eating

Food prepping, yes or no?

I remember once visiting a friend who was getting ready for a fitness competition.

She opened her fridge to consider our dinner options and there was no actual food in the fridge, no ingredients, just neatly stacked rows of tupperware full of breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week, all carefully organized and colour coded. Chicken, sweet potato, fish, green beans, oatmeal.

Each week she cooked and prepared all her meals for the week ahead. So organized, so intimidating.

We went out and got Indian food instead. Phew!

People like advance meal prep for planning purposes. You won’t be caught off guard without healthy meals at the ready. It’s also typically praised for portion control. When done right, meal prep sure does photograph well. See 20 Photos That Prove Meal Prepping Is a Way of Life. There’s an instagram hashtag and loads of pinterest boards. I don’t make them but I think the meals in mason jars look the prettiest.

Occasionally I give it a go and make batch meals for the week. But in my house this plan can go wrong in one of two ways.

Way 1: Teenagers discover that what’s in the matching tupperware containers tastes good. Portion control be damned. They combine the contents of two or three containers to make a meal.

Way 2: I get sick of the contents, eat non prepped meals, and later throw out the rotten food and feel guilty. When I posted on our Facebook page about this a reader confessed that she too often threw out the healthy meals after they’d gone bad. I’m not alone!

I’ve discovered a solution for the first problem. Opaque tupperware. No one peaks in and my food is safe. Shhhh! But the second problem? Not so much.

In the end there’s some things I can prep and other meals I have to just buy ingredients and let things happen. Too much planning, for me, can be too much of a good thing. I do like cleaning and chopping veggies in advance. And there are some breakfasts I like to make in advance, like these egg and veggie muffins and also tubs of cottage cheese with fruit and granola. But planning out everything is just a little bit too much for me.

How about for you? How much structure and planning do you like around meals? Is advance meal prep a way of life for you? Or do you do it all on the the fly?

 

 

 

dogs

Put Yourself First? (But What About the Dog?)

cheddar

 

One common piece of advice is “first things first.” If writing is the thing you struggle to fit into your day, then do it first.

When Tracy and I were struggling to find time to work on the book, we set ourselves a goal of working on the book first thing for 30 minutes.

And would-be runners and cyclists and yogis get the same advice. Do it first! Before your day gets in the way, we’re told. Ditto those who want to establish a meditation habit. Start your day with meditation.

Personally, this kind of advice has never really worked for me. I figure the people who offer this advice don’t have children, or dogs.

When I tried the ‘writing first’ thing with the book the only way to do it was to tiptoe to the bathroom and take my laptop into the bed. Otherwise, Cheddar, my dog, would hear me and want love, food, access to the backyard, and shortly after that, a walk.

Really what happens first in my day is coffee and getting people out the door and often, unless someone else steps up, a dog walk. Lately I’ve been walking Cheddar through a nearby nature area, The Coves. And while it’s not really meditation and it’s not serious exercise, it is a little bit of both combined with natural beauty and the great outdoors. And when we get back from our walk, Cheddar snoozes and then I write.

(I was talking about the conflict between writing first and dog walking, and a friend and I had fun making Cheddar memes.)

If you’re a dog owner, or the parent of small children who get up at 5 am, how do you handle the “first things first” advice? Do you make it work for you? Or like me, do you just find it unrealistic?

cheddar8

 
nature

fitness

Fitspo: The bad and the good

The Bad

WHEN #FITSPO HURTS MORE THAN HELPS

Recently, the first few academic studies on fitspo have been released ― and the insights have been alarming: One 2015 study from South Australia’s Flinders University asked 130 female college students to look at either fitspo or travel pics and rate their feelings before and after. “Viewing fitspiration produced worse mood and body satisfaction,” says the study’s lead author, Marika Tiggemann, Ph.D. “The pictures are all of thin and toned women; normal women can’t usually get there, and that might make them feel bad about their own bodies.” Samantha DeCaro, assistant clinical director at the Renfrew Center of Philadelphia, a top eating disorder clinic, says she sees many patients who seek out fitspo: “The original intention may have been to emphasize being healthy and strong, but the definitions of ‘healthy’ and ‘strong’ are so varied.”

