advice · habits · holiday fitness · holidays · meditation · self care

Making Space 2023: Day 2

Hey Team,

I hope you found a way to make a little space for yourself in your day yesterday but, if not, give it a try today.

Please make sure you aren’t hard on yourself about trying to make space. Some days will be easier than others, just do what you can with the resources you have on any given day.

And remember that giving yourself space can involve something besides exercise and meditation. It might be taking time for a second cup of tea or another chapter of your book. It might look like deciding NOT to do something that is usually on your list this time of year. It might involve choosing a simpler version of a regular task or asking for help with some part of that task.

No matter what ‘Making Space’ looks like for you today, I hope you find some ease.

Now, on to the videos:

Since we are still warming up for the month of December, I thought this easy warm-up video from the mother and daughter team of Aiko and April with the Yes2Next YouTube channel was a good choice for today.

I really like the friendly way they talk to each other.

The still image from this embedded video shows two seniors, a mother and daughter. The mother is seated and reaching her right arm overhead and to the left. She is wearing dark pants and a purple sweatshirt. The daughter is standing with both arms overhead and she is wearing dark pants and vivid pink tshirt.

And here’s a restful meditation called ‘Floating in the Clouds’ from the Great Meditation YouTube channel

The still image on this embedded video is a cartoon drawing of a person in loose clothing looking very peaceful as they sit cross-legged on a cloud. The background is light blue and there is text on the right side that reads ‘Floating in the Clouds.’

About Making Space 2023:

In December 2020, Fit is a Feminist Issue blogger Martha created a tradition – a series of reminder posts to take good care of ourselves during this last month of the year when it is far too easy to get swept up in your to do list, no matter what you are celebrating or not celebrating. 

In 2021, I started doing daily December reminders with a post called Give Yourself Some Space,  and that’s how the ‘Making Space‘ December tradition began. Throughout December 2021 and 2022, I wrote a short post that included two videos – one for exercise and one for meditation – and a bit of encouragement for you to make space for yourself at this busy time of year. 

These posts are not about cramming more things into your month, they reminding you that there IS a *YOU* who is doing all of the things and that you are worth taking good care of.

Perhaps the things I suggest aren’t what you need at the moment. That’s totally ok. Perhaps you can use something else to create some space, something that will help you feel more relaxed or more in charge of your day. Just do whatever you can to give yourself a little more breathing room.

Personally, I am trying to Finish 2023 Soft so I am putting conscious effort into resting whenever I can. My overjangled nervous system needs a chance to unjangle and that process may look different every day. 

So, some of these posts may be long and some may be short but please know that every single one of them is written with the hope that you can find a little ease in your day, whatever that looks like for you.

advice · fitness · habits · self care

Go Team 2023: Just inching forward

Hey Team,

Is anyone else feeling kind of stuck lately?

I’m not stuck on one particular task or in one area of life. I’m not frozen in place.

I’m just kind of metaphorically walking through mud in the various things I’m trying to do, even the routine stuff

This isn’t a crisis situation. I am not in any particular despair. I’m just moving reaaaaaaaaaallllllllyyy slowly.

And I’m trying to just let myself move that way.

I’m trying to avoid the temptation to just push harder.

I’m trying to take it easy on myself, to just keep inching forward, sticking to whatever version of my routines feels do-able on a given day, and trying my okayest for everything I have to do.

We don’t have to push ourselves in every area of our lives every day.

Sometimes, we can just move a little bit at a time.

So, Team, if you’re feeling a bit stuck, a bit slow, if you’re not seeing any progress, I invite you to join me being kind to yourself about it while you just inch forward.

In fact, it’s okay if you centimetre forward or millimetre forward or just wait for a minute while you catch your metaphorical breath.

