Guest Post

all bodies are good bodies, my body is a good body: affirmation as a path to better health. (guest post)

I had the awesome privilege of spending 2014 working on an amazing project at Planned Parenthood Toronto. They had secured a grant to develop youth friendly, peer-created sexual health resources, to address the fact that sex education in Ontario (and like, everywhere) has been failing young people, most especially queer and trans young people, whose experiences and needs have been invisible inside that pocket of education for too long. There have been some shifts in Ontario’s sexual health curriculum since this time, which is pretty darn exciting (and heavily controversial) , but while educators are catching up to new curriculum, and while queer and trans youth are still so marginalized in the education system, there is serious need for additional resources for young people in sexual minorities.

I got to work with fourteen genius young people on this project. We spent several weeks learning about all sorts of things related to queer and trans sexual health, and then began to think about what it was that we wanted to create. We gave workshops with other groups of youth about queer dating and consent, about navigating relationships we choose and ones we are stuck with, and about gender identity and expression. We also wanted to create some concrete things, something that could live on and be passed around long after this group no longer had the funding to work and learn together.
One of those early days of sunny spring, we moved our meeting outside to the park across the street from the Sherbourne Health Center where we often met and one volunteer led us in a writing exercise. He gave us the prompt what I really needed was… and folks spent a few minutes writing about the unmet needs of our younger queer and trans selves. There might have been some tears that day. Lots came up in the sharing of people’s thoughts, but a common thread that ran through was the need for supportive community. We weren’t in search of promises that things would get better, but folks to let us know that we were already okay. That our feelings of marginalization are legitimate. That our identities and experiences matter. That we are using our skills of coping and survival every day. That we aren’t alone.


Maybe the link between sexual health education and affirmations seems fuzzy to you, or the link between affirmations and feminist fitness. I had a formative moment in my learning about working with marginalized youth when I was a new grad from social work school, working at Project 10 in Montreal. I read a zine about HIV prevention made in the 90s (I wish I could tell you the name of it, but I don’t remember!). There was an interview with a young man with HIV who wanted to push against the ways that info about sexual health for young queers often focuses on long term consequences of “risky” decisions around sex. This guy explained that these kinds of messages just bounced right off of him, because he didn’t think he would have a future to be concerned about. Building supportive community, representation, and legitimacy to young people’s experiences and identities are key components in demonstrating that as a society, we give a shit. This isn’t about promising young people that things will get better; it’s about making space for wherever they are, however they are, right now. When young people feel seen and valued, that can have a powerful impact on how we feel about ourselves and our ability to create change in our own lives as well as within our communities. In a context of care and value, the possibilities of working through decisions about health are way more vast.


We couldn’t give everyone parents who support them unconditionally. We couldn’t guarantee that teachers would use their names and pronouns. We couldn’t promise that friends would accept and love them just as they are, or as they might become. But we know the power of words, of recognizing yourself in someone else’s experience, and so we came up with the idea for the Affirmations Deck.


A subcommittee was struck and we began to meet and dream up a list of affirmations. No idea was a bad idea, and we eventually amassed a list of hundreds of statements. Piles of pizza were consumed while we wordsmithed and narrowed our focus. We laughed our butts off over affirmations like it’s okay that you started a fight at that family gathering and it’s ok that you weren’t really 18 when you went to that website. Some of them came out real funny in first draft, like the ways I use my body in sex is only the business of me and the people i’m sexing with and your fantasies don’t have to be real life commitments.

We eventually arrived at a final list of 62 affirmations, and set about designing the cards. The motifs that surround the words on the cards were hand drawn, and they correspond with the themes that the cards address, which are also printed at the bottom of each card. That means that if you want to pull out all the cards about identity, or all the cards about consent, or all the cards about bodies, you can find them both by their labels and also by the drawings on the cards. Affirmations that reference more than one theme have a blend of multiple drawings. The font that the group selected is called OpenDyslexic, an open source design that was made to be more easily read by folks with dyslexia.

These cards have spread far and wide from their original printing in the fall of 2014. Physical decks have made their way to community organizations serving youth across Canada, into the hands of queer and trans youth across the country, and even to folks who are incarcerated. The cards are also available as a free printable PDF, so anyone with some cardstock and a printer can make as many sets as they desire. If you’re a Toronto local, you can walk into Planned Parenthood and ask for a free deck at clinic reception. The deck has also been featured in the brand new LGBTQ health anthology The Remedy, edited by femme force of nature Zena Sharman.

