fitness · sexism

Women with jobs wear bathing suits: #medkini and beyond

If you have been taking a much-needed mid/late summer break from social media: 1) Congratulations! What a great idea. You’ve not been missing much; 2) But, I have to tell you about this one thing you may have missed: the #medkini kerfuffle.

Here’s the lowdown, from Scientific American:

It initially started with a study published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery that purported to analyze the behavior of physicians on social media. The study, conducted by a team of researchers based at the Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Mecicine, was an attempt to classify the posts of trainees in vascular surgery as either professional or unprofessional.

So, what sorts of posts did the researchers consider unprofessional? From the now-retracted article (not linking to it):

Clearly unprofessional content included: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations, intoxicated appearance, unlawful behavior, possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia, and uncensored profanity or offensive comments about colleagues/work/patients.

Potentially unprofessional content included: holding/ consuming alcohol, inappropriate attire, censored profanity, controversial political or religious comments, and controversial social topics.

There are a ton of problems with the methodology of the article, but the #medkini twitter storm came about as a result of the interpretation of the “inappropriate attire” category. Apparently this included photos of vascular surgeons in bathing suits or festive costumes for festive occasions (like Halloween, for example). In particular, all pictures of female vascular surgeons in bikinis (not worn while performing surgery, but rather during leisure activity) were marked “potentially unprofessional”. And those doing the judging were a nearly all-male group.

Here are some of the photos the #medkini and #medbikin folks posted:

Twitter post of a female vascular surgeon showing pics of her performing surgery, speaking at a conference, and sitting by the ocean, wearing a bikini. All things women with jobs do.
Twitter post of a bunch of female docs on the beach in the Dominican Republic. Drs in the DR!

You can see the abstract here, and more importantly the big red “RETRACTED” stamp all over every page.

Abstract from the retracted article, with a big red "RETRACTED" stamp on the page.
Abstract from the retracted article, with a big red “RETRACTED” stamp on the page.

Okay, so the authors really messed this one up. As did the editors and peer reviewers. The editors apologized here, if you’re interested.

But here’s the problem: why did anyone even think for one minute this kind of judgment was okay? Scientific American has some things to say about it:

We don’t believe anyone had malicious intent. But that is exactly the point. One need not have malicious intent to cause harm. In the same way, the gender pay gap, though perhaps not intentional, affects women, and implicit bias of physicians impairs the care of Black patients. In this case, researchers harmed the medical community by suggesting that speaking up about social causes, consuming alcohol when not working, and wearing a bikini were unprofessional.

The point is not who these researchers are or even what they did in this particular study. The authors, the institutional review board (which is supposed to watch out for ethical problems), the reviewers of the article and the journal’s editors all thought this was worth publishing. This is because in the culture of medicine, harassment and subjugation of those who don’t look like the dominant group is not only tolerated, it’s the norm.

This is certainly common in medicine, but that’s not the only field in which women get judged as unprofessional for their clothing, activities, food and drink, etc. In the interests of solidarity, here are some of our pics:

Me. #bioethicskini
Samantha. #deankini
Martha. #writerkini

Dear readers, did you hear about the #medkini business? Have you been hesitant to post vacation or swimming pics on social media because sexism? I’d love to hear from you, and will respond with scorn for those people who were mean to you and support for you in whatever attire you choose.

ergonomics · fitness

New science on more bad things sitting does to you (or not)

CW: discussion of a study about a potential weight loss intervention, and the relationship between sitting and body weight.

It’s always open season on sitting. No matter what else is going on in the world, sitting is only going to make it worse. At least if you read the internet. Here’s one article’s list of terrible things that can result from sitting:

  • weakening and wasting away of the large leg and gluteal muscles;
  • increased risk of developing(?) or falling prey to(? unclear) metabolic syndrome;
  • your hips and back will not support you as well;
  • increased chances of developing some types of cancer;
  • higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease;

okay, enough super-scary and probably massively overdramatized items here. Feel free to take a seat now. Or better yet, curl up in this.

