Ask Me Anything Day

We had our first telephone meet-up tonight – it was small but mighty and I now have a much better idea of how to make next month’s meet-up work better for everyone! I’ll post details as soon as I have them.  In the meantime in continuing of our (lack of) theme from tonight’s call, today is an “Ask me anything” day on the blog.  Whether it’s a question about something I’ve blogged about, something in the news, something personal – whatever – I have no hang-ups and no filter so ask me anything as long as you want my honest answer!

~Ragen

This blog is supported by its readers rather than corporate ads.  If you feel that you get value out of the blog, can afford it, and want to support my work and activism, please consider a paid subscription or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right-hand side of this page) is still completely free.   Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on April 12, 2012 at 6:52 am  Comments (74)  

74 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. No question. Just wanted to say if I lived close by I would love to go to your MeetUps. Your blog is awesome!

    • Hi Maria,

      Thank you so much for the blog love! Actually we did the meet-up by telephone. My readers are spread across the world so I thought that this might be a cool way to connect with people who might not get to meet in person. I’m going to try to do them once a month and see how it goes.

      ~Ragen

  2. Hi Ragen,

    I really admire the work you do and your drive and commitment. It really cuts through the BS all around us.

    My question is simply that I’m in London, UK. Do you have any plans to visit / run an exercise class / run a lecture series?

    We’d love to see you!

    • Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for asking – I’m actually working on that right now. The trick is to find and organization (or organizations) who want to pay me to come. Since travel is more expensive overseas it’s a little more difficult to book than here in the US but I’m totally going to get it done! If you want I can add you to the London e-mail list, just let me know :)

      ~Ragen

      • Oh, that would be fab. Thanks.

        I am really excited at the prospect of you coming to the UK. It would be great to have a size acceptance and HAES conference here. I feel that the movement here is a lot smaller and definitely less vocal. Maybe your tour could add impetus.

        Let me know if you need help with things: I’m a great administrator!

        • Thanks a bunch Lisa, I’ll keep you in the loop!

          ~Ragen

  3. I guess, you’ve dispelled many of the myths about weight and fitness/drive to exercise. However I’ve been wondering, while reading your posts, what a typical day of eating is for you, and if it, too, will dispel myths about body size. Would you mind sharing with us what you eat for meals/snacks/etc and portion sizes?

  4. Hi Ragen,
    #1 You are awesome.
    #2 THANK YOU for everything you do, it means so much to so many of us.
    #3 Thank you for this opportunity, I have 2 questions:

    Are there any links, resources, articles, etc. that can be referenced vis-a-vis BMI’s original purpose (e.g., that it was not intended as a measure for individuals)? And is there any hard evidence I can point to about how the diet industry co-opted BMI (e.g., their involvement in getting the numbers lowered to consider more people overweight/obese)?

    My other question is about coping with haters, especially ultra-haters. Now that I offering Yoga for Round Bodies training for teachers, I’m promoting more widely than I ever have before, and of course this has increased my exposure to hate. I’ve been fat my whole life, so it’s not like I haven’t experienced fat-hate, but now it feels more like soaking in it. It doesnt affect my self-esteem or confidence, but i get ornery. How have you learned to cope with the anger (besides becoming an activist!) and the onslaught?

    • Hope you won’t mind me jumping in here, but I just read an awesome post on the BMI by Lesley Kinzel (of Two Whole Cakes and other awesomeness) that addresses many of those things:

      http://www.xojane.com/issues/bmi-pointless-unscientific-garbage

      • Don’t mind at all Nicole, thanks much!

    • Hi Tiina,

      #1 and #2: Thank you so much :)

      It looks like the BMI question got answered (many thanks Nicole!) so I’ll focus on the ultra-haters question.
      I also remind myself that the ultra-haters are disturbed individuals, and that their behavior is proof of their issues, and has very little to do with me.

      ~Ragen

  5. Where do you find plus-size dancewear that is actually plus-sized (i.e. not where plus is 10-12).

    When you tell people that you quit dieting, how do you respond to being told that dieting is silly and it takes a lifestyle change to lose weight?

    • I am also interested in the plus-size dancewear question.

