Feminist reflections on fitness, sport, and health
I'm a self described fat feminist 43 year old mother of two teenage minions who loves her high energy life partner of over 23 years. I love moving my body and sometimes do yoga, triathlons and dance like a fool. My next measure of success will be being more fierce and less fearful as I roll through my 40s.
Many of my regular fitness activities have fallen by the wayside over the winter. Some of it was treacherous sidewalks and multiple slips & falls. Other things, like starting a new role last December, have changed when and how long I’m at work and if I can make fitness classes.
One thing I’ve been able to consistently do is hot yoga on Sundays with my friend & neighbour Kim. We did a few flow classes in December and January. One day we decided to try the yin yoga class. We’ve both fallen in love with these 90 minute classes of gentle movement and lengthy stretches.
I had a preconceived notion that the class was for, well, people much older than me. The class is typically a mix of ages from university students to retirees.
In many aspects of my life I’m driven by achieving and squeezing more out of or into my day. This class is not about any of that and I’m getting a great deal of joy out of being in the moment and adopting passive postures that are surprisingly intense.
Sometimes my mind is rushing and impatient. When I first did a reclined crescent posture I thought “This is a waste of time. I’m not feeling anything. Are we going to move on soon?”
Funny enough, as I laid there stretching, my side started burning and the intensity traveled up and down my side as well as wrapping around my hip. Whoa. Unexpectedly intense and very pleasant.
I keep going back with Kim and we visit a bit walking back and forth to class. We share what worked for us in the class or sensations or cranky body bits.
I love the whole package: walking to class, visiting, and the class itself.
I’m not sure how long I will keep going to the class (I’m horribly fickle) but for now I’m savouring the class and all that it is doing for me.
I’m seriously stoked that it is easier and easier to find clothes that fit, especially workout gear.
One clothing retailer, Reitmans Canada, I’ve frequented for having Plus Petit now simply carries all clothes up to size 20. Now that is not going to cover all the sizes people wear. I’m fortunate I hover in the 18-20 range for North American sizing.
So now I can walk in and look at a whole store of clothes instead of one, picked over rack.
I’ve been able to find great workout leggings on sale for under $20 CDN.
I’ve also noticed my favourite thrift stores are now carrying more plus size clothes, especially pants.
I needed to upgrade my wardrobe and found several pairs of dress pants that fit. Partly this is due to some stretch being in all dress pants these days.
The biggest surprise was when my sister gifted me pajama pants for Christmas that were sized XL. I was very nervous trying them on as I usually need a XXL or bigger.
Turns out the pants were sized generously and did relax & have lots of stretch. They have crabs on them and read “Crabby in the morning”.
I’ve no doubt this change in availability of sizes up to size 20 is due to the agitation of activists and women insisting on more clothes being offered in more sizes.
That being said there are very few places I can find that offer sizes beyond 20. Let’s keep insisting and agitating until with have greater proliferation of more plus sizes.
It’s been a long time since I first tried hot yoga. My friend and neighbour Kim had scored a free pass to try hot yoga and asked me if I would like to join her. I agreed to go but wasn’t sure which studio we were heading for.
I’m very lucky that I live within walking distance of many yoga studios. As we walked down in the squeaky snow I realized it was a studio my oldest son goes to as well as a few other friends.
I knew to bring a towel and water. We did an evening community class. It was not too crowded and the instructor was lovely.
I enjoyed chatting and walking to and from with Kim. We both decided to get 5 class passes and have been going to a noon flow class for 3 weeks.
Since I now manage cold hands and feet from Raynaud’s the heat feels especially good.
I’ve had the chance to have a different instructor each class which keeps it interesting. The timing worked out that we were in class both on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
It felt great to move with intention and take time to support my wellbeing during potentially hectic days.
One surprise has been the muscle fatigue, especially in my gluteus medius. It’s the crescent shape spot on my upper glute that joins to the bone and fans outward towards my hip.
I’m taking that as a sign that the other muscles are doing enough work that new muscles are engaging. I’m delighted that my piriformis is not aching.
I keep forgetting to snap a photo after yoga but here’s one of my outside, walking to meet Kim.
I was so sad in September when my 5 year old high impact bra suffered a catastrophic failure during a soccer match. I loved that bra. It contained and supported my bust in this lovely engineered unpadded bra. It was so lovely I save it only for running and soccer. Goodbye Old Faithful.
Cycling I can get away with the department store Lycra compression bras. For yoga and cxworx I use a thin shelf type top. When it comes to high impact sports I prefer a lot of structure and support.
