aging · athletes · cycling · injury

Bonus mini blog post: Sam sees some hope when it comes to her knee and riding a bike

I know many of you have been following the saga of my knee with interest and concern. I feel like I’ve got a whole community watching out for me and wishing me well and cheering me on.

Tonight something really good happened.

Here’s what I posted on Facebook.

Feeling hopeful. Really hopeful. First time on the spin bike without any pain when pedaling while standing. No pain while using big gears either. Phew. There’s hope.

The last time I went to a spin class I could spin in easy gears well enough but it hurt to put resistance on and it hurt to stand. So I didn’t do those things.

But today, nothing. It felt fine. I kept stopping, expecting it to hurt but nothing. I did sprints. I did hills. I did max wattage drills. All felt good. Well, except for the getting sweaty and out of breath part.

It was only a 45 minute class, not the 90 I’ve usually been doing over the winter but I walked home after feeling happy and strong.

And actually I felt so good I stuck around for the 30 minute core workout after.

Yay! There’s hope.

athletes · blogging · feminism · fitness

Meet the Fit is a Feminist Issue Bloggers

You can see our 2018 schedule here.

Tracy Isaacs posts Tuesdays and most Thursdays, writer, feminist, vegan, runner, sailor, philosopher, yogi, photography-obsessed, sometimes knitter, co-founder of Fit Is a Feminist Issue, co-author of Fit at Mid-Life: A Feminist Fitness Journey (launching in April 2018, published by Greystone Books).

Sam Brennan, posts regularly Mondays and Wednesdays, and randomly lots of other days and times! Philosopher, feminist, parent, and cyclist! Co-founder of Fit Is a Feminist Issue, co-author of Fit at Mid-Life: A Feminist Fitness Journey (launching in April 2018, published by Greystone Books.

Susan Tarshis is a feminist, therapist, parent and general know it all about a lot of things. She loves to hike with her dog, ride horses, ride a bike and do Pilates. She runs but doesn’t like that nearly as much. She is Associate Faculty with the Toronto Institute for Relational Psychotherapy. Activity is necessary for life, health and growth in all domains. Our access to it and our ideas around it are informed by our histories and social locations. Susan likes to engage in discussion of these domains with personal stories. Her blogs often explore themes of performance, joy, authenticity and even despair. In the end, her dog always saves the day.

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who lives and works in Toronto when she’s not roaming the earth. She works in the space of sustainable socially accountable change in health and education, and is particularly interested in fostering a greater culture of aging with the greatest mobility possible. She posts the second Friday and third Saturday of every month as well as other times when the mood strikes!

Martha lives in Newfoundland and posts here the third Friday of every month. Martha is a late 50s feminist writer and consultant. She has tried running, rowing, trail walking, swimming and powerlifting. So far lifting weights and practicing laps in the pool have stuck.

Natalie lives with 3 awesome humans as well as high blood pressure and Major Depressive Disorder. She is working on completing her BA in Women’s Studies from Athabasca University one course at a time. She tries very hard to be a hopeful feminist and enjoys debunking ideas around fat bodies by wearing a lot of Lycra. Natalie posts the first Saturday of the month.

Kim Solga was born in Montreal, Quebec, grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, and has lived across Canada, in the US, and in the UK. She is a feminist scholar of theatre and performance by day, and a cyclist and rower by evening/early morning/on the weekend. Her trusty dog, Emma Jane, keeps her honest by demanding three walks daily. Kim also blogs about teaching, performance, and activism on WordPress, at The Activist Classroom. Kim blogs on the 4th Friday of the month.

Bettina is a 33 year-old research manager with a PhD in Political Science. She lives in Heidelberg, Germany, where she works for a European research enabling organisation in the life sciences. In her spare time she swims, runs, boulders and generally likes to be active. She thinks fit is a feminist issue because all too often, exercising while female means being judged: too weak, too strong, too fat, too thin, too ugly, too pretty… you name it. It’s time to fix that, so we need a feminist perspective. Bettina blogs on the second Saturday of the month.

Catherine Womack, “Weekends with Womack,” our Sunday regular.

