fitness · media

Thanks BBC: “We’re BBC Sport, not BBC Men’s Sport”

Another quick update from the Land of Twitter.

BBC posts this.

Dude bro comments, “Any chance the Beeb can put out a separate thread solely for the WSL? I have no interest in it and some of the headlines are written as if it’s the men’s game. I appreciate those who follow WSL and intend no slight.”

But I love BBC’s reply.

Thank you BBC. Thank you.

I also love of the other suggestions that follow:

@LewesFCWomen: So please can you remove suffix ‘Women’ from BBC website after all team names in WSL/FA Women’s Championship (or add ‘Men’ to Prem League etc)? Teams themselves don’t add it on eg Lewes, not Lewes Women, Arsenal, not Arsenal Women etc. League name indicates male/female. Ta

0094@0oonthe: Yes but every time you talk about sport; let’s say football; You don’t say men’s football you just say football, then when you talk about women’s football you say women’s football

fitness · meditation

What 101 days of meditation does (and doesn’t do)

On July 13, I started meditating (again). Meditation has been an off-and-on thing in my life for the past 30 years. I got started courtesy of an MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) course I took in graduate school. We did eight weeks of skills development for using mindfulness to reduce stress and tolerate pain (in case of those with chronic illness). I have to say, it didn’t take. To say I was a bit resistant is an understatement. Maybe this illustrates it better:

One person walking upstairs, against the downstairs flow.

But something must’ve wedged itself in my subconscious, because a mere 10 years later, I took the course again. This time, I was wide open; I had just been denied tenure and was trying to figure out what I was going to do– apply for academic jobs, leave the field, run away… Nothing was certain. But, I discovered stability and grounding in sitting and breathing. That’s it– just sitting and breathing.

Fast forward a bunch of years, and I’m in an academic job I love (mostly), living in a place I love (completely, except for the traffic), and I’ve reintroduced yoga as a regular habit. Several of my yoga teachers use short meditations at the beginning or end of class, and I came to look forward to it. Sometimes I couldn’t settle– maybe I was hungry, or idly thinking about online shopping— but I got used to the quieting of my body, sitting, and focusing on the breath.

Still, meditation outside of class never made its way into my weekly schedule.

Until July 13, 2020.

I took a 4-day meditation workshop at 7:30 in the morning (which is the equivalent of 4:30am for most people) with yoga and meditation teacher Alex at Artemis, my beloved local yoga studio. I blogged about it here, saying what I learned in 10 days.

Now it’s day 101 of meditating every day. Really. I promised myself I would meditate each day, even if it meant doing a 3-minute meditation on the breath, or a meditation for sleep at bedtime (and in bed).

My life, post-100 days of straight meditation, is different. What has it done for me?

#1: When some emotion or feeling arises (sometimes feeling like a bus bearing down on me), I have some mental space between me and the feeling. That means I can now a) recognize that something’s happening; and b) take a moment and look at it to see what it is.

This is huge. Huge. HUGE.

#2: When I engage in the process outlined in #1, I focus on what this experience of whatever-it-is feels like in my body. I ask: a) where in my body is it? Throat? Belly? Head? Somewhere else? And then I ask: b) what does it feel like? Is it tingling? sharp pain? Pulsing or thrumming? Wavy? And then c) I take another moment to watch it, notice it. And what I notice is that it changes. Whatever feeling I have, it morphs, waxes, wanes, fades, dissolves, transitions to some other feeling.

This is really huge. Why? Because when I’m having an experience of, say, panic or shame or fear, I have somewhere to go, something to do. Which is:

  • Stop.
  • Breathe.
  • Notice.
  • Locate.
  • Identify.
  • Watch.
  • Then resume whatever I was doing.
  • Notice that nothing much happened.
  • But also notice that something tremendous happened.

Meditation isn’t a cure-all. It’s not even a cure-anything. It’s not about curing. Here is what it doesn’t do:

#1: Change me into a person who isn’t vulnerable to fear, panic, anxiety, shame, and other strong emotions that I struggle with.

I still experience strong feelings, and dealing with them takes time, medication, support from friends, family and therapist. Those activities are also important for self-care, and they’re not going away in this lifetime.

