Tag Archives: wellness

A Joyous Sufficiency

I’ve been adding more meditation time to my life and this has been a wonderful decision.  I was deeply encouraged by a dear friend (Thanks Gina!) to pursue this and it has helped me in so many ways.  I am feeling less stressed.  I am feeling more grounded.  My dreams at night are rich and vivid!  There are so many good things.

In my work with a coach last year and in my meditation this year, I have come across many tools and phrases that I use to help keep me centered and feeling whole.  But in all those tools and phrases, for me one has stood head and shoulders above the rest.  I simply tell myself, “Jeanette, you are enough.”

I often need to tell myself this phrase over and over.  Because throughout my life, I have often felt I wasn’t enough.  I wasn’t tall enough or thin enough or smart enough or rich enough.  I wasn’t sexy enough or talented enough or kind enough or a good enough friend, daughter, sister or wife.

And in my life when I have felt the deepest despair, I wonder if I am even under there.  Under the awards and the press clippings and the degrees and the friends  list and the family ties and the wardrobe and the public smile.  Under the niceness and the smile I share even when I feel like crying am I under all that?  Is there a me there somewhere?

But through my meditation work, I am starting to understand that I am a joyous sufficiency.  I am enough.  Not my money or my work or my friends lists or my accomplishments.  Not my friends lists or my awards or my photographs or my resume or my portfolio.  I am enough.  Just me.  Whatever I bring, or do, or desire or act upon. I AM just fine.  I AM.

I share this because I hear you.  I hear you when you are frustrated and sad and feel like you will never live up to what you think the world wants you to be.  I hear you when you fail yet again to capture the perfect selfie that will convince you that you have convinced the entire world you are okay.  And for those moments, whenever they come up, I want to say something.

Breathe.  You are okay.  You are enough.  You ARE.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to come talk to your group about the importance of understanding “joyous sufficiency”?  Email me at jeanette at the fat chick dot com.  Learn more here.

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Quis traversum elit? Is your fitness tracker running your life?

Click to check out an interesting article about the “quantified self”.

Quis traversum elit?  Who is tracking the trackers?  I feel compelled to write about this as I’ve run across so many people on our Fit Fatties Forum and on Facebook who are sharing the fact that they have become a slave to their fitness tracking devices.  Don’t get me wrong.  Fitness trackers can be wonderful!  For many people those gorgeous, full-color interactive graphs are just the thing to get them up and moving  in the morning.  But I feel like I need to address the fact that interest in these things can and does sometimes tip a bit towards obsession in some people.

I have experienced this myself in the past.  I was wearing one of those trackers that shared your steps and speed and cadence with a group of friends online.  I distinctly remember almost missing a plane because I was obsessively walking the terminals to “get in my daily steps” before midnight.  Every day I would pull up those stats.  If the stats were good, I had a good day.  If the stats were bad I was despondent.  Sound familiar?  If  you think this sounds a little like an obsession with numbers on a scale, I would say you’re right!

I think another dangerous aspect of this is that we are encouraged to hit these goals regardless of how our bodies feel on any given day.  Just like the body signals when it is full or hungry or needs cheese, the body signals when it needs rest.  If we continually ignore our body’s signals in order to maintain an appropriate slope on a pretty digital graph, things can get kinda dicey.  We’re risking chronic physical exhaustion which can lead to overuse injuries and even chronic illness.

So what’s a person to do?  Here’s a few tips:

1.  If the graph feature of the tracker is making you feel a little bit obsessive, turn that part off or ignore it.

2.  Try to build rest days into your schedule.  Instead of insisting that you work out every day, how about 5 or 6 days a week?  Then take a break when your body says you need to.

3.  How about keeping a journal where you map how your body is feeling on any given day.  Then maybe you can identify that Thursdays are tough and plan a yoga session or a meditation session for that day.

4.  Remember that cardiovascular fitness is only one part of wellness.  Maybe schedule in some other forms of wellness work like stretching or weight training or breathing exercises.

5.  If you are truly becoming obsessed with your tracker, maybe you need a trial separation.  This is true even if you spent a metric butt-ton of money on it.  Try taking it off for 2 weeks and see if the effect on your OVERALL well being is positive or negative.

Hope this helps you in all your wellness endeavors.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to speak to your group about fitness trackers and all kinds of other wellness stuff?  Send me an email at: jeanette at thefatchick dot com.  You can learn more right here.

The Health Continuum

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The day before I woke up in excruciating back pain, I gave a keynote address at a health conference.  And during that keynote I talked a lot about how we need to make the ideas of health and wellness more inclusive.  We need to have a bigger tent where every BODY can participate.  We need to imagine a spectrum where we can all experience health.

