Workout #250 for 2019

Sam, Catherine, Susan, Tracy and I are all participating in facebook groups to track our workouts for the year, with the goal of hitting 219 in 2019. This is my third year doing it, and I’ve written about it many times — exploring what “counts” as well as the impact of counting and accountability.

Last Tuesday, I hit #250 for 2019 (a noontime #getstrong class, benchpress day) — and it made me pause and reflect on how profound the impact of participating in this group has been for me. I used to be a person who worked out a lot, but I think my default setting was day-without-a-workout and then I sprinkled in runs, spinning and yoga classes and trips to the gym, probably working out three times most weeks, if I’m honest. Now, I’m someone who works out pretty much every day, unless something significant happens to stop me. And that happened in less than two years.

Over those two and a half years, I’ve really tried to define what “counts” for me. It’s a very imprecise science, but here’s where I’ve landed: any episode of sustained physical activity that isn’t what I would normally do in my day. Riding my bike 5km to a meeting doesn’t typically count, because I would do it regardless — but riding my bike in the rain or cold, or to a meeting that’s unusually far away, does. (If I have a medium long commute, I’ll add some yoga or planks or something to make it feel like a set of activities). For the most part, I count one episode of activity as one “unit,” whether it’s 20 minutes of low key yoga or an 8 hour, 150 km bike ride. I believe it all evens out. (I also have an arcane system of half points, usually applied to something like a short self-guided yoga session or after dinner walk that I didn’t really feel like doing but made myself do. I give myself points for getting off my butt when I didn’t want to even if the actual output wasn’t particularly intense).

I know — it’s wacky — but it works for me. And even though I’ve been a person who works out regularly for 24 years, it has transformed my relationship with moving my body.

My first year doing the group — 217 in 2017 — I worked hard to get to 217, finally hitting it on Christmas day, then doing a few “bonus” workouts for the year. I felt pretty pleased with myself. Last year, after working out every day in July, I realized I could aim for 300 — and ended up at 302. This year, I’m well poised to surpass 300 — although I don’t really have a refined goal — maybe 325? (350 seems punitive and like it would lead to me not having enough rest).

Across the past year or so, there are literally only a handful of days where I just shrugged and didn’t work out at all because I “didn’t feel like it” — the days I’ve “missed” I’ve been sick, or traveling, or literally working 14 hours. There are almost no days where I haven’t grabbed at least a pre-bed 30 minutes for a quick 20 minute run or Yoga with Adriene. Now I have a little inner question mark of “what will you do today?” — not “what days this week might you be able to work out?”

Theory in action: this Thursday, I facilitated a huge, all day, complicated meeting in Ottawa. I had to be onsite at 7, then had to fly home later that night. The day before, I squished a 5 k run in between arriving and diving into prep, then the day of the meeting, at lunch, I put on my training shoes and marched briskly around a two bridge loop on the Ottawa river. It was a gorgeous day, with the parliament buildings right behind me (looking reassuringly solid despite the messy chaos of the news of the day — although I see that the wind made a haystack of my hair, lol). In the past, I might have managed the run, but never both the run and the 7 km walk.

I don’t take selfies of every workout, but looking at the ones I do have over the year, it’s a pretty amazing reel of me moving my body and moving through my life: running around my neighbourhood, and in Australia, Uganda, Lithuania and the south of France… yoga poses where I’m going deep into strength and stillness… hiking in Iceland with my niece, near Algonquin park, and in Newfoundland… stand up paddle boarding with my neighbour… riding my bike in Lithuania, Newfoundland and in the last leg ever of the Triadventure, which has been part of my life for so long… learning to lift heavy weights for the first time in my life in the feminist gym down the block that feels like such a powerful gift. The images are a kind of journal, and they’re a ribbon of affirmation: I am strong. I can move through my life with grace and power. I can make choices every day that feed my health, my mind and my soul.

What we actually do in our “219 in 2019” accountability group is simple: we list what workout we did and what number it is. There’s a bit of discussion and encouragement of each other, but mostly it’s just a record. But the impact of it on my life has been profound.

What kinds of simple habits have transformed your relationship with movement?

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who lives and moves her body in Toronto. She writes for this blog once a week.


Where’s my discount? Sam wonders why seniors get special treatment

I confess I was prepared for it, the dreaded seniors’ discount. But also, thrifty me says “yay,” seniors’ discount.

Years earlier, at the St. Mary’s quarry, my friend Rob had been given the seniors’ discount. We all laughed. We were shocked. But it turns out, it starts there at 50. Wow!

We were still thinking 50 was the new 40, not the new 65.

