Thursday, September 29, 2011
(See end of posting for a special endorsement from Anne Kelly, President of Junonia)
Junonia: How did you come to write a book called The Fat Chick Works Out?
Jeanette: Let me give you a little background about me. I was very obsessed about my weight. Even though my husband always said I was OK, I couldn’t accept it. So I went to the library to look for yet another weight-loss book and I ran across some books about size acceptance. I discovered that my chances of being and staying very thin were about 15%. I said to myself, if I tie my happiness to this idea that my body must be a certain size, then I’m giving myself only a 15% chance at happiness. Those odds suck! I wouldn’t bet on a horse with those odds!
Junonia: So what did you do about your own happiness?
Jeanette: I became convinced that WHAT you do with your body is much more important than the number on a scale. What you feed your body, how you exercise, play, sleep, love, and find joy in your life—those are important.
I have always loved exercise, so I started to research the idea of teaching exercise to people of all sizes. And I became an aerobics instructor. I love teaching. But I wrote the book because I wanted to make my style of teaching available to more than the few people I directly teach.
And now Junonia is carrying the book and the DVDs!
Junonia: Let’s go back to the title, The Fat Chick Works Out, how did you choose that?
I don’t like to use the term overweight--I prefer the term fat. It’s a descriptor like blond hair or blue eyes. When I talk to kids, I teach them about that word –and that is really powerful. A kid will say, you’re fat, and I say, yes I’m fat, and you have brown hair. Isn’t it great that we’re all different. That’s why I called my book The Fat Chick Works Out! I don’t like euphemisms, because I find it’s a way of apologizing for my size. Fat is just the way I am. Not everybody resonates with it, but a lot more people do than I expected.
Junonia: Tell us about becoming a certified trainer and what you have learned.
There is no special certification for exercise for fat people. However, there are some key things to look for if you are older, heavier, or just starting out.
First, it has to be fun. If you aren’t eager to go back and try it again, look for some other form of exercise.It should be a non-competitive environment where you feel safe doing things your way. If you don’t feel you can modify, or if the teacher isn’t super excited about helping you, find somewhere else to work out.
Remember, you have to start where you are. Add 10% a week. A lot of people hear that and are discouraged. They feel 10% will take forever. But they need to understand that it is cumulative. When I started training seriously for a marathon, I could do 5-6 miles walking and running, at a time. It took me a whole year to train up to do a marathon. 10% adds up! There is chart in the book that shows you that if you can do 20 minutes now, you could be doing a lot of exercise at the end of the year! And by ramping up slowly, you won’t be on crutches.
Here’s another great tip: D.I.F. That stands for duration, intensity, and frequency. The 10% rule can apply to any of them – but only change ONE of those things at a time.
Junonia: What do you recommend people wear?
I am not a fashion expert. I tell beginner to just wear comfortable pants and shoes that fit well. A t-shirt from Wal-Mart will work. As you work out more, there are some options out there,. Junonia has the most selection, most sizes and more technical clothes for the widest variety of sports. I’ve been a customer for years. As an instructor it is very important to have the right clothes to convey a professional appearance. I gave Junonia a shout out on a slide show I did for CBS on 15 tips for fat exercisers. Click here for Junonia’s collection of workout gear for the gym.
Junonia: OK here’s the basic question: Why should anyone, and especially fat women exercise?
My youngest student is 8, oldest is 82. I have watched the difference it makes in people’s lives. A lot of people talk about the long-term effects, and those are important, but there is also the instant gratification part. You start felling better from the first day or two you start to exercise. When you feel better, your life works better. Women feel better about themselves, their lives, they improve flexibility, and sleep better.
Junonia: What is your advice on getting started?
I always tell my students the hardest dance step in any aerobics class is the “walk in the door” step. Don’t worry about what anyone else is thinking about you--only worry about what you are thinking about you. That’s where you get your power. If buying beautiful workout clothes makes you feel great, you rock and roll. Go with whatever works for you.
Junonia: Let’s go back to the Fat Chick Title, where did it come from?
One day I woke up and I decided I was The Fat Chick. I gave myself that name and that title is my power and my choice. The reaction from other people—I can’t control it, so why try? It really has given me a lot of joy. Sometimes I get rather amazing looks at fitness conventions – I just did one in Beverly Hills, and there is a lot of botox and a lot of silicone and a lot of people looking at me funny. People are a little unsure, but I find the more that I keep a sense a humor, stay positive and own it--the more people gravitate to what I am saying.
I grew up in Wisconsin, I’m just a Midwestern girl at heart. There are a lot of people out there like me. As group we can decide we are OK and not waste money on things that make us feel bad about ourselves, but spend money on things that make us feel great, powerful and part of the world.
