aging · fitness · strength training

A real life lesson in muscle loss and aging

So normally here on the blog the vibe is all about discovering your own fitness groove. Find something you enjoy and do that, we say, because if fitness finds its way into your life as one more thing you have to do, another tedious, unpleasant, time consuming task, it’s very hard to stick with it.

Add pleasure to your life by finding a form of movement you enjoy.

Along with “start small” it’s probably the most common piece of fitness we give.

Three years ago I remember pushing myself to branch out and give advice to a reader who hated exercise and who just wanted the health benefits. I said they should figure out what is necessary–strength training for bone health, cardio for heart health, something for flexibility and mobility– and then regular, everyday exercise, and make a plan to fit it in.

Now in this case, the reader did ask so we were on solid ground I think offering up our advice.

But there’s another theme lurking just below the surface at the blog. Lately I’ve been wanting to stand up and yell from a soapbox about women and the need for strength training. It might not be the thing that brings you joy but it might be necessary for functional fitness and independent living as you age.

The numbers are striking. Here’s this from a recent New York Times piece,

“Aging causes muscles to lose mass, bone density to thin and joints to stiffen — affecting our balance, coordination and strength. At the same time, hormonal shifts and persistent low-level inflammation can set the stage for chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

And the changes start earlier than you might think. Muscles begin to shrink in our 30s and continue their downward spiral in midlife, with up to 25 percent of their peak mass gone by the time we’re 60.

But there’s hope: Exercise can stall muscle loss, cognitive decline and fatigue. “It’s never too late to start exercising, and it’s never too early,” Chhanda Dutta, a gerontologist at the National Institute on Aging, said.”

Women have been sold a bill of goods about fitness. There’s the focus on thinness, on appearance, and the over emphasis on cardio fitness over strength training. These things are also planks in my soapbox.

I was in hospital recently, after my knee replacement surgery, I was struck by how many of my elderly hospital roommates lacked the upper body strength to perform basic functional movements. Yes, they’d just had joint surgery but some of them struggled to be able to move themselves around in bed.

I think I said after the last surgery that using the toilet after knee surgery all of a sudden one legged pistol squats made a lot more sense. After this visit, core and tricep strength seemed pretty essential to a hospital stay where you’ve got some control over how you position yourself in bed. It felt like a lesson about muscle loss, strength training, and aging.

Now it maybe that we are over valuing independence. Maybe we should care less about it. I think this is a genuinely hard question. But to the extent that we do care about it, we should be in the gym lifting weights.

Training for my summer body? Fuck no! I’m training for my old lady body.. Dense bones. String muscles. A healthy heart. Good balance. Functional independence.

Here’s another example of the kind of rants I’m drawn to,

And you don’t necessarily need any fancy equipment.

Woman wearing hijab doing push-ups on wooden bench in park. Photo by  Ola Alghazzouli  on  Scopio
aging · fitness · stereotypes · strength training

This is what 63/74 looks like? Or, celebrating strength and mobility in old age without stigmatizing assistive devices

There’s a meme I hated seven years ago but it keeps popping up, like whack a mole, and so here I am, complaining again about it.

Then the age in question was 74. Now it’s 63.

Here’s a link to the Instagram reel.

This is 63

This reel came up in my social media newsfeed because lots of my friends liked it. And I get why they do. Women don’t have to age in the way that society expects us too.

I personally plan on defying a number of age related, gendered stereotypes in the years ahead.

Why can’t we just celebrate elderly women kicking aside our walkers and doing pull-ups from the ceiling?

The problem is, it’s complicated.

On the one hand, we want to encourage women to take control of our health destinies. We need to fight against the story that says older women are necessarily frail, fragile, and lacking in strength, mobility, and balance. Yes, women can do a lot to retain muscle and bone density with strength training. We can deadlift and do pull-ups at 40, at 50, and for some of us at 70, 80, and beyond.

