I won’t be happier when I lose weight. 


It’s a flippant comment from an acquaintance when I say I’m taking part in the wellness pilot at work. I’m a little bummed out it is largely weightloss focused. They reply that I’ll be happier when I lose some weight. 

Oh dear. They don’t know I’m a feminist killjoy. That I define health by metrics I can control: the steps I take, the choices I make rather than my weight or even my blood pressure. Sure. I can influence my weight & blood pressure but really I control other things like movement and food. 

The acquaintance doesn’t know I lost 40 lbs last year and gained 10 back since I started my new job. Or that since I started tracking my food carefully I’ve lost those same 10 lbs but also started obsessing about my food intake, steps taken and my daily weigh in. I’m teetering on the brink of a precipice I know too well. 

This is all going through my mind as I reply “Gee, I don’t know, I pretty happy right now.”

I’m pretty happy right now is the best thing I can say. I want to say not one woman I know is happy about her weight because our culture teaches us to constantly criticize our bodies, identify our “trouble areas”, lose those last stubborn pounds or worry about “skinny face“. I can’t win the oppression game so I try to opt out whenever I can. 

So no matter what my weight I will likely be critical of my body to some extent. 

As for actually being happy, I really can’t imagine being happier. My new paid work is gloriously contained Monday to Friday. My colleagues are lovely. So many folks checked in on me this week when I got back from being sick I realized how welcoming my workplace is. 

I have great kids and a loving partner. We live with giant ridiculous dogs. I have great friends and neighbours who help me when I need it. 

My body gets me where I need to go and I’m gearing up my training for awesomeness next cycling season. 

I won’t be happier when I lose weight because I’m perfectly happy right now :)

Amanda Lynn hates exercise but she also thinks walking might be a feminist act (Guest post)


Photo by Keith Ford

by Amanda Lynn Stubley

I didn’t want to write this guest entry. Not at all. The first time this blog appeared in my newsfeed, my thought was “that’s not for me.” As I kept seeing entries on the blog, I started to wonder at the questions they posed: What would it be like to feel strong? What are the feminist implications of fitness, especially women’s fitness?

To say my relationship with exercise has been difficult hardly begins to tell my story. I grew up in a family where working hard was a required survival skill, and ‘exercise’ as leisure activity didn’t exist. When my family’s material comforts improved and physical job demands eased, exercise didn’t get added to our lifestyle. When I was six we moved from northern BC to a rural BC coastal town. It was the 1970s West Coast, and fitness and “Particip-Action” were in.

I moved from a tiny Alaska Highway town of 800. In my new town, we did a “morning run” of a couple of kilometres starting in grade 1. To me, it might as well have been 1,000 miles. I had never moved like that, and I quickly found myself falling behind my classmates and gasping for air. No one helped me figure out how to handle these new activities, explained pacing or endurance. I concluded they were just not for me. By grade 4, I was regularly spraining an ankle on tree roots in our school’s woodchip trail. Frequent were my trips to the hospital for an x-ray, and equally frequent were eye-rolls and quiet looks from the doctors, physiotherapists and other adults. I was living out the lesson I quickly learned in grade 1 – I was not built for exercise.

My parents, bewildered themselves by this exercise craze, did their best to support me. To the doctor, then the hospital for an x-ray, and then physiotherapy we would go for my ankle. “You must be a ballerina, you’re so flexible!” the physiotherapists would remark, measuring the extreme flexibility of my ankles. “No,” I’d say, basking in at least this one kindly remark. In grade 6 a specialist in the city explained. I had an extra bone in my left foot. It was causing instability and tendon troubles in my ankle. Later that year I broke my right arm in a fall at a swimming pool. That too proved to be problematic, taking 4 days to successfully diagnose. The following year, I slipped while running and injured my ‘good’ ankle. Unlike my typical sprains, this was instantly, massively swollen. Back to the hospital, the x-ray was negative and they presumed torn ligaments. I was to stay off it for 6-8 weeks. Four months later it was still swollen so we went back to the city. It turned out it was a significant fracture, and although it had healed, the doctor was quite upset it hadn’t been casted.

Both of these fractures happened in early spring, and their net effect was that I was inactive for two springs and summers. By the following year I was in grade 8 and had gone through puberty. My body, already difficult to deploy for exercise, seemed entirely foreign to me. Thus ended my attempts at engagement in sports. I had played softball, but no longer could throw and hit a ball. I had swam in our little town’s synchronized swimming team, but the fees went up significantly so I stopped.

