body image · diets · fitness · link round up · walking

Fit is a Feminist Friday Link Round Up, #113: Five Things to Read or Listen to on a Friday

The Overthink Podcast Episode on Walking

“Some podcasts only talk the talk, but in today’s episode David and Ellie walk the walk (or talk the walk?) by diving into the philosophy of walking. Walking is a complex sociocultural practice that raises fascinating questions about history, power, and freedom. Why did our ancestors transition from walking on all fours to walking on two legs, and how did this shape our evolution as a species? Why have so many philosophers throughout history (from Aristotle to Rousseau) insisted on incorporating walks into their daily routines? And how do systems of oppression—such as classism, racism, sexism, transphobia, and ableism—mold our experience of walking, determining where and even how we can walk?”

Why Sweden Clears Sidewalks Before Roads

“After analyzing government services through a process known as “gender-balanced budgeting,” many Swedish cities, including Stockholm, prioritize snow clearance very differently. They now clear walkways and bike paths first, especially those near bus stops and primary schools. Next, they clear local roads, and then, finally, highways.”

Maintenance Phase, Diet Book Deep Dive: The Karl Lagerfeld Diet

Who’s that Bond villain stroking a cat and yelling at beloved public figures? It’s Karl Lagerfeld! This week, Mike and Aubrey go in on fashion’s favorite turbo troll and his fancy, joyless diet. This episode serves four.”

The cover of a book called “The Karl Lagerfeld Diet” by Dr. Jean-Claude Houdret features a full-body photo of a very thin Karl Lagerfeld wearing tight jeans, boots, a black blazer, black sunglasses, and a bright white ponytail.
The cover of a book called “The Karl Lagerfeld Diet” by Dr. Jean-Claude Houdret features a full-body photo of a very thin Karl Lagerfeld wearing tight jeans, boots, a black blazer, black sunglasses, and a bright white ponytail.

OPINION: Take ‘weight loss’ off your New Year’s resolution list

“New Year’s resolutions. We’ve all had one at some point, and we’ve all probably given up on at least one, if not more. In fact, the next couple weeks are the time when most people will give up on their resolutions, from being nicer to their mom to going to the gym. If your resolution is to get along better with your mother, maybe you should try to stick that one out. But if your resolution has anything to do with weight loss or dieting, it’s actually OK to let it go.  You should base your New Year’s resolutions — or any self-improvement goal, really — on health and fitness rather than dieting or losing weight. “

Body Image Series: All about Body Neutrality

“In this episode of Eat the Rules, I’m continuing the body image series and talking all about body neutrality – what it is and isn’t, and what it looks like in real life.”

fitness · link round up · snow · winter

Snow!: A Fit is a Feminist Issue Link Round Up, #112

Image
Guelph’s snow plows have names! Blue are street and red are sidewalk

A link round up in honour of those of in southwestern Ontario experiencing life after Monday’s giant snow storm.

Making Snow Shoveling Your Workout

“For anyone that has shoveled snow, you know it can be a workout!  Pushing and throwing that wet, heavy snow can be comparable to a weight-lifting session or even an aerobic workout on the treadmill. According to LiveStrong, an average person can burn 223 calories per 30 minutes while shoveling snow.
So the next time Mother Nature decides to give you an outdoor workout, treat it like you would a gym and prepare! Here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your fun in the snow:”

Good idea not to ride outside today

“Oh boy, that snow is not going anywhere. For those who live in Ontario and Quebec, you’ve seen a yuge snowfall. The drifts are everywhere, main roads are slippery, and the side ones are precarious at best.

Crews are working as fast as they can, but there’s a LOT of snow.

Canadian Cycling Magazine loves to encourage riders to cycle outside as much as possible, and is a firm believer in all-year biking. But maybe, just maybe, you deserve a rest day today? Unless it’s absolutely necessary. Or just turn on Zwift and don’t look out the window.

The bike paths seem to be the last things on the city’s mind today.”

7 Reasons to Ride Outside This Winter

Here’s Reason 4: “Many cyclists are working from home this year which means far fewer chances to get some much needed vitamin D. When you dress properly for the cold, the mental health benefits of going for even a short ride though the neighbourhood can be significant.”

Why Sweden Clears Walkways Before Roads

“An analysis of Sweden’s snow clearance practices showed that it disadvantaged women, who were more likely to walk, while employment districts where men predominantly worked were more likely to have streets plowed first.

Not only was the impact of snow clearance priorities discriminatory, there were negative consequences for society as a whole. Three times as many people are injured while walking in icy conditions in Sweden than while driving. And the cost of those injuries far exceeds the cost of snow clearance.

