219 in 2019 · fitness · Guest Post

20-20 Vision in 2020 (Guest Post)

by Alice MacLachlan

Sam asked me to tell you all about the 219 workouts in 2019 group, why I joined, and why I’m rejoining 220 for 2020.


Here’s the thing: the group is a fabulous idea. It’s a dynamic group of awesome people doing a wide range of activities. People’s workouts ranged from walking the dog or taking the kids skating, to Yoga with Adriene (a fan favourite), CrossFit, triathlon training, ballet, and serious resistance work. Seeing these exercises drift across your fb feed gives you new ideas for things to try, and the rising numbers (workout #20! Workout #42! Workout #210) are inspiring. It really is – or should be – a reliable recipe for success.


And yet, I didn’t do it. Not only did I not make 219 workouts, but I didn’t even come close. I stayed in the group and read everyone’s posts, liked as many as I could, and was glad to follow my friends. But I stopped updating – it felt silly, and then humiliating, to be in the low double-digits when everyone else was at three. And that’s ok: true, I hadn’t *initially* planned to broadcast the fact by blog post – but I was ok with it.


So, in some ways I’m absolutely the wrong person to write this post, but maybe in others that makes me the right one. Maybe you, the reader, are like me: you used to be someone who exercised, who loved and prioritized it, who made it a habit and a joy. Then things changed and life got more complicated, time filled and your body changed. Two gorgeous kids and a miscarriage took their toll, as did turning 40. Runs hurt instead of healed, yoga gave you time to fret rather than flex, muscles cramped, tendons swelled, and it became easier to just not.


I joined 219 in 2019 with the hope that I could use this group to turn it all around, to become the person I used to be. And it didn’t work. I was part of a lovely group doing all the right things, but it still didn’t work.


But I’m rejoining now with 20-20 vision, as it were, with a clearer vision of myself and my body and my plans. I’m going to revisit what counts as a workout for me (it might not be a long run, anymore; it might be a short walk to the playground for some rough and tumble play with my kids), and revise my expectations for how many I can do.

220 is a good goal, but so is 200, or even 20 + 20. I still like the idea of doing it surrounded – even virtually – by a group of excellent people. And I look forward to more ideas and inspiration. I recently learned that two of my fitness heroes (shoutout to Sam and Rebecca) only started working out seriously around my age. It’s nice to know I didn’t miss the boat.


When I round out 2020 I will probably be exactly the same person I am today, in exactly the same body. I plan to enjoy moving, and reading about the movements of others, along the way. Maybe even 220 times – who knows?!

Alice MacLachlan is a former marathon runner, boxer, and soccer player – and current expert on all things Frozen, Paw Patrol, and PJ Masks. She also teaches philosophy at YorkUniversity, co-edits Feminist Philosophy Quarterly, and thinks too much about civility, apologies, and forgiveness. 

advice · Book Reviews · fitness · motivation

The 100 Day Reclaim: Day 31-40, Three Fit Feminist Bloggers Weigh In

Three of us are reading Nia Shanks’ The 100 Day Reclaim: Daily Readings to Make Health and Fitness as Empowering as it Should Be.

Read about Day 1 here.

Read about Days 2-10 here. ‘

Read about Days 11-20 here.

Read about Days 21-30 here.

Christine:

In Days 31-40, Shanks is getting further into some of the aspects of fitness mindset that I need to work on.

Day 31 is about how our repeated actions are investments in our health and fitness, some of which pay off quickly and some that pay off over time. This is really one of my sticking points. I’m not exactly looking for a magic bullet (and I don’t generally buy into the distractions she warns us against in Day 32) but I have a lot of trouble remembering that each individual workshop will add up to a positive result.

(This is an ongoing issue for me in many areas, I refer to it as a reverse forest-for-the-trees problem. It’s not that I can’t see the forest for the trees, it’s that I forget that the forest is made of individual trees and I get overwhelmed at the idea of trying to deal with the whole forest at once.)