And then on sabbatical in New Zealand, a local cinema started the seniors’ discount at 50. I wouldn’t want to be the one making judgements about who to ask for that one.

So far though I’d been skating under the “potential senior” radar.

But this April that ended. I posted to Facebook, “Are you shopping at Shoppers Drug Mart today for any particular reason? OMG. Funniest way ever to ask if I qualify for the seniors discount. First time ever anywhere! Must be dean-ing!”

Turns out it’s 55. They were a few months early but not by much.

Lots of places, I’ve since found out, start the seniors’ discount at 55. See the Y ad below which turned up in my newsfeed after my birthday. It’s in London though, not Guelph. Guelph doesn’t appear to have a seniors rate at the Y.

I was just chatting with a friend about seniors’ discounts that start at 50 or 55. We both want the discount but hardly identify with “senior.” My son said the same is true with “youth” pricing. He doesn’t feel particularly youthful some days. I like his suggestion of “alternative adult” to cover both “seniors” and “youth.”

But why do we get a discount anyway? I’m not retired and I won’t be for some time. In fact, I’m earning more than I ever have. I plan to work for another ten years or so. For the case against see here.

“On average, citizens who earn the most money and have the most net wealth are 50 and over. So why is it this group that’s entitled to discounts at the movies, supermarkets, hotels, and nearly everywhere else you turn, while the young and poor pay full price?” From Why seniors don’t deserve a discount.

Whatever you think of them, here’s a relatively up-to-date guide to Seniors discunts in Canada.

What do you think of seniors’ discounts? Looking forward to getting them?


SOAP: Not just for bathtime!

by MarthaFitat55

Inspired by Catherine’s piece on creating a SOAP note for herself as a cyclist, I decided that almost six years after making a decision to train regularly and cultivate functional fitness as an ongoing goal, I too should write a SOAP note for myself.

First a quick recap. Catherine describes a SOAP note thusly:

“It’s a method that health care providers use to write notes on a patient’s medical record. SOAP stands for Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan. Roughly it involves getting a description from the patient about their current condition, noting the results of observation, testing and physical examination of the patient, offering some suggestions about diagnosis and possible causes of current problem, and finally a plan for treatment. Sounds like a reasonable system to me.”

And it is. I found it an enlightening exercise and one I plan to share with my trainer as we look to the year ahead.


  • 58 year old female presents today for an evaluation of powerlifting practice
  • Reports she has been weight training for almost six years and would like to improve her overall flexibility now that core strength has improved significantly
  • Self-identified strengths include willingness to learn, general upper and lower body strength, overall comfort with cardio exercises, adaptability to home-based modifications,
  • Self-identified weaknesses include lack of comfort with complicated exercises, fear of reinjuring hypermobile hip joints, and concerns with impact on fitness level and consistency in practice due to gaps in training


  • Head – is capable of understanding complex directions when she practices patience and increases focus
  • Eyes – tends to carry out certain movements with eyes closed to minimize distractions and to avoid chalk dust; notes she recognizes that this can be a barrier re addressing safety concerns
  • Ears – listens to trainer, tries to block the sounds of others in the gym to increase focus
  • Lungs – has tendency to exercise-induced asthma when working out in cold weather (includes brisk walks in winter when going uphill)
  • Heart – in great shape for 58 but recognizes more cardio would be of benefit for overall heart-lung function
  • MSK (musculoskeletal) – can deadlift with ease 175lb (3X) (Personal Best 231 lbs) and can squat a weight between 175 and 200 lbs fairly confidently although fears of hip reinjury can interfere with progress; core strength has improved significantly based on progress with increasingly complex planks
  • Neuro – plans approach for lifts and squats, is able to self assess areas which need tweaking, has adopted techniques to address attention and focus
  • Psych – gets anxious about losing ground when off for recovery or when trying something totally new


  • Powerlifter: past beginner level and approaching intermediate skill level, more than ready to advance to greater skills and weights with commitment to a consistent routine
  • Human: knowledgeable of options available; needs to increase confidence by recognizing existing skills and strengths developed in the past six years


  • Continue to weight train
  • Identify new goals for the coming year
  • Establish routine for maintaining/ adding complementary activities such as swimming and walking to support cardio development and yoga to support flexibility
  • Implement safety check to reduce/eliminate fears about certain exercises
  • Remember to always stand up
  • Have fun

Have any of you readers decided to create a SOAP note? Let us know in the comments!


The stories our skin tells: Stretch marks, scars, and tattoos (reblog, #tbt)

Thinking again about wrinkles, stretch marks, scars, and ink.



