If you’re a regular WordPress user you know that finding out which posts are the most liked is trickier. I recently switched our main page to display top posts as most liked, rather than most read. That gives you the top 10 most liked posts of all time. Interestingly, there’s no overlap between most liked and most read.
Finding that out past the top 10 or on a monthly basis is trickier. Adding the widget requires upgrading (again!) on WordPress and while we’ve upgraded once or twice, that additional leap seems too much for now.
But here, for the curious, are our most liked posts of all time.
If I fall behind on a program I am doing – exercise or otherwise – I have a bad habit of trying to ‘catch up.’
This either leads to me trying to jam multiple sessions into one day, or to me avoiding the activity entirely because there is too much to do to rejoin the group (even if it is a self-paced program.)
Lately, though, I have realized that I don’t always *have* to catch up and neither do you!
Sure, some graduated programs require us to do every step, but most of the time we can just jump right into the plan for a given day. We might be a little in over our heads for the first bit, but we’ll adjust.
(And, of course, if you feel stressed about jumping in, you can always skim the missing material without doing it all.)
And if we DO need to do every step in order for the program to make sense?
Then we harness our word power again.
If saying that we are trying to catch up gives us that stressed feeling of being ‘behind’ perhaps we can call it restarting or recalibrating.
For me, both of those words have a sense of bringing experience and new information to our plans. That experience/information can help us to proceed in a way that better serves us.
And they let us pick up where we left off without the feeling that we should be at another point in the process.
So, if you haven’t been able to follow the program that you set for yourself, don’t feel that you need to catch up.
Instead, you can choose to jump forward or recalibrate.
The key is that you keep going in a way that feels freeing.
Please don’t let what you haven’t done drag you down and keep you from continuing.
Here’s your gold star for today’s plans for jumping, recalibration or for staying the course.
A few months ago, I wrote a post called “what’s your drishti?“, using the yoga concept of focusing on one point while in a balancing posture as a way of grounding ourselves in a time of chaos. Since then, I’ve also been kind of quietly obsessed with a particular asana: bakasana, also known as “crow.”
This is bakasana, beautifully held, on Day 18 of Yoga with Adriene’s 30 day “Breath” series.
She makes it look so effortless.
But for a lot of people, crow is one of “those poses” that can generate a lot of internal self-talk of the “why can’t I do this thing that everyone else can do, what is wrong with me” variety. Where we lose track of the fact that all bodies are different, and that is a good thing.
After we did crow in the Breath series this week, someone posted about in our “221 workouts in 2021” group how crow “had seemed so absurdly hard (and honestly a bit scary to me) that I would resent when it was a part of beginner or “all levels” yoga classes.“
I was the same, for literally decades. I’ve been doing yoga since about 1995, in many different modalities. Some years, I practice intermittently, some years, every day, but it’s been a pretty steady part of my life. And for 24 years, every time we got to the crow part of a class, I’d just do some squatting and hop a bit, fruitlessly, on my arms. I thought it was one of those things I “couldn’t do” — and I had a fair bit of negative self regard about that.
But up until about three years ago, I’d thought the same thing about handstand — that it was one of those things that Younger People or More Athletic People or Prettier People (WTF? I KNOW!) did. But there was a moment in a class where the teacher encouraged us to play, and I swallowed my considerable fear and kicked upside down against a wall. And, voila.
Remembering that, I started working harder to really focus on what was actually needed for crow. It became a lockdown project for me, with my mat always unfurled in my living room. I started working on malasana (low squat), doing a lot of springy hand balances. Kept actually trying, feeling my way through the posture, rather than sort of trying to hop onto my elbows and failing. I came at it from the yoga perspective, and in my virtual superhero workouts as a natural companion to a million pushups and pike pushups and handstand pushups. And then suddenly, sometime in the middle of 2020, for a moment or two, I was up and holding, wobble but strong.
I was hooked. I was defying gravity, and I felt stronger than I ever had. At first it was still super sketchy and unpredictable. I set the timer on my camera and took a photo for a yoga teacher friend, and she gave me excellent advice: look ahead, not down, and pull your core up toward the ceiling, almost like an upside down hollow hold.
I’ve set myself a little challenge of doing crow at least once a day during January. Two weeks ago, in a live streamed class with one of my favourite teachers, I successfully held bakasana, transitioned into a headstand, held that and then back to bakasana.
I felt like I’d lifted a car off a baby.
I didn’t know I had that in me.
Now that I’ve found my centre of balance, it’s a really powerful pose for me. Some of it is obvious — look what I didn’t know I could do! (Much like my revelation when I made my mother’s tourtière recipe for the first time this Christmas that I know how to make good pie crust).
