Book Reviews · Sat with Nat

Nat reads “Every Body Yoga” by Jessamyn Stanley

The cover of Every Body Yoga featuring the author in one of her trademark pretzel poses that are the envy of many.

I have been following Jessamyn Stanley on Facebook and Instagram for a while. I enjoy her candid posts about how she is feeling, pictures of her in yoga postures and other great photos.

My fangirl status definitely leveled up when I got to enjoy this great video 30 Minute Yoga Sequence for Total Beginners. Jessamyn starts off matter of factly talking about props and maybe you can’t afford blocks. It was the first yoga video that addressed material and financial issues that can affect many folks at different times. Plus, she has this kind, matter of fact delivery that really works for me. Regular readers of this blog know many contributors are fans of other youtube yoga instructors. I’ve tried them and really gave other folks a go but I never really felt that those videos & instructors were for me so I kept coming back to what I could find by Jessamyn.

I was checking out her website when I realized she had published a book. Friends, I am late to the game as it was first published in 2017. I knew I wanted to financially support an athlete & instructor that brings a lot of joy and wisdom into my life. I highly recommend if you are benefiting from anyone’s content that has products or services to invest in them too 🙂

So the book arrived. It’s a softcover of 222 pages filled with beautiful photography, personal stories and Jessamyn’s take on the Eight-limbed path of yoga. Each chapter ends with a section called “Questions Asked by (Literally) Every Beginner Yoga Student” that resonated with me.

From an exercise/posture/asana perspective there are detailed instructions on 41 poses with accompanying photos of 4 models in addition to the author. Jessamyn reminds us that yoga instructors and practitioners are more diverse than the pop culture image of a thin, white, young woman. She focuses on our inner journey that postures help us get at.

Jessamyn also includes several flows based on what the reader might need and then recipes for combining flows for a longer practice. These are prefaced by personal stories that are both uniquely hers while tapping into those universal experiences of the full range of human emotion. It’s a powerful combination.

I appreciate her joyfulness in the pictures and her writing. Jessamyn addresses the tough stuff about modern yoga and calls us in to try.

She is also an impressive athlete that has achieved a mastery of many postures. The books tag line is “let go of fear, get on the mat, love your body”. That’s a pretty inviting and encouraging call to action.

This book was what I needed to re-energize my at home practice. I last blogged about my practice back in June and it went off the rails in August. I refocused on walking but I needed something to help get me back into a daily yoga practice. This book was just what I needed.

For details on how you can purchase a copy for yourself or someone you adore check out the details here.

I’m not gaining any compensation or benefit from this book review other than sharing my appreciation for a great instructor.

Have you read a book that helped you re-engage with your yoga practice or workout routine? Let me know!


Looking ahead …

Ten weeks from now, we will have celebrated the end of 2020 and welcomed the arrival of 2021. Some of us will look at that last page and mark an X across Dec. 31. Goodbye and good riddance to the Year of the Plague.

Image shows a white rectangle on which is printed the calendar page for January 2020. Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash.

And yet…

I almost always start looking at the first quarter of the new year around this time. New Year’s is preceded by a number of holidays with the result that, unless you are in retail, pretty much everything starts slowing down mid month.

I figure I have eight weeks between Halloween and mid-December to finish up my year and start thinking about what’s coming on the work front, the home front, and the weather front.

I live in Newfoundland and Labrador so it’s not unusual for me to have five coats for six different kinds of weather and an almost equivalent number of boots. Rain boots, almost hip deep snow boots, walking on icy surfaces boots, shoeboots for dry, hard snow days, and sneaker boots for running to and from the car.

I realized in this plague year, I will need just as many metaphorical boots with which to stomp through whatever surprises 2021 chooses to fling at us. Perhaps rather than boots, what we need are mental shields to support our steadfast resilience, to deflect the metaphysical blows winter and the constantly evolving pandemic can bring, and to mirror good things like kindness, community building and love.