    • There are some good workout options at Just My Size, Junonia, and Danskin has a line of workout wear for plus size people as well. I typically order it online.

      When people respond that all it takes is a lifestyle change to lose weight I offer them the opportunity to support that dieting’s efficacy with evidence.

      ~Ragen

      • Thanks! I’ve been wanting to take up dance but the inability to find clothing and social anxiety are making me drag my feet.

  6. How do you get so much done?

    • YES! I want to know that, too!

    • Hi Nancy and Tiina,

      This made me smile, thanks. I think part of it is that I never feel like I have enough done (at the moment several people are waiting for me to get them the final page count of my book so that we can move forward with cover design but I always want to proofread it one more time!) If I do get a lot done I think one of the big keys is to type really fast. I got an embarrassingly poor high school education in Three Forks, Montana but the typing classes I took have served me very well! Also my background is that I was an operations consultant so I know a bit about efficiency and systems. And some days it has a lot to do with Mountain Dew (which I am loathe to say since now all the fatty haters will say “see, she’s fat because of Mountain Dew!” as if I haven’t previously tried giving up soda to lose weight).

      ~Ragen

      • Wait, what??? Are you from Montana??? I grew up in Great Falls.

        • I grew up all over the country but we lived in a bunch of little towns in Montana – Ennis, White Sulfer Springs, Jordan and I finished high school in Three Forks.

          ~Ragen

      • I’m moving to the Big Timber/Livingston area at the end of May….going house hunting with my husband the week after next!

        • Have fun and happy hunting!

          ~Ragen

  7. As someone trying to increase my weekly exercise time, can you point me in the direction of some cute plus size activewear? It seems like everything I find either doesn’t come in my size or is really ugly. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    • I like Junonia, Just My Size, and Danskins plus-size line. You can find them online and I believe that Danskin line is available at Walmart.

      Happy exercising :)

      ~Ragen

  8. I love this blog–LOVE it. I would love it even if I weren’t a short, round person, and I just want to thank you for being out there.

    This might seem like a frivolous question, but I would like to know if
    you have any flexibility techniques or exercises you particularly recommend. I have some very severe gastrocnemius equinus contracture (tight calves, short Achilles tendon, more or less hereditary), and I want to avoid corrective surgery. My orthopedist has me doing stretches and physical therapy, and on my own I have tried a lot of yoga, but no gains in flexibility have been made. I wondered if something from the dance world might target the calves? Probably wouldn’t hurt to develop flexibility in the entire leg and hip, either. Danke schon!

    • Hi Lauri,

      Thank you, I’m so glad that you love the blog :)

      I really like resistance stretching because there are faster flexibility gains with less risk of overstretching injuries. I would recommend it for all over flexibility.

      For the calves I would suggest making sure that you don’t stand or walk with your knees locked or hyperextended – keep them soft and use the large muscles (hams, quads, gleuts) otherwise you put all the pressure on your calves and it can further shorten the calf muscles.

      The foam roller (or rolling pin, or baseball bat) is definitely my friend when it comes to calves. I also have a tennis ball and a smaller hard rubber ball that I set under my calves and roll with.

      A tight lower back can also pull on the calves so while you’re stretching and foam rolling I would recommend making sure that your back is stretched as well.

      Hope that helps! Let me know if there is anything else that I can do!

      ~Ragen

      • Thanks so much, Ragen. I really need to work on reminding myself to use those large muscles and keep those knees soft. I’ve been focusing on that during my walk/runs. I’ve ordered a foam roller, too!

  9. Summarize what your average day is like.

    • I don’t really have an average day. Sometimes I do a ton of writing (this blog, the book, ivillage etc.) sometimes I do a bunch of dancing, sometimes I’m traveling or speaking, somedays it’s a combination of things. Because I love doing this work it all tends to blend together into a ball of awesomeness :)

      ~Ragen

  10. How have you found dating after divorce?

    • Awkward, but it has nothing to do with the divorce. I’m a fantastic girlfriend but a super awkward dater – I can never tell when someone is flirting so I always assume that they just want to be friends, I never really learned how to flirt, and I rely on people finding my awkwardness adorable.

