charity · cycling · Sat with Nat

Nat’s kind of sorta MS Bike Tour

Recommended listening “Hurricane Years” by Alice Cooper

Last weekend was to be my epic, triumphant return to the MS Bike Tour Grand Bend to London after a three year hiatus. For the first time in a long time Pride London was not the same weekend as the bike tour. I participate in both as part of my corporate teams.

I love that Canada Life supports Pride and matches the first $10,000 any corporate fundraising team raises for charity events. Win-win-win!

This year I was cycling each weekend and went from 20 km up to 60 km in just over a month. I was feeling prepared and loved that my partner Michel was able to join my team and train with me.

Michel and I take a selfie after one of our training rides. I’m in the foreground with a neon green helmet and a yellow and red jersey that reads “ms bike tour”. Michel is on the background wearing a blue t-shirt and black helmet. We are both sweaty and smiling.

Thanks to the amazing support of our friends, families, colleagues and fit is a feminist issue bloggers both Michel and I exceeded our fundraising goals raising just shy of two thousand Canadian dollars for MS research. Thank you!!

Monday before the event we picked up our registration kits and met with our Canada Life Cycles teammates for a meal. I had missed those smiling faces!

Friday night we got ready and packed all the things.

Our helmets with our participant numbers sit on tops of our red Canada Life Cycles jerseys with our numbers pinned on. We felt very prepared!

Saturday morning the alarm went off at 5 am and we were in the car by 5:22. I decided to stop at the Lucan Tim Hortons. It was open before 6 am and I saw our motorcycle marshals inside getting hot breakfasts. One came out to the vehicles in the drive through with bikes to let us know the start would be delayed an hour as there was lightning in the forecast. It was still calm and clear. I decided we’d head up anyway and connect with the team. Get photos etc.

We got to the start at 6:15 am and the clouds were rolling in. As we took our bikes off the car rack serious thunder started rumbling. A crack of lightning overhead had us dash back into the car. It wasn’t even safe to walk to the motorway just a hundred meters away.

Michel and I face the camera in our matching jerseys inside the car and are trying to keep our sense of humour.

I start getting texts from teammates in other vehicles and we notice a 6:30 email confirming a delay from a 7:30 start until 9 am. Dang. I mean. It was not safe to ride. The starting area was flooded. Registration was not open. It was very bleak in the start area when I darted in to use the port a potties while we waited. A few of my teammates had waded through calf deep water to climb up into the bandshell for shelter. It didn’t look like much room so I went back to the car to wait with Michel.

By 8:15 I got a text from my team captain that the ride was canceled and shuttles were coming to take everyone to London. I was soaked from my two trips to the toilet. The idea of waiting an hour or two more to take a bus with our bikes to within 2 km of our house did not appeal to me. Michel and I briefly considered just riding anyway. We had water, electrolytes and a couple snacks. But I had not packed enough for a fully self supported ride.

I’m also a rule follower and thought we weren’t allowed to ride. So we throw our bikes back on the car and drove home. We ran errands for our family. Later I saw most of my team had decided to ride without support. I regret not being ready to be self supported. I was so bummed out about it I cried off and on all day.

We decided to go see the Barbie movie. Great call! We laughed so hard. We also came up with a plan to ride a self supported 80 km on Day 2. We had the car in London, plus the official Day 2 ride is slightly shorter, the 150 km total is split wit a roughly 80 km Day 1 and just under 70 km Day 2.

Sunday morning we sleep in, have breakfast, walk the dog then hop on our bikes for an 80 km loop up to Ilderton. We accidentally end up on a very hilly route with 500 m of climbing. It was slow going for me but I didn’t walk up one single hill and that’s the first time this year I could say that.

Since we started from our house the club route had a break at the Tim Hortons which fell at 47 km into the trip.

Me, squinting at the camera and kind of scowling at the 47 km mark. I really needed the break off my bike, food, toilet and a refill of my water bottles.

