blog · camping · canoe · cycling · family · fashion · fitness · illness · nature · season transitions · Seasonal sadness · traveling

Blogging in September: My birthday, the blog’s birthday, back to school, and other themes

There are lots of things I could write about today. I’ve spent a fair bit of time pondering my choice of topics.

I was going to write about my annual thyroid cancer check up. It’s today. And if all goes well it’s my last annual check up. (Fingers crossed.) After today they’re every five years. My birthday last week was also mammogram day. It’s as if September weren’t a busy enough month for an academic. It’s also cancer screening season for me.

I thought about writing whether Tracy and I want to write a turning 60 book, to follow up our turning 50 project, Fit at Midlife: A Feminist Fitness Journey. We’re having dinner together tonight and no doubt the subject will come up

Let’s see. It’s also blog birthday season. As Tracy posted, happy 9th birthday blog! We’re nearly at 5000 posts too. That’s hard to believe. This post is 4990!

And the blog’s birthday and my birthday, not surprisingly given how the blog got started, are pretty close together. Another possible topic, what does 57 mean anyway?

Here’s a photo from my birthday bike ride!

Jeff, Dhurin, me, Kim, Ellen and Sarah on the birthday bike ride

At this time of year I often write about back to school and trying to stay physically active as work gets busier and busier. This year, unlike last, I’m back in my office. I’m not yet back at the gym.

I’m having big busy days filled with work and people. So many people! I gave a lecture to O-Week students (photo on the right) and hung out with incoming College of Arts students at our Food Truck lunch meet and greet (photo on the left.)

I also biked around meeting parents and students on move-in day. (Round photo at the bottom.)

Sam’s pink Bromption outside Zavitz Hall at the University of Guelph

I’m back in the office now, wearing (mostly) real clothes. I looked at my clothes the other day and wondered why there were so many pairs of yoga pants. Who needs five pairs of yoga pants? Oh right, work from home and the pandemic. I could write about wearing clothes again. I’m working my way back to real shoes but I am not there yet.

In recent years I’ve been suffering a bit from seasonal sadness and trying to tell myself new stories about fall and winter, leaning into the time of cold and dark. I’ve been trying to extend outdoor activities into the fall. We’re going canoe camping again one more time this fall. And we are also looking at more fall gravel riding plans. So there’s that.

I’m a bit nervous that the no travel thing is continuing and it looks like this will be another year in which I don’t get to go somewhere warm with my bike for the winter. I miss the southern US! I miss Florida and Arizona for winter cycling.

In the end, I just want to let you know how much we’ve been enjoying our time in Prince Edward County and likely will continue that into the autumn too.

How’s your September starting out as we move into the fall?

Here’s a farm frog and a some pumpkins.

Frog and pumpkins
bras · fashion · fitness

Will we go back to wearing ‘real’ bras in a post-pandemic world? Sam isn’t sure

Image: Women’s peach bra on white background with matching peach roses
Photo by  Kapil Tejwani  on  Scopio

It’s spring and I’m swapping clothes around, from winter to summer. The fall and spring stuff stays out year round. But I store out of season clothes in the basement in plastic storage tubs, as one does if you only have one closet and a chest of drawers. I have friends who don’t swap clothes between seasons but generally speaking they are friends who live alone and who have year round access to multiple closets.

Even with the swapping about, I’m still pinched for clothes space. So I looked about to see what I’m not wearing and came across a full drawer of bras. Prime clothing real estate taken up by fancy underwire things that I haven’t worn since the pandemic began. I moved them out and relegated them to a storage box on the bookcase.

What have I been wearing if not those bras? Sports bras mostly. But not even my most serious supportive sports bras. Instead I’m wearing the comfy, soft sports bras, the kind people market for yoga or possibly low impact activities. Frankly, I’m not sure if I’m going back to the serious, substantial ones.

I recognize that this is a privilege that follows from being a B cup and not a D or larger. I know some friends who are more comfortable wearing a serious bra. I’m just not one of them.

After a bit of searching for non sports bras that are still soft and comfortable, my newsfeed is full of ads for them. I’ll buy some maybe and report back. I feel it’s the underwear equivalent of Cate’s discussion of “hard shoes.”