Image shows small grey Lego figure holding a shield against a descending sneaker heel. Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

While I might be more than ready to give 2020 the boot, I know these five things will matter more than ever.

I take time for myself and my priorities. I was discussing a work project with a colleague and they mentioned wanting it wrapped up by Dec. 31. I asked how wedded they were to that date. They said they could be flexible and suggested mid January. In past years, I would have worked myself ragged to get everything done by the 20th. This year I want to be sure I have the time I need to enjoy the holidays and the space to spend time with people in my bubble.

I make time to connect. In seven months, we’ve spent a lot of time apart because keeping to our bubble meant we kept the community safe. But being apart doesn’t mean we are out of touch. I’ve had my share of frustrations with social media and the Internet, but it has made it easier to keep in touch with and on top of what’s happening with others. Keeping those threads strong and tightly woven means feeling less alone, less untethered as we are buffeted by the things we cannot control.

I make time to notice what is around me. I hadn’t realized how important this was until I read this article earlier in the week. Written by Rick Hanson, the author of The Anxiety First Aid Kit, the article offers a list of useful suggestions on noticing the good things, the okay things, the all right things. rather then zeroing in on the bits that aren’t working, Hanson suggests focusing on what’s going right. He offers this mantra — I am all right, right now — as a way to focus and calm the anxious state in which we can find ourselves. Hanson concludes his excerpt with this: “Settling into this basic sense of okayness is a powerful way to build well-being and resources in your brain and being, and it’s a way of taking a stand for the truth.”

Image shows a patterned white wall with a pink pegboard rectangle with letters spelling out Kindness Matters. Photo by Dee @ Copper and Wild on Unsplash

I look for opportunities to make things better. There’s a dearth of kindness, of patience, of sharing humanity with others. People’s fuses are short and getting shorter by the day. It’s hard to smile when you are always wearing a mask. But there is still stuff you can do. This past fall, I’ve been having some problems with my car. I went to buy some oil, but forgot what kind I was supposed to get. The young fellow serving me said let’s go take a look and see what is written on the cap. He could have suggested I google it; he could have said he didn’t know. Instead he took time to explain in a kind way how I could find the information in the future should I forget again. Being kind takes little effort and makes such a difference.

I will always stand up. When I approach the squat bar, I know it is my training and committment that will ensure I will get back up, not just those words my trainer has stencilled there. I look at our world and I wonder how we manage to always get back up.

Sometimes I feel our kindness or humanity is like a muscle that has been supplanted — maybe by fear, anger, anxiety, an injury — who knows. But like any muscle, you can make it stronger by working it gently and consistently; you can repair it by training it carefully and thoughtfully.

Whether you call it practicing, training, coaching, or learning, making kindness a purposeful habit is really useful. Couple that with standing up for your values and your community. When I look back at 2020, it will be these insights I will focus on. What will you take from 2020 to keep you well in 2021?

MarthaFitat55 enjoys powerlifting, swimming and yoga. A longtime mental health advocate, Martha has spent considerable time this year thinking about how we can work on our mental fitness and maintain our mental wellness.

climbing · family · Guest Post · kids and exercise

Climbing with kids (Guest post)

by Jennifer Szende

I am a recreational climber. I bouldered through both of my pregnancies. As my pregnancy advanced, I gained weight and muscle mass in proportion to each other, or so it seemed at the time. My center of gravity shifted forwards, and my body shape pushed me farther away from the wall, but I was still able to move my body in this familiar way, in a familiar setting, even as my body became less and less familiar. I primarily shifted to traversing (climbing sideways, rather than upwards), and I down climbed rather than jumping on the few (very easy) vertical bouldering problems that I still felt comfortable on.