Like many folks, I suffered through highschool gym classes. I quit at the first available opportunity, grade 11. I actively avoided anything that might possibly be considered exercise for the rest of my teenage years and well into my 20s. Kids were cruel, and I didn’t need the humiliation. At some point my physical fitness, which looking back had been just fine, deteriorated and I started huffing and puffing up stairs and hills. It wasn’t all bad though. I went canoeing with a boyfriend and I LOVED it. When we broke up, I took a course, so I could steer the dang canoe without needing a man. And now I can stern a canoe like nobody’s business.

But my relationship with fitness and exercise is still a painful one for me. I struggle to face the most basic activity, and not because I’m out of shape. For me, just going for a walk can bring demons. Inner voices, imagined eye rolls, they all send the same message: ‘this is not for you, this is not who you are!’

In my 20s, I gave myself permission to not do stuff, but that solution is no longer the best one for me. I want to enjoy activities like hiking, biking, walking, without an impending sense of dread. And to the point of this blog, it is a feminist issue – women find power and agency in various ways, not the least of which through using our strong bodies. And as I solidly settle into middle age, it is becoming abundantly clear that if my body is going to remain strong, I need to maintain it.

I am a singer and I play guitar and banjo. After each performance, my exhaustion reminds me that playing and singing for 3 hours is rigorous. Yet, the ‘exercise demons’ don’t come out when I perform….

These days, much to my surprise, I’m feeling like walking. After years of fearing and avoiding “exercise,” my body is sending me a message that it wants some activity. I’m not very comfortable with this. I don’t always listen to the message, and I often refuse to take a walk. But sometimes I do actually walk. Last year I bought some yak-traks for my boots and walked in winter. As winter approaches, I’m wondering about starting a walking regime. It’s scary, but my inner compulsion to move is starting to compete with the demons telling me not to. It may be a simple act, but walking may be one of the most feminist things I can do this winter.

Amanda Lynn Stubley is a folklorist and radio DJ. She plays in the band , The Heartaches, and is the proud mom of two young boys.

Forget Commitment, Just Go


I had an interesting moment in my work the other week that got me thinking about how we get ourselves to consistently work out or do a class or go for a run etc.

As a Psychotherapist, I am always advising my depressed, anxious or otherwise less than content clients to exercise. The data is absolutely clear that exercise regulates mood as well or sometimes better than drugs in most moderate cases of negative feeling mood disruption. (as a side note: it is amazing the verbiage I will spew to avoid pathologizing states of anxiety and depression)

When I “prescribe exercise”, I set the bar pretty low. Sweat isn’t necessary. All I want people to do is move a little every day. In these discussions, I always encounter the intense self-judgement that failing to exercise creates. I have noticed that the narrative is pretty similar across a broad range of people and it resonates personally too.

We all know what it’s like to set an intention around regular exercise. We feel we need to commit and most programs (although not all programs, see here) encourage or even demand statements of commitment. They say that commitment is essential to the success of the program. Often that involves an outlay of money. But inevitably, like for everyone. . .EVERYONE, we miss/cancel/skip/don’t show/walk out of one or more sessions in the course of our commitment. I have come to understand that it’s what happens after that “miss” that both determines and reflects so much about ourselves. When we look at it as a failure to commit, we are liable to become a failure in our own minds. We are people who can’t follow through and aren’t good at forming good habits. From there we easily access all available self loathing. I guarantee you, that mind frame is not facilitative to exercise. Even if I tell you exercise will get you out of that place, you no longer care, because you hate yourself. Nice.

Okay, so. . .don’t do that. I have changed my language around exercise commitment and failure, as inspired by my client. Don’t commit. Don’t ever commit again. Just go. If you don’t go today, that’s fine but it isn’t a reason not to go tomorrow. It isn’t a failure or a breach or a great reveal of your inner slovenliness. You just didn’t go and here’s the super cool thing, you can always go again.

When we are aware of the judgement we create and we challenge that judgement, we free ourselves a little. That freedom can be used to access the same good reasons and feelings that we decided moved us to running/swimming/boxing/spin-class to begin with. We didn’t fail, we just didn’t go. . .and now we can go again.

The Deaths Are Pretend but the Bruises Are Real (Guest Post)

by Abby E.

So I did it. I joined a Viking re-enactment group, and holy cow do I have a lot to learn.  I still have to buy my own weapons, finish creating a character, and get some clothes ready. Also, I need women’s clothes for the village and men’s clothes for fighting demos. (Grrr.)  I may hold off on the public fighting demos and stick to the village for a while until I can accumulate all the necessary goods. In the meantime, I can still practice swinging that axe!

