Sat with Nat · vendor self-defense

Nat‘s birthday gift to you: unpacking the challenger sales model

Recommended soundtrack: Good News by (Canadian National Treasure and my internet crush) Coco Love Alcorn

The video ad jumps into place, a birds eye view camera shot of a slim, muscular white woman who is younger than me. She is running on a treadmill with deliberate intensity. She looks up at the camera and smiles.

“Cardio burns fat, right?” she nods her head then flips to a scowl, slams the emergency stop and yells “WRONG!”

It’s jolting and designed to jostle us out of our world view. I find it really annoying. Ads like it are increasingly popping across my browsers, YouTube videos and social media feeds.

I was talking with my beloved about how annoying I find it because for a split second I’m engaged and the emotional pump works even though I don’t want to buy whatever fitness “solution” she is selling. He deftly replied “Oh that’s an example of The Challenger sales model. You always hate those because on some level you know it’s a trick.”

Well he is so right. The love of my life dipped his toe into sales for a few years, and filled our house with sales strategy books for a while. I then thought about when I first learned about unconscious bias and once I knew about my biases I couldn’t ignore them. I think sales strategies are like that: they lose their magic when you know they prime you emotionally to let go of your money.

It’s my birthday tomorrow and who doesn’t like gifts? Even better, this gift I give you has no ulterior motive than to offer you some tools to engage in vendor self defense. If you already have this tool you can re-gift this wisdom to your beloveds. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Ok. So back to the ad. The first emotional hook is getting the viewer to agree. The line and the nodding are intended to get us to relate to the speaker. A kind of micro-relationship forms. If it’s done well we now want the speaker to succeed.

Let’s forget you probably already know that cardio exercise is short for cardiovascular conditioning. The goals are strengthening our hearts, lungs and endurance. Note I’m not talking about weight loss or fat burning.

Measures of fitness related to cardio can be resting heart rate, blood pressure, VO2 max…that kind of stuff.

So already our speaker is kind of loosing her sale but I STILL FIND MYSELF NODDING IN AGREEMENT. Holy crap, this emotional pump stuff is powerful. She then slams us with the “WRONG” to set her hook. Now she just needs to reel us in.

At this point you are wondering where my big insight is, and honestly I often opt out of the ad as she dives into offering whatever solution she is selling. The spell breaks because the seller isn’t doing a good job. But the pattern is important. So let’s see what the components of The Challenger model are so you can keep your money for things you actually need and enjoy.

The model has three “T”s: teach, tailor and take control. The goal is to challenge a key assumption, disrupt your confidence in your world view, and create a need that the seller can fill with a product.

Teach

The seller needs you to believe that one of your beliefs about the world is wrong. The goal is to subordinate you, to position themselves as a wise teacher and you as the student. They want to blow your mind, peel back the veil of ignorance and show you a big, shiny truth that is supposed to be BIG NEWS to you.

To defend yourself from this part of the tactic you can question the wisdom. What are the sources the seller is using? Who is this self-appointed teacher? Do I need the services they offer? (It could be you are in the market for a new guitar amplifier and this person sells amps.)

Tailor

If the seller has you in the right demographic bucket it might feel like they totally know what you need, your concerns and your spending threshold.

Be careful friends, you are in the sales funnel now and the seller is working hard to convert you from a prospect to a sale.

Vendor self defense move: Question if this is a need you have and if this is a solution you want and can afford.

Spoiler, you, your body and your fitness aren’t a problem and these “solutions” are often more harmful than helpful.

Take Control of the Conversation

Here is where you might see creating a sense of urgency (act now and get a big discount!) and other pressure tactics to close the deal (it’s the LAST Guitar amp IN THE WORLD UNTIL 2025!!) .

They will try to address objections. Your objection might be the price point so they offer financing or smaller monthly payments.

Your vendor self defense at this point is take so time to reflect on the sale. Literally walk away or turn off the device. It could be they are selling THE EXACT AMP YOU NEED but. Honestly. It will be there tomorrow or another one will come along.

