boats · holiday fitness · holidays

Summer camp for grown ups?

Summer camp for adults where we stay in our cabins and read all day and then in the evenings we sit around the fire and talk about our books and eat smores.

Yes!

But then I realized that my ideal summer camp for adults would also have long bike rides, swimming, and yoga. Maybe some canoes and kayaks on the dock for playing in the lake.

Since this is my ideal summer camp there aren’t a lot of hikes. I can’t walk very far with my knees that need replacing.

There’s also a hot tub at this camp.

Sarah chimes in that we need a hammock for reading and naps.

Hammock hanging at our campsite

And a BBQ.

Lots of non alcoholic beverages and amazing vegan and vegetarian food.

But definitely yes to fires, talk about books, and smores.

Marshmallows roasting over the fire

What goes on at your favourite summer camp?

fitness

Top Ten Posts of March 2022

Lions

1. Catherine has style secrets for women over 50.

2. Cate has thoughts about menstruation in her 50s. Her post about it almost always makes the top 10 list. This month it’s the second most read post.

3. Marjorie’s guest post on keeping fit while healing from hysterectomy was our third most read post.

4. Do Venus and Serena Williams compete against the men? Yes they do! says Catherine.

5. Sam wonders why so many of us want to be able to do pull ups.

6. Obese is a bad word, writes Catherine, and it’s got to go.

7. 11 years ago Sam started spring riding and it didn’t go as planned

8. Christine is not a fan of crushing her workouts.

9. Things thin people might not think about, by Sam

10. Diane writes about Lia Thomas and trans athletes

Lamb
fitness · habits · sleep

Aiming for better mornings

You don’t need to be on a self improvement quest. Neither do I. Sometimes the way we do things isn’t the best, but it works, it’s our way and that’s good enough. Not everything in our lives has to be perfect.

All that said, I’m aiming for better mornings as we emerge into warmer, brighter spring weather.

No more hitting the snooze button a half dozen times. I’ve struggled with the snooze button before. No more doom scrolling before the day even begins. Wordle, yes. But Twitter can wait until after coffee.

Morning hours are precious. They’re my best hours of the day.

I’d like to have spring and summer morning time for early writing and riding. Maybe even morning yoga.

Wish me luck!

An oppossum in bed says “me in my silly little need avoiding my silly little tasks.”

How about you? Do you have a time of day that needs a spring tune up?

Guest Post · strength training

Lifting weights for strength (cw: brief discussion of weight, guest post)

Last week the Fit is a Feminist Issue Facebook page posted this article from Today.com: Strength Training 101: Is it better to lift heavier weights or do more reps?, written by a personal trainer and weight-loss coach, suggesting there are ways to get “sleek and toned” muscles and ways to “bulk up”. (Sam’s Note to Self: When postings for discussion, make that clear!) Almost immediately, Jennifer F. responded with “Wow, was that written in the 90s? There are a couple of valid points in there, but I thought all that was debunked years ago?” then linked to an article from Stumptuous.com: Lies in the gym.

Thanks Jennifer, you saved me a few steps! I was about to hunt down a debunking article myself.

The author does not lift weights heavier than 7 pounds to avoid bulking up her shoulders, back and chest. Now I’m all for lifting appropriately and I’ll never say 7 pounds isn’t enough if that’s what your body allows but avoiding more than that to prevent bulky muscles seems like a strange limitation to put on one’s self. Most of the coaches I have spoken to over the years have laughed at the idea of women accidentally becoming bulky from weightlifting, because that has just never happened. The women I know who have competed in body building competitions have worked extremely hard, strictly monitored food intake in the days leading up to competition and have looked amazingly muscular, but not what I’d call “bulky”.

COVID closed down the gym for a while and I’m still trying to get my groove back, but at the height of my sportzing career, I was lifting 5 days a week, and was going for strength. My bench press was 160lbs shortly before we went into lock down and my partial deadlifts were 275lb. My traps were well defined, and still mostly are, as were my biceps and triceps. No matter how much I lifted though, I couldn’t get really big muscles.

I have been lifting weights for 10+ years now. I’m strong enough to open my own jars, help my husband lift heavy appliances off the back of the truck, and I broke up a significant share of concrete after tearing down my barn, using only a sledgehammer and my own power. I lift heavy bee boxes because my husband made it clear he had no intention of becoming a beekeeper, and if I was going to become one, I needed to figure it out.