For me, most of this section builds on the idea of investments. She reminds us that there will be setbacks and we might get sidetracked, but if we keep moving forward with purpose (not passion – Shanks makes some great points about the limits of passion on Day 34), and do things that support us instead of undermining us, we will find the fitness practices that suit us best.

I like how she doubles down on the idea that food can (and should) be guilt-free. This is not a problem for me but I know it is a pervasive issue so I like that she is returning to it over and over.

Some highlights from Days 31-40 (these are the messages I liked in each section, not the title for the days):

Day 35: Focus on being a person YOU approve of.
Day 36 – Failure is an experience, it doesn’t define you. You decide what it means.
Day 37 – We should seek a fitness lifestyle that enhances our lives instead of dominating them. Bonus: The way she talks about what counts as a supportive action is especially useful.

I think that some people might find that this section repeats a lot of the previous messages, but in different terms. I found that there was a feeling of familiarity with some sections but it didn’t feel repetitive. Instead, I felt that she was adding a layer to her previous messages and some of them resonated more thoroughly with me this time because of the different phrasing.

There was, once again, a lot in this section that I can use to help me shape my approach to being more consistent with my exercise.

Catherine:

Investment. Purpose. Sticking to the basics. Supporting. Growth. These are some of the phrases Nia uses in days 31-40 that really appealed to me. It feels to me like she’s allowed us to freak out, get angry, shilly-shally around, and take some time to get used to this 100-day process. But now it’s time to settle in and focus on the work at hand—that most important work, which is us.

Day 31 starts with thinking about self-caring activities as investments, deposits in the portfolio of my own wellbeing. Immediately, I thought: hmmm. does Nia think that when I avoid exercise or miss sleep or eat poorly-to-me, I’m making withdrawals? Is my every move a plus-or-minus, to be totted up on a spreadsheet?

No, I don’t think she’s endorsing an accounting plan for self-care and self-esteem. During these 10 days, we are encouraged to look to our goals, our plans, our habits. We stick to what works. We notice what sorts of activities support us in our development of agency over our own wellbeing. Then do those more. When something doesn’t work, we look at it, and see how we can grow from that experience.

My favorite lesson was day 34, on recognizing that we don’t need to feel passion for something important all the time in order to keep doing it. What we have (or can have) is a sense of purpose. We form goals, which may be big and lofty and long-term. But progress toward a goal is inevitably made through mundane, ordinary activities: grocery shopping or food package ordering, laundering sports clothing and packing the gym bag, keeping track of winter cycling gear so it’s always handy, making those regular dates with friends to walk or cycle or swim or do yoga or have a cup of coffee. Consider these your inner postal carrier: remember, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”.

Nia is encouraging us to bring the mail, just keeping bringing the mail. Okay, Nia, I’m on it.

Sam: I often think about writing and exercise in the same way. They’re both things I need to regularly and sometimes they can both be difficult to motivate. In my life it’s interesting that some of the strategies that work for one also work for the other. On Day 34 Nia reminds us to think of exercise in terms of purpose not passion.

If you wait until you’re overcome with passion and motivation, you don’t get around to moving or writing nearly enough. Make it a habit. Schedule it.

On Day 38 Nia suggests other goals for seeing progress besides fat loss. Fat loss, she remind us, is not the only option for tracking progress. I know this. I really know this. But sometimes I need reminding. Thks Nia!

blog · blogging · fitness

Top ten posts in December, #icymi

My post about that Peloton ad was our #1 post of the month. I was puzzled by all the people who thought the wife was already fit because she was thin.

A cartoon woman with green hair spinning away.

Our second most read of the month was my post about training like a world class endurance athlete, building a base, and making the time to go slow.

A husky riding on a tortoise

Marjorie wrote about pseudoscience and the need for critical thinking in the area of nutrition and exercise science. That post was #3.

Science!

