fitness · Guest Post

There and Back Again: Part 1

I am fortunate to be able to travel for work and family, sometimes. On occassion when I travel for work, I bring my family along. This post is the first of a 3-part series on how I stayed physically active this summer while travelling with my kiddos. I hope the series is of some help to folks in re/thinking about whether it’s feasible to pursue fitness activities with kids in tow. Please note that while mine were 14 and 11 this summer, I’ve been able to do a number of activities with them while traveling over the years by taking their stamina into account and not underestimating them. We’ve done some awesome stuff that I’ve never blogged about (hiking on the Isle of Skye when the kids were 11 and 8 springs to mind). This summer was no exception. Well, except that now I am blogging about it.

The author rocking a most fashionable rented bike helmet

This summer, my spouse had other commitments when I was scheduled to travel to Rome for a conference, and yet I very much wanted to bring the children. They’re both borderline obsessed with ancient history and Roman mythology (thanks, Rick Riordan and Doctor Who). I rounded up a good friend of mine, Randi Papke, a woman whose son is friends with my eldest (both 14 at the time of our travels) and we made such plans! So, really, parts 1 and 2 of this 3-part series are There and Back Again With Two Women Over The Age of 40 And Their Kids. For the purposes of this post, I will refer to my kids the same way I do on social media as Son 1 (age 14) and Son 2 (age 11), and will refer to Randi’s son as, well, Randi’s son.

When we first started talking about traveling in Rome, I asked the three kids to each pick out something they wanted to be sure to do in Italy. While Son 1 had the simple request of finding a store that sold cards in his favorite fantasy game, Son 2 asked for what he always asks for when we travel: a cool bike ride unlike anything we could do at home. No problem, for a mere mile from our AirBnB in Rome lay one of the great wonders of Roman engineering: the Via Appia Antica which once connected Rome with Brindisi, allowing trade (and military movement) to travel hundreds of miles on a cobblestone surface from central Italy to the far southeastern corner of Italy, or what you might think of as the heel of the boot which is the metaphor so often used for the shape of Italy. And along that nearby stretch of the Via Appia Antica lay a large archaeological park in which Catholic Church buildings and homes coexist with sites thousands of years old, including several catacombs open for tours. Given this combination of factors, every single one of the five of us was pretty excited about this option. In fact, we looked forward to it for months.

When we finally arrived in Rome in July, we looked at the weather forecast and blanched: with the exception of one day early on and right at the end, it would be well over 90 Fahrenheit (about 33 Celsius) most days. So we decided to do our bikes trip our first full day in the city when it would only be in the high 80s F (30 C or so). We walked through the neighborhoods between us and the bike rental shop handily located at the northern end of the archaeological park, discovering along the way a grocery store, a whole host of serviceable apartment buildings with balconies trailing flowering vines and verdant with vegetable plants, and grates in the streets filled with cigarette butts. A small detail, but it struck me.

We also passed, at the edge of the archaeological park near the bike shop, one of Rome’s famous Nasoni. These public water fountains take a variety of shapes, but Nasoni (“big noses”) all have crystal clear ice-cold safe drinking water running constantly. Some, like the one at the Vatican Museum, are embedded in statuary. Others, like the one we stumbled across at the edge of the park, are humbly functional and, in the weather we were about to experience, entirely welcome at every turn. We refilled our water bottles and continued on to find our bikes.

The nasone on the edge of the archaeological park. It is a tall grey cylinder with small decorations such as a leaf pattern carved into the domed top. A spigot sticks out the side, and clear water streams from it. The part of the Nasoni below the spigot is brownish-greenish from algae growth but the water and the metal of the spigot are pristine.