And I’m offering you this gold star in recognition of your hard work – whatever that work looks like today, or tomorrow, or whenever.

a drawing of a gold star on a white piece of paper.
A drawing of a star outlined in black and filled with concentric circles of gold. Speckles of gold decorate the paper around the star and the whole drawing is resting on a dark blue surface with blue shapes in a slightly lighter blue.
fitness · habits · Seasonal sadness

Sam’s five November resolutions

I know, it’s a bit late for November resolutions but I’ve been sick and November is off to a rough start.

1️⃣ I will go for a short walk after each meal–that’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner. What’s short? 10 minutes.

2️⃣ I will put my anti-SAD lamp on when I get to my office for 20 minutes. (I have the best less expensive lamp on this list.)

3️⃣ I will practice some of my physio kneeling exercises and getting up from the ground every morning and every evening.

4️⃣ I will complete my November cycling challenge that’s a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society.

5️⃣ And I will try one new class at the gym. Possibly Zumba. I think I need some dancing in my life right now!

Dancing Muppets
ADHD · advice · fitness · habits · mindfulness · motivation · self care

Go Team 2023: Today’s Best

Hey Team,

Last week was incredibly busy and stressful.

I was organizing/running an arts festival for a community arts festival and, at the same time, every project I’m part of that had been on hiatus for the summer was suddenly revived.

(Seriously,. Last Tuesday, I had four different groups write me to try and set a meeting between Oct 3 & 5…a time when I already had several things scheduled.)

And this is all my volunteer work so it doesn’t include regular work nor does it include household or family-related stuff.

I was getting overwhelmed and frustrated and I kept feeling those annoying, pointless thoughts creeping up on me.

You know the ones, I mean? They gang up on you when things get stressful – even if that stress was impossible to prevent. They start with ‘You should have…’ and they go downhill from there.

I was trying to just ignore them but that seemed to make them fight harder to be heard.

So, I decided to take a few minutes to review.

Was there any truth in those annoying thoughts?

Maybe a little bit here and there (I wrote those things down to journal about later) but mostly no.

I think my brain was looking for a reason why I was so overwhelmed and figured that I must be the cause.

So, I decided to set some boundaries with those thoughts and try to keep them at bay.

I made the little card below – well, ok, it’s two little cards next to each other- and said it aloud every time I looked at it. And, obviously, the gold star was for my hard work – both my work on the festival and my work to stand up to those thoughts.

And it really helped.*

Since I had decided that I was doing the best I could with the resources I had, the only thing to do was keep at it.

I had to do today’s best, whatever that was, with the resources I had at that moment.

I tried not to think about how things could have gone differently with different preparation or different resources, I focused on what I could do right now.

So, I don’t know about your stress level right now.

I don’t know what you have ahead of you, behind you, or around you.

I don’t know what you are trying to deal with.

I don’t know what your brain is annoying you with.

But what I do know is that you are doing the best you can with the resources you have.

I wish you ease and I wish you self-kindness.

And I offer you this gold star for your hard work – your work on all of the things, your work to focus on today’s best (or today’s okayest!), and your work to find ease and to be kind to yourself.

Go Team!

Image description: a drawing of a gold star next to black text that reads ‘You are doing the best that you can with the resources you have.’​
Image description: a drawing of a gold star next to black text that reads ‘You are doing the best that you can with the resources you have.’

*I’m sure that having some clear exercise goals that I could see on my wrist-spy without having to choose to track them also helped with my stress levels. Without my wrist spy on the case, I probably would have subconsciously put my exercise aside for the week. However, having this little phrase reminder close at hand helped on a completely different level. I guess the exercise did the heavy lifting and the little card cleaned up whatever stress was left over.

fitness · habits

Three Good Things About #ThreeGoodThings

Three Good Dogs in the backseat of the car–My mum’s hand is on Chase. In the middle, there’s Charlie, and then there’s Cheddar.

I’ve been tracking good things in my life for awhile now. For years, it was just a November gratitude practice to help with November, because you know, it’s November. (I’ve blogged a lot about November!)

And then I started in with #ThreeGoodThings, during the whole knee replacement year, because I needed to be reminded of Good Things. I wasn’t sure how long I’d keep it going but the thing is, I enjoy it.