My first pregnancy was in parallel with Beth Rodden’s pregnancy, so from my second semester onwards, I was following her blog for posts about climbing when pregnant, and fortnightly interviews with climbers and mountaineers about their pregnancy experiences. The interviews gave me some previews of what postpartum climbing or climbing with kids might be like. I read about professional and amateur climbing mothers from around the world, and the variety of ways that climbing became part of their postpartum and family life. It gave me a little preview of the different ways that it might be difficult, but might still be possible to keep climbing once I had kids. The differences and diversities were as important as the similarities.

Even so, I was still surprised to experience a complete loss of technique and muscle tone postpartum, with both of my pregnancies. My climbing gym had a mother and baby climbing group with an instructor, which was a very positive experience for me, but essentially required me to learn how to climb all over again with what felt like a third unfamiliar body. Although I had climbed all through my pregnancy, I still experienced a significant loss of core and ab strength. Basically, stretching your abdominals outward for a prolonged period of time, or adding a substantial amount of weight that sits on your pelvic floor, changes those muscle groups one way or another. Climbing postpartum was difficult in unexpected ways. In terms of the logistics of climbing, there were two primary changes:

(1) I couldn’t use lower abs to raise my legs, especially on an overhanging climb, and

(2) I found it difficult to use core strength to keep myself on the wall.

Essentially, I had to learn how to climb with yet another new body (although this time it was on very little sleep and a base level of constant exhaustion). I found some resources to help me out. Beth Rodden’s postpartum posts continued, and chronicled her very difficult postpartum recovery. The relevant part of the blogosphere has grown in the past several years, and I think this advice is really sensible. Especially this: keep making plans, and keep trying, because “The more times you try, the more times you will actually get some climbing done”.

Here are some of the techniques that my mom and baby climbing class helped me develop:

  • Concentrate on volume rather than difficulty to begin with. I would aim to climb all of the easy climbs in the gym (V0 and V0- especially), and potentially climb them twice.
  • Climb as many (easy) problems as possible within a very short timer (e.g. 5 minutes) then do active rest for longer (7 minutes), and you will avoid ‘cooling down’ between climbing reps.
  • Reps on an easy climb (up and down) to build endurance.
  • Do some core and conditioning during rest periods (e.g. plank for 1 minute, V-sits, squats holding a baby, wall sits for 1 minute, piston squats, etc). Or, just do some kegels, if that works for you.
  • Mostly ignore overhanging problems until other techniques are back, although using overhanging problems for lower ab workout (basically reps of hang from straight arms and try to raise one or both legs) was a way to check in with conditioning.

Somewhere along the way, I read and heard about a number of people who took parental leave trips to climbing destinations. Two or three families in my climbing circle did extended road trips through Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Texas, Colorado, Utah, California, and other climbing destinations in the US. My partner was able to take an extended parental leave, and we ended up spending most of it in a series of climbing destinations. The highlight was spending nearly 2 months in Fontainebleau with an 8-9 month old, and it was motivating from the moment we booked the flight. Climbing with a baby in Font is such an absolute delight. (It was also an excellent lesson in comparative European parental leave policies.) There are guidebooks that rate climbing areas around Fontainebleau by stroller friendliness, list rest day activities by children’s ages, and highlight gites with high chair and crib availability. It was such a delight, in fact, that we have been back to Font 3 more times over the last several years, and we are not alone.

I think, essentially, that climbing postpartum made me feel like I was part of a community much more so than any other postpartum activity I did. I attended mom and baby yoga, caregiver and baby story time at the library, and a couple of different parent and baby community health groups. But climbing was the one where I felt the most connected to the other adults in the group. And, it turns out, that climbing with kids has given me access to another supportive community. 

Pregnant bouldering

Jenny Szende is a philosopher, writer, climber, cyclist, and mother based in Toronto.


What’s your drishti right now?

Anyone who practices yoga knows the feeling. You’re in a balancing posture — even something as simple as standing on one foot on your way to tree pose. You start to wobble, and the instructor tells you to focus on one spot on the floor. You focus on something — the instructor’s foot, a water bottle, something just outside the window, even a weird speck on the floor — and miraculously, you find your body stilling, balance suddenly possible.