A woman lolling in a gray pillow chair, under a white fluffy blanket.

Feeling better? Good; you better enjoy it now, as science has a new study out to offer yet another reason why we shouldn’t be sitting. The tl:dr version is this:

When we sit, we unintentionally fool our bodies into thinking we are lighter, as chairs and sofas and large pillow chairs take some of the pressure off our bodies that gravity imposes (yes, I said gravity). When our bodies think we are lighter, then their homeostatic processes (that help regulate body weight) kick in and we end up gaining weight. If we sit less (or, as in this study, wear a super-heavy vest weighing 11% of our body weight and try to stand up wearing it for 3 weeks), we may lose some weight because gravity.

I don’t know about you, but this was a new one for me. I mean, I’ve heard of so-called weight-loss vests: you’re supposed to wear one and then sweat a lot and thereby lose weight. Which you don’t.

Headless woman wearing bright pink and black neoprene zip-up vest for sweating and therefore losing weight. Not.

In the course of googling “heavy vests”, I found that weighted vests are already a thing that some people use for cardio endurance training. (If any of you readers use weighted vests for training, I’d love to hear from you in the comments).

But some Swedish researchers had a different purpose in mind for weighted vests in their study. Their hypothesis, tested previously in rats, was that human bodies have what they call a “gravitostat” (think body-weight loading measure) that helps our metabolisms regulate our body weight over time. They wanted to see if increasing the body-weight load in humans with BMIs between 30 and 35 would result in weight loss or body fat loss. To increase the body-weight load, the scientists recruited subjects and put them in two groups: 1) the control group, who wore a 1-kg vest at least 8 hours a day for 3 weeks, and were told to try to stand some while wearing it: 2) the experimental group, who did the same, but while wearing vest weighing up to 11% of their body weight (up to 11kg/25 lbs).

What did they find? After three weeks, the heavy-vest group lost an average of 1.67kg (3.68lbs) vs. the control-vest group, whose average weight loss was .31kg (.68lbs). This was statistically significant, although not clinically so, as the experimental group weight loss average was 1.37% of body weight.

This is a very small study (72 participants), and the effect was really small. Also, the intervention was not one that we should pursue. Participants reported some adverse effects, like muscular pain and migraine headache. But, the researchers wanted proof of concept: they wanted some evidence that the gravitostat is a real thing and affects homeostatic processes related to body weight. They’ve gotten some– how much, I can’t say, as this is not my shop.

But what I can and am about to say is this: It’s a long long way from the very teeny-tiny results of this study (no offense, Swedish research people) to saying that sitting tricks our bodies into gaining weight. However, this New York Times article is all aboard the “get out of your chair” program:

… the broad implication is that we may need to stand and move in order for our gravitostat to function correctly, Dr. Jansson says. When you sit, “you confuse” the cellular sensors into thinking you are lighter than you are, he says.

The idea of an internal gravitostat is still speculative, though, he says. The researchers did not look at volunteers’ bone cells in this study. They also did not compare their diets and sitting time, although they hope to in future experiments. Plus, the study was short-term and has practical limitations. Weighted vests are cumbersome and unattractive, and some of the volunteers complained of back pain and other aches while wearing them.

But the researchers expect that wearing a weighted vest is not necessary to goose someone’s gravitostat into action, Dr. Jansson says. If they are right, getting out of your chair could be a first step toward helping your body recalibrate your waistline.

Okay New York Times. Okay, Swedish researchers– we get it. You want us to sit less and move around more. Well, we do too. Not for weight-related reasons. For body-feeling-good reasons. For taking-a-break-from-screens reasons. For dog-walking reasons. And many more that you can insert here. Furthermore, many folks have bodies that can’t move around in the ways prescribed by articles like this one. Attacking sitting is uncool for lots of reasons.

