I’ve been thinking and writing a bunch about streaks, in particular about meditation. So have a bunch of our bloggers. I mean, we at FIFI tend to pay attention to what we are doing and also how often we are doing it. In October, I ended up missing two meditation days (not in succession) in one week. That broke my almost-150-day streak.
Okay, time to start on over again. Yes, this has happened before, and will happen again. It’s not about the numbers, it’s about the moment. (Feel free to insert more platitudes here). But, when I looked at my milestones on Ten Percent Happier (yes, of course they keep track), I saw this:
But wait, there’s more.
There’s one more streak photo to show you:
Here’s what I’m seeing from all this: it may be hard to sit 200+ days in a row, but it’s really easy to sit 3 days in a row. After all, I’ve personally done it 37 times! Honestly, this gestalt shift has made me very happy– it means (to me) that I know how to start and restart at something I want to do, but am not perfect or flawless at. Yay! This bodes well for the other things in my life I’d like to do more often and more consistently.
While I’ve got you here, let me say that I’m at 172 workouts in 2022, That means 50 to go. I can do it!
And it bodes well for you too, dear readers. I’m just a girl, standing in front of an app, asking it to help her love whatever activity it’s promoting. Who knew counting would be so much fun?
Readers, how do you feel about short-repeated streaks? Do you take them in stride? I’d like to know what you think.
“The 3 Good Things is all about taking time once a day to write down three good things that happened today. Studies have shown this simple exercise, practiced daily, leads to higher satisfaction and sense of fulfillment.”
I’ve been combating November blues and trying to focus on the positive is part of that. Everyday I’ve been posting on Facebook and Twitter (about to rethink the latter, lol) about the things that each day make me grateful, happy to be alive.
For example, Thursday it was a beautiful sunny morning with very cool clouds.
For this blog post though, I’m going to think about the week rather than the day and instead of one thing, I’m going to look for three. And since it’s fit and feminist related in going to focus on my recovery from knee replacement surgery.
What’s my three good fit feminist things for the week?
Good thing #1: I was able to walk in our Remembrance Day procession and watch the ceremony at the University of Guelph. Yes, I walked with a cane. Yes, I was slow. But unlike last year I was able to participate.
Good thing #2: Sarah and I got see to see Grace Petrie and Ben Moss in concert at the Dakota Tavern this week. I loved a show that started at 7 and ended by 930. I love live music and I felt like myself again being out and doing things in the world. We saw lots of friends the we hadn’t seen since before the pandemic began. Fun times.
Good Thing #3: Cheddar and I have been out walking again, not just around the block. It feels so good to be moving again. If dogs can be grateful, Cheddar is grateful too.
My birthday is on Thursday and I thought it would be fun to celebrate here on the blog today by offering some bonus gold stars.
Celebrating effort rather than results is always my MO but I’ve decided that, from now on, I’m going to lean into that idea even harder.
Especially where my own efforts are concerned. After all, just like most people, I’m really good at seeing how hard others are working but I’m not quite as observant when it comes to myself.
So, I going to consciously, deliberately, choose to notice even my smallest amount of work whether in fitness, well-being, or any of my projects.
That’s my gift to *me* for my birthday – I’m going to notice my efforts and I’m going to do what I can to ‘smooth the path’ for those efforts to be most effective. (More on that later.)
Now, as much as I would like to invite you all to a party where we could share a giant cake, the logistics on that are just impossible so, I’m going to invite you to do these two things instead.
1) Please consider joining me in noticing your own effort. This could range from making a mental note to a full toddler-parent-style reaction “Look at you doing squats! Aren’t you terrific? I’m so proud of you!”
2) Please comment below and tell me what you are claiming a bonus star (or stars) for today. This could range from ‘I remembered to look away from my computer and blink a few times so my eyes didn’t go wonky’ to ‘I stretched my neck while I was on the phone’ to ‘I meditated’ to ‘I wrote in my journal’ to ‘I biked to work.’ Or, to go in a different direction ‘I chose to rest because I’m not feeling well.’ Or ‘I walked instead of running because that’s what my body needs today.’
It’s all good work, Team, and your efforts deserve to be celebrated.
Here are 5 different stars for you to enjoy. Step right up and claim them!
And, as always, please be kind to yourself today and always.
I wish you ease.
And cake. I also wish you cake (or an equivalent delightful treat of your choice.)