The EcoBike shop appears on maps as Centro Servizi Appia Antica. It has bikes for children as well as adults–not as good as our ones at home, but perfectly serviceable–as well as a wide range of bike helmets and bike locks. They also rent e-bikes and electric golf carts for folks who might have reasons to not pedal as their primary source of power, and offer tours on bike or otherwise. But we are the ride-around-a-self-guided-tour sort of folks, so it was much appreciated when EcoBike staff provided a map of the archaeological park and oriented us to traffic patterns including how to take a side street with very few cars until we got to the section of the Via Appia Antica where cars are no longer allowed except for residents. Not coincidentally, it turned out, that section is also the one that is paved with ancient cobbles which you can technically ride a bike on but which we found ourselves moving up onto the well-worn dirt paths on the side to avoid. I wouldn’t have wanted to bike the rest of Rome without a better sense of the local unspoken rules of the road, but this experience was no trouble at all. The few vehicles we encountered seemed to expect to encounter us, and were slow and patient.

Son 2 circling back to see whether I was slow due to taking pictures or just… slow.

The views were pretty amazing right from the get go, with ruins just casually scattered, well… everywhere. The local cicadas filled the air with their hot summer buzz, and a good cross-breeze added to the wind of our passage without giving us too much of a headwind. In short order, we discovered astoundingly old and modern things along it dating back 2000 years and as recently as pretty darned modern, and also bars and eateries and nasoni at regular intervals.

I was, at this particular moment, a bad blogger as I completely failed to make a note of which structure this was. There were so. many. structures. It was amazing.

We were surprised to discover that a number of the sites, including the first catacombs we stopped at, were closed for the noon hour. This is pretty common, as we would learn. So we carried on until we came to one that was open continuously. We stopped to enter, buy tickets for a tour, grab some ice cream while we waited to be able to enter the catacombs, and then see what there was to be seen at the Catacombs of San Sebastian. The ice cream was, by this point, a needful thing. Everyone got something containing sugar at cold temperatures while we waited in the shade on the not-as-cool-as-you’d-think marble steps.

Son 2 knows where it’s at on a hot day after some hard work.

One of the folks working the snack bar had a tip jar out for a very charming reason so I dropped them a Euro in support.

A tip jar in a snack bar at the Catacombs of San Sebastian reads “Help I need Money for Techno Party”

The catacombs of San Sebastian were well worth the few Euros for a tour down into the coolness below the earth, out of the hot and the sun, our hair already caked with dried sweat. The history was only half the draw, but such history! No pictures allowed, alas, below ground. The catacombs themselves were the Ur catacombs, as it were: the first below-grown burial chambers to be called “catacomb.” When Christianity first spread to Rome, its adherents did not follow Roman cremation traditions. Instead, they needed a place to put their dead that would not leave them prone to being eaten by wild animals or destroyed by their persecutors. The abandoned quarry beyond the city walls that became the catacombs of San Sebastian was perfect for these purposes. But the church above ground was magnificent, with a ceiling decorated in a style not unlike the Sistine Chapel but in much bolder colors and textures, with trays demarcating one piece of art from another but covering the entire surface in a riot of gilt and jewel tones. No inch of that ceiling was left unattended.

We left the church of San Sebastian and sat for a moment in the shaded courtyard behind the cafe under flowering vines until everyone was feeling up for pedaling on through the hotness. We had, in what would have been clever if it hadn’t been so fortuitous, spent the brightest part of the blazingly sunny day underground and inside or sitting in the shade with cold drinks/food.

The Via Appia Antica recedes into the distance, lined with tall narrow evergreen trees. To the left, we see a ruined segment of wall, and behind it a modern home with a bright green garage door and a small white car parked in front of it. To the right, we see a low wall and a black sign reading, in both Italian and English, “The Ancient Via Appia, with its monuments and trees, is an indivisible and unique complex, recognizes as a monument of significant national interest. It symbolizes a monumental historical landmark of everyone’s heritage. You have to respect and protect it for future generations.” There are also some QR codes which we could presumably have used to pull up further information, in different languages.

We carried on and began to reach the old parts of the road, a combination of more recent tiny even cobbles and old giant square-foot cobbles worn by thousands of years of traffic in which one could sometimes see what might have been wagon wheel ruts.

