I’ve got say after a few icy months of walking in Ontario, I’m loving the clear surfaces here in Arizona. Yes, it’s been frosty at night and there are signs warning us of winter driving conditions (we laughed), by the time the sun comes up (and so far that’s been consistently the way everyday) any ice has melted.
I don’t know why the dry air helps with joint pain. It certainly seems to. And yes, I know a very large study published in the BMJ says it doesn’t. Maybe it’s just the bright yellow ball in the sky that’s beaming down at me that’s responsible for distracting me from pain, Whatever it is, my knees are very happy in Arizona.
It’s fun to be walking recreationally again. And that’s it really. This is a very short blog post. But I’ve shared so much knee sadness over the years, I felt like sharing some happy news and a smile.
“Each year, Ontario Nature member groups organize bird counts in their communities across Ontario as part of holiday traditions. A festive holiday tradition, the annual Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) welcome birders of all skill levels to these free events.
CBCs bring community scientists around the western hemisphere to count as many different species, and individuals of those species as possible over the course of a single day within a 24-kilometre diameter circle.
Join a bird count in your area this holiday season to contribute to bird research in North America.”
What’s the fitness connection?
Read The Surprising Health Benefits of Bird-Watching in the New York Times
Birds are “accessible and equitable, because they’re everywhere in every habitat,” said Holly Merker, a guide for the National Audubon Society and co-author of the book, “Ornitherapy.” Even dense cityscapes offer rock doves (often incorrectly called pigeons), sparrows, hawks and falcons.
There is less research on the physical benefits of birding specifically, but evidence does suggest that walking regularly can help you live longer. And as any bird-watcher will tell you, the lure of the next bird inspires you to walk farther than you normally would.”
Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador, November 21, 2022.
The weather is chilly (1 degree Celsius, 33.8 degrees Fahrenheit), there’s a wind warning in effect (80kmh with gusts to 95, 49.71mph with gusts to 59mph)
My house is noisy from the wind but it’s warm and cozy.
I’m a bit off track because several of my usual Monday things got changed and because I spent a good part of the day in waiting mode.
Why waiting mode? Tomorrow is my youngest son’s birthday and his present was due to arrive sometime today. Our address is often mixed up with a similar address nearby so I was on alert in case it was delivered to the wrong place.
Waiting mode is one of those situations where a neurotypical person (at least one who wasn’t anxious) would probably be able to put thoughts of the possible mix-up aside and carry on with their plans for the day. And if I had a strict schedule today, my neurodivergent brain *might* be able to do the same.
Alas, my schedule today was flexible. So between that flexibility, the loss of my usual Monday anchors, waiting mode, and the windy weather, I spent my day puttering from task to task.
And then, once the package arrived (yay!), I wanted to settle into my work.
That’s when this process started:
Khalee would need to go for a walk later so my brain was telling me that I probably wouldn’t want to dive too deeply into whatever I was doing right now.
So, maybe we should walk now. After all, the weather isn’t going to improve until tomorrow – and at least it is still light out.
But if I walk now, I might not be able to switch into work mode when I return.
So maybe I should skip the walk, right? After all, the wind warning clearly states that outdoor objects should be tied down. It could be *dangerous* out there, couldn’t it? Stuff could be flying around.
Hell, Khalee and I could blow away, couldn’t we?
Yeah, it’s often like this inside my head – it’s not all that fun.
But then, luckily, I saw a post on Instagram from someone local who was out for a walk, wearing their mask because it was the only way to keep warm – and probably the only way to catch their breath.
That’s when I remembered that I have fleece lined pants to wear over my jeans. And I have a warm coat and my hatphones. And a scarf my sister made. And I could wear my favourite mask.
So, I bundled up, got Khalee into her harness (today was apparently NOT a day for a dog to wear a sweater – I have to give the pup some autonomy, don’t I?) and headed out.
And, like most things – it was far worse to think about than it was to do.
It was stupid windy out. It was quite cold.
But it was manageable. And it wasn’t totally awful.
And Khalee and I were both so very good for dragging ourselves outside even though 50% of us were not keen on it.