I interviewed Jeannette before I read her book. I was impressed talking with her, but after reading the book I’m a total fan. I devoured the book, reading it straight through! It is simply great. Designed as a 12-week guide to action, it is filled with completely solid information you can trust. It’s not just the information you’ll love. It is funny, well-written, and Jeanette absolutely nails how it is to be a larger woman trying to get active. She just keeps zinging you with her understanding, her joy, and she makes it just impossible to say no. I promise you will want to buy extra copies for friends, because you’ll want to keep one for yourself! You’ll keep coming back to it for practical advice and inspiration over and over. With Jeanette you will be safe, injury-free, and you will enjoy the journey. In fact, read the whole book. If you don’t like it, return it for a full refund.
When (not if) you use this book to set and achieve one of the goals you’ve always intended to accomplish, I’d like to celebrate that with you and our readers. I know with Jeanette at your side (and in your face making you laugh) you’ll achieve even more than you dreamed possible. Keep me posted! Anne
Friday, September 23, 2011
I just had the greatest conversation with one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. And I want you to meet her too! Her name is Anna Huthmaker, cellist, bow maker, hiker, and one of the bravest women I’ve even encountered. Her favorite definition of bravery is attributed to Roy Rogers who said that being brave wasn’t about being un-afraid…it is about being scared and doing it anyway. Be sure to check out her blog and the organization she has created, dedicated to encouraging women hikers, especially “curvy hikers” at www.Traildames.org
She challenged her own sense of bravery by hiking 700 miles of the Appalachian Trail. She prepared for three years, and took 6 months away from her family’s violin shop business in Duluth, Georgia, to achieve her dream. Shortly into her long-planned hike, she broke her foot in two places and had to spend eight weeks in a wheel chair. That wasn’t enough to stop Anna. She shopped around until the third doctor told her she could get back on the trail. (Anna had taken the time off, rented out her place, and thought, if not now, when?) At 260 lbs and 5 ft tall, carrying a 30 pound pack, Anna wasn’t the fastest person on the trail. Her hiking/camping companion, a marathon runner, would often be ahead of her. But Anna loved hiking alone, especially on a beautiful day, and never felt afraid on the trail. She put in an average of 10 miles a day.
She’ll never forget the segment in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where she hiked for 8 hours to cover 2.5 miles. “That was hard.” After finally making it to the shelter, she knew she had a hard decision to make. She left the trail the next day, taking a side path down to a highway, where she caught a ride into town. She cried that night as she lay in the hotel. “Until then I had always believed that if I willed it, my body would follow. It was a hard lesson to learn that no matter how strong my will, there were some things my body just couldn’t do.” Since she had promised her mom not to do anything really dangerous, she knew that that particular part of the trail wasn’t a safe choice for her. Since she had always planned to be a “section” hiker, knowing that her speed and injuries would keep her from finishing the trail in one season as a ‘thru-hiker’, Anna found her sense of trail ethics was intact, and she skipped forward to another segment and just kept on hiking! “That is the great thing about hiking,” she said, “if one mountain chews you up and spits you out, you just find yourself another mountain. “ “There is too much beauty out there to let the hard stuff scare you away from it”.
Her Appalachian Trail experience sort of “cracked open” her life. She asked her dad about what he thought about her volunteering for a month with kids in Africa, and he said, “If you can do what you did on the Appalachian Trail, I’m not worried, you can do anything!” So she did. She made friends who took her hiking in places where they needed a guide with a gun (it looked like something from the Civil War.) They walked past giraffe and herds of water buffalo, losing her shoes in a swamp as they skirted a dangerous solo water buffalo. She laughed, saying that it was ‘sort of appropriate’. Her trail name is Mud Butt due to her innate talent for finding any muddy spot and falling in it. So the fact that she was floundering around in the mud in Africa was completely apropos.
From there she followed her dream to see the northern lights in the Arctic Circle, landing in a bush plane 1.5 hours from any road. Anna believes that there is so much goodness in the world, that when we can’t absorb anymore, it all comes out in the Northern Lights. “They were amazing. We also dog sledded, rode snowmobiles, and stayed up all night with our small group of adventure travelers watching for the northern lights. I literally saw the night sky turn into a cathedral. It was totally worth the nerve-wracking plane ride and the 30-below temperatures!”. Of course, it wasn’t all romantic perfection. “ I fell off the snowmobile….. three times. I’m not very coordinated!”
The Inca Trail of Peru was next for Anna. “It was the toughest hike of my life. Although the Appalachian Trail was hard, these were big mountains. Really big mountains. One day I hiked for 5 hours straight uphill with no stops. But it was gorgeous!” Thankfully, the government requires that all hikes be guided and camp each day was prepared by porters. Anna often hiked from 7:30 am until as late at 9:30 p.m. “It really threw the guides into a tizzy….technically all hikers have to be in camp by 5:00. But given my speed, there was no way that was going to happen! I would arrive at lunch two hours later than everyone else, eat something quickly and just keep moving. It was physically exhausting, but I am one of the few people that have been lucky enough to actually hike the Incan Trail under the light of a full moon. That kind of makes up for everything, don’t you think?”