I’m still in love with lots of my formal work clothes but never again will I wear a bra that pokes in my ribs.

How about you? What’s your “return to workplace”–whatever stage of that you’re in–bra life like?

May be a Twitter screenshot of 1 person and text that says 'Kate Lambert @itskatelambert I see women out and y'all are wearing bras again. I THOUGHT WE HAD AN AGREEMENT'
fashion · fitness · inclusiveness · link round up

Fit is a Feminist Issue, Friday Link Round Up #95, Inclusive Fitness Fashion

Today’s link round up focusses on fitness, fashion, and inclusivity.

Athleta’s Latest Launch Is The Inclusivity Push In The Fitness Industry I’ve Been Waiting For

“Those of us trying to be more active who don’t fit society’s image of what “health and wellness” looks like can often feel excluded. While the fitness industry has made strides in recent years, shopping for activewear can still prove challenging at times. I mean really, how can any of us be expected to start hitting the gym when it’s a challenge to even find workout gear that fits us? The double standard has been weighing on a lot of us for a really long time. But Athleta’s latest push for inclusivity is moving the needle forward.”

6 Women And Brands That Are Making Fitness More Size-Inclusive

“There’s no denying that a lot of work needs to be done to make fitness a happier, more fulfilling relationship for women everywhere, of any size. For so many women, diet culture has morphed movement from a joyful activity to an unsatisfying means to an end. Not only can this rob exercise of fun, but it also continues to make women (myself, included) feel pulled to move for the sake of shrinking ourselves. Luckily, there’s a growing movement of incredible women and initiatives leading the charge towards change. Through their own journeys of rejecting diet culture’s influence over fitness and embracing their bodies, they’ve nurtured a healthier relationship with movement that’s inclusive of all shapes and (finally) filled with fun.”

Sure they’re comfortable, but those leggings and sports bras are also redefining modern femininity

“In our own research, we argue that wearing activewear in public is a way of saying “I am in charge of my health” and conforming to socially acceptable understandings of femininity. In this sense, activewear (not to be confused with its less sporty “athleisure” offshoot) has become the uniform of what we might term the “socially responsible 21st-century woman.” Part of the appeal of activewear is that it is comfortable and functional. But it has also been designed to physically shape the body into a socially desirable hourglass female form.”

Attention Plus-Size Athletes: Superfit Hero Extends Their Size Run To 7X

“This week activewear brand, Superfit Hero, announced that they will phase out their smallest sizes – extra-small, small and medium – in favor of extending their size run through 7X permanently. The change starts with their newest collection, also released this week, which includes sports bras, leggings, and shorts in sizes 12 through 42.  CEO Micki Krimmel said in a statement that this decision came after extensive research that focused on the unique needs of plus-size athletes. During interviews, customers described many of their shopping experiences as “traumatic,” stating that “lack of access, inconsistent sizing, and ill-fitting, low-quality garments” led to a feeling of disenfranchisement. She says Superfit Hero wants to solve this problem.”

Can evil companies change their ways? Yes, that’s you we’re talking about Lululemon

“Me, I like their yoga pants and I guess I hope companies can change. We’re all works in progress, even Lululemon. And yes, capitalism and yes, co-opting. But there’s no pure path. This is the world we live and work in.”

I know it’s an ad but I like it, thanks Under Armour

“This looks, to me, like an inclusive ad done right. It’s not thin white women. They don’t have perfect bodies. They’re working hard and having fun. Count me in.”


fashion · fitness · inclusiveness · yoga

Can evil companies change their ways? Yes, that’s you we’re talking about Lululemon

Last year I wrote a blog post called Lululemon might still be a little bit evil but now they are also plus sized evil!

“Over the years I’ve gone from thinking that Lululemon is BAD ( Just walk slowly away from that rack of $100 yoga pants) to thinking they are an annoying company (Is Lululemon trying to annoy me?) to buying their leggings when I could find my size online. Sell-out, I know. But I love their high waist Align. In black. Size 14 please. Thanks Ann!

And now you plus sized friends can have them too. Wow.”