I mean Khalee is automatically good, obviously, what with being a dog and all, but she bravely forged ahead into the wind until I called out to her so I could take a photo.
So yeah, she’s super-good but I’m pretty damn good too – overcoming so much resistance even though it would have been much easier (and quite understandable) if I had decided to stay home.
(And, I’m sorry to report, that I did indeed feel better after being outside and zipping through my walk. It was worth getting out for Khalee’s sake but, damn it, it was apparently also worth it for my own sake, too.)
Anyway, long story short (too late!), Khalee and I both get gold stars for our windy walk.
How about you?
How have you triumphed over resistance lately?
Was it worth it?
Would you like a gold star? Khalee and I will share!
PS: Happy Birthday to my youngest son, J, who is my baby but is not, apparently, actually a baby at all any more. In fact, he’s a newly-minted adult.
Recently at physio my physiotherapist had me walking backwards and she suggested I keep doing it at home. True confessions: I haven’t. My house is too small and it’s full of things!
The thing is though I don’t limp when walking backwards and I do when walking forwards.
It also helps with extension, one of the goals of physiotherapy.
“Reverse walking may help increase knee extension range of motion. If you have a knee injury, knee surgery, or knee arthritis, you may have a loss of knee extension, which is your knee’s ability to straighten. While walking backward, your bent knee straightens fully while you are moving from your toes onto your heel.”
“Walking backward has been shown to help improve the strength of the quads and calf muscles, and reduce pain in the knee, Dr. Hashish explains. In fact, it’s sometimes promoted for individuals with knee joint arthritis to help alleviate pain and improve their mobility.”
“Another benefit? Walking backward effectively forces the knee joint to straighten.”
“Walking backward is commonly promoted for individuals who lack knee range of motion, such as following ACL reconstruction, where one of the principal deficits is the inability to straighten out the knee,” says Dr. Hashish.
How about you? Have you tried walking backwards as either a physio thing or a fitness thing?
So I am a resiliently cheerful person. I’ve often thought I could live almost anywhere for a period of time because I am good at finding things to love about even the most unlovable of places. I’ve also in the past thought the same thing about seasons and weather. Yes, the summer months are best–because swimming and beaches and bike riding and sailing and canoe camping etc–but most months have good things associated with them. But November? November and I struggle.
The article even responds to my usual excuse–it’s too dark.
“There’s one more excuse I hear at this time of year: it’s too dark. Again, science has discovered plenty of reasons for an evening stroll. Not only does an after-supper walk control blood sugar levels (vital for diabetics) and help shunt food smoothly through the gut (meaning more efficient digestion and less constipation), but the dim evening light prompts our body to start making sleep-inducing melatonin.
A wet night is better still. According to Dr Kate McLean, an expert in urban scents and smells, damp nights enable us to uncover the world anew through our nose: “In darkness we alter our primary way of encountering the world, and when the air is damp it traps odour-causing molecules, transforming a dark, damp walk into a source of inspiration and imagination.”
So instead of binge-watching a box set, pull on your boots (making sure they’re watertight with good grip) and walk. One day, your body and brain will thank you.”
Maybe I’ll give it a try, the cold, wet after dinner walk with Cheddar the dog. I’ll report back!
All of my focus on progress after knee replacement surgery has been getting back on my bike on the trainer. That’s not as speedy as I hoped it would be. So I thought I’d remind myself and share with you some of the other ways this have gotten better in recent weeks.
Here’s some recent progress points six weeks out from knee replacement surgery.
♥️ I get up and down off the floor pretty easily now. I was avoiding it for awhile. This means there are a variety of exercises I can do that I couldn’t do before. Welcome back glute bridges!
♥️ I can stand for longer making standing exercises a larger part of my rehab program. Welcome back monster walks and standing clams. I’m also cooking more complicated meals.
♥️ At the gym I’m lifting weights again, mostly seated upper body weights but it feels good. Welcome back lat pull down and bench press!
