My Friends are on Diets

I have friends on diets.  Friends who read my blog and tell me how much they like what I say.   Friends who read the research on dieting (for a bunch of research you can check out this post.) I have friends on food restriction diets, reconstituted soy protein diets, weight watchers, Atkins etc. Somebody asked me today if it bothers me.

Not at all.

We hear a lot about taking the road less traveled by –  which is the one I’ve decided to take. You can also take the one most traveled by – and that, too, will make all the difference. Either way it’s always your choice.

I’ve talked in this blog about my take on inspiration.  You can read the full post here – basically I believe that you can never inspire or empower anyone.  All that I think any of us can do is present an option and  people can choose to walk toward it or away from it, So all I ever want to do is present an option.

Here is my option:

  • You could love yourself, right now.
  • Your relationship with your body could be healed.  You could start being grateful to your body for everything it does instead of buying into a bunch of marketing designed to make you feel like that you are the wrong shape and size and that you are flawed and unattractive.
  • You could reject the diet industry and the message that makes them $60,000,000,000  a year and decide to pursue health through healthy behaviors, and stop worrying about what shape or size it comes in.
  • You could take the time to learn what food and drink and movement and how much you and your body like (by trial and error if necessary) instead of allowing someone else (Jenny Craig?) to decide that for you.
  • You could decide that you are the only person who gets decides how you feel about yourself.  It’s called SELF-esteem.  Not my-mom-esteem, or boss-esteem…
  • You could love yourself right now.  Right. This.  Second.
  • You could decide that there is nothing in the world that can stop you from loving yourself and your body because that’s what you choose and you are willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.

That’s my option.  It’s not easy at first – at least it wasn’t for me.   I have found it to be worth it.  You could try it out and if you don’t like it, you could go back – you could choose something else.  I’m not about making other people’s choices for them.  My choices have lead to a place of  health, happiness and where I love my body, and I love how I look naked.  I hope everyone else’s choices get them exactly where they want to go.

Is the Elite the Enemy of the Healthy?

Today I watched a documentary called Spirit of the Marathon on Hulu.  I had previously seen it in the theater and loved it both times. It follows several people from training through their marathon. From elite athletes who run the marathon at an unimaginably fast pace (every mile faster than the treadmill at my gym goes), to runners who are “doing it for the t-shirt”.  There’s even a runner who advocates running as slowly as possible “You paid for this course to be open as long as it’s open – take your time and get the most out of your marathon dollar…”  I also watched a recording of an Ironman. The former Ironman winners who were interviewed, to a person, said some version of  “This is a thing that the human body just isn’t supposed to do.”

We celebrate this in our society – people who run farther, go faster, push the boundaries of human endurance.  As a professional dancer I endure a level of training that very few people would probably want to do.  (Not many 33 year old women are pulling muscles working on their splits or training to do a back handspring).  Those of us who push the boundaries tend to be proud of the level of our athleticism.

But do we need to do this to be healthy?  No!  Abso-freaking-lutely not.    Athleticism and health are not necessarily the same thing at all.  Over a lifetime of playing sports as hard as I could and especially as a dancer, I’ve had any number of injuries that a normal healthy  person would never have.  I’ve also ignored my body’s signals in order to compete.  My second year dancing I started to feel a twinge in my ankle about a month before Nationals.  But it was a month before Nationals so I didn’t feel that I could stop training and it wasn’t that painful.   At Nationals during waltz the ankle bent completely in (so that the inside of my foot touched the inside of my ankle I later saw on the video), causing me to fall hard on the opposite knee.  I got up and finished the dance.  I danced there more dances that day and eight dances the next morning in a lot pain – mostly from my knee at the time.  Turns out that the knee wasn’t that hurt but  I had very seriously injured my ankle – so much so that I had to do a year of medical massage, acupuncture, pilates and rehab to be able to dance on it. The whole thing probably could have been avoided if I had taken a couple days off when I first felt the injury, but I’m a boundary pusher, which doesn’t always equate to smart decisions or common sense.

In order to do these crazy things that we do, we ignore our body’s signals all the time and work well past what we would need for general health.  So I wonder, does celebrating this level of athleticism discourage people who could be healthy if they just moved 20 or 30 minutes a day on most days?  Do they feel like they need to run a marathon or they just shouldn’t bother?  I wonder what would happen if  society would glorify dancing around your livingroom or gardening or whatever kind of movement you would like to do, instead of pictures at the gym of people at their physical brink, trying to push past.

