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So you’ve resolved to get fit in 2018? Here’s some advice from the Fit is a Feminist Issue Bloggers, #newfitspo

Kim

1. Pick something you love, or have really always wanted to try, to focus on. Don’t take up running because you think it’s what fit people do, or join a gym because you think it’s the only option. Start from a place of interest, joy, or true enthusiasm. All kinds of things ‘count’ when it comes to moving your body. Be creative!

2. Don’t try to shift your schedule to accommodate a new workout routine. Make it fit your schedule, work around and with the life you already live. Your schedule is your schedule for good reasons. If you have space in it to slide in some new things, without pressurizing existing commitments, you’re more likely to take pleasure from those new things. Soon, they’ll become part of the routine too.

Christine

1. Think in terms of building habits instead of a specific goal – you have way more control over your daily tasks than you do over your results.

2. Attach your new habits to an existing one. ‘I will do 10 minutes of yoga after I brush my teeth at night.’ Not only does that give you a specific time to do something, it lets you build a strong mental picture of yourself building the habit.

Catherine

1. Figure out what to wear– that is, pick clothing that you think works for you for that activity. Maybe that means buying a new pair of leggings and sports bra, or pulling out your favorite T-shirts and baggy sweats. Or a tutu and top hat! The key thing is to be comfortable for you, as you, whether that means sleeveless tank, bra top, sweater with scarf, cap, ponytail, whatever. I happen to like wearing the same type of outfit (quick-dry top and capri leggings) for a) yoga, b) walking, c) recreational kayaking, and d) grocery shopping. So I do.

2. Make plans with others to do physical fun things. It makes those things even more fun, and is a motivator to do them (if you’re feeling in need of one). I often make yoga-dates with folks, and planning cycling with others gets me out the door on two wheels.

3. Take good care of your feet! This means making sure you have shoes that fit well, with whatever support you might need, good socks, plenty of band-aids or moleskin to protect against blisters, etc. while you’re breaking them in (for new hiking or ski boots, for instance) . You’ll be oh so glad you did.

Natalie

I’m a bit leery to offer advice, everyone’s experience is so different. As someone with big feels all the time I think being prepared to encounter strong emotions around fitness & workouts is important. It’s normal to feel anxious, nervous, silly…all the feels!

Realizing moving my body can sometimes release tension or feelings in interesting ways helps me normalize those experiences.

There have been a few posts about the self-serving bias of thinking we are more fit than we actually are. It can be humbling to realize the seemingly modest goal may be more challenging than expected.

My advice is adjust your expectations as you get more information and focus on your motivation for your fitness goals.

I want to be able to continue to enjoy a wide variety of activities, manage my blood pressure and work through anxiety to get that endorphin boost.

I’m sending positive vibes out to everyone trying new things, recommitting to good habits and those scaling back activity for a bunch of reasons. Yay you!

Cate

Don’t measure yourself against other people. I had a friend who wouldn’t run on the track at the gym because “I have to run too hard to keep up with everyone else on the track.” You have no idea what anyone else’s movement story is and you can’t compare yourself. In every gym there will be someone who can lift more than you, someone who is bendier than you, has a better grasp of the steps in a class, or who can ride harder and longer. Learn to listen to your own body, not look outside.

And inversely, remember that no one is actually watching you and thinking you are clumsy/ slow/ big/ hairy/ unfit. People doing activities are in the activities, not entangled in what other people are doing.

You do you. Deepen your own practice of knowing your own body and what it can do, its strengths, where you need to stretch more. Make it about you.

Tracy

1. Start small and build from there. Ten minutes of yoga. Fifteen minutes in the weight room. Walk-run intervals for a few blocks.

2. If you’re thinking of running, join a learn to run group. There are loads of them that start up each January. It’s a safe and fun way to learn to run and become a part of a community.

3. It doesn’t need to be complicated but it helps to be informed. All activities involve new skills and technique that you need to know to do them in a safe and healthy way. If you’re starting to do resistance training in the weight room for the first time, for example, take advantage of the personal training sessions that most gyms will offer to newbies to introduce them to the equipment and help set up a new routine. And there’s a lot of info online about all sorts of activities. Read it, ask around, and make sure you have a sense of what you’re doing. This isn’t just to prevent injury, but also to help build your confidence. When you know what you’re doing you’ll feel better about doing it.

Have fun!

fitness · holidays

My plans for 2018: move, write, reflect, repeat

2017 has felt like a blur and a whirlwind.  I have felt disorganized and caught up short by utterly expected life events and pummeled by unexpected world events.  I’m not the only one– We have all been buffeted about, and many of us  battered by what’s unfolded this year.