      ~Ragen

  11. Is it less meaningful for a thin person to be a fat activist?

    • Hi Danielle,

      No, nononononononononono not at all! I think it’s incredibly meaningful for a number of reasons. First, politically, thin fat activists aren’t subject to the idea that they are “just justifying their fat”, and sad though it may be, sometimes that can help people hear the message. Second, thin people in our culture get thin privilege whether they ask for it or not, it’s about what they do with it and I think that being a thin fat activists is an incredible way to use that power. (I also think that it’s important to note that our anti-fat culture hurts everyone so the idea that thin people are immune to it is flawed). Finally, it always makes me deliriously happy to meet a thin fat activist because I know how much push back fat activists get, regardless of our size, and I find it amazing that people are willing to open themselves up to that kind of attack.

      Thanks!

      ~Ragen

      • I would also add that it is equally relevant for thin people because it is something will help to take away the stigma and the negative attitudes to being fat, and so many people are driven in their behaviours by a fear of becoming fat one day.

  12. So what is your usual exercise regime like? I’m curious because dammit, I wanna be able to do the shiny things you do too ;)

    • Hi Mari, first I should point out that all bodies are different so one person being able to do something does not mean that others can. (I really want to be able to do a “scorpion” where I reach back and grab my foot, arch my back and extend the foot over my head, but my pilates instructor refused to work on it with me on the grounds that I couldn’t do it without creating serious injury).

      I won’t post my exact routine because I don’t want to encourage people to over exercise and I don’t want to deal with all the suggestions of how I could change the routine to lead to magical weight loss. I will give you a summary of what I do and also say that if I didn’t want to be a dancer I would probably just walk 30 minutes a day 5 days a week and have a lot more free time. But I want to dance so:

      My training is built on four pillars – strength, stamina, flexibility and technique. For strength I lift heavy weights several times a week, for stamina I do High Intensity Interval Training several times a week. I work on flexibility every day because I’m not naturally flexible and because oI have to balance the effects of weight lifting – I do resistance stretching becuase I get bored with regular stretching and because it offers faster gains with less chance of an over-stretching injury. The single most important thing that I do is Pilates – it gives stretch and strength as well as core strength and connects that allow for more fluid efficient movements. My pilates instructor is a genius working with large bodies so I’m trying to get her to do a DVD of pilates for larger bodies.
      For dance technique I work at home (my living room converts to a mirrored dance studio) and I take class.

      Hope that answers your question! If you have something more specific, you migt try the fit fatties forum (www.fitfatties.com) and you can also e-mail to askafitfatty@gmail.com

      ~Ragen

      • Thank you! I totally understand you wouldn’t want to give out the exact details! that is enough of a starting point for me to go on. (I’m a fan of the “find someone like you who does what you want to do and figure out what they’re doing to do it” approach to a lot of things in life) Pilates kind of makes me go “…okay” but I suspect this will give me the required prod in the buttocks to hit the intro class at the gym :)

  13. If you could be reincarnated as any animal, which one would it be and why?

    • So, first I have to tell you that my Mom saw this question and sent me an e-mail that said “A unicorn who poops rainbows ………………..because that would be amazing, just like you” My Mom is the awesomest, just saying.

      While a rainbow pooping unicorn is tempting, I think that I would be a pig on a small family farm. I’d be cute, smart, beloved, I’m used to sunburning so that’s not a major downside, and after I die, I would become delicious bacon.

      ~Ragen

      • That may be the best answer I’ve ever heard to this question. :D

  14. here’s my question: if i were to buy you a plane ticket down here, would you run away with me? LOL kidding (mostly). seriously though, i would like to know how you would suggest starting some classes like you do here where i live. hugs and blessings

    • Hi Tonya,

      Normally I would say yes, but Karen has already asked me to be her blog wife and so you would have to talk to her! Also, be careful what you wish for because you can’t tell from the blog that I have a tendency to leave all the cupboard doors open and that I often choreograph in the middle of the night :)

      As far as classes, I have the major shameless self-promotion version, the less shameless self-promotion version, and the non shameless self-promotion version.