I hope you enjoyed my birthday gift. Please do re-gift it. Save your money for the things you really need or truly want. Bonus points for those who share examples of The Challenger sales model in the wild!

This is a picture of my new orange amp for my electric guitar. It cost the same as a popular weight loss program for a year. I bough it from a nice person who didn’t use sales tactics.
Sat with Nat · self care · sleep · walking

Nat tries to keep an East Coast mindset in Southwestern Ontario

Recommended Soundtrack: Blow Up by The Beaches

It’s only a few weeks of being back in Ontario and I can already feel the sense of calm contentment slipping that had settled over me in New Brunswick.

It’s partly that I know more about what to do here, where to go, who to see and there is just more of those things and so little time to do them!

Thanks to my partner, we had taken a bit of a tourist’s view of New Brunswick and we are looking to bring that with us in London. If you only had a weekend here, what would you do? Where would you go?

So we are making plans to see more sections of the Thames Valley Trail. Walking has remained our foundational activity, rain or shine.

It’s low cost, low equipment and easy to just get up and go!

Natalie and Michel smile at the camera with a beautiful walking bridge behind them. There are young people enjoying the view in the background.

Last Saturday we accidentally walked 10 km of the North Branch so I could see the beautiful new path and bridges. It’s along the river and through the southern portions of property owned by The Sisters of St Joseph, Scouts Canada and the Ivy Leadership Centre. It’s beautiful.

I’m grateful we have both cultivated enough mobility to spontaneously go on a decent walk. Good shoes help as well as all the little walks we do each day.

My legs are strong and flexible, my feet feel good, it’s nice to be a pedestrian tourist and see new sides of the city I’ve lived in for 16 years.

So I’m working on staying in the moment, carefully leaving unspoken for time in my life and scheduling time with friends.

What are you up to this month?

kayak · Sat with Nat

Nat had a great time kayaking!

A couple weeks after arriving in McAdam my cousin Tina invited me to join her and some other women for an afternoon of kayaking on Wauklehegan Lake.

Tina and I have known each other our whole lives and have a long history of laughing a lot so I was thrilled to be invited.

The big day came and I was lucky to be able to borrow all the gear I needed from my mom from safety kit to personal flotation device to kayak and paddle. AMAZING!

At the dock I recognized a few women and chatted as everyone got gear in the water. Tina’s daughter Vanessa joined us. It was great to get to know her a bit. She’s a really cool human.

Natalie and Tina try to take a selfie on the shore. Vanessa successfully photobombs to great comedic effect.

The pace was laid back and the weather outstanding. There was a wide variety of watercraft: canoes, paddle board (go Vanessa!), two person kayaks, inflatable kayaks, and all models and sizes of recreational kayaks

We made our way up the lake to Sandy Beach, chatting, drinking, laughing and wondering at the splendor all around us.

At one moment we were surrounded by a school of palm sized white perch that were fining and jumping all around us. The water practically boiled from their efforts.

On the water, looking at Sandy Beach where dozens of brightly colored kayaks line the shore. Behind are women in swimwear sitting and standing in groups having a wonderful time.

Every event needs a commemorative tank top and beverage coozie. These were made by Jenni and super fun! Her brother is married to another of my cousins so it was great to see her again.

White text on a tie dyed background reads “girls trip cheaper than therapy 2021”

There was over 35 vessels all told and with that many folks you tend to cluster into smaller groups. Tina, Vanessa and I ended paddling with mother daughter teams, Kerri & Emily (who I think maybe we are related on my dad’s side?) as well as Fonda & Destiny. I met Fonda when I was very young, she’s the nearest and dearest friend of my other cousin Nicole. These relational things are so important, you’ll see why later.

Most of the folks are in this photo while others are taking photos for us. Thank you photographers! We are wearing our commemorative tank tops. I’m with my daughter for the moment Emily, laughing.

As we got back on the lake after libations some folks made a direct line back to the landing. It was so beautiful Tina suggested we take a circuitous route around a nearby island. We were joined by Lindsay who I had met at the beginning of the trip. (We never got to last names…this is important later) Kerri and Emily agreed to hang out for a bit before going to see other friends.

