Fifth, Catherine looks at more misleading science and health reporting, these stories and her analysis look at balance and morality risk. Hot tip–the truth is more complicated that than the headlines make it appear.
This was also popular in September and I approve. Horns improve everything.
I just got back from a long-awaited photography tour of Ireland for a couple of weeks and there were so many memorable moments with new friends and beautiful places.
But one stand-out experience that delivered an unexpected blast of sheer joy for all concerned was an Irish dance class in Galway, taught by Siobhan, who used to tour in the US with Riverdance. Her company is called Irish Dance Experience and one member of our small tour group booked it in advance. I signed up on a lark, not having met any of my tour group in person yet and not having a particular interest in Irish dance and not being an especially skilled dancer (though I enjoy dancing nonetheless).
By the time we got to Galway we had been on the photography tour for more than a week, so everyone knew and was comfortable with everyone else. That made a difference because despite Siobhan being an incredibly good teacher and despite us becoming better in just over an hour than we ever thought possible, we were all really going out on a ridiculous limb! We looked hilarious. But we rocked the dance with brooms and did a badass Riverdance finale. (you’ll have to take my word for it)
Anyway, we had an absolute blast and here is Siobhan’s Instagram post about our group:
That’s me in the blue t-shirt swinging with Joey from Texas. The entire group was smiling and laughing almost the whole time. The only other facial expression was perhaps intense concentration (Irish dancing requires counting and coordination). Siobhan said we did great.
There is more video, and watching it makes me laugh every time. But we made a pact that it would never be distributed for public consumption. I’m keeping up my end of the pact.
If you’re ever in Galway I recommend her class. So much fun.
P.s. Galway restaurant recommendation for anyone who appreciates the combination of Michelin stars and lack of pretension. Incredible food including outstanding vegan options. Ard Bia at Nimos: http://www.ardbia.com/
Summer is ending here in the Northern hemisphere. As the days start to get colder, I find it’s usually harder for me to get outside for regular exercise. Fall is also a busy time for folks like me who work in education, so compared to the summer months my free time for recreational activities seems to shrink to near nothing.
On a hitherto unrelated note, I recently learned that Gen Z thinks that GIFs are out of fashion, or “cringe” as the kids say. However, I’m late Gen X, which means I like to hold onto things.
So, today I am here to give both outdoor fun and GIFs another short moment in the sun.
FIFI readers, I share with you 14 GIFs that get me motivated to get outside! I hope they get you going too…or at least give you a smile.
I hope not, because I am thinking about it a lot right now.
In some ways, I am very late to winter cycling. have been thinking about it since the miserable 51 day bus strike in the dead of winter (December 2008-January 2009). That was the first time I ever saw cyclists in the snow, and I envied them as I trudged to work, a 45 minute walk in good weather, on cleared sidewalks.
I dismissed the idea even as I reluctantly returned to public transit, instead riding my bike to work for up to 9 months of the year. Then I met a couple of colleagues at a new workplace who rode year-round for environmental reasons, and I was intrigued again. Two years ago, I actually stopped a random guy at a street light in late winter, and quizzed him about his experience and gear.
Last winter, my friend Florence introduced me to the concept of studded tires. She cycles year-round, even to swim practice (brrr). And last week she came to the Fancy Women Bike Ride in a Cleverhood rain cape like this:
I was starting to see ways I could feel safe and warm as a winter cyclist.
My next step was to acquire a bike I wouldn’t mind getting rusty. That came thanks to my local community mail list, where someone had an old Trek with seized gears that they wanted to give away.
Advice for how to fit it up came from the Ottawa cycling community on Twitter (which includes a lot of moms, every day commuters, and cycling infrastructure advocates, so I felt confident their advice would work for my cycling interests). One thing they said was to get the studded tires now, to avoid shortages later in the fall.
I picked up my bike from the shop on Friday. It has studded tires, fenders, new gears and brakes, a rack to hold my pannier, rechargeable lights and a bell. My new red hood is hanging by the back door, along with a pair of splash pants and my reflective vest. I have a bottle of chain oil that I will use daily, and a rag to wipe down my bike after each ride.
