Most read posts of all time

I gave a talk at Carleton University on Monday to their brand new Ethics and Public Affairs program. More about the talk later–“Fitness as a Feminist Issue”–but not surprisingly, in the question period, talk turned to the blog. People asked about our most popular posts and how much they were read and I thought you might be interested too.

Here’s our top ten posts of all time.

If you haven’t read them yet, enjoy!

She May Look Healthy But…Why Fitness Models Aren’t Models of Health 61,514
The Shape of an Athlete 30,647
Why the “Thigh Gap” Makes Me Sad 25,726
Padded sports bras and nipple phobia 25,076
Precision Nutrition’s Lean Eating Program: A Year in Review 23,301
Crotch shots, upskirts, sports reporting, and the objectification of female athletes’ bodies 21,858
Finding clothes to fit athletic women’s bodies 20,237
“You’ve Lost Weight! You Look Great!” Isn’t a Compliment 19,434
Intermittent fasting and why it might not work as well for women 18,715
Raspberry Ketone, Pure Green Coffee Extract, Garcinia Cambogia, Weight Loss, and the Fallacy of Appealing to Authority 17,740


By contrast here are ten from the bottom bunch. They’re still counted as “top posts” so they’re not the least read. But they have the fewest hits of the ‘top posts.” (Not quite sure how WordPress defines that!) Anyway, go read these too! Maybe share them and spread the word.

Building Muscle and the Vegan Diet 269
Biology Is Destiny: A Couple of Men Explain Why Women Have Curvier Hips and Fatter Butts 269
My first time trying hot yoga 268
Part 2: The Fight (Guest Post) 268
Two Bike Cultures: Weighing the Pros and Cons 267
Testing athletes for “too much” testosterone shows how inadequate the sex binary really is 267
Wadja: A girl, her bike, and her dreams 267
Bad race ideas? Prison Break! 266
Fit and fat revisited (ultra running doesn’t make everyone thin and lean) 265
The most cerebral sport I’ve ever tried (Guest post) 264

Shouldn’t you be riding?

My social media newsfeeds are often full of academics, of all career stages, grad students through full professors, talking about how to get more writing done. A few of us have even taken to creating memes, Shouldn’t you be writing? Here’s the latest!


You can view the Facebook folder here and you’ll learn a bit about my tastes in attractive people and popular culture too.

But as autumn really starts to take hold and the days are getting shorter, it’s not just time for writing that’s in short supply. It’s also true that it can take a bit more organization and discipline to get out on my bike. So here, in the spirit of “Shouldn’t you be writing?” are my “Shouldn’t you be riding?” memes.

Enjoy and feel free to share your own. And yes, I know that’s the Lululemon Specialized team. They’re smiling and waving. Hard to find images of women on road bikes!

It’s Thanksgiving in Canada this weekend and it looks like excellent riding weather. My plan is to ride three days in a row. See you out there!






Into the Trails for the Run for the Toad (Guest Post)

“Sometimes you have to stop to see. Then, follow the trail to see some more…”

In 2004 after 15 years of running, and mainly road running, I was getting bored.  I tried to interchange running with biking and going to the gym but the problem was I always felt like I was cheating on running with other activities.  Only the distorted mind of a runner can relate to this way of thinking.  If I wasn’t running, I wasn’t really getting all that my body was craving, but the road running was really getting monotonous.  So what do you do when you get bored of running?  You sign up for a race in hopes that it will motivate you to run!

As I looked for a race I hadn’t done before and one that was over 10 km, but not a marathon, I found a 25km trail race that was nearby in Paris, Ontario.  The Run for the Toad was in its infancy at the time and it was only the third year this 25km or 50km trail race had been held.  With summer approaching, the training would be great for this early fall race, so I signed up.  The first year I ran this race, I fell in love with it. The organization of this race is superb, even with the growth in popularity from only 272 participants in the 25km race the first year I ran it to 1250 runners and 100 kids running in this year’s race. They added a 1 km run for the kids for free, with the added bonus of a medal this year for all 100 kids that participated making the event is truly a family friendly atmosphere.   It sounds cliché but if you do it once, you’ll be hooked and I guarantee you’ll be back.