Some of my friends find it corny, possibly annoying, but I honestly find it helps my mood. I’ve been wondering why and today, while out walking Cheddar (he makes a frequent appearance in these lists) I came up with three ways it helps and I thought I’d share them.

🐶 I often draft the lists at night and then share them in the morning. I enjoy the process of reflecting on my day and thinking about the good it contained. Sometimes, it’s as simple as the basics. I have family and friends who love me. I have a roof over my head and good food to eat. It gives me a moment to note and appreciate the baseline goods in my life, the goods that make other goods possible.

🐶 Other days, I can look at events that weren’t good overall but have good elements and appreciate the good bits. Today was Homecoming at my university, and there are lots of student parties. I have a bit of a thing about drunk people. I don’t like them. I can be a grump about loud drunken parties. But early in the day, before the serious drinking commences, they’re out there having fun and happy to see Cheddar. He gets lots of love and attention. That was a good thing. Ditto making a mistake at work that was serious, and I felt bad about it. But I realized that I worked at a sensible place with reasonable people who allowed me to fix my mistake. Keeping track makes me think about the good elements in things I otherwise don’t like, drunks and making mistakes are high on my list.

🐶 The third way keeping track helps is sometimes, midway through a tough day, I’ll think about drafting my list at night and realize ‘Hey, if I keep this up it will be another night of being thankful for food and shelter. Maybe it’s not too late to save the day. Maybe I can add something good to it now. I can go for a walk. I can get a fancy coffee and a pumpkin muffin.’ I also browse Facebook for friends’ good news. I really do enjoy my friends’ adventures. I see three of us took lengthy, pretty walks today, for example. I love your travels and your bike rides and your children’s first days of school. I always love your pet photos. Sometimes, your good thing becomes my good thing. I hope that works vice-versa, too.

Three apples
cycling · fitness · habits · schedule · season transitions · training

Rebuilding fitness: Sam is planning the winter ahead

As Amy recently commented here on the blog, for many of us, September feels like the start of the new year. It’s definitely the end of summer. It’s time for a return to a more scheduled way of living, and maybe, just maybe, time for some new routines.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about fitness plans and ambitions and how to fit all of that into my big job and very busy family life.

This weekend, I’ve been thinking about it while visiting my son, who works at a resort in Whitney, Ontario, on the edge of Algonquin Park. The fall colours are further along here and it’s more easy to believe winter is around the corner.

I’ve also been admiring family fitness while we’re together. My youngest son, 25, is in impossibly better shape than me. But my mother, 80, also looks pretty good. We went hiking both weekend days. We did a very steep rocky hike Sunday, and I was impressed with my mum’s stamina. I was also impressed with my new knees. Going down was tough, but I made it. This is all very exciting for me. Just 13 months ago, I couldn’t walk enough to get groceries on my own.

Here’s some hiking photos:

Saturday’s hike to the rock on the bear trail

Hike on the bear trail

Sunday’s hike on the Lookout Trail

Lookout Trail

So what’s my winter plan?

Here’s what I’m doing now:

❄️ I’m doing lots of everyday riding, commuting to work, and biking to physio. I’ve got my charging station set up for lights now that some of the riding will be in the dark.

❄️ Physio twice a week in the evenings, still working on flexion and extension, mobility, and balance. One practical thing we’re working on now is getting up off the floor, not using my hands.

❄️ Dog walking is back on the menu this fall with my new knees. Cheddar loves that we can walk further these days.

❄️ I see a personal trainer once a week for strength training. There’s a lot of kettle bells, squatting, mobility exercises focused on my knee, and sled pushing and pulling.

❄️ Finally, there’s some random everyday exercising. We have a TRX at home, which I use a few times a week. There’s a rowing machine. I’ve got a yoga mat at home and at my office for physio, with some resistance bands to make things more challenging.

