Do the thing!

Do the thing is an expression my friends and I often use when egging each other (and ourselves) to push boundaries. Like them (and many of the contributors to this blog) I overthink things to the point I chicken out.

This year, I had four cycling goals. One was to bike out to visit my parents, 25 km away. That would be a significant distance increase for me, and there are some scary 80 km/hour roads where everyone speeds – I was not convinced that Google was telling the truth about their rideability. It was mid-September. Time was running out.

On Saturday I had plans to join the Critical Mass Ride in downtown Ottawa, followed by a potluck for Bike Ottawa members in a park. The park is almost half-way to my parents’ house, and going home so I could drive there would take as long as biking directly. Getting home was an entirely different matter and I chose not to think too much about it.

I packed some extra snacks, water and my cycling shorts just in case I decided to do the thing. And my bus pass in case I decided that I couldn’t bike all the way home. When the potluck broke up, folks started planning to go on a 15 km ride that would largely follow my route home. I knew I could easily do that ride. Google told me that it was exactly the same distance as to my parents’ house. Time to stop thinking about it and just do the thing.

I did the thing!

Diane in a blue shirt and wearing her blue and white bike helmet stands beneath a sign for the street where her parents live.

I even did the thing going back home. It took an hour and 25 minutes on the return ride. That’s triple the fastest car ride, but way more fun. How often do you have complete strangers chat with you at a crosswalk when you’re in a car? How often do you notice an entire flock of turkeys on someone’s lawn (and can safely stop for a photo)?

A large brick house with five wild turkeys on the front lawn

I have written before about how riding a bike has made the world both bigger and smaller. I have new experiences, but also learn that things aren’t nearly as far away as they had seemed.

I rode 65 km, something I haven’t done in over 40 years. The roads I was afraid of turned out to have nice wide shoulders most of the way. I feel pretty darned good and I am confident about doing that ride again whenever the weather is nice.

Whatever your big fitness, health or life goal may be, do the thing! You might be pleasantly surprised at how great it feels.

challenge · fitness

Catherine’s 223 workout challenge update

I’ve written a lot on this blog about movement challenges. I used to hate them– I forget why, but luckily I could look it up, as I wrote a post about it here in 2017. And I wrote another on here in 2018. In it, I wrote this:

I’ve taken on fitness challenges without thinking seriously about how I’ll make the time for them. Then, once scheduling conflicts hit, I’m unprepared for what to do.  And what do I do? Feel angry at the restrictions imposed on me, feel shame when I don’t complete the task, and feel isolated from my friends who are (from my perspective) humming along with their challenge. This is a recipe for emotional meltdown or shutdown (take your pick). It’s no wonder I’ve always hated them.

And yet I continued to be drawn to them. I joined the 218 workouts in 2018 Facebook Group, and finished my 218th workout on December 30 of that year. Not wanting my accomplishment to waste its sweetness in the desert air, I wrote about it here.

Turns out, that year started a trend on my part of finishing up my yearly FB group challenge of 2XX workouts in 20XX (done in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022) on the last or next-to-last day of the year. And of course I documented these for fitness posterity on the blog here, here,and here. In each post, I talked about being a just-in-time delivery gal, joking about soggy dog walks in late December, and finally making it over the finish line. Honestly, not such happy reports, given that I in fact finished the challenges.

Which takes me to 2023. As of today (Sept 20), I’m at 176 out of 223 workouts for 2023. This leaves me… chick-a-chick-a-chick-a-chick-a… (sound of mental calculation, FYI) 47 workouts left to make my goal. And I have… (insert whatever sound you like reflective of subtraction) 103 days left to do them.

How did this happen? How did I get more workouts done this year than the previous years? I think there are a few reasons. I did a lot of activity with friends (and family, and friends’ dogs and family’s dogs) this year. My big priority for the summer was to spend time with the people I care about, and for the most part it worked out. Injury got in the way of my trip to Canada, but as Arnold Schwarzenegger says in Terminator, “I’ll be back.”