There are people for whom testing the limits of their bodies is part of what they love about movement.  I’m one of them.  That’s fine. It doesn’t make us better or worse than people who don’t want to see how hard they can work before they vomit and how hard they can work after.  If we really thought about it, it’s not really about our health – we could have health without stress fractures, muscle strains, sprains, pulls etc. and all manner of overuse injuries, and ignoring our bodies when they are screaming at us to stop.  That’ s not particularly healthy at all.

One of the Ironman competitors said “To make it through the Ironman you don’t need to be the best, you just need to be consistent and keep pushing forward.”  It would seem from a lot of the research that health and physical fitness can be acquired in roughly the same way. If you feel like you’re not getting enough movement in your life, find some stuff you like to do and do it.  Try some new stuff – if you like it do some more of it.  If not, you don’t need to do it ever again.  If you like to run and feel like you’d like to try a 5K,  or whatever – try it.

It’s important to remember it’s not about your weight (I talked about this in my blog “Is it Cause I’m Fat?”)  It’s about realizing your current level of physical fitness and what you’ll need to do to get where you want to go.  You can be healthy and happy even if you never run a mile.  Move and have fun and see what happens.

Very Special Guest Blogger – Daisy!

This is Daisy, and this is what Daisy did when I walked away from my computer for a minute.

Daisy belongs to my friends Mel and Brian. A few weeks ago Mel and Brian got new neighbors.  The new neighbors meant new dogs for Daisy to meet.

One of the dogs didn’t like Daisy very much.  She would run up to the  fence and bark viciously.  Daisy is an awesome dog but is not, in any way, the brightest bulb in the box.  She didn’t understand that the dog didn’t like her.  So the interaction was basically like this:

Jasmine:  I DON’T LIKE YOU AT ALL  😦 !!!!!!

Daisy:  I LIKE TO BARK AT THE FENCE  🙂 !!!!!

Jasmine:  I MEAN I REALLY, REALLY DON’T LIKE YOU AT ALL 😦 !!!!

Daisy:  OH COOL, WE’RE GONNA BARK LOUDER NOW  🙂 !!!!!!!

Jasmine:  I WANT TO BITE YOUR FACE OFF  😦  !!!!

Daisy:  AWESOME, WE’RE GOING TO JUMP AT THE FENCE NOW 🙂 !!!!!

I can always have a good conversation with someone who is willing to talk, even if they don’ t agree with me.  But I’ve always struggled at how to deal with someone who just wants to call me names.  I think I’m going to take Daisy’s tactic and just act like I don’t understand what’s going on.  I’m imagining something like:

Person:  You fat bitch!

Me:  I like flowers.

Person:  I’m mean you are a big fat fatty!

Me:  Flowers are pretty.

I wonder what will happen?

In the meantime, Daisy took over my blog to give you a message about body positivity:

Hi, my name is Daisy and I have something important to say (obviously because if you think typing without opposable thumbs is easy then you have another thought coming).   There are some things you have to know about me.

  • I’m not super bright, almost everything confuses me
  • I destroy my toys, then I’m sad that I don’t have them.  But I can’t make the connection between destroying my toys and not having any so I do it every time.
  • I don’t have brakes – often the way I can come up with to stop is running full speed into something more sturdy than I am
  • I don’t meet the “Breed Standards” for American Staffordshire Terriers – I don’t look right at all
  • When I run around my face and body turn pink – it looks kind of silly.
  • My dads say that I’m made of rubber bands and poo and not much else

I’m not the perfect dog, but my dads and their friends love me and that’s all that’s important.  I think I’m awesome and that everybody wants to be my friend.  If they don’t that’s their loss.  You should think about thinking that way too.

Lose Weight Now! Be Terrified Forever?

So let’s pretend that losing weight really does solve all of your problems.  You get a spouse, a promotion, people like you, your dog stops peeing on the carpet.  Everything is great.

But don’t you have to wonder – are you just a couple of cheeseburgers away from losing it all? What if something happens and you gain the weight back (pregnancy, a car accident, a health issue, like 95% of people you aren’t able to maintain your weight loss for five years etc.).  Do you suddenly become a country song – you lose your spouse, your job, your friends, your dog reverts to incontinence?