They’ve gone from saying that their clothes don’t work for larger bodies to selling clothes designed for larger bodies to appointing one of my fave plus sized fitness spokespersons as a brand ambassador. That’s a pretty big shift.

See Lululemon’s new campaign star has a body-inclusive message: ‘Running is for everyone who has a body and wants to run’

“The athletic apparel brand has tapped ultramarathoner, author, speaker and former Fat Girl Running blogger Mirna Valerio to front its new global “Feel Closer to Your Run” campaign and offer better representation of runners whose body types are typically overlooked within the fitness space. The Vermont-based Valerio tells Yahoo Life that she hopes to inspire and empower both people who have felt excluded by activities like running, and the brands that have the power to provide better quality gear for bigger bodies.

“Make no mistake: All kinds of people in all sorts of bodies want to be able to engage in movement that is meaningful to them, and they need apparel that fits, is functional and well-made,” Valerio says. “There was this prevailing idea that plus-size folks didn’t do or want to do things like running, cycling, swimming, etc. But guess what? We’ve always done those things and have had to contend with ill-fitting apparel — because we’ve been forgotten and ignored — poorly constructed clothing that is not fit for any athletic activity, or if they do fit, pieces in limited colors and styles.”

Never has a post attracted so many likes/comments as this one on our Fit is a Feminist Issue Facebook page. I asked some of our readers if I could share their comments. Mostly, as a group, they weren’t convinced by Lululemon’s efforts at inclusivity.

Whitney writes, “No thanks, Lulu! Not only are their sizes not inclusive, their clothing is prohibitively expensive!”

“Love her but I abhor lululemon and everything they represent is antithesis to this. I hope she gets loads of money out of them and carries on then continuing with her work leaving them in the dirt,” says Sivapraya.

Jessy says, “Well that’s quite a change from the ripping pants at the crotch because “some women shouldn’t wear their clothes” (not verbatim but we get the point).”

What brands did readers suggest instead? Superfit Hero, of course. Here’s my first post about them: I’m a super fit hero and the gym is my phone booth.

Pretty much everyone was a fan of Mirna.

Marlena says, “Yaaaaas Mirna is a goddess, so glad to see her being featured by larger and larger outdoor/athletic companies!”

And I think we can all agree about that.

Here’s Mirna:

Ultramarathoner Mirna Valerio hopes that her work as a Lululemon ambassador shows that
Ultramarathoner Mirna Valerio hopes that her work as a Lululemon ambassador shows that “running is for everyone who has a body and wants to run.” (Photo: Lululemon)

Me, I like their yoga pants and I guess I hope companies can change. We’re all works in progress, even Lululemon. And yes, capitalism and yes, co-opting. But there’s no pure path. This is the world we live and work in.

And I’m happy that the world now contains this billboard.

May be an image of standing and outdoors
Lululemon, Toronto

What do you think? Share your opinions in the comments.

clothing · fashion · fun · gadgets · gear

Christine H. Finds Fun in Small Things

Even though I felt ridiculous about it, I bought a winter hat with built-in wireless headphones and it has turned out to be a terrific and useful purchase. (I can listen to my fave podcasts while I shovel snow!)

Owning this item has also spawned three new things that delight me:

1) My son J connected my hat headphones via Bluetooth to my phone under the name ‘hatphones.’ It makes me laugh every time I see it. HATPHONES! HA!

2) I get to say ‘Oh, I have to remember to charge my hat!’

3) I get to say ‘Hang on, I can’t hear you yet, my hat is still talking to me.’

Yes, I find my fun where I can.

Don’t you?

PS – I sometimes wear my hat inside for practicing TKD patterns or doing yoga. Unlike my other wireless (in-ear) earphones, my hatphones are sitting comfortably OVER my ears and while they reduce how well I can hear other sounds they don’t block them entirely. Also, I can easily pause (by pressing on the button over my ear) the video without having to scramble for my phone or for the remote control.

A drawing of black hat with a wire attached that extends to a plug and a drawing of a phone screen with a few icons and the word 'hatphones' displayed next to bluetooth symbol.
Not my greatest sketch ever but you get the point. 😉 Image description: A drawing of black hat with a wire attached that extends to a plug and a drawing of a phone screen with a few icons and the word ‘hatphones’ displayed next to bluetooth symbol.

accessibility · clothing · covid19 · fashion · fat · gear · snow · winter

Winter fun is for every body

This post brings together two common themes here at Fit is a Feminist Issue.