On the other hand, I don’t want to encourage women to do this by depicting life with a cane or a walker as a lesser life. We have some control over our health but there’s also an awful amount of genetic and other luck involved. Walkers and canes aren’t necessarily bad things.

I’m using crutches right now as I recover from knee surgery

And I’ve been finding that some people are weird about crutches. The crutches enable me to walk further, to walk faster, I’m more stable but lots of people act like it’s the crutches that are holding me back. No, it’s the surgery and injury that are doing that. The crutches are an assistive device. They’re a help.

Photo by
Maksim Chernyshev

I hope both that I recover well and don’t need crutches for very long, and that if I do encounter an injury or a medical condition that has me using crutches, a cane, or a walker in the years ahead that I’ll feel okay about that too.

fitness · strength training

Stock photos and women lifting tiny weights

Oh, stock photos.

First, there’s women laughing alone with salad and fat people without heads. We’ve written about both of these before.

My new obsession is women lifting tiny weights.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with lifting tiny dumbbells. After all, we’re all in favour of starting small. It’s just that they are over-represented among the stock photos of women lifting weights.

I first encountered some of the photos in this piece about older women and strength training: You don’t have to be young to build muscle: how women are breaking fitness taboos

“Stock photos are the internet’s idea of what the world should look like, sets of generic images intended to illustrate articles and advertising, often revealing more worldview than they probably set out to. There are famously a lot of photos of white women laughing near salad, meant for healthy eating content, but also reinforcing inane cheer and self-denial as cornerstones of femininity. If fitness imagery of the young is all about aspiration – six packs, muscle definition and impossible body fat percentages – fitness imagery of older people is almost anti-aspirational. Its message is: “You probably can’t do anything at all, but look over here, there’s a lady managing this tiny thing.”

And then since I was starting to write about strength training I started to search for some photos myself, checking out Unsplash and Scopio, and searching for older women lifting weights. I got tiny weights but young women. One older woman but she’s lifting groceries.

Once you notice the phenomena it’s kind of striking.

Stock photos of women and weights are either very glamorous looking women–white, twenty something, lean and muscular and in a CrossFit style gym– or they’re lifting teeny tiny dumbbells.

Definitely more variety needed!

Tiny green weight
fitness · strength training · training

Exploring the world of YouTube trainers

Image description: overhead shot of runing shoes, a resistance band, two sets of dumbbells and a kettle bell beside a yoga mat on a wood floor (Tracy’s home set-up).

Despite fulfilling my January challenge by staying more or less consistent with Yoga with Adriene‘s Center (Canadians and such will need to get over the spelling of “center” as opposed to “centre”) practice, I don’t feel as if I’ve hit my 2023 stride yet. Yoga is fine, but I can’t have yoga be the whole of it. I need strength training. I need regular running. And I have neither in my life in anything like a routine. So earlier this week a co-worker said she uses some trainers on YouTube for her strength training. I asked her to send me some names and she did (thanks Gayle!): Larie Midkiff, Sydney Cummings Houdyshell, and Caroline Girvan. My task this week: to do one session with each of them and report on it.

Wednesday Morning: Larie Midkiff’s “30 Minute Dumbbell Only Full Body Workout | Strength Cardio Endurance | Giant Sets | Low Impact” This was a tough full-body workout that made me sweat. Larie Midkiff is a lowkey trainer who doesn’t talk a lot. There is peppy instrumental music running in the background. She has a sparse set-up, which is reassuring for home workouts. This workout is as described — low impact, full-body, giant sets that develop strength, cardio and endurance. After a short warm-up on the mat, we went straight into the first of four giant sets. Each giant set had two rounds of four exercises. The first round was 30 seconds of each exercise with heavier weights. The second was 60 seconds of each, lighter weights. They all involved combination of moves familiar to me: cleans, thrusters, presses, rows, sumo squats and lunges to name a few. She ended with a short cool down of stretches that felt amazing. Total time: 35 minutes (after which I needed a shower).