I saw an article recently about a woman who had lost 100 pounds.  In the article she said “My boyfriend admits that he wouldn’t have dated me when I looked like that”.  It’s certainly her decision to date someone who feels that way about her, I just don’t get it.  How is that ok? What if it goes all the way and you marry him – now you have to spend your life being terrified that if something happens to cause you to gain weight you’ll know that your husband doesn’t find you attractive, he’ll likely feel that he has every right to be all over you about your weight since he told you up front that he doesn’t want you if you’re not thin,  and you could even end up having to go through the heartbreak of getting divorced.  I’d also ask him now about his other deal killers – if he’s so appearance-based in his attraction then how does he feel about  gray hair or wrinkles?

If you aren’t as healthy as you want to be, then I would suggest healthy behaviors (new ones and/or more of the ones that you are already doing)– move your body in ways that you enjoy, eat food that nourishes you more of the time.  Nobody has ever proven that their diet method leads to long term weight loss – in most cases it’s just the opposite as you end up in a cycle of yo-yo dieting.

I’m incredibly fat and my life is awesome, so it can be done.  If there are things that I could have have or achieve,  or if there are people who would date me just because my body was a different shape or size, then those things and people are cheap and tawdry and fleeting.  I don’t want them and they sure as hell do not deserve me.

In the end of course, as always, the choice is yours.

Too Fat for a Pedicure?

 

A Lithonia, Georgia woman was charged $5 extra for a pedicure because of her weight.

I almost called this post Nailed in Georgia.  That’s not really important now, I’m only telling you because I didn’t want to waste a pun, however horrible.

Onward….

Kim Tran, who manages Natural Nails, told Michelle Fonville the surcharge was to cover costly repairs of broken chairs by overweight customers. Tran says the chairs, which are used for pedicures, have a weight capacity of 200 pounds and cost $2,500 to fix.

Fonville said that was discrimination. Tran eventually refunded the money, but asked Fonville not to come back to the salon.

Source:  http://www.wusa9.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=108630&catid=148

I would say that I don’t have words, but obviously I do or I wouldn’t be blogging about this.

To preface this, as the fat recipient of many a pedicure, I had some serious doubts that her chair weight limit was 200lbs.  I did some research and most of the pedicure chairs I found weighed more than 200lbs themselves.  According to several sources the average weight limit is 300lbs but that is a low number in the owner’s manual meant to decrease liability exposure for the chair manufacturer, and the chair will actually hold more weight.  Also, you can actually get a chair for $2,500 so if the repairs are that much, she might want to just spring for a new one..

For the sake of argument though, let’s assume that she is terrible at shopping and has very expensive chairs with a very low weight limit, and everything she says is true.

First let me say that as someone significantly over 200 lbs I do not want to go through the public humiliation of breaking a chair, especially one that costs $2,500.00 to fix.  As a former business operations consultant, I can see where $2,500 would be a significant strain on the business finances.  I don’t know the nail business but if we estimate that they charge $40.00 for a pedicure and have a 25% profit margin, that’s 250 pedicures to break even on fixing the chair.

Here’s the thing though:  If the chair has a weight limit of 200 pounds, we can reasonably expect that it would break when someone who is over 200 pounds sits in it.  Since she is only charging a $5.00 offset, Miss Tran is betting that the chair will only be broken by every 500th customer over 200lbs in order for her to break even on the repairs.  The math does not add up.

Upon further research, Ms. Fonville was not notified as to the weight limit of the chair or the additional charge until after she had finished her pedicure, paid, and realized that her bill was higher than it should be. This is especially problematic to me because at that point Ms. Tran already knew that the chair hadn’t broken under Ms. Fonville’s weight and so was charging her for an eventuality that was an impossibility.  It would seem that Ms. Tran wants the extra money, but not the trouble of appropriately crafting a company policy that is fair and makes sense.

How is this policy to be applied?  How do they know who is over 200lbs?  Is there a scale?  Do you sign a waiver?  What if a chair breaks while a 120 pound person sits on it?  If someone has kids with them and the kids want to sit on their lap must a combined weight be calculated first, if the kids jump how do we calculate for that?    How are customers notified of the policy? Are we rounding to the nearest pound, tenth of a pound?  If I weight exactly 200lbs do I have to pay?  If I weight exactly 200 pounds and I drink a bottle of water pushing me over the weight limit while I’m in the chair do I have to pay?  Why not require that everyone over 200lbs puts down a $2,500 deposit and then if the chair doesn’t break they get their money back?  That ought to go over great.