So we toddled about for a few hours, chatting with people Tina knew on a jet ski, a couple who have this vessel made from two 14’ aluminum boats held together with a dock on top, to a fellow with a boat and an Adirondack chair bolted in for passengers.

They were lots of great conversations and laughs. I did get a bit sunburned. Oopsie!

When we finally decided our trip was over Lindsay kindly offered to give me and my kayak a lift home. When her beloved arrived with their truck I introduced myself, as I had been doing all day as few people knew me or recognized me. The man burst out laughing, it was another of my cousins, Jamie, who I didn’t recognize as it had been too long. Lindsay thought that was hilarious as she knew how I was related to her. I was the clueless one!

I was so thankful for a day of companionship and gentle movement, not for working out or getting to a destination.

It was a wonderful way to reconnect to old friends and make new ones. Thank you for the invite Tina!

Sat with Nat · sleep

Nat confused fatigue with caffeine addiction aka CPAP year 2

Recommended soundtrack: Breathing Underwater by Metric

Folks I recently had the great joy and privilege to come home to New Brunswick after not seeing family & friends for 2 years due to travel restrictions to mitigate COVID 19.

Some Canadians, especially those of us born on the East Coast and who live somewhere else, love a good road trip. I certainly do, having made the trek from Ontario to New Brunswick regularly since 1993. Ya. That’s a lot of kilometers friends, roughly 1,600 km each way!

I was nervous about being on major highways after an 18 month hiatus. I hadn’t left London since Christmas 2019. I was worried about how achy I would be, but especially how tired I would get.

But then something unexpected happened, I didn’t get bone tired. I didn’t reach for coffee the first leg of the drive. It was after 6pm and we drove from London, Ontario to Brockville. It’s roughly 5 hours and a third of the way. It makes the second day much more reasonable.

We arrived later than expected because traffic and life. But. I wasn’t dead tired.

The next morning I got up, packed and was on the road for an hour before we grabbed coffees and breakfast. So. Weird.

The thing is, for almost 30 years, I was the walking dead in the morning. Frighteningly tired. Every. Morning.

So I drank coffee, a lot of it. I blamed a weak will, a hedonistic personality, and a myriad of other character flaws because “everyone knows” caffeine addiction makes for terrible mornings.

But. Uh. Folks. There’s something that changed since my last road trip, regular use of a CPAP machine.

It wasn’t an easy transition. I’m now thinking I’m almost to neutral about wearing it, which is tremendous progress. I definitely don’t love it but now I am appreciative of its slow but steady support of my sleep and rest.

I still love coffee but I can wait a few hours in the morning. I have become a bit of a morning person. No one is more surprised than I!

So when we drove into my parents’ dooryard I arrived tired but not a mess. It was such a huge change. I don’t know I would have noticed if it hadn’t been so long since I had a road trip and enough CPAP time to recover from a lifetime of sleep deficits.

So I am grateful for the insight and the impact of my daily sleep routine.

As you emerged from restrictions this year did you notice something new?

Natalie smiles, slightly surprised or bemused at not being tired all the time. She is in a super cute turquoise paisley dress she got for five dollars at a thrift shop. She is leaning against a pine plank wall and sees that she definitely needs a haircut but that’s ok.
Sat with Nat · walking

Nat plays tourist in her parents’ hometown of McAdam NB

I’m writing from McAdam, New Brunswick which is situated on the traditional lands of the Peskotomuhkati. Canada is renegotiating with the Peskotomuhkati as we work towards honoring the 300 year old relationship between our governments. Across the river in Maine the Peskotomuhkati have a seat in the state legislature.

On a weekend bracketed by Canada Day (July 1) and American Independence Day (July 4) it’s especially important to take steps towards Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous people. The truth is settlers not only ignored our commitments in treaties/peace & friendship agreements, we allowed our governments and churches to perpetuate violence on people we agreed to treat peacefully, as equals.

