fitness

What’s wine got to do with it?

by MarthaFitat55

As someone who has been exploring different ways to be fit, healthy, and happy,  the question of alcohol comes up often.

Usually the question from the fitness point of view focuses on the calories in alcohol or avoiding overindulgence vis a vis athletic performance.  When it comes to health, the issue is more about consuming too much alcohol.

Two articles of late have been making the rounds on my news feeds. The first one surveys the literature on alcohol and its link to cancer. Mother Jones writer Stephanie Mencimer began looking at this link after her own diagnosis of breast cancer even though she didn’t fit the profile as someone at risk for cancer.

The article is extensive and covers a lot of ground,  but what leapt out at me was data on women’s drinking generally. As a rule, Mencimer reported, women don’t drink a lot. But that is changing, and rapidly, because of concerted marketing campaigns pitching drinking to women: “Ads and products now push alcohol as a salve for the highly stressed American woman. There are wines called Mother’s Little Helper, Happy Bitch, Mad Housewife, and Relax. Her Spirit vodka comes with swag emblazoned with girl-power slogans like “Drink responsibly. Dream recklessly.”

But it isn’t just ads selling specific types of alcohol. There’s a whole bunch of memes and cartoons online and on clothing doing this. Consider this popular image and concept. The image shows two women running. One woman tells the other her fitness trackers calculates how many glasses of wine they have earned  through exercising.

winetracker

The image equates exercise as a means to earn food or drink rewards. Run five miles you get a glass of wine; run ten miles and you get two.

That’s not how exercise works, and yet the message is seen as lighthearted and true. It doesn’t work if you think of two men running and saying it calculates how many beer you can have.

Then there’s this one:

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With this meme, readers who are watching their weight are advised to sublimate food cravings by drinking wine. It goes further to suggest that thirst can only be quenched by alcohol.

I find this one really bothersome because the idea of moderation is dismissed out of hand. Forget having a glass of wine, drink the whole bottle. As for seeing how you feel, I doubt anyone who has drunk a whole bottle by themselves has the capacity to engage in any deep thinking.

Then there’s the marketing push from stories like this one on farm fresh vodka (made with kale!) and the latest marathon fad which includes 23 stops for wine.

I think though the worst idea for drinking came from a fitness apparel line:

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We’ve come along way since Mick Jagger sang about Mother’s Little Helper (Where’s the sarcasm emojii when you need it?). There’s so much wrong with this I’m not sure where to start.

Perhaps it’s the idea that a strong woman needs help with parenting a strong girl. While parenting help is often undersold, are girl children that problematic that even a strong woman can’t cope? Or is it that the only way to cope is to indulge in strong drink (usually meaning hard liquor)?

I prefer my strength to come from lifting weights and from focusing on the ways I can cultivate resilience rather than on relying on drink to give me strength to face the challenges I have.

These memes are often shared because people find them funny but in fact, they normalize excessive drinking. Let’s take a look at what that is.

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines heavy drinking as more than four drinks on any day or 14 per week for men and more than three drinks on any day or seven per week for women.

Health Canada defines low risk drinking as “no more than two drinks a day, 10 per week for women, and three drinks a day, 15 per week for men, with an extra drink allowed on special occasions.”

But limits aren’t that simple. The second article I read this week focused on the life-shortening effects of alcohol. The article reported on new research which found “people who drank the equivalent of about five to 10 drinks a week could shorten their lives by up to six months.” 

It gets worse: “The study of 600,000 drinkers estimated that having 10 to 15 alcoholic drinks every week could shorten a person’s life by between one and two years. And they warned that people who drink more than 18 drinks a week could lose four to five years of their lives.”

Contrary to those memes, the research supports a new limit for light drinking or for encouraging abstinence from alcohol completely if one wants to pursue a healthier and happier life.

— Martha Muzychka is a writer getting her fit on in St. Johns.

 

fitness · racing · running · training

Would you run a 10K with no prep?

Image description: (MEC 10K in October 2017) Tracy standing in the right foreground in running shorts, tank, and shoes with a race bib 2065. Canopy with MEC sign hanging from it in the left background, and a race podium (1-2-3), and a finish line inflatable arch, and a few people in the background. Green grass, fall leaves, trees.
Image description: (MEC 10K in October 2017) Tracy standing in the right foreground in running shorts, tank, and shoes with a race bib 2065. Canopy with MEC sign hanging from it in the left background, and a race podium (1-2-3), and a finish line inflatable arch, and a few people in the background. Green grass, fall leaves, trees.

