Is Fat Acceptance a Healthy Choice?

polarized 4Yes, I know – this is a controversial subject.

From what I see and read on Facebook and the Internet the whole damn thing has become as polarized as what’s going on in Washington D.C.

And polarized means paralyzed.

As a matter-of-fact I’ve thought about posting on the subject for a long time but, to tell you the truth, I haven’t (until now) as I was working my way up to “accepting” that I was bound to get slammed (or is it flamed?  I don’t know all the correct jargon) by one side of the issue or the other.

But today it got to the point where I read something that served as a tipping point.  Until the Internet who knew people could me so mean and rude to each other?  Whatever happened to the ability to have a conversation when two people don’t agree with each other and NOT find it necessary to virtually slap each other across the room?

But I digress – the following is my perspective on the subject of fat acceptance.  Take what you like and leave the rest.

One Person’s Fallacy is Another Person’s Proof

Before we talk about fat acceptance let’s take a look at something I find truly abhorrent — the practice of “shaming.”  I’ve been a victim of this “approach” to motivating me to lose weight and it SUCKS.   However, what we are really talking about when people attempt to “shame” someone into losing weight is actually a “logical fallacy”, in particular an “ad hominem fallacy.”

A logical fallacy is when we use errors in logic to prove or support our point or opinion.  An ad hominem fallacy is essentially using an “attack on the person” as a means to win your argument and/or prove your point.  Which, of course, isn’t logical.

Here’s an example:

adTrish:     You can’t be healthy if you are fat.

Carol:    Of course you would say that, you’re a personal trainer.

Trish:     But what about the arguments I made that logically demonstrate that being fat puts your health at risk?

Carol:    Those don’t mean anything.  You make your living by convincing people being fat is bad, I don’t believe anything you say.   

Here’s another example:

Carol:    You don’t have to be thin to be healthy.

Trish:     Of course you would say that, you’re overweight.

Carol:    But what about the arguments I made that logically demonstrate that an overweight person can be healthier than a thin person?

Trish:     Those don’t mean anything.  You are overweight, of course you want to think you are healthy.  I don’t believe anything you have to say. 

But shaming takes an ad hominem argument one ugly step further:  In our attempt to “motivate” someone to do something we think they should do or think how we think we assign to them negative character deficits because they don’t do as we do or think as we think.

My favorite is the notion that an overweight person “has no discipline.”  And then there’s “fat people are lazy.”  Some people would even have you think that being overweight or obese means that person isn’t as intelligent as a thin person.  Some would think that, since overweight people are (of course) lazy and have no discipline that you should hire a less qualified thin person over a more qualified obese person.

My view?  I do think that it is possible for an obese person to be “healthier” than a thin person – of course it is.  When I was obese there were plenty of people around me who were sick when I was not.  On the other hand, there is no doubt that obesity DOES represent increased risk to our health, especially heart disease and diabetes (which causes other health and life-threatening conditions.)  For example when I was 22 years old and my lab work came back my doctor sat me down and said “You’ve got the lab work of an overweight 50 year old man waiting to have a heart attack” and counseled me to “consider losing some weight.”

These two sides of this issue are equally true – and there are plenty of medical studies that support both the fact that being overweight or obese attracts serious health risks as well as the fact that an overweight or obese person can be healthier and even live longer than a thin person.

Form and Function

1980 or so - still hiding behind something or someone but on my way to a healthy weight

Me.

Spring 2010

Still me.

My view?  I think in terms “form and function” when I refer to “healthy weight and fitness.”

By form I don’t refer simply to what we “look like.”  I won’t lie, I personally like having a “thinner” silhouette, but I also mean it in a more “physical” sense and, as I’ve gotten older, maintaining my body’s ability to function has become more important than fitting into my skinny jeans.

For example, when I was very obese it was difficult for me to walk because my thighs rubbed together and this caused a painful rash.  I love to walk and hike.  Losing weight changed the “form” of my legs and this allowed me to engage in an activity I enjoy.  Exercising also impacts the “form” of my body’s parts.  For example, by maintaining and strengthening my muscles.

By “function” I refer to optimal function of all my body’s intricate components.  An example is the fact that by lowering my weight I put less stress on my heart.  It is also true that excess fat can throw my body chemistry out of whack causing things like my triglycerides to rise or developing metabolic syndrome.  I have sciatica, weighing less means it doesn’t hurt as much or as often.