(Photo credit — Wesley Tingey, Unsplash)

This practice of focusing on one spot in yoga is called drishti. As with everything yogic, there are multi-layered philosophical and spiritual implications to this concept — but the most important aspect for me is the notion that when you focus your gaze, the energy and alignment of your body follows. As the writer in that link puts it, “a steady, intentional gaze provokes the same steadiness in the body.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about drishti in a broader sense over the past few weeks. Most of my work is about helping people define an overarching sense of purpose for their work, for their lives, and to help them use that purpose to stay steady when there’s a lot of noise, to make decisions when they have to pare things down.

I had a really cranky week last week, for no obvious reason except that I’m super busy with work, which is more fatiguing in zoom than when there’s more incidental movement. And <waving hands and gesturing vaguely at the world>. But I found myself externalizing that crankiness in not-so-generative ways, culminating in a weird argument with my building manager about his habit of wearing his mask under his nose (we have a bylaw about masks in public spaces in our condo building). And then engaging others on my building’s facebook page about this. Which went about as well as you’d expect.

This? Not my best moment. Not my best self. Of course I’m “correct” about the fact that he’s not complying — but was that really the hill to die on? Was it really something I needed to throw my energy into?

Last week, I lost track of the things that are most important to me right now, the things that are my metaphorical drishti: build community; be present to my clients; get my work done with minimal fuss; keep moving my body; be present to my friends and loved ones; do some things that give me a sense of play. And when I lost track of them, I started to flail.

One of my clients made a comment yesterday that “it feels like it’s been a long pandemic.” The phrasing made me laugh — like “pandemic” is now a unit of time, an era. But I feel her comments on a spiritual level. March was a long time ago, and the days are getting darker and colder, where I live. Usually, travel plans for the winter keep me going through the Fall — and clearly, that’s not going to happen. It’s easy to lose my balance. But awareness — that’s the key.

The weight of all of this lifts a little when I see it, when I consider the greater intentions of drishti: Through drishti you can cultivate a deeper level of concentration, improve your alignment, and tune into the inner sensations of the body in every pose, so that you’re practicing the way the ancient sages intended—with full awareness.

I don’t know about the intentions of ancient sages, but I do know the value of full awareness, of concentrating on what I’m trying to do here. On the focus that will keep me in balance over the next few months: presence to what matters, and letting go of what doesn’t. Community, work, play and movement.

That feels better already.

What about you? What’s your drishti? How can this concept help you stay in balance?

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who lives and tries to stand on one foot in Toronto. Here she’s practicing tree in her standard zoom work outfit — photobombed by Emmylou.

fitness · media

Thanks BBC: “We’re BBC Sport, not BBC Men’s Sport”

Another quick update from the Land of Twitter.

BBC posts this.

Dude bro comments, “Any chance the Beeb can put out a separate thread solely for the WSL? I have no interest in it and some of the headlines are written as if it’s the men’s game. I appreciate those who follow WSL and intend no slight.”

But I love BBC’s reply.

Thank you BBC. Thank you.

I also love of the other suggestions that follow:

@LewesFCWomen: So please can you remove suffix ‘Women’ from BBC website after all team names in WSL/FA Women’s Championship (or add ‘Men’ to Prem League etc)? Teams themselves don’t add it on eg Lewes, not Lewes Women, Arsenal, not Arsenal Women etc. League name indicates male/female. Ta

0094@0oonthe: Yes but every time you talk about sport; let’s say football; You don’t say men’s football you just say football, then when you talk about women’s football you say women’s football

fitness · meditation

What 101 days of meditation does (and doesn’t do)

On July 13, I started meditating (again). Meditation has been an off-and-on thing in my life for the past 30 years. I got started courtesy of an MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) course I took in graduate school. We did eight weeks of skills development for using mindfulness to reduce stress and tolerate pain (in case of those with chronic illness). I have to say, it didn’t take. To say I was a bit resistant is an understatement. Maybe this illustrates it better:

One person walking upstairs, against the downstairs flow.