On the left, you see a close up of the worn, giant cobbles. This part was very uncomfortable to ride on and we hopped up onto more recent even cobbles along the side or, farther down the road, up onto worn tracks in the soft arid dirt on either side of the road. The cobbles shine in the sun, pitted by the years. On the right, Randi pushes on ahead of me, riding on the more recent even cobbles with the oldest part of the road to the side. The kids are way in front. Behind the walls are residences.

We did reach a point where we just couldn’t go any farther having decided we were about halfway done. The road surface and the heat had taken its toll. Before we turned around and headed back, though, we took a group selfie. We weren’t out of good, yet!

Left to Right: Me, then taller Son 1 and shorter Son 2, then Randi’s Son, then Randi. We are all smiling, having decide to just sweat and not worry about it. You can see the soft dirt paths alongside the ancient cobbles and, in the distance, ruined walls soft with erosion as well as Italy’s distinctive stone pine AKA “umbrella pines” whose lower branches self-prune as they grow to great heights.

Along the way back, we stopped at a sandwich shop. It was delicious, but a lot of the flavor came from hunger which is, as they say, the best sauce. The cold beer Randi had was, she attested, perhaps more necessary than any cold beer that came before it.

It was a footsore, butt bouncing delight to walk to the Via Appia Antica, ride it, walk around, ride back, and return on foot. I confess that for the last mile or so of the ride, I was up on my pedals cause ain’t no way my butt was going to sit that seat another second. Up on pedals, wind in your hair through the slats in the helmet, on a good surface after a hard day’s work in the hot sun with an ancient city laid out before you kinda can’t be beat.

I took two videos for y’all if you want a sense of it, at different points on the ride, first farther out on the road where the trees and the fields open up (well outside what would have been the city walls of old Rome) and then on our way back in to return the bikes passing through the residential area. You can hear the cicadas hard at work, and the bicycle bell on my bike gently tinging from the bumps.

When we got back to our place, replete and exhausted, I noticed the literal mark of a good day riding.

The author’s leg, taken from above. There is a big dirty tire mark up the middle of her shin.

Next up in Part 2 of There and Back Again: we flee the heat and crowds of the city of Rome for an afternoon in the hills kayaking and swimming in a volcanic crater lake.

cycling · fitness

Together and separate cycling

This weekend, my friend Norah and I are in Central Massachusetts, cycling, swimming, getting great coffee, and going to a dance concert at Jacob’s Pillow in western MA. We saw the Martha Graham Dance Company last night– stay tuned for a blog post next week about them.

This is our second year doing this weekend outing, and we’ve got it down pat. We stay in a modest motel across the road from the Norowottuck Rail Trail, which runs from east of Amherst to west of Northampton. It’s 11 miles long, and also lets you connect to other rail trails north of Northampton.

Friday afternoon we arrived and I was dying to get out on my bike. It was sunny and warm, and the path was green and leafy. See?

Leafy, green and shady bike path.  Ahhh...
Leafy, green and shady bike path. Ahhh…

Norah had both work and napping to do, so I headed out on my own. Of course, I wasn’t alone– there were other folks on bikes, skates, feet, and one person on a skateboard. Still, it was calming and refreshing to get out there on my own, just pedaling and looking around at the scenery.

I rode to downtown Northampton, reengaged with technology for a bit (texting and emailing on my phone), and then headed back. The ride back gave me a second dose of quiet enjoyment. And there were great visuals, too. See?

Rail trail bridge over the Connecticut river. Ooooh....
Rail trail bridge over the Connecticut river. Ooooh….

On Saturday, Norah and I set out together to ride to Amherst, find coffee, walk around, have lunch, and then make our way back to the motel. We were riding together, pointing out interesting-to-us sights to each other. Soon, though, Norah said to me, “I’d like to have a quiet ride. Why don’t you go on ahead?”

I did, riding at my own pace and in my own space. My road bike weighs about half of Norah’s sturdy commuter (complete with rack and panniers), and I enjoyed stretching my legs and covering more of the path. Soon, the scenery changed from farmland to ponds, with lots of birds and flora. See?

