Guest Post

Grey Cup Fever (Guest Post)

by Sarah Millin

Last Sunday I watched as quarterback Henry Burris threw a 93 yard touchdown reception to drive Ottawa to their first Grey Cup in 30 years.

No one really expected Ottawa to win. Henry Burris at age 40 was dumped by his last team as too old. The Red Blacks are a new team and had an appalling season last year.

As I watched them win  I remembered “The Catch”

The Catch

I watched almost 30 Grey Cup games with my dad over the years. I was very young and barely remember when Ottawa won in 1973.

But the first Grey Cup I really remember was the all Rough Rider 1976 game which is still remembered for The Catch. We lived in Ottawa at the time and we were cheering for the home team.

The heavily favoured Saskatchewan Roughriders were leading the Ottawa Rough Riders by four points with 30 seconds to go. People were already leaving the stadium assuming that Saskatchewan won. Rookie quarterback Tom Clemons threw a 24 yard touchdown pass to Tony Gabriel to win. It’s still considered one of the best Grey Cups ever played.

I wasn’t involved in playing sports at school and I don’t think my dad was either. Being small in stature guarantees being picked last for the team until someone starts a garden gnome league. In the 70s football and hockey were exclusively for men. I went to a high school where boys played football (and they still showed the grainy video of the last time the school won the city championship at least once a year at assembly) and girls played volleyball (more regular city champs and provincial champs but no video).

My dad moved to Vancouver with his second wife and I joined them in 1983. Now we were B.C. Lions fans.  For the first time since the 60s B.C. had a great team, Vancouver had the first domed stadium, it was a good time to be a fan. Lions won their first Grey Cup in 20 years in 1985.

We developed a routine while watching the Grey Cup in these years.  We imitated the announcers’ more silly commentary. “They’re in the shadow of goal line”.  My dad and I talked about players from the past. Nothing could elicit evil giggles from my dad better than reminding him about the Alouette linebacker who rejoiced in the name  “Randy Rhino”.

The Kick

My dad was travelling when the 77th Grey Cup was played. So he missed the epic battle between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Hamilton was heavily favoured to win that game and Saskatchewan put on a show. The Roughriders’ Dave Cutler kicked the winning field goal with seconds to spare.

That Grey Cup converted me to being a closeted Saskatchewan fan. When I finally come out to my dad about rooting for the Riders it was a big deal.

Half Time

“Who is this Shania Twain?” my dad asked before the 90th Grey Cup. His third wife, his girlfriend, and I all laughed and said you’ll see. The half time show was when we usually filled up on booze and Dad’s favourite potato chips. Normally the TV sound was turned way down for that part. That’s the only Grey Cup where I remember the half time show better than the actual game.

They Came to Play

Usually late in the third quarter or somewhere in the fourth one of the announcers will intone very seriously “They came to play”.

I wonder how much of my attitude about sports and fitness come from my dad. For years his only exercise was running around on his wives and pushing vegetables around on his plate.

I’ve inherited his playfulness but somehow it doesn’t relate to sports. Is it genetic or learned? My aunt who was much more physically active (Tai Chi master) commented she also found it hard to develop that muscle memory you need so much in sports.

Third and Goal

My dad passed six years ago. I miss him especially at Grey Cup time. We watched other sports together: baseball, curling, NFL but the Grey Cup was always special. It didn’t matter what combination of wives, ex-wives, girlfriends, or ex-girlfriends were present over the years, that was time I shared with him.

Grey Cups are different  now. The food is healthier (I’m planning a vegetarian Black Bean cassoulet instead of the chilli my dad usually made)and there will be no booze and l’ll probably go for a good walk during half time this Sunday.

And as we never, ever cheered for the Eskimos, it’s go Red Blacks!



About Sarah: When not watching football,  I operate a small business technology support enterprise and write about technology ( ).


We all gotta die of something, but probably not what we most fear

death infographicMaybe you saw this infographic yesterday. I got it from a Business Insider (Australia) article that showed up in my newsfeed: “The things most likely to kill you in one infographic.” With all of our fear and anxiety about terrorism and plane crashes, it turns out that what’s way more likely to kill us is the health-related stuff.