Verdict: I liked Larie’s style — quiet, with a sense of purpose. If you are looking for instruction, you won’t find it here (maybe she has other workouts that are more geared in that direction). But if you have experience with weights and feel comfortable with your form on a variety of familiar moves, which is the category I would put myself in, she’s really good. I will definitely go back for more of Larie Midkiff’s workouts.

Thursday Morning: Caroline Girvan’s “20 MIN Dumbbell Full Body Workout – Compound Movements | NO REPEATS“. I chose this in part because I didn’t have tons of time and in part because I wanted to be fair and compare full-body workouts to full-body workouts. This was not quite as challenging as yesterday’s with Larie Midkiff, but it was a clearly presented series of movements, 40 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest. The exact exercises are listed under the video, so you can make an informed decision about whether the workout appeals to you. Other than the preamble, Caroline didn’t talk at all. But she is an upbeat young woman and her energy is palpable throughout. There is music playing throughout the workout and the timer counts down so you know when the move will change. The last three seconds of the timer sounds a tone that indicates it’s about time to switch. The next exercise shows up in the top right corner, the name of it (for example, “goblet squats” or “should press” or “upright rows”) in the bottom right, and Caroline gets into position to do the exercise, which she does with control and perfect form. There is often a form prompt at the beginning of each exercise too, such as for the Single Arm Bent Over Row where it says “CONTROL the lowering portion at all times! Think about moving through a large range of movement.” We covered quite a few minutes within the 20 minutes of active work, including two back-to-back core exercises at the end for 60 seconds each. While there was no warm-up, there was a stretching cooldown for about 3 or 4 minutes after the weight training.

Verdict: I enjoyed this workout a lot. Maybe I’m discovering that the YouTube trainers don’t do a lot of talking as they walk you through the workout. Again, I would say that these workouts assume a baseline of knowledge and experience. But if you have it, then it’s great. I thought the production value here was pretty high. Even though it 40-seconds on and 20-seconds off is a fast pace, I liked her emphasis on deliberate and controlled work, and I didn’t feel rushed. I was able to manage with the weights I have, though over time I will need to take it downstairs to the fitness centre in my building. I will certainly try more workouts with Carline Girvan.

Friday End of Work Day: Sydney Cummings Houdyshell’s “30 Minute Full Body Strong & Fit Workout | Effort – Day 1.” This workout is clearly the beginning of a series called “Effort” and wowza. I had to dial it back a few times. Sydney Cummings Houdyshell is much more what I was expecting from YouTube trainers, where she is talking throughout in that way they do in classes at the gym. She is a high-energy, pep-talking, “you can do it!” style of trainer. She does it with you, but offers enough guidance and prompts to let you know what’s coming. This was a high-intensity workout where you do 45 seconds on with 15 seconds rest for two rounds, then 30 seconds amped up for one more round followed by 30 seconds rest. Then on to the next exercise. It’s a mix of lower, upper, and core, with some cardio (burpees anyone?) thrown in. There is a bit of a warm-up to get the blood flowing and then a stretchy cooldown at the end.

Verdict: This was the hardest, possibly because it was at the end of the day but also because it tested my endurance with the pace of it and the integration of more cardio. Again there is no instruction, so if you are not sure of your form on squats, bicep curls, shoulder presses, one-legged Romanian deadlifts, or burpees you might want to get right with that before you workout with her. In the end, I think I am more likely to opt for one of the other two, but if I’m looking for cardio with some resistance training, I will choose Sydney Cummings Houdyshell.

In the end, I think all three of these trainers have something to recommend them. I imagine I will go back to all of them and over time it will become clearer to me whose programs suit me best. If you decide to check them out, my guess is that you’ll want to do the same. Their styles are different enough that it’s worth trying a few sessions with all three to see where you land.

If you have a favourite YouTube trainer, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear about others, or about your experiences with one of these three.

cycling · fitness · strength training · weight lifting · Zwift

Sam starts training from scratch, sort of

It’s been 11 weeks since knee replacement surgery. There’s a lot of rehab focused movement and physio under the bridge. So much hard physio.

