Book Reviews · fitness

The 100 Day Reclaim: Day 41-50, 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.

Read about Days 31-40 here.

Catherine: Nia could’ve spent the whole book writing about just these themes in days 41—50. I see them all as ways to look at what we do and who we are from every vantage point, all the better to see possibilities for change, for validation, for appreciation.

Starting with the appreciation bits: Nia encourages us to embrace our natural abilities. I’m very good at organizing social activities and keeping up with friends. This translates for me into lots of opportunities to arrange or join in on physical activity and also share meals. When I’m cooking or eating with others, I eat in ways that are more healthy-to-me. What can I say? I like to go along with the crowd, and my crowd has a lot of eating and activity habits that I admire and want to incorporate into my daily habits.

Nia says we tend to take for granted some of the positive habits or abilities or life situations or gifts we have right now. Stopping for a sec to notice what we have, what we have done, all that we are—this is worth doing. I agree.

Now that she’s got us here, stopping, looking around, and noticing, here are some things she’d like to point out. One is our own aging. Yeah, it’s happening. Cursing the calendar or the mirror doesn’t help. Instead, she suggests doing what we can to age gracefully and maintain a good quality of life.

Aging gracefully—this phrase bothers me. I get what Nia is saying. But for me, aging is decidedly ungraceful. It’s awkward, unpredictable, jolting, and a big pain in the patootie. My long-time-colored hair is growing out, and I’m loving the unruly and uneven shocks of silver and white. My hips hurt when I sit for too long, so I have to stand up in the middle of long work meetings. This is decided ungraceful, especially because some of my male colleagues gently (but regularly) mock me for stretching and standing up whenever I do it. I’m serious. I handle it, but not gracefully. Nope.

I’m sure Nia would support me here—she’s all about us being ourselves and carrying ourselves proudly. I just want to point out that graceful, aging is not.

Nia also asks us to look at what we struggle constantly with. Here’s how she puts it: “a battle you find yourself facing again and again with you usually coming out on what feels like the losing side”.

I immediately thought of one that I’m going to work on: even though I’m not a morning person, my most productive time is the first 4—6 hours of my day. After that, my focus and determination flag. I struggle with how to spend those precious hours: Writing? Grading? Physical activity? Meditation? Making a schedule hasn’t worked well—whatever I’m doing at the time, I tend to follow that to its conclusion, and then worry about the other things I haven’t done in this Magic Period of Perfect Productiveness. Yeah. Blech.

How to respond to this daily struggle? Nia offers a couple of suggestions, one of which is to introduce chaos into your routine. Shake things up to see how we respond when the normal goes out the window. I’ve had this experience. When my car is in the repair shop, I have to improvise getting around. I have bikes, feet, buses, and trains at my disposal. They take more time and focus and energy, but they’re also invigorating and different. I’m now wondering how I can make my mid-late afternoons different and more invigorating. I’ll report back on this in a blog post. Thanks, Nia.

Christine: Overall, this section of the book had a lot to offer me in terms of staying aware of how I get off-track with my plans. I’ll be making use of a lot of these practices as I move through 2020 and continue to establish a fitness plan that is do-able for me.

The breakdown:

41 – Why are we never satisfied?

I like how she states ‘you can and should do whatever you want with your body’ but while I feel the pressure to always be doing ‘more,’ I have managed to sidestep that for now.

42 – What we take for granted

I talk a lot about this in my coaching practice, the idea that we need to notice the things we DID get done, the things we have achieved. I know there’s a popular meme that says ‘Don’t look back, you aren’t going that way.’ and that is valuable in some circumstances, it also keeps you forever pushing forward and never noticing how far you have come. I really like how Shanks frames that in terms of gratitude – gratitude for yourself and the work you have put in.

