fitness · season transitions

Catherine considers joining a gym in January

For some weeks now, I’ve been thinking: maybe it’s time to find a nice gym. Okay, I admit that reading Samantha’s posts about her fancy new gym has definitely put me in a state of yearning for pools, saunas, nice weight room, interesting classes and pleasant locker room (if there is such a thing). Another friend just told me that she joined the nice athletic club not far from her house and mine. So, what am I waiting for?

I’m really busy and mostly out of town for December, so maybe it makes the most sense to join in January. Or maybe not.

Yes, it's a silly meme about empty gyms in December and overcrowded ones in January. But truth lies therein nonetheless.
Yes, it’s a silly meme about empty gyms in December and overcrowded ones in January. But truth lies therein nonetheless.

If you google (as I did) “should I join a gym in January?”, you’ll get loads of links to articles giving you reasons not to start a membership at the beginning of the year. Here are some:

  • It’s the most expensive time of the year to join
  • 80% of gym members don’t ever use the gym again past February (numbers and months vary by article, but the message is clear)
  • It’s a big schlep to get to the gym when it’s winter vs. working out at home
  • When/if one goes, the January throngs at the club will be rude or clueless about gym etiquette

Yes, yes, I know all of this. But but I still want to join anyway. What are my reasons?

  • January is when I have the time to explore a new club and new classes
  • I’m looking to switch up my exercise routine and get out of the house more
  • The last time I joined a nice club I really enjoyed it, and I’m looking for that experience
  • The pool– I want access to a nice pool!
  • I have a flexible work schedule, so I don’t have to work out at peak hours

The place I have in mind (where my friend just joined) has a 7-day trial. I think checking things out in December makes sense. And then, I’ll need to look over the contract carefully– the devil is in the details, so they have to work for me (cancellation policies, putting membership on hold, etc.)

I’ll report back on progress, but I think I’m gonna do it.

Readers, have you joined or restarted a gym membership during the January rush? What was it like? I’d love to hear from you (I think… 🙂

fall · fitness · nature · season transitions · Seasonal sadness

Is there a way to redeem November?

I love September. It’s the first month of the university year. There’s lots of things to do on campus. I love the bustling atmosphere of all the students returning.


October is Halloween and pumpkins and while some of the days are dark and grey I find the brightness of the yellow and orange leaves helps.

Here’s Michael Enright in praise of October.


December is all seasonal celebrations, concerts, family, holidays, gifts and joy. It feels very cozy and I love the music.


While January is cold and snowy here there’s often a lot of bright sun beaming off the bright white snow. Also the days are getting noticeably longer. Usually I head south in January and get some winter bicycling in.


February and March can seem long I know but again there’s sun and I’ve got spring in my sights.


But November? The leaves are gone. It’s not yet snowy, mostly grey and cold and rainy. It’s dark when I go to work and dark when I come home. There aren’t even any good holidays in November. I’m Canadian, remember. We did Thanksgiving in October.


November is objectively the darkest and worst month of the year. I need a way to redeem November. I should be able to find something good about November. But what?


Your suggestions and ideas about redeeming November are welcome. And while I appreciate that some people can lean into the misery and kind of revel in the worst month of the year gloom, that’s not me. I need ways of making it through November, and for this year, I need ways that don’t involve more outside exercise. As I rehab my knee that isn’t going to happen. I need to know what you like about November. What’s November’s good side? Somebody has to like November, right?

Goodbye October. Hello, November.
fitness · season transitions · Seasonal sadness · winter · Zwift

Preparing for winter in different ways

My friend Todd and I have been chatting and blogging back and forth about preparing for winter. Here’s his latest, a Week 1 post. Todd’s focus is on fitness, a shared passion, and spending time outside. I’m usually in agreement with that too. I feel better when I’m outside even in the winter months. Outdoor physical activity that combines those two things is the best.

This past week I shared my list of resources for coping with fall dread.

One thing I noted is that this year will be different for me. With my newly replaced knee I won’t be doing very much outside riding once winter gets here. It may be that winter gets here before I even get to ride a real bike. Normally I ride bikes outside year round but not this year.

So what’s my fall/winter fitness plan look like?

🍁Zwift is an obvious thing. I miss riding in Watopia.