In Canada we are openly starting to come to terms with the truth of residential schools. It will be a long time in seeking truth before we can get to reconciliation.

I am glad that land acknowledgments are becoming more common but I worry folks don’t think it applies to them and the land they live on. Let’s keep trying to do better.

It’s been a week of being in McAdam, working and visiting. As soon as restrictions around COVID were lifted I made the mad dash home. Partly to see family, partly to be in nature and definitely to give my adult kids a break from our 18 months of 24/7 togetherness.

I didn’t grow up in McAdam, most of my memories are visiting grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins on weekends. Thanks to social media I’ve been able to keep a tenuous connection but I’m so grateful to be here in person.

Every walk my partner, our dog Lucy and I go down a different street or path. 3-5 walks a day mean we get to find new loops for 15, 30, 45 and 90 minute walks.

There is a fantastic walking trail around the pond next to the historic railway station. We are loving going there!

Michel & Natalie smile at the camera with the pond behind them
The McAdam Railway Station in the background behind a small island in the middle of the pond.

Plus there is the McAdam Campground on Wauklehegan Lake. So beautiful.

Lucy, the dog, looks at Michel, her human. Michel is looking across the water of the lake. It’s a gravel beach with a single wooden dock. Rounded mountains covered in evergreens in the distance.

I hope you are having moments to appreciate where you are today and also look to how we can all play a part in honoring the treaties.

Sat with Nat

Nat ponders a quiet Pride month

Recommended Soundtrack: A little Alexis from Schitt’s Creek

It’s June! It’s glorious weather! We are still in lockdown in London, Ontario, Canada. Gaaahhhh. Boring.

What is a queer, fit, feminist to do? No marches. No dancing. Perhaps socially distanced Pride run?

It’s likely a very quiet, close to home Pride season for me. I love that some of my favourite fitness companies are doing some great fundraising for Pride organizations.

This from The Under Belly (aka Jessamyn Stanley) newsletter:

HEY BELLIES,
HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

Take up space and celebrate!!
The impact of the LGBTQ+ community is immeasurable around the world:
inspiring every being to be their whole self and show all their colors.
Let’s celebrate love and bloom with pride together, in-person or virtually,
at a time when it’s needed most.For us, pride means so many things.
It means being, embracing and loving your authentic self fearlessly and
to the fullest. It means giving, showing and celebrating love in all forms.
It means understanding and supporting. It means embracing the journey.
All of which speaks to our values and who we are (hell yeah!).

Pride also means giving back and making a
positive impact in your community/communities.

In that spirit, The Underbelly is teaming up with Gender Spectrum (@gender_spectrum), a non-profit organization working to create gender sensitive and inclusive environments for all children and teens. We love the important work that Gender Spectrum is doing and the positive impact being made (check out these “Gender Stories” to smile, fill your heart up, and even have a good cry!). Stay tuned to our IG page (@theunderbellyyoga) for more details on how we plan to give back with Gender Spectrum”

That kind of “pink dollar” marketing can be tricky if your fitness business isn’t 24/7 2SLGBT+ positive and inclusive. This lands solid and I love this about the Under Belly!

My favourite leggings manufacturer, Point Seven Five, donates a portion of proceeds from their Pride leggings to Canadian not for profits. Another reason to love them!

From their Facebook post:

“Thanks to everyone that has purchased leggings from the Pride Collection. I was able to donate $500 to Rainbow Railroad last night!
I plan to open the shop at the end of the month, I’ll post when it’s open so you can grab your own pair.

Next one will be going to Ten Oaks Project !
Have a charity in mind? Let me know.”

Other times I see Pride related content/items from a vendor and it feels like a cash grab. Or worse, pink washing over a company that is not walking the talk of diversity and inclusion.

Have you seen some great examples of businesses walking the walk for Pride month?

Sat with Nat · yoga

Nat’s Adventures in The Underbelly

Recommended soundtrack Gimme Sympathy by Metric

It’s no secret I’ve been a fan of Jessamyn Stanley for a while now.

https://fitisafeministissue.com/2020/10/24/nat-reads-every-body-yoga-by-jessamyn-stanley/

In January she had a sale on for an annual subscription to

www.theunderbelly.com and I thought “uh yesss!”

