Beep: Part 2 in a series in which Sam reminisces about food and childhood

According to Wikipedia, “Beep was a fruit-juice-based drink brand, made by Farmers Cooperative Dairy of Nova Scotia, Canada and distributed in Canadian provinces. Originally produced in the 1960s, it was discontinued in March 2010; was temporarily revived in 2012 as a seasonal summertime drink and was discontinued a second time in 2015. Its revival in 2010 featured a vintage carton different from the carton used at the time it was discontinued. According to the carton, the drink contained water, sugar, fruit juices (orange, apple, apricot, prune, and pineapple), citric acid, orange pulp, natural flavours, sodium citrate, canola oil, modified corn starch, sodium benzoate, caramel colour, annatto, and ascorbic acid.”

It was also the class marking beverage of my youth.

For a time, milk was free in school and you paid for Beep. Later, milk was 25 cents a week and Beep was 75 cents. You had to hand in the money on Friday for the week coming. I remember taking on the task of handing out the containers of milk and of Beep and of finding out (in my 8 year old mind) who the rich kids were.

My parents thought milk was healthier–better than sugar juice–but I wanted Beep. Sometimes I got it. My partner Jeff’s grandfather was a dairy farmer and he was also not a Beep fan apparently. In his mind, milk was by far the superior beverage. But I loved it.

Years later, I tried Beep again and I still thought it wasn’t half bad. I think it’s the pineapple-orange combo that I like.

What did you drink at school? Who paid for it? Do you remember?

See Ode to Hotel Toast: Part 1 in a series in which Sam reminisces

fitness · running · winter

Tracy finds heaven: Winter running on snow-packed roads in above zero temperatures!

I know I’m all over the place. First I’m gearing up for winter running. Then I can’t even! And now, after one weekend where the temperature went up above zero Celsius and I was in my favourite place in the world (at my parents’ house at the lake), it feels do-able again.

When Sam tagged me in a weather post about the rising temperature, I got very excited about it. The first thing I packed for my weekend away with some friends (my parents, whose place we were at, are in warmer climes for a bit) was my running gear.

On Saturday morning I ventured out and here’s a short photo essay of the heaven I experienced.

My favourite lane:

Image description: Snow-covered lane with tire tracks on it and leafless trees on either side.
Image description: Snow-covered lane with tire tracks on it and leafless trees on either side.

The road was snow-packed and kind of slick, so I wore ice grippers on my shoes. They work really well as long as there is snow or ice. Not so well on bare asphalt or concrete, which is why I never wear them in the city.

Image description: A patch of snow with Tracy's left foot in a robin blue running shoe with black ice grippers in the bottom of the image. A single brown leaf is in the snow just ahead of her foot.
Image description: A patch of snow with Tracy’s left foot in a robin blue running shoe with black ice grippers in the bottom of the image. A single brown leaf is in the snow just ahead of her foot.

There are lots of deer up in that area, and I saw evidence of one at the 2K mark of my outing.

Image description: Another patch of snow with Tracy's left foot, robin blue shoe and ice grippers. This time there is animal paw print (probably deer) in the snow just ahead of her foot and a tire track to the right of it.
Image description: Another patch of snow with Tracy’s left foot, robin blue shoe and ice grippers. This time there is animal paw print (probably deer) in the snow just ahead of her foot and a tire track to the right of it.

As you can see, I was pretty happy that day. I mean, you have just got to appreciate these small breaks in the weather and when they come on a weekend getaway, well! How do you spell “H-E-A-V-E-N”?

Image description: Head shot of Tracy, smiling, wearing a pink, blue, purple and yellow buff, white ear buds, and a purple shirt with white specks, snow and trees in the background, and a sign post with surnames on it indicating the people who live in the lane.
Image description: Head shot of Tracy, smiling, wearing a pink, blue, purple and yellow buff, white ear buds, and a purple shirt with white specks, snow and trees in the background, and a sign post with surnames on it indicating the people who live in the lane.