If you run a clinic or community space, you can leave a deck at reception for folks to look at. You can stick your favourites in your locker or on your walls. You can colour them in and mail them to your faraway friends. You can give them to your therapy clients or your doctor. You can give them to parents who want to support their kids, however their genders and sexualities develop. You can hide them in library books with queer subtext. You can use them as writing prompts, or as debriefing tools in workshops. You can burn them ceremonially and make wishes on their ashes. You can write your own affirmations that speak to your personal experiences. You can use them however you like. Please do use them, and share them with folks who might benefit from their tender magic.

Carly is a 32 year old white genderqueer femme. She is a freelance workshop facilitator in Toronto, mostly working on community building, body autonomy, intersectionality, queer sexual health, trauma survivorship, and keeping people alive. She likes roasted vegetables and bitter foods, and hates cantaloupe and anything gelatinous. She thinks that leopard print is a neutral and that prisons should be abolished. She is also a tarot reader- find out more at


Canadian Living and Feminist Fitness! 

I feel a bit like kd lang when she sang about being Miss Chatelaine. Except it’s not just me. It’s Tracy and me and the blog. And not Chatelaine but that other iconic Canadian women’s magazine, Canadian Living. A reporter spoke to us months ago about being profiled in their January issue, as an alternative to the usual new year’s resolutions stories about weight loss.

And now, there we are! We hadn’t seen it at first. In the grocery stores the December issue was still on the stands. But we had reports from our mothers, who both subscribe. Of course they do.

Here’s Tracy’s Facebook status: “Samantha and I are in the January issue of Canadian Living magazine. We haven’t seen the article yet but apparently (according to the unbiased opinion of my parents) it’s fabulous and we’re awesome!”

I checked with my mother and got a very similar report by text message, “Just got the Canadian Living and yes you are awesome but I always knew that.”

As Tracy says, our mothers are very reliable.

It feels good to be out there flying the feminist flag for joyful movement without a focus on weight loss. Women’s magazines make me nervous usually for all the feminist reasons, especially coming up to January 1. But the article about us is pretty well done, I think. It feels great to reach out beyond the blog. That’s what we’re hoping to do with our book too. So pick up Canadian Living’s January issue and have a look for us. If you feel inclined send them a note praising the feminist content.


When the rubber meets the road (or not): Tracy finally quits the bike and triathlon

Tracy on a country road holding her new time trial bike with the helmet slung over the handle bars in fall 2015. Caption reads
Me in fall 2015 when I was full of hope that the new TT bike might turn things around.

If anyone has been following the blog for awhile, they will know two things: Sam loves cycling big time, me (Tracy) not so much. But despite what I have described as debilitating anxiety that has gotten worse, not better, I have given it the good college try. I even bought a fancy new triathlon/TT bike (which I totally regret and is now for sale–message me if you’re interested).

I’ve teetered on the fence for quite awhile because, though I do not really like the bike, I do like triathlon. If that seems weird, maybe it is, but I’m not alone. I’ve blogged about loving triathlon without loving the bike.

I mean, you can get by on indoor training, which would solve the fear of the road issue. I definitely prefer indoor training to outdoor training. Like: it’s a lot better. At first, (two years ago when I started), I thought I’d found a solution to my “issues.” You can read about my indoor cycling “tour” here. I also talked about leaving the cocoon of indoor training.

Last week, when Sam said she was about to start her indoor training, the first thing I thought was “I am so glad I’m not doing that this year.” Yes, indoor training didn’t have the same anxiety for me as outdoor training. So that’s something in its favour. And yes, the novelty of it a couple of years ago kept me interested. But it’s not exactly enjoyable in itself. I mean, unless I’m getting ready to ride outside when the snow and ice melt I might as well just attend a spin class instead. Less lugging around of equipment and it’s already included in my Y membership.

I kind of made the decision to give up trying to like biking some time in the summer. But I haven’t been ready to blog about it because despite my attempts to feel okay about it, I’ve actually experienced a certain amount of self-recrimination over the whole thing. Like, what’s wrong with me? Everyone else seems to like cycling and even be good at it. But I’ve never been able to and I honestly don’t ever get any faster (I realize this has a lot to do with not training but I don’t think I would get faster even if I trained. Which is all irrelevant because that’s not about to happen anyway).

