ADHD · fitness · fun · yoga

Choosing the fun part first

The weather here in Newfoundland and Labrador is tricky at any point and doubly tricky on the May 24th weekend.*

I have spent May 24th weekends wearing shorts, I have been rained out of planned adventures, I have shoveled snow from in front of a tent. And, on several occasions, I have worn shorts, a raincoat, and then mittens all on the same day.

So when Saturday rolled around and the weather was beautiful, I knew that my usual Saturday stuff inside could wait.

I had to get outside ASAP just in case things took a turn.

a selfie of Christine wearing sunglasses with her hair pulled back by a black bandana. She is outside, the sky is blue and the sun is directly behind her.
I couldn’t actually see my screen when I took this but since it made me laugh, I’m sharing it. This is a rare, non-smirking photo. Image description: I put my phone on my yoga mat and took a selfie looking upward. The majority of the image is blue sky but my head is looming at the bottom of the image and only the top 4/5 of my face is visible. I’m wearing sunglasses and my hair is pulled back unevenly in a black bandana. The bare branches of a tree can be seen to my left in the photo and the sun is behind me so parts of my hair are glowing. I look resigned but I am actually happy to be about to do yoga outside.

Normally, this would be cause for a scrambly brain of indecision – Should I do yard work? Bring inside work outside? Make plans for my garden? Take Khalee for an extra walk? What is the BEST use of this time?

This time, though, I bypassed all of those questions and just asked myself “What would be the most fun to do right now?”

And that’s how I found myself in the sunshine, doing yoga on my patio, laughing at the way my shadow makes me look like a fur ball or some sort of tendrilly sea creature.

a person's left hand (with a wedding and engagement ring and a watch on a woven band) rests on a blue patterned yoga mat outdoors.
Before doing my actual yoga practice, I did a few twists and I liked how my hand looked in contrast with my mat so I snapped a photo. Image description: A shot of my left hand, complete with wedding band, engagement ring, and Fitbit with a woven elastic strap, resting on a blue and teal yoga mat. My shadow, including the shadows of bits of my hair sticking out in a bizarre pattern, is covering most of the mat but there are some sunny bits at the top and the light wood of my patio is visible at the top of the image.

PS – For the record, Khalee and I took a long walk later in the day… and neither of us had to put on our mittens.

*Apparently, the May long weekend in Canada is not called ‘May 24th’ everywhere but that’s what we’ve always called it – no matter which date it falls on. If your brain hates that, imagine that I have said ‘Victoria Day’ instead.

fitness · fun

Geocaching

“Time for some bush-bashing! Don’t worry, it’s less than a two.”

This is what my friend said as we peered into a steep incline of densely grown trees and shrubs off the side of a highway near Halifax, Nova Scotia. She meant that the difficulty of finding the oldest geocache in Canada was considered to be “relatively easy” (within 30 minutes) and “along well-defined paths with no significant elevation change or overgrowth,” as per the standardized geocache rating system.

“Where is the well-defined path?” I asked.

My friend smiled. “It’s a joke among geocachers that you find the path to the cache on the way out.” Then, she disappeared into the bushes.

About Geocaching

An open cache cannister with a Travel Bug and a trinket on a rock.
An open cache cannister with a Travel Bug and a trinket on a rock.

My friend “Alispice” (her geocacher name) uses a GPS and/or mobile device to find hidden containers called geocaches at various outdoor locations. Since global positioning technology first became available to the public after May 2, 2000, (a.k.a. Big Blue Switch Day), there are over 3 million geocaches around the world. A free and family-friendly activity, geocaching offers a combination of treasure hunt, recreational activity, and exercise.

Caches are hidden everywhere. It’s likely there is one of over 20 different types of caches within 161 metres of you right now. A geocacher places a cache, shares location information and maybe a hint, then other geocachers search for and log the cache when they find it.

Alispice holds a micro cache found in Halifax, NA. She's good at finding very small things. Used with permission.
Alispice holds a micro cache. She’s good at finding very small things.

The more caches you find (especially the ones that are hard to get to), the higher you rise in the geocacher rankings. Geocaching apps are used to track global rankings, personal stats, and other information, such as progress on “challenges” that involve finding multiple caches according to specific criteria.

