fitness · season transitions

6 things Catherine is liking this fall

1)Leaving my house more: I’m enjoying the outside world more for work, for social activity, for physical activity. Where I live, there are high rates of vaccination and mask mandates in most towns I go to. I’m lucky and happy about this, and also feeling more comfortable (while observing safety measures for myself and others).

2)Finding new pleasures in old activities: I’m liking commuting (yes, I said it), getting to know my students (even with masks), and walking around campus (I’m meandering more after classes). I’m bingeing on podcasts in the car, and yes, I’ve even done a bit of driveway listening. My favorite these days: Hear to Slay, with Tressie McMillan Cottom and Roxane Gay.

3)Embracing that late-to-the-party doesn’t mean there’s no fun to be had: After being inside A Lot, I’ve been venturing out in nature more with friends and by myself. In the past month alone. I’ve found several sweet parks that I never knew existed. Water is my favorite, but I’ll take woods, flowers, rocks, whatever you got.

4)Feeling more myself than I have in several years: I haven’t worked out what exactly the pandemic’s effects have been on me (we’re all working on this still), but 18 months after it started, I know that I’m more aware of where I am and what I want than I have been in years. Partly it’s due to my restarted meditation practice and partly due to my newly-started personal writing practice (I’ve taken some Zoom writing classes at Grub Street Boston, which have been excellent).

5)Planning my fall 2022 sabbatical: it’s only 217 days until my sabbatical. I’ll be on research leave May 15, 2022 until January 15, 2023. I’ve written my proposal, and enjoying thinking about, researching (read web surfing) and planning possible travel to Canada (fingers crossed), recreational travel in the US, and possibly a writing residency, too.

6)Preparing to buy an e-bike in 2022: Yes, I said it. For cyclists, a new bike is always an exciting prospect, and always feels just-around-the-corner (recall that n+1 is the perfect number of bikes for anyone owning n bikes…) For a lot of reasons, I think it’s the right next bike purchase. I’d like an e road or gravel bike, which is many dollars. Hence the prep time for research, test riding, and making that money to pay for it.

What about you, dear readers? What are you enjoying this fall? I’d love to hear from you.

challenge · fall · fitness · season transitions

FIFI has a ParticipACTION team and you can join us!

I don’t know about you but for me the autumn can be challenging activity wise, as I pack up the canoe, and the small sailboat, and there’s no light left in the evenings.

To help with some bonus incentive, I joined the participACTION October challenge and made us a team. Join me?

It’s time to get moving in ParticipACTION’s Team Challenges. Join the Fit is a Feminist Issue team by entering code b3xyfrg in the free ParticipACTION app. Let’s get active together! Make sure you’ve got the latest version of the app: https://bit.ly/2GR6y3c

If the team is full by the time you get there, please feel free to start Fit is a Feminist Issue, 2 and so on. If you do that and you want others to join, pass along your team name and code in the comments. Thanks!

fitness · season transitions · yoga

Christine and the nighttime patio yoga

I love doing yoga outside at any time but especially at night in the summer. I bring out some soft lights, set up my mat on the patio, and pop in one earphone so I can follow along with a Youtube practice. *

So, right now you are probably thinking ‘Christine, that sounds great but it’s not summer any more.’

And that’s true, it’s definitely fall and I usually stop doing nighttime yoga by now. Luckily, though, I had an errand to run and I realized that it was pretty warm night for September so patio yoga was totally feasible.

A dimly-lit photo of Christine outdoors at night. A string of star-shaped lights are visible over her shoulder.
You’ll be pleased to know that my smirk works just as well at night as it does in the daytime. Image description: a dimly-lit nighttime photo of my face. My hair is held back with a bandana, and I’m smirking. You can see a string of star-shaped patio lights over my shoulder and my headphones are visible where they hang around my neck.

And it was great.

Sure, there was a chill in the air but it kind of nice actually.

And the company was pretty swell, too.

A light-haired dog is standing on the grass at night, looking up at the camera. She is illuminated by a string of lights that can be seen on the left aide.
Khalee couldn’t let me be outside by myself at night without supervision. Image description: a nighttime photo of Khalee, a light-haired dog. She is standing on the grass, looking up toward the camera. Her tail is mid-wag. My string of round lights is dangling from my hand and can be seen on the left side of the photo, illuminating Khalee and the grass.