When Sam posted to the FIFI bloggers that she was enacting a clothing purchase freeze (with a few exceptions) until July 1, 2023, I thought to myself: 1) what a great idea! and then 2) OMG, what will happen if I see something super-cute on sale on the internets? Spoiler alert: the answer to 2) is: I look at it, maybe swoon and sigh, and then go about my no-buying business. It’s surprisingly non-hard to do this, I found.
Like Sam, I also allowed myself a few exceptions:
replacement of necessary active gear in case something gets ripped or lost or otherwise needs replacing (this hasn’t happened so, far, btw).
Purchase of replacement bras whenever mine get too ratty or lost, etc.
Purchase of used items at my favorite consignment shop Wearovers, IF I bring in some of my own stuff at the same time.
Purchase of clothing as gifts for my niece and sister.
I admit to some frantic ordering of jeans (white, blue denim and black) on June 29. In my defense, I returned all of them except one pair of white jeans, which I love. I also sort of accidentally broke my own rule when ordering bras– I got caught up and bought a cute pair of dark pink and white tie-dye pajama pants. It all happened before I knew it.
Rules feel hard to me. The idea of following them ALL THE TIME feels very constraining and a little anxiety-producing. Of course, I regularly and easily refrain from big things like arson and blackmail (whew, you might be thinking), but the little things feel hard sometimes. I think it’s the pressure of doing (or not-doing) something ALL THE TIME. EVERY DAY. WITH 100% SUCCESS RATE. Put that way, it’s enough to make all of us a bit anxious.
The first couple of weeks felt hard for that reason. Just knowing that I wasn’t supposed to buy anything made me a little antsy online. As time passed though, I realized why: I used to spend a lot of time looking at clothing and other items online. Sam mentioned this too, and we talked recently about how not doing this kind of idle computer-window shopping has changed our online behavior. Sam’s now doing other activities (like Duolingo) and also getting more curated and tempting items in her media feeds.
I’m feeling liberated from anxiety-browsing of clothing, and relaxed when I do see cute things in my media feed. I think Facebook knows what I’m up to, though, and isn’t happy. I keep getting these ads in my feed for clothing that clearly appeals to me personally– bright colored and patterned tops in light-weight fabrics in easy-to-wear styles. And (get this): the top line says: MADE IN SOUTH CAROLINA (my home state). Man, do they play hardball…
And yet, I’ve browsed but not bought. Knowing I’m not buying is calming. I can browse all I want, not worrying about buying. But I don’t browse nearly as much.
So I’ve also turned to my closet and chests of drawers. Man, do I have a lot of clothing and accessories. I decided to do triage on earrings, getting rid of those I don’t wear, and polishing the ones I do. I have a lovely handmade wood earring rack (bought on Etsy a while ago), and it’s now set up so I can see all of them in their timeless glory.
Okay, that’s not all of them. But these are the ones in active rotation. Hey, it’s all a process, right?
My closet is not yet fit for public inspection. But I’m working on it. The goal isn’t to provide some beautiful instagram-worthy space, but rather to make the clothing I have more visible and therefore more used by me.
Originally I committed to the no-clothing-purchase only until December 31. But now I’m inclined to continue until the summer. We’ll see how it goes, but it’s getting to be a habit, which is, I guess the whole point.
Readers: have you ever imposed a clothing or accessories embargo? For how long? What was it like? We’d love to hear from you.
Early in the recovery from knee replacement surgery process I blogged about what makes physio so hard. And it’s true. It’s hard, it can be painful, and it goes against our instincts–when in pain–to curl up on the sofa/bed, under a bunch of blankets, and not move.
But there are also some respects in which physio is easy for me. People note that I’m ‘good at physio’ by which they mean that I actually do it. Various physiotherapists through the years have noted it too. I’m a compliant patient. If they say to do exercise x, y times a day, then that’s what I do. They’re the experts, offering expert advice, and I follow it.
Well, everyone assumes I’m highly motivated to get back on the bike and start riding again. And that is true. But I don’t think it’s motivation that does the work on a daily basis. I am motivated. It’s true. But I don’t think that on it’s own it would be enough.
An important part of it is habit, plain and simple. I have the time available. If you normally exercise an hour or more a day, and you can’t because of injury or recovery, then physio just takes the place of the thing you would be doing if not injured. It’s why athletes are very good at physio. I’m not struggling to find time to do physio. I have the time and I’m just doing physio instead of other physically active things. In my case I was doing physio pre-surgery to get ready for surgery. And before that to help manage my condition.