Decisions, Decisions

However, outside of any medical condition that deters a person’s ability to lose weight even when they wish to, when it comes down to brass tacks I think an overweight or obese individual’s decision as to whether to lose weight comes down to a different kind of “weight.”  What do I mean?  I mean weighing risk versus opportunity.  Let me explain:

VersusIf you risk something that doesn’t mean it will definitely happen.  If I invest in a stock I risk losing my money.  But because I take that risk doesn’t automatically translate into it meaning I am flushing my money down the toilet when I invest.

I take that risk because the opportunity of increasing my bank account makes it worth it to me.  And it is a fact that people can make money off the stock market.  But just because that opportunity exists doesn’t automatically mean I am going to be laughing all the way to the bank.

There ARE health risks associated with obesity.  The opportunity attaining and sustaining healthy weight and fitness brings may, or may not, outweigh the risks of remaining obese for any given individual.   If a person makes a decision that the opportunity to reduce those risks by attaining and sustaining a healthy weight doesn’t outweigh the risks associated with being overweight, this does not mean they are in any way “less than” someone who DOES decide that the opportunities are worth more to them than the risks.

Tolerance Schmolerance

tolerancePersonally I really abhor the whole notion of “tolerance.”  Sure when I “tolerate” something I “accept” it – but tolerance means “accept or endure (someone or something unpleasant or disliked) with forbearance” – and this infers I am doing someone some sort of favor by tolerating them.   So, in my book, “tolerance” sucks.

On the other hand acceptance means I am taking “the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.”   What sense does it make for someone to have rejected what I have to offer this world, to their lives, to my job simply because I am obese or overweight?

So here is my take on “fat acceptance” – and I am fully prepared that I might get some not nice comments from people reminding me that there are those out there who are obese who are “kidding themselves” that there is “nothing wrong” with them.  I also won’t be surprised if I get some not nice comments from someone who is obese telling me that I am crazy to even suggest they are risking their health.

And to them I would say – thanks for helping me to prove my statement that when we become so polarized on a topic we become paralyzed in our ability to refrain from applying logical fallacies rather than carefully considering the other’s perspective and then see if that changes ours.

I did change my opinion after reading many different blogs, posts, and comments from various social networks, as well as visiting many personal and professional websites and reading articles dealing with the subject.  Prior to that my knee jerk reaction was that any notion of “fat acceptance” was dangerous – I know there are risks to my health if I were to gain my weight back,  I know there are health risks associated with anyone’s obesity – so how could I support the idea of “accepting” the notion that remaining obese is a valid option?

But reading all that material is what allowed me to see the bigger picture.  After careful consideration of both perspectives I have come to this conclusion:

Fat acceptance is indeed a healthy choice as a healthy, free society does not ostracize or in any way punish those who don’t “do as I do” or “think as I think.”

Acceptance is also “the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group.”

What group are we talking about accepting a person into when we speak of “Fat Acceptance?”  The human family.  And, outside of rejecting those with evil intent to do harm to fellow members of the human family, who in the hell has the right to determine just who is, and who isn’t, accepted into the human family?  Who has the power to dictate that, if we are obese we are somehow “lesser” than someone who isn’t?  That the thin person is the “better” person?

No one.

Not even a person whose mission it is to make a contribution to those on the journey of attaining and sustaining healthy weight and fitness.  Not even a person who was obese and now isn’t.  Not me.

It is inhumane to judge the state of being overweight or obese as indicating a person is lacking in character or ability or is in any way “lesser than” a “thin” person.  Period.

 

 

 

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Three Questions to Ask When Planning Your Fitegic Week

PlansWhen we have goals we want to meet it just makes sense to have a plan in place that charts how we’re going to achieve those goals.  This is especially true when it comes to attaining and sustaining healthy weight and fitness.  That’s what Fitegic Planning is all about:

“Fitegic Planning is the way you will marry Meaning, Motivation, and Method into a plan of action that promotes a life-long healthy weight and level of fitness.” 

“Simply put Fitegic Planning is a system of organizing your thoughts and actions in a way that supports not just weight LOSS, but SUSTAINING a life-long healthy weight.”

The key words here are “plan” and “system.”  Let’s take a gander at “plan” first.

Woody Allen summed things up quite well when he said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”  And how about “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry?”