Theme one is making our way through COVID winter. Winter isn’t easy for some of us at the best of times but this year hiding out indoors until it passes isn’t really an option. You can cozy it up, sure, hygge style, but you might be lonely. Possibly also depressed. Maybe both.

So along with hygge, people are recommending that we adopt the attitude of friluftsliv. Read about the latter concept here.

Friluftsliv is a word used by Swedes, Danes and Norwegians. It translates literally as ‘fresh-air life’, and is all about embracing the great outdoors whatever the weather, being active, and immersing yourself in nature.

Scandinavians spend time outdoors no matter what season it is. For Kim Lindqvist, a volunteer with the Swedish Outdoor Association, Friluftsliv means “to be outdoors and in the air, and just enjoy it in nature. To listen to the leaves, or watch the clouds”.

Friluftsliv sounds like a good fit for the FIFI blog community. We like to spend time outdoors. We’re active. And we all want to enjoy the company of friends through the pandemic winter.

Here on the blog we’ve been worrying about this since the end of summer. Catherine wrote about making plans to spend time with friends outside in the winter way back in August! Cate waited until September, after Labour Day, to post about her plans for a fit distanced winter.

I completely agree that spending time outside is key to enjoying winter. I’ve been recommending winter biking, here and here. But the thing about friluftsliv is you’ve got to dress for it.

If you choose not find joy in the snow, you’ll have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow.

OK, on to the second theme that we talk about lots on the blog. Theme two is about finding gear that fits all bodies, in particular plus sized bodies. It’s not always easy. See our post about finding plus sized cycling and hiking gear.

It’s not a far away problem. It’s an issue for some of the fit feminists who blog here, me included. See Catherine’s post and my post about the challenge of finding winter coats that fit. We’re not even particularly large plus sized people, shopping in the L to XXL range. Also, we’re professors with reasonable salaries so we’ve got the option to buy new. It’s harder still if your income means you’re trying to find discount clothing or used gear.

This matters because of the message we send about which bodies belong outside in the winter. It’s symbolic and meaningful and all that. It’s also practical. Winter (in Canada at least) means we worry about frostbite and getting cold. Spending time outside–even just walking the dog–sometimes requires snow pants, parkas, hats, mitts, scarves, and good boots.

This year, more than ever, we’re all going to have get outside and spend time with friends and family during the winter. My kids are talking about winter camping in backyard so we can all spend Christmas holidays together!

So I was thinking about these themes–getting outside and enjoying Canadian pandemic winter–and the necessity of finding the right gear, when along came these guys Plus Snow.

I first read about the company in this story: Online entrepreneur launches plus-size snow gear store in North America. The article talks about the company owner Mon Balon and her motivation for making plus sized snow clothes.

“What she wants to see is more of the joy that her customers share when they can finally play in the snow with their kids.

Balon said she is looking for people to model the clothes she sells. She currently uses #curvystoke to raise awareness and celebrate people who wear plus sizes playing in the snow.”

What I didn’t expect when I shared the story on our Facebook page was thanks from Mon Balon herself,

“Omgosh you guys!!! Thanks so so much for sharing this article about my business and my launch in North America! It’s not a perfect model (you have to wait about 2 weeks to get your gear) yet but I do have lots of CHOICE and lots of measuring charts and our help and customer service is unparalleled (I think anyway!) Shop Your Shape is our brilliant feature which helps you find the perfect fit if you need it https://plussnow.com/shop-your-shape/

I also didn’t expect the flurry of readers with their own issues finding plus sized snow gear. There were a lot of comments on that post.

One of the commentators was Richelle Olsen who owns outdoor wear she bought from Plus Snow.

Here’s Richelle modeling her gear.

Richelle: “All my current wet weather gear is from these guys, they don’t just do plus snow gear, but they do plus outdoor gear in general. Love that they celebrate that adventurers come in bigger bodies 💚 Plus Snow – Plus Sized Snow Gear. Plus Outdoor.”
Writes Richelle, “Here’s one extra pic of our group of body positive adventurers, near the Tarkine, at a place called Cradle Mountain.”