So that’s all well and good, but what’s missing? What do I want to add to this?

❄️ I ended the summer with 40 km as my longest ride. I want to get back to long rides, and to Zwift racing. To do that, I need to work on my cardio fitness, which has taken a hit during this year of surgery and recovery.

The plan is to add two to three Zwift sessions a week, not just riding but using the Zwift build me up training plans. I’ll make one of the rides a long ride to increase endurance.

❄️ Once a week personal training is great, but I’d like a more regular, consistent approach to strength training over the winter.

My plan is to fit in a couple of more sessions at the gym on my own, focusing on movements that complement the work I’m doing with the trainer.

❄️ I’m still trying to sort out what I’m doing at the fancy new gym, and I’m not there yet.

A fall goal is to try out a range of their classes and make some part of my regular schedule. Maybe restorative yoga. Maybe anti-gravity yoga. The main purpose here is winter fun and avoiding boredom.

Here’s a rough weekly schedule, which doesn’t include the everyday stuff like bike commutes or dog walks.

Monday evening physio

Tuesday morning weights at gym + evening Zwift training plan

Wednesday evening physio

Thursday morning personal training + evening Zwift training plan

Friday off or something fun

Saturday long ride on Zwift

Sunday weights at gym

Here’s a Canadian version of a meme that’s making the rounds.

If August went by pretty quick, September is doing 100 km/hr in a 40 km/hr zone.

Wish me luck! It feels good to have a plan heading into the winter.

ADHD · goals · habits · motivation · self care

Christine is still keeping a fitness journal

Back in February, I started keeping a fitness journal. It started out as a handwritten thing but after a month or so, I started using voice dictation to keep my journal on my phone.

Every single Monday since then, I have opened my Google doc journal and chatted a bit about how things are going with my fitness plans.

This isn’t the kind of tracker I have tried to keep before – a record of the specifics of individual exercise sessions – it’s a reflection of how I feel about my exercise lately. I make notes about the kinds of exercises I have done, whether I am feeling better or worse for having done them. I pay attention to which exercises feel good and which ones are getting on my nerves – and whether the annoyance is worth it.

I do a screen cap of the weekly report from my Fitness app and write about whether my perception of my efforts matches the report.

I talk about whether exercise has felt difficult or easy or anything in between in the past week.

I note any specific highlights, struggles, challenges, or high points, what contributed to those feelings and whether the feelings lasted.

My fitness journal has become exactly what I hoped it would – a place to celebrate, a place to whine, a place to notice the changes, the differences, and the benefits that come from my efforts to move my body in beneficial ways.

 A photo of two white daisies ​amidst some grass
This has nothing to do with fitness journaling, I just like daisies. Image description: A photo of two white daisies amidst some grass

It’s a container for all of my ideas and thoughts around exercise and fitness. It lets me see how I have changed my mind, changed my approach, changed my plans over time. It shows me what works and what doesn’t work.

It has let me see what aspects of fitness and exercise matter to me and which ones don’t.

It has shown me what a little extra effort and a little more conscious relaxation does for my well-being.

Having notes from my previous self makes it a lot easier to do the things that matter to me.

And since my journaling only takes 5 mins or so every Monday, it is definitely worth it.

I’m giving myself a gold star for sticking with my fitness journaling practice. ⭐️

Do you keep a reflective fitness journal? What is your practice like? Do you find it helpful?

advice · goals · habits · motivation · self care

Go Team 2023: You can choose the bare minimum

Hey Team,

As we roll toward the end of August, we’re into/getting into one of the pressure points in the year.

You know what I mean, that feeling that you *should* (shudder. Yes, I still hate that word!) jump back into a regular schedule or that you *should* (shudder, again) be gearing up for fall, that it’s time to put the ‘laziness’ of summer behind you.

NOTE: In addition to my hatred for the word ‘should’, I am also not a fan of the word ‘lazy.’ Sure, sometimes we’re using it in a positive, indulgent, way, celebrating our lack of activity, but mostly it seems to be used as a way of chastising someone for resting or for not being actively busy at this exact moment. AND it’s used as a weapon against people with ADHD which makes me dislike it even more.