I mean how many times have you totally and absolutely committed to sticking to your plan only to have any number of things pop up that throw everything out of kilter?  This is why planning has gotten a bad name – it became a popular notion that because things change all the time making a plan is a waste of time because what we need to be doing is adapting to all this change in our daily lives.

But that’s just silly.  It doesn’t make sense to throw the baby out with the bath water.  You wouldn’t go to college and just take any course that suited your fancy and expect to graduate.  If you’re taking a business trip and need to be at a meeting at a certain time you wouldn’t just show up at the airport.

If you don’t have a plan how do you know if what you are doing is moving your towards your goals, how to adapt to changes in your plan?????

Make a New Plan Stan

Which brings us to our second keyword “system.”  Your Fitegic Plan is unique to you.  But in order to put your plan to work in your ever-changing world you need to have a system.  And an important part of the FP system is sitting down once a week and reviewing your unique plan to attain (or sustain) healthy weight and fitness.  Why would you want to do that?  Because no matter how much you may think that one week is the same as the next in your life – they are all different.  There is only one thing that stays the same in life and that is the fact that things are always changing.

A simple way to do that is to ask yourself three simple questions:

  • “How meaningful is my why?”
  • “How am I going to motivate myself this week?”
  • “What methods will I put to work this week to stay the course?”

How meaningful is my why?

MC900433797If this the first FP post you’ve ever read you’re probably wondering what the heck is a “Meaningful Why” and how in the heck making sure you’ve either got one in the first place or if the one you’ve got is still meaningful makes any difference when it comes to “sticking to it.”

If you don’t have a Meaningful Why just jump over to the exercise on my About page and you soon will.  If you DO have a Meaningful Why you will want to pull it out, read it over, and then do this same exercise to make sure that your “reason(s)” for attaining  – or sustaining – healthy weight and fitness are still as meaningful to you as they once were.

You should review your Meaningful Why once a week because this is the absolute foundation upon which your Fitegic Plan is built.  And, once you’ve created it, write it down and read it before you start your day.

How am I going to motivate myself this week?

I like to say there are two types of motivators, BIG motivators and NOT SO BIG motivators.  Both are necessary if you want to stay your course to achieving goals.  Your BIG motivator here is your Meaningful Why – all the rest are NOT SO BIG.

Reviewing your Meaningful Why ensures the main engine driving your journey is running.  But we’ve also got to be sure we have Not So Big motivators in place each week.  Think of your Meaningful Why as the forest.  Your Not So Big motivators are the trees.  Some trees are bigger than others – just as some motivators are bigger than others.

There are also two types of Not So Big Motivators:  Those that are a “reward for good behavior” and those that “document good behavior.”

cALENDARFor example say you’re a woman and the Not So Big reward motivator you’ve been using is putting $20 away every week you stick your plan (which you plan to splurge on new clothes when you reach your goal.)  It’s been working so far, but is losing its mojo lately.  You might want to keep this motivator in place, but if you just aren’t feeling it this week you’d benefit by adding something to your Motivator Menu.  Maybe taking $20 out of that jar and going to a movie at the end of the week.

Not so Big motivators that document “good behavior” are just as important as those that reward.  Whether  you are looking at losing quite a bit of weight or working to sustain a healthy weight after meeting your goals being able to “see” what you’re doing can go a long way to your being motivated enough to “keep doing it.” – because the healthy weight and fitness journey is a journey with no end.  Which can make it really difficult to keep going because there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.  For example sometimes I keep a “ME Calendar” to document what I’m doing.  “M” stands for “menu” and “E” stands for exercise.  Each day I adhere to my eating plan I place an M, and for each day I stick with my activity plan I place an E – the goal is to have both an M and an E (ME) in each box.  This allows me to “see” what I’m doing and gives me some very real positive feedback.

“What methods will I put to work this week to stay the course?”

donutsBy method I mean whatever type of (healthy) eating plan you are using to attain or sustain a healthy weight.  I also mean whatever type of (healthy) fitness regime you are using.  Once a week take a look at both of these factors.  Are they working for you?  By working I don’t just mean the obvious – you really need to ask yourself if they work for YOU.  If you’re attempting to follow a low carb diet because your office mate did and the weight just fell off them – but what is really happening with YOU is that approach is sending you to the doughnut shop every day – well, there ARE other healthy methods for attaining and sustaining a healthy weight that might work better for you.  Same with your fitness program.  If you’re following a “short and heavy” weight lifting program but keep getting injured and have to sit it out every few days, lifting light with more reps might work better for you simply because you will keep doing it.