Some things are going very well. But at this stage the gains are slow and it can feel pretty frustrating. It’s a lot of hard work for what feels like not very much improvement. At the same time, I can still easily overdo it and then need to take some time to recover. Three steps forward, one step back, as they say.

But the good news is that it’s not all rehab, all the time now. Starting this week I am going to try to get my cycling fitness back for its own sake, not just because cycling helps my knee. Up until now, when riding my bike, I’ve turned Zwift on but I haven’t watched. I haven’t paid much attention at all to the metrics. Watts per kilo? Who knows? Speed? Ditto. I note the distance when I hit save but I’ve been trying not to look really. Instead, I’ve been running Zwift but watching Netflix. (That’s not entirely true. Since I have the companion app open on my phone I have noted and appreciated all of your ride-ons!)

From the “count the workouts” group here’s what my Zwift entries have looked like:

This week I’ve decided to Zwift for real again, paying attention to numbers, as I begin my climb back to bike fitness. Obviously I’ll need to change my FTP to something closer to my current reality.

What’s FTP? “FTP, or Functional Threshold Power, is the wattage you can stay below and sustain for longer durations, while going above it causes fatigue to occur very quickly. It is one of the key training metrics used in cycling, and Zwift has built-in tests to measure it.” See here for more.

I’ve also changed my weekly distance goal from 150 km a week on Zwift to 50 km. Gradually I will build back up.

Here’s one of the tiny rides that will be my starting point. So tiny! So slow! But lots of room to build and grow.

I’m also doing this in the gym with strength training. Yes, there’s some rehab there too. But not all and my focus isn’t just recovery, it’s rebuilding for its own sake. Meg, the world’s best personal trainer, is there to help once a week.

What’s my overall movement plan right now?

  • I’m doing physio every day, twice a week in the clinic at Defy Physiotherapy with the wonderful knee fixer upper Estee.
  • On the weekends, once or twice I’m doing Aquafit at Movati.
  • I do strength training at the gym twice a week, once with Meg and once solo.
  • I’m back to walking Cheddar the dog, the yellow blur in all the cycling photos above.
  • And I’m Zwifting three or four times a week.
Cheddar, Chase, and Charlie hoping it’s dog walk time not Zwift time

It’s not quite from scratch but I do have a long way to climb back to where I was, both on the strength side and the bike fitness side. Everyone reassures me that having been there before my return will be easier than if I’d never done it.

It’s work but it’s also nice to have not everything, all the time be about knee rehab.

Wish me luck and I’ll see you at the gym!

fitness · strength training

Checking in after total knee replacement surgery, 7 weeks out: Sam is returning to her Activities of Daily Living

First, I had my six week follow up with the surgeon last week. Everything looks good. Next check up is by phone at 3 months and we’ll talk then about the schedule for my right knee.

Second, the physio recommendation from the surgeon says to focus on five things: extension and flexion (bending and straightening of the operated knee), strength training, balance, gait, and a return to the Activities of Daily Living. It actually said “return to ADL” and I had the look up what that meant.

I think that means stairs, dishes, laundry, etc. I’m walking about the house now loudly proclaiming, look at me doing an activity of daily living. The thrill will wear off I’m sure.

Third, in addition to physio and my daily living activities, I’m busy with aquafit two or three times a week. I’m also riding my bike on the trainer 15-20 minutes a day. Cheddar and I are walking again. He’s such a patient lovely dog and great walking at my speed, whatever that speed is, and not taking off after squirrels.

Chase and Cheddar. My mum’s other dog Charlie is a little camera shy.

Fourth, I’m back at work and feeling happy to be re-engaged with the wider world outside my house, my left knee, and physio. The trick will be not over extending myself. I had the option of staying off work for 12 weeks, rather than 6, and so I am thinking of the first 6 weeks back as a chance to say no to some of the weekend and evening dean stuff and involve other people.