For those of us who are privileged to be able to choose a variety of types of movement, we still sit a lot because of the nature of work and the ubiquity of computer use. We should address those work-life-civilization issues in a broad way. But I don’t think any of those solutions will involve wearing a heavy vest. Unless that’s your thing. In which case, you go!

In lieu of the multitudes of sexy-weighted-vest-wearers, I picked this reasonable-looking vest-wearing Wikihow person. Go, Wikihow person!
In lieu of the multitudes of sexy-weighted-vest-wearers, I picked this reasonable-looking vest-wearing Wikihow person. Go, Wikihow person!
fitness · meditation

5 things I’ve noticed from 10 days of meditation

10 days ago I restarted my meditation practice. I’ve meditated off and on my whole adult life, and every time I restart, I always think to myself, “why don’t I do this all the time?” The answer is: it’s easy to let a new habit slide, and when it slides, it never becomes an old habit. The only rejoinder to that is, “okay then; I’m restarting now. Here’s hoping!”

The kick-off was easy: I signed up for a meditation workshop, which I mentioned in a blog post here. Being with others (even virtually) and having an instructor made reentry much smoother. Also, I have apps, websites, youtube videos, and actual paper books to help guide and urge and cajole me into getting a routine going.

So far, my routine looks like this:

  • Get up in morning
  • make coffee
  • drink coffee and possibly read some of one of the meditation books I own (I’m currently reading Sharon Saltzberg’s Real Happiness, which has QR codes you can scan with your phone to access guided meditations– cool!).
  • sit on yoga bolster on floor and do a guided meditation for 10–15 minutes
  • go about my day
  • get in bed
  • play some meditation app thing, breathe and sleep

Notice, I don’t look at my computer or phone at all during this period (except to access one of the recorded guided meditations). This part is crucial. Once I start reading email, the game is over.

Turns out it’s really nice to get up and start my day this way. I don’t have children, or dogs that need walking, or other commitments right away in the morning. I know I’m lucky to be able to devote the beginning of my day to this, and this alone.

It also turns out that I think this meditation thing is kind of working. That is, I’m starting to notice some things– good and/or interesting things.

One: My feelings of panic and fear and shame show up in different parts of my body.

Last night I was doing a meditation before bed, and some thought or feeling came up, and all of a sudden I was feeling ashamed of something or other. I kept breathing, and noticed that it manifested as an unpleasant tension in the back of my mouth and jaw. Very curious bodily sensation. I focused on it, kept breathing, and it passed. Fear was more in my gut/midsection– it felt like waves of movement, forward and backward. And panic– well, it’s what you would expect: a tightness in my throat. Again, breathing, noticing, not attaching these sensations to thoughts or focusing on the thoughts, and eventually they subsided.

Two: I’m definitely a bit more chilled out now.

My base level of anxiety has dropped enough so that I can consider and take on a wider range of choices and tasks for myself throughout my day. Feelings and worries still arrive, but there’s space between the feelings and the negative thoughts they represent.

Three: I’m worrying a bit less about my sleep and am also sleeping a bit better.

The past four months has been insomnia central at my house. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Boy is it yucky! I’ve tried a variety of medications, changes of diet (I only drink one coffee in the morning, so don’t even mention the idea that I’d give it up…) and restorative yoga before bed. None of them helped very much. But meditation seems to help me take a few steps away from my thoughts, so I can turn my attention to my breath and what’s happening in my body.

Four: I’m feeling more creative and doing something about it.

On Tuesday afternoon my friend Pata and I did zoom crafting together for a couple of hours. Pata is an artist (among other things), and makes jewelry (along other things). She’s been teaching me how to make beaded necklaces, and I made a couple of them in late 2019. However, on Tuesday, the muse was with me, and I made four necklaces! They’re not masterpieces, but I like them, and really enjoyed both the design and the handwork of putting them together. Yay!

Five: I’m feeling like I don’t have to rush so much in my life. Which translates into doing less and being okay with it. This is very much a work in progress, but I feel it starting.

