fitness · health

A week in the life of metabolic research, or what a mouse should have for dinner…

One of the many demands on my inbox-reading time is the weekly newsletters I get about this, that and the other thing. In principle it’s a great idea to sort information into categories and aggregate information into weekly digests. In reality, I get backlogged and glutted with too much to read.

However, this Saturday, I decided to take some time to dip into one of these digests: Obesity and Energetics Offerings. Each week, Public Health researcher David Allison and lots of other folks collect the latest study releases and other relevant news items and send them directly to me.

One of my favorite things about this digest is that it is a snapshot of what kind of research work is ongoing about metabolism, nutrition, physical activity, etc. It’s not exhaustive, but if it were, I’d be exhausted well before finishing the reading for that week. Once again, less is more.

The digest is divided up into handy categories like “headline vs. study”, to alert us to misinformation coming out in the news, “contrary or null findings”, showing which hypotheses fell flat, and then a host of sub-categories, like “epidemiology”, “stigma”, “food and diet”, etc.

This week, my favorite study was about what male mice should have for dinner, partly because of this incredibly awesome graphic in the paper:

All you need to know here is this: "ad libitum" means "eat what you want, mousey", "meal fed" means they got one meal a day, and "CR" means "calorie-restricted diet". The calorie-restricted mouse had the best medical outcomes, but may not be the happiest of mice.
All you need to know here is this: “ad libitum” means “eat what you want, mousey”, “meal fed” means they got one meal a day, and “CR” means “calorie-restricted diet”. The calorie-restricted mouse had the best medical outcomes, but may not be the happiest of mice. However, the big take way was that it didn’t actually matter what they ate– high-carb, low, carb, etc. There was no difference in the outcomes based on diet composition.

Don’t you wish all scientific research papers had such explanatory and colorful graphs and tables?  Usually, they look much more hairy and complicated, like this one (which truthfully is entitled “The Hairy Graph”):

A hairy graph, titled "The Hairy Graph", with a jagged up-and-down curve and wispy hairy tendrils shooting up from various parts of te curve.  It's about the relationship between markets and LIBOR (a bank loan rate index, I think).
A hairy graph, titled “The Hairy Graph”, with a jagged up-and-down curve and wispy hairy tendrils shooting up from various parts of the curve. It’s about the relationship between markets and LIBOR (a bank loan rate index, I think).

But I digress. Back to the topic at hand…

Seriously, on any given week in metabolic (I don’t use the term obesity for a bunch of reasons; I blogged about it here a while back) research, we can see people hard at work on questions like the following:

  • Does BMI >30 affects recovery from ankle sprains? Not much, maybe a little, but it’s complicated.
  • Is a person’s gut microbiome affected by their ethnicity and their geography? Yes, it would seem.
  • Do community programs and policies aimed at reducing body weight in children work? So far not really. (me: although they have all kinds of other positive health effects, and maybe we should care more about those than we currently do).
  • Does increased body weight influence medical outcomes (like complications or death) following gun shot or stab wounds?  No. (me: seriously, this was a real study; heavier adults who went to the hospital after being shot or stabbed weren’t at higher risk for bad medical outcomes because of their weight.)
  • Is there good evidence linking consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)  in children and higher BMI? No. Is there good evidence that reducing availability of SSBs in schools reduce consumption? No.

There are also lots of more technical biochemistry studies, which are beyond my ken.

Most of the time, we get our science and health news from, well, the news. By the time it reaches us, sometimes it seems it’s been through several rounds of the telephone game. Anyone remember playing this? You start out with a word or phrase or sentence, and whisper it to the person next to you.  It goes down the line, through however many people you have, and by the time it reaches the last person, it’s generally been transformed completely and humorously. Like so:

 

Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 1.14.17 PM
Kids playing the telephone game, where a word goes from peas to bees to knees to cheese to fleas.

As fun as that game is, we don’t want science and health news to be like that. So what can we do?  I rely on friends (FB and others) and reliable sources (like blogs, newsletters, social media feeds of people whose work I trust) to help me access and digest and put in context the newest results. I also like to go directly to the original research, but I still have to rely on expert sources to help me interpret it.

So readers, where do you go and who do you trust for the latest in health news and information?

 

 

 

 

 

fitness

Is your smartphone step-counting app biased against you? What?!

