fitness

Kitten Yoga at Home

“Yoga And” has been blogged about a bunch on this blog lately, most comprehensively by Cate here.

I live in a plain and ordinary place. There is no goat yoga, kitten yoga or beer yoga on the program (although I heard a rumour that beer yoga was in the planning stages and thankfully the yoga instructor said something to the effect of “WTF NO!”) One of the disadvantages of it being so plain and ordinary is there is not a lot of choice around going to a yoga class. You can go way to early in the morning, 10am or way too late (I can’t do it at 8pm, I’m toast). The early afternoon, when I am most available is the time all the other people who go to these studios are either at work or home for naps with their toddlers. So I’m out of luck.

My daughter suggested I check out YouTube for yoga videos and I scoffed. But you know what? I actually like them.

First of all, I can peruse them to find an instructor that I like. I prefer my yoga without too much nattering by 22 year old instructors. That may sound harsh to the young folks but that’s how I feel. My life is messy and I’m not always happy. I don’t strive to attain happiness anymore, I just want to be. The older instructors understand this better.

Once I find the person, I commence the yoga. That’s where the kitten comes in.

Actually, he is a cat, a soft, smart, arrogant little black cat. He is up in my business from the beginning to the end of the 40 minutes on the mat. He is used to the iPad being his toy (Check out apps for cats, it’s a real thing) and he occasionally pauses the video for me. While I am in downward dog, his tail is up my nose. While I am in bridge, he is hitting my head with his paw. If I am asked to step a right foot back, I need to make sure he isn’t laying there where I can step on him. Basically, he’s a pain.

The dog, on the other hand, stays out of my way.

I love it.

I really didn’t think I’d be that person who does yoga in her front hall with a person named Adrienne talking to her on a YouTube channel. These days, I take my activity where I find it. Dog walking, hall yoga with a cat and random inconsistent runs are what I’ve got on the menu. It’s all I have in me right now. That’s okay.

A blurry image of a small black cat on a stairwell landing
Behold the Mischievous Shadow
fitness

I Can Still Run

My 50th year has not been my fittest. So far, I’d say I peaked at about 48 and a half. This is not to say I will not peak again, just not right this second.

Anyway.

The fun thing is I went for a wee run on Monday. It was about 3.5k. Now those of you who have ever stoped running and then done 3.5k a few months later may wonder, “How could that ever be FUN?”

It was fun because I ran with my kid.

My almost 19 year old son has not, thus far in his life, been much of an athlete. He’s a pretty good downhill skier and an excellent amateur stage actor. He’s a bright funny young man. I heard a rumor that he ran 5k one night while trying not to study for finals. So I asked him, “Hey, wanna run with me tomorrow?” and he said YES.

I remember when I was about 20 and my mom wanted me to learn tennis. She paid for some lessons and was so thrilled to have me on the court with her while she whupped me. I don’t think I quite understood her thrill until that run.

The run itself was unremarkable, but the joy of me being active with my adult kid was pretty special. It’s is now officially one of the numerous documented perks of being fit at midlife.

(Did you like how I did that? Book promo. BANG)

And for those of you who think you raised a couch potato, this is also an example of how you just never know what will happen in the young adult mind.

I’m looking forward to more.

A yellow lab looking forlorn while a pair of white black and yellow running shoes sit empty of feet in the foreground Come run with me, says Shelby

advertising · body image · eating disorders · fitness · gender policing · media · objectification · sex

Really, Walmart? Really?

I don’t love Walmart. I don’t love Cosmo Magazine. I really don’t love what Walmart has done with Cosmo Magazine in 5000 locations in the good ole’ USA. Sam brought this article to our attention on our contributor discussion page and said, “Blog fodder. Do feminists agree with conservatives on this one?” I swear sometimes she says stuff just to get me riled up enough to write a blog. . .oh. . .wait.

So in a nutshell, Cosmo will not be available at the checkout where all the precious minds of little girls might get polluted with its sordid sexual content. Dawn Hawkins of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (Formerly known as Morality in the Media) claimed it as a victory of her organization’s own making, referencing #metoo as the inspiration for this action. Walmart made a vague statement about it being a “business decision” in which it “consulted” with unnamed entities. Cosmo isn’t being banned. It’s just being moved.

