In a move that will shock absolutely no one, we are all doing it again for 2021. There are actually two Facebook groups now, the original group and a somewhat smaller feminist spin off. That said, there are feminist bloggers in both groups and some of us like staying in touch with people in both groups and have stayed a member of both groups.
I asked Jason, the founder of the original group about new members for 2021 and he wrote back right away, “I’m indeed planning on 221 in 2021 and I’m always happy to have more like minded folks join our merry band.”
Cheryl, frequent guest here, said the same, “I’d be happy to have more folks join my group. Or folks can search 220 workouts in 2020! (Fit Feminist edition)”
How do you join?
Jason writes, “Here are the generic instructions on how to join a Facebook group. Per usual I will keep the group name 220 workouts in 2020 until January 1st when I’ll switch it to fit the new year. How do I join a Facebook group as myself or my Page? From your News Feed click Groups in the left menu. In the search bar at the top, enter some keywords for the group you’re looking for. Select the group then click + Join Group below the cover photo. Select whether you’d like to join as your profile or your Page and click Join Group.”
WHAT: The idea is simple. In 2020 there are 365 days. We are going to challenge ourselves to workout 220 times in those 365 days.
WHY: (1) Consistently doing deliberate exercise is one of the most important factors in developing good health and fitness. (2) Choosing to complete a workout or not is something we can control.
HOW: (1)Workouts are defined as any form of deliberate exercise/movement. Some examples are, lifting weights, doing gymnastics, a CrossFit WOD, a hike in the great outdoors, practising a martial art or yoga. Taking a dance class or playing rec softball with the folks from work also counts. Do what inspires you to move your body. (2) Use a spreadsheet, a habit tracking app, or a notebook and give yourself a checkmark for every workout you complete. (3) Share your progress with the group.
Last week I read the book Healthy as F*ck by Oonagh Duncan, which focuses in large part on how to create and sustain habits that work for you to support your health. Near the end of the book, she talks about identity and the strong need that people have to stay consistent with our own definitions of ourselves. The context here is how reinforcing our healthy habit loops helps strengthen our identity of being “Someone Who Does This Shit” – whatever that shit may be.
It occurred to me after reading this that being a person who exercises regularly has become a solid piece of my sense of self, and I can tell you most emphatically that in the past it was not. As recently as 2 ½ years ago I struggled to get myself to be physically active – it was something I sometimes did (and had a hard time with), and it was not part of my self-concept. And now here I am, someone who strongly identifies as a person who moves.
This transformation has happened for me gradually since July 2018 when I read Sam and Tracy’s book Fit at Mid-Life: A Feminist Fitness Journey, and decided that I was ready to make some real changes. My first step was taking up running that summer, then I took part in a Fit is a Feminist Issue challenge in the fall, and in the new year I started a 219 workouts in 2019 Facebook group, which rolled over into a 220 in 2020 group. In 2020 I also started working out regularly in group sessions with an awesome trainer (Ali MacKellar) whose approach reflects my values and who creates community around this work. Building my fitness habits with the support of other fit feminists has been instrumental in making this change possible for me.
So after finishing the book and realizing that movement has really become part of who I am, I sat down and did some math based on the tracking from the 2019 and 2020 groups.
First let me tell you that I move my body in lots of ways – running, cycling, and sweaty HIIT sessions, as well as walking, yoga, and bellydance. My loose criteria for what counts as a workout for the purpose of tracking is basically any form of intentional movement of 25 minutes or longer. Why 25 minutes? For the simple and not-at-all scientific reason that 25 minutes is the length of many of the Yoga with Adriene sessions I do. So it keeps things easy for me.
In 2019 I hit 219 workouts right at the end of December, which means I worked out an average of just over 4 times every week that year. Wowee, I thought, good job Cheryl!
So far in 2020 I’ve done 270 workouts as of November 15, which is an average of 6 workouts a week. Umm, I’m sorry, what?? I work out 6 times a week?? On a regular consistent basis?? Me?? I had to double check the math, as this seemed like this couldn’t be possible. And yet it is. As you can tell, this was actually a shocking realization for me.