Nicole urges us when it comes to food choices just say yes, please or no, thank you. ” I urge us all to try to break free from “I can’t because I’ve been bad, naughty, I fell off the wagon, etc.”. We all have different reasons for choosing to eat what we do, day in and day out. I’m not here to discuss the pros and cons of different food plans. But if you are presented with food (cookies, chocolates, etc.) that you choose not to eat, simply say “No Thank You”. The location of the opportunity for snacking does not matter – it can be at work, your friend’s house or your parent’s place. ” That post was #4.

A dog nodding with the word “YES.”

In the 5th most read post of December Nat puts out her wish for high performance formal dance . wear. ” I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, why can’t we dance the night away at weddings & other formal gatherings without drowning in our sweat? Whether you prefer a snappy suit or a darling dress no one feels great in their getup after even a short stint of enthusiastic dancing. “

A young girl in a blue dress with sunglasses bopping away.

An older post that I reblogged in light of the Peloton ad controversy was our 6th most read post of December. See How equating being fat with being out of shape hurts thin people too.

A chubby hamster lifting weights.

Cate’s classic still menstruating post is #7.

Menopause!

If you cannot go big, go small by Susan is #8.

A regular sized male cyclist riding a very small bike. We love the clip shoes.

Best of the worst gifts for the holidays, by Catherine, is #9.

An elevator door opening and closing,with a woman holding lots of parcels.

#10 was my post on concussions, Hit. Stop. Sit.

Bubble soccer!
219 in 2019 · cycling · fitness

Sam is quickly checking in for December

I think it’s mostly good news really. My knee isn’t worse. I’m walking more. It still hurts a lot but there’s a lot of research that suggests moving anyway is better than not. See here.

I made it! 300 workouts in 2019. The goal was 219 in 2019 but that went by months ago. I thought 300 was too ambitious but by counting physio I did it.

I passed my indoor cycling exam.

I’ve been riding in Zwift lots.

Zwift at the Bike Shed in Guelph

Still waiting for the snow for fat bike riding.

The only bit of bad news is my arthritic toe

food · habits · nutrition · planning

Make-Ahead Breakfast Meal Prep–Oatmeal!

Catherine recently mentioned her desire to do more meal prep. I love to prep ahead my meals for the week. I have a Sunday routine in which I make enough breakfasts and lunches to last me through Friday. These little containers give me peace of mind–reassurance that I will be well-fed without a hassle all week. If dinner has to be on the fly, that’s somehow more manageable than breakfast or lunch. For me, the hardest part of making meal prep a routine was consistently coming up with the plan before I went to the grocery store on Saturday. If I forgot to think about the entire meal–forgot a serving of fruit, or didn’t think to check if I had enough eggs–then the meal prep would be off for a whole week. So, in the spirit of helping others prep, I thought I’d share some of my recipes and shortcuts.

Today, Oatmeal.

I eat oatmeal at least 6 days a week, sometimes twice a day. Here are some of my favorite ways to prepare it in advance. I make it a complete meal with coffee, a couple eggs, some plain Greek yogurt and fruit, if there isn’t some added to the oats already.

Easiest Apple Oats.
This is my go-to oatmeal. It is endlessly variable, depending on what sounds good to me and what fruit is seasonal at the time. Apples are the easiest, since they stay pleasant all week, whereas pears, bananas, peaches and such can eventually become brown and soggy. Canned or dried fruit are options as well, of course.

1. Set out as many reusable containers with tight lids* as meals you are preparing ahead (I make 6 at a time, eating one the morning I prep).
In each container, place the following:
½ cup old-fashioned oats
¾ cup water
a sprinkle of cinnamon
1 tbs coarsely chopped nuts
1 tbs raisins, dried cranberries, or cherries
½ a chopped tart apple

2. Store covered in the refrigerator. When you are ready to serve the oats, remove the lid and cook in the microwave 2 minutes, or until the oats have soaked up the liquid.

3. Serve with a little brown sugar, milk/nondairy milk, or Greek yogurt on top.

Slow-cooker Steel-cut oats
These are just as easy as the last recipe, you just cook them ahead. Using the slow-cooker allows you to avoid the regular stirring and management that cooking steel-cut oats on the stove-top requires. These cook in about 30 minutes on the stove, if you want them faster, but be aware that they can stick and burn if not regularly stirred.