Sam in her office

I’m trying not to fret about late fall, and dark November days. I’m going to all the holiday parties this year, no matter how early. I’m going to enjoy the hot tub and sauna at my fancy new gym. It also feels good to be back in my office clothes and not just wearing shorts, t-shirts, sneakers, and hoodies. I’m also very much looking forward to extending my time on the bike. Right now, I’m spinning most evenings for 20 min or so, while watching campy movies with my son Gavin. But soon I’ll back on Zwift doing some of the slow social rides.

The tree in my front yard that’s gloriously red in October, stick like in November.

Here’s me checking in after Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week Four, Week Five and Week 6.

fitness · Guest Post · strength training · weight lifting

Do not disturb, or on not having ‘hungry eyes’ for men at the gym (Guest Post)

By Brett

This past month has presented me with plenty of inspiration for a blog post. It was, as per usual, incredibly difficult for me to narrow down what to share. However, despite the volume of vulnerable, queer, fitness-related experiences I’ve found myself in there is one moment that feels heavier than the rest. As most of my uncomfortable gym situations begin, this moment was initiated by a male person approaching me mid-workout.

Allow me to paint this picture more clearly. By ‘mid-workout’, I mean a headphones-on-full-blast-sweating-through-my-tank-top-unaware-of-the-rest-of-the-world state of mind.

Now, I have very few objections to interacting with others at the gym. Developing an open, positive community within the gym environment can remove social barriers that hinder the enthusiastic participation of everyone wishing to pursue an active lifestyle. However, this was not one of those interactions. I retrieved my dumbbells from the ground, stood upright, and proceeded to perform my bicep curls.

Simultaneously, this male person positioned himself about 4 feet behind me, and continued to dance his eyes between the back of my legs and making direct eye contact with me via the mirror that stood in-front of both of us. I have a horrible tendency to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, regardless of how clearly their behavior should be reprimanded. Therefore, using said mirror, I quizzically raised my eyebrows at the male person, hoping he may just be looking for someone to spot him on a lift, or perhaps was wondering which direction the washrooms may be. It must be at this point that you are wondering if I moonlight as a comedian…because, yes, these innocent wishes about his intentions were dead wrong.

His response to my quizzical eyebrow raise was to begin speaking, despite the music blasting from my headphones. I set my weights back down, turned to face him, and slid a headphone back.

“Sorry, I didn’t catch that.”

“Uh, I was just like wondering if you like compete, or like yeah.”


“Yeah, in like physique stuff.”

“No, I do not. I’m just a gym rat.”

It was at this point that he began this disturbing soliloquy:

“That’s cool. You should do physique competitions; you have great definition. I was like worried to ask you because so many girls get so offended when I try to chat with them. But, I could just like tell from your form that you know how to work out, and like I knew your vibe was different. Honestly, you’re just so focused, most girls like look at me with like ‘hungry eyes’, but you just are doing your thing. It’s cool, you know?”

When I tell you that I have heard this well-rehearsed chaos on hundreds of occasions, I say so with little exaggeration. Now, a piece of unsolicited advice, if you redirect the topic of conversation onto them, you quickly fade into the background of a wonderfully self-centered dialogue regarding their macro-intake or something equally as unimportant. Which is exactly what I did, and exactly what he did. Fortunately, this led to a perfect opportunity for a swift ending to the conversation, and my ability to slip my headphones back on (my gym version of a “Do Not Disturb” sign).

It is not my intention that this post comes across as scathing, rant-ish, or a generalization of male people in fitness. Rather, I’m hoping that we can let out a big collective chuckle at the absurdity of this moment.

First, the mental image of me participating in the hyper-feminine culture of physique modelling is absolutely comical for anyone who knows me well.

Second, the fact that this person had the audacity to paint himself as a victim when approaching women at the gym and them being “offended” shows so little self-awareness it made me question how this individual managed to think so highly of himself… while clearly having no idea of who he truly is.

