family · fitness · habits · motivation

I had a plan – where did it go?

Well this is not the post I expected to write this month! A few months back I wrote Sam that I had been exploring and really enjoying exercise and would like to regularly blog about aquafit. At that time, I’d been going to the pool two to three times per week for a few months. It was a habit and it felt good. I also had started really enjoying the feeling of getting a good cardio workout. That itself felt like a minor miracle.  

I wrote my introductory post and looked forward to seeing what was coming on my journey of digging into exercise. It turns out what was awaiting me the last month was a lot of frustration and not getting to exercise! This is not new – many people struggle to get to their gym or their exercise. Women especially are conditioned to put our needs after others. In my case, historically it’s been really easy to distract me from exercise because honestly, I didn’t like it and I didn’t want to do it.

This is different though. I want to get there. Apparently though, wanting isn’t always enough. I’ve only been to the pool a couple of times since mid-April. And it shows. It shows in my mindset, which is more easily frustrated. It shows in my aching hips that don’t want to sit for hours while I teach and grade. It shows in my own disappointment too.

Now I have good reasons for not getting to the gym. I’m on a job search that is going s.l.o.w.l.y. (I teach college on contract and I want a permanent, student-facing job!). My husband is on sabbatical in Italy for the month of May. He’s working hard too and I’m happy to support him, but oh boy, I didn’t anticipate how many things would go sideways at home with our kids while he was away, or how much of our lives relate to getting our kids to places. I am struggling between my kids’ needs and my own, and my own have been losing out.

Selfie of a woman with greying hair and brown sunglasses in front of a blooming pink magnolia tree. She has bright sunlight on her face and is wearing a navy coloured tshirt reading "halfway between"
On my dog walk, I had to stop in front of this beautifully blooming magnolia tree

In truth, all reasons for not exercising are “good” reasons. Our reasons can be legitimate even when they are frustrating or disappointing. Canadian society seems to have a fixation with connecting fitness with guilt and judgement (as anyone who knows this blog knows). The last thing I want to do in writing today is to contribute a sense of judgment of people’s choices. What I do want to acknowledge (mainly mainly to myself) is that for the first time I really miss exercising. That makes this post another in my posts celebrating my journey toward enjoying and, I would say, reclaiming my body as my own for my own use. THAT feels pretty good to say.

So since I’m missing activity, and my growing strength and confidence as (dare I say it?) an athlete, it seems that my next challenge is to actually get back in the pool, and doing some late spring hiking. I can see I need to re-establish my routines and make space for myself in my life. I’m working on that now. So far the best I can do is get out each day to walk my dog. It’s a start – I’ll let you know in a month how it went!

fitness

Warrior Pose (Guest Post)

My name is Tara Clark and I am an avid yogi. I have been practicing yoga for many years and I recently became a certified instructor. Yoga has brought a tremendous amount of healing into my life. I first began practicing yoga to help with my asthma. I thought the breathing techniques would help and they have. Yoga quickly turned into a deeper healing practice allowing me to use my breathe with every movement to bring a sense of calmness and peace into my body, releasing memories and trauma and letting me know where I had work to do. I’ve spent many years healing my mind, body & spirit and now in my 50th year I feel strong, unwavering and fearless and for the most part I can live without judgement of myself. I am a warrior and I am surrounded by many others who model for me what true strength and compassion and love look like. I am grateful for all the other women warriors that have gone before me and walk alongside me. I get so much strength from their wisdom. Namaste 🙏

camping · cycling

Riding Solo, Part 1 (Guest Post)

by Julia Creet

I blame Cate Creede. She made it look so good, so easy. Just hop on your bike and go… wherever your legs will take you. No waiting for others, or trying to catch up. No discussions about decisions, where to go, when to stop, what to eat. Complete unstructured freedom.

That was the appeal. It seemed like a strange appeal after two years of more isolation than I could barely tolerate. Why chose then a trip on which I would mostly cycle alone?

I had an inkling that it would serve so many deep purposes for me. A chance for the wind to unravel the wired knots of my brain, cinched by two years of technology and teaching. Time to think through the decision to retire after twenty-five years of a full-on academic career.

