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.

 

Is *anything* having to do with the SI swimsuit issue a “breath of fresh air”?

Last week we talked about the way the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue included 63 year old Christie Brinkley. See “Because if Christie Brinkley can pull it off, so can anyone, right?”. That one generated a lot of intense feelings on both sides. But by far the most frequent response was a lament that the swimsuit issue is still a thing. One of the more striking comments, I thought, was a reader who said that “When I saw this on TV, I couldn’t help but to think that a 63-year-old mother ought to have weightier values to pass on to her daughters than posing in bikinis for a famous magazine.”

This sums it up for me too. Aren’t there other values we want to be passing on to the next generation? Well, the swimsuit issue has been back in the news in recent days on two fronts.

First, take “Hunter McGrady is a breath of fresh air in the in SI’s Swimsuit Edition.”

This color image shows swimsuit model Hunter McGrady, a white

Image dscription: This color image shows swimsuit model Hunter McGrady, a white “plus-sized” woman with long blond, wet hair, lying on her side on a white sandy beach, propped up on her right arm with her left arm in front for further support. She wears a colorful one-piece swimsuit that is painted onto her body, showing ample breasts, curvy hips, and glistening skin. the words “Sports Illustrated” appear in the lower right corner of the image. Photo Credit: Josephine Clough, Sports Illustrated

What’s the story here? Hunter McGrady is a gorgeous woman with curves. Her photo shoot for the issue has her posing on a beach in a body paint swimsuit. Yes, she looks stunning and sexy and comfortable in her skin. And yes she defies most of our expectations about who “deserves” (I use this word cautiously) to be featured in this edition of the magazine.

Like Brinkley who wanted to send a message to older women everywhere, McGrady has a larger public service in mind. She says: “My main goal is to get across to women that you are able to love your body at any size and that you’re sexy and beautiful at any size. Beauty is not a size and I’m really happy that the industry is accepting body diversity.”

Next is Serena Williams. She is by all accounts one of the most formidable female athletes of our time and the top tennis player of all-time (maybe Roger Federer is close).

In this colour picture tennis star Serene Wiliams, a black woman with long dark hair, poses on a beach in a one piece ocean blue swimsuit. She is standing with her head thrown back, muscular arms up over her chest, back slightly arched. There is white sand, calm surf, turquoise water, and blue sky with a few white clouds on this sunny day. Some greenery in the distance. The words

Image description: In this colour picture tennis star Serene Wiliams, a black woman with long dark hair, poses on a beach in a one piece ocean blue swimsuit. She is standing with her head thrown back, muscular arms up over her chest, back slightly arched. There is white sand, calm surf, turquoise water, and blue sky with a few white clouds on this sunny day. Some greenery in the distance. The words “Sports Illustrated” appear in the lower right corner of the image.

So while it’s heartening to read “Holy Moly, Serena Williams Is a Goddess in Sports Illustrated” in the sense that she defies type with her  athletic body and dark skin, I can’t say I was thrilled to see her reduced to a sex object.

On Facebook, my first reaction to the McGrady news was this:

I’m also torn about this. Similar to including Christie Brinkley at 63 (which we blogged about last week https://fitisafeministissue.com/…/because-if-christie…/) it’s tough to think of it anything having to do with the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition as a huge win for women. It’s so very heteronormative and objectifying. Yes, the depictions are beautiful, but in an extremely “male gaze-y” sort of way. It’s great to see diversity because it makes it clear that (perhaps) there are a range of sexy body types that straight men (mostly) will “accept.” But we are more than that. Having said that, I love the body paint and I love that she feels good in her body, and it’s okay to feel and be sexy. Hence: torn.

Others jumped in with similar comments. For example (quoting from our Facebook page comments):

“Wouldn’t it be nice to be valued for more than what we look like on the cover of a magazine that is known to objectify women? Is it great she’s outside of the acceptable size for this magazine? Sure, but the intent is still the same.”

“One can celebrate their body and not be reduced to an object.”

“Yes we can, but these photos are clearly meant to be sexual.”

“Equal opportunity objectification.”

“she’s gorgeous.”

As you can see, there is a range of opinion here. But the idea of “equal opportunity objectification” rings loudly to me.