 

The Good

13 Pieces Of Fitspo That Will Neither Enrage Nor Shame You

Because exercise as punishment is kind of a bummer

But what if there was fitspo that didn’t try to convince you to exercise by making you feel bad about yourself when you don’t work out (or better than other people when you do)?

bike ride

 

What kind of images and messages do you find inspirational?

See also

fitness

Pornhub’s new exercise program, BangFit (of course)

I was amused to see that Pornhub is offering a sex based exercise program. Of course, of course the promo for it gets started with worries about adult obesity. Sigh.  (Maybe they should have read this piece first.)

AV Club describes it this way, “Essentially, this is an online game that invites players to strap smartphones to their bodies as they copulate in order to score points and burn calories. The program is being introduced with a colorful animated video that manages to evoke both the 1970s porn craze and the 1980s fitness craze. The cartoon employs an eye-assaulting color scheme not generally seen since the days of “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John. It is puzzling, however, how the cartoon characters in this little movie expect to do well at BangFit, since they seem to lack genitalia.”

Mashable says this about BangFit, “BangFit users follow along with videos as they execute positions like the “squat and thrust” and “missionary press.” Players can sync their phones to the workout in order to track their progress and measure the amount of calories burned. There’s multiple workout options available, too. Workouts can be completed with one partner, multiple or entirely solo — the preferred sex method for millions of Americans.”

But what you can’t do, and play the game, is have sex with a member of the same sex. For now, BangFit offers only opposite sex partner options.

Now, me I like to keep my exercise and sex separate. See XRated Run: One race I won’t be running. See also Sexercise? Really? That’s a thing? 

What do you think of BangFit? Motivational? Laughable? Something else entirely? Let us know what you think below…

fitness · sex

Self Care and Solo Sexy Time

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Wellness for a five-day workshop on mindfulness practices and eating.  The focus was NOT on dieting, but rather on being mindful of the ways we eat and move that promote (or fail to promote) self-care.  So we had sessions on meditation, yoga, full-body exercises for strength and flexibility, mindful eating exercises, silent nature walking, you name it.  All of these activities were to help put us in touch with ourselves.

Put us in touch with ourselves… That reminds me of another type of self care that was not covered at Kripalu.  Yes, I’m talking about masturbation.  If you google “women masturbation health” you’ll find loads of sites touting the health benefits of sexy solo time.  According to this women’s health information site, masturbation :

can help prevent cervical infection and stave off urinary tract infections;

is associated with improved cardiovascular health and lower risk of type 2 diabetes;

can improve pelvic floor strength (this is a good good thing for athletes, those who have had babies and also for those over 50);

can help insomnia through hormone release and lowered tension (well duh).

Having a healthy and fun sexual relationship with ourselves is good for much of what ails us, it seems.  Of course, it’s not a tool for weight loss, as our blog has already covered. But who cares?  Also, according to many sources, it’s important whether or not we have sexual partners; it’s not a substitute for them, rather an important primary relationship with ourselves.  We can be our own best friend with benefits.

As I said earlier, this topic was somehow omitted from the Kripalu curriculum.  However, this week my friend J from the Kripalu workshop invited me to meet up for yoga, dinner, and a trip to Good Vibrations, a local upscale sex shop in town (if you click the link, you’ll see that they’re having a Memorial Day sale; just FYI).  I was astounded at what I saw there.  The last time I was in a sex shop was a looong time ago, and the appliances were generally hard plastic, yucky materials that were not inviting for the remotely timid.

Well, those days are over.  So over.  Check this out:

 

IMG_6924

 

The new (to me, at least) products are covered in soft silicone, made in pretty colors (alas, the pink’ing of all products marketed to females persists, but I leave that rant to another post).  Many of these are upscale variants on the Rabbit, a popular design of vibrator.  Of course, the classic versions are available, too:

 

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And if you really want to go old-school, there’s this (which I was told was the most popular model they sell):

 

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This one was featured in an episode of Sex and the City; you can see a clip from that episode on vibrator shopping here.

