do a jillion squats/crunches/pullups/pushups/dips– whatever your pleasure;
perfect our posture (that was a new one for me);
and the list goes on…
30 also figures prominently in self-improvement programs, as 30 minutes seems to be the magical amount of time needed per day in order for complete and total transformation from shapeless, hapless, and amoeboid to ship-shape, sharp, and sure of ourselves.
What is it about 30? Is it true that we really need to do something 30 minutes a day for 30 days in order:
for us to see any results?
for it to be worth our time/money/effort?
for anything to happen at all?
What if, some days, we only do 15 minutes of whatever feat we are attempting (be it plank holding or meditation or watching Russian language videos)? Or 10? or 5? Is it all for nothing?
found that inactive older adults who added just 48 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week lowered their risk of major disability compared with sedentary people.
Wait, there’s more:
Another study, published in the January 2018 American Journal of Preventive Medicine, involved almost 140,000 older adults, average age 71, almost half of whom were men. It showed that doing moderate-intensity workouts totaling less than 150 minutes per week still was enough exercise to lower the risk of early death when compared with inactivity.
30 really isn’t a magic number. We don’t have to do something 30 days in a row for it to be meaningful, and we don’t have to spend 30 minutes a day doing it for it to count. Every day we devote to whatever activities that figure in our goals– physical, intellectual, creative, philanthropic, gastronomic, you name it– counts. And every minute counts, too.
In case you prefer a diagrammatic explanation, here’s one:
Readers: do you feel like you need 30 minutes a day in order to get up and running (as it were) in a new activity? Does doing a few minutes a day here and there suffice? I’d love to hear about your experiences with 30/less-than-30 programs.
Because despite the stereotypes, you don’t need to be stick thin to be a cyclist yet it can be challenging finding clothes that fit. I keep saying to people who say they’ll ride bikes (or go hiking and camping) AFTER they’ve lost weight, that there is no need to wait. Do it now! Yet, the message you get shopping for clothes and gear is that as a larger person this activity isn’t for you.
I’ll have more to say about this in the future. It’s a theme of mine! But for now I want to just take a moment and applaud two recent success stories:
“Diverse populations of women are featured on the brand’s Lookbooks and bibs and jerseys come in a variety of sizes to fit a wide-range of body types. Representation and inclusivity matter to Machines for Freedom and it’s abundantly clear that it’s important to the company ethos.
“I really wanted to change what this sport looked like and to create space for difference and individuality in a sport that values uniformity,” says Kriske. “When we launched, I was very deep into training, often riding 20-plus hours a week and treating it like a part-time job. Yet, I felt like I didn’t fit in, all because I was a curvy woman who valued life and relationships rather than just talking about gear ratios or what new bike I was lusting after. I saw the industry as very flat and superficial, and tailored to folks who ascribed to a very specific, and elite, lifestyle. I wanted to change that, to draw more people in.”
Kriske believes that the sport of cycling has much more to offer riders than tech specs and racing. “There is so much joy, adventure, and confidence that comes from adventuring on a bike. When it comes to storytelling, that is our NorthStar and it’s what has been driving us to broaden our community year after year.”
“Over the last few decades, the outdoor gear industry made innovation after innovation in product designs. Jackets are now waterproof yet surprisingly breathable, tents are so impressively lightweight one might mistake the aluminum poles for bird bones. But you still can’t buy a plus-size hiking backpack.
“When I think about it too much, I get really angry about it,” Jenny Bruso, the self-described queer, fat, femme writer and hiker behind the popular Instagram account Unlikely Hikers told Business Insider.
That’s why backpack maker Gregory’s announcement that they’re releasing the industry’s first line of plus-size backpacks in Spring 2021 is such big news. Finally, hikers and travelers will have size-inclusive backpacks that reflect the diversity of their bodies. And Bruso, whose frustrations with the industry is a driving force behind her activism within it, is partnering with Gregory to develop the line. The release will include more than 20 different plus-size packs across the day hiking, multi-day backpacking, hydration and lifestyle categories.”
That peloton ad has had its day and there’s not a lot new to add. I’m glad Monica Ruiz, the lead in the ad, is getting a chance to start over. And I learned a new descriptor, “sad eyebrows.”
Oh, did you miss it? Here’s the story. And here’s the ad itself.
Is it a bad ad? Is it creepy? Is it more like a trailer for Black Mirror than an ad for a spin bike? Should you give your spouse exercise equipment for the holidays? Was she just a little too worried about what her husband thinks? Was she too thankful for the gift? I’m going to leave all those questions alone. But I was shocked by the number of commentators who focused in on the Peloton wife’s weight.
“Peloton’s viral ad captures a ‘116 lb woman’s YEARLONG fitness journey to becoming a 112 lb woman’” screamed commentators. See Marketwatch on the controversy.