In December I wrote about turning inward, slowing down, and giving in to the season.  In part I was inspired by a short and sensible book called The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy, written by two smart, sensible, feminist Canadian academics (of course!).  Here’s a bit about it from an article in Inside Higher Ed:
…the discussion focuses on the links between time, commitments and personal stress, and emphasizes trying to achieve a sense of “flow” or “timelessness,” which presents as creativity (and productivity). How to get into the flow? Avoid or eliminate to the extent possible environmental factors that interfere with creativity, the book says. Protect “a time and a place for timeless time” and continually remind yourself “that this is not self-indulgent but rather crucial to intellectual work.”
I really like this approach to professional life.  I also know that this is not open to most people, and I feel grateful and lucky to be able to make use of a few of their suggestions for making my work environment a more creative and timeless one.
But this also struck a chord with me about my active movement life.  What bliss!  Imagine a timeless bike ride, or swim, or walk in the woods!
Usually we shoehorn in activity, giving up sleep and/or putting off household tasks, a move that makes us pay later.  Instead I’m toying with the paradoxical idea of planning my timelessness– setting aside time/money for things I really want to do and experience, among people I enjoy moving and chatting and stretching and pedaling and sweating with.
Herewith my scheduled timeless event plans for 2018:
  • March cycling trip to Arizona with Janet, Steph, and Kathy
  • Early June Bikes Not Bombs charity ride in Boston (with whomever wants to join me)
  • Late July PWA Friends for Life charity ride in Toronto with Samantha, Sarah and friends
  • Early September (Labor Day) weekend bike ride with Rachel to VT from Easthampton MA (and back, too)
In order to be able to complete and enjoy these flowy and physical experiences, I will:
  • Go to yoga twice a week every week
  • Ride trainer twice a week every week (yeah I need more than that, but I am committing to this right now)
  • Ride outside once a week, weather permitting, or xc ski or snowshoe, different weather permitting
  • Do everyday movement on teaching days– e.g. park far (like, really far) away from office every time I drive to campus
  • Track all of this activity honestly
  • Reflect and write on how things unfolded  compassionately

So that’s what I’ll be doing.  It won’t go smoothly.  These things never do.  But it will go, and I will spend time in it, record it, reflect on it, and go back to it, over and over again.  Repetition is the soul of life.

I know that’s not the saying.  But it seems true enough.

What about you?  What do you want from your body and your activities and your movements and your timelessness in 2018?

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More New Year’s Resolutions from the Fit is a Feminist Issue Bloggers

Susan

It’s been a tough fall for me. After my accidental personal best 10k in the middle of September there has been a whole lot of dog walking, some horse riding and nothing else. There are good reasons including a new aspect of my job that puts me in the car more, my son moving to uni that also put me in the car more with his sister that he had been driving around, peri-menopausal brain and who knows what else. This is life. My New Year is going to include listening to more music. I spend too much time with talk radio and although I love it, I’m feeling disconnected from fun and art. It’s going to include continued dog walking (because the dog demands) and horse riding. I will have to look for a way to do a Pilates something or another to start back to whatever I will get back to. That activity has always been my in to fitness. By March my daughter will have her license and maybe I’ll start running outside. Maybe we will buy the horse she’s been rehabbing. I don’t know, something will come up. For now, music and dogs. I can do that.

Catherine

New beginnings are one of my favorite things– new school year, Easter, spring time, summer break– they all fill me with optimism. The very act of imagining new plans, programs, regimens, routines, and practices makes me a little giddy.

So it is with New Years resolutions. Yeah yeah– most of them don’t stick (for good reasons). And it can be a big bummer to abandon some plan made with sincere (if not entirely realistic) intentions.

I’m reframing the whole resolution enterprise. Of course I’m listing priorities, coming up with plans/wish list. (For a comprehensive list, see my December 31 blog post.)

But I’m going to check in with myself every month to see how things are going, and write about it. That last part– the checking in honestly and curiously and kindly with myself in writing– is my real resolution. So here it is, folks: I hereby resolve to write a checkin blog post once a month to see how I’m doing with respect to priorities, plans, projects, and wish lists. Maybe we can even get a discussion going in the comments. I would love the company…

https://unsplash.com/@jerryinocmd

Christine

If my instructors determine that I am ready, 2018 will be the year that I test for my 3rd degree black belt. I want to be calm and assured when I go into that test so that will involve a lot of preparation – both for the specific test requirements and for my overall fitness level. Also, I have been having a lot of trouble with my back and hips lately. I’ve had a few people tell me that ‘it comes with age’ but I know that while age is factor, my issues are more likely related to how I move, sit and stand.