#2: Solve other behavior change aspirations I have and work on when I’ve got the oomph to deal with them. I’m not neater, more punctual, a better paperwork processor, or an everyday exerciser. Or if I am from time to time, it’s probably not because of meditation. It’s rather that I approach these aspirations and hopes and plans with a greater sense of awareness of my feelings around them, and self-compassion for the difficulties I have and have always had around them.

At the same time, I am happier, less judgmental of myself and others, and sold on the idea that daily sitting practice is indeed just what the doctor ordered. And that doctor is me.

Readers, if you meditate: what does it do for you? what doesn’t it do for you? I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have.

fitness

My Metabolic Age is WHAT??

CW: This post discusses weight, body fat measurements, etc.

As a general rule, I don’t get on the scale very often. I haven’t thrown it out and I can’t say I never get on it, but I consciously try not to go on too often and put too much stock in it. Last time I was at the doctor for my physical, when asked to get on the scale so that the nurse could measure my BMI, I explained why I didn’t think it was necessary. I don’t believe it provides a good picture of the condition of my health and there’s good scientific information widely available, to back me up. The problems with BMI have been written about many times in this blog. So many times, that I can’t link to all of them. I do like the simple advice, derived from an article in the Seattle Times that Sam points to in this post:

Regardless of weight the people with these four healthy habits had the lowest risk of early death.”

Take away: If it’s health that’s your goal work on these habits not your weight.

The four? Eat your vegetables. Don’t smoke. Drink in moderation only.  And exercise.”

So with that in mind, my husband purchased a new scale the other day. His sugar is slightly high and he’s exercising more, eating more vegetables, etc. and interested in these things right now. This scale measures body fat – RENPHO Bluetooth Body Fat Scale BMI Scale Smart Digital Bathroom Wireless Weight Scale. I was curious. Here is some information about the accuracy of these types of scales: https://www.healthline.com/health/body-fat-scale-accuracy.

To use the scale to its full effect, you have to download Renpho’s app on your phone. Then when you step on the scale it measures your weight, BMI, Body Fat, Muscle Mass, and a whole bunch of other fat and muscle measurements. And, it tells you your Metabolic Age.

The first time my husband received his stats, he read them off to me. I did mine and said I would read everything to him except the weight. I still have an ingrained habit of keeping my weight a secret. I mean, I don’t want to have a lengthy discussion in person about my weight. There’s a difference in my mind having a discussion here and sharing information, and having a verbal conversation about it afterwards. I feel that way about a lot of my blog posts. But there was something in my “stats” that bugged me just a little. And instead of only sharing that part. I’m going to share it all. Because, I truly believe they are just stats. They are not indicators of good or bad or my worth in any way. In short, they are a not a big friggen deal! So the pics of these stats are below.

Yeah, I am well aware of what my weight and height mean in terms of BMI (not taking into account my athleticism, bone structure, etc.). I enjoyed all the green stats (whether I should or not) and then I saw the Metabolic Age number. 50. But, I’m 48, I exclaimed to Gavin!

Not that it matters, but when setting up the app, you enter your birth date. Like any good “savvy” person, I didn’t put my EXACT date. It’s off by 6 months. So the app already thinks I’m 6 months older than I am, but STILL. The app thinks my Metabolic Age is OLDER than I am?? I’m supposed to be good at this type of thing, I thought, quite irrationally and non-sensically.

Despite all the green and dark green, the orange in my weight/BMI make my Metabolic Age higher than my actual age. Should I care? Well, according to this article, “currently, there aren’t many peer-reviewed studies of metabolic age. It’s not a data point in research. Metabolic age isn’t something we talk about in the medical community. It does give insight into how you compare to others your age. The marker of the ultimate definition of health it is not.” Also, “Metabolic age is more of a fitness term than a medical one. It’s a way to compare your basal metabolic rate (BMR) to other people your age.”

I’m going to keep this post short, because that’s how much time I want to spend thinking about this matter. It’s interesting, but it’s not all that important. It’s one tiny nugget of information amongst many other bits of information.