I also traveled more this year, by car and plane, and did active fun things at my destinations. I’m going to a conference in Atlanta in November, and will be doing some active activities while I’m not sitting in sessions.

Finally, I’ve been in physical therapy for about a month for sciatica. I’m feeling a lot better and stronger. Yay! I’m also doing PT exercises at home regularly to keep that trend going.

Of course, anything can happen, and I don’t for a minute doubt my capacity for procrastination. However, I’ll take this moment and say I’m happy with how things are going. You, dear readers, will be among the first to hear when I cross that 223 workout finish line. Until then, I’ll keep it moving, moving.


Does a Fancy Women Bike Ride Make Sense?

September 17 was the day of the Fancy Women Bike Ride around the world. This year, there were rides in over 200 cities.

Riding with a group of women can be a joyous occasion, as you can see from the video of this year’s ride in Izmir, Turkey, where it all began in 2013.

After the ride though, our local organizer commented that she wasn’t entirely comfortable with the name. Did it exclude people who didn’t want to dress up, or didn’t feel they had anything fancy enough to wear?

That led to a lively discussion among participants about the merits of dressing in different ways as a safety measure. Many of us had found that being super femme was protective. Drivers tended to give us more space. One woman noted that going from a gender-neutral coat to something more fitted and colourful had a noticeable impact on drivers around her.

However, this doesn’t always work. Female cyclists face harassment and bad driving at twice the rate of male cyclists, according to one study. They are particularly vulnerable to close passes and dooring because they tend to keep to the side of the road. But if they take the lane, they are sometimes threatened by aggressive drivers. Anecdotally, this was the experience in our group too.

Even within our group, some felt more vulnerable than others. The local organizer of Black Girls Do Bike rides said there just aren’t many women like her on the road so it always feels a bit uncomfortable. The woman who organizes rides focused on safety for kids (and brought her two along). The trans women who arrived at the last possible moment, hung back on the ride, and didn’t join the discussion until they heard us talking about “female presenting” cyclists.

My very unscientific answer to whether we need a Fancy Women Bike Ride is yes. It’s not just for women in places where riding is relatively safe for them. It’s for women who are marginalized in our community, and for women in communities where women are marginalized. It’s for women who don’t want to be fancy but want to be safe moving around on a bicycle. And it’s for women like me who see being fancy as part of their subversive feminism and celebrate the pink.

A group of women on the Ottawa ride stopped for a picture with their bikes in an urban area. They are wearing regular clothes and shoes instead of riding gear and sneakers.

Bicycles lined up beside an ice cream truck where we ended our ride. feminism, fitness and ice cream – it doesn’t get any better than this.

Dian Harper lives and swims (and cycles) in Ottawa.


Christine’s wrist-spy is not a double agent

I was sick last week and started hunting around for some sort of ‘sick day’ mode on my wrist-spy (a.k.a. my Apple watch.) I was hoping to find an easy way to stop all of my fitness reminders from going off and to put my various habit and goal trackers on hold for the day.

When I couldn’t find a sick mode, I did an online search and quickly discovered that there *is* no sick mode. And that, apparently, a lot of experts feel that the Apple watch’s reminders and streak-based tracking can be harmful for people, creating an expectation that the wearers will push themselves harder and harder and that they won’t have rest days.

I totally understand their concerns. In other contexts, I have often fallen victim to the sort of pass/fail mindset that they are referring to and I can see why the streak-based tracking and the regular suggestions to increase your goals can lead to that sort of trap

Luckily, however, my wrist-spy doesn’t tip me into that sort of thinking.

(Your mileage may vary, of course, but this is between me and my wrist-spy. Please do what works for you.)

You see, my wrist-spy is spying on me FOR ME.

Its job is to keep track of things that I want to keep track of but that I struggle to write down or plan because my ADHD brain finds too boring to record.

I don’t think of it as a double-agent, pretending to work for me but really working for the fitness industry, reporting my less-than-perfect scores to some authority that will judge me against a professional athlete.