And I needed new conversations. Riding alone would open my bubble to anyone who crossed my path. That felt exciting and random and the very opposite of my shrinking social circle and the rigid structures that were my scaffolding for surviving these strange last two years.

So here I am wandering around Nova Scotia, my home in my panniers, learning to crawl hills and stealth camp. I have some thoughts I’ll share along the way. Every material aspect of riding seems to have a metaphorical one as well. So thanks Cate. You said this to me early on in one of our chats about riding solo. “And for me there is something I really love about ending up in some random place with terrible food and knowing that I got there on my own.” You were right.

Julia Creet is a recovering academic who just wants to ride her bike.

fitness · yoga

Laughing while doing yoga: gimmick or tool?

CW: mention of BMI and body weight in a medical study on laughter yoga.

Since yoga took off in North America, teachers and studio owners and social media hopefuls have trotted out every possible variation to make it more attractive to more people. I’m not talking about Kundalini yoga, Iyengar yoga, etc.

No, in this case, I’m talking about yoga with music, yoga with wine or beer or cocktails, goat yoga, bro yoga, naked yoga, yoga dance, etc.

Glow in the dark yoga!
Glow in the dark yoga!

One type of yoga I hadn’t heard of until last week was laughter yoga. Yes, this is a thing. Dr. Madan Kitaria is credited with inventing it, and this site goes into loads of detail about him and about what laughter is alleged to do to us and for us. In short, laughter yoga is supposed to lower stress and anxiety, provide ease from depression, release endorphins, and generally relax us.

If you’re interested in a demonstration of laughter yoga, here is a TED talk (of course there’s a TED talk!) that you can watch.

5-minute TED talk on Laughter Yoga

Okay, I get it: yoga is good for you. Laughing is good for you. So, laughing while doing yoga must be extra-good for you. And yet I maintain a smidge of skepticism. Why?

Lots of scientists and sciency-folks have been speculating about the role of laughter in health and well-being for decades. In this Shape article (an authoritative source if ever there was one), we get this capsule history of laughter as medicine (forgive me, I got lazy while googling):

William Fry, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, helped to pioneer the research on the health benefits of laughter back in the 1960s. Fry found that laughter enhanced the activity of immune system cells through an experiment in which he drew blood at regular intervals while watching comedies. In author Norman Cousins’ 1979 book, Anatomy of an Illness, he described how he battled a fatal disease for years through his practice of mindful laughter. And psychotherapist Annette Goodheart published a book titled Laughter Therapy in 2006 that included 25 ways to help yourself laugh about everyday things. 

It makes sense that people hope to leverage laughter to bring down blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, cortisol levels, you name it. So far, the research suggests diffuse and bidirectional effects– laughter may affect well-being, and feeling better influences frequency of laughter. For instance, in a 2021 study of the relationship between oral health and laughter, the researchers found

The participants with 10 or more teeth were significantly more likely to laugh compared with the edentulous participants, after adjusting for all covariates… There was a significant bidirectional association between frequency of laughter and oral health that was independent of socioeconomic and lifestyle factors among older adults.

Which is to say: people with more teeth laugh more, and people who laugh more have more teeth.

I bring up actual laughter research because last week, while perusing the weekly newsletter on body weight and metabolism research, I found this study:

Effects of a laughter program on body weight and mental health among Japanese people with metabolic syndrome risk factors: a randomized controlled trial. In BMC Geriatrics.

Curious, I read the article. Twice. Here’s what I found:

The researchers tried out a 12-week program of 60-minute laughter yoga classes and 30-minute rakugo performances (a traditional form of Japanese comic storytelling). The participants were mostly women over 60, and they had some standard risk factors like high blood pressure or cholesterol, diabetes, or slightly higher body weights (overweight according to researchers and adjusted BMI scale). The control group just went about their business, with no intervention.

So what did the researchers find?

The intervention group laughed a lot more. Their responses to all sorts of quality-of-life health surveys after the 12 weeks were a bit higher than the control group’s. The laughter yoga and comic performances seemed to do them good.

But laughing a lot didn’t really affect their body weight. The researchers document some teeny-tiny shifts in BMI– shifts which they acknowledge aren’t clinically significant. The men in the intervention group– which were 2% of the group (yes, I wrote that correctly) experienced stronger effects overall, but even their effects were very small. So much for laughter yoga as weight-loss method. This is entirely unsurprising.