I asked people in the audience to close their eyes and envision health.  What does a healthy person look like?  Then I asked them, if by any chance, their vision of health looked like a skinny white woman eating yogurt?  How about salad?  Does she look like she’s feeling orgasmic over these food choices?  Several people in the audience smiled or laughed.  Yup, that was exactly what their vision of health looked like.  But I told them they shouldn’t be surprised.  As a culture we are taught by marketing and advertising and Photoshop that this is what health looks like.  But what happens, I asked, if you are not white, or a man, or not thin, or not conventionally beautiful? What if you really, really hate yogurt?  Do you not get to be well?  Do you not get to experience health?

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At this point, I took some time to define health and wellness.  I suggested that there is no particular state that a person achieves that call be called healthy or well.  While tons of money is spent convincing us that if we just buy this thing, use this product or service or spend money in a particular way, we will arrive at the ultimate hereafter picture.  There is a place that is nirvana.  We call this place perfectly healthy.  Except there is no such place.  If we are alive, we are aging.  If we are aging we are headed towards our ultimate demise.  No matter what product or service we use, we are still, in the end, mortal.

So I went on to describe health as a continuum.  Or you can call it a spectrum.  (I like continuum because it’s one of the only words in the English language that has to letter “u”s back to back, and like the word banana, it’s nearly impossible to stop saying once you have started.  You know, like continuuinuuum…)  A continuum is a scale.  It is a line with no beginning and no end.  The scale increases in a particular value as we go one direction and decreases in a particular value as we go the other direction.  As we move along the scale towards healthy or well, we get more capacity and energy to do the things we need to do as well as the things we enjoy.  We feel better.  We have more energy.  We sleep better.  We are able to relax sometimes and experience peace.  As we move down the continuum away from health and wellness these things (like energy, enjoyment, peace, sleep) are more difficult for us to access, or we experience them less often.  But again, the line has no beginning and no end.  There is no destination called perfect health where we get to arrive.  And there is also no perfect place which we cannot access.

This is important for a lot of reasons.  One reason is that we are all born at different points on the continuum.  Based on genetics and parenting and socioeconomic status and friends and other family and cultural values and lots and lots of other stuff, we all land at different points on this continuum.  And as we go along and live, circumstances will change our location on the continuum.  We will experience stress.  We will get sick.  We might win the lottery.  We might lose our jobs.  We might get married or be in a car crash or fall down the steps.  Stuff happens.  Sometimes that stuff is wonderful and eases the way towards increased health on the spectrum.  Sometimes stuff is downright catastrophic and vaults us towards decreased health on the spectrum.  Were we to look at health and wellness as a state of being or as a location, most of us just wouldn’t be able to get there, let alone stay there.  Most of us would be on the outside looking in.  And most of us have been taught that we should be consumed with guilt and self-loathing for not being there or staying there.  But if we look at health and wellness as a continuum, there is a sane and guilt-free place for everybody.

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No matter where you land on the continuum, there are things you can do to help ease the way towards better health.  Those things you can do might be wildly different from what somebody else can do.  You might be creeping along towards health at a very different point on the spectrum than somebody else.  But everybody can play.  And we can play with the knowledge and understanding that sometimes fate rolls the freakin’ dice and we land in a different spot on the continuum that we neither desired nor planned for.  But from every place, we can strive.  We can move towards the healthy/well side of the continuum with whatever resources we have at the moment.  This is with the understanding that sometimes those resources will be very low.  Sometimes the movement will be very slow or even imperceptible.  And sometimes, it’s okay to just rest there at our spot on the continuum until we have the resources and/or the desire to strive again.  Sometimes we can be there and just breathe out and in for a while.

You know it’s funny, in a physician heal thyself sort of way, how I gave this talk the day before I found myself tossed violently to a very different spot on my own continuum.  As I woke up, dazed and in pain, I looked around.  Oh, so I’m here now?  This is my spot on the spectrum today?  Okay.  I’ll just have to see what I can do.  Maybe tomorrow.  After I take a pain killer and watch some telly and gather my forces.  It has made all of this a lot easier to bear.  And I offer this in the hopes that it will be a useful visualization tool for you as well.  Or not.  Because we’re all different.  And just as there is no place called health, there is no single immutable path towards wellness either.  There’s just all of us, muddling along in our own way, as best we can.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie AKA The Fat Chick

P.S. Want to book me to speak to YOUR group about the wellness continuum?  Click HERE!

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Radical Self Care

RASCAL

I am so excited to announce our new challenge on the Fit Fatties Forum called the RASCAL challenge.  This stands for Radical Activist for Self Care and Love.  In this challenge, we encourage you to think outside the box about what self-care means and we challenge you to prioritize self care in your life.  Given my current focus on healing, this challenge just could not have come at a better time.

One of the reasons I’m so excited about this challenge is that it helps us broaden our definition of what is included in the definition for “health”.  Some of us believe that being healthy means being thin.  If we are thin, we are healthy.  If we are not thin, we can’t be healthy.  I’ve talked quite a bit about this in the past.  There are lots of studies that indicate that simply isn’t true.  In particular, this study shows that healthy behavior is a better predictor of future health than BMI.  But this begs the question, what is healthy behavior?

