Surrender: Catastrophic Failure or Chipped Paint?

Friday, January 29, 2010

So often what happens in the surrender portion of the Big Fat Cycle is that we believe small setbacks are automatic precursors to catastrophic failures.  I promised myself I'd blog six days this week.  I didn't get a blog in before midnight on Thursday.  Oh well.

It's so easy to say well i missed one day, I might as well blow off the week.  This whole blogging thing isn't really working out that well anyways.  That chipped paint on the bridge really masks a hairline crack on the bridge which is really the sign the whole bridge will come down.

Now chipped paint on a bridge is not something to go unnoticed.  Small problems in maintenance can lead to catastrophic failures if ignored long enough.  But small problems are, well, small.  Chipped paint may mean that area of the bridge needs attention.  It may mean nothing.  It probably does NOT mean it's time to blow up the bridge.

It's so easy to fall into all or nothing, black and white thinking.  But life doesn't work that way.  And if the only way to succeed is to be perfect every day forever, guess what.  None of us will ever, ever succeed.  Thankfully, setbacks, minor issues and bumps in the road are a normal and natural part of any endeavor whether successful or not. 

The difference between success and failure is not whether or not you fall.  It's whether you (like a cat) get up, shake the dirt out of your fur and tell the world, "I meant to do that".  So I hope you'll forgive me for not blogging yesterday.  I forgave me.


Surrender: Use What You Got

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My sister sent me a link to this amazing video today:

Why not take a few minutes to take a look.  I promise it will be worth your while.  Bring Kleenex.

In no way do I wish to compare one person's pain with another.  I  can't compare my life pains with Patrick's or yours.  I do know that life gives you curve balls and life gives  you choices.

As the serenity prayer says, Lord give me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change.  This is the hand you're dealt.  This is the stuff you have to live with.  This is the part that requires surrender.

Lord, give me the STRENGTH to change the things I can.  This is the part where you make the best you can from your life.  Or as my dear friend Kristie Agee says in one of my favorite songs "As long as you know how to use what you got."   This is where you take what life gives you and you work it.

And give me the WISDOM to know the difference.  Isn't this the hard part?  For so long I thought that my weight was the thing I needed strength to change and the fact that I couldn't be beautiful or find a husband, or get a great job or do really anything I wanted to until I got thin was the part I was supposed to be serene about.  But that's the thing about wisdom.  If you pray, if you are open, if you listen--sometimes wisdom means changing your mind.

Wisdom takes time.  We are not born wise.  We become so after life beats the tarnation out of us.  Maybe it's time to review your current wisdom about what your capabilities really are.  What have you "got"?  And are you using it to the very limits of your abilities?  Are you waiting around to get something else?  Or are you out there, making things happen?

Don't put your light under a bushel baby.  Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

With apologies for a blog post burdened with more platitudes than I thought possible, I'm asking you to go out there and work it.  Let the world see all you got.


Surrender: Giving Up Gracefully

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

So all the month of January, we've been travelling around the Big Fat Cycle.  So far we've discussed  

Step One: Panic--("Oh my gosh, I got fat over the holiday--I need to lose 50 pounds by Valentines day")


Step Two: Fantasy--("When I lose 50 pounds by Valentine's day, an Arabian Prince/Oil Billionaire is going to sweep me up on his horse by the seaside and take me to his yacht and introduce me to a casting agent who's going to put me in a major movie in time to walk the red carpet at the Oscars.") This leads us to the major downswing that appears next in the cycle--Step Three: Surrender. 

The act of surrender can mean a lot of different things.  Usually surrender starts when we've given up everything we ever wanted to eat at the start of another stupid deprivation diet.  And continues when we get hungry, and I mean really really hungry for something "bad".  And since we're really, really hungry and we've given up something we love--like ice cream, when we finally give in to eating ice cream we don't eat just one scoop.  Oh, no.  We eat a pint, or a gallon or all 123 flavors at the local ice cream shop.  And at that point, since we've already been bad, totally give in.  What the heck?  The diet is blown anyways.  We've already RUINED the day.  Might as well EAT EVERYTHING THAT ISN'T NAILED DOWN.

We eat things we aren't even hungry for.  We eat way more than we really want.  We eat waaaayyyyy past full.  Because we know that tomorrow, we might have to be "good" again.  We may never get to eat ice cream again as long as we live.  Better tank up now so we don't ever forget what it tastes like.

I used to call Sunday, "stuffday", because that's the day I'd overeat in anticipation of the Monday diet.

But nowadays, I participate in a different kind of surrender.  I surrender the idea that I can precisely control every morsel of food I put in my mouth.  I surrender the idea that everything in my life, including what my friends think about me and if whether my colleagues approve of me and what my weight is (in ounces) is completely under my control.  I try to do what I can and release the rest.  I say "try" because, this whole "Zen State of Surrender" thing is also an aspiration I can't always control.  Sometimes I even have to surrender the idea that I can successfully surrender.  I just do my best and take it as it comes.

If I want a donut, I have a donut.  I don't freak out about it.  And you know what?  I can almost always stop at one donut.  Sometimes I only want HALF a donut.  Because I know, if I want a donut tomorrow, I can have another one.  And you know what else?  Forbidden donuts taste WAY better than allowed ones.  Now that I can have a donut any time I want, I don't really want them that often.  They just don't taste that great.  I sometimes go MONTHS without eating one.