As I’ve mentioned a few times this winter, my training has gone sideways. I’ve stuck with personal training but running? Extremely sporadic training schedule. So my commitment to do the MEC series at the 10K distance seems awfully ambitious considering the first event of my line-up is…wait for it….Saturday!

We’ve also had shit weather and basically there was no way I was going out in the ice storm on the weekend. All I did was 25 minutes on the treadmill. Then this week with weather and media and all manner of this and that, it doesn’t look like I’ll get more than a short one in before Saturday. Then Saturday: 10K.

Obviously the question has arisen in my mind: really? Must I?

Answer: yes really. But must I? No. I get to choose. But I’m going to choose the follow through. Why? Because you can only get momentum going by doing the thing. The more I pass up opportunities to get back into the game the harder it is.

So I’m doing it. My race strategy is: enjoy. I’ve got my feminist playlist. Environment Canada is forecasting double digit highs. And the race doesn’t even start until 9:35. My objective here is to establish a baseline to beat next time.

The upside of going in cold on Saturday is there is nowhere to go but up in May. And then I have the entire summer to train for early September and late October (between which I’m throwing in the Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon as a “welcome back Anita” event).

To answer the question posed in my title: yes. I would and I will.

What would you do?

accessibility · clothing · fashion

Leggings are for life, says Sam (#leggingscanbepants, #leggingsforlife, #feministfashion)

Image result for leggings pants fighting humour

Readers know that I’m not a big fan of pants.

My main complaint is sizing. If they fit my thighs and calves, they’re enormous at the waist. See Finding clothes to fit athletic women’s bodies.

But also if I gain or lose even as little as 5 lbs, they don’t fit. So I end up with a range of sizes to cover a very small range of difference in weight.

And don’t get me going on the leg length thing. I usually have to hem pants which adds $10 or so to their price. Men’s pants seem to come in a variety of lengths but women, I guess, are all the same height.

Also don’t get my going on jeans, especially skinny jeans, which they all are on me. Aside from my yoga jeans, I might be done with jeans.

Last year I went on a leggings binge, trying lots of different kinds to find the perfect pair of plain black leggings for everyday use. I tried the full gamut from Lululemon (on sale!) to Hue to Joe Fresh. The price range was $90 (Lululemon, on sale) to $20 (Joe Fresh). The Lululemon are fine for yoga but too athletic for everyday. I’m not a big fan, especially given the price. The Joe Fresh were fine for PJs and hanging about the house but not really for work.

In the middle were the Hue leggings which I had great hopes for since I like their tights. But it wasn’t to be. They share the pants problem. The large isn’t stretchy enough for my legs. The XL falls down pretty much right away.

When friends who play roller derby recommended a Canadian brand I was intrigued. They’re also middle of the road price wise. And made in Canada.

ZENITH Leggings

Nice. I’m trying not buy stuff made in countries with sketchy labour laws. See this post for my call for ethical fashion. I struggle with sports clothes in particular.

Even without the “made in Canada” bonus point, they were my favourite. I’m setting out now to order more. They are high waisted, they stay up, and they work for either the gym or the office.

(For working out in my favorite leggings are by SuperfitHero, available in a very wide range of sizes.)

Why I am blogging about leggings now? My knee brace, above. That’s my snazzy custom fit, zero pain knee brace. But it’s causing a bit of a fashion crisis. It needs to be tight against my legs. I can either wear skirts and tights or leggings. No pants. Well, I could wear really wide leg pants and wear it under I guess. That’s what men do. But that’s not my thing.

Dresses and skirts need to fall either above the brace (very short) or below (very long). With short skirts I’m happiest in leggings so that’s what I am doing these days

So now I’m one of those people wearing leggings for all of the things.

Until summer (if it ever comes) and then I’m back to bike shorts under skirts.

fit at mid-life · fitness

Soaking up our 15 minutes

Image description: Sam on left in a polka dot dress and Tracy on right in a dress with a zipper down the front, looking at each other, walking, talking, smiling, indoors against a white background.
Image description: Sam on left in a polka dot dress and Tracy on right in a dress with a zipper down the front, looking at each other, walking, talking, smiling, indoors against a white background.

Sam and I are having a good week (and it’s only Tuesday!). Fit at Mid-Life: A Feminist Fitness Journey, published by Greystone Books, had its official Canadian release on the weekend, official US release today, official UK release on Thursday.