As we left Ilderton and headed north a hefty headwind kicked in as we slowly climbed to 15 mile road. I was so over climbing at that point. As we headed east towards Adelaide street I looked forward to the downhill to home with a tailwind. I would get to fly home after grunting along at 16 km/hr on all the climbs.

But it was not my day. Somewhere on Adelaide while we were 12 km from home I got a flat. There were several fine green glass shards in my tire.

We stopped and Michel helped me change my flat. I picked all the glass from the outside then ran my fingers inside the empty tire to find more shards poking through. I must have missed some though because we couldn’t get the new tube to inflate. We would pump it up, I’d hop on and try to ride and I could feel it was flat.

So many friends and strangers stopped to check in on us. We declined all offers of help. It was just a flat. But. Dang. I should have taken the hint. After three more attempts to get me rolling I convinced Michel to bike home and get the car.

I don’t know if it was worry, frustration or just pent up energy from a weekend that would not cooperate but he flew, like 40 km/hr flew, down that hill on a tailwind and picked up a couple Personal Bests on Strava.

I found some shade and checked social media. I posted an update

It’s sunny, I’m in the shade. I look like hell. I’m disappointed I was just 12 km away from completing my 80 km ride.

So it was a lot of fussing and feelings, not much riding but I felt very satisfied with myself. I was ready to ride 2 days back to back fully supported. I really love the energy of the MS Bike Tour.

The more years I do this event, the more I meet people living with MS and folks who love folks living with MS. It’s all around me and I don’t think I’d have that knowledge if I didn’t ride for the cause and tell people about it.

I learned a lot this year. That I am able to train up even after a long break. I will always pack for self support. I’m riding both damn days next year, come hell or high-water.

I worried about not being able to do the rides because of my physicality. But it was weather and a mechanical that foiled my plans. I worried that the folks who sponsored me would feel cheated by me not completing either day.

It turns out though, all those supporters are. Well. Really fucking supportive. Huh. And all I got was love, encouragement and commiseration.

I’m really over having plans change/:be cancelled/interfered with. The pandemic gave me a physically painful reaction to plans being canceled. I’m working on it. And I’m still making plans. The 2024 MS Bike Tour is already in my calendar. Maybe I’ll see you there?

cycling · fat · gear · inclusiveness

Nat finally finds cycling bibs that fit!

A picture of me in 2019 at the MS Bike Tour wearing Garneau cycling shorts.

The last time I bought cycling gear was in 2018 or 2019. During the pandemic I cycled indoors and as my shorts and bibs wore out I really didn’t care to replace them. Who would see how ratty or see through? No one!

Fast forward to this year and I recommitted to cycling outdoors. I missed being in the MS Bike Tour. I wanted back on my bike but despite having many jerseys my shorts and bibs were all worn out.

Around Easter I took all my measurements and realized I no longer fit into Garneau gear.

Me, dressed in pink workout gear, being too big to find cycling shorts in Canada.

I went to the Internet to find any company that touted larger sizes for cyclists. Many have mountain bike shorts. The ones with a tight chamois shirt inside a baggier Bermuda style short. I wanted roadie gear!

I found an American company, Montella, that touted bigger sizes. 6XL! Surely that would fit?

The size chart lists women’s sizes from extra small to size six extra large.

I mean, my waist was an inch larger and my hips two inches but surely that would be ok? I should have realized the one inch increments on the sizes meant these are tight!

I picked some commuter chamois underwear and a full length bib. I like 3/4 to full length to keep my inner thigh and knees from jiggling.

A picture of Montella’s Pink Gel Padded Bib pants. They look super cute!

The package arrived just before I was going on a ride. I was so excited. I ripped into the bag and tried to put them on. I couldn’t even get the bib past my knees. Like. These were laughably too small. I tried the commuting underwear. I took a picture fit for only for a kinky Only Fans. Sorry. Too spicy for this blog!

I cried so hard. I shared my travails with our Fit is a Feminist Issue bloggers. Of course I knew about Fat Lass At The Back gear from the UK but surely I didn’t need to go across an ocean to find gear?

