(I initiated this “Dear Fieldpoppy” advice column a few months ago; today’s questions were so rich I did it in two parts; read part one here)
Dear Fieldpoppy: When I do any exercise at all, I sweat. Like everywhere. From my head, my knees… everywhere. As in my underwear are also soaking wet. I can deal with sweat stains under my arms, but not on my pants. Delicacy prevents me from being more explicit, but you get the idea. Any tips for managing this?
Signed, not the good kind of wet
20 (30! I typed 20 and then did the math! yikes I’m old) years ago, I lived in old victorian house that had great light but got really hot in the summer. One time, an IT guy came to help me with a computer problem, and he was literally dripping sweat onto my Mac Classic. I offered him a glass of water, and he declined, saying “I’m already sweating so much, I don’t want to add more liquid to my body.”
At the time, not being the know-it-all Fieldpoppy I am today, I didn’t say anything. But now I would say, “DUDE, water COOLS you. You’ll sweat LESS.”
But there are really two questions here: how do I sweat less? and what do I do with all this sweat I make doing this badass workout?
To regulate the sweating, start with hydration. Cool or iced water if that is a thing you like. Before, during and after. Lots of small sips.
Of course, your own personal body, your hormones, your metabolism — all of these things are huge factors in how much you sweat. Some of us light skinned folks get red in the face no matter what, and some of us in the vague zone of menopause have more complicated thermoregulation. I’m fully into menopause now, and I take hormones that have been super helpful generally — but even so, I still get sweaty, volcanic hot flashes occasionally, usually associated with hot soup, hot baths or warm yoga studios. I try to avoid all of those, and make promiscuous use of fans, both at my desk and while working out. I use a fan with my spin bike, and if I’m working out in a gym or yoga studio, I tend to pick the cooler ones. And of course, wicking clothes, layers, hats to protect from the sun.
But if the sweating is just a thing you are going to experience, and you want to minimize the impact, be super intentional about your clothes. I personally like the really light, thin leggings that have a slippery nude feel, like some of the lulu ones, preferably with a colourful pattern where sweat pools are not super vivid. I don’t typically wear underwear with my tights — way cooler — but if it’s important to you, try the leakproof underwear designed for periods (I like Knix, who even make leakproof thongs now, if that’s a thing you groove on) — they are terrific at absorbing all the fluids our bodies produce in all the things we love to do. Finally, I recently got a little sweat towel in a work swag bag (like this), and it works great to help sop things up. Sweat away! Be strong! Be human!
Oh — and wipe your equipment 😉
A wonderful dad I know just asked what advice we would offer for him to share with his almost four-year-old daughter for International Women’s Day. What would your advice be?
Tell him to go to an indie bookstore (like my fave local Queen books) or a community library with his daughter, ask the lovely people who work there for advice, and then sit down in a pile of the amazing array of books for littles that have come out in the past five years. There is a flourishing abundance of books that give little ones all sorts of narratives about diversity, using your voice, imagination, caring for the world and each other, and what’s possible for all genders in a changing world. Two of my favourites I’ve recently gifted my five year old nephew with are You Might be Special and Julian is a Mermaid. Dwelling in many voices and different stories is the best way to start developing a narrative about what her place in the world could be.
I moved to a rural place far away from my family to be with my boyfriend, who is a great human and we are really happy when he’s here. But he’s away for work for an extended period of time, and I am having a hard time getting into a meaningful routine by myself. E.g., we used to work out together every morning — without him here, I just stay in bed with coffee and play all the wordle games. (He’s also really bad at texting, but that’s not something I can do anything about). How do I get in more of a groove when I’m here alone? Signed, I wouldn’t live here on purpose
That sounds really tough, especially at the end of two years of weird isolation. You’re not alone in this sense of aimless loneliness, I think! It sounds like your life in this space feels sort of temporary and floaty, so it’s not surprising that your routine has shifted without the framework of the other human in your space.
So first — as I recommended this morning — have a glass of water. And then survey what you really need and want. If it’s just some sort of shape, timers and making dates with people to work out via zoom or whatever can help. But I wonder if, now that we’re emerging from lockdown and spring is somewhere out there, the best thing to do might be to reach into the community. You might be able to find yourself a local group of people doing something active that you could enjoy just for the shape and novelty it gives your week — even if they are not really Your People. About 15 years ago, I was dating someone who lived in a whole other country, and I spent time there for weeks at a time while I was working on my PhD. I joined up with a women’s recreational running group (they called themselves the Slug Goddesses) and suddenly, I felt like I belonged in the community. They didn’t become my best friends, and I actually only ran with them about 10 times — but they eased the sense that I was just floating along. I’m still pals with them on the socials, and one of them ran for State Senator recently!
It doesn’t have to be fitness related — join a trivia league, or volunteer somewhere. A little corner of this place — even if it’s temporary — can help anchor you.
Also, get a cat.
I’m so used to leggings 24/7 I’m forgetting to unfasten my slacks & jeans when going to the bathroom.
What can I do?
Signed, Button Buster.
I’m glad to see you’re staying hydrated! But the leakproof underwear I linked in the first answer might come in handy for you too.
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede (she/they), who lives and works on the land now known as Toronto, which is the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, and is covered by Treaty 13, signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit. Cate is a coach, consultant and general thinker about relationships and meaning making. You can read earlier versions of the Ask Fieldpoppy column here, here and here.