Of course joyfully moving your body is a wonderful healthy behavior.  Of course eating in a way that is in tune with your body’s needs as well as your spiritual and emotional needs is a healthy behavior.  But is that all there is to wellness?  Eat an apple and go for a walk and you’ve got it covered?  I don’t think so.  To me health is nuanced and multidimensional.  And health involves self-care.  (Insert deep sigh here…) Why is it that so many of us are so good at taking care of other people and so lousy at taking care of ourselves?  Are we conditioned that way from birth?  I don’t know.  But I DO know that self care gives us the strength to help others.  Think about what the flight attendant says before you take off.  “First secure your own oxygen mask, then you can help small children and those around you.”  In other words, breathe.  Take a moment to care for yourself.

And that moment may involve eating something wonderful or going for a walk.  Or it may involve simply breathing.  Maybe your self-care moment is spending just a few seconds of your day simply being.  Maybe it means getting a little extra sleep.  Maybe it involves asking for help.  Maybe it involves doing a booty-shaking victory dance.  Maybe it means calling a friend and reconnecting.  Maybe it means writing a letter to someone who wronged you.  Maybe it just requires 5 minutes of quiet and a cup of tea.

Self-care is different for each of us.  But it is absolutely critical to our well being.  That’s why I’m so excited about the RASCAL challenge.  We’ve come up with over 100 official Radical Acts of Self Care and Love, and we’re challenging folks to do one of those acts every single day.  Aside from the intrinsic rewards that come from self love, we are ACTUALLY rewarding you with badges and encouragement and prizes for taking care of yourself.  Seriously.  How cool is that?

I hope you’ll join me in spending some time to take care of yourself this month, either by taking the challenge or simply choosing to do it on your own.  Because the world needs you to take care of you.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Want to book me to speak to your group about radical self care?  Click here!

Want to join my mailing list and get free stuff?  Click here!

Making Fitness About Fun, Not About Weight Stigma

Today, I’d like to direct you to the blog I wrote for Weight Stigma Awareness Week.  BEDA is doing absolutely amazing work in this space, and I am very proud to be called to participate.  You can read the blog post here.

Thanks so much for your support!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to speak at your school, organization or group?  Click HERE to book me!

P.S.S. Want to get free stuff, click HERE to join my list!

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!

BACK (sorta)


 

Hello my dear readers.  As you may have noticed, I’ve been gone for a while.  Fortunately I had the opportunity to meet and speak with over 400 schoolteachers this past week and share the word about shame-free fitness and Health At Every Size for children.  It was wonderful, engaging and fun.  It was also a set of 7 grueling days with a very intense schedule.  Nevertheless I planned to continue blogging while away.

Alas, the universe had a different plan.  Shortly after I started at the conference, I reached for a piece of paper in my bag and something in the region of my lower back and right hip went completely out of whack.  My friends at the conference insist that it makes a better story that I hurt myself busting a move, that the limbo initiated my lumbago or SOMETHING.  But the truth is, I was sitting in a chair reaching for something in my bag, and I had that MOMENT.  There’s a moment when time stops and that surprising pain comes and all you can think is “WHOOOOOOAAAAA, that can’t be good!”.

I managed to fulfill all my obligations at the conference and even have some fun.  But sitting aggravated my pain the most and I simply couldn’t bring myself to blog last week.  Sorry about that.  But I thought I would take this moment to share a few thoughts with you about my back experience.

1.  Sometimes poop occurs.  It just does.  I could make myself crazy wondering if it was tension or a posture problem or lack of sleep or the size of my hips or the tilt of the universe that caused that pain.  But at the moment that the pain occurs I need not to focus on that.  I just need to deal with it.

2.  Dealing with it means that sometimes your plans have to change.  When pain or a serious setback happens, it’s time to reorganize priorities.  Some stuff will not get done.  You can either triage and choose which things you can do, or you can try to do everything and end up able to do nothing.  You wanna know how I know?  Experience.  So many times, I’ve been in denial about the fact that I can’t do everything.  So many times I’ve ended up at that point, in pain, completely spent, where I can’t do anything.  I really don’t want to do that any more.

3.  Pain is a sign that something is out of whack.  It could be posture.  It could be schedule.  It could simply mean something in my body isn’t working properly.  As I am healing this week, I will start, very gently to figure out what is out of whack.  I’ll see my doctor and start reviewing things in my life to see if I can figure it out.  But I may have to accept that the discovery process may be long and challenging.  And I may have to accept that I can never figure out exactly what caused this episode.

The good news is that hundreds of school teachers, councilors, administrators, and other employees were exposed to the notion of shame-free exercise and the Health At Every Size(TM) approach to wellness–many for the first time.  So I’m going to take an aspirin and take my leave glad for a job well (if shakily) done.

Love, Jeanette DePatie, AKA The Fat Chick

P.S.  Don’t forget about the Fat Activism Conference coming up soon. Click here to register for the Fat Activism Conference!

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