fitness · holiday fitness

Zoom vacation or vacation from zoom?

For most of us on the college and university academic calendar, the disjointed, overwhelming, surreal and non-spatio-temporal spring semester of 2020 is staggering to an end. College administrations have already been frantically calculating about what is possible for fall 2020, with some having declared an all-online semester, and others (like mine) wishing and hoping to include some face-to-face instruction (who knows how…)

But for now, there’s an opportunity for us to take a breath. It’s mid-May, and where I live the flowers and trees are bursting out with new fresh color. Normally I would be heading to South Carolina to see family, and then to Dallas, TX for my friend Matt’s lovely conference on Medicine, Science and Technology. But nothing is normal right now, except for those flowers and trees.

Okay, moving on from that: now that my grades are in (and by now, I mean “just now– like 45 minutes ago.”), I want to do something to mark the space between the end of the term and the beginning of my summer work (academic writing, non-academic writing, course planning, teaching a summer course, among other things).

But what to do?

One of the unexpected side effects of large-scale physical distancing is our new access to just about everything everywhere on Zoom. Samantha is cycling with famous and non-famous cyclists from all over the world, and some of my logic students joined me for a free restorative yoga class. We are working out, tuning in, focusing on our breath, stretching, you name it, all from our individual spaces. Here are some zoom options I’m looking at:

More yoga: I’ve been using this enforced home time to try out Zoom classes by non-local yoga teachers. Many studios offer cheap introductory rates, making it possible for more people to try them out. I’m definitely getting a one-week pass for Nest Yoga studio in Oakland, CA. One of their teachers, Leslie Howard, is a specialist on pelvic floor yoga.

I know, you’re maybe wincing a little. But this is a thing. And we are feminists here, which to me means speaking truth about women’s bodies. Okay, I’m done with that for now. Except to tell you that Leslie wrote a book called Pelvic Liberation, which I immediately ordered. Yes, I’ll be blogging about it.

So, Nest Yoga has a ton of classes that look intriguing to me, and I can partake of one week of them for $25. Seems like a deal.

Also, I can take more Zoom classes offered by my local studio, Artemis. I’d enjoy spending more time with the teachers I know and who know me.

More Meditation: Meditation is something I’ve been doing off and on for a couple of decades now. I’ve been in an off phase for a while, but once we went into stay-at-home mode, I found that I needed the focus and calm and present-here-now feeling that I sometimes get from meditation. My friend Norah told me about this site, Trike Daily, which has live streaming meditation sessions and loads of recorded sessions, all by well-known Buddhist meditation teachers.

I bought Sharon Saltzberg’s book Real Happiness, and she has QR codes to downloadable meditations. I will be checking them out.

Strength training: I got started on this before the shutdown of everything, purchasing a 12-week plan rom Bad Yogi. Honestly, it was a little much for me, but I could modify the workouts. However, I didn’t modify them, I just avoided them. But, today is a new day, and I am still interested in strength training. And those Bad Yogi workouts are still there.

One thing I haven’t done is explored live zoom strength training classes. I know a number of the bloggers do this, and others have set up at-home equipment and schedules. I admit to being a bit at sea about this.

But maybe all this is beside the point, re vacation. Maybe it’s time to step away from the computer and refrain from all unnecessary Zooming for a bit. Even with physical distancing and mandatory mask-wearing in public (it’s required in MA, and I encourage everyone to do this all the time), I can still GO OUTSIDE.

Maybe I should just go outside. On foot. On my bike. With my phone camera. With a water bottle and a snack. It’s a thought.

What do you think, readers? If you were taking a week-long vacation, what would you do, given the rules and recommendations for where you are? I’d love to hear from you, and I will report back– both with my plans and with your comments.

cycling · holiday fitness · holidays · motivation · traveling · winter

Finishing my #31DaysOfWinterBiking (in Florida)

It feels like it’s cheating. But I did count Zwifting inside as winter biking. Anyway, for me, the main point of these social media challenges is to just increase the number of days I ride. I’m a pretty decent tough weather cyclist–I’ve got the gear and it still makes me smile–but even I can find January with its ice and cold and very dark days just a bit much. Enter the #31DaysOfWinterBiking. But also, for me, enter a week long vacation at the end of January riding my bike in Florida.

