Just to be clear, the new year starts January 2. Cool your jets. It’s not today.

I’m not sure if you make resolutions but if you do I’m here to tell you that really the New Year begins January 2nd. You can relax, ease into if you want, but no big changes will happen on the 1st and no one expects it. Why? It’s a Sunday.

See Happy New Year! The new year is a moving target after all. Last year I declared January 4th the real start of 2016.

“You can’t start a diet/quit drinking/give up sweets January 1st. There are still parties to attend and left over Christmas goodies to eat. All those New Year’s Day social commitments. And for some of us, though not me and Tracy, hangovers. Who can run with a hangover? Really? So it’s not January 1st that the New Me begins, really it’s January 2nd. Except this year that was a Saturday. And who starts something new on the weekend? Nothing good happens on the weekend. So lots of my social media friends have declared January 4th the new January 1st, the true start to the new year. After all, for many of you it’s the first day back to school and work and the regular routine.”

I’m not usually a New year’s resolution person. Why? See New year, new goals? “I don’t make New Year’s resolutions generally. I’m an academic and so January 1st feels like midyear to me. Now, September, that’s the start of a new year.”

But this year is a bit different. It’s the start of a six month sabbatical and setting routines that aren’t about classes will make all the difference to me in terms of both writing and fitness, the two things I tend to track and measure and set goals about. It’s a new year’s resolution about fitness, most certainly not about weight loss, but it is a new semester and a new place. I need to make plans and start as  I mean to continue. (See On back to school and starting as you mean to continue.)

See you at the gym on Monday!

Fit is a Feminist Issue, Link Round Up #76

This is where we share stuff we can’t share on Facebook page for fear of being kicked out! Read why here. Usually the posts are about body image, sometimes there’s nudity but we’re all adults here. Right?

Ways to be body positive in 2017

Let’s face it: 2016 was a shitshow. While we all try to be positive for 2017, the looming inauguration is scary as hell. That’s why it is especially important that we all band together to be strong for ourselves and each another.

In a time of global warming, war, humanitarian crises and other disasters, one thing is certain: body-shaming is one of the pettiest things in existence, yet it is incredibly prevalent today. It’s time to stop shaming ourselves and others. It’s time to band together.

What 8 body positive activists want you to know about losing weight in the new year

With a new year comes the all-too-familiar pressure to lose weight.

As the ball drops at midnight, the diet industry gears up to welcome women who mark Jan. 1 as the day they will begin restricting and training their bodies into the slim ideal. It’s all a part of the “New Year, New You” mantra we have been taught to value as gospel.

While the pressure to shrink your body is a constant for women year-round, the value of thinness is especially emphasized when New Year’s resolutions are thrown into the mix. It’s a time of year when hating yourself is made easy, packaged and sold by the diet industry as flaws in need of fixing. Many of us buy into it — but we don’t have to.

Simone Biles shares message on body image

Simone Biles let the body-shamers know how she feels about them.

On Tuesday evening, Biles tweeted out a powerful message about her body, saying “you can judge my body all you want, but at the end of the day it’s MY body. I love it & I’m comfortable in my skin <3.

Body image problems in teen girls tied to alcohol use

High school girls who have issues with body image and weight are more likely to be drinkers than ) their peers, a recent U.S. study suggests.

Researchers focused on body image behavioral misperceptions (BIBM) – when girls try to gain or lose weight to change how they look even though there’s no medical need for them to alter their weight.

In the study of more than 6,500 teen girls, 38 percent had these misperceptions and roughly two-thirds had tried alcohol at least once.

When teen girls had body image issues that drove them to try to change their weight, they were 29 percent more likely to have tried alcohol and 22 percent more likely to be heavy drinkers than young women without these body image problems, the study found.

Sexy, sassy, and over 50 

Sometimes, to be a woman over 50 is to feel invisible. It’s walking into a bar or restaurant and no longer being on the receiving end of an admiring glance. It’s feeling like people on the street are looking past you, as if you aren’t even there. Ask a middle-aged woman, and she might say these slights have whittled away at her self-confidence, tricking her into believing the best years are behind her.

We live in a culture that often equates beauty and energy with youth. But we’d like to turn that way of thinking on its head. We believe women can be smart and sassy, beautiful and confident ― and that they can continue to shake things up in the world around them ― whether they’re 50 or 75 or 100.

With that idea in mind, Huff/Post50 photographed 11 very sexy women between the ages of 48 and 67. A few are cancer survivors. A few are grandmothers. A few are single and a few are married. But what they all have in common is that not one is a shrinking violet. They feel better about themselves today than they ever have. We asked each woman to wear whatever makes them feel sexy, and to talk about what being sexy means to them now compared to when they were, say, 21. The resulting photos are stunning ― and entirely un-retouched.

