fitness

#StayAtHome Sam looks different

Sam’s collection of #wfhlife t-shirts

As you know I’m not much of a fan of working from home. But I’m here along with most of you, doing it.

I appreciated Cate’s #wfh words of wisdom and advice. I was glad to hear that she doesn’t go with the standard advice of “dressing professionally” at home. For me, wearing comfy clothes makes it easier to get up and walk the dog or do a bit of at home yoga.

I’ve started taking pictures of my many and various t-shirts, tagging them #OOTD and #wfhlife, and sharing them on social media. See here.

I’m also not using much hair product (it’s pricey), wearing make up, or putting on jewelry. Who is this person and what have you done with Samantha?

Also, and this shocked even me, I worked out the other day in a sports bra! I know. Wild.

I wouldn’t ever ride outside in a sports bra because of sunscreen and fear of skin cancer. But I’ve never taken a spin class in just a sports bra either.

I’ve always said I didn’t do that for reasons other than body shame or caring about what others thought. And yet here I am, when there is no one around, Zwifting in a sports bra.

Funny that.

How has your #wfh look, if that’s a thing you’re doing, changed from your usual look? What do you wear to work out at home?

Sports bra Sam
Book Club · Book Reviews · cycling

Virtual Sam: On Zwift and other online communities

If you’ve been thinking about riding virtually, now is a great time to try it out. I’m not going to get into argument about the pros and cons of riding outside versus inside in these days of #StayingAtHome and #PhysicalDistancing. Probably during the pandemic and the associated restrictions on movement and activities, I’ll do a bit of both. But for me, right now, I’m saving far and fast for Zwift.

Recently as you might have imagined there have been record numbers of riders on Zwift. This is the month in Canada when most bike clubs start riding outside but all the bike club rides are cancelled. If you want to ride in a group, you’re going to need to find a virtual group. Lately I’ve been riding with the Swarm. See Sam goes SWARM-ing! . And I’ve been thinking about how much group rides there resemble group rides in the real world.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, what is Zwift? (from Wikipedia)

Zwift is a massively multiplayer online cycling and running videogame and physical training program that enables users to interact, train and compete in a virtual world...Zwift allows players to ride their bicycles on stationary trainers while navigating through six virtual worlds (Watopia, Richmond, London, Innsbruck, Yorkshire, and New York – a seventh world, Bologna, is available for certain time trial events, and an eighth, Crit City, is available for short, criterium-style, races). Players may cycle freely around the game world and join organised group rides, races or workouts with other users. Zwift uses ANT+ or Bluetooth Low Energy technologies to transmit data that, in combination with athlete weight and equipment choices, is used to convert the athlete’s efforts as speed and power (watts). “Smart” trainers, which include a built-in power meter, permit accuracy in the measurement of watts as well as enabling an immersive technology experience, where resistance is applied or lessened to simulate the gradient encountered on the virtual course. Zwift estimates the power of users on conventional trainers via the user’s cadence and the power curve of a wide range of specified trainers.”

What’s to like, as a woman cyclist, is that it’s becoming relatively easy to find women to ride with. Also, it’s easy to find groups riding at just about every speed. If you’re a road cyclist on the slower side, don’t panic, there are lots of people riding in Zwift at your pace. There are groups for over 50s and groups for people just getting into riding and groups for people who want to learn how to race. It’s a little mind boggling how many options there are. That’s the advantage of connecting with thousands of riders all over the world. If it’s a thing that’s accessible to you financially, I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

Peleton might be the pandemic bike of choice for people who want a community of spin classes. But Zwift is the pandemic cycling option for people who want to join a community of cyclists.

When I ride on Zwift on my own, I tend to go fast (for me). I like the sprint segments. But for all sorts of reasons it’s good to go slow. In real life, I vary my speed by riding with different groups of cyclists. Now that I’ve discovered group rides on Zwift I can do that there too. I’m learning to moderate my pace and group ride virtually. Zwift is realistic enough that I have the same issues–zooming ahead downhill, for example. As in the real world, I’m learning not to wear myself spending too much time at the front. I’ve also just now learned how to play with Zwift’s interactive features–waving, giving fellow riders “ride-ons” and using the chat functionality. All of sudden, look, here’s me chatting with strangers on the internet. Weird. But there it is.

Do you ride in Zwift? Are there groups you like? Any social rides or training rides you recommend? Let us know.

And speaking of virtual communities and chatting with strangers on the internet, I also took part in an online, international book club this weekend, organized by my friend Todd Tyrtle. “Todd finds ways to connect with other humans – probably more than he was before the pandemic and organizes an international book club that you, too, can join.” Read Life Moves Online.

