Sat with Nat · sleep

Nat’s still waiting to fall in love with her CPAP

About a year ago I went for a sleep study and got my results. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and prescribed a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine.

You can read my original post here.

Seven months later I’ve gotten used to using the machine every night. I’m still waiting to fall in love with my CPAP.

Things that really helped me get through the first couple months was tapping into my social support network. I learned there were different types of masks and tried them. In the end the rabbit nose worked for me.

I learned I could use it without water or heat settings. Totally revolutionized my experience. I turned off the auto-on/off and ramp up features. Finally I told my device provider that it felt like trying to sleep with my face out of a car window. They contacted the prescribing doctor and they dropped my pressure 2 points. It made a big difference.

I’m not seeing big gains in feeling rested or a boost in my mood or metabolism. So much for that! I definitely no longer snore so my partner and my throat are much happier. My blood pressure dropped 5 points. So some gains.

I had a follow up sleep test that was less invasive due to some changes in equipment. Less wires and not being tethered to the wall made a big difference. Natalie’s unimpressed face stares at the camera with wires and tape attached.

Ya. My expression is accurate. I’m tolerating and complying but I wouldn’t even say I’m feeling neutral about it.

I’m accepting but, when I really take a moment, I resent the CPAP and strongly dislike it. I miss slipping into bed and cuddling to my sweetie, my forehead pressed into the nap of his neck.

I miss spontaneous sex and even just going to sleep without the whole mask donning production.

My many friends who use these types of breathing devices assure me with time I will love it. I hope so.

Sat with Nat

Nat is definitely experiencing peri menopause

A year ago I stood in the family planning isle of the pharmacy staring at pregnancy tests. It had been 40 days since my last period. For 4 years I had fastidiously tracked my periods in a phone app. They clustered tightly between 21 & 31 days. Oh to know then that those variations were a tightly clustered data set.

On the one hand I was 44 with a tubal ligation 17 years earlier and my partner had a vasectomy around the same time. On the other hand, statistically, it was highly unlikely I was pregnant but it wasn’t a zero chance so I needed to check.

I wasn’t pregnant but it was my first skipped period that signaled the start of a year where the time between periods oscillated wildly from 18 to 52 days. There’s no planning around that data set.

My mood started to mirror these fluctuations and my sex drive skyrocketed while I also was fed up with everyone and could cry at any moment. It has been tumultuous times.

The unpredictable periods, sometimes so heavy it interfered with exercise, activities or even leaving the house were coupled with many other symptoms.

I started laughing recently when a Canadian sketch comedy show Baroness Von Sketch posted a short about peri menopause. It’s hilarious. Also at many junctions the protagonist asks “I don’t know, is it? No, it couldn’t. I still <insert young life affirming thing>”

It basically narrates the past year. But nothing is more compelling or persuasive than the graph of my period frequency.

A line graph showing a big mountain of period variations after many years of tightly clustered data.

Oh yes, I’m definitely in the peri menopause now friends. Some great advice from my friend & colleague Patti was to embrace the tumultuous times, just like I did when I was pregnant.

I’m trying. 😀

And I’m letting go of any expectations that exercise will transform my body or make it youthful. It’s simply a way to support my health & mobility while sometimes allowing me to appreciate what my body can do.

Sat with Nat · strength training

Nat goes back to her exercise basics

I tried to think of the first exercise I ever learned. I can’t put my finger on it but I bet it was skipping, running, push ups, summersaults or sit ups.

For me body weight exercises are the basics, the foundation of where I build my fitness. From walking to cycling to yoga, moving my body starts first with getting the moves right.

The past month I’ve had a lot of hip and lower back pain. It was so bad I had to stop my activities, including walking to work, and rest my body.

Now that the acute pain has passed I’m going back to basics with a beginner body weight workout. I like this one by Nerd fitness. It’s customizable and I can draw on my previous knowledge to pick the variations on each exercise that work.

For example toe push-ups are not accessible to me right now and knee push-ups are painful from varicose veins across my knees so I started with wall push-ups. You get parallel to a wall with your arms extended, step back on your tippy-toes and do your push-ups. It allows me to dial in my form and check in with my body. After 3 circuits I can feel the burn in my chest & triceps.

My partner and I joked our little 20 minute routine was just a warm up until the aches set in two days later. It might be the squats, the lunges or the giant bag of rice we used as a weight but whatever it was we were both humbled by how much the routine asked of our bodies.

I want to slowly ramp back up to weights. I also know if I do a body weight routine for a few months my core, flexibility and form will support my future fitness goals and reduce my chances of injury.

An 8 kilogram bag of jasmine rice sits on a slightly dirty floor

This rice seemed, at just under 8kg, a good rowing weight.

What exercises do you go back to time & again? What is the first exercises you remember learning?

Sat with Nat · soccer

A Happy End to Summer Soccer

Thursday night was the last game of the season for my Co-Ed soccer team. We, for the fourth year in a row, won B division.

A motley group of 15 people wearing bright orange jerseys pose in front of a soccer net making silly faces.

Zidane in the Membrane 2019

There are few original players from 4 years ago. We range in age from 20 to 50 something. I often joke I’m the second oldest player and nearly double the age of half the team.

The skill range is wide, from those who played internationally and in university or college to beginners and dabblers. I love it.

I learn a bit more about the sport each year. Apparently there are rules?

My biggest achievement is not injuring myself the past couple seasons. It means I’m not the most aggressive player on the team and occasionally find myself flinching from the ball. But hey, we aren’t out there to make money, it’s supposed to be for fun & fitness.

I love the energy of the younger players and appreciate seeing colleagues in a different mode of being. It’s given me a few more friendly faces at work and offered me new friends.