So, I use the information it gives me for encouragement and for motivation but if I can’t follow my plan on a given day then I enact the Rita Rudner rule:

credit: AZ Quotes Image description: a photo of comedienne Rita Rudner’s face on the left hand side and on the right is a black rectangle with white text in the centre that reads ‘I never panic when I get lost. I just change where it is I want to go. – Rita Rudner -” and below that is white and yellow text that reads ‘AZ Quotes’

What does this have to do with my fitness tracking?

Well, I don’t panic if I can’t reach my planned fitness destination – I change my destination!

If I have had a hell of a day and I can’t meet my stand goal? I change my stand goal.

If my suggested fitness minutes are overwhelming today? I change my fitness goal to something that feels reasonable.

If my move goal is impossible? I dial that number back until it feels doable.

Yeah, I know that some of you might see that as ‘cheating’ but here’s how I see it:

My wrist-spy’s job is to help me see trends in my activities so I can make changes that help me feel good overall.

I feel encouraged by the trends in my fitness (and by streaks of activity) but I recognize that ‘doing what I can’ is going to look different on different days.

However, my wrist-spy has no way of knowing how I am feeling or how busy I am on a given day.

Changing my goals for that day lets me adjust for the fact that the numbers for ‘what I can’ may look different from day to day without having to lose the momentum I feel when I see notifications like these:

a photo of an Apple Watch on a person's wrist. The text on the screen says 'Achievement Longest Move Streak' and 'Goal Achieved.'
image description: a photo of the screen of my wrist-spy showing two notifications, one that reads ‘Achievement Longest Move Streak’ and one that reads ‘Goal Achieved.’ My left wrist and the green strap of my watch are the background of the photo.

Making needed, temporary changes in the goals that my wrist-spy tracks helps me keep my eye on the big picture, on my true goals – lots of movement, increased mobility, an overall feeling of well-being – instead of getting tangled in the idea that I have to have the same capacity every single day.

I don’t change my goals often. I think I have maybe done it three times in the 10 months that I have had my wrist-spy. However, knowing that I *can* change them lets today-me be in charge of my goals instead of letting yesterday-me make all the decisions. And for me, that strikes the perfect balance between choice and momentum without ever making me feeling like I am being dragged into something I don’t want to do.

So, last week, even though I couldn’t engage ‘sick mode’ on my watch, I didn’t let my wrist-spy’s reports get into the wrong hands. As my spy’s handler, I made the file ‘eyes only’ and managed the data in the way I saw fit.

And by all of that, I mean that I adjusted my goals to match my situation that day and it all turned out just fine.

fitness · season transitions · Seasonal sadness

Sam is setting some September intentions

Okay, it’s 18 days in. But September is blazing by so fast!

I’m responding to my friend Todd’s challenge and setting some September intentions. We both struggle with winter though our reasons aren’t exactly the same. I’ve made my peace with the cold and the snow and for me, it’s mostly about the dark. Todd has it worse, I think, not liking either!

Here’s his post.

Here’s my September intentions:

🍁 Add in one Zwift training session and one long ride a week.

🍁 Now that I can hike, find places to walk with Cheddar that are new. It’s part of my “get to know Guelph” better plan.

🍁 Try one new class at the fancy gym.

I’ve got a longer more detailed plan for the winter and fitness but I like the idea of starting with 3 concrete September things!


Are Functional Mushrooms really “all that”?

It’s not a new thing that functional (medicinal) mushrooms are trendy. A couple years ago, a barista was promoting a new line of coffee to me which included different types of mushrooms that claimed to cure a number of ails. I tried a bit for about a month and shrugged it off as a fad and one that didn’t seem to deliver what it purported to do (for me). There was Cordyceps for “Performance” (mood and energy boosting!) and Chaga for “immune boosting” and “anti-inflammatory properties”. Lion’s Mane for “regulating blood pressure”. These coffee blends didn’t taste as good as the beans I usually enjoy and I didn’t notice any “stress relief” or “mood elevation”.

