured by an accelerometer.  And it would be difficult to determine how many of those would be considered “vigorous” enough to count in this study.

But our bodies are smarter than this study.  And our bodies love joyful, physical movements of all different types.  We know that shame doesn’t work, and we know that believing you are engaged in healthy behavior makes it more likely that you will receive benefits from that healthy behavior.  With that in mind, it seems like we should be actively working to expand the definition of what “counts” as exercise and providing as many examples of people of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities, who are smiling and doing this stuff as is possible.

With that in mind we are going to be inviting you to tweet some of your absolutely gorgeous pictures of healthy, happy, and fabulous activities in an upcoming project.  Stay tuned for the details.  In the meantime, keep having fun and keep moving your glorious bodies in lots of different and happy ways.  It all counts.

Love,

Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to make sure you are the first to know about fabulous fit fatty projects and get some free stuff?  Don’t forget to join my group!

 

 

 

How the tortise stayed out of the emergency room and still beat that hare.

So my dear reader, it can’t have escaped your attention that it’s a new year.  I’ve talked about it and written about it and recorded movies about it.  And it’s no wonder.  The new year is a time fraught with peril for many of us.  On the one hand, many of us face the danger of what I call the “big fat cycle”.   We are drawn in by the gazillions of weight-loss ads and new years resolution frenzy into a cycle of panic and body hatred, followed by weight loss fantasy and unrealistic expectations, followed by deprivation, guilt, defeat and despair.

But even when we are able to move past this “big fat cycle” of panic, fantasy and despair, we are still in grave danger of allowing our enthusiasm to run away with us.  Just because we manage to shun weight loss messages, doesn’t mean that we are automatically immune to unrealistic expectations and are completely in tune with our bodies.  And it’s important not to be so loudly shouting body positive slogans at ourselves that we aren’t hearing what our bodies have to tell us.

As you probably know by now, I  am deeply committed to the notion that Every BODY Can Exercise.  I’ve just announced by Every BODY Can Exercise 12-week program.  And my dear friend Ragen Chastain and I have launched a series of virtual fitness events including a decathlon and a double decathlon on our Fit Fatties Forum.  And you know what, I am SO excited about both of these things.  And I’m so excited that so many of you are so excited about these things!

But, (and this is a biiiiiig but) I also want to council that we need to approach all of that excitement with a little bit of caution.  Because, without a little bit of care, this kind of excitement can land us in the waiting room of our nearest sports medicine specialist or even the hospital emergency room.  Which sucks.  Trust me, I know.


So, I’d like to take this moment to remind you, that life is a distance race and not a sprint.  And in this case, it often pays to take the role of the tortoise and not the hare.  By all means, get excited about exercise.  Come on out of your shell.  Start on down the track.  But let’s make sure that we are continuing to listen to our bodies as we engage in this process.  The phrase “no pain, no gain” needs to be stricken forever from our fitness lexicons.  Because as the hare well knows, pain often leads to temporary gain, followed by high hospital bills and a long recovery period.  Let’s take a page from the tortoise’s book and learn to check in with our bodies regularly.  Aches and minor pains can be very helpful tools to let us know when we have done too much too fast, or are exercising with improper equipment (like shoes or a bicycle that doesn’t fit properly), or are doing an exercise that isn’t right for our body at this particular moment.

Aches and pains often start as a whisper that progress right on to screaming when left unattended.  It’s best to catch these messages “on the whisper”.  Because once you get to the screaming point, you may find yourself seriously injured and have to put your fitness dreams on hold for quite a while.

Look, I don’t want to be a “Debbie Downer”.  I don’t want to rain on your parade, or “pee in your pool”.  But I do want you to just take a moment as you charge towards your fitness goals in 2014 to choose the way of the tortoise.  It is often the very fastest way there.  See you at the finish line (eventually).

Love,  Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. It’s not too late to join me for my 2014 Every BODY Can Exercise program.  Enrollment will remain open until midnight on January 12, 2014.  And enrollment is still wide open for the Virtual Events program on the Fit Fatties Forum.  So start today (but not toooooo fast!)