I asked Richelle if I could share the photos and she said yes.

Thanks Richelle.

Here’s what else she had to say:


“I’m in Tasmania, an island off the south coast of Australia. I lead body positive adventure trips for Escaping Your Comfort Zone 2-3 times a year, and each time I go a few days early and just drive and see where I end up. This time I ended up in this prehistoric rainforest called the Tarkine, in the rain, camping amongst giants with no one else around.


I’m wearing the Raiski Fuchu R+ Women’s Longline jacket in size 22. I love it because it’s super long and covers my butt, its slightly stretchy and is reliably waterproof after days of constant rain in Tasmania. It’s from Plus Snow – Plus Sized Snow Gear 💚💚


Fun fact: The Tarkine Wilderness Area is one of the last undisturbed tracts of Gondwanan rainforest in the world, and one of the highest concentrations of Aboriginal archeology in the Southern Hemisphere. This place, which remains largely as it was when dinosaurs roamed the planet, is currently at the mercy of destructive logging and mining. There’s an amazing short film about this called “What if running could save a rainforest?” Featuring a good friend of mine, Nicole Anderson, who is a doctor, ultra runner and passionate rainforest protector”

Are you a plus sized snow loving person? Are you planning to get out this year? Where’d you buy your gear? What counts as essential for the snow loving activities you do?

FWIW, and in case you’re wondering, this is isn’t a promotional post. I didn’t know Richelle or Mon prior to sharing the story on our Facebook page.

fall · fashion · fitness · gear · Seasonal sadness · self care · walking

Thoughts about walking and about rain boots minus gender

Nat’s post about walking in the rain prompted me to take action. Now, I’m no Nat. I meet my very modest step goal most days but I try not to care. My Garmin watch gives me fireworks when I’ve met my step goal and I smile at this little mini celebration but when it asks me to increase my goal, I decline.

About eight months ago I wrote a post about the wonders of walking that asked what if you can’t walk. I can walk but not very far with my damaged, waiting to be totally replaced, knee. There are still reasons to walk, even it hurts, and lots of studies show that walking won’t make the situation worse.

So I do walk a fair bit still thanks to Cheddar the dog but increasing my step count isn’t among my fitness goals.

Cheddar and the fall colours

But Nat’s post inspired me in another direction, the direction of dry feet and dressing for the weather. Like Nat, I’m well kitted out for winter. I have all the gear I need to stay warm on my fat bike, on snow shoes, or while walking Cheddar in January. But rainy weather? Not so much.

I don’t mind winter when it’s here. In January the days are getting longer, there’s snow to play in, and often there’s sun. But November? Ugh. Dark, cold and often rainy, November is my toughest month. I’m on record as hating November.

Given the pandemic, I don’t need any extra anger or resentment in my life. I need to make friends with November. First step, getting better rain gear. I’ve got an excellent rain coat that I bought while on sabbatical in New Zealand. But I don’t have good rain boots. My calves are too wide for traditional knee high rain boots.

The boots needed to be bright and cheerful, because November. And short, because calves.

Here was my short list of choices:

Boots

In the end I chose the Pride boots. I thought seriously about the pink fishing boots but they aren’t available in my size.

But I need to tell you a thing I love about the Pride boots. They’re available in two different kinds of sizes, wide and narrower. Not men’s and women’s.

I’ve written before about gendered sizing, about lady backpacks and women’s bikes, and why they drive me up the wall. Why not just wide shoulders, or long torso? Why tie things to gender even they’re not about gender at all? If some men fit women’s boots and some women need men’s boots, then it isn’t really about gender, is it?

Thks. Hunter boots for getting it right.

Black boots with rainbow heels

Now, assuming they fit, these boots likely aren’t enough to make me love November when it gets here. But I just have tolerate November and likely I will tolerate it better with dry feet.

Thanks for the prompt Nat.

Enjoy your walks with Michel and Lucy. Cheddar and I will be thinking of you!

And Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

A small orange pumpkin being held in two hands outstretched.
clothing · fashion

Winter nap dresses! Sam is holding off, for now

Cate asked us to tell her what our closets look like right now.