So many of the complaints focused on the fact that she was already fit, by which they mean thin. This isn’t fair to fat but fit people. This isn’t fair to thin people who often aren’t encouraged to exercise because they’re thin even though you can be thin but very out of shape . See How equating being fat with being out of shape hurts thin people too.
Frankly I was relieved that it wasn’t an ad about a fat wife getting an exercise bike and her year long weight loss journey. Phew.
We need to break the connection between thinness and fitness. There was lots wrong with the ad but the fact that the gift receiver was already thin had nothing to do with it.
I was reminded of that piece when this article came across my feed describing how UNICEF, the United Nations children’s fund has developed a tracker that allows kids to feed other children when they reach certain step goals.
I’m going to let that sink in for a moment.
North American kids — largely affluent, well fed, and probably mostly white — are being told use this tracker and you will feed the poor somewhere else.
You can’t escape the irony here; the colonialist, patriarchally coated irony of having privileged kids walking their walk to good works.
Article author Angela Lashbrooks says this about the idea: A punitive or even rewards-based system to encourage young people to move more won’t be effective in the mid or long term, and could cause or worsen obsessive thoughts and behaviors in some kids.
That’s because there isn’t a lot of good evidence showing trackers work with kids and teens:
One 2019 study found that teenage subjects actually became less likely to engage in moderate or vigorous physical activity after five weeks of wearing a Fitbit. It suggested that the tracker appeared to weaken the inherent motivation and self-determination needed to compel kids to be active. Another study, from 2017, saw similar results: After an initial surge in interest in exercise spanning a few weeks, the kids mostly stopped engaging with the trackers and actively resisted them, claiming that they were inaccurate and therefore not trustworthy.
While our kids on this continent are mostly sedentary and we should be concerned with the amount of screen time they engage in, getting kids to wear trackers and get their fitness on by appealing to an altruistic goal is problematic.
Kids follow what they see. Kids also know when they are being gamed. I can’t imagine what it would be like to wake up on Christmas morning and discover a tracker under the tree. Given all the negative messages we send out about size and what fitness looks like, I can see the thought processes now:
Parental units gave me a tracker! Trackers are used by people who want to lose weight. Parents must think I need to lose weight. Parents must think I am fat. Fat people are ugly. Parents must think I am ugly. Parents won’t love me if I’m fat. Parents won’t love me anymore if I don’t lose weight. …
Unless a tracker is something the child has spontaneously on their own expressed an interest in, there are better ways to get your kid engaged in fitness than planting this kind of non-gift under the tree.
If you want to focus on a healthier, more active lifestyle, buy swim passes for everyone. Or sign them up for that bike repair workshop so they can fix their bikes on their own. Or plot walking routes in your community and track the steps as a world wide adventure.
If social action is on your list of things, then talk as a family about supporting community agencies who help vulnerable kids and families throughout the year and not just in holiday season. This article offers some great insights into why giving should be a daily thing and not a holiday one-off.
Gifts that focus on self-improvement aren’t really gifts in my opinion. They are projections of your own desires. How about you? What do you think would be more appropriate for gift giving?
MarthaFitat55 is not a fan of self-improvement gifts for any occasion. She gets her fit on through walking, swimming, yoga and powerlifting. But not all at once.
The latest Nike ad, released on the eve of the women’s World Cup of Soccer, is a heart-pumping, rousing ad that celebrates women’s soccer through the eyes of a child with an exciting dream. As the article “Nike’s New Ad Is a Celebration of Badass Women’s Soccer Players, and We’re Studying Up” says: “The commercial is a who’s who of talented women’s soccer players, from the United States’ Crystal Dunn to Brazil’s Andressa Alves, introducing you to the stars you’ll see in the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup. The real star of the show, though, is Makena Cooke, a 10-year-old soccer player from California.”
In the 3:00 commercial, we follow Makena Cooke running, kicking, falling, cheering, and even scoring alongside the very best of the FIFA women’s World Cup soccer rosters from all over the world. It’s an exciting ad that is sure to lift your spirit.
It might make you want to watch the world-class women’s soccer that the World Cup has to offer. It might make you want to kick a ball around yourself. It might make you want to cry (a few people reported that it made them emotional).
Whatever it might make you want to do, here it is.
We haven’t shared the new Nike women’s sports ad on the blog–much as we love almost all of it–because we’ve been nervous about the “crazy talk.” The “Dream Crazier” ad for the “Just Do It” campaign features women throughout history breaking down barriers in sports. The commercial, narrated by Serena Williams and featuring an all-female cast, shows women in sports ranging from running to tennis to boxing being celebrated for their passion. And that’s terrific, right? Mostly yes but it’s complicated.