♥️ While I still I can’t pedal forwards on my own bike on the trainer at home, so no Zwifting yet, my range of motion does allow me to pedal a recumbent spin bike at the gym. Yay. I’ve been gradually increasing the amount of time I ride the recumbent.
♥️ Now that my incision has fully healed I can immerse myself in water again. That means I can go in the bath and the hot tub but it also means I can do Aquafit classes at the gym. Time for those disco classics–It’s Raining Men!–and underwater skiing.
♥️ Also in preparation for returning to work next week, I’ve given up daytime naps. No napping means I’m pretty tired by the end of the day but that’s okay.
♥️ And maybe most importantly I’ve been thinking about things beyond my knee and recovery. I’m reading again but also I’m getting bored at home. I think that’s a good thing and a sign I’m ready to get back out there.
Recommended Soundtrack: These Boots Are Made For Walking
Friends, I’ve had a 30 plus year habit of steaming down the 401 highway from Ontario to my home province of New Brunswick to kick off vacation. From college days in Kingston in the 90s to the last ohhh 17 years from London. The goal, get the frick home as fast as possible.
This year, I’m trying something different. The Friday night of the last day of work I took a nap. A glorious 90 minute nap to start my vacation.
Instead of frenetic activity and getting on the highway as early as possible Friday night or Saturday morning I just took it easy.
We had a change in plans Saturday that opened up the day. No timing to meet. No one waiting on us. Just a hotel in a town between Montréal and Québec and all day to get there.
We leisurely packed in the morning and got underway sometime after 9:30 am. This was unheard of in previous years.
The traffic was. Well. Unrelenting. Fully understanding I am also traffic, I’d never been on the 401 near Toronto midday on a long weekend. It was so busy. We joked it was an exercise in patience.
Our toodling eventually got us to Victoriaville PQ around 8 pm. It was getting dark so we grabbed a bit to eat at a microbrewery. There was live music downtown and streets were full of people. It was awesome.
The next morning, instead of rushing to get back on the highway, we went for breakfast at a diner and took a hike on the Four Seasons trail on Mount Arthabasca.
It was a beautiful 3 km trail. I had accidentally driven us to the top of the mountain instead of starting at the base. It turned out to be perfect as we took the more challenging part of the trail down l. We sauntered the way around the mountain on maple syrup access roads and east trails. Well maple sap tap collection lines, it’s boiled down to make syrup.
We finished our hike on top of the mountain. It was perfect weather with amazing vistas.
We saw runners and mountain bikers on adjacent trails. I loved how everyone had their own paths.
We then headed off to our last leg of driving. We arrived refreshed and ready to visit. Our back feeling good for the 1,300 km trip we had just driven.
I loved making the drive part of the vacation and getting some activity in as well. I’m not going to lie, it was painful to shift gears and be less goal oriented.
Have you tried a new approach to vacations before? How did it go?
Greetings! Your intrepid, approaching 50, woman is back to share her journey to fitness and hopefully inspire both herself and maybe you too!
The pandemic has been hard – we’ve all suffered mentally, emotionally, physically. The winter(s) were especially brutal if, like me, you dislike having to put on 17 layers to just go outside and don’t have indoor exercise equipment. Alas, I digress. Now, onto why I’m really here…
There’s this “new” exercise fad that all the “exercise gurus” on social media say, especially for middle aged/peri/menopausal women (like me!) is way better than hours at the gym or HIIT, etc. Of course, in reality it’s not new at all. We as a species have been doing this exercise for at least a couple of millenia now. What is this, you wonder? WALKING! Wild, amiright?
In April of this year I was working from home and still had primary possession of Giselle. See her photo at the end of this post.
I happened to come across this advertisement on social media that was called The Conquerer Challenge. I investigated and did some research. The company behind this challenge has put (I’m sure) thousands of hours of work into it.
The concept is simple, Sign up on the website, select your challenge, download the app to your phone, and off you go on your adventure! There’s so much more to it though – it’s an international community of incredibly supportive people, all on a fitness journey who are challenging themselves and others to be more active. And when one warrior falls (walking buddies, such as my Giselle, or an unexpected physical ailment – damn knees!) everyone rallies to support and motivate!