I talked about the book we’re reviewing here, see Book Club Week 1: The Joy of Movement, Chapter 1 and about a book that I’m reading to review for the blog called This Road I Ride.

Here’s our Zoom meeting of the book club!

fitness

Lingerie: the final frontier

Hello there, FIFI folks! In case you’re looking for a calgon-take-me-away reading moment (if you don’t know what this is, check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yjGPgs0_S0) we’ve got one for you: Kim wrote all about lingerie– wanting it, not wanting it, shopping for it, not buying it, buying it… you get the idea. Enjoy!

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

It took me ages to be OK with my body.

I was 26 when I realized I was unhappy with how I looked, and always had been, and that my unhappiness had been normalized by me (and by some of those who love me). Things hit a tipping point one autumn day at the Gap: I realized I couldn’t fit into the maroon corduroys (a size up from my already-plus-size) I’d brought sheepishly into the change room with me. I decided that was it: I wanted to look – but especially to feel – differently about my body.

Fast forward 17 years, and I weigh only marginally less than I did that day. Though my body is now fitter, stronger, and – most importantly – makes me feel proud and strong and happy every day. I celebrate regularly by buying clothes that I think look amazing, no longer believing they…

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fitness · illness

So-called “miracle cures” are back on the market: bogus treatments for real illness

Here’s the tl:dr version of my post today:

What are the top 10 cures for for COVID-19?

  1. there
  2. aren’t
  3. any.
  4. Anyone
  5. saying
  6. there
  7. are
  8. is
  9. a
  10. liar.

Every time illness breaks out, there are lots of enterprising charlatans out there, trying to take advantage of our vulnerability. So it is now with COVID-19. What are some of those unscrupulous blackguards peddling (either in goods or false rumors)?

First, there’s garlic.

Twitter post saying that 8 cloves of garlic boiled in water will treat COVID-19. It won’t.

Apparently, this rumor got so much traction that the WHO felt the need to add it to their page of debunked myths about the coronavirus:

WHO graphic showing garlic with faces, but which have no healing powers for COVID-19.
WHO graphic showing garlic with nice faces, but who have no healing powers for COVID-19.

And also: gargling salty water.

Disinformation posted on twitter, giving bogus info about salt water gargling and coronavirus.
Disinformation posted on twitter, giving bogus info about salt water gargling and coronavirus.

Gargling may make your sore throat feel better, but it’s not going to have any effect on the virus. None at all.

Here’s another: Chlorine dioxide. What is that? Factcheck.org, tells us more here and below:

Chlorine dioxide kits are sold online under various names — Miracle Mineral Solution, Miracle Mineral Supplement, Master Mineral Solution — but they are most often referred to as MMS.

These kits typically include a bottle of sodium chlorite and a bottle of an “activator” such as citric acid. When the two chemicals are mixed together, they make chlorine dioxide, a common industrial bleach used in the production of paper products, according to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

But MMS hucksters sell the chemical solution as a cure-all for cancer, AIDS, autism and, now, the novel coronavirus.

Again, the WHO says no to bleach (either ingesting it or pouring it on one’s body) as a treatment for COVID-19 (or anything, for that matter).

Here’s yet another one: substances with the name chloroquine. This refers to an anti-malarial drug (which HASN’T been shown to be effective against COVID-19), but also to a solvent used to clean fish tanks. An Arizona couple heard a news story about the anti-malarial drug and thought the fish tank cleaner had the same substance; they decided to put some in liquid and drink it. The man died and the woman is in critical condition. You can read more about it here, and below:

“Given the uncertainty around COVID-19, we understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus, but self-medicating is not the way to do so,” Daniel Brooks, Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director, said in the hospital’s statement. “The last thing that we want right now is to inundate our emergency departments with patients who believe they found a vague and risky solution that could potentially jeopardize their health.”

Then we have: the online swindlers who cook up bogus medical treatments and sell them to vulnerable people during times of outbreak and uncertainty. One such miscreant, Keith Lawrence Middlebrook, was arrested on Wednesday:

[Middlebrook] is charged with one count of attempted wire fraud, which carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison.

In videos he posted this month to his 2.4 million Instagram followers, Middlebrook showed off nondescript white pills and a liquid injection he claimed would offer immunity and a cure, respectively.

“Not only did I make the cure, but this pill right here is the prevention,” he said in one video. “Meaning, if I walk into the Staples Center and everyone’s testing coronavirus positive, I can’t contract it. It’s impossible. … I have what makes you immune to the coronavirus.”

You might be thinking: Srsly? Who would believe that some guy would have found THE medical concoction that does double-duty as both prevention and cure for a brand-new virus? I mean, who could be that gullible?

We can. We can believe anything when we’re scared, when we or our friends/family are sick, and when there aren’t any current treatments out there.