Now that I have turned evening patio yoga into a fall activity, and since I am the owner of very many sweaters and several pairs of non-slip socks, I’m wondering just how far into the season I can get away with practicing outdoors.

Further bulletins as events warrant.

A nighttime photo on my patio string of round, white battery-operated lights are arranged in the shape of a heart on my blue yoga mat. My feet are visible on the mat below the lights,
Cheesy? Yes. But when I placed the lights down they ended up in a vaguely heart-shaped form and I couldn’t resist tidying the shape a bit. Image description: A nighttime photo on my patio string of round, white battery-operated lights are arranged in the shape of a heart on my blue yoga mat. My feet are visible on the mat below the lights, my toenails are painted green (the colour is called ‘My gecko does tricks.’

*I don’t usually watch the practice, the bright screen would kind of ruin the mood but I do listen so I can stop my mind from galloping off into thoughts of what pose to do next.

fitness · season transitions · swimming

Last summer swim: a post in photos

It’s officially fall now, and usually that means my swim season is over. However, inspired by fellow bloggers, the Book Why We Swim, and the FB group Boston Open Water Swimming, I’m going to see how far into the fall/winter I can continue heading into the water. Maybe I can just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

Our friend Dory the fish, saying "just keep swimming".
Our friend Dory the fish, saying “just keep swimming”.

Last week, Norah and I went to Walden for our last official summer swim. It was a gorgeous day, low-mid 70s/22-23C and sunny. For those of you who haven’t been to Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts, it is a very beautiful place, well-designed and well-maintained. This is important, because it is hugely popular with locals and tourists. About 500,000 people visit each year, according to this article in Smithsonian. However, the capacity is strictly monitored, and the Pond closes to new visitors several times a day on busy days in the summer, reopening when the numbers drop.

Here you can see the well-maintained parking areas and walkways, accessible to lots of people.

With utility comes a definite New England aesthetic.

When Norah and I crossed the street (which has a huuuge set of pedestrian signs and lights), we walked down the wide concrete path to the main beach. In the summer there are lifeguards and ropes for the swimming areas.

Our favorite swim spot is on the other side of the pond. On the way there we pass other people in their favorite spots, and see lots of action on the water.

Here’s what our favorite swimming spot looks like.

After swimming, chatting, snacking and addressing the problems of the world, Norah and I return the way we came. The path goes all the way around the pond, in case you want to check out the other side. Lots of people swim from there, too.

I finally bought a wetsuit– a shorty one– and I’ve got neoprene booties when I need them (still have gloves to purchase). This fall will be my first foray into colder water swimming. But there’s nothing like heading into the water in summer, the cool water instantly changing your perspective on a hot (and possibly trying) day. This was my last one of those for while.

What about you, dear readers? What activities are you wrapping up or changing gear for this fall? We’d love to hear from you.

fitness · season transitions

Changing seasons, changing clothes

It’s the time of year when the weather can’t decide what to do with itself. The headlines aren’t even consistent. There’s Warmer than normal fall and Unusually warm autumn that will feel more like summer, followed by Ontario to be got by earlier and more brutal winner. Whatever.

And then there’s this week’s forecast.

It’s the season when I’m thankful for the very expensive but very effective raincoat I bought in Dunedin, New Zealand when I was there on sabbatical 9 years ago.

And there’s the variation within a single day. I’m leaving my house on my bike (sometimes in the dark) at 5 or 6 degrees but by midday it’s 25, with the humidity feels like 30 degrees. This means I’m accumulating jackets and hoodies at the office.

We’re not quite at the ‘four seasons in a week’ stage but we’re close.

4 Seasons in Canada - Meanwhile in Canada... I love experiencing all four seasons in one week!
Meanwhile in Canada, I love experiencing all four seasons in one week.

I am about to put away my summer dresses and shorts, and do the great seasonal clothes swap over. That’s happening later each year it seems.

But right now we’re about to sneak in one last canoe camping trip. Wish us luck and let’s hope it doesn’t snow!

blog · camping · canoe · cycling · family · fashion · fitness · illness · nature · season transitions · Seasonal sadness · traveling

Blogging in September: My birthday, the blog’s birthday, back to school, and other themes

There are lots of things I could write about today. I’ve spent a fair bit of time pondering my choice of topics.