The first two times I went to practices, they were open to the public. Anyone could join in, try it out, see if they might want to be part of the fun. Now that I’m a member, though, I can go to the regular practices to work on things like fighting and dying in ways that will thrill the onlookers.

Recently, I attended my first closed practice, and it started off with a bit of unstructured sparring. When I arrived, several members were having an executive meeting on the spot, so there were only four of us fighting. we did a bit of two-against-two, and in this scenario you just fight until only one person “survives.” This process really doesn’t take that long. Those Hollywood movies are full of crap.

Once the executive meeting was done, people showed up on the battlefield one by one. With five people, we started working on the “circle of dishonour,” where it’s every fighter for themselves. Once again, you hack and slash until one person is left standing, but this time the killing is indiscriminate.

Now, I was busy using a big, long spear rather than the usual weapon (often sword or axe) and shield combo.  The spear’s length can give you some advantages in head-to-head combat, but if your opponent manages to get up close and personal, you start losing options fast. However, the spear is awesome in group combat, where the spear fighters can get behind the “shield wall” and pick off the enemy fighters from a protected position and help break through the enemy’s shield wall.  Just note that spearfighting requires you to really put your back into it. During the previous practice, I spent probably almost an hour or so fighting with a spear for the first time ever, and the lower half of my back was stiff for several days. In sparring, we keep our spears positioned relatively low (this is playfighting, remember – we don’t actually intend to smash each other’s faces in), and the motion is kind of like raking leaves, except that the leaves keep moving so you can’t kill them and they’re also armed and trying to kill you back.*

Later on, we started rehearsing “eights”, where you practice hitting or blocking hits from eight directions: shoulders, hips, knees (both sides), overhead swing, and torso stab. A spear isn’t a good weapon for this practice, so I borrowed a sword and one of the other members offered to take the spear. I made a crack about having a guy hold MY spear for a change, and the looks on the other guys’ faces were absolutely priceless.

Afterwards, we did a couple of rounds of fighting (sort of an endurance training exercise) and practiced the screaming and the limping and the dying for the pleasure of a bloodthirsty crowd. I died a lot. A LOT. I seriously need to do something about that dying thing, but I didn’t get disemboweled as often I did in my first practice.

Of course, dying dramatically often leads to hitting the ground fairly hard, and I certainly did my share of that. I have some bruising and a small cut on my left knee, and I didn’t feel either of those occurring, but that seems to be the norm. I always come home with bruises whose causes can’t easily be determined. And I’m cool with that.

Frankly, I was a little more embarrassed about the fact that my knees were covered in mud and I had to take the subway home. I wondered if some jerk would try to make gross comments to me, but I couldn’t easily get all the dirt off.  So I decided to prepare for possible harassment and was ready to respond to unfriendly remarks with “I got killed by Viking warriors AND IT WAS AWESOME. WHAT DID YOU DO TODAY?” but no one decided to try my patience. Dammit. The looks on their faces would have been priceless, too.

*This probably makes you want to never rake leaves again, but there’s  scientific evidence that says you shouldn’t rake leaves anyway because it’s better for the environment, and not getting murdered by armed leaves is probably better for your health anyway. Everyone wins.

We wear helmets to protect our heads, but those soft tissue injuries sure do smart.

We wear helmets to protect our heads, but those soft tissue injuries sure do smart.


Abby E. is a Toronto-based freelance editor who loves science, philosophy, and speculative fiction. She isnot a crazy cat lady, just a crazy lady who has cats.


Grey Cup Fever (Guest Post)

by Sarah Millin

Last Sunday I watched as quarterback Henry Burris threw a 93 yard touchdown reception to drive Ottawa to their first Grey Cup in 30 years.

No one really expected Ottawa to win. Henry Burris at age 40 was dumped by his last team as too old. The Red Blacks are a new team and had an appalling season last year.

As I watched them win  I remembered “The Catch”

The Catch

I watched almost 30 Grey Cup games with my dad over the years. I was very young and barely remember when Ottawa won in 1973.

But the first Grey Cup I really remember was the all Rough Rider 1976 game which is still remembered for The Catch. We lived in Ottawa at the time and we were cheering for the home team.

The heavily favoured Saskatchewan Roughriders were leading the Ottawa Rough Riders by four points with 30 seconds to go. People were already leaving the stadium assuming that Saskatchewan won. Rookie quarterback Tom Clemons threw a 24 yard touchdown pass to Tony Gabriel to win. It’s still considered one of the best Grey Cups ever played.