When I got back to the house everyone was eating homemade waffles and fruit salad. Once fortified, we took a drive down the road to visit the Haliburton Forest Wolf Centre.

Image description: white wolf standing on snow covered ground among trees, head turning towards the camera.


London’s Calling Anita to Hot Yoga (Guest Post)

Running park in London, UK. The photo is of a bridge with metal rails, water on the right, grey skies.

By Anita Kothari

Back at home one of my weekly joys was meeting up with friends Tracy and Julie for our long and slow Sunday runs. It was a chance to chat about work, family and life with lots of time for cross-interrogation during our hour, or more, together. Often, we followed up with brunch.

It never felt like exercise (ok sometimes it was grueling but the camaraderie was infectious). If convenient we met during the week for shorter runs but often we did those on our own. Last year I’d also started taking a weights-based exercise class at my gym to get in some muscle toning. And that was my weekly exercise regime.

I’ve had to adjust here in London, England where I am spending my sabbatical year. I’ve joined a gym that isn’t a perfect match for my middle-aged self but it’s within walking distance from my home. The toning classes are different…the instructors are obviously trained differently here, and they emphasize different things in their routines. Hey – it’s better than nothing, I thought to myself, and I slowly began to see the advantages to their technique.

What’s different at this gym is that one must sign up online for a class ahead of time. This means that many times my class of choice is at capacity, which in turn means I can’t establish a Mon/Wed kind of pattern like I had before. #firstworldproblem

In terms of running, there’s a terrific little park across the street for short weekday runs. I found parks nearby for long Sunday runs. The sad thing is I haven’t found a running club. I’ve heard rumours of Saturday Park runs across the country where groups of people do 5K together. I can’t figure out how it works. And I’m spoiled for SUNDAYS not Saturdays (Saturday seems to be the long run day here). I’ve been trying oh so hard to keep up my solo Sunday 10Ks. Correction: along with Tracy’s Spotify playlists (thanks Tracy!). I really miss the company of my pals.

Going to the gym this month has been difficult because everyone is going to the gym this month. Experience has taught me that I just need to wait it out – wait till those who aren’t able to keep their New Year’s resolutions for whatever reason stop signing up for MY CLASSES.

I tried a different tactic this Saturday. I saw an early-morning yoga class that requires an extra fee. That, combined with the rain, ought to keep people away, I thought, so I signed up. I haven’t done any yoga in over a year, and although I never got to the point of calling yoga a “practice”, I was excited about doing the class. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to hear the instructor’s soft-spoken instructions over the loud personal trainer on the other side of the wall. But the magic happened. I grew accustomed to her voice.

Her timing and instructions were excellent, she offered different levels or ways of doing the poses, she demonstrated the poses, and she gently corrected those who needed adjustments. To really enjoy the class I positioned myself away from the mirrors. My middle-aged confidence kicked in so that soon enough my mind was focused on the moves. The hour flew by.

My body ached all over as I walked home. Good aches, in places that don’t normally ache. And how much fun was it to twist and move in different ways than my regular running and toning class motions! The afterglow was exhilarating, really. I hope this experience inspires me (and others) to move out of my comfort zone from time to time. I will remind myself: try something new! Your body can do it!

Anita is a life-loving academic who wants more experiences and fewer things


Knee physio, everyday and all the time

I’ve written a few times about just how much time I’m spending doing knee physio exercises. It always makes me wonder how people without a history of daily exercise fit physio in. Largely for me it’s just taking the place of workouts I would be doing were my knee not injured. But if you didn’t have a habit of exercising physio rehab would be tricky, both from a habit and a time point of view.

Here’s just what I’m up to right now:

At home

Sit to stand (like a body weight squat but not to full depth). I’m using my kitchen chairs.

Sit to stand, one legged. I can do this easily on my right leg but it’s super tough on the left.


