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.
Catherine: Full disclosure: I am writing these responses from the comfort and chaos of my aunt’s house, where a bunch of us have gathered before Christmas. My sister keeps showing me Instagram photos of undecorated Christmas trees and posts predicting the outcomes of holiday football games. Kiwi the dog just wants love. All the love I have to give. Now.
(a few minutes later…) I’ve settled into the breakfast room, where the heckling is at least in the background.
Some of these readings—from days 21 through 30—are especially apt this week for me. Day 23 is about the power of a pause—the space between stimulus and response. Nia advises grabbing that moment and choosing what you really want to do. I have a different idea: just notice the moment itself. Let it be there, and watch it as it unfolds into the next one. For me, pauses allow me to gather myself to myself—to look around and see where I am and how I am. It seems passive, but it’s in fact investigative. I want to feel and experience and come to know what’s going on. Yes, I’ll make choices. Yes, I’ll have feelings about those choices. But for me, a modicum of freedom, or rather, ease, comes with noticing the spaces in between.
Last Saturday I took a 2-hour pranayama yoga workshop, focused on breathing. We did move a fair bit, but all in service of noticing how different poses opened the chest and changed the quality of our breathing. It was an exercise in noticing the pauses—in between breaths, and also after the in-breath and after the out-breath. I love those pauses. It’s not about holding, but about being quiet or still in those moments. This is why I do yoga—for the power of those pauses.
Day 30—when it all goes up in flames—is particularly relevant for me this holiday, too. Some of my family are going through painful changes, and experiencing the uncertainty that comes before, during and after every step of that change process. I’m standing by, witnessing. It’s not yet time to step in and reframe the change, although in better moments we do talk about new possibilities and new directions.
So, it’s back to the pause. That’s all we can do sometimes. But we can do that. It gives me heart, and I hope it helps those of you who are going through hard times or who love people who are going through hard times. Thanks, Nia.
Christine: I found Days 21-30 very intriguing and there are a lot of things for me to think about in here.
The message I received from 8 of the entries was about the power of choice – choosing your perspective, choosing your mindset, making choices that support you in the kind of life that you want to live.
Whether she was talking about noticing why you do certain things and then making a conscious choice to behave differently (Day 21), choosing an approach that you can do daily for a long period of time (Day 26), choosing not to focus on appearance as your ‘after’ (Day 27), or using a food journal to notice patterns in your eating – for example, if skipping breakfast makes you snack all day (Day 28), she really calls our attention to how much we can apply the power of choice when we are trying to move forward in our fitness journeys.
While I enjoyed the sections about choices, the two sections that really address my main challenges were Day 24 (If it is important, it will take time.) and Day 29 (What do you need to do next?)
Because my ADHD leads me to think of time in terms of Now and Not Now, I want to be able to start and complete my fitness journey(s) in as short a time as possible. I’m always nervous about something dropping off my radar so when something is important to me, I want to do it all right now, in one fell swoop. Of course, that’s not how fitness works, it’s an incremental process. So, anything that gets me thinking about how to keep a slow, steady pace is inherently valuable to me.
Another challenge that arise from a combination of my ADHD and my personality is the need to make the RIGHT choice that will DEFINITELY lead to where I want to go. Because time is so slippery for me and because breaking projects into chunks is difficult, I tend to seek more certainty than the average person does. This can lead to a lot of overthinking and overanalyzing. I really welcome Shanks’ reminder to stop trying to think my way out of it and instead find the next action I can take.
That ‘next’ is really important to me because it helps me remember that I am not trying to solve the problem with one step. I don’t have to find the perfect thing to do. I just have to take a single step forward toward my objectives.
I think this was my favourite part of the book so far.
Sam: I liked Nia’s Day 24 focus on patience, the idea of settling in for the long haul. Fitness, like most things in life worth wanting, takes time. If you’re too focused on the outcome you’re bound to get frustrated. Instead, you need to enjoy the process. Day 25 continues on that theme urging us not to make our happiness conditional on achieving the big goal we’ve set for ourselves. Choose to make each workout its own reward. (Lately I’ve struggled with this because some of what I need to do to stay active is just annoying! There’s no joy in toe physio. ) Day 27 talks about the kind of goals worth setting and what that means for “before and after.” So many women think about fitness before and after in terms of looks, whether that’s muscle development or looking thin. Nia suggests we expand our range of goals and instead think about getting stronger, increased bone density, having a better relationship with food, and having greater self-confidence. This section ends with another non-traditional food challenge. Instead of all or nothing diet thinking, Nia’s recommendation is simple. She asks us to look for small improvements we can make in the way we eat.