Throwback Thursday

A Tale of Two Locker Rooms, #tbt

Throwback Thursday! Here’s Tracy on a tale of two locker rooms

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

Employee-Locker

Happy International Women’s Day! In honour of IWD, I thought I’d write about my experience in a women-only space that lots of us who lead active lifestyles spend some time in: the women’s locker room.

I frequent two locker rooms regularly: the women’s locker room at the hot yoga studio and the adults only women’s locker room at the Y. These locker rooms have very different vibes and cultures. The difference fascinates me.

More than half of the women in the hot yoga locker room are under 35. A good majority of these women have youthful, firm, slender bodies that fit the ideal of feminine beauty so prized by our current social context. They take their hot yoga class wearing the shortest shorts and the teeniest crop tops. And to me, they look enviably perfect in their hot yoga clothes.

Yet these same young women hide behind their towels when…

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fitness

7000!

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Thanks everyone for reading, following, sharing, liking, and commenting.

Welcome to our blog!

Here’s a little history of our ever-growing blog community:

We started the blog at the end of August, 2012.

Things were quiet in those first few months.

On May 13th, 2013 we welcomed our 500th follower.

On November 28, 2013, 1000 followers.

I think we lost track of 2000 somewhere in the middle.

On December 25, 2014, 3000 followers.

Then on January 27, 2015, 4000 followers.

Sometime in February we hit 5000 and then 6000 on March 28, 2015.

And now today, 7000! (Actually 7003 but who’s counting? )

That’s a thousand new followers a month since December!

How our blog community has grown!

cycling

Fave bike songs (or some music for a Wednesday!)

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Here’s some of my favourite bicycle songs:

1. She Rides, by Evalyn Parry, from her one woman show, SPIN

2. Me and My Bike, by Gracious Collective

3. I Got a Bicycle! by Coco Love Alcorn

https://fitisafeministissue.com/2013/08/21/i-got-a-bicycle-love-this-song/

4. Broken Bicycles, by Tom Waits

5. Bicycle Race, Queen (of course) (featuring naked women racing bicycles, of course)

6. Bicycle Song, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Here’s some more lists of favourite bicycle songs:

1. Mixtape: http://flavorwire.com/73760/mixtape-10-best-songs-about-bicycles

2. Most downloaded bike theme songs: http://www.officialcharts.com/chart-news/tour-de-france-10-most-downloaded-bike-themed-songs-revealed-__4297/

3. Total women’s cycling 9 songs about bikes: http://totalwomenscycling.com/lifestyle/9-songs-about-bikes-and-cycling-19747/#y8rmhU5xJ81Husvd.97

 What are your favourite songs about bicycles?

Girls on bikes, in Brooklyn, with stripes and swimming caps.  Like synchro swimmers who're totally over the water!  Yeah!

 

fitness

30 X 30 May Challenge

Go play outside. That’s the challenge. For 30 minutes a day for the 30 days of May. It’s the brainchild of David Suzuki.

Read more about it here: http://30×30.davidsuzuki.org/

I’ve written about it before. See Play outdoors in May!

This year I’m going to do it. Bike riding, yes. We’re hoping to a adopt a new dog (see Dogs are awesome!) and so dog walking. I’m going to try trail running so there’s that too. And I often enjoy nature hikes with my teens. And then there’s gardening as well.

I’d like to try one of these, The Top 10 Hikes in Ontario. Maybe Point Pelee National Park.

 

fitness · yoga

Why Yoga Needs Levels

Yoga practice, tree concept for your designA rant with the wonderful title “Namaste Bitches” came our way yesterday. I love the juxtaposition of the traditional yoga closing “namaste” — translated from Sanskrit to English it means something like: “may the light in me honor the light in you” — with the aggressive dissing, “bitches.”

So what is the author’s complaint?  Well, it’s a resentful diatribe against “the bullshit that has tarnished the beautiful practice of Yoga, the real benefits of eating for health and the elegance of living a more gentle, inclusive life.”