So, while I don’t set ‘resolutions’ per se, I do want to spend the next year feeling strong and physically capable so I am making more space in my days for movement. Specifically, I am adding daily strengthening exercises and I am setting up regular practice times to prepare for my belt test. Also, I love the idea of doing 218 workouts in 2018 and since that doesn’t clash with the other habits I am trying to establish, I am jumping on that bandwagon, too. KIYA!

Tracy I

As Cate said yesterday, I thought we usually just come out against resolutions. But maybe that’s just me because I think of resolutions as a set-up. I mean, I know about the allure of a fresh blank page that a new year represents. Hope. Possibility. Potential. I also know that in my life anything good that has ever happened has been through tiny steps, consistent effort, shifting habits, not from big plans and resolutions.

That said, I do find goals motivating sometimes, but my main goal these days is to be more relaxed about life. Hardly the stuff of which resolutions are made. I like what I’m doing already with my personal training, running, and hot yoga. I’m getting enough sleep, enjoying my friends, and loving my work. Since I expect all of that to continue apace in 2018, I’m not even feeling the temptation to make sweeping changes this year. I guess that means I’m in a good place!

Happy new year and all the best to you and yours for a fit feminist 2018!

For more resolutions by the bloggers at Fit is a Feminist Issue, look here.

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What kinds of New Year’s fitness resolutions do feminists make?

Nat

I’m not making any resolutions. I am going to hot yoga on Sundays with my friend & neighbour Kim. I’m heading back to cxworx on Tuesdays and I got new running shoes for Christmas. I do tend to get back into running around Christmas each year. It’s the extra time holidays afford and it’s a quick, flexible workout when things get hectic.

I do tend to reflect on my fitness goals around my birthday in October. The fall always feels like my time to commit to new routines and indoor activity.

MarthaFitat55

I don’t make resolutions. I do set goals. As an independent consultant who helps organizations create strategic plans, I decided several years ago to create a strategic plan for myself. The four key planks rarely change: live joyously, eat deliciously, move lots, and do good work. Threaded through the four are spending time with family and friends engaged in some or all of the preceding.

For move lots, I set separate goals. For 2018, I want to make some gains in my deadlift, squat, and bench, currently at 101 kgs, 215 lbs, and 49 kgs respectively. I plan to swim at least twice a week. Although my fitbit is dying, I want to track more regularly in 2018 and get a few more urban hiker awards.

But achieving those goals won’t happen unless I create the steps to get me there. Before the new year begins, I will have refined the processes for each one, some on my own, and some with others to help keep me on the right path. Over the coming year, readers of Fit is a Feminist Issue will learn about some of the things I will do to achieve my goals.

Sam

Like Martha I prefer the language of “goals” to that of “resolutions.”

And I’ve made three so far. First, I intend to workout 218 times in 2018. Second, I aim to ride 4000 km in 2018. Third, unlike in years past I am not going to drop strength training in the summer riding season.

I’m amused that all the weight loss resolutions in my newsfeed don’t come from my women friends. Instead, it’s the competitive cyclists who are organizing diet pools, talking about race weights, and asking each other how much they have to lose before their first race.

Oh, and I’ve told you my goals but maybe I shouldn’t have. Research shows that people who share their goals are less likely to attain them. Why? “Announcing your plans to others satisfies your self-identity just enough that you’re less motivated to do the hard work needed.”

Kim

I’m not a new year’s resolution person, at all, but this year I’m making an exception. My brilliant new neighbour and I were having a drink and a chat the other evening, and discovered something we have in common: we tend, almost as a reflex, to make ourselves small and shy when confronted with men (in a non-threatening way, let me emphasize) on the street or otherwise out in the world. That is: while we are both interested in men and interested in meeting new men, we struggle to overcome our inherent sense that no man, ever, would want us – so loathsome are we! – and so not making eye contact with men becomes a protective mechanism.

I should say here that we are both feminists, and both very bold and strong in other aspects of our lives, including professionally. Also, I’m pretty sure I’m pretty attractive, and my neighbour is *totally* hot! But old habits, ingrained by childhood experiences and ossified by a life lived under a relentless patriarchy, die hard. (In fact, when we both admitted we shared this problem, we looked at each other and laughed, out loud – so ridiculous does it seem, when it’s named and called into the light.)

