blogging · fitness · winter

Six things Sam wants to blog about

It’s January and I’m super busy. The dean’s office is busy as we get ready to return to campus January 31. I’m also in the middle of three different grant applications.

At home we navigated the challenges of coming down with COVID, being sick (briefly and not that sick, thankfully) and then re-entering the world at large. It all felt very complicated.

In the world of Zwift, I’m captain of one bike team (hi TFC Dynamite!) and helping out with another (hey TFC Phantom!)

There is a lot on my plate right now. It’s not the case that there aren’t blog worthy things on my mind. Instead, it’s more like there a lot of different things I’m thinking about and they are still in the percolating stage, mid-mull, as it were.

Nothing seems to be settling down into a blog post.

Here’s my list:

Book review time!

I’m reading a book and writing a review for the blog. It’s Let Get Physical by Danielle Friedman. Here’s the blurb, “For American women today, working out is as accepted as it is expected, fueling a multibillion-dollar fitness industrial complex. But it wasn’t always this way. For much of the twentieth century, sweating was considered unladylike and girls grew up believing physical exertion would cause their uterus to literally fall out. It was only in the sixties that, thanks to a few forward-thinking fitness pioneers, women began to move en masse. In Let’s Get Physical, journalist Danielle Friedman reveals the fascinating hidden history of contemporary women’s fitness culture, chronicling in vivid, cinematic prose how exercise evolved from a beauty tool pitched almost exclusively as a way to “reduce” into one millions have harnessed as a path to mental, emotional, and physical well-being.”

Let’s Get Physical by Danielle Friedman

Silly Little Walks

me going on a stood little daily walk for my stupid physical and mental health

I’ve been fretting for a little while about walking and mental health connection and while we’ve all been taking silly little walks for the sake of our mental health, I worry we’re putting too much pressure on the humble walk break. Not all problems can be solved with a lunch hour walk. I’ve been worrying too about what it means for those of us, like me, who can’t walk very far or very fast.

Snow Days

Sarah, Mallory, and I are just back from a lovely weekend away which involved lots of time outside in serious Canadian winter. It’s January and we’re in the days where the high is still in the negative double digits but everything feels better because there’s sunshine and longer days. It’s why I hate November typically and do okay in January even though it’s colder. We all joked about having moved into our serious winter clothes– long underwear, snow boots, snow pants, parkas and real mitts.

I’ve helped a few newcomers to Canada get ready for winter and I know it’s a costly business. Most of us who spend time outside in the winter have multiple winter coats and boots for different activities and conditions.

In addition to the clothes, we also all have snow shoes and poles and yak tracks for walking on the ice. Again, it’s okay being outside when you have the gear but when streets and sidewalks aren’t plowed, it’s super cold, and you don’t have the right clothes and gear, it can be a long indoor winter. We often message people, for physical and mental health reasons, to just get outside but the reality is that it’s not simple.

Sunday hiking on the Georgian Bay Trail to the grotto in the Bruce National Park
Saturday was warmer but windier

Knee surgery

I’m trying not to think too much about knee surgery. It makes me angry and sad. I know, it’s just knee surgery. It’s not cancer treatment, but the pandemic delays feel endless. I first saw the surgeon about total knee replacement, in the hospital, in August 2019. This August that will be three years ago. I have tentative sabbatical plans to go to Australia and New Zealand. I have hiking plans that without the surgery won’t happen. I mean travel might not be possible anyway but if it is, and I can’t do any walking (or tramping as they call it in NZ) I’m not sure what I will do.

I’ve considered traveling to the US for surgery and paying. I’ve considered just ignoring the whole thing and focusing on what I can do, which is walk 2-4 km without much trouble. But it hurts. My knees always hurt. Pain wakes me up at night. I try to think about people who are worse off, the people with more serious surgeries delayed because of the pandemic and even people waiting for knee surgery who can’t walk at all.

The poles helped on our walk today and I might invest in a pair, or just borrow Sarah’s more often.

Here’s me with poles!

Mallory and me at the end of our hike

Encanto

We also watched a movie that readers with younger children will know all about. I loved seeing the depiction of Luisa, the strong and muscular sister in Encanto. I also loved reading that children related to her. This is possibly the first time I’ve seen a muscular woman in a children’s movie or book who wasn’t the butt of jokes. Now I want some Luisa merch too.

Less than 60 days until spring

I try not to start the countdown too early but this year when I want to see friends outdoors and we’ve got another brighter pandemic spring ahead of us, I’m ready for spring anytime. In many ways 2022 feels an awful like 2021, as this video points out.

We’re all looking forward to spring and summer in my house.

blog · blogging · fitness · ICYMI

Top Ten Posts of December 2021, #ICYMI

December

1. Cate wants to know why she’s still menstruating at 53.5 and whether that’s a good thing.

2. I love it when one of our most read posts of the month is by a guest blogger. This month it’s a new voice here at Fit is a Feminist Issue, Julie on curling.