Doing some form of intentional movement most days every week has become a regular part of my life, even more so during a global pandemic where there’s less incidental movement happening for me. Every week I make a plan for what workouts or activities I’m going to do and when, as part of the list of things that I just automatically do. Planning for physical activity, and following through on those plans, have become habits.
Seeing these numbers drove home the realization that who I am has changed. For the first time in my adult life I am “Someone Who Does This Shit” when it comes to moving my body, and I feel really good about that.
I imagine that this has already been reinforcing my habit loop, as I have become a person who works out 6 times a week without being aware of it. I wonder if the more conscious realization of it will reinforce it even more?
I’m curious about other folks’ experiences around this? Is movement/exercise something you *do*? Or does it feel more like its part of who you *are*? And either way, how have you created habits that work for you?
Here’s the thing: the group is a fabulous idea. It’s a dynamic group of awesome people doing a wide range of activities. People’s workouts ranged from walking the dog or taking the kids skating, to Yoga with Adriene (a fan favourite), CrossFit, triathlon training, ballet, and serious resistance work. Seeing these exercises drift across your fb feed gives you new ideas for things to try, and the rising numbers (workout #20! Workout #42! Workout #210) are inspiring. It really is – or should be – a reliable recipe for success.
And yet, I didn’t do it. Not only did I not make 219 workouts, but I didn’t even come close. I stayed in the group and read everyone’s posts, liked as many as I could, and was glad to follow my friends. But I stopped updating – it felt silly, and then humiliating, to be in the low double-digits when everyone else was at three. And that’s ok: true, I hadn’t *initially* planned to broadcast the fact by blog post – but I was ok with it.
So, in some ways I’m absolutely the wrong person to write this post, but maybe in others that makes me the right one. Maybe you, the reader, are like me: you used to be someone who exercised, who loved and prioritized it, who made it a habit and a joy. Then things changed and life got more complicated, time filled and your body changed. Two gorgeous kids and a miscarriage took their toll, as did turning 40. Runs hurt instead of healed, yoga gave you time to fret rather than flex, muscles cramped, tendons swelled, and it became easier to just not.
I joined 219 in 2019 with the hope that I could use this group to turn it all around, to become the person I used to be. And it didn’t work. I was part of a lovely group doing all the right things, but it still didn’t work.
But I’m rejoining now with 20-20 vision, as it were, with a clearer vision of myself and my body and my plans. I’m going to revisit what counts as a workout for me (it might not be a long run, anymore; it might be a short walk to the playground for some rough and tumble play with my kids), and revise my expectations for how many I can do.
220 is a good goal, but so is 200, or even 20 + 20. I still like the idea of doing it surrounded – even virtually – by a group of excellent people. And I look forward to more ideas and inspiration. I recently learned that two of my fitness heroes (shoutout to Sam and Rebecca) only started working out seriously around my age. It’s nice to know I didn’t miss the boat.
When I round out 2020 I will probably be exactly the same person I am today, in exactly the same body. I plan to enjoy moving, and reading about the movements of others, along the way. Maybe even 220 times – who knows?!
Alice MacLachlan is a former marathon runner, boxer, and soccer player – and current expert on all things Frozen, Paw Patrol, and PJ Masks. She also teaches philosophy at YorkUniversity, co-edits Feminist Philosophy Quarterly, and thinks too much about civility, apologies, and forgiveness.
Hi readers– here’s my penultimate update on the 219 in 2019 workout challenge (the last one will be when I cross that finish line). I decided this year to count workout days rather than individual workouts. That may seem harder, but I also decided to let just about any purposeful physical activity (like a short walk that I decided to take, or a short yoga session before bed) count. The reason for this was that I wanted to get more consistent in my physical activity, regardless of what it was. And even if I just did yoga before bed, I wanted to get myself in the habit of doing it. And so I did.
