Book Reviews · fitness · motivation

The 100 Day Reclaim: Day 91-100, Three Fit Feminist Bloggers Weigh In

Three of us are reading Nia Shanks’ The 100 Day Reclaim: Daily Readings to Make Health and Fitness as Empowering as it Should Be.

Read about Day 1 here.

Read about Days 2-10 here. ‘

Read about Days 11-20 here.

Read about Days 21-30 here.

Read about Days 31-40 here.

Read about Days 41-50 here.

Read about Days 51-60 here.

Read about Days 61-70 here.

Read about Days 71-80 here.

Read about Days 81-90 here.


Nia saves some of her advanced messaging for the end. I like that approach. Day 91 tells us that pursuing our fitness journey won’t be easy. Also, “overnight success” is an illusion and we need to be in it for the long non-sexy haul. Nia advises us not to be afraid of putting in the time and the work. This goes counter to lots of things we say here on the blog about small change and loving what you do but I think Nia is right actually even though it’s a harder message to hear. For me these days with my knee, I’m realizing that I need to do a lot of non-fun things and my focus is often on grit and determination rather than pleasure.

Day 93’s message is about another tough emotion, fear. It’s okay to be afraid. But you need courage to do the thing anyway. You needn’t be fearless, says Nia. But you need to be afraid and act anyway. Again, there’s some hard messages here about what it takes to reach your goals. It won’t be easy but that’s okay.

Don’t compare. That’s really a reminder message on Day 94.

Like Christine I loved the idea of a palate cleanse when what you’re doing is no longer working. Change it up and try something new. That’s the Day 95 message.

On Day 96 we’re asked to think about the shortness of life as motivation. We’ve only got one kick at this can. Nia’s use of death as motivation is interesting. I think it works for some people but not others.

There’s more tough love on Days 99 and 100 which talk about change being hard but persevering anyway. This is the sort of talk that might have had you putting the book aside if you encountered it in the early days but by end of the 100 Day Reclaim you’re likely more ready for this kind of message. Also, I think Nia is right. It is hard.

Overall, I loved this book and would definitely share with friends looking for their own fitness journey,

In fact, I think I’d give them them this 3 book set!

Fit at Mid-Life: A Feminist Fitness Journey

Run Like a Girl 365 Days a Year: A Practical, Personal, Inspirational Guide for Women Athletes

The 100-Day Reclaim: Daily Readings to Make Health and Fitness as Empowering as It Should Be

I’ve really enjoyed this process of reading along with Catherine and Christine and sharing our reflections together.


This final section of the 100 Day reclaim is a good reflection on the rest of the contents of the book. In fact, I think that one section of Day 96 summarizes her whole approach, reminding the reader to ‘Put your focus, energy and limited time where they matter most’ and to shield ourselves from the other noise that might interrupt our fitness journeys.

In Days 91-100, Shanks is reminding us that this is not an overnight project, that there will be challenging parts, and that it is okay to change things to help make them more appealing or more do-able.

In Days 91 & 99, she reminds us that change is hard and that our mindset can help us get through our challenges. In Day 91, she reminds us to manage our expectations and to be aware of our patterns so we recognize familiar challenges and find our way past them. In Day 99, she coaxes us to take a long view and to try and see how doing something challenging today will help us in the future.

Day 92’s ‘It’s okay to change direction’ gives us permission to make changes in our plans without feeling like we are somehow failing. Personally, my ADHD loves to interpret a change in plans as a failure or as being lazy, so I particularly enjoyed this reminder that change is often the right way to proceed. I found it fit in really well with Day 95’s advice to do a ‘Palate Cleanse’ and mix things up a bit when our routines are getting stale.

I really loved Day 93’s theme ‘It’s not about being fearless.’ In my experience, a lot of fitness experts underestimate the intimidation factor in trying new activities and the logistics of participating in fitness classes, strength training and the like. Her reminder that your apprehension can be overcome is very valuable to me and it reminded me of one of my favourite quotes (shown in the image below)

In Days 94 & 96, we’re advised not to use comparison as a measuring tool and to keep our eyes on the big picture, solid reminders for a long term project that is supposed to be about doing things that serve ourselves well.

