It’s easy to get lazy! Return to training during or after a cold? (Guest post)

Over the holidays I was hit by a pretty bad cold. 7 days straight of very high fever, sore throat, congestion, and coughing. My immune system is hyper-reactive and the nukes were out to destroy the bug. But it did not work this time. It lasted its full 10 days. And now beyond the 10 days I still feel somewhat congested.
Despite all signs, I went out running on day 5. Admittedly, I did not have any fever that morning and thought “That’s it, I am winning this!” This was a very slow run even if I felt like I was pushing. And at the end of the day I could tell by how I was feeling that it had been a mistake to go out. Did it extend my cold? Who knows. This is hard to say. And advice out there on whether one should run or train with a cold is sometimes contradictory. Most will say if you have fever, don’t. But unless one has a working and reliable thermometer (I don’t) it can be hard to tell (add to the mix the occasional hot flashes induced by peri-menopause and, voilà! Is it fever? Is it a hot flash?)
So after that 5th day outing, I waited another 4 days before engaging in any training. During that time, one wonders: am I just being lazy? Surely I could (should?) push myself and do it. When I did train, it was indoors because I was still somewhat feverish and did not feel like running outside in the wet cold. So I did weight training and leg exercises. I thought: “good plan! This won’t go against my less than optimal oxygen intake because of my congestion.” That was without thinking about muscular weakness caused by the cold. I don’t think I have ached like this in a very long time! I went out for a run the next day and pulled something in my thigh. Good job! But again, I was questioning whether I was just being lazy. It is so easy to get lazy, right? Stay warm inside and lounge on the couch, reading stuff and watching some TV (and doing work on the computer). One gets maybe too comfortable? So out I went to run a 7km!
But there are times when your body just needs to be lazy. It needs you to rest and fight what it has to fight. While you are reading, watching TV, killing time on Facebook, your body is hard at work fixing itself. It may be easy to get lazy but it may be necessary at times. This was one such time and I did not listen to my body.
Training is fun and exciting. I know I like it. But I have to learn to be patient with myself when I am sick and need my energy to fight whatever is assaulting me. Mostly, I have to shut up that narrative that makes me think I am just being lazy and should suck it up. I have to go back to working out in a way that does not throw me back into illness. This means a gradual return, testing the waters so to speak. So I need to be more patient with myself. Oh! And I also need to get myself a proper thermometer!

Fall Family Fun

I was skeptical when my beloved Michel encouraged our sons to go with us on my birthday ride last weekend. The weather was glorious, hitting 20C on Oct 10, a great birthday gift.

hebert clan

We met up with  Bike Rally David, Sam and Victor.

birthday ride

We also scooped up Mallory as we left town. It would end up being Victor’s longest ride to date, a total of 70 km for him! Happy 22nd birthday Victor! I try to forgive him for being half my age, he is a lovely human after all.

About halfway through the ride my youngest son, Eric, got a flat. David and Michel got to work replacing his inner tube on the side of the road. A few kilometers later he got another flat so we called in the Calvary in the form of Sam’s partner Jeff, who collected my two guys around the 30 km mark. That was definitely Eric’s longest ride to date and he was a real trooper. The rest of us ended up covering about 60km together then eating yummy food at the end and heading our separate ways.

On Monday, Oct 12, my partner and I celebrated 20 years of togetherness by doing a little GPS art in our neighbourhood.

20 years

It was another gorgeous day but the wind was up. Our little 20 drawing took 20 minutes and was 20m of elevation, a fun little project sheltered in town. We then went on to visit friends, eat yummy food and generally have fun.

Had you asked these folks what they would be doing after 20 years they probably would not have recognized the life we have now. These kids were in the military and very certain of what the future would hold.

wedding

I’m certainly thankful that my celebrations include a lot more activity, a lot less alcohol (sorry liver!) and a lot more people who are supportive and lovely.

I’ve learned enough now not to even have the faintest idea of what the future will hold so I’m focusing on short term goals and letting the rest figure itself out.

 

A Very Big Little Paddle

I have been going to Algonquin in late August for a back country canoe trip for the last 8 summers. Usually I go with my friend Sarah and we are often the only women pair that we encounter on our trip. Three summers ago, at the end of the season, I bought a Swift Algonquin 16 Kevlar Fusion Canoe. It has Carbon/Kevlar Gunwales and weighs 36 pounds. I blogged about the freedom that gave me here. Last year, Sarah couldn’t come and I took Sam. It was the first time I’d been “in charge” of a trip and between that experience and a feather light canoe, I was ready to take on more. What kind of more? Well, how about me, my two teens, three friends (Sarah, Sam and her daughter) and my 71 year old mother?


3canoes

My mom has been saying for the past four years or so that she has always wanted to go on a real portaging canoe trip. When I came back last year, empowered by the freedom of that canoe, I knew I could make it happen and “it had better be sooner than later”, as my mom has observed.

