Tag Archives: virtual events

Tuesday Reviewsday–Harriet Brown’s Body of Truth

For today’s Tuesday Reviewsday, I am pleased to discuss Harriet Brown’s recently released book “Body of Truth”.  Harriet Brown is already well known for her previous book, “Brave Girl Eating” about her experiences with her daughter who suffered from Anorexia.  “Body of Truth” uncovers Harriet’s epiphany regarding her own weight obsessed life within a society who complemented her daughter’s svelte figure even when they knew she was recovering from anorexia.

Like many of us, Harriet’s weight obsession and body hatred started early in life and lasted through most of middle age.  It wasn’t until she saw the devastating effects of anorexia that she even began to question society’s readiness to conflate thinness and health and began to question her seeming moral obligation to have thin thighs.  Harriet describes her own struggle in the midst of her Jewish family and describes the dichotomy of being in a culture that loves food and values hostesses who provide abundance at the dinner table while being terrified of fat.

Throughout the book, Harriet’s journalistic roots shine through clearly.  She provides a wealth of current information and facts to back up her assertion that we as a culture are a bit off the rails when it comes to body image and weight.  Much of the ground covered here will be familiar to those of us who have studied this area for some time.  There are the statistics about the failure of dieting.  There is an in-depth discussion of the “obesity paradox”.  And she covers Flegal’s research and the ensuing shameful medical backlash.  She follows the money and describes the intense conflicts of interest displayed by so many who serve on boards and are paid to do research to support the “war on obesity”.  However, there is much recent research covered in the book, and a significant portion of the anecdotal materials (for example on Professor Miller) are new and fresh.

Above all, I feel Harriet does a terrific job of weaving her personal narrative with a tight journalistic style that presents facts and evidence in a way that makes for a fast and enjoyable read.  I really  enjoyed the book and I think it may especially resonate with middle-aged readers who are just coming to HAES at this point in their lives.  I strongly recommend this powerful and enjoyable book.

Now, before I close, on to a bit of business.  Have you heard about our new Fit Fatties Virtual Events?  Have you signed up yet?  It’s super cool and you don’t want to miss it.  This time around the events feature a quintathlon option as well as Fit Fatties Flair.  Learn more HERE!

Also, this year I am seeking to earn a new fitness certification and so I am offering special discounts off of my regular speaking fees.  To learn more, send me an email describing your speaking request to jeanette at the fat chick dot com.  Learn more about my speaking HERE!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Frank Sinatra as Exercise Inspiration

In case you’re noodling over my semi-bizarre title, let me just say this.  Frank “did it his way”.  And when it comes to exercise, I’d like to invite you to do it your way.

I was inspired to write this after reading a great post by a young exercise guru named Ryan DeBell.  In his post, he talks about some of the anatomical differences in the hip region that can have a dramatic difference in the way we squat.  If you aren’t too squeamish when it comes to looking at human bones, I’d like to encourage you to hop on over to the article.  Because those pictures of bones tell a story that is very interesting.

The pictures feature the bones of the hip, showing us the socket part of the joint on the pelvis (called the acetabulum) and the ball part of the joint on the head of the long bone of the leg (called the femur).  When the pictures are compared, side by side, it is clear that there is a LOT of anatomical variety.  The angle of the ball part of the joint differs widely from one person to another.  The length of the ball part of the joint is different.  The position of the socket part of the pelvis is very different from one picture to another.

From this picture, Ryan extrapolates that these bodies would perform the “squat” in ways that are very different from one another.  He posits that one person would be more comfortable in a wide stance and another would be more comfortable in a narrow stance.  And he suggests that this difference is likely to continue expressing itself, even after a fair amount of exercise in both strengthening and increasing range of motion in the hip joint.

It’s also fascinating to me that Ryan followed up his blog post with a brief video. Here it is:


Basically what the video says is (and I’m paraphrasing): “Yeah helpful commenters, I didn’t say that because hips are different people should stop working on their hips.  And no I don’t have reams of incontrovertible evidence detailing the exact range of human hip diversity.  But what I am saying is that even if you exercise a lot, people are still going to be different. ”

And the end of the video is so awesome, I’ll quote it here:

“Keep doing it so you can be the best version of you in your movement.”

Okay, I want to give this guy cyberhugs.  Seriously.  Because what he says makes so much sense not only in the context of exercise, but also in terms of body diversity in general.  It should be obvious, right?  We don’t all look the same.  Some of us are tall and some of us are short.  Some of us are designed to be weight lifters and some of us are designed to sprint and some of us are going to run long distances like marathons and ultramarathons like a freakin’ gazelle.  Some of us are designed with a great deal of musical talent.  Others of us can’t carry a tune in a barrel.  Does suggest that the sprinters can’t do marathons or that the non-singers should just mouth “Happy Birthday to You” at the next family gathering?  No it does not.  However it does suggest that the sprinter’s body is likely to respond to 26.2 miles in a way that is very different from the gazelle.  It means that the non-singer is going to have a much different experience learning to sing opera than the kid who rolled out of bed at age 18 with a high “C” and perfect pitch.

And speaking of singing, there is so much diversity in music, and in many ways it seems more accepted.  I am a soprano.  I can sing the same notes as many altos and even some tenors.  But no matter how much I train my voice to extend my range, I will not  be an alto or a tenor.  The quality of my voice will not match those voice types.  And the more I try to train my voice to artificially create a sound that is not right for me, the more fatigued and frustrated I will become.  And if I train against the natural tendencies of my voice long enough and hard enough, I am likely to experience pain, injury and possibly even permanent damage.  Does that mean I stop working to extend my range?  Of course not!  But it does mean that I need to progress in a way that is in harmony with my anatomy and my abilities.

You know, as I watched the Golden Globes last night, I found a number of things really striking.  One thing I noticed was how tall most of the women were.  And another thing I noticed was how similar all the women looked to one another.  There were a few striking and glorious examples of body diversity, but the vast majority of the women at that show could have easily swapped couture gowns with one another.  And I think this is one of the main dangers of consuming media in our culture.  It makes us lose touch with how much natural diversity there is in bodies.  It gives many of us the sense that our bodies are all wrong because everybody we see on TV and in the magazines either look the same naturally, or are photoshopped into uniformity.  But if we look outside of media, if we look in the real world, I think there is a beautiful and astonishing level of difference.

So how do we bring this back around to our title?  How do we relate this to Frank Sinatra?  My dear friend, I think it means you need to do exercise YOUR way.  By all means enlist the help of a personal trainer or exercise teacher.  By all means build your strength and extend your range of motion.  But while you are doing this, please listen to YOUR body.  Don’t assume that there is only one way to strengthen or increase flexibility in any part of your body.   Don’t even assume that there is only one right way to do a particular sort of exercise.  And when your body says, “OW it hurts when I do that in that way,” follow your Mom’s sage advice and don’t do that.  Just focus, as Ryan says, on being the best version of YOU.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. One of the things that is so exciting about the Fit Fatties Virtual Events project I co-created with Ragen Chastain (besides how cool it is to do anything with Ragen Chastain) is watching how different bodies respond to the very different challenges offered in the program.  Rather than asking everybody to do a 5K or a triathlon, we are encouraging people to explore a wide range of activities and pick a few  that feel great to them.  We are still offering early bird special pricing so I urge you to go check it out!

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!)