🍁 I’ve also joined a fancy gym for aquafit, hot yoga, and some time in the weight room, possibly also the hot tub. As I noted in my September check in gyms with wood paneling and juice bars aren’t usually places I call home, I’m going to try to enjoy the luxury while I rehab my knee.

🍁 I’m going to try to gradually up my walking game. It’s been a few years. The success of that plan will depend on how well and quickly my left knee recovers from surgery and how well my right knee holds up while waiting for round two of knee replacement. If I succeed Cheddar will be a happy dog!

🍁Warm weather riding remains a possibility. It will depend on how quickly I can get back on the bike and ride.

🍁I’m going to try and keep our living space warm and cozy and inviting for floor physio and for home yoga.

I’m going to miss riding outside between now and spring but rehabbing my left knee and getting my right knee ready for surgery (prehab!) has got to be a priority.

What’s your winter fitness plan?

Cheddar basking in a sunbeam
fitness · Guest Post · season transitions

Late summer magic (Guest post)

by Judy Steers

It’s THAT time of day. You know the one. Where the sun is slicing through the trees at a sharp angle. It’s warm while it’s on you and losing that hot edge like it had back in July. Wrapped in a damp towel, your hair wild and wind-blown, you’re gingerly walking barefoot on the soft moss and hard stones back to shelter – whether that’s the tent, the camper, or the cottage.

You’re a bit wet still from an afternoon of playing in the waves and paddling down the wind and lying in the sun. You’ve body surfed and got rolled over and come up laughing. You’ve had a cold beer or soda or juicy apple or a bag of salty chips on the dock and now, it’s time to shift to the Later Things.

But right now? Now is that beautiful in-between time where you look for the mossy patch stepping stones to take your feet back to warm clothes and lunch dishes still on the table (because you were just so keen to get out on the afternoon adventure).

You wrap up in flannel and someone lights the barbeque or the fire. The water and the wind still roar and the towels dance in the line. You’re warm and happy and surrounded by people you love. Good food awaits. The promise of campfire, s’mores and the wind in the trees to lull you to sleep.

You’re 10 years old at Girl Guide camp, you’re 20-something on a short weekend with friends, you’re 40-something wrapping shivering children in big fluffy towels, you’re staring down 60 and feel like all of them.

5:00 pm on a late summer afternoon is pure magic. It’s the transition between splashing, shivering fun and warm well-fed contentment. The tentative barefoot steps on the moss tell you you’ve been here before, and your heart is grateful you get to do it again.

Judy is a school chaplain in her work life and a kayaker and board game geek in her play life. She lives in Guelph and regularly waves as Sam bikes past her house on her cool Brompton. She is now past 60 and still loves playing in the waves and campfire.

fitness · goals · play · season transitions

Go Team: View Your Highlight Reel

So, Team, here we are at the end of August, being our marvellous selves.

We had BIG plans for the summer and we got some of them done.

We managed to do some cool stuff that wasn’t on our lists.

We also dealt with unexpected (and likely very challenging) stuff.

While we *could* sit here and list all of the things that didn’t go as planned, the stuff we hoped to get to but never did, the obstacles we faced, I’m going to vote no on that sort of deliberate review for us right now.

I am especially voting no on anything that might lead us to be harsh to ourselves about the whole thing.

(Yes, there’s a time and a place to review what went awry and to adjust future plans accordingly but it doesn’t have to be right now. And there might be a time and a place to decide to make different choices and take different actions but there is never a time when we have to be hard on ourselves about that sort of stuff.)

Instead, I’m inviting us to view our summer highlight reels – the fun stuff, the shiny bits, the hard work that paid off, the times we relaxed, the summer-specific moments and memories that feel great when we roll them around in our minds.

Take a minute when you can and sink into those highlights.

Relive how you felt, the sensory details, the work and the fun.

Give yourself the chance to celebrate the effort you put in, the good choices you made, the fun that happened even if things didn’t go according to plan.

I know that the end of summer can bring a sort of melancholy and, obviously, it’s totally ok to feel however you feel about the change in season, but you don’t have to get mired in that feeling.

You can be present for your melancholy moments AND you can enjoy the memories of the highlights of your summer. You don’t have to choose.

You can have some regrets about things undone AND be happy about the fun you had. this isn’t an either/or situation.

However, given the human brain’s negativity bias, we might have to consciously choose to fully remember the highlights of summer as the season comes to an end.