Let’s be clear about one thing: there is nothing wrong with being sexy or sexual. It’s neither demeaning nor wrong. But the one-dimensional representation of amazing women for men’s visual pleasure seems awfully outdated to me, even if it’s in some sense heartening that a wider range of body types are “making the cut.”

Any feminist will tell you that hetero-normative femininity has been and continues to be used as a tool of oppression. The other day I talked about “letting yourself be” instead of “letting yourself go,” because the narrative of letting ourselves go implicitly suggests that we are only socially acceptable if we fit into the narrow mold that is expected of us. Some may choose not to conform, but others may not have a body type that can get there (if the expectation is slender, white, young, lean, etc.). That’s why diversity can seem like a good thing, even in the swimsuit issue.

But the larger question of “why in the heck is the swimsuit issue still a thing at all?” wants an answer too. And that answer is kind of depressing. There is nothing sporty about the swimsuit issue. There is no covert, progressive agenda. It’s still the same as it always was, designed to appeal to straight male sexual desire, presenting the women as sexual objects for men’s consumption.

I don’t want to sound grumpy about something that does have its positive side of promoting body positivity and sex positivity. But when I think of “sex positive,” I guess I think of something more progressive that involves bashing stereotypes more than galvanizing their social power.

What’s your reaction to these new efforts to make the swimsuit edition more inclusive?


Fit is a Feminist Issue, Link Round Up #81

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

Poster that says "not one drop of my self worth depends on your acceptance of me" in black all caps on white poster with black border.

Image description: Poster that says “not one drop of my self worth depends on your acceptance of me” in black all caps on white poster with black border.

How to Love a Fat Person

Fat people are reminded every day that we are objects of fear and revulsion. When we dare to aspire to love — real, reciprocal, respectful, deep, boundless love — we are slapped back. Our most human want is met with a seemingly impenetrable wall of harsh stereotypes and unforgiving attitudes.

Fat people are expected to be grateful that anyone wants us — even if that desire shows up as sexual assault or abusive partners. We are subject to humiliation for daring to express our interest in someone else. Those who fall for fat people learn to hide their feelings after years of being told their desire isn’t real. We learn simple lessons: that bees sting, that fire burns, that open affection cannot be trusted, and that love is not for bodies like ours. If we are to be fat, we cannot also be loved.

I will be the flicker in your blind spot 

When I was a child in Tokyo, every evening my family and I would gather our toiletries and go down the street to the public bathhouse. There, in the women’s bath, all bodies slipped happily into the hot waters and gossiped and cackled. As a little girl I saw all the shapes and all the imperfections and all the stages of bodily change of wrinkles and sags and decay of time that framed the glorious granny grins of life well lived.

I told the women of this and their eyes lit up. (I need to get these women to an osento, or jimjillbang bath! Or saunas, or hammams or banyas…)

There were other threads of ‘all women’ assumptions.

Widow transforms herself

Show me a man who controls the way his wife looks, and I’ll show you a man with an unhappy wife.

For Charlotte Guttenberg, she had always wanted a tattoo. But her husband wouldn’t allow it. He has his mind made up as to “what a woman should look like” and because Charlotte wanted to be a good wife, she obeyed him.

“I always wanted tattoos. My husband…forbade me from having tattoos. His whole concept was that no lady would have a tattoo. But it didn’t stop me wanting one,” said Charlotte.

But when Charlotte’s husband died 10 years ago, she knew exactly what she wanted to do.

37 Beautiful Portraits Of Fat Couples Challenge Sizeism (NSFW)

“As author Junot Diaz once wrote, if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves,” photographer Substantia Jones explains.

This adage strikes at the core of Jones’ mission as a fat activist and photographer. Eight years ago, she resolved to “subvert the very tool most often used to instill body hate” — photography — and wield it to celebrate fat bodies. (She prefers the term “fat” — a “morally neutral descriptor” — to the term “plus-size,” which she sees as more suited to clothing than people.)

Substantia was weary of sizeist representations of larger bodies in the media and the lack of images that depicted fat people as sensual, fulfilled beings. So, she started “The Adipositivity Project,” a photo-activism campaign dedicated to beautiful (and unretouched) photography of fat people of all sexualities, ethnicities, genders, and abilities.