Among the great things about going to this sex shop, in addition to its wondrous variety, was that I got to see lots of people coming and in and out, browsing, buying, chatting, laughing.  Sex toys are fun and funny, and the humor was evident.  Witness this small display:

 

IMG_6927

 

Like sex itself, the experience of talking about and buying toys can be  solo or in groups.  The young women working there were super-knowledgeable, sincere, straightforward and helpful.

Yes, I made a few purchases.  And I can report that I’m a satisfied customer.  One final note:  although many things change, some things remain the same.  You can still count on the discretion of the brown paper bag for carrying your new toys out of the store.  The classics never go out of style.

IMG_6930

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post · martial arts

Why I’m not inspired by female warriors – despite loving martial arts (Guest Post)

A friend has sent me a three-minute video called Women Were Some of the Fiercest Samurai Warriors Ever. It’s about a woman called Takeko Nakano who led an army of women to fight in the Boshin War (Japanese Revolution).

He thinks he’s sent me an exciting, inspirational and glorious story about women’s empowerment, which I will love as a female martial arts practitioner.

What he’s actually sent me is a story about thousands of men killing and wounding each other; and then some women getting involved too, killing and being killed. The end of the clip shows Takeko dying in action at the heartbreaking age of 21. I know he means well; but exactly what part of this was I supposed to enjoy, or find empowering?

He’s not the only one who thinks like this of course. Only the other day, a Karate friend said: I’ve found the coolest role model for you! Her name is Tomoe Gozen (she was a late twelfth-century female samurai warrior). The image of the female warrior is iconic and popular; often depicted in a glamorous and sexualised way.

This article is not about whether war is right or wrong or justifiable – these are enormous questions with no easy answers.

It’s also not challenging the resonance and power of the warrior archetype (male or female); an image which instinctively evokes a deep, emotional response, as it strikes a chord in our unconscious collective memory.

It’s simply about whether we should feel excited or inspired by the violent actions of real-life warriors in real-life battles, whether male or female.

Myriam Miedzian writes:

It would be unthinkable for a respected children’s publishing house to publish a book for children entitled Famous Public Hangings, or Famous Witch Burnings, “excitingly illustrated in full color.” Western society has rejected public hangings and witch burnings together with slavery and gladiatorial fights, and sees itself as having progressed towards a more civilised set of values and attitudes. But a book entitled Famous Battles of World History, “excitingly illustrated in full color” is perfectly acceptable. (I found a copy in the waiting room of my daughter’s paediatrician.)[1]

Lt Col Dave Grossman argues that our glamorisation and constant, thoughtless consumption of misleading, “exciting” images of war (for example through movies and computer games) has the same effect as operant conditioning on rats. It promotes blissful ignorance of the real, horrific cost of killing on the ones who kill; and contributes to our rising rates of violence.

Grossman cites research that found that after sixty days of continuous combat, 98 percent of all surviving soldiers will have become psychiatric casualties of one kind or another. (The remaining two percent are said to have aggressive psychopathic personalities).[2]

Is war really so cool then, that a Youtube video about a young female warrior dying in battle can be considered an example of women’s empowerment?

This is not to say that women’s courage and ability to fight are not inspirational or worth celebrating. China Galland’s book: The Bond Between Women; A Journey to Fierce Compassion is a compelling portrait of 20th century women warriors. It’s about women who (consciously or unconsciously) channel the Hindu Warrior Goddess Durga, or their own cultural equivalent to fight child trafficking; or feed the poor; or do battle on environmental issues.

It’s moving also to read about wartime heroines such as Edith Cavell or Susie King Taylor who worked bravely and tirelessly to save others’ lives in the face of danger. And I’m deeply grateful to the women and men who fight to protect us in everyday life in the line of duty. The title of this article is not quite true; because their spirit and selflessness are of course awesome and inspiring.