Day 97’s ‘Regain Control’ was very useful, reminding us that we have power over the choices we make and that we can choose flexible plans that give us room to make mistakes and learn from them. This section reminded me about how, after reading an article about this word use a few years ago, I decided to stop thinking of ‘trying to get control’ of my efforts and instead aim to ‘take charge.’ Since I am comfortable taking charge but things can be out of my control, I find it very empowering to see opportunities to ‘take charge’ of my choices. A minor difference, perhaps, but still useful for me.

Day 100 – PersevereThis was a perfect note on which to end the book and it was a terrific connection point for me. Perseverance is one of the tenets of taekwondo and it is a principle I embrace fully. I think my ADHD serves me well in this area because, while I struggle with consistency and with seeing how my current efforts will add up to the result I seek, I am endlessly willing to start over and keep trying different approaches to achieve the result I am looking for. For me, starting again is not discouraging, it’s hopeful, ‘Maybe this time I’ll get it right!’ and having a reminder to apply that to my fitness efforts outside of TKD was terrific.

So far, I have worked my way to becoming a 3rd degree blackbelt in TKD, by persevering, perhaps I can become a ‘blackbelt’ in other areas of fitness, too.

The 100 Day Reclaim by Nia Shanks has really served me well and I am very glad that I read it. I have some more work to do to apply the principles that I need but now I have a clearer idea about how to proceed and my reading has revealed some of the tricky thinking habits that were in my way. While the messaging in this book wasn’t always a direct fit for me, I think it does a great job of reaching out to a wide audience and I think it will do a lot of good in the world.

I have really enjoyed this group practice of reading and reflecting on this book and I have gotten as much out of seeing Sam and Catherine’s responses to the material as I did out of my own reading. We are all at different places in our fitness journeys and we all have different approaches to maintaining/improving our fitness, it’s been cool to see what resonated (or didn’t resonate) with each of us.

I hope we can choose another book to read together soon.


Saying goodbye is hard. I’m terrible at it. When I visit friends and family and it’s time to go, I announce my upcoming leaving, stick around at least 30 more minutes, repeat my thanks and farewells multiple times, and still fail to head out the door. Finally, I go, but usually because I’m on the verge of being late for the next thing.

So it is with Nia’s book. I’ve really enjoyed settling in and getting to know her approach to self-care, her ways of motivating and speaking truth to us. In days 91—100, it’s time to go out on our own, and Nia wants to prepare us for that journey. She reminds us that achieving our health/fitness-to-us goals won’t be easy, we may be scared along the way, and that some day, we’re all gonna die (she’s up front about this on day 96).

But Nia balances out the harsh reality reminders with strategies for handling rough patches: changing directions is always an option, especially when we’re feeling stuck. In fact, she recommends an activity palate cleanse as good on its own merits. Last spring break (yes, I look forward to it even though I’ve been a professor for 26.5 years) I tried out two new and different activities, taking parkour and aerial silks yoga classes. The first one inspired me, and the second one made me feel claustrophobic (and a bit queasy, to be honest). But I felt stimulated and proud of myself for going out there and trying something new. A change really can be as good as a rest.

Nia saves the best messages for last. Yes, oh yes, success comes in so many colors, and in so many moments. I think this is the biggest boon she has given us. Here is what success looks like in my life: making it to yoga class when I’m soooo tired, but know that I’ll feel better after; recognizing that I just can’t make it to that yoga class, so I go home and rest, doing a video yoga practice before bed; trying out a class with a new teacher, even though I’m worried about the level; getting enough sleep (a non-negotiable need); bringing my lunch to work, even when it’s unexciting, so I’ll have fed myself; I could go on.

These are not stunning feats of JLo/Shakira performance. They are stunning feats of ordinary self-care. They work individually, each time we do them, and they work over time, through perseverance—Nia’s last word to us. Through perseverance, we develop stamina, resilience, kindness for ourselves, and maybe some wisdom. Thank you for sharing your hard-earned wisdom with us, Nia.

Suppose we decided to do another joint read/review? Do you have a book you’d recommend? Suggestions welcome.

We’re thinking about this one…The Joy of Movement: How exercise helps us find happiness, hope, connection, and courage

advice · Book Reviews · fitness · motivation

The 100 Day Reclaim: Day 81-90, Three Fit Feminist Bloggers Weigh In

Three of us are reading Nia Shanks’ The 100 Day Reclaim: Daily Readings to Make Health and Fitness as Empowering as it Should Be.

Read about Day 1 here.

Read about Days 2-10 here. ‘

Read about Days 11-20 here.

Read about Days 21-30 here.