Why plus sized isn’t inclusive

So plus size models. I don’t appreciate them as much as I really could and should. Please keep in mind that I’m not trying to hate on them. I love representation and it matters. And plus size models are, by all means, a great endeavour in an originally unbreakable line of work which is the modelling industry. But I don’t think plus size models are really representing women too well.

Some Thoughts Before Posting About Weight Change and Diets (Guest Post)

Eating disorders are typically associated in people’s minds with women, and more specifically with emaciated young girls. Eating disorders are not things we think of ‘serious’ people as having. Those of us who suffer from them or have recovered from them often are quite secretive about it, and feel a fair amount of shame about the whole issue. Often, for busy and powerful feminist academics, having an eating disorder, especially with the attendant stereotypes and stigmas, does not fit our self-image. But there are a surprising number of full-grown academics of various genders and body shapes and ages who struggle with eating disorders. Often these struggles are life threatening. They are also very often invisible.

Facebook posts and unexpected blog entries about dieting, food restriction, and weight loss and gain are extremely and dangerously triggering for many of us who struggle with these issues, and may be alienating and painful for your fat colleagues. Posts that seek and/or receive wide social approval or sympathy around issues of weight and food restriction are especially triggering. These triggers are serious mental and physical health risks for many of us.

Of course we support everyone’s right to post whatever they want on their own walls, and to blog about whatever they like. It is impossible to avoid triggers altogether, and not our place to demand that the internet be safe for us in particular. But we ask you to think seriously before posting on these topics, and to take into account that these posts are difficult for more of your colleagues and friends than you know. We also ask you not to assume that someone who ‘looks normal’ will be comfortable with these issues. If you want to discuss and especially to celebrate dieting and weight loss, you might think about creating a restricted list for friends you know to be comfortable with the topic.

Much love to all of you and strength in all your complicated struggles –
Anna Bergqvist, Tiffany Cvrkel, Megan Delehanty, Fiona Maeve Geist, Tracy Isaacs, Rebecca Kukla, Whitney Mutch, Audrey Yap

It’s okay to fail, or let’s make some glorious mistakes in the coming year

I love Neil Gaiman’s New Year’s greetings. I love this one especially from 2008: 


“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.


Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.


So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.


Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.


Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”


I hope this blog contributes in some small way to your confidence in trying new things, making mistakes, and risking failure. I’d like a world in which women get to try new things and fail and not worry that it’s evidence that women aren’t good at that thing, or not meant really to do that thing. 


I read somewhere once that sometimes our most spectacular failures yield more good than our small timid successes. I think that’s true. 


We’re not afraid to take risks around here. I thought Tracy was very brave to give road cycling a try even though she suffers from fear and anxiety about riding on the road. Even though she decided that cycling wasn’t for her, she gave it a good go. That’s never a waste of time. Personally, I loved road cycling right from my very first ride but that isn’t true with everything I do. Running and I have a complicated relationship.  I also struggle all the time with fear of failure and anxiety around not being good enough in Aikido


And if I break my leg trying downhill skiing this year, feel free to remind me about this post!



On having an “it’s complicated relationship” with your body

This popped up a few times in my social media newsfeed this week.  And yes, it made me smile. And yes,  I shared it with our Facebook page.

But I shared it with the following text above it: “I like this message…but it’s not always true that our bodies love us. Some of us deal with damaged and diseased bodies, bodies that are broken in various ways. Sometimes we love them anyway, but other times we don’t. And that’s okay too.”

I think a lot these days about the ways our bodies betray us. I’ve lost friends and family members in the past two years to brain cancer, esophageal cancer, ALS, and to stroke. I wouldn’t say that these peoples’ bodies loved them so very much. In my post What does 74 look like? And how much choice do we have really I express my concern that contemporary fitness culture acts as if health and healthy aging were all in our control when it’s not. 

So yes, love your body if you want, if you can. But sometimes anger is just fine too. Right now I’m not that impressed with my knees and I’ve already said goodbye to a slew of minor misbehaving organs: gall bladder, thyroid, tonsils, adenoids…

Can’t say I felt much love for my gall bladder through all that pain. 
 

Holiday Fat Anxiety

Oh, the holidays. I was hanging out with a thin friend who talked about wearing “fat pants.” I looked at her and thought that in no possible world are pants that fit you “fat pants.” But it’s all relative, I guess. The point is whatever your size, fretting about holiday weight gain is a thing.

Side note: I think it’s true actually that when it comes to weight gain anxiety, thin people suffer more. They’ve got more to lose. In my post about the unexpected advantages of growing up chubby I wrote that, “I used to think that body acceptance would be easier if you were closer to society’s ideals for women. Now I see that isn’t so. Doing the Lean Eating program I got to know some very small women with some serious body image issues. I found some of the self-loathing pretty difficult to be around and in the end I chose a smaller subset of that community as allies and friends.”