In April I started a 75km trek from Cairo, Egypt to the Great Pyramids in Giza. I paid the company about $30. My google fit app is paired with the Counquerer Challenge app on my phone and every night my km’s are uploaded and my journey is logged. (You can manually log distance as well. For example, I log 1km for every hour of archery I do and the app provides a conversion chart for other movement activities, from rowing to housekeeping) For every 20% you complete, the company plants a tree. Along the route you receive random virtual postcards with details of the part of the journey you’re on.
It took me almost 3 months and I completed my first challenge! What a ride! It was very encouraging to see how much progress I made on a daily basis and to see my completion percentage and the amount of time it took. You choose how long you have to complete the challenge, so it really is a self challenge more than anything. At the end you get an actual medal in the mail with a completion certificate and the distance on the medal. I am onto my second challenge and am climbing Mt. Fuji. It’s another 75km trek because I’m still working up the courage to do a longer walk (Niagara Falls 113km for example, or the Great Wall of China at 259.1km).
The idea of fitness for me is about attaining optimal health. Walking is truly one of the most accessible forms of exercise out there and if done in proper supportive shoes, is so incredibly easy on the body (well, on my round body, yours may be different) and it can be a great social activity. Find a friend and create a team and do a challenge together! It’s amazing how fast the km’s add up and it’s exhilarating to say – I walked 20km this week. Sure, some people will walk 20km in one day but each person’s journey is their own and cannot be compared to anyone else’s. Walking has so many other benefits; fresh air and vitamin D, you can explore new to you places in your city/town, you can spend quality time with your pet, your quality of sleep improves and best of all – IT’S FREE!!!. It takes relatively little energy and you will find in time that you WANT to go out. If for no other reason to see where you are on your journey every day. At the end you can say – look what I accomplished!
I have found that I tire the dog out when we go for more than 2 km at a time (she’s not that big really) and I’m about to start a full time in person office job, so my frequent daily walks will be reduced. It’s your journey, walking will also help your mental health and the movement and sunlight will help decrease/eliminate any depression or anxiety you may be going through. It can be a great meditative time and you will find as you progress that you are walking a bit faster and covering more distance in a shorter period of time. You can catch up on the newest music, listen to your favourite Podcast, listen to a book.
Who knows, one day when you get to the Great Wall of China you can say, I’ve walked this and it only took me x number of days! I’m a Conquerer! I hope you decide to start a walking journey of your own (and I seriously can’t recommend it enough), so far since April and as of writing this, I’ve covered 93.1km (that doesn’t include today’s kms yet). I’m so proud of myself – as a lifelong non active person, this has been such a motivating, enjoyable and rewarding experience! If you’re in the Kingston area and want to start a walking group – hit me up! I’d love to walk with you and share a journey!
Kirsten (aka Kiki) is a woman approaching 50 who has struggled with exercise her entire life. She lives in Kingston with her 2 cats and occasionally a Shar Pei named Giselle. She is currently taking archery lessons and hopes to start curling again this year. Kirsten is also an active participant in a virtual distance challenge and is currently walking from Cairo to the Pyramids at Giza.
It’s been a busy week at FIFI headquarters; spring is here (for many of us in the Northern Hemisphere), and with it have swooped in loads of downright unhelpful (not to mention demonstrably false) media messages. No, we don’t need to do anything to get a bikini body, to cover up or distract others from our bellies, to diet in extreme and harmful ways to fit into items of clothing just because, or apologize for mentioning our periods in the course of our active lives.
Imagine our exasperation when this notice came across Sam’s news feed:
Yeah, no. Here’s what I think they should have put instead:
In case you’re stumped for things to do instead of worrying about losing weight while you’re walking, here are some suggestions.