My mom isn’t your usual 71 year old, although she is actually much like the folks who hang out at this blog. She came to fitness in her middle years and has been consistently active ever since. Her main thing has always been Pilates and the great thing about that system is it’s ability to scale up or down, depending on capacity, injury or illness. She has a trainer she has known for years who keeps her going. I told her as long as she could get in and out of the canoe and walk a path, she could do it.

She accomplished so much more. She carried some stuff and paddled pretty hard. She credits her swimming with giving her the strength to paddle like she did. She got in and out of the tent in whatever way worked for her and she was constantly thrilled by the whole thing.

Mom by her tent

Mom by her tent

The element of that trip that struck me most was how we experienced a mutual appreciation of each other that we had perhaps left unnoticed for many years. Like all moms and daughters, there have been “interesting times” between us. While most of that trash has been put out, the real understanding of where each of us are in our lives right now was not always at the forefront. But on this trip, she got to see a skill set of mine that was newer to her and I got to see how hard core she could be. I also got to give her time with her grand kids and grand dog that was super high quality. I got to feel like a good daughter and she got to feel like a good mom and grandmother.It’s not that we haven’t felt that before, but this experience somehow intensified this feeling between us.

It helped more that a lot that I had fantastic, supportive, hillarious friends with me. Sam and I drove our matchy matchy cars (Priuses)  with our matchy matchy canoes on top (she has a Swift Keewaydin 17, also with Carbon/Kevlar gunwales, although mysteriously heavier feeling at 47 pounds). Sarah and I had our competitive control freak moments. It’s only fair. She taught me everything I know about canoe tripping so asking her not to have an opinion is kind of impossible. Mallory kept her mother in line, on track and in the canoe (mostly, except the time she wasn’t). The children spoke actual words to us, a lot! And read books, paper books! My kids are usually delightful but this trip gave them an opportunity to step it up. It helped that they were actually having, you know, FUN. Finally, there was my Super Dog, Shelby. She has grown into a truly impressive canine canoe tripper. She stays still in the canoe, carries her own stuff, keeps away the chipmunks and is available for belly rubs at any random time.

shelby

This trip accomplished the kind of thing that you hope a trip will. It was epic on every level, the beauty of the place, the friendships and family and the smoothness of execution. It was a trip I could only do because of the investment of time in strength and skill that everyone of us made in our lives, especially evident in my mom. I hope it sets a good example for my kids but I will try not to pressure them about it. After all, both my mom and me waited until we were closing on 40 before we woke up to the possibilities our lives could hold if we started to mind our bodies. Yes, an epic trip. We might do it again next year. . .

Goodlife competition for straights only?

A friend and bioethicist and fellow academic blogger recently wrote the following letter to Goodlife Fitness: Goodlife’s straight members only competition – Open Letter to its CEO.

My partner and I have been members of your gym chain for many years. We happen to be gay. Your competition misleads members into thinking that Jamaica is a tourist destination like any other, sun, beach and a good time. Nothing good be further from the truth.

Jamaica is a militantly homophobic society, religious fundamentalists have written anti-gay provision into the country’s constitution. Here is a helpful link to a 2014 report by the respected human rights organisation Human Rights Watch on anti-gay violence in Jamaica.

My husband and I would be up ‘eligible’ for an up-to ten year jail term should we choose to engage in sexual intercourse during a vacation we might win if we took part in your competition.

Local civil rights groups lament, ‘serious human rights abuses, including assault with deadly weapons, of women accused of being lesbians, arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, harassment of gay and lesbian patients by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings of such persons.’

Given the current attention to laws permitting the active discriminations against gay customers in Indiana, I cannot help but wonder what drove your company to offer a competition that would subject your gay and lesbian members to serious risk of bodily harm, not to say long jail terms, should they win your competition and decide to actually go to Jamaica.

I am writing to you today to ask that you cancel the ongoing competition and replace the ‘Jamaica’ labelled posters with posters that offer a vacation price, but a vacation of the winner’s choosing. Otherwise, you really are telling your gay and lesbian members that our well-being and safety is of no concern to you, and that the current competition celebrating the chain’s 36th anniversary is really addressed to the club’s straight members only.

Goodlife forwarded the concerns to Tourism Jamaica who wrote back as follows ( bolded the bit that might be of concern to GLBT travelers):

Jamaica welcomes visitors from all over the world and from all segments of society equally with the warmth and courtesy they expect and deserve. We recognize that there are diverse communities and cultures interested in Jamaica as a travel destination, and we embrace that diversity with respect. In Jamaica, we are committed to the safety of all travelers. We respect the right of all visitors to Jamaica to express their own beliefs and to satisfy their own vacation experiences while staying with us.We respect the choices of adults and responsible adult activities. In keeping with travel to any destination in the world, we encourage visitors to respect Jamaican laws and community standards, and to take reasonable  measures to enhance their travel experience.  Please know that we welcome everyone with open arms and look forward to sharing the beauty that is Jamaica with them.

