fitness

If Diets Don’t Work, Then What? (#NoDietDay, #reblog, #BlogLuv)

Tomorrow is #NoDietDay. What’s that all about? International No Diet Day is an annual celebration of body acceptance, including fat acceptance and body shape diversity. It was started in 1992 and has its roots in eating disorder recovery movements. In anticipation of the actual day, I’m sharing Tracy’s post from a few years back about alternatives to dieting.

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

Strong WomenOne of our favorite things about the blog is the way it has generated conversation and a sense of community.   We enjoy hearing from people, not least of which because we’ve had generous comments for the most part. Once in awhile, however, someone calls us on something. That’s okay too. Debate is good. We’re philosophers, and, as Sam said, that’s how we roll.

I was called out just last week when a regular commenter said that I spend a lot of time repeating that diets don’t work, but I don’t offer anything hopeful or helpful. Craig said, “if this blog is about getting fit and healthy, and not simply about “fat acceptance” – give us some clue as to how obese people can lose a lot of fat in a healthy way and keep it off for reasons pertaining to health, as opposed to just reminding us of the…

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fitness

Animal hazards to cyclists (#reblog, #blogluv)

Since writing this post I’ve moved to Guelph where there are ‘turtle crossing’ warning signs on some roads. I don’t think it would be fun for me or the turtle if I ran over it with my road bike. What are the animal hazards to cyclists where you live?

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

image

I’ve been thinking about animal hazards to cyclists recently, that is non-human animal hazards, and also about how those vary from place to place.

Every morning I ride to work along our riverside bike path. It’s usually got at least a couple of spots where Canada geese, or as we call them here “geese,” are walking across. Geese make me nervous. And it turns out I’m right to be nervous. This summer a woman in Ottawa needed stitches on her face and suffered a concussion after being attacked while riding her bike. The CBC story is here.

An Ottawa cyclist says a surprise attack by a Canada goose left her with a concussion and fractured cheekbone, and a renewed respect for nature.

Kerry Surman was riding along the Trans Canada Trail from her home in the west Ottawa neighbourhood of Stittsville to Carleton Place, Ont., on June 10 when she…

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fitness

Get outside and play! It’s May!

Fitness Challenge Logo

It’s May. I spent Sunday swapping over my winter and summer clothes. I have lots of happy summer thoughts in my head. It was also Cheddar’s six year adoption anniversary.

Here’s puppy Cheddar:

Even the pandemic is looking up. See Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik’s round up. This week it’s pretty good news, “Fasten your seat belts! This ride is almost over. It’s time to imagine a post-COVID world.” See here.

And at my work, at the University of Guelph, it’s Be Well, Be Safe Week in recognition of National Mental Health Week and North American Occupational Safety and Health Week.

Part of that is the university’s kickoff of our May fitness challenge. It’s our Get Outside Fitness Challenge and I’ll be taking part.

Here’s more info about what we can and can’t do outside in Ontario during the Stay at Home orders.

Outdoor Activity during Ontario’s Stay At Home:
Under the provincial government mandate of Stay at Home orders, outdoor exercise or walking your pet is considered an approved activity. To ensure you are exercising safely and following provincial rules please follow these guidelines during this challenge:

– Only workout with those in your same household or alone
– If you are in a park where you may come into closer contact while walking, please wear a mask.
– If you bring a mat and find a spot on some grass to be outside, please ensure you are 3m away from anyone else on all sides.
– Don’t forget to bring your water bottle to stay hydrated
– Wash your hands when you get home and wipe down any equipment you brought with you.

Physical benefits of outdoor exercise: 

Exercise in nature has a more positive effect on blood pressure and mood than exercise in a gym
Being in nature has been found to lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, help mitigate disease, and reduce stress levels
Athletes who run or walk on nature trails have reported less fatigue after a 20-minute run than they did following a run on an indoor track.


Mental benefits:

Activities in nature resulted in reduced negative emotions (e.g., anger, fatigue and sadness) as compared to similar activities in a human-made environment
A daily walk in nature can be as effective in treating mild cases of depression as taking an antidepressant
Runners reported lower levels of stress and depression when exercising in nature than when exercising in an urban setting.”