Loads of people love their FitBits and smartphone step counters. One of my FB friends posts her step counts every day, and I think it’s great that she’s working on health-according-to-her and asking for (and getting) support. Getting in your obligatory 10,000 steps has become the new “apple a day” folk wisdom, although there is not general agreement about this among fitness and medical experts.  But we’ll save that for later.

In a recently published article, researchers present results  suggesting that  smartphone (Apple and Android) activity-tracker apps are inaccurate for some parts of the population in some activities.  For example, in cases of:

  • slower walking speeds;
  • variable gaits or walking patterns;
  • location and walking surface;
  • larger-sized walkers;
  • short-distance walks;

there was significant undercounting of steps. Note: they did two very small studies (16 and 32 participants, respectively). The second study included people with BMI >30. They found that the smartphone apps had massive  errors ranges (0–200% of steps taken). However, a big concern was underreporting of walks that fall under the list I gave. Why worry about this? Here are a couple of reasons:

First, what app you are using and which OS update you’re running WILL affect your step counts.  Not only that– here’s what they say below:

Compared to the generally positive performances reported for laboratory-based treadmill walking, the extraordinarily large error ranges imply that the measured gait kinematics (which depend on walking speed, phone position, gender, body mass index, age, and race) may strongly influence the percentage of steps counted by consumer-grade smartphone apps. Furthermore, the differences in percentage of steps counted between the 2017 and 2018 studies suggests that phone up- dates and different app versions could also potentially change the outcomes of any smartphone-based assessments.

 

In short, treadmill walking is not like walking in the world.  We use lab results (and rightly so) to develop ways to solve real-life problems and create new ways to help us in our life and health goals. But real-life mileage varies– sometimes a lot. This is important information, and if it’s inaccurate, that doesn’t help us with our own goals.

Laboratory-assessed and daily-life gaits are different [18]. The larger error ranges for slow or short walks observed in both studies are problematic because in daily-life people walk at slow and fast cadences (according to bimodal distributions) [20] and complete far more short walks than long walks.

Second, the norm that smartphone fitness tracker technology uses to count steps seems to undercount the kinds of steps taken by:

  • females;
  • larger people;
  • non-white people;
  • people with different gaits, including those with various dis/abilities
  • slower walkers;
  • short walks.

With respect to large-scale physical activity monitoring, we need to be mindful that unconscious bias embedded into black box smartphone apps may favour stereotypical (tread-mill like) and faster walking. These issues present a risk of systematically undercounting steps for slower [and shorter walks; walks by larger people, females, people from different racial or ethnic groups, people with non-stereotypical gait, and different preferred phone positions.

That’s not good news. Most of the world is not male, white, 18–25 years old, and with a BMI of 18–22, walking at least 5k/hour in a regular gait on a treadmill. This is a problem with most exercise/physical activity research, and we’ve written about this often.

But here’s a third problem that really worries me. All this data from smartphone apps is used to make health claims and recommendations for the whole population, and to make clinical judgments about individuals’ health status. Here’s what they say:

We must stay mindful that the black box models sometimes used to analyse big data may reinforce society’s existing biases. This may include the sometimes inflated link between physical inactivity and obesity.

 

We don’t want inaccurate data to drive health policy and clinical practice.  There is overwhelming evidence that physical activity improves both health and longevity, but doesn’t significantly affect body weight.  We do not want underreported data that disproportionately underreports the physical activity of already vulnerable groups (like those with disabilities) and populations already affected by health disparities (like racial minorities). This misinformation could be used to blame groups for their health conditions.

Big caveat here: this is only one study. As they say, further research is needed.  So I’m not saying to throw away that very nice expensive Apple watch yet…   But as we pursue health-to-us in all the ways we do, maybe paying attention to the more qualitative (in addition to the quantitative) aspects of activity is in order. That is, noting that when you ride, walk, chase your dog, swim, dance, stretch, lift, paddle, swing, you’re integrating activity in your way in your life.

And all that counts, no matter what the fitness apps say.

 

 

 

 

 

fitness · injury

A non-four-letter word I really dislike, but have to deal with: fragility

Exactly two weeks ago, as I was walking down the stairs from my apartment, my right ankle rolled out and just crumpled underneath me.  I went down, luckily on my rear end instead of my head.  It hurt like nobody’s business– the kind of pain that makes you scream and curse (even if that’s not your thing) and get nauseated and maybe faint.

My very nice neighbor Melih came right away and took me to the ER, whereupon I was x-rayed and determined to have a bad sprained ankle.  They gave me ibuprofen (which helped a lot with the pain), an ice pack (ditto), a pair of crutches and sent me home.

