Sat with Nat · yoga

Nat’s Adventures in The Underbelly

Recommended soundtrack Gimme Sympathy by Metric

It’s no secret I’ve been a fan of Jessamyn Stanley for a while now.

https://fitisafeministissue.com/2020/10/24/nat-reads-every-body-yoga-by-jessamyn-stanley/

In January she had a sale on for an annual subscription to

www.theunderbelly.com and I thought “uh yesss!”

The subscription unlocks video content that is parceled both in terms of explaining yoga postures, elements based flows, and remedies.

The first class I tried was “stiff kitty”. At just under 20 minutes it was a short class to help alleviate upper back and neck tension. My partner joined me as we went through the class.

I appreciated her frank discussion of biomedical stuff, like lifting bellies off thighs or how your hand freaks out sometimes. Jessamyn acknowledges that we do yoga in the spaces we have available to us in our bodies, no striving for perfection, rather radical self love and acceptance. I feel at home in her classes.

The time flew by as we went through a series of seated postures. Her approach to twists got me to a new awareness and engagement in my body. Pure gold. My partner and I both felt much better after the class. Yay!

Jessamyn’s delivery includes swearing. That works for me. She is an advocate for the legalization of marijuana. I live in Canada so that is not controversial for me. More than that, she shares her challenges, what she finds helpful and invites you to explore your practice with self compassion.

She is also hilarious and her wonderful sense of humour keeps me from taking myself too seriously or adding tension to my practice.

But also. Friends. She added a class in April 2021 called 1-900-sexercise and I have never felt so seen.

It’s a class about opening up hips, about feeling good about being on top, and celebrating what our bodies can do.

After having gone through a lot of the content I realized the thing that most impacted me about Jessamyn’s facilitation style is her class is ABOUT ME. Unlike other instructors who seem to be putting themselves out there demonstrating advanced postures with a smile, Jessamyn dials it down so I can try something new.

Of course she can do all kinds of amazingly impressive postures, she’s a professional athlete! But her classes are not about that, they are about you and me being on the mat, trying new things, revisiting old favourites, and taking time to care for ourselves.

My absolute favourite class is a twenty minute meditation class found in the “sprouts” section called “Open Mind”.

Jessamyn is seated facing the camera explaining that we don’t need to rush through our meditation practice.

Have you found a new way to approach exercise that is working for you?

fashion · fitness · inclusiveness · yoga

Can evil companies change their ways? Yes, that’s you we’re talking about Lululemon

Last year I wrote a blog post called Lululemon might still be a little bit evil but now they are also plus sized evil!

“Over the years I’ve gone from thinking that Lululemon is BAD ( Just walk slowly away from that rack of $100 yoga pants) to thinking they are an annoying company (Is Lululemon trying to annoy me?) to buying their leggings when I could find my size online. Sell-out, I know. But I love their high waist Align. In black. Size 14 please. Thanks Ann!

And now you plus sized friends can have them too. Wow.”

They’ve gone from saying that their clothes don’t work for larger bodies to selling clothes designed for larger bodies to appointing one of my fave plus sized fitness spokespersons as a brand ambassador. That’s a pretty big shift.

See Lululemon’s new campaign star has a body-inclusive message: ‘Running is for everyone who has a body and wants to run’

“The athletic apparel brand has tapped ultramarathoner, author, speaker and former Fat Girl Running blogger Mirna Valerio to front its new global “Feel Closer to Your Run” campaign and offer better representation of runners whose body types are typically overlooked within the fitness space. The Vermont-based Valerio tells Yahoo Life that she hopes to inspire and empower both people who have felt excluded by activities like running, and the brands that have the power to provide better quality gear for bigger bodies.

“Make no mistake: All kinds of people in all sorts of bodies want to be able to engage in movement that is meaningful to them, and they need apparel that fits, is functional and well-made,” Valerio says. “There was this prevailing idea that plus-size folks didn’t do or want to do things like running, cycling, swimming, etc. But guess what? We’ve always done those things and have had to contend with ill-fitting apparel — because we’ve been forgotten and ignored — poorly constructed clothing that is not fit for any athletic activity, or if they do fit, pieces in limited colors and styles.”

Never has a post attracted so many likes/comments as this one on our Fit is a Feminist Issue Facebook page. I asked some of our readers if I could share their comments. Mostly, as a group, they weren’t convinced by Lululemon’s efforts at inclusivity.

Whitney writes, “No thanks, Lulu! Not only are their sizes not inclusive, their clothing is prohibitively expensive!”