Bottom line – I’m not going to focus on how these stats make me feel, good or bad. And now, I’m off to do my virtual workout and will let those stats flow through my brain like a butterfly that enters and then keeps flying away.

Have you used one of these scales? Thoughts?

Nicole P. is taking it day-by-day during this pandemic and trying not to be annoyed by people, while working, exercising, cooking nutritious meals, reading good books, and watching a lot of tv.
cycling · fitness · winter

Getting ready for winter cycling!

I’ve asked before–Is this the year to try snow biking?–and apparently lots of you are saying yes.

If you’re interested now might be the time to get ready. If you want lessons, I like the folks at Horse Shoe resort.

That said, you don’t need lessons. We thought it was a nice way to try out the bikes to see if we liked fat biking and get some tips on how to ride them. Riding around on wide local trails isn’t particularly technical. I love that the fat bike tires seem able to ride over just about anything. The one thing I do need/want are warmer winter boots for cycling. All the websites that sell them say that they are experiencing a much higher order volume than usual. Hmmm. Notice a trend?

Do you fat bike? Do you have boot recommendations? Send them my way.

Past posts on winter biking:

Fat bikes

Winter riding: Are you ready?

Fat biking: A photo essay

Happy Winter Bike to Work Day!

Riding in the cold and the snow: A how-to, complete with bonus fashion tips!

Fat Biking, Take Two (Or, Sam Learns How to Ride Through Really Deep Slush)

Winter Biking: So Hot Right Now! (Guest Post)

The seasons of cycling

Sam walking her fat snow bike across a skinny bridge. Other cyclists might have ridden it!
advertising · fitness · stereotypes

Girls’ hockey and promoting the sport: Some fun alternatives to USA Hockey

USA Hockey ran the following Twitter campaign to promote girls hockey and there were, as you might expect, some criticism. We shared the controversy here.

I loved some of the alternatives that people shared on Twitter.

Here are my faves:

Skates. Photo by Matthew Fournier, Unsplash.
Fit Feminists Answer · fitness

Christine Asks. The Fit Feminist Team Answers.

I generally know the what and the why of fitness-related things but I often get tangled up in the how. I overthink it or consider too many options or I just can’t figure out how to make all the pieces fit together.

So, I’ve taken to circumventing my brain loops by bringing my questions to the rest of the blogging team here at Fit is a Feminist Issue. I have gotten terrific and helpful answers that are based in how real people, living real lives, make these things work.

After reading everyone’s answers to a recent set of questions, the Team thought that our readers might find them useful, too. So, over the next few months, I’ll be sharing some of my questions and answers here on the blog.

The author, a white woman in her forties, with short light brown hair and wearing cat's-eye glasses looks bemusedly toward the camera.  3 questions marks are shown above her head and there is text that reads 'Christine Asks: Fit Feminists Answer'
When I bought these new reading glasses, I had to make the most of them by goofing around a little.

Here is the first part of a set of questions that I asked back in August. That was a while ago, so members of the team may have some updates for you in the comments. Please feel free to jump into the comments with your answers, too!

Is exercise automatically part of the rhythm of your day or do you have to ‘make time’ for it?

Natalie: Movement is, high intensity is not and if I don’t schedule it, it doesn’t happen.

Sam: I have three spots available for exercise–morning break, lunch, evening–and I usually use one or two of them.

Mina: Working out is almost like eating and sleeping for me now, so it is definitely part of my rhythm. I take one day off a week, but I’ll often “move” that day, if I know I’m going to be encountering a day when I absolutely can’t fit a workout in. 

Cate: A combination of both.  I assume I’m going to work out every day, but I don’t know what that will look like from day to day.   I schedule slots for Alex’ morning virtual superhero workout (830 M, W F and 730 on Tues) into my weekday calendar so no one books colliding meetings; I decide the night before if I am going to do it or not (I usually do).  I fit random other workouts in when I can – a run or yoga between meetings, a long walk before bed.  Covid means that I have to book things like spinning in advance, whereas in the past I did more of “hm, there’s a class at 530, I think I can fit that in today.”