Injuries suck. They’re unexpected, often super-painful, and they snarl up our lives and schedules.  And they take a long time to go away, often requiring surgery, physical therapy, and sometimes devices to wear to support us or prevent re-injury.

Injuries upset me because they highlight my vulnerabilities– places in my body where I am fragile. For me, it’s my ankles.  I’ve always been prone to sprains, and I fractured my left ankle 4 years ago (minor avulsion fracture, but still). Yes, yes,– I’ve gotten very good physical therapy, and I did those exercises religiously. But once I was functional again, I turned away from focusing on my more frail parts. I didn’t give them the care that they so clearly needed.

So here I am again. This time, at age 56, living alone, and on crutches.  Crutches suck, too, by the way. I had a terrible time crutching around on one foot– my upper body didn’t feel strong enough to manage it. I know, there are techniques for making this easier, and I paid attention to folks at the hospital teaching me, and also looked online (because that’s what we do these days…)

Let me say now that I’m lucky and grateful to have good friends and neighbors and colleagues and health insurance and enough money for car rides and takeout and a job where I can do some teaching online and all sorts of other things that make my life so nice.  It could be a lot worse.

This feeling of fragility though– throwing money at the problem doesn’t help.

(Taking a few breaths here)

Two things:

First: My bad ankle sprain is a wake-up call for me as an aging person. I want to be stronger, and I can do things to make myself stronger: continue PT exercises; get a personal trainer or join gym classes; create a regimen that includes more strengthening; pay more attention to my core and upper body (I do yoga, but need to focus more on specific areas of strength and flexibility).  I don’t want to have to go to rehab because I live alone and cannot care for myself.  Yes, that happens, and no, it’s not the worst thing.  But it scares me. A lot.

Second: Turning toward and taking in my physical fragility and vulnerability is emotionally painful. It makes me scream and curse and feel nauseated and maybe faint. Why?  Because maybe some of that vulnerability is beyond my control.  I have the body I have.  I have the ankles I have. I can balance on bosu balls all the livelong day, and those ankles will still be my most tender parts. This is what my life feels like.

(breathing again)

I know, my world is not ending.  I have a bad sprained ankle and months of physical therapy ahead. My world, however, is a bit different now. I’ll be paying attention to fragility and vulnerability more, even though it took some tumbling and kicking and screaming to get here.

Readers, how do you deal with fragility? Does it scare you? Is it okay?  If you feel like it, I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

fat · fitness

First required PE, now mandatory BMI testing in college?

Last Wednesday (which, for many of us bombarded by the horrific US news cycle, seems like a long time ago),  Samantha posted about a new experimental program requiring college students to take physical activity classes.

Requiring physical activity helps sedentary college students be more active, but will it ruin their lives? 

Commenters on the blog post and FB page (I don’t know about twitter– yeah, I gotta get to that) had a lot to say about their experiences (good and bad) in physical activity classes. What I saw as the big takeaways are:

  • Variety is key to happy physical activity (sailing, yoga, martial arts, dance, ping pong…)
  • Choice is key to happy physical activity (no mandatory dodgeball with teams picked by jocks)
  • Timing is, in a way, unimportant– physical activity classes can be fun at 21, 34, 47, 60…
  • Requiring students to take them?  Uhhhh… That’s a hard one.  Lots of great arguments for and against.

Also during the weird blur that was this past week, the FIFI bloggers saw this article by body positivity maven Ragen Chastain.  It was about a mandatory course at Vanguard University that requires students to undergo BMI testing, body-composition testing, and both fill out and analyze food logs to look for or self-identify eating disorders.

You know, some policy questions are hard and nuanced and rich. The issue of incentives vs. requirements for physical activity class for college students is one of them.

But not the question about mandatory physical education/wellness/something classes, including required BMI testing (and food logs and self-analysis about eating disorders).  The answer is easy.

 

If you are more of a textual and less of a visual person, here are my main takeaways on the issue:

  • no
  • no
  • no
  • no
  • no
  • no

 

A few years ago, I gave a presentation on use of BMI report cards for K-12 health professionals. I could give you a detailed account, but the short version is this:

Hanging NO, against a yellow/orange background. I want one of these for my office.
Hanging NO, against a yellow/orange background. I want one of these for my office.

 

If you are interested in actual arguments or reasons, post in the comments, and I’m happy to talk about them.