I have put on weight over the last few years, surprisingly not during lockdown, but from so much work travel in the few years before that. You can’t eat in restaurants every night with at least one glass of wine or beer at dinner, without adding to the waistline, and it’s been hard to remove it. That is my “bulk” and it seems to be very attached to me. I call that my protective cover, but under all that, my muscles are solid and capable and I’ll lift as heavy as I can for as long as I can.

Sandi in a T-Shirt and sweatpants, swinging a 10lb hammer over a large piece of concrete foundation.
fitness · rest · self care

Go Team! March 29: Rest a little whenever you can.

How much rest have you added to your days lately?

Yeah, I know, you have all kinds of stuff that you want to get done.

And I know you are busy and that you are under a lot of pressure.

Maybe you feel like you can’t catch your breath.

I know that *I* have been dealing with a lot of these kinds of feelings in the past few weeks.

No doubt, at this point in history, it is a combination of run-of-the-mill busy feelings and the stress and strangeness of the so-called ‘return to normal’ when things are definitely not normal at all.

We’re all trying to manage a lot of different tasks, a lot of different stresses, and a bunch of competing priorities. Some of that pressure comes from the social soup in which we live, some of it comes from other people, and some of it comes from internal pressure, thinking habits we picked up without even realizing it.

The combination of all of that can leave us scrambling from one task to another, trying to cram everything in, with a plan to rest when we’re done all of the tasks on our lists.

That is not a wise plan.

One problem with it is the fact our to-do lists are pretty much self-replicating. We can’t count on reaching a clear end point when the ‘right’ rest time will be obvious.

Another problem with that approach?

It leaves us feeling like we have to totally wring ourselves out before we rest.

So, I vote no on the whole ‘rest later’ thing.

Instead, I invite you to consider sprinkling rest in whenever you can.

And while we might feel that long rests are ideal, even short ones can be helpful and restorative.

Short rests that you can enjoy are much better than long ones you can never get around to taking.

Try to plan some rest time long before you are starting to feel fatigued. (It can actually be harder to rest once you are already worn down because the energy cost of switching from the task of working to the task of resting can feel like too much work.) It you have decided on rest time in advance it will be a lot easier to actually take it.

And, if you find yourself at a natural pause in your tasks, choose not to scramble to the next one. Instead, extend that pause for a few minutes.

I realize that there are lots of life situations where rest isn’t easy to come by, when things are incredibly hectic, when you are under a lot of pressure, when your time isn’t your own. I still hope that you can take advantage of any opportunity for rest that arises or that you can create – even if it is spending an extra minute in the car, in the shower, or standing still and breathing slowly while the kettle boils.

You deserve to feel good.

You deserve to have ease.

You deserve to rest.

And your breaks don’t depend on proving how hard you worked beforehand.

Here’s a gold star for your efforts to include more rest in your day: ⭐️

Go Team! Get some rest!

And here’s a purple starfish to inspire you to, as my Dad says, “Hove off like a tourist.”

A purple starfish and a few shellfish on rocks in a touch tank
Okay, so this starfish isn’t gold but it is illustrating my point nicely. Find your own (possibly metaphorical) rock and sprawl out for a rest, mentally and/or physically, whenever you need it…maybe even before. Image description: a light purple starfish is resting on a rock in an aquatic touch tank. Ceiling lights are reflected right above the starfish on the surface of the water and there are more rocks and some shellfish in the tank.

Speaking of being a tourist, I took the photo above in the Interpretation Centre at Terra Nova National Park a few years back.

PS – No matter what you do about your rest situation, please don’t be hard on yourself for how challenging it is to fit rest into your day. Just do what you can and be kind to yourself about it, pretty please. 💚

competition · fitness · racing · Zwift

When is a race not a race? When it’s a ride. But don’t worry Zwift has lots of room for non racing, competitive impulses…

I’m riding the Tour of Watopia right now–having finished the Tour de Zwift last month, and in each event–in the chat waiting for the event to start, along with all of the cheers from various locations around the world–someone inevitably asks, “Is this a race?”

Answers appear fast and furious in the chat. On the one hand, it’s a tour, not a race. On the other hand, many people like to treat it as a race and think of themselves as racing. But thinking of yourself as racing doesn’t make an event a race and inevitably there’s conflict between those on the official line–it’s a tour, not a race–and those who like to treat the tours as races.

Some people think that any time there are two or more people riding bikes, it can be treated like a race. Now that’s obviously false because group rides are definitely not races. It’s rude to treat a co-operative group ride like a race. That’s bad form both in the real world and in Zwift. Group rides are not races. In Zwift, there are ride leads, with a yellow beacon, who ride at the front, and sweeps, with a red beacon, who ride at the back. In the real world, it’s also dangerous to treat a ride like a race.