“I’m an analytic philosopher, retooled as a public health ethicist. I’m interested in heath behavior change, particularly around eating and activity, and how things other than knowledge affect our health decisions.I’m also a cyclist (road, off-road, commuter), squash player, x skier, occasional yoga-doer, hiker, swimmer and leisurely walker.”



Christine Hennebury, posts the last Saturday of the month. “I’m a writer, storyteller, and creative life coach from Newfoundland and Labrador. I’m a 2 degree blackbelt in ITF Taekwon-do who dabbles in yoga and Nia dance. I’m intrigued by the challenge of getting my body to do the things that my mind has already learned. Fitness is a feminist issue for me because I am much more interested in what my body can do than what it looks like. (After all, I am not a decoration.) I blog about taekwon-do, my inspirations, the challenges involved in building habits and learning new things, and the mental blocks to fitness.”



athletes · competition · fitness · inclusiveness · running · training · triathalon

By the way, fat people also aren’t lying about exercise either

Earlier this week, I talked about the lack of credibility given to fat people when it comes to what we eat. You can tell people, if you’re me, that you’re a non drinking, non fast food eating, vegetarian but people don’t really believe you.

But it’s also true that no one believes what we do when it comes to activity either.

This week Ragen Chastain appeared in People Magazine as the heaviest woman to ever complete a marathon. She’s actually completed two because the first time she didn’t know it would put her in the Guinness book of records and she didn’t notify them.

She’s not alone as a larger endurance athlete. See my post (Updated) Plus sized endurance athletes, we exist!

What gets me about Ragen is not what she’s done, though that’s remarkable at any size, it’s the lengths people will go to deny it. Tracy blogged about it here, When “pathetic” loses its irony. It’s a post about a Facebook group she was in that allowed a lot of Ragen trolling, bashing, and skepicism to go unchecked.

You can follow Ragen’s journey to Ironman here at her blog IronFat.

The Ragen haters have their own blog IronFacts, which is a debunking blog which supposedly tells the truth about Ragen and details her lies. It was last updated in May 2017. Since presumably People magazine has its own fact checkers maybe that’s shut them up. I don’t know. I find the whole thing puzzling.

Like, why would you even doubt that she’s telling the truth?

There are medals, race finishing photos, pictures of completion times. She’s never claimed to run the whole thing. Instead Ragen like lots of amateur athletes runs and walks her marathons. That’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

To me it can only be explained by a kind of prejudice against larger bodies, that those of us who have them can’t be trusted and shouldn’t be believed. We set out to lie and to cheat people. I’m not sure why people believe this but they seem to.

What do you think? Do you also find out puzzling?

The sun setting over Mo’orea, an island in French Polynesia
athletes · objectification · Olympics

Winter Olympics and “Smoking Hot Sports Babes”

It’s been awhile since we’ve blogged about the objectification of female athletes, five years in fact. But since it’s the Olympics that post is trending again.

And that’s odd because just yesterday Susan and I were watching women’s snowboarding on television and looking on in awe as Italy’s Michela Moioli won gold in women’s snowboard cross. Such athleticism. Such remarkable young women. So much talent and skill.

Also, aside from ponytails peeking out from under helmets I had to look at the screen and listen to see whether I was watching the men’s or the women’s event.

I briefly allowed myself the thought that one advantage of the women’s Olympic events is that with all the gear sports announcers stay away from comments about the athletes’ bodies. Hah! So naive. So wrong. Silly me.

Even dressed in snowboarding gear that’s that not enough though for some male sports commentators to keep their focus on athleticism and performance.

I was sad to read this in SF Gate.

“After Kim won the gold medal in women’s halfpipe on Tuesday, Barstool Sports commentator Patrick Connor, who also appears on San Francisco-based KNBR, appeared on the “Dialed-In with Dallas Braden” show on Barstool Radio’s SiriusXM channel and made a series of inappropriate comments about Kim.
“She’s fine as hell,” Connor said. “If she was 18, you wouldn’t be ashamed to say that she’s a little hot piece of ass. And she is. She is adorable. I’m a huge Chloe Kim fan.”

Read more about it here.