And since eating a donut isn't a sign of great weakness or total failure, it isn't a signal to eat more.  The donut hasn't blown my diet, because I'm not on one.  There's no deep sense of accompishment, failure, joy, fear or sorrow attached to the dumb donut.  It's just a round, fried bakery product that once in a while I like to eat.

So yes, I'm going to recommend surrender.  Give up on the idea that you can weigh, categorize, catalog, ascribe emotions to and success to food.  You can beat an egg, but you can't beat your need to eat food.  Surrender all the emotional baggage you currently swallow with every stupid potato chip or truffle.  Start to get used to the idea that food is just, well, food.

Easy to say, but hard to do.  But that's okay.  We don't have to get it all done today.  Let's give up on the notion of instant fixes too.  We'll just take our time and get there eventually.

The Fat Chick

Fantasy: Elbows Rubbed

Monday, January 25, 2010

Well it just shows to go ya!  I went to the PGA awards and met one of my true idols Joss Whedon.  My colleague Van and I did his presentation reel for the show and he took a few minutes to talk to me.  I really admire the work he's done and the way he's moved the bar for new media, and was thrilled he won the Vanguard Award too.

I really had a wonderful time at the event.  My friend Alison and I had a girl's night out and we had a blast.  This is yet another fantastic moment I would have missed had I allowed my worry over my weight to rule my life.  Missing this would have really, really sucked.  I'm glad I didn't.

Wishing you many, many unmissed magical moments.

The Fat Chick

Fantasy: Before and After

Friday, January 22, 2010

At this time of year it seems you can't flip on the TV or open a newspaper or magazine without being inundated by those weight loss ads with "before" and "after" shots.  You know the ones.  All my life, these ads really bugged me, but it's really only recently that I understood why.

Aside from the obvious manipulations--the before shot is taken 2 days after a woman gives birth (ever notice how often women's before shots include a baby?), the guy is slumping and sticking his gut out, the before shot is badly lit and the subject is wearing ugly clothes, no makeup and hasn't seen the sun in 3 or 4 years, and after shots sporting newly spray-tanned, glistening bodies with perfect hair and makeup, flattering clothes and a big grin.

Aside from that obvious manipulation, one thing that always bugged me was the clear implication that the "before" was NO GOOD.  The "before" person was ugly and sad and pathetic and the after person is awesome and cool.  And given how often, in my personal experience, the "after" person goes back to looking like the "before" person for some or most of their life, it always struck me as kind of destructive.

I mean, before and after feeds into our fantasy, right?  Before, my life sucked, but After I lost weight, my life became perfect.

Except, it never does.  Life never becomes perfect.

And here's another piece of news.  Every picture of you is an "After" picture.  Since  you were a glint in your Daddy's eye everything that happened to you,  happened after something else.  You are constantly in the process of becoming.  And all versions of you are pretty darn great!

So I just decided to label every picture of me in the world an "after" picture.  It's the new me, the triumphant me, the fantasy me.

Why?  Because I say so.

Why not do the same for yourself?  You earned your awesomeness at every stage of your life.  Decide all "yous" are "afters".  Then, you've always been and will always be, a winner.

Ta Daaaa!

The Fat Chick

Fantasy: Reality Check

Thursday, January 21, 2010

So we talked about all the fantasies we've had about how much fun we'd have if we were thin.   You know, if the Fat Chick Fairy came and magically changed you to your "goal weight".  Are you still waiting for that magic day to appear?  Are you waiting to interview for a new job, join the dating site online, buy new clothes and strut your stuff?

As I mentioned yesterday, if I waited to be thin to start living my life, I wouldn't be going to a Hollywood Awards show in my hot new dress with my oh-so-handsome husband.  I'd just be in another holding pattern.  Which would pretty much suck.  And not be anywhere near as fun as the dress and the dude and the date.  Want to feel great right now?  Here's what you do.  Start living your life as if you were already thin.

If you were at your "skinny" weight, what would you do?  Would you go dancing?  Would you learn to surf?  Would you buy a sleeveless dress?  Well what are you waiting for?  Go do that stuff!  Right now!  Pick something you always fantasized about doing when you were thin and just go do it!

When you do, something AMAZING will happen!  You'll be living out your dreams every single day.  I can't wait to see what that kind of change looks like on you.


The Fat Chick

Fantasy: Shopping for a New Life

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I went shopping today, for a new dress.  But not just any new dress.  I was buying a cocktail dress for a formal Hollywood Awards Show I'm attending this weekend.  (The PGA Awards) Yes, I'm going to be hobnobbing with some of the Hollywood glitterati.  And I'm going to do it in a hot new dress that looks like the one pictured above.

As I was tooling around the mall today, and soliciting help from all of the sales associates I could find, I realized that this whole thing is pretty cool.  And I realized that releasing myself from the fantasy of a life as a skinny woman, allowed me to live some pretty fantastic moments in the real world.

After all, if I had decided to put everything on hold until after I lost weight, I might still be counting my carrot sticks and pedaling to nowhere on the stationary bike.  By living my life full and full-figured right now, I get to get duded up in some fancy new clothes and rub elbows with the richer and famouser. 

All in all, I'd say it was a pretty good choice.

So I'd recommend you stop waiting, and start living.  At the very least, the wardrobe is awesome! 

The Fat Chick

Fantasy: Perfect Thighs/Perfect Life

Monday, January 18, 2010

So this week, we're going to talk about the second part of the Big Fat Cycle, the Fantasy part.

