Sat with Nat · yoga

Revisiting Hot Yoga

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.

Natalie stares at the camera wearing a brown and orange toque, a mustard yellow cowl and an army green parka. The background is a narrow lane with apple trees covered in snow

I keep forgetting to snap a photo after yoga but here’s one of my outside, walking to meet Kim.

bras · Sat with Nat

My latest sports bra

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.

A close up photo of Natalie’s chest invaded in a navy blue band of padded Lycra

The cut is comfortable and my chest is neither compressed nor tucked under my arm pits.

Natalie faces the camera looking skeptical as you see the reflection of her back over her right shoulder

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.

Sat with Nat

1 year of off again, on again fitness classes. 

A year ago I tried a 30 minutes fitness class:

https://fitisafeministissue.com/2016/12/03/i-cant-believe-im-saying-this-i-found-an-instructor-led-group-exercise-class-i-actually-like/

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:

Her short hair tousled, Natalie makes a wry face like “oh this sucks”. She’s wearing an orange soccer jersey and black tights. The background is beige lockers.
Natalie does not enjoy locker room selfies.

I don’t make it to every class but I certainly enjoy and value each one I get to take. 

body image · Sat with Nat · soccer

Thanksgiving-Birthday-A-versay aka Nat’s personal New Year

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. 

Smiling soccer players crowd together, laughing and sweating
Zidane in the Membrane 2017 is a motley group ranging in age from 21 to somewhere in the 50s. Our bright orange jerseys are easy to spot.

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. 

Cheers!

cycling · fitness · Sat with Nat · walking

The point of all the fitness stuff

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.

A bald man with glasses smiles at the camera looking over his shoulder. Natalie is next to him, spinning and smiling. The back drop is a bake sale table with food on it
Rock and I spinning to recruit and fundraise
I also got to ride with my partner Michel and our longtime friend Al.

Al and I lining up for Day 2
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!

Bonnie and I at the Saturday night ceremonies.
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!

body image · health · Sat with Nat

My highest weight and feeling great?

That’s not how the whole body image & heart health narrative is supposed to go. I know. I’m supposed to struggle with my weight and health. Then, because I’ve sublimated my base urges and really learned to love myself, I miraculously transform into a thinner, better me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this great blog post by Heather Plett.

I just love it and she captured so much of what I have encountered. People LOVE imposing a triumphant narrative on my fitness. 
I’m not at war with my body. My body is not a thing to be dominated or warred against.

I am trying to figure out how to be healthy and joyful. I think I’m hovering or orbiting around that, I’m in the neighbourhood at least.

In July this Facebook memory came up:

I’ve tried a lot of things since 2014 and some of it worked for me, other stuff, not so much. I’ve tried mindfulness and abstaining from alcohol. I’ve tried losing weight. (Spoiler, I didn’t keep it off!)

https://fitisafeministissue.com/2015/02/20/40-years-40-lbs-guest-post/

I’ve though a lot about my cardiovascular health!

https://fitisafeministissue.com/2016/04/09/facebook-memories-and-blood-pressure-stories/

I’m back to the weight I was 3 years ago when my high blood pressure diagnosis (and offer of gastric bypass surgery by my doctor) happened. The thing is, I feel great!

I’m gardening, cycling a bit, playing soccer and occasionally working out. My blood pressure is right where it needs to be.

I do know if I put all my time and energy into tracking food and using all my self discipline for staying away from sweets and alcohol I do lose weight for a while. The things needed to do that make me super anxious and sad. I only think about food. It’s kind of awful.

Thing is, I use a lot of self-discipline to parent, take my university courses, be a grown up at work…lots of things. And here’s the deal, like many of my emotional and cognitive resources, I’ve only got so much to go around.

I love making delicious and nutritious food. I love craft beers. I’ve decided that until my blood pressure numbers change for the worse I’m good the way I am.

So I think the question is more of an exclamation. My highest weight and feeling GREAT!

body image · Sat with Nat

Matilda The Hun, Mountain Fiji, and how the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling showed me how big, bold and badass I could be.

There’s a Netflix series called “GLOW” inspired by the 1980s pro wrestling series of the same name. 

When I was a kid in rural New Brunswick watching pro-wrestling was HUGE. It was such a big part of my exposure to professional sport that the very first time Sam asked me to write for this blog I wanted to write about it. But this is a feminist blog and pro/wrestling then and now is full to the brim with racism and sexism. I was embarrassed by how something I loved so much now seemed crude, crass, and low class. 

Pro-wrestling is nothing like Olympic style wrestling. It is all swagger and showmanship. It is character and plot arcs with a dash of athleticism. 

My absolute favourite characters from G.L.O.W. were Matilda the Hun and Mountain Fiji. They were large and in charge. They were villains and gave absolutely no fucks. None. They whipped the crowd into a fury then pummeled their opponents. 

I watched this clip, cringing at the terrible sexism and bad acting of the skits between the wrestling bits, but LOOK AT THESE WOMEN!

First Encounter: Matilda the Hun vs. Mountain Fiji
I look at that match and I’m so conflicted. Knowing what I know now about race, class, gender and sexism there are so many problems. From the male gaze to how women were cast based on racial stereotypes to reinforcing that feminity was desirable there is so much yuck.

But to 1980s me all I saw were badass women doing whatever they wanted. In the meantime I was in middle school gym class where girls were learning gymnastics and boys were learning Olympic style wrestling. 

I’m not sure which of us came up with the idea but my BFF Shelly and I convinced our gym teacher that we should be given a chance to wrestle each other. We wanted to be up on stage with the boys and I was really failing at uneven parallel bars. 

A 17 year old girl with short hair leans over a girl with 80s mall hair. They are laughing.
Me on the left, Shelly on the right. We loved being tough! This is 1992

Our teacher and classmates were completely unprepared for what happened next. Shelly and I broke out our best Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling moves: close lining, yelling, half-Nelsoning for nearly 20 minutes. We revelled in our redneck, working class awesomeness as the middle class kids looked disgusted. The other working class kids were cheering us on, calling out moves. It was so much fun. 

The next week I was back on the parallel bars trying to make my short, thick body do things lighter people did. It sucked. The girls who had taken gymnastics outside of school whirled around me. 

It turned out all that wrestling came in handy during recruit term at Royal Military College. Mattress jousting to entertain the senior students often devolved into grappling. 

Two youth in white t-shirts and grey shorts grapple on a blue striped mattress in a linoleum hall
I think I’m the one on top?

Matilda the Hun and Mountain Fiji were characters who didn’t worry about being attractive to men. They revelled in being villains. They weren’t scared of the crowd’s jeers, it powered them up. Most importantly for me, for a period of about 10 years of my life they were the only women in sport I could relate to, that felt real. 

I’m hopeful this new series will also be a chance to talk about the original G.L.O.W. stars and what they are doing now. 

Is there a sport or athlete that you identified with in your youth? Does it hold up to your scrutiny now? I’d love to hear your thoughts.