So the order was reversed. Municipalities faced no additional cost for clearing pedestrian paths first. And it reduced injuries, in addition to being objectively fairer.”

Cheddar the Snow Dog on our street with very pretty dark blue sky and early evening light reflecting on the snow
fitness

Blue Monday feels less blue in 2021 somehow (#reblog)

It’s Blue Monday again! Only in southwestern Ontario, my neck of the woods, it’s much more like White Monday. It’s a snow day out there. How are you feeling?

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

A friend the other day remarked that every day feels like Monday since the pandemic began and while it’s true for me that the workdays all blend together, I’m not sure they all feel like Monday.

Today is supposed to be Blue Monday, whatever that means. It’s a made up thing.

See Happy Blue Monday and Happy worst day of the year!

It’s grey out there and dark and that’s the kind of winter weather I really don’t like. Give me cold and snow and sunshine any day. But I’m not feeling so blue about Blue Monday this year. Partly I suppose it’s the blurring of time thing. Also, frankly, November always feeling worse than January to me.

I’m also feeling just a little bit hopeful. I’m hoping that this is the worst of the pandemic and that by summer we’ll be able to do things outdoors together again. I’m…

View original post 137 more words

competition · fitness · racing

Getting better through caring about getting faster: Skill development and reasons to race

I like racing and I like being part of sports communities where racing is part of what goes on, even if I’m not actively racing myself. I like watching races and marshalling. I like being part of a racing community. Part of the reason is that I’m a bit of snob, not about speed, but about skills, and the two things are connected.

Now it’s true I also like racing for its own sake. I’m often in the position of trying to persuade other people to give it a try. See Six reasons not to race and why they might be mistaken. Racing or not is an ongoing conversation at Fit is a Feminist Issue. We’ve written a lot about competition and racing here on the blog. Regular readers know that Kim has mixed feelings about racing. Tracy has written about racing anyway even though she knows she won’t win. I’ve recently written about why I love racing on Zwift.

In this post though I’m going to talk about one thing I like about racing. But to be clear I’m not arguing for it in the sense of giving reasons that others need to accept. If you don’t like it, that’s just fine too.

My suspicion is that lots of women might like it but don’t think it’s for them. See my post Where are the women?

When some people talk about the benefits of racing, they focus on the value of testing yourself and developing your potential as an athlete, but the benefit I want to talk about is about is community and skill development.

I’ve been part of recreational racing teams as a road cyclist, a track cyclist, a dinghy sailor, and briefly as a rower.

I like it best when teams race regularly, recreationally, against one another. You get to know people and learn a lot from one another. We don’t think about that as part of competition but it’s very much the case for recreational racing.

In communities where everyone who has a road bike starts out racing, you find that people are pretty skilled riders. Racing teaches you to ride around corners and to ride closely with others, to descend at speed and to climb efficiently. It’s true you can learn these things without racing but racing communities tend to focus on skill development. You get an awful lot of practice even if you only race for a little while.

An aside: I also like it when club social rides and races are clearly separate things. You can tell the guy (why is it always a guy?) who keeps pushing the pace and riding off the front, to cool his jets and come back on race night if he wants to race. You can say, decisively, this is the team social ride. There is a time and place for racing and this isn’t it.

Back to skill development. This is even more true when it comes to dinghy sailing. You learn to sail by learning to race. Once people can do the basics then you go out to club races once a week and follow along, watching what other people do, accepting friendly suggestions from other racers, and competing against other novice crews at the back of the fleet. Racing means you get good at maneuvering near other boats and good at getting the boat in and out of the water in all sorts of conditions. If you’re not racing there is no reason to tack cleanly and quickly. These skills are useful for all kinds of sailing but it’s racing that encourages their development.

This also all true for rowing. There may be recreational sailors and rowers who’ve only ever recreationally raced or sailed but I suspect there aren’t very many.

You might only want to ride a bike, row, or sail for fun but for most people, you learn the foundational skills to do these things well, through racing.

Sam and Sarah snipe racing. It’s a light wind day and no one is going anywhere very fast.
cycling · fitness · racing · Zwift

Riding with the women on Zwift

I posted this morning about racing with guys and missing the company of women on Zwift.

For what it’s worth, by profile, for racing purposes, I’m much more like the men my age in terms of weight and power which are the factors that matter in cycling.

But I also like riding with women.

So this week I did a bit of both.