Read about Days 31-40 here.

Read about Days 41-50 here.

Read about Days 51-60 here.

Read about Days 61-70 here.

Read about Days 71-80 here.

Image result for 100 day reclaim nia shanks"


As often happens, Nia’s observations and advice are eerily well-timed. Today I’m finishing up a big work committee project, and this week I’m wrapping up my hitch in a leadership role in my church. This means a lot of things that HAVE to be done NOW. It also means some looking back with regret that I didn’t do this or that, or I wish I had done something differently. With respect to the HAVE-TO-NOW items on my to-do list, we have day 83: “feeling like it” isn’t a requirement. With work, with physical activity, with cooking foods that feel healthy-to-me, I’m not always humming with inspiration. No. But that doesn’t mean that those things aren’t important to me. They are—they were when I agreed to them or planned them, and they are now. It’s just that life’s many vagaries and ups and downs are happening at the same time. So, am I going to finish that last letter and go to my yoga class today? I hope so (and if I don’t it certainly won’t be Nia’s fault.. )

Hand-in-hand with day 83 is the advice of day 84: be ready for expectation bias. We’ve all been there: we sit at the desk, the yoga mat, the bike saddle, the cockpit of the kayak, and…. Nothing. There’s no juice, no flow, no feeling of gusto. So we (meaning I) conclude that something must be wrong. Here’s the thing: it’s not. It’s that life thing again. This absolutely bears repeating and rephrasing and repeating again.

Day 87—Fast or Slow?—is my favorite of this section. When I’m feeling pressured or tired (or enthusiastic or strong), my default setting is fast—well, as fast as I can. But “as fast as I can” isn’t sustainable. Yes, to meet that looming deadline, we push hard. To get up that last hill, we push hard. But we are not supposed to push hard all the time. Trainers tell us this, our mothers tell us this—it must be true. Thinking about what approach—fast or slow—we want to do today, or this moment, or this set, or this mile, or for this song is what Nia is suggesting. As always, slowing down and taking time to figure out what we want and what we need (which aren’t always the same thing—see day 83) will help make the decision much clearer.

I would like to write more about the other days, but I’ve got loads of work this week and some hard deadlines (including the one for this post). So I’ll close with following day 85—Play with what you have. I have to stop now. But see you next week for the triumphant conclusion of Nia’s book!


Day 82 is about the past. You can’t change the past but you don’t need to let it ruin your future either. Nia writes, “Improving your health and level of fitness, when distilled to its basic elements, is about eating nutritious foods most of the time and moving your body frequently and consistently.” But it’s not that simple and it doesn’t feel that easy. We know what we should do but we aren’t always moved to do it. Why is that? Part of the answer comes from our past experiences. Our past shaped our views of food, body image, weight, and fitness. There’s a lot to unravel there. Nia suggests that the past doesn’t define us and that we can choose differently starting today. She says, in an upbeat tone, you can always construct a new lifestyle. I’m not so sure about that. I think how hard it is to just ‘choose differently’ depends on the kind of childhood you had.

You don’t need to feel like it, says Nia on Day 83. We do lots of stuff we don’t feel like doing. Before I wrote this blog post I cleaned my bike and paid the electricity bill. I can assure that I didn’t feel like doing either of those things. I’d just gotten home from work. It’s been a long day. I’m hungry. But somehow, before I had my broccoli soup and grilled cheese (fancy weekday cooking!) I wiped the mud off my frame (chain cleaning to come later) and logged onto to my banking app and paid bills. I didn’t expect to feel good before doing these tasks. I just did them. Some days fitness is like that.

Fast or slow? On Day 87 Nia discusses the choice between fast and furious, change all your habits at once, fitness efforts versus slow, steady, gradual change. What I like is that Nia doesn’t assume slow and steady is better. Slow and steady, small changes suit a lot of people but I like that she recognizes that some people do better going big. The year I quit smoking, started to commute to work by bike, and learned to lift weights was a very big all-in year. There were some enormous changes in my life. They didn’t all stick but that year did set me up for a confidence about what my body could do. I still think it was a positive thing. I have the same fond feelings for the two year count down to turning 50 that I shared with Tracy and documented in our book Fit at Midlife: A Feminist Fitness Journey. Riding, rowing, running, soccer, CrossFit, and Aikido all at once. That was a lot. There was nothing small about that year. But I am happy to think of these things in waves and I loved that very big two year period.