But something must’ve wedged itself in my subconscious, because a mere 10 years later, I took the course again. This time, I was wide open; I had just been denied tenure and was trying to figure out what I was going to do– apply for academic jobs, leave the field, run away… Nothing was certain. But, I discovered stability and grounding in sitting and breathing. That’s it– just sitting and breathing.

Fast forward a bunch of years, and I’m in an academic job I love (mostly), living in a place I love (completely, except for the traffic), and I’ve reintroduced yoga as a regular habit. Several of my yoga teachers use short meditations at the beginning or end of class, and I came to look forward to it. Sometimes I couldn’t settle– maybe I was hungry, or idly thinking about online shopping— but I got used to the quieting of my body, sitting, and focusing on the breath.

Still, meditation outside of class never made its way into my weekly schedule.

Until July 13, 2020.

I took a 4-day meditation workshop at 7:30 in the morning (which is the equivalent of 4:30am for most people) with yoga and meditation teacher Alex at Artemis, my beloved local yoga studio. I blogged about it here, saying what I learned in 10 days.

Now it’s day 101 of meditating every day. Really. I promised myself I would meditate each day, even if it meant doing a 3-minute meditation on the breath, or a meditation for sleep at bedtime (and in bed).

My life, post-100 days of straight meditation, is different. What has it done for me?

#1: When some emotion or feeling arises (sometimes feeling like a bus bearing down on me), I have some mental space between me and the feeling. That means I can now a) recognize that something’s happening; and b) take a moment and look at it to see what it is.

This is huge. Huge. HUGE.

#2: When I engage in the process outlined in #1, I focus on what this experience of whatever-it-is feels like in my body. I ask: a) where in my body is it? Throat? Belly? Head? Somewhere else? And then I ask: b) what does it feel like? Is it tingling? sharp pain? Pulsing or thrumming? Wavy? And then c) I take another moment to watch it, notice it. And what I notice is that it changes. Whatever feeling I have, it morphs, waxes, wanes, fades, dissolves, transitions to some other feeling.

This is really huge. Why? Because when I’m having an experience of, say, panic or shame or fear, I have somewhere to go, something to do. Which is:

  • Stop.
  • Breathe.
  • Notice.
  • Locate.
  • Identify.
  • Watch.
  • Then resume whatever I was doing.
  • Notice that nothing much happened.
  • But also notice that something tremendous happened.

Meditation isn’t a cure-all. It’s not even a cure-anything. It’s not about curing. Here is what it doesn’t do:

#1: Change me into a person who isn’t vulnerable to fear, panic, anxiety, shame, and other strong emotions that I struggle with.

I still experience strong feelings, and dealing with them takes time, medication, support from friends, family and therapist. Those activities are also important for self-care, and they’re not going away in this lifetime.

#2: Solve other behavior change aspirations I have and work on when I’ve got the oomph to deal with them. I’m not neater, more punctual, a better paperwork processor, or an everyday exerciser. Or if I am from time to time, it’s probably not because of meditation. It’s rather that I approach these aspirations and hopes and plans with a greater sense of awareness of my feelings around them, and self-compassion for the difficulties I have and have always had around them.

At the same time, I am happier, less judgmental of myself and others, and sold on the idea that daily sitting practice is indeed just what the doctor ordered. And that doctor is me.

Readers, if you meditate: what does it do for you? what doesn’t it do for you? I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have.


My Metabolic Age is WHAT??

CW: This post discusses weight, body fat measurements, etc.