It is definitely too early for winter riding, but I am ready (and ridiculously excited).
Diane Harper is a public servant in Ottawa. She doesn’t love commuting, except by bicycle.
A few people shared the new Tim Hortons ad with me thinking the mockery of runners in it would hit a nerve with the blog.
And sort of, maybe, it did. But not in the way people thought it might.
The ad is cute, I guess. Gently teasing runners (cyclists, whatever) is fine with me. Likely we do take out activities too seriously.. We could do with some teasing.
But what we didn’t like was the add promoting driving and drive-thru. Ugh. In a time of climate catastrophe and record setting storms tearing the east coast of Canada apart that seems off-key to me. We need to see the association between the way we live and get around in the world and the environmental future we collectively face. Whether we run, bike, walk or take transit, we all need to take seriously the alternatives to driving gas powered vehicles.
“A run is something you can do from the comfortable seat of your car—that you can do in slides and socks,” claims the press release. “The best kind of run is one that doesn’t require a km/h tracking watch.”
I’ve been talking to a lot of kinda-burnt-out, feeling-kinda-meh, not-very-motivated people lately (and I’ve been one of them sometimes.)
Just in case you’ve been feeling that way too, I thought it was a good time to remind us all about a few things:
1) You don’t have anything to prove to anyone (fitness-wise or otherwise)
2) Doing the thing you like doing in the way you like doing it (fitness-wise or otherwise) is totally cool
3) You don’t have to go hard or go home, you can set your own pace in any damn direction you want (including towards home)
4) You don’t need to feel motivated to do the thing you want to do. Sure, it’s easier to get started when motivation is there but if you make a little list and take some teeny steps you’ll be able to move toward your goal no matter if motivation shows up or not.
(Starting when unengaged or unmotivated is even harder for us neurodivergents than it is for neurotypicals but I find that reminding myself that I can proceed without motivation is sometimes helpful. You might find it helpful, too, but please be kind to yourself about it either way.)
5) If you find yourself avoiding your fitness routine (or even just one exercise in your routine), you don’t have to force yourself to do it. You can find another way to work those muscles or build strength in that area.
No matter how meh you are feeling these days, I wish you ease and I hope you can be kind to yourself as you make your way along.
And, as always, here’s your star for your efforts.
They tell you that recovery from total knee replacement is a long haul of physio and rehab.
I’m here to say it’s just dawning on me how true that is. It’s not that I didn’t believe it before. I did. But now I’m feeling it too. That knowledge is real in a way that it wasn’t before.
There were big gains in weeks one, two, and three. Not so much this week. This week I might have overdone it. Too many tiny walks? Too much mobility work? Possibly going to a Tafelmusik concert in Toronto might have been too much. But the music was beautiful and I had a lovely visit with my daughter so that was all good.
I had hoped to report that I could turn the pedals over on my bike my now, but I can’t, yet. And yes, I know there are no fixed timelines for these things and that people regain mobility as different rates. Still, in my head it seemed reasonable to be back on the trainer in a month and I’m not there yet. I mean, I’m there, but I’m not making full rotations of the pedals just yet.
Weirdly, I am so close when I do it backwards. Weirdly backwards everything is easier. I’ve been doing walking backwards without crutches drills for physio and I don’t limp walking backwards.
Why is pedaling backwards easier? Here is one explanation:
“Pedaling backwards after knee surgery is often easier because of the hamstring activation. When you pedal an exercise bike forward the quadriceps is likely more active and the hamstring is likely less active. By pedaling backward after knee replacement surgery your hamstring is pulling the lower leg back which often improves knee flexion.”
The other hard thing is simply pain. I’m surprised that a month out things still hurt this much. I take pain relief medication regularly, not the narcotic stuff–the narcotic pain meds ended more than a week ago. But I’m still waking at night with pain some of the time and by end of the day things hurt a lot.
It’s also fall of course, not my favorite season, and I’ve been brainstorming ways of coping given that my options are somewhat limited this year. My friend Todd is similarly scheming and I’m enjoying reading about his plans even if I’m jealous that they include running.