I’m mostly wearing yoga pants or leggings with black tops and scarves or even a suit jacket over top for weekdays. I swap the suit jacket for a hoodie for dog walking. I swapped out my summer clothes for my winter wardrobe last weekend. Bye bye sundresses! You’re in the basement box for out of season clothing now.

My winter work clothes are more formal. And I’m not wearing dry clean only clothes around the house. Here’s looking at you, Cheddar! So lots of them got put away too.

My summer dresses are pretty comfy. I even bought a lovely nap dress in keeping with pandemic fashion trends. Lol. It was easier in the summer months wearing clothes that did double duty as both work and work from home clothes. I don’t think I’ll buy a winter nap dress (see above, middle image). They need leggings underneath to be warm enough and why not just wear leggings. Also, they don’t look that practical for midday kettle bell swings, TRX-ing, or Yoga With Adriene.

My newsfeed now is full of ads for soft, comfortable clothes: ethically made in Canada bamboo PJs, cashmere jogging suits, and things called nap shirts. Lately I’ve been seeing ads for enormous fleece lined hoodies. These look perfect for when I am working in the back room and Sarah’s riding her bike on Zwift with the porch door open to the outside and the fan on high. I confess I’m a big fan of fresh air and leaving the door open for dogs. That means my house isn’t toasty warm. The giant hoodies come in family packs. What do you think kids?

cycling · fashion

Bike dresses in white?

It’s finally here the first bike friendly dress now in white.

Dear Frank and Oak,

Have you ever stopped to fix a flat? Have you ever tried to put a dropped chain back on?

CLEARLY NOT. Because if you had you’d realize that of all the colours for a bike dress, white is just not on.

I realize you don’t have to do what I tend to do–wipe bike grease off on my black bike shorts–but still. Even for the most fastidious of cyclists–say one who carries wet wipes for wiping their hands (here’s looking at you Martin!), white isn’t a colour that works.

I’m not sure what makes this a bike dress. Almost any dress can be a bike dress. Like the nap dress. I’m sure it has special features that make it bike friendly but still, no matter how good those features are, they are overruled by the not very bike friendly colour.

Thanks,

Sam

clothing · fashion · rest

Okay, I gave into another pandemic fashion trend and bought a nap dress (and it has pockets)

I know, I know, all dresses can be nap dresses. You can also nap in just about anything. I’m sure I’ve done it. I’ve regularly napped at work through the years since I often have to stay on campus (back in normal times) for evening events.

But now we are in pandemic times and I’m still working at home, working out at home, and napping at home. I’m starting to make clothing choices that make sense for not much leaving the house.

I’ve written before about what to wear when working at home and working out at home.

The nap dress is one answer to what to wear when working at home and napping, because (in my case) very long workdays, inconsistent sleep due to nightmares and pandemic anxiety, and late evening bike races.

Besides, they’re summer dresses and they’re on sale, so I bought one.

Read Rachel Syme on the allure of the nap dress in stressful pandemic times.

“Since sleeping through the night was not happening, I figured an outfit specifically designated for daytime dozing might be just the thing. One could theoretically wear a Nap Dress to bed, but it is decidedly not a nightgown. (For one, it is opaque enough to wear to the grocery store.) It is not the same thing as a caftan, which, though often luxurious, is more shapeless and more grown-up. It is not a housedress, which we tend to associate with older women shuffling onto the stoop to grab the morning paper, the curlers still in their hair. A housedress is about forgetting the self, or at least hiding it under layers of quilted fabric. The Nap Dress, on the other hand, suggests a cheeky indulgence for one’s body, and a childlike return to waking up bleary-eyed hours before dinner.”

Or for more a critical analysis of the trend, read The Uneasy Privilege Of The Daytime Nightgown in which Veronique Hyland talks about the politics of who gets to wear a daytime nap dress during the pandemic. It’s not frontline workers, grocery store clerks, transit workers, and people driving UberEats to pay rent. I used to teach about fashion and I confess if I were teaching about fashion this semester I might give a lecture on pandemic fashion and the nap dress.

I don’t need to know if you don’t like it. I do! Also, yes, I know white is impractical.