“Love her but I abhor lululemon and everything they represent is antithesis to this. I hope she gets loads of money out of them and carries on then continuing with her work leaving them in the dirt,” says Sivapraya.

Jessy says, “Well that’s quite a change from the ripping pants at the crotch because “some women shouldn’t wear their clothes” (not verbatim but we get the point).”

What brands did readers suggest instead? Superfit Hero, of course. Here’s my first post about them: I’m a super fit hero and the gym is my phone booth.

Pretty much everyone was a fan of Mirna.

Marlena says, “Yaaaaas Mirna is a goddess, so glad to see her being featured by larger and larger outdoor/athletic companies!”

And I think we can all agree about that.

Here’s Mirna:

Ultramarathoner Mirna Valerio hopes that her work as a Lululemon ambassador shows that
Ultramarathoner Mirna Valerio hopes that her work as a Lululemon ambassador shows that “running is for everyone who has a body and wants to run.” (Photo: Lululemon)

Me, I like their yoga pants and I guess I hope companies can change. We’re all works in progress, even Lululemon. And yes, capitalism and yes, co-opting. But there’s no pure path. This is the world we live and work in.

And I’m happy that the world now contains this billboard.

May be an image of standing and outdoors
Lululemon, Toronto

What do you think? Share your opinions in the comments.

#deanslife · cycling · fitness · rest · yoga · Zwift

Saturday is Sam’s rest day

For me, the grind ends Friday at the end of the workday. I eat dinner. I race my bike in the TFC Smashfest Friday night series. 🚴 Maybe I watch something. I definitely eat something. And then I collapse into bed. Zzzzz. 😀

Saturday is my rest day. It’s not that I don’t move at all. I often walk Cheddar. I sometimes do Yoga with Adriene. But there’s no fast riding or heavy lifting. This is a chance for my body to rest and recover.

I try to make sure I eat well too. And I aim to get enough sleep, sleeping late if necessary to log the needed hours. It’s a conscious effort. Sometimes naps are involved.

So when this image flashed across my social media newsfeed, I thought actually yes it does. On Saturday I rest.

The grind doesn’t stop just because it’s Saturday.

Tomorrow I’ll do something more active. I’ll also get back to some university work, the review essay I’m trying to write and the college budget for sure.

In my pre pandemic busy times I didn’t need to plan a rest day. Often they just happened when life got in the way off intentional movement. These days I’m finding it helps with the blurriness of time to have things I do on particular days.

On Sunday for me it’s a gradual return to work, a preparation for the week ahead, and my Zwift team social ride. I race in a series on Monday nights. On Tuesdays I watch an episode of Star Trek Discovery with my mother. Wednesdays are the one day, pre stay at home order, that I work on campus. I’ll start doing that again next week when the stay at home order is lifted. Thursday is team time trial night. Friday we order take out from a local restaurant.

None of these things is a big deal. But it helps me to place myself in time, and keep track of time in the pandemic blur. Also since working out is one of the fun things that I can do, I’m realizing it’s easy to do too much of it.

And so on Saturday, I rest.

A blond dog resting in a red hammock

221 in 2021 · covid19 · fitness · yoga · Zwift

Will I be this physically active when I have more activities to choose from?

There’s a bunch of us in the 221 in 2021 group speeding along, racking up big numbers of workouts. It’s just the start of February and I’m up to more than 50 workouts.

An aside: Want to join us? Here’s how. It’s a very friendly, supportive group.

We had a discussion the other day, those of us who are often working out more than once a day, about why.

Here’s me: “Yes, I’m working out more than once a day most of the time in these strange pandemic stay at home times. It’s partly the Yoga with Adriene January challenge. It’s partly lifting weights with adult serious lifting offspring who has moved back home. Family bonding over sandbag deadlifts! And then it’s Zwift team stuff. I’m taking Saturday as my rest day with a a commitment to no serious lifting and no Zwifting. But even then there are extra long dog walks and yoga.”

So why? And will it last through 2021?