3. Another very seasonal guest post from a few years ago, it’s Carly’s thoughts on new year’s resolutions from a cheerful chubster.

4. Cate offers advice in her dear field poppy advice column. I think we’re all hoping there’s more of these yet to come.

5. Nicole offers advice too, to teens and others.

6. Marjorie’s guest post on keeping fit while healing from a hysterectomy

7. When plans change and your usual coping strategies fail, Sam’s musings on covid, stress, and falling into bed at 7 pm with a box of chocolates.

8. Diane’s post on balancing and juggling and making space.

9. Martha on taking time.

10. Elan on serving love and what that can look like when it comes to seasonal feasts.

blog · blogging · fitness · top ten

Top Ten Posts, September 2021, #ICYMI

The two most read posts in September are all about menopause.

Alexis’ review of the Menopause Manifesto was our most read post of the month.

And second was Cate’s chestnut about still menstruating in her 50s.

Third was Cate’s post/rant about media coverage of a doctor claiming that we all need to fit into the same jeans we wore when we were 21, or risk death by diabetes. Bah!

Fourth was another oldie, loved by search engines everywhere on crotch shots and the objectification of women athletes.

Fifth was Alexis’ review of What Fresh Hell is This?.

Sixth was Tracy’s 57th birthday post, reflections on her birthday, what it all means, especially during the pandemic.

Yellow and white floral cake. Happy Birthday! Photo by  Erin Schmerr  on  Scopio

Seventh was A Milestone & Kind Strangers (Guest Post) by Joy.

Grayscale photo of bicycle on grass field. Photo by  yagnik vasani  on  Scopio

Eighth, Catherine wrote about the 10 percent happier app a few months ago.

Ninth, this month Catherine blogged about new research on metabolism.

And our tenth post read was Cate’s story of softening her completist personality while bike riding in Bulgaria.

blog · blogging · fitness

Happy 5000th post!

I like celebrating milestones–the blog’s birthday, the number of followers on WordPress, for example.

But today we’re celebrating a new milestone. It occurred on the weekend with Diane’s post about being back in the pool. That was our 5000th blog post.

It feels like a significant number. We’ve been here awhile and we’re trucking along. Go Team Fit Feminist!

The number 5000 on a stick, amid green plants. Photo by Marcel Eberle on Unsplash.
blog · blogging · fitness · top ten

Top Ten August 2021 Posts, #ICYMI

Weirdly this August almost all of the most read posts come from the past. Only two of the most read posts were actually written this month.

This list of most read posts will be familiar by now. Lol.

First, it’s Cate and menstruation in her 50s. Her post about it almost always makes the top 10 list. This month it’s the most read post.

Second, it’s Sam on crotch shots and sports reporting from years ago–Crotch shots, upskirts, sports reporting, and the objectification of female athletes’ bodies.

Our third most read post was actually written this month by Nicole, her good natured look at whether swimming, biking, or running is better for you.

Beyonce Biking GIF

Fourth, Sam’s older post about safe cycling as a disability rights issue had a moment on Twitter this month.

Fifth, Marjorie’s guest post on keeping fit while healing from hysterectomy.

The next three most read posts, sixth, seventh, and eighth, were all by Catherine–ten percent happier app, biggest loser, and yoga pose alternatives.

Ninth, was Sam’s fan post for the Whatever’s Comfortable ad. I still like that post and I’m still a fan of the ad and its body comfortable vibe.

Whatever’s Comfortable. Image is a bearded man on a beach holding a drink wearing swimming trunks and sunglasses.

Ten, guest blogger Joy Cameron is bike packing and telling her story. Her first post is here.

Top 10 sign with gold stars.

blog · blogging · fit at mid-life · fitness

Two Days Away from the Blog’s 9-year anniversary!

Every year at this time I am astonished that we’ve been blogging for x years, where this year x=9! On August 30, 2012, Sam and I each wrote brief little introductory posts about ourselves called “A bit about Tracy” and “A bit about Samantha.” These inaugural posts show our inexperience at blogging — we didn’t even include our photos! Indeed, many of our initial posts didn’t include photos.

First blog photo of Sam (left) and Tracy (right), taken at the first 5K we did together in October 2012. [Image description: Two smiling women, Sam on left, short reddish-brown hair, glasses, in blue t-shirt and black running tights, Tracy on right, short brown hair, in red t-shirt and black running tights, wearing wired ear-buds; background of balloons, a canopy, bails of hay, pumpkin, and some fall foliage].