So, this year, we’ve both decided to resolve: let us be more open to the world. That’s it. To look up, not down. To meet eyes, not shy away. To take a few more chances, safe in the knowledge that we can handle what may come.

Cate

When we were talking about writing this post, Tracy said “don’t we just always come out against resolutions? LOL.” My kneejerk response was to agree with her, and then I realized that I have actually demonstrated many times this year that goal-setting really works for me. I didn’t make a “resolution” to do 217 workouts in 2017, but I did set a goal. I also set a semi-successful goal to stop eating mindlessly after 8 pm (it worked until I got super-busy, travelly and tired). So I think, for 2018, I need to set some intentions.

First, I’m going to continue with the workout goal, with 218 in 2018. It works for me to be part of this kind of challenge, and as the counting adds up, I feel more motivated. I turn 53 in a few weeks, and I want to keep building the habit of moving my body most days a week. For fitness now, yes, but more importantly, preserving mobility as I get older.

Second, in the first quarter of 2018, I want to make sure I do at least one high intensity workout a week, deliberately. I am doing a bike trip at high altitude in May, and I want to really revel in where I am, not be fighting the thin air. This kind of goal works for me.

Third, back to the eating habits. For January, no snacking after dinner, except one weekend day. I need to get a grip on this random before-bed eating I’ve been doing.

And finally, most importantly, I want to feel less busy this year. I write about that a lot. That means building in more time off where I’m doing nothing, and making a lot more space to be friends with people “in real life,” as Susan put it recently — especially the people who live near me. I’ve got in the habit of letting time zip by in a blur. It means saying no to some work things, and that’s hard for me. I need to build better practice around that, and that will be my focus. Let’s play outside, my friends ;-).

More reading on resolutions….

50 Body Positive Resolutions that Don’t Involve Dieting

How to make and keep new year’s resolutions

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Getting to the starting line (Guest post)

by Aimée Morrison

I’m about to turn 45 and I’m getting faster and stronger.

No, I’m not immune to aging. The thing is, though, that I had such excruciatingly bad experiences with formal exercise, sports, and athletics my whole childhood that my self-image was based on the idea that I was freakishly unfit. I grew up scrawny, easily winded, and clumsy. I was picked last for every team. I reliably failed the “ParticipACTION fitness challenge” every single year of elementary school, an annual humiliation that has etched certain scenes in my memory forever, scenes that still make me feel small and worthless, even now.

Sports and athleticism for me gained an indelible taint of public humiliation in groups. I have weird, disproportionate emotional reactions to athletic situations to this day. I’ve been running off and on since I was about 28, for example, and so far, my running goal has always been, simply, this: do not humiliate yourself by having to stop in front of real runners. Naturally, this limits me. I do training runs with my (naturally athletic) husband and he is always encouraging me to push my pace, to go harder, to get stronger and I refuse absolutely: what happens when I hit my limit and I have to stop? I will have failed. He doesn’t know that I can’t I can’t I can’t I don’t want him to find out.

We were, actually, going longer and farther and sometimes even faster, even if I found that scary and waited, inevitably to fail. And then I broke my foot at camp and had to stop all activity for eight weeks. I knew I was doomed to lose any and all gains, thrown back well behind the starting line, again.

But do you know what? Since I was cleared to get back into my running shoes, I built back up from scratch to a personal best 5k time in less than six weeks. Because I decided to push. I’ve been doing long runs of 7.5-8k. Today, I’m going to do a slow 10k in the snow. I’m amazing myself.

Maybe, just ready, I am ready to say I’m an athlete.

The good news is that now that I’m a little more confident, and have been learning about how training works, is that I am in fact legitimately improving in all areas. I don’t think I’ve hit my peak yet, and that’s exciting. The bad news is that these gains have space to happen in my middle-aged body because so many gym classes, sports days, “coaches”, and my own experiences over the first 25-30 years of my life led me to believe I could never amount to anything, fitness-wise. And so I didn’t.

That’s why I’m still getting faster and stronger now, in middle age, because I was so traumatized I never even tried.

I’m trying now.

For the new year, I’ve signed up to a running clinic. I’m going to train for a half marathon. I’m joining a group, and I’ll push my lungs and my muscles to their limits with a coach, in public. I’m terrified. I’m excited. This new year, I’m going to be an athlete, and I’m going to change my old story about fitness and athleticism and my own abilities into a new and better one.

