Sam feels wishy washy about the warm weather

I don’t know about you but as a resident of North America enjoying unseasonably warm weather, I’ve got mixed feelings. Sun! Warmth! But also it feels a bit doom like.

After all while Canadians are enjoying a very warm end to winter, Australians are roasting. Our country gets slightly more liveable while their’s gets slightly less.

This piece explores the ethics of enjoying the warm weather when we know it’s linked to an impending global catastrophe. 

They conclude that it’s okay to see the effects of global warming as a mixed bag. No guilt needed.

My day included a long dog hike without the Fitbit, then 10,000 steps after putting the Fitbit on, and bike commuting with bonus errands. Somehow the nice weather makes this easy.

Here’s my hiking companion, Cheddar.

How do you feel about this warm weather in February? I sighed when I put my skates and skis away. But mostly I’m happy to get back on my bike.

Sam has mixed feelings about sports dresses but loved axe throwing in a skirt

It’s spring and my social media newsfeed is full of ads for summer clothing. But it’s me, and lots of it is sports related. So many beautiful bike jerseys!

But this year, there’s a new thing there, cropping up from time to time, the sporty dress. I confess that often my dress wearing ways (see biking in a dress and I hate pants) are at odds with my resistance to normative femininity.  For a taste of that, go read my running skirts post.

Basically I don’t like being told how I ought to dress. And often, for women, being told how you ought to dress involves skirts and dresses. When I dipped my toes into journalism as a career, women still had to wear skirts or dresses in the parliamentary press gallery. As a young punky person I had to carry a skirt in my back pack if I planned to visit.

School uniforms were the same. I’ve blogged here before about being taught by nuns. That certainly required skirts.

I’m the kind of person who couldn’t live in a suburb with rules. You know, the kind of place that has rules against clotheslines, and wildflowers, and funny coloured house paint and leaving your garage door open. I’d move in and right away paint every wild colours, plant all the flowers, and hang up scandalous underwear in plain sight. You know the type. That’s me.

So what about the sporty dresses!

Here’s an example.

A woman with hair tied back, wearing glasses, and a pink flowered dress is walking her bike. From https://nuu-muu.com/collections/xlent

Image description: A woman with hair tied back, wearing glasses, and a pink flowered dress is walking her bike.

Like these skirts, which I also like and even tried on several times over the winter, I can’t decide if they are about warmth and function or butt modesty. And if the former, I’m all in, and if the latter, I’m a bit uncomfortable.

 

On the one hand, so cute!

On the other, I want to reject norms about women not being to be show our bodies and especially as a larger person (Fat or big?) who is mostly comfortable with her size, I like opportunities to express that. (yes, I love wearing bikinis, stretch marks, tummy rolls and all.)

Okay, I’ll keep mulling about sports dresses and butt-warming skirts, but I know one thing for sure. I love throwing axes in a skirt! (We were encouraged to wear plaid and this is the only plaid item I own.)

I think it’s skirts and dresses in rebellious contexts I like best. Prom dress rugby! Fishnets in roller derby!

Oh, also I’ll wear pants on June 11. It’s Wear the Pants Day.

skirt

 


What do you think of sporty skirts and dresses? Love/hate/to each their own?

Making San Pellegrino a treat again

I love San Pelligrino. My favourite flavour is this one. I like it mixed with orange juice and ice too.

Image description: On the left, a glass of blood orange San Pelingrino. On the right, the can from which it came.

Image description: On the left, a glass of blood orange San Pellingrino. On the right, the can from which it came.

People often treat it as the healthy alternative to pop. See here.
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While it’s true it’s just 80 calories, its also true that those calories are all sugar, 19 grams of it. I don’t think sugar is evil. See here and here. But I like my sugar in the form of yummy desserts. I’ve taken to drinking it weeknights and bringing it for lunch sometimes but I don’t think that’s a habit I want to keep up.

But what’s the right comparison? What’s the alternative?

When I did the Precision Nutrition program a few years ago one of the healthy habits I picked up was no liquid calories. Now I’m not recommending this to others. I’m not offering a prescription for anything here. You do you, as the kids say. But I am reflecting on how that habit felt for me.

How’d that work out, the no liquid calories thing? What were the changes I had to make?

Alcohol: Most people doing PN struggled with alcohol and empty calories. Pretty much all the perimenopausal and menopausal women concluded you can’t meet your nutritional needs, eat a reasonable amount of calories, and drink alcohol. Alcohol tips you over into the excess calorie category, they claimed. I don’t know if that’s true but I did hear a lot of whining about wine.