I mention the point about photos because the past nine years have been, for us, as much about learning to blog as about doing our feminist fitness thing. We really were trying to find our way both in the fitness challenge and in what we were hoping to achieve with the blog. As some of you may know but many more recent readers will not know, we didn’t set out still to be blogging nine years hence. We set out to become the fittest we’d ever been in our lives by the time we turned 50, and we had two years to figure out what our respective (and unique) challenges would look like. We didn’t think anyone other than friends and family would follow us.

As the blog caught on, we realized we were wrong about that. Friends and family did support our efforts, but our feminist approach to fitness, down-playing weight loss and highlighting performance and even enjoyment (who knew!?), resonated with lots of people we didn’t know. Soon a lively community had sprung up around the blog. Spin-offs like the Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter got established. Our roster of guest bloggers kept expanding. Then we had some regulars, which has now expanded to an authors’ group that is a community unto itself.

Every year as late August rolls in I reflect on what we have accomplished, both where our fittest by 50 challenge is concerned (there’s a book!) and how the blog itself has blossomed. It’s definitely a team effort these days. That said, people need to know that the real energy behind the blog comes from Sam, whose leadership has kept it thriving even when most of the others of us (myself included) have gone through periods where we’ve had to reduce our commitment or even take a total break for awhile (often to resurface again at some point).

I was going to blog today asking people to think about what they’re proud of. But then I noticed that just a couple of days ago Christine posted a wonderful “Go Team: Find a Win and Celebrate It”. She does that so well that it made me think of the many wins, large and small, that I’ve celebrated through the life of this blog. So many fitness firsts: first 5K, 10K, triathlon, Olympic triathlon, half marathon, around the bay 30K, marathon, bike with clipless pedals, open water swim in a wetsuit, group run, group training in the pool, bike ride with a group, velodrome attempt. I feel good about the wins of pandemic fitness, where it sometimes has felt like an accomplishment just to get out of bed in the morning and make it to a virtual workout.

And I consistently come back to the blog itself and the community around it as a win. Even when I fall to the periphery of the blog team, as I have done in recent years, I count Fit Is a Feminist Issue among the major “wins” in my life and I feel it is worth celebrating every single year. Yay to Fit Is a Feminist Issue on our ninth anniversary, and wishing us many more!

blog · blogging · fitness · ICYMI

Top Ten Posts in July 2021, #ICYMI

  1. Cate on On “cancelling” Canada Day

2. At 53 1/2 Cate was still menstruating and her post about it is always on our top ten list.

3. Catherine asks What’s wrong with “Rearranging your Post-Pandemic ‘Friendscape’

4. Styling your hair while fat advice from Catherine

5. Serena speaks up: “It’s never been easy…but I think of the next girl” Tracy’s older post

6. Catherine also hopes that The Biggest Loser won’t be renewed for another season.

7. When a Long Hike Becomes an Ultra Hike: How Fear and Strength Make Friends, writes Mina

8. Crotch shots, upskirts, sports reporting, and the objectification of female athletes’ bodies, Sam’s older post

9. All people vary in size? Really? Shocking!, Sam’s newer post

10. Structural racism in sport: the 2021 edition, writes Martha

The word “JULY” in white on a black background. Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash.
blogging

On Lifting, Mental Health and Feeling Weird : Marjorie Celebrates 50 posts with FIFI

(Feature photo credit, Luca Onniboni, via Unsplash.)

In the last few years, I have had the pleasure of participating in this blogging community and this is my 50th post!  Before joining, I spent about 5 years writing for an audience of one.  I have written a cookbook and a memoir, totalling perhaps 600 pages, both of which are 75% crap and will never see the light of day.  However, all those hours of writing for myself helped me get up the gumption to try my hand at a public audience, and I am very grateful for Tracy and Sam providing the opportunity for me to contribute here.  And sometimes, I even write something worth reading.

I am especially proud of representing the female strength-training community.  As a queer woman, building strength and muscle feels like an authentic form of gender and personal expression, and I love being able to give voice to those experiences.  My first post on the matter, Doin’ My Part to Keep the Gym a Safe Space for Men, has been one of my most-read posts to date, and no wonder.  Unfortunately, issues of inclusivity and gendering gym spaces are still present and apparent, even in fitness podcasting for strength athletes, who I call out in Women are “Someone,” Too.  When I wrote Women, Are You Ready to be Weird?, I also addressed pressures we can receive from other women when our fitness goals start pushing against gender norms.  I wrote This is My Why hoping to inspire more women to explore what the pursuit of strength can give them.  