A Crash Course in Caching

I learned about geocaching during a short holiday with Alispice in Nova Scotia. It’s not all “bush-bashing.” We found caches on the downtown Halifax harbour front, in the nearby town of Dartmouth, and on the rocky shale and sandstone of Peggy’s Cove on the Chebucto Penninsula.

A picture of a large cache logbook, with entries from 2006.
A large cache logbook, with entries on the page from 2006.

It was a delight for me to pause on the discovery of a cache, read the names of those who signed the log before us, and ponder over the trinkets that are sometimes left in the containers. While I was musing, Alispice got promptly back on her device for the next cache. As of this post date, her highest number of caches in one day is 172.

For some, geocaching can be a hobby and a lifestyle. Because caches are everywhere, I suspect that seasoned geocachers like Alispice have to make a concerted mental effort to stop thinking about finding caches when they are going about their daily lives.

I also learned that caches can draw attention to special places. For instance, there were a few simple caches at the Africville museum and park. As we walked around and read the information plaques in the park, Alispice explained that the caches there may have been set up to attract geocachers visiting Halifax who would not otherwise know about the history of this mostly Black Canadian community.

What Geocachers Do (and Do Not Do)

When geocachers are not caching, they may be stocking up on supplies (purchasing log books, travel bugs, O rings, etc.). Or, they may be meeting together at local and international geocacher gatherings called “events,” and participating in Cache In Trash Out environmental initiatives; these activities help to preserve existing cache areas, beautify outdoor spaces, and minimize the stereotype that geocaching is “littering.”

Alispice opening a small cache at Peggy's Cove.
Alispice opening a cache at Peggy’s Cove.

Such events also build community for people participating in a recreational and largely self-organized activity. HQ and volunteers together encourage geocachers to follow etiquette and courtesy rules when placing and locating caches. In what is described as the geocacher’s creed, respect for place, property, and other people is of the highest importance.

More About Geocaching

The best way is to learn more about geocaching is to get out there and try it, but here are some general info sites for Muggles (what geocachers call non-geocachers like me):

I had a great time, and got plenty of exercise, trailing a geocacher for 3 days. I’m not quite ready for the cognitive load of a ever-present, never-ending, world-wide treasure hunt. But I will be sure to cheer on the next people I see searching the bushes in unexpected places, hoping they are close to their geocache discovery!

Alispice and Elan at the oldest geocache in Canada. Trees and a sign that says Geocache Lane behind them.
Alispice and Elan at Geocache Lane in Nova Scotia, the oldest geocache in Canada.
fitness · fun · kids and exercise · play

Ranking Outdoor Kid Games (for Adults)

Recently some adult folks and I celebrated a friend’s birthday outside at a park in the snow. We simple played kid outdoor games: a team tossing game, a ball relay, and a good ol’ fashioned snowball fight. We ran around, egging on members of the other team, getting soaked. It was hilarious and silly and fun.

A woman describes rules to a game while people stand in a line behind her. A park in the daytime with snow
Marnie gives instructions to the adults for the next kid game.

Playing outdoor kid games can bring a swell of nostalgia for games in the school yard, the backyard, the park, the lot, the court, or the field. Those games taught us important lessons (good and bad) that we remember throughout our adult lives.

I decided to describe and rank various types of kids outdoor games that can be and still are played by adults. Inter-rater reliability (i.e. with my partner) for the aspects of each game type (e.g., high, medium, or low) was about 92%.

What is your favourite outdoor kid game or game type, and why? Reply in comments below!

Accuracy Games 

CriteriaLevel
Energylow
Skillmed
Teamworklow
Inclusivenessmed
Sillinesslow

Examples: Ladder toss, horseshoes, washer toss, catch/HORSE, hopscotch

These games that pay attention to detail and precision. They have rules and specialized equipment, and may be played individually or in teams. It’s usually the accuracy games that adults want to play to show kids that they’ve still “got it.”

Snowball/Water Balloon Fights

CriteriaLevel
Energymed
Skilllow
Teamworklow
Inclusivenessmed
Sillinesshigh

Snowball and water balloon fights have few rules and are generally a free-for-all of silliness. Often, one need not be the strongest or fastest participant: those who create their own strategy (or find good hiding places) can fare well.

Be careful in these games around those who wear glasses. In northern or southern climates, less popular in Spring/Fall.