Hum to yourself
Sing to strangers
Hold a lively discussion with self about the relative merits of tulips and azaleas
Learn about something completely random from a podcast
call your mother
bring a dog along with you– yours or a friend’s– with poop bags
pick a different bakery/bookstore/coffeeshop/park as your destination each time you get out there
If arriving at a park, sit on a bench or climb a tree or stretch or splash water on yourself from a fountain
Practice saying phrases aloud that you remember from a foreign language class you took in school
Honestly, I could go on for a while. But you get the idea. I hope the organizers of this event (and other such folks) will get clued in as well.
Happy walking while not worrying about… well, anything!
And, yes, there is truly a month or a week or at least a day for everything. Maybe that fact makes you a bit meh about all of these sorts of declarations (and that’s fair!) but I kind of like the idea of finding something to celebrate on any given day.
Maybe I am not going all in for National Garlic Day today, I haven’t planned any celebrations for Coin Week this week, and I don’t even think I have the required millinery to celebrate Straw Hat Month but I *am* strongly pro-fun so I vote yes on anything that brings a little levity to your day-to-day.
ANYWAY, back to the celebration at hand.
Apparently Active Dog Month was started by Natasha at Om Shanti Pups but I didn’t delve too far into the history of this auspicious month, so I can’t be sure of its origins. However, I do know that she has some good posts on keeping your dog active so check those out for some ideas.
There’s a fair amount of dog talk here on the Fit is a Feminist Issue blog (a while ago, Sam compiled some of them into a post here) so I thought it would be fun to get a few of our bloggers to chime in about dogs and exercise.
I no longer own a dog. I like being able to travel and not worry about boarding. When I had a dog, I always resented having to take him out for long walks when I was trying to get ready for work, or it was time for bed. But I love dogs, and enjoy a moment of interaction as many as possible while out walking, even if it is just a quick whispered “who’s a good pup?” as we walk in opposite directions.
I do not have a dog, but I walk/hike semi-regularly with two friends’ dogs, Ellie and Ricky. I notice a heightened, vicarious enthusiasm for walking while with a dog. With a dog, the walk seems more interesting, perhaps because humans and dogs find different things interesting while walking. There is a sense of companionship and satisfaction when walking with a dog that even some non-dog owners notice. Is there a difference between dog walking and walking while with a dog? Dog owners probably know.
Cheddar is around the blog a lot. The blog turns 10 this summer and Cheddar is 7 so there’s a lot of overlap! These days Cheddar is the reason I’m out walking at all. While waiting for total knee replacement, both knees, I’m not a fan of walking even though it’s good for me. It hurts. But Cheddar gets me out there three or four times a week. He’s lucky that I’m not the only person who walks him. I’m lucky he’s excellent at adjusting his pace to the person walking him. He’s also a most excellent yoga dog, though unlike Adriene’s Benji he’s not good at staying off the mat so he gets his own.
Walking Lucy has become my partner and my touch point time before work, on our lunch break ,and after dinner during the week. Our youngest kid is 20 and regularly takes Lucy out solo but also subs in for one of us if cooking, work or other exercise needs my time.
Since the walks have to happen I’m out way more consistently and for longer than I’ve ever been before.
Back to Christine:
Whether we are walking our dogs or they are walking us, at least everyone has the chance to get some movement into their days.
I am intrigued by Elan’s comment about companionship and about the difference between walking a dog and walking with a dog. When my kids were small, I used to love going for a walk and pushing the stroller – more often than not I would be yammering away to them and they would be asleep! And as much as I enjoy walking on my own, I had missed the feeling of pushing the stroller.
I thought that I was missing the extra effort that the stroller required, that my brain needed the extra work to calmly stay on task instead of filling up with other ideas about what I should be doing. (ADHD brains have a knack for that kind of thing.)
I don’t think that I really considered it before now but I think that walking Khalee gives me a lot of the same feeling that walking with the stroller did. There’s a larger purpose to my walk and I have company (which, as many people with ADHD will attest, makes almost any task more doable.)
So, now that I think about it, I definitely know the difference between walking a dog and walking with a dog, and I am doing the latter.
I’m not walking Khalee, we are walking together. I do most of the talking and she does most of the sniffing – everyone working to their strengths, you know?
And maybe her blog posts are all about hoping that I am getting enough exercise this month.