Before COVID-19 I truly thought I understood the full meaning of the phrase “I don’t feel like cooking.” Friends, I was wrong.

Steaming pots in a black and white.
Steaming pots in a black and white.
Image credit: gargantiopa.

In mid-March, as concern about the coronavirus heightened, my fiancée Julianne and I made the decision to go into full quarantine. We wanted to do it because she is considered high risk because of respiratory issues and we are both at risk for having our care compromised by medical weight stigma.

We were able to do it because of luck and privilege. Julianne is a virtual executive assistant who runs her business from home. I am a professional speaker and writer. My speaking gigs were already being canceled, postponed, or moved online.

The first thing we had to decide was what quarantine would look like. For us that meant nobody coming to our home (that will come in to play in a big way in a minute) and not leaving our home except for completely necessary medical/vet appointments. …


Tactics to sustain change-makers in overwhelming times

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Photo by DragonImages

The social justice issues in our world right now can seem overwhelming, with administrations firmly embracing white supremacy, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and more. History has shown that activism is a way to create change—but it can also be another factor in creating overwhelm.

From struggling and stressing about what problem we should work on, to burnout from trying to work on all the problems, activism can end up feeling like a drain on our (typically already-limited) resources. This increases exponentially for those who are in marginalized communities, especially when we are trying to advocate for our own rights.

There is an option. We can leave behind war-time advice about “choosing our battles” and instead choose to engage with activism on our own terms. We can, in fact, seek to transform our activism from an energy drain into a self-care practice. …


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I guess that Jillian Michaels was desperate to get in the news again because she’s on Yahoo.com talking nonsense in a piece titled “Jillian Michaels warns of ‘glamorizing’ obesity: ‘We’re politically correct to the point of endangering people.”

She starts out well, giving (what turns out to be) lip service to the actual truth — that body diversity is normal and bullying and body shaming are not good for anyone’s health. She says:

Yes, we want to be inclusive of everyone [and respect that] everyone comes in all different shapes and sizes.”

Good, because that’s the only right thing to do. …


Trading attendance at your event for volunteer work can be a huge win-win for all—if you do it right

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Photo by rawpixel via Pixabay.

“Come quick—your volunteer is drunk and screaming.”

The text came in around 8 p.m. It was the end of a long day with only a few volunteers left on-site … what could go wrong at this point?

Apparently, this.

As a veteran volunteer manager, I know that no matter what kind of screening process you use, there will always be a dud or two in your volunteer team. But usually that means a volunteer who doesn’t smile while helping with reception, not a volunteer who is sloppy drunk and yelling.

A staff member had asked one of my volunteers—not knowing that he had been helping himself to the free champagne—to please let attendees at the reception know to make their way into the main auditorium for the evening talks. He cheerfully agreed, then turned around, took a deep breath and slur-screamed “THE TALKS ARE STARTING!” at the top of his liquor-soaked lungs. I almost hauled him off by his ear, grandma-style. …


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Blue Background with text: Any response to Bill Maher’s yammering about fat-shaming that isn’t “Fat-shaming is wrong, full stop. Fat people have a right to exist without shame, stigma, bullying, or oppression, period — no exceptions” is still oppressive to fat people. Ragen Chastain danceswithfat.org

Bill Maher recently decided to waste breath and airspace in a rant suggesting that what the world doesn’t have enough of, is fat-shaming. (insert eyeroll here)

The premise of his argument reveals his complete ignorance to the subject, but lord knows that still passes as expertise in the world of “obesity medicine” so I’m sure he assumed that the same should hold for a talk show host. He’s not the first person to try to get attention by mistreating fat people, sadly he probably won’t be the last.

I’ll not quote his rant, nor will I link to it. …


Setting a world record takes skill and effort. Getting your record officially certified by Guinness takes planning. Here’s how to make sure your achievement makes it in the record books.

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Farhaan Shoaib, 12, sets a Guinness World Record for “Most bounces of a soap bubble on a soap film” — 113 bounces — as an adjudicator from Guinness World Records counts. Photo by Allan Dutch taken at the World Bubble Festival in Caernarfon, North Wales.

My earliest memory of Guinness World Records is from a book I checked out of the elementary school library. I remember reading through the entire thing, entranced by the idea that you could be the best in the world at something. My family visited a Guinness museum on vacation, and I watched the three-year run of the television show.

Several years ago, I was almost part of a mass participation attempt that fell apart when several of the key people ended up having to move out of town at the last minute (as you’ll see below, mass participation records are difficult to organize.) I didn’t really think of it again until after I completed my first marathon. Someone pointed out that there was a Guinness World Record for heaviest person to complete a marathon — which was held by a man. I contacted Guinness to see if it was possible to divide the category into male and female. (They do not, as yet, have a category for transgender/non-binary, but I would absolutely support anyone who wanted to ask for one.) …


When medicine is big business, we have to become the CEO of our own bodies

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Photo by annca

Ellen Maud Bennett is dead.

By the time her cancer was diagnosed, she had only days to live. Part of her obituary reads:

“A final message Ellen wanted to share was about the fat shaming she endured from the medical profession. Over the past few years of feeling unwell, she sought out medical intervention and no one offered any support or suggestions beyond weight loss. Ellen’s dying wish was that women of size make her death matter by advocating strongly for their health and not accepting that fat is the only relevant health issue.”

It’s not just fat patients who get poor medical care. As insurance practices force doctors to spend less time with patients, competent, high-quality care can be difficult to come by for anyone. But your odds get worse if you are a member of a marginalized group — like a woman, a Person of Color, Queer or Trans person, disabled, or fat. …


How to enjoy the gym with confidence—and make it a better place for everyone

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Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

The first time I walked into a gym was around fifth grade, to lift weights with my middle school cheerleading squad. Thirty years later, the gym is like home to me. The sights, the sounds and — lord help me — even the smells are part of a familiar, comfortable place.

But not everyone feels at home at the gym. And though no one is obligated to participate in fitness, the job of public health is to make sure that everyone who does want to participate does feel welcome.

We have a long way to go.

One of the most common things that stops people before they start is “gymtimidation”: a fear of going to the gym, or the hike and bike trail, or the outdoor yoga class, or the Zumba studio, or wherever their activity of choice is happening. …


The real data behind weight loss research points to a radically different approach to healthy living

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Image source: pixabay

I recently received an e-mail from a blog reader:

“My mom passed away last week. She has been on a perpetual diet since before I was born, and has yo-yo’d her whole life, but never became thin. She has been very critical of my decision to focus on my health and stop trying to manipulate my body size. On her deathbed, she told me that she was grateful that I had found a different path, and that as her life came to a close she deeply regretted all the things that she never did because she was waiting to do them until she was thin. …


How to complete a marathon regardless of your size or speed

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Nearing the finish line!

I had always been an athlete, but I only participated in sports that I was good at right away, and running definitely was not in that category. I’m also a fan of setting big, nearly impossible goals. So when I decided that I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and try a sport that I wasn’t any good at, I skipped right to a marathon.

It was a tough challenge, and I dragged my extremely tolerant best friend along for the ride—but we got it done. …

About

Ragen Chastain

Speaker, writer, Certified Health Coach, marathoner, fathlete. Thought leader in body image, Health at Every Size, & corporate wellness www.danceswithfat.org

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