And, as always, I vote no on all of that.

Yes, most of us are back to (or getting back to) regular schedules and if that inspires you to go a bit harder with your exercise or with your work, that’s totally cool. Forge ahead.

But if you are like me and all of this messaging leaves you feeling tense and overwhelmed before you even get started then let me offer a counter-message:

It’s OK to do the bare minimum.

You don’t have to ‘go big’ with every single part of your life all the time.

And this is especially true if it feels like everything is gearing up all at once.

Sure, you may not have control over the pacing of some parts of your life right now – particularly if you follow an academic schedule – but you can give yourself a break on the parts that you do control.

You can ditch things that aren’t urgent.

You can scale back in some areas.

You can do the bare minimum in others.

And these things are just as true in your exercise/self-care/wellness plans as they are in every other part of your life.

Maybe you don’t need to jump back into your fall routine/plans just yet. You can reevaluate your plans and choose a graduated schedule for adding things back to your day-to-day.

You can choose a scaled-down version of whatever your past self planned for right now. If your original idea feels overwhelming, then doing something once or twice a week and building up to your plans for three to four times a week is probably more sustainable anyway.

And, of course, you can always choose a bare minimum version of your plans. Even a bare minimum gives you a placeholder, a sense of accomplishment, a stepping-stone for the path ahead. Lots of people need to make space in their life for their habit before they start building the habit itself.

If you are starting out or just getting back into things, the bare minimum might be a 1 minute walk in the living room or a one line journal or a meditation practice of 10 focused breaths.

If you have well-established fitness practices that you usually jump into but you can’t find the energy for at this pressure point right now, your bare minimum may look different than a beginner’s does. It’s up to you what constitutes the bare minimum but choose the smallest or shortest routine that you feel ‘counts’ as your practice.

Whether you are excited and enthused about jumping back in or whether you are feeling tense and overwhelmed by everything gearing back up again, I wish you ease and I hope that you can be kind to yourself about the process.

And, as always, I offer you a gold star (I think it will show up above!) for your efforts to find the way that works best for you with as little stress as possible.

Go Team Us!

fitness · gadgets · habits · self care · trackers · traveling

More movement = a less cranky traveller

Unless I’m in a car, I’m not a good traveller.

I’m not afraid of flying or anything like that. I just feel disconcerted by the whole ‘hurry up and wait’ nature of flying anywhere.

I feel like I’m stuck in the in-between the whole time I am travelling, and the fact that I usually have to head to the airport around 3am never helps. (Such are the travel woes of living on this island – fewer flights and limited departure times.)

So, really, it’s the perfect recipe for a cranky Christine – disturbed sleep, a lack of control over my schedule, feeling crowded, disrupted meal times, limited bathroom access, and an even looser sense of time than usual.

A view of a plane’s wing as taken from a passenger window.
Image description: a photo of the plane’s wing as taken from my window. The sky is various shades of blue and there are clouds quite a distance below the wing.

I do my best to minimize how disruptive these things are for me and I do what I can to remember that travelling makes me cranky so I need to be patient with myself and with everyone else.

I think (I hope!) I’ve gotten pretty good at being patient with other people but I sometimes forget about being patient with myself so I often arrive at my destination feeling rumpled, frustrated, and fed up.

But, on a recent trip to Sudbury for a conference, I discovered that I had an unexpected ally in my desire to arrive at my destination a little less frazzled…

My wrist spy! (Content warning: the post at that link is about grief.)

Yep. My Apple watch made a HUGE difference for me in this trip.

The fact that it changed time on its own helped me to *be* in whatever time zone I was in, which helped me feel a little less in-between.

My reminder to take my meds was obviously helpful.

But really, the most useful thing was being able to see that I wasn’t getting my usual movement in – I was sitting too long, my exercise minutes weren’t increasing, and I wasn’t working toward my move goal.