The plan: We loaded up the Prius and Jeff, Sarah, and I drove Saturday and Sunday from Guelph to Central Florida. It was about 20 hours, door to door. We stopped for the night on Saturday in a roadside motel in West Virginia. Sunday night we checked into our very cute cottage. Five days of Florida bike riding and then Saturday, tomorrow, we check out and do the same drive in reverse.

It’s a repeat of last year in some ways. Last year we went riding in Clermont though then Jeff was already on his boat in Florida and Sarah and I flew down. I liked where we stayed in Clermont but it wasn’t free for these dates this year. Instead, we’re in nearby Mount Dora, home of the Mount Dora Bike Festival.

The bike festival is in its 45th year and it brings hundreds of riders to this old cute Florida town. Their route maps are here. Our plan was to hang out and ride bikes in a leisurely, vacation style way, making use of the Mount Dora route maps and also driving back to Clermont to ride some of our favorites again.

Our tropical Mount Dora cabin

Day 1: Tangerine Ride

When we arrived in Florida Sarah was sick–cough, cold, sneezing, sore throat. On holidays! So not fair. So for our first day we noodled down to downtown Mount Dora, an old central Florida town full of coffee shops and gift stores, sat outside and drank lattes. Properly fortified we did the Mount Dora Bike Festival’s family friendly Tangerine Ride. I recommend it!

“With 10.8 miles and + 394 feet of climbing this is a nice, mostly flat, casual and un-guided ride out to one of our beautiful lakefront parks, Trimble Park.  Enjoy the park and then ride back through the historic town of Tangerine.”

Trimble Park

We’ve been amused, as Canadians, with all the bear warning signs. Do they come south for winter? Turns out, upon googling, that Florida black bears are a sub species of the North American black bear. You can read up here.

“The park is in a known bear habitat and you may also see alligators, squirrels, raccoons, gopher tortoises, slider turtles, snakes, lizards and many bird species including eagles, osprey, pelicans and hawks.” From a guide to Trimble Park.

Total distance ridden: 28 km

Day 2: Shortened version of the Three Bob’s Ride, including thrill hill

“With 41.6 miles and +1112 feet of Climbing this route was named after three cycling friends all named Bob.  This route was created from their friendly challenge to see which Bob could create the ride where you could spot the most lakes in Lake County in 40 miles.  This was the winning ride and the route brags about having a water feature for every mile it is long! Rolling hills and great forested land are also highlights of this ride.”

Highlights: So many lakes! Also “thrill hill.” It wasn’t really that big of a hill but this is flat Florida. Still, it was a fun descent. Lowlight: lunch stop ended up being MacDonald’s since the local diners closed at 2 pm, after lunch.

Total distance ridden: 55 km

Day 3: Shortened version of the Metric Swamp Century

“Very scenic ride through northern Lake County, it is named for the Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area that this ride will wind through.”

Highlights: Praline pecans with sweet Georgia heat spice for snacks, also an alpaca farm with alpaca boarding, you know in case you own an alpaca and need to take a vacation. Lowlight: Keep America Great signs. Sigh.

Total distance ridden: 70 km

Day 4: West Orange Trail

The West Orange Trail is 21 miles long and so out and back makes a pretty good ride. It’s a multiuse pathway, yes, but nicely paved and plenty wide. You can actually ride at speed through sections of it. We loved it last time and so we were determined to do it again.

From Wikipedia: “The West Orange Trail is a 22-mile (35 km) long multi-use rail trail owned by Orange County Parks and Recreation in Orange County, Florida, in the United States. The paved trail passes through downtown OaklandWinter Garden, and Apopka with most of its length built on old railroad alignments. To the west of the West Orange Trail is the South Lake-Lake Minneola Scenic Trail in Lake County which was connected to the trail in 2007.”