Okay, so if the Fat Chick Fairy came and visited you in the night, and waved her magic wand and granted your wish and poof you were as thin as you always wanted to be, what would happen?  We've all dreamed it, right?

Shopping for dresses sized in the single digits.  Giggling merrily from the dressing room as we call out to the shopkeeper, "can you bring me a smaller size?  Oh, you're such a dear!"  Sliding into skinny jeans without any special assistance (you know, Crisco, laying on the bed, industrial strength girdles).  Oh the wonder of it all.

But after the buying clothes fantasy, what then?  Will handsome oil-baron princes sweep us off to their yachts where we can be photographed by paparazzi?  Will Victoria's Secret supermodels call us and ask us to lunch?  Will we be discovered by Hollywood talent scouts and be cast in a movie by fall and receiving our first Oscar(TM) by spring?

Most of us have this sort of fantasy from time to time.  And it's no wonder.  Dieting sucks.  It's hard, it's uncomfortable and it rarely works.  It takes a gargantuan type fantasy to keep that kind of effort in motion.

But I'm going to invite you for today, to really dig in the dark corners of your fantasy about being thin.  What does it entail?  Are Brad Pitt and Angela Jolie there?  Take a moment and jot down a few elements of your nonfat fantasy.  Don't worry about how crazy or outlandish it seems for now, just write it down.  Part of how we'll hop OFF the big fat cycle, it helps to understand your Nonfat Fantasy as completely as possible.  So fantasize away.

Sweet Dreams!

The Fat Chick

Coping with Panic: Divide and Conquer

Saturday, January 16, 2010

So you've been staring at  your to do list, right?  The one that you made to help you cope with panic.  And maybe your list had 47 things on it, like my "Stuff I gotta do before I go home for Christmas" list.  What's next?  Pick one thing off of the list and do it.  Don't worry about doing 20 things.  Don't worry about doing everything.  Do ONE thing. 

Now, if you're looking at your list, and you're getting ready to do your one thing, and every one of your one things to choose from seems huge and overwhelming, then my dear you may need to divide before you conquer.  Like let's say your list has just one thing on it like "get in shape".  Well this is a pretty big goal.  It's not something you can get done tonight or even this week.  So when all the stuff on your list is huge, you've got to divide these tasks into smaller tasks.

This may seem counter-productive.  After all the stupid list is getting longer, not shorter, right?  But until you get the tasks down into discrete pieces you can't cross them off your list, and thus you can't make the list shorter.

So if your goal is "get fit", maybe you could break it into smaller tasks like, call gym around the corner and check out prices or buy really cute workout top or go to and order a DVD to work out with.  (I'm shameless, what can I say?)

But when you're in panic mode, there's nothing like crossing something off your list, and I mean ANYTHING off your list, to help you calm down and find some control.

So go cross something off your list.  Go do it right now!  There, doesn't that feel better?

The Fat Chick

Coping with Panic: Sorting

Friday, January 15, 2010

So, we recognized panic, took a mind clearing walk, stopped to engage our brains and we made a list.  Outside of eating that paper list out of sheer frustration, what's next?  The next step I usually take in managing my panic is to take a look at my list and do a little sorting.  Chances are, after you take a deep breath, stuff on your to do list will start to fall into various categories like:

Order of Importance
1.  My Pants are On Fire!  I've got to do this stuff today or they are going to repossess my stuff, or take me to jail or put me on the Jerry Springer Show.
2.  Stuff I've really just got to do.  (But secretly I know, that nobody will die if I don't do it today or even this week.
3.  Really important stuff that I really want done but isn't completely necessary.  (And actually if I don't get to it this month, nobody will probably know but me.)

Order of Difficulty
1.  I can finish this in the time it takes me to write this on my list.
2.  If I push I could finish this in 20 minutes to an hour.
3.  I've already been working on this for a decade and I think I'm making some headway.

Order of Proxmity: How easy and close are these items to one another.

After I stare at the list for a while patterns seem to emerge, and I start to prioritize.  I usually don't have to actually rewrite or number my list based on priorities, but just thinking it through in my head helps me start to organize things.

I try to let the stuff that isn't a high priority drop off the list when I'm in panic mode.  There are a lot of things I'd LIKE to do, but is it worth trying to do it all and having a panic attack or nervous breakdown?  Probably not.  Notice I said that I "try" to do this.  As my husband can easily attest, I don't always succeed.

Actually, I will let a few lower priority things stay on my list if they are super easy, i.e. buy paper towels and they are close and convenient to something I absolutely need to do on my list, i.e. buy toilet paper.  My method of sorting and yours may be totally different.  Everybody prioritizes differently.  But prioritizing is crucial to managing panic.  The point is, take a deep breath, accept you can't do everything on your list at once, and figure out what on the list is most important to you.

I promise, I won't tell if you don't dust this week.

The Fat Chick

Coping with Panic: Making a list and checking it twice...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

One of the simplest ways I've found for coping with panic is to formulate a plan.  Often this plan starts with something as simple as a piece of paper, a pen and 15 minutes to write a to-do list.  I have been blessed enough to be very, very busy over the past few months.  And while I am definitely NOT complaining, there have been times where I became somewhat overwhelmed with the volume of producing, writing, business and family projects I was juggling.  And by "overwhelmed" I mean crying hysterically and screaming at my husband to hurry up with the D@#@#$N paper bag for me to breathe into.  And when that happened, I found it most helpful to follow the "steps for coping with panic" pretty much as I've been outlining them for you:

1.  Recognizing I'm in panic mode.  (Often facilitated by my husband sheepishly peeking around a corner and asking, "are we in a panic then?" and ducking before the frying pan, encyclopedia or office chair could hit him in the head.)
2.  Doing something physical to blow off some of the adrenalin.  Either teaching an aerobics class, or walking around the block or chasing the dog.
3.  Taking a quiet moment to stop, and take a deep breath so I could think properly.
and then
4.  Taking out a piece of paper and a pencil and writing a to-do list.