The lightning rod for her misery is the yoga studio. Yoga, according to her dictionary, is supposed to be this:

Yoga: a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation.

We’ll overlook for now that it’s a bit more complex than that and that it depends which dictionary you consult. But the kind of yoga we’re most fixated on in the West (and in this article) is the physical kind of yoga, namely, hatha yoga. We short-form that to “yoga” in this part of the world, and maybe that’s part of the problem. But that’s for another day.

The complaint is that her yoga studio, far from attracting practitioners who are interested in this peaceful liberation of self, is a magnet for mean girls.

Here it is:

If you have been to a Yoga studio, you know what I am referencing, you have heard them. Sadly, sometimes the instructors are just as shitty. Yoga is a practice, not a fucking competition. I should be able to forego the $200.00 yoga pants and show up in whatever the hell I please. I should be able to gradually improve the yoga postures as my body strengthens and not feel intimidated by the voices of the Namaste Bitches in the back, muttering about how they should have different classes for people who are not very good at yoga. As God is my witness, the next time I hear anything like that directed at me or anyone in the class, I will purposely turn around and raise my middle finger and utter in the most peaceful voice; “Namaste this, Bitch”.

When we posted this on our Facebook page yesterday, the vast majority of people said, “that has not been my experience.” Nor has it been mine.  And I don’t know that I would continue to frequent a yoga studio where more experienced students tried to shame the novices.  It’s not just “not yogic.” It’s rude and disrespectful.

Of course not everyone who takes a yoga class is full of respect and non-judgment for those around them. But seriously, maybe try a different studio if the one you go to gets you that riled up.

I started doing yoga way back before it was trendy.  You couldn’t buy $100 yoga pants when I started, let alone $200 yoga pants.  Every year my instructor took our orders for black Danskin leggings, we gave her our size and our cheques. She got a bulk discount on the shipping. And then a few weeks later, after we’d all but forgotten, the delivery arrived and we all got our new yoga pants.

The proliferation of yoga studios and yoga fashion kind of crept up on us through from the mid- to late-2000s to now. I get that there are lots of things to rant about whenever something pure and sacred has much that is good commodified right out of it.

After over a decade of Iyengar yoga, taught by an exceptionally experienced teacher according to the strict requirements of Iyengar certification (I’ve written about the quality of instruction here), I had some difficulty grasping the approach at the local hot yoga studio. What was the problem?  They had no sense of levels.

Now don’t get me wrong. It didn’t matter to me for my own practice that there were people with hardly any experience taking the classes. It didn’t matter because everyone did the same sequence every class anyway.

But having come from the Iyengar method, I had grown accustomed to working my way through levels, each of which had a slightly different curriculum.  The beginners didn’t do headstand or full-arm balance, for example. And it took some time to work our way to full back-bends. Instructors in the method need to keep advancing in their certification. As they progress in their qualifications, they are permitted to teach more advanced curriculum.

So unless it’s a special workshop day, you just wouldn’t find a lot of people at different levels of practice taking the same classes. That’s not about competition. You don’t need to be competitive to want a class that’s appropriate to your level of experience.

From what I’ve witnessed, novice and advanced students alike feel better in classes geared to their abilities. Yoga is no different from any other physical practice in that it’s a set of skills learned over time. The idea of doing the exact same class with all different levels of experience runs counter to that approach, as if everyone at all times is prepared to do any of the postures.

The more I practiced in the Iyengar tradition, the more I realized just how vast and deep even the physical practice of yoga is, never mind all of the other levels of teaching.

And you can really hurt yourself if you do it wrong. When you have an all-levels class with a potentially inexperienced instructor who just goes through a sequence as if it is an aerobics class, there is a huge possibility that someone is going to get injured.

So while I can definitely get behind the “Namaste Bitches” ranter’s disappointment that there are judgmental mean girls in her yoga studio, I think there are all sorts of good reasons for offering different levels of classes that respond to the different needs and abilities of students.