Highlights: Love the wide paved pathway and the town of Wintergarden. We stopped there for coffee and lunch and I bought an Orange Trail bike jersey. Lowlight: Trying to navigate four way stops when the path crosses roads with riders with different tolerances for looking and riding through. I’m the nervous nellie in this crowd. Also we encountered our first rain on the way back.

Total distance ridden: 45 km

Wintergarden

Day 5: Sugarloaf

It was supposed to be the “Assault on Sugarloaf” but by Friday I’d caught Sarah’s cold. With a sore throat and cough I agreed to ride up the local big hill but I wasn’t about to be mounting an assault on anything.

Here’s a description of Sugarloaf by Climbbybike.com:

“The sugarloaf mountain is situated in Florida (US). This climb belongs to the Florida hills. The sugarloaf mountain via clermont, fl is ranked number 1 of the Florida hills. The climb is ranked number 427 in United States and number 11779 in the world. Starting from clermont, fl, the sugarloaf mountain ascent is 1 km long. Over this distance, you climb 67 heightmeters. The average percentage thus is 6.7 %. The maximum slope is 16%.”

In the end it started to rain and got dark and once we got off the lovely bike paths the cars were passing too close for my comfort. Sarah made it up Sugarloaf but I called for Jeff’s rescue wagon. Here’s the lovely bike trail.

Somehow when I imagined bike riding in Florida I never imagined such lovely paved bike trails.

Total distance ridden, for me: 15 km
For Sarah: 38 km
For Jeff: 0 km (he was also getting sick and was driving the support vehicle)

I made it through January! Yay! It’s been a long month. And a very gloomy one.

From here on in it’s a quick countdown to spring. Right?

219 in 2019 · holiday fitness · holidays

Sam is on a countdown!

A US route sign that reads “45.”

How many days are left in 2019? I’ve been Googling that question for awhile and comparing it to the number of workouts I have left in the year if I really do aspire to make it to 300 workouts in 2019.

Originally I was aiming of course for 219 in 2019 but that number went by a while ago. In a weird way my injured knee has helped with daily exercise because I just have to pay attention to doing physio and making sure I get the kind of movement that helps my knee. Keep moving and don’t give in to arthritis pain, is the latest advice. I’ve written about that in a post called Pain and the Choice to Walk or not Walk.

As of today there are 45 days left in 2019 and I just logged my 260th workout. It’s Sunday so I worshipped at the church of Zwift, riding 27 km in one hour in virtual London, England. Doing some basic math here that means I’ve got 40 workouts left and 45 days. Given that I also aspire to one day rest day a week, the math should work out perfectly.

I’ve often enjoyed having some sort of challenge through the holiday season to keep me focussed on exercise and not letting that be the thing that gives way in the face of all the extra socializing, shopping, hosting, wrapping, cooking excetera excetera. In the past I’ve done running streaks from American Thanksgiving through until New year’s short distances say 1 mile a day. My running days are over so this is probably a better focus for me anyway.

What will the next 40 workouts look like? My guess is we’ll be spending some extra time in the virtual cycling world of Zwift given a bit of extra flexibility around my work hours. I’m either walking or riding to work most days and doing some extra activity to make that count either yoga at home or planking. Sarah and I were talking this morning about making it out to the hot yoga studio in Guelph finally. And I’ll be sure to get some weight lifting in as well either with a personal trainer or on my own.

Wish me luck!

fitness · holiday fitness

My imaginary fitness vacation (vs. my real one)

This week I’m in Arizona on vacation. What I mean by “vacation” is: I’m not at a conference and adding on a couple of days of travel, and I’m not visiting any relatives (I’m off the hook, as I have no relatives in Arizona). I’m in a place of my own choosing, engaging in non-pre-planned leisure activities. I’m staying at a luxurious (to me) hotel in Scottsdale, The Hotel Valley Ho.

On my imaginary fitness vacation, I was going to take advantage of the 3-hour time change from Boston to transform me into an early morning activity person. Imaginary early-morning-Catherine had big plans:

  1. daily hikes 7–9/10am (because of the extreme heat– 95F/35C by 10am).
  2. back-to-back yoga classes afterward, ending around 1pm.
  3. hanging out at the pool under an umbrella, reading my kindle.
  4. Minimum work tasks done (no more than 30 mins/day).
  5. heading out mid-afternoon to museums in the area.
  6. Early evening laps in the pool, followed by easy yoga before bed at 10pm.