Well I did. The shipping was as fast as coming from the US. According to my measurements I could fit their biggest size 8 XL!

Me standing in my stairs sporting my capris length cycling pants and an MS Bike Tour jersey. I’m fully clothed in opaque Lycra! It’s a miracle!

I was super pumped to put on the bib, which the upper is like a mesh tank top. It doesn’t cut in or twist. Very nice design!

I’ve ridden with both the capris and the bib. I fricking love them! I love that they emailed asking how my fit was. I love that the thighs are opaque.

I’ve ridden a few times in both and I’m very pleased with the quality. I think I’m a bit shocked that my body is on the biggest size anyone makes. I’m plus sized but I’m not big, big. I still get a lot of size privilege as I can buy tops in the XXL range. If I needed to go bigger for jerseys or bottoms I would be shit out of luck.

I’m glad I found gear. I’m hoping that more companies will make bigger sizes. Plus sized cyclists are out here waiting to buy your stuff!


Nat tells the tale of a 1,000 km cycling trip from the SAG wagon

Recommended Playlist: White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane, Alone Time by Rufus Wainwright, A Well Respected Man by The Kinks, Don’t Stop Believing by Journey, Gotta Get Up by Harry Nilsson

A couple weeks ago my beloved Michel and his friend Fred rode in the Randonneurs Ontario Lake of the Burning Plains brevet .It’s a punchy 1,000 km route with lots of climbs. Both Fred and Michel told me it was an unreasonable thing to ask anyone to provide SAG support over such a distance and time. Honestly, it was more for me than them. I wanted to know they were safe during the ride, that included support but also an exit strategy if one of them needed to stop riding. Not to be a pessimist, but a lot of things can happen over 1,000 km and I wanted to help manage those risks.

Thanks to Fred’s amazing forethought and planning I knew how long each break at every control was and where the sleep stops fell. He even hosted a meeting the Monday before to run through the 3 day plan. My role was clear, arrange logistics so they could focus on riding and resting.

The Adventure

Friday evening we packed the car, picked up Fred and headed to Waterloo. There were a few supply stops and we settled in at The Inn in Waterloo. Our room, thanks to Fred, had a patio door that opened onto the parking lot which made bike movement easier. We went through the water bottle routine. Fred and Michel use Gruppo for electrolytes and nutrition: one bottle of Power, one of Ride and a third just water. They brought 6 bottles each, 3 on the bike and 3 with me to have ready at the next control.

The first day of the ride for me was about setting my opinions and ego aside to listen to what they needed. The plan agreed to at one control changed by the time I saw them next. I thought I’d have a lot of down time. The timing of the controls meant I was busy packing up, driving or setting up at the next control. By day 3 napping also became a priority.

You see the back of a green car with hatchback and doors open. Inside is a blue cooler, a water cooler and a lot of groceries

I brought a giant water cooler to keep in the car, a food cooler and a few bags of snacks. I was responsible for all meals, bought or made. The first was a 3:30 am breakfast of coffee, bagels, cream cheese and fruit. I was also the time keeper. Our ambitious plan was to keep the first four stops at controls to 15 minutes and have 1 hour stop each day for a sit down meal.

Day 1 rolled out perfectly and according to plan. I went ahead and secured food at each control with replenishment bottles prepared and waiting. I checked us into the motel and brought in bags. The idea being all these tasks would have otherwise been done by the cyclists. I was saving their time, energy and focus for the ride. It was really working!

In fact they hit the Bowmanville sleep control a full hour and 25 minutes ahead of plan. AMAZING! I thought they would sleep longer but the excitement of the day led to everyone struggling to sleep after showers. So after self care activities and a scant 2 hours of sleep they got up and started on day 2.