  • This pace of working out certainly won’t last once there’s evening work commitments out in the world plus theatre and music to go see. So the part of the explanation this year is that it’s a thing I love doing that I can do. I’m missing out on a lot of my work and entertainment activities. There’s no gallery openings and no theatre. No parties on the weekend, no lunch Sunday brunch with friends. Options are somewhat limited right now.
  • I do read books and watch some shows but when I am stressed I can have a hard time concentrating. I have a short attention span when I’m worried and I’m worried a lot through the pandemic. Again, moving my body in ways that challenge me phsyically is both a thing that I can do-it’s an available fun option– and it helps with stress. I sleep better if I exercise in the evenings and go to bed physically as well as mentally tired. See Bikes and Books, about the dangers bikes may pose to books, and Virtual Communites, which talks about my international book club.
  • There’s very little everyday movement in these stay at home lives. All movement, it feels like, is intentional movement. I’m either sitting at my computer not moving much at all, working some ridiculously long days, or I’m working out. In the run of the day on campus I do a lot of walking between meetings. I also bike commute to work. There’s none of that anymore. As Cate said, way back at the start of all this, we’re all indoor cats now.
  • Not everyone has the space to set up a home gym or the means to buy exercise or sports equipment. But we’ve got a lot of stuff and some space. That said, things are cramped even here. I’ve got a combo home office/gym and it contains my desk and computer and several monitors as well as three person’s worth of workout gear including three bikes, a lot of free weights, and soon, a rowing machine. It’s all here. It’s nearby. And I’m wearing workout clothes to work (with some dressier clothes thrown over top) and that makes working out easy. Again, this won’t be the same when I’m back in the office.

So, yes I’m working out more than I usually do during the pandemic for a slew of reasons. You?

I’m not sure I’ll go back to the gym. Maybe the hot yoga studio. Maybe. What about you?

And I’m pretty sure I’ll work out less–but I’ll also have more everyday movement–once the pandemic is over. You?

That’s Sam doing yoga in the dining room with Cheddar the dog

cycling · family · fitness · yoga

Lizard Pose with Lizzy!

I confess. I’m partly writing about lizard pose to share photos of a new pet in the house, Lizzy the bearded dragon. My son just moved back home and he was nervous we wouldn’t like her. Luckily, she seems to fit in just fine as part of the working from home crew.

But that’s not the whole story.

In an online cycling group of which I’m a member someone recommended lizard pose as an excellent yoga pose for cyclists.

What’s LIzard Pose? “Lizard Pose is an excellent stretching posture for the hip flexors, hamstrings and quadriceps. Integrating this pose into your regular yoga practice improves hip flexibility and strengthens the leg muscles.”

I’ve been riding lots lately (207 km this week on Zwift) and feeling in need of some bike speciifc stretching in addition to the Yoga With Adriene I’ve been doing. So Sunday morning, ater taking Cheddar for a walk, Sarah and I spent some time with Adriene and lizard pose. I love how low key silly and goofy Adriene is. I feel much more relaxed and happy on that mat with attitude.

As always, there are even more advanced poses.

Here’s flying lizard.

But for what it’s worth, even Lizzy–an actual lizard–can’t do flying lizard and neither can I. That’s just fine by me.

Happy Monday from Sam and Lizzy!

covid19 · cycling · fitness · yoga · Zwift

Fall In Love With Zwift Cycling to Avoid Stress Seven Days a Week!

Polar bear in pink shoes on a yellow bike

True confession: That’s not my blog title. Thanks blog title generator. I tried a bunch of them. They also suggested:

Need More Time? Read These Tips To Eliminate ZWIFT PANDEMIC CYCLING STRESS 7 DAYS A WEEK

Everything You Wanted to Know About ZWIFT PANDEMIC CYCLING STRESS 7 DAYS A WEEK and Were Afraid To Ask

Also true confession: The blog content is all mine. Life hasn’t been easy lately. On the one hand, I’ve got a great job I can do from home, a supportive family, some lovely pets etc. On the other, there are stay at home orders and rising  SARS-CoV-2  infection rates in the province where I live, and attempted coups in the country to the south. I feel like I am holding my breath until the transition of power takes place and then again until we’ve vaccinated the most vulnerable members of our society. I’m sure that ‘holding one’s breath’ feeling is worse for American family and friends. I also have family in the north of England where things are very bad and I’m nervously watching the situation there too.

All of that said, I have been really enjoying myself on my bike and it’s a thing that spills over to the rest of my life and keeps me calm and relatively happy. I sleep better after riding my bike. I smile more often. As a result, I’m riding lots. I’m alternating feeling proud of this and feeling ridiculous about this. Yes, it’s good to relax but surely I should be reading more good fiction. (Are bikes really beating books as they worried in the 1890s?) But the fact of the matter is I’m struggling like everyone else with attention span and distractability. I still read a lot but riding helps even when reading doesn’t.

I’m also socially engaged with my bike teammates. I’m even meeting up with real world cyclist friends on Zwift even though we’re trying to get out on our actual bikes at least once a week.