      The MSSP version is that my dance classes will be coming out on DVD in the next week or so. Once they come out, one of my plans is to certify people to teach the classes in their area. If you’re interested e-mail and we’ll talk about it ragen at danceswithfat dot org.

      The LSSP is that you can always just get a group together to dance to the videos in someone’s living room.

      The NSSP version is that you can choreograph some music (make sure that you have the rights to it, let me know if you need some help with this), find a space (you can call dance studios, yoga studios etc around your town), then get the word out through meet-up, facebook, etc. and hold the class.

      Whichever route you decide, if you want me to, and you let me know where you’re at, I can always see if I can be there for the inaugural class!

      Big Fat Hugs!

      ~Ragen

  15. Which Dance Championships did you win?

    • American Country Dance Association – 3 National Championships

      I won a bunch of regional and state competitions.

      I also won the International Gay Rodeo Association championship (notable for it’s completely awesome prize of the world’s tackiest belt buckle including gold, silver, bronze, studs, leather and rhinestones!)

      ~Ragen

  16. I would also love to know where you get your facts about bmi and health. I know I saw a lot of it in Linda Bacon’s book. Someday I would love to write up a pamphlet with awesome footnotes that show medically proven truths about bmi and weightloss.
    Btw…my work, a preschool linked to the state, recently sent me a note on parent education classes available to three kids with a high bmi (all three of these kids are crazy healthy).
    Thank you for all your work, you changed my life!

  17. Ragen, I love the photos of you doing Pilates, and they inspire me to do Pilates. Do you (or does anyone here) have a recommendation of a Pilates teacher/studio in NYC that works with large bodies? Thanks.

    • Hi Emolee,

      Thanks a bunch! I do not know of one in NYC – I’ll ask around.

      ~Ragen

  18. Hi Ragen,

    I discovered your blog sometime at the end of last year and have been an avid reader of your blog. It definitely gets me going almost every morning!

    I’m a college student who is on the shy side but having discovered the fat community online I’d like to be more involved. Any suggestions on what I can do? Where to begin? Im also in Los Angeles and would appreciate any info you have on getting involved in fat loving orgs in or around LA.

    Thanks for all that you do! You’re awesome!

    • Hi Alma,

      Thanks for the comment. It makes me so happy that the blog helps get you going in the morning :)

      You are lucky – LA has the most amazing NAAFA Chapter. They are really cool, super supportive and they do lots of fun activities. (I’m an honorary member until I move to LA in a couple months, then I’ll be a real member). If you want, I can connect you to the super cool leadership team, just let me know.

      As for online community, I would suggest checking out blogs and getting involved in conversations (you can check out the Blogs I Love page for some suggestions). If you’re interested in talking about fitness from a Health at Every Size perspective you can always check out the Fit Fatty Forum (http://www.fitfatties.com)

      Hope that helps!

      ~Ragen

      ~Ragen

  19. Hi Ragen,

    First, as others have said, thanks! Your blog is great and greatly needed!

    I too would love to participate in a telephone meet-up. Have you thought about Skype? It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly better than a kick in the pants (or a diet, for that matter!).

    • Hi NewMe,

      I’m really glad that you like the blog. I’ll look into Skype, thanks for the suggestion and the kind words!

      ~Ragen

  20. Ragen,

    I want to thank you for the work you do to help the acceptance of fat people in our society. There are many areas to work at. What areas can we work at to help this cause? You cant do it all yourself. I realize that HAES is a great organization for fat acceptance etc. Is there anything you can think of that we all can do? Also, I wondered about your story. Will it be in your book? Do you have a title? I am in my 60′s and wish there was a size acceptance years ago. Im hoping that by the time my granddaughters are adults, they wont have to deal with the crap I have had to deal with. Would you mind sharing how old you are? OK, it doesnt matter, LOL but I hope you are young so you can keep up the good work you are doing. Thank you, Marla

    • Hi Marla,

      I think that there are so many ways to help with HAES and SA, there are simple things – like interrupting body snarking, standing up for people of size, standing up for ourselves. Then it’s all about what someone is passionate about. This is acutally a pretty long answer so I think I’ll make a blog post out of it.