There have definitely been some lulls in my activity at various times this year. I’m going to look back at my posts on the 219 on 2019 FB group to see when they were and what was going on at the time. Data is/are a good thing, and knowledge is power.
So where am I? It’s December 19, and I posted #209 last night (walking, and yoga class). So I’ve got 10 to go. If I do some activity every day, I’ll make my goal by Dec 28. And I’ve got 3 days to spare in case of glitches.
Finishing things is generally hard– at least it’s hard for me. I tend to run out of steam/time/interest before the end, so it’s a giant slog to complete big projects. However, this case is different for a few reasons: 1) I’ve made it so that any physical activity I decide to do counts, so I have oodles of options; 2) I do have some wiggle room– 3 days to spare; 3) I’m not alone in this challenge– I’m in a FB group where others are doing their thing and supporting each other; 4) it’s not like the challenge will actually be over when I hit 219. The group is re-upping for a 220 in 2020 challenge, and I’m definitely in. It’s so great to be a part of a group where people are sharing what they’re doing and cheering on others in their activity.
If you missed some of our other posts on the 219 in 2019 challenge, you can check them out here:
Readers, where are you in your workout year/challenge year/ongoing relationship with physical activity? Do you have some end-of-year goals? I’d love to hear about them if you care to share, and will cheer you on no matter what.
Now to me. I decided to count workout days rather than individual workouts, as I wanted to track my workout consistency over time. As of Sunday Nov 24,, I’ll be at 189 workout days, 30 days shy of my 219. There are 37 days left in which to complete my 30 days of workouts.
Here’s another thing: this year went better than 2018 with respect to workouts for me, even though I had a bunch of medical setbacks early this year. One reason why things went better is that I decided to count workouts based on how I was doing and what I could manage. A lot of times it was just some walking around campus and yoga before bed. When I was laid up with a sprained ankle, it was stretching on the bed. Or PT, which admittedly became a big workout over time. This summer it was bike rides, some swimming, some hiking, walking on beaches and in woods and by lakes, etc. And always yoga: yoga at home on my mat in the living room, yoga at my local studio Artemis, yoga on vacation in hotel rooms and on visits to unfamiliar studios in other cities. That’s been my favorite thing about being a part of this challenge: it’s challenged me to come up with fun and new ways to be active while traveling. And I love that.
Here’s a last thing (for now, until I hit 219): I’ve found that it can be hard to stay focused on being active at home. Life gets hard and tiring and stressful, and it can sap me of energy and motivation. I was less active than I wanted to be. There you go.
Okay, really last thing: this will come as no surprise to you, dear readers, but what has helped me get as close as I am today– 189 baby!– is planning to be active with friends. Making yoga or cycling or walking or hiking dates with people helps get me up off the couch and onto the saddle or into the woods or yoga studio. And it makes me happy. So thanks, friends!
Where do you feel like you are, readers, with respect to your workouts in 2019? Do you have goals for the end of the year? Are you moving along, stumbling, recovering, contemplating? I’d love to hear from you.
As of today there are 45 days left in 2019 and I just logged my 260th workout. It’s Sunday so I worshipped at the church of Zwift, riding 27 km in one hour in virtual London, England. Doing some basic math here that means I’ve got 40 workouts left and 45 days. Given that I also aspire to one day rest day a week, the math should work out perfectly.
I’ve often enjoyed having some sort of challenge through the holiday season to keep me focussed on exercise and not letting that be the thing that gives way in the face of all the extra socializing, shopping, hosting, wrapping, cooking excetera excetera. In the past I’ve done running streaks from American Thanksgiving through until New year’s short distances say 1 mile a day. My running days are over so this is probably a better focus for me anyway.
What will the next 40 workouts look like? My guess is we’ll be spending some extra time in the virtual cycling world of Zwift given a bit of extra flexibility around my work hours. I’m either walking or riding to work most days and doing some extra activity to make that count either yoga at home or planking. Sarah and I were talking this morning about making it out to the hot yoga studio in Guelph finally. And I’ll be sure to get some weight lifting in as well either with a personal trainer or on my own.
