fitness

Here at Feminist Philosophers…

From 2013-2017 I blogged pretty regularly at Feminist Philosophers. They’re closing their virtual doors and while I understand it’s making me sad. I went to “like” their recent post and accidentally reblogged instead. Here it is!

Feminist Philosophers

As we announced April 23, Feminist Philosophers is shutting down. This is one of a series of posts by FP bloggers looking back on the blog and bidding it farewell.

I began my first ever post for Feminist Philosophers on June 4, 2012 with the following words: “Here at Feminist Philosophers, we love…”

It doesn’t matter how that sentence ends. What’s striking to me about it now is that in my very first post for a blog that had by then already existed for five years and had already received about four million site views (not a spitball; I just looked it up!), I was cocky enough to make myself perfectly at home in this way.

Some of that was no doubt due to my own bravado, but I think that a larger reason why I acted at home in my first Feminist Philosophers post is that by…

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#deanslife · accessibility · standing

Not all sitting is the same: Sam’s new stool

Image description: A row of stools of different heights and colours, orange, red, green, and blue.

There’s an awful lot of news about sitting in the fitness media. The latest bad news about sitting is that sitting too much can undermine the effects of exercise. Chronic sitters become, over time, less responsive to the effects of training.

For the latest in my newsfeed see New Data Shows We’re Still Sitting Way Too Much. Does Exercising Cancel It Out. Selene Yeager writes: “All hope is not lost, however. Though previous research has found that multiple days of being extremely sedentary makes you resistant to the benefits of a bout of exercise, a newly published study on so-called “high sitters” (those sitting more than 6 hours a day) shows that consistent exercise can indeed counteract the ill effects of lots of forced chair time: It’s just a matter of getting regular activity. “

Sitting is of interest to me and my arthritic knees. On the one hand, my knees don’t hurt when I’m sitting so that’s good. But on the other, if I sit fit any length of time my knees hurt more when I get up. And then there’s my back. I used to hurt my back all the time and sitting was one of the problems. That was the reason I got a standing desk in the first place. See Celebrating my standing desk. I still use it some of the time but not as much as I’d like.

All of this means I’m sitting more than I used to. I was reminded the other day that not all sitting is equal. Active sitting is better than just flopping. People can be against chairs but not against all sitting. Back when I first considered getting a standing desk, friends recommended getting a hokki stool instead. They’re wobbly and good for those of us who fidget. You’re sitting but not keeping still. It’s active sitting.

Here is how the manufacturer describes the stool: “The HOKKI is an ergonomic stool that transforms stationary sitting into an activity, ideal for brainstorming sessions and other active sitting environments.”

Image description: Sam’s new purple hokki stool.

My friend Wayne described it this way,
“It’s a chair for people whose spines like yoga (and/or who don’t like sitting still, and are prone to slouching and leg-crossing in a normal chair).”

This month I started to get nervous about all the sitting I’m doing. I don’t want to put my back out again. And then, out of the blue my daughter Mallory asked for a hokki stool for her birthday. I thought of Wayne’s advice. I reread my old blog piece on active sitting. I ordered one for me too and it arrived today.

I’ll report back and let you know how it goes.

What’s your choice? Do you sit in a chair or do you have another way of sitting?

Image description: A thin, young woman with long straight blonde hair wearing black clothes and sitting on a hokki stool. (All the women on the hokki stool website looked like this.)

fitness

“Beychella”—another not recommended fad diet

I just read that to get ready for her Coachella concert–now viewable in the Netflix doc Homecoming–Beyonce went on a super restrictive diet.

From the Queen Bee herself: “In order for me to meet my goals, I’m limiting myself to no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol – and I’m hungry.”

Of course you’re hungry, honey. That is a lot to say “no” to. A lot. Especially considering the physically demanding nature of the work.

She acknowledges it involved sacrifice. And that’s Beyonce. A woman with a team of people helping her meet her goals. Now, I’ve seen the documentary and yes, she looks amazing. Strong and gorgeous. But bear in mind that it’s one night. It’s her job. She has help. She has a lot going for her genetically and aesthetically speaking to begin with.

The truth of the matter is that a diet involving that much deprivation is simply not sustainable.

We blog a lot about fad diets and diets in general. Most of our messaging is negative because most people do not manage to lose weight and keep it off for any reasonable length of time. It can be done. There are some weight loss unicorns. They mostly have had to make significant permanent changes and commit to a life of intensive activity. Even then, it is no guarantee because metabolic damage is a known side-effect of repeated dieting and the under-eating restrictive diets often prescribe.

Fad diets that take out whole food groups are tempting because yes, of course you’ll likely lose weight if you stop eating most of the things you regularly enjoy. But if it’s not sustainable as a permanent change (and the Beychella diet is not) then the rebound effect of gaining it back is extremely likely.

Instead of another fad diet, consider process changes that get you making healthy activity and food choices (like Sam’s ten fruits and veggies thing). These sorts of tweaks are sustainable and good for you regardless of whether you lose weight or don’t. You won’t be deprived. Instead of punishing yourself or trying to whip yourself into shape, process changes can actually be acts of self love.

This is not to deny the awesomeness of Beyonce or the real sacrifice she had to make to be “show ready.” But like fitness models (see “She May Look Healthy But…Why Fitness Models aren’t Models if Health”), the required prep regime is not a long term solution and isn’t even particularly good for you (or for Beyonce).

If you haven’t seen Homecoming, here’s a link to the trailer and you can catch the film on Netflix:

https://youtu.be/fB8qvx0HOlI

commute · cycling

Riding in Vancouver: Sam has three thoughts about bike lanes

I visited Vancouver for the American Philosophical Association (APA) Meeting last week and the weather was perfect. It rained during the conference and then on the last day the sun emerged from behind the fog and the clouds. Yes! I even got that rarest of things, a Vancouver sun burn. Sarah and I rented bikes and noodled through Stanley Park and then set off on several about town journeys. We loved the bike lanes in Vancouver.