Imagination Games

CriteriaLevel
Energylow
Skilllow
Teamworkmed
Inclusivenesshigh
Sillinessmed

Examples: Lost on an island, Cowboys, Fashion show, etc.

Imagination games (also known as “pretend” or “make believe”) are for those who want to escape rule-bound games with winners and losers that require equipment and physical skill or strength.

In imagination games, anyone with creativity and a playful attitude can participate.

"Adults Playing" by eekim is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Adults Playing” by eekim is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Strength Games 

CriteriaLevel
Energyhigh
Skilllow
Teamworkmed
Inclusivenessmed
Sillinessmed

Examples: Red rover, tug of war

Simple, straightforward us-vs-them team games, where the most important rule is…be the strongest and win! Expect the occasional skin burn or scratch.

Sometimes these games can get violent–it was this aspect of tug of war that was emphasized by Netflix’s Squid Game (2021).

"Tug of War" by joshwept is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Tug of War” by joshwept is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Organized Sports Games

CriteriaLevel
Energyhigh
Skillmed
Teamworkhigh
Inclusivenesslow
Sillinesslow

Examples: Flag football, baseball, dodgeball, kickball, soccer

Organized sports build skill, stamina, and teamwork. They create opportunities for life-long bonding. But being group-based, rule-bound, and equipment-heavy, these serious games can separate casual from competitive players.

Also, no one likes to be picked last for a team.

Speed Relay Games

Examples: Relays (e.g., egg and spoon race), potato sack racing

CriteriaLevel
Energymed
Skilllow
Teamworkhigh
Inclusivenesslow
Sillinesshigh

Individual or team-based–and often requiring nothing more than a ball, a baton, or a sack–speed relay games can bring the best of a group of people working together.

These games can be not so fun for folks who may struggle to keep up or who take relays too seriously.

"Sack race" by badjonni is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Sack race” by badjonni is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Tag and Strategy Games 

CriteriaLevel
Energymed
Skillmed
Teamworkmed
Inclusivenessmed
Sillinessmed

Examples: Tag, Capture the Flag, Musical Chairs, Red Light-Green Light, Hide and Seek

Combining the skill of accuracy games, the endurance of strength games, and the creativity of imagination games, tag and strategy games can utilize diverse talents. These games attract those who enjoy being the last one standing.

Dancing · fitness · fun · holiday fitness · holidays · meditation · mindfulness · motivation

Making Space: Day 31

Welcome to Day 31!

I hope today finds you with the space you need to take good care of yourself.

And I hope that you can recognize your own efforts to make that space, even if you didn’t always succeed.

You matter, your needs matter and your efforts matter.

And here’s a gold star for those efforts:

A large gold 3D paper star hanging on a white door.
Image description: This is the largest gold star I own. It’s a foldable 3D paper ornament and it is covered with sparkly gold spirals. In this photo, I have hung it on a white door.

Now, onto our movement and meditation for making space. (As always, feel free to do these or to do your own thing.)

One of my favourite ways to get moving is to join my friend Elaine Dunphy in either an ageless grace or a Nia dance class. Since I can’t bring all of you to one of her classes (what with Covid restrictions and the laws of physics and all), I asked her to create a short video for today’s post.

Here’s Elaine, in full positivity and joy, with a New Year’s Eve message and a short and fun movement practice for you to try as you create a little space for yourself today.

My friend Elaine Dunphy with a New Year’s message and a short movement practice for us today. I posted this on my own YouTube channel – the only other video on there is my husband doing the ice bucket challenge, so obviously I am not a prolific YouTuber. The still image shows Elaine in her dance studio. She has very short salt-and-pepper hair and she is smiling and holding her right hand up, palm towers the camera with her fingers held widely apart.

And as for a meditation, I am offering two today.

The first one is for people with a lot of space in their day, the second is for people with just a sliver of time for themselves.

A ten minute meditation from the Great Meditations YouTube channel. The still image is a cartoon drawing of a person in yellow sitting in a classic meditation pose – legs crossed, backs of hands resting on knees, palms upward. The words ‘Clear Your Mind guided meditation’ are on the left side of the image.

And if you just have a minute, here’s a meditation for you.

A mini-meditation from the Headspace YouTube channel. Still image shows blue squiggles against a yellow background with the words ‘Health Mind’ written in purple on the upper left side.