Honestly, do I care? I hate Cosmo. I mostly hate it because it over promises on the sex tips. Here’s an example, “7 Best Sex Positions for Female Orgasm“. It says these tips will “guarantee to help you orgasm”. But you know what? That’s bullshit. I’ve tried every one of them. I want my guarantee! They get me every time and dash my hopes. But you know what else is in there? This gem about the fight to include women’s choice into Obamacare. There’s also this one about my current favourite teen that isn’t related to me, Emma Gonzales, and the photoshopped picture of her ripping up the bill of rights.

When Sam asked if feminists agreed with conservatives, I will confess to having a trauma trigger. It all goes back to a time in 1990. I was a young impressionable law student and I read Catharine MacKinnon. For those who are too young to remember, these were troubled times in the feminist movement (I mean, when aren’t there troubled times). There was a general agreement that pornography, as conceptualized by the patriarchy, was not great for women. It was not about our pleasure, it was not about our agency, it was not about our actual bodies. It was about our function and that function was to arouse and get off men. That’s objectifying. That’s an impoverished view of women and women’s sexuality. But in the hopes of doing something about it, feminists teamed up with the “moral majority” of conservative evangelical politics. They argued for an end to the scourge using legal tools and in the process, did a terrible disservice to a lot of women, including me. In this discourse, sexuality became even more of a source of shame and, as happens, marginalized sexuality took the brunt of it. Somehow the mainstream porn industry continued to thrive while it was harder for alternate voices to get in there and change any of these narratives. Things didn’t get better for women as a result of this unholy alliance because it got hijacked by the more powerful partner in the endeavour. (This is an admittedly uncomplicated summary).

Meanwhile I wasted 10 years of my life not doing fun sexy things that I wanted to do because I thought it would make me a bad feminist. Did those well meaning white lady anti-porn feminists mean for any of this to happen? Of course not. But you can be sure that the folks like Ms. Hawkins would be pretty pleased that I stayed away from all that perverted hanky panky I was trying not to think about.

So, back to beleaguered Cosmo. I wish it was not such a trashy mag. I wish it portrayed more real bodies. I wish the sex advice was better. But other than that, it’s not the worst. They have stopped putting diet advice on the cover. There is a lot in the magazine that speaks to women’s agency. That it reports on celebrity gossip is not a thing that should banish it to the back shelves. I’m curious if that trashiest of trash piles the National Enquirer can still be found eye level with the kidletts? Likely. The hypocrisy is beyond the pale.

A brief perusal of the website of the NCOSE indicates that its main focus is on enforcing and strengthening obscenity law, educating young people about the dangers of overconsumption of porn, prohibiting the exchange of sex for money and somehow “stopping the demand for purchased sex”, I guess through the punishment of being caught (?). While their goals are around the protection of women and vulnerable young people, their tools involve repressing the material, not educating or empowering the victims in the ways I think are helpful. Their aims are also decidedly not sex or sex work positive. I guess that’s where we differ, me and Ms. Hawkins. Cosmo is imperfect, but it is somewhat educational. It reflects reality. NCOSE targeted Cosmo because it is a somewhat sex positive liberal trash mag. I will take that over a sex negative conservative mouth piece of a shameful president any day of the week.

So the answer, Sam, is NO!

nuh-uh-gif-3

nuh-uh-gif-3
A Gif of an older glamorous white woman in big sunglasses and a scarf wagging her finger and shaking her head, “Nuh uh, honey”.
fitness · motivation

Stop Pushing

Okay okay I get it. I’ll stop.

It’s been a really bad half a year for me in a lot of ways but a really good half a year in other ways. On the professional side, it’s all roses. My practice is full to the brim and I’m teaching in a program I love with so much room for growth and spreading my painfully acquired wisdom to new therapists. My kids are stable and overall, so are my key relationships.

Yet, I’m struggling. I stopped exercising in September and just didn’t bother to start again. A wave of lethargy consumed me, but only in the narrow field of my physical self. Inside my brain I was brimming. In the outside world, I was atrophying. It’s so strange to be depressed in this particular way. I’ve joked that I’m so good at coping that I mostly don’t notice my depression when it slams me but these past few years, winter is just shit. Sorry for swearing. No. Not sorry. It’s shit. Shit for me, shit for people I love and who depend on me and kids. . .the world gives not a shit for how shitty you feel. It goes on demanding things of you, paying lip service to your mental health and then blaming (or worse punishing) you for not doing enough about it. Ya, that’s me, a mental health provider, and that is what I know to be true. Add peri-menopause and it’s just, you know, shit.