The subscription unlocks video content that is parceled both in terms of explaining yoga postures, elements based flows, and remedies.

The first class I tried was “stiff kitty”. At just under 20 minutes it was a short class to help alleviate upper back and neck tension. My partner joined me as we went through the class.

I appreciated her frank discussion of biomedical stuff, like lifting bellies off thighs or how your hand freaks out sometimes. Jessamyn acknowledges that we do yoga in the spaces we have available to us in our bodies, no striving for perfection, rather radical self love and acceptance. I feel at home in her classes.

The time flew by as we went through a series of seated postures. Her approach to twists got me to a new awareness and engagement in my body. Pure gold. My partner and I both felt much better after the class. Yay!

Jessamyn’s delivery includes swearing. That works for me. She is an advocate for the legalization of marijuana. I live in Canada so that is not controversial for me. More than that, she shares her challenges, what she finds helpful and invites you to explore your practice with self compassion.

She is also hilarious and her wonderful sense of humour keeps me from taking myself too seriously or adding tension to my practice.

But also. Friends. She added a class in April 2021 called 1-900-sexercise and I have never felt so seen.

It’s a class about opening up hips, about feeling good about being on top, and celebrating what our bodies can do.

After having gone through a lot of the content I realized the thing that most impacted me about Jessamyn’s facilitation style is her class is ABOUT ME. Unlike other instructors who seem to be putting themselves out there demonstrating advanced postures with a smile, Jessamyn dials it down so I can try something new.

Of course she can do all kinds of amazingly impressive postures, she’s a professional athlete! But her classes are not about that, they are about you and me being on the mat, trying new things, revisiting old favourites, and taking time to care for ourselves.

My absolute favourite class is a twenty minute meditation class found in the “sprouts” section called “Open Mind”.

Jessamyn is seated facing the camera explaining that we don’t need to rush through our meditation practice.

Have you found a new way to approach exercise that is working for you?

Sat with Nat

My high blood pressure 7 year anniversary. Notes to my younger self.

Recommended soundtrack: feeling groovy by Simon & Garfunkel

My social media memories nudged me this week with a series of posts about getting a high blood pressure diagnosis.

Re-reading my first post about my thoughts and feelings

https://fitisafeministissue.com/2014/04/13/i-cant-fight-genetics-guest-post/

I wish I could whisper a few words in my younger self’s ear. I can’t change the past 7 years but maybe you know someone who can benefit from this hard earned wisdom.

Bar none, the thing that made the biggest difference was medication. When I look at the most effective and clearly linked to outcomes, the choice to take my morning pill is #1.

I wish I hadn’t worried so much about food and alcohol. I eat now pretty much how I did then but there was a lot of hand wringing and pointless worrying. I was already eating in accordance with Canada’s Food Guide. Lots of vegetables, a little grain & protein and fruit.

For alcohol, I went sober, renegotiated my relationship with alcohol, chose to drink again and feel good about how my alcohol use feels like a choice.

I’ve done lots of movement, some of it is “working out” but the thing that has stuck and remains my foundation is walking. A lot. Like 10 km a day. It feels easy. It feels sustainable and it doesn’t hurt my body.

I did not go for gastric bypass and I’m glad. My weight has fluctuated from 268 to 200 and all over the place in the last 7 years. My blood pressure remained the same. It’s my veins, not my weight, that are my challenge.

Yoga makes regular appearances in my routine and my relationship with it has blossomed into one of deep appreciation and respect.

There is no one thing that will regulate my blood pressure, it’s a complicated system. I’ve learned to chill the fuck out about a lot of things.

Having a robust social, emotional, physical and fitness support network has definitely been the best part of the past 7 years. I like to think my sharing has contributed to that great support.

So my advice, if you or someone you love is looking, is relax. Access the kinds of health services that make sense to you. Figure out the small things you can change and sustain. And then chill. The. Fuck. Out.

