Three of us are reading Nia Shanks’ The 100 Day Reclaim: Daily Readings to Make Health and Fitness as Empowering as it Should Be. Most posts will include words from Catherine, and Christine and me, Sam, but today it’s just them. I spent the weekend at a wonderful philosophy conference in Arizona but then my travel back encountered the usual winter flight-delay problems. Sunday was seven extra hours in the Phoenix airport and I got home to my by three am. Work is extra busy (it’s academic budget season!) and I’m behind with all the things. A one day reprieve wouldn’t have helped so here’s Christine and Catherine going it alone. I’ll be back for days 71-80. I’ll be on holidays!
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.
Read about Days 41-50 here.
Read about Days 51-60 here.
Day 61—if this happened to a friend
I keep struggling with Nia’s language even though I agree with and am warmed by her overall message. She gives an example of eating fast food for lunch instead of bringing it from home. All of us have done this, which she calls “giving in to fast food temptation”. Sigh. Then she says that doing so “typically leads to less-than -deal choices in the days that follow”. Argh.
But then Nia says all the right things (IMHO) about moving on, learning from what happened, etc. I feel like this is a tightrope Nia has to walk to please everyone: 1) people who are on a dieting track and suffer from guilt and self-recrimination; and 2) people who categorically reject dieting and see it as destructive and no-win. We bloggers (and lots of our readers) are in 2).
It’s so important for people in 1) to be able to hear Nia’s message, and I get that the wording she’s using is what is familiar to them. Here’s another example, talking about learning from what she calls a slip-up in eating: “…so you can handle it more productively”. I’d put it differently: “so you have some space for planning in ways that respect your desires and the realities of your life”. I don’t think Nia disagrees with me at all. I just prefer to lighten the language to remove as much value judgment as possible.
I’m liking Nia more and more as I read through this book. Hey Nia, I wish you could come by my house for tea and a nice walk at the park nearby.
Day 62—better, or tired?
Just before my first mountain bike race, someone gave me advice on how to pace myself: if I’m about to throw up, slow down. If I’m not about to throw up, go faster. That’s not terrible advice for a short race. But we’re not in short races most of the time. We’re in these bodies for the long haul. For me, “better” means keeping doing what I want to do for me, which is a variety of types of movement often, combined with enough rest to support myself, modifying when I’m injured or ill, or ramping up when I’m training for an event or curious about meeting some fitness goal.
Day 64—not good, not bad.
Here’s a friendly amendment for Nia: there are two other words that are often stealth terms for good and bad: health and unhealthy. These terms get used to bludgeon us into shame about what we eat and do. They scare us about the consequences of our eating and doing. Then, they coerce us into no-win diet patterns and physical regimens that are unfeasible and injury-conducive.
Is there such a thing as a healthy diet? Yes, there are loads of healthy diets. But there’s not agreement among health professionals about exactly what that looks like. I prefer the term healthy-to-me. This is awkward, and I don’t fault anyone else for not using it. It’s meant to convey my priorities and values (e.g. about meat or dairy consumption), constraints (e.g. allergies and tolerances, time and money, access and abilities for storing and preparing food), and preferences (some people just don’t like brussels sprouts, no matter what I say!). What we eat is up to us, and what we call healthy says a lot about us. It’s worth paying attention to that.
I love this so much. Coasting is a skill we all need to develop. It’s a powerful tool that will help keep us from self-blame, which is the worst thing we can do anytime. I have much more to say about coasting, but will leave it for a future blog post.
I read the rest of Nia’s posts, but will leave comments to Sam and Christine. You’ve heard enough of me for one day…
Before I discuss this week’s sections, I just want to share a little about how this book has helped my mindset already.
I live on the island of Newfoundland (Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada) and we just had a record-breaking snowstorm. On Friday past, my city had 93cm of snow (37.2 inches) and 140+ kph (86mph) winds and we have such huge piles of snow that several cities and towns have been under a state of emergency. This is the most snow that I have EVER seen fall at once, and we already had a lot of snow on the ground to start with.
