advertising · body image · charity · fitness · kids and exercise · Martha's Musings · trackers

Kids and fitness trackers: the holiday edition (not)

 

TW: weightloss mentioned; negative self talk examples included.

By MarthaFitat55

Almost two years ago this March coming, I wrote about targetting kids for weight loss campaigns and fitness trackers. The nutshell: not a great idea because kids are vulnerable.

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.

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Images shows young white female-presenting child looking at a quarter cupcake on a plate.  Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

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.

body image · charity · men

Would a mom bod + rescue dogs calendar sell? Why not?

Image credits: Lucky Bulldogs Rescue

Dad bods and rescue dogs! I love this calendar so much. You can read more about it here. You can order your calendar here. I’m tempted.

But still I wonder, why not a mom bod calendar? (I’ve wondered about this before. See The dad bod? Fine. But what about the mom bod? )

The calendar was shot by the shelter’s volunteer and board member, Lyndsey Wright. And she’s commented on the ‘mom bod question.’

Here’s a quote from the interview in Bored Panda.

Says Wright: “Some have made comments about why we don’t include “Mom Bods,” but that answer is pretty simple in my opinion… This calendar is about the dogs; the Dad Bods are just included to make it comical and unique. I can’t imagine a Mom Bods & Rescue Dogs calendar would be very well received by the public. This was just a bunch of regular guys who are friends or clients of mine who were up for poking a little fun at themselves and helping me out for a good cause. It wasn’t meant to be a body positivity thing, it was meant to be a dog thing with a funny twist,” the photographer explains.

So her answer is that it wouldn’t be seen as gentle or funny. Instead, it would be seen as political, as a body positivity thing. I’m not so sure. And why would a body positivity/mom bod calendar be a bad thing? I’m still mulling.

What do you think?

It’s like I love this ad for Southern Comfort but when I wrote about it here I wondered if we could even imagine a version with an older woman with a non-normative body.

charity · cycling · fitness

Bike Rally, Year 6 for Sam

This year, 2019, is the 6th year of the bike rally for me. The Friends for Life Bike Rally is an annual fundraising ride from Toronto to Montreal to raise money for the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation.

Sarah and I (and David too) are doing the 1 day ride, the first day of the rally. You can sponsor me here. Please sponsor Sarah here.

What’s the 1 day ride like? “This amazing 1-day experience will give you a taste of what the Bike Rally is all about. You will be fully supported with crew cheering you on, keeping you fueled, and making sure you arrive in Port Hope to celebrate an incredible day.

Departing from the heart of Downtown Toronto, your journey will take you out of the urban sprawl and into the beautiful countryside. You will arrive in Port Hope at the beautiful Haskill cliff-top property overlooking Lake Ontario. Following a celebration and dinner, we bring you and your bike back to Toronto with plenty of time to rest for the week ahead.” You can register here.

I wanted to do the full, 6 day thing, but this is the last year of the Triadventure and they overlap so I can’t do both.

(In 2019 I’m doing the full thing, knee surgery permitting. I miss it! I love the ride, yes. But it’s the community I really miss.)

In 2018, year 5, it was my first summer as Dean and I was nervous about my new big job. I didn’t get that much riding in in 2018 but we made it. See Sam and Sarah’s first metric century of the summer on the 1 day version of the Friends for Life Bike Rally: We made it to Port Hope!

In 2017, Year 4, it was David and me, back to the original crew, see Thoughts on the bike rally year 4: This is a thing my body and heart can do, #f4lbr

We were joined by Sarah, Joh, Judy, and Catherine who did the one day version of the ride.

2016 was Year 3, my biggest bike rally year Susan and I were team leads! Our team was called Switching Gears and included many of the bloggers, and David and Sarah, and some other lovely people.

2015 was Year 2, me and Susan, see our posts Riding the Friends for Life Bike Rally at a friendly pace and Of Course You Can. . .PWA Friends for Life Bike Rally and Expanding Community.