What I didn’t do while recovering? Well, I’d hoped to read a lot. I thought I might even do some writing (ha!). But I did neither of those things. Twice daily physio (with ice and elevation after, plus, in the early weeks, naps) took up most of my day. I did watch a fair amount of TV while icing and elevating!
The other bit that helps is my identity as a person who can do hard things. Cate has blogged about grit and it’s a quality we share. Like Cate, it’s part of my self conception that I’m a person who can take on physical challenges. I ride in uncomfortable conditions, too hot, too cold, too hilly and so on. Knee physio isn’t as much fun as riding my bike in tough conditions but I do feel proud of being able to do it in the same way.
Today is my first day back at work and my challenge will be keeping it up with a job that can be very busy into the evenings and weekends. I need to remind myself that medical leave for knee replacement is 6-12 weeks and I’m just taking 6. I’m going to try to count the next six weeks as part of my recovery, keeping up with physio and getting help with the parts of the job that spill over into evenings and weekends. I’ve cancelled two conferences this month and while I will feel sad missing them it was the right decision.
I did round one of physio in bed this morning with icing and elevating after. Instead of TV I caught up on some much neglected email. Tonight at 7 pm I’ve got a meeting with the physiotherapist to assess progress and learn some new moves. After that, it will be an early night. Zzzzzzz!
The Thanksgiving holiday gave me the opportunity to have a nice, slow start to my week on Monday.
I took Khalee for a walk and, even though it was windy, I took time to tune into my surroundings, noticing how the leaves have changed (or fallen), how the river noises are quieter, and how everything smells a little different right now.
When I came home, I took down the load of clothes I had hung earlier. (It was a fine day on clothes, as the saying goes.) This task can be pretty mundane (or even boring) but today it was routine in a good way – repetitive actions with positive results.
As I turned with my basket of clean clothes, I noticed how inviting my swing looked and I remembered how much I enjoyed meditating while sitting there cross-legged the other day.
So I decided to meditate there again today.
And that brings me to 51 days of meditation in a row.
When I opened the Insight Timer app today, it offered this very appropriate quote for how I felt at the end of my meditative afternoon:
Mental health is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.
– NOAM SHPANCER, PHD
I liked how, today, I have ‘driven’ myself calm instead of driving myself around the proverbial bend.
Wishing you all ease for the week ahead. Please try not to cram 5 days of work into a 4 day week. 💚⭐️
I wanted to add a little extra to my daily routine in October so I’ve taken up two challenges for the month – the Action for Happiness Optimism challenge and the Darebee Daily Kicks challenge.
I like following short term challenges because 1) they set out a plan in advance so my brain doesn’t get stuck buffering about decisions 2) they aren’t making me commit to something in a future that is too far ahead for my ADHD brain to grasp.
These specific challenges should be straightforward additions to my day because any day’s actions are big enough to matter to me but small enough to fit into nooks and crannies in my still-developing schedule.
And it helps that I am naturally inclined to optimism (this may be a good feature of my ADHD – I’m usually convinced that things are about to get better) and that kicks are not only good exercise but practicing them will have added benefits for Taekwon-do.
Will I get to both of these every day? I’m planning on it and I hope those plans work out.
But even my optimistic self knows that sometimes things go awry so I have a backup plan as well:
If I miss a day, I can do two the next day…if that feels doable. If doing two items feels like too much, or if I have missed several days, I’ll skip to the item for the current day.
The key here is to follow the practices for as many days as possible this month – aiming for more days on than off.
The only thing I *don’t* want is to follow the challenge for a few days, miss a couple, and then scrap the whole thing because I didn’t do it perfectly.
As long as the end of October still finds me working away at these, in any form or fashion, I’ll be successful.
I’ve been talking to a lot of kinda-burnt-out, feeling-kinda-meh, not-very-motivated people lately (and I’ve been one of them sometimes.)
Just in case you’ve been feeling that way too, I thought it was a good time to remind us all about a few things:
1) You don’t have anything to prove to anyone (fitness-wise or otherwise)
2) Doing the thing you like doing in the way you like doing it (fitness-wise or otherwise) is totally cool
3) You don’t have to go hard or go home, you can set your own pace in any damn direction you want (including towards home)
4) You don’t need to feel motivated to do the thing you want to do. Sure, it’s easier to get started when motivation is there but if you make a little list and take some teeny steps you’ll be able to move toward your goal no matter if motivation shows up or not.
(Starting when unengaged or unmotivated is even harder for us neurodivergents than it is for neurotypicals but I find that reminding myself that I can proceed without motivation is sometimes helpful. You might find it helpful, too, but please be kind to yourself about it either way.)