What am I up to that’s positive?
🍁Well, I’m seeing more of friends and family. I’m out and about more than I was.
🍁Today I get to start driving again. Cars aren’t my favorite things but it will be nice to be independently mobile.
🍁I’ve joined a new gym that has aquafit classes and I’m looking forward to that over the winter. Aquafit isn’t my favorite thing but it’s a thing my healing knee can do once the incision heals fully . And I do love being in the water.
🍁This week the blog’s Catherine Womack comes to visit. She’s giving a talk at Guelph’s Philosophy department called “Epidemiology Food Fight: a fat feminist takes on values in nutrition science.” That’s October 6th, 430 pm.
🍁I’ve dug out my light alarm clock.
🍁I’m very happy to be planning my return to work. I miss the university. I love fall semester even though I’m not a fan of fall overall.
🍁I’m thinking I might start my November gratitude practise early this year and make it a fall thing, beginning October 1. Gratitude is good in its own right and it makes me feel better. Right now I’m thankful that I got to have knee replacement surgery and that I have lots of support through the healing process.
Hi everyone– Sharkfest Swim is a series of open-water swims hosted mostly by US big cities. Participants get to swim in places they usually can’t, like busy working harbors. Local officials close areas to boat traffic and the event organizers provide a lot of support, both in and out of the water. In 2015, My friends Janet and Steph and I provided kayak support for hundreds of swimmers doing a 1500-meter open-water course. I had signed up to do it this September, now that I have my own kayak. But, along with many other events since COVID hit, it’s been postponed to Sept 2023. Well, I can wait.
While we’re all waiting, here’s my blog post from the 2015 Sharkfest event. Take a look. Readers, are you doing any open-water events this year? I’d love to hear about them.
Well, after a summer whizzing across the continent, I have settled back into home. I came home to a new job that was waiting for me and for the last three weeks, I have been the Program Assistant in the Department of French Studies at Western University. This has me speaking French daily, after not having spoken it for more than 20 years, and also has me tied to a rigid work schedule. Add to that my youngest son starting highschool and my husband being away for a week at a conference, and it’s been an intense time. When it comes to my relationship with fitness, I have some mixed feelings. I have a gripe and a satisfying observation.
The Gripe: Of course, all this new-ness and intensity has left me precious little time for exercise. I’m innately intimidated by exercise at the best of times, but what is it that makes it so easy for women to put our needs last? Ok. So I have a degree in Gender Studies – honestly I have a good idea of gender dynamics, especially in families. I just wish that understanding could help me influence my own actions a little more. Truthfully, I have had to focus on settling into my new routine. I have the aquafit schedule on my desk now. The time to swim is coming. But for now, it’s aggravating me.
The Positive: So despite this complaint, I DO have something positive to say about my fitness. It’s not exactly an exercise routine, but I can tell that going up the 110 stairs (I counted!) from the parking lot to my office every morning is helping my fitness levels. When I started on Sept. 1st, I went up the stairs slowly and pretty huff-y and puff-y. The past week, I’ve noticed that I just walk up them now, one foot after the other. It might sound small, but to me it’s actually BIG. Something I’ve never experienced before. Cheers to me!
A few months back, Sam posted a link to a long-ago post she wrote, explaining that if you hate exercise, you might simply be really out of shape. The upshot of that was you just need to do small things. Well my friends, I used to hate exercise, and I think this is a bit part of my story. So I really need to celebrate these small victories.
I’m also, on principle, trying to notice my blessings even (especially) when I feel intimidated, disappointed or otherwise down. Schlepping up these stairs every morning, I have often thought of Sam and her recent knee surgery. I have also thought of myself, prior to my own hip surgeries (2021, 2019), and how the stairs would have been so painful. So, the stairs may be long in the AM, they may be no fun, but dang, I’m sure glad I can walk them.
What are your thoughts on this? Have you climbed your own staircase? Struggled with family and your own exercise needs? Where did it lead you? In this time of transition in my life, I’m looking for inspiration and I guess advice.