Let’s examine these in order. First, daily 7am hikes.

Here’s where I imagined spending the 7–9am slot:

The desert outside Scottsdale. I was actually here, but not for a big hike. It is soooo hot!
The desert outside Scottsdale. I was actually here, but not for a big hike. It is soooo hot!

Here’s where I actually spent the 7–9am slot.

A king-sized bed in a midcentury-modern designed hotel room.
A king-sized bed in a midcentury-modern designed hotel room.

I did a lot of resting, lolling, internet surfing, idle reading. I even ordered room service breakfast one morning. Lucious.

What about those yoga classes? I did do back-to-back yoga classes the first day. I got reacquainted with kundalini; it was hard but interesting. Then there was a one-hour yoga nidra with sound healing. What is sound healing? Someone plays gongs (very cool) and crystal bowls (less cool to me) and talks in a quiet voice. For an hour.

I imagined this experience creating blissfulness. Instead, I spent the whole yoga nidra class lying on the mat, thinking about lunch. Pro tip: don’t do a yoga nidra/sound journey class while hungry. There were no repeats of this plan.

What about pool lounging? How did that go in reality? Here’s the pool I thought I would find fun for chilling out.

The main pool of my hotel, replete with sunny and shady lounge chairs.
The main pool of my hotel, replete with sunny and shady lounge chairs.

Instead, after lunch, I chilled out here and here:

Honestly, I did work in my room during the heat of the day. I’m teaching an online logic class for summer school, and the students require care and feeding each day. I knew this when I went on vacation, but in the imaginary version, this work took only about 10–15 minutes a day. On my real vacation, it took 1–1.5 hours. There was also some end-of-fiscal-year paperwork to do, which always takes about 4 times as long as I expect. No biggie– it’s what real life is like.

I also found the big pool area too loud, too hot, and too public for me. I really wanted a retreat from the world, which surprised me. But I was lucky in that I had a retreat– the above-pictured spaces. I read and napped and worked some and chatted on the phone (yes, I’m an outlier who uses phones for real-time voice communication). It was great.

What about those museum trips? Not so much. I did go to Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s western desert home. It is marvelous and I highly recommend it. But I didn’t make it to other museums. In the end, I preferred meeting up with some friends in the area for drinks and early dinner. It was so much fun, hanging out and laughing and talking and eating super yummy southwest Mexican food.

Okay, fine. I needed a rest, and I got one despite my imaginary vacation plans. But what about the evening pool laps? Did I do those?

Yes, after a fashion. I went to the other pool 2 of the 3 nights I was there. I had the place all to myself, and there was no music, no bar, no nothing. Just me, palm trees, water, dark sky, and stars. I did lazy laps, and lots of floating. Here are a bunch of pics. The water in real life is blue, but my iphone preferred purple. Hey, no problem– it accurately reflects the cosmic grooviness of my swim experiences.

This pool was one of my favorite vacation experiences ever. It was relaxing, quiet, sublime. yes, I did some laps– at a chill lazy pace– followed by lots of floating. Ahhhh.

I learned a good lesson this week: sometimes, we need a vacation from everything, including our own vacation plans. What I ended up doing was so satisfying– I rested, I read, I swam and floated, I yoga-ed a bit, and I took a lot of photographs. So much fun.

The second half of my Arizona vacation is a trip to the Grand Canyon and Sedona with friends and their three kids. It will be more active, less spontaneous, and certainly less quiet. I’m ready, having rested well on my real vacation here.

Readers– do you plan imaginary vacations and actually do them? Do you change plans a lot? Ever? Never? What counts as a real vacation for you? I’d love to hear from you.

cycling · fitness · holiday fitness · holidays · trackers · training

Her digital assistants are tracking and watching over Sam

So last week I was in Clermont, Florida riding my bike. Instead of my super short commutes and running errands by bike, I was logging 50+ km a day in some pretty hilly territory.