Until then, I remain concisely and dogmatically yours..

-catherine

 

 

 

fitness · kids and exercise

Twist surprise endings? For movies– fine; for exercise studies, not so fine

I’m not a horror fan at all.  The blood and gore just gross me out, even if they’re comically unrealistic. But the worst part for me (which I know is the best part for others) is the surprise twists, especially at the end.  I get confused, distracted, scared if it’s scary, and really grossed out to the point of nightmares sometimes. And this includes experiences even after the age of 10. So I don’t watch them.

We know to steel ourselves for surprise twists at the end of movies.  But who prepares themself for an out-of-the-blue and contrary-to-the-plot twist in an article on  the connections between physical activity and health in kids? Not me, and probably not you.

 

Square computer-generated sad person, with "This person is not available" message.
Square computer-generated sad person, with “This person is not available” message.

 

So imagine my surprise when, while reading an article reporting results of a study finding a correlation between more time spent being physically active and better metabolic health among adolescents, it switches gears completely at the end, saying this:

Professor Bell explains: “This suggests that it’s never too late to benefit from physical activity, but also that we need to remove barriers that make activity hard to maintain. Keeping it up is key. This includes making weight loss via diet a priority, since higher weight is itself a barrier to moving.”

 

Say what?!
Say what?!
balloon with typographical marks indicating "What?!"
balloon with typographical marks indicating “What?!”

Here is what the study itself said:

A group about 1800 girls and boys born around 1991-92 were studied on three different occasions from 2003 to 2008.  The researchers were looking for connections between levels of physical activity and biological markers of their overall metabolic health (e.g. cholesterol types, triglycerides, etc.– 230 in total).  What they found was this:

  • Better metabolic health was associated with recent moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, regardless of previous activity patterns (this is a bit more complex, but basically correct).
  • Worse metabolic health was associated with more sedentary activity patterns.
  • The correlation between moderate-to-vigorous activity and metabolic health wasn’t weaker for subgroups with higher body fat (which could mean those who have a history of less physical activity, or also those with higher BMI).

They conclude here:

Our results support associations of physical activity with metabolic traits that are small in magnitude and more robust for higher MVPA [moderate to vigorous physical activity] than lower sedentary time. Activity fluctuates over time, but associations of current activity with most metabolic traits do not differ by previous activity. This suggests that the metabolic effects of physical activity, if causal, depend on most recent engagement.

There’s nothing here about losing weight as a causal factor or salient feature in their analysis.  So why did the main author say that in the article? I decided to dig a little deeper, which means going to the original full article.  I’m doing it, so you don’t have to– it’s part of the service we provide at Fit is a Feminist Issue.

 Person in tuxedo, holding a tray with message "full service".
Person in tuxedo, holding a tray with message “full service”.

 

Here’s what’s going on: in their discussion of where their study fits in the literature on metabolic health, physical activity, body weight, and risks for e.g. type 2 diabetes in youth, they say this:

much of the association of higher activity with lower subsequent adiposity is driven by reverse causation in this data… [there appears to be] a lowering effect of total activity on fat mass and blood pressure… The standardised effect size was 6 times larger in the reverse direction, however—from fat mass to inactivity—suggesting that adiposity affects activity levels more than activity levels affect adiposity.

Effect sizes matter a great deal for public health messaging since the existence of an association, or indeed a causal effect, does not alone describe its importance. Future work should compare magnitudes of effect size between common risk factors as the rate of discovery and the need to prioritise limited public health resources both increase.

The researchers say their results (and literature) support the idea that (in adolescents), body weight affects physical activity levels up to 6 times as much as activity level affects body weight.  This part is no surprise, as loads of studies support the view that exercise doesn’t result in much of any weight loss.

Here’s a surprise, though (and this one isn’t scary, so it’s okay to keep reading): saying that body weight influences physical activity (that is, kids with higher body weights tend to be less active) means to the researchers that we need to work on our public health messaging, as this is very important.

YES!  Of course we need to work on this. Movement at every size and shape and ability (and age, too, of course) helps us in just about every way.

But then (now the scary part is coming, be warned), the main researcher, Joshua Bell (not the violinist, I assume) has to go and say that, because higher weights are a barrier to increased physical activity, that kids should “make weight loss via diet a priority.”

A big NO.
A big NO.