Sometimes the list in itself is a little overwhelming.  I had one list before Christmas that got to 43 items that I wanted to do before I left town the next day.  Naturally I had to trim a few things off the list.  And 43 items due the next day is like, um, YIKES!  But somehow writing everything down always helps.  The to-do list is just a beginning step to formulating a plan.  You can manage, prioritize and execute the list a little bit later on.  But somehow knowing what the drama is, in black and white, always seems to calm me down and I think it will help you to.

A to-do list isn't just about errands.  A to-do list can also apply to life situations that cause you to panic.  So if you're feeling panic-stricken about your weight (or anything else), take out a piece of paper and a pencil and make a to-do list about all the things you think you should do about it.  Don't worry if these things are attainable or logical or reasonable at this point.  Just write down every crazy idea you have about what you should do about your weight (or whatever is bothering you).  Then fold the list up and put it away until tomorrow.  We'll deal with it then.  Happy list making...

The Fat Chick

Coping with Panic: Stop. Just Wait a Minute.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

One of the first things that happens when we panic is that our brain rushes to and prepares for the worst case scenario without an accurate assessment of whether or not the worst will happen.  This is why when many of us panic, we worry that we will be as big as a house or at least an elephant if we don't do something RIGHT NOW.  Given the size of a house or an elephant, this isn't likely, but we worry nonetheless.

I have talked to many, many people who struggle with their weight, and this worry seems to be fairly universal.

However, it is my experience that our bodies have a built in system for regulation that does a pretty good job of keeping us within a certain weight range.  Once I stopped dieting and simply focused on getting regular exercise and eating food that is both pleasurable and nourishing to my body, I lost about ten pounds and pretty much stayed there.  Contrary to all popular wisdom, I didn't keep gaining weight.  I didn't "balloon up", or grow "big as a house".  And lest you believe this experience is unique to me, there is quite a bit of science to back up this idea.

Most of us, tend to stay within a 10-20 pound range that is normal for us.  This "normal" weight may be thin, average or heavy, and is influenced by a variety of factors (the most important of which is heredity but may also include culture, psychology, habits and many other factors).  In any case, to stray significantly from our "average" range is a lot of work for most of us.  That's why significant weight loss tends to be fleeting.  And that's why once we each reach our personal "normal" weight, we don't tend to get too much heavier.   This scientific concept is called "set point"

Please note that this is not true in every single case.  There are always exceptions--especially when specific medical and metabolic disorders are involved.  But the vast majority of us tend to hover around a specific weight range unless we diet very dramatically, or overeat very dramatically.  It's also important to note that some people who have a "normal" weight that is far above what the height weight charts say they should be, are not eating any more that those in the "thin range" in the charts.  No matter how much folks in the "thin range" lord it over the larger folks, saying they are thin because of their morally superior engagement in healthy behaviors, their behavior may be identical to a naturally heavy person in the "higher range" of the charts.

I know.  You're saying--yeah, right.  She just wants to make excuses for eating chocolate chip cookies.  What does she know?  And if you're saying that--good.  It means your rational mind is starting to creep back, and you're beginning to make evaluations based on logic instead of just believing what people tell you.  So in order to feed your logical mind, here are some links to some articles that will give you "food for thought".

A nice PDF about set point from MIT Medical.
A Brief about a prison study demonstrating set point.

There is a very good section regarding this topic in Gina Kolata's Book

While not everybody agrees with every element of set point theory, most agree that going on a wildly restricted, low-calorie plan will result in short-term weight loss, at best.  And chances are, if you take 15 minutes or even a day or two to think things over, your weight will stay pretty much the same.

This is a very important fact to keep in mind as you are facing screaming, hysterical panic about your weight.  Because, when you are facing this panic, it's most important to stop, take a deep breath and deal with the panic FIRST before you take any action regarding your weight.  Wait.  Breathe.  Study.  Contemplate.  Take a walk as I suggested yesterday.  For heaven's sake, gather some facts before you go on the next all meat, all grapefruit, all cabbage diet or stop eating all together, or take some unregulated metabolism enhancing herbal supplement or barely regulated new weight loss wonder drug, or get a major, life altering surgery.

Just wait a minute, why don't you?  Take a deep breath and consider  your options.  Let your rational mind consider your next move and let your panic-filled lizard brain have a rest.  You'll be glad you did.

The Fat Chick

Coping with Panic: Flight

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

When we are in panic mode, our bodies are urgently prepared for fight or flight.  And while you may be tempted to fight--especially if there's some dunderhead that made some stupid comment about your weight that got this whole panic thing started, that's rarely a sensible course.

Actual flight is probably not a resonable course either.  (At least, I find most conditions that cause me to be airborne don't end well).  But a simple walk away from the trigger or just for the sake of walking can be a very useful initial coping technique.