Connor has apologized. He’s also been fired.

Grrr. Insert the righteous feminist rant here about the objectification of the bodies of women athletes.

What do you think? Are things better worse than they were? Better or worse in the Winter Olympics?

Photo from Unsplash. It’s an image of a snowboarder coming down a hill, most of the person is obscured by a stream of snow.


Why are women’s sports taken less seriously?

Just in case you missed this. It’s pretty great.

athletes · cycling · fitness

Choosing a bike saddle by your number (Guest post)

Traditionally, finding the best bike saddle has been a challenging task. You really don’t know until you install and actually ride on it, if it’s a good choice for you.

There are many articles online about how to choose the best saddle but here is a method that you may want to try out if it’s available in your region.

I was recently in need of a new saddle, having purchased a used cyclocross bike that came with one that didn’t work for me at all (too hard and not a deep enough centre channel). I bought a replacement one at my regular LBS (“local bike shop”) that I thought might work but after installing it and riding for 5 minutes, I knew it was too wide for me. Thankfully the shop owner allowed me to return it. Lesson >>> only buy your saddle from a vendor who will allow returns. They are not cheap and you don’t want to get stuck with one that doesn’t work for you.

I asked around and discovered that my #2 preferred LBS had the RETUL device that will measure your “sit bones”. In addition to deciding on which style of saddle you want in terms of padding and centre channel, it’s also important to know what width is best for you. The general assumption would be that the width of your hips would determine saddle width, but this isn’t really true. The more important factor is the distance between your “sit bones”.

RETUL has a device that you can sit on, that takes this measurement and translates it into your ideal saddle width. According to the internet, other vendors also have systems, and you can even come up with a method to do this yourself at home. Here is what the RETUL device looks like:

sit 2

The measurement process has you sit on the device three times, and then an average measurement is calculated. My number is 131mm, which translated into a 155mm saddle. Here’s proof that you can get measured for a bike saddle while wearing a skirt!

sit 1

My friend A. has significantly slimmer outer hips than I do, but her result was just a bit smaller sit bone measurement and the same size saddle recommendation.

sit 3

With these numbers, we headed to the saddle display to choose from a variety of 155mm wide saddles, for different types of bikes and styles of riding and I got one that will work for me.

This measurement system is just one step in finding an ideal saddle for you. It may still take several purchases, trials and returns of saddles to find what works. Again, dealing with a vendor that allows returns is very important. A bike saddle is not something that I would consider buying online, given fit and comfort challenges.

Consider searching for a local vendor that has a system similar to the RETUL one when embarking on your next bike saddle purchase, and please, support your local LBSs.

accessibility · athletes · body image · bras · clothing · Sat with Nat

The Proliferation of (Some) Plus Sizes

I’m seriously stoked that it is easier and easier to find clothes that fit, especially workout gear.

One clothing retailer, Reitmans Canada, I’ve frequented for having Plus Petit now simply carries all clothes up to size 20. Now that is not going to cover all the sizes people wear. I’m fortunate I hover in the 18-20 range for North American sizing.

So now I can walk in and look at a whole store of clothes instead of one, picked over rack.

I’ve been able to find great workout leggings on sale for under $20 CDN.

A photo of a person from the waist down wearing Lycra leggings with a purple pattern on black fabric

I’ve also noticed my favourite thrift stores are now carrying more plus size clothes, especially pants.

I needed to upgrade my wardrobe and found several pairs of dress pants that fit. Partly this is due to some stretch being in all dress pants these days.

The biggest surprise was when my sister gifted me pajama pants for Christmas that were sized XL. I was very nervous trying them on as I usually need a XXL or bigger.

Turns out the pants were sized generously and did relax & have lots of stretch. They have crabs on them and read “Crabby in the morning”.

Natalie stands on one leg with the other foot drawn up to pelvis level with a silly look on her face

I’ve no doubt this change in availability of sizes up to size 20 is due to the agitation of activists and women insisting on more clothes being offered in more sizes.

That being said there are very few places I can find that offer sizes beyond 20. Let’s keep insisting and agitating until with have greater proliferation of more plus sizes.