 

Why no? Because 1) no one knows how to bring about and maintain weight loss via diet in kids (or anyone else); 2) we do know how to remove barriers to increased physical activity for kids with higher body weights. How do we do this?

  • attack fat shaming and weight stigmatization of kids everywhere we find it;
  • create opportunities for fun, non-competitive, easy-to-do movement for kids, done at their own pace and for reasonable time lengths, with no measuring, and lots of assistance and support;
  • work on ways to incorporate those conditions for movement into the everyday lives of kids and the people around them;
  • never use the word diet again around them (or anyone, for that matter).

This kind of public health messaging and programming is something we can all agree to.  And that’s no surprise.

The End, with scary shadowy castle in background.
The End, with scary shadowy castle in background.

 

 

 

 

 

fitness · food

Popular food researcher discredited– what to think now about our eating?

Food researcher and Cornell Professor Brian Wansink, author of the popular book Mindless Eating, has been in the news lately. 13 of his published articles have been retracted by peer-reviewed journals, including 6 articles retracted by JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association). They were retracted because several researchers found inconsistencies and major methodological flaws in the work.

What does this mean? Things like using the same data to test multiple research questions (also called p-hacking), not keeping track of original data, and using the same results across multiple papers, mixing them in with other data and offering inconsistent reports on them.  All in pursuit of a statistically significant result that confirms the researcher’s intuition about what’s going on.

After detailed investigation by researchers, the journals, and also by Cornell, Brian Wansink resigned from the university.

You may have read or seen his work on how we can eat less by doing some of the following:

  • use smaller bowls and plates
  • use lighter-colored bowls and plates
  • don’t eat while watching action shows on TV
  • don’t buy large-sized containers of food (like those sold at warehouse stores)
  • put apples on the kitchen counter
  • put snacks into 100-calorie portions for eating

Wansink is perhaps most famous for his “Bottomless soup bowl” experiment. His group set up 4-person tables with soup bowls for people to come in and eat the soup. Secretly, they rigged one of the bowls with a tube that made that soup bowl keep from emptying (up to about a liter). They noted how much soup everyone ate.  Their result: people who ate from the rigged soup bowl consumed 73% more soup than the other people. You can find more about the study here.

I’m very disheartened by Wansink’s academic misconduct for a lot of reasons. First, I was really impressed by his research more than 10 years ago; it confirmed what I thought, namely that our food environment influences what and how and when and how much we eat.  This is still broadly true, by the way. However, the specific results Wansink provided (like that people eat more chicken wings in restaurants when you take away the bones as they are eating) may not be true.

I’ve cited Wansink’s articles dozens of times in my own published research. I’m going to have to rethink how to respond to their invalidation. Also, I’ve spent some time at Wansink’s Food and Brand Lab at Cornell, and talked with him about our overlapping research interests. He’s enthusiastic about his work, ambitious about getting his message out to the public, and has been very effective in publicity.

But the biggest problem is this: what to do with all his advice about portion sizes, plate sizes, moving foods around in my eating world to highlight carrots and hide cookies?

What can we know now? What can we rely on now?

Now, you might be thinking:  Catherine, get a grip. One researcher goes down in flames, and you’re saying we don’t know anything anymore. How about try this:

Keep calm and eat mindfully
Keep calm and eat mindfully

 

Yes, yes, you’re right.  I’m calming down now.

A woman breathing into a paper bag.
A woman breathing into a paper bag.

 

Doing good research is hard, requiring rigorous adherence to methodological standards, a high tolerance for failure, and the stamina to keep going.

For us, the food eaters, we don’t need rigor in order to eat successfully.  We’ve written about eating mindfully, following plans, discarding plans, considering the ethical import of what we eat, and we’ve come to the conclusion that one plan doesn’t fit all.

But I really really wanted some plans that did fit all.  Just saying. And I’m not happy.

child pouting spectacularly.
child pouting spectacularly.

Well, like it or not, it’s back to the kitchen, with an open mind.

What about you, dear readers? Did any of you know about or use Wansink’s work?  What do you think now? I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

fitness · yoga

Can yoga body awareness/feedback translate to cycling or other sports? I hope so.

Yesterday I went to ropes yoga class with my friend Janet.  I’ve blogged about ropes yoga in the past: Asanas on the Ropes: Trying out Kurunta Yoga. It’s a lot of fun, as you use two sets of ropes to sort of truss yourself up in service of shifting weight and focusing on alignment and body awareness.  And you can also hang upside-down in midair, which is fun.