43 – Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

This section really struck home with me. I’m not too caught up in notions of being ‘too old’ to do things and I’m pretty good at dismissing any ‘never’ or ‘always’ statements that bubble up but I still have to fight my inclinations towards a fixed mindset. When you couple that with the bizarre sense of time that ADHD has granted me, I often realize that I have been subconsciously holding on to the idea that the way things are today is the way they will always be. I notice it in my mood first and then have to dig in to find the thoughts that generated that mood. I like this reminder to be even more conscious of this issue.

44 – Stupid Advice

The stupid advice she is counselling us against in this section is the advice to ‘Just love your body.’ I am so glad she included this in the book. I see and hear this advice tossed around all the time and, to use a local expression ‘it rots me.’

It’s not like we can step outside of decades of cultural pressure and just make a sweeping change to dismiss all of that internalized garbage.

Obviously, discussing this in the larger context is beyond the scope of Shanks’ book but I like what she has done in this format. She advises us to notice when negative body feelings arise and do our best to work toward being indifferent towards those parts of our bodies. She adds that we can start focusing on what those body parts can DO and we can perhaps find an appreciate for them in that.

Day 45 – You do what you do. Why?

This is another day about noticing and this time she is asking us to notice our habits and to assess them for whether they serve us well. She advises us to make plans that will help us change those habits. I like how she cuts through all of the decision making around habits and breaks it down to, essentially. ‘notice, plan, adjust your actions.’ While there are always emotional considerations around these things, her suggestions are on a scale that makes sense to me and I could probably do them no matter what emotions swirl around them.

Day 46 – What is a constant struggle?

This section builds nicely on the last, asking us to notice what kinds of things regularly derail us and then to make plans for how to deal with those situations when they arise again. I tend to be very solutions-focused but I sometimes forget to do these sort of alternate plans so this reminder was super-helpful.

I’m still not keen on all the talk about how to manage your eating but, as far as I can see, Shanks doesn’t veer off into ‘diet’ talk so I just gloss over those sections as unrelated to my particular goals.

Day 47 – Embrace your natural abilities

This section is about noticing your strengths, not just in fitness but in all areas of your life. And, she makes a great suggestion about bringing your skills in other areas to apply to your fitness plans.

I love helping clients find what I refer to as ‘transferable skills’ and I love that she suggests finding them here.

Now, if I can only figure out how my ability to write really fast can translate into fitness, I’ll be all set. 😉

48 – Don’t disdain growing older

I like the advice in this section but it does seem a little out of place. I appreciate the positive approach she is advising and the reminder to focus on the things that we can control but it’s not clear how this fits in with the rest of the book. That could be just because I have, luckily, never been too invested in age-based restrictions. Or perhaps, at 47, the full cultural pressure of this one hasn’t hit me yet.

49 – Deliberately introduce chaos into your routine

I LOVE THIS SECTION. It terrifies me but since ADHD makes me especially susceptible to getting buffeted around by unexpected changes, I really love the idea of building (metaphorical) muscles for dealing with that chaos. I will be trying this ASAP.

50 – Zoom Out

This section is a great reminder of the big picture for people who tend to abandon their fitness related plans when they get off track. Shanks’ advice to zoom out puts a those few missteps into perspective.

Sam: I really liked this section of the book. So far I’ve been reading along and agreeing. Choose fitness goals that aren’t about aesthetics. Check. Aim for consistency not perfection. Check. Enjoy the journey. Check. All well and good but these are all things I already know. It’s nice to be reminded but I started wanting some new tricks in my bag. Days 41-50 were fun that way.

I liked Day 41–having goals is good but don’t keep resetting the bar higher and higher. Some is good doesn’t always mean that more is better. Take the time to appreciate what you’ve achieved. Nice.

Day 44 which talks about being neutral about your body instead of trying to love your body reminded me lots of Tracy! I’ve been missing Tracy since she’s away in Mexico so that made me smile.

I think we all liked Day 46 on identifying struggles and making plans.

But my fave day was Day 49 on deliberately introducing chaos into our carefully structured lives so we can learn to roll with it. I might try that. Thanks Nia!