1. In your slow-cooker, place the following:
1 ½ cups steel-cut oats
6 cups water
Tsp or so of cinnamon and/or anise seeds

2. Cook on low heat overnight, or at least 8 hours, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the oats are chewy.

3. If you want to add fruit, add it now after it has cooked. Otherwise, it breaks down over the long cooking time and becomes unpleasant.
Optional add-ins to stir in now:
6 Tbs raisins or other dried fruit, chopped if appropriate
6 Tbs chopped walnuts or other unsalted nuts
3 chopped apples

4. Divide into 6 containers, cover and refrigerate until needed.

5. Serve warm by reheating in the microwave when you’re ready to enjoy it. This will thicken up considerably when it cools, so I like to serve it with milk (or actually soymilk, since I’m lactose intolerant) and a bit of butter and brown sugar.

Muesli
I like this variation in the warmer months or when I need to pack breakfast somewhere where the extra liquid would be unwelcome. (Note that TSA might give you a side eye on this one, so I don’t recommend it for breakfast on a morning flight in the US.) Multiply the basic recipe by as many servings as you want in advance.

1. Using a wide rubber spatula, stir together in a large bowl:
½ cup old-fashioned or quick oats
¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
½ tsp vanilla (cheap fake vanilla is fine for this)
½ coarsely chopped apple
1 tbs chopped nuts
dash cinnamon
optional but recommended:
½ chopped orange or a whole tangerine
some grated citrus zest

2. Press the mixture into a container that seals well and store up to 5 days. Optional but delicious–drizzle with a little honey before enjoying!

Your turn: do you have a favorite way to prep oatmeal in advance? I’d love to hear about it! And do let me know if you give any of these a try and how it goes!

*Oh, as a side note, any reusable container with a good lid will do for these. We have switched over nearly entirely to a set of Pyrex storage bowls in the last year. The lids are pretty tight (sometimes there’s a little liquid loss in transit, if I’m packing it to work in the morning), and the bowls are nice to reuse since they don’t take on flavors like plastic can. I caution you to not heat the lids, if you have these, though. They do not hold up well in the heat.

Marjorie Hundtoft is a middle school science and health teacher. She can be found eating oatmeal, picking up heavy things and putting them back down again in Portland, Oregon.

fitness

Word of the Year (Guest Post)

Every December I choose a single word to inspire me and to set the tone for the year.

Instead of making a list of resolutions that I would probably never revisit, I have my one word to use as a touchstone to remind me of my desires and hopes for the year. A word to help me stay on my path. A word to motivate and centre me. This word becomes my sankalpa, or intention, for my daily life.

I first came across the word of the year idea in late 2013. I had decided to give up alcohol for a year starting December 1, 2013. In the sober blog world I came across the idea of using a word as a guide for the year to help reinforce my desire to stay sober. I decided that my word for 2014 would be ACCEPTANCE.  I used it at yoga as my intention. I used it when I was mad at how life was. I used it when things didn’t go my way.

By the end of 2014 acceptance felt familiar and I realized having a set intention had been a positive force in my life. I also decided living alcohol free would be a permanent choice for me.

In 2015 I chose LOVE. I believe love is the root of everything. That we all need more love, not less, especially when we are angry, hurting, failing. And so I tried to respond to life with love. I was kinder and gentler to myself. 

I though love might continue and be my word every year, but when 2016 came around it was clear that my word would be FAITH. Faith in myself. Faith that I was ok, that I was a capable, competent and worthy person. Faith that I was on the right path.

Faith took me far in 2016. When we had to flee our home in Fort McMurray and drive through a fire (literally…I drove my van down a road burning on both sides). I had faith that I could handle the situation. And when I needed help doing that I asked for it. By allowing others to help hold me up when I was falling apart, I realized that I truly do have faith in me to do whatever needs to be done.