5) If you find yourself avoiding your fitness routine (or even just one exercise in your routine), you don’t have to force yourself to do it. You can find another way to work those muscles or build strength in that area.
No matter how meh you are feeling these days, I wish you ease and I hope you can be kind to yourself as you make your way along.
And, as always, here’s your star for your efforts.
So I am the sort of person who is good at following the advice of physiotherapists. I’ve successfully rehabbed some serious injuries and I trust the professional advice of physiotherapists. I do what I’m told.
It’s also worth noting that I have exceptionally good benefits and they cover almost all of my physio costs. And yet, even for me, physio after knee replacement is tough and I thought I’d explore why.
First, advice about recovering from knee surgery can sound contradictory. The take home sheets from the hospital say to use your new knee as much as possible each day. It will help you heal faster from surgery and improve your chances of long-term success. But also it says to avoid pushing yourself too far too soon. So as much as possible but not too much. Yep.
And practically it feels like that too.
The knee feels good and so I go for a short walk. After that it swells up and is painful so it’s time for ice and elevation. I’m constantly moving between making the knee work and then helping it recover.
After I posted about going for a very short walk this morning, friends commented, great, now rest!
What’s as much as possible but not too much? There’s not really good intuitive measure at this stage since everything hurts a lot of the time.
Second, unlike other physio I’ve done this is really painful. It’s the kind of painful where you ice before and after and take pain medication around your pt sessions. Since you’ve just undergone surgery and things still hurt from that, you feel a bit like hiding on the sofa, covering yourself in blankets, and waiting until the pain goes away.
Third, it’s pretty time consuming.
Here’s a rough schedule of my days this week. Next week I’m hoping to be able to get on the bike trainer to help with my range of motion.
6 am breakfast, drugs, ice and elevation in bed
630 physio round one, basic stretching and mobility
700 more elevation and icing and getting ready for the day
800 Breakfast round two, more pain meds, more elevation and icing
900 Physio round 2 mobility and stretching plus regaining strength
930 ice and elevation
10-12 free time for reading possibly napping
100 ice and elevation, more pain meds
130 Physio round 3, mobility and stretching and regaining strength
200 ice and elevation
230-4 free time for reading and napping etc
4-6 dinner etc
7 last round, 4, of basic mobility physio
Tiny walk #2
Bed with all the ice and more pain meds
That’s me on the deck post tiny walk, resting and icing, as friends and physio advised.
Tweets range from “no shit, Sherlock” responses like this one
to “there’s something seriously wrong with the way this is being reported” like this one:
and everything in between. Not to speak of the fact that if 47% of women don’t work out regularly, 53% actually do, so there’s a bit of the good old “only bad news is good news” thrown into the mix as well.
There are several themes to the rightful complaints about how this data is being reported and picked up by the media:
Women are still overwhelmingly responsible for childcare, housework and other care duties. Plus, the extortionate cost of childcare especially in the UK (but also other places). This has several effects: one, women have no time. Two, see above, they are actually doing other forms of movement (with the caveats mentioned above).
In addition to all these, one thing that bothers me about the reporting on these is how it individualises the problem by claiming that “women lack motivation” when really, to a large degree its societal constraints that cause the gender gap here. Well-meaning initiatives like the UK-based “This Girl Can” campaign reinforce the notion that all women need to do is “get out there” and “make the time”, “start small”, etc. But what if you really don’t have the time? This is the case for so many people, especially women. What if by the time you get home from your full-time job, have maybe cooked dinner, done some cleaning, put the kids to bed if you have them and so on, you’re dead tired and all you want is your bed or the sofa? What if you have health conditions that diminish your energy levels? Especially for single parents or people who can’t afford to outsource their housework, this is reality.
For me personally, especially since having a child, yes, it is to some degree a motivational issue. But I, too, despite my enormous privilege – an incredibly supportive partner, childcare, household help, etc. – I often find myself too tired at the end of the day. You can’t just rustle up some motivation if you’re running on empty. (And no, I won’t “just get up earlier”. This woman needs her sleep.) I do feel like even for me, some of this is due to societal gender roles. My husband, for example, finds switching off and taking time for himself much easier than me. I always feel like I need to double-check that it’s really ok to go for a run, or feel a bit guilty for working out instead of doing chores. Part of this is personality-based, but it’s also education and socialisation.
The way these survey results have been reported is beyond unhelpful. It’s not fair to put the responsibility for not working out fully back on women and make sound like it’s their own fault. That’s victim blaming. Ugh.