But it’s not just about untapped strength. Bakasana — like every yoga pose — is different every time. I have to pause and take a deep breath before I start, because it’s beginner’s mind every time, requires deep attention and presence. I still don’t “know” any time I’m on the mat if I’ll be able to achieve it — it’s a very “this moment is only this moment” practice. Which is humbling, in a good way. It distills me to be really clear about intention.
Being able to do bakasana now doesn’t mean I’ve hit “a new level” in yoga — it means that sometimes, now, I can do bakasana. It makes me more aware of the “simpler” practices that I still struggle with, like feeling suffocated in “easy” twists. It puts me deep in the space of “what am I doing, right here, right now? What am I capable of? And what do I need to listen to?
And that, as they say, is the lesson that I want to take off the mat.
If you want to play with bakasana, Alida in our 221 workout group found this terrific video, showing progressions and how you can use the wall for support.
But bakasana is also a metaphor for those things that remind us that we can do more than we thought. And that things that seemed far away can be nearer than they looked.
What’s your version of bakasana, right now? What new things are you working on? How is that going for you?
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who is really trying to figure out how to breathe deeply and twist at the same time.
“Man, I’m just tired and bored with myself Hey there, baby, I could use just a little help.”
“Dancing in the Dark,” Bruce Springsteen
After months of being house-bound due to the COVID19 pandemic, folks may be searching for new ways to break up the monotony of their indoor exercise routines. Dark dancing has been there all along, just waiting to be discovered.
Chorophobia is the fear of dancing, which stems from feeling judged as other watch us move our bodies, and it is apparently more common than people think. In the video documentary, Fear of Dancing (2020), director Michael Allcock talks about how chorophobia is something we grow into as we get older.
The documentary features a Toronto-based group whose members “meet once a week to dance together in a darkly lit room.” During the pandemic, some of these dark dancers moved from in-person twilit sessions to dancing together in the dark…in their own homes.
On Monday nights, the Dark Dancing TO DJ sends a Zoom meeting or a Youtube stream link to the group. Requests may be taken in advance; a playlist is made. Then everybody logs on around the same time and just dances to the curated music–together yet apart–for a little over an hour.
I’ve been twice now. One week they used Zoom, and I turned on my camera but draped fabric over the camera for privacy. The next week, with the Youtube stream, there was no “room” to log into. Both times I did turn dance in the mostly dark…for authenticity.
For exercise, I find it fun. I can’t fail to score points like I do with Just Dance, and I won’t forget the choreography like I do in a live or recorded dance class. I get to wear comfortable clothes and have the whole floor to myself (except maybe other than my cat, Theo). And I hear music that I would never find on my own.
Both me and another dark dancer agreed that we prefer dark dancing in Zoom to the Youtube stream. You can’t see anyone either way, but there’s something about being with other people dark dancing, even if it’s only in a virtual room.
In addition to Dark Dancing TO, there are other social media groups and streaming sites that provide music and live DJs from around the world for listening and dancing. If you have chorophobia, or are just looking something different, this may be it!
I don’t know about you but I love the hopeful and promising word “yet.”
There is so much possibility packed into that single word. Something hasn’t happened “yet” but with the right tools/skills/information/time frame it could still happen.
Think about the difference between these two statements.
I don’t exercise regularly.
2. I don’t exercise regularly yet.
To me, the first one feels like something being shut down. It’s final and complete.
That second one though? Well, ANYTHING could happen with that one.
The word ‘yet’ is one of my favourite ways to counter discouragement.
It’s not that I am never going to be able to do the thing I am trying to do, I just haven’t found the right method…yet. I can still make changes and adjustments, I can figure out what I need or where to get further support.
Yes, I know this is a very small detail overall but, words have power and we might as well have that power working for us instead of against us. That little word might be the difference between feeling defeated and giving our plans another try.
So, Team, how might you use the word ‘yet’?
How can ‘yet’ keep a door open for you?
Is there something that you haven’t done ‘yet’ that might still be possible with the right support?
CONTENT WARNING: this post is about critiques of the reality show “The Biggest Loser”, thanks to the podcast Maintenance Phase, a fat-positive and evidence-based show debunking junk science and myths about health and wellness fads. Their critiques include information about weight loss, extreme exercise, extreme eating restriction, eating disorders, body dysmorphia and mental health that may trigger or traumatize some people. For those who want to read this post, it is in service of reminding us that fat phobia and all its harmful sequelae are still out there, but so are we. Maybe 2021 will be the year to go full-force against such toxic media. Hence the hope.
Now to the post.
One of the horrors of 2020 that you may have missed (which is kind of a blessing) was the reboot of the horror reality show, The Biggest Loser (henceforth called TBL). For those of us who prudently turned away from this abomination, there are articles to provide background and critique of the show.