Mental and emotional health and well-being turn out to be a pretty good motivation to ride.

What’s a typical week of riding look like? I thought I’d share my last week of riding with you.

Here’s a rundown:

Sunday

What: Riding trails around Guelph on our fat bikes

How far: No idea really! We didn’t even take our Garmins

How long: We didn’t really even keep track of time. Somewhere between 90 minutes and two hours.

Purpose: Fresh air, fun

The rest of my rides are on Zwift

Club social ride

TFC Social Ride on Zwift

What: Team social ride, we split into two groups, one at sub 2.0 watts per kilo, and one at sub 2.5, we banter on Discord, and ride tightly packed as a group except for designated sprint and regroup sections. We also race at the end for those who are keen.

How far: Usually about 30 km

How long: One hour

Purpose: Connect with teammates, promote the club, share info about TFC racing

Monday

TFC Monday night race, a rare sight, me in the QOM jersey

What: TFC Monday Night race, D category

How far: 40 km with killer hill at end, Keith Hill After Party was the route

How long: approx 90 min plus warm up and cool down

Purpose: Race!

Tuesday

What: DIRT family values ride

How far: 30 km

How long: 50 minutes

Purpose: Dad joke ride at recovery pace

My favorite dad jokes from the Dads Indoors Riding Trainers (DIRT) ride tonight:

What do you call an apology that’s made up of dots and dashes? Remorse Code

I trapped some vegan burglars in my basement. I’m not sure they were vegans but they kept saying, “Lettuce Leaf, Lettuce Leaf.”

Thanks for the company Jim Peyton

DIRT ride. That’s me in the pink cap

Wednesday

Here’s our race poster

What: Team route recon, getting ready for Thursday race

How far: 30 km, Watopia Figure 8 reverse

How long: One hour

Purpose: Connect with teammates, discuss race strategy, practise paceline techniques

Thursday

Team time trial

What: Team Time Trial WTRL

How far: 30 km

How long: 55 minutes ish (time includes my cool down)

Purpose: We raced in Mocha class and came 15th out of 65 teams. Woohoo! (More importantly, we raced well together, had pretty smooth transitions, and kept up a nice pace–40 km/hr on the flats.)

Personal achievement: I stayed with the group up two climbs!

Friday

At the end….

What: TFC Christmas Smash Fest

How far: 35 km, 18 laps in crit city

How long: One hour and five minutes

Purpose: No category racing! So much time in the red zone. I was able to jump on the back of faster riders as they lapped me and I did okay in the end as a result

Saturday

Rest day

No riding, just gentle Yoga with Adriene.

fitness · new year's resolutions · planner · yoga

The new year starts Monday. Resolution makers, you’ve got until tomorrow, Sam declares

A January 21 calendar with the 4th circled in blue

This year January 1 was a Friday. Nothing good happens on a Friday. Fridays start the weekend not the new year.

If you’re a resolution maker, especially if you’re a resolution maker who has already gone off the rails, may I suggest that Monday is when the new year really begins?

You can start anew tomorrow.

In past years I’ve claimed January 2 as the start and said that January 4th is the new January 1st.

You can pick any day that works really.

You’ve got lots of choice. The first day of the new year is arbitrary anyway.

Why last year Catherine declared that Feb 9 was her January 1. Why? Read about it here.

I’m not a big resolution maker but I love fresh starts. Predictably I love mornings, a new day. I love Mondays, a new week at work. I love September and the start of a new school year. January 1 hasn’t loomed large but I like the chance to start again.

I love the smell of possibility in the morning.

Please don’t think you’ve failed and need to wait until 2022.

I’m doing Yoga With Adriene’s 30 Day series Breath. I liked today’s advice, on Day Two, each inhale can be a new beginning. There are lots of new moments and chances to start anew.

221 in 2021 · motivation · yoga

Kicking off 221 workouts in 2021 with 30 days of Yoga with Adriene. Join us!

I’ve invited you already. See Want to join our merry band for 221 workouts in 2021? Here’s how…

But I now want to also suggest an excellent way to get started. Make Yoga with Adriene part of your plan. It’s a great way to kick off January and to get at least 30 workouts in in month 1 of the challenge.

It’s my plan. I think it’s Cate’s plan. And I know other bloggers who are also counting workouts who plan to do that too.

See you there!

Read more about Yoga with Adriene’s 30 Day Challenge here.