It’s safer and it respects the idea of yoga as an on-going practice in which students gain insight, understanding, skill, and ability over time, with adequate instruction geared to their level of experience.

Namaste.

chi running · fitness · racing · sports nutrition · training

Mississauga Marathon Part 1: Taper Time!

Exciting times! On Sunday I’ll be running my first marathon ever! Sam, who has a gift for generating blog ideas not just for herself but also for me, made a special request for a three-part series: 1. Taper week; 2. Race report; 3. Recovery week.

I’m not sure if anyone else is as interested as she is, but I’m going to oblige anyway.  Having set aside my terror, I’m feeling kind of stoked about the upcoming marathon. Here’s what I know. It may not be pretty, but I will make it across the finish line.  In my experience with anything I’ve not done before, feeling confident that I can finish one way or another is one key ingredient to making it to the end.

I’ve never gone into an event worried about a DNF, so why start now? I had my moment when I thought I might demote my registration to a half marathon, but I’m over it. A marathon it will be!

So what does taper week look like for me? I don’t have a very sophisticated understanding of what’s required. I didn’t do a lot of reading. I just consulted my coach. She suggested three short-ish runs this week: 40 minutes on Tuesday, 30 minutes on Thursday, and 20 minutes on Saturday. Nothing particularly exerting save for a few super-short sprint bursts on the longer run.

When I say I didn’t do a lot of reading, that’s because the reading I did start to do overwhelmed me. Much of what I saw on the internet suggested that my tapering should have started before this week. It kind of did, in that last week was a bit of a wash. But not in a structured or intentional way.

Then there’s the nutrition. Sam sent me this post about nutrition the week before the marathon. I started to read it but when it started talking about grams of carbs per 500 grams of body weight, it felt too complicated. For one thing, I’m just not all that good at counting grams of carbs.  And for another, I’m just not all that good at seeing to it that I get a certain number of grams of anything.

So far my week-leading-up-to-the-race nutrition doesn’t look much different from any other week.  Maybe I’ll regret that. The one thing I do plan to implement is low fiber, high carbs, and low fat for the 2-3 days before race day. I don’t need to count to be able to do that and it seems like a sensible plan.

I’m also going to follow the suggestion of 30-60g of easily digestible carbs for each hour that I’m out there. I can count race food–gels, shot blocks, dates–and figure out how much to bring and how best to spread it out over the duration, which I estimate will be at least five hours.

The psychological impact of taper week is that you have a lot more time to let your head mess with you.  I first heard about that in this video that Caitlin of Fit and Feminist talked about when she wrote about her taper leading up to her BQ a few weeks ago. Here’s the video:

Call it heightened sensitivity or whatever. But yes, I can relate. I’m hyper-aware of every physical thing going on. I attended a Chi Running workshop on the weekend (blog post coming) and something we did that day (maybe the part where we ran without shoes–which I did against my better judgment) really activated my plantar fasciitis all over again. My mind went into a spiral: How am I going to run 42.2 km with this feeling in my right foot?

It’s fine now.

They also talk about getting lots of rest. I’m trying, but there is a ton going on in my life right now besides the marathon. So as much as I want to make race day the focal point, it’s really just one thing among several this week and that’s not what I had in mind when I signed up way back in the fall.

So I wouldn’t say this taper time is going especially well or that I’m doing it “properly.”  But right now I can’t be too preoccupied with that. I’m getting in my runs as precribed, putting a halt on resistance training for the week, and doing one swim session on Friday.

I only have two real goals for race day (which I’m happy to report is expected to be partly sunny and warm but not hot hot): 1. Make it to the finish line and 2. have at least a little bit of fun.

cycling · fitness

The big wide world of cycling

One of the things I love most about cycling is how many different kinds of riding there are. I identify first and foremost as a road cyclist but I’m not close minded about it.

I love most of them and suspect I would love the ones I haven’t tried yet. They’re on my list!

From fat tire bicycle tours in New Orleans to our local velodrome, the Forest City Velodrome, aka the Salad Bowl of Death, I love them all.