Pond with cat tails and lily pads. Egret was standing out of shot.
Pond with cat tails and lily pads. Egret was standing out of shot.

I was close to the end of the trail when I got a phone call from Norah, asking where I was. She was sitting on one of the rustic benches on the side of the trail, taking a break. I told her I would return as soon as I got to the end of the trail (in this sense, I’m a completist like Cate).

Soon I was back with Norah. We were both very happy and ready to search for coffee. So we did, along with meandering, eating lunch, and chit chatting with folks at a farmer’s market.

Then we got back on our bikes and rode to the motel together. We chatted a little, talked about plans for the rest of the day, pointed out interesting rights to each other. It was calm and relaxing and fun. We both got what we wanted from our outing– calm quiet cycling, calm together cycling. Yay!

Readers, do you ever split up when riding with friends? Do you like it? Do you prefer to ride together mostly, or separately, or a combo? I’m curious.

fitness

Adulting is hard sometimes

Adulting is hard even for me. And I’m the most adulty adult that ever adulted. I’m good at hard things. I’m the adult other adults ask for advice. I’m an expert level adult.

Here I am. In a car. Not riding my bike. Not paddling a canoe. Not taking part in the Triadventure. Despite best laid summer plans. I’m sick.

Of course the physical activity isn’t what it’s all about. It’s a fundraiser for an important charity. I’ve done that bit. I’m happy about that. You can still give if you want to cheer me up. Donate here

Things went off the rails Friday when my knee surgeon’s appointment got moved. It now conflicted with the bus to the start. Luckily friends (thanks Val!) came to the rescue but then the cold took hold full force. Cough. Sore throat. You know the summer cold drill.

It would have felt right to leave the knee surgeons with a plan for total knee replacement and go straight to the Triadventure. That would have felt like me. Even though I know, I know it’s about community and fundraising and connection I wanted the physical activity. My identity needed it even if my body didn’t.

I thought about struggling through. But friends and family all around me were giving me the look that said, you should just go back to bed. And I did. I’m still sick but I made the right choice.

Sarah and I got hair cuts instead. And now we’re driving up to the bon fire part of the Triadventure experience. We don’t have our bikes but we do have love and respect for the Triadventure team.

I have a three day work retreat starting Monday. I’ll be there well rested and freshly shorn and not exhausted. So adulty. I’m even writing this at a vegan diner eating a plate full of healthy vegetables while I wait for Sarah’s haircut to be done.

fitness

Middle aged menstruation: an update

So one year ago exactly I wrote a post about being 53 and a half and still menstruating.  It remains one of the most read and commented on posts of all time on this blog.

Image-1

Clearly, I hit a nerve.

A uterine nerve.

red tentI think it’s because we don’t really know what to think if we’re middle aged menstruators.  What are our cultural touchstones?  Where is our Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret.  Where is our Red Tent?  

I’m joking, but I’m pointing to something important.  If we are still menstruating vigorously at 53 or 54 (as I am, at this very moment, I might add), what version of womanhood are we enacting?  We have no models, no icons — just our own rarely acknowledged experience and absurd calculations (my math tells I’m on something like my 14000th tampon across my life span).

russian-nesting-doll_2634595This is an invisible version of female embodiment.  There is wide cultural exploration of the notion of the invisibility of aging women, but this is like a Russian nesting doll of invisibility within invisibility.  I have reached the age where I’m not seen as a potentially mate-able female by the broader world, but no one told my uterus, which is continuing to thicken and shed, thicken and shed, a door opening and closing on a motion sensor triggered by a random bird flying around on the periphery.

Last year my post about still menstruating was kind of chipper.  Hey, being a late menopause-er is actually good for your longevity, and for your heart and bone health!  Maybe the estrogen is keeping me energized and my skin young!  I may have better brain function and memory longer!

A year later, I don’t feel quite so chipper about this.  I feel fatigued, more hormonally anxious, more crampy.  Like it’s a guest I had a great time with the first night, but now they just won’t. leave.  And they’ve started snoring.