But I also felt ambivalent because giving up biking really does mean giving up triathlon. And that was a tougher call but one I decided to make, at least for now. It was a toss up between giving it one more summer (2017) or ending it effective immediately. My reasoning for possibly keeping things going for one more summer was that it’s really the last summer for a couple of years where I can train effectively. Starting summer 2018 I will be moving onto the sailboat for a year, so that rules out the 2018 and 2019 triathlon seasons.

I’m a big believer in doing what you love. In order to be consistent with my own convictions on this, I had to give up the bike. Since biking is a major part of triathlon–in fact, I’m usually on the bike for almost as long as I am in the water and pounding the pavement combined–it makes no sense for me to belabour things just because I feel like bailing makes me something of a failure.

I had my exciting turn as a triathlete, culminating in 2014 when I did four in one season, including two Olympic distances. Bracebridge and Lakeside. No one can take that away from me. And it was good fun and I trained (even on the bike!) for that season and felt a huge sense of accomplishment.

Do I feel a bit sad about it all? Not really. Mostly I’m experiencing relief. I sold my indoor trainer on the weekend. Next up: the bike itself (the road bike has already gone to Sarah) and the bike computer.  I’m hanging onto my commuter bike because I actually do enjoy  my leisurely commute on the pathway at my own pace with no training goals.

I’ll add too that I’m doing plenty of other things that I’m loving. I’m training for the Key West Half Marathon.  That means regular running, which I find energizing and I’ve got an awesome group of running peeps. My personal training, started about a year ago, is fantastic. I’m so much stronger than I used to be and I almost always look forward to my training sessions. I’ve reconnected with hot yoga.

I’m still hanging on to my Y membership even though I have not been making it our regularly to the pool. Swimming with the group is the next thing on the chopping block — I’m not signing up for the early morning slot for the winter triathlon session that starts in January. It’s a high demand program and I haven’t felt all that motivated to get out for a 6 a.m. swim. I’ll step aside and let a triathlete have my spot in this sold out training program. I’ll go back to swimming on my own again for now. All in all, I’ve got lots of happy-making stuff on the go these days.

So there you have it. No more tortured deliberations about what I should do about the bike. I quit!

What about you? Have you ever struggled to give up on something that you thought you should (for whatever reason) continue doing?


Not every day is a good day (and that’s okay)

There are better and worse days. Since I bought I a FitBit a few weeks ago, I’ve been counting, as one does, steps. That’s not why I got it. Mostly I was interested in sleep and in my resting heart rate. I noticed though that without much effort, I get 8000 steps a day. I have a dog who gets walked twice a day, I live in a three story house,  and even when I drive to campus, I park in remote parking. 

But we all have our bad days. Last Thursday was one of mine. It was a cold, dark, and grey day. I also have an impossible amount of grading to do so times when normally I’d be moving, have been devoted to reading and marking.

The day didn’t get off to a great start when I got completely dressed up for work (I had a thing on that required it) but then remembered I needed to swap the pedals over on my bike for bike trainer class. No problem. I can swap pedals. But in the end my hands were covered in bike grease and I was running late.Argh.

I was excited to be going back to indoor bike training though. I put my road bike and my trainer in the back of my car. So while I worked at my desk all afternoon, I was looking forward to riding my bike on the trainer in Coach Chris’s basement. 

Come 4 o’clock I went out to my car only to discover a long line to exit the parking lot. The exit gate was broken and I waited forty minutes in my car in line trying to leave campus. It occurred to me that it would be faster to ride my bike to Chris’s house but I didn’t have clothes for that and the bike had a special trainer tire on it. 

Back to my office, back to grading. A peanut butter and jam sandwich at my desk for dinner.  I sort of got caught up on my grading but at the end of the day, even with a dog jog thrown in, I’d barely made it to 6000 steps. 

That’s okay. One of the things that the fitness project I began with Tracy four years ago has taught me is that everything has a rhythm, a flow. Ups and downs are part of the story.  I’m much less likely to feel bad about a day gone wrong. It was just a day. I got some work done. I walked the dog. And some days a peanut butter sandwich at your desk is a fine dinner. 

And the parking gate is fixed. Yay! 


