fitness · season transitions

The time, it is a-changing

Daylight Saving Time (I just now saw online that it’s not “savings”) just began at 2am today. This means that almost all of us in the US and Canada (Arizona, Yukon, Hawaii, most of Saskatchewan, and a few other places excepted) lost one hour of sleep last night. Even though it’s only one hour, it can make us feel grumpy and off-kilter for a while.

This little kid is feeling the loss of sleep at the breakfast table.
This little kid is feeling the loss of sleep at the breakfast table.

There’s loads of advice on dealing with the time change. This article in The Conversation offers us 11 pieces of advice about dealing with the time change. Roughly, they are as follows:

  • go back in time to make sure you’re well-rested in the past (thanks…)
  • go back in time to adjust your sleep schedule incrementally– like 15 minutes earlier for 4 days (has anyone actually ever done this? I doubt it)
  • Use light first thing in the morning to help wake you up (as if you didn’t do this before)
  • stay away from screens at night (yeah yeah…)
  • adjust curtaining (thickness, opening and closing) to create light conditions at the right time (did we need to hear this again?)
  • exercise in the morning (I’m guessing it’s another get-some-light thing, but may be there just on principle)
  • have a protein-heavy breakfast if you’re sleep deprived, to avoid eating sugars and carbs (this seems irrelevant to the sleep thing; they’re doing a little food policing while they’ve got your attention. Hmphf.)
  • don’t have caffeine after noon (my reaction is either “duh” or “back off from my caffeine habit”)
  • avoid alcohol at bedtime (please insert same reaction as above)
  • be patient with your kids, as meltdowns, irritability and loss of attention are common reactions to loss of sleep (they should’ve added to be patient with grown-ups too, including self and others)

One thing they didn’t say was this: be really happy about the time change and feel free to celebrate!

You may be thinking: what? That can’t be right. I mean:

Victorian-sleeved woman reminding us: The best part of daylight savings time is that we lose one hour of sleep! Said no one, ever.
Victorian-sleeved woman reminding us: The best part of daylight savings time is that we lose one hour of sleep! Said no one, ever.

Yes, of course– I fully agree. And yet. I’m so psyched that we get our evening light back! Here are some reasons I’m really happy about the time change:

  • More light for evening bike rides, walks, swimming, etc.
  • More light for my long commute home, meaning that I’ll feel less blurry
  • More light later in the day for more activity at home– chores, cooking, crafts– and less burrowing into the couch, binge-watching Top Chef (not that it’s a bad thing, but I’m ready for a change)
  • More evening time on my back porch for reading, chatting or eating with friends, etc.

There are two more things I really like about the time change, which I saved for last, as they are my favorites. First, having less light in the morning and more later in the day reflects my own personal rhythm– I get started later in the morning anyway, and prefer to have my daylight shifted more towards evening. And Second, the time change means that spring is coming and that summer is not far behind. I love me some summer, and will be celebrating the arrival of this year’s summer season with great joy.

Thanks, Raphael Biscaldi from Unsplash, for the beach ball floating on turquoise water image. Ahhh....
Thanks, Raphael Biscaldi from Unsplash, for the beach ball floating on turquoise water image. Ahhh….

So, readers, what are your views about the time change? Did my ode to springing forward help? Or just further irritate you? How about trying a protein-heavy breakfast– I heard they help… 🙂

season transitions

It’s Spring! (Sort of…)

Welcome to February 1st, the first day of spring! In Ireland anyway.

“Today, 1 February, marks the first day of spring in the Gaelic calendar. Traditionally, in Ireland spring is celebrated on February first, having been known as Imbolc in ancient times and coinciding with St Brigid’s Day, a day celebrating Ireland’s only female patron saint. While spring does not officially start for a number of weeks, most people in Ireland will still celebrate St Brigid’s Day as the symbolic end to the winter, with masses of schoolchildren usually weaving St Brigid’s Crosses to mark the day. The Celtic festival of Imbolc lands halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and is one of four Gaelic seasonal festivals, the other three being Bealtaine, Lughnasadh and Samhain.”

It’s sort of springlike today. It’s sunny and above freezing here in Guelph, 3 C!

Yes, we are on the verge of a “multi-day snow event” but for now it’s sunny and warm and I’m thinking of spring.

In a mood of possible reckless optimism I just booked a trip to Vancouver in April. I decided I would go even if the conference is moved online.

I’ve also started getting ready for the bike rally in August. You can sponsor me here. Please!

Photos of bike rallies past:

ADHD · dogs · fitness · season transitions · winter

Christine Past and Christine Present Conspire to Get Outdoors This Winter

With the colder weather coming, I know that I need to make some plans about how to stay active and to help me get over my resistance to going out in the cold. 

(I’m fine once I am out there, I just have trouble motivating myself to go out – a common problem that my ADHD amplifies for me.)

I love the idea of preplanning but, despite the repeated evidence that it works, I can’t always get my brain on board with the project of organizing things in advance.

This is where some of my past posts come in handy. Thanks to a solid history of blogging here at Fit is a Feminist Issue, I can easily look back at how my past self benefited from planning and persisting and it makes it seem easier to plan and persist now.

So, yesterday, I gave myself a refresher on things my past self figured out and now my current self is on board.

I know that Khalee’s need to go for a walk will help me get myself out the door so that’s helpful.

A light haired dog in a dark green sweatshirt stands facing the camera.
Khalee has a new hoodie so she’s all ready for chilly weather. (Do I think it is ridiculous to put clothes on a dog? Yes. Do I think that she looks adorable and hilarious? Also yes.) image description; Khalee, a medium-sized, light-haired dog is facing the camera with her mouth slightly open so she kind of looks like she is smiling. She is wearing a dark green hooded sweatshirt and she is standing indoors in a doorway.

And I know that I need to dig out my hatphones because they make it easier to stay warm while listening to podcasts.

And I have my hiking boots to get me through the icky bits of the season before I break out my winter boots.

And, I have clear evidence that planning for winter activities makes a big difference.

So, I know that Khalee will help provide the impetus to get outside, and that I’ll have warm, dry feet and my head will keep warm while I listen to scary stories on my walk. I know that now is a good time to dig my snowshoes out of the shed and store them in the house. 

And I’ve realized that I have to switch up my time for walking with Khalee because going out at 5pm in the fall means walking in the dark and that adds an extra layer of resistance. 

What are you doing to prep for fitness activities during the winter months?

Do you have any extra recommendations for me?

Aside from this:

GIF of two people in red outfits hopping through the snow in a giant sack.
This was the first thing to come up when I typed ‘winter activities’ into the GIF search bar. I confess that I had not thought of ‘two person sack race’ as a winter activity before. Image description: GOF of two people in red outfits hopping along the snow in a giant sack in the winter woods.

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.