I hope that these posts have helped you find space for yourself during the month of December when time seems to telescope, dragging on or collapsing without any relationship to the clock or to the calendar.

As we move into 2022, may you have the space you need in your mind, in your heart, in your days, in your schedules, and in the places where you spend your time.

See you tomorrow for my first Go Team! post.

aging · birthday · fitness · fun

Christine and the Birthday Decisions

That kind of makes me sound like I’m starting a band, doesn’t it?

If that was my band name, what would our first album be called?

Ahem.

Back on topic:

Wednesday was my birthday and I had a great day.

A hand holding a sparkler at night.
My friend Elaine brought me sparklers and other treats for my birthday. She knows how to make everything more fun. Image description: Christine’s right hand is holding the handle of a burning sparkler – a piece of metal that has been coated at one end so it gives off a sparkly flame as it burns. It is night time.

Usually, on my birthday, I’m trying to cram in so many fun things that I actually end up amplifying my usual feeling that I *should* be doing something else.

I always have fun but I tend to feel a bit tightly scheduled and a bit frustrated.

This year, I noticed that feeling creeping up the day before my birthday and I made a conscious decision to get over myself and be clear about the facts:

I don’t have to limit my fun to one day a year. *

In fact, I can add more fun to every week.

I can even add a bit more fun to every day.

I can take my birthday attitude into the rest of the year.

In a surprise to no one, making that decision took all of the pressure out of my birthday.

And instead of keeping a tally of accumulated fun, I just did what I felt like doing in any given moment.

And that’s how I found myself dropping everything to take Khalee for a walk while the sun was out (instead of at a more ‘logical’ time.)

And, it’s how I found myself sitting peacefully, all by myself in the 5pm darkness, watching the small fire I had set in our fire pit.

Normally, I would have talked myself out of lighting a fire just for me. It’s a little bit of hassle and I didn’t have a lot of time before supper, but I had that bit of birthday ‘permission’ going for me so I crumpled some paper and got the kindling from the shed and settled in next to the fire.

I felt calm and restful and so very grateful for all of the good things in my life.

I even felt a bit more patient about the challenges I tend to encounter

It was a wonderful way to round out a day of giving in to my whims.

And, my birthday gift to myself is the decision to prioritize things like an early evening fire far more often.

I challenge you to do the same. 💚

A nighttime selfie of a woman with a round face wearing a dark hat and dark clothes, she is lit by firelight.
Enjoying the glow of the fire AND the fun of doing just what I wanted to be doing at that moment. Image description: a selfie in which I am outside at night, lit by firelight. I am wearing a dark hat and a dark coat. Only my face is visible and I am smiling contentedly.

*To be clear, I do take time to relax and do fun things on a regular basis. But, on my birthday, I give myself permission to maximize my fun.

covid19 · fun · play · soccer · team sports

In Praise of Scrimmage (Guest Post)

By Elan Paulson

Have you played scrimmage, shinny, or pick up? Until this past summer, I had not (as for many years I lacked a team sport to play, as I guest blog about elsewhere). Friends, let me tell you that I think scrimmage is AWESOME. I didn’t realize how awesome until after the end of our short “season” these past few months.

If you already know scrimmage or pick up is awesome, this post will not be news to you. But still, read on to re-affirm what you and I now know together.

No Refs = Self-Regulation

In regular team games, a referee is there to make calls so no one else has to. But when you are self-reffing, everyone has to monitor their own potentially illegal moves. Obviously, this leads to more individual accountability during gameplay, but it got players talking to each other about the calls. One time I saw players stop to discuss what might have been a hand ball, and compare what they knew about the rules about hand balls, but then play happily resumed.

In reffed games you always want rulings in your team’s favour, but without refs everyone seems to take more responsibility to play fairly, and the talking creates both game understanding and player camaraderie.

Slower Pacing = Safer Play

When you’re in a traditional team game, everyone wants to hurry up and score. But in scrimmage everyone takes their time, sets up, passes more. One striker with a killer goal shot deliberately eased up when she came in to shoot (which was fortunate for me when I was in goal). The result of slower play seemed to be that everyone got more chances to touch the ball, yet folks didn’t get tired out.

Also, no injuries. In the half dozen games I played in, I think I was the only one to get a minor injury—because I overextend myself. Once I took cues from others about pacing, I eased up and could play the whole game without getting myself hurt.