I’m not overly busty but because I’m plus size I rarely find the 40 F at athletic wear shops. So I went back to the bra shop I had gotten Old Faithful. Since it has been so long the designs were different. Now everything is lined with foam cups. I’m round and sweaty at the best of times and I was skeptical of all the padding.
The shop attendant quickly eyed me up and down and grabbed the perfect size. She assured me this was the bra she sells to the university rugby and soccer players.
The cut is comfortable and my chest is neither compressed nor tucked under my arm pits.
Unlike other sports bras that have zippers and complex mechanisms this is a simple triple eye and hook closure with an adjustable clip to form a racer back. It’s super comfy, I like the lines and I can breathe.
My new boob buddy is made by Chantelle and is a high impact line.
Bras are a funny thing. In the 90s the Canadian military tried to design a combat bra. After years of research they concluded no one design would provide support and comfort for the wide array of breast configurations.
Some of us are set wide apart, others close together. Breast density changes over time. There’s a lot to consider. The military decided to give members money for bras so we could buy what worked for ourselves.
All that to say, I’m super happy with my $95 bra but your mileage may vary. It also took me two months to have the cash on hand. I can’t run without it and some running is an important part of my fitness routine.
Given my past in the military I have a lot of challenges to taking instructor led fitness classes. I’m so glad my work colleagues cajoled me into taking that first class.
I enjoy cxworx because the exercises target the areas of my body that complain the most from my sedentary job. My balance and coordination have definitely improved. I feel strong after each class even if I don’t often feel like going.
I have a lot of challenges in the class as I’ve not yet developed the core strength necessary for the moves. With the help of the instructors I know how to modify the exercises to get a workout for where I’m at. I tried taking a locker room selfie:
I don’t make it to every class but I certainly enjoy and value each one I get to take.
It’s the first full weekend in October and in Canada that means a long weekend widely celebrated as Thanksgiving. Our family enjoys a giant feed of food. It also falls very close to my birthday and my wedding anniversary.
The changing season and the celebrations feel like a personal New Year. A time for reflection and change.
Soccer season wrapped up and my team, Zidane in the Membrane, won B division. We had a fun season. I grew as a player, forced to play mid-field I found out I’ve gotten a bit better.
My big achievement this year, aside from hitting the ball effectively with my head and getting called on a foul, I was unanimously chosen by my team as “most sportingly”. In a nod to my feminism the organizers changed it from “sportsmanship”. Awe! Everyday feminist feels.
Workout wise I’m heading back to the gym for cxworx classes Tuesdays at 4. The class this week was humbling after several months of not doing those moves. I often have to modify exercises because I don’t have the thrust to mass ratio or my round body simply can’t do some of the moves. So it’s a cognitive load with the cardio, strength and balance. I do like it though but the first day back I was weepy for the guilt of not being back sooner. I did wear last year’s soccer jersey. It cheered me up.
I’m loving Walking Wednesdays with my pals Tracy & Stephanie. We loop around the beautiful park in front of our office.
I’m throwing some treadmill running back in the mix. I want to improve my endurance and sprinting in soccer so I can be better in mid-field.
All in all, I’m feeling good about turning 43 this week. I’ve lots of friends who model what fitness in my forties & fifties can look like.
My sweetie and I are celebrating 22 years of togetherness. It’s official, I’m now at the age where I’ve lived with him longer thanIve lived without him. I’m thankful we keep finding good reasons to enjoy each other and fitness stuff is a big part of that.
So my folks are in town to celebrate my eldest son’s high school commencement. It’s basically the family High Holidays! Food, family and the time to enjoy it. Many things to be thankful for.
I’ve had a great summer. I got to do the MS Bike Tour from Grand Bend to London and back again the last weekend in July. I was able to join my corporate team and met all kinds of great humans.
I also got to ride with my partner Michel and our longtime friend Al.
The weather was wonderful and the route beautiful. The rest stops were plentiful and there was lots of road support.
For a few stretches I rode with some of my colleagues. One of the best parts was staying at the dorms and socializing with all the lovely humans. My friend, colleague and mentor Bonnie is an avid cyclist and convinced me to join the fundraising committee. I loved seeing that side of her and we had many months of fun leading up to the ride and many laughs the whole weekend. Thank you Bonnie!
I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and have already signed up for next year.
I also had 2 weeks of vacation with my family. We did amusement parks, camping and toured about Washington, D.C.
Sometimes we over did it a bit and got tired. When that happened I’d take a picture just to remind us all of the fun we were having:
We averaged 21,000 steps per day and we were all able to keep that pace up for 10 days.
The point of all the fitness stuff I do is to be able to continue to connect with people and have great experiences.
There were many great memories made and I’m thankful I could do so much this summer.
Here’s to September bringing more moments of joyful movement with awesome humans!