However, that doesn’t mean that laughter yoga should be dismissed; far from it. It seems to be a way to introduce some people to both gentle movement and breathing techniques that reduce stress and improve mood and feelings of well-being.

Here are a couple of laughter yoga exercises you can try in the privacy of your own bathroom. I took them from the knowledgeable folks at Shape (obvs):

Smile-Ups: Stand in front of a mirror, or even better, face to face with a friend or family member. Practice breaking into a big smile 10 times. You can also do this when confronted with a stressful situation, such as being stuck in traffic.

Hand Puppet: Struggling with negative self-talk? Get rid of it by acting it out. This exercise, which you can also call the “I love myself” laugh, helps you to recognize the silliness of those thoughts. Lift up one hand and imagine it’s a hand puppet, and start putting those negative thoughts into words using a funny voice and moving your hand puppet accordingly. Then, take your other hand and “squash” the hand puppet with laughter.

Person using hand puppet technique. Googly eye additions optional.
Person using hand puppet technique. Googly eye additions optional.

Readers, have any of you tried laughing yoga? Did you try the smile-ups or the hand puppet negative self-talk? Let me know.

ADHD · fitness · health · meditation

The effect of music on Christine’s brain: A (very) small sample experiment

As someone with ADHD, I am always looking for ways to improve my ability to focus. My medication, my planning, and environmental cues all help but it can still take a lot of energy to keep myself on task, so when I came across some music that made it easier to stick to my work plan, I was delighted.

I’m not sure how I happened upon Greenred Productions ADHD Relief Deep Focus Music (embedded below) but I can only assume that it was something the algorithm churned up after I watched a How to ADHD video at some point.

Embedded YouTube video from Greenred Productions called ‘ADHD Relief Deep Focus Music with Pulsation, ADD Music for Concentration, ADHD Music’ The video includes 12 hours of music but there is a single still image on the screen for the whole video. The image is of a mystical looking stag with antlers that look like gnarled tree branches. The stag is standing in light that seems to be shining through the trees that surround it. There are broken tree stumps, plants, and a large rock near the stag.

Maybe there is a scientific reason why this music works for me or maybe it is a coincidence but, either way, playing this video helps me to focus. And the fact that it is almost 12 hours of music means that I won’t lose track of time while selecting music or creating a playlist.

I don’t always have music on when I am working but it has been great to have this on hand when I need a little extra help to focus.

A couple of weeks ago, I was returning to the video over and over throughout the week but, for some reason, I wasn’t resetting it, I was just letting it play from wherever I had paused it the session before.

So, even though it is a 12 hour video, I eventually reached the end and THAT’S when I found the best meditation/relaxation/body-calming music (embedded below) that I have ever encountered.

Embedded YouTube Video of Greenred Productions video “Deep Cello Meditation Music: Dark Meditation Music, Relaxing Music, Dark Cello Music for Relaxation” There is two hours of music but there is no actual video just a still, black and white image of a person with shoulder length hair playing the cello outside a stone house with a set of double doors and a window set in the front of it.

It turns out that I find cello music incredibly calming. In fact, when I listen to this music, I feel the same kind of sensory-soothing calm that I feel when I put on a weighted shoulder wrap or lie in my hammock. Something in the music just really grounds me and puts me at ease.

I have been playing it while I meditate, draw, colour, or read and I swear I can feel myself sinking deeper into those relaxing activities as a result.

Do you find specific types of music help you to focus or to relax?

Does music contribute to your peace of mind?

Did YOU know that cello was so relaxing? Am I the last person on earth to discover this?

Tell me all about it in the comments. Pretty please!