Okay, maybe not this. I don’t think I’d like this. Mostly because I’m sure it would involve my death. Death in a scenic location, but death, nonetheless.

Sometimes I even combine radically different styles of riding on the same weekend. Last year I did the MEC century on a Saturday, followed by the Tweed Ride on the Sunday.

I even blogged about my “big tent approach” to cycling here.

And it’s happening again.

May is the month of London’s Second Tweed Ride and the Springbank Road Race. I’ll be riding in one (in tweed!) and marshalling at the other (keeping geese off the 2.2 km race course).

1. Tweed Ride

Tweed Ride: The (Second Annual) London Tweed Ride is Saturday, May 9, 2015, and it’s time to register now!
It’s free!
It’s fun!
It’s for everyone!
And the first 100 to register on eventbrite (and ride) will be entered in a draw to win a bike! Sign up now and tell your friends!

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/london-tweed-ride-tickets-16242938065

On ride day, check in starts at 11:00am at Queens Park, site of the OEVCA Healthy Hearts for Spring Festival. We ride at noon, exploring London’s neighbourhoods and stopping for tea at Meredith Park in SoHo before returning to Queens Park by 2:00pm.

Contact us at info@londontweedride.ca
Web: www.londontweedride.ca

Twitter: @Ldntweed
Register to ride: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/london-tweed-ride-tickets-16242938065

2. Springbank Road Races

The London Centennial Wheelers are proud to present the 47th annual Springbank Road Races, to be held on Sunday, May 3, 2015 in London’s beautiful Springbank Park. This OCA sanctioned event will be held on the same closed 2.2 km course as in the past and offers over $4,000 in cash and prizes. The width of this fast and technical loop varies, combining a narrow paved path on the back of the course with a wide and flat finishing straight, and makes for exciting and spectator-friendly racing. This year the Springbank Road Races will again be part of the O-Cup, Ontario’s premier road cycling series.

Important: riders are asked *not* to pre-ride the course on the Saturday prior to race day. We have in the past had some rider/pedestrian near-misses, and would like avoid that this year. It’s bad publicity for the race, and puts a strain on our relationship with the City of London.

Tentative start times, distances, and fees are available on the Categories & Start Times page.

Online pre-registration will be available on the OCA’s webpage, and sign-in opens at 7:30am on the day of the race.

For more information, or to volunteer your time, please contact Chris Vlemmix (Race Director) via email at chrisv@speedpro.com or by phone at (519) 702-6022.

Finally, please note that the information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. In case of a discrepancy between this site and the official Technical Guide, the latter shall be taken as correct.

http://springbank.lcw.ca/Home.html

See you there!

________________________________________________________________________

Also, in my social media newsfeed, though not anywhere close to London, here’s video from the single speed national champs in New Zealand:

https://www.facebook.com/Tak.Mutu/videos/10155423958055328/?pnref=story

Aikido

Playing with the brown belts!

I’ve been attending, by invitation, the Thursday night class for advanced belts, at our Aikido dojo. I’m sometimes the lowest ranked person there and so I’ve been playing a lot with the brown belts. My current belt colour is green. I hold the rank of 4th kyu in Yoshikan Aikido.

There’s nothing like spending time with people who are much better than you at something to see just how much you have to learn. I feel like a complete beginner all over again.

Aikido is a defensive martial art but part of what I have to work is attacking. Let me explain. I need to be a better uke.

What’s the role of the uke?

The uke’s attack should be clean and with full intent, although slow and deliberate at first. You should not be stiff; a stiff uke is a brittle uke. Nor should you be a wet noodle; a noodle is an uncommitted uke. You need to find a balance point between being stiff and being a noodle. This balance is best described as being a physical state of “living relaxation”, i.e., relaxed but extending Ki strongly.

As mentioned, it is important to have clear intent and focus in your attack. After all we are trying to simulate, in a controlled way, a real attack. A real attacker predetermines the point at which his attack is going to land and does not know what you are going to do. Hence, as uke, you need to try and simulate a real attack, although slowly, by being focused on your target and having full intent of hitting your target.