I was going to write about my annual thyroid cancer check up. It’s today. And if all goes well it’s my last annual check up. (Fingers crossed.) After today they’re every five years. My birthday last week was also mammogram day. It’s as if September weren’t a busy enough month for an academic. It’s also cancer screening season for me.

I thought about writing whether Tracy and I want to write a turning 60 book, to follow up our turning 50 project, Fit at Midlife: A Feminist Fitness Journey. We’re having dinner together tonight and no doubt the subject will come up

Let’s see. It’s also blog birthday season. As Tracy posted, happy 9th birthday blog! We’re nearly at 5000 posts too. That’s hard to believe. This post is 4990!

And the blog’s birthday and my birthday, not surprisingly given how the blog got started, are pretty close together. Another possible topic, what does 57 mean anyway?

Here’s a photo from my birthday bike ride!

Jeff, Dhurin, me, Kim, Ellen and Sarah on the birthday bike ride

At this time of year I often write about back to school and trying to stay physically active as work gets busier and busier. This year, unlike last, I’m back in my office. I’m not yet back at the gym.

I’m having big busy days filled with work and people. So many people! I gave a lecture to O-Week students (photo on the right) and hung out with incoming College of Arts students at our Food Truck lunch meet and greet (photo on the left.)

I also biked around meeting parents and students on move-in day. (Round photo at the bottom.)

Sam’s pink Bromption outside Zavitz Hall at the University of Guelph

I’m back in the office now, wearing (mostly) real clothes. I looked at my clothes the other day and wondered why there were so many pairs of yoga pants. Who needs five pairs of yoga pants? Oh right, work from home and the pandemic. I could write about wearing clothes again. I’m working my way back to real shoes but I am not there yet.

In recent years I’ve been suffering a bit from seasonal sadness and trying to tell myself new stories about fall and winter, leaning into the time of cold and dark. I’ve been trying to extend outdoor activities into the fall. We’re going canoe camping again one more time this fall. And we are also looking at more fall gravel riding plans. So there’s that.

I’m a bit nervous that the no travel thing is continuing and it looks like this will be another year in which I don’t get to go somewhere warm with my bike for the winter. I miss the southern US! I miss Florida and Arizona for winter cycling.

In the end, I just want to let you know how much we’ve been enjoying our time in Prince Edward County and likely will continue that into the autumn too.

How’s your September starting out as we move into the fall?

Here’s a farm frog and a some pumpkins.

Frog and pumpkins
fitness · habits · rest · season transitions · self care

Working Outside: An Internal Debate

I’m writing this while sitting on my patio and wondering if I want to take my laptop outside for the rest of the afternoon.

I mean, if you were sitting here, would you want to make yourself go work inside?

A view of a backyard patio, plants, lawn and trees
The view from my seat under my patio umbrella. Image description: a photo of one side of a backyard deck with a view of a red shed with white trim, a patio chair with a red cushion, a variety of potted plants, some grass and trees, and my dog, Khalee.

Yet, as someone with ADHD who does freelance work from home, I already have to put a lot of effort into reminding myself that there is a time for work and a time to relax/be at home. I generally try to limit where I work so I have environmental reminders to keep me on track.

So, if I start working in my relaxation space, am I going to blur that line I have worked hard to draw?

On the other hand, I have done lots of work outside in the past. I don’t really remember if it made it more challenging to keep that boundary or not.

And while I have enjoyed my deck in previous years, I hadn’t put as much effort into creating a restful backyard before. My new deck and an increase in my planning capacity (thanks to an increased dose of ADHD meds last fall) has helped me plan and create a much more enjoyable space this summer.

I don’t know if I should draw stronger boundaries around this restful space or if my environment would help me work with more ease. If I could work with more ease, maybe it would be easier to draw a line under my tasks for the day and move on to my hobbies and relaxation.

In the past, while writing or doing other office work outdoors, I have managed to create a good rhythm for my day – working in short sessions and then breaking for yoga, other exercises, drawing or reading. That’s probably a healthier way to work than trying to force myself to focus for long periods. There would be less sitting and more movement, which is always good for me.

But, maybe I could make my workday shorter if I told myself to stay inside for X amount of time and then go outside to exercise and/or relax?