 

It’s been a long time since I was last at ropes class– almost a year. Last time I went, I felt weak and uncoordinated and unyogi-ish. This past year was a hard one for me health and fitness-wise (maybe everything-wise). I was overworked and menopausal (still am) and sleep-disordered and unfocused and fearful about how the previous problems would affect my fitness and general well-being. Blech!

However, this summer has been one of rest, recovery, fun with friends and family, and happy movement. Yay! A crucial part of the happy movement for me has been the gradual addition of yoga to my almost-daily regimen. 6 out of 7 days a week I do some (10–20 mins) morning yoga and (usually) evening yoga at home, using my favorite yoga youtube videos. FYI, Bad Yogi is a favorite (I go with the free videos), along with Yoga with Kassandra and Yoga with Adriene.  Adriene has a nice dog who makes appearances in many of the videos. I also love Jessamyn Stanley’s yoga videos (she has great demos with music soundtracks, too).

Yes, I still take classes at Artemis, my local yoga studio, but:  1) I need more yoga in my life; and 2) I often need it at times when there aren’t classes; and 3) I can’t always get myself out the door to class, even though it is a 10-minute walk away.  Truth.

Now, back to the present and the ropes class.  This class felt different to me in a big and important way. I used to blame my size or general physical shape or age or something when I couldn’t do some pose.  Here’s one I just can’t do– face-up plank on the wall (also called sunny-side up; not sure how to say that in Sanskrit):

A whole bunch of people with their feet on a wall, extending parallel to the floor, holding ropes to keep them in place.
A whole bunch of people with their feet on a wall, extending parallel to the floor, holding ropes to keep them in place.

See?  All these other people can do this, but I just can’t. And I finally figured out why– my left shoulder (with a partial rotator cuff tear) won’t let me.  It’s not strong enough. The rest of me is– I could feel that when I tried it.  The rest of my body was all ready to go, but the shoulder said no.  So I sat that one out.

So what’s the big deal about this? Yoga is known for having poses that one person may find effortless and another find impossible. I actually like that about it– it reminds me of  the tremendous variation among bodies; together as a group, we humans have an enormous repertoire of movements.  Yes, I know, no flying yet. But still. I think we’re pretty cool.

My problem has been that, in the past year in  yoga class (or on the bike, etc.), I totally forgot about that wondrous variety thing I was just rhapsodizing about.  All I focused on was how deficient my own body was– weak in this way, slow in that way, too big for this, not flexible enough for that. Blech again.

It took a full summer of steady activity for me to get to a mindset where I could notice and take in feedback from my body parts about what was happening during physical movements. My big breakthrough moment was at this ropes class, where I noticed all sorts of things about my body:

  • My left shoulder is weak (because of rotator cuff injury); it needs some rehab exercises;
  • My feet are a lot stronger and not crampy at all when I stand on one foot;
  • My left side continues to be more flexible than my right side;
  • I have more core strength since last year– I could pull myself up with the ropes while hanging upside down like it was nothing! Yahoo!
  • Both of my shoulders (had surgery on right one for rotator cuff tear 9 years ago) are in need of lots of attention to keep them flexible and make them stronger;
  • Whatever modification gear I need (blocks, strap, bolster, etc.) are there for the taking and make doing yoga possible, not wimpier and less good.

Go me! Go yoga!

 

Now, to the title question:  is it possible to take this body acceptance and body feedback mindset and apply it to other activities, like cycling? I love cycling, but get in my head very often and blame myself for what I see as sub-par performance. I blame myself in myriad ways.  And I’m having a moment where I can see that it’s neither exactly accurate nor remotely helpful.

There are some cycling activities that my body could never do, like really steep extended climbing.

There are some cycling activities that my body these days can’t do, like racing.

There are some cycling activities that my body needs some help in being able to do, like riding longer distances for multiple days at a time.

There are some cycling activities that my body enjoys doing (when my mind will leave it alone)– riding with friends, going on 30-something mile rides, tooling around town, and participating in fun bike events.

Next weekend I’m headed out to Northampton, MA for their annual Bike Fest and Tour of the Valley.  I’m doing the 25-mile ride with some friends and will get some other miles in as well.  It should be fun.  I’m taking my yoga mindset with me as I get on the saddle. Will report back next week.

Readers, have you had a shift in awareness from say, judgment to more neutral body awareness in your activities? Are you feeling stuck in the judgment mode? I’d love to hear from you.