I use my Garmin bike computer to track rides. It uploads rides to my phone where both Garmin Connect and Strava provide analysis. See above.

I’m also letting Google Fit track my activity. It counts steps and active minutes, sets goals, and provides commentary. See below.

What’s amusing is the different tones they take. Strava is all about bike training. In serious tones I’m told that my mileage has taken a substantial jump and I should be cautious about overtraining. That was even after our rest day!

GoogleFit is all positive thinking. “What workout! You deserve a break.” But that sounds like it would also be okay if I didn’t take one. It’s just cheering me on.

My own ‘rest day’ motivation was something else entirely.  I wanted to enjoy all 5 days of riding. For me that means taking a break. I wasn’t really worried about overtraining. But I also didn’t take a break because I’d earned it. I’d rather ride more.  If I were a stronger rider in January I’d rather ride all 5 days.  But I’m not and so I didn’t and I’m okay with that.

fitness · holiday fitness · holidays · tbt · Throwback Thursday

On Pacing Yourself *During* the Holidays #tbt

We aren’t quite there yet and I’m not having any guests this year, but this post about pacing ourselves during the holidays seems like a timely #tbt nonetheless. Enjoy!

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

christmastreeI’ve just emerged from a couple of solid days in the kitchen (a treat for me, since I love to cook and don’t usually have time to make it a priority).

Sam posted the other day about pacing yourself after the holidays. But since by my count we still have a week of revelry to go, I thought it might not be too late to post about pacing yourself during the holidays.

I’m not talking about food, though of course there is that.  No shortage of magazine articles telling us how to deal with holiday parties and cookie exchanges and a time of year when it seems we’re surrounded by delicious food almost every where we go.  My advice on that isn’t all that helpful: eat it.

I’m more interested in pacing ourselves activity-wise. For some of us, when the routine gets thrown sideways, even by good things, it’s…

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diets · eating · fitness · food · holiday fitness · holidays · Martha's Musings · nutrition · season transitions

T’is the season to detox yourself from cleanses, diets and weird wellness claims

By MarthaFitat55

It’s not even December 1 and I have been seeing a non-stop stream of ads, posts and recommended links on all manner of cleanses. Some are short, some are long, some are liquid, and some are minimal. All are useless.

Timothey Caulfield at the University of Alberta debunks the latest holiday cleanses in this article. Caulfield writes:

The idea that we need to cleanse and detoxify our bodies seems to have become a culturally accepted fact. This feels especially true around the holidays which are associated with heavy foods and even heavier shame about what that turkey and gravy and wine might be doing to our insides. After a weekend of indulgence, wellness gurus cry, your body is begging for a detox. But is it?

 While there is something to be said for countering a week (or two) of indulgence with lighter fare, unless you were born liver-less or you lost your liver along the way, the human body has its own detox system right inside you: the aforementioned liver and kidneys.

 There’s a huge market out there and if you build it, make it, sell it, they will come. The promises are endless but the long and short of it is simple: today’s cleanses and detox programs are primarily designed to relieve you of your money.

The sellers of these cleanses rely on fear and vanity, and also on society’s preoccupation on thinness. The messages are often wrapped upin social beliefs about health and wellness.

 We empower people to take charge of their health, especially women who are often responsible for managing their well being along with those of their families. Who wants to be known as someone who does not care about their health? Not me.

While the social imperative to diet, to cleanse, to eat clean is present year-round, there seems to be special pressure in December to do any number of things to ensure we have the perfect body.

 All the ads I have seen lead me to believe that we must cleanse the body the same way we cleanse our homes for special occasions this time of year. In January, when the new year has begun and we barely have had time to vacuum the pine needles and expunge the last piece of glitter from our homes, we get a different chorus but still with the same tune.

I suggest, if we are to cleanse anything, it is these sorts of unhelpful and unhealthy approaches to wellness.

So if you are confused and challenged by all that you see, remember this: everything in moderation. Your body will do what it needs to do. Fuel it appropriately.  Move lots (preferably outside if it isn’t blowing a gale). Get lots of sleep. Drink lots of water. Have fun.

MarthaFitat55 lives and writes in St. John’s.