I drive my car without giving it much thought, but I obsess about the possibility of being killed or seriously injured riding my bike on the road. Maybe in this infographic they both count as “transport related accidents,” but in terms of sheer numbers, the death toll in car accidents is enormous.

For me, I think a relevant factor in the fear is that in the event of an accident, cyclists are more vulnerable to serious injury than people in cars. I had the same worry on my motorcycle, namely, that the consequences of an accident were just likely to be that much worse. But I don’t even know if that’s right. (as an aside, the reason most of us are unlikely to die in a war is that most of us are unlikely to be in a war zone. I’m sure that statistic goes up enormously if we limit the demographic to people living in war zones).

What the info-graphic shows is that there are lots of things to worry about before “transport-related accidents.” Suicide is more probable than that. But there are a whole slew of health things, and this infographic is meant to give us perspective.

The good thing about health stuff is that lots of it is preventable. There is documented evidence to support the claim that adopting a healthy lifestyle, with some sort of movement, a balanced approach to eating, adequate sleep, and attention to mental health, can increase a person’s expected lifespan.

And while we can’t plan not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, we can make decisions about how to live day to day in way that makes some of the things at the top end of “things most likely to kill you” less likely.

Back in the day, people used to die of something called “old age.” If you look at this infographic, “old age” isn’t even a thing on it. This makes sense because it’s not an ailment in itself — of course it’s not. But it would be helpful to have some age stats on some of these health-related causes of death. My guess is that many of them become more likely as we get older.

And that too bodes well for people who are in a position to make healthy choices.

Is this kind of thing enough to make me relax about riding my bike?  Well, I’m not so sure.  I mean, I get that the probability of dying of something not health-related is relatively low. But everyone dies of something. And one thing we do not have the gift (or curse) of is knowing what, in our own case, that something will be.

Meanwhile, I agree that there’s no point in being overly preoccupied with our inevitable death.  The how and when of it is not within our control. But if, as this infographic suggests, chances are good that most of us will die from “natural causes,” that makes at least a good statistical case for keeping things in perspective.

What about you? Does this infographic give you helpful perspective?


Fit is a Feminist Issue, Link Round Up #62


This is where we share stuff we can’t share on our Facebook page for fear of being kicked out!

Usually the posts are about body image, sometimes there’s nudity and links about sex but we’re all adults here.

20 Reactions to the Convertible Cupcake Dress and Why This Discussion Matters

I have been a visibly fat person on the internet for nearly two years, a fashion designer for six and an online journalist for eight so I know a thing or two about what goes down in the comments section. I still remember the first time I experienced it. I wrote an article about shopping at thrift stores for AOL and someone in the comments called me a communist which was a pretty big leap. I learned then that people in the comments can sometimes feel both an inflated sense of self importance and also a unique kind of bravery that gives them a sense of entitlement to say things that they would probably never say to my face especially when I never asked for their opinion. I’m not a human being to them: I’m a byline on the story they didn’t like; the butt of their fat jokes and the designer who dared to break their cherished fashion rules.

11 Fearless Images That Push Us To Rethink What ‘Beautiful’ Means

A new campaign is celebrating all bodies by selling a little bit of self-love.

Created by Wear Your Voice Magazine, #BeyondBeauty is a campaign that hopes to challenge brands that promote body positivity to include a more diverse range of women in their advertisements. The campaign includes a photo series which features 18 women of all body shapes.

“It is a campaign whose only selling point is self-love,” a WYV press release reads. “We’re not endorsing a product, we are supporting authenticity in all its forms. We are daring to look beyond this traditional and limiting idea of ‘beauty’ to see the strength that not only lies within, but that exudes from all.”

The series features different types of photos, such as a body-positive take on before and after images where nothing about the women have actually changed. Other images feature women of all shapes, colors and abilities in an ad-style photo with boxes such as “Flawed” and “Flawless” checked off next to one another.

11 Body Positive Photo Shoots & Campaigns That Made The World A More Inclusive Place — PHOTOS

When I think of the term “body positivity,” my mind often conjures up images of fat, unapologetic ladies doing their thing and giving no effs about it. But the thing about body positivity is that it’s about way more than fat women. And this is something that body-positive photo shoots generally serve to remind us of.

