The supremacy of sweat pants

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dancing with Sandra Hull (Lolcatburglar) of Lolcat Fame in my super stretchy awesome clothes!

My dear friend Ragen and I were chatting on the phone the other day.  She was killing time and talking to me while she was people watching at the airport when she remarked, "that chick's wearing 4-inch heels at an airport.  What's up with that?"  I assured her that I had no idea.  And I further explained why I had decided to work in the fitness industry.  "Well I love to dance and I love to help people.  And fitness is fun!  But mostly I just wanted to work in a job where I can wear tennis shoes and sweat pants every day."  Ragen said, "That sounds like a blog post.  If you don't write it, I will."  So I did and here we are.

In fact, I've spent most of my adult life moving from the least comfortable clothes to the most.  Most of you are probably blissfully unaware that I studied opera in college.  Yup, you heard it right--opera.  That meant lots of costumes--often with big heavy wigs, lots of makeup, long skirts and corsets.  Oh, there were other compensations.  I also got to wear glittery jewelry and have a gig where I was often actually required to wear a tiara.  And sometimes I got to,  you know, sing and stuff.  But after a while, those clothes got pretty darn uncomfortable.  I couldn't wear it to Starbucks and I certainly couldn't nap in it.

Next I started working in corporate America.  The skirts were shorter, but the heels were higher.  8-10 hour-days in even medium-height pumps was agony. And while you could go order a Triple, Ventissimo, Frapalatte in this get up,  you certainly couldn't nap in it.  It was still stiff and confining.  After I while, I started my own business so I could at least wear jeans most days.

Then I started working in the fitness industry.  Now, I get to wear stretchy exercise pants, and super awesome sports bras and tennis shoes almost every day.  This is the career for me!  I'll never forget the first time I did a fitness trade show.  Not only was it not  a fashion crisis to wear the most comfortable stuff in my closet, but also it was what I was supposed to wear.  I was invited to wear clothes that passed both the "go get coffee" and  the "nap on the sofa" test.  Oh happy day!

Seriously kids, the comfort and sheer awesomeness of exercise clothes is difficult to overstate.  You get to wear super comfortable shoes that come in awesome colors and even have sports detailing like race cars.  And the pants?  Even Margaret Cho waxes rhapsodic about yoga pants.  They are comfy, yes.  But they are also flexible.  They allow you to occupy and move through space like you own the joint.  They allow you to bend and stretch and reach and dance.  Exercise clothes allow you to just breathe.  So if you're looking for a reason to work out--here's one.  Exercising is a wonderful excuse to wear exercise clothes, which in turn allow you to move and stretch and dance and breathe. 

So my little chicklettes, why not don all your super awesome stretchy stuff and dance with me?  If you live near LA, you can join me for a Divaluscious Workout this Saturday.  Or you can always join me for my free live streaming workouts.  Or just listen in tomorrow night (Tuesday, February 21) when I'll be interviewed by Golda Poretsky along with Anna Guest-Jelley at the 2012 Body Love Revolutionaries Summit.  And whatever else you choose, just breathe.

The Fat Chick

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Further proof there is someone out there for every body!

It’s American Heart Month and  it’s Valentine’s Day so we’re gonna talk about hearts today.  I know that this cardiac cliché may seem a bit much (especially for those of you who HATE this holiday) but I’m going to ask you to just, you know, go with it.

First we’ll turn to an article recently released in Circulation, The Journal of the American Heart Association that contains very good news for all of us who are fit fatties.  The study referenced in the article followed 14,358 middle-aged men (median age 44) over 11.4 years indicates that fitness is much more important than fatness in terms of cardiac death and death overall.  It may seem a little morbid to talk about death on a day which is at least theoretically supposed to be about love (or maybe not—depending about how you feel about this holiday) but the message from the study is clear.  “There was no association between changes in body-mass index (BMI) and risk of mortality or death from cardiovascular disease.”  So we know that, regardless of your size, fitness improves the functioning of your heart and improves your chances of being around a long time.

As I’ve been saying for years and years, just get out there and shake your groove thing!  Don’t worry about winning Olympic medals or winning  a role on Dancing with the Stars.  Just get out there and move, moderately and joyously for a total of about 150 minutes per week.  It’s good for your body and your spirit, and your heart will thank you. 

Because, you know what else improves when you get out there and shake what God gave ya?  Fitness improves your self esteem.  Yup, getting out and getting a little exercise helps you feel better about yourself.  And improved self esteem is just one of the ways that fitness improves your love relationships and sex life.  Seriously, forget about magic pills.  A little exercise outside of the sheets can make your exercise between the sheets EVEN BETTER.  Woo Hoo!  Where do I sign up?

And speaking of signing up, fitness can also provide an awesome opportunity to meet other people to have love relationships and really great sex with.  You could try a new dance class or fitness class.  You could sign up for tennis lessons with a truly yummy looking instructor (and really rev that heart rate!)  You could join a walking or running club or go lift weights.  There are many forms of fitness that give you opportunities to widen your social circle and find some new friends and/or love interests.

So let’s review.  Fitness helps you find fabulous new people to hang out with and potentially fall in love with.  And once you’re in love, fitness helps you have better love relationships and better sex.  And fitness improves your cardiovascular health so you can love each other for a long, long time.  It does my heart good just thinking about it.

So my little chicklettes, this is my Valentine’s Day wish for you.  Get on your dancing shoes and go out and boogie!  Go for a walk outside in the fresh air.  Get yourself on down to the golf course and say hello to some folks.  And bless your little hearts!

The Fat Chick

The Power of Identification

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Out on the town with friends Ragen, Julianne and Rose

Stay tuned for a super special new project announcement at the conclusion of this blog post.  Thank you!

