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.

Samantha:

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.

Christine:

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.

Catherine:

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

Book Reviews · fitness · motivation

The 100 Day Reclaim: Day 71-80, 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.

Sam

Day 71 starts off with calling out the nonsense. I like that it’s not just other people’s nonsense that Nia wants us to call out but also our own nonsense too. In my own case I’m pretty good at recognizing other people’s nonsense but I’m less good at spotting my own. What’s an example? Well, telling yourself that you’ve been putting in the effort when you haven’t.

Nia thinks you be both compassionate to yourself and call out your own bullshit. I like it.

In fact, I liked this section better than the others because it was less “feel good” messaging. I’m pretty good at feeling good. I know this book is aimed at reclaiming our own fitness story from the dominant narratives of struggle and shame but I think I’ve pretty much left those stories behind. They aren’t mine.

Day 72 is about not letting perfect be the enemy of the good. That’s a pretty common theme in my life. I apply it to writing too.

Day 73 is about recognizing your own strengths. You are tougher than you think. Got it!

Muster up some grit, says Nia on day 79. And again I liked the “push.” It’s not all feel good about whatever you’re doing and do the thing you love. Don’t get me wrong. I like those messages too. But these days I’m doing a lot of hard, painful things. I need grit and determination. Thanks Nia for recognizing that.

Catherine

Day 72: “There are options between nothing and (theoretical) perfection.” Yep. Whew.

Day 73: “Don’t undervalue yourself or your abilities… You can handle it.” I needed that.

Day 74: “Healthify” is going to be my verb of the week. I love this—it means (to me) to adjust some food or recipe to take out what are perceived as “unhealthy” components (like fats or sweeteners) in service of trying to make them more “healthy”. We can choose to eat them as they are, if they give us joy and satisfaction. I happen to feel this way about cheese and yogurt—non-fat yogurt really doesn’t do it for me. Neither does low-fat cheese. Yes, I know—YMMV. But I bet you have some foods for which you take a stand against “healthifying”. Stand with me, and use this word today if you can…

Day 77: “See past the façade.” Nia is preaching to the choir here at Fit is a Feminist Issue. We spend a lot of time and column-inches (okay, this term is outdated, but a bunch of us have written for newspapers) on debunking diet and exercise fads and gimmicks and contraptions and schemes. But we are all vulnerable, and that’s not our fault. For instance, I purchased a strength-training online plan for $79 that it turning out to be kind of a bust for me. I tried it, but it felt like too much too soon, and I got all sore and disheartened. Okay, lesson learned. I paid $79 for it. Could’ve been worse. But I still want to do strength training, so I’m turning to what works for me: my friend Pata and I are signing up for a class at the local YMCA. It’s a start, and as day 72 reminds us, it’s better than nothing—far better.

Day 79: “Muster up some grit”. I do enjoy how Nia throws a lot at us, knowing that some messages will stick better than others. This one I have a harder time with. Yes, grit is important—we would never get to the tops of big hills on our bikes without it. However, grit is not what’s called for when we’re sick or injured or there’s a family emergency. My problem is knowing when to be gritty, and when to allow myself to rest or heal or turn to something else in my life that really needs me. Nia does have an answer, I think: if we trust ourselves, the call we make in the situation will be the right one. And if we think differently later on, that’s okay too.

I’m now thinking of re-imagining grit as a force we can muster over time as well as in the moment—the grit to keep to the process, even when we get bloodied and choose to sideline ourselves. Not all of us can be Abby Wambach! 🙂

Christine

There are so very many personally useful things in this section of the book that I hardly know where to start!

In Day 71, Shanks advises us to ’Call Out The Nonsense’ – she wants us to be compassionate but to notice when we are making excuses instead of doing the actual work.

It’s great advice. After all, you can’t start your journey if you aren’t taking any steps.

However, this touches on something that is REALLY difficult for me.

As I have mentioned before, issues with self-perception are common for people with ADHD. I literally have no idea if I am working hard enough on anything. This often results in either me working very hard but perceiving myself as lazing around, or me mistaking mental effort for tangible effort and wondering why I am not making progress, or me putting a lot of effort into systems and plans that I will never be able to maintain (more on this in the next section.)

I really appreciate the train of thought that Day 71 has helped me board and noticing how these errors of thinking apply to my fitness plans is going to be extremely helpful as I move forwrad.

Day 72, When Good Beats Best

In this section, Shanks has said something that I intuitively understand, something I regularly remind others about, but that I haven’t been able to see how to fully enact for myself. (It’s always easier to see how other people can put things together, isn’t it?

Sometimes I joke with my coaching clients that they could replace me with a recording that says things like ‘Be kind to yourself,’ ‘Done beats perfect, every time,’ and ‘Sure, it’s been said but it hasn’t been said by you and you will reach people that others have not reached.’

Here, Shanks has been the person to reach me with a key message that I have heard before and that I give to other people.

