clothing · fashion · fitness · shoes

Sam checks in after four months without shopping

Four months ago I announced on the blog that I was taking a year long hiatus from shopping for shoes, clothes, purses, and jewelry. You can read that post for the full back story of why, and you can also see some of my pandemic purchases! Online shopping was a stress reliever during the pandemic but I have way more than enough stuff and it was taking up a lot of mental space as well as physical.

A few people have asked how it’s going.

First, in the interests of full disclosure, I did make some exceptions so it’s not been no shopping. I think I even announced those in the that original post. They were non underwire bras (after I decided not to go back to them once the pandemic was over), a dress for a friend’s wedding that worked with my new knee, and new running shoes which I’d planned to buy after surgery. At the time of the no shopping pledge I didn’t know when that would be.

Second, I’ve had fun watching the clothing ads slowly disappear from my social media newsfeeds. But there are some fun exceptions there too. Facebook is honing in on my personal style. My son Gavin says that with my cane I look like a Muppet pirate. Lately the ads are getting more and more specific. Lots of pink and purple and red. Lots of furry, shiny fabrics. So I’ve resisted but maybe I’ll ask for one for Christmas.

Third, it’s certainly made me realize how much clothing I have. Instead of shopping online, I’m shopping in my closet. It’s led to some discoveries and it’s also led to some clearing out of things I don’t wear. It’ll be a good opportunity to take stock, organize, and prune my existing clothes collection. I’m glad to have that as a focus for the year instead of buying new things.

Fourth, shoes are easiest to resist. I own a lot of very nice shoes and boots. I’m tempted a lot by jewelry since I lose a lot of it. I hardly ever buy purses so there’s not much challenge there at all. And clothes are really the focus of this whole thing.

Fifth, I do need things to distract me on my phone still. And I’ve found a thing that’s not shopping. Instead when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep or when I’m waiting in the car for people, I’ve been working on my Spanish using Duolingo.

Check out my progress!

Sam’s Spanish progress

Sixth, it’s also not been no shopping. Regular blog readers might recall shortly after knee surgery, while taking strong pain medication at night, I went on a pillow shopping bender. I guess I Google searched for best pillows for getting comfortable after knee surgery and bought them all. They just kept arriving, for days. More pillows!

Here’s Cheddar with one of the new pillows!

Yay for tonight body pillow and Cheddar the dog

And I am keeping a digital scrapbook of things I’ve been tempted to buy so I can check in at year’s end and see if I’m still tempted.


Get outside and play! It’s May!

Fitness Challenge Logo

It’s May. I spent Sunday swapping over my winter and summer clothes. I have lots of happy summer thoughts in my head. It was also Cheddar’s six year adoption anniversary.

Here’s puppy Cheddar:

Even the pandemic is looking up. See Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik’s round up. This week it’s pretty good news, “Fasten your seat belts! This ride is almost over. It’s time to imagine a post-COVID world.” See here.

And at my work, at the University of Guelph, it’s Be Well, Be Safe Week in recognition of National Mental Health Week and North American Occupational Safety and Health Week.

Part of that is the university’s kickoff of our May fitness challenge. It’s our Get Outside Fitness Challenge and I’ll be taking part.

Here’s more info about what we can and can’t do outside in Ontario during the Stay at Home orders.

Outdoor Activity during Ontario’s Stay At Home:
Under the provincial government mandate of Stay at Home orders, outdoor exercise or walking your pet is considered an approved activity. To ensure you are exercising safely and following provincial rules please follow these guidelines during this challenge:

– Only workout with those in your same household or alone
– If you are in a park where you may come into closer contact while walking, please wear a mask.
– If you bring a mat and find a spot on some grass to be outside, please ensure you are 3m away from anyone else on all sides.
– Don’t forget to bring your water bottle to stay hydrated
– Wash your hands when you get home and wipe down any equipment you brought with you.

Physical benefits of outdoor exercise: 

Exercise in nature has a more positive effect on blood pressure and mood than exercise in a gym
Being in nature has been found to lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, help mitigate disease, and reduce stress levels
Athletes who run or walk on nature trails have reported less fatigue after a 20-minute run than they did following a run on an indoor track.

Mental benefits:

Activities in nature resulted in reduced negative emotions (e.g., anger, fatigue and sadness) as compared to similar activities in a human-made environment
A daily walk in nature can be as effective in treating mild cases of depression as taking an antidepressant
Runners reported lower levels of stress and depression when exercising in nature than when exercising in an urban setting.”