I just can’t feel excited or inspired by the actual violence these people may face and/or administer in the course of what they do. Just sad that it has to be like this.

Violence is fascinating; but all too often we don’t really understand it, and enjoy it in an oversimplistic way. But the examples of women warriors cited above live(d) in close, daily contact with the actual, ugly reality of violence, which is something quite different.

How does this link back to martial arts? Toby Threadgill says,

This is the true purpose of budo. To allow one to acknowledge the reality of violence in our world, to properly address it, temper one’s spirit against abusing its powers and then transform the associated power of violence into a force for good.[3]

I don’t blame my friend in any way for sending over the video clip. He is just a product of our society, which finds glamorised, sanitised images of battle exciting. But I do see martial arts training as a potential instrument to challenge this culture; and promote a more mature and nuanced understanding of violence – and that possibility really is something exciting and empowering to contemplate . . .

[1] Myriam Miedzian. (2002). Boys Will Be Boys; Breaking the link between masculinity and violence. Lantern Books, Page 35

[2] Lt Col. Dave Grossman. (2009). On Killing. Back Bay Books. Pages 43-4

[3] Toby Threadgill. (n.d.). Commentary on Yukiyoshi Takamura. (1978). Tameshigiri Reigi  

Image credit: Takeko Nakano – By Original author unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Kai Morgan is a martial arts blogger, with a special focus on women’s experience of and participation in the martial arts. You can find her blog at www.budo-inochi.com and like/follow her facebook page: www.facebook.com/kaimorg

Sat with Nat

on being publicly vulnerable

So first off, privilege checklist:

Cis-gendered, white, able-bodied, English as a first language & full time employed and like a ton of other privileges I have the privilege of not fully understanding.

I can be vulnerable and choose to share that vulnerability without really risking anything.

I had a REALLY SHITTY RIDE last Saturday. I was going out for a 40 or 60 km ride with my partner and our really nice friend Trevor who is just getting into cycling. (There are lots of good reasons to ride with all kinds of cyclists, Sam explains that very well in some posts. Here’s one of them.)

I clipped in and felt really shaken. It had been a couple weeks as the weather was snowy and terrible the previous weekends.

My partner reminded me that anxiety attacks only last about 15 minutes and I’d likely be fine by the time we met up with Trevor.

I took it easy. I kept going, gently clipping in and out as we rode south through the paths. The anxious feelings were so strong I felt like vomiting and my hands and feet were going numb. I felt dizzy. My breathing was shallow. I tried breathing deeply and talking to myself gently. It got worse. I admitted I wasn’t going to be able to do the longer ride and needed to head home. Michel and Trevor didn’t bat an eye.

As we rounded the bend about 5 km from home we had to stop quickly as a large truck was backing up sideways on the road. I simultaneously unclipped both feet and stood still. My knees locked in a lizard-brain induced panic.

I got off my bike, took off my shoes but could not get my nerves to calm down. I asked Michel to get the car and drive me home. There are no other lovely humans I would rather admit my feelings to. They are great.

As I sat next to the path nearly every running and cycling group in town passed by.

“Yes. I’m ok.”

My sister Anj called and kept me company while I waited. She’s awesome like that.

I wasn’t ok. I was a wreck but I wasn’t hurt. I posted this photo on Facebook, admitting I had to quit my ride because of anxiety.


When I got home I dropped off my bike then went to the corner bike shop for flats and rat traps. (Those $8 plastic toe loops.)

Sunday I had a short ride with Sam and Tara (you know her from our Kincardine Triathlon post last year). It felt good.

After coffee Sam invited me to her house for a soak in the hot tub. We chatted with her mum and son.

It was a holiday Monday so Sam, Rally David & my partner Michel met for a 60 km ride. I rode at 80%, it was less effort for everyone else but I explored pushing hard and stopping only once for snacks.

It was a great ride and we all had stuff to do in the afternoon.

Then something really cool happened. My friend Kim, who is super fit & awesome, posted a thanks on my Facebook wall for sharing my shitty ride.