Her version of ‘Done beats perfect, every time’ is to remind us that while there may be a ‘best’ way to proceed on our fitness journeys, it may not be the way that will work for us.

I was going to say that she has given me ‘permission’ to proceed with a good enough version of my plans but it would be more accurate to say that her phrasing has given me room to give MYSELF permission to proceed imperfectly and do what I can.

I’m going to be making a Shanks-inspired piece of art for my work/workout space that says ‘Seek Consistent Progress Over Perfection.’
This section ‘When Good Beats Best’ is, so far, the most useful and helpful part of a very useful and helpful book.

Day 73 is about not underestimating ourselves, and reminds us that we have the ability and capacity to face challenges of all kinds. I really like her advice to reminds ourselves of our strengths by recalling a time when we felt like we couldn’t handle what was in front of us but we did handle it and flourished anyway.

In Day 74, Shanks touches on one of my pet peeves – people making ‘healthy’ versions of every food. She reminds us that we don’t have to go through this process. It can be useful, if it serves us well, to choose different versions of foods we eat regularly but foods we only eat from time to time definitely don’t need a healthier version.

I was reminded in this section about a time, shortly after my son was diagnosed with diabetes and the dietitian had me bring in some of our family recipes so she could adjust them to accommodate my son’s new reality. She took my chocolate chip cookie recipe, made tons of adjustments with several different special ingredients and the end result was that he would be able to eat a serving of 3 cookies instead of a serving of 2 cookies. When we left her office, my then 14 year old son said, “What a waste of time. I’ll just eat 2 regular ones.”

Day 75, ‘When You Can’t See What You Feel,’ also hit on an important point for me. Because of my issues with not being able to see how pieces add up to a whole, I have an especially strong need to be able to see my progress when I am working on a long term project. I use all sorts of tricks and charts to see my results in work-related projects.

While I am okay with using how I feel to judge the ‘success’ of fitness endeavours, I think that the lack of visual record might explain how I end up going off track.

Shanks is speaking directly to people who feel discouraged by not seeing the changes in their bodies and her advice addresses that. I’m taking something different from the section. I don’t need to see the changes in my body, I’m okay with feeling them, but I do need a visual record of my efforts.

I’ve had some success with this in the past so I am going to dig out some old solutions and see how they still apply.

Days 76 & 77 are useful but not particularly applicable to me. I don’t really need reminders not to get into guilt-based negative self-talk and I am inherently distrustful of the Wellness Industry so I am not very susceptible to their shifty marketing practices. (I’m not suggesting any sort of superiority here. I fall victim to all kinds of other shifty marketing practices. I am a human and psychological techniques work on me the same way they work on others, but Wellness is one area where it doesn’t hit me very hard.)

Day 78 – Appreciate What You Have – I feel a bit weird about this section. I like how she is trying to remind us to appreciate the things our bodies can do but the practice of Negative Visualization (imagining something we appreciate being taken away from us) feels like it could trigger anxiety and the practice could tip over into something quite ableist. I am NOT saying that Shanks is advocating abelism but this section presents some risks in that area and it feels a bit off to me.

Day 79 – Muster Up Some Grit – More solid advice here! Shanks is reminding us that we will face obstacles, mistakes and setbacks but that if we muster up some grit we can keep going. A setback does not mean all is lost.

This section does bring me back to the same personal issues that I mentioned in Day 72 – my lack of ability to judge my own efforts – but, since one of my personal strengths is perseverance, a reminder of how grit helps is a useful part of the mix.

Day 80 – Do The Opposite – I love how Shanks keeps reminding her readers that women face a lot of pressure to ‘fix’ our bodies so we can see that we didn’t invent the mental habits and problematic approaches that can keep us from finding fitness habits that serve us well. I appreciate her advice to recognize the pressures and, instead, to choose a path and practice that builds us up instead of tearing us down.

Days 71-80 have provided me with some terrific insights and some great reminders. I am really loving this book and I am definitely getting what I hoped for from reading it.

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!

fitness

What’s one thing you’re going to try in 2020?

It’s the new year and we’re doing some reflecting here at Fit is a Feminist Issue. This is the third in a series of three group posts.

Nicole: I really want to be more diligent with preparing my meals, especiallly lunches for work. I’m decent with dinner, but I get into a bad habit for long periods of time, of buying my lunch (and coffee, and often breakfast) at work. I think eating home cooked meals more often contributes to overall health and the health of my wallet – the key being I make sure we use leftovers, because we are really bad at that! Also, I think I really need to focus more on stretching, mobility, as I am noticing my joints stiffening up more than usual lately (and they were never limber). Read more articles through. Try not to multitask too much -especially at work – focus on more tasks that require more concentration. Get out of my comfort zone a bit at the gym – maybe work on my handstand, get better at step ups and pistol squats and get faster on rowing machine.