The following pictures are what turn up when you search for outdoor exercise:

Here’s how to join:

“The weather is getting nicer so we want to encourage you to move outdoors for 30 minutes EVERY DAY from May 1st – 31st. What is your movement of choice? We want to see what you are doing to stay active. Take a pic and tag us @gryphons_fitness every time you do. For every picture we receive, you get an additional ballot added to a draw to win prizes. The more pictures, the more chance to win! Contest closes May 31st at midnight.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE:

Step One: Download our GryphFit App to join the challenge

Apple Store here, Google Play here

Step Two: Join the challenge on the “Challenge” icon in the app

Step Three: Walk, run, jog, do yoga, dance, play with your pet… the list goes on.  It’s simple: GET OUTSIDE and move.  You choose how. Don’t forget to take a picture and tag us @gryphons_fitness to show us how you are spending your time outdoors. Contest runs May 1st – 31st.

Step Four: Be entered into a draw to win a Matrix Fitness prize pack worth $300! Winner will be announced on June 1st, 2021.”

fitness

Riding bikes in skirts and dresses, totally fine if that’s your thing, here’s how (#reblog, #blogluv)

It’s spring! And time to get on our bikes and ride. And if you want to do that in skirts and dresses, go right ahead. Enjoy.

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

Frocks on Bikes, New Zealand

Though I’ve been a commuting cyclist for many years, it’s only recently I’ve gotten comfortable with riding to work in skirts and dresses. It’s a sweat thing mostly, not a modesty thing.

It’s hot here and I ride in cycling clothes and change once I get to work.

But the last few summers I’ve had lots of errands, lunch dates etc thing to do basically on my way to and from work. I also took my first stay at home sabbatical which meant more daytime errand running, on my bicycle. I started wearing my regular clothes on my bike and my regular summer clothes are mostly summer dresses and skirts. I love it. I like riding bikes in skirts a lot more than I like running skirts.

How do I do it?

Bike shorts under my skirts and dresses. That was key. No modesty…

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fitness · monthly check in

Sam is checking in for April, with good news and bad news

Last month’s check-in was all about sad knee surgery news.

Luckily, it’s spring and so even during the pandemic it’s not all sad. Sarah and I did get out for our first road ride of the year. On April 10th, Saturday afternoon, we did the Tour de Guelph 50 km route. We liked it so much we’re going to do it again. It’s all country roads, not very much traffic, and beautiful rolling hills.

Our ride on Strava with an image of our bikes

We’ve registered for the Tour de Guelph, a local charity bike ride, chosen that for our route, and talked our friend David into coming along too.

Yes, I miss the crowds and the community but I’m riding anyway because it’s a cause that matters, more than ever in these times. Tour de Guelph supports Guelph General Hospital and other local charities. You can sponsor me here and Sarah here.

What’s the new covid friendly format? “Once again, we’re welcoming new and past riders to register, fundraise, and complete one of our Tour de Guelph routes, or any route of your own preference. Enjoy your ride any day starting Friday, June 4th and by Sunday, June 27th and in compliance with the current safety recommendation on the day of your ride.”

We haven’t picked a date yet but one weekend day in June we’ll go out, ride that fun 50 km, take lots of pics for social media, and BBQ in the backyard after.

So getting out on the road bike was April’s good news. The bad news was that I got sick for a full week. I even had to appoint an Acting Dean for a day. (Don’t worry. Not covid. I was tested twice.) Weirdly there are still serious stomach bugs around. I spent a night in the emergency department after getting severely dehydrated and passing out. The nurses and doctors were lovely. They were glad I came. They did all the heart workups and various other tests, declared me mostly suffering from dehydration and pumped me back up with fluids before sending me home. And I’m fine now. But boy, that wasn’t fun.

Recently I blogged about recovery rides, but last week was all “recovering” rides, as in recovering from illness. While sick I didn’t ride at all and I had a full week off the bike. I went to bed early, started re-watching the Sopranos, and lived on a diet of dry toast, apple sauce, and Gatorade. I’m getting better slowly and felt like doing some things but I wasn’t ready to get back to racing right away. Instead, while recovering, I gave one of the Zwift workouts for new parents a go. I’ve written about them before, see here. “It’s a workout collection consisting of shorter workouts for expectant moms, new parents, or any riders who are looking for “a less intense, yet still motivating, workout.” This one was called Sleepless, which feels about right at 30 minutes.

In addition to that I’ve been doing the HERD Wacky Wednesday and the DIRT family values ride on Tuesday. These are some of the best group rides on Zwift, I think. Friday I worked my way up to racing but just finished two laps out of four. Then on the following Thursday I rode the team time trial staying with the gang for two of three laps. I felt strong (until all of a sudden I didn’t) and I got a PR on that particular course.