Marjorie: I schedule my lifting days in advance.  And then in the morning, as I’m planning out my day, I decide where in the day I need to fit it in.  If I don’t do this, I will skip my lifting, now that’s it’s less fun and at home.  (Pre-pandemic, the risk was getting overscheduled, so I had to plan in advance or risk having no time to get into the gym.)  I schedule which mornings I will run, too, and that always happens after breakfast.  I take a daily walk, and I have no trouble making this happen almost every day without much planning on my part.  It is what I do before dinner.  

Tracy: It’s part of the rhythm of my day but I make a rough plan the day before of when and what I plan to do the next day.

Nicole: I have scheduled exercise into my days/weeks for many years. Because it has been scheduled as such, it has become part of the rhythm of my day. So a bit of both.

Martha: I believe I was a sloth in a former life. As a result, I have to make time and schedule it otherwise I don’t do it.

What things do you put in place in advance to make sure you can exercise when you want/need to?

Natalie: A clean space, the right clothes (go all day leggings!) and a plan

Sam: I schedule rides and races on Zwift as the fixed points on my schedule and work around those. I lift weights, use resistance bands, or TRX at lunch. Walk Cheddar in the morning. Yoga is always an evening thing.

Mina: Moving my day off, as I mentioned above. I have the luxury of being able to have a say in a lot of what gets scheduled in my day, so I make sure I leave time. But if I get squeezed, then I’ll get up extra early.

Cate:  The most important is making sure the people who manage my calendar don’t book over the class times I might want to do, so I have recurring times in my calendar whether I work out in them or not.

Marjorie: On lifting days when I feel myself dragging, I will put on my lifting clothes far in advance.  I feel silly wearing tights and a sports bra for hours without any purpose, so that makes it far more likely I’ll get it done.

Tracy: For an early morning workout I set my clothes out ahead of time to make the morning easier.

Nicole: I am all about routine. I book classes in advance on the days I usually do certain classes and I mentally book certain days/times that are my usual times for certain things – i.e. Saturday mornings are always Conditioning workout. Sunday mornings are always my long run day.

Martha: I block out the time in my calendar four months in advance.

When do you exercise and why did you pick that time?

Natalie:  The morning before I run out of self discipline.

Sam: It’s the time I have! My workday starts at 8 and I’m often working until 7 or 8. Long days. But I always take lunch and I usually take breaks in the morning and afternoon.

Mina: I’m a bit all over the place, because I have a flexible schedule. I love a workout before breakfast, but I also like sleep, so that’s not always possible. And when I’m signed up for a class (now on Zoom), I worry less about a workout later in the day, because I know the class-ness (and cost)  of the workout will inspire me to attend.

Cate: I am not an early morning person – my ideal time to work out is like 11 am, after I’ve been awake and fed and digested and mobilized for a while and need a little break.  However that rarely works – sometimes I can fit a run in then.  So I compromise with pre-work virtual classes (730 still feels early most days), runs throughout the day if I can fit them in and post-work classes.  I rarely manage to actually work out in the evening if I don’t book something or commit to it with a friend.  

For me food is kind of tricky – I need to have some food in me, but I think I digest slowly, so I can’t eat lunch and go for a run or spinning an hour later.  Similarly if I’m doing a class at night I can’t eat dinner first – I end up feeling nauseated.

Marjorie: (answered in part in Q1 plus the following comment) Cate, I really relate to what you say about timing exercise around food! I have to do it just right to feel good–enough food to give me energy, not too much (or too soon) or it can lead to indigestion. Running requires the most care, so I always do it the same–eat a lower fiber, lower fat breakfast (less fruit, butter, etc, than usual), then wait until my body tells me it’s digested enough that I can safely head out without distress.

Tracy: I like to exercise first thing, at 6 or 7 or 7:30 a.m., the earlier the better. I do that because it gives me a sense of accomplishment before I’ve even had breakfast. And also, with running, I go early in the summer because otherwise it’s too hot. But I can and do exercise at different times of day, like at the end of the work day or at lunch.  The only time I don’t workout is in the evening after dinner, unless a wind-down yoga class.