Friends on Both Sides = No Losers

In regular games, things are pretty fixed: everyone on your team has their positions, sub rotations are often pre-set, and the point is to win the game. In scrimmage, there is much more fluidity and choice. People felt free to take a water break whenever they needed, even if their team was short-handed for a minute. Most everyone took turns in goal, unless someone was nursing an injury and wanted to play there longer. I spent a little time as a forward, where I learned that “give and go” passing is not a skill that is totally beyond me. I even scored a goal! 🙂

When friends are on both sides, the stakes were lower. Goals were scored (or not), efforts were congratulated—but no one kept score. Maybe there were no winners each week, but no one walked off the pitch on the losing side either.

Is Scrimmage for Everyone? 

As someone trained to look at stuff through the lens of feminist theory, I see many overlaps between the values for which many feminists strive and the kind of play that scrimmage affords. Why aren’t we playing more scrimmage? If feminism is for everyone, and certain aspects of scrimmage reflect the values of some feminisms, then is scrimmage for everyone too?

Three reasons why not all of us are playing more scrimmage:

  • Logistically, scrimmage only works up to a certain numbers limit, and someone has to volunteer to take the added responsibility to be a convenor. (One of our wonderful friends put the extra work in to make ours happen.)
  • Usually the fields, courts, and ices are perhaps usually spoken for by organized sports associations, so it’s only in these strange pandemic times that these spaces may be more available than usual.
  • There are probably plenty of skilled and competitive types for which scrimmage/pick up is not speedy or challenging enough. Some people thrive most when there is structure and competition.

So, maybe scrimmage isn’t for everyone all the time. But for me, as a late-to-the-sport rec soccer player, the less structure the better. Whether you get to play for fun each week with a long-time bestie or a sister, or make some new friends (as I have), scrimmage is WHERE IT’S AT.

Are you in praise scrimmage too? Why or why not?

fit at mid-life · fitness · fun · kayak · winter

Dani Donders Has All The Fun: An Interview

Dani Donders is a kayak enthusiast and kicksledder who works for the federal government and lives in Manotick, Ontario with her family.

She is also an excellent role model for how to maximize your fun.

Dani and I have never actually met but we’ve known each other online since our kids were young and we both enjoy trying new things…but only on our own terms.

I have long enjoyed her writing and her photography and I love experiencing her various hobbies from afar. In the past few years, Dani has gotten into two activities that have especially intrigued me – kayaking and kicksledding- and I wanted to know more about them. I thought that the Fit is a Feminist Issue readers would enjoy hearing about them, too.

Thanks for the great interview, Dani!

Small confession: I didn’t know that a kicksled was called a kicksled and my interview questions originally called it a ‘winter slide thingy’ but now I know that it is either called a kicksled or a spark. Yes, I could have left that out of this post but then you wouldn’t get to grin a little at my expense…what’s the fun in that?

A person in a purple winter jacket and black pants stands on a kicksled on a snow-covered winter trail.
There’s Dani, having all the winter fun! Image description: Dani is facing the camera and smiling while standing on her kicksled on a snow-covered path with trees in the background. She has long dark hair and she s wearing a purple jacket, a multi-coloured scarf, and black pants. Her sled is made of a light wood but the treads are black.

What drew you to kicksledding and kayaking? Now that they are part of your regular routine, what do you enjoy about them?


I live on an island in the Rideau River and have pined for a canoe for the 10+ years we lived here, but for some reason I thought I had to get one that I could cram all three kids and both adults into – which would have been very expensive. Now that the kids are older, I felt comfortable buying a kayak and taking the time to go out on my own, away from the family. I’ve always been drawn to water, though. I’ve rented kayaks and canoes and even peddle boats and always loved them. I only wish I’d bought one years ago.


The kicksledding was more random. My friend Annie got one for Christmas, and I loved the idea of it. I’m afraid of falling, so I don’t really like skiing or skating, but I loved the fact that I wasn’t strapped to the kicksled – if I felt it was out of control or going too fast, I could just hop off. It was a bit of an impulse buy, but from the moment I tried it, I loved it. I absolutely love zooming down an icy trail, hugging the edge of being in control. It’s very exhilarating, while being quite safe!