From Mountain Spirit Aikido

In order to train to defend yourself, one person has to play the part of the attacker and I’m not very good at that. It would be easy to defend yourself against my gentle feeble not particularly heart felt punches. I find myself thinking, “He’s 6 ft and weighs about 250 lbs. Why on earth would I punch him?” But then my light hearted punches don’t give the person enough energy to make the response work. In Aikido, the idea is that you use your attacker’s energy against them so that really they’re doing all the harm. You’re just redirecting the force.

Osensei says, “To control aggression without inflicting injury is the Art of Peace”.

But if there’s no energy to redirect, Aikido won’t work.

So I’m learning to throw myself into the role of the attacker. Outside my comfort zone but here we go.

The flipside of that though is that I also need to more resilient in terms of receiving my partner’s response. Lots of Aikido techniques involve throws and I can usually roll pretty well but when things speed up, I need to speed up my responses too. I want to be a good training partner so that the people who work with me really get a chance to practice their technique.

Learning lots these days!

 

Boxing Shorts - Leminor Sports

body image · link round up

Fit is a Feminist Issue, Link Round Up #27

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This is where we share stuff we can’t share on 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?

By the way, Facebook recently clarified its stance on nudity, writing, “We remove photographs of people displaying genitals or focusing in on fully exposed buttocks. We also restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple, but we always allow photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring. We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures and other art that depicts nude figures.” For the full story see here.

Nipples! Scary!

Why does a fitness blog even care about body image? You can read about that here.

Google Search Trends Reveal Unhappy Preoccupation with Weight Loss

Weight loss is a huge issue on the minds of millions of people around the world, and a new study into weight-related search terms shows just how negative those thoughts can be.

The team at Bulimia.com, a site dedicated to providing information and treatment options to men and women battling eating disorders, took a look at which weight loss terms were most searched for on Google in the United States.

The site used Google Trends to look into the popularity of several weight-related searches over the past 12 months. The results are startling.

Searches for weight loss-related terms generally increase at the beginning of the year, likely due to the fact that “getting in shape” is on the top of many New Year’s resolution lists. However, the terms people use when Googling aren’t quite as body-positive as we would like.

The most-searched for term related to weight loss was “how to lose weight fast,” which was Googled 80 percent more than just “how to lose weight.” Additionally (but not surprisingly), searches for “how to lose weight fast for women” are much more prevelent than “how to lose weight fast for men.”

7 Things Women With Stretch Marks Are Tired Of Hearing — Because Our Bodies Aren’t Ruined, Thank You Very Much

Even though it’s estimated that 80 percent of Americans have stretch marks, those familiar lines on our tummies and inner thighs still receive a lot of unnecessary attention — and discovering how to love your stretch marks subsequently becomes even more difficult. I’ve had stretch marks since junior high, and over the years I’ve come across many a stretch mark “expert,” selflessly offering unsolicited advice about natural ways to get rid of stretch marks or dropping some serious knowledge about what causes stretch marks. While I’m sure we can all agree that it’s interesting to hear other people’s ideas about how to “fix” our bodies, it would be nice if everyone could take a 2007 Chris Crocker stance and leave stretch marks alone.

Teen liposuction and busty pinatas: narcoaesthetics in Colombia – in pictures

In Colombia, girls grow up in a world where they are seen as decorative objects – and where plastic surgery rules. For her new photoessay Beauties, the 2014 Joan Wakelin bursary winner Manuela Henao captures the teenagers shelling out fortunes for buttock implants, nose jobs and new breasts

The Simple ‘Secret’ to Making a Woman Orgasm Way Too Many People Still Don’t Get

A new documentary called “Science, Sex, and The Ladies” is a fun and educational film about women getting off.