First, I rode in a meet up with Australia’s Queen Bees. Their Friday afternoon lunch hour ride (in virtual France) was 8 pm my time Thursday and that worked out perfectly. It actually ended up being a nice mix of Canadians and Australians. I didn’t want to race the usual Thursday night TTT as we’re all in various stages of recovering from covid here at my house. There was lots of chatter on text and on discord in the meet up and I’ll definitely ride with them again.

They also have awesome, real life, kit.

Queen Bee bike jersey

Saturday I had planned to ride Wahoo Le Col’s team recon race since my TFC Team, Dynamite, will be racing in the ZRL series Tuesdays. “The Wahoo Le Col team has organized a Saturday racing series for men, and a separate (new!) series for women, where each week’s race uses the route that will be raced in ZRL 3 days later. Women’s event Saturdays at 3pm GMT/10am EST/7am PST.”

I started but I’d already ridden 25 km with Sarah’s ZSUN team for their Saturday morning base builder ride, quickly realized that I’d recovered enough to ride my bike but not enough to race, and decided to sit and have coffee instead. Excellent choice.

And then the ladies of the Herd, on their Sunday Sip ‘s Spin ride also decided to do a ride over of the Tuesday ZRL race course, Neokyo All Nighter. Yay! It was a great group and a nice easy-for-me pace.

Tuesday night it will be and TFC’s Team Dynamite racing on that course. I’m looking forward to it!

cycling · fitness · racing · Zwift

Sam is racing with the guys and wondering, where are the women her age?

For most of my cycling life, I’ve ridden with men. Aside from brief stints riding in Australia and New Zealand where there are enough women riders to form our own groups, I’ve ridden with the guys. But even there when I looked ahead to groups of older cyclists there weren’t as many women. I remember when I started racing occasionally with the Vets in Canberra, Australia, during my first sabbatical year there in 2007-08.

You don’t need to be that old to join. “Started in 1993, the ACT Veterans Cycling Club was formed to cater specifically for veteran racing cyclists in the Canberra area. Veteran category for cycling is 35 and over for men and 30 and over for women.”

I don’t remember how many racing categories there were–lots, I know. And lots of older men, though not very many older women. There were jokes about needing a doctor’s note to continue racing after 80.

During my first race I let an older Italian-Australian man draft me. I was impressed that he was still racing at his age and I thought he needed my help to finish. If you’re a cyclist you likely know how this story ends. At the very end, he sprinted past me and beat me in the race. His wife, who was getting the post race tea and biscuits ready, said, “Oh, he does that with all the new people. Never let him get away with drafting.” I laughed.

We joked that in my category it was women over 40 and men over 60. But even then I wondered, where are the older women cyclists?

Now I am one of the older women cyclists, I’m really wondering.

I’m racing on Zwift with Team TFC. I’m the organizer of a team, in the Zwift Racing League series, Team Dynamite. We’re an all genders team, in category D. But I am the only woman.

In lots of races on Zwift there are open categories A-D and which category you’re in depends on your power to weight ratio. But the women all get lumped together in E category. If I race with the women, I’m competing against women who would be in the open A, B, and C category. As a D rider I don’t stand a chance. Some races have Women’s A-D categories but not very many.

There are lots of younger, smaller, speedier women racing on Zwift but to race with people of my size and power, I need to race in the open or mixed categories which really means racing with men.

Now don’t get me wrong. I like my male teammates. They’re a great bunch and they manage to be encouraging without being condescending, they’re helpful without mansplaining, and they are kind and funny. But sometimes I wonder where the D women are and where the older women are.

I joke about being Smurfette!

The Smurfette Principle - TV Tropes
Smurfette with the Smurfs

Of course, not everyone likes racing. There’s no need to feel defensive if it’s not your thing. But the proportion of men to women makes me think there are women who would like it, if they knew racing at all levels was available, if they understood the range of styles of bike racing there are, and they knew they wouldn’t be alone even if there aren’t that many of us out here.

I came across a fun Zwifter recently with her own YouTube channel, Zwifting with Granny.

Her description resonated because of osteoarthritis pain and cycling being a thing that helps make it better. Me too!

“I’m just a lifelong cyclist who, in my 60’s, developed severe osteoarthritis, and the only thing that would alleviate the pain was riding my bike. Riding in the winter didn’t help because the cold negated the effects of the riding. I had heard about Zwift for years but didn’t have room for the setup. In 2019…new house, more rooms, enter Zwift. This is my journey.”

Zwifting with Granny, YouTube Channel

Past posts about older cyclists:

Cycling into One’s Retirement Years

Sharon on Cycling After Sixty

Silver hair speedsters and good news on growing older

Want the health of a 20 year old at the age of 80? Ride a bike!