The deceptive allure of home exercise programs

Yesterday Samantha posted about the real life secrets of aging athletes.  And truer words were never spoken– as we get older, we have to pay closer attention to all the things that can limit the felicitous functioning of our bodies.  When I was in my 20s, I could ignore the needs of sleep, nutritious food, moderation in workouts, injury risks, adequate recovery from injury, etc. and still my body would keep going.  Now in my 50s, I feel like the CEO of my own personal HMO.  I have to track and adjust my food and alcohol intake for health, energy, reduction of GI symptoms and sleep.  I have to budget more time for sleep because of intermittent menopausal insomnia.  I try to do physical activity more often, but these days at a lower intensity level and shorter duration.  Doing more intense physical activity takes much longer to recover from, as Samantha points out, so I have to plan for down time too.

On the bright side, I’ve rediscovered the pleasures of yoga, which feels good and helps me focus on, care for and give thanks to my body for the ways it moves and stretches.  I’m also exploring other activities (like kayaking) that use other muscle groups (it’s all about the core)  and feed my need for nature (in particular, to paddle nearby dolphins and seals).

But the item in Sam’s post about mobility really hit home.  Here it is:

We are also all working hard to keep our mobility through our joints. See this good article on Mobility. I need to get back to CrossFit or start a mobility routine on my own.

My knees and hips get really creaky after sitting or driving for any length of time.  My shoulders are affected by rotator cuff injuries (surgery on right, physical therapy on left), and because of a history of ankle injuries (torn ligament, avulsion fracture, multiple sprains. What can I say?  I’m a clumsy athlete…) my balance is not as great as I’d like.

So what are our options for maintaining strength, flexibility and balance? Of course we can join gyms like Crossfit, take group coaching classes, hire a personal trainer, etc.  But these are both expensive and time-consuming; many of us have limited time and financial resources.

Enter the at-home exercise plan.  Why bother with an expensive gym membership, trainer, and maybe child care, when you can work out in the privacy of your own home and keep an eye on your kids at the same time?

Two photos of women working out at home, one of them with her daughter.

There are approximately 4 zillion websites devoted to at-home exercise programs.  They sell DVDs, streaming services, “personalized” plans given one’s goals, apps for tracking all manner of exertion, and forums for connecting with like-minded folks also trying to sweat their way to success.  Of course, the DIY approach to fitness is nothing new.  Remember this guy?

Fitness guru Richard Simmons promo advertising for Sweatin' to the Oldies

Richard Simmons practically invented the at-home exercise plan.  He’s persisted through all the technology changes, although if you still want a VHS cassette, they’re for sale on Ebay.

Ebay ad for Richard Simmons VHS tape of Sweatin' to the Oldies.

Now of course there are home plans for all sorts of movement, and most of them are very inexpensive or free.  What a great thing!  Problem solved.

Or maybe not.

Do these plans actually work?  By “work”, I don’t mean “if you follow the plan, will you achieve some fitness results?”  I mean this: what are the chances that people who initiate some at-home plan stick with it for some length of time?

I decided to consult the internets to see what I information I could find. Turns out that this is a very hard question to find an answer for.  What I did find was loads of “success” stories by folks who used some particular plan (usually for sale on the site), with the requisite fitspo before-and-after photos. Lots of sites also turned the tables on us, placing the responsibility for failure on our own lack of will:

The question is not really “Do home workouts really work?”. The true question is: Are you motivated and disciplined enough to do your workout at home?

Yuck.  This story is a familiar one– every diet website tries to sell us the same bill of goods.  Nope, I’m not buying it.  But unfortunately, lots of women do, and some studies have found a variety of negative effects on body and self-image for some women who use exercise DVDs.  The Guardian published an article citing the above study and other related ones, arguing that live exercise classes are more inclusive and motivating.  Not that this is news to anyone, but it does cast some doubt on the efficacy of at-home plans.

Note to self and social science-y readers:  investigating the experiences of women using at-home exercise plans would be a great topic for a qualitative study. There are many studies on physical therapy exercise at-home plans, but I can’t find any on self-initiated plans not connected to medical care.  If anyone knows about any studies, please let me know in the comments.  I’d be most grateful.

Consulting my own experience, there have been times where I’ve gotten into the habit of flexibility, balance and strength training at home.  Often they’ve coincided with physical therapy: given that I had prescribed at-home exercises, it was not hard to add on some others.  And after the PT was over, I did maintain the regimen.  For a while.  And then it went away.  For no apparent reason.