I might have a bit of an obsessive personality, so for both kayaking and the spark, I didn’t just do it once or twice a month. I go out on long adventures on the sled (a 10 km run is my favourite length) and I have paddled more than 300 km so far this year in my kayak. Winter or summer, I’m out doing my favourite activity at least once a week but usually several times each week.

What sorts of physical activities did you do before getting into kayaking, etc?


I had a gym membership, and did hot yoga, but I did not do a lot of outdoor activities. I would say I struggled against being sedentary and am not a very “athletic” person. When I started kayaking last summer and then kicksledding last winter and started spending hours each weekend outdoors, I’d jokingly say, “why didn’t anyone tell me outside was so awesome?” This new-found outdoorsiness is very uncharacteristic for me.

How do your current sport activities contribute to your life?


Especially during the pandemic, both kayaking and kicksledding were enormous stress relievers, and while I go solo most of the time, both lent themselves well to social distancing so were a key form of socializing during the pandemic. What I didn’t expect was how empowering they would be. There’s something that makes me feel like a badass when I can lift my own kayak on top of my car and tie it down and then undo it all and get my kayak in the water by myself. I am actually afraid a lot of the time when I’m kayaking – I don’t like deep water, or seaweed, or bugs, or wide open spaces, and spend a lot of the time when I’m paddling talking myself out of being scared. So that’s empowering, too.


I’ve also gotten enormous peace of mind and stress relief from being physically active. This level of activity is unprecedented in my life. I was a regular but unenthusiastic attendee in the weight room of the local gym, and I did enjoy weekly yoga, but the idea of spending hours outside sweating in -30C temperatures is definitely new for a girl who always considered herself clumsy and unathletic. And it’s made me love my body, for all its softness and pudge, because it’s proven amazingly strong and capable. I used to get aching knees and hips from walking anything more than 5 km, but I can easily paddle 15 km or kicksled 10 km across ice on a winter morning. I would have never imagined I’d be capable of doing that, and I’m really proud of my middle aged body for showing up, if not a little late to the game.

If someone you knew wanted to take up kayaking or kicksledding, how would you advise them to get started?


Both sports have relatively low barriers to entry in that they’re pretty easy to just hop in or on and go. In both cases, there was a cost of about $400 for equipment. I’d recommend anyone who is thinking about it go ahead and get started – one of my only regrets is that I waited as long as I did to get a kayak. Both kayaks and kicksleds are often available locally for rent if someone wanted to try it out before plunking down an impulsive $400 each time like I did. I’m just happy it worked out – both the kayak and the kicksled would have made awkward, expensive paperweights if I happened to not love them as much as I did.

The front of a blue kayak sits on calm water. There is a blue thermos and a half-eaten cookie sitting on the top of a small zippered compartment.
And here’s evidence of some of Dani’s spring fun. She and I share a ‘bring a snack’ philosophy. Image description: The front of Dani’s blue kayak from her perspective. In the foreground is a blue thermos and a chocolate covered cookie with a bite out of it resting on the zippered flap of the kayak’s storage compartment. Beyond the kayak, there is calm water and leafless trees. The trees are reflected in the water.

This blog is called ‘Fit is a Feminist Issue,’ how does the idea of fitness as a feminist issue resonate with you? What meaning does it have for you?


This gets back to the empowerment issue, I think. In both cases, kayaking and kicksledding are activities I do entirely for me, and largely by myself. As a mom to three kids, it’s empowering to carve that space for myself back into my life. I tend to go for excursions very early in the morning so it doesn’t interrupt our other family rhythms too much, but I’ve made taking the time to enjoy these activities a priority in our family routines. I think this teaches the family that it’s okay to do things for yourself, and that taking care of yourself is an act of love.

Is there anything else you would like to add about yourself, your activities, fitness, or feminism and fitness?


Kayaking is a pretty common sport, but the spark is very unusual and my friends all thought it was (might still think it is) pretty weird. I don’t think I’ve ever gone out that someone hasn’t stopped me to comment on it – usually with a smile in response to how much FUN I’m obviously having. So I’d also say don’t be afraid to follow your heart, even if other people think it’s a little unconventional.

I don’t think I’ll ever go back to a conventional gym again. Fitness used to be a chore that I did – going to the gym was important because I know exercise is a big part of a healthy life. What I didn’t realize was that when you find an activity that makes your heart soar, it’s not even remotely a chore. When I’m zooming down an icy trail or paddling up to a turtle sunning itself on a branch, I’m transported with joy and my muscles are just along for the ride. I haven’t been to a gym or done a yoga class in a year, but I’m in the best shape of my life. So whether it’s gardening or ultramarathons, don’t be afraid to try new things (even if you are on the far side of 50 like me) and don’t be afraid to follow an unconventional path.