I hate rushing and can’t stand being behind or feeling like I’ve got to hurry to catch up. On anything. Being way behind others while cycling has never been fun (I know, many other people don’t mind this, but I do). I don’t like to be the last to arrive or to turn in things, etc. One way to avoid this problem is to put fewer tasks on my plate. That way I can focus on the thing in question, and I’ll have more resources to devote to it without feeling so frantic or rushed.

Honestly, I’m feeling strongly this way about upping my level of physical activity. I’ve been more sedentary than I would’ve liked during the pandemic, and I don’t feel like rushing into fitness. I want that process to be more pleasurable, more doable, more sustainable. I want it to be like meditation; I do it every day, focusing on it, and it’s a part of my daily life. Yes, I’m willing to sweat and to put in some effort. But I want to be able to breathe through it the whole time.

Meditation for 10 days is helping me realize that I can do this. And I am.

Dear readers, do you meditate? What does it do for you? I’d love to hear from you.

fitness

All nature great and small

This week I’ve been thinking about and engaging in small journeys. Starting Monday, I did a 4-day meditation workshop — just an hour a day, but at 7:30AM. In the morning. Anyone who knows me even a little is aware of the magnitude of that feat.

I’ve meditated off and on for decades, and am using the occasion of this pandemic and social uprising time to restart a daily practice. Doing something daily is a commitment, and starting small is everyone’s advice. Small can be powerful, especially when it’s repeated over time.

I never agreed with the idea that familiarity breeds contempt—I mean, who thinks that’s true? Hmmphf. On the contrary, familiarity for me breeds concentration, security, and the leisure to be creative with what one knows well.

Which gets me to this post I wrote in 2016. I was extolling the virtues of non-gob-smacking nature, which we can find around us in our own neighborhoods. I still believe it, and appreciate the capacity to relax into the familiar and down-home pleasures of other people’s summer gardens, local parks, nature trails that are open, and water of any kind.

I hope you are able to get out into small and nearby nature. If you have, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

-catherine

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

A few weeks ago, I posted about my trip to the southwest with my sister and her kids.  We went to the Grand Canyon and other national and state parks of incredible dramatic beauty.  When I returned, still basking in the rosy glow of national park infatuation, I watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns‘ 6-part series called The National Parks, about the history and politics of the development of the US national park system.  It was 12 hours long, and while not constantly riveting or suspenseful, it did leave me entranced and enthusiastic about visiting more nature up close.

Then I saw Samantha’s Facebook post this week about Algonquin Provincial Park, where there are lots of cycling options for all ages, abilities, and preferences.  In addition, you can hike, swim, and paddle, too.  Here’s a blissful scene from their website:

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 1.37.27 PM

Lovely, isn’t it?

Then on Friday, I went out…

View original post 327 more words

220 in 2020 · covid19 · fitness

Working out during the pandemic: notes from Team Less can be More

This morning, Sam posted about working out more during the pandemic: Are you working out more or less often during the pandemic? Sam is on Team More

As an avid blog reader and writer, I knew that Sam was doing a lot of activity during the pandemic. It’s been cool to read about her Zwift rides, yoga with Adriene sessions, and of course the backyard weight sessions. Oh, yes– there’s Cheddar walking, too.

As a member of the 220 workouts in 2020 group, I’ve been seeing others continuing or even amping up their workouts. One member is doing 25 pushups a day for 25 days, and others have devised their own virtual exercise plans. And yes, there’s lots of dog walking going on.

Here’s what’s been happening with me: I started out pandemic exercise in mid-March with lots of zoom yoga classes. I loved them and was thrilled to get more time on my mat without having to leave my house. I walked some– alone and with my friend Norah. I even did some strength mini-workouts, using the NYT 6-minute workout. If you want to read more about that, check it out here.

After a few weeks in lockdown, though, I lost momentum. Zooming for my academic job, managing my own uncertainty and helping distressed students was exhausting, and I felt pretty flattened by it all. It became much harder to leave the house. I did walk with friends, but less by myself.