As you can guess from my previous comments, there are many things that I love about this book. However, one of the things I love the most is how Shanks keeps the promises that she makes to her readers.

This promised to be a book about digging into your underlying mental challenges with developing a fitness routine and Shanks has really delivered for me.

She continues to deliver in Days 81-90 with an exploration of ways that our feelings and expectations can get in the way.

In Day 81 ‘Look Then Laugh’ she reminds us that it is okay to acknowledge that things sometimes go awry, despite our best efforts. We might as well be amused when that happens because there is no point in beating ourselves up about it. This kind of reminds me of that FB meme that encourages us to view our lives like a book or movie and to shout ‘Plot Twist!’ When things go wrong.

Day 82 ‘You Can’t Alter The Past’ – I really loved how this section acknowledges how our past affects our current perceptions and how we can become aware of what is happening and seek to change it. When I’m coaching people, I refer to this type of thing as ‘the stories we tell ourselves’ and encourage them to become aware of the stories and see which ones they want to keep. (That makes it sound incredibly simple – it is not- but it is the underlying principle of the practice.)

Day 83 – ‘Feeling Like It Is Not a Requirement’ – The fact that I didn’t need to feel like doing something in order to do it was HUGE revelation for me at one point in my life. I tell my writing coaching clients this all the time and I like the reminder here that we can apply this principle to fitness. Even when you have picked a fitness activity you enjoy, you won’t always feel like getting started but if you do it anyway, in whatever capacity you can at the moment, you will be happy you did. I like how she compares fitness activities to brushing your teeth – that’s always my go to comparison, too. We rarely skip brushing our teeth, no matter how little we feel like doing it, so it makes a good base-level example for this type of approach.

Day 84 – ‘Expectation Bias’ – I appreciated that this section reminded us that our expectations of a fitness session can affect the results (and our enjoyment.) I think we can all use the reminder that expectations colour what we experience. For me, personally, this gets tricky because of my oft-mentioned challenges with self-perception. I have to remind myself to balance that ‘try it anyway’ with the yoga advice ‘meet yourself where you are’ so I don’t judge myself too harshly for what I can or can’t do on a given day. This isn’t a problem with Shanks’ advice, just a moment of self-reflection!

Day 85 – ‘Play With What You Have’ – This section was a solid way to keep ourselves from falling into the ‘if only’ trap and, instead, to focus on what we have available to us in the moment and make the most of it. I like the playing cards metaphor she uses here and I will probably adapt it for my coaching practice. I often have to coax people to match their expectations to their reality (i.e. if you only have 5 minutes a week to write, don’t be hard on yourself when you can’t produce a novel in a month!) so the more ways I can explain that, the better.

Day 86 – ‘Change The Rhetoric’ – I really liked how she advises us to remember that getting to exercise/focus on fitness is a privilege and a luxury and that workouts do not make us warriors or heroes. Those ‘epic person’ ideas can be useful to a point but they can also get in our way and give us a harsh view of those who do not (or cannot) do what we can.

Day 87 – ‘Fast or Slow’ – This was a good reminder that there are different approaches to fitness goals and that we all need to pick the kind that serves us best. In Day 87, she focuses on the difference between going ‘all in’ with fitness and eating changes all at once versus taking an incremental approach. Of course, there are many combinations of those practices that will work differently for different people.

Day 88 – ‘Self-Fulfilling Prophecy’ – For me, this section works very neatly with Day 84’s ‘Expectation Bias,’ Shanks is basically saying that by declaring what we can or cannot do before we even try it, we limit what might be possible.

I have seen this happen when I help students in Taekwondo (and I sometimes fall victim to it myself but I try to catch myself quickly.) Sometimes, people decide in advance that they will never be able to do a push-up/land a punch/ break a board and then they psych themselves out of being able to do it. As a step toward change, I try to encourage people to put the word ‘yet’ at the end of their pronouncements ‘I can’t break a board…yet.’ – it opens the possibility of being able to do it in the future.

When students say ‘I just can’t do…’ and there is no physical limitation on why they cannot, they end up grunting and groaning through any attempt and then they give up. That really doesn’t serve them well and it keeps them from learning how to improve.

Day 89 – ‘Friendly Reminders’ – Days 81-90 have been full of friendly reminders for me but this section really summed up a lot of especially good content from earlier in the book and this seemed like a good time to circle back to it. Reminders that you don’t have to ‘earn’ your food by exercising, that fitness practices should make you feel good about yourself, and that you can focus on mastering the basics first, were all very welcome.