2017.  SANTOSHA or contentment. It is one of the niyamas, one of the 8 Limbs of ashtanga yoga. For me, it is being satisfied with what is…not rallying for or against what isn’t. It’s that deep feeling that everything is ok, that things are exactly as they are supposed to be. This one is tattooed on my wrist.

2018 was BELIEVE. I believe life is beautiful, that an open mind can see endless possibilities and that when I do things wholeheartedly I can be proud of my actions, even if the results aren’t always what I expect. Believe served me well that year.

In 2019 I picked the word BLOOM. I had found a quote “Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted. Bloom.” I think it is from Christine Caine.

I had just separated from my husband and was devastated. I felt so overwhelmed and lost. Everything had changed. The image of the seed germinating quietly underground soothed me. 

Today, divorced and settled, and still sober! I feel like I have finally broken free of the ground and am blooming.

So, here we are, at 2020. I ask myself, what next? EXPLORE came to mind. I want to explore life and my own perspective. I want to step back and explore how my body feels in yoga. I want to explore going places on my own. I want to explore life with my kids, who are growing into adults so quickly.

Earlier this year my therapist asked me what my wants and needs are for myself. I couldn’t answer the question and it distressed me that I don’t even know what I need or want. I am 48. Shouldn’t I know this by now? 

2020 is my opportunity to explore exactly that. What do I want and need out of life, for me?

Explore feels exciting, a little scary, and motivating, just what I need. 


New Years resolutions feel restrictive to me. Setting an annual intention, with one single word, has really been a positive and affirming choice for me. Perhaps you might like to try it for 2020? If so, please share your word and why you chose it in the comments.

Stillness in peace

Anne

fitness

Is your New Year’s resolution to write a guest post for our blog?

Music for I am resolved. Photo by Kiy Turk on Unsplash.

Here’s what to do!

INSTRUCTIONS (AUGUST 2019 UPDATE)

Thanks for your willingness to join our community of guest posters at Fit is a Feminist Issue.

Posts usually range between 500 and 1000 words. If your post is really long it might make sense to do it in several parts.

First and foremost we’re a feminist blog and we expect guests to share that perspective. We also usually incorporate a personal perspective in our writing, even if that’s the history of what made us think about the thing we’re writing about.

We also are a body positive blog and we try to keep the diet talk down to a minimum. Lots of us are critical of diets, the long term odds of success, and the beauty standards beneath lots of fitness ideals. We’re more about doing things we love and sharing athletic, rather than aesthetic goals. That said, we don’t all agree about all of these things and “big tent feminism” is part of the charm of the blog.

We try to use accessible language and write with a sense of humour, where appropriate. We especially try to avoid ableist language. For example, we don’t say “crazy” or “lame.” Here’s a link to alternatives, http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/08/alternatives-to-oppressive-language/

Where it makes sense include links to further resources.

You must include a short bio at the end.

The way it works is that you after you receive and accept our invitation to the blog (through WordPress), submit the post for review and we edit it lightly (mostly for grammar and spelling and adequate paragraph breaks). We schedule it. We also add photos. You can email pictures to samanthajbrennan@gmail.com (or if you’re working with another blogger to their email address). Contributor status means that you can’t add photos. After a few posts, we switch you to author status and authors can add their own photos and schedule their own posts. If you would rather not work directly in WordPress, email us your word docx and we will import it into WordPress.

Note: If you are adding your own photos and video, pls be sure to provide image and video descriptions for the visually impaired. All non-text content should have a text alternative that provides an equivalent meaning as the image. Read past posts for some descriptions of the images in the posts. Best practise is for the image description to go in the alt-text field which you can see when you edit the photo. You can put the image description in the caption as well if you have space. Captions are also useful for photo credits Finally, giving your photo a descriptive title makes it easier for search engines to find.

Please share your guest post widely to let your friends and social media followers know about the blog. We’ve got some excellent regular commentators and if you could check in on your post and reply to them that would be great.

Yay! And thanks for contributing!

Cheers,

Sam and the Fit is a Feminist Issue team