In order to move beyond the initial mental cloudiness of panic, we've got to get some of that adrenaline out of our systems.  And one of the fastest, safest and most productive ways to do this is to take a little walk.  (Sex is great too, but I personally don't feel very amorous in the middle of this type of situation).  Just put on some tennis shoes or other comfortable footwear and head out the door.  Spend a little of that energy getting away by yourself and breathing deeply.  If you can walk safely outside, this is best.  The fresh air will help you.  But even if you can't walk outside, just take your fear and your panic and take a little hike.  Walk fast at first, and then allow your walking and your breathing and your mind to slow down.  This allows your adrenalin to do something useful instead of just being stored in your body.  It allows your body to do what you primed it all up to do in a safe and healthy environment. 

So  next time you feel like the world is about to end, lace up your shoes and head out yonder.  You'll feel better, I promise.

The Fat Chick

Coping with Panic: Recognition

Monday, January 11, 2010

On New Years Day we talked a little bit about the big fat cycle.  That 4 step circle that we go around and around every so often or every year or once a month.  The cycle (as I define it) starts with panic (OhmyGod, I'm so fat) moves on to fantasy thinking (I'm going to drop 4 dress sizes by Valentines day) Defeat (I've only lost 1/2 a pound.  Forget it, I'm eating cookies.  A LOT of cookies) and despair (I'm so lame.  I can't even stick to this for one week).

Since we're still pretty close to that magic January 1, New Years Resolution stage, I figured a lot of us are experiencing step one, panic.  Now this panic is very real for many of us.  We're talking genuine, stay up all night, hyperventilating, I need a paper bag kind of panic.  For some of us, the jeans are a little tighter after all the Christmas cookies, or we're heading in to see the doctor for our beginning of the year annual physical.  Or many of us just get caught up in the January insanity where all the newspapers and news stories switch seemingly overnight from recipes for chocolate holiday bliss to screaming about America's expanding waistline.

It's easy to succumb.  And for many, many years, I did succumb.  But at some point, I finally realized that it didn't get me anywhere.  It just got me to drop my money and my common sense and sign up for some lose-weight-quick scam.  The reason for this is simple.  Panic is vastly inappropriate to this situation.

Today, we know panic as “ a discrete period of intense fear or discomfort that is accompanied by at least 4 of 13 somatic or cognitive symptoms... often accompanied by a sense of imminent danger or impending doom and an urge to escape...or desire to flee from wherever the attack is occurring.”
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition [DSM-IV]. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 1994, p. 394-403

The symptoms the DSM-IV list are:
  1. palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
  2. sweating
  3. trembling or shaking
  4. sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
  5. feeling of choking
  6. chest pain or discomfort
  7. nausea or abdominal distress
  8. feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
  9. derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
  10. fear of losing control or going crazy
  11. fear of dying
  12. paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations.
  13. chills or hot flushes 
Panic is the body's way of guiding us towards immediate unconsious action, i.e. fight or flight.  This is very appropriate if an elephant is running full speed on a direct collision course with us.  We don't have time to think, evaluate the consequences and so forth.  We have to MOVE.  But panic is an inappropriate response to an issue like body weight.  Who are you going to fight?  Genetics?  Your grandma's chess pie?  The stupid fashion designers who decided that skinny jeans are "in" this year?

And where are you going to run?  The gym?  The nearest "groupthink" weight loss center?  A surgeon's office for weight loss surgery?

Panic is bad for a few reasons.  It raises blood pressure and bad cholesterol and heart rate and floods adrenaline into our system.  It shuts down blood flow to some areas of our bodies.  And while this is necessary and useful if a huge pachyderm is thundering down the road towards our location, it is not useful and physically dangerous if experienced over a long period of time.

And what's more, panic reduces our capacity to reason and to think.  It only offers two choices--smackdown or run away.  Neither of which is very useful in this situation.

However much it may seem like it, you didn't achieve your current body size, shape and weight in a day.  So it won't hurt to take a little time to calm down and carefully consider what's best for you.

So how 'bout it?  Get a cup of tea, love and take a deep breath.  We'll cover the bases, one by one.  But for now, just breathe.

The Fat Chick


There is little nourishment in the world as important or as satisfying as spending time with a good friend.  Someone to share your joys and your sorrow.  A shoulder to cry on.  A drinking, shopping or eating buddy.  Somebody who will tell you that you have spinach in your teeth and when you need to find a new hairdresser.  Somebody to dare you to wear the bright red dress or the Armani dinner jacket.

I'm so glad that I have so many good and dear friends. And I'm especially lucky to be married to my very best friend of all.  But as much as we ourselves need nourishment, our friendships also need nourishment in order to survive.

Luckily, it's as satisfying to give as to receive friendship.  Why not take a moment today to do something kind or generous for one of your friends.  Just do it right out of the blue.  I guarantee it will warm YOUR heart and nourish YOUR soul.  Give it a try.

The Fat Chick


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sometimes there is nothing quite as nourishing as 8 glorious hours of uninterrupted sleep.  After spending the last 4 days working nonstop at a convention for one of my clients, I honestly can't think of anything better.

Sleep is very important.  It allows your body, mind and spirit to repair normal wear and tear and prepare for the day ahead.  And what's more, good sleep feels awesome.  I think you should get under the blankies and get some real rest tonight.   I could tell you  a lot more about the philosophy of sleep, but ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

The Fat Chick


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sometimes a girl or guy, just needs to be pampered.  From the tippy top of your head to your teeny, tiny toes.  Yesterday, I went and got a pedicure.  This is not an every week thing for me, but a once-in-a-while treat.  But there's something about getting your little piggies polished that makes you feel just great!  Pampering is a way of saying to our bodies, "I hear  you.   You like to be cared for.  You're beautiful. You deserve it."  And when are bodies are pampered, and we look our best, we stand a little taller, we smile a little easier and people notice that.