Clam shell



Monster walk

Calf raises, you know how these go

In gym

  • Bosu ball marches and squats, see here
  • Leg press, both legs and then one legged



My #HandstandChallenge2018 (Guest Post)

I’ve never had a particularly strong upper body, but since I became post-menopausal about two years ago, I can feel myself losing any residual upper body muscle by the month. As a desk bound accountant, I do nothing in my work life that uses any of my muscles. As a cyclist and runner, my upper body doesn’t get stressed unless I make the effort to do specific exercises.

I have always admired the ability and appearance of women who do CrossFit, and advanced yoga. One move that I keep seeing images of is the freestanding handstand. I have wistfully wished that I could do that but always assumed that at 54, it was too late.

However, on January 1st, completely impulsively, I asked my husband to video me trying to do a handstand against the basement wall. I posted it on my Facebook and Instagram pages and got a lot of encouragement and also helpful hints from my yoga and strength coach friends. I gradually let this become my 2018 challenge.

Surprisingly, after only three weeks, I have seen improvements in my ability. I’m excited to see how this progresses. Doing a freestanding handstand has become a stepping stone to my ultimate goal of gaining more upper body strength.

If you are interested in seeing my progression, here is my Instagram account:

Full disclosure, this account is a mishmash of all parts of my life, including my two businesses…. but I’m trying to check in every second day with a handstand video!

climate change · fitness

Climate change and physical activity: how to move now?

It’s been too darn hot.  Not here in New England– we finally got a break from the frigid polar vortex, but it’s still winter.  I’m talking about Australia.  They’ve been experiencing near-record high temperatures in Sydney, Melbourne, and other locations.  From a CNN report on Jan. 7:

The mercury rose to 47.3 degrees Celsius, or 117.14 Fahrenheit, in the Sydney metropolitan area.  The hottest temperature ever recorded in the area was 47.8 Celsius degrees (118.04 Fahrenheit) in 1939, the Bureau of Meteorology for the state of New South Wales (NSW) said.

This week in Melbourne, site of the Australian Open tennis tournament, temperatures reached 40C, or 104F.  The reflected surface temperature of the court reached 69C, or 156F.  Yes, you read that right.  And yet players were required to complete their matches, or forfeit. French tennis player Alize Cornet (who famously beat Serena Williams at Wimbledon), said the players were being sent to the “abattoir” by being asked to play in such weather.” (from this article).  Cornet was physically distressed by the heat during her match and had to return to the sidelines for medical attention.  She said: “I kind of felt that I could faint at any moment. Playing in this condition is of course very dangerous for the health of the player.” (from this article).
Here’s another example of a pro player in distress during match, from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Earlier, 12-time grand slam winner Novak Djokovic and Frenchman Gael Monfils called for officials to take action in extreme heat, after playing out a treacherous match on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday.

Under tournament rules, the heat policy will only be applied when the ambient temperature exceeds 40 degrees and the humidity goes beyond a certain threshold. 

Melbourne hit its top of 39 degrees halfway through Djokovic-Monfils second round match, with the court temperature edging towards an unthinkable 70 degrees. 

“If we talk about rules, there’s a rule about index, a combination between then temperature and humidity … I’m not sure about that to be honest,” Djokovic said after his win. 

“There are certain days where you have to as a tournament supervisor recognise that you might need to give players a few extra hours until (the temperature) comes down.

“People might say at this level you have to be as a professional tennis player fit … but I think there is a limit and there’s a level of tolerance between being fit and being in danger in terms of health.

“(Today) was right at the limit.”

Pro tennis player Gael Monfils, bent over, struggling with the heat during his Australian Open match.
Pro tennis player Gael Monfils, bent over, struggling with the heat during his Australian Open match.

Right at the limit– those are words athletes eagerly embrace.  We push ourselves to get out there in all weather, at all times of day, often when we’re feeling tired or unwell or stressed.  And we’re often rewarded for our efforts by the sheer physical pleasure of movement, and afterward the deep satisfaction of having moved our bodies.  We play around with our limits, conserving energy some days, and leaving it all out on the road/in the water/on the field other days.  This is part of what it means to be in love (at least for me) with physical activity.