Nicole: I prefer working out in the morning, or earlier in the day, whenever possible. I find it benefits me for the rest of the day if I exercise in the morning and I like the feeling that it is done for the day. If I can’t for some reason, I will schedule it later in the day, but that is a back-up. One exception to this is a long walk at the end of the day. It’s “easy” and therefore welcome at the end of the day.

Martha: I prefer the mornings. If I have it in first thing, it gets done.

#deanslife · covid19 · habits · health · nature · season transitions · self care

It’s just another pandemic Monday!

For some reason, Mondays are harder in pandemic times. I usually like Mondays. I’ve always liked the ‘back to the office’ energy, getting down to making lists and schedules for the week ahead, ‘how was your weekend? convos with colleagues, a bike ride the office, and lots and lots of coffee. These days there isn’t much of that. Instead, I look at my calendar, think ‘wow, we’re still doing this’ and start my first videoconference at 8 am.

My last public speaking event was March 5, 228 days ago. March 10 my calendar just says, ominously, “cancel all flights and hotels.” My first COVID-19 contingency planning meeting/conference call was March 13, 220 days ago.

Ever since I’ve been here in Guelph, working from home. This is a helpful reminder of the real date.

In July I wrote, “There are no boundaries any more. Life is one big blur of working at home, exercising at home, and relaxing at home. I occasionally look at my shoe collection in puzzlement. Will I ever wear real shoes again? I still have underwire bras hanging off a doorknob, neglected, and I’m wondering why I ever thought they were a good idea. These days only my comfiest of sports bras are in regular rotation.”

In light of the No Boundaries and the Great Big Blur, I’ve been thinking about restructuring my work week a little. Lots of things are busy during the weekend, out in the world, and I’m often working on the weekend. I’m wondering about taking some weekday time to ride trails, take Cheddar for hikes, and appreciate the outdoors. That’s the weekday/weekend trade but there’s also the daytime/nighttime swap. Yes, lots of work hours are fixed but if I am working into the evenings anyway, why can’t I squeeze some outside time in the sun into my day?

It’s hard to start work when it’s dark and finish after it’s dark again. Why not get out for a ride or a walk in the middle of the day?

Are you still working from home? How are you coping? 220 or so days in, are you making any changes to your schedule?

#deanslife · cycling · family · fitness · October · Zwift

A weekend in three rides with a backyard disco in the middle

I’ve been working hard on the weekend lately. There’s just too much going on. I’m dean. I’m teaching a grad seminar. There’s the usual house stuff. I’ve got three kids who are in their 20s and visiting them these days requires some ingenuity and coordination, thanks to the pandemic.

This weekend was no exception really except for some scheduled bike rides. I’m glad I got to ride and I got to see my adult kids. I did a bunch of work but it also felt like a weekend, if you know what I mean.

Friday is the TFC’s, my Zwift bike club, namesake ride, The Friday Crit. This week’s route was RGV in France. I like the route, all beautiful scenery and rolling hills. Except at the start I got a flat in my real world bike on the trainer! I stopped. Sarah put more air in the tire and I worked hard to catch my teammate Keith who’d been riding slowly and waiting up. He’s in the blue cap below. I’m in the pink. Speaking of colours, that’s a lot of red in the screen capture below! That’s time in my highest effort zone. I ended up finishing, with Keith, and some others, somewhere in the middle of the pack. I was proud of catching up to Keith and the others and proud that in the end I took the women’s sprint jersey.

Total distance: 4 km warm up + 25 km race (45 minutes)

Saturday Sarah and I rode for pleasure, not speed, on our gravel bikes, in the outside world, on another section of the Guelph to Goderich rail trail. We started in Monkton, Ontario and covered about 16 km of the trail. At our meandering pace that took about an hour, including stops to pick apples and take photos! Some sections were wide open in farm fields, while other bits had lots of beautiful trees with gorgeous fall colours. If you’re in southwestern Ontario, I strongly recommend this trail. Even on a Saturday it was pretty quiet. The gravel is well packed and it’s easy riding.