Zoom yoga was still there and still appealing, but partly because of Zoom fatigue and partly because of pandemic disregulation and doldrums, that slowed, too. Not having a schedule that requires me to leave the house and be places at particular times (for work or play) left me struggling in the most basic ways: my sleep, eating and exercise patterns suffered.

Then school ended, but there wasn’t that feeling of relief I always get. We continued to have a lot of meetings and webinars. Those meetings and webinars will be happening all summer long to help us prepare for fall instruction. So it’s not a regular summer in any way at all. Of course this is true for all of us.

If others of you have had similar experiences, you are definitely not alone. I hear from loads of friends about how hard it is for them to maintain schedules and routines without some of those external cues and stimuli and structures. Team Less is real, my friends. Just as Team More is.

One big thing I’ve done to deal with being on Team Less is to restart daily meditation. I took a 4-day Zoom meditation workshop with Alex from my yoga studio Artemis. It’s really helping me. As I love making lists, here’s a list of some things it’s doing for me:

  • It made me get up early for a 7:30 class, so it’s helped me reset sleep hours a bit;
  • It’s offered me various meditation techniques which I already knew a little about, but needed some help getting reacquainted with;
  • It’s provided company for me in my meditation, in the form of other students and the instructor;
  • It’s helped me slow down some of my anxious thought processes, and identify them as such– just some anxious thoughts I have at some time;
  • It’s helping me put together some new structures for myself, and think about how to proceed in this new environment;
  • And it’s telling me that sometimes, less can be more.

In light of the last item, I’m now putting together a new team, Team Less can be More. Yes, I may be doing less physical activity than I envisioned for the summer, but I can be accepting of where I am, enjoy what I do, and notice the times I have more energy and oomph to go out and walk or swim or bike or do outdoor yoga or paddle, etc. And then maybe do some of those things sometimes. Who knows what is possible…

One important last note: we at the blog spend a lot of time thinking and writing about our relationships with our bodies and with movement and with self-care over the course of human events and the life trajectory. The fact that some of us are moving more and some of us are moving less at any given time is information for us, and we are sending out that information in the hopes that it will help others in their relationships. I like using the language of Team More and Team Less can be More because what we are really doing here is intramural scrimmage. We’re working together to find synergy– benefits for the whole through interaction of our diverse and inclusive parts. Sam’s post inspired me to think about how I’m reacting to a pattern of less activity, and share it with y’all. I hope it’s helpful.

What are you finding from your patterns these days? Do you need more? Do you need less? We’d love to hear from you.

Less can be more.
body image · fitness

What is my body type? What does it matter?

CW: talk about body sizes and descriptions and feelings about them.

This weekend, I came across a FB post from a triathlete who posted a picture of herself, asking the group how they would describe her body type. The company that sponsors her team had asked her (with good intentions, she said), as a way to get her input. She describes herself as a person who’s struggled with weight and is a back of the pack rider for her team.

Among the 110+ (and counting) comments she got were:

  • Strong (hands-down winner among commenters)
  • Healthy and active
  • Athena (triathlete category, minimum weight requirement of 165 lbs/75kg)
  • Perfect!
  • Strong AF!
  • Beautiful
  • Adult woman size
  • Fit and Fabulous
  • Bad Ass Lady
  • Sturdy
  • Solid

There were also some suggestions that felt size-conscious or even a bit size-embarrassed (my term); feel free to scroll past these if you like:

  • Curvy athletic
  • Voluptuous
  • Rubenesque
  • Hourglass figure with extra hours
  • Athletic fit plus (but clarified to be plus healthy, real, etc.)

What do I mean by size-embarrassed? When I hear words like “curvy” and “voluptuous” and “Rubenesque” (outside of 17th-century art history), I always feel like the message is something like “this woman’s body is outside the ideal or norm for the context, and I’m trying to defer to that norm but also say something positive while at the same time acknowledging the tension with a joke”.