The Middle Part

With an hour earlier departure on day 2 than planned the first logistical challenge was that the next control, Millbrook, had nothing open before 8 am on Sundays. My riders were going to be there around 7 so I deeked up to Peterborough for coffee and farmers wraps to have ready at the control. I was starting to feel a bit trippy with the lack of sleep but the sunrise was refreshing. I had bought an electric lunchbox for the trip and it kept hot food hot, like those imported farmer’s wraps. It is really hard to predict how far out the riders were and what time they would arrive. Hills make even the best mathematicians liars. Luckily a third rider, Luke, caught up with Fred and Michel. As my riders left I stayed to chat with Luke and offer some support just as the Foodland opened. I would see him at most controls over the next two days.

I loved scouting ahead looking for shady spots to eat and rest. We had a picnic in Norwood in a butterfly garden by a pond. It was a beautiful place to stop.

Oak Lake was a photo control without any services so I cooked hotdogs in the car while driving and kept them warm. My sister Anj called me to check in and keep me company. She did that often over the trip and I’m so grateful. She is very good at problem solving and we talked through a lot of challenges. When Fred and Michel arrived Luke texted them he had a spill and was back on his bike. We agreed to wait for him. So food and water flowed while time ticked on. Luke showed up with minor abrasions that he treated with water and rubbing alcohol I had on hand. A few band aids were needed but he was in good spirits. I was glad I could support another rider and added First Responder to my list of duties.

I leapt ahead to the big meal control in Campbellford. I picked a pizza place called Apollo’s and pre-ordered. The staff treated the arriving cyclists like rock stars. The sun set as they rolled out of town. At this point, the evening of day 2, I was starting to feel the sleep deprivation and time in the car. My friends Gail and Janet called to get an update and check in on me. It was awesome. The cell reception was terrible as I drove south to Coburg but they persevered calling me back a few times

I had been going for a walk once I arrived at a control, then doing my pit crew duties. At the next control I also napped in the car. Fatigue was really messing with me and no number of walks was helping. That night was a mere 2 hours of sleep.

The Third Day

The final day, I have notes and pictures but it is very blurry. Lots of naps. Lots of emotional support. Lots of waiting as the cyclists slowed their pace. It had been VERY HILLY and the third day was very hot. Mercifully no mechanical issues or rain. Sometime after dinner I realized I had stopped to nap close to where their route was taking them. I intercepted them, only to waive and shout encouragements as they rolled past. I saw them looking strong and smiling. I knew without a doubt that they would finish and make it before the cut off.

It was super rough to see them at the second last control in Orangeville. It was dark, they were tired and time was getting away from them. Luke rolled in just behind the. After everyone had tried resting they rolled off together around midnight for the last leg.

I attempted driving to Waterloo and needed to pull over to nap. I was very sleep deprived and needed to stay safe. I set a timer for 15 minutes and fell into oblivion waking up 20 seconds before the alarm. I eventually got to the hotel and set up to receive the riders. I sat down to wait and woke up to Michel coming in the room around 5 am. Fred and Luke quickly followed. They had done it! 1008 km in 3 days.

Three cyclists stand together arranged tallest to shortest. Fred at 6’2″ then Michel at 5’9″ and Luke, height unknown. They are standing in a parking lot at pre-dawn under a streetlight. I took a VERY COOL photo.


We slept, you guessed it, 2 hours then packed up the car and came home. There is no doubt that my support played a significant role in their successful completion of the ride. The time saved sourcing food and water, pre-ordering at restaurants, checking into hotels really added up. Sometimes they needed just another person to talk through a challenge. Fred, Michel and Luke were constantly thanking me and expressing gratitude for the supplies, care and company.

Through the days I was getting phone calls and messages from friends and family asking for updates on the guys but also checking in with me. How was I? Those second level support folks kept me going. I could not do the things I needed to without the encouragement and company those conversations offered.

I had fashioned myself a bit of a social media coordinator taking phots and posting updates. I figure it is a great way to show off the sport and what amateur athletes can do. It’s really cool. It helped me connect to other Randonneurs who were avidly following the adventure. All of them also gave me shout outs for my support because they understand how challenging and important it is.