The cultural tropes around period identity are all about the glory of fertile womanhood.  Margaret and her bust-improving pals, the ladies of the Red Tent — their bonding is around their fertility, their tie to the moon and the earth, the Power of Woman to Give Life (or, in the suburbs of the 1970s, kiss boys for the first time).  But for us middle aged menstruators, it’s a paradoxical identity.  Our tie is about the absence of an absence.  It’s the persistence of something that has outlasted its usefulness, something we don’t talk about.  Even our physicians just shrug and acknowledge that we are outliers, no harm, no foul, no meaning.

So what is there to learn in this limbo, in this absence?  What is our Red Tent?  In this space between crone and fertility goddess, where are we? Where do we foregather?  What do we uniquely know?

I’m not sure how to say it exactly, but I think one of the things I know because of this is something about a meta-view on what drives me, what makes me happy, what makes me fearful and anxious.  My particular extended dance version of peri-menopause is that the time that used to be occupied by a kind of cranky but predictable PMS now brings fatigue and, often, a kind of hormonal anxiety storm.  These moments seem to fuse the weepiness and disorientation of puberty combined with a deep knowledge about adult darkness and fear for the world.  Susan and I often commiserate about this, sort of joking that this feels like when we were 13, but now we have “real problems” — and the spiral of hormonal anxiety can bring a kind of existential despair about the world, along with wakeful insomnia where we can’t imagine getting through the tasks of the next day.

But we’re in our 50s.  And even as we’re experiencing them, we know those storms will pass, that the force is temporary and its weight an illusion.  Climate change and the state of global politics isn’t — but we know we’ll be able to cope with it, again, in the morning.  But there is knowledge to be distilled from the anxieties that make themselves known.  When we let ourselves stay in the eye of it, we see real wisdom, the deepest questions and yearnings about who we are, who we can be.

The great thing about being 54 and having a few tools at our disposal is that we then have the capacity to look at those moments and reflect, understand what we want and who we are more fully, more deeply.  And we have the strength, the force of will, the — dare I say, grit — to do something with that knowledge.

Old-Woman-at-the-Mirror_Strozzi-1-e1559579739164

I remember once, when I was in my early 30s, having dinner with a woman who was turning 50, and I asked her what she had learned she would want to share with younger women.  The question made her uncomfortable and sort of pissed off.  I think it was the first time I really realized that the wisdom that “comes with age” also requires engagement with self-reflectiveness, clarity about what aging is meaning to us.  And if we don’t have that, aging makes us feel only loss, deterioration, fear.

I have long appreciated the notion that women’s , 60s and 70s can be a “gift of time” – a space to be creative and fully authentic, unleashed from roles and rules.  I am coming to believe that this time of straddling of fertility/menopause can be a gift of self-reflexivity.  The hormones, the cramps, the fatigue — they’re not fun.  They’re not the journey to self-reflection I might choose.  But their noisiness helps me not ignore things I should be paying attention to. What do I want to be doing as I enter the semi-retirement decade?  What IS my legacy?  How can I navigate the world with grace?  Where am I operating out of fear or safety, and how can I change that?  How do I want to care for my body as it ages?

What about you?  Are you over 50 and still having periods?  And what meaning are you making of it?

 

IMG_9476

 

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who lives, works, and cramps in Toronto.  She coloured her hair grey last week but still can’t make it look the way it did when she left the salon.

 

 

 

 

 

fat · fitness · health

Today in Not News, “Fatter people not taken as seriously by their doctors as less fat people”

Sometimes, when you see a repeated injustice, you get cynical or resigned and roll your eyes. And sometimes, you get teed off. I’m guessing you can guess which one I’m more predisposed to.

Sam shared this twitter story (here and here) from Jen Curran, who had elevated protein levels in her urine during her pregnancy, and she was told to “lose 40 pounds” and come back. Weeks, and a second opinion, later, she learned that she had blood cancer. Her regular doctor ignored what she was saying, and focused on her size instead (as she was pregnant, no less). This is not news.