The ad lists the ways in which women have been called crazy for wanting to participate in sports. It’s a long list. But instead of criticizing the use of crazy-talk as ableist the ad tries to take back the language of “crazy.” It urges women to be crazier.
“Disability metaphors abound in our culture, and they exist almost entirely as pejoratives. You see something wrong? Compare it to a disabled body or mind: Paralyzed. Lame. Crippled. Schizophrenic. Diseased. Sick. Want to launch an insult? The words are seemingly endless: Deaf. Dumb. Blind. Idiot. Moron. Imbecile. Crazy. Insane. Retard. Lunatic. Psycho. Spaz.
I see these terms everywhere: in comment threads on major news stories, on social justice sites, in everyday speech. These words seem so “natural” to people that they go uncorrected a great deal of the time. I tend to remark on this kind of speech wherever I see it. In some very rare places, my critique is welcome. In most places, it is not.”
What do you think of the ad? Of using “crazy” as metaphor?
Health Canada released its long awaited update to its food guide this week and the response has been swift. Overall I quite like it, and I wrote about it here in my bi-weekly column. The old food guide was prescriptive (eat something from these four food groups and here’s how much). The new food guide is much more aspirational and as I wrote, it reflects diversity in food choice and food culture.
I thought I would pull together a bunch of responses to the guide in this post. The Globe and Mail has several pieces I liked, with the first from one from Andre Picard, the Globe’s health reporter, in which he looks at food insecurity and the food guide’s recommendations. Leslie Beck, the Globe’s dietitian commentator, offers up her thanks for Health Canada’s building a guide on science while Ann Hui also of the Globe and Mail, provides a good overview of the key changes here.
Cassandra Lszklarski from the Canadian Press focuses on the guide’s position on alcohol. Health Canada has stepped away from recommending milk as the preferred beverage and tells us to drink more water. At the same time, it is also came out strongly against alcohol consumption (non drinkers shouldn’t start for example). Previous guides highlighted the sugar and calories in alcohol, but this version talks about the links between alcohol and obesity, cancer, and addiction.
Yoni Freedhoff looks at the implications for institutional change. On Weighty Matters, Freedhoff’s blog, he wrote how the new food guide is a radical departure from previous more modest iterations:
“Whether it was consequent to past criticisms, or the insulation of the revision process from the food industry, or a change in leadership, or some combination of those and more factors, the 2019 Food Guide is incredibly different from all of its predecessors. Gone is dairy as its own food group (that doesn’t mean the guide is recommending against dairy consumption), gone is wishy-washy language that excused refined grains, gone are explicit recommendations to consume 2 glasses of milk and 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oils daily, gone is overarching fat-phobia, gone is juice being a fruit and vegetable equivalent, gone is the notion that sugar-sweetened milk is a health food, and gone is an antiquated nutrient-focused approach.”
Freedhoff also talks about what to do next, now that the food guide is out without its dependence on food-based marketing recommendations. In this post, he looks at what needs to change for good healthy food policy to happen. Freedhoff describes them as hills but they include removal of fast food from schools, a national school food policy, a ban on food marketing to children, implementation of a soda tax, removal of front of package claims, and an overhaul of supplement regulation.
The food insecurity issue is one that I will be looking at in the future, but in the meantime, I am excited by the new food guide and what it means for reflecting diversity and health on my plate.
What do you think? How important has the food guide been in managing your nutritional needs? What do you like or dislike about Health Canada’s guide?
— Martha Muzychka is a writer living in St. John’s who swims, lifts and walks as much as she can.
That’s what a friend said when this ad appeared in her Facebook newsfeed.
She’s a boxer so the targeted ad sort of makes sense.
Except not. Her words: “What even is this?” Boxing gloves for women who want to protect their manicures.
I can’t imagine her getting her nails done and needing her boxing gloves to accommodate that. I mean, there aren’t many women who box and I’d guess there’s an even smaller number who box and who get fancy fingernails.
Yes, I know I’ve complained about them for years. And mostly, during the year, I don’t see them. But this year, for the very first time, they don’t even seem to be making a New Year’s appearance.
My Facebook newsfeed is full of ads for accountability journals and productivity tools. Where are all the January 1st weight loss ads? Has Facebook declared me too old for them? (Is that a thing?) Too feminist for them? (That seems too sophisticated for a social media tool to get.) Too career focused to care about my weight? It’s liberating and puzzling all all the same time.
The Getting Stuff Done planner looks pretty good but it includes food tracking and exercise tracking and I hate mixing streams.
Also, all that pink. But look! It comes with a rose gold pen. But is it a good pen? (Friend David says “no.” He says, “It’s a free pen. There are no good free pens.” He’s a serious pen snob though and I’m only a moderate pen snob, more particular than anything else I’d say.)