Our kids kept the house, dog, cat, fish and gardens while we were away. Another layer of support. So whenever you see someone achieving something amazing I think it’s important to think about all the folks behind the scenes that are ensuring the awesomeness can happen. It was an honour to be trusted with seeing the riders at their most vulnerable. It made the accomplishment even sweeter.

Overall it was harder than I imagined but also a lot of fun and very rewarding. 10 out of 10 I’d SAG wagon again!

Nat is making a silly face in the car while Fred and Michel lean in, smiling. It was a total success!
Sat with Nat · weight lifting

When I’m busiest, protecting workout time gives my self-efficacy a boost

Over a month ago my friend and colleague Freda offered to be my gym accountability buddy. She asked if I was a morning person. I think I forgot to answer “no”!

I agreed to meeting at 6:15 am Tuesdays and Wednesdays at our office gym. It’s marvelously compact, clean and, at that time of day, sparsely populated.

No, I haven’t magically “become a morning person”. I have, when needed, done 5:30 am triathlon workouts in college. Ew! I’ve had physical training for the military at 6 am. Ya. Done with that. No voluntary boot camp classes for this retired Captain. I get paid to be yelled at, not the other way around!

I am trying to say “yes” more to new things to get out of a serious rut/funk that I have been settling into.

Couple things though. It’s year end at work. That’s writing and delivering performance assessments. My work involves supporting teams to place as much business as possible before the end of the calendar year. Hectic!

Plus that one little thing, buying and moving into a house. VERY HECTIC.

I decided that I would stick to my workouts, even on my days off work for moving. I needed to know that in the middle of all the chaos I had something I could 100% do.

My face at 6 am inside my car. It’s dark outside. I’m puffy. I’m seriously wondering if I’m awake enough to drive the 2 km to the gym. But I’m doing it!

It worked wonders for my anxiety. Knowing there was one thing I absolutely could do was a touchstone to my day, my week…my last month really. Knowing I can make plans, follow through and see gains proves to my anxiety I actually can do many things and handle busy time quite well, thank you very much!

So for me the tired adage of “when you are too busy to workout you definitely should workout” is true. Does that work for you?

functional fitness · Sat with Nat

Nat moved and didn’t injure herself!

It’s been 13 years since I have last moved. I was more than a bit nervous I’d injure myself. Am I tired? Heck yes! Sore? Most definitely! But definitely just fatigue. I’m so grateful.

What were the keys to getting through an epic move without getting hurt?

Team work

My partner, adult children, my sister and brother-in-law pitched in. Many hands meant no one person had to push themselves too hard.

Michel, my partner, is standing in a bathroom with a grey tile floor and a tub in the background. He is smiling at the camera. My whole family helped clean our new house. It was awesome!


I was able to pay a painter and order take-out. Outsourcing two key tasks meant I could focus on packing and moving.

Weight Training

I’ve been back at the gym twice a week for a few weeks. Getting a full range of motion and engaging muscles helped me be aware of when I could or could not lift something.

The right equipment

My sister Anj ensured we used a dolly to good effect on the heaviest items. She knew to use grippy gloves and how to work smart. I’m so grateful for her expertise!

A multiphase, multi day approach

Our house closed on Nov 16 and our rental was paid until Nov 30. We took full advantage of the two weeks to get things done. Moving some boxes each day meant the “big move” day was focused on furniture.

All the feelings, all the time!

Despite all that there were many challenging moments on the big day. Oh. And I definitely got my period so was not feeling great. I definitely cried a few times in frustration and because of anxiety.

Post move chiropractic care

I had our regular appointments set for the Monday after our moving day. It allowed me to check in with my body and I was surprised I didn’t have any injuries. Not bad for functional fitness at 48!

I’m making a silly, smiling face next to Michel. We are in our car that is full of boxes and loose items. We did it!
Sat with Nat

Nat appreciates Hampton of Hybrid Calisthenics

In a world of fitness influencers there’s a lot that distinguishes Hampton of Hybrid Calisthenics. He’s funny and kind which I really enjoy.

Hampton demonstrates some moves.