PS – I really wanted to call this post ‘Cello, it is you I’m looking for’ but then the first embedded video wouldn’t make any sense and besides, I wasn’t sure if the Lionel Richie reference was too much of a reach for the joke to work. 😉

Guest Post

Joh turns 50 and goes skydiving (guest post in both official languages)

Saut en parachute – 8 mai 2022

Ma bonne amie Lucie et moi avons eu la géniale idée d’acheter une carte-cadeau en décembre 2019 pour un saut en parachute pour célébrer nos 50 ans. La pandémie et la mauvaise météo nous ont obligée à reporter le saut 4 fois : la première date prévue était en mai 2020 (confinement COVID), la deuxième en août 2021 (mauvaise météo), puis en septembre 2021 (montée des cas de COVID), et finalement, le samedi 7 mai (trop de vent). Inutile de vous dire à quel point nous étions fébriles lorsque le saut du dimanche 8 mai a été confirmé! Je me suis donc dirigée vers Joliette, où se trouve l’école de parachutisme Voltige. Le saut est prévu pour 13 h. Le temps de s’inscrire, se peser, suivre une petite formation et procéder à l’habillage avec notre instructeur, et nous voici dans l’avion, en route vers l’altitude de 13 500 pi où nous sauterons dans le vide! Le forfait prévoit une chute libre de 45 secondes, puis une douce descente sous le parachute de près de 3 minutes, bien attachée à mon instructeur, Richard. J’ai évidemment acheté le forfait vidéo-photos pour immortaliser cet événement, que Cédric capturera tout à côté de nous. (Quel métier quand même que celui de photographe-parachutiste!)

Lorsque l’avion atteint l’altitude souhaitée, on ouvre la porte arrière et les tandems commencent à sauter… c’est maintenant vrai, je vais sauter en parachute! Richard me pousse vers la porte, je m’agenouille face au vide et… c’est parti! Nous commençons par faire un 180 degrés et regardons l’avion s’éloigner, puis nous prenons la pause « banane » de la descente en chute libre. C’est vertigineux. Nous descendons à toute allure et ça coupe le souffle. Je tente un sourire pour la caméra et je garde la position, bien docile. Puis, le parachute ouvre et tout change. Nous descendons maintenant tout doucement et je peux regarder le paysage et vraiment profiter de ces moments de pur bonheur. La température est parfaite : beau soleil et ciel complètement dégagé. Nous voyons jusqu’à Montréal, à quelque 75 km. Et, bien sûr, les champs à perte de vue et la rivière L’Assomption qui se déroule en méandres sous nous.

Toute bonne chose ayant une fin, nous nous rapprochons du champ d’atterrissage, qui se produit sans problème, sur les fesses. Cédric est là pour recueillir mes premières impressions, qui se résument à « Wow! Incroyable! ».

Quelle journée et expérience mémorable! Merci à Richard et à Voltige de m’avoir permis de cocher un autre élément de ma liste du cœur (bucket list).

Joh. est traductrice, originaire de Montréal et vit maintenant à Toronto. Elle aime être en plein air autant que possible et fait du vélo, du ski, du canot, du kayak, de la randonnée pédestre et, plus généralement, aime trouver du temps pour être active, malgré une vie divisée entre un travail à temps plein, des contrats et un enfant.

********************************

Skydiving – May 8, 2022

My good friend Lucie and I had the great idea to buy a gift card in December 2019 for a skydiving jump to celebrate our 50th birthday. The pandemic and bad weather forced us to reschedule 4 times: the first scheduled date was in May 2020 (COVID lockdown), the second in August 2021 (bad weather), then in September 2021 (rising COVID cases), and finally, on Saturday, May 7 (too windy). I don’t need to tell you how excited we were when the jump on Sunday, May 8 was confirmed! I headed to Joliette, where the Voltige skydiving school is located. The jump is scheduled for 1pm. Time to register, get weighed, follow a little training and get dressed by our instructor, and here we are on the plane, on our way to the 13,500 ft altitude where we will jump into the void! The package includes a 45 second freefall, then a gentle descent under the parachute for almost 3 minutes, securely attached to my instructor, Richard. Of course, I bought the video package to capture this event, which Cedric will capture right next to us (what a job being a skydiving photographer, isn’t it!).

When the plane reaches the desired altitude, we open the back door and the tandems start jumping… it’s now true, I’m going to skydive! Richard pushes me towards the door, I kneel facing the void and… here we go! We start by doing a 180 degree turn and watch the plane fly away, then we take the “banana” position and start the freefall descent. It’s dizzying. We go down at full speed and it takes my breath away. I try to smile for the camera, and I keep the position, very docile. Then, the parachute opens and everything changes. We are now slowly moving down, and I can look at the landscape and really enjoy these moments of pure happiness. The weather is perfect: beautiful sunshine and clear sky. We can see as far as Montreal, some 75 km away. And, of course, the fields as far as the eye can see and the L’Assomption River meandering beneath us.