But certainly the methods we use are not limited to what we eat or how we exercise.  Remember how we talked about how things change all the time?  We need to take a look at our week in advance  because, when we do, what we previously thought of as “change we couldn’t anticipate” was really staring us in the face if we’d only stopped to take a look.  For example, is there an office potluck in your future this week?  Do you have a date to eat at Grandma’s?  Is your daughter’s parent/teacher conference going to conflict with your workout?

You get it – take a good look at your week and, when you see a “change” that impacts your plan, adjust to that change.  You plan to take two dishes you know are on your eating plan to that potluck.  You know Grandma is going to be expecting you to eat everything so you take a couple containers and tell her you’re so full right now but can I take some home? (Which you can then either not eat at all, or portion out.)  You get up early and hit the gym or the pavement before you go to work on the day of your daughter’s parent/teacher conference.

Keep on Keeping On

sTONEThe point here is that your Fitegic Plan isn’t “written in stone” – too often we drift away from our goals because life just seems to get in the way or it just doesn’t mean enough to us anymore to keep it up.  Sitting down once a week and asking yourself these three simple questions allows you to adapt your plan to what life throws at you, as well as make sure that the foundation of your plan – your Meaningful Why – is still meaningful when you consider the changes in your life circumstances (and adjust if necessary.)

Have a great Fitegic week!

Playing Devil’s Advocate with the New GNC “Beat Average” Ad Campaign

There’s something out there that all of us have a tendency to suffer from – something that’s been labeled “illusory superiority” – and that something is something GNC has grabbed onto to promote their products as they launch their new “Beat Average” ad campaign.

driverSimply put illusory superiority is a psychological term for the tendency for human beings to think they are somehow superior to other human beings.  An office worker might think they do a better job than most people they work with.  A college student thinks they are smarter than most of the other students in class.  A mother thinks she’s a better parent than most other mothers.  And who doesn’t think they are a better driver than most of those idiots on the highway?

Doesn’t sound very humble but (and here’s the irony) we might just think that we’re superior because we don’t think we’re superior.  Well I hate to burst our bubble but it appears that most of us DO think we are better than most.  While I’m not going to cite them here just trust me that there have been plenty of studies out there that would prove us wrong (Don’t trust me?  Do a Google search.)

Here’s how GNC plays off this less-than-humble tendency of ours – they provide “examples” of average such as:

  • Average sets the treadmill on ‘mosey’
  • Average isn’t a big fan of stairs
  • Average keeps its shirt on at the beach
  • Average doesn’t know that Danish is also a nationality
  • Average only has ‘before’ pictures

There’s certainly nothing wrong with ramping up on the treadmill, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, feeling fit enough to take our shirt off at the beach, taking a pass on that Danish, or being able to post a killer after picture on Facebook.

AverageBut is being “average” really so bad?  Not when you take into consideration that “average” might not mean exactly what you think it does.  Sure we all learned what an average is in math class.  If one person has one apple, a second has two apples, and a third has three apples what is the average number of apples each person has?  You just add up the number of apples and divide by the number of people.  This means that each person has an average of 2 apples.

However, there are some variables that we didn’t consider.  For instance, are all the apples the same size?  Are all the apples the same variety?  Are all the apples fresh?  Are all the apples unblemished?  Are all the apples free of disease?

After all these are individual apples – and each one of these apples is in some way different from the other apples.  Even if they are the same kind of apple, there are differences that make each apple unique in some way.

Human beings are all unique in some way as well.

One Person’s Mosey is Another’s …

Not following me?  Let’s take the statement “Average sets the treadmill on ‘mosey’.”  I think the point GNC is trying to make is that most people over-estimate how active they are and/or over-estimate the amount of effort they might be putting into their fitness program.  Which is most likely true.  For instance a young mother might convince herself that all the running around she does taking care of her toddler is equal to 45 minutes on a treadmill any day.  But it really isn’t.  That continuous 45 minutes on the treadmill exercises her heart in ways that the “start/stop” nature of caring for her children does not.  So, in fact, 30-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise is still a really good idea for that mother.  It’s exercise that will help provide her with the stamina she needs every day to care for her children.