I especially appreciate his approach to learning new movements and exploring discomfort with curiosity. Rather than encouraging people to push through pain Hampton offers ways to build strength and flexibility while preventing or recovering from injury.

The exercises demonstrated rarely require equipment and he always offers practical ways to get support from chairs, walls and railings.

Hampton also encourages folks to start with small amounts of exercise and build over time. His focus on functional fitness and reducing injury and pain are a welcome counterpoint to videos of shocking makeovers. He offers good advice!

Have you stumbled upon a fitness personality that you find warm, welcoming and inclusive? Please tell us about them!


Nat’s thankful for her thunder thighs

Recommended Listening: Thunder by Imagine Dragons (be sure to get your thighs jiggling and wiggling for the bridge and chorus)

Oh friends, the size inclusive clothing ads have found me and I couldn’t be happier. It’s cooling off here in even the warmest part of Ontario. It’s sweater weather. It’s cozying under a blanket on the couch in an oversized hoodie weather. It’s Canadian Thanksgiving with turkey, pumpkin pie and cranberry everything weather. There is nothing better than getting into clothes just for me after a workout or my paid work where other things drive my clothing choices.

In the summer ads from started popping up in my social media. They were thigh high socks for thighs like mine. I am a short plus sized human and my thighs are especially generous. Early in puberty they plumped up and have never looked back. It makes finding leggings, pants, nylons…anything on my bottom half hard to find a good fit. BUT THESE MODELS HAD MY THIGHS! and those socks, well they are cute, comfy and sexy AF.

Image is the lower bod of a black woman woman of size with curly long dark hair wearing thigh high teal socks and an ivory leotard.

Even better, these lovely things are available in Canada. I bought 3 pairs and they look as good as the website photos in real life.

My dimpled thighs are comfily tucked into teal socks that are right up to my inseam. They are cute and I feel great wearing them.

I love that the company reclaimed “thunder thighs”, it’s something I’ve been working on. I have very strong legs that have helped me walk, cycle, swim and lift a lot. And when they slap together or jiggle I think of a thunder clap. Like She Hulk or a storm, it’s the sound of power. You can now switch your recommended listening to Thunderstruck by AC/DC if that makes you smile.

Some of the appeal is about wearing clothes I didn’t get to when I was younger. These socks were not on my radar in the 1990s! It’s also about bucking the norms about what a plus sized woman in her late forties “should” wear and who gets to feel cozy/sexy/confident.

My thighs have been feeling all the love this fall in cute skirts and dresses that I paired with Snag leggings and tights . Friends, they also carry fishnets and mock garter tights for all my occasions. More sexy things that fit? YES PLEASE.

My recent thigh love resurgence started last month working out with Lizzo. She is everywhere these days from playing a 200 year old crystal flute while twerking to dropping a new release of her clothing. In her recent tiktok of garter leggings she gets the thunder thighs going. Spoiler, I’m definitely going as Lizzo for Halloween even if it’s just around the house 😉

Finding size inclusive clothing that I actually like the look of and find comfortable to wear has been a loooooong time coming. It helps me feel good in my skin and I’m very thankful for that!

cycling · fat · Sat with Nat

Working out with Lizzo

Recommended Soundtrack: it’s about damn time by Lizzo

Recommended viewing: Watch Out for the Big Grrrls

It all started with Sam sharing this video with our bloggers Lizzo Announces Her Peloton Artist Series and asking who would like to write about it?

I haven’t been on my Peloton since the spring. I agreed to give it a go after my vacation. So, yes, I am late to the game, not only for the Artist Series workout but Lizzo in general.

One of my roller derby friends recommended I watch Lizzo’s reality TV show on Prime, Watch Out for the Big Grrrls. She loved it. I was leery as I don’t enjoy the mean things that are the backbone of unscripted shows.

I watched it and totally fell in love with Lizzo. How did I not know her music before? I listen to mostly metal, rock and Canadian indie music. Well, I’m a fan now.

The show is an extended audition for dancers to join Lizzo’s touring troupe. It was great to see all of the athleticism, fashion and choreography. There was the sprinkling of unnecessary drama but it was 5% of the airtime.