All good things must come to an end, as we get closer to the landing field. We land on our butts without any problem. Cedric was there to collect my first impressions, which can be summarized by: “Wow! Unbelievable”.

What a memorable day and experience! Thanks to Richard and Voltige for allowing me to check off another item on my bucket list.

Joh is a translator originally from Montreal and now living in Toronto. She loves to be outdoors as much as possible and enjoys biking, skiing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking and generally finding time to be active, despite a life divided between a full-time job, contracts, and a child.

Video of Joh’s jump, dive, and landing. How about you? Tempted?

fitness

Thigh chafing and the joys of summer

It’s gone from winter to summer this month in Ontario, with not much spring in between. We had days below freezing last week, highs near 30 this week. And as usual dress wearing friends are posting their thigh chafing woes. Here’s an older post with some suggestions.

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

iz needs talc powder   mai thighs are chafing

Warmer weather is here. Spring! And soon, summer! I can put away my black tights and wear cotton dresses and mini-skirts. I can stop wearing running tights. But of course, much as I love all those things, there’s the problem of thigh chafing.

“At first thigh chafing is annoying, then it’s embarrassing, then it’s painful, then it’s ugly (all that friction causes little red bumps to pop up on my inner thighs–so not cute). My solution up to now has been to wear spandex shorts underneath all my dresses. This combats chafing and serves the secondary purpose of preventing me from flashing the whole neighborhood whenever I get out my car. Every time I pull on those shorts, though, I feel a little sad and a little resentful: for once I’d just like to throw on a sundress and some comfy undies and be done. This hot, binding extra layer…

View original post 456 more words

fitness

Swim buoys: good for safety and fun

Hi readers– this weekend I was reminded that there’s actually such a thing as warm/hot weather. Temps in Boston reached a record high of 86F/30C. Today will be warm as well.

I didn’t take take refuge from the heat in the water yesterday, but it reminded me that outdoor swimming season is upon us. I really enjoyed going to Walden Pond with my new swim buoy. It’s required there now, and honestly is a great idea for open-water swimmers in fresh and salt water.

Check out my post from last summer and see if you want to beat the crowds and get some water safety gear sooner rather than later.

-catherine

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

Friday was a beautiful summer day in Boston– sunny, mid-70s F/24C– so my friend Norah and did what one must on a day like today– we went swimming.

Walden Pond (yes, that Walden Pond) is 11 miles from my house, and is a swimmer’s paradise. The pond is big, deep, clean, and has all sorts of half-hidden shoreline coves where you can set down your towel and snacks and head into the water.

We did just that, but with one added item: our brand-new swim buoys. They are now required for anyone who swims outside of the roped-off guarded swim areas at the pond. There was a big kerfuffle over open-water swimming at Walden this summer, and the current rule is the third iteration after the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation abruptly banned all open-water swimming there.

I don’t mind at all using a swim buoy. They’re not…

View original post 221 more words

fitness

Ask Fieldpoppy: Bonus cycle tour question

(Ask Fieldpoppy is a monthly advice column written by Cate; recently, they answered questions from someone who’s about to embark on their first two day cycling trip (here and here). The letter writer sent up an urgent flare a week before her ride so you get a bonus edition. Feel free to send your own questions for Fieldpoppy to ruminate on).

Dear Fieldpoppy—My first two-day cycle trip is now only one week away!

I’ve started a great list, thanks to your previous response, and invested in a camelbak. I’d never even thought about diaper cream…

A white woman in white shorts on a bike in the mountains. I do not recommend white shorts if you have your period. Photo by Mizzi Westphal on Unsplash

I’ve got two more questions. First, an outside question: what is your advice for cycling on an all-day tour if the weather starts to suck?

Second, an inside question: what do you get your mind to do to help you get through pain, stiffness, or wanting to give up? My partner assures me he’ll be ready to pick me up—but I don’t want to disappoint him!

Oh, and any advice for cycling during one’s period might be helpful.

– Inside and Outside

Dear Inside and Outside,

I’m so excited for you! SQUEEEE!