It really works!

A picture of Natalie smiling with her progressive lenses on and much longer hair than she’s had in a very long time. And look at that smile.
equipment · Sat with Nat

Seasonal Maintenance

Recommended listening: Just Dropped In (to see what condition my condition was in) by Kenny Rogers

Approaching the end of winter I noticed my gear and myself look a bit haggard. So I took some time to mend coats, darn mittens, and put mink oil on leather footwear.

Two mid calf brown leather boots are laying sideways covered in dirt and salt
These eight year old Blundstones are looking a bit rough.

At the beginning of winter and mid-season is a good time to take care of winter gear. It is a nemonic for me to check in on myself and reflect on movement and nutrition.

After the mink oil is applied the boots are supple, waterproof, and looking like they are good for a few more seasons.

I’m grumpy but no more so than is usual for me this time of year. I’m achy and that is educating me on why so many Canadians seek warmer places each winter. Overall, I’m doing not too bad.

This past February, thanks to the right gear and work-from-home flexibility, was the first February my step count didn’t take a major hit. With our dog Lucy motivating us and my beloved’s devotion to his step goal we sloshed through slush and tip-toed across ice to keep our 10 km daily treks going.

Our routine needs little maintenance as inertia keeps us rolling. I have noticed I’m slipping on keeping a lunchtime free of meetings. Some days I work later than I mean to. It’s easy to get pulled in to taking boundaries for granted.

So I took a vacation day yesterday and finished up small, lingering household to-do things like conditioning leathers. It was grounding and soothing. I thought of my dad and how he taught me to sharpen knives and maintain my garden tools and footwear. I look forward to seeing him in person (hopefully soon!).

These are small things that mean my gear and myself will be our best and be around for a good long time.

Natalie stares at the camera half smiling  Michel peers over her shoulder   The sun is bright behind them but they still have toques and thick coats on
Sunny day selfies are my favourite, especially when I don’t need a parka!

Do you do specific things this time of year?

Sat with Nat · walking

Taking steps to bridge the distance

Recommended Soundtrack: The Distance by Cake, Stuck Here Again by L7, Walk by The Foo Fighters

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media & connection during the past month. The link between me, the writer, and you, the reader, and how these delicate tendrils of connection join us in this moment. It’s wondrous and powerful stuff in these times of social distance.

The song by Cake, about going the distance, sums up the past 11 months for me. There has been a serious lack of speed and connection.

I have written a lot about walking since August. It’s been a gift even as my partner, our dog, and I shuffle through the finite sets of loops from our house, feeling stuck here again.

Somewhere along the way it became a bit of a running joke that I’d try to take a selfie with my sweetheart and the dog. It started as a photojournal of the days so I could have a sense of time passing. It’s become so much more:

“After reading about your step goals I started a 30 minute a day goal…”

“I love seeing your walk pictures, it reminds me to go out…”

“Thank you for the laugh and the nudge that it’s not too cold out…”

The messages have been coming pretty regularly that a silly photo of us on a walk is a gentle reminder to my friends that:

-we all need movement

– there can be joy on the hardest days

– every step can connect us to our goals

It’s that bit of connection as we learn to walk in the winter again, finding our footing and each other over social media.

It’s not a hug or a shared meal but it is a subsistence trickle of connection based on a snapshot of a moment. I think part of it is the everyday, not-epic-at-all nature of the photo. When taken in context of a couple hundred days it is impactful.

I’m still here, you’re still there. Our time in this moment is fleeting. What will you do next to sustain your sense of connection?

I’ll probably call my mom or my sister. I’ll then go for a walk and post a picture about it.

Natalie smiles at the camera, wearing a knit grey toque, knit green mittens and yellow crocheted cowl. yes, she made those herself and is totally bragging about it. In the background her partner Michel is a blur in his grey toque and brown leather jacket. Their 40 pound dog is excitedly grabbing Michel’s arm wondering why everyone is indulging in a selfie when it’s cold and dark out and we really should be on our way.