Driving into the park, you are greeted by an exceedingly friendly volunteer at the gate house, which sets the tone for the rest of the day, no matter what Mother Nature has in store for you.  Volunteers direct you where to park and there are many that show you the way to ‘tent city’.  Event tents house the expo, registration, and a smaller one as a venue for the kids to watch some cartoons on the big screen they have set up.  The larger event tent is where you will get your catered lunch after the race…which I will highlight later as it deserves its own paragraph…that’s how good it is.

The setting at Pinehurst Conservation Area could not get any better.  The park is impeccably kept and the trails are pristine.  The race is run as a 12.5km loop, so for the 25 km, you do this loop twice.  Normally I am not a fan of the double loop, but because of the stunning scenery and the diverse terrain you cover over the 12.5 km, the loops don’t really feel like you are repeating it…well until you get to the gargantuan grassy hill at about the 11.5 km mark. Ok, maybe not gargantuan, but when you are on the second loop and it is placed at the 23 km mark, it is gargantuan.  My mind cannot even get around doing this course 4 times for the 50km.  Every year I am amazed to see the 50km runners amongst the pack, chugging along and unfazed by the fact that they have to do this challenging course 4 times. Respect.  The course changes beautifully from wooded single file trail to wide, cedar lined and pine needle carpeted trail.  The plains consist of wide open grassy knolls rolling you up and down like a roller coaster.  When the weather is good, it is a lovely part of the course; however, when the weather is bad, this is the part of the course that makes you start to question your sanity.  The term ‘rolling hills’ is an understatement for this race; which makes it interesting if the day is rainy and the course gets muddy.  All along the trail, there are plenty of marshals and volunteers always happy to cheer you on and give out high fives.  As it is in a conservation area, part of the course is a run through the camp grounds where weekend and seasonal campers line up their camp chairs and cheer you on as they have their morning coffees.

My running buddy and good friend, Rayanne, are on our fourth Toad (as you end up calling it over the years) together.  We train in the Dundas Conservation area trails where the trails very closely mimic those of the Toad.  This year the training was superb and the weather this summer could not have been more cooperative.  We were hopeful that this year’s race day would be sunny and warm.  We were hopeful that we each wear our favourite shorts and t shirts. We were hopeful that we would be able to eat our gourmet lunch outside in the sunshine, like we had a couple of times before.  Mother Nature didn’t get the memo.  This past Saturday, October 3rd, marked my sixth running of the 25km Run for the Toad.  I have run this race in beautiful sunshine, teaming rain, and this year, in extremely high wind gusts and not so seasonal temperatures.  Despite the blowing winds and colder temperatures, we were able to beat our time from the last year we had run the Toad.

Feeling good about our finish, we made our way to the event tent holding rows of tables and chairs to accommodate the runners for their lunch.  The lunch is served up to you by the Stone Crock restaurant in St. Jacob’s, Ontario.  When asked why we keep coming back to do this race, we often say it is because of the lunch.  Vegetables, noodles, pasta salads, couscous salad, chicken and pie are some of the offerings to feed your hunger after running 25 km.  All of the dishes are delicious and definitely worth running 25 km for.

As I looked around at the Run for the Toad, there is a certain atmosphere here that is not duplicated in any other race I have done.  The elite runners are plentiful here and you can’t help but marvel over their accomplishments, but there is a certain mellowness that radiates from the founders Peggy and George that spills over to everyone. They began hosting this race back in 2001 and even though it has grown substantially, the family vibe is still in tact.  The Run for the Toad is a total package run.  The scenery of the park is stellar.  The post-race meal is excellent.  The swag bag consists of a back pack (not another race shirt that is 2 sizes too big) and some goodies to bring home.