Day 90 – ‘Own Your Personal Records’ – Ah, this is another time when my perception of my own efforts gets in my way! Shanks is advising us to celebrate our milestones (including milestones related to consistency) without putting any conditions on them.

So, she wants us to stop saying “I know it’s only a light weight but…’ or ‘I know it’s just 10 days but…’ and, instead, celebrate that we have had a victory of any sort.

I know that I do this with my own fitness victories and, for me, it ties into that whole ADHD thing of not being able to judge how hard I am working. So, I don’t want to make a big deal of something that is actually less that what I could do. Even though I might be proud of a victory, when I tell others about it, I might undersell it a little in case my perception of my effort is off.

I have to give this a bit more thought and see how I can take a more self-supportive approach.

Once again, I got a lot out of this section of the book and it has given me a lot to consider putting into practice. Even though I use a lot of this same advice in my coaching sessions, it is interesting and useful to see it applied in a fitness context and I look forward to seeing how I can make it work for me.

Book Reviews · fitness · motivation

The 100 Day Reclaim: Day 61-70, Two (!) Fit Feminist Bloggers Weigh In

Three of us are reading Nia Shanks’ The 100 Day Reclaim: Daily Readings to Make Health and Fitness as Empowering as it Should Be. Most posts will include words from Catherine, and Christine and me, Sam, but today it’s just them. I spent the weekend at a wonderful philosophy conference in Arizona but then my travel back encountered the usual winter flight-delay problems. Sunday was seven extra hours in the Phoenix airport and I got home to my by three am. Work is extra busy (it’s academic budget season!) and I’m behind with all the things. A one day reprieve wouldn’t have helped so here’s Christine and Catherine going it alone. I’ll be back for days 71-80. I’ll be on holidays!

Read about Day 1 here.

Read about Days 2-10 here. ‘

Read about Days 11-20 here.

Read about Days 21-30 here.

Read about Days 31-40 here.

Read about Days 41-50 here.

Read about Days 51-60 here.


Day 61—if this happened to a friend

I keep struggling with Nia’s language even though I agree with and am warmed by her overall message. She gives an example of eating fast food for lunch instead of bringing it from home. All of us have done this, which she calls “giving in to fast food temptation”. Sigh. Then she says that doing so “typically leads to less-than -deal choices in the days that follow”. Argh.

But then Nia says all the right things (IMHO) about moving on, learning from what happened, etc. I feel like this is a tightrope Nia has to walk to please everyone: 1) people who are on a dieting track and suffer from guilt and self-recrimination; and 2) people who categorically reject dieting and see it as destructive and no-win. We bloggers (and lots of our readers) are in 2).

It’s so important for people in 1) to be able to hear Nia’s message, and I get that the wording she’s using is what is familiar to them. Here’s another example, talking about learning from what she calls a slip-up in eating: “…so you can handle it more productively”. I’d put it differently: “so you have some space for planning in ways that respect your desires and the realities of your life”. I don’t think Nia disagrees with me at all. I just prefer to lighten the language to remove as much value judgment as possible.

I’m liking Nia more and more as I read through this book. Hey Nia, I wish you could come by my house for tea and a nice walk at the park nearby.

Day 62—better, or tired?

Just before my first mountain bike race, someone gave me advice on how to pace myself: if I’m about to throw up, slow down. If I’m not about to throw up, go faster. That’s not terrible advice for a short race. But we’re not in short races most of the time. We’re in these bodies for the long haul. For me, “better” means keeping doing what I want to do for me, which is a variety of types of movement often, combined with enough rest to support myself, modifying when I’m injured or ill, or ramping up when I’m training for an event or curious about meeting some fitness goal.

Day 64—not good, not bad.

Here’s a friendly amendment for Nia: there are two other words that are often stealth terms for good and bad: health and unhealthy. These terms get used to bludgeon us into shame about what we eat and do. They scare us about the consequences of our eating and doing. Then, they coerce us into no-win diet patterns and physical regimens that are unfeasible and injury-conducive.