31 Plus Size Women In Bikinis Who Prove That Fatkini Season Is The Best Season

When you’re in the plus-size community and part of the body positive movement, it’s really not a big deal to see a fat woman in a bikini. In fact, it’s common. But as evidenced by the viral explosion of Skorch Magazine publisher Jessica Kane’s beach photo, it’s still major mainstream news that a fat woman wears a swimsuit to the beach like a “normal” human being.

I realize that most people are still not exposed to so many beautiful fat babes in bikinis enough on a regular basis to find it “normal” yet. So even though I’m still not sure if I should be wearing my winter jacket some days or not, I wanted to share just a few of the many gorgeous bikini photos that I’ve seen already this year on the ‘gram in anticipation of summer, to remind you that bikini season doesn’t have a size limit.

Weekends with Womack

Cycling (not) by the numbers

I love cycling, and finally the weather here in New England is conducive to regular bike riding. Commuters are everywhere, and road cyclists and mountain bikers are out and training. There’s even a Spring Bike Wash this weekend in Boston, co-hosted by the Boston Police Department and the Boston Cyclists Union. I wish I were attending—my bikes could certainly use a little of this:

wash-bike

The racing season is also well under way, and lots of people are already competing. My friend Cathy is below, along with some racers for the unsanctioned but very well-attended Rasputitsa race in Vermont:

cathy-rowell

rasputitsa

Cycling is more than just a sport of endurance, coordination, strength, and grit. It’s also a sport that loves numbers, in particular those involving weighing and measuring.

What do we measure? Just about everything:

  • Distance traveled on rides
  • Distance traveled each week, month, etc.
  • Hours in the saddle
  • Heart rates—average, highs, etc.
  • Watts expended—average, highs, etc.
  • Amount of climbing per ride
  • Personal bests for each of the above
  • KOM and QOM (King and Queen of the Mountain) records for hill climbs

Just to name a few. To make all this data gathering easier, we have heart rate monitors, bike computers, power meters, and software like Strava to analyze our progress.

computers

And there’s the weighing: we weigh ourselves. We also weigh our bikes—in particular every part of the bike. There’s even a term for persons who attend obsessively to the weight of gear: weight weenie. If you want to know the weight of any and every component of a bike, the internet is at your disposal—you can go here.

In the cycling community, there’s an assumption that all this weighing and measuring is important for assessing one’s progress in training and making progress towards goals—for racing, planning long bike tours, doing century or charity rides, etc. I’ve done plenty of training, logging miles and time, worn my heart rate monitor for specialized workouts, and certainly weighed myself a lot.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been working more and riding less, and I’m less fit than I was. This translates directly to less power and endurance and speed on the bike. The bike doesn’t lie. However, I’m on the brink of a sabbatical—8 months of research leave to work on academic projects (related to eating, health and behavior change—more on this in posts to come!), and I will have time to get some of that fitness back. And this is something I want very much. I miss riding with fit friends, riding comfortably for long distances, and having biking be the default mode of local transport and the default weekend activity.

But the thought of all that weighing and measuring is feeling too much of a burden—knowing how slowly I’m riding, exactly how hard I’m working does not feel like the right thing to do now. I do have some goals this year: I’m doing 50 miles in the Bikes Not Bombs charity ride again this June (I blogged about this last year here ) and The NYC Century in September (the 75-mile route). I also want to do some multi-day bike trips in New England. And I want to do some organized club rides as well.

These are all reasonable goals, as I’ve met all of them before. But this year I’m feeling a little fearful and a lot rebellious. It’s been a very work-intensive school year, and I haven’t been able to really relax mentally or physically. Right now, the last thing I want is another set of reporting requirements for leisure time activity.

So what’s a stubborn cyclist to do?

Get out and ride—no expectations, no goals, no numbers. I want to rediscover the fire inside, the motivation, the joy, the pain (yes, that too) and the satisfaction that comes from getting sweaty, gritty, greasy, muddy and happy on a bike. I’ll report back (with no statistics, though). In the meantime, I should buy some more degreaser, as I’m expecting to be sporting a chain tattoo pretty often.

chain tattoo