However, if you don’t have the time or interest to wade through all that, podcasters Michael Hobbes and Aubrey Gordon of Maintenance Phase offer up five things wrong with TBL. Of course there are one million and five things wrong with the show, but: their incisive and humorous analysis gives me hope that more people will turn their backs on TBL and on the social evils that support it.
Here’s their first one: TBL is wildly unrealistic. How so? Here are some reasons Mike and Audrey shared:
the kinds of participants chosen for the show were fat people with emotional eating issues, who don’t exercise, and are extremely unhappy with their weight. But, fat people are like all people– some are happier, some less happy; some exercise more, some less; some are happy with their bodies, some less so. Like all the people.
2. The purported method of weight loss: go live in a big ranch house with strangers for months on end, and don’t do anything else. They point out that this method is not found in the medical literature. Good to know.
3. According to the show, the contestants lose an average of 16 pounds/7.25kg in the first week. This rate of supposed weight loss is also not documented in medical studies. Furthermore, Mike and Aubrey tell us that the “first week” is really more like 2–3 weeks, according the contestants. Even so, this is still an unhealthy and unrealistic body change for anyone.
Here’s reason number two: it’s fake and unethical. (that seems like two reasons, but I’m considering it a two-for-one reason).
Also, the show features super-processed foods in product placements; TBL has more product placements than any other TV show (533 in 2011).
Reason number three: it’s abusive (and horrible). The contestants are deliberatively portrayed in the most unfavorable way in before pictures, and dolled up to the max in the after pictures. That’s to be expected. But, some contestants have been damned and judged in both their before- and after-weights, some of which are dangerously low according the standard medical science. Further, contestants have reported being encouraged to smoke (to reduce appetite), or pressured to exercise while injured or ill. In the new “wellness” season of TBL, a woman injured her knee doing box jumps, and then is shown using a rowing machine with an ice pack on her knee. No. Just no.
Reason number four: the contestants gain all of the weight back, and suffer permanent harm to their resting metabolic rate. There was a study published here, which you can read about in Scientific American here. Or in the New York Times here. The upshot is that after drastic weight loss, contestants gained a lot of weight back and had a much reduced resting metabolic rate, which the researchers attribute to the drastic weight loss. And this harm isn’t reversible according to our current scientific knowledge.
Last reason, number five: TBL is toxic for everyone of all weights and sizes, blasting false and harmful and distorted messaging telling us: a) what sorts of bodies are the preferred ones; b) that we– the public– can get ourselves one of these preferred bodies; and c) how we can get ourselves one of those preferred bodies. It’s a load of lying lies from a pack of lying liars.
Two other things are worth noting here. First, TBL doesn’t focus on any nutritional information, or talk about cooking, or how to enjoy a greater variety of say, plant-based foods. Oh, no. In fact, the show spends most of its time pushing the contestants to do punishing and painful physical activities, and yelling at them when they are (rightly) tired or or not up to doing them.
For me (and I think for us at Fit is a Feminist Issue), this is (one of) the worst things about TBL: it depicts exercise as a punishment for being fat. And exercise is wholly constituted of activities like box jumps, running on a treadmill, or using a rowing machine indoors. Okay, those things are fine, but what about:
throwing a damn frisbee around with the dog?
Mike and Aubrey make the point that there’s a whole world of fun physical activity, and TBL loser ignores it. Instead, it recreates “the fat kid’s experience of PE”. Great.
Now that I’ve put you all through the wringer of these five reasons why TBL is awful, what’s the positive takeaway?
I do have one. Here it is. The show debuted in fall 2004. It lasted until 2016. In 2020, they tried to resuscitate it and recast it as a wellness show. But it didn’t work– everyone from fitness experts to health columnists to reality show bloggers hated it. We now see it for what it is– a horrible example of our legacy of fat phobia and body insecurity. And those social maladies are not over.
But: no one is talking about how they’re hoping or even considering that TBL is coming back for another season. It’s 2021 y’all. We got no time for that crap.
If meditation is your goal, perhaps choosing a new space, a fuzzier blanket, or a different guided meditation* might increase the fun factor.
Obviously, the choice is yours and it all depends on what *you* enjoy in a workout. The key here is that by adding your own kind of fun, you will look forward to your workout.
You don’t have to make fun your goal every day (although it’s not a bad idea!) but if you make sure to sprinkle fun into your workouts whenever you need it, it will make it easier to keep exercise in your schedule.
Here are your gold star(s) for your efforts. (I picked a fun drawing of mine to go along with today’s theme. )
* If you really want to mix things up, go to YouTube and search ‘cursing meditation.’ Those meditations aren’t for those who object to strong language but if you are ok with it, you’ll probably enjoy the (surprisingly useful) irreverence.