But when tennis player Novak Djokovic said they were right at the limit, that was not what he meant.  He’s talking about the weather.  Climate change may (and according to this NY Times op-ed article, should) force some changes in how we approach sport and physical activity.

At the Tour Down Under pro bike race in South Australia, temperatures soared to 48C/118 F.  And they didn’t cancel the stage.  They did shorten one stage by 26km and moved up the start time by an hour to take advantage of oh-so-slightly cooler temperatures.  You can read more about the riders’ responses here.

Lots of sports and physical activities are conducted outside.  Yes, we can run on the track, row inside, and ride spin bikes.  But being out in the wide world is a large part of the exhilaration of what we do.  However, rising temperatures and more extreme and frequent storms are going to change how and when and maybe how often we do those things we do.

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed more frequent afternoon storms in summer.  They are often pretty intense, with thunder, lightning, heavy rain, and minor flooding.  None of this is conducive to a late-afternoon bike ride, much less a serious training program.

For those of us who aren’t professional athletes, we want to enjoy the seasons, especially the summer, by being outside and doing what we love.  Climate change is going to require some adjustments, however.  Sam has written about skin cancer and the need for sunscreen always.   And we don’t mind sweating (even though I complain about it occasionally), but may have change our workout times.  I may even have to embrace riding very early in the morning.

Readers, what sorts of changes do you make in your exercise/activity schedules to accommodate weather?  Is climate change making you change what you do for movement, when you move, or how often you move?



Sam’s life: Icing my knee and sitting a lot and also feeling lucky

A picture of Sam’s knee on ice. The photo also includes a large flat screen television perched on top of a piano.
I’m hanging around the house again, watching American Dad with my kids, and icing my knee. I’m alternating that with packing up boxes of stuff and books as we get the house ready to sell.

I ice my knee a lot these days. It won’t make your knee better, the physiotherapist reminds me. Yeah, yeah.

But, she also says, it will make you feel better. It will reduce the pain and swelling and you can keep up with all the exercises.

I’m exercising a lot.

So many exercises: sit to stand, calf raises, clam shells, balancing on one foot, monster walks…

Three times a day. On weekdays, when I’m working, I’m only getting to it twice though.

Being injured is time consuming. I’m feeling lucky to be able to take the time to take care of myself.

When I blogged about injury and recovery my friend Dani wrote,

“I’ve stopped going to the doctors for injuries because they’ll tell me to rest, but I have 12+ horses that rely on me for daily care…so I rely on Tommy Copper clothes, Alleve and topical treatments…oh and Dr.Ho”

I replied, “This is an area of healthcare that’s not well covered by our healthcare system. If you’ve got good benefits it makes a world of difference. Physiotherapy is expensive. So too is all the extra stuff like my snazzy fitted knee specific ice packs I’ve got on in the photo above. I worry about all the people out there without good workplace benefits. And it’s time consuming. Right now I feel like I’m spending most of my day doing physio exercises or resting and icing my knee. Again, I think about those people who are paid on an hourly basis for whom resting up means missing work.

I’ve got an MRI 3 am Monday. I’m meeting with the surgeon two weeks after that. Fingers crossed.

I’m still mostly feeling lucky to have all the help and support that I’ve got.

fitness · gear · martial arts

The Right Tools for the Job

Like everyone, sometimes I struggle to figure out whether the fitness item I want to buy is worth it. Will this item help me train to reach my goal or am I secretly hoping it will get me there by magic? Do I really need this thing or am I just trying to ‘buy’ fitness?

A rectangular yellow board and a black kickpad that is round on one end with a long handle. Both say 'Benza Sports' on them.
I get a kick out of both of these. Or maybe they get a kick out of me? Ha!

I have been on that fence for ages about two items for Taekwon-do – a rebreakable board and a ‘clapper’ pad.* My husband bought me both for Christmas. I was thrilled to receive them but I still felt a little weird about it for some reason. So I did what I usually do when I am getting on my own nerves – I turned on voice dictation and essentially journaled aloud into google docs.