So, back to the need for a mobility routine.  I just renewed my monthly yoga plan, which is located at a studio that’s a 10-minute walk from my house.  And I love the place, and love the instructors.  And some of my friends go regularly.  With all that support, I get there from time to time, and really enjoy moving and stretching and balancing (and teetering) and strengthening.  It would be nice (in theory) to do this at home, but for me this is not a realistic plan.

What about you, readers?  What sorts of movement or activity do you do at home?  How has it gone for you over time?  I’d love to hear your stories.










The real life secrets of aging athletes

I was in the change room at Aikido the other day and a few of us who live on the other side of 50 were chatting about how our training has changed with age and what the challenges are when you’re an older athlete.

Here’s some of that we’ve noticed:

  • We need to warm up! There’s no leaping right into break falls for us. The longer the warm up, the happier our bodies are. Without an adequate warm up, things clunk and thunk and hit the mats hard.
  • We are more injury averse. Healing takes longer and takes us out of the game so we are very much committed to not getting hurt. That means if our bodies aren’t cooperating on a given day and we’re finding a particular technique challenging, we are likely to bow off the mat and observe.
  • We work harder and harder to stay the same! Whether it’s running or Aikido or riding our bikes, we can still do some of the things we used to be able to do but it’s more effort and more hours training for the same result.
  • That’s tricky because we also note that we need longer to recover. So scheduling becomes an issue. We need to fit in all the training and fit in adequate recovery time. We’re less able to go to five classes in one week and one the next. Consistency and timing really makes a difference.
  • We also need our sleep. We all need lots of it and feel rotten pretty fast if we miss out. It’s not just no more all nighters. That happened years ago. Now we even find staying up late on the weekend hard. We’re better if we keep the same schedule all the time. Boring but true.
  • And then there’s food! There is much less flexibility than we had when we were younger about food. There’s no working out without eating. But also no eating right before either. See above about scheduling. It makes a difference.
  • We are also all working hard to keep our mobility through our joints. See this good article on Mobility. I need to get back to CrossFit or start a mobility routine on my own.
  • Oh, and one last one, the cold is extra hard on our bodies. We like the heat. Hot yoga over cold yoga. The hot tub after Aikido. On cold days we need extra stretching and longer warm ups.

How about you? What’s different about staying fit after fifty? If you’re not there yet, what’s different now than when you were twenty?


At 100 years old, Ruth proves that age is really just a state of mind. She practices pilates and lifts weights everyday. Her best advice is, “Celebrate everyday and don’t look at the calendar.”


body image · fitness · weight loss

What Women Weigh

The morning after the presidential election I had my regular quarterly checkup with my rheumatologist, a wonderful south Asian-Canadian woman who treats my Ankylosing Spondylitis. I was already reeling from exhaustion and sorrow and rage because, you know; then I remembered that I would have to get on the schmancy digital scale the nurses trot you past before taking your blood pressure and making you wait. Cue… feelings.

I don’t own a scale and I don’t mind them all that much, to be honest. I know what I weigh, for training purposes, and I know when my body feels strong and comfortable in my favourite outfits. (I am a clothes horse, for which I thank my fantastically hedonistic psychotherapist.) But I get anxious getting on the scale all the same; this is learned anxiety. I grew up fearing my weight – fearing being weighed. I grew up fearing the scale’s gaze, like so many of us did and do.

Me at 10. I found this roll of film in my mom’s old camera three years ago. Our dachshund was called Nancy; my friend was called Francesca.

I was a chubby kid. I didn’t exercise much until university, and I ate the menu at home – hearty German fare. When I moved out on my own I moved in with a long-term partner, and together we did the thing most couples do when they hit the comfort zone: we gained weight together. At my heaviest I was extremely unhappy in my body, my relationship, and my life. That was about 15 years ago.

Today I love my body. It has taken work on my psyche (see above, re hedonistic therapist), on my past, and on my relationships with loved ones. It’s thanks to my feminist support network, and to the sports I adore, but I am now at a place where I do not really care much what the scale says. Other things matter more to me.