Tuesday this week, I had a super long day ahead of me, with really challenging work. Somehow, I got out of bed and went to a 6 am spinning class. (Then I might have been really annoying about it on FB).
I’m not a crack of dawn worker-outer — but something in me just knew that this class was a thing I would need for my day. And my day was hard, but I navigated it with a certain amount of ease.
That spin class was workout #304 for 2019.
Not that long ago, I wrote about hitting my 250th workout for 2019.” In that post, I reflected on how taking on the “217 in 2017″ challenge nearly three years ago had transformed my relationship with working out — and in fact in some ways, has actually transformed my identity. I used to be a person who worked out often, but there was a lot of negotiation and whinging about whether I really “felt like it” or not. More times than I can count, I got as far as putting on running gear but never getting out the door. (Christine wrote about this kind of exercise procrastination last week. It’s definitely a thing).
Somewhere in the past two years, I turned into a person who works out every day, pretty much, unless something seriously prevents me. I’m not sure exactly when or why it happened — in 2017, I had to stretch to hit my 217th workout on Christmas day. In 2018, I hit 218 by August, and kind of gritted my teeth to reach 300 before the end of the year (302 in total). This year, I sailed past 300 last weekend, and felt confident about setting a goal of 350 by the end of the year.
A casual observer might think that reaching for 350 workouts this year might be a slightly obsessive manifestation of my weird affinity for counting things. (For a very non-data-driven person, I take an unseemly satisfaction from hitting cumulative numbers of workouts, steps, kilometres ridden, streaks). But I had a realization last week that it’s something a lot different than that — working out in some way almost every day this year has had a pretty profound effect on my emotional landscape.
A couple of months ago, my business partner commented that I seemed so much more patient these days. And despite some intense work stress and considerable lashings of perimenopausal PMS and hormonal swings, I’m actually feeling an emotional buffer — dare I say emotional regulation — that I’ve sought most of my life. Since I was a small child, I’ve had a lot of anxiety and stress. (Picture poor little 7 year old me crying on the couch, clutching my stomach and freaking out my teenage babysitter, because we were about to move. Then multiply that for countless other experiences throughout my life). Most of my adult life I’ve had a tendency to impatience and irritability, with a fair bit of volatility at the worst points in my life. I’ve taken anti-depressants, run marathons, meditated, yoga’ed, and done a ton of “inner work,” as they say. All of those things have helped steady me — along with the magical seasoning of being past 50 — but I don’t know if I’ve ever felt as in balance as I do right now. Stressful stuff still happens — and I feel it — but I can hold it at arm’s length, breathe through it, detach from its power — in a way I never have before.
The 305.5 workouts I’ve done so far this year are a melange, ranging from a brisk 4 km walk or hour of restorative yoga to 7 hour bike rides and cross-fit classes. Turns out, for more emotionally regulated, balanced me, it’s not about intensity of any given episode of exercise, but about a steady stream of them. I don’t know exactly what brain/metabolic process is being triggered here, but it’s definitely a good thing.
This realization doesn’t mean I’m going to grimly trudge through a prescriptive roster of movement, for my own good. 95% of time, I fully enjoy whatever exercise I’m doing, once I’m doing it. It’s the starting to exercise part that has always been a source of avoidance and irritation. Somehow in the past three years, it’s stopped being optional — it’s just is a thing I do. This realization about the impact just reinforces that shift.
What about you? Can you actually feel the difference for your mental and emotional health of regular movement?
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who lives and works out in Toronto.
I’m sure everyone who reads the blog knows that a bunch of us here are in an accountability group with the goal of working out 219 times in 2019.
And Sunday I met that goal. My 219th workout was a spin class as part of my cycle instructor training.
What counts as a workout for the purposes of the challenge? Whatever works for you. Some people are aiming for working out 219 days in 2019 for example. I count discrete chunks of intentional movement. Like Cate, I count 4 hour paddles as 1 and I count a 30 minute lunch hour exercise class as 1. I count 100 km bike rides as 1 and 10 km local commutes as 1. I figure it evens out in the end.