2014 was Year 1. It all began with David and me. See How was it? Could I do it? Reflections on the bike rally.

charity · cycling · fitness

Join Sam in the 2019 Great Cycle Challenge to fight kids’ cancer

We do a lot of charity riding and running around here. This year for me the big ones are the 1 day version of the Friends for Life Bike Rally (sponsor me here) and the Triadventure, Trying the tri-adventure in its last year… Join us!!!

What kind of event is the tri-adventure? “The TriAdventure is not a typical triathlon. Our activities are not timed, and there are no prizes for finishing first. Our participants challenge themselves with the physical activities involved in the event, but are also challenged to raise over $1,200 for 51 vulnerable children in Kasese, Uganda who have been left without family support through poverty, HIV/AIDS or violence. The reward is knowing that your effort helps fund a program that begins with food, shelter and education and aims to help these children become self-sustaining citizens who contribute to a vibrant, diverse global community.”

Sponsor us here.

When is the Tri-adventure? It’s August 16-18, 2019.

You can read more about it here, https://www.facebook.com/TriAdventurePage/

And you can register here, https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/triadventure-2019-the-finale-tickets-37787495416

Those are both in August but in June I’ve also signed up for the Great Cycle Challenge to fight kids’ cancer.

It’s a virtual challenge. You ride on your own and set your own goals. I’m aiming to ride 500 km and raise $500. Join me? Sponsor me?

Great Cycle Challenge Canada
charity · cycling

Fight for life. Friends for life.

 

I was so happy when this photo of Joh and me came through on International Women’s Day from the bike rally. Happy memories and good times ahead. This is Joh and me on a training ride for the last year’s bike rally.  This year I’m doing the one day version and Joh is doing the new three day version from Kingston to Montreal. 

Sponsor me here. Sponsor Joh here.

Thanks everyone!

charity · cycling · holiday fitness · holidays · motivation · training

Big Hills and Big Cities: Sam’s Summer Cycling Plans

In my no excuses winter cycling plan I talked about making big summer cycling commitments as one of the ways I motivate myself to train for cycling through the cold snowy months of winter.

I thought I’d share those summer commitments with you. Now I’m doubly committed. I planned to do the thing and I told you about it.

In May Sarah, Jeff, and I kick things off with the Five Boros Bike Tour.

“The Five Boro Bike Tour is an annual recreational cycling event in New York City. It is produced by Bike New York. Conducted on the first Sunday of May, the 40-mile ride includes over 30,000 riders. The route takes riders through all five of New York’s boroughs and across five major bridges.”

Sarah and I did it in 2017. See our blog post 5 boros, 32,000 riders, 40 miles, 0 cars, and 1 great day, #tdfbbt.

The other Sarah who blogs here occasionally did it in 2015 and again in years after. Her post is called NYC 5 Boroughs Bike Tour (Guest Post)

It’s a great ride. Come join us!

Here’s Kim and Sarah R and me and Sarah lining up at the start.


June is our biggest thing. We’re doing a ten day bike tour of the northwest coast of Newfoundland. It’s a lot of riding, a lot of hills, and also likely some rain. It’s June 29-July 8. So far it’s Sarah, Cate, David and me. But if you’re interested, sign up!

On August 11 we’re doing the One Day Friends for Life Bike Rally. Sponsor me here.

And then on August 16-18, 2019 Sarah and I are Trying the tri-adventure in its last. year… Join us!!!

Sponsor us here.

charity · competition · running

Mudmoiselle 2018 (Guest Post)

Biopsy. It’s not a great word. The first time I heard it directed at me was six weeks after a reprehensibly bad gynecological procedure done by a horrible male doctor. I had always believed doctors infallible. This guy changed my mind. And so, after refusing to return to him when the going got awful, my new doctor requested the biopsy. In contrast to the previous fellow, she was lovely. The biopsy, on the other hand, not so much.