      My story is in the book, it’s too long to put here but I may blog about it someday :) The title of the book is going to be “Fat: The Owner’s Manual” and the subtitle is “Navigating a Thin-Obsessed World with Your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact” I’m super excited about it!

      Thank you for trailblazing this work, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it :) I’m 35.

      Thanks!

      ~Ragen

  21. Two questions:

    1) You mentioned something about online classesin a recent post? More information, please?

    2) I’m learning to draw and paint, and am having a really hard time finding reference photos (with permissions) of fat (i.e. my size, which I think is about your size) women dancing for a project. Is that something you might be willing to work with me on?

    • Hi Mercy,

      Thanks for asking!

      1. Yes, I’m putting classes online. I recorded the material on Sunday and now they are in post production. There are two volumes (so far) each with a beginner, intermediate, and advanced routine including instruction and dance throughs, as well as outtakes. They will be available as a DVD, as a download, and individual routines will be available for download as well. I’m really excited about it.

      2. Absolutely! E-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and I’ll be happy to participate as well as connecting you to other awesome dancing women if you’d like.

      ~Ragen

  22. I know you have mentioned a disordered eating history in your past. Do eating disorder thoughts (anxiety over what you ate, if your weight is changing, etc.) ever creep up in passing in your life now? If not, how long did it take them to completely go away? Coming from someone who is probably 9.5 out of 10 recovered…:)

    I love your blog and check it every day. I don’t always comments but I always enjoy :)

    • Hi Lindsay,

      Congratulations on your recovery! Thank you so much, I’m so glad that you like the blog :) I hardly ever have disordered eating thoughts anymore (maybe 1 or 2 every 6 months) but everyone is different. I try to avoid things that trigger me (like keeping a food diary, keeping a workout log etc.) and I look for opportunities every day to have gratitude for what my body does.

  23. I have had a variety of eating disorders throughout my life, from binge-eating disorder starting when I was about eight and my father abandoned our family. Since then I’ve been in and out of orthorexia and anorexia and binge eating for the last few years, and still am not sure of how I feel about my body. When did it really hit you that you needed help? What your lowest point and how do you deal with any creeping thoughts that you might still have today?

    • Hi Anna,

      I’m so sorry that you had to deal with that. It was definitely a journey for me to get to a place where I was truly happy with my body.

      I “decided” I needed help when I lost consciousness, collapsed on a treadmill and was rushed to the hospital. That was definitely my lowest point because at the time I believed that my power was demonstrated by the fact that I could work out so much without eating, so it was like everything that was special about me was gone.

      To deal with it now I recognize things that trigger my old thoughts (like keeping a food diary) and I don’t do those things. I also continue to find reasons to thank my body for everything that it does for me and that helps me to not spiral back there.

      Good luck!

      ~Ragen

  24. Hi Ragen,

    Discovered your blog through a Wellness Webcomic (Promises, Promises, Promises) and I’m in need of fitness advice.

    How do you discover an activity that isn’t too hard that it scares you away from trying again, yet challenging enough to give you a mega pride boost when you tell people “I do ___.”

    Currently I’ve become a gym rat due to my health needs (that and I like the feel of my body moving), but I don’t know of any “fun” activities to do. I’m stuck trying free classes with instructors who aren’t really friendly with newbies… sigh.

    • I’m not Ragen, but I love hoop dancing for those very reasons. People are really impressed and are always like “Wow do that again.” for really easy things.

    • I recently started tap dancing and it’s really fun. I got a DVD, the one with the mom from “One Day at a Time”, Bonnie Franklin. I really love the DVD and the pace she teaches at, which would probably be too slow for anyone who can actually dance.

      She says you don’t need tap shoes to start, though I did find some tap shoes on Amazon that weren’t too expensive. Regarding tap shoes, I was worried about finding shoes that fit and were comfortable, since I live in my sneakers. But I got a wide size and they are super comfortable. My feet don’t feel any different after tapping than after any other aerobic exericise. I do tend to get a little frustrated when I get two left feet, so I have found that I’m happier when I start with a more traditional aerobic exercise then I tap dance.