The one exception are my bike commutes to work. They’re too short. Just 4 km round trip. And they’re part of my baseline of physical activity. So I count them only if I also do something else. So I count a bike commute plus dog walk as one, a bike commute plus abs as one, etc. It’s all about motivation to do more.
I’ve written before about possibly shooting for 300. If I’ve already done 219 workouts I would need to do 81 more to make it to 300. There are 94 days left in the year. Is that manageable? Maybe. I’d get 13 off days roughly one rest day per week. Certainly it would be good motivation to see me through the dark days of November and the holiday busyness of December.
I think I will. Shooting for 300 workouts in 2019 is my new goal now. Wish me luck!
My practice still was not easy. My progress was slow. I continued to struggle with both mental and physical yoga demons. And I often despaired that my body was just too old now, too out of shape. I feared I was “over the hill” and would never get back what I had lost. But I kept showing up. I kept rolling out my mat every day, getting on it, and doing the practice.
Reading this opened up for me the possibility that the d.. d… d… disc-i-pline (this is such a hard word to say, much less do) of every day movement practice would become a part of me, a treat, a haven, a reward, a pleasure in itself.
This is the thing that hits me in the gut: the idea of committing to a daily something-or-other that never ENDS. That’s never DONE.
It feels like those really long staircases that you see in various places around the world.
Some people (who are these people?) look at all those stairs and think, “oh fun! I’m going to tackle them and get to the top!” When I look at a lot of stairs, I worry. I get anxious. I proactively feel tired. They don’t motivate me, energize me, mobilize me, inspire me. They just make me feel ashamed that (hypothetically, as I haven’t even taken one step yet) I will be:
to enjoy the (too far away to even imagine them) pleasures at the top.
I decided to do the 218 Challenges in 2018 because a bunch of the bloggers were doing it, and I wanted the support and the push to be more self-aware of my physical activity. I wrote about my process and finish (on Dec 30, 2018) here: 218 in 2018: Today’s the day! Sam wrote about her finish that year, too: 218 in 2018: Achievement unlocked with a week to spare! Cate’s post yesterday, Workout #250 for 2019, about her journey through challenges, spurred me on to write about how this year’s challenge is going for me.
This year, doing the 219 in 2019 challenge, I feel like I have the mental space to think about what life is like in the process of climbing all those stairs. Sometimes I do feel weak or scared or tired or slow (and usually sweaty, too). And I am doing it myself, for me alone.
The challenge, though, offers me another viewpoint on that staircase. Although I’m in charge of getting to the top myself, there are others walking on that same staircase, on their way up and down. I can:
keep going up with them
stop and take a few breaths
talk with others on the way up
pick up my pace
ask people on their way down how far it is to the top
ask for help
decide to stop and head back down
I like this way of thinking about challenges. I can go at my own pace, and when I need a hand, it’s there for the asking.
There’s another challenge I’m a part of– a September is for Yoga challenge, run by our blogger Christine. Like the 219 in 2019 challenge, we get to decide what counts as doing yoga that day, and we can post about it (or not) on our FB page. When we do post, Christine gives us a gold star. For whatever we post– successes, attempts, emoting, whatever– we get one. And who doesn’t love a gold star?
Back to my original fear about challenges: the daily practice, the commitment to doing something every day, engaging in a process that doesn’t end, but rather continues ad infinitum.
Turns out, I need help with follow-through, with maintaining consistency and continuity of process. I need help when life’s vicissitudes are visited on me through injury, overwork, family crisis, anxiety, etc. In those times I need support around adjusting practices, suspending them (to resume in changed ways later on), or persisting in them, being reminded that they are part of the solution, not the problem.
Challenges do that for me. At least these do. They help me do the physical activity I want, all by myself, with them, any day I want, for as long as I want.
Readers, what are you current views about challenges? Do you like them? Avoid them? What made them work for you? What made them not work for you? We’d really love to hear your stories.