Whenever I feel tempted by the pitch before me, in spite of my innate skepticism, I do a quick search online to see if there are any worrying side effects and there didn’t seem to be anything too troublesome. I also recall ordering a latte at another joint offering the beneficial properties of these “magic” mushrooms (who doesn’t feel tempted by “hormone balancing” and “anxiety relieving” claims at 50-something?). Unfortunately, that magic latte made me feel a little nauseous afterwords and it seemed to spur on a hot flash well before I was getting them regularly. Perhaps, my body’s way of saying “JUST STOP WITH THIS SHIT”? I opted to stick with my usual Americano from then on (still, always magical for me).

Medicinal mushrooms fall into the category called “Adaptogens”. According to UCLA Health, “Adaptogens” are “herbs, roots and other plant substances (like mushrooms) that help our bodies manage stress and restore balance after a stressful situation“. Full disclosure, I have been taking maca for years, which is apparently an adaptogen. Am I leery of the claims made about maca? Yes. Do I still take them because I haven’t noticed any ill side-effects and they were recommended to me years ago by a naturopathic doctor and I am a creature of habit. Yes. Am I wasting my money taking maca? Possibly?

The other day I noticed someone on LinkedIn, of all places, promoting her company’s (“healthy fat chocolate”) partnership with a medicinal mushroom company. The post on LinkedIn claimed the following:

Adaptogens are hot and here’s why:

– they help us manage stress
– maintain balance (homeostasis)
– strengthen our internal systems which
– promotes vitality
– stabilizes mood
– improves focus and performance

I was somewhat surprised to see such emphatic claims by a successful CEO on LinkedIn. It kind of irked me. The absolutism of this type of marketing led me to do a quick search “proper science about medicinal mushrooms”. I’ll admit, “proper”, isn’t a scientific term.

I found an article from “Harvard School of Public Health” about the nutritional benefits of regular mushrooms (not medicinal), in general. I found a Guardian article from 2019 that discusses some of the promises of medicinal mushrooms, that are still being studied, but the line that stood out from this article was “There’s a dearth of evidence from clinical trials on whether those varieties help prevent or treat disease in humans.”

Of course, there are number of questionable “science journals” that talk about the benefits as if they have been proven but I couldn’t find anything from what I would think of as reputable sources that confirm the science behind the claims.

I am not a scientist and I didn’t do extensive research. Medicinal mushrooms may have promising benefits. They may not. Like most “wellness” marketing, the claims appear to be over the top to me and I don’t see myself jumping on the bandwagon in any real way, any time soon. I would suggest caution even in the face of slick business marketing.

What do you think? Are you sold on the magic of mushrooms? I’m sure there are many who disagree with me. Perhaps, who even have science to back them up.

Nicole P. on a stress-relieving jog around Chicago’s lakefront path on a quick trip recently.

cycling · fitness · habits · schedule · season transitions · training

Rebuilding fitness: Sam is planning the winter ahead

As Amy recently commented here on the blog, for many of us, September feels like the start of the new year. It’s definitely the end of summer. It’s time for a return to a more scheduled way of living, and maybe, just maybe, time for some new routines.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about fitness plans and ambitions and how to fit all of that into my big job and very busy family life.

This weekend, I’ve been thinking about it while visiting my son, who works at a resort in Whitney, Ontario, on the edge of Algonquin Park. The fall colours are further along here and it’s more easy to believe winter is around the corner.

I’ve also been admiring family fitness while we’re together. My youngest son, 25, is in impossibly better shape than me. But my mother, 80, also looks pretty good. We went hiking both weekend days. We did a very steep rocky hike Sunday, and I was impressed with my mum’s stamina. I was also impressed with my new knees. Going down was tough, but I made it. This is all very exciting for me. Just 13 months ago, I couldn’t walk enough to get groceries on my own.