I’ll leave it to Ms. Tran to work all of that out.  In the meantime, what I would personally rather do is give my money to a salon that wants my business enough to get a chair that supports my weight.  We’re constantly told about how omigoddeathfatwtfbbq we all are – if such a large percentage of us are heavy, there has to be a salon that wants to paint our toenails.  And if not, why don’t some of us start some?

Good for Ms. Fonville for sticking up for herself.   Here’s hoping that she didn’t need to be told not to come back to the salon.

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Inspiration Junkie

I am unrepentant inspiration junkie.  I am playing the theme of Greatest American Hero on myiTunes right now.  “Believe it or not Iiiiiiiiii’m walking on air… ” (I always loved that show.  Just a normal guy who got a suit with some gifts he didn’t understand – he overcame his fear and made the most of it.  Awesome.)

I recently did a vision boarding class and today I hung vision boards with pictures of what I want and words like “Inspire” and “I dream of being a superhero” all over my house.

I have a blue box with hundreds of motivational quotes that I painstakingly wrote on index cards from the time I was in middle school through college.

I watch this video each and every morning

I send these kinds of videos to my dance team.  I spend time making 5 minute song mixes to try to motivate them during our wall sits, and picking music that I hope will be inspiring for the time when we do boards and run sprints.  I put quotations on the bottom of our rehearsal sheet every week.

Reasonably often the team laughs at me.  People I know make fun of me goodnaturedly.  They say it’s silly, they say that they are too jaded for such cheesy things to motivate or inspire them.  They imply that I am perhaps a bit of a simpleton for deriving motivation and inspiration from Michael Bolton singing Go the Distance from Hercules.   They may well be right and as usual I’m not saying anyone else has to crank up the Michael Bolton (although if you’re on my dance team you might be subjected to it during wall sits…).  So I guess I am kind of cheesy and simple when it comes to this.

I.  Do.  Not.  Care.

I jump off cliffs…and I fail and end up bloody and broken.  A lot.

I live in a world where I get 386,170 negative messages about my body every year and I choose to love myself and my body, and I want to let other people know that they can do the same if they choose.  Which means not just actively rejecting every single one of those messages but then finding the energy to shout new messages at the top of my voice (I often feel like the chihuahua in the picture above…)

I interact with people who identify as jaded and bitter, not as a temporary state but as a way of life.

I regularly watch people settle for less than they truly want or truly can be, because it’s easier or safer and/or by their own admission they are  just too scared or to complacent to make the effort.

Let me be clear – all of these are perfectly valid ways to live and I’m not judging them.  They just aren’t what I choose for me.  Please understand, it’s not that I think my way is better than anyone else’s, or that other people should choose my way.  It’s just that I’m committed to my way FOR ME.

For me – I want see the view from the top of the mountain of my potential.

You know how every 18 year old thinks they can change the world and then they outgrow it?  I thought I could change the world when I was 18.  Now that I’m 33 though…

…I’m absolutely CERTAIN I can.  I want to see who can I be, what difference can I make  if I do everything that I possibly can.

The catch is that in order to do that I have to avoid buying into all those negative messages.  I have to conquer fear after fear after fear.  I have to stand up to a big scary dog who thinks he could chew me up and spit me out (just go with me on the metaphor here).  I have to fail spectacularly and not let my failures get me down.  I can’t become jaded and bitter, no matter how many life experiences I have that make jaded and bitter seem like a reasonable things to be. I have to be honest and authentic  and avoid settling, even when things are hardest and an easier, safer option seems like a good idea; and no matter how many people would find me less weird/obnoxious/cheesy/intimidating  if I did.

So I use every tool available to me – inspiring quotations, songs, books, movies, vision boards, whatever. I celebrate my victories with a ridiculous butt-shaking happy dance. Anything that reminds me of who I want to be and what I want to accomplish in those low moments when I might be tempted to forget.  It works for me and I do not apologize for it.  Maybe I’m a cheesy simpleton, but I’m a cheesy simpleton who’s KICKING ASS!

Here’s one of my famous cheesy quotes.  I actually have this one on the mug that holds my toothbrush so I see it every morning and start my day ready for some ass-kickery:

“I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.” –Og Mandino

Ok, one more since you asked nicely:

Indomitable, that’s the word…  Allons y!  –The Doctor

Guilt is Great Exercise! Wait…what?

I work as a freelance project manager.  One of my clients is Amy Hardin who owns AcSELLerate Sales Development Systems.  One of the perks is that I get to take her sales class. (I love that her goal is getting away from smarmy sales techniques and into authentic business conversations.)  As part of an exercise that we were doing last week, Amy asked us to think of a question that, when we asked it, would help someone understand how our business is different from other businesses like it.