And it pisses me off.

How is this STILL happening to larger bodied people? How is it that doctors are looking at our sizes, our weights, and our BMIs as if they are useful pieces of data unto themselves?! Do fatter people get cancer? Broken vertebrae? Appendicitis?

We are far past critical mass here–it is long past time for doctors to take a long hard look at their biases. Because make no mistake, that is exactly what this is. In their core, many doctors believe that fatness is of bigger importance to their patients’ health than almost any other factor. The proof of this supremacy is in their persistent focus on weight, above the narratives provided to them by the patients. Every fat person has a story about how their needs and concerns were ignored as their doctor asked them about trying to lose weight.

And this bias is causing life and death decisions to be made, and fatter people are dying.

As an example, people with more body fat are more likely to die after a cancer diagnosis. Is this because of something intrinsic about body fat, or is it because fat people go longer before they reach a diagnosis? Are doctors more reticent to be aggressive with treatments because they are distracted by the “elephant” in the room, possibly assuming that the fat person doesn’t do their part to take care of themselves? Obviously, doctors are not listening to their fat patients as openly–does that mean they miss critical complications until they are too difficult to treat? How much of the “fat is bad for you when you have cancer” conversation is colored by these unconfronted fat biases?

When I was a fat teenager, I dreaded going to the doctor. No conversation at the doctor did not also include a conversation about my weight. I had nearly disabling low back pain from carrying a heavy book bag for years, including on the couple miles walk home from school each day. Did they offer me exercises to strengthen my core muscles? No. I needed to lose weight.

Depression? Have you tried to lose weight?
Irritable bowel syndrome? What have you done to try to lose weight?
Broken bones in your hand after punching a kid in the hallway for calling you a “freak?” Well, you get the idea. I’m pretty sure my weight came up in that conversation, too.

And, I’m sorry to say it doesn’t get a ton better when you go from being a medically fat person to a merely, nearly fat person.

I changed doctors last year after a frustrating conversation along these lines. I am no longer medically “overweight,” but I am just barely so. Over about six years, I changed from a BMI of about 32 to about 24, just under the “normal” threshold. I have also reduced my health risk factors in innumerable ways–I eat more produce, less processed food, and less added sugar and salt. I do some kind of intentional exercise most days of the week. I don’t smoke or drink alcohol. I have been working hard on managing stress (still a work in progress), and I try to get enough quality sleep. I see a therapist regularly to help me manage my depression and trauma.

And when I went in to get a referral for a physical therapist, what did he say? “Your BMI is ok, it’s in the normal zone, but just barely. You might want to do some work to bring that down.” This had NOTHING to do with my current medical concerns. In fact, the opposite. As I have increased my activity levels over the years, underlying imbalances I’ve lived with for nearly two decades have become problematic. It may not have mattered that my muscles and nerves were out of whack when I wasn’t pushing them. But the more physically fit I’ve become, the more I’ve become aware of how my surgical history has permanently impacted how my body works. I was there to see him so I could continue to be physically active, something I’m sure he would recommend as a part of “fixing” my BMI to a lower end of “normal.”

I challenged him on this and reminded him that I was a weightlifter. That maybe some of the “extra” weight I was carrying might be muscle. He said most people overestimate how much that is a factor. I don’t disagree with him, but I kinda wanted him to lie down on the floor, so I could prove I could deadlift him up off of it.

But of course, my BMI in that moment, or any, wasn’t really relevant. BMI is a poor tool for estimating body fat. And body fat is a poor tool for estimating health. What we’re really seeing time and again, people like Jen and me, and so many others, is the biases of our doctors, who see fat and can’t see anything else.

Fat bias is a habit, and habits are hard to break. Doctors who are serious about improving the health of their patients need to begin the hard work of challenging their own assumptions in these moments. To stop themselves before they bring up their patient’s size and ask themselves, “If this patient were smaller and came to me with these concerns, what would I suggest to them?” Fat people know they’re fat. Most of them have tried, and failed repeatedly, to be less fat. Ask them what they are doing to take care of themselves. Ask them what they are hoping to get from the appointment. Ask them what they think is going on. And for goodness sake, treat them like people, not just bodies.