Here’s some hiking photos:

Saturday’s hike to the rock on the bear trail

Hike on the bear trail

Sunday’s hike on the Lookout Trail

Lookout Trail

So what’s my winter plan?

Here’s what I’m doing now:

❄️ I’m doing lots of everyday riding, commuting to work, and biking to physio. I’ve got my charging station set up for lights now that some of the riding will be in the dark.

❄️ Physio twice a week in the evenings, still working on flexion and extension, mobility, and balance. One practical thing we’re working on now is getting up off the floor, not using my hands.

❄️ Dog walking is back on the menu this fall with my new knees. Cheddar loves that we can walk further these days.

❄️ I see a personal trainer once a week for strength training. There’s a lot of kettle bells, squatting, mobility exercises focused on my knee, and sled pushing and pulling.

❄️ Finally, there’s some random everyday exercising. We have a TRX at home, which I use a few times a week. There’s a rowing machine. I’ve got a yoga mat at home and at my office for physio, with some resistance bands to make things more challenging.

So that’s all well and good, but what’s missing? What do I want to add to this?

❄️ I ended the summer with 40 km as my longest ride. I want to get back to long rides, and to Zwift racing. To do that, I need to work on my cardio fitness, which has taken a hit during this year of surgery and recovery.

The plan is to add two to three Zwift sessions a week, not just riding but using the Zwift build me up training plans. I’ll make one of the rides a long ride to increase endurance.

❄️ Once a week personal training is great, but I’d like a more regular, consistent approach to strength training over the winter.

My plan is to fit in a couple of more sessions at the gym on my own, focusing on movements that complement the work I’m doing with the trainer.

❄️ I’m still trying to sort out what I’m doing at the fancy new gym, and I’m not there yet.

A fall goal is to try out a range of their classes and make some part of my regular schedule. Maybe restorative yoga. Maybe anti-gravity yoga. The main purpose here is winter fun and avoiding boredom.

Here’s a rough weekly schedule, which doesn’t include the everyday stuff like bike commutes or dog walks.

Monday evening physio

Tuesday morning weights at gym + evening Zwift training plan

Wednesday evening physio

Thursday morning personal training + evening Zwift training plan

Friday off or something fun

Saturday long ride on Zwift

Sunday weights at gym

Here’s a Canadian version of a meme that’s making the rounds.

If August went by pretty quick, September is doing 100 km/hr in a 40 km/hr zone.

Wish me luck! It feels good to have a plan heading into the winter.

fitness · season transitions

Catherine has a week of many transitions and lives to tell the tale

Hi readers– if you’ve been following my recent posts, you’ll know I was in northern California for nine days, traveling with my sister Elizabeth and also giving a talk at a conference (the Public Philosophy Network). So, this past week was my first week of fall teaching, beginning a day after shifting to Eastern Standard Time from Pacific Time. I have to say, the jet lag made me very drowsy and also hungry at inconvenient times.

In addition, I recently decided to quit taking my medication for ADHD (I was diagnosed at age 55!) because it was causing me more anxiety and energy level drops. I did this in consultation with my doctor and therapist. This means that I don’t have the chemically-induced increased focus and concentration that Ritalin gives me. However, in the past few months I’ve been developing some behavioral strategies to help me be more productive and on-task, like setting alarms on my phone to help with transitions (there’s that word again) during the day and also making micro-lists of no more than three things to do, broken down into small tasks. Then lather, rinse, repeat during the day if needed.

Of course, keeping to a regular meditation schedule also helps me enormously with calm and focus and perspective. As does regular exercise and time in nature.

The seasonal shift to fall is always huge for academics, even though in many ways we welcome it. I’m enjoying getting to know my new students and I like my classes so far. It’s nice to see colleagues and students on campus, too. But it means big changes in my week, from sleep schedule to eating to exercise.

I’m also still in physical therapy for sciatica, which I can happily report is getting better. But I’m not done yet, and we’ve entered a more physically demanding phase of exercises. Fitting that in during my work week has been challenging.

