The Fat Belly Dancer Works Out: Getting started

written by Andalee on July 18, 2013 in Healthy for life with 2 comments

The Fat Belly Dancer Works OutI have a dirty little secret…I am out of shape. I like to joke that I am good that practicing the “Every Size” part of Health at Every Size®, but not so good at the health part. I never really was all that “in shape” to begin with (and since I hate that term, I’ll say “fit” or the like from now on), but what little fitness I have had in the past has all but disappeared.

I can name numerous reasons, or as some may say excuses, as to why this has happened. The biggest being fibromyalgia (chronic pain AND fatigue). I also started a new job in March and that has left me little time and energy for working out. I also get horrible migraines after I work out and feel like I’ve been run over by a truck for days afterward, so I have little motivation.

At the same time, I have been gaining weight at an alarming rate. It could be from my sedentary job and lack of physical activity (although I walk a lot more at this job than I did my last). However, I think a lot of it has to do with some major stress in my life and a new medication (weight gain is a known side effect) that I started last fall. And I’m not all that against weight gain, but buying a whole new wardrobe  and feeling physically blah is not what I want. I recently came off the medication and the stress in my life is waning. Now seems like the perfect time to make my health a top priority. I hope that translates into more dancing too!

So I’m going to start a little challenge for myself and I will blog about it here. Whenever I can I will somehow relate it to belly dance. My guide will be the book, The Fat Chick Works Out! You may have seen me promote it in the newsletter recently. The author, Jeanette DePatie, A.K.A. The Fat Chick, was offering the free Kindle version as a promotion last week and I downloaded it just in the nick of time (sorry, you’ll have to pay for it if you want it, but it’s worth it. You can buy the book here.

The Fat Chick Works Out!: Fitness That’s Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes, Sizes and Abilities is a book designed to help people start an exercise program that is attainable and realistic for anyone–especially the new-to-exercise or the exercise-adverse folks out there. It’s a really fun read and I have found it quite inspiring. So I decided I am going to take the fun and easy steps DePatie lays out in the book and work on them myself.

Before I start on her goals, I have a few goals for myself:

  1. Avoid/eliminate exercise headaches.
  2. Incorporate belly dance into my fitness routine as much as possible (hello, unwrapped DVDs!)
  3. Do not focus on weight loss – (That’s in the book, but I need to keep it at the top of my mind)
  4. Pay attention to my body’s natural cues so I don’t get a “fibro flare” as a result of working out too hard.

DePatie’s simple goals outlined in the book are:

  1. Work out aerobically 3-5 times a week.
  2. Work out at an intensity level and duration that feels right for you.
  3. When you feel up to more of a challenge, increase one parameter of your workout by 10%.

Sounds easy enough, right? Not really, not for me. Just the first goal alone is making my head spin. It’s been at least a year, maybe two, since I worked out regularly and for me that was 2-3 times a week MAX. I have never really worked out 5 times a week and I am not sure that I will ever be able to! And I’ve never been able to maintain a workout schedule for longer than 6 months or so. Something always ends up happening to throw me back into couch potato mode.

But the good news is that DePatie has a plan for me and I want to see it through. I also recently bought a “smart” pedometer called the Fitbit. It tracks my steps and some other fancy things. I’ll be using this tool to keep track of my progress (in addition to blogging). For example I know I walked about 5,200 steps yesterday that equals about 2.4 miles and that I engaged in about 18 minutes of “very active” activity. It will be easy to set small, attainable goals from there.

Oh and I’m just dying to see how shimmy practice affects my step count!

Stay tuned for more of the Fat Belly Dancer Works Out. Coming soon: Goal 1) Work out aerobically 3-5 times a week.



About Andalee

Andalee is the founder of Belly Dance at Any Size. She is an Oriental dancer and instructor from Durham, NC, now based in Montpellier, France. She has been dancing since 2005 and teaching since 2008. Her mission is to promote Oriental Dance (a.k.a. belly dance) as a respected and valid performance art.