Whether their focus is on fat bodies, queer bodies, bodies of color, disabled bodies, or everything and anything in between, the beauty of photography as it applies to the fight for inclusivity is that it seems to enable so much diverse expression and representation. There are arguably few things in this world which can cause us to stop and think as quickly and as intensely as a striking image. And it’s that urge to make people stop and think that is at the core of most body-positive photo shoots and campaigns.

Most millennials have grown up seeing one principal body type represented in the images they consume: thin, able, cis, white bodies. Despite the beauty these bodies possess, however, having one is simply not the only means to a fulfilled existence in this world. As well as highlighting that there does exist beauty in every form and color and shape and gender identity, these 11 body-positive shoots highlight that one of the most beautiful things we can strive to be is inclusive.

Tackling negative body image among women by emphasising functionality

Women who nurse negative thoughts about their appearance think that people look at them just as disapprovingly. Such a negative body image can lead to a wide range of complaints, from depression to eating disorders and obesity. A solution appears to be at hand: women who concentrate on what their body can do instead of what it looks like are far more satisfied about their appearance. Psychologist Jessica Alleva discovered this during her PhD project ‘Give us a smile and lighten us up’ that she carried out with funding from the Free competition of NWO Division for the Social Sciences. Alleva defends her PhD thesis on Wednesday 25 November at Maastricht University.

 Jessica Alleva investigated approximately sixty existing ‘ image interventions’, including interventions for people who suffer from an or have a low self-esteem with respect to their appearance. She discovered that the measures and therapies investigated only provided relief in a rare few cases. The interventions have the most significant effect among who constantly compare themselves with the most beautiful women on earth and have therefore ended up in a negative spiral.
fitness · running

I might try streaking


Some of my serious running friends on Facebook have incredible running streaks. There’s a professor at Cambridge who ran everyday from 1980 to 2002, twenty two years straight, five miles a day. He’s had other streaks since but none that long. Really though with some short breaks he’s run every day since 1980, since before I finished high school.

The longest running streak has been going since the year I was born. Ron Hill, the 1970 Boston Marathon champ has averaged more than 7 miles a day since December 1964.

Wow. Just wow.

Less impressively, but still beyond my imagination, I’ve got a friend with a running streak almost a year long. He’s been running for 355 days averaging 11.
6 km/day.

I can’t do that but I have wondered about the holiday version. It’s American, of course, which is a good thing because it’s a shorter streak. Canadian thanksgiving through to the new year would be too long, for me.

How’s it go?

“The run streak is designed to keep you running through the holiday season, and to bridge the gap between fall races and training for the spring. It can be difficult this time of the year to keep your running on track—but it’s much easier if you have a goal and a plan.

The goal is simple: Run at least one mile per day, every day, starting on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 26) and ending on New Year’s Day (Friday, January 1). That’s 37 consecutive days of running.”

Read more details here.

So that’s 1.6 km a day for 37 days. If I run with Cheddar, my dog, once a day, we could do it.


On Going for Perfection (Temporarily)

The-Idea-Of-PerfectionWay back in the early days of the blog, in fact it was almost exactly three years ago, I wrote a post called “Why I Like Challenges.” There I said that one of the things I like most about a challenge is:

A challenge is short-term. I can commit to 12 (or even 30) days of hot yoga, but I wouldn’t realistically commit to daily yoga for the whole year, or forever.  It focuses me for a period of time and the very fact that it is time-limited helps me to stick with it. I can return to my regular routine with a sense of accomplishment. And then the regular routine feels totally manageable.

I’m doing a bit of a riff on challenges this week, and here it is: my challenge is to do my workout schedule to perfection this week. Planning for one week of perfection means that I don’t expect to or need to be perfect all the time.

When Sam blogged the other day about her current workout schedule, she noted that it didn’t include a rest day:

This is a rough outline. I haven’t scheduled a day off because life happens and I’ll inevitably end up taking one. Tracy is a fan of planning and doing less. My realism takes the form of planning lots of workouts and not feeling bad missing some.

I may be a fan of planning and doing less, but the fact is, I have a lot of trouble scheduling in a rest day. But rather than thinking, “that’s okay because I’m going to miss something along the way anyway,” I usually actually go into each week thinking I’m going to make it. But then I don’t. And I do feel kind of bad even though, realistically, it’s inevitable.