Which is why, when I stepped on the schmancy digital scale at the specialist’s office on 9 November and it read 172.8lb, I did not feel much bother. This was a number I had not seen in many years – I’ve been hovering between 160 and 169 since about 2003 – but I understood its origin. I’ve been working with a personal trainer for 16 months; I have gained enough muscle in that time to be able to do body-weight pull-ups and many other badass things. I’m also substantially faster on my bike than I’ve ever been despite the added weight. So I knew it was largely muscle I’d gained, which mitigated the feeling I would have expected to experience at seeing that number:


The doctor helped further. (Did I mention how awesome she is?) She entered, looked at me, looked at my chart, and said: you look just great. How do you feel? (At which point a tearful conversation about the election ensued. Suffice to say my weight was soon forgotten!)

I left feeling buoyant. And then I got to thinking about why I was feeling these feelings, even though the scale had just told me something ostensibly fearful – because women fear weight gain, always. Right? I felt good because I had gained lean mass, and that was my goal. I felt good because my doctor saw the same lean mass gain in my shape and on my chart and knew it was a positive – for me and for my wellness.

I felt good because I understood what I weighed and why I weighed it. Because the number, in fact, matched my expectations – my own goals, not the social message about what weight is, or should be, for women.

I felt good because I saw the true correlation between my weight and my body – the human female body I know and love – perhaps for the first time, ever.

Women are told from a young age to stay small and thus be beautiful: the less of you the better. The scale is your enemy: unless it registers LESS than expected, you are a failure.


I spent my childhood knowing this; key numbers were taboo. (180lb was THE ULTIMATE TABOO. I remember this well. Mom, do you?) So I fought to lose weight. I fought to shrink my body. I fought to shrink my expectations. I fought to take up less space in the world.

Sound toxic?

It sure as hell is.

This is one of the reasons Tracy firmly believes in dumping the scale – and she’s not alone. Get rid of it. Get rid of those shrinking expectations! But I have an ongoing relationship to my trainer’s scale, for training purposes, and to the one at the doctor’s, and thus I don’t wish to ditch. Instead, I have decided to use my new feeling of buoyancy (weight + knowledge = light-heartedness) as a teaching and learning tool.

This past Monday, I hatched a crazy plan: to run a “guess my weight” game on Facebook.

I wanted to test a theory: that very few people know what a human female actually weighs. We know what she “ought” to weigh, according to the toxic mainstream messages we are fed constantly about female embodiment: 110lb-140lb, maybe ever so slightly more if tall and (of course) slim – but I was betting we mostly had no clue about real weights in the real, badass, girl world. And I think we freaking should.

70kg is 154lb. This image has some issues… but it was the best I could do after a lot of searching. Enough said.

Why? Because: real women weigh stuff. Real women take up space! If we understand this, really get it, maybe we can make some real progress.

This is what I did. I posted three recent images of myself (below), in which I weigh (from bottom right, counterclockwise) 161, 167, and 172.8lb respectively (the final photo is my #pantsuitnation photo, from election day. SOB). I asked friends not to share on FB feeds (no trolls, please), but to share the pictures with friends and family privately and ask all and sundry to guess. The more guys and kids the better!

I got dozens of responses. While they varied widely, they ranged from roughly 140lb (mostly guys) to roughly 180lb (mostly my athlete, female friends). In the aggregate men guessed low; I don’t know if this is because they feared embarrassing me by saying what they really believed I weighed (I’m thinking this isn’t that likely – these are guys I trust and care about), OR because they don’t actually know what human females generally weigh, even though they love us and have all the best intentions in the world (this one is my bet).

Women guessed much closer on the whole. True, my FB feed is filled with feminists and athletes, but even so I was surprised. And more: I was heartened, and made genuinely happy. And I felt empowered! I’ve got to be honest: even though I know why I weigh what I do, and am totally happy with it, I somehow expected everyone to look at me, guess 150lb, and then be profoundly shocked and appalled when I revealed my true weight. The fact that so many friends came properly close, easily and with generosity, told me something I did not know before: other women also weigh what I weigh. Other women also take up this much space. Other women know…


Now, I know that I’m coming at this as an athlete; my weight is different from weight based on lots of non-lean mass, and all the social stigma attached to that. But two caveats here.

First, I’m not all muscle, people. I’m 42. I like wine A LOT. And cheese. And chocolate. Some of that weight has nothing to do with climbing hills and crossing finish lines. Plenty of that weight is healthy, normal, female fat.