All of the commenters were trying to support the original poster and were very attentive to being body-positive and admiring of the poster’s athletic achievements, which are considerable. And yet.

Their respectful discussion reminded me of how hard it can be to talk descriptively about bodies. It also made me think about when and why we feel we need to talk descriptively about bodies. Yes, when we shop for clothing, there are some styles that favor different dimensions and ratios of hips and thighs and waists and breasts and legs, etc. And when we do physical activity, it’s important to note and attend to the variations among bodies that dictate modifications in training, gear, apparel, etc. And finally, at more intensely competitive levels of some activities and sports, detailed facts about the athletes’ bodies become more salient to performance.

Samantha has written about names and labels: Fat or big: What’s in a name?

She’s also written about names for bodies here: I’m fat but not super-fat: on labels, power and identity

Reading Sam’s posts, I’m feeling a little better about the fact that, 3 years after her most recent post, I don’t have a clear position about how to talk about bodies, bigger bodies, my body, your body. I know I don’t like the notion of body types, but am not sure what to do when I feel the need to describe myself or someone else. As Sam said, “it’s complicated”.

To be continued. but for now: do you use body-type language? When do you use it? How do you feel about it? I’d love to hear from you.

fitness · self care

In search of the perfect self-help list

CW: talk about personal fears during the pandemic.

I love those lists of X things to do/buy/eat/read/make/etc. that will completely refashion our lives to make them perfectly balanced and full and grounded and happy. Yes, they’re either obvious or impossible or obviously impossible, but I read them all just the same.

These days I’m feeling extra in need of those to-do lists. I’m very lucky and grateful to still have a job that’s paying me my full salary. And I’m grateful for general health, home stability, community and family.

So what’s there to bellyache about? How about I just make a list:

  • I’m struggling with exercise of any sort after having been so sedentary for months;
  • I’m struggling with severe self-judgment about the above;
  • I’m floundering amidst the lack of external structure that usually helps me regulate my sleep, eating, activity, and social contacts;
  • I’m worrying about the future, both immediate and longer term;
  • I’m afraid of backsliding so far that I can’t catch up to resume a life that resembles what I had before March of this year;
  • insert whatever I can’t bring myself to say or even countenance, but which brushes up against me and causes strife.

Okay, you might be thinking: whoa, that’s pretty heavy (while backing slowly away from this post…)

No idea what this is an image of, but I like the message: that's a big list but anyways best of luck :)
No idea what this is an image of, but I like the message: that’s a big list but anyways best of luck 🙂

Now that I’ve made my list, let’s start with the first item: struggling with exercise. What sorts of lists can I find to help with this?

The Washington post’s list for those struggling to move during the pandemic says this:

  1. be kind to yourself;
  2. set new goals;
  3. stay accountable;
  4. look forward (to how you feel after exercising).

What about all that self-judgment? I’d like to be kinder to myself, but what should I do?

Self magazine has a list of ways to be nicer to ourselves when things are tough– here are a few that I liked:

  1. don’t worry about keeping up with the news;
  2. be nice to yourself if you can’t stop keeping up with the news;
  3. feel free to wear what you want;
  4. be kind to yourself if your place seems messy to you;
  5. be accepting of whatever sleep schedule you have;
  6. give yourself plenty of time and space to do nothing.

I was looking for self-help lists for dealing with fear about the future, and accidentally came across this article, translated from French, in which several experts comment on my worst Armageddon-type coronavirus fears in great detail. Don’t read that article if you want to sleep tonight.

Luckily, I found a nice list from this article in the NY Times about managing pandemic-related anxiety and uncertainty:

  1. know the facts;
  2. put the pandemic into perspective;
  3. identify sources of anxiety;
  4. refrain from shaming and blaming;
  5. don’t be afraid to ask for help;
  6. prepare as best you can for future uncertainty;
  7. connect connect connect;
  8. practice self-care.