Is there such a thing as a healthy diet? Yes, there are loads of healthy diets. But there’s not agreement among health professionals about exactly what that looks like. I prefer the term healthy-to-me. This is awkward, and I don’t fault anyone else for not using it. It’s meant to convey my priorities and values (e.g. about meat or dairy consumption), constraints (e.g. allergies and tolerances, time and money, access and abilities for storing and preparing food), and preferences (some people just don’t like brussels sprouts, no matter what I say!). What we eat is up to us, and what we call healthy says a lot about us. It’s worth paying attention to that.

Day 66—coasting!

I love this so much. Coasting is a skill we all need to develop. It’s a powerful tool that will help keep us from self-blame, which is the worst thing we can do anytime. I have much more to say about coasting, but will leave it for a future blog post.

I read the rest of Nia’s posts, but will leave comments to Sam and Christine. You’ve heard enough of me for one day…


Before I discuss this week’s sections, I just want to share a little about how this book has helped my mindset already.

I live on the island of Newfoundland (Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada) and we just had a record-breaking snowstorm. On Friday past, my city had 93cm of snow (37.2 inches) and 140+ kph (86mph) winds and we have such huge piles of snow that several cities and towns have been under a state of emergency. This is the most snow that I have EVER seen fall at once, and we already had a lot of snow on the ground to start with.

On Thursday, I suggested to the other members of our Fit is a Feminist Issue team that I would do a post about shoveling and the other exercising I was going to do during the storm. I’m still going to do that post but it isn’t going to be the kind of post I expected.

I was expecting to do a fun little post about how during the stormiest day, I did yoga and some extra cardio by taking the dog out for a pee when it was super windy, then once the storm stopped, I would post about shovelling and the yoga I did to recover from shovelling.

Instead, the storm kept me edgy and distracted. I did yoga but it was late at night (and of course, I took the poor pup out whenever she needed it) and when our family started shovelling on Saturday, I went up to my hip in the snow. In the course of extricating myself, I wonked out my knee a bit. Nothing serious but enough to ensure that I had to be REALLY careful.

So, what does all of this have to do with The 100 Day Reset?

I didn’t feel bad about what I couldn’t do.

I focused on what I *could* still do. I did yoga and stretching. I switched up my usual shovelling technique so I could help, and I did it in small stretches. I thought about what I was eating instead of mindlessly eating foods that might make me feel worse about being stuck inside.

I’m a solutions-focused person anyway but I am also quite hard on myself when I feel like I might be slacking (self-perception issues are a companion issue with ADHD.) Thanks to Shanks’ book, I didn’t even consider that I was slacking off or being lazy – I was doing what I could in that moment.

So, thanks, Nia Shanks! You saved me a lot of frustration this weekend.

On to Days 61-70

I love a lot of the advice in this section, truly, truly love it.

I like being reminded to be kind to myself (Day 61) and especially the reminder to deal with ‘mistakes’ by gleaning useful information to prepare for similar future situations. I LOVE that she says that exhaustion is not a marker of success (Day 62) and that we don’t have to do an epic workout every time. In my coaching, I tell people that it is okay to create ‘placeholders’ for habits they are establishing (e.g. opening a document on the computer at a specific time – even if they aren’t going to be writing yet.) and I appreciate the way Shanks has similar advice for fitness habits here.

Day 63’s note about not giving into fear (fear of failing, fear of looking silly) was eye-opening for me. I realized (again?) that I can often be afraid of starting because I know I struggle with consistency.

I enjoyed this week’s sections about how to alter your thinking to serve you better.

Day 64 was about how to choose ways to view events in your fitness journey (i.e. the events are neutral, we assign the values to them, even when we don’t have to), Day 65 was a strong reminder that we can start/restart at any point and the key is to do SOMETHING now.

Day 66 advised us to recognize that there will be different rhythms in our schedules and we should work with what we have – working hard when we can, ‘coasting’ when we need to. (Important advice for me this weekend)

I appreciated the message in Day 67 about the futility of complaining and how we should look at the thing we are complaining about and make changes so it is no longer an issue. I like keeping the focus on finding solutions but, personally, I sometimes need to vent in order to clear my brain enough to start to see solutions. That’s not the same thing as ongoing complaining without taking action but my (sometimes overly-literal) brain initially balked at my mistaken idea that no amount of complaining was acceptable.

Day 68’s reminder to focus on what matters in the big picture was useful and I especially appreciate Shanks’ suggestion that we are just one workout away from being back on track and that we can do that workout today. That section dovetailed nicely into Day 69’s advice to mentally prepare for things going wrong and to plan the things you will do if your ‘what if’ came to pass.