220 in 2020 · fitness · fitness classes · motivation · online exercise · training · walking · yoga

It’s not “just” yoga or “just” a walk: it’s a workout

image description: Selfie of two women, Violetta in front, long dark hair with highlights, smiling, white t-shirt; Tracy in back, smiling, with sunglasses, medium length salt and pepper hair, red and black top, black coat, camera strap visible; field and trees in background. (we had just finished a two-hour physically distanced hike with others). Photo credit: Violetta.

The other day I didn’t have the energy for a run, so I checked in with my out-of-town running buddy, Violetta, and said I might “just” do some yoga or “just” go for a walk. She said she’d been feeling the same that day, but that she wanted to stop putting “just” in front of these choices, as if they are somehow lesser, inferior, or slack options that we need to apologize for. I agree. Indeed, I even thought it as I was texting the “just yoga” message.

I know I’m not the only person who imposes conditions on the types of activity that it’s “okay” to count. I’ve blogged about this before (see “What counts?” and “More than six years later and Tracy has the same questions about what counts”). And it has come up again and again during the “220 in 2020” group. That’s a group where we keep track of our workouts with the goal of doing 220 by December 31, 2020. Next year the goal will be 2021. Today I logged my 408th workout of the year. I have fewer questions about what counts.

2020 is the year where movement has become a part of my daily routine. Almost every day I do something intentional, whether yoga, a zoom weight training session, a run, a walk, a hike. And sometimes the very goal of daily movement is what gets me moving. It used to be the 220 in 2020 but I’ve long since surpassed 220, so the goal had to shift away from a total number and more to “something every day,” away from outcome and towards process or maybe a habit checklist type of approach. Workout? Check!

Just because some of what we do is different in level of exertion or the amount of time we spend on it from some of the other things we doesn’t mean it’s less than. During the pandemic more than ever it’s become important to me (and I know I’m not alone in this) to be intentional about movement because some days, if I wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t even reach 1000 steps. I go from my bedroom to the kitchen to my home office to the kitchen again all day. At night I sit down to read or watch something. And then I go to bed. I go out much less than I used to. Because it requires choice, I’m at the point where intentional physical activity that I wouldn’t otherwise choose to do “counts.”

Even as I say that I am aware that there is a level of self-shaming that so many of us engage in when we compare. And it’s not always when I compare myself to others who I regard as more fit, stronger, faster, more active, or more committed to what they do. It’s also when I compare what I did yesterday in my one hour sweaty, kick-butt Superhero workout to what I did today (a 3K run and some gentle yoga). They’re all workouts. They all count. I’m not cheating when I track them.

It’s interesting to me to look back on my angst over the years about what counts because I don’t feel that anymore. I have a solid sense of confidence that I get to decide on my own criteria, and that it doesn’t make sense for me to think that every workout has to be equal to every other workout in its demandingness for it to legitimately count.

And it’s also okay, even necessary, at least sometimes to choose rest. That’s a healthy choice, too (even if it doesn’t count as a workout).

Do you consciously or unconsciously rank certain activities as superior or inferior to others? Do you discount some of your workouts because they’re not “demanding enough?”

[Shout-out to Violetta: Happy birthday, my friend!]

fitness · yoga

Sam is loving young person’s yoga

I’m definitely middle-aged. I don’t feel old at all, whatever that means. but I am also not young. Last week I wrote about turning 56. Cate wrote a really thoughtful post about generative aging. I’m still thinking about some of the ideas in her post. Go read it! It’s great.

But not-young me likes lots of young person things, like hoodies, s’mores, and YA fiction, to name just three. Also, it turns out, yoga for young people.

Yoga hasn’t been easy during the pandemic. It’s another challenge both Cate and I have written about. See Cate’s post here and mine here, (Now I can’t find the old post where I talked about my struggles with yoga during the pandemic. Sigh.)

But Adriene Mishler’s short yoga breaks for kids studying virtually at home are just what I need right now. Adriene makes me smile. Adriene is gentle with her younger viewers. I mean. she’s always gentle but in this short series she’s also extra playful and I like that. She teaches tree pose and says how much she likes toppling trees, for example.

See Adriene’s Yoga P.E.

Adriene writes, “This Yoga P.E. Body video break offers a fun set of movements and poses that can improve focus, increase flexibility, boost energy, balance your mood, increase coordination, counter screen fatigue, and decrease anxiety or stress. Take ten minutes to shake it out, get your heart rate going, stretch, and find your balance. No materials required, just a body and your breath. Share this with a fellow teacher, parent, or friend! (Big kids are welcome to give it a whirl too!)”

Here’s my favourite:

ENJOY!