There’s certainly a theme to these lists. All of them remind us that we are not alone, that for many of us, movement helps us feel better, and that being stern with ourselves is not a good idea (right now, or maybe ever).

None of these is the perfect list. But I’ve found it! I was inspired by listening to the podcast In the Dark’s series on Coronavirus in the Delta, episode 2– inside Parchman Prison in Mississippi. You can read about it and get the link to listen here.

Here’s the perfect self-help list:

  1. breathe slowly in;
  2. breathe slowly out;
  3. breathe slowly in;
  4. breathe slowly out;
  5. breathe slowly in;
  6. breathe slowly out;
  7. repeat.

I think that’s it for right now. I can do this. You can do this. Let’s keep doing this.

Woman with eyes closed, breathing. By Allie for Unsplash.

What are you doing to deal with what’s causing you struggle these days? I’d love your tips, lists, or any comments you’d like to share.

fitness · self care

Things that make me feel good in my body, pandemic edition

What I like best about Fit is a Feminist Issue is how body-affirming and movement-positive it is. I love reading and writing about new and familiar ways to reward, challenge or nurture myself through taking good care of my body, whatever that means to me, in whatever ways are open to me.

In 2017, I wrote about 6 things that make me feel great about my body. In no particular order, they were:

  1. yoga
  2. reading Natalie’s posts
  3. sex with myself
  4. doing some prettifying activity– for me this meant hair color and treatments
  5. walking
  6. cycling

Come 2019, I reprised my list: Some things that make me feel great about my body (this year). Here’s the upshot:

  1. Yoga was still in, especially yin
  2. hair treatment indulgence was out
  3. comfort and ease in clothing were in
  4. walking was out (sprained ankle and physical therapy)
  5. the gym was in
  6. weight training, too
  7. and of course cycling

Now it’s officially mid-2020 and mid/early-mid/late-early coronavirus pandemic. Staying home starting in mid-March, I slowed down in almost every way: less productive, moving less, sleeping less and less well, feeling less peppy, thinking less clearly.

Now in mid-summer (and what a strange summer it is), my goal is to identify what helps me feel good IN my body. Thoughts ABOUT my body are secondary these days; they will have to wait their turn. Right now, it’s all about getting some physical sensations of pleasure, well-being, security, accomplishment in movement, stillness, nourishment, rest, routine.

So here’s my list of 6 things that make me feel good in my body during this pandemic:

1.Sleep. Hands-down winner. I’ve struggled the past few months with insomnia. I don’t even realize how bad it is until the morning after a night I get 8.5–9 hours of sleep, and I feel like Wonder Woman. Wow. So this is what rested feels like. I want more of this.

2.Yoga. No matter how I feel– tired, agitated, creaky from sitting in too many zoom meetings, or just blah, there’s some yoga for me. Even rolling around on my mat, or swinging my arms from side to side and raising them over my head feels good to me and good for me and good in me. Yay yoga!

3.Nature. There’s a reservoir near my house and a lovely walking route around it, with some woodsy paths, too. It’s great just to see trees, pine straw and low-growing plants. Even people’s yards and gardens cheer and hearten me. And my back porch is on the second floor of the 3-family house I live in, and it feels a bit like a tree house.

4.Walking. After so much inactivity, walking feels like doing something. And wearing a mask makes me more aware of my breathing. All of this puts me in touch with the functioning of my body– it’s doing its thing, in a simple and miraculous feat of engineering. Yeah, walking rocks.

5.Cycling. Yes, I can still do that, too. My legs still know how to turn the cranks, and my hands do the shifting without asking my permission. The instincts are all there, and the scenery–even the most mundane scenery is a treat.

6.Water. This is an aspirational item, as I haven’t been swimming yet this summer. But I’ve got plans for lake swimming this week and some ocean swimming this month and next month. My body in water does miraculous things: it floats. And moves and glides and splashes.

Readers: what is making you feel good in your bodies these days? Have any of those things changed since the pandemic? I’d love to hear from you.