When I was on the plane, those flat numbers inspired me to stretch a little instead of just sitting still. (Yes, I was careful not to disturb my seat mates.)

In airports, I did a little chair yoga, stood up to wait, and did a little extra walking around, just to keep those numbers moving. (Like I’ve said before, I love how my Apple watch helps me to remember that little bits of movement all count…and they add up!)

A photo of a person’s right foot resting on their left knee.
Three important things to notice in this photo – 1) my sneakers! With gold stars! 2) my water bottle – which was another ally in the battle against crankiness 3) the strangely mesmerizing airport carpet. Image description: In this photo, I’m sitting on a chair and I’ve taken the photo looking down at my right foot and ankle resting on my left knee and I am about to lean forward to stretch my right hip. I’m wearing black leggings and white canvas sneakers with gold stars on them. My light green water bottle is standing on the floor to my left.

By the way, if you ever find yourself in need of a way to baffle some burly young men in an airport, I highly recommend chair yoga. They were perfectly nice burly young men and I’m sure the fact that they moved slightly further away from me was merely a coincidence. 😉

As a bonus, my watch also helped me during every day of the conference, reminding me that I needed to stand, reminding me to work toward my move goal, and showing me that I hadn’t gotten my exercise minutes yet.

Continuing to track (and work toward) those things was a wonderfully familiar thing amid the chaos of travel and the fun but out-of-my-usual-routine days of the conference.

Keep up with those three things not only helped anchor me while I was away from home but the fact that I kept moving helped me to feel less tense, less stiff, and more relaxed the whole time.

I didn’t transform into the poster girl for contented travel but I was definitely less cranky.

I’m calling that a victory.

fitness · habits · health · self care

Great news! It’s too late to do Joyful June perfectly!

It’s June 9th so we’ve already missed the first part of the Action for Happiness Joyful June calendar.

Isn’t that terrific?

No, I’m not excited that we missed it.

I’m actually thrilled that we can’t do it perfectly.

Since perfect is no longer possible, we’re all free do what we can – small or large – to find a bit more joy in June.

Here is the Action for Happiness calendar of daily tips for this month.

A multicoloured calendar of daily tips for finding joy in June. The calendar is decorated with cartoon drawings of joyful things, flowers, singing birds, a person building a sand castle, etc.​
A multicoloured calendar of daily tips for finding joy in June. The calendar is decorated with cartoon drawings of joyful things, flowers, singing birds, a person building a sand castle, etc.

(By the way, if you download their app, you can receive the daily tip as a notification.)

Here’s this month’s introductory video:

A YouTube video from Action for Happiness entitled Joyful June with Vanessa King. The still image shows a woman with shoulder length blonde hair and bangs wearing a brightly coloured shirt. Behind her are vases of flowers and some shelves of books.

And here’s a quote that was shared on the Action for Happiness website.

Image description: A quote reading ‘
 every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day, a green rectangular background with a small banner on the bottom that says ‘Action for Happiness’ on the right is a cartoon line drawing  of a person looking at a bird in a tree.
Image description: A quote reading ‘
every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day, a green rectangular background with a small banner on the bottom that says ‘Action for Happiness’ on the right is a cartoon line drawing of a person looking at a bird in a tree.

For me, this quote is helpful and hopeful without ‘bright siding’* me.

It’s not asking me to forget my struggles or to pretend everything is great, it’s just reminding me to look for something good to help make my day a little easier.

I can get behind that.

And I hope you can, too.

Good luck with Joyful June!

*I don’t remember if Barbara Ehrenreich actually uses the term bright siding the way I have here but I am referring to the kind of ‘reckless optimism’ and toxic positivity she writes about in her 2009 book Bright Sided: How the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America Meanwhile, I read the book a long time ago so I may have stitched her ideas into a quilt with other ideas about the irritating nature of many ‘just be positive!’ messages by this point.