What can you do to pamper yourself today?  It can be as elaborate as my friend's recent 2 week-jaunt to an all-inclusive spa.  Or it can be as simple and inexpensive as a $2 bottle of bubble bath or nail polish and 15-20 minutes in which to enjoy those things.  I recommend you enjoy at least one pampering moment today.  You're worth it.

The Fat Chick

Nourishment--Breathing Space.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

This morning I saw the most glorious, ravishing, rosy, glowing sunrise you can imagine.  For just a moment, I wasn't worried about the giant, stressful, insane trade show I have to do in Vegas this week.  I wasn't worried about laundry, clients or getting my blog entry written.  I took a moment and just appreciated and breathed.  How often do we not take even a moment for a deep breath?  How many awe-inspiring sunrises, sunsets, blue moons, falling stars, comets and total eclipses go right by without our even noticing? These moments, these micro-vacations can make us feel connected to the world.  They allow us to breathe thankfulness.  They assure us we are loved by the world and we are deserving.

For just a minute this morning, the world was putting on a one-morning-only, exclusive, command performance just for me.  Boy, am I glad I didn't miss it.

Wishing you time and space for just a minute to take a breath and take in the scenery.

The Fat Chick


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

You could spend a lifetime moaning and complaining that nobody buys you flowers.  Or you could simply go to the local Trader Joes or farmers market or grocery store and buy yourself some.  When we stop looking outside and start looking inside of ourselves for validation, we regain our power.  Why should you give a co-worker or the lady at church or a complete stranger the power to make you feel bad about yourself or ruin your day?  YOU decide that you're awesome.  Anybody who says anything or even thinks to the contrary is just lacking information critical to the decision making process.

As with all things, self-validation is much easier to say than to do.  And as with all things, success comes first with small things and then bigger ones.  But a quick and simple way to start is to do something nice for yourself--maybe something as simple as buying yourself a single flower.  This little beauty has been opening gently on my desk for a week now.  And aside from just sitting there looking gorgeous, it reminds me that I am deserving of goodness  and wonder and beauty.  And it reminds me that I am not finished, but in the process of becoming.

Have a beautiful day.

The Fat Chick


Monday, January 4, 2010

This week we're going to talk a lot about nourishment.  Many of us have been starving ourselves for years.  Starving for good food.  Starving for spiritual enrichment.  Starving for beauty.  Starving for love and starving for acceptance.  Part of the journey towards self-love and acceptance is making sure you have enough nourishment.  And for today, we're going to talk about food.

As you may have guessed I'm not a big believer in diets.  They tend to be short-term.  They don't last.  And in the long run, they don't work.  So I don't think you should go on a diet.  But I do think you should focus on nourishing your body with good food that has a lot of healthy stuff in it.  And when it comes to good food with healthy stuff, I have to recommend one of my favorite Thai soups called Tom Yum Goong.  Honestly, the fact that this soup is good for me, is just a side benefit in my world.  I eat it because I love it.  The fact that it's healthy, well that's just a bonus.  By the way, in learning to pronounce this soup, I always remember that all 3 syllables rhyme with "boom" because that's the effect it will have on your mouth.  After one taste, your mouth will go "boom"!  This soup is SPICY.  If you ordered this in Thailand and ate it the way the Thai people do, it would probably blow your head right off.  Some of that red stuff floating on the top of the bowl in the picture is pepper.  But it is also healthy and flavorful.  And there is simply no better remedy in the world for a stuffed up nose.  When I get a cold, I head right to my favorite Thai restaurant and I'm sure to carry a whole package of tissues, because all of that capsaicin in all of those hot peppers will get your nose a runnin!  It's also great when it's cold outside as it will warm you up from the INSIDE.

I'll include my favorite recipe below.  But you may want to try it at a local Thai restaurant first to get an idea of how it should taste.  Note: the first time you order it, let the waitress know that you are new to the experience and ask her to have them make it mild or not too spicy.  Most restaurants are happy to adjust.  If you love it, you can ask them to make it spicier next time.

Recipe:  Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Thai Shrimp and Lime soup)

20 prawns (shell and head on if you can find it at your local fish market or Asian grocery)
1-2 Tablespoons Instant Tom Yum Paste (find at the local Asian grocery or order it HERE)
4 cups water
1.5 teaspoons of salt
1 to 2 Tablespoons FRESH lime juice
1-inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and sliced into thin coins
1 cup sliced fresh white or button mushrooms
1 whole ripe tomato roughly chopped
Fish sauce to taste
Cilantro and/or Kaffir Lime Leaves for garnish

Bring 4 cups of water to a rolling boil.  Peel the shrimp, leaving tails intact and reserving heads and shells.  If you have heads and shells, add them (but NOT the peeled shrimp themselves) to the boiling water and let it simmer for about 15 or 20 minutes.  (Don't say ewwww.  It will make your soup taste a lot more awesome!)  After 20 minutes carefully strain out solid ingredients and put liquid into a clean, non-reactive pan.

Bring liquid back to a boil and add 1-2 tablespoons of the tom yum paste.  Try 1 tablespoon at first.  You can always add more later.  Be CAREFUL with this stuff, it's like molten lava.  Be careful not to touch your eyes or your face until you've had a chance to carefully wash your hands.  A gentleman friend of mine didn't heed this advice and stopped to, um, go pee halfway through the cooking process and had a VERY uncomfortable half-hour after that.