As a general rule, I don’t get on the scale very often. I haven’t thrown it out and I can’t say I never get on it, but I consciously try not to go on too often and put too much stock in it. Last time I was at the doctor for my physical, when asked to get on the scale so that the nurse could measure my BMI, I explained why I didn’t think it was necessary. I don’t believe it provides a good picture of the condition of my health and there’s good scientific information widely available, to back me up. The problems with BMI have been written about many times in this blog. So many times, that I can’t link to all of them. I do like the simple advice, derived from an article in the Seattle Times that Sam points to in this post:

Regardless of weight the people with these four healthy habits had the lowest risk of early death.”

Take away: If it’s health that’s your goal work on these habits not your weight.

The four? Eat your vegetables. Don’t smoke. Drink in moderation only.  And exercise.”

So with that in mind, my husband purchased a new scale the other day. His sugar is slightly high and he’s exercising more, eating more vegetables, etc. and interested in these things right now. This scale measures body fat – RENPHO Bluetooth Body Fat Scale BMI Scale Smart Digital Bathroom Wireless Weight Scale. I was curious. Here is some information about the accuracy of these types of scales:

To use the scale to its full effect, you have to download Renpho’s app on your phone. Then when you step on the scale it measures your weight, BMI, Body Fat, Muscle Mass, and a whole bunch of other fat and muscle measurements. And, it tells you your Metabolic Age.

The first time my husband received his stats, he read them off to me. I did mine and said I would read everything to him except the weight. I still have an ingrained habit of keeping my weight a secret. I mean, I don’t want to have a lengthy discussion in person about my weight. There’s a difference in my mind having a discussion here and sharing information, and having a verbal conversation about it afterwards. I feel that way about a lot of my blog posts. But there was something in my “stats” that bugged me just a little. And instead of only sharing that part. I’m going to share it all. Because, I truly believe they are just stats. They are not indicators of good or bad or my worth in any way. In short, they are a not a big friggen deal! So the pics of these stats are below.

Yeah, I am well aware of what my weight and height mean in terms of BMI (not taking into account my athleticism, bone structure, etc.). I enjoyed all the green stats (whether I should or not) and then I saw the Metabolic Age number. 50. But, I’m 48, I exclaimed to Gavin!

Not that it matters, but when setting up the app, you enter your birth date. Like any good “savvy” person, I didn’t put my EXACT date. It’s off by 6 months. So the app already thinks I’m 6 months older than I am, but STILL. The app thinks my Metabolic Age is OLDER than I am?? I’m supposed to be good at this type of thing, I thought, quite irrationally and non-sensically.

Despite all the green and dark green, the orange in my weight/BMI make my Metabolic Age higher than my actual age. Should I care? Well, according to this article, “currently, there aren’t many peer-reviewed studies of metabolic age. It’s not a data point in research. Metabolic age isn’t something we talk about in the medical community. It does give insight into how you compare to others your age. The marker of the ultimate definition of health it is not.” Also, “Metabolic age is more of a fitness term than a medical one. It’s a way to compare your basal metabolic rate (BMR) to other people your age.”

I’m going to keep this post short, because that’s how much time I want to spend thinking about this matter. It’s interesting, but it’s not all that important. It’s one tiny nugget of information amongst many other bits of information.

Bottom line – I’m not going to focus on how these stats make me feel, good or bad. And now, I’m off to do my virtual workout and will let those stats flow through my brain like a butterfly that enters and then keeps flying away.

Have you used one of these scales? Thoughts?

Nicole P. is taking it day-by-day during this pandemic and trying not to be annoyed by people, while working, exercising, cooking nutritious meals, reading good books, and watching a lot of tv.
cycling · fitness · winter

Getting ready for winter cycling!

I’ve asked before–Is this the year to try snow biking?–and apparently lots of you are saying yes.

If you’re interested now might be the time to get ready. If you want lessons, I like the folks at Horse Shoe resort.