****************************

See what I mean about Dani as a role model for fun?

Do you have a kayak or a kicksled or do you find your fitness fun in other activities?

blog · climbing · equipment · fun · Guest Post · nature

Don’t Fall Out of the Trees (Guest Post)

by Elan Paulson

I have blogged previously about group exercise adventures–winter hikes, fun runs, wall climbs, etc.–so it was only a matter of time until we ended up at an aerial adventure park. Set at a western Ontario ski hill forest, this treetop adventure has courses of increasing height and challenge in which participants climb ladders, cross wood and net bridges, and zip line from tree platform to platform.

Through some Wikipedia surfing I learned that aerial adventure courses were borne from military training-style ropes courses and alternative adventure education. However, most of today’s adventure parks are touristy fun that Wikipedia describes as requiring “neither climbing techniques nor special/specific physical fitness experience.”

Judging by our next-day muscle soreness and little bruises, there is at least some physical fitness required. But more than exercise, it was thrilling to hop across wobbly bridges, and stand high in the trees without falling out of them. The course didn’t require teamwork to complete obstacles, but we encouraged and cheered each other a lot.

Among my GoPro pictures, I found one of my handheld carabiners that the trainer had described as “our hands” while we were out on the course. This meant that we were to latch one or both carabiners onto within-reach “lifeline” cables throughout the entire course.

Self-belay system with carabiners and zipline attachment
Self-belay system with carabiners and zipline attachment.

Using a self-belay system in a tree top adventure was a little scary because we were responsible for our own safety. We received some initial supervised practice on a training course, but in the park it was up to us to keep ourselves attached to the steel cables.

Looking at the photo afterwards, I realized that being responsible for my own safety had given my mind something to pay attention to in the trees and on the ladders. Each step was a reminder–in order to move forward I literally had to put one latch in front of the other. The carabiners kept my brain focused on a safety system that wouldn’t allow me to fall, and the constant latching also distracted me from thinking too much about falling.

The above photo also made me realize that I have not always put “safety first” and foremost in my brain when I go to exercise. This is especially true with activities that I perceive as less risky, or when I feel I am more familiar with the risks. But, on the treetop adventure, it was precisely because I was forced to put my safety first in a potentially dangerous situation that I confidently enjoyed the activity all the more (or, I suppose, experienced paralyzing fear all the less).

There is always risk in exercise, which is not an inherently bad thing. But, no matter how strange or familiar the activity may be, we are our own self-safety systems. Safety can create fun. In the future, I think that reminding myself of that fact when I go to exercise will be a good thing.

Elan with helmet, harness, and belay
Elan with helmet, harness, belay, and smile.

fitness · fun

Christine is Taking Fitness Outdoors for the Summer

Today is the first of June and we have already had a few days of delightful weather.

Perhaps people who live in places where there is an actual Spring might not find that worthy of note but here in NL, it’s kind of a big deal.

And those few fine days mean I have my yard mostly tidy, and my deck furniture arranged and I am all set up to maximize my outdoor fun this summer.

A photo of the corner of a wooden back deck, a lawn chair and two upright tables can be seen. A third table lies on its side on the left of the photo.
Well, it’s all set up except for the white table that needs to be hung on the deck rail but my rail is too wide so I need to invent a solution. Image description: a corner of an outdoor deck made with a brown lawn chair in the corner. The chair has a red cushion on it and it sits between a small blue table with a mug and a pot for plant on it, and another plant holder that also contains a pot for plant. The pots contain dirt but no flowers (yet!) there is a white metal table lying on its side on the left of the photo. A string of silver, star-shaped patio lights is hanging off the railing.

Every summer, I do some outdoor yoga, I practice my TKD patterns outdoors, and I keep my hula hoop handy, but this year I am expanding my ideas a bit.

I’m thinking of setting up some sort of outdoor circuit so I add some extra variety to my exercise AND I can spice up my outdoor workdays with some quick fitness breaks.

When my kids were small, I used to set up obstacle courses/circuits for them in the yard and I am using that for inspiration but I’d also love to hear your ideas.