The show also functions as a promotion of Lizzo’s newest album and her tour. It does a great job showcasing her songs and artistic persona.

Most importantly, and fitness related (I’m getting there!), is Lizzo’s message about body positivity. She explicitly states in each episode that working out is not to loose weight but to be strong to perform and live life. She encourages us all to enjoy our embodiment, revel in our grace, sexiness and “having the juice!”

Now on to the Peloton class. Peloton is working hard at shifting its brand to be more inclusive, reach new audiences and stay financially viable. The business model is built on a foundation of selling stationary bikes, treadmills, athletic wear, and monthly subscriptions.

One way to select workouts is by music genre and there are several class releases in their Artist Series where all songs are from a single artist. There’s been Queen, Def Leppard and David Bowie to name a few. Yes, the ones I noticed totally tell you all the demographic info you need to know about me. The Artist Series is a business partnership where Peloton and the Artist/their label get to draw on each other’s clout for mutual benefit. You can “like” the songs in class and tie that to your music streaming service.

So with many, many, many Artist Series classes already recorded, Lizzo’s stands out because she joined the cycling class and brought a subset of The Big Grrrls with her. The energy and enthusiasm she brought to the workout was awesome.

In the background four women of size are dancing in bright pink workout wear. Lizzo is in the foreground dancing and singing on her bike.

I took the class in September to realize the livestream had technical issues back in July. Lizzo broke the internet and I totally recognized the dancers!

Lizzo’s body is not the build Peloton usually features in ads and classes. All of their instructors are either lean or very muscular with very low body fat. While they do recruit a diverse cast for ethnicity, the age range is tightly dialed in, no seniors as instructors.

It was great to see Lizzo moving on the bike the way I do, breasts bouncing around, belly swaying and thighs undulating. Watching her reality tv show, listening to her music and watching her perform, whether in a workout or on stage, has seriously improved my self confidence. I’m wearing crop tops in public and feeling awesome!

Nat is taking a selfie in her bathroom wearing a super cut space cats print crop top from Point Seven Five.
Sat with Nat · walking

Finding new ways to be fit on vacation. Nat throws out her 30 year habits.

Recommended Soundtrack: These Boots Are Made For Walking

Friends, I’ve had a 30 plus year habit of steaming down the 401 highway from Ontario to my home province of New Brunswick to kick off vacation. From college days in Kingston in the 90s to the last ohhh 17 years from London. The goal, get the frick home as fast as possible.

This year, I’m trying something different. The Friday night of the last day of work I took a nap. A glorious 90 minute nap to start my vacation.

Nat smiles at the camera, clearly just awake from a very deep sleep. She looks pretty proud of herself.

Instead of frenetic activity and getting on the highway as early as possible Friday night or Saturday morning I just took it easy.

We had a change in plans Saturday that opened up the day. No timing to meet. No one waiting on us. Just a hotel in a town between Montréal and Québec and all day to get there.

In the Victoriaville Quality Inn lobby there are e-bikes and scooters to rent. Plus plenty of bike lanes to use them in!

We leisurely packed in the morning and got underway sometime after 9:30 am. This was unheard of in previous years.

The traffic was. Well. Unrelenting. Fully understanding I am also traffic, I’d never been on the 401 near Toronto midday on a long weekend. It was so busy. We joked it was an exercise in patience.

Our toodling eventually got us to Victoriaville PQ around 8 pm. It was getting dark so we grabbed a bit to eat at a microbrewery. There was live music downtown and streets were full of people. It was awesome.

The next morning, instead of rushing to get back on the highway, we went for breakfast at a diner and took a hike on the Four Seasons trail on Mount Arthabasca.

Nat and Michel take a smiling selfie in the dappled shade of a maple grove full of sap tap lines. They are near a trail pay box for “le Sentier fee Troitteurs”. Roughly translates to the trail of the walkers or trotters or hikers?