Luckily Goodlife also allowed that Udo and his partner could substitute another trip if they chose. ” Should you win this trip, we would be happy to award you with a trip of equal value to another destination.”

He’s satisfied with that reply but wonders whether they ought also to warn gays and lesbians who might win this competition *not* to go to Jamaica due to the risk to their well-being, as well as legislation criminalizing the sexual conduct of gay men.

I agree.

What do you think?

 

Eat! Don’t Eat! Holiday Magazine Mixed Messages

xmas-dessertFor over a month now Canadian magazines like Canadian Living and Chatelaine, similar to Women’s Day in the US, have featured holiday recipes–from baking to appetizers to Christmas dinner and Boxing Day brunch (that’s the day after Christmas, for those who live south of the Canada-US border)–these recipes don’t skimp on sugar, fat, chocolate.  See Chatelaine’s “Nine candy recipes to sweeten up the holidays” and Canadian Living’s Seven easy and impressive trifle recipes.”

And then there are the magazines, sometimes the very same magazines, that tell us how to navigate the holiday parties and buffet tables, the lunches and the dinners and the cocktail hours and the potlucks, the special treats left out at the office, free for all takers.

These articles prime us to deal with the excessive amounts of food available through the holidays. And they’re usually put in terms of survival, like “Survive the Holidays without Gaining Weight” and, on the Chatelaine website, “The Twelve Days of Fitness.

“The Twelve Days of Fitness” is a program designed to help us “beat the bulge” through the holidays:

Get ready to beat the holiday bulge! Together with celebrity trainer Ramona Braganza, we’ve designed a 12-day pre-holiday workout challenge to get you through the indulgent festive season and kick-start your fitness routine for the New Year. With Ramona’s 3-2-1 Method, you’ll get a full-body workout that combines three minutes of cardio, six minutes of circuit exercises and a one minute core exercise — for a total of just 10 minutes a day. Plus, every day Ramona will share a fitness or nutrition tip in an exclusive video (the same tips she gives to her star clients Jessica Alba, Halle Berry, Anne Hathaway and Scarlett Johansson). Get ready to follow along with our handy workout chart, below, and feel your best for the holidays.

Anyway, I don’t know about you, but to me these mixed messages — about indulgence on the one hand and keeping things in check on the other hand — are just annoying.

First of all, the whole idea of decadence and indulgence is irritating. As I’ve said before in my post on “Why Food Is Beyond Good and Evil,” if we don’t demonize certain foods they’re not as attractive.  But these foods are always set up as temptations that must be resisted.

I’m a big fan of intuitive eating, which encourages people to be mindful and pay attention to their hunger when eating. I find that if I am able to pay attention, I can pretty much eat what I want at holiday parties. The only thing I need to be aware of is the quantity.

For me, one of the worst feelings I can have is the feeling of having eaten too much. I’m not talking about the regret of it all. No, I mean literally the physical feeling of having put more food into my tummy than it can comfortably accommodate.

The idea that you can counterbalance day after day of mindless eating beyond comfort by doing a few workouts is also misleading. It just doesn’t work that way.  You can work out all you like, but eating more than feels comfortable is still bound to cause…well…discomfort.

My own approach to holiday eating is still a bit haphazard. As I said before, if I pay attention, then I can eat what I like and stop when I’ve had enough.  If I don’t pay attention, that’s less likely to happen.  I’m probably going to switch to auto-pilot and go beyond my comfort zone.

But I certainly don’t approach particular foods with the “I shouldn’t” attitude. And I like to think of the holidays as another one of those occasions, like vacations or illness or travel or being too busy at work, that can throw me off of my routine.

Rather than clinging to a workout schedule in order to “undo” what I did at a party or a dinner the day before, I like to stick as closely to my regular schedule of swimming, biking, and running as possible because it grounds me and makes me feel good. Sometimes, it’s the only part of my routine that I can keep in place.

The more grounded I feel, the more likely I am to take care of myself at all of the different events.  Stopping eating before I need to undo my belt is one way of taking care of myself.

But back to the mixed messages we see in the media at this time of year.  I think it’s worse for women. “Eat!” and  “Don’t Eat!” are just another version of the double bind that feminists have called our attention to for decades.

No different from “be sexy but not too sexy” and “be assertive but not aggressive” and “be career-oriented but not at the expense of your children,” the magazines encourage us to cook elaborate, high calorie foods, mostly for other people. We are either not to eat them, or, if we do, we are supposed to “reverse the damage” through exercise.

I understand that all of the festivities can be stressful and that tables full of food can overwhelm people. Of course, there’s a very good chance that mindfulness will elude us at times. But it’s a much more self-nuturing to approach the season with confidence that we can look after ourselves and slow down enough to make conscious choices about how best to do that.

Instead of getting caught up in the whole “eat” and “don’t eat” narratives, why not try instead just to “pay attention”?

pay-attention