I wasn’t involved in playing sports at school and I don’t think my dad was either. Being small in stature guarantees being picked last for the team until someone starts a garden gnome league. In the 70s football and hockey were exclusively for men. I went to a high school where boys played football (and they still showed the grainy video of the last time the school won the city championship at least once a year at assembly) and girls played volleyball (more regular city champs and provincial champs but no video).

My dad moved to Vancouver with his second wife and I joined them in 1983. Now we were B.C. Lions fans.  For the first time since the 60s B.C. had a great team, Vancouver had the first domed stadium, it was a good time to be a fan. Lions won their first Grey Cup in 20 years in 1985.

We developed a routine while watching the Grey Cup in these years.  We imitated the announcers’ more silly commentary. “They’re in the shadow of goal line”.  My dad and I talked about players from the past. Nothing could elicit evil giggles from my dad better than reminding him about the Alouette linebacker who rejoiced in the name  “Randy Rhino”.

The Kick

My dad was travelling when the 77th Grey Cup was played. So he missed the epic battle between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Hamilton was heavily favoured to win that game and Saskatchewan put on a show. The Roughriders’ Dave Cutler kicked the winning field goal with seconds to spare.

That Grey Cup converted me to being a closeted Saskatchewan fan. When I finally come out to my dad about rooting for the Riders it was a big deal.

Half Time

“Who is this Shania Twain?” my dad asked before the 90th Grey Cup. His third wife, his girlfriend, and I all laughed and said you’ll see. The half time show was when we usually filled up on booze and Dad’s favourite potato chips. Normally the TV sound was turned way down for that part. That’s the only Grey Cup where I remember the half time show better than the actual game.

They Came to Play

Usually late in the third quarter or somewhere in the fourth one of the announcers will intone very seriously “They came to play”.

I wonder how much of my attitude about sports and fitness come from my dad. For years his only exercise was running around on his wives and pushing vegetables around on his plate.

I’ve inherited his playfulness but somehow it doesn’t relate to sports. Is it genetic or learned? My aunt who was much more physically active (Tai Chi master) commented she also found it hard to develop that muscle memory you need so much in sports.

Third and Goal

My dad passed six years ago. I miss him especially at Grey Cup time. We watched other sports together: baseball, curling, NFL but the Grey Cup was always special. It didn’t matter what combination of wives, ex-wives, girlfriends, or ex-girlfriends were present over the years, that was time I shared with him.

Grey Cups are different  now. The food is healthier (I’m planning a vegetarian Black Bean cassoulet instead of the chilli my dad usually made)and there will be no booze and l’ll probably go for a good walk during half time this Sunday.

And as we never, ever cheered for the Eskimos, it’s go Red Blacks!



About Sarah: When not watching football,  I operate a small business technology support enterprise and write about technology (http://makeitworkcomputersolutions.ca/blog/ ).

We all gotta die of something, but probably not what we most fear

death infographicMaybe you saw this infographic yesterday. I got it from a Business Insider (Australia) article that showed up in my newsfeed: “The things most likely to kill you in one infographic.” With all of our fear and anxiety about terrorism and plane crashes, it turns out that what’s way more likely to kill us is the health-related stuff.

I drive my car without giving it much thought, but I obsess about the possibility of being killed or seriously injured riding my bike on the road. Maybe in this infographic they both count as “transport related accidents,” but in terms of sheer numbers, the death toll in car accidents is enormous.

For me, I think a relevant factor in the fear is that in the event of an accident, cyclists are more vulnerable to serious injury than people in cars. I had the same worry on my motorcycle, namely, that the consequences of an accident were just likely to be that much worse. But I don’t even know if that’s right. (as an aside, the reason most of us are unlikely to die in a war is that most of us are unlikely to be in a war zone. I’m sure that statistic goes up enormously if we limit the demographic to people living in war zones).

What the info-graphic shows is that there are lots of things to worry about before “transport-related accidents.” Suicide is more probable than that. But there are a whole slew of health things, and this infographic is meant to give us perspective.

The good thing about health stuff is that lots of it is preventable. There is documented evidence to support the claim that adopting a healthy lifestyle, with some sort of movement, a balanced approach to eating, adequate sleep, and attention to mental health, can increase a person’s expected lifespan.

And while we can’t plan not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, we can make decisions about how to live day to day in way that makes some of the things at the top end of “things most likely to kill you” less likely.

Back in the day, people used to die of something called “old age.” If you look at this infographic, “old age” isn’t even a thing on it. This makes sense because it’s not an ailment in itself — of course it’s not. But it would be helpful to have some age stats on some of these health-related causes of death. My guess is that many of them become more likely as we get older.