You might think then, that my challenge this week ought to be about not feeling bad about missing stuff. But instead, I’m going to make it about trying to get it all in, just this week.  I’m aiming for perfection, but only temporarily.

Here’s the schedule from now until I leave in December to visit Renald:

Monday: running or spinning (I ran)

Tuesday: swimming in the morning; indoor group cycling class on the trainer after work

Wednesday: personal training

Thursday: running or rest

Friday: swimming in the morning; personal training after work

Saturday: running or rest (depending what happened on Thursday)

Sunday: long run

When I get back from the holidays, I’m adding a second indoor bike class (Saturday mornings), running on Thursdays, and Mondays as a scheduled day off.

Getting it all in will be a challenge. But like I said three years ago, I can do that for a short time. In actuality, like Sam, my “regular routine” involves the implicit assumption that most weeks I will not make it to every workout. My biggest bugaboo this fall has been the allure of staying in bed instead of going to the Y for my 6 a.m. swims.  If I’m going to make it, I absolutely have to get to bed early enough.

I’m not advocating that we aim for perfection. But I do think it’s fun to try for it temporarily. A week, going into it with a “challenge” mentality, seems about right to me.

What about you? Is your ideal routine a challenge or realistic? If it’s a challenge, do you roll with it, like Sam, going into the week expecting that a day off will just naturally emerge? Or do you feel as if you should be living up to perfection every week? If it’s not reasonable to think you’ll do it every week, how about just for one week?


Smashing Fitness Industry Stereotypes

I was contacted last week by a fellow who is in a local networking group with me for a meeting that our group calls a BBI or Business Building Interview. These interviews are supposed to educate other members of the group about our businesses so we can figure out how to give each other more referrals and generate more business for everyone. Sounds great. What does that have to do with this blog?

Well, this particular fellow is the founder of a fitness oriented company in Milton, Ontario called Arm Training Systems. He wanted to meet with me to talk about how to integrate offering my services (Psychotherapy) into his client programs for people who are having difficulty reaching their goals.

I have to admit that at first, even though I’ve known him for a while and have even trained with him, I was a bit afeared of what he was going to ask me to do. Why? I’ll tell you my friends; if the goals that the people weren’t reaching were weight loss goals, I was prepared to, as my friend Ariel likes to say, “FEMINIST HULK SMASH” that idea right into the bed rock where it belongs.


We sat down to lunch where I was very pleasantly surprised by his opening statement. It went something like, “I’ve been in this industry a long time and I’ve seen what happens when we narrowly focus on exercise, nutrition and weight loss. The results don’t stick and people don’t change. I’m not interested in people losing weight or reaching any particular metric. I’m interested in transformation. I’m hoping you can help me with that.” Talk about blown away… who talks like that? Well, Adam does. He’s a dreamer, and, frankly, a bit of a madman. But the other thing he is, that lots of other fitness industry types aren’t, is flexible and resilient in his approach to life and his business. As our discussion went on, I realized he seemed not to be attached or bound to the orthodoxies of the industry, where selling a program by preying on our fears and insecurities is a guaranteed quick buck. That approach actually makes him a little sick.

He is interested in service, which includes facilitating referrals to other wellness professionals like Osteopathy, Naturopathy, and Psychotherapy. We spent quite a while talking about how to get clients to actually call me. We talked about how many times his clients experience old traumas reemerging as a result of hard training. We talked about how issues of self worth interfere with his clients’ ability to believe they deserve to be stronger or more well. I continued to test him around the weight thing and he continued to give me answers that didn’t turn me all angry and green.

He also talked about the structure of his group sessions. After each round, his team picks a stand out member or two to become a “mentor” to the next group. Mentorship accrues the people reduced rates and other benefits but it requires them to also recruit friends and help facilitate the class. While there is certainly a business element to this, he really lit up when he talked about the community that started to emerge as people invested in not only the program, but the social/emotional benefits of leadership and facilitation. They left behind their insecurities and self-judgment and started to invest in the success of others.

This started me thinking about my fitness journey and what got it going in a consistent way. It wasn’t really about my goal setting or my standards for myself. It was about my friends and their support. I enjoy the strength and the endurance and the aesthetic for sure. I have a lot of fun. But I also have all these people and they lift me up. It was when the critical mass of community hit me, that all my other “metrics” accelerated. Without community, the metrics are a little empty.