As someone with tattoos, scars, and stretch marks I’m fascinated with the phenomenology of bodily changes, of what we accept, what becomes part of us, and why. (There are also changes that are temporary and they’re interesting too. I’ve written about bruises, for example, in an earlier post and you can read that here.)

For the non philosophers reading the blog, and that would be most of you, phenomenology is about the way things from feel from the inside. The usual dictionary defines it as the study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience. The Stanford Encyclopedia defines the term this way, “Phenomenology is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view. The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, its being directed toward something, as it is an experience of or about some object.”

I decided to get my first tattoo…

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fitness · Guest Post

Don’t take my vibe for granted (Guest post)

by Nicole Plotkin

It is not easy to be grateful all the time.  Even with the best intentions. For all the things you may love about someone or something, it is human nature to become complacent now and then.  I think it’s worth recognizing opportunities for gratitude.   

For the past 2 and a half years, I’ve been going to a small women’s strength and conditioning studio (Move Fitness Club).  I have always been attracted to smaller, “boutique”-style workout studios. I like the community feel and the inclusive nature I have experienced in these places.  I have tried over the years to take advantage of the lower corporate rate at the bigger gyms, trying to be fiscally responsible. But every time I tried this, whether as an alternative to spinning regularly at Quad East, or practicing yoga and kettlebell at Spirit Loft, my visit to the bigger gyms always resulted in me having a greater appreciation for the vibe at the smaller clubs. 

As with anything you love, when you do it regularly, you might find yourself taking it for granting every once in a while.  Yesterday, was one of those times. The awesome new place where I work, organized a group spin at the bigger gym nearby. First of all, I LOVE that the place I work organized this in the middle of the afternoon.  And I definitely got my butt kicked in the class. But the vibe the instructor was trying set, quickly made me appreciate the wonderful coaches at Move, former and current. 

I have experienced a wide range of spin instructors over the years.  There is a rare instructor who knows how to inspire you, without LECTURING. Without talking about how much weight they’ve lost over the years since they started spinning.  Without saying that what you are doing in spin class will let you eat whatever you want the rest of the day (terrible message!). Without reminding you, while you are spinning, how many calories are in a bag of chips (really, I had no idea!).  Without assuming that this is the one time you’ve moved your body this week and she is the only one who is going to set you straight. That if you are not working hard enough in this class, you are not setting yourself up for success the rest of the day.  This woman squeezed all the unhealthy messages that I try to stray away from in the short 45 minute class.  

Again, I sweated my butt off and I loved that this was an option in my regular workday.  I would take the opportunity again, should it arise. But I will also appreciate the vibe at Move with fresh eyes, or Torq or wherever else I go, where their fitness philosophy more properly aligns with my own.

I love that at Move, the coaches start off each workout asking how everyone feels.  They encourage us at each class to be as strong as we want to be that day, and that by doing so we are badass. There is no talk of weight, except for what’s loaded onto our barbells.  The only mention of food, is to make sure we re-fuel with something nourishing (with protein!), within 30 minutes of class. Their mission is to make us sweat, while listening to energizing beats (my classic rock heart wouldn’t mind a bit more of that now and then) and making each other smile as much as possible.  I am grateful to have this type of place in my life, and for the reminder(s), to appreciate it!

Image description: Black text on white, “Don’t kill my vibe.” Framed in gold.

Nicole Plotkin: law clerk, loves to exercise, eat good food, snuggle with her dogs, and her wonderful husband. 


How you find us, by search terms

Since the early days of the blog I’ve been amused by the search terms that have led people to the blog. See my post on naked feminist trampolining. Thanks to Google we get a report of what words people put into the search box that result in them clicking on a link to us.

Often they’re awful . See from the last 7 days: secret crouch pics, candid teen panty , hairy up skirt pictures, and so on.

Often they’re sad. See from the last 7 days: i hate my old menopausal body, calories burned goodlife newbody, will i ever get my pre baby body back.

But these days, more and more, our people are finding us!

Three of you found us by searching ” fit feminist fifty.” Yay! Welcome!

One of you found us searching, ” women aikido sexism.”

A bunch of you are still menstruating in your 50s and found us by searching those years and terms.

Two of you wanted to know if “christy brinkley has osteoporosis.”

I like also finding ” accepting mid 60’s body changes ” in the search terms. Hello!

Anyway, so nice that you’re all finding the blog. Welcome to everyone! Including the person who found us while searching for ” oppression vs privilege.” That’s a bit broad for us but I am sure we have things to say.