Some events are clearly not races, see group rides above, and other events are clearly races. Events organized as races and as advertised as races–are definitely races. In Zwift, races use Zwiftpower for official results. There are rules that need to be followed, such as riding in the right category, sharing correct weight information, having a verifiable power source, or you risk disqualification. There are also rules for that particular race such as points for fastest through a segment, or first to the top of a KOM. For my guide to beginning racing on Zwift, see here.

Zwift’s Tours are not the usual group rides–no leads, sweeps, or advertised pace–and they also are not races.

Here’s the description, “The Tour of Watopia is a multi-stage journey on Zwift. All 5 stages will earn you double XP, shorthand for Experience Points. Collect enough XP and you’ll level up in the game. With new levels, come new in-game routes, products, and/or clothes.”

Q: Will there be races during the Tour?

A: No, but you are welcome to run/ride as fast as you like. These are group events and event results won’t be displayed at the end.

There’s actually a philosophical point here about the meaning of terms, and ‘race’ is ambiguous between meaning something that individuals do and an ‘event.’ Some people want to say that you can’t individually race unless the other person, or persons, you’re racing against agree to race. One way for sure to know they’ve all agreed is that you are taking part in a racing event.

You might know the frustration of not racing when others think you are. I used to be amused by guys passing me on the bike path and occasionally making comments about my go-fast bike going slowly, when I thought what I was doing was obeying the bike path speed limit of 20 km/hr. They thought we were racing and I thought I was riding inside the rules of the road.

On my former bike club’s weekend social rides we didn’t race–except for town sign sprints–and people who treated our club ride like a race, pushing the pace past our advertised speed were invited to come out for weeknight races. If you want to race, we have races, but this isn’t it.

Back to the Zwift tours, I think they are a bit like Grand Fondos–mass participation cycling events with the motto, let the racers race and let the riders ride. I blogged about the MEC one here, the Niagara Falls one here, and the County one here.

Zwift has a fair bit of activity that falls in the middle, things that aren’t official races and aren’t group rides either. For example, the leaderboards for KOMs and sprints when you’re just riding in the world, compare your time to everybody else’s. You might be trying to get the fastest sprint time while others are riding through the segment as part of their recovery ride. You’re racing in the sense that we might say we ‘race for the bus’ if we’re late in the morning. You’re racing but the bus isn’t.

Like Gran Fondos they provide for competitive opportunities for people with a competitive streak who don’t want, for whatever reason, to take part in organized races.

A screenshot of a Zwift ride.
fitness · monthly check in

Sam is checking in for March 2022: Butterflies, bike rides, travel, oh my!

February flew by. March too.

Blue bird

March is often thought to be the worst month of the academic year. A former dean once said to me, Nothing good happens in March. And I think she’s pretty much right. It’s a tough slog through until early April, the end of the university teaching term here in Canada.

March is also often the month of Fool’s Spring.

For me, some good things did happen in March. I started riding outside again. Yay!

Sam in pink riding her pink Brompton.

We celebrated my middle child’s birthday at the Butterfly Conservatory. He argued against the traditional family dinner plus cake in favour of a planned activity. Why do kids and not adults get to do things for their birthday? He’s right. We had a terrific time.

Butterfly conservatory

My knees hurt but they’re doing okay. I am walking a lot though still struggling quite a bit with night pain and disrupted sleep. Thankfully, there’s always Wordle.

I’ve also (gasp) been trying something new. Inspired by Catherine’s ringing endorsement of the 10 percent happier app, I’ve been giving meditation a go. Meditation has traditionally been a thing here around the blog. See Tracy, and Catherine, and Mina and probably everybody else except me!

What prompted me? Well, I’ve been taking a yin yoga class at noon hour on Friday and really liking the guided meditation parts of it. I’ve been going the introductory meditation program on the 10 percent happier app and so far, I’m doing ok.

What else is special about March?

Well at the very end of the month we finally got to get in the car and drive south with bikes to meet Jeff on the boat. Sarah and I set out this morning to drive 11.5 hours to Alton, Illinois for a week of biking and boating. I had to work to remind myself of the differences between riding in Zwift and IRL.

View from the passenger seat

Indoors, in the world of Zwift, I completed the Tour of Watopia.

And I’m also trying out some new mobility routines. Confession: I’m inspired by my weight lifting son who is now officially more flexible than me. I was okay when he could lift a lot more and run and bike faster, but this is new and I’m keen to keep up.