Okay, first I’ll tackle the practical: your period. Whatever you normally do to manage cramps etc, make sure you do that — ibuprofen and aleve cover a multitude of needs, and will help with any soreness from the ride as well. But try to stick with something you are already used to — this isn’t the time to experiment.

If possible, stick with internal blood-catching — diva cup, tampons, whatever you’re used to — rather than pads, because there will be a fair bit of contact between your bits and the seat and pads of any kind are more likely to chafe. If you have period underwear, you might want to include those as backup, but I’m really wary of any additional layers between my flesh and the bike shorts — that way lies wedgies and trapped sweat and chafing. (You might be getting the message that I’m prone to chafing).

If you’re worried about changing tampons out on the road, make yourself a little period kit — hand wipes, TP or kleenex and a wee ziploc. Don’t litter the tampon (dangerous for animals as well as just plain gross) but wrap it up and put it in the ziploc for disposal later. And be glad you aren’t camping on the kind of island where you have to carry out your poo.

(Oh! This reminds me of a story! In 2009 I was climbing kilimanjaro with an intrepid aussie woman who had done some bonkers 6 week trek in the arctic dragging a sled behind her. She was the only woman on the trip, so was packing out her tampons by tucking them into a ziploc in a hidden pocket in her sleeping bag. When she got back to a town, someone stole her very expensive high tech sleeping bag — before she’d had a chance to retrieve the festering tampon stash. She took a lot of joy in imagining the dude (she just assumed it was a dude) reaching his hand in, expecting hidden treasure, and…)

But I digress. So that’s period stuff. It’s kind of annoying but highly manageable. And you got this!

The other questions are more existential. First, I’m glad you have such a supportive partner — and try to gently let go of the idea of not disappointing someone else. It gets complicated out on the road to know what’s going on with yourself if you are trying to navigate other people’s emotions. Take a minute this week and dig deep in yourself — what are you doing this for? What part of you do you want to nourish by doing something big and new and maybe hard? What badass part of you do you want to bring on this ride? Find that part, and that’s the thing you engage with in your head. It’s easier to find your own grit and purpose when it’s not bound up with worrying about other people, even if they are lovely.

Rain and wind and Weather are part of bike touring — they are part of the elemental experience of just Being Out There with you and your bike. When Susan, Sam, Sarah and I were cycling in Newfoundland in July in 2019, we had nothing BUT Weather. Hills, wind for days, and on the Day of Hypothermia, 3 degrees and icy rain for hours. I’m not gonna lie — it’s not easy. The trick is to give over to it — not to fight it, or wish it were different, but just be with what it is. Like, dear god, this is some serious wind, wow, look at me riding into this wind like some kind of fucking superhero. Give a little read to the post I wrote about that trip called Grit, and another reflection on grit when I was planning a trip to Bulgaria last year. You’ve got grit — and this trip is a chance to locate it in a new way. You can’t change the weather — so how can you be with it in a way that is raw and honest and strong? About YOU? That’s what you connect with in those moments.

That doesn’t mean pushing yourself through in a punishing way! I like to set myself permission to stop at regular intervals in hard weather — usually every 4 or 5 km — and just take a moment and reassess my humanity. Have some water. Eat a cheese sandwich. Cry in the ditch. Stop in somewhere for a cup of hot tea. (In Newfoundland, it was a teeeny tiny airport that had a hot drink vending machine). Remind myself of my strength. And — if it really is too much — there is always someone to help.

When I was riding in Bulgaria last summer, my camelbak wasn’t working, most shops weren’t open and it was 42 C. I hit a point on a hill about 65 km into a much too long, overheated, hard and loaded day where I honestly worried I would die right there. So I put “is there any way you can give me a ride please?” into my translation app and flagged down a farmer. (Like an avatar of a farmer, wearing actual overalls). He shook his head and pointed to the back of his vehicle — very full — and pointed down the road — “1 kilometre — drink.” He mimed drinking. I rode on, heartened, and arrived in a completely deserted square. Just as was looking around wondering what the hell, a woman pulled up in a car and opened the door of a shop and gestured me in. I got some potato chips (salt), a cold coca cola, a frozen treat and a huge bottle of water. She asked “toilet?”. When I said no, she gestured to the table under the shade and said “sit.” Then drove away. The farmer had called her to come and open the shop. People want to help. Just ask them.