It was a beautiful 3 km trail. I had accidentally driven us to the top of the mountain instead of starting at the base. It turned out to be perfect as we took the more challenging part of the trail down l. We sauntered the way around the mountain on maple syrup access roads and east trails. Well maple sap tap collection lines, it’s boiled down to make syrup.

Woven through a stand of maple trees are bright sap lines that come together into larger lines. There are dozens of lines in various colours including blue, purple and black.

We finished our hike on top of the mountain. It was perfect weather with amazing vistas.

We saw runners and mountain bikers on adjacent trails. I loved how everyone had their own paths.

We see the back of Michel’s head as he reads a sign warning of pedestrian and cycling collisions where our paths meet.

We then headed off to our last leg of driving. We arrived refreshed and ready to visit. Our back feeling good for the 1,300 km trip we had just driven.

I loved making the drive part of the vacation and getting some activity in as well. I’m not going to lie, it was painful to shift gears and be less goal oriented.

Have you tried a new approach to vacations before? How did it go?

Sat with Nat

Can automation give me more time for fitness?

Recommended Soundtrack: Robots by Flight of the Conchords, Mr. Roboto by Styxx, Robot Rock by Daft Punk

I purchased a rumba vacuum. Yes, I am very late to vacuum automation. It was only recently that a purchase like that was even conceivable for me, the cost wasn’t something that seemed achievable until now.

I have to admit it was the gentle cajoling of my sister that her robot did a great job and with the pets and humans in my life this would really help. She loved her robot vacuum and another good friend had offerd up her research and analysis. I was sold on the idea.

I named mine Romeo so that when it got stuck I could quip “Wherefore art thou Romeo?”. It’s the same reason our dog is named Lucy…”Lucy, I’m HOME!” I am a simple creature when it comes to comedy.

One night, as I was chopping vegetables for dinner, I couldn’t stop smiling as the robot whirred away down the hall. My beloved put the laundry on and the dishwasher was sloshing away at the lunch and breakfast dishes. I thought a lot about Hans Rosling’s great TED talk on The Magic Washing Machine.

He argued that liberating women’s time from manual house hold tasks led to better child development and education outcomes. If you haven’t heard his talks before I highly recommend them all. He passed away a number of years ago and his talks still hold up.

I know what it takes to wash clothes by hand without running water. Whether during long camping trips to military exercises where we were in the bush longer than I could stand the smell of my combats, grating soap, scrubbing with a washboard or on rocks then wringing by hand takes time. I still remember my maternal grandmother’s wringer washer in her yard next to the clothesline with the hose draped into it. We would tag team the wringing and hanging. It was an all day affair. Automation in clothes washing means a scant few minutes sorting and loading the machine then flipping the load into dryer. Folding takes mere minutes. The best part is not needing to mind the laundry, unlike in the wringer washer, so other activities can happen.

The same with dishes, loading takes a moment and other things can happen while the water sloshes around in the magic box. I find the same with my robot vacuum. It does a bang up job, far better than what I did. My floors are squeaky clean, I’ve raised my standards. Those standards had to be lowered before because I simply wasn’t able to get the cleaning done to a point where we were pet hair free. It seemed impossible.

So now I do spend some time managing the robot, figuring out how to optimize clean and keep out zones, designing routines and some maintenance. Overall though those tasks take way less time than the manual sweeping and vacuuming I had been doing.

A black round robot vacuum sits on it’s docking station with a tower for collecting debris on a hardwood floor. It is plugged into a green wall with white trim.

Automation and task sharing with my partner and our youngest kid (who is 20!) have helped me find more time for reading, writing, drawing, making music and, hopefully, working out regularly.

I am spending a lot of time in the garden weeding, watering, pruning, planting, harvesting and, well, enjoying the beauty and bounty of my naturalized space.

Thin brown branches of a currant bush arch downward, laden with large clusters of plump, bright red fruit that tuck under green velvety leaves.

Will automation allow me more time for working out? I don’t know but my house is the much cleaner for it!

Has automation of household tasks helped you do more things?