The following pictures are what turn up when you search for outdoor exercise:

Here’s how to join:

“The weather is getting nicer so we want to encourage you to move outdoors for 30 minutes EVERY DAY from May 1st – 31st. What is your movement of choice? We want to see what you are doing to stay active. Take a pic and tag us @gryphons_fitness every time you do. For every picture we receive, you get an additional ballot added to a draw to win prizes. The more pictures, the more chance to win! Contest closes May 31st at midnight.


Step One: Download our GryphFit App to join the challenge

Apple Store here, Google Play here

Step Two: Join the challenge on the “Challenge” icon in the app

Step Three: Walk, run, jog, do yoga, dance, play with your pet… the list goes on.  It’s simple: GET OUTSIDE and move.  You choose how. Don’t forget to take a picture and tag us @gryphons_fitness to show us how you are spending your time outdoors. Contest runs May 1st – 31st.

Step Four: Be entered into a draw to win a Matrix Fitness prize pack worth $300! Winner will be announced on June 1st, 2021.”

cycling · fitness · Zwift

Tempted by distance challenges and the #Festive500

Oh, distance goals. In 2015 I rode 3675 kms on my bike and blogged about it here. I set out to ride 5000 km in 2016 . I don’t think I made it quite to 5k km but I think I came close.

This year I will for sure. All that Zwifting! I’m at nearly 5000 km and averaging 150 km a week. There’s 5 weeks left and so, barring injury or trainer issues, I’ll make it to 5000 km by 2021.

Distance4,509.5 km

All of that is just to say that the usual, for me, distance goal of 5000 km, is no longer a goal. It just happened.

Likewise, I’ve whooshed past the 220 workouts in 2020. (Want to join us next year? Find out how to here.) I’m currently at 364, thinking I might make it to 400. The pandemic has been horrible in so many ways but for me exercising lots is helping me cope.

All of that said, I miss Holiday Challenges. In past years I’ve done a holiday bike streak. Before, when I could run, I would do an annual Thanksgiving to Christmas running streak.

I’m also on record of supporting the idea that December can be the new January. When I wrote about that back in November 2016, I said, “I like the idea of hitting the holiday season with my fitness habits in place. It’s not about weight or dieting. It’s partly the stress of all the social stuff. I like my time at the gym. It’s also about aging. When I was younger I could take longer breaks. Now I notice fitness drops off quickly. So yes, while I don’t generally make New Year’s resolutions, I do think about getting fit for next year’s cycling season. And for me this year, December 1st will be the new January 1st.”

Now there are no parties this year to distract me but I still like the idea of taking on a special holiday fitness thing.

So I can keep on doing what I’m doing and make it to 5000 km, or…..

Or what?

Well, my Zwift Bike Club, Team TFC, has a monthly mileage challenge. I could try to win that for December. But that’s too ambitious. There are people riding more than 700 km a week in that group.

And then there’s the Festive 500. “500 kilometres. Eight days. Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve. Restrictions come and go but some things never change. Rapha’s annual festive riding challenge is back, with an all-new capsule collection and more ways than ever to go the distance.” I’m tempted! For the first time this year the Festive 500 allows zwift kms to count. (It’s a UK based challenge.)

Festive dancing penguins

En route to the Festive 500, I could knock off some Zwift badges, like the one for 25 laps of the Volcano. That’s also a Century and another badge. Zwift Insider says, “There’s also a “100 Clicks” badge awarded the first time you ride 100 km in one activity. If you complete 25 Volcano Circuit laps you will hit 100 km, unlocking this badge and 500XP bonus if you haven’t done so already.”

I’m still mulling it over. The issue is I think if we’ve got nice weather and snow I’d rather be outside.

(There are also less challenging annual challenges out there. If 5000 km isn’t your thing, you can start smaller.

There’s a group aiming to ride 2021 kilometers in 2021.)


How about you? Do you love holiday challenges or hate them? Love them generally but declining this year because pandemic? Are you taking on a fitness challenge this holiday season?

family · fitness

Sam is checking in for August

On the bright side, August saw me riding outside and paddling my canoe. It felt like I finally got to do some of my usual summertime things. I even got to ride with someone in addition to Sarah. Hi Kim! Thanks for riding with us.

On the one hand, it felt like summer at long last. Yay! On the other hand, it also felt like the end of summer, because of course, it is.