Okay, hands washed?  Now add the salt, lime juice and ginger pieces.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 2 more minutes.  Taste it.  Add more lime juice (sour), fish sauce (salty) and tom yum paste (heat) until you're happy.  Now bring the liquid to a rolling boil and then shut off the heat.  Add the shrimp and mushrooms and stir until shrimp are pink and opaque.  This ensures the shrimp are not overcooked (and rubbery--yuck!).  Pour into a bowl, sprinkle some cilantro and or kaffir lime leaves on the top and chow down.  I like to serve this with plain jasmine rice.  Some folks like to alternate between bites of soup and bites of rice.  I usually just dump some of the rice right into my soup bowl.

One more note, it's helpful to serve this soup with a little empty soup bowl or plate on the side.  The ginger coins, shrimp tails and kaffir lime leaves (if you actually found them you little foodie you) are for flavor and are NOT MEANT TO BE EATEN.  Just delicately spoon these out as you eat and put them on the side.

Don't let all the warnings freak you out.  This soup is awesome and you'll get the hang of it in no time.  Enjoy and allow it to nourish your body and your soul.

The Fat Chick

Resolve: To Replace Fear and Self-hatred

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I'm a firm believer in the idea, that in order to give something up that's not working for you, you need to adopt something that does.  So if in 2010, we're going to choose not to hop on the big fat cycle of panic, fantasy, fear, anger and self-loathing, we need to find an adequate replacement.

The only adequate replacement is self-love.  As my good friend Clint reminded me this morning.  It is the starting place for all real change in our lives.  It is elusive and difficult to achieve--but completely necessary for moving forward.  How do we achieve it?  Let me tell you a little story:

Believe it or not, I wasn’t birthed fully formed out of the womb as a fitness guru who calls herself The Fat Chick. Like many of you, I have endured days of sadness and frustration. The journey from sad sack to magnificent fat chick was a long and bumpy, but very exciting road. Let me tell you a little bit about my story.

I remember the day quite clearly. I was in the kitchen with my husband and I was crying inconsolably. I was crying because I was fat and I believed being fat was cause to be miserable. My husband told me that I looked great. He assured me that he loved me just the way I was. The sad thing was, I would not and could not believe him. I tried to diet, but found I couldn’t stick with it. I tried to exercise, but I really struggled. I hired a personal trainer, but grew tired of the badgering and emotional abuse, and I quit. I tried a step aerobics class, but was tired of struggling at the back of the class to lift my aching knees as fast as the other students. I tried to train for a marathon, but wound up with a stress fracture in my foot by the third week. I felt like a failure, and I was miserable.

Now, fast forward to another day, much later, in Springfield Missouri, as I’m about to cross the finish line of my first marathon. It was very quiet. There was no “finish line” to speak of (they had taken it down hours earlier). But I limped across the sidewalk where the finish line had been, raised my exhausted arms in victory and sobbed like a baby. But this time, they were tears of joy. My friend Mary Ann and I cried together as we celebrated my first ever marathon finish.

Comes another day, later still. It was at least 95 degrees in our makeshift video studio. My friends Nora, Mary Ellen, Mary Ann and I had been doing aerobics in that heat for over four hours, shooting footage for my new exercise video, The Fat Chick Works Out!

So how did it happen? How did I motivate myself to evolve from that pathetic, sobbing creature in the kitchen to a triathlete, marathon runner, licensed aerobics instructor and personal trainer and fitness celebrity who proudly calls herself “The Fat Chick”?

Actually a lot happened during that time of conversion. But it started with one little idea that changed everything. It was a simple idea, and in retrospect, an obvious one. It was very simply, “what if I stopped obsessing about my weight, and started living my life as if I already had lost weight?”

It was a revolutionary concept. I stopped weighing and measuring every morsel of food that went into my mouth. No more food exchanges. No more points. No more food journal. No weighing myself. And no more measuring my self worth based on the numbers on a scale.

I began living my life as if I were already thin. There were so many things I wanted to do after I lost weight. I wanted new clothes. I wanted a new hairdo. I wanted to teach aerobics classes. I wanted to be on TV. I wanted to be a Hollywood producer. And one day, I decided to stop wasting my life while minding my waist and to start living the life of my dreams, right now.

So one day, I went to the local YWCA and told them that I wanted to become an aerobics instructor so I could help other beginning exercisers. Frankly, some people looked at me funny. Several said that it wasn’t a good idea. I almost gave up. Then I met Ahmena, a loving, beautiful, joyful woman who taught aerobics at the Y. She also happened to be fat. I am so grateful to her. She taught me the mechanics of teaching a successful aerobics class. What’s more, she never doubted for one second that I could do it. Before long, I was teaching a class of my own.

I learned an awful lot from teaching aerobics. I learned that with ANY type of exercise, you need to start from wherever you are. If you can only do five minutes of the class, then do five minutes. Then the next week, do six minutes. Do only what you can and don’t be embarrassed by it. Another thing I learned, was that when you separate fitness training from the expectation of weight loss, it is really fun! I discovered that I loved it! And for the first time in my life, I really appreciated what exercise could do for me. I slept well. I felt great. Stress just melted away. I also saw what exercise did for my students. Some lost weight. Some didn’t. Some got off diabetes or blood pressure medications. Some found that they could now run up to our second-story dance studio without huffing and puffing. Some found a new, bolder and braver sense of self. Some simply found a way to spend an hour away from family and work obligations to take care of themselves. There was something for everybody. Ultimately, I became a certified aerobics instructor and personal trainer.