Ocean Water, by Gigi for Unsplash.
Water, by Gigi for Unsplash.

fitness

Sure you can run in your bra!

HI readers– remember when we all had the bandwidth to worry about things like what sorts of impressions we made if we ran or cycled or hiked in sports bras (instead of fully shirted)? Ah, those were the days.

In honor of Throwback Thursday, here’s a great summer 2015 post by Natalie about the aforementioned issue. And in case you’re really busy today, here’s the TL:DR version, in her own inimitable words:

Run in a bra, don’t wear a bra at all, you get to decide. Not only are you the boss of your own pants. YOU ARE THE BOSS OF YOUR BOOBIES.

Thanks, Natalie, and you’re welcome, readers!

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

Sam shared this article and knew I’d love to chime in about running in a bra.

Is It ok to run in a Sports Bra?

Well of course it is! Actually I live in Ontario and you can run topless if you want to here, perfectly legal. I wouldn’t, but not for modesty’s sake, my breasts are long, wide and floppy so topless anything isn’t terribly comfortable. it’s the flapping and slapping.

This came up recently at the Kincardine Women’s Triathlon where, in recent years, they’ve actively discouraged women from racing in their bras. the race rules state “Shirts or tanks must always be worn” (note the bold).

I thought that was really weird. The announcers framed it as a wanting to keep it a family friendly event. (As though families don’t have people in their bras.) What really blew my mind was at the pre-race briefing the night…

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fitness · fun

YouTube passive cross-training exercise videos for you!

Hi readers– sometimes when I sit down to write a blog post, the words just flow effortlessly. Inspiration strikes, and I’m off to the races. The perfect photo or metaphor or theme appears, and voila! Blog mission accomplished.

Sad to say, not today.

Just so you know I have tried, here are some topics I thought about writing on for Sunday, but rejected:

  1. a compendium of bad stock photos depicting women playing sports (yeah, that didn’t go anywhere). I was inspired by the twitter hashtag #badstockphotosofmyjob, which is actually at least 2 years old, but hey, I just made it to the party…

2. A compendium of inspiring stock photos of women playing sports, reminding us 1) there was such a thing as women’s sports that spectators could watch, in person even; and 2) sports playing is something we might consider doing, too, albeit safely. I admit I’m sorely in need of motivation to leave my house more often. Inertia’s a tough one…

3. A review of one of the many feminist/sports/activity/self-care books on or near my bedside table, just waiting to be read and summarized by me, for you.

4. Another installment of “cockamamie and likely non-functional exercise devices sold over the internet.” I never tire of looking at them. My current fave (which I haven’t ordered yet) is shoe covers that fit over sneakers, facilitating dancing either on hard floors or carpet. This model purports to make pivots and turns much smoother. I’m sold.

5. A commentary on this article revealing how T. Rex wasn’t (as conventional paleontology would have it) a fast sprinting lone hunter. No. T. Rex was all about the energy conservation, so ambled along at a more leisurely pace. Perhaps there’s a lesson in that for us all. Or not. Which I why I didn’t pursue the topic further.

Instead of any of the above, I’m offering you a chance to do some passive cross training with gymnasts and parkour instructors. I have to say I enjoyed these. They are two YouTube videos in which male athletes in one field try to teach female athletes in another field, and the women kick ass. Then, when the tables are turned, the male athletes don’t do as well. Turns out, in this pair of videos everyone is incredibly talented and also pretty chill and good-natured. Okay, I might as well insert them here.

Women college gymnasts try out parkour and rock.
Male parkour instructors try gymnastics and do okay.

See you all next week, when I expect to be chock-full of inspiration and humor and fluency and sincerity. In writing, as in all things–

Some days you get the bear. Some days, the bear gets you.
Some days you get the bear. Some days, the bear gets you.

Hey readers– are you doing or reading or hearing or eating or seeing anything that’s got you excited or inspired or fired-up or out of the house or off the couch or out of bed before noon? I’d love to hear about it… 🙂