And that too bodes well for people who are in a position to make healthy choices.

Is this kind of thing enough to make me relax about riding my bike?  Well, I’m not so sure.  I mean, I get that the probability of dying of something not health-related is relatively low. But everyone dies of something. And one thing we do not have the gift (or curse) of is knowing what, in our own case, that something will be.

Meanwhile, I agree that there’s no point in being overly preoccupied with our inevitable death.  The how and when of it is not within our control. But if, as this infographic suggests, chances are good that most of us will die from “natural causes,” that makes at least a good statistical case for keeping things in perspective.

What about you? Does this infographic give you helpful perspective?

Fit is a Feminist Issue, Link Round Up #62


This is where we share stuff we can’t share on our Facebook page for fear of being kicked out!

Usually the posts are about body image, sometimes there’s nudity and links about sex but we’re all adults here.

20 Reactions to the Convertible Cupcake Dress and Why This Discussion Matters

I have been a visibly fat person on the internet for nearly two years, a fashion designer for six and an online journalist for eight so I know a thing or two about what goes down in the comments section. I still remember the first time I experienced it. I wrote an article about shopping at thrift stores for AOL and someone in the comments called me a communist which was a pretty big leap. I learned then that people in the comments can sometimes feel both an inflated sense of self importance and also a unique kind of bravery that gives them a sense of entitlement to say things that they would probably never say to my face especially when I never asked for their opinion. I’m not a human being to them: I’m a byline on the story they didn’t like; the butt of their fat jokes and the designer who dared to break their cherished fashion rules.

11 Fearless Images That Push Us To Rethink What ‘Beautiful’ Means

A new campaign is celebrating all bodies by selling a little bit of self-love.

Created by Wear Your Voice Magazine, #BeyondBeauty is a campaign that hopes to challenge brands that promote body positivity to include a more diverse range of women in their advertisements. The campaign includes a photo series which features 18 women of all body shapes.

“It is a campaign whose only selling point is self-love,” a WYV press release reads. “We’re not endorsing a product, we are supporting authenticity in all its forms. We are daring to look beyond this traditional and limiting idea of ‘beauty’ to see the strength that not only lies within, but that exudes from all.”

The series features different types of photos, such as a body-positive take on before and after images where nothing about the women have actually changed. Other images feature women of all shapes, colors and abilities in an ad-style photo with boxes such as “Flawed” and “Flawless” checked off next to one another.

11 Body Positive Photo Shoots & Campaigns That Made The World A More Inclusive Place — PHOTOS

When I think of the term “body positivity,” my mind often conjures up images of fat, unapologetic ladies doing their thing and giving no effs about it. But the thing about body positivity is that it’s about way more than fat women. And this is something that body-positive photo shoots generally serve to remind us of.

Whether their focus is on fat bodies, queer bodies, bodies of color, disabled bodies, or everything and anything in between, the beauty of photography as it applies to the fight for inclusivity is that it seems to enable so much diverse expression and representation. There are arguably few things in this world which can cause us to stop and think as quickly and as intensely as a striking image. And it’s that urge to make people stop and think that is at the core of most body-positive photo shoots and campaigns.

Most millennials have grown up seeing one principal body type represented in the images they consume: thin, able, cis, white bodies. Despite the beauty these bodies possess, however, having one is simply not the only means to a fulfilled existence in this world. As well as highlighting that there does exist beauty in every form and color and shape and gender identity, these 11 body-positive shoots highlight that one of the most beautiful things we can strive to be is inclusive.

Tackling negative body image among women by emphasising functionality

Women who nurse negative thoughts about their appearance think that people look at them just as disapprovingly. Such a negative body image can lead to a wide range of complaints, from depression to eating disorders and obesity. A solution appears to be at hand: women who concentrate on what their body can do instead of what it looks like are far more satisfied about their appearance. Psychologist Jessica Alleva discovered this during her PhD project ‘Give us a smile and lighten us up’ that she carried out with funding from the Free competition of NWO Division for the Social Sciences. Alleva defends her PhD thesis on Wednesday 25 November at Maastricht University.

 Jessica Alleva investigated approximately sixty existing ‘ image interventions’, including interventions for people who suffer from an or have a low self-esteem with respect to their appearance. She discovered that the measures and therapies investigated only provided relief in a rare few cases. The interventions have the most significant effect among who constantly compare themselves with the most beautiful women on earth and have therefore ended up in a negative spiral.