My question was this:

In your last fitness class, when the teacher encouraged you to appreciate your body, what specific things came to mind?

The class laughed, some a bit uneasily.  Fitness instructors who encourage you to appreciate your body for anything other than getting smaller are few and far between.

I’ve been thinking about it since class.  I am an aerobics class participant from waaaaaaay back.  I did Step Aerobics on homemade steps when Gin Miller first invented it.  I have literally taken thousands of group exercise classes and I can count on one hand the number of those classes that were taught from a body positive perspective – where students were encouraged to be active for their health and to appreciate their bodies, rather than trying to change their body size and shape.

All I remember from my exercises classes were statements about the horror of having body fat, and vague assertions that “bikini season was coming”.  …and don’t think I wasn’t guilty of the same things.  When I taught aerobics I encouraged my students to bring outfits to class didn’t look good on them to hang on the wall for motivation. I actually used the phrase “if you don’t squeeze it, nobody else will” while doing squats.  I was 18 years old and convinced that the only way to get people to work hard was through guilt, fear and shame.

Oh how the tides have turned. ..well, my tides anyway.  These days if a student asked I would probably suggest that they donate the outfit that doesn’t fit to Goodwill and go buy some clothes that look good on them now.  I actively encourage students in my dance classes to appreciate their awesome bodies and everything those bodies are doing for them.  I am certain that whether or not I squeeze it, someone else will.

Just for fun I attended a step class last week and it was the same old stuff.  Here are some of the instructor’s greatest hits:

“Since you’re just starting an exercise program be sure to take it slow, I wouldn’t use a riser at all…”.  This was said to me upon my walking in, and without asking me about my exercise program.  I replied in a calm friendly matter  “Why would you think I’m just starting an exercise program?”  She fumbled for a minute and then just sort of backed away slowly.  Off to a rockin’ start…

“Give me all you’ve got.  Give a little extra for all the fat girls eating bon bons in front of the television right now!”.  Ok, first – why is it always freaking bon bons?  I’m a certified, bonified, in-the-flesh fat girl – Fatty McFaterson, Mayor of Fat Town –  and I don’t even know what a bon bon is. Also, this seems vaguely like “eat your peas because children in [insert third world country] are starving.  I think that ignoring my body’s signals and working past its limitations will not help sedentary people enjoy the benefits of exercise so much as it will lead to me being sedentary while I wait for my overuse and fatigue based injuries to heal.

“Bikini season is here, and there’s nothing worse than a muffin top”.  Really? There’s nothing worse?  A muffin top is not cancer, let’s not act like it is.

and my favorite…

wait for it…

“If you don’t squeeze it, nobody will!”  I laughed out loud at that one, I can’t believe people are still using that.

I must thank the instructor for the trip down amnesia lane, and I hope that things aren’t as they appear and that she doesn’t live in constant terror of having a muffin top but that’s certainly her prerogative.

After class she asked me what I thought and I gently (no, seriously – I’m trying to have a teachable moment here, not throw a fit) gave her my feedback, “I liked the choreography and I got a good workout.  I was put off right at the beginning by your assumption that I was just starting an exercise program, and I find that I’m not very motivated by someone telling me to hate my body.  Being fat, I certainly didn’t appreciate your motivating the class by suggestion that they don’t want to look like me.  Out of curiosity, have you ever considered motivating students by encouraging them to appreciate their bodies and take care of them with healthy habits”.  She literally laughed out loud and said “Nobody cares about being healthy, we all just want to be thin.  You can say what you want but you wouldn’t be exercising if you didn’t want to lose all that fat”.  As I tried to control my rage before replying, she said that she had to go and shut down future communication.  Okie dokie.

I find it unconscionable to try to motivate people by convincing them that they should hate the body that they have now.  As fitness instructors we can do better and as fitness class participants we should demand better.  I’m tempted to get together a guerilla exercise group who go to gyms, take exercise classes and counteract every negative image with a positive one.

If you are in a fitness class where your instructor encourages you to appreciate your body, consider thanking them!

If you’re in a fitness class where you are encouraged to think of your body as flawed and ugly, or constantly told to be in terror of gaining weight, maybe it’s time to reconsider your fitness environment.  At least think about giving the instructor some feedback.

Think of all of the thing things that your body is doing for you to allow you to participate in class and have a little gratitude.  Your body is just awesome and it deserves your love!