All that said, it’s Sunday morning, and I’ve made it through the week. Another week is coming, and it won’t be so transition-y. That’s the way these things go.

Readers, are you in the midst of fall transitions? What sorts of changes are you going through? Are they hard, easy, new, familiar? I’d love to hear from you.

Dancing · fitness · Guest Post

Dance Like You’re Watching

On a March evening in 2020, I stood in front of a mirror and inspected my outfit. The shiny faux leather pants and ruby red, sequin-covered asymmetrical top was not part of my usual wardrobe, but I had to admit that I loved the spicy vibe of my reflection. My hair was slicked back in a half-updo, and my makeup was begging for a night out. While I wasn’t about to go out to the club, I was going to satisfy my efforts by taking my ruby lips to the dance studio for some professional photos.

My outfit from the 2020 dance class.
A red sequined sleeveless top is draped over a folded pair of black faux leather pants. A pair of black jazz shoes are crossed and are positioned on top of the draped top.
My outfit from the 2020 dance class.
A red sequined sleeveless top is draped over a folded pair of black faux leather pants. A pair of black jazz shoes are crossed and are positioned on top of the draped top.

Six months earlier, my sister and I had enrolled in an adult jazz dance class. Both of us had danced when we were younger, and, even though I was 12 the last time that I performed a jazz routine, at 29 I found myself anxiously excited to be hitting the dance floor again. Thankfully, the other ladies, all of whom were wives and mothers, were of similar expertise. And, thankfully, my jazz shoes from 17 years prior still fit.  

The photography session signified the beginning of dance festival season. Our group was working hard at getting our routine down for our first performance. We were slotted for Saturday, March 21 at 7:40 PM—the last slot of the evening. This is notable because this meant that the only people left in the audience to watch us would be the dance teams that made it to the Showcase. If you are a stranger to the dance world, the Showcase is the portion of the show where high-ranking dance teams get to perform an extra time. Our slot was right before the Showcase, so the theatre would be filled with the most passionate and skilled dancers of the festival.

For a group of adult ladies whose days were filled with prioritizing the well-being and success of our family members, being the center of attention on a stage in front of a passionate audience was a daunting concept. It would have been easy for one of us, or even all of us, to back down from the opportunity. We didn’t need to be on display or to prove our worth to a crowd of strangers. We could keep our private dance class as our escape-from-domestic-duties success story.

I don’t know what it was that drove us all to accept the festival invitation. Perhaps it was an internal desire to be more than what our lives as moms and wives were dictating for us. Perhaps it was the song that our dance instructor chose for us. Perhaps it was both.

The song? Jennifer Lopez’s “Ain’t Your Mama.” I don’t think our instructor knew the significance of her song choice, though perhaps she was more perceptive than what I gave her credit for. The lyrics portray a woman expressing to her spouse that she will no longer be the sole-carrier of their domestic and relational responsibilities—she would no longer act as his mother.

It was relatable subject matter. Even if our husbands weren’t helpless like the man in the lyrics, we could all relate to the mental exhaustion that comes from mothering. Not only do women have the societal pressure to be the perfect wife and mother, but they also have the pressure of bearing it all without complaining. The perfect wife and mother is someone who absorbs the mental load of her family and carries the responsibilities of being a household manager with the ease of a business woman carrying a briefcase into a high-rise. Unfortunately, as we mamas frequently discussed at dance class, reality makes this perfection unattainable.

And that’s okay. The writers of J-Lo’s song offer another option for women. We don’t have to carry the weight ourselves. We can carry the briefcase while our husbands carry the grocery bags and our children carry their own backpacks. Perhaps performing at the festival meant that we could normalize that type of reality for ourselves and the audience, most of whom were bound to be mothers.

But it was not to be.

Based on the date mentioned at the beginning, you can conjecture what happened to our festival plans.

“Effective immediately The Arden Theatre is postponing and/or cancelling all shows and events in the theatre until April 29…Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we all navigate this unexpected and unfortunate situation.”