So, Team, here are some stars for your efforts to celebrate the good and create your summer highlight reel.

A GIF of cartoon stars dropping from the top of the image, each with a trail of sparkles
Okay, so these stars aren’t gold per se but they are super fun so they totally count. Image description: a GIF of a series of stars dropping from the top of the image trailing sparkles behind them.

And, truth be told, summer doesn’t officially end until sometime in September. So, once you have that mental highlight reel in place, you can spend a little time planning another adventure or two even as your schedule moves into Autumn mode.

Go on, I dare you to add more fun to your next few weeks.

PS – If a mental highlight reel isn’t enough for you, create an album of photos on your phone, make a list, create a visual journal, doodle some memories, or make a video for future you to watch.

PPS – My summer highlight reel includes swimming with Trudy and Michelle, sitting on my patio in the evening, a backyard fire with a small group of friends, getting my tiny spiral garden planted, a couple of day trips with Steve, and watching Khalee sniff the same patch of flowers each day on our walk.

fitness · health · season transitions · self care

Sweaticating. Yes, I made that word up.

Just to be clear, I’m not complaining about the heat. We don’t get enough good weather here as it is. I don’t want to complain and risk a weather deity’s vengeance.

So, this is not a complaint.

It’s an observation.

I’m just observing that it has been especially warm and humid (for this part of Newfoundland) this past week or so and I am not acclimatized to it at all.

In fact, it often leaves me feeling a migraine is hunting me and it could catch me at any minute.

And that’s just about as fun as it sounds.

So instead of trying out new exercises or adding a bit more time to my usual routine, I’ve just been sweaticating.

According to the lexicon of my 9 year old self (and that self’s friend Rochelle) sweaticating is when you are so warm that everything you wear sticks to you and you mostly feel like lying around eating popsicles.

A woman reclines in bed saying ‘I’m sweating’ while fanning herself with her hand.
She’s just sweating, not sweaticating but she does look like she could use a popsicle. Image description: GIF of Alexis from the TV show Schitt’s Creek is reclining in bed fanning her armpits with her hands and saying ‘I feel like I’m sweating.’

Popsicle lounging what I *feel* like doing but since I’m an adult (or a reasonable hand-drawn facsimile, at least) I know that lying around eating popsicles will eventually leave me feeling much worse.

So, while I have eaten my fair share of popsicles and I have done a nice bit of lying around recently, I have also been following my bare minimum self-care plan.

What does that look like?

Taking Khalee for walks after supper instead of in the late afternoon.

A light haired dog on a leash stands on grass near a wooden fence
I picked this photo because Khalee’s expression cracks me up but that particular evening it had rained a bit so it wasn’t quite so warm. Image description: Khalee, a light-haired dog in a harness and leash, stands next to a fence. Her body is pointing away from the viewer but head is turned back toward the camera and she looks like she is asking ‘Are you going to catch up or what?’

Doing some writing on my patio under the shade of a tree.

I set up one of my outdoor tables so I can stand and write/draw. Foolishly, my first attempt had me facing my neighbour’s fence. This view is way better. Image description: My notebook is open on a white table that is attached to my patio rail. My pencil case and pen are covering most of the lined page of my notebook and I have a travel container of iced tea on the wooden railing above it. There’s an orange lawn chair and an empty fire pit amid the grass beyond the patio rail. (The firepit is on concrete slabs but the grass is too long to see them in this shot) Tree trunks, lower tree branches and a wooden fence are in the background.

Yoga, stretches, slow-motion TKD patterns, and other low-key exercises outside once it gets dark.

A nighttime photo of a patio lit with string lights.
Night yoga for the win. Image description: An inviting nighttime photo of my patio. My railing is lit with string lights and a small patio burner, my yoga mat stretches out from the right hand side of the photo and in the far corner is a chair with a red cushion and a table with a flowering plant on it.

I’m not following my ideal plan but I am doing what I can and taking good care of myself while (mostly) avoiding that predatory migraine.

How about you?

How are you taking good care of yourself these days?

PS – If things haven’t been going so well on that front, why not give it a whirl today.?

Start small, rest a little…maybe have a popsicle.

A GIF of a dog eating a popsicle
A GIF of a small brown dog in a striped sweater eats a yellow popsicle that is clutched between its front paws. The words YUM YUM are at the bottom of the image.

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.