Those of us who’ve always been outside society’s norms have had to make their peace with our size one way or another. For me, gaining or losing 5 lbs isn’t that anxiety making. I’m also writing this wearing a nightgown and a hoodie. Not exactly the most form fitting of clothing. Later I might move up to yoga pants. I’m aiming for actual pants with zippers and buttons by the new year.

But it got me thinking about how gaining 5 lbs over the holidays–that’s the average amount of weight people put on–is so noticeable in part because of the kind of clothes we wear. My dresses are much more forgiving, size flexible. That’s part of why I hate pants. In the blog post which made the case against pants, I wrote, “I gain or lose three pounds and I need to change sizes of pants. I’ve got dresses I’ve worn through weight gain and loss of twenty pounds, no problem, but pants? They can be too small in the morning and too big at night. I own pants in at least three different sizes. That’s pretty much required.”

I also hate the binge eating/dieting thing that goes on over the holidays. Mostly I manage to steer clear but I still have some anxiety about putting my jeans and work clothes back on. Deep breaths! Hey, I even tried listening to the song that’s supposed to reduce anxiety 65%. “The group that created “Weightless”, Marconi Union, did so in collaboration with sound therapists. Its carefully arranged harmonies, rhythms, and bass lines help slow a listener’s heart rate, reduce blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.”

But it put me to sleep. Overkill. Guess maybe I’m not that anxious after all.

Yesterday I announced to no one in particular in my kitchen that I’m moving to eating only the really good desserts, leftover trifle and the best of the Christmas chocolate.  Also, I declared there’ll be no more breakfast and lunch dessert. Tonight I’m heading back to the gym. Baby steps…

But mostly for me its about taking deep breaths and getting outside. Dogs walks, not in aid of weight loss, help everything!

Be It Resolved (or not) that…

new-years-resWith mere days left in 2016, it’s easy to get caught up in the new year’s resolution game. For many of us, 2016 has been horrible in countless ways. And the prospect of 2017 as a blank page of hope…well let’s just say it’s got an undeniable allure even if it’s based in fanciful thinking.

We’ve blogged lots about new year’s resolutions.  I for one recognize the temptation and, at the same time, acknowledge the probability of the slow disintegration of that January 1st optimism. Resolutions to do everything differently, that this will be the year, and so forth, are (for me) a glorified version of the Monday morning weight loss plan, exercise plan, running program…Usually doomed to fail and make feel badly about myself.

Look, I’m not trying to be negative (well, maybe just a little). I’m a realist. In fact, I think that every day is a good day to start something afresh. And every day holds promise for solidifying the commitment from the day before.

You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. We’ve all heard it: it takes 21 days to form a habit. But the science says that’s a myth. If 21-30 days were enough, we’d all be home free if we could stick it out until January 31st. But the average is more like 66. This Huffington Post article says:

On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit. [1]

In other words, if you want to set your expectations appropriately, the truth is that it will probably take you anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behavior into your life — not 21 days.

What’s more, messing up now and again isn’t a deal-breaker. I like that the study reports this:

the researchers also found that “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process.” In other words, it doesn’t matter if you mess up every now and then. Building better habits is not an all-or-nothing process.

“All or nothing” is a major obstacle to getting on the right track. My own experience has shown that my commitment comes in fits and starts. And minor changes in routine — work deadlines, travel, a night or two of poor sleep, even the weather — can throw me off. But I can get right back on track again if I practice some self-forgiveness.

Right now I’m training for the Key West Half Marathon on January 15th. So I’ve got a head start on anything that could look remotely like a “resolution.” I’m in the thick of it. If I abandon the careful training plan Anita and I put together it’ll be at my own peril. So I’m not making any big resolutions. I just plan to keep doing what I’m doing (though I might ramp down the consumption of holiday chocolate back to every day chocolate levels–not a resolution but just recognition that for me, too much of a good thing makes me appreciate it less, not more, and I do not want to appreciate chocolate less).

Here’s a collection of our resolution posts over the past few years.  Mostly, I’m in the “against” camp, thinking that resolutions usually set me up to feel bad about myself.  But there’s a range of views here, and I hope you find something that resonates:

To resolve or not to resolve? On New Year’s resolutions, Tracy I

My 2016 resolution: work less, live more, Kim S

Resolution skipping and short term goals, Sandi

Not my resolution; thoughts on January weight loss from a cheerful chubster, Carly

A one-month check-in with January 2016 resolutions, Catherine W

This time I mean it: New Year’s resolutions, self-forgiveness, and fitness, Kate N

Planning another new year’s diet? Three alternative approaches that may spare you the grief, Tracy I

What about you? Are you a new year’s resolution person? If you are, what makes you want to do that? And if not, what makes you not want to have resolutions?

Regardless, may your 2017 be filled with joy!