Of all of the great things I can say about this race, the best thing to come out of running the Run for the Toad all these years is being able to explore trail running.  The Toad got me off the road and into the technical world of trail running.  The Toad got me off the pavement and onto the dirt.  The Toad took me away from running among the cars and trucks and brought me to trees, brooks and nature; and for that, I say thanks Peggy and George.  I’ll see you next October.


Nicole Jessome lives in Hamilton, Ontario where she can be found running in the trails or down at the waterfront. Nicole has completed many 5km and 10 km races along with 9 Around the Bay 30km road races. When she isn’t at work, she is teaching Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga, baking and writing for



New Fitness Strategy: Act as if I had a fitness tracker thingy even though I don’t

fitness-trackers1We’ve all got that friend who goes the extra distance to get those steps tracked on her fitbit or other gadget. That may even be you.  But it’s not me. I can’t quite imagine wearing something that tracks my every move.  I’ve nothing against it, but it’s not a strategy I’m drawn to.

It’s too much information and too much tracking. I mean, I have my Garmin Forerunner 310 info after each run and I hardly ever get around to looking at it. What the heck am I going to do with daily information about how many steps I’ve taken? And yet I know that there are areas where I could get more active.

I had an inspired (if I do say so myself) idea on the weekend that got me taking a few extra steps.  And that was to act as if I was wearing a fitness tracker that recorded my every move. And just that little change kicked in a few new habits.  As part of my temporary relocation, I’m living in a third floor condo instead of a 23rd floor condo.  But I’ve been taking the elevator just because it’s a habit from living on the 23rd floor. Yes, you heard me, I was taking the elevator to the third floor. This is not a thing I would normally do.

And acting as if I had on a fitness tracker, I’ve now stopped taking the elevator up (unless I’m hauling groceries). My new place is a lot closer to the Y.  Like, it’s so close that driving would be silly. But I almost drove a couple of times. Now, with my new strategy in place, driving is out of the question as I consider: what would my friends with fitbits do?

Worried about finding a parking spot closest to the building? Nope, not me! Why not? Because if I had a fitness tracker I would instead be looking for a spot on the outer reaches of the parking lot (forget that I’m driving — it’s just a little too far to walk and still make it to work on time unless I left super early, which no thanks because the mornings are already full enough without adding a 50 minute commute–but yes, I’m aware that the fitness tracker crowd might take that walk–baby steps).

Now, maybe this is just a variation on the old theme of adding steps to your day by doing things like taking the elevator, parking a little further from the door, getting off the bus a stop or two early, and walking over to a colleague’s desk or office instead of sending them an email message.

But in our high-tech world, that simple message doesn’t always sink in.  And if I think in terms of “if I had a fitness tracker…,” somehow that gets me moving.  I’m sure there’s good evidence published somewhere that people with fitness trackers cover more ground than those without.

But I think I’ve hit on a new angle for those of us who like the idea of a motivational kick but perhaps aren’t ready or willing to move into the world of 24 hour tracking. I’m a firm believer in “never say never,” so maybe one day the world of actually tracking my activity will make sense to me. But for now, I can pretend I’m tracking, and that seems to make a difference.

Do you use a fitness tracker? If you do, why do you? If you don’t, why don’t you (and do you think acting as if you did might get you to do a little more?)?

Sam embraces her title as the “selfie queen” #feministselfie

I take a lot of selfies, enough so that a friend recently called me “the selfie queen.” My favourite selfie subgenre are the sporty selfies, see below.

Women are often criticized for taking selfies and posting them on social media. Selfies have been said to be narcissistic, self-centred, and a cry for help.

I think that those criticisms miss the mark and misunderstand the full range of motives for taking and posting selfies. For me it’s fun, yes, but it’s also about taking control of my image and being out there, not being hidden, and not being invisible.

I even started to write a paper defending the much derided selfie.

Here’s my title and abstract.

“Look at Me!”