A GIF of a black dog on a deck trying to catch multiple balls at once
Maybe not this. Too overwhelming. Image description: GIF of a black dog on a deck chasing a single ball at first but then many, many balls are released at once and the poor dog can’t catch them all.

Have you ever set up a circuit in your yard? What did you include?

Have you got any ideas for stuff that I can leave out most of the time? (I know me and I probably will quickly talk myself out of anything that needs setting up over and over.)

Bonus points if your ideas are goofy and/or add significant fun.

If you haven’t got any ideas for the circuit, feel free to just cheer me on. 😉

equipment · fitness · flexibility · fun · gear · martial arts · Rowing

Rowing, Multitasking, and Positive Side Effects.

After years of planning to buy a rowing machine, I finally got one a couple of months back and I am thoroughly enjoying using it. 

I love that I don’t have to put much thought into the how and the what of exercising with the rowing machine.  I can use it at any time without having to put on specific clothes and I can choose to have a harder workout or an easier one without having to make a specific plan. 

It’s a kind of automatic exercise for me which is really good for my ADHD brain – there are few, if any, choices to make in advance and that means there are very few potential obstacles between me and my workout.

Plus, I like the very nature of the movement back and forth, the repetition has a soothing element to it.

A person in an inflatable T-Rex costume is using a rowing machine in a small living room.
This does NOT look soothing. I hope I look a little smoother than this when I row. Image description: a GIF of a person in an inflatable T-Rex costume is using a rowing machine in a small living room with potted plants all around. Because the head of the costume is so far above the person’s head, their movements look very jerky.

And, I like that I can do a very specific type of multi-tasking – watching YouTube videos – while I row.

I enjoy learning by video but I don’t often make time to do so. Combining my exercise with videos is a win-win situation – I am doing two enjoyable things at once and my brain and body are both busy so I don’t get any of my usual feeling that I should probably be doing something else. 

I even pick out my videos the night before so there is little between my pyjama-clad self and my exercise session in the mornings. I can get up, let the dog out (and back in!), grab some water, take my meds,  and then head to the basement to row. It’s all part of my waking up routine and it really feels great. 

Speaking of feeling great, my rowing has brought me an unexpected positive side-effect – my hips have loosened up considerably.

A GIF of a cartoon duck spinning his hips in a circle while standing in the spotlight.
Maybe they aren’t quite *this* loose but they do feel good. Image description: GIF of cartoon character Daffy Duck standing in a spotlight with his wings up behind his head, his hips are moving in a very loose circle.

Because of long-ago sessions at the gym, I knew that my arms, back, and legs were going to benefit from using the machine but I hadn’t really thought about how the set  of movements required to row would help my hips, too.  

I sort of have a ‘trick’ hip. It’s mostly fine but every now and then I’ll do something that will wonk it out and it will take me a few days to get it to calm down again.

Practicing kicks at taekwon-do has often triggered my hip in that way but I only realize it *after* I have done it. I’ve done a variety of things to work on it (with various degrees of consistency – I’m still me after all) but nothing has been especially helpful. Until now.

About three weeks after starting regular rowing sessions, our Thursday night TKD class was all about practicing sidekicks and angle kicks. Normally, with a night full of those kicks, my hip would wonk out at some point during the evening and I’d either have to reduce my movements or do something else entirely.

This time, however, I was tired but my hip was completely fine. I was puzzled at first but as I was pulling my leg up and back into position for one of the kicks, I realized that the motion was familiar. It’s not exactly like the position of my leg as I pull all the way forward on the machine but it’s similar. 

I didn’t have any trouble with my hips that night. And, more importantly, I didn’t wake up stiff or in pain the next morning. In fact, I rowed for a bit longer than I had the day before. 

It turns out that my rowing was setting me up for new success with taekwon-do. 

A person rotates on one foot while holding the other leg in the air before doing a high kick.
Okay, this is just straight-up wishful thinking on my part. Image description: GIF of a person standing on one foot, spinning in a circle and then executing a very high kick. Their hair is in a ponytail, and they are wearing a pink shirt and black leggings.

That’s a pretty good side-effect for an activity I was enjoying already. 

Have you ever had one type of exercise ‘accidentally’ help you in another like that?

Tell me about it in the comments! (Pretty please.)