After a lot of rambling, I ended up with two questions for myself.

Did I want both of those things because they were ‘cool’ or because I would actually use them?

Did a part of me think that I didn’t ‘deserve’ those specialized tools?


The first question, I realized, was about me reminding myself to commit to structured and specific practice for my kicks and punches. I could get behind that.

The second question made me mad. Was it possible that I had that thought buried deep in my brain somewhere? Was I falling victim to that kind of annoying thinking? You know, the kind that tells you that you can buy nicer gear once you earn it by reaching some external standard?**

And I do think there was a bit of that going on but now I’m pretty sure I have eradicated it.

Because, here’s the thing, sometimes you need the right tools to get a job done.

Sure, you can use a butter knife as a screwdriver but it is not nearly as effective.

You can roll out a pie crust with a cold glass but it’s much easier if you use a rolling pin.

You can practice spinning hook kick in the living room with a pillow but you won’t be able to tell if you have hit your target correctly.

You can punch any sort of practice pad in your rec room but you won’t be confident that, when the time comes, the board will break.

I can practice that punch and kick all I want in class but I still need more work at home. My challenges with the ‘choreography’ of the spinning hook kick and the jumping punch mean I have to do a lot of solo practice. If I have the right tools, I can do safer, and much more effective practice at home.

So, it’s not matter of me just wanting something because it is cool. And I certainly don’t have to ‘earn’ the right to practice effectively. Even all the overly-socialized parts of my brain can accept that.

Instead, I can consider these tools a good investment.

By getting the right tools for the job, I am showing myself that honing these techniques is something I care about. I am creating a good mental space for the practice ahead.


Are there any specialized tools for your sport or activity that you hesitated to buy? Was ‘deserving’ them a factor for you?

Did you ever get them?

How did they work out?

*I don’t know what it is actually called but there it is in the photo above. It is actually two pads stitched together on the narrow ends. When you kick the wider part, the two pads collide and make a VERY satisfying noise.
**I’m not referring to things you set up as rewards for reaching certain goals. That’s entirely different.


Indoor Climbing: Reality vs The Web (Guest Post)

By Sarah Rayner and Elan Paulson

On the weekend, seven middle-aged women (ranging from 39-57) go rock/wall climbing at the Junction Climbing Centre. Virtually none of us have prior climbing experience. We walk in, get harnessed up, and with our two young but experienced instructors we get safety and climbing instructions. In no time, we have all had our first climb to the top under our belts and quite happy with ourselves. We continue climbing different walls with different levels of difficulty….We were doing this and looking good!

At first, we were all apprehensive of the climb up: finding finger and foot holds and letting go of the wall and repelling down. You were really aware of your space on the (high!!!) wall and problem-solving how you were going to continue the climb up to the top. The experience was scary, but thrilling at the same time.

After the climbing we went next door to the local craft brewery and had a couple of beers, chatted and laughed about the experience and the fears that some of had to overcome. We then started talking about our next adventures as a group…Polar Rush, Yurting in Tobermory, some personal adventures like Peru Machu Picchu, Nepal, Hawaii and Kilimanjaro.

Post climb, we looked at a random selection of web pages about climbing, which has become a multi-million dollar industry for men and women. Here are some of the online messages that, based on our experience, we say to women who are new to climbing, either Heck Yes or Look Away!

Heck Yes!

  • The physical benefits (fat-burning, muscle toning, etc.) of climbing. We concur: even with only one time out, we agreed it was a tiring but rewarding sport!
  • The equality of male and female climbers, as women’s “strength-to-weight” ratio offsets any lack of power and reach. The ratio of men to women at the Junction was easily 50/50, and we went just before “ladies night” started.
  • The fact that climbing is a form of “active meditation,” requiring focus but also heightened mindfulness. We found this is true, if for no other reason that if you aren’t paying attention you will literally fall off the wall.