I sometimes wonder if my posts are overly self-indulgent, I really don’t struggle in life, most things come easy to me.

Sometimes though, it’s nice to be able to model my resilience and persistence as many folks don’t have the luxury of being publicly vulnerable.

So I’ll take that and hope it helps buoy someone else on a crappy day.

Guest Post · training

Every Game is a Practice (Guest Post)

By Elan Paulson

Treat every practice as if it were a game. I heard this expression playing ball as a kid, and then recently saw it again as an inspirational sports meme. The advice is to practice like every second matters, take play seriously, and give 100% effort as if one were in an actual game.

But after I had just played my first recreational mixed ball game in over six years this past week, I had to tell myself the opposite: treat every game as if it were a practice.

As a reader of Fit is a Feminist Issue, you already recognize the pervasiveness of media-reinforced stereotypes about women and their marginalization in sports. In Women, Media and Sport: Challenging Gender Values, Pamela Creedon notes that “By denying access to the game as players, we are taught that women are less qualified, powerful or physical than men. By limiting women to largely stereotypical support roles, […] we also learn that women should be subservient” (6).

Clearly, this is an ignorant view at best, but if you know mixed ball teams you may also know there visible and invisible rules that re-affirm that women indeed play a “support” role in the game. (I refer a mandatory numbers of female players in a line up, or the tendency to place women in positions that see the least action or require the least skill.)

I have a strong desire to challenge the gendered stereotypes in sports that Creedon references. It’s also in my nature to be conscientious and want to make a positive contribution to team efforts. As a result, I am hard on myself and unforgiving of my own mistakes (both off and on the field).

When I struck out last week, my desire to challenge gendered sports stereotypes, combined with my inherent self-criticism, mixed a poisoning of my enjoyment of a fun afternoon outdoors playing rec ball with nice people. A team member of mine had noticed my frustration, commenting, “You don’t look like you are having much fun.”

Now, at the time I was wearing the all-in-good-fun bright pink t-shirt that team members must wear as “punishment” for striking out (another gendered marker that subtly associates weak play with women). But I wasn’t having fun because the pink shirt a) equated women with inferiority in sports and, b) equated inferiority in sports with me.

So, going forward this season I plan to give myself explicit permission during every “practice” to try a new strategy, to screw up, to fail, and to strike out.

If I punish myself for every missed play, and feel further humiliated by the pink shirt, I internalize not only the very gendered stereotypes I challenge but also an approach that is hypercompetitive and stereotypically masculine (Creedon, 7) that I also wish to avoid. Even when my failure may look as if I am reinforcing gendered norms, having fun is the more important “win” for me.

So, going forward, every game is an opportunity to practice…both my skills in baseball and self-forgiveness. And living my values is the real feminist “play” in my sports life. FIAFI readers, is this a needed reminder for you in team sports as well?

References

Creedon, Pamela J. Women, Media, and Sport: Challenging Gender Values. Sage Publications, 1994.

Uncategorized

Obikire (Guest Post)

It’s overcast and hot and the air is thick with the acrid smell of the charcoal used for cooking fires.  I’m running down a rutted red dirt road, with far more pedestrians than vehicles.  Women with bundles of baby on their backs and goods on their heads, men standing idle in clusters with heavy bicycles and rattling motorbikes, children walking to school, many people walking with machetes or pangas, off to hard labour for the day.

The few vehicles that pass are crammed with people, four to a small motorbike, a dozen in the back of a small truck.  An agricultural population on its way to work.  I’m a bit ashamed of my thick body and the privilege of running for pleasure, because my life is too easy.

The Rwenzori mountains are thick green and stunning.  The foothills I’m running through slow me down, along with jet lag, a week of tropical heat, gut rot, intense work.


I’m in rural Uganda, working on a volunteer project I am the director of.  Nikibasika.  Meaning “It is possible” in the local language. It’s my 9th annual visit here, and our team has spent the week working with the students in the learning and development project.  Most are not children anymore — they are young adults, and much of our work this week has been about one-on-one career and education planning, and serious talks about relationships.  One of the girls who recently graduated from the project has had a baby.  She is 20 but without a husband and no stable work yet.  We talk about her and the older girls come up with a formula for success:  School + Job + Money + Marriage + Two years and THEN babies.  They turn it into a mantra and repeat it back to us.