We had some great press yesterday, with two of Canada’s major newspapers running feature articles about us, the book, and our message of feminist fitness. See “Feminist philosophers’ book exercise in empowerment” (Megan Ogilvie, Toronto Star) and “How two philosophers got fit, the feminist way” (Adriana Barton, The Globe and Mail). That brought a flurry of emails, tweets, timeline posts, and face-to-face congratulations that just kept coming all day long.

At one point I said to Sam, “Definitely enjoying our 15 minutes this week, Sam. Hope you are too.” And yes, I’m enjoying it, trying to soak it in because it’s unexpected and wonderful.

I have a niggling little voice in the back of my head that whispers stuff to me about how people are probably already sick of us and our book (even though it just came out Saturday!). Are we shameless and insufferable self-promoters? It’s amazing how quickly I can go from “wow this is great!” to “whoa, enough!” I hate to make this about gender, but I think there is an element of feminine socialization to how challenging I’m finding it just to rest in the excitement of this moment and savour the sense of accomplishment.

When Sam and I started the blog almost six years ago to document our Fittest by 50 challenge (that you can read more about in the book), we didn’t think we would blog past 50. We didn’t think anyone would read the blog. And we certainly didn’t envision that our personal challenge (our “midlife fitness pact,” as The Globe and Mail called it) would attract a community of feminist fitness enthusiasts and result in a successful blog with regular readers, guest contributors, a dedicated and incredible core group of regular contributors, and a book, Goodreads reviews, media attention.

I have said a few times when talking to the media about the book that it didn’t even seem like work to write. We spent an hour here and two hours there meeting in the underused faculty lounge on campus with our laptops, working on the same google doc at the same time, chuckling at the bits that we found most amusing, and asking each other to read over sections we weren’t sure of. Of course it didn’t write itself. But, much like the blog more generally, it’s a kind of writing that feels good to do, is fun even.

So it feels like a big gift (to me, anyway) that something that was so much fun could actually have yielded a thing that people seem to want to read. And I’m super chuffed about it and consider myself incredibly fortunate to be riding this particular wave at this time of my life.

We have more media coming up in the next little while, including an afternoon of interviews at CBC radio across the country on Wednesday, April 18 and an appearance on Global TV’s morning show on April 27th.

Our big friends and family events, that is, launch parties that are open to the public, are on April 28th from 2-3 p.m. at the Landon Library in Wortley Village, London, Ontario and on May 3, 7 p.m. at the Bookshelf in Guelph, Ontario. We’ll talk about how the book came to be, read a few pages, answer questions if there are any, and eat cupcakes (enough for everyone). At both events you’ll be able to buy a book if you haven’t already, and we will be pleased to sign copies if you like, whether you bought yours at the event or elsewhere.

We’ve also mentioned before that we like events and if you have something you’d like us to be a part of, please ask. We can’t promise anything but we will definitely take invitations seriously and see what we can do.

With gratitude,

Tracy

climbing · fitness

Urban crags (Guest post)

There’s a particular kind of climbing spot that climbers call an “urban crag.” Close to a big city, convenient—but dirty and subject to hazards, trash, and irresponsible teenagers who think it might be fun to mess with an anchor you’ve set for top-roping.

Geneva’s urban crag–or mountain o’ crags to describe it more accurately–is pretty spectacular. Le Salève rises to 1300m above Geneva (the shores of the Lake are around 400m). 110 bolted single-pitch routes on limestone in the area called Le Canapé alone, and hundreds more multi-pitch routes in the other sectors.

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The wider band beneath the two narrow bands is Le Canapé, our destination, as seen from the last bus stop before the French-Swiss border.

Bjorn and I tried fit an after-work climb earlier in the week–but we still have to get back for the dinner the Brocher Foundation generously supplies for researchers. By public transit, it wasn’t feasible. After a long ascent and a wrong turn or two, we got to the crag with 15 minutes before we would have to turn around to make our way back to Hermance. We put on our helmets (warnings about falling scree in the topo) and fake-climbed by traversing a bit without ropes. And we worked very hard to ward off the climbers’ rock enchantment that makes all other considerations fade into the backdrop.

We had it all worked out for a weekend climb at the same place, planning to come down from the cable car instead of walking up. What we didn’t plan for was that 300 runners would be running the opposite direction—repeatedly— on our approach path. It was the Saturday of the Ultra Montée du Salève, a race in which people try to run up the mountain (elevation gain 600-odd metres) as many times as they can in 6 hours, taking the cable car down each time. Something doesn’t seem right about this activity–but since we were on our way to spend all afternoon climbing up 15 or so metres and then rappelling down, who are we to judge? But we had to step aside and get out of their way as much as possible and this slowed our approach considerably!