When I’m not writing about lifting, I am grateful to have a space to address mental health and to increase awareness of the cross-sections between mental health, physical health and overall wellbeing.  I have chosen to be open about my experiences of trauma, beginning with addressing how my hysterectomy increased symptoms of PTSD, when I wrote Sex and Trauma After Hysterectomy.  (My post on Keeping Fit While Healing from Hysterectomy still gets read by hundreds of people each month, suggesting we are all still seeking reliable resources on this issue.)  Since then, I have also tried to increase awareness of mental health challenges that can be exacerbated by the pandemic in No, “Everyone” Should Not Wear a Mask and to give perspective on these times when I shared 8 Lessons for Living With Uncertainty from a Perennially Vulnerable Adult.  Most recently, I offered up solutions to the challenge of getting started when I wrote about what works for me in Working Out When You’re Experiencing Depression.  It is my hope that sharing these more intimate experiences serves to destigmatize and normalize conversations about mental health, while giving voice for folks experiencing similar challenges and providing a window into those challenges for folks who are not.

Finally, I love having a place to vent my spleen when outrage strikes.  My favorite rant to date is Trigger Warning: Pseudoscience, when I had reached my limit for conspiracy theories and false information running rampant in the United States.  Perhaps less a rant and more an exercise in wishful thinking, I was taken by a similar muse when I wrote Could COVID-19 be the End of Keto?  And I wrote My Cat is Fat. So What?! after yet another veterinarian suggested putting my big kitty on a diet.

I see the work I do here at FIFI as an extension of my work as an educator and activist.  It is my hope that my readers find what I have to say informative, thought-provoking and inspiring.  I’m ok with not being everyone’s cup of tea.  I am opinionated and accept that voicing opinions means making some people uncomfortable sometimes.  I don’t like how internet conversations tend to lack nuance and promote us vs. them thinking, and I hope that I don’t contribute to those weaknesses of the medium.

Thank you for being a reader, for sharing your thoughts and support as I’ve written these last few years here at FIFI.  I look forward to sharing this work with you for the next 50 posts and beyond!

Marjorie Hundtoft is a middle school science and health teacher.  She can be found clacking away at her laptop, picking up heavy things and putting them down again in Portland, Oregon. You can now read her at Progressive-Strength.com .

Photo description: My favorite blog image I’ve used to date–four people posed together in tight white pants, bright shirts, and inexplicably with colored cellophane over their heads. Photo credit: Jimmy Fermin, via Unsplash.
blog · blogging · fitness

Top Ten Posts in February 2021, #ICYMI

  1. Catherine hopes that The Biggest Loser won’t be renewed.

It’s over

2. At 53 1/2 Cate was still menstruating and her post about it is always on our top ten list.

3. Nike designs easy to put on running shoes, the internet makes ableist comments about it, and Sam blogged about the dust up.

4. Sam also blogged about Under Armour’s new inclusive ad.

5. If you’re looking for a good beginners’ race on Zwift, Sam has advice.

Penny Farthing bike race

6. Love it when a guest post makes the top 10 list. Michele wrote about Hit Play, Not Pause, a podcast about active living and menopause.

7. Nicole is shocked at her scale’s idea of her metabolic age.

8. Crotch shots, upskirts and sports reporting. An older post of Sam’s with all the right words for the search engines. But remember they have to click on a blog post with the word “feminist” in the title before we hear about it. So there’s that.

9. Sam’s Lent isn’t a 40 day diet challenge post is always a hit at this time of year.

10. Cate wrote about catching lotuses with her vagina and recently reblogged that post and here it is.

blog · blogging · feminism · fitness

Why we can’t promise a feminist space will be a safe space (#reblog #bloglove)

The blog has been going for over eight years now and on Sam’s prompt, we are reblogging some favourite posts. I don’t have one favourite post among the more than 700 of mine that I have to choose from. But I chose to reblog this one because even though it’s a bit “meta,” and not about fitness, it’s a meaningful (to me) reflection on what we are trying to do here and the limits of what we can control. It was also a real turning point for me because it required an awareness and admission of my own bad behaviour, calling myself out for having conducted myself in a way that was decidedly NOT conducive to “what we are trying to achieve.”
Thanks for your continued support of the blog!
Tracy

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

Image description: Colourful drawing of five women in silhouette, suggestive of diverse ethnicities/races. Image description: Colourful drawing of five women in silhouette, suggestive of diverse ethnicities/races.

We here at Fit Is a Feminist Issue like to talk about our “big tent feminism” and how we try to make space for everyone. That’s a lofty goal, I know. One of my favourite questions in feminism is “is an inclusive feminism possible?” I use it as a thematic frame for most of my teaching in feminist philosophy and women’s studies, as a way of pushing people in my classes to think about inclusivity and intersectionality not just as theoretical ideas, but in their actual material practices.

It’s hard. We struggle. People get defensive. There are misunderstandings. Hurt feelings. Anger. Difficult conversations. People are called on their privilege and need to look at that. People are afraid to speak for fear of offending, excluding, saying the wrong thing on a multitude of other levels, sounding closed…

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