Do you have any great tracking tools, whether for productivity generally or fitness specifically to recommend? I like both paper and electronic, for different purposes.
The wellness trend is surging, so we’re told. Women are taking care of themselves more these days. Prioritizing their needs (an idea whose time has surely come). Paying attention to nourishing foods. Getting more exercise. Starting to think about the health of their minds and spirits. These are good things, right? Yes!
paper with the word mindfulness in calligraphy on a windowsill
breath in neon signage
I’m on board. I have a curious bent. As much as I like to try new physical activities, I also like to try new health and wellness protocols. Why wouldn’t I want to feel as good as possible physically and emotionally? I’ve had some kind of meditation practice for more than a decade. I incorporate acupuncture and massage into my schedule with some regularity. There’s a Korean spa just over the George Washington Bridge we like to go to with friends for a stiff scrub and some time in the saunas and under the far infrared light. Yes, my vagina has been steamed with mugwort vapors (enjoyable, not life changing). And I have succumbed to the promises of quite few skincare products; the best of which deliver on about 25% of their hype, which is more than I really expected, if I’m honest with myself.
Have we gone too far?
Lured by the wellness industry’s promises of eternal youth and beauty (also great sex), are we trying to buy our way out of reality? Goop is one of the industry’s most high profile villains-du-jour. High on the list of accusations lodged against Goop are that it is marketing products that are not scientifically proven.
As an aside, researchers (at Harvard, no less) are hard at work studying the surprising efficacy of the placebo effect. Virtually all of us engage in some magical thinking that has worked. There is a good chance that we will discover that a lot of pseudoscience may be less pseudo and more science than is currently understood.
In the meantime though, Goop has been taken to task (and court) more than once for grandiose claims it makes about the products it hawks. The clientele, largely white women of privilege, is disdained as gullible over-spenders with too much money and not enough sense. It’s so easy to question the priorities and intelligence of someone who buys a jade egg for her vagina; even if the whole idea of the egg is pretty ancient.
Yet, the very success of enterprises like Goop demonstrates that for all the privilege (whether real or not—the infamous jade egg was only $66), money is not buying us peace of mind. I haven’t actually bought anything from Goop, but I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t feel better about myself. Rather, our unease with ourselves enables companies to offer more and more outrageous and outrageously priced “solutions” for unsolvable challenges, like aging (and fear of aging). As this article in Quartzy points out, #skincare is just a code word for anti-aging. The marketing language may be coloured with all sorts of body positive words, but the root emotion that’s targeted and monetized is the same as always with these kinds of products—shame. Shame about our bodies. Shame about getting older.
I struggle with this. I spend too much time studying the wrinkles on my face, trying to decide if they are worsening, or if whatever new miracle product I’m using is actually smoothing them away, even a little. I have strong feelings about cosmetic surgery. Denying my aging feels like a betrayal of women. Yet it is also a high horse that is precarious. As much as I want to accept the inevitable with dignity and grace, to stay strong and healthy by eating well, drinking water, exercising, sleeping and such, I know that at any moment I might fall off my hobbyhorse, landing on needles full of Botox and fillers, or UPS boxes full of promise-y Goop products.
We women are not alone in our susceptibility. Men are just drawn in by different language. For men it is the language of performance optimization that closes the deal. Deploying knowledge to biohack a more efficient personal ecosystem are their code words for lose weight, get strong and stay young.
We are not idiots for falling for these bright, shiny promises. We live in a society that delivers a torrent of messaging, which tells us that we aren’t young enough, fit enough, beautiful enough, rich enough, famous enough, or really enough of anything. Even when anti-aging is rebranded as the dewiness we all deserve, we know the truth of what we are buying. We are spending money to put a finger in the leaky dyke of our not-enoughness. Intellectually, I know I should always think that I am enough. But I don’t. I know I’m not alone in this. It’s a big part of why the health and wellness industry is growing.
We have the actual, literal possibility of more and more comfort, yet we live with less and less ease.
I wonder if that’s because we know that our society is askew and our subconscious senses this dis-ease. The gap between have-a-lot and have-not is widening exponentially. Some women are spending a small fortune and enormous amounts of time on wellness, while in the same country other women are working multiple jobs and still can’t put dinner on the table for their children. Coming home from a dermatologist appointment during which I had a little skin tag on my neck removed (a voluntary procedure), I walked past a homeless man, sleeping out in the pouring rain. A wave of guilt washed through me. Should I have given the money I’d just spent to him instead?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t take care of our health and wellness. I’m not going to stop trying to stay physically and mentally healthy, or stop buying any beauty products. I’m not saying we shouldn’t indulge.
I am proposing that if we do so more mindfully, perhaps we can indulge just a little less and share just a little more.
We are optimized when we are comfortable in our bodies and with who we are. That’s the brass ring of health and wellness.