That said, you don’t need lessons. We thought it was a nice way to try out the bikes to see if we liked fat biking and get some tips on how to ride them. Riding around on wide local trails isn’t particularly technical. I love that the fat bike tires seem able to ride over just about anything. The one thing I do need/want are warmer winter boots for cycling. All the websites that sell them say that they are experiencing a much higher order volume than usual. Hmmm. Notice a trend?

Do you fat bike? Do you have boot recommendations? Send them my way.

Past posts on winter biking:

Fat bikes

Winter riding: Are you ready?

Fat biking: A photo essay

Happy Winter Bike to Work Day!

Riding in the cold and the snow: A how-to, complete with bonus fashion tips!

Fat Biking, Take Two (Or, Sam Learns How to Ride Through Really Deep Slush)

Winter Biking: So Hot Right Now! (Guest Post)

The seasons of cycling

Sam walking her fat snow bike across a skinny bridge. Other cyclists might have ridden it!
advertising · fitness · stereotypes

Girls’ hockey and promoting the sport: Some fun alternatives to USA Hockey

USA Hockey ran the following Twitter campaign to promote girls hockey and there were, as you might expect, some criticism. We shared the controversy here.

I loved some of the alternatives that people shared on Twitter.

Here are my faves:

Skates. Photo by Matthew Fournier, Unsplash.
Fit Feminists Answer · fitness

Christine Asks. The Fit Feminist Team Answers.

I generally know the what and the why of fitness-related things but I often get tangled up in the how. I overthink it or consider too many options or I just can’t figure out how to make all the pieces fit together.

So, I’ve taken to circumventing my brain loops by bringing my questions to the rest of the blogging team here at Fit is a Feminist Issue. I have gotten terrific and helpful answers that are based in how real people, living real lives, make these things work.

After reading everyone’s answers to a recent set of questions, the Team thought that our readers might find them useful, too. So, over the next few months, I’ll be sharing some of my questions and answers here on the blog.

The author, a white woman in her forties, with short light brown hair and wearing cat's-eye glasses looks bemusedly toward the camera.  3 questions marks are shown above her head and there is text that reads 'Christine Asks: Fit Feminists Answer'
When I bought these new reading glasses, I had to make the most of them by goofing around a little.

Here is the first part of a set of questions that I asked back in August. That was a while ago, so members of the team may have some updates for you in the comments. Please feel free to jump into the comments with your answers, too!

Is exercise automatically part of the rhythm of your day or do you have to ‘make time’ for it?

Natalie: Movement is, high intensity is not and if I don’t schedule it, it doesn’t happen.

Sam: I have three spots available for exercise–morning break, lunch, evening–and I usually use one or two of them.

Mina: Working out is almost like eating and sleeping for me now, so it is definitely part of my rhythm. I take one day off a week, but I’ll often “move” that day, if I know I’m going to be encountering a day when I absolutely can’t fit a workout in. 

Cate: A combination of both.  I assume I’m going to work out every day, but I don’t know what that will look like from day to day.   I schedule slots for Alex’ morning virtual superhero workout (830 M, W F and 730 on Tues) into my weekday calendar so no one books colliding meetings; I decide the night before if I am going to do it or not (I usually do).  I fit random other workouts in when I can – a run or yoga between meetings, a long walk before bed.  Covid means that I have to book things like spinning in advance, whereas in the past I did more of “hm, there’s a class at 530, I think I can fit that in today.”

Marjorie: I schedule my lifting days in advance.  And then in the morning, as I’m planning out my day, I decide where in the day I need to fit it in.  If I don’t do this, I will skip my lifting, now that’s it’s less fun and at home.  (Pre-pandemic, the risk was getting overscheduled, so I had to plan in advance or risk having no time to get into the gym.)  I schedule which mornings I will run, too, and that always happens after breakfast.  I take a daily walk, and I have no trouble making this happen almost every day without much planning on my part.  It is what I do before dinner.  

Tracy: It’s part of the rhythm of my day but I make a rough plan the day before of when and what I plan to do the next day.