Third, and my personal favourite part of all of this, my lack of “hungry eyes” played no role in him recognizing that I truly, sincerely have little to no interest in gazing at men.

Finally, bold of him to refer to me as a ‘girl’.

Regardless of all the technical issues of his little plan, the most curious part was that he could not recognize the hypocritical nature of his actions. My feminist training began running wild. The Madonna-Whore Dichotomy, suffering under a male gaze, r*pe culture and the idealization of ‘the chase’, etc. Luckily, I snapped out of my trance just in time to realize that “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor was playing through my headphones. I picked up my dumbbells, mentally wished all non-conformists a ‘Happy Pride Month’, and purposefully moved those weights with horrible form.

30 lb dumbbells

Bio: Hi! I’m Bret and I hail from Guelph, ON, where I completed my undergraduate degree in Philosophy. I am currently working towards an MA in Philosophy at Western University, and enjoy engaging in feminist theory, ethics, as well as gender and sexuality studies. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to be taught by both Sam and Tracy, and I am excited to join the Fit is a Feminist Issue community! When my nose isn’t in a book, I can be found in coffee shops, at the gym, or taking on car repairs that are far beyond my capabilities.

Guest Post · strength training

Lifting weights for strength (cw: brief discussion of weight, guest post)

Last week the Fit is a Feminist Issue Facebook page posted this article from Strength Training 101: Is it better to lift heavier weights or do more reps?, written by a personal trainer and weight-loss coach, suggesting there are ways to get “sleek and toned” muscles and ways to “bulk up”. (Sam’s Note to Self: When postings for discussion, make that clear!) Almost immediately, Jennifer F. responded with “Wow, was that written in the 90s? There are a couple of valid points in there, but I thought all that was debunked years ago?” then linked to an article from Lies in the gym.

Thanks Jennifer, you saved me a few steps! I was about to hunt down a debunking article myself.

The author does not lift weights heavier than 7 pounds to avoid bulking up her shoulders, back and chest. Now I’m all for lifting appropriately and I’ll never say 7 pounds isn’t enough if that’s what your body allows but avoiding more than that to prevent bulky muscles seems like a strange limitation to put on one’s self. Most of the coaches I have spoken to over the years have laughed at the idea of women accidentally becoming bulky from weightlifting, because that has just never happened. The women I know who have competed in body building competitions have worked extremely hard, strictly monitored food intake in the days leading up to competition and have looked amazingly muscular, but not what I’d call “bulky”.

COVID closed down the gym for a while and I’m still trying to get my groove back, but at the height of my sportzing career, I was lifting 5 days a week, and was going for strength. My bench press was 160lbs shortly before we went into lock down and my partial deadlifts were 275lb. My traps were well defined, and still mostly are, as were my biceps and triceps. No matter how much I lifted though, I couldn’t get really big muscles.

I have been lifting weights for 10+ years now. I’m strong enough to open my own jars, help my husband lift heavy appliances off the back of the truck, and I broke up a significant share of concrete after tearing down my barn, using only a sledgehammer and my own power. I lift heavy bee boxes because my husband made it clear he had no intention of becoming a beekeeper, and if I was going to become one, I needed to figure it out.

I have put on weight over the last few years, surprisingly not during lockdown, but from so much work travel in the few years before that. You can’t eat in restaurants every night with at least one glass of wine or beer at dinner, without adding to the waistline, and it’s been hard to remove it. That is my “bulk” and it seems to be very attached to me. I call that my protective cover, but under all that, my muscles are solid and capable and I’ll lift as heavy as I can for as long as I can.

Sandi in a T-Shirt and sweatpants, swinging a 10lb hammer over a large piece of concrete foundation.
goals · strength training

Always wanted to do pull-ups? Why?

The article getting the most attention right now on our Facebook page is this one, Hold on: Why do we want to do pull-ups?

I had to scroll through a lot of dudes doing shirtless pull-ups on Unsplash before I found this image of a woman. It’s a rear view. She’s got long blonde curly hair. She’s thin and white and wearing grey leggings and a black tank.