  25. Hey again!

    1) Tell us a bit about your history as a dancer? eg How did you discover dancing, what are the main types that you do, how did you end up dancing professionally etc?

    2) What has your family’s reaction to your HAES/SA work been?

    • Hi!

      I’m Ragen’s Mom and I can tell you that I am very proud of her HAES/SA work. She has been amazing all her life and I couldn’t be prouder of the wonderful person she is.

      • Aww! Reagan’s mom is great!

      • You are an awesome Mum! Just a thing: I didn’t ask that question out of suspicion of Ragen’s family; more out of curiosity. My weight has been a bit of a bone of contention between my parents and I for many years, and has been the cause of a lot of fights and hurt feelings. I’m not entirely sure how they’d react if I started a blog like this (which I’m in the process of doing)! So, I was just curious to see what Ragen’s family thought, and if it was different to how my family might react.

  26. Does it annoy you when I proofread your blog posts? I do it for a living and so I find I can’t turn it off; when I see a typo, I always want to write to you. In fact I’d be happy to do it more methodically if you welcome that; I am a faithful reader and huge fan.

  27. I am also a plus-sized dancer (you saw my video on the Fit Fatties forum), and recently I’ve been having ankle issues. My ankles are the one (two?) joint that has never bothered me – knees and hips and back being an entirely other set of conversations. It’s my fourth year back dancing regularly, and this has only become an issue in the past few months. I have no idea what to make of it – pain, weakness, even some instability, out of the blue, no injury to trigger it. Do you know any good tricks for strengthening ankles?

    Also, what are your thoughts on flexibility/arabesque extensions? Mine are ridiculous (barely even to 90 degrees), and I’m wondering if it’s something that can be achieved (like right/left leg splits, which I did have once) or something that’s mostly inborn (like center splits – never had it, never will). I honestly can’t say if I had better extensions when I was dancing as a kid (I started at age 4, but never had serious training or got to compete or anything) – I feel like they were crap, but I also feel like I was obese then, and the photographs clearly state otherwise. And we don’t have any videos or anything that would give me any indication of how my extensions were. I feel like I’m not getting anywhere with them, even after 4 years back, and I’m getting really frustrated and starting to feel like they’re never going to improve.

  28. Hi Ragen,

    I was just wondering if you ever have moments where you wish that you were thinner? I know through reading your blog that you’ve come to accept your body and love yourself, which is awesome, but do you ever have moments where you wish you were thinner? I’m big and I love myself, but there are times when I see a slender woman on TV and I want to look like that. What are your thoughts on this? Maybe you’ve already addressed this in a post and I just happened to miss it, if thats the case I’m sorry for the repeat.

    Other than that, I just wanted to say that I really admire the work that you’re doing. You’ve opened up my mind to a lot of things which has really helped me in my journey. Keep up the good work! :)

    Sarah

    • HI Sarah,
      Im not Ragen but I wanted to reply to your comment. I have a girlfriend I went to high school with. She got sick and was blind. She had infections in her eyes and they were removed. She wishes she could see, from time to time. But she knows she will never see again and she has accepted that she will always be blind. I feel it is the same with being fat, or short or anything else. We always want to “better” (not to say thin is better) ourselves and we always think the “grass is greener” on the other side. People with straight hair want curly and vice versa. I wish my skin wasnt wrinkled but it is. When I see smooth skin, I say I wish I had it.
      It just comes down to accepting ourselves as we are and not being obsessed with changing who and what we are. I hope this helps you. Marla

  29. Fat acceptance has been around at least 43 years, Marla, (I am also in my 60′s), but the Internet has certainly broadened its reach & made it possible to connect with people every day & get support & information you need to keep fighting the good fight. It is good to see young people like Ragen taking up the fight & spreading it farther than our generation was ever able to do.

  30. Up to a large 4x-small 5x, the best I’ve seen are from Decent Exposures. Everything is woman-designed and I think they’re still woman-run. Their stuff is a bit pricey, but the quality is good, or used to be when I last looked a few years ago, and the sizes are generous. The best part is that they’re all or nearly all cotton (a few have a touch of lycra). http://www.decentexposures.com


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