The Library of Congress
Disco star ride, Seaside Heights, New Jersey (LOC)

Margolies, John,, photographer.
Disco star ride, Seaside Heights, New Jersey
hiking · holidays · nature · traveling

Trekking in the Pyrenees, and not trekking in the Pyrenees

Last week I finally got my summer holiday. I really had to wait for it this year, but September did finally come! My partner and I went to northern Spain, where he’s from. We spent some days with family and friends, but we also spent three days hiking in the Pyrenees. In total, it was a five-day adventure because we needed to factor in two extra days to get there and back by public transport. As the owner of a hostel we stayed at put it, “people think there’s a motorway out here connecting everything, but that’s not quite the case”. I would say it’s definitely not the case. There’s one bus a day from the nearest larger city in each direction, if you’re lucky, and it meanders along curvy mountain roads, stopping at every village along the way. It was exactly what we wanted: to have some “us time”, just the two of us, in nature.

a horizontal white bar above a red one, painted on a tree.
GR11 signage: a horizontal white bar above a red one, painted on a tree.
a pole with arrow-shaped wooden signs pointing in different directions saying "GR11" and the names of different villages.
More GR 11 signage: a pole with arrow-shaped wooden signs pointing in different directions saying “GR11” and the names of different villages. There are three arrows, the middle one pointing towards the right and our destination on day one: Hiriberri.

For a bit of background, we decided to do a trek of three stages on the GR11 Transpyrenees trail. “GR” stands for Grande Randonée in French, or Gran Recorrido in Spanish (“long hike”), and is used to designate a network of long-distance hiking trails across Europe. The GR11, or “Transpirenáica“, runs from Cabo Higuer on the Basque coast all the way across to Catalunya and finishes at Cap de Creus. We chose three stages in Navarre (stages 5, 6, and 7), because the area is beautiful and was accessible by public transport from Bilbao (via Pamplona). The stages in this area are around 20 kilometres each and somewhat demanding mostly because there’s a lot of up and down, but no alpine mountaineering skills are needed.

Purple wild crocuses surrounding a silver thistle. This flower is a symbol of good fortune in the Basque region.
Pretty local flora: purple wild crocuses surrounding a larger yellow flower (a silver thistle, Wikipedia tells me). This flower is a symbol of good fortune in the Basque region.

The trail did not disappoint. On the first day, it rained in the morning, but cleared up by the afternoon. The next two days were beautiful weather: bright blue skies and sunshine! On day two, we had a lot of wind while hiking along an exposed ridge, but it was all safe and, have I mentioned, beautiful?

A wide path meandering along a soft slope, high mountains in the far distance.
A wide path meandering along a soft slope, high mountains in the far distance. The path wasn’t always this wide and flat though!

Also, cute villages! And nice country hostels and hotels!

a small hamlet nestled into a valley beneath a mountain
Cute village, exhibit (a): a small hamlet nestled into a valley beneath a mountain (that we hiked down and then back up on the other side!)

Unfortunately, we did what we usually do when we go on holiday and both got a cold. I don’t know how, but every time we’re on leave, at least one of us gets sick. I don’t know if it’s the germs on the plane, the change in weather, or the sudden lack of stress, or a combination of all three. This time, it hit my partner first, so by the time we were on the trail he was already recovering. But he kindly shared it with me, so on day three we actually had to call it quits. I was so congested I could hardly breathe, let alone hike 20 kilometres with a backpack.

I was so disappointed. But we did the sensible thing and took a taxi from the village we’d spent the night in to the next place, our final destination (Isaba). It was actually a fun taxi ride. The driver is also the local school bus driver and chauffeurs anyone who needs to go somewhere in the area, from school kids to drunk local youth during the village festival and hikers with head colds. We then spent the rest of the day wandering about and resting in the sun in Isaba, which also happened to be the nicest of the villages we stayed in. It’s surrounded by pine forests on steep slopes and consists of lovingly restored traditional houses. I would happily have spent another few days there.

A narrow cobbled street lined with traditional houses with wooden balconies on the left. A square stone church tower in the background and forest-lined mountains in the background.
Cute village, exhibit (b): Isaba. A narrow cobbled street lined with traditional houses with wooden balconies on the left. A square stone church tower in the background and forest-lined mountains in the background.

I’ll be honest, I’m still angry with that stupid cold that made us miss the last day of our trek. But what can you do? I suppose I should be happy I didn’t get really sick, so by the afternoon of that day I was well enough to take a short stroll around the area. But despite the dreaded lurgy throwing a spanner in the works of our trekking plans, it felt so good to be out there, largely on our own. In two days of hiking, we met exactly five people on the trail. It was a much needed respite from the current busyness of both our jobs and lives.

But still, I need to know: do any of you have any tips to avoid the dreaded holiday cold?