On the other hand, setting the treadmill on ‘mosey’ can be a true victory and actually represent quite a bit of effort for a 50-year-old empty nester who is 50 pounds overweight and hasn’t exercised for the last 30 years.  But if that person anticipates that they’re going to jump on that treadmill, ramp up the incline and immediately be able to keep up a 4 mph pace for 60 minutes in their effort not to be “average” – well, there’s a good chance they might give up before the timer hits the first five minutes.   Yet many of us do exactly that – give up – because we have this sense of illusory superiority that fosters a belief that we can perform at higher than average levels – even when we haven’t done the work to get us to that ill-conceived idea of “average” in the first place.

And, when we fail, when faced with the fact that we are presently “less than average” in our own eyes it is all too easy to simply give up the ghost and go back to that unhealthy “average” otherwise known as our comfort zone.

I’m not really knocking GNC’s approach.  The fact is that the average American adult IS overweight and/or has a poor level of fitness – certainly not the kind of average you’d want to shoot for.  By pointing out to us that we can do more, be more by engaging in activities and behaviors that improve our health GNC sends us a positive and motivating message.

Above Average vs Unique Goals

What I am advocating for is for each of us to consider other variables in our quest to be “above average.”   Just as notions of “illusory superiority” can fool us into thinking we are doing “better” or “more” than we actually are – not recognizing our own unique “average” at any given time can also stymie our efforts to attain and sustain healthy weight and fitness.

AppleFrom where I sit periodically setting our own unique “above average” goals and taking into consideration our unique circumstances is more likely to set us up for life-long positive results than attempting to fit ourselves into cookie-cutter notions of what constitutes “above average.”  This is the approach I’ve taken for over 30 years after losing 100 pounds – and I have sustained a healthy weight and level of fitness for all those years.

Considering that only 5% of those who have lost weight keep it off – I don’t think I’m suffering from illusory superiority, instead I am hopefully motivating others to give this approach an “above average” try 🙂

Rachel, Rachel

Now that some of the “hoop” and “la” has diminished over the “Biggest Loser Controversy” regarding winner Rachel Frederickson I thought I’d chime in.

But my emphasis won’t be totally focused on “did she lose too much weight?” – my focus also includes how screwed up we are when it comes to what Americans consider to be an “attractive” weight.

At best we’re conflicted, at worst total hypocrites.

In seven months Rachel lost 155 pounds.  When we do the math that translates into an average of about 22 pounds per month.  When I first did the math I jumped right on the “that’s totally not healthy” bandwagon. 

But then I realized something.  I lost my weight when I was about the same age as Rachel.  And while I don’t know exactly how long it took me – I know I lost about 115 pounds in no more than a year – probably less.  I hadn’t weighed myself in a LONG time when I started, but the highest recorded weight was a couple years before that and I weighed 217 pounds (I’m five foot two.)  I got down to 102 pounds (at my lowest, through the years I’ve varied, but maintained within the “healthy BMI” range.)

So, let’s split the difference and say I did it in 10 months – that’s an average of 11.5 pounds per month.  Not as much as Rachel – but a pretty good clip.  And I did not dehydrate myself and I did not starve and I did not exercise for hours.  Here’s what I did:

  • I ate less – not even sure how many calories less, but less and more nutritious food.
  • I went to the gym a few times a week where I lifted light weights.
  • I jogged 2-3 miles a day most days of the week.

Now, at 57 years old I wouldn’t have a prayer of losing that much weight in the same amount of time following the same plan I did all those years ago.  My metabolism has s.l.o.w.e.d. down – way down.  However, I imagine that if back then I’d exercised for the 4-8 hours a day past Biggest Loser contestants have reported instead of averaging about an hour a day that it wouldn’t have been all that difficult for me to lose quite a bit more per month.

I realized that, while Rachel may have significantly upped the ante as far as how many calories she cut out or how much she exercised – I’d lost quite a bit of weight pretty damn quick myself when I was her age.

OK – so I know I most likely haven’t convinced everybody out there that perhaps Rachel isn’t the worst example of how to lose weight ever known to man comparing her experience to mine.