Out of an abundance of caution, we proceeded with treatment as if the results came back positive. A week later, when the results returned inconclusive, I was glad we had. It took another six months before we could repeat the biopsy. Mercifully, it came back negative. There are certain moments in life when you realise you haven’t been exhaling properly. That day was one of them.

I was fortunate that my results came back as they did. I’ve known too many others for whom things turned out differently. I won’t pretend I have the eloquence to capture the toll cancer has taken on the people in my life. It’s a nasty, pernicious, destructive thing.

For me, six months wondering gave me time to think and time to prioritise. I walked away from the experience knowing that I would do my best not to take my health for granted again. I was also determined to be a better advocate for my own self-care…and to punch cancer in the face every chance I got.

Mudmoiselle Guelph was an opportunity I fanatically embraced. The event, run by the Canadian Cancer Society, is held annually at Cox Creek Cellars just to the north of the city of Guelph. It is a 5km obstacle course designed for the moderate to advanced athlete. (They recommend you train for at least six weeks in advance.) The event does allow Mudmonsieurs, by the way, though anecdotally, I’d say most of this year’s 500 participants were women.

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(Image of me covered in mud wearing a Mudmoiselle medal.)

My team of five intrepid Mudmoisellers called ourselves “The Flailings.” Our team slogan: “Let’s get ready to FLAIL!” None of us had participated in the event before, so we figured t-shirts would be handy to help us pick each other out in the crowd. Obviously, a flailing air dancer was a perfect mascot. (Even if it did end up looking like a weird, ghost-like creature according to my five-year-old.)

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(Snapshot of the back of our team t-shirt with the words “The Flailings” and “Mudmoiselle, Sept 15, 2018.” A neon green flailing arm dancer is the centre image.)

Our team was a part of a mid-day heat. The organisers had us begin by reciting the “Mudmoiselle oath,” a moment of sobriety that, I fear, only heightened my team’s sense of giddiness at the ridiculousness of five grown women running around a vineyard in the scorching heat. I don’t honestly remember many of the obstacles that we ran through, though some are etched in my mind forever. First among them, the second obstacle, which was true to the event name.

This memorable obstacle was nothing less than a giant pit of fenced in, man-made, oozing mud. I suppose I give Mudmoiselle credit for putting it so close to the beginning, because if you’re going to get muddy, you had better get to it sooner rather than later. And, of course, the only way to get to the other side was to crawl through the goo. By mid-day, participants had established two parallel ruts, one on the left-hand side of the pit and one on the right. I looked at my team members beside me. We cheered a good cheer. And then I made the only possible decision: go down the middle.

Throughout the remainder of the two-hour experience, we launched ourselves over hay bales, scaled muddy inclines, walked through bogs (while, obviously, singing “Stand By Me” and praying for a lack of leeches), and swung from tires. By the end of it all, I had rope burns, ripped knees, purpling bruises, and exhausted triceps. I also had a blast. I do not remember the last time I cheered on strangers, particularly as they muscled themselves over questionably stable wooden walls. We were all there to help one another along, because goodness knows for many of the participants these obstacles were symbolic of so much more.

(I crouch on my hands and knees on top of a large hay bale.)

There is something unique about the sense of community that emerges out of a group of people dragging themselves through the mud together. At the end of it all, my team and I sat at a table, marvelled at our crusty, sore bodies, and shared stories of people we knew who were touched by this awful disease. We raised a glass to those we had lost.

On the car ride home, with multiple towels draped over my seat to protect the car, the children moaned about mommy’s awful smell. And all I could think was, yes my dears, that’s the smell of being alive…and bog water. Actually, it’s mostly bog water.

(I walk sideways along a wobbly wooden plank while holding on to a guide wire.)

Kimberly Francis is Acting Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies at the University of Guelph, where she is also an Associate Professor of Music and a passionate feminist musicologist. She’s not ashamed to say that Taylor Swift, Guster, and many, many tracks from Big Shiny Tunes can all be found on her workout playlist.