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.
Here’s our thoughts about days 11-20.
The day that made me smile and laugh out loud was Day 13 on the naked truth, Part 1. Writes Nia, “We are not saving the world or being heroic or going “beast mode” or any other hyperbolic term plastered on a meme floating around social media intended to get you psyched up to hit the gym. Working out is a privilege. Have you ever thought about it that way?”
I do a lot of different fitness things. They’re my big indulgence in life. They’re good for me but that doesn’t make a better or more virtuous person. I am often struck by the moralizing language we use around both exercise and food. I’m working out, not saving the world. People say, “Oh, you’re so good.” But honestly I don’t do it out of duty. I do it because it’s fun (mostly). Feeling grateful that I have the time and money to do the fitness-y things that I do is motivational. Why sit around bored when I could be at the gym having fun?
The Naked Truth, Part 2 makes a point that we often make here on the blog. Food choices aren’t good and evil. You’re eating a brownie, not kicking a small child. You’re eating kale, not ending global warming. And so on.
Day 14 also makes an excellent point: Beware of always chasing more. I can fall into the trap and Nia’s thoughts are useful reminder that that’s a trap. Relentlessly chasing more and better, she writes, is a sure fire path to discontentment.
Days 16 and 17 are about eating slowly and mindfully and tracking food.
Days 19 and 20 are about perspective and stripping it all down to what really matters. We make it complicated, claiming this way is better than that way. Keto over vegan or CrossFit instead of running. Nia offers this instead: “Move your body frequently in ways you enjoy. Eat plenty of whole foods, while including room for your favourite not-super healthy foods too.”
My personal favourites from this section are the days in which Shanks reminds us to get out of our heads and find actions to take that bring us toward increased fitness.
I especially like how she notes that fitness is about finding ways to live our best lives – whatever that means for us- rather than about attaining specific goals.
I am definitely all in for celebrating every ‘win,’ no matter the size, and I appreciate how she tries to pry open doors for us to think differently about food and about exercise. Anything that reduces food- and-exercise-related guilt is good by me.
However, I find some of the sections about letting go of our thinking habits to be a bit too glib. I would have liked her to say something along the lines of ‘this is a much bigger issue than I can get into fully here but I think you’ll benefit from starting to think along these lines.’ As it stands now, I feel like some huge challenges – for example, learning to stop thinking of food in moral terms- are brought down to ‘just stop’ when the process is much more complex.
I also think, though, that I am not the intended audience for these sections. I somehow escaped connecting food with ideas of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and I have never felt guilting about eating anything. Clearly, letting go of those specific things won’t be a problem for me.
Perhaps people who are firmly entrenched in those thinking patterns need to ease into the idea of changing them and this might be a good introduction. I would still prefer that she mention that there is more to it than the scope of these daily entries can cover.
While some days in this section weren’t for me, I did find a few days very thought-provoking and I am seeking ways to apply the ‘take action’ advice in my day-to-day.
Last week I was critical of the messages Nia was sending out. I think it was partly because I was feeling out of control, and Nia was talking about my options for gaining some control.
BUT I AM OUT OF CONTROL, NIA!
This week I’m taking in Nia’s words like a thirsty distance cyclist at a rest stop. I’m gulping, sipping, swishing them around, trying to extend the feeling of the relief they offer. Here’s what really resonated with me.
1) Just Stop Digging. When you’re in a hole, that is always something you can do. When I’m feeling really at sixes and sevens, with too much to do, too little sleep, an abundance of anxiety and paucity of focus, I can just stop for a minute or ten. I don’t have to send that email now, or sign up for a yoga class that I don’t have time for, or anything right now. There will be time for deliberation. But for now, just stop. Got it.
2) Lead with your Ass. Again, this is about doing an end-run around the Brain when the Brain is in too much of a tizzy to help you. Whether the task is getting out of bed, heading to the gym, responding to that pressing work email, or starting dinner, the brain is not always necessary. Just get the ass in gear sometimes, and the brain and heart will follow. Okay.
3) Activity is a Privilege. Yes, oh yes. Nia emphasizes this on several of the days. Having time, money, access, ability, etc. to go somewhere and move our bodies purposefully- just move them and nothing else—is a privilege that so many people don’t have. This isn’t meant to guilt us into movement or philanthropy or anything. It’s just truth. She calls it the Naked Truth. Yes, Nia, sometimes we have to be uncovered to learn what’s going on. Thanks.