Soccer is the only team sport I do these days and I’m going to miss these lugnuts. Until next year Zidane!

Sat with Nat

Nat falls in love with her new cycling shorts

I haven’t had to get new cycling shorts for 3 years thanks to massively gearing up that year. As I wore through shorts I realized my favourite bib shorts were a New Zealand brand not available in Canada. It totally bummed me out as I struggle to find women’s XXL shorts. Many companies simply don’t make them. Others have very limited offerings. In addition I prefer to get goods shipped within Canada.

After 3 months of researching I was thrilled to find that Garneau offered XXL women’s shorts across all lines. Wahoooooooooo!

I ended up ordering a pair of Neo Power Art Motion 7 and Optimum 7 women’s cycling shorts. With taxes and shipping that ran just over $200 CDN.

I fricking love my new shorts. I picked the floral print design for the first pair and basic black for the second. Thank n my inaugural ride with the black pair I had a hideous period. I was stopping to change my tampon every 45 minutes and still bled through. I mean soaked to my knees. MY BEAUTIFUL NEW SHORTS!! Fortunately a quick hand wash of the shorts, my bike and me and all was right as rain.

I had decided for ease of roadside toilet breaks I would eschew bibs and just go with shorts. It was the right choice for me. I had worried that they would ride down. Nope!

I’m super pumped about comfortable gear that fits me and looks great.

Nat in side profile smiling like a good astride her bike in head to toe Lycra

At the Grand Bend to London MS Bike Tour. Photo by Lisa Amyot

I got plenty of compliments on the fun print. I just love my shorts!

They held up great for longer rides and I’m very happy with the chamois and cut. I often struggle to find shorts that don’t cut in at the hem or push against my varicose veins. No problem with these!

Yay!

aging · Sat with Nat

Nat realizes she is high maintenance!

Honestly, I forget I have a high maintenance body. It’s only when I meet new people and see their genuine shock at what I do to keep my body feeling good that I realize I’m high maintenance.

I strive to walk every day. My walking commute helps me manage my stress and incorporate movement in my life in a manageable way. My partner is also a fan of a post-evening meal stroll. I also walk on my Wednesday lunches with two dear friends who happen to be colleagues. We laugh, catch up and enjoy the beautiful park near our work.

I play rec league soccer once a week with other colleagues. I play defense and am the second oldest player on the team. (Right Sue?)

Lately I’ve been back on my bike on the weekends in preparation for our local MS Bike Tour. I love cycling. It’s the one activity I do that gives me a big endorphin boost. These days 40 km is enough to get that lovely feeling.

Twice a week I’m doing weights at lunch with another colleague at the little gym onsite. We joke about how pumped we are getting. I’m trying to manage some tennis elbow & shoulder pain that has been nagging me.

Sometimes, not as much lately, I go to yoga on Sundays. In the nice weather I’m much more likely to be out in my garden digging, dividing and weeding. Turns out it’s a lot of squats and wheelbarrow dead lifts!

With all this movement surely I look like a shredded, buff, lean woman? Oh heck no. All this movement is just enough to support my mobility and mental health. I’m so high maintenance!

I’m very thankful I can do all these things that involve movement and often great company. I feel confident in what my body can do and don’t really feel any compulsion to abide by anyone else’s ideas of what I should or should not be doing.

I joke with friends that in my mid-forties I get to choose: pain from lack of movement or pain from working out. The working out pain has a different texture and flavour. I feel kind of badass as I limp around the day after soccer.

I’m fairly sure I can only achieve this level of activity thanks to regular massage, chiropractic, a night guard, good footwear, blood pressure medication and a CPAP machine.

Have you ever been surprised by others reactions to your activity level? I’d love to hear about it. Natalie smiles into the camera without makeup or jewelry

What high maintenance looks like!
feminism · Sat with Nat

Nat ponders why personal stories are “feminist”

I have been thinking a lot about my contributions to this blog over the years. Sometimes I make a point of spelling out why a topic or post is feminist but often I leave it unsaid, my assumption is that readers who follow or find this blog are already interested or knowledgeable about feminism and can make their own inferences. That could be a mistake so I wanted to put it out there why I often just write about my fitness journey and how that can be feminist.

Who does my fitness serve?

Reflecting back on posts often merely writing about fitness and finding joy in it is radically different than many media messages we receive.

I get worried that sexism’s under a lot of fitness writing that tells women to work out to be fit for others or to look a certain way. I understand fitness as feminist when it’s offered and engaged with for our own purposes. To feel strong, to care for ourselves and to enjoy what our bodies can do.

Where is the money?

A lot of times fitness writing is either to propose a problem a product can solve or sell an aesthetic that is only achievable through buying services or products. Yes. I am a wee bit of a pinko commie so I find fitness writing that is truly to give me information rather than sell me a product more likely to be feminist.

What is the goal or outcome?

When I do my best feminist fitness writing the desired goal or outcome is doing the activity for its own sake and the immediate rewards of feeling better in the moment and doing activities with friends.

Who looks “fit”?

Many of my posts, and other contributors, question common ideas of what “fit” bodies look like. We are often sent ideas and images that a certain body build or proportion are the only “fit” bodies and that all other bodies must be patrolled.

As a fat woman simply sharing my work outs help debunk myths around fatness, laziness and health.

Careful, you might become a radical too!

I joke all the time that I’m a “bad influence” on new friends as I sell feminist approaches to fitness and gleefully wear Lycra in public. (GASP, Does she know at her age/weight/whatever she shouldn’t be wearing that!)

It turns out though that confronting the realities of sexism in our society can be gut wrenchingly terrible. The good news is by raising awareness of the impacts of sexism we can debunk myths, support each other and be fit enough to rip the patriarchy apart one action or blog post at a time.