So, what can we do while waiting for medical science to hurry up and help a planet out?

I have three suggestions:

Hang tight.
Hang tight.
Wash those hands!
Wash those hands!
when in doubt, zoom!
when in doubt, zoom!

Zoom with friends, family, coworkers, yoga classmates, neighbors, distant relatives, old prom dates, vacuum cleaner salespeople, former pets, future ex-in-laws, fellow ex-patriots, third-grade teachers, part-time hairstylists, amateur boxers, Irish stepdancers, out-of-work tour guides, licensed taxidermists, in-the-know gossip columnists, tree surgeons, romance novelists, new moms, old cowhands, child psychiatrists, or orchid enthusiasts. That’s a start.

Have you, dear readers, heard any rumors about cockamamie cures or treatments or preventatives for COVID-19? Please feel free to share them so we can all revel in their bogusness.

fitness

Doing fun physical things I suck at (or, Cate learns to take instruction)

How do FIFI readers– here’s your weekend edition of “blog posts about everything else but that thing…” Today we watch and read about Cate, trying her hand (both hands, I think) at axe throwing. Enjoy…

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

In a bizarre confluence of events, I found myself at two axe-throwing parties within 18 hours last weekend.  (“What kind of bizarre Canadian ritual is this?” asked an American facebook friend).  Sarah and Sam have both written about the experience of axe-throwing — yes, a little bizarre but quite satisfying in the throwing with your whole body, the thwack and thud of connection.

I liked it.  I posted this pic on FB on Sunday with the caption “This is what I do now.  I throw axes.”

img_4754

But I totally sucked at it.  That bullseye was one of maybe 2 or 3 out of probably 100 throws.  Mostly I wound up, threw, and heard the clatter of the axe thunking off the target and falling to the ground. (My abs hurt Monday from all the bending over to pick up my axe). At the bachelor party on Saturday night, I came…

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fitness · yoga

Life after everything is cancelled or online: the yoga continues

As I write this I’m at the end of Day 8 of self-isolation after coming home early from Mexico. I’d been there since January 1st, enjoying a wonderfully laid back routine and working on a new book… until I lost my concentration completely two and a half weeks ago. As with many, the rapid pace of change that the COVID19 pandemic has brought is hard to wrap my head around.

Image description: Casual head shot of Tracy, smiling, wearing a winter hat and black jacket, outside (in quarantine at her parents house) during the day, snowy background, Haliburton, Ontario.

Just three weeks ago I had breakfast with my parents at our favourite cafe, Chasite, in La Penita, a small Mexican town in the state of Nayarit. We had just come from the market (!!), an absolutely unthinkable outing today.

Image description: left to right, Tracy, her mother, her father, at an outdoor cafe table, all three wearing summer clothing and smiling, breakfast and coffee on the table.

Immediately after that breakfast my father called our travel agent (I will never again doubt the merits of using a travel agent) to ask her to book us an earlier flight home. She changed our April 4 flight out of Puerto Vallarta to March 18. The World Health Organization had declared the COVID19 a global pandemic just the day before we decided we would rather be home. The next day, Friday, March 13, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested that it was time for Canadians to come home. The next five days until we departed on March 18 were agonizingly long and, for me, full of anxiety. I couldn’t enjoy much. The only errands I ran after that were brief outings to get take-out food and some cleaning supplies for the trip home. Though toilet paper was in good supply in all the shops, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes were nowhere to be found.

With my ability to concentrate at nil, I maintained one solid routine that I’d established back in early December: daily yoga. At home, I was going to the yoga studio every day until I left for Mexico. But once I got there, I started January with Yoga with Adriene’s 30-day Home Practice (Cate put together a group post about that here).

I like the community of a yoga studio. And in fact there was an outdoor yoga very popular yoga studio right next door to where my parents were living in Mexico, just five minutes away from my place. But this time I decided that I wanted to keep it simple, reserving the mornings for short runs and, twice a week, for Spanish classes that I attended with my mother (so much fun!). Every day in January I did the Home practice. When that ended, I decided to stick with Adriene for February. And then March. And am I ever glad I did. It prepared me for what I didn’t know was coming. It prepared me for this.

By the time I got back to Canada, international travelers were strongly urged (not yet required but very strongly recommended) to self-quarantine for 14 days–the possible length of the COVID19 incubation period. So I went to my parents’ place with them instead of going home. We figured since we’d been traveling together, we could quarantine together. By then, everything in my life back in London, Ontario had been either cancelled or moved to an online format. Everything.