Time is weird enough in these pandemic days. Add the start of the university year/end of summer to that and it’s very definitely a bit of a fuzzy mess.

I’ve been moving lots through it all though. I think in the 220 workouts in 220 groups I’m in, I’m up to more than 260 workouts. That’s a lot for me. But it’s been a bit random. And I worry that as the work pace picks up in September, workouts will fall by the wayside.

In light of that worry, I’ve signed up for a 30 day women’s cycling training program. So far, I’ve learned, that for me racing is easy but working out alone on the trainer is hard. I mean, I’m doing the workouts in the virtual world that is Zwift but I’m not connected with anyone riding in Zwift. It’s a struggle.

Of course racing isn’t actually easy. Sometimes it’s very tough. But I’ve got lots of motivation that can be hard for me to find in other contexts. I’ve been loving the team time trials the best.

Let’s see if this 30 day challenge works. I’ll report back when it’s over and let you know how it went.

We’ve also got a personal trainer coming to our backyard to workout with me, my mum, and Sarah once a week. It’s lots of fun. We’re going to keep that up until the snow is too much, I think.

That’s been terrific because my fitness oriented/weight lifting son moved out to live with friends. We’re worrying a bit less about covid-19 without him here and he’s enjoying a bit more freedom but I really miss working out with him at lunch.

Looking ahead for September I’m also doing a different kind of 30 day challenge, one focused on equity.

30 Day Challenge: A Daily Practice Challenging Barriers to Equity

“Throughout the month of September, Wellness@Work is challenging you to register and participate in the 30 Day Challenge from Wellbeing Waterloo Region. This challenge is focused on daily practices challenging barriers to equity. Each day, there is a short activity to help you learn, reflect and practice small actionable steps you can take.  The challenges help to increase understanding and build capacity on topics including, unconscious bias, social inclusion and various forms of privilege. The daily practices include short videos, articles, reflection questions and suggestions for actions you can take.”

Again, I’ll let you know how it goes.


Mental health challenge day 2: Sam gets thankful

This has been making the rounds on Facebook and lots of people say they like it. It’s day two for me… and I thought I’d share with you ten things for which I’m grateful:

1. This blog and the bloggers and the community that’s grown up around us.

2. Avacado on toast. I’m eating some right now.

3. Terrific philosophy departments trying hard to get things right. Here’s looking at you UConn.

4. My family and people close to me who support me in the things that matter most.

5. Dogs.

6. Beautiful fall colours. It never gets old. Actually I think it gets better with age. I used to puzzle about my mother in law who loved fall colours and who would go on drives to look at them and who photographed them each year. They’re just leaves, I thought. I didn’t appreciate them. Now I do. I’m in Connecticut and the campus is glowing orange in the last days of fall. It’s beautiful.

7. Hugs. I love meeting fellow huggers. Who ask, Can I hug you? Yes, yes you can.

8. Beautiful shoes. Lately I’ve been drooling over new Danskos. I’d love them in brown, red, and shiny black. I don’t need to own then. I’m just grateful they exist, comfortable beautiful shoes.

9. Coffee. I love all the kinds. A cortado is best but even this American hotel coffee tastes good.

10. Bicycles. Of course!


22 Push Up Challenge, #22Kill


About a half dozen of my friends are doing 22 push ups a day for 22 days and posting about. It’s an eclectic mix of fitness types and academic philosophers.

I was intrigued.

I posted.

I asked about it.

I said, “Hey, what is this thing? Why are you doing it?”

I asked them to blog about it.

Did they agree?

No. They did not.

Instead, a whole slew of them tagged me in the challenge. As with other challenges the idea is you do it and then challenge others to take part.

I should have just consulted Google!

According to the article 22 Push-Up Challenge Dominates Social Media: What It Is And What You Need To Do the challenge “was started by an organization named 22Kill. The challenge is asking for people to upload videos while they do push-ups, with 22Kill looking to capture at least 22 million push-ups on video. Why the number? It was taken from the shocking statistic that, on average, 22 veterans commit suicide daily in the United States, according to a report published by the Department of Veterans Affairs. As such, the challenge is looking to collect that many push-ups on video to both honor the men and women who have served the country and to raise awareness for the prevention of veteran suicides through empowerment and education.”

And yes, any version of the push ups counts. How many variants are there? Lots. Here’s 82 of them.

And yes, I did my first 22 today.

Day 1, done.

UK version: 22 pushup challenge 

US/Facebook: 22 Pushup Challenge