Being in this community makes me more of the self I want to be, all the time.  I love these kids as my own, and know their fears and hopes and faults, who is creative and who is practical, who teaches the younger kids.  And when I’m with them, I’m all spirit and heart and head, working constantly to manage and parent and be a friend in 1/50th of a year.

And now the other three Canadians are gone, and I have an hour to myself.  I finally run, and I am in the heart of the real community the kids in the project are enmeshed in.  Ours are lucky — we support them through three years of post-secondary school and a three month leadership/career program, and learning how to do community service.  They were street kids — or “sweet kids” as Phionah calls the ones that they are now helping.  They are glowing.  And I can run and make meaning of this work, of this week.


I greet the local people on the road with Obikire, good morning in their language.  Every one of them smiles.  One man holding a live chicken under his arm grins broadly.  A man standing idle with his bicycle sings out Reduce your Speed!  The ladies giggle.  One old man with a machete resists my attempts to charm and scowls at me and demands “give me 5 shillings.”  It’s less than a penny he’s asking for.


I run up the rutted hill that has defeated me before, so slowly.  I feel all of the people who walk so far to work for $30 a month, who are still hacking at maize or long grasses with machetes when they are old.  Who are thrilled to have their one chicken to sell. I appreciate how hard the young people in our project work, how open their hearts are, how they let me in.  I run and sweat and find my body again, grateful.


[The major source of funds for Nikibasika is the Triadventure (tri, a 3 day run or swim, paddle and cycling event in August.  This is an all volunteer effort with amazing outcomes and all of the money goes to the project in Uganda.  Canadians get a charitable donation receipt if you sponsor me at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/nikibasika-development-program-66/. Thanks :-))

fitness

Everest Doesn’t Care What You Eat

Sunset Over Mount Everest, Sagarmatha NP, Nepal
Sunset Over Mount Everest, Sagarmatha NP, Nepal

I almost forgot that it was Everest season until I read the story, “Woman trying to prove ‘vegans can do anything’ among 3 dead, 30 sick on Everest.”

It’s so sad that people end up dying on Everest just about every year. But I hope you can see that Maria Strydom’s veganism has nothing to do with her sad fate on Everest.

Vegans can do all sorts of things. Ultra runner Scott Jurek is vegan. Ultra triathlete Rich Roll is vegan. Cyclocross competitor Catherine Johnson is vegan. Heck, I’m vegan and I’ve amazed myself by doing all sorts of things in my late forties and early fifties that I’ve never done before.

But to try to turn dying on Everest into some sort of vegan comeuppance, as this headline does, is not just in poor taste. This article calls it out as “vegan shaming.”  The author, James Fell, says:

…veganism is neither magical nor unhealthy. If one is careful with their diet, veganism can be perfectly health. Just as being an omnivore can equally be healthy. Strydom and her husband were extraordinarily fit and accomplished climbers who had achieved numerous difficult summits. Odds are, dear reader, that she was in better shape than you.

He asks:

And what about the Dutch Man, Eric Arnold, who also died from altitude sickness on Everest just a few hours before Maria Strydom did? There is nothing in the news about him being vegan. Did meat eating kill him?

Of course not.

Anyway, Fell is on the right track when he says people need to stop and take stock of why they’re reacting this way to this particular death. I wonder–is it because she’s vegan and people hate militant vegans? Is it because she’s a woman and people hate women who are trying to prove they’re not weak? He says:

I’m not trying to convince anyone to go vegan; it would be hypocritical considering I roasted a chicken for dinner last night. But if the mere existence of veganism is causing you to have an innate hostile reaction that would cause you to celebrate the death of someone, perhaps you should take a look at why you feel that way.

Anyway, the bottom line is this. People dying on Everest, no matter what they eat, is not funny. It’s tragic.