I downloaded the GOWOD app, did their mobiliity assessment and tried out a customized routine. I like the routine but I need more commentary, even a countdown would be good. Long silent stretches aren’t my thing.

Then I also tried this routine which I really liked but I like video and voice to walk-talk me through things.

So finally I cancelled my 7 day free trial of GOWOD and moved onto to Dynamic Cyclist‘s mobility training 7 day free trial. Will report back!

Checking in with some monthly numbers:

Total km ridden in March: 475 km, making for 1392 km so far this year. Right on track for 5500 km.

Total activities: 42 making for 117 so far this year, my goal is 220 workouts in 2022 and looks like I’ll shoot past that goal easily.

Total books this month 0! But I’ve got lots on the go. Wish me luck making my goal of 25 books this year. Six read so far.

What am I looking forward to fitness wise in April? OUTDOOR RIDING. Including training for the Friends for Life Bike Rally. You can sponsor me here. Please!

Sam’s Bike Rally Page
trans · transgender day of visibility · Zwift

Transgender day of visibility ride on Zwift

#TransDayOfVisibility We see you. We celebrate you. With blue and pink hearts.

On March 31st, Zwift is holding a social ride to mark the transgender day of visibility. It’s 730 am EDT. You can register here.

yoga

Sam finds her new perfect thing: Yin yoga Fridays

Did you ever find a physical activity that just *clicked* in your life?

For me, right now, it’s yin yoga at noon on Fridays at the campus gym.

Here’s the description of yin yoga, “A series of passive stretch postures held for longer durations to elongate connective tissue. This meditative based yoga class will help you improve your flexibility, mobility and circulation.” Catherine gives a great description of Yin yoga here.

It’s perfect. It’s in a very large room in an older part of the gym. The teacher is calm and helpful. She suggests modifications to the poses in a way that doesn’t sound at all judgmental. “Maybe this version isn’t what your body needs today and you might find this version more relaxing.”

I love the blocks and the bolsters and all of the props that help you get into a pose you can hold for awhile and focus on breathing.

Because it’s all students, staff, and faculty the teacher often mentions stresses that are relevant to university life. She seems to know when the students are extra busy and what’s going on campus that week.

For me, it comes after a long work week at my desk with lots of weeknight bike racing. My body is ready for long gentle stretches held in a quiet room. Usually my Friday schedule is a bit more relaxed than the other days, so I can almost always make it.

I’ve taken to wearing yoga clothes under my work clothes so I can just take off an outer layer and go straight to the class without worrying about getting to the locker room. Since it’s yoga there’s no need for my running shoes.

The class feels perfect in every way. It just clicked into my life and I hope it can stay there for awhile.

Here’s the entry from the 220 workouts in 2022 group.

Purple yoga block

How about you? Did you ever find a class that’s just what you need, with just the right teacher, at the perfect time and place?

fitness · nutrition

Avocado: friend or foe? Maybe neither

CW: discussion of body weight change in the context of nutrition research.

This week, while skimming the weekly newsletter I get on new nutrition and metabolic research on body weight, the following caught my eye:

No significant changes in body weight, body mass index, % body fat, and neither in visceral adipose tissue in response to intervention was seen in the avocado group compared to the control group. 

Catchy, huh? Could avocado have replaced the egg as the center of nutritional controversy? Turns out, people are have many questions about avocados.

Google queries about avocados.
Lots of google questions for such a small fruit…

The new avocado study I quoted above is out to settle the matter. But first, a little background about avocados (from the paper):

graphic showing an avocado and listing o many vitamins and minerals
I think this graphic indicates that avocado is good, but I’m not sure.

Okay, glad that’s settled. Now, what’s the answer? Are avocados good for you or bad for you?

Turns out, they’re likely neither. The researchers were unable to find any significant differences between the avocado-consuming and the control group:

No significant changes in body weight, body mass index, % body fat, and neither in visceral adipose tissue in response to intervention was seen in the avocado group compared to the control group.

Avocado consumption didn’t seem to produce weight loss or weight gain (as they also mentioned in their abstract). They found some potential benefits relative to the type of fat found in avocados, but as they say, “further studies are needed to elucidate this effect.”

So, go forth and eat avocados. Or not, as you please. But I recommend this guacamole recipe from the California guacamole board. Who can resist?

Luscious, tomato-studded chunky guacamole, with cilantro and lime. Yum.
Luscious, tomato-studded chunky guacamole, with cilantro and lime. Yum.