The only thing that has been seamless in my transition to this strange new world of physical distancing is my daily commitment to Yoga with Adriene. I just show up on the mat and do what she says to do. I started March with her Creativity playlist. But my creative spirit died at some point. So when Adriene announced instead a new playlist more responsive to this moment in human history, Yoga for Uncertain Times, I jumped into it. And it has given me some comfort. It’s got practices like “yoga for loneliness” and “yoga for change and drain” and “anchor in hope yoga practice.” These are mostly gentle practices, but not always. When it feels like not quite enough (because some sessions are short), I add something else (my old stand-by is Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Relief).

Many of my friends are lamenting at their lack of productivity right now. We feel as if, with this sudden freeing of the calendar, where everyone is working at home and all the theatre and dinners and coffee dates and gym classes are cancelled, we should be able to do all those things that we never have time to do. I said to someone the other day, “I feel accomplished if I do my daily yoga.” And I do. I’ve not been good for much else — well, maybe cooking.

And talking to friends whom I had so very eagerly looked forward to hugging and meeting for coffee. That will all have to wait. I read a powerful piece today called “A Letter to the UK from Italy: this is what we know about your future.” I feel as if this applies to all of us, not just the UK. Of course we all hope we will not experience what Italy is going through. Maybe we will take notice and succeed in flattening that curve so that our healthcare system is not crushed under the demand that a surge of COVID19 cases brings. In my view, we are at this stage: “You’ll have an unstoppable online social life – on Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom…”

It’s all feeling like a lot right now (I know I’m not alone).

But whatever happens, there will be daily online yoga.

Youtube link to the first session in the Yoga with Adriene “Yoga for Uncertain Times” Playlist: yoga for loneliness.

I’m open to trying to new online yoga, so if you have someone else to recommend besides Adriene, let me know about that in the comments.

Meanwhile, stay safe everyone. Stay home. Wash your hands. And reach out.

Image description: Beach sunset scene, sand, water, clouds at dusk, with two people walking by the water, and a post in the foreground (Guayabitos, Mexico).
fitness

Best Laid Plans and All That

Spoiler: Although I have spent a fair bit of March feeling under the weather, there was no point at which I had more than a passing concern that it was anything more than a cold. Please don’t worry!

I had envisioned March as a pleasantly busy month.

I was going to undertake my dance/cardio challenge. I was going to get out for lots of walks.

I was going to check in regularly with goofy posts about energetic flailing to music.

There was going to be photos.

March was going to come in like a frolicking lamb and I was going to frolic right along with it.

Yeah…soooooo, that didn’t work out.

The first few days of March were marvellous – I went for walks and danced it up a little.

Then, around the 3rd, I was suddenly as sick as the proverbial dog. Some sort of strange cold that left me feeling like my head weighed 3000lbs. (Approximately 3000, I didn’t weigh it.)

A light haired dog  sits upright on a dark brown laminate floor.
Khalee is neither proverbial nor sick, luckily. She’s just hoping there will be snacks.

I didn’t even try to exercise, I know when I should exercise through illness and this was not one of those times.

My head gradually returned to its normal weight after 4-5 days, just in time for me to start sneezing.

(It’s a blessing really. If I had been sneezing while my head was so heavy, it might have just gone flying right off and I really don’t have the right energy to live as a disembodied head.)

Those sneezes and a sore throat were the first symptoms of a whole different cold.

The worst of that cold only lasted a few days but it left me with one of those post-cold coughs that acts up at night and keeps you from sleeping well.

And that brings me up to the point in the month when social distancing, Covid-19 reports, and the like became the focus of all of our lives.

Did I do what I intended to do this month?

Most certainly not.

Am I being hard on myself about it?

Most certainly not.

This has been an unprecedentedly bizarre month. My plans were knocked sideways through no fault of my own and then they were kept firmly in that sideways position.

This isn’t about me not following through. It isn’t about me not setting the right structure or not making the right space in my life for a new habit.

This March has been about me playing the hand I was dealt.

So, I have taken the dog for walks when the weather and my health cooperated.

A light haired dog walks down a sidewalkawayffom fbe viewer.  A green leash extends back toward the camera.
I only had a few extra minutes on Monday past but I made sure to take Khalee out in the sunshine. This was just before she started racing into the bitter cold wind.

I have done at least a little yoga every day and a little bit of TKD every week.

And I have taken extra steps in my day and worked a little harder when I had the capacity to do so.

It hasn’t been perfect but it has been good enough.

I’m not making myself any grand exercise promises for April. I’m just going to keep doing bits and pieces here and there and let it add up.

I know that exercise is an important factor for my mental health while I am spending so much time at home. But I don’t think a specific plan is the right thing for me right now.

I’m just going to do what I can and aim for things that help me feel good.

I hope you are doing the same.

Let’s just be kind to ourselves and to each other.