When I realized I really didn’t even feel like riding a horse anymore, I knew I was really in trouble, but the idea of making myself do more made me want to cry. So I tried stopping.

This I where I’m at right now. I’ve stopped. But stopped what? It’s hard to describe exactly. I’ve stopped trying to be or do a thing that is not what I am right now. I am not some kind of super charged athlete. I never have been. I’ve done some cool things and pushed myself in ways I’m proud of. The Bike Rally (Toronto to Montreal in 6 days) twice and the half marathon last year are two things I’m really proud of. But you know what? That’s as good as it’s going to get for me. I don’t need to do more. I don’t need to even repeat any of it. My body is aging and it needs to stay active but if my idea of active is to keep pushing myself to do more, I just end up in a shame spiral fighting myself and I’m not interested in that today.

I have returned to the gym. I did the 30 minute circuit, the most vanilla workout ever. It’s all I can handle right now. I went to yoga. Plain yoga. Not hot yoga. Not power yoga. Yoga. It was good. I may ride next month but I think I’m not fit enough to have that be fun for me right now so I may wait to get back to that. I am not doing anything longer then 10k ever again so there will be time this summer to ride my bike with Sam and Cate and Kim. Yay. As always, my dog makes sure that I get out of the house at least once a day. She’d better be immortal.

I’m turning 50 in June. I don’t think it will be my fittest birthday ever. That’s okay. I’m grateful to be alive at 50. I’m grateful to have meaningful work and beautiful friendships. I’m grateful I can to a 30 minute circuit or a dog hike. I’m grateful my life is in my hands and I will spend the remainder of it giving back to this sad, barely comprehensible world. I’m grateful for my superstar coping and oh dear sweet universe I will be grateful for spring.

IMG_5832
The cute slightly sad looking head of a yellow lab on my leg, wearing orange leggings with big white polka dots

 

 

dogs · fitness

Lost Without My Doggo (Tails From the Woods)

Hi. This is me, still not doing very much by way of movement. . .EXCEPT. . .dog walking.

In this post I will contemplate the different types of dog walks as I see them. You can argue with me, but I just made this all up so you can be right if you want.

Basic walk: This is the 7:45am walk around the small park. It is necessary for the dog’s health and short because I (or you, or someone) has to go to work or school. The dog loves it and the human just needs it to be over (1km).

Panic walk: This walk happens right before you have to do something important but the dog needs it and you love the dog. So you walk very fast and yell at the dog to stop checking every bit of pee-mail she has and lets go because you need to move. (1km)

Information gathering from teenager walk: This is the one you ask your teen kid to come on with you so that the dog gets a walk and you maybe get some info (intel) on their life or the life of a sibling. Children who are looking in the same direction as the adult talk more than children being directly interrogated. Don’t believe me? Try it. Car ride, swings in the park, park bench, ski lift or. . .dog walk. (1.8km)

Hang out with a spouse walk: The spouse you never see. Ya, that one. Go for a dog walk, get a coffee, don’t forget the Timbit for the dog. (1.8km)A happy yellow lab standing in snow looking up. There are snowshoes with boots in them all around the frame

It’s so cold I hate you dog walk: This is the walk that you wish you never owned a dog for. Except she is so happy and loves you for taking her, so I guess it’s okay and she can stay, but I can’t feel my face. (1km)

Cottage road dog walk: Casual, delightful, you remembered to put your snow pants on so you are not too freezing. Love the cottage road dog walk. (1.5km)

Forest tromp with dog: Snow! Forest! Happiest dog ever in the world. These are the best walks. They can be casual and slow or fast and sweaty. Everyone is having a good time, especially the dog. Let’s face it, the dog always has a good time. (4km)

It doesn’t matter what state you are in or I am in or how long it’s been since I wore running shoes. It doesn’t matter if I’m depressed and peri-menopausal and hate everyone. The dog is always up for a walk and the dog is always happy. Therefore, I walk the dog and the fog of life lifts just a little bit. May your year be full of happy dog walks or some equivalent even if you don’t feel very fit and even if you are exhausted trying to be a feminist in these weird times. Dogs see your potential. Dogs know you’ve got this. Dogs think you are a-okay.

fitness

An Ongoing Food Adventure

I normally blog about activity but since I’m not exactly active right now and don’t want to talk about it (grumble), I thought I’d talk about an interesting food experiment I’ve been engaged with this last year.