In Newfoundland, after the day of hypothermia, Susan and I needed a break. So we asked around and found Steve, who had a truck, whose dad Bill was willing to drive us to the next night’s stop. Bill told us all about the people who’d died mysteriously and sadly and showed us historical sites and had a great time. We got a break. People want to help. Just ask them ;-).

You are ready for this trip. You got this. Find your own version of grit and revel in it. You are a badass! And be sure to let us know how it goes!

Fieldpoppy, somewhere in the Baltics

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede (she/they), who wrote this post from the shared unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation). Cate is a coach, consultant and general thinker about relationships, meaning making and bodies. They are itching to get on their bike in a foreign land.

fitness

Why Nicole is not planning a big 50 challenge

As I approach 50 in June, there are things I know I will never do. I will never be a Mother. I have mixed feelings about this in a motherhood-glorifying age. But, for the most part, I am comfortable knowing I was never in the right place to have a child and while I may never “truly KNOW” how hard it is, how gratifying it is, how exhausting it is, even though I have a fair amount of innate empathy and understanding of situations I am not in, I am comfortable knowing that my life is content without being a Mom.

Caricature of a blond woman in a fuchsia and black striped top, holding her hand up to her face in dismay with the works, “OMG!!! I FORGOET TO HAVE CHILDREN!”

I may never know exactly what I want to do with my career, but I will keep searching and trying new things. I will continue to work on the areas where I have strengths and build on the work I can do. I have leadership, writing, analytical, practical and other skills that will surely be put to good use as long as I am able to work.

I may have made questionable choices in my youth about my education. I may never understand why I do well in school but wasn’t able to focus on things where it may have counted or helped my career. But all of those choices have culminated into a decent place, where I still have options and “possibilities” to use a corporate-sounding phrase.

One thing I don’t plan on doing as I turn 50, is plan a big fitness challenge for the big day/year. Christine wrote the other day about formulating her fitness challenges for 50 (at 49 and a half). She noted how Tracy and Sam started this blog almost 10 years ago, as they were gearing up to Fittest at 50.

I did fuzzily entertain different fitness challenges in the last year. Will 50 be the year I conquer my fear of hanging from a rig, so that I can do a few pull-ups? NO. Will it be the year I do my third marathon (maybe, but haven’t decided yet and not really because I’m 50)?

A woman with grey hair doing pull up variations. The types of pull-ups I am likely to do, because I don’t like to hang from the rig. If I decide to conquer the “real” pull-up, it will not be for my 50th birthday.

Nothing has really landed as something I want to entertain as a big fitness challenge to mark 5-0.

When I think about this, I think there are a couple reasons. One, is David, Nobody Cares! Including, myself. Who the fuck cares if I do a pull-up for that day? I don’t.

The other reason is that I love fitness. It gets me through everything. Day-in, day-out. Part of the reason I love it is because of the way I have entertained it for 20 years.

I’m consistent. I don’t worry about if my workouts are showing physical results (OK, I admit to being a bit happy when I can see a little line in my shoulder). I don’t worry too much about my pace when I go for my long runs and half and full marathons. I don’t measure myself against others. I enjoy fitness, in a consistent, measured way, by doing all the things I enjoy doing (running, HIIT-workouts, spinning, walking EVERYWHERE, some yoga) in an intentional way, every day. It keeps my mind functioning (somewhat) normally.

Purple tank top with the words “Forward is a Pace” from this company that purports to make run wear to fight anxiety and depression. I am not affiliated but my friend Jackie sent her the link as she thought I might be interested and I might just order a few things!

One of the ideas I’d like to take with me as I turn 50 is that I don’t need to do a “big thing” to prove anything as I enter a new decade. I just need to do the things I’m already doing. With gratitude for each day and my health. Corny, but oh so true as we get older.

So, that’s my big plan for 50. Keep doing what I’m doing. As my late Bubbie would have said “From your mouth to G-d’s ear.”

Nicole P. lives in TO with her husband and two dogs. She incorporates exercise into her daily life for her overall wellbeing not for a number on a calendar.