We had plenty of time once we got to the crag–a good 7 hours–and the entire sector to ourselves. I climbed something my grade conversion chart tells me would be the equivalent of a North American 5.9–the easiest route at this crag, the topo says, and named for a kids’ fairy tale, like everything I’m able to climb!—and got stuck at the crux of the many climbs that would count as 5.10a in North America. I’ll hold onto this bit of evidence, translation issues and all, that I can climb a 5.9 route outdoors (not just in the gym) and see if I can translate it to the much sharper Nova Scotia granite when I get home! I’d be very happy with that semi-aritrary achievement number. Bjorn snapped this photo of me belaying.

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accessibility

Stairs are evil, for Sam anyway

So I’ve gone from being a “always take the stairs” person even with heavy backpack and shoulder bag in airports to being a person who thinks stairs are evil.

On the road again

A post shared by Samantha Brennan (@samjanebrennan) on

Past me used to like to run up stairs in the airports, whizzing by the people on the escalators. No more. Hello knee injury. I even bought my first carry on wheelie suitcase.

With my knee brace I’m happy walking right now but stairs are another matter, especially downstairs. Why?

See Gretchen Reynolds’ Ask Well: Stairs and Knee Pain.

“Most people with knee arthritis — meaning some degeneration of the cushioning cartilage in the joint — experience pain when they go down stairs, even if their arthritis is otherwise mild, said Dr. Kevin J. Bozic, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco. More so than climbing stairs, descending them places great force on the knee and, in particular, the patello-femoral joint, the portion of the knee beneath the kneecap, he said.”

Like the no more running ever thing, see Sam struggles not to run, ever it’s the change in my self image that’s hard. I don’t know how long it will take for that to catch up with my condition.

I have to remind myself that I have had bouts of “evil stairs” before. Last time I could ride my bikes 100s of kms but then had to take the elevator at work after! It was then that I started to get annoyed by the “get more movement in your day–take the stairs” messages. I’ve had plenty of movement in my day thank you very much!

It helps knowing I’m not alone. Google image search for “evil stairs” and you gets lots of choice.

Hello. I wanna play a game. #stairs #staircase #lookup #lookingup #saw #thesaw #horror #doll #creepy #scary #dark #morbid #darkart #evil #evilness #igdungeon #bw #bnw #blackandwhite #rsa_bnw #rsa_decay #igerspoland #igerspoznan #mobilephototrip_poznan #mo

charity · cycling · motivation

Please support Sam in her big one day ride, #f4lbr #icestorm

Bike Rally 20th Anniversary 1-Day Ride

Today was supposed to be the first bike rally training ride. Instead, there’s an ice storm out there.

Facebook even showed me that last year at this time I was riding my bike with Sarah at the farm. There’s great riding out here. But not in an ice storm. Did I mention there’s an ice storm out there?

Police are recommending that cyclists stay off the road. But I don’t need their advice. No worries.

Here’s me riding in rain storm, which I’ll do, but not an ice storm.

Sam arrives in Montreal

A post shared by Fit is a Feminist Issue (@fitisafeministissue) on

I hope spring comes soon! I’m getting desperate.

This year I’m doing the one day ride, not the 6 day ride, because of my new big job. See here.

But while I’ve lowered the fun riding, I’ve increased my fundraising commitment. That’s where YOU come in. I need your help. See details below.

I’m participating in PWA’s 1-Day Friends For Life Bike Rally

I’ve just made a big commitment and I could use your support.

On July 29, 2018 I will be cycling 108km in the very first PWA’s Friends For Life Bike Rally from Toronto to Port Hope to raise money and awareness for the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation (PWA).

PWA provides practical support programs and services to people in Toronto living with HIV/AIDS. The Bike Rally is their annual sustaining fundraiser and critical to the agency. Find out more about PWA by visiting their website at www.pwatoronto.org.

I’m going to need all the support I can get to reach my fundraising goal and I hope I can count on you. Make a secure online donation using your credit card by clicking on the link to my personal fundraising page below:

https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/FundraisingPage.aspx?registrationID=3883724&langPref=en-CA

For more information on how YOU can participate in the Bike Rally, please visit us at www.bikerally.org.

Thank you so much for your support!