In the article Casey Johnston, a personal trainer, interrogates everyone’s favorite fitness goal. She’s got a lot to say but here’s part of it.

“Why did it have to be pull-ups? The world of strength is so big, with so many things to do. Why and how did the zeitgeist land on pull-ups as the number one glossy, sexy fitness goal? Of all the “strong” things to do with one’s body, a pull-up is… about the hardest one. This makes them difficult as someone’s strength training entree. I don’t want to discourage, but I also want to appropriately couch. This ultimately does not really matter, because by the time I can get out “Wow, that’s cool, although pull-ups are harder than you might think—” people’s eyes are already understandably glazing over.”

I love the reaction on our Facebook page. Here’s a sample of the comments:

“When I watch a movie and someone is being chased and they come across a wall that they have to pull themselves over, I think ‘that’s where they’ll get me’ 😆”

“Pull-ups were the one thing we were consistently tested on in elementary school and I have no idea why. They never actually worked with us on HOW to do them, or how to get better at them. What a strange measure of strength for seven-year-olds.”

“I try them on a semi regular basis as though this workout will be the one where I can suddenly do a pull up. I do not train to be able to do them. Apparently I’m hoping for magic.”

Image search for magic and you get a woman in the dark looking into sparkles cupped in her hands.

What do you think about pull-ups? Do you train for them? Are they a goal? Why? Why do you think they’re everyone’s favorite fitness goal?

Me, I do assisted pull-ups sometimes either on the gravitron machine or with bands. So if a monster is chasing me and I have to get up and over a wall, they’ll need to be some help available if I’m going to make it.

cycling · Sat with Nat · strength training · stretching

Nat Shares Her Meaningful Measures of Progress

Well here we are, somehow 6 weeks after I hopped on my partner’s Peloton. Where did the time go?

Somewhere along the journey I hit 1,000 minutes of working out. Cool!

I’m rediscovering my comfort and confidence on the bike. While I still often cry at the end of a ride it’s not a bad thing. It’s often tears of relief that I completed a ride. So thankful!

I have been alternating cycling and weight training with 1 rest day a week. My butt needs the time out of the saddle and my legs need time to recuperate.

What has changed in 6 weeks?

**remember your mileage may vary. If you start a new training regime you may have different gains or meaningful measures of success**

First, I’m able to ride longer. I started out with 5 minute warm up, 20 minute beginner rides, 5 minute cool down. After a month I felt good trying an advanced beginner ride of 30 minutes. I now regularly do a 5 or 10 minute warmup, a 30 minute ride, 10 minute cool down and a 5 minute stretch. Yay!

Second, I’m not as sore after my workouts. Thank goodness because the first two weeks I was limping through my neighborhood on my daily walks.

Third, I have better form on the bike and can sit up without holding the handle bars, find a relaxed upper body during max effort and even standing up out of the saddle during rides. It’s very different from on my road bike but I’m learning. Yay!

Fourth, I’m feeling good in the strength classes. Lots of moves I’m still learning. My upper body workouts have felt particularly awesome. Best part, I’m lifting more weight with better form and control. Wahoo!

Fifth, my heart rate and blood pressure have dropped by a whopping 20 points. Talk about a satisfying and meaningful measure. My motivation for adding higher intensity cardio and weight training to my life was to address a disturbing upward trend in these metrics. My moving about my day heart rate is 64 bpm and my blood pressure is back to 124/75. That’s right where I want them to be.

Sixth, my stress management and resilience are feeling good. I’m having less anxiety and sleeping well. So good!

Seventh, I now have different things in common with my partner and our other friends who use Peloton. We share favourite classes and instructors as well as equipment tips and tricks. That means less shop talk about our paid work. AMAZING!

Selfie of Nat smiling in her super cute pink sports top with her hair pulled back. She is super happy and grateful.

What are meaningful measures in your fitness journey? I want to hear all about it!