Fighting invisibility: A defense of the midlife “selfie”


Women of my mother’s generation often have very few pictures of themselves. They might have owned personal cameras but they usually played the role of the photographer, documenting both significant life events and everyday activities, of their families. In midlife many women experience the phenomena of becoming invisible. Valued primarily for their looks, in societies that prize youth, older women seem to recede into the background. Judging by my Facebook newsfeed those days are over. While much of the media angst and anxiety about “selfies” concerns young women, usually teenagers, this paper looks at the other end of the spectrum, at the phenomena of the midlife selfie and the middle aged woman’s quest to be seen.

I’m not alone, a feminist defending the selfie. See Alison Reiheld’s “Unamused by My Erasure”: Feminist Selfies and the Politics of Representation.

In defense of the hashtag, #feministselfie, Alison writes, “When a beauty norm is tinged with ageism and promotes making oneself appear young, posting a picture of oneself as unabashedly oneself, comfortable at one’s own actual age and in one’s own actual experienced body, is a bold and subjectifying act of self-representation.”

“Even when we are not fat, but are conventionally sized, beauty norms demand a certain texture to our skin, a certain shape to trim bodies.  A competitive runner and model recently discussed her hesitation in posting images of herself modeling at New York Fashion Week with a nearly ideal body alongside images of herself a week later slouching with a stomach pouch and visible cellulite.

When a beauty norm is tinged with athletic idealism, posting a picture of oneself as unabashedly non-ideal, comfortable in one’s athletic and imperfect trim body, is a bold and subjectifying act of self-representation.”






Fit is a Feminist Issue, Link Round Up #50

This is where we share stuff we can’t share on Facebook page for fear of being kicked out! Read why here. Usually the posts are about body image, sometimes there’s nudity but we’re all adults here. Right?

By the way, Facebook recently clarified its stance on nudity, writing, “We remove photographs of people displaying genitals or focusing in on fully exposed buttocks. We also restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple, but we always allow photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring. We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures and other art that depicts nude figures.” For the full story see here.

Oh, so scary. Nipples!

Why does a fitness blog even care about body image? You can read about that here.

Why I was sweat-shamed as I waited for my coffee at Starbucks

The stigmas surrounding women’s bodies are powerful, but they’re no match for how powerful I feel after running.

Feminists are revolting against the #NoHymenNoDiamond Facebook page…

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Images that changed the way we see female nudity

From Demi Lovato’s body positive Vanity Fair shoot to the best of Free the Nipple campaign, here’s a powerful reminder that the naked female body doesn’t have to be objectified.

27 Alternatives To Asking “Is This Okay?”

When it comes to sexytimes, we all want to know if what we’re doing in bed is working for our partner. Unfortunately, knowing what or how to ask doesn’t always come as second nature. You fumble, try to read clues and more often than not, “Is this okay?” tumbles out of your mouth.

Last week I wrote about why “Okay” is a four-letter word and encouraged you to break the habit of asking about it. To do so, you need different, more precise questions to ask, ones that actually get at the thing you want to know.

Pair a good question with a sexy voice and some genuine curiosity, and some serious magic will happen.

Next time you and your sweetie are about to get down, try these instead

Demi Lovato Did A Nude, No-Makeup, Unretouched Photo Shoot And It’s Everything

Demi Lovato stars in a beautiful new series of photos sans makeup and retouching for Vanity Fair shot by photographer Patrick Ecclesine. The photos feature Demi nude, without makeup or retouching, looking beautiful as ever. Demi’s been candid about her struggles with eating disorders and depression, which is why it’s especially brave of her to bare it all.

Roslyn Mays is a professional pole dance instructor and self-described badass boss on stage.

Mays, who goes by the nickname Roz the Diva, is a 31-year-old woman from Long Island, N.Y. She was discovered on social media and was invited to audition for this season of “America’s Got Talent.”

Why Fat Shaming & Thin Shaming Are Inherently Different

It’s 2015 and almost everybody has heard of the body positivity movement — and almost everybody has an opinion on it. In my experience, most of those opinions consist of positive, insightful thoughts on the harms of body shaming and the pluses of self love. Unfortunately, some people still have anti-body positive mindsets and anti-body pos movements still exist. Even if someone doesn’t agree with the cause, though, at least they’re talking about it. At least body positivity is finally up for discussion. What hasn’t been quite as up for discussion, however, is the analysis of thin shaming versus fat shaming.