Luckily I don’t drink. And in the end the sub group of coaching clients I bonded with were athletic, vegan, and sober.

Pop: Diet Coke is my go to bar beverage and drive thru drink. Both are rare occurrences in my life. No sacrifices there either.

Coffee: I struggled a bit here since my preferred drink is a latte or flat white. Milk isn’t zero calories. But since I was aspiring vegan anyway, I used this as an opportunity to switch to Americanos. I realized a few years ago that the only reason I drank milk in my coffee was to moderate the temperature. But ice cubes work well for that too. Thanks Rob for teaching me that trick.

Here’s Men’s Health making the pitch for black coffee.

I do drink tea but it’s either green or mint and that’s another zero calorie drink.

Festive beverages: But what about a treat? When other people are drinking alcohol with a meal? That’s when I’ve been drinking San Pellegrino. I like sparkling water. But it doesn’t feel festive. Might be time to break out the kamboucha again! It’s even fizzy in the way that I like. See What the hell is kombucha? and Sam tried Kombucha and she liked it!

Likely I’ll keep the San Pell around for fun occasions and move to plain sparkling water on regular nights.

What’s your go to drink for fun and festivity?


A few of my favourite things: Friends, family, mountains, dogs, hikes, playgrounds, beaches, and card games

It’s a rough time in the world. For those of us for whom this is new, this recent rough time, we also get to realize what an incredible position of privilege we occupy given that it’s only now that we’re worried. In other countries, in other places around the world people worry all the time about what their governments will do.

But privilege or not, I’m not sleeping and having to work on my breathing. Sometimes I joke and say I am holding my breath until the real grown ups wake up and fix everything. (What everything? The climate, the future of human life on the planet, nuclear war, restrictions of rights and liberties, raising tides of racism and Islamophobia. You know.) And yes, I know. There are no real grown ups in charge. That’s terrifying. Deep breaths. I’m not sure I’m joking.

We are all here on the blog struggling to maintain calm and to find things that help us move forward. Susan wrote about running away from her despair. I asked whether protest marching counts as a fitness activity. Cate wrote about 8 ways to find balance in these awful times.

I’m not normally the kind of person to make statuses with the hashtag “blessed” and the idea of a gratitude journal has sometimes rubbed me the wrong way. But maybe these days lists of things that bring us joy are sometimes needed.

This week I’m on holiday with my daughter. I’m taking a break from work and we’re visiting with a friend in Victoria. I’m making more effort than usual to make sure I get to do some of my favourite things. Here’s some things that made me smile this week and for which I’m grateful.

  1. Hiking with dogs and friends: That’s Audrey, friend and an occasional guest on the blog, her dogs (good and bad), me, and my daughter Mallory at Thetis Lake.
Image description:  There are three women on beach, facing the camera, dressed for col weather hiking.  One of them is holding a dog at waist height. There is a lake and trees in the background.

Image description: There are three women on beach, facing the camera, dressed for col weather hiking. One of them is holding a dog at waist height. There is a lake and trees in the background.

2.  Visiting the tops of mountains

Sam at the Mount Douglas lookout, facing camera, wearing a rain coat, with messy hair from the hike up the hill.

Image description: Sam at the Mount Douglas lookout, facing camera, wearing a rain coat, with messy hair from the hike up the hill.

 

3. Dipping my toes in the ocean

Image description: Sam in her red raincoat enjoying a grey day at Cadbo Beach, surrounded by driftwood.

Image description: Sam in her red raincoat enjoying a grey day at Cadbo Beach, surrounded by driftwood.

4. Playing in playgrounds

Image description: Sam sitting atop a giant red octopus in a children's playground.

Image description: Sam sitting atop a giant red octopus in a children’s playground.

5. Playing games–cards of many different kinds, Balderdash, Scrabble!

Image description: A young woman in her twenties, with shoulder length brown hair. wearing a red shirt and black jumper smiles at the camera while playing cribbage.

Image description: A young woman in her twenties, with shoulder length brown hair. wearing a red shirt and black jumper smiles at the camera while playing cribbage.

Image description: A scrabble board near the end of the game. Someone (me!) played "Linchpin" over both triple words.

Image description: A scrabble board near the end of the game. Someone (me!) played “Linchpin” over both triple words.

 

6. Spending time in the woods, in particular, this time, in Goldstream Park

Image description:  A selfie featuring a mother being hugged from behind by her tall daughter in a leafy, mossy, green forest.

Image description: A selfie featuring a mother being hugged from behind by her tall daughter in a leafy, mossy, green forest.