Aimée Morrison has been practicing yoga for 11 years, training in a 200 hour YTT in 2014, and Yoga for Round Bodies 2016. Erstwhile yoga teacher introductory to advanced at Queen Street Yoga in Kitchener. In her spare time, associate prof at UWaterloo, specializing in social media.

fitness

If I’m not focusing on weight, what can I focus on instead?

Blue sky with a few clouds, mesh of the corner of a trampoline on a catamaran, with a person reclining on it, feet with pink flip flops visible in the lower right corner. We got an email message on our Facebook page the other day after posting an article called “10 reasons not to focus on your weight.” The reader said that we post a lot about not focusing on weight. Could we frame those posts in a more constructive way and speak of what to focus on instead?

That’s a great suggestion since of course we all know that the harder we try not to think of something the more we will think of it. Try it: do not think about a red and orange parrot that says “wanna go to a movie?” Lol. Good luck with that.

We will be posting later this week, as a collective, about our various approaches to new year’s goals and “resolutions.” There you will find a lot of positive suggestions of what motivates us instead of a preoccupation with weight. But I’m here to offer a few of my thoughts on what to focus on instead.

  1. Focus on what your body can do. It’s an amazing machine and does lots of cool things. I am impressed with my body all the time, especially when I work out.
  2. Performance goals and training goals. When Sam and I did our fittest by fifty challenge (which you can read about in our upcoming book, Fit at Mid-Life, coming out through Greystone Press in April 2018), I was so busy by the end training for an Olympic distance triathlon that I had no time to be preoccupied with weight. Since then I have found the same to be true whenever I have training and performance goals that shape my workout routine.
  3. Try something new, like rowing or yoga or west coast swing dancing or skiing or snowshoeing or triathlon or running or spin class or boxing or axe throwing or kayaking or hiking or wall climbing or roller derby or aikido or whatever your friends are doing that you’ve considered but never tried. If you don’t like it, try something else. If you love it, yay! That’s how this works!
  4. Imagine a fuller life where you’re motivated by a desire to honor and nurture yourself. Focusing on weight loss almost never feels like that. Instead focus on being kind to yourself and taking care of yourself. As Catherine pointed out the other day, sometimes that could even involve comfort eating! Gasp!
  5. Talk about other things with people. Books, the weather, your latest sport obsession, photography, travel, spirituality, this blog 😊, whatever. Things that interest you and draw you in. I pretty much never engage in conversations about weight loss because they are at best boring and at worst harmful. But lucky for me an infinite array of other conversational topics await!

So there you go. A starter list to point you in the direction of a few other things to do instead of pre-occupying yourself with thoughts of weight, weight loss and dieting. Thanks to Yvonne for asking about alternatives.

If you’ve got a personal story or any further suggestions about how not to think of weight in the face of a slew of cultural messaging directing us to focus on just that, please add it in the comments. Thanks!

family · motivation · sleep

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

I am one of those people whose life often prompts other people to ask, how do you do it? Where do you find the time? It was more striking when I had three young kids but even now I hear it.

I hear it about lots of things but most often about exercise and working out.

But even as someone who manages to fit things in when others can’t, I hate slogans like the one above and below. They’re a little too mean for my taste. I find them judgmental.

We lead busy lives. Someone posted in the fitness accountability group that Cate and I are both part of about trading off sleep versus workouts. He shared an article, Should I sleep less to fit in a workout? Bottom line, it’s not worth it. Don’t miss sleep.

But what gives?

I thought that in the spirit of honesty I’d talk about the things I don’t do that help me find time to exercise.

First, I don’t watch very much television.

Second, I have low standards for my personal appearance. I keep my hair short. Mostly I just wash it, put styling lotion in it, and leave it be. I don’t wear much make up.

Third, I’m not a single parent. During the kids’ early years I wasn’t even the most involved parent. Jeff was. We’ve also got a community of other adults around us who’ve helped out. Hi Tracy! Hi Michael and Val! Hi Rob! Hi Sarah! While the kids were little my mum worked full-time taking care of my kids. In addition, there were grandfathers who did most or all of the driving kids around. A nearby aunt didn’t hurt either! (She’s the best aunt in the world. Hi Susan!)

Fourth, I get help cleaning my house. And by “get help” I mean I pay someone to clean. Even so, between times, it’s mostly a mess.

Fifth, I pretty much don’t cook. Luckily these days my kids do. We all pitch in.

So yes, I have time to exercise but that time doesn’t come from nowhere. I make sacrifices and those sacrifices might not be ones you want to make. I’ve also got a lot of privilege in the form of family support, income, and a job where I can get away with my short, messy hair.

How about you? What gives to make the time to work out? Where in your life do you cut corners?