The point I’m trying to make is that perhaps, just perhaps, Rachel isn’t as “bad” as she’s being portrayed.   Maybe she’s just young, put a ton of effort into it, and lost 155 pounds in 7 months.   Sure, she didn’t follow what any reasonable person would consider to be an equally reasonably healthy approach to doing so – but I think the show’s creators and trainers are a bit hypocritical to get all up in arms about it – I mean, all you’ve got to do is watch the show to see they’re maybe just 2 degrees north of going about using any “healthier” approach than poor Rachel.  There are tons of posts and articles about past contestants confessing to the show’s “less than healthy” methods.

But, as I said, this isn’t the total focus of this post – stay with me here while we take a look at judging her to be so “horribly thin” by comparing her to Gwyneth Paltrow who was named by People magazine as 2013’s “World’s Most Beautiful Woman.”

SkinnyHere are Gwyneth’s stats:

5’9 – 126 pounds – BMI 18.6

Here are Rachel’s stats:

5’4” – 105 pounds – BMI 18

If you want a younger example, here are 25-year-old actress Krysten Ritter’s stats:

5’9” – 123 pounds – BMI 18.2

The average height and weight of a model is 5’8” between 108 and 125 pounds – so even at the “high” end of this scale most models just barely make it into the “healthy BMI range” (not under 18.5.)

So, on the one hand, we (meaning society in general) venerate and want to look like (or at) underweight actresses and models – but we’re going to jump all over a young lady who meets that criteria????

Conflicted?  Yes.  Hypocritical? Yes.  But most of all:  CONFUSED?  Yes.

As a nation we are so screwed up about weight that we’ve created role models that are so “not normal” that make many of us think we can “never look normal.”

Rather than jumping all over Rachel’s case how about we quit our love affair with human hangers and move on to identifying “beautiful people” not by their weight, or how many wrinkles they do or don’t have, but by the content of their character?

But I want to be clear here:  Do I recommend trying to lose 22 pounds a month?

NOT ON YOUR LIFE.  It IS a risk to your health – and a risk that simply doesn’t make any sense.  When making any kind of decision one needs to assess risk versus opportunity – and certainly the risk of having your body start to “eat itself” by losing weight too quickly simply isn’t worth the opportunity of getting to “goal” a few  weeks or months earlier than you would following a sensible, healthy, reasonable diet and exercise plan.

I am glad I lost that weight – sustaining a healthy weight makes it possible for me to do things I love, like hiking and biking and gardening.  And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like looking “better” (to me) in my clothes than I did at 217 pounds.  But, can’t we get real here?  After all these years I can tell you that I’m most happy I lost that weight and have been able to sustain a healthy weight because I value FEELING better – physically and psychologically better.  And caring about how I feel is ever so much more real than getting stuck on how I look.

Happy is Healthy

dorothy1Today a friend on Facebook shared a very special video that I’d never seen.  So special that it more than deserves a blog post.  This particular video captures Jay Leno interviewing Dorothy Custer.  No, she’s not some new pop singer, or actor, or someone who’s done anything notorious enough to warrant the all too familiar “instant celebrity” nonsense that somehow seems to be able to stimulate multi-million dollar undeserved paychecks.

Dorothy Custer’s claim to fame at the time of this video is that she’s 100 years old – but living to 100 in and of itself isn’t what makes this woman special.  What makes her special is her approach to living

The reason why I’m posting on Dorothy is because what Fitegic Planners is all about isn’t “getting skinny” because a “skinny life” isn’t necessarily a happy – or healthy – life.  Fitegic Planners is about living a meaningful life.  A joyful life.

And Dorothy Custer is an exceptional example of how that’s done.

Jay Leno asks her what her secret to a long life is.  And certainly the fact that she “doesn’t leave her bedroom” in the morning before she exercises is an important factor.  Staying active as we age certainly contributes to our ability to keep moving at all.

Dorothy5But that’s not what caught my attention.  What caught my attention was this 100-year-old woman’s sense of humor.  I dare you to watch this clip and not laugh at loud.  I came away thinking that this woman’s ability to laugh out loud is what keeps her life meaningful.   The kind of meaning that not only “keeps you alive” but makes you look forward to being alive – no matter what your age.

I mean, think about a day that you thoroughly enjoyed — a day that made you feel happy to be alive — A day that made you look forward tomorrow.  I’m going to bet that day was a day you laughed out loud.