On Thursday, I suggested to the other members of our Fit is a Feminist Issue team that I would do a post about shoveling and the other exercising I was going to do during the storm. I’m still going to do that post but it isn’t going to be the kind of post I expected.
I was expecting to do a fun little post about how during the stormiest day, I did yoga and some extra cardio by taking the dog out for a pee when it was super windy, then once the storm stopped, I would post about shovelling and the yoga I did to recover from shovelling.
Instead, the storm kept me edgy and distracted. I did yoga but it was late at night (and of course, I took the poor pup out whenever she needed it) and when our family started shovelling on Saturday, I went up to my hip in the snow. In the course of extricating myself, I wonked out my knee a bit. Nothing serious but enough to ensure that I had to be REALLY careful.
So, what does all of this have to do with The 100 Day Reset?
I didn’t feel bad about what I couldn’t do.
I focused on what I *could* still do. I did yoga and stretching. I switched up my usual shovelling technique so I could help, and I did it in small stretches. I thought about what I was eating instead of mindlessly eating foods that might make me feel worse about being stuck inside.
I’m a solutions-focused person anyway but I am also quite hard on myself when I feel like I might be slacking (self-perception issues are a companion issue with ADHD.) Thanks to Shanks’ book, I didn’t even consider that I was slacking off or being lazy – I was doing what I could in that moment.
So, thanks, Nia Shanks! You saved me a lot of frustration this weekend.
On to Days 61-70
I love a lot of the advice in this section, truly, truly love it.
I like being reminded to be kind to myself (Day 61) and especially the reminder to deal with ‘mistakes’ by gleaning useful information to prepare for similar future situations. I LOVE that she says that exhaustion is not a marker of success (Day 62) and that we don’t have to do an epic workout every time. In my coaching, I tell people that it is okay to create ‘placeholders’ for habits they are establishing (e.g. opening a document on the computer at a specific time – even if they aren’t going to be writing yet.) and I appreciate the way Shanks has similar advice for fitness habits here.
Day 63’s note about not giving into fear (fear of failing, fear of looking silly) was eye-opening for me. I realized (again?) that I can often be afraid of starting because I know I struggle with consistency.
I enjoyed this week’s sections about how to alter your thinking to serve you better.
Day 64 was about how to choose ways to view events in your fitness journey (i.e. the events are neutral, we assign the values to them, even when we don’t have to), Day 65 was a strong reminder that we can start/restart at any point and the key is to do SOMETHING now.
Day 66 advised us to recognize that there will be different rhythms in our schedules and we should work with what we have – working hard when we can, ‘coasting’ when we need to. (Important advice for me this weekend)
I appreciated the message in Day 67 about the futility of complaining and how we should look at the thing we are complaining about and make changes so it is no longer an issue. I like keeping the focus on finding solutions but, personally, I sometimes need to vent in order to clear my brain enough to start to see solutions. That’s not the same thing as ongoing complaining without taking action but my (sometimes overly-literal) brain initially balked at my mistaken idea that no amount of complaining was acceptable.
Day 68’s reminder to focus on what matters in the big picture was useful and I especially appreciate Shanks’ suggestion that we are just one workout away from being back on track and that we can do that workout today. That section dovetailed nicely into Day 69’s advice to mentally prepare for things going wrong and to plan the things you will do if your ‘what if’ came to pass.
Finally, I am all about Day 70’s advice to observe how things went ‘wrong’ and learn from them. Noticing how I got to a particular frustrating set of circumstances and identifying a different path for next time is an extremely useful piece of advice for me. I’ll be talking more about that in my ‘Christine weathers the storm’ post this Saturday.
By the way, throughout these sections, I can see the line that Shanks is walking with the way she talks about eating and I appreciate her efforts to steer away from diet-talk while still trying to engage people who are in that frame of mind. I, personally, would like to see her take an even stronger stance against the diet mindset but I don’t exactly know what form that could take.