But I didn’t stop there. On New Year’s Eve my husband and I went to dinner with our good friends Jeff and Mary Ann. It was an eight-course dinner with a very nice wine. We drank a lot of wine. Mary Ann mentioned that she always wanted to do a marathon. “Me too!” I cried. (Did I mention there was a lot of wine?) By the time the fruit and cheese and midnight champagne arrived, Mary Ann and I had made a pact to do a marathon together. She was with my every step for 26.2 miles. The training was hard. Finishing was grueling. But it was one of the most spectacular moments of my life. I am so grateful to Mary Ann for helping me get there.

Over the years, I have had a lot of time to reflect about what it took to get me across that finish line. I had to accurately assess, without shame or embarrassment, exactly what my level of fitness was and devise a plan to gradually and safely ramp my exercise abilities to meet my goal. I had to learn to redefine success to something that was reasonable and achievable for me. I had to make sure that I wouldn’t walk and run 26.2 miles just to feel like a failure. And I had to learn to rely on the kindness of others. Without my husband, my parents, Mary Ann, Ahmena and many others, I never would have made it.

I learned to have confidence and I learned to have faith. I learned to find help and accept help. I learned that by making one small step and then another, I could conquer marathons and climb mountains. And I most of all, I learned not to waste any more of my life worrying about my waist. When I think back of all the lost years--the years I could have been happy and the years I could have been moving forward, it makes me sad and angry. But mostly it makes me determined. Not just to live every day of my life as fully and deeply as I can, but also, to help others learn what I have learned. It’s a tough life sometimes, being The Fat Chick. I’ve been yelled at and bullied on television and national radio shows. I’ve been spat at by complete strangers in the course of sharing my story. But you know what? If I can help you reclaim one year, one week or even one day of your life, it will be worth it. I am committed to helping you stop weighting around for your life to start.

Join me.

Resolve: To Have a New Kind of New Year's Resolution

Friday, January 1, 2010

So the champagne is all drunk, and the hangovers are hung and the department store Santas have moved over to pave the way for yoga mats, teeny-tiny exercise clothes and pretend chocolate "meal replacement" bars. It's beginning to look a lot like new years, the time where folks the world over look at themselves in their bathroom mirrors and make resolutions. And oh, so often, the resolution is the same as the one the year before. And so very often that resolution is to be thin.

So we join the gym and sign up for the diet "groupthink" organizations. We step on our scales and pull out the diet books. We start the year with big plans and even bigger hopes. We're going to be thin by St. Valentine's day. We think we're turning over a new leaf when what we're really doing is making a sharp left turn into the "Big Fat Cycle". The pattern that will leave us frustrated, freaked out and yes, fatter by February.

The “Big Fat Cycle” is constant and universal. Nearly every girl or woman over the age of about 12 that I’ve ever talked to knows exactly what I’m talking about. Nearly everybody who sees this cycle or hears about it, immediately recognizes its contours in his or her own life. It’s like a merry go round that whirls out of control and won’t let us off. They cycle looks like this:

1) PANIC—Oh my God, I’m so fat. The doctor / my mom / my husband / my agent / my psychic says I need to lose weight right away. I look awful. I might die tomorrow. I have to lose like 100 pounds, NOW! Maybe if I sever a limb I can lose like 10 pounds in one week.

2) FANTASY--If I just eat healthy at every meal / eat cabbage soup at every meal / totally cut out carbohydrates or red meat / exercise for an hour every day, I’ll lose a lot of weight. Maybe I’ll only lose the 2 pounds per week that is recommended or maybe a little more. Then if I just do that for the rest of my life, I can be a size four and life will be wonderful and perfect in every way.

3) DEFEAT—Oh, well it’s week four and I only lost half a pound. This is never going to happen. I don’t look like Angelina Jolie. I don’t even look like Angela Landsbury. I give up. I might as well have a cookie, or a dozen. I haven’t had a cookie in a month and look at me. I look the same as when I started. I want a COOKIE. No, wait, I WANT A LOT OF COOKIES. I may gain weight, but so what? I don’t care…

4) SHAME—Oh my God. Not only am I fat, but also I’m hopeless. How could anybody possibly love me? How could I even possibly love me?

5) RETURN TO STEP 1. Rinse and repeat.

How many times have you gone around this little circle? A dozen times? A hundred? Every New Year’s Day since you were twelve? Many of us have been on this vicious little cycle for our entire lives. Many of us even secretly treasure this little routine. It’s familiar. It’s like home. But sometimes you have to wonder, after all these years, what it really does for you.

So what does the Big Fat Cycle give you? It gives you stress. For all the work, deprivation and distress of traditional weight loss efforts, you achieve physical, mental and spiritual stress and not much else.

What if there was a different way? What if you could make a New Year’s resolution that left you healthier and happier? What if by February, you could be basking in the glow of ongoing, consistent success? It is possible. Heck, it’s actually fairly predictable. But in order to achieve this glorious goal, you have to begin with a single resolution.

Resolve not to resolve your way in to the Big Fat Cycle this year. I’ll do it with you--a little at a time. But first you must resolve to begin your year in love, not fear, not panic, not fantasy and not hate—but loving yourself enough to do what’s best for you. 

2010 is going to be our best year ever!