Image description: Steps up into mossy forest.

Image description: Steps up into mossy forest.

How about you? What’s making you smile and keeping you going in hard times?

So you want to start a blog? Tracy’s tips

A couple of years ago I was interviewed at work for a short series on creative writing and blogging. I went for the taping and then promptly forgot about it. Yesterday, I stumbled upon my interviews on YouTube. Two of them were about blogging.

Since they seem to have disappeared into the ether with very few views (38 and 17), I thought I would post them here. In fact, there are some useful tips (if I do say so myself).

I firmly believe that blogging is an excellent way for writers to promote their own platform and generate a community around their passions. Sam and I had no idea when we started Fit Is a Feminist Issue how it would unfold. But we went with it and today we have built up a community around the blog that makes us proud.

If you’ve ever wanted to start a blog of your own, I hope you find these tips and suggestions helpful.

Here’s Part One of my comments on blogging:

And here’s Part two of my comments on blogging:

Recovered? (Guest Post)

Image description: A tree with red leaves in the shape of a head. One third of the leaves blowing away.  Also, green grass and blue sky and white clouds.

Image description: A tree with red leaves in the shape of a head. One third of the leaves blowing away. Also, green grass and blue sky and white clouds.

By Meena Krishnamurthy

A couple of months ago someone asked me the question that I have dreaded being asked most. The question was a simple one: Are you fully recovered?

Let me back track a bit. Almost three years ago, I suffered from a severe concussion. I had cognitive and visual problems, endless dizziness, migraines, and neck pain. Together these symptoms left me in bed in a dark room for almost 7 months. I was able to brush my teeth and shower, but I wasn’t able to grocery shop or cook. I was able to see people, but only for short times. I was largely isolated from my husband and my, at the time, 6 year old daughter. The dog was really the only one I could tolerate for longer periods of time, but at times even she was too much to handle.

For the most part, through hard work and some good luck, I’ve managed to get back to the things that I love. In the fall of 2016, I started a new academic position and in the winter I returned to teaching. This year I returned to a full teaching load. I’ve also returned to travelling and giving talks on a very limited basis. Most importantly, I am able to spend time with my family and to do the simple things that I love like grocery shopping. Even though it didn’t quite stick, I even managed to start running again this summer. All things considered, things have been going very well for me. I am proud of the progress that I have made and continue to make.

Given all of this, one might wonder, why was THAT question so difficult to answer? In part, it is hard to answer because I had recently been asking myself the same question and I hadn’t come up with a good answer.

The question itself confuses me. It isn’t clear to me what being recovered looks like at this point. If the person (and myself) was asking whether I am back to being the same person that I was before my head injury, then the answer is no. And, what comes next is difficult to say out loud and to admit to myself: I am not the same person that I was before my head injury. Sometimes I have still have days (sometimes many days) where I can’t out of bed. Sometimes, I am still overwhelmed with migraines, nausea, and numbness for weeks at a time. Sometimes, I am still cognitively hazey (this is probably the hardest thing to admit as an academic). More fundamentally, I am aware of my vulnerability, sometimes overcome with (irrational) fear that I will return to that dark room and be unable to do the things I love most.

On the other hand, perhaps I have just changed. Perhaps this is all part of my new norm. I have great days and not so great days and somehow I push through. Perhaps, then, I have recovered as much as I can.

Another option (according to the medical experts that I am working with) is that I’m still a work in progress. According to my neurologist, it can take almost 6 years to fully recover from a brain injury. This isn’t often the answer that people want to hear. People prefer a quick and complete success story – one where the person goes from being stuck in a dark room to being back in front of the classroom and travelling around the world, as if the accident had never happened. Unfortunately, in many cases of brain injury, this is a far-fetched scenario.

At this point, I’m still not sure how to answer THAT question. All of these are live options. My guess is my answer will change with place and time.

The Challenging Challenge of Challenges

person leaping off cliff into water below

Let me just say it: I hate challenges. 30-day challenges, 100-day challenges, Do X-number-of-such-and-such challenges, etc.– I hate them all.

And yet.

There’s something seductive, promising, even magical about the challenge. All I have to do is start with 2 pushups, and soon I’ll be doing 384 of them a day. Or all I have to do is eat only grapefruit for 30 days and I’ll fit into that outfit. Or all I have to do is roll out my yoga mat now, and soon I’ll be able to hold a plank for 170 minutes. Apart from the sheer pain of the thing, who has the time to hold a plank that long? I’m joking, of course, but there’s definitely an appeal to the idea that the challenge promises us a goal beyond what we could imagine doing in our real lives.