I remember when I was very first starting to accept my body.  When I was what size acceptance folks lovingly refer to as a "baby fat".  Somebody who is new to the notion that beauty and health happen at all sizes.  I had read some statistics that indicate that fat is not a death sentence, and that helped.  But something was missing.  Then I went to my first NAAFA convention and a whole lot of things changed in a hurry.  The reason was simple.  It's one thing to talk about size acceptance.  It's a whole other thing to be in a hotel with several hundred other fat people who are dancing, romancing, swimming, singing, exercising, sharing and generally having a heck of a good time.  I honestly never believed that health and happiness were possible at every size until I saw it, on a grand scale with my own eyes.  Finally I had found a group with which I could identify.

This is what is so very dangerous and damaging about fat hatred and fat bigotry.  We shame fat people into believing that they are dangerously other.  Like Frankenstein's monster, we fat folk are another species, incapable of blending with society.  It's bad enough when we do this to adults.  But it is especially damaging when we do this to children who may not be mature or sophisticated enough to understand that being shunned is a failing of the hater not the hated.  And we do this to children who may be in a somewhat sheltered environment, where they may feel they are the only fat kid in the class or even the whole town.

That is one of the reasons why groups like NAAFA and ASDAH are so very important.  I'm proud of my role as Vice President on the ASDAH board and for the work I'm doing with NAAFA-LA.  And I am deeply grateful that I have my amazing colleagues with whom I may work, dream and share.  And this is why the work that Marilyn Wann is doing with the "I STAND against weight bullying" project and Ragen Chastain is doing with the Support All Kids project is so important.  Imagine the impact that hundreds and hundreds of size positive people and messages can have on a child who feels isolated and alone.  What would it mean to a child to look up and see a billboard in their town depicting kids who look like them, and are healthy, happy and comfortable in their own skin.  You don't have to just imagine it.  We are very close to realizing it.  We need just over 200 people to donate to the Stand 4 Every Body project in order to unlock an amazing $5000 challenge grant from More of Me to Love.  Today is ask a friend day.  Ask a friend to donate just $1 to make this dream a reality for kids of size in Georgia.

And here's the super cool announcement I promised at the opening of this post.  Along with my super cool friends Ragen Chastain and Jayne Williams, I will be launching a new social web space called the Fit Fatties Forum on March 3.  This will be an amazing space where athletes of all sizes can gather, encourage one another, share photos, triumphs and war stories and learn from one another.  The "Ask a Fit Fatty" section will allow you to get answers to all your burning fitness questions.  And perhaps most importantly, we're creating a space where you can identify with other fathletes.  You may be the only fat aerobics instructor at the club, or fat runner in the 5K or fat scuba diver on the boat.  But my dear Chicklette, you are not alone--never alone.  Stay tuned for more information coming soon!

The Fat Chick

The futility of shame

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lately the Strong4Life campaign in Georgia has received a lot of publicity and a LOT of pushback.  For those of you who aren't familiar, this is a group of ads that depict fat children in black and white photography and seeks to convey how miserable it is to be a fat child.  They claim that this is a "wake up call" for parents who apparently don't know that their kids are fat and have somehow missed the message in our culture that being fat is "bad".  They insist their goal is not to make kids feel bad (even though the images look like shots of hardened criminals).  No, they claim, these messages are for the lousy parents who have somehow slept through the last 100 years of fat hatred and have negligently allowed their poor kids to get fat.

When confronted by critics with the ideas that these images could be extremely emotionally damaging and would increase stigma for fat children, Strong4Life supporters have suggested that the billboards are for parents and that the kids probably don't even see them.  But let's get real.  These billboards are about shame.  Shame for parents of fat kids and shame for fat kids.  How dare these parents allow these kids to become an unacceptable shape.  How dare these kids pollute the world with their visually unacceptable bodies?

Shame has been used for decades to help people lose weight.  But here's the thing about shame as a weight-loss tool, it doesn't work.  Just like virtually every other weight-loss tool in the universe (outside of amputation) it doesn't work in the long term.  And in the short term, the side effects are devastating.  Stigmatization of fat kids is getting worse.  And since the ads don't offer any helpful suggestions for how these fat kids are supposed to get skinny, it seems likely that many of them will take it on themselves.  And when these kids go on diets, starting as early as age 7, do they end up thinner in the long run?  Nope.  They end up both heavier and at greater risk for disordered eating.  Add this to the fact that kids of all sizes can be healthier by simply adding nutritious foods and regular and fun physical activities to their lives and you've gotta wonder--what are those Strong4Life people thinking?  How does THIS help kids?

So what can we do?  Well for one thing, we can work to counteract some of the negative side effects of the Georgia campaign.  Marilyn Wann has initiated an amazing campaign called "I stand against weight bullying".  In this campaign, Marilyn has created a design template that imitates the Strong4Life ads and invites people to submit pictures of themselves and statements to represent themselves.  These images are then submitted via facebook and an amazing tumblr feed.  My image is shown above.  Go to the facebook page and learn how to submit a picture of your very own!

In addition, the most awesome Ragen Chastain, worked with several other members of the size acceptance community to create a campaign to raise money for billboards that feature a size-positive response to the Strong4Life ads.  She's initiating a money bomb TOMORROW to get the ball rolling and raise money to meet an amazing $5,000 matching grant from More of Me to Love.  So dig through your change jars and make a contribution already!

You CAN be part of the solution for kids of size all over the world.  You can show them that they are, and will be okay.  You can demonstrate that healthy and happy life is possible at all sizes.  And  you can remind them that every BODY deserves love (including you my darling chicklettes).

The Fat Chick