Am I overthinking this? Almost definitely.

Does it have to be all one or all the other? Probably not.

I still think it is worth asking myself all of these questions though.

I am trying to be more conscious of the choices I am making and of the patterns I am following. I want those choices and patterns to contribute to my overall fitness, my health, my happiness, and my peace of mind.

I’ll probably try working outside in small amounts and see how it affects my sense of relaxation the rest of the time.

In the worst case scenario, it won’t work out and I’ll have to redraw my boundaries. I can always use more practice at that.

Image description: a GIF of a person’s hand drawing a line on white paper with a black sharpie marker and then the sharpie rolls away.
Image description: a GIF of a person’s hand drawing a line on white paper with a black sharpie marker and then the sharpie rolls away.

PS – Yes, I am aware of the irony of being outside while composing a post wondering about whether I should work outside but writing for this blog is in a grey area between work-work and recreation so really it’s kind of fitting that I am writing it on my phone while outside.

cycling · fitness · season transitions

Spring? Time to clean bikes

It’s not actually spring yet. But it sure feels like spring. It’s sunny and warm. High of 15 tomorrow. Even the mayor thinks we should take the day off.

Also, in my newsfeed, there are photos of us a year ago, cleaning our road bikes.

No photo description available.

Nat asked on Saturday in her post on seasonal maintenance, Do you do specific things this time of year?. And I think for me cleaning my bike is one of those things.

Normally during the summer I give my bike a quick clean after riding, but this of year, I go for something a bit more involved.

How about you? Are you getting ready to ride?

fitness · season transitions · winter

Sam hates November but loves bright, sunny, snowy days (a photo essay as a reminder)

Like Tracy, I’ve been struggling to get outside this winter. Yes, there’s been some fat biking. There have been a few long snowy dog walks. But generally, on a weekly basis, it feels like days whoosh by when I don’t leave the house. Like this week, it was suddenly Friday and I realized I went out just once.

I blog lots about how much I hate grey November days but I do love winter sunshine. January and February are usually good months for snow and sun. It’s the in-between stage of winter I hate when it’s too cold and icy to ride my bike but not yet snowy enough to fat bike, cross country ski etc.

But this February feels different and I’m thinking it’s really about the pandemic not just about the weather. Right now we’re at the stage in Canadian winter when the temperatures feel daunting. The combination of stay at home orders in the province where I live and some -15 windy, grey, icy days means an awful lot of indoor time.

What I love, and I need to remind myself of this, is the bright winter sun. I’m not sure why I need to remind myself about this. I’m not sure why it feels so much like work during the pandemic to remember the good things. But it does. Are there things that you know make you feel better but you still need reminding? Still need a push out the door? Walking in the sunshine, in winter, is like this for me.

It’s also Family Day here in Ontario. As pandemic winter continues, I really miss my family members who don’t live with me. I think I’m going to make an effort to visit outside more often even though it’s cold.

Dog hikes, family, sun and snow. All good.

I also love reading in my llama pjamas, late Sunday breakfasts, and coffee! These are things I know make the weekend better but I don’t need reminding about them.

What are some of your favourite weekend things? I feel the need these days to mark the weekend and make it special. Otherwise, all the days blur into one.

Hope you had a good weekend and if you’re in one of Canadian provinces that celebrate it, hope you’ve got a happy family day ahead of you.

Enjoy!

Breakfast, French toast and strawberries

season transitions · Seasonal sadness · swimming · winter

Winter swimming!

Snow swimming!

I’m fascinated by people who swim in the winter months. I’ve got friends who do it and who post their photos to Facebook. Each time, I’m intrigued.

I wrote about the trend of winter swimming last year on the blog.

People say it has  remarkable health benefits including helping with seasonal depression and with relieving the symptoms of menopause. It’s said to be all the rage: Why wild swimming in depths of winter is the new natural high.  People write about the subversive joy of cold water swimming.

There are even battles between the old school hardcore winter bathers and the new trendy winter swimmers who favour fleecy robes for warming up after.

And then this video came across my newsfeed.

Maybe I should just give it a try?

What do you think? What’s the coldest weather/water you’ve swum in before? Tempted to do it again? Love it? Hate it? Tell us your story!