Finally, I am all about Day 70’s advice to observe how things went ‘wrong’ and learn from them. Noticing how I got to a particular frustrating set of circumstances and identifying a different path for next time is an extremely useful piece of advice for me. I’ll be talking more about that in my ‘Christine weathers the storm’ post this Saturday.

By the way, throughout these sections, I can see the line that Shanks is walking with the way she talks about eating and I appreciate her efforts to steer away from diet-talk while still trying to engage people who are in that frame of mind. I, personally, would like to see her take an even stronger stance against the diet mindset but I don’t exactly know what form that could take.

Storm dog in the snow
Book Reviews · fitness

The 100 Day Reclaim: Day 41-50, Three Fit Feminist Bloggers Weigh In

Three of us are reading Nia Shanks’ The 100 Day Reclaim: Daily Readings to Make Health and Fitness as Empowering as it Should Be.

Read about Day 1 here.

Read about Days 2-10 here. ‘

Read about Days 11-20 here.

Read about Days 21-30 here.

Read about Days 31-40 here.

Catherine: Nia could’ve spent the whole book writing about just these themes in days 41—50. I see them all as ways to look at what we do and who we are from every vantage point, all the better to see possibilities for change, for validation, for appreciation.

Starting with the appreciation bits: Nia encourages us to embrace our natural abilities. I’m very good at organizing social activities and keeping up with friends. This translates for me into lots of opportunities to arrange or join in on physical activity and also share meals. When I’m cooking or eating with others, I eat in ways that are more healthy-to-me. What can I say? I like to go along with the crowd, and my crowd has a lot of eating and activity habits that I admire and want to incorporate into my daily habits.

Nia says we tend to take for granted some of the positive habits or abilities or life situations or gifts we have right now. Stopping for a sec to notice what we have, what we have done, all that we are—this is worth doing. I agree.

Now that she’s got us here, stopping, looking around, and noticing, here are some things she’d like to point out. One is our own aging. Yeah, it’s happening. Cursing the calendar or the mirror doesn’t help. Instead, she suggests doing what we can to age gracefully and maintain a good quality of life.

Aging gracefully—this phrase bothers me. I get what Nia is saying. But for me, aging is decidedly ungraceful. It’s awkward, unpredictable, jolting, and a big pain in the patootie. My long-time-colored hair is growing out, and I’m loving the unruly and uneven shocks of silver and white. My hips hurt when I sit for too long, so I have to stand up in the middle of long work meetings. This is decided ungraceful, especially because some of my male colleagues gently (but regularly) mock me for stretching and standing up whenever I do it. I’m serious. I handle it, but not gracefully. Nope.

I’m sure Nia would support me here—she’s all about us being ourselves and carrying ourselves proudly. I just want to point out that graceful, aging is not.

Nia also asks us to look at what we struggle constantly with. Here’s how she puts it: “a battle you find yourself facing again and again with you usually coming out on what feels like the losing side”.

I immediately thought of one that I’m going to work on: even though I’m not a morning person, my most productive time is the first 4—6 hours of my day. After that, my focus and determination flag. I struggle with how to spend those precious hours: Writing? Grading? Physical activity? Meditation? Making a schedule hasn’t worked well—whatever I’m doing at the time, I tend to follow that to its conclusion, and then worry about the other things I haven’t done in this Magic Period of Perfect Productiveness. Yeah. Blech.

How to respond to this daily struggle? Nia offers a couple of suggestions, one of which is to introduce chaos into your routine. Shake things up to see how we respond when the normal goes out the window. I’ve had this experience. When my car is in the repair shop, I have to improvise getting around. I have bikes, feet, buses, and trains at my disposal. They take more time and focus and energy, but they’re also invigorating and different. I’m now wondering how I can make my mid-late afternoons different and more invigorating. I’ll report back on this in a blog post. Thanks, Nia.

Christine: Overall, this section of the book had a lot to offer me in terms of staying aware of how I get off-track with my plans. I’ll be making use of a lot of these practices as I move through 2020 and continue to establish a fitness plan that is do-able for me.

The breakdown:

41 – Why are we never satisfied?

I like how she states ‘you can and should do whatever you want with your body’ but while I feel the pressure to always be doing ‘more,’ I have managed to sidestep that for now.