Facebook post by the Arden Theatre, March 13, 2020.

That was it. The show would not go on.

While part of me was relieved to not perform in front of a dance-loving audience, another part of me mourned. The months of learning choreography and honing each dance move with countless across-the-floor exercises had been enjoyable. There was delight in knowing us women chose to spend our precious time with each other among mirrored walls and ballet bars. At the end of every class, we stretched in silence, feeling too exhausted to talk. Yet, when it was time to leave, we all departed with notes of assurance that we would see each other the following week. Performing with these ladies to “Ain’t Your Mama” would have been a empowering experience. I would have loved envisioning myself as a spectator watching a group of women own their independence and worth. I would have danced like I was proudly watching myself.

While my short time in that dance class had ended in a less-than-ideal way, I don’t regret it. I am proud of myself for taking the time to step out of my day-to-day, spend time with my sister, and participate in a group activity that offered fitness and fellowship.

So, if the opportunity to join an adult dance class presents itself, may I encourage you to extend a jazz hand and seize it. Even if you don’t end up performing or dancing to J-Lo, it can be a richly rewarding experience.

Stephanie Morris is a transcriptionist and writer based in Alberta, Canada. She is a wife, a mom of two, and a newcomer to the career-writing world. As a fancier of history and literature, she aspires to blend the two in fiction and nonfiction pieces. To follow Stephanie’s writing adventures, find her at @words.and.smores on Instagram.


Halfway there… Or is it a new year already?

As a professor the start of a new year can sometimes feel like a brand new year. But for me it always feels a bit betwixt and between – my heart feels the hope and possibility springing forth in a new semester while my brain is singing “whoa, we’re halfway there… whoa, we’re living on a prayer…”  

The start of a new semester always brings up a feeling of reflection for me. I am thinking about previous semesters, wondering how our alums are doing out in the world, prepping courses and making changes to update the curriculum, etc. It’s also a good time to think about fitness for me.  

I typically prep my schedule for the first few weeks in advance, as much as is possible. I block out time for workouts, mental health breaks, and time with supportive friends and loved ones. And then week one hits and I have to remember the old saying “(wo)man plans, God(ess) laughs.” Week one hits and it feels like we are off to the races.

In my new-ish role as department chair I spent a lot of that first week getting other folks (students, faculty, etc) settled into the semester. There are also an incredible amount of meetings coming back into those first weeks, especially if you’re somewhere that faculty are “off contract” (aka not paid to work) over the summer.  

For me, the absolute best thing to do is to hold to my schedule and get some movement in to each day, whether it’s a walk around campus or a workout in my basement gym. It helps me feel grounded and keeps some of the “things still to do” doom-loop at a minimum.  

You know where this is going, right?! I have done almost no intentional movement since school started 10 days ago. I showed up for a scheduled workout with my trainer and I virtually “met” a friend for a spin class over the weekend. After each of these sessions I felt good. Strong. Clear-headed. I told myself that I wanted more of this feeling and I needed to protect more time to get movement into my day. And then I promptly laid down to take a nap.  

It is what it is, friends. Some days are hard. Some weeks (months and years too) are hard and we need to get through them however we can. I know that intentional movement will come back to me. When I look at bike mileage stats from previous years I often see a dip for Sept and a surge from October through the end of the year. I feel fine giving myself a little grace right now.  

a koala napping in a tree
Photo by Cris Saur on Unsplash

As we discuss here all the time, fitness has many elements. Sometimes we prioritize rest to get the best improvement in our overall health, and sometimes we prioritize movement. My anecdotal data tells me that it is hard to prioritize both at the same time, but it is a goal I keep trying to meet.  

How is your September shaping up? Are you settling in to a new routine as fall approaches or is it same as always in your world?  

Amy Smith is a professor of Media & Communication and a communication consultant who lives north of Boston. Her research interests include gender communication and community building. Amy spends her movement time riding the basement bicycle to nowhere, walking her two dogs, and waiting for it to get warm enough for outdoor swimming in New England.