Look Away!

  • The focus on climbing and women’s physiques: “If you’ve ever seen female rock climbers, you know exactly the effects climbing has on the body.” No. We saw greater climbers with body types of all shapes and sizes.
  • Over-expensive climbing clothes that seem only marginally related to the sport. Just wear light clothing that breathes.
  • Photo galleries of extreme climbing. They are often awe-inspiring photos, but for novices they can be intimidating or heighten your fear. These pics may not represent your goals, and that’s totally okay.

Here are a few “tips for new climbers” that we probably should have looked at before we climbed (and recommend to others interested in trying out this sport):

One thing we also strongly recommend–and this didn’t show up on many climbing advice web pages–is finding a group of people who will continually cheer and encourage each other on (in climbing, as well as in every aspect of life). In the climbing gym, we were (by far) the loudest group in the building, hooting and hollering as each of us climbed. Whether experts or novices, our climbing buddies gave us pride in our personal strength. We can’t wait for the next adventure!

Sarah Rayner is a hiking goddess. Elan Paulson is a defence soccer diva.

equality · fitness · Martha's Musings · swimming · weight lifting

On making and taking space

Female figure alone in an infinity pool looks towards the ocean in the distance
Female figure alone in an infinity pool looks towards the ocean in the distance

By MarthaFitat55

I started swimming because I wanted to do something different that would complement my current fitness routine (weight training twice a week and trail walking once a week) along with walking and stairclimbing through the day.

I quickly found swimming served as a form of meditation. I like doing laps even though I am not an especially fast or strong swimmer. Since August, I have been going at least twice a week, and sometimes I have managed even three or four times.

In many respects, swimming is my reset button.

The last swim of 2017 was interesting. The pool’s fast lane had been taken over by a swim team, leaving the triathalon trainees no choice but to take over the leisure swim area. We all (athletes and leisure swimmers alike) ended up staggering our departures from the shallow end, although it quickly became apparent why I am a leisure swimmer and not a tri candidate.

My first clue came from the waves generated by so many swimmers in one place. I haven’t seen waves like that since the last time I went pond swimming close to 30 years ago. My second clue was realizing they were lapping me easily. They were like Energizer bunnies, one after the other after the other, cleaving the pool with their arms and legs pumping rapidly like pistons.

By the time I started my third lap, I was feeling more frazzled instead of my usually relaxed state. In fact, I rather felt like a cat whose owner was rubbing its fur the wrong way.

As I made my way through the waves, I thought about leaving the leisure side and going to the therapy pool. I was feeling overwhelmed by the volume and the quality of swimmers, and more than a little uncomfortable, but I stayed and completed my usual set of laps. It wasn’t my best time and I was not in my usual state of zen post swim, but I did it.

I stayed because I knew I had the same right to access as anyone else. I might have been the slowest person in the pool, and I definitely had the weakest form, but I had made a promise to myself to go swimming and I wanted to keep it. So I made space for myself, and like the wonderful Dory from Finding Nemo, I just kept swimming.

I didn’t always think this way. I was one of those people who would join a gym in January and slink away in February or March. As I mix up right and left on a regular basis, aerobics classes (later replaced by zumba) were usually mortifying experiences requiring multiple apologies to participants for bumping into them. As a result, I was pretty self conscious about anything I did in a gym where there were other people.

After four years of weight training, I have not only built muscles, I have also increased my confidence. Weight training is all about competing with yourself as opposed to others. It’s also about recognizing everyone has a place in the gym and you learn to accomodate and respect where people are.

While I may be slow in the pool, just as I am on the running trail, it is good to remember I am always steady and persistent. Rather than get stressed out by what others are doing, or trying to guess what they are thinking about me in that shared space, I know that what really matters is setting and meeting my own pace every time I hit the gym or the pool. It didn’t feel like it initially, but on reflection, it was a good way to kick off the new year.


— Martha is looking forward to 2018 and making good on her big goals.


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