So what has Anna done lately? Three years ago she began Trail Dames, a hiking club for women of a curvy nature. “There wasn’t an organization specifically for women. An organization to encourage them to get out, enjoy the outdoors and to hike.” She called a meeting and decided that if three strangers showed up it would be a success. She knew her friends and family would support her, but she wanted to know if there were more women out there, especially curvy women. Nine strangers came to that first meeting, and the organization was off and hiking. “I think I knew early on that there was a possibility that I was on to something big, but the growth of the organization has been so organic that it just has felt right. Everything has been word of mouth and before I knew it, we had two thousand members and seven chapters!”
Her courage extends from hiking, to starting an organization. “Google is my friend. I didn’t know how to set up a website, but in two hours, I had a website up and running – and I’m a complete non-techie. I spent the next four years asking for advice and flying by the seat of my pants. It has ended up being a much huger job than I anticipated, but the rewards have been much, much greater than I ever dreamed. And the true beauty of the group is that we have all done it together. The Dames support each other, help each other and celebrate together when we finish a hike. When I see a woman grinning and sweating and hugging their new friends on top of a mountain, I feel so proud of what we have all accomplished together.“
Each year on the “birthday” of Trail Dames, an intrepid group of both new and seasoned hikers arrive at the remote start of the Appalachian Trail to hike the one mile up Springer Mountain. This year over 25 women made the hike, and at the top, they did the group’s traditional “Dance of the Real Woman” to celebrate. “Sometimes they laugh and roll their eyes at me, but I know the power of celebrating your accomplishments! There are a lot of women out there who either feel like they can’t climb a mountain, or truly can’t. For that reason, we must never forget to celebrate what we have done. And hopefully, in our celebration, we will encourage those other women to come join us.” On this spring day on top of Springer Mountain, there is a lot of celebrating going on. And lots of celebration of the simple joy of being on the mountain top, with a supportive group of women. As Anna says, “we don’t often see wildlife on these hikes--we are talking and laughing too much! We ARE the wild life!!”
Next up, Anna used her newly honed Google skills to look up “how to run a conference” . There has never been a women’s hiking and backpacking conference and who better to host it than the Trail Dames? This summer’s Summit will be chock full of amazing speakers, documentaries and workshops. “We want to spread the joy of Trail Dames and a woman’s hiking even further”. The future holds a lot of wonder for Anna and her Trail Dames. She is in the process of registering Trail Dames as a fully charitable organization, and is working hard to spread Trail Dames chapters all over the U.S. “I want to do what Junonia has been doing for so many years – tell all women, no matter their size, that they can do it, they can achieve their dreams.
Anna, keep us posted on your next adventure!
Check out Trail Dames at www.traildames.org
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
When the weather gets colder in the fall, it gets harder and harder to get motivated to take that walk first thing in the morning. I just want to pull the covers up, and snuggle in for an extra half hour of sleep.
It helps knowing that once I’m up, I can jump into my QuikJersey legging and jacket. The inside is brushed soft like a fleece blanket, so I know I won’t feel that shock of the morning air once I am out of the house.
The other great thing is that when I get going on my walk, generating some of my own heat, this fabric will wick away any perspiration, so I won’t feel clammy.
I also like the fact that this jacket looks great with my black jeans.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
It starts with the Fiber!
I’ve got a fascination with fiber animals lately. (You’ve probably noticed that Junonia always has wonderful fabrics, and that’s because we know it starts with great fiber.) So last weekend I went out to the Shepherd’s Harvest Festival here in Minnesota. Susan Noble our Director of Merchandise came with me and we had a blast. While Susan was picking up creative ideas from all the knitters, weavers, spinners and felters who were exhibiting there, I headed right to the animals.
Fun Animal Fiber Facts:
- Did you know that Lllama and Alpaca fibers are hollow inside making them much warmer and lighter than wool?
- Did you know that wool is naturally rain resistant because of the lanolin in it? That’s why unprocessed wool makes your hands so soft. However, most wool has the lanolin washed out before it is made into fiber.
- Did you know the wool from each breed of sheep feels different and has different characteristics such as kinkiness (a natural springiness) or length, resulting in smoother or rougher feeling fiber?
- Did you know cashmere comes from the undercoat of goats?
- Did you know mohair comes from angora goats?
- Did you know angora comes from Rabbits? They were SO cute! But I remain confused as to why there are both angora goats and angora rabbits – although I think it comes from their common Turkish roots.
Picture: Here’s Anne in a favorite old Junonia style from MMac petting a sheep. This beautiful sheep was so friendly. He was happy to have his picture taken with everyone. His owners are two young farmers getting into specialty farming.