On Turning 56 and Thinking About Age and Speed

advertising · fitness

Occupations for Women in 1887: My faves are Athlete and Scholar

We’ve written before about the odd combination of ads for smoking and women’s athletics:

“It’s odd now, in light of all we know about the health impact of smoking, to think about a positive connection between sports and cigarettes. But that wasn’t always the case, especially for women. Both smoking and being physically active were hallmarks of the independent woman. Yes, smoking’s allure was partly about weight loss but it was also about women’s new found autonomy, careers, and education.

According to the Center for Disease Control, “Tobacco advertising geared toward women began in the 1920s. By the mid-1930s, cigarette advertisements targeting women were becoming so commonplace that one advertisement for the mentholated Spud brand had the caption “To read the advertisements these days, a fellow’d think the pretty girls do all the smoking.” As early as the 1920s, tobacco advertising geared toward women included messages such as “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet” to establish an association between smoking and slimness. The positioning of Lucky Strike as an aid to weight control led to a greater than 300% increase in sales for this brand in the first year of the advertising campaign.”

Now these 1887 cigarette cards predate these advertising campaigns. But I still love the imagery, smoking aside.

I like the “athlete” and “scholar” best.

fitness · Guest Post · holiday fitness · running

60 Days of Streaking (Guest Post)

By Stephanie Keating

60 days ago, I wanted to shake up my relationship with running, which had fallen into a bit of a rut.

I used to run a great deal, but after my second ultramarathon (which took place in May 2018), I struggled with setting new goals. This was problematic, because I’m highly goal motivated. I didn’t feel I could make improvements on my pace, and wasn’t ready or willing to commit to running distances longer than 50 km. Over the past couple of years, my running went from consistent training for some race or another to doing a lacklustre 5 km a week or so.

To change things up, I decided on something very simple: a run streak of at least one mile (1.6 kilometres) per day for at least 30 days.



I put the idea to some friends, several of whom joined in, either to do the minimum mile or mixing in other sports with the goal of consistent daily commitment and progress. After the first 30 days, I felt like I was getting a lot out of the process, so I decided to continue.

Streaking took a lot of thinking out of the equation for me. I always knew that I would run; the only questions I had to answer were when and how far. A mile does not seem like much on any given day – it’s roughly 10 minutes of activity, which always made that goal feel achievable.

This was particularly important on days when I otherwise would not have run at all due to other life circumstances, and when I found myself in some physically challenging situations. For example, I had a tooth extracted during the 60 day streak. I made sure to run before the extraction, and was pleased to find out I could handle a mile the day after it as well.

I also injured my back over the course of the 60 day streak while doing another activity that I enjoy a great deal: weight lifting. I pulled something while trying to improve my barbell squat, and had a brief worry that my streaking would be cut short as a result. But because I had set a goal, I figured I owed it to myself to try to achieve it. I made sure to slow things right now, and even while injured I managed to get in my mile per day.

Because a mile does not seem like very far, it also would not ever have really felt worth doing on its own on any given day, without the mental commitment. Why bother heading out the door for such a short distance? But getting out the door is exactly what I needed to do on many days. On many occasions, my mile morphed into two, three, or more.

Overall, I would call the experiment a resounding success. I rediscovered the joy I used to feel in running, the catharsis, and the physical benefits. And I got to share the joy in watching my friends meet — and in many cases exceed! — their goals as well.

January 1 was day 60. I did 10 km, which is the farthest I’ve gone in one run throughout the streaking process. Across all 60 days, I covered a total of 179 km, which works out to 3 km a day. And now I feel ready to do more again.

As I figure out what my next goals are, I think I will continue the streak. Depending on what I decide to do next, it may make sense to commit to including full rest days into the mix. But for now, I’ll continue to enjoy the benefits of consistent, incremental progress.

A sweaty treadmill selfie early in the run streak.
Some pretty scenery found on one of the outdoor trail runs during the streak.



Bio: Stephanie Keating is a science writer at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario, with her partner, Kevin, and their two cats. She has dabbled in many athletic pursuits, but her favourites remain running, weight lifting, hiking, and cycling.

Stephanie on January 1, after 60 days of run streaking.
Book Club · fitness · monthly check in · winter

Checking in for December and 2021 in general, looking ahead to 2022

I’ve been putting off writing this blog post and that is not a very good sign. I usually write for the blog quickly and cheerfully.

I don’t think I’ve felt as apprehensive about a new year in a very long time. I want to be hopeful and positive about better post pandemic times ahead. But I’m also frightened that they won’t be better. Even wishing people a happy new year felt sketchy. I mean, I did it. But I felt like I should knock on wood after or something.