Anyway, I’m almost back to normal and I’m looking forward to a)more Zwift racing and b)some leisurely outdoor rides (nowhere too far or too fast with our hospitals in the state of overwhelm that they’re in.) And I’m hoping May is a better month all round. ❤ ♥💕

blog · fitness · top ten

April’s most read posts, #ICYMI

April calendar, Unsplash
  1. Catherine is hoping… Fervent hope for 2021: that “The Biggest Loser” won’t be renewed for a 19th season

2. Cate (at 53) was still menstruating… I’m 53 and a half and I’m still menstruating: is this a good thing?

3. Marjorie was keeping fit… Keeping Fit While Healing from Hysterectomy (Guest Post)

4. Covid vaccines and vaginas, Cate rounds it up

5. Nicole was aghast…My Metabolic Age is WHAT??

6. Cate asked… Where does anti-vax/anti-mask rhetoric fit into the fitness community?

7. Crotch shots and sports reporting (by Sam from 2013!) was our 5th most read post.

8. Sam checked in… Sam is checking in for March (late, because sad)

9. Can evil companies change their ways? pondered Sam

10. Yoga Without Yoga is not Yoga, says Susan

Bonus 5! ( I couldn’t resist)

11. Catherine declared…We can workout, run for office, not be haters and wear a mask, all at the same time

12. Nat sends notes to her younger self… My high blood pressure 7 year anniversary

13. Cold water swimming? Sam is tempted

14. When being too much is just right writes Nicole

15. Catherine assesses physical activity and covid risks and declares it complicated

Tulips, different colours, wrapped for sale. Unsplash.
covid19 · fitness · Guest Post · swimming

Part 1: Covid-19 and the Tyranny of the Pool (Guest post)

by Kathleen McDonnell

An excerpt from my forthcoming book Growing Old, Going Cold: The Psychrolute Chronicles, about my Life as an (aging) cold-water swimmer.

It’s not that I have anything against pools. I’ve swum in plenty of them. They’ll do in a pinch. For competitive swimmers they make perfect sense – separated lanes, straight lines on the bottom, water sanitized to kill bacteria and other undesirable critters – everything is controlled, predictable. And there’s the rub. That’s precisely what those of us who prefer to swim in open, natural, “wild” water are trying to get away from. But in the modern world, pools have become the default option, and the pool mentality intrudes where it doesn’t belong.

Some years back I found myself back in Chicago in the height of summer. It had been a long time since I’d been in my hometown during swimming season, and I was excited at the chance to immerse myself in the waters of Lake Michigan once again. This would be a pilgrimage to Touhy Beach, the very source of my swimming passion. The day was calm, the water warm, and I headed in, anticipating a nice long swim. A Big Swim: A round-trip to a beach a half-mile to the south.

There was a lifeguard in a rowboat a little ways out from shore. I nodded to him as I passed the boat, on my way into the deeper water where I could commence my big swim. I dove in and my stroke quickly settled into a nice, steady rhythm. Until I got near the first of the short wooden piers and saw the lifeguard boat in front of me, blocking my progress. I tried to swim around the boat, but he rowed in front of me again. I stopped swimming and faced him, standing in water that was no more than shoulder-deep.

    “Something wrong?”

    “You’re not allowed to swim lengths here, Ma’am.”

    “Lengths? What do you mean, lengths?”

    He just shook his head at my question.

    “Sorry, Ma’am. Swimming lengths isn’t allowed here.”

    “You mean, I can’t keep swimming in this direction?”

    “That’s right, Ma’am. You have to stay in this area.”

    “Why? It’s not very deep here. I’m a good swimmer.

    “We have to keep an eye on everyone in the water, Ma’am. You’re not allowed to swim lengths here.”

    Again with the lengths! Not only was I not permitted beyond the pier, it appeared I was only allowed to bob up and down in this narrowly-defined area. I’ve been “ma’amed” before by lifeguards at my home beach in Toronto and I usually try to keep my cool. But it was all I could do to keep from yelling at him. “This isn’t a pool, it’s a lake – a BIG lake and I’m going to swim in it!”

    Was I asking for trouble? Would he call the other lifeguards to pull me out of the water? I acquiesced and swam a few strokes back the way I’d come, then swam a few strokes the opposite way, curious to see if this short back-and-forth distance fit his definition of “lengths.” Of course, to show me who was boss, he inched the boat as close as he could without the oar hitting me. We went on like this for several minutes, a few strokes, going a bit farther each time, then turning back the other way, the lifeguard maneuvering the boat so that it was never more than 2 or 3 feet away from me.