I thought I was drinking plenty of water but it turns out that I most definitely was not.
On a day-to-day basis, I mostly drink water and tea with the occasional glass of juice for variety’s sake.
And I really thought I was having the recommended 8 glasses a day…until I actually thought it through.
If I have a glass of water with each meal and then one or two at other times during the day, I was getting a maximum of 5 glasses a day.
And yes, I know that the 8 glasses is a fairly arbitrary recommendation and I didn’t fall for the idea that ‘By the time you feel thirsty, you are already terribly dehydrated!’ that some ‘experts’ were touting a few years back. If that was the way the human body worked, we would never have survived this long.
But, still, I know that 8 glasses is a good guideline.
And I know that drinking more water can be beneficial for people who are monitoring their blood pressure.
And I just had this sense that the way I felt in the morning had something to do with not getting enough fluid overall.
And I know that my ADHD brain might mislead me about how much water I drink and when I drink it.
So, I decided to do an experiment.*
I know that part of my issue with remembering to drink more water is that I have to interrupt whatever I am doing in order to refill my glass or water bottle. Any interruption in my work day has the potential to lead me down a rabbit hole of other tasks so I try to avoid extra stops in my work flow. (Hyperfocus plays a role here, too, but it is mostly a conscious decision not to avoid possible distractions.)
So, I decided to buy a large water bottle that I could fill up in the morning and then sip all day until it was gone. By getting a large bottle, I would avoid having to stop what I was doing in order to get more water and I wouldn’t have to track how many times I had refilled my glass/bottle.
I thought about buying one of those bottles with the time recommendations down the side but I couldn’t get one locally and I wondered if the time markings would get on my nerves. After all, it doesn’t matter if I drink a specific amount by 11am and I know myself well enough know that I might resist drinking it all, just because I don’t like being bossed around, especially by inanimate objects.
As you can see, the bottle ended up buying is enormous.
It’s 2.2 litres and I cannot sip from it, I have to swig which lends a fun pirate-y feeling throughout my day, me mateys.
As I write this, I am on Day 10 of my experiment and I will definitely be continuing.
Since increasing my water consumption, I have a greater feeling of well-being overall.
I feel better when I wake up, less groggy, and my movements are easier. (I feel more fluid! Ha!)
I’m drinking fewer cups of caffeinated tea and some days I haven’t had any caffeine at all.
I haven’t been having as many snacks. I still snack when I’m hungry obviously** but I think I have reduced my number of ‘unconscious boredom’ snacks.
Of course, I’m sure some of this is psychosomatic but, truthfully, I don’t care. This experiment has been all upsides so far.
At this point, I know there’s big question in your mind and it goes something like this:
“That’s all good, Christine, but do you have to spend half your day going to the bathroom now?”
Nope. Pretty much the same as before.
(Which kind of makes me think that I really needed this additional water.)
So, I’ll be sailing on with this experiment for the foreseeable future.
Yo-ho-ho-ho and a (giant) bottle of water!
*I am VERY excited about my ability to do these kinds of experiments in the last few months. It’s all due to the mental space my increased ADHD meds are giving me. More on that in another post!
**I am strongly pro-snack. I cannot be swayed on this point.
It’s grey out there and dark and that’s the kind of winter weather I really don’t like. Give me cold and snow and sunshine any day. But I’m not feeling so blue about Blue Monday this year. Partly I suppose it’s the blurring of time thing. Also, frankly, November always feeling worse than January to me.
I’m also feeling just a little bit hopeful. I’m hoping that this is the worst of the pandemic and that by summer we’ll be able to do things outdoors together again. I’m hopeful that sometime in the fall we’ll be vaccinated and back at work and maybe soon after that in concert and theatre venues.
“And despite how ugly they are, Crocs serve a vital purpose during these times: they’re perfect for the outdoors. They’re waterproof and easy to clean. They float. They’re cushy and bright. During quarantine I’ve slipped on my Crocs to build a chicken coop and togo on family walks. I’ve worn them while picking up dog poop in the yard and while washing the cars. I’ve even worn them to get groceries and to the hardware store. Nothing matters anymore.”
I got mine so that I’d stop borrowing Crocs of other people when we went to the farm on the weekend. Perfect for the dash to the hot tub.
Mine are even lined with fleece. They’re polar Crocs for winter wear!
Although I love leopard print, I won’t-except in jest–attempt to match my Crocs with my outfit. That’s my polar fleece suit jacket which looks like an actual suit jacket on Zoom but is really all warm and soft and stretchy in real life.
And I definitely won’t wear the Crocs and the jacket and this mask!