Body shaming affects everyone and can be tied to almost any aspect of our appearances — from weight to hair color to body mods to the size of your nose. If someone has critiqued your body for how it looks at any point in your life, then you, my friend, have also been a victim of body shaming. This type of bullying is arguably harmful because it perpetuates the notion that somebody’s self worth should be based on their appearance.

Everyday exercise and car-free living, or how I learned to stop worrying and love hauling groceries

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G’day blog readers—I’m now relocated to Australia for the next 2.5 months for a sabbatical work trip (with adventuring on the side). Right now I’m in Sydney for the month of October, visiting here to do some research, chat with people and give a talk. I’ll be moving on to Adelaide for a few weeks to chat with other folks and give other talks, then back to Sydney until mid-December. All this is rather thrilling, as I haven’t had a long trip like this for many years.

Long-distance travel is definitely a shock to the body, especially when it involves sitting on places for many hours (15+ for my LA-Sydney leg; ugh). There’s been a lot of research on the effects of jet lag on athletes. The effects range from insomnia to gastrointestinal distress to lowered cognitive and physical performance. Two main non-pharmacological treatments are recommended for jet lag: 1) natural sunlight—get outside and move around in the new environment during the day; and 2) time—give yourself a few days to get adjusted to the new time zone, schedule and cadence.

So, in service of taking my own advice, after I landed early yesterday morning Sydney time (and had a nap—yes, I know that’s kind of a no-no, but it was not optional), I headed out into my new neighborhood to get food, purchase some groceries for my flat, and explore a bit.

It’s just lovely here in Sydney—it’s high spring, flowers are blooming and this weekend temperatures are in the 90s (33 C right now). I enjoyed walking around, checking out houses, gardens, and seeing what shops were in my area. I got a coffee and brunch at a café, then walked about 15 minutes to a grocery store to get some supplies.

Man, I forgot how sweat-inducing it is to haul groceries for any length of time on foot! Usually when I’m home in Boston I either use my car or ride my bike and put groceries in the panniers. I did bring my road bike with me, but have not set it up yet (that is my project for later this afternoon). Even so, this bike doesn’t take a rack (long story, trust me on this), so I’ll have to use my backpack or just carry them on foot.

And I’m so happy about this.

Yes, one of the big perks I see about this trip is the opportunity to get a lot of everyday exercise in addition to the road riding and kayaking and swimming and nature walking I have planned. This blog has posts about everyday exercise here and here, among other places. I also hear that Sam and Tracy have a chapter on it in their upcoming book. 

There are loads of studies tracking the positive effects of urban car-free living, vs. car-dependent suburban or rural living. As we know, science is complicated—urban living tends to be associated with higher stress whereas rural living can provide stress reduction, for instance in its proximity to nature. But, it’s also been suggested that urban environments can promote increased physical activity, provided there’s enough access to services and facilities.  Again, the story is complicated: for lower-income people and populations that already suffer from health and income disparities, urban living is not so great for their health.

I’m aware of and very grateful for the privilege of the job I have and the opportunities to travel to interesting places, do stimulating work and live in areas that are safe and accessible to services. I’m also very aware that this change presents an opportunity to shake up my previous habits and restart some new ones, a little bit at a time. That means for me now moving around without a car. I’ll be adjusting my timing for shopping, for going to the office, for meeting friends. I’ve brought bike commuting clothing and comfortable knocking-around-town shoes and sandals. I haven’t purchased a Fitbit to track all this, but will be seeing how it feels over time to increase my everyday activity (in addition to planned exercise and sports). And I’ll report back.

Stay tuned also for a blog post on how a change of environment and location and social group affects my eating habits. I’m quite interested to see what happens here, and will let y’all know. For now, g’day and see y’all next week.