    Finally I’d had enough. I’d come to the motherlode, the original source of my Great Lakes swimming passion, and all I’d managed to do was get a bit wet. And be treated to a demonstration of how the act of swimming had become distorted, synonomous with “lengths” of a chlorine-filled concrete hole-in-the-ground. It’s yet another way humans turn away from the natural world, and foolishly insist that the experience of being in water can be replaced or – worse – improved upon. 

It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when swimming in natural bodies of water was considered completely normal.

Moats, Swimming Holes and Pools

You might think pools are a modern invention, but in fact they go back several millennia. As far as historians know, the Great Bath at the site of Mohenjo-Daro in modern-day Pakistan was the first human-created pool, dug during the 3rd millennium BC. This brick-lined pool was about 39 by 23 feet and was likely used for religious ceremonies. The structure is still there, and has been designated a South Asian World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Both ancient Greece and Rome had extensive public baths that were central to community life as meeting places for socializing and relaxing. Later the Romans built artificial pools in gymnasiums that were used for nautical and military exercises. Roman emperors also had their own private pools in which fish were also kept, hence one of the Latin words for a pool was piscina.

These early pools were used as healing baths for various conditions, rather than for swimming, which took place in natural bodies of water. The Romans built baths in other parts of the empire too, including the one that gave its name to the city of Bath, England circa 70 AD. The original Roman Bath was a renowned healing spa and swimming locale until well into the twentieth century, when a deadly pathogen was discovered in the water. The historic structure is now for tourist viewing only, replaced for swimming with more modern facilities. It’s one example of what Roger Deakin discovered on his epic swim across Britain, lamenting the abandonment and decay of many traditional bathing sites. Deakin’s book Waterlog traces the history of swimming in Britain and its evolution from natural swimming holes to contained, human-made structures. Deakin started his journey from a spring-fed moat on his own property in Suffolk. Typically he would swim from place to place, then walk back to retrieve his clothes and gear at the starting point, basically the opposite of doing “lengths” (So there, Touhy lifeguard!) 

The early twentieth century cemented the transition to enclosed swimming structures, and dozens of open-air lidos were built across Britain. For the most part these lidos are much bigger than modern pools, like the massive art deco Jubilee Lido in Cornwall, and they typically designated separate areas or times for men and women to swim. Mixed bathing only became common from the mid-twentieth century. By tradition, many lidos were kept open right through the winter, and were situated by the seaside to capture seawater in the enclosure. There’s an example of this practice in my hometown of Toronto.  Built in 1922, the Sunnyside Bathing Pavillion is almost twice the length of Olympic size pool and has room for 2,000 bathers. Now known as the Gus Ryder Pool, this concrete behemoth filled with several tons of chlorinated water sits right next to a Lake Ontario beach – an almost perverse turning away from its own environment. As Roger Deakin said of pools, they are “simulations of nature with the one essential ingredient – wildness – carefully filtered out.” 

With the worldwide growth in pools’ popularity came the need for better sanitation measures. Originally they employed archaic filtration systems that required the filters, and the water itself, to be changed frequently. By the time of the polio scare in the late 1930s and 1940s, a panic arose over the public’s fears that children could be exposed to the poliovirus in community swimming pools. In 1946, however, a study showed that chlorine was one of the few known chemicals that could kill the polio virus. As the problem of polio transmission receded, swimming pools regained popularity as a fun and exciting summer venue for families. Moreover, chlorine, as a polio disinfectant, became the near-universal method of pool sanitation, and by the early sixties, strict regulations on chlorine in pools were in place. And it will only get stricter with the rise of a new virus.

Hello, Covid-19!

Kathleen McDonnell is the author of nine books and more than a dozen plays, which have had award-winning productions in Canada and the United States. She’s also been a journalist and CBC radio commentator, and does a fair bit of teaching and public speaking. As befits a passionate swimmer, McDonnell lives on an island; Toronto Island, a unique, vibrant, mostly car-free community a ten-minute ferry ride from downtown Toronto where she and her life partner raised their two daughters. Check out her website: http://www.kathleenmcdonnell.com/

Keep an eye out for Part Two, on May 7th, here at Fit is a Feminist Issue.

fitness · link round up · swimming · winter

Fit is a Feminist Issue, Friday Link Round Up #98: Wild Swimming Videos

As I noted on Monday we’re on a bit of cold weather/outdoors swimming kick around the blog. Here’s some of the videos I’ve found. If you have any that you recommend, that I’ve missed please let us know in the comments!