Here’s a few quick thoughts about our bike lane experiences.

1. Commuting versus doing things: We loved that bike lanes weren’t just for commuters. They didn’t just go from the suburbs to downtown–as many bike lanes do. Instead, they allowed traffic in and around city neighbourhoods. I thought about this in connection to Rebecca Kukla‘s APA talk, “Mapping movement in urban space” which talked about the tension between neighourhoods as places to be lived in versus neighbourhoods as places to bike through and the importance of mapping data. (I have thoughts here about Strava’s heat maps which are sometimes used as information about routes cyclists take and are used as data to inform bike lane planning. But of course, only “serious” cyclists use Strava and so the data leaves out information about slow riders, the cargo bikers etc. )

2. Signage: We also loved the signs that told us whether roads were closed to all traffic or just cars, and that cyclists but not cars could turn right on red. Thank you Vancouver!

3. Separate from pedestrians too: Some but not all of the bike lanes were completely separate from cars. That’s nice. But it was especially nice that they were often also physically separate from pedestrian pathways.

I’m definitely riding in Vancouver the next time I go. And uh, oh, I’m bike browsing again!

Image description: Smiling Sam with her rental bike in front of a sign that says “Road closed, except bicycles.”

Image description: Pink tree in full bloom. It’s spring in Vancouver!

Image description: Samantha and Sarah selfie in front of Earth Day parade on Commercial Drive

Image description: View from seawall bike path in Stanley Park

Image description: Red and white hotel bikes

Image description: Blue and green rental bikes

Image description; Sad bike in the sea

fitness

Sam tries for ten

It’s in the news again: EAT MORE VEGETABLES!!!!

Actually, what it says is, “Eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day to live longer.”

According to researchers at Imperial College London, eating up to 10 portions of fruit and veggies a day will reduce the chance of heart attack, stroke, cancer and early death.

I don’t do so well with restrictive eating goals. They can make me anxious and I can feel deprived. Positive ones don’t have the same negative effect. For example, for years, as a vegetarian, I’ve tracked protein.

I’m heading home from a conference to a very busy few weeks of work ahead. I’m starting to ride more and I need to make sure I get enough good things to eat. If I don’t manage to track anything else I think I’ll try to count servings of fruits and vegetables.

Wish me luck!

How many servings of fruits and vegetables do you eat each day?

Image description: A bowl of colourful vegetables. Photo from Unsplash

fitness · habits

More on movement rituals

For those of us who observe various forms of the Christian calendar, today is Easter Sunday. I’m a church lady, so the week of Easter is always busy for me every year. I buy pita and baba ganoush and lamejuns (Armenian sort-of pizzas; a recipe is here) and all kinds of yummy foods for my church’s Maundy Thursday dinner; I live around the corner from a great Armenian bakery and food store, so it is my happy errand to do.

Then comes Good Friday service, and on Saturday I help with brass and silver polishing in the morning, followed by helping get the church set up with lilies for Easter Vigil that evening. I rush home, then rush back for the service that evening. We have a little reception with bubbly beverages and nibblies, then I go home after 9pm.

Sunday morning is the main event, with a full court press of children in pastels running around, lots of sweets at the festive coffee hour, and the church filled with sights and sounds and folks I haven’t seen since Christmas. It’s one of my yearly rituals.

You can tell from my story that I like rituals. They are comfortable– familiar and predictable and soothing. Okay, maybe they can get monotonous, but I don’t usually mind monotony (at least in this context). There is also evidence that rituals (religious, personal, etc.) can provide provide us with feelings of more self-control over our behaviors.

Feelings of more self-control over our behaviors… Doesn’t that sound great?

This spring has been more than usually hectic for me– I took on an extra course for teaching, I’m serving on my university’s tenure committee, and recently became one of the wardens (yes, that’s the term) of my church. This is, in short:

TOO MUCH
too much. way too much.

I’ve noticed that, as my workload has increased and my stress level along with it, I’ve turned to some rituals in my movement. I do a gentle or restorative yoga ritual (well, youtube video, but ritual sounds nicer) every evening before bed. I make sure to move and walk and seek out stairs in my day.

I’ve also paid attention to a couple rituals for self-care lately. I have been turning off the light in my bedroom by 11:30pm. I have made time for a quiet coffee in the morning, even when I’ve faced a very long day. That’s what I’ve been managing.

The ritual of Easter weekend is almost over. I like immersing myself in it, but I don’t mind when it’s over. The rituals I engage in every day and every week (movement-wise, spirituality-wise, self-care-wise), support me day in and day out. I’d like to develop a few more.

Dear readers, what are your rituals or special habits that are soothing, or grounding, or motivating, or pleasing? Movement, self-care, whatever– we’d love to hear from you.

Movement Ritual
fitness

On Ritual, or Moving Religiously

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

Today is Easter Sunday. For many Protestants and Catholics, that means attending religious services—on Saturday night, at sunrise on Sunday, but mostly on Sunday morning in churches jam-packed with folks who attend Christmas and Easter services but not other times of the year. There’s even a term for them: chreasters.

With attendance dropping and congregations aging, some churches will go to great lengths to attract and keep these twice-a-year attendees coming after the holidays are over. One pastor used a live lion and lamb in his Easter sermon (it’s true; check out the picture here).  But, according to many sources (like here and here), lots of self-identified Christians just don’t prioritize the ritual of regular church attendance. So today the pews will be packed with suited and hatted and patent-leather-shoed folks.

easter church

Next Sunday, those people will return to their newspapers, computers, kid soccer games, brunches, and other activities…

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