Nicole: I have scheduled exercise into my days/weeks for many years. Because it has been scheduled as such, it has become part of the rhythm of my day. So a bit of both.

Martha: I believe I was a sloth in a former life. As a result, I have to make time and schedule it otherwise I don’t do it.

What things do you put in place in advance to make sure you can exercise when you want/need to?

Natalie: A clean space, the right clothes (go all day leggings!) and a plan

Sam: I schedule rides and races on Zwift as the fixed points on my schedule and work around those. I lift weights, use resistance bands, or TRX at lunch. Walk Cheddar in the morning. Yoga is always an evening thing.

Mina: Moving my day off, as I mentioned above. I have the luxury of being able to have a say in a lot of what gets scheduled in my day, so I make sure I leave time. But if I get squeezed, then I’ll get up extra early.

Cate:  The most important is making sure the people who manage my calendar don’t book over the class times I might want to do, so I have recurring times in my calendar whether I work out in them or not.

Marjorie: On lifting days when I feel myself dragging, I will put on my lifting clothes far in advance.  I feel silly wearing tights and a sports bra for hours without any purpose, so that makes it far more likely I’ll get it done.

Tracy: For an early morning workout I set my clothes out ahead of time to make the morning easier.

Nicole: I am all about routine. I book classes in advance on the days I usually do certain classes and I mentally book certain days/times that are my usual times for certain things – i.e. Saturday mornings are always Conditioning workout. Sunday mornings are always my long run day.

Martha: I block out the time in my calendar four months in advance.

When do you exercise and why did you pick that time?

Natalie:  The morning before I run out of self discipline.

Sam: It’s the time I have! My workday starts at 8 and I’m often working until 7 or 8. Long days. But I always take lunch and I usually take breaks in the morning and afternoon.

Mina: I’m a bit all over the place, because I have a flexible schedule. I love a workout before breakfast, but I also like sleep, so that’s not always possible. And when I’m signed up for a class (now on Zoom), I worry less about a workout later in the day, because I know the class-ness (and cost)  of the workout will inspire me to attend.

Cate: I am not an early morning person – my ideal time to work out is like 11 am, after I’ve been awake and fed and digested and mobilized for a while and need a little break.  However that rarely works – sometimes I can fit a run in then.  So I compromise with pre-work virtual classes (730 still feels early most days), runs throughout the day if I can fit them in and post-work classes.  I rarely manage to actually work out in the evening if I don’t book something or commit to it with a friend.  

For me food is kind of tricky – I need to have some food in me, but I think I digest slowly, so I can’t eat lunch and go for a run or spinning an hour later.  Similarly if I’m doing a class at night I can’t eat dinner first – I end up feeling nauseated.

Marjorie: (answered in part in Q1 plus the following comment) Cate, I really relate to what you say about timing exercise around food! I have to do it just right to feel good–enough food to give me energy, not too much (or too soon) or it can lead to indigestion. Running requires the most care, so I always do it the same–eat a lower fiber, lower fat breakfast (less fruit, butter, etc, than usual), then wait until my body tells me it’s digested enough that I can safely head out without distress.

Tracy: I like to exercise first thing, at 6 or 7 or 7:30 a.m., the earlier the better. I do that because it gives me a sense of accomplishment before I’ve even had breakfast. And also, with running, I go early in the summer because otherwise it’s too hot. But I can and do exercise at different times of day, like at the end of the work day or at lunch.  The only time I don’t workout is in the evening after dinner, unless a wind-down yoga class.

Nicole: I prefer working out in the morning, or earlier in the day, whenever possible. I find it benefits me for the rest of the day if I exercise in the morning and I like the feeling that it is done for the day. If I can’t for some reason, I will schedule it later in the day, but that is a back-up. One exception to this is a long walk at the end of the day. It’s “easy” and therefore welcome at the end of the day.

Martha: I prefer the mornings. If I have it in first thing, it gets done.