So I’m now super excited to support his clients in their goals because I know, at least in principle, that the work won’t be undermined by a training program that relies on clients’ self loathing to get them to hand over the credit card. I so very much want him to be super successful so he can prove that fitness training and support can be done this way. I want the awesome women I know who have demanded respect for their accomplishments in ways that do not highlight the concurrent diminishment of their physical frame, to have more safe places to do the things they want to do. Health, flexibility, strength, stability, endurance and inner peace. . .it’s not actually too much to ask. A scale won’t give us that. Hopefully, this may be a step towards it in the fitness industry in my little corner of the world.

family · fitness

It’s the little things: Dumbells and our one bathroom family

wpid-dumbbells.jpgThis story begins with our decision to not to add a second full bathroom to our house. With three teenagers, it’s what everyone else seemed to assume we’d do. And while at times I’ve thought it would be a good thing, the truth is it seems excessive. We’re not frugal about everything. For example, we’ve got more than our fair share of bikes in this house. But when it comes to home furnishings and renovations, I find myself looking around at the world at how people live and feeling uncomfortable with how much space and stuff your typical North American family enjoys.

Whenever I see real estate ads for houses with more bathrooms than bedrooms, I’m perplexed. I’m reminded of my elderly neighbour’s comment when her daughter bought such a house, “Guess you’ll never get caught short there.”

We have one full bathroom (a second toilet and vanity downstairs)  and often we wait in the morning for a turn in the shower or bath.

What to do with that time?

I’ve been keeping dumbbells outside the bathroom door. And lately when teenagers yell over the music, “I’ll be out in a minute,” I’ve been lifting. Turns out you can lots of reps in in a teenager’s minute. At the end of that minute, I’m a bit less frazzled for waiting and I’ve had a few minutes of lifting.

I also keep a kettle bell on the back deck for when I’m waiting for the dog. Similar idea.

A friend does planks or burpees while waiting for her coffee to heat in the microwave.

When I hurt my shoulder a couple of years ago, I kept a physio band outside my office door and didn’t go in without doing some of the prescribed exercises.

Sneaking in minutes of movement in the spirit of making my day harder. I’m adding micro-changes in the direction of more movement. Thanks Dr. Mike Evans for this way of thinking about everyday movement.


fitness · Weekends with Womack

In praise of feet as travel accessory

imageTraveling, for me, is energizing, refreshing and a real pleasure. It’s a chance to leave my regular life for a bit and try on different modes of existence. Eating new foods, embracing a new cadence for the day, looking at other landscapes and diving into another environment are all ways to clear out old habits and experiment with new ones.

When I lived in Italy 16 years ago I tried dressing up more in response to the well put together Italians I encountered every day going about their business. Sadly, that habit didn’t really stick. But I did develop a love for Italian coffee that has persisted.

Another thing that travel does for me is remind me of the virtues of public transportation. In Boston I drive and ride my commuter bike around town but don’t usually take subway or buses much. In other places– especially cities with good public transportation infrastructure– it’s easy to get around on trams, trains, buses and even ferries. It may seem like it’s more time consuming (and does require some planning), but it’s a great way to see what a place is like. You can get a look at the locals in their daily lives and also see the working areas– not just the tourist sites.

Engaging down the path to discovery is sometimes taxing, though. Managing the logistics, luggage and lag (of the jet variety) sometimes leaves me a bit low energy. But I’ve noticed something else on my travels for the past two months: no matter how tired, lost, confused or homesick I’ve been, walking around always makes it better. Here are some examples where walking is a handy option;

I’m in an airport with a long wait, too tired to read. I walk around.’m newly arrived somewhere and majorly jet lagged– headachy and queasy and out of sorts. I walk around (preferably with nice friends like Samantha and Diego, who I saw Tuesday in Toronto).

I’m not feeling up for navigating yet on my bike in a new place. I walk around.

I want to get a feel for a neighborhood, but have no particular destination in mind. I walk around.

I spy a forest path or beach that looks enticing. I walk around.

My normal sports outlets are not available because I’m far away or can’t find or afford to do them. I walk around.