I also know I should feel lucky for how wonderful the lives we have are in the global and historical scheme of things.

Add climate change and increasingly polarized politics, fueled by racism and misogny, to the mix of things I’m worried about and I just want to throw the blankets over my head and emerge in spring.

It’s been a very hard year. Sometimes I confess I’m tempted by this kind of message about how I feel about it but that’s not quite right either.

Bitmoji Sam putting out the trash that was 2021

I also don’t want to ignore the month and year that was. Time might be a bit blurry but it has its own significance. Someone joked on Twitter today, “Today is March 674, 2020.” And truly there are ways in which it feels like time has stood still. But I’m resisting that way of thinking partly because I watch my adult children growing and changing through these difficult times. They have a lot to teach me.

I have enjoyed an awful lot of things relevant to the blog–like very long trail rides and weekends away bike camping, canoe trips, and most recently yurt camping with my eldest child. I’ve missed people and parties and travel, but this year, unlike 2020 I at least got to spend time with my adult kids.

We looked at last year’s holiday pics and laughed. I couldn’t even remember what we did. It turns out we exchanged food and gifts in the backyard on the 24th and opened them on Zoom together the next day.

On the left, is Christmas 2020. Here we are wearing our holiday oodies (joke gift meant to keep us warm while meeting outside–they’ve actually been getting a lot of wear) in two separate bubbles, Guelph child and me on the left and the London sibling bubble on the right. On the right, Christmas 2021, is Christmas dinner, missing Susan who is taking the photo, but includes all three kids and me and my mother actually eating a meal together.

We gathered over the holidays as a fully vaccinated family and rapid tested on Christmas Eve. We know that’s not perfect but we’re a small group. We were going for multiple layers of imperfect protection, the swiss cheese model as they’ve been calling it.

Although my December posts have also often served as year end reflections, I’m not sure I have it in me this year.

I did have one good thought about winter’s very short days though. While we were yurt camping, I realized the urgency we felt about getting out and about in the daylight hours. If you’re biking in the morning and hiking in the afternoon and it’s starting to get dark just after 4 pm, that doesn’t leave a lot of time. It’s the one upside of short days, time in the light feels precious and special.

Bruce National Park Yurt Camping

I wondered about using the same approach to thinking about life during the pandemic. It’s reduced in various ways but maybe that means we focus in and enjoy what we do have. I did love bike camping this summer. I might plan for some more bike camping trips. I’ve always wanted take a cycling holiday in PEI and on the Gaspé Peninsula. Even if we don’t get to travel as much in the future, there’s an awful lot to love right here. Right? Right.

A few people in the blog community have talked about 2022 as the year of smaller pleasures.

Let’s officially make 2022 the year of tiny pleasures, says one woman to another while walking through the woods in the snow

Planning for the year ahead, will definitely include bike trips and canoe trips.

What else to report in planning for 2022?

My word of the year is integrity. I’ve been feeling the need to be grounded in my values and be less swayed by crises and the currents of popular opinion.

I’ve signed up for 30 days of Yoga with Adriene. I’ve approached it different ways in different years. Sometimes doing the class for that day whenever I’d normally do some yoga. Sometimes I’ve done the whole 30 days but spread out over many more.

I completed my 2021 distance challenge–see I did it!–and I might aim for higher next year. We’ll see.

Sam’s Strava Year in Review

I’ve signed up again for 222 workouts in 2022–but I’m going to need to work on variety. It can’t all be Zwifting and dog walks and YWA. With the gyms closed again, I’m going to need to get back to lifting and other forms of strength training. We’ve got lots of resistance bands, and a TRX, and even a kettle bell. I just need to pick them up occasionally. Come spring there might be some backyard personal training but there are months to go before then.

Not so much fitness related as mental health and overall well being related, I’ve signed up again for the Goodreads Challenge, pledging to read 25 books in 2022. You pick the number. I met my goal of 24 in 2021. My first book of 2022 is The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, which I’m loving. I’m happier when I make space in my life to read fiction.

My knee still hurts, both knees now, a lot. But all non-emergency surgeries are on hold again in Ontario due to the pandemic and I am going to not think too much about knee surgery. I’m going to try to do what I can to make peace with the knees I have, more knee physio and definitely more riding.

Happy New Year all! (And knock on wood.) I’m sorry these aren’t rosier or more upbeat messages but that’s where I am. I did get to have a lovely Christmas with the kids and a fun and relaxing New Year with Sarah and friends at her family farm. Life is good even if I am not riding my bike in Florida as planned.

Jeff is enjoying the Florida Keys and you can read about his adventures here.

Escapade in Marathon, Florida.