One of my not-so-secret not-so-guilty pleasures is a daily and weekly rollicking through various advice columns, including Alison Green’s excellent Ask a Manager, the venerable Carolyn Hax, and the gang at Slate including Dear Prudence. At their best, advice columnists are in a free-flowing dialogue with people about their worldview for living (or working) at your best. At their worst, they are ridiculous exercises in “that cannot POSSIBLY be true” (and sometimes they are not). There something about the optimism of people asking a stranger for how to make their lives better — and the willingness of the stranger to step in — that I am compelled by. So I’m introducing Ask Fieldpoppy, where my blog persona will give advice about any fitness or health or existential question. (And welcome to any newbies reading us for the first time!)
It’s effing dark out. And cold. And the wind blew my dog away so I can’t even walk her. I just want to lie on the couch with a book and netflix. How do I get motivated to move my body?
–– Does drinking tea count as exercise?
Dear Tea Drinker,
Make a blankie fort and curl up in it until your body tells you it’s time to come out. You’ll be ready when you’re ready to move, and sleep and rest are part of balanced fitness. Enjoy.
I’m in the middle of menopause and all sorts of nonsense is happening in my body. I can’t seem to do pushups anymore without hurting my shoulder, this skin thing I’ve had forever is in a major flare and I can’t comfortably ride my bike, and my back is weird. My clothes don’t fit anymore and I have insomnia. I keep comparing my fitness to myself from 10 years ago and then I get even more paralysed. How do I cope with knowing I’ll never do the things I used to do again?
— Do hot flashes count as active calories?
Dear Hot Flashes,
Try to believe that you are the wonderful you in the body you have today — be kind to yourself, and be honest about where you are. If you can bend, do some bending. If you can walk comfortably, walk. If you can stretch, stretch. See a body worker if that’s a thing you do — chiro, osteo, physio, accupuncture, whatever is your jam — to make sure your body is as injury free as you can be, and then make friends with the body you have. Your body is keeping you connected to the world in a bonkers time in history, at a hugely transitional time in your own physical life. Thank it and celebrate it. And know you’re not alone.
How do I get a body like Jennifer Lopez? What tips do you have?
— She is so lit
Be Jennifer Lopez.
How do I become a morning fitness person like you?
–– Always hitting snooze
Set an alarm. Complain about it. Set your coffee up the night before. Complain about it. Set three alarms. Complain about it. But just get up. Or don’t. You do you.
What are the best exercises to get in shape?
— Want the best Return on Investment for my precious time
All of them, in random order, while dancing, as long as nothing hurts in a bad way. Just find something you like and move your body. And enjoy it!
Yoga is stupid and boring. And hard. And I hate people telling me how to breathe. Why do people keep telling me it would be good for me? And why do people waste their time doing it?
— I’m not a cat, dog or cow
I free you of any obligation to do yoga, ever. But I don’t free you of the obligation not to judge other people.
I was at the gym the other day and I noticed a woman doing back squats. I went over to spot her and to give her some tips and she told me to go away. She was kind of a bitch, frankly. What’s wrong with her?
–– I just wanted her to smile
Dear Just Wanted,
Dude. Duuuuuude. This woman is not at the gym to be: your fantasy hotness object; attractive or appealing to you or anyone else; patronized by dudes; your improvement project; a place for you to show off your manly knowledge. She IS there to do her own thing, by herself, for her own reasons.
Listen carefully: if someone wants you to give them advice, they will ask. (See: Dear Fieldpoppy). Until then, keep doing your own thing and I won’t come over and tell you to do some yoga.
I go to the gym 8 days a week and there’s this girl I know is into me but she’s playing hard to get. I’ve tried getting on the treadmill right beside her, giving her advice on using the weights, and even taking the equipment I know she likes so she’ll have to talk to me. But it’s not working. Got any tips?
— Changed my schedule to match hers
Now you’re just trying to piss me off.
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who lives and devours advice columns in Toronto. If you have a question you’d like them to answer, post it in the comments.