42 – What we take for granted

I talk a lot about this in my coaching practice, the idea that we need to notice the things we DID get done, the things we have achieved. I know there’s a popular meme that says ‘Don’t look back, you aren’t going that way.’ and that is valuable in some circumstances, it also keeps you forever pushing forward and never noticing how far you have come. I really like how Shanks frames that in terms of gratitude – gratitude for yourself and the work you have put in.

43 – Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

This section really struck home with me. I’m not too caught up in notions of being ‘too old’ to do things and I’m pretty good at dismissing any ‘never’ or ‘always’ statements that bubble up but I still have to fight my inclinations towards a fixed mindset. When you couple that with the bizarre sense of time that ADHD has granted me, I often realize that I have been subconsciously holding on to the idea that the way things are today is the way they will always be. I notice it in my mood first and then have to dig in to find the thoughts that generated that mood. I like this reminder to be even more conscious of this issue.

44 – Stupid Advice

The stupid advice she is counselling us against in this section is the advice to ‘Just love your body.’ I am so glad she included this in the book. I see and hear this advice tossed around all the time and, to use a local expression ‘it rots me.’

It’s not like we can step outside of decades of cultural pressure and just make a sweeping change to dismiss all of that internalized garbage.

Obviously, discussing this in the larger context is beyond the scope of Shanks’ book but I like what she has done in this format. She advises us to notice when negative body feelings arise and do our best to work toward being indifferent towards those parts of our bodies. She adds that we can start focusing on what those body parts can DO and we can perhaps find an appreciate for them in that.

Day 45 – You do what you do. Why?

This is another day about noticing and this time she is asking us to notice our habits and to assess them for whether they serve us well. She advises us to make plans that will help us change those habits. I like how she cuts through all of the decision making around habits and breaks it down to, essentially. ‘notice, plan, adjust your actions.’ While there are always emotional considerations around these things, her suggestions are on a scale that makes sense to me and I could probably do them no matter what emotions swirl around them.

Day 46 – What is a constant struggle?

This section builds nicely on the last, asking us to notice what kinds of things regularly derail us and then to make plans for how to deal with those situations when they arise again. I tend to be very solutions-focused but I sometimes forget to do these sort of alternate plans so this reminder was super-helpful.

I’m still not keen on all the talk about how to manage your eating but, as far as I can see, Shanks doesn’t veer off into ‘diet’ talk so I just gloss over those sections as unrelated to my particular goals.

Day 47 – Embrace your natural abilities

This section is about noticing your strengths, not just in fitness but in all areas of your life. And, she makes a great suggestion about bringing your skills in other areas to apply to your fitness plans.

I love helping clients find what I refer to as ‘transferable skills’ and I love that she suggests finding them here.

Now, if I can only figure out how my ability to write really fast can translate into fitness, I’ll be all set. 😉

48 – Don’t disdain growing older

I like the advice in this section but it does seem a little out of place. I appreciate the positive approach she is advising and the reminder to focus on the things that we can control but it’s not clear how this fits in with the rest of the book. That could be just because I have, luckily, never been too invested in age-based restrictions. Or perhaps, at 47, the full cultural pressure of this one hasn’t hit me yet.

49 – Deliberately introduce chaos into your routine

I LOVE THIS SECTION. It terrifies me but since ADHD makes me especially susceptible to getting buffeted around by unexpected changes, I really love the idea of building (metaphorical) muscles for dealing with that chaos. I will be trying this ASAP.

50 – Zoom Out

This section is a great reminder of the big picture for people who tend to abandon their fitness related plans when they get off track. Shanks’ advice to zoom out puts a those few missteps into perspective.

Sam: I really liked this section of the book. So far I’ve been reading along and agreeing. Choose fitness goals that aren’t about aesthetics. Check. Aim for consistency not perfection. Check. Enjoy the journey. Check. All well and good but these are all things I already know. It’s nice to be reminded but I started wanting some new tricks in my bag. Days 41-50 were fun that way.

I liked Day 41–having goals is good but don’t keep resetting the bar higher and higher. Some is good doesn’t always mean that more is better. Take the time to appreciate what you’ve achieved. Nice.

Day 44 which talks about being neutral about your body instead of trying to love your body reminded me lots of Tracy! I’ve been missing Tracy since she’s away in Mexico so that made me smile.

I think we all liked Day 46 on identifying struggles and making plans.

But my fave day was Day 49 on deliberately introducing chaos into our carefully structured lives so we can learn to roll with it. I might try that. Thanks Nia!