Now, before you get annoyed with my tarring all challenges with the same brush, I know that there are lots of other challenges that are about process, not product. They help establish supposedly modest behavior change through repetition.  One such recent challenge was the the Runner’s World Run Streak challenge.

Runner's World 39 days of Awesome challenge: Thanksgiving to New Year's run 1 mile a day, every day

A bunch of FFI bloggers and friends decided to take on this challenge.  I chimed in, saying that I would walk a mile a day (my knees don’t let me run).  I even volunteered to do a group post on the results.

Why did I do this?  I was nearing the busiest, most hectic part of my fall term, a term in which I was the most overburdened with work that I’d been in some time.  I say this with full awareness that I have a job and life filled with privileges, for which I am lucky and grateful.  Still, my experience of being me last fall was not fun.

And yet.

The siren song of the challenge was irresistible.  I wanted it to be true that somehow I would transform into a person who took better care of herself– who took the time to stop what she was doing, get outside, stretch her legs, clear the cobwebs, and do something good for her body every day.  And honestly, walking a mile only takes 15–20 minutes, plus a few (like 5?) minutes for getting ready.  So surely I could manage this.

Well, no. Of course not. Hoping against hope that somehow my life would become different, that I would become different just by saying “I’m in!” is not an effective technique for completing a task like this.  I had none of the tools I needed.

I was stressed out from overwork, from being behind on a bunch of work tasks, from swimming in a sea of ungraded papers and exams.

I was in a state of suppressed (and sometimes non-suppressed) panic about my lack of fitness and failure to activate myself into a person working on fitness.

I was dying to feel and be like the other people doing the challenge, who (from my perspective) were fitter and happily ensconced in comfortable  and rock-solid physical activity patterns.

I was ashamed of my failure to meet my own physical activity goals.

I was ashamed of my body: how it looked, how it performed, how it felt inhabiting it.

So I did the only thing I could.  I said “I’m in!” and hoped for the best.

What happened?  Well, I have no idea what happened with the rest of the bloggers.  I was in fact too ashamed even to contact anyone to see how things went and organize a group blog post.  As for me, I did some walking on some days.  I did some documenting of the walking I did.  I did not walk 39 days in a row.  And I felt bad about that.

Okay, lesson learned:  don’t sign up for a challenge when just getting through your work day is a challenge.  Got it.

And yet.

The notion of the challenge, as much as I hate it, is still calling me.  Last weekend I was cross country skiing with my friend Janet, and talking about my fitness goals:  be able to ride bikes with my friends, learn more kayak techniques and get increased stamina to be able to paddle with folks over the summer, lower my levels of anxiety about partaking in physical activity with others and also on my own, and develop a rhythm of regular and fun activity.

That’s a lot.  There are a bunch of challenges in those goals.  Meeting them requires commitment to regular bike training (on the trainer and outside when possible), kayak classes and training and trips, anxiety-reduction through self-care, meditation, yoga, etc. starting to go on group rides with folks, and developing trust within myself and with my friends as I work toward fitness for me in this stage of my life.

So this is what I am doing now to meet these challenges:

I’m documenting my food intake– every meal, every snack, every day.  I want to eat in a way that feels healthy-to-me, that supports my body and helps me feel good and strong.  Knowledge is power, so looking at how I’m actually eating is a big step toward making any changes that I decide I want for myself.

I created a somewhat aspirational but not entirely unrealistic activity weekly schedule.  It includes walking, riding the trainer (which I don’t love but know will help me with my riding goals) and Friday–Sunday longer outside activities.  I also added daily yoga– sometimes a class (my local studio, Artemis Yoga in Watertown, MA,  is fantastic and very near my house), and other times a 20-minute yoga DVD.  I have the DVD cued up and ready to go, and my mat and blocks are in the living room.  I want to at least play the DVD while doing something-or-other on my mat to help me de-stress, stretch my body and relax.

I’m documenting all of my activity every day.  I printed out a calendar, tacked it to my bedroom door, placed a pen next to it, and am writing up what I’ve done each day.  In 4 weeks I’ll look at it and then devise another 4-week plan.  By then, the time will have changed (YAY!) so there will be more light later in the day to work with, opening up the possibility of rides after work.

This is my challenge: going on record with myself about what I want for my body.  Documenting what I am actually doing.  Reflecting on that information. Making adjustments.  And above all, being accepting, nay, kind to myself, remembering that challenges are, well, challenging.