I looooove food, I loooooove cooking and I haaaate grocery shopping. I also hate having to decide what I’m making, although once I do decide, I seriously enjoy the process. I am conscious, also, as many of us who write on here are, of what I am putting in my mouth and the mouths of the family for whom I am responsible food wise. I want fresh, tasty, nutritious, fun and interesting food on the table. It is my belief that if it meets those criteria most of the time, then the other looming adjective that I ignored  (“healthy”, whatever that means, I just seriously can’t stomach defining that any more, pun intended) just kind of follows along for the most part. I also like the idea of eating less meat even though I love meat.

I was intrigued through my good friend by a service that delivers meals weekly to my house. These meals are not pre-prepared. I have to do the prep and cook them. However, they are pre-measured and contain only what is required to cook the meal. I’m not going to name the company here but you can look the services up easily. There are a few now. I order three meals per week and they are meant to feed two people per meal. The servings are usually generous so we often have left overs for another meal or two out of it.

Here is my evaluation of the experiment. Total success.

Things I love are as follows:

For the most part, they are totally tasty and satisfying. I love that I don’t have to go to the grocery store as much. I love that I don’t have to think of what to cook. They give these lovely instructions with each meal and the description of the food just makes you want to eat it that second.

Vegetarian Pad Thai

With its familiar mountain of rice noodles, Pad Thai is probably the most popular and recognizable Thai dish the world over. Our vegetarian version is bursting with perfectly seasoned cubes of tofu, cashews, bell peppers and edamame. Tossed in a Sriracha-spiked sauce, our well-balanced twist on a beloved classic won’t disappoint.

That isn’t even the best description. It’s just the one I have in front of me. They never ever talk about calories, or “light” meals, or low fat or any of that crap. “Well balanced” here is talking about taste. The taste is well balanced. It totally is.

I have acquired new skills through this process and an appreciation of prep work that accelerates the cooking. Most meals take a half hour to prepare. I also never knew how important vegetarian demi-glace could be, nor did I realize that lemon or lime zest is, like, EVERYTHING.

The down sides include too much grilled tofu. I don’t care how long you marinate it, it’s boring as a main protein. I have also forgotten how to cook otherwise, lol, just kidding, sort of.

A photo of a page of instructions for Vegetarian Pad Thai that includes picture of each step.
Is this Yum or What?

Enjoying food is joy. This is a total win.

 

fitness

The Inactivity Gravity Well

I’m in one. I’ve been sucked down. 

I didn’t even go riding this week and that’s saying something. 

It started after my personal best 10k. I didn’t go back to running immediately. Then I added new things to my schedule, teaching (with an hour commute each way) and more carpooling (because the kid with the license went away to school).  The result is a sense of profound busyness and over scheduledness. 

I also let go of my self care in other ways. I haven’t been to a body work person of any sort in months and all my chronic things are active. This is what made me not want to ride today. It’s jarring on my body and my body is hurting. 

This weekend coming up I have a teaching intensive for two and a half days, commuting there and back. It’s a therapist training program so there is tons of exciting inner work. There isn’t a lot of time for outside. Because when the students have free time, I’m in staff meetings. 

I feel whiny and grumpy and owie. I can’t follow my own darn advice. I know what I need, yoga, Pilates, weights, but I DON’T WANT TO DO ANYTHING EXCEPT EAT PASTA. 

I’m in a sort of hibernation mode that is unfamiliar. Honestly, I think I just have to suck it up. I keep telling myself “next week, next time, tomorrow” but tomorrow never comes because it’s always now. 

The bright spot is my dog. I’m still walking every day twice a day at a brisk pace. So I’m not dead yet. 

So people…kick my butt…nicely. 

A black cat flopping on a top step. He looks deflated.
This is how I feel….blergh