Total distance: 16 km, about one hour

Sunday saw me back on Zwift for my club’s Sunday social ride, 6 laps around the volcano circuit in Watopia. We have a group leader with a yellow beacon who keeps the set pace of about 2 watts per kilo. This week we were so well disciplined at keeping the pace that the leader didn’t have to turn on the fence. We had lots of new riders along and team regulars kept up answering questions in the chat. We chose to race the last lap and after staying a steady pace until then it was fun to let go and go fast for the final 4 km. Whee! A fun thing for me was getting some PRs on the route and getting faster pretty much every lap, especially the last one.

Total distance: 30 km, about 50 minutes

Thanks to my friend Rob who let us use his backyard and propane heater for visiting with the London kids. My daughter Mallory is just back from a 3 day solo hiking and camping trip. She’s promised to blog about it!

Rob’s backyard also had a disco light which we all enjoyed as the patterns flickered on the trees!

Disco lights!
beauty

Oh, hockey. Why are you so bad at this?

As someone asked on Twitter, “Is this really the best that you can do to try to make the sport attractive to girls?”

Image description: A young white girl with blonde hair wearing a bright pink hockey jersey is apply pink lip gloss.
Look good. Feel good. Play good.
#GirlsHockey

Some responses:

Others said:

There’s so much to celebrate for girls and women’s hockey. This doesn’t help.

Wowwwwww. How about a pic of her playing hockey? Way to continue to push a stigma around appearances.

Are you suuuuuuure that’s the way you want to grow the game?

What do you think?

cycling · fitness

Indoor cycling: lower-tech options?

Last week I wrote about my fall fitness plans. An important part of those plans is continuing to cycle outside into the fall and early winter. However, I’m not as intrepid a cold-weather or night-rider as I used to be. So that means planning for indoor cycling as well (also on my fall plan).

Sam is happily Zwifting, and she writes about her adventures in all sorts of rides and workouts here and here and here, to name a few. Cate has been doing outdoor spin classes and will be continuing virtually with her new spin bike (I forget the details, but we will be hearing about her plans as they unfold).

As for me, I’m a late or non-adopter of high-tech tech when it comes to cycling. Not for any ideological reasons; rather, they’re inertia-based. So, what I have are the following:

  • road bike with variety of wheels, including my trainer wheel
  • Cycle Ops fluid trainer
  • ratty old beach towel that my dad used when he washed his car (to put on floor underneath bike)
  • old German and French language textbooks (they’re the perfect size) to put underneath my front wheel, as I prefer a slight up-angle for indoor cycling
  • music playlists, in dire need of updating

Here’s the issue: I’ve had all this gear (such as it is) for a long time. But, I’ve done very little trainer riding the past few winters. I’d like to change that pattern this year. Why? I miss both the feeling of being better cycling and overall physical shape and the process of doing what one does to be in better cycling and overall physical shape. Yes, I want both process and product!

In service of shaking things up and looking for attractions to get me on the trainer at home, I’ve turned to Zoom class shopping. There are loads of Zoom spin classes out there. Here’s the thing: I don’t like standard spin classes. Yes, I know– they are a thing in itself. They are NOT traditional cycling training workouts, but another thing altogether. I could just give myself over to them, but… no. I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work for me.

This is why Zwift cycling is so cool– it’s cycling, in all its forms. They even have pre- and post-natal cycling workouts (we know this courtesy of Sam). Zwift doubtless has exactly what I’m looking for.

But I’m not giving up my old-school setup. Not yet. When things look their darkest, there’s always YouTube to turn to. And in this case, it doesn’t disappoint.

There are Garmin workouts of many types and durations, and I like the variety of locations. I can cycle in the Italian countryside or along the California coast, for instance. That’s nice.

But there’s something about being connected with other people in real-time that helps with motivation and also fun during a trainer session. Youtube doesn’t give me that.

I’m thinking about trying to organize some of my own Zoom trainer sessions with friends. It’s not clear how well this will work, with schedules and time preferences, etc. But we’ll see how it goes.

Readers who do indoor cycling: what are your plans for fall and winter? Are you a Zwift or Peloton person? Do you rock it old school on a mag indoor bike trainer and iPod? Do you eschew the trainer altogether and ride outside no matter what? Do you like spin classes? I’d love to hear your suggestions and ideas as I move indoors more.