Alpkit are delighted to present ‘Chasing the Sublime’, a mesmeric glimpse at the physicality of long distance cold water swimming by award winning director Amanda Bluglass (2019)
A mini-documentary showing the link between mental health and sea swimming. Katie swims off the rocks of Penzance, UK nearly everyday of the year. Open water swimming has helped her overcome some of the struggles that life all too often throws our way. The hope is that her story may help others who are faced with similar challenges. (2017)
“[Wild swimming] connects you to a part of yourself that you don’t normally have access to…” When chaotic city life had taken its toll, we turned to nature. Join us as we escape the traps of urban life and immerse ourselves in the timeless escape of wild swimming… Watch Swim Wild (in partnership with General Tire) and find out more about this transformative journey here: http://bit.ly/SwimWild (2018)
Seven tips and advice to help you start wild open water swimming. Check the Cold Water Wild Swimming video here: https://youtu.be/wptKtR3LGZU​ (2020)
fitness · swimming · winter

Fit is a Feminist Issue, Friday Link Round Up #99: Wild Swimming Resources

As I noted on Monday we’re on a bit of cold weather/outdoors swimming kick around the blog. Here’s some of the resources I’ve found. If you have any that you recommend, that I’ve missed please let us know in the comments!

Porkkalanniemi, Kirkkonummi, Finland
Woman stretching on a frozen sea in a swimsuit. Photo by Mika on Unsplash

Wild Big Swim: “One of my greatest passions is swimming in cold and ice water, there’s really nothing quite like it! I’ve put together a series of articles based on my personal experiences, to share what I’ve learned over the years with others – use this information responsibly, and at your own risk. Don’t forget to seek the advice of your doctor if you’re thinking of taking up chilly swimming, to be sure it’s right for you!”

Swimming in Cold Water Has Done Wonders for My Stress: “There’s a scientific rationale for why some people find swimming in the freezing cold to be so invigorating.”

The health benefits and risks of cold water swimming: “Cold water swimming may seem like an odd pastime to the uninitiated. But while you might question the sanity of those who decide to take an open-water dip in the depths of winter, research has shown there are actually a host of health benefits – both mental and physical – to taking the plunge. The joys of such a pursuit are well noted – both anecdotally and scientifically – but there are of course risks. Here, we reveal the reasons why you should dip your toes (and more!) into cold water this winter, and explain how to do so safely.”

Swimming in Very Cold Water Keeps Me Sane: “I’m standing with two friends in the 39-degree air on the edge of a lake in northeastern California in just our bathing suits. A lone fisherman in several layers of outerwear stares, drinks from a bottle of Racer Ale and says, “Tell me you ladies aren’t going in that water.” We go in that water. It’s probably 56 degrees. It’s not the coldest water in the world currently being swum, not “My Octopus Teacher” cold — that guy swims in 48-degree water all the time, but hey, he’s in love with an octopus. What do you expect?”

The subversive joy of cold water swimming: “Britons are skipping the heated pool and rediscovering the pleasures of lakes, rivers, and seas—even in winter.”

Women cold water swimming in Gower to help menopause: “A group of cold water swimmers have said that plunging into sea temperatures as cold as 6C is helping with the effects of the menopause. Some also reported improvements in their mental health.”

fitness

Back on our bikes! Six thoughts on spring riding and training (#reblog, #blogluv)

It’s spring! Right now it’s sunny and the temperature is in the teens. Here’s my things to remember about riding outside in the spring. Enjoy!

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

1. Take it easy. I know, I know. It’s bright and sunny and warm and you’re back on your bike again. Exciting as that is, take it easy. Old school racers all talk about base miles and spending hundreds/thousands of kilometers in the small chain ring. They’re just spinning, getting their fast cadence back, putting in the base training, before the push for speed. No hill training, no sprinting, they just spin.

You might not be a racer but I think there is a lesson here for the beginning cyclist. The first few weeks of spring aren’t the time to worry about how fast you are. Just ride and smile and soak up the sun. Ease into it.

And if anyone comments on your speed, just say “base miles” with a serious look on your face.

See The Case for Base Training.

(And yes, I know there is a debate…

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