I decided I wanted to find out a bit more about this lovely lady.  And I’m glad I did.  Turns out Dorothy also embraces the value of living outside your comfort zone.  A life of trying new things.  A life where you give yourself the gift of looking at life from a different perspective. For example, she celebrated her 102nd birthday by base jumping off a bridge in Idaho where she shared that one of her secrets to a long life was “action.”  But, from what I can see action with a smile on your face is perhaps her true secret.

Dorothy2The Leno video clip definitely introduced me to one happy 100 year old lady.  And, at the time I’m writing this, she’s one happy 102 year old lady. And I’m going to bet it is her sense of humor and appreciation of adventure that motivates her not only to exercise every morning, but look forward to every morning, because a life lived with joy, laughter, and new things is a life worth living.   Science tells us that being happy able contributes to living a longer life (35% longer) – but living longer doesn’t mean anything unless you can find something to smile about – better yet laugh out loud – every single day.

Support versus Judge

Maybe it's just me - but I think Dove's ladies appear sincerely happy and healthy without having to be "skinny."

Maybe it’s just me – but I think Dove’s ladies are absolutely lovely and appear sincerely happy, vibrant, and healthy.

Wow there is a whole lot of uckiness today on FB regarding body size.  Apparently someone got banned for “venting” about obesity in the United States.  From what I can see from posts I’ve read is that many people are upset about the idea that being obese is “unhealthy” with many citing that they are healthy although overweight – which is certainly possible.  Many people also feel that this particular blogger who got “banned” has a low opinion of people who are overweight.

I hope I don’t get banned but here goes:  As far as I’m concerned, the first and most important step to live a meaningful and healthy life is a healthy sense of self esteem – which we can and should nurture no matter what “size” we are.  My personal definition (based on a number of reliable and vetted resources) of “very” overweight is at least 30 or more pounds over the high end of of the recommended weight based on BMI that includes taking into account bone structure and muscle mass.  For example I have a male friend who, if they weighed what simple BMI recommended, they’d just be a bunch of bones.

However, it is a fact that if one is very overweight and not active and yet healthy now, there is a large body of scientific evidence that demonstrates this will not always be the case for many people.  Case in point, our country is experiencing a vast increase in the onset of Type 2 Diabetes (up 90% in the last 10 years, even an increase in children although it is called “adult onset” diabetes) which, while it can be managed, can certainly be responsible for deteriorating health (eye damage, kidney damage, heart disease, stoke.)

I surely hope people don’t feel that I am “judging” when I share posts on the subject of attaining and sustaining healthy (you don’t need to be “skinny”) weight and level of fitness (you don’t have to be a gym rat — walk briskly for 20-30 minutes most days and lift light weights a couple times a week)  I strongly believe that people make their own decisions and I certainly don’t stand in judgement of those decisions. But if reading my posts helps in any way to your living the life you want – well, that makes me feel pretty good 🙂

You CAN Eat Those Thanksgiving Leftovers and Lose Weight (Really!)

OK – so I spent the last three days eating a bit more than I normally would and eating foods I don’t normally eat (that much.)  Well, it’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving and, while we should give thanks everyday for the good in our lives, it is time to stop eating like it’s Thanksgiving.    I know that can be a little difficult when you’ve got all those leftovers in the fridge just waiting to be piled up on our plates.

A few suggestions:

dfjhsjakhfhakThis is a good time to practice portion control.  Break out those measuring cups and kitchen scales as they are the most accurate way to know how many calories you’re actually eating.  However, if measuring turns you off, or when you are eating out, you can simply use your own hand to measure your portions – here’s a great slide show “Hand Guide to Portion Control” from HeartHealthy.com that shows you exactly how it’s done.  You’ll also want to look up the calorie content on the usual Thanksgiving dinner suspects (here’s a great listing from caloriecount.com.)  There’s nothing wrong with eating Thanksgiving leftovers, just not in the quantities most of us partake in on Thanksgiving day (usually 2000-4500 calories – and that’s just dinner and dessert.)
fafdafafaJump online and search for lower calorie/healthy recipes for your leftovers.  A great place to start is a blog called “Cheap, Healthy, Good” where you can find this article:  “38 Cheap Healthy Recipes for Thanksgiving Leftovers.” 

I'm not associated with ziploc other than I've bought their containers :)

I’m not associated with ziploc other than I’ve bought their containers 🙂

A great way to use those leftovers is to take a few minutes and measure out “mini-meals” to take to work this week.  Just think – doing that would make every lunch time this upcoming week something to be thankful for!