I’m traveling back to Sydney for 3 more weeks of work and exploration and social fun. I’m planning on swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, and of course riding my bike. But no matter what, my feet are available as a handy travel tool to combat lots of travel woes.

So thank you feet!

Sat with Nat · Uncategorized

The flu

  Hey friends,

Sorry for the dreary post but I’m down hard with the flu. Ah yes, you seasonal bit of dirt in my eye. 

I did get the flu shot, about 2 weeks ago but the tricky thing is you need 2 weeks to get the immunity. Dagnabbit!

So I look scary and feel worse. It’s been fever and chill, coughing and sneezing, the whole nine yards. 

So no run Thursday and likely not today. I’m lightheaded and woozie. I’m at mild risk of complications from the flu due to asthma. I’m one of those asthmatics who makes tenacious mucus. Oh ya. That is way  gross but important to know because it means having a hard time clearing my lungs. That can lead to pneumonia. Bad stuff that. 

So I’m trying to reconcile my strong drive to be productive with the fact I’ve been sitting at home making tenacious mucus since Thursday at lunch. 

I know taking a break when I’m this sick is important. It just sucks. I started a new health coaching program this week and have been tracking my activity. (More on that program next week!)

Now my activity numbers are low for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I’m feeling defensive for no reason. My abs hurt from the coughing. Wha!

It’s not serious. I know. It’s just the flu and by next week I’ll be right as rain. 

When you are sick do you push through with workouts or take a break? I’d love to hear what you do a mind why. 

Stay fit & fiesty friends. 


Feeling proudly Canadian and curious: Do you know your beer mile time?

I’m a proud Canadian and proud Western professor today. Lewis Kent, a Canadian and a Western student to boot, has taken the men’s beer mile record. The official beer mile record book is here.

What’s the beer mile?

Simply really. One mile, 4 laps, 4 beers.

His time? 4:51.90

The best women’s time is 6:17.8

But Tracy and I won’t be challenging it.

First, neither of us drinks alcohol. So there’s that. (Though we were amused to read that people do their beer mile training with non-alcoholic beer, which makes perfect sense.)

Second, we also couldn’t imagine drinking four beer in that time, never mind the running.

Here’s the story about Kent’s beer mile victory on the CBC’s website.

The 21-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., broke the world record Tuesday night in the beer mile — a race that combines running and drinking beer. Runners chug a beer then run a lap, for each of the four laps of a mile.

Kent, who just completed his senior cross-country season with the University of Western Ontario Mustangs, ran four minutes 51.9 seconds, lowering the previous mark of 4:54.38 set by Winnipeg’s Corey Gallagher in October. He then announced he’d gone pro, signing a shoe deal with Brooks.

Kent ran the race — Amsterdam Beer was his beer of choice — at a London, Ont., high school.

Kent and Gallagher have been swapping the world record for the past few months. Kent lowered it in August before his Winnipeg rival etched his name on it in October.

It’s fitting, said Kent, that Canadians have dominated the race, on both the men’s and women’s side, since it was invented in the late 1970s by a group of runners at Queens University.

“I feel a great sense of pride that Canadians invented the beer mile,” Kent said. “Only we could come up with something so different, yet so amazing.”

Here’s the follow up story about Kent’s rival’s plans to take back the beer mile record:

Winnipeg beer mile runner hopes to guzzle way back to world record: Canada, famed for its athletic guzzling and running, has been called the Kenya of beer miling

“It’s probably harder than any other race,” said Winnipeg mail carrier Corey Gallagher, who held the world record time of four minutes 54.38 seconds until earlier this week. “Not only are you trying to run as fast as you can, but now, you’re trying to consume something. It’s just an awkward mix.”


The beer mile is starting to get recognition within the running establishment.

“In the last couple of years it’s become huge,” said Michael Doyle, editor in chief of Canadian Running. “Canada is kind of weirdly dominant at it. We’ve jokingly said that we’re the Kenya of beer miling.”

Of course, there are non-alcoholic variants such as the chocolate milk mile (that’s out for Tracy as she’s vegan) and the soda pop mile. My favourite?

  • The Rubik’s Cube Mile (solve a cube, quarter, cube, quarter, cube, quarter, cube, quarter)
    Best known effort: 19:56.0


Do you know your beer mile time? We’re curious!