Standing woman helping with a blood pressure reading for a seated woman.
Photo from Unsplash.

Marjorie Hundtoft is a middle school science and health teacher. She can be found picking up heavy things and putting them back down again in Portland, Oregon.

clothing · cycling · fitness

Dressing well for all occasions

by MarthaFitat55

I like dresses. I have admired the lovely patterns that come out each year but I lament the lack of similar pretty, both in fabric and style, dresses for those of us over size 12. Most of what I have seen is pretty shapeless, drab in colour, and definitely old fashioned (and not in a good way) in pattern if they come in colours other than black, maroon, and navy. If it is pretty, stylish and size 14 and up, it usually costs a bomb.

So colour me surprised when I read about the dress sensation from Spain that is sweeping the UK. Produced by Zara, the black dotted dress has shown up everywhere and the price with tax and the exchange runs about $100 Canadian, which makes it a home run in my books. You can dress it up or down, and even get married in it if you like. So popular is this dress that Zara is making more in different colours: coming soon is white dots on black.

What really pleases me though is this dress seems to suit a variety of bodies and shapes and the article’s author points this out:

the Zara dress is a different beast. This is not a cult item being worn by a narrow cross-section of women of similar ages and economic backgrounds. It has transcended its initial cool-girl early adopters to become a sartorial choice for women of all shapes, sizes and ages. It is no longer the preserve of slim, middle-class city-dwelling women who work in offices and do pilates. The dress is worn at village fetes, suburban barbecues and on school runs. It has become the everywoman dress.

Image shows four women of different shapes wearing the same black dotted dress. Photograph source: Instagram/hot4thespot

My point is that if a high end fashion line can come up with something that is affordable, comfortable, stylish and flexible, why can’t we find this stuff everywhere including sportswear?

When Nike launched its plus size line (1X to 3X — not a great range but is a start), they got all kinds of pushback from people who thought producing a line of clothing for larger bodies was heresy and condoning unhealthy behaviours. Whatever.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep my eye out on the Zara dress and Nike’s plus size line. It’s good to support those who produce clothing that is affordable, flexible, and meets a range of needs and sizing. While I may not go lifting with a dress, it’s possible I may go cycling in one like SamB.

fitness

Why the Way News Media Covers Women in Sport Matters #tbt

I wrote this #tbt post during the 2016 Olympics, when sexist media coverage was happening almost every day. I was reminded of it last night when I was at an amazing documentary that tells the incredible story of Tracy Edwards and her all-woman crew on the sailing vessel Maiden, the first all-woman crew in the Whitbread Around the World sailing race (in 1989-90 — it takes nine months). One of the ongoing themes in that film is the sexist media coverage (endlessly so) and how demoralizing it was for these women, who were engaged in a difficult and dangerous undertaking that took skill and courage. They were expected to fail. And when they actually turned out to be competitive, they were “sailing like men.” Read on about why sexist sports coverage matters.

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

2016 Rio Olympics - Artistic Gymnastics - Women's Team Victory Ceremony USA women’s gymnastics team in Rio, with their team gold medals. Photo credit: REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX

We’ve all heard it before: more money and attention go to men’s sport because men’s sports are more popular. For women who are athletes, it’s a constant battle to be taken seriously for their accomplishments. On one front, the women need to work hard to keep the focus on their athletic achievement (as opposed to their looks, who they want to date, or what they post on social media). On another front, they struggle to get their share of media coverage.

Just ask Canadian tennis player, Eugenie Bouchard, who was once famously asked “to twirl” in an on-court interview and also, on a different occasion, asked who her ideal date would be. More recently, CBC sportscaster, Adam Kreek, blamed her Olympics singles loss on what she does on social media. He said:

“she’s…

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