Second, it doesn’t actually matter that much! What matters, to me, is this: I said my (substantial) weight out loud, to a bunch of random people (to all of you!), and I did not die. Nobody looked at me sideways and decided I was too gross to live. In fact, a bunch of people I love and trust guessed damn close, and in the process told me that a) we look terrific, and b) we weigh a lot.

Why have we not told each other this stuff before? Because, ladies, listen up. If more human beings knew what – and SHARED what – human females actually weigh, the space we actually take up in the real world… maybe we could run more of that dumb-ass world ourselves.

Pitch your scale if you want: you have all my love and respect.

But if you keep it: say the number. Out loud. To friends and kids and loved ones. Be not afraid. You’re just taking up the space in the world that you deserve to own, every last bit of you.

And you’re freaking beautiful.







Let the frenzy begin…but here are some stress-busting strategies to get you through it intact

family-winter-holidayHere in Canada it’s business as usual today. But we will be drawn officially into “the festive season” tomorrow, on Black Friday, which somehow has snuck its way into the Canadian calendar in a big way.

It used to be that a few people would take the day off work to drive across the border and get in on some of those Black Friday specials. Then came online shopping, so we could take advantage of the sales online. But not to be outdone by US outlets making their wares available to Canadians online, Canadian retailers with actual store fronts started to get in on the fun. Go to any Canadian mall on Friday and you’ll see signs if it everywhere.

But the shopping frenzy is not the only thing that takes hold. It’s the eating and the socializing. Despite being an introvert, I actually like the social aspect of the season. I also like the lights and the Christmas trees and the music.  Another source of frenzy for us academics is the end of term. Essays, exams, grades that need to be submitted. Students who need reassurance. It’s one of the busiest times of year already!

And with everything, the schedule gets all thrown off. And it’s winter. So many variables. Like, I’m supposed to start that 39-day running challenge today and as I write this (actually writing the night before), I’m not entirely sure when I’m going to fit that in, what with teaching and a full work day and a volunteer commitment after work and then a concert. Okay, I’ve only committed to 2K a day, but it’s suppose to be raining in the morning.

Whether you love it or hate, the “season to be jolly” can be draining and discombobulating. So in order to get us an early start on that added stress, here’s an article that suggests some ways not to succumb.  “25 Ways to Fight Holiday Stress” is full of some fantastic suggestions, like:

  • walk away from worries
  • do less, enjoy more (this is one of my favourites)
  • stick with your daily routine (okay, okay, I’m heading out the door for that run now!)
  • forget perfection
  • fit in exercise
  • plan a vacation

That’s not all. There are 19 other suggestions.  I’m going to close with a sneak-preview quote from my December newsletter to the Arts and Humanities students (I’m the Associate Dean, and I post a monthly newsletter):

Remember to do all the smart things that keep you grounded, whatever those may be. For me, it’s all about getting enough sleep, eating three decent meals a day, “single-tasking” instead of multi-tasking, taking breaks from my work to spend time alone and with friends, and doing some form of exercise each day. How about making a checklist of what keeps you grounded and committing to checking off at least three of those things each day?

Let’s not wait until the panic sets in. What keeps you grounded through this time of year?



We’re streaking! Join us?

Image result for streakingI’m not a big runner. Injuries plague me. But, I love running short distances. I also love having an exercise plan in place to keep me happy through the holidays. See december is the new january.

People hear that and think I mean weight loss. I don’t. But I am an introvert. I find the increased social demands of the holidays stressful. It’s also grading season for professors everywhere. And it’s the start of winter and I need a push to get me out the door.

So bring on the running streak. Here’s the Runners’ World version: The goal is simple: Run at least one mile per day, every day, starting on Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 24) and ending on New Year’s Day (Sunday, January 1). That’s 39 consecutive days of running.

I did it last year and loved it. See My holiday run streak complete!

I shared the Runners’ World pitch to our Facebook page  and instantly had company. Cate says she’s in. Then Susan. And now Amanda Lynn.

You don’t have to do the Runners’ World version to join in. Make up your own streaking plan.

We’ve all made modifications. I’m going with last year’s plan. I skip the run on the days I ride my bike big distances on the trainer, or ride more than 40 km outside. Cate’s had enough of the winter weather. She’s running on the treadmill. Amanda Lynn isn’t planning to run. She’s getting out for  a walk each day. So you do you. Whatever works for you.

Run Streak

How about you? Are you joining us? Comment below about your plan and what your rules are. We’d love to have you streaking with us.