I am, somewhat skeptically, signed up to participate in my office’s “Whole Life Challenge”, which starts January 18th. I figured it might help me stay on track with things like drinking enough water, and preparing more of my meals. But I’m not looking forward to the “community sharing” and point aspect (points for what you should do, not for what you shouldn’t, but still).

Tracy: I’m going to try adding the gym back into the equation when I get back from my three months in Mexico. It’s been a long time since I belonged to a gym (other than a trial membership I had for two weeks back in June) but I think I’d like to give it another go instead of personal training.

Martha: My new thing is aiming for 30 minutes of activity every day. I did a workplace challenge in November that was more fun than I thought it would be. I enjoyed the focus on activity every day and think this might be a useful way to explore other things like skipping and cycling again.

Bettina: I’d like to try a sprint triathlon. The main reason for not making it a longer one: I don’t like swimming in open water that isn’t the sea or a lake at least the size of the Lake of Constance. Small lakes and rivers creep me out. Both the sea and a very large lake are far away from me. With sprint triathlons, a lot of the time the swim is in a pool.

Cate: Our reader ainsobriety wrote a great post about choosing one word for the year and attaching change to that. Her word last year was bloom. I think my word for this year is presence.

Marjorie: I’d like to gussy up the nerve to test my 1-rep maxes on the barbell lifts. I’m not afraid of failing a lift–I do that fairly often as the programmed reps are sometimes more than I can do in the moment–I’m afraid of hurting myself trying to push through to finish a rep. I don’t want the effort to keep me out of the gym or to limit my abilities for a while afterwards. On the other hand, my trainer is often suggesting that the limits I currently have are “in my head,” and I’d like to try pushing against those limits to test to what extent that may be true.

Christine:  I’m going to try working with a trainer again. I have worked with a trainer on and off in the past but now I have a better understanding of what I need from them so I think it will be even more useful this time.

Sam: New for me in 2020 and more than a little bit terrifying is teaching indoor cycling. I start in January sitting in in the classes of other instructors and then teaching bits and pieces of their classes for the semester. At the end I teach an entire class and get graded on my planning and execution of that class. I’d also like to set some strength goals and train for them. I’ve been strength training for years but I’ve never had specific targets in mind.

Catherine: I’ve talked about and actually done some strength and weight training in 2019. it started with physical therapy, which I found fun and empowering. My progress was rapid, and my physical therapist recommended weight training. I did a couple of training sessions, but my trainer and I had trouble with scheduling, so it went by the wayside. I purchased a online 12-week strength training program and got started, but quickly lost momentum at the end of the year. My goal for 2020 is to focus on strength training and weight training, to get myself enrolled in a regular regimen (whether by a class or trainer sessions). I want to be stronger and also more agile. This is becoming my co-top priority (alongside cycling).

Mina: The new thing I’d like to try this winter is biathlon—the cross country ski mixed with marksmanship sport. I keep promising myself I’ll take a clinic and then never get around to it. But I sat beside a woman biathlete at the hair salon when I was getting my hair colored, and she inspired me anew. So I’m hoping to finally try it in 2020!

Do you have a new thing for 2020? Share it with us in the comments. Thanks!

2020 and stars. Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash /
fitness

What’s one thing you learned, either about yourself or about fitness or feminism or all three together, in 2019?

It’s the new year and we’re doing some reflecting here at Fit is a Feminist Issue. This is the second in a series of three group posts. What’s one thing you learned, either about yourself or about fitness or feminism or all three together, in 2019?

Nicole: One thing I learned about myself is I can write for a blog. One that I’ve admired for many years, where other smart, insightful women write. Too incestuous for an insight on a group blog post?

Kim: I learned the importance of prioritizing mental wellness. My big fitness “splurge” of this year has been EMDR therapy with someone recommended by Susan Beth Tarshis. I’ve done psychotherapy for almost 20 years, but for the most part it’s been regular “talk therapy” in the Jungian model. I’ve now realized that knowing a lot about myself emotionally (and the history of my emotions) is not the same as processing and living that knowledge in healthy ways. After too long feeling sad and lost, and a few episodes of unexplained rage, I decided to try a more active psychotherapeutic process. It has helped enormously.

Tracy: In 2019 I learned to let go of FOMO as a motivator for anything. This was huge for me. Related, I learned that I can’t do everything. My life is packed with all sorts of awesomeness, but it all sort of closed in on me. I took some time to streamline and make space for things I really value, including down time and solitude. On a more fitness-related note, the 219 in 2019 challenge group got me moving daily in some way I otherwise wouldn’t have. It was a great motivator and it’s helped me establish a habit that has added a lot of joy to my life this year. I plan to carry that into 2020.

Catherine: This is hard to say, but where else but here? This year I’ve acknowledged to myself and to others that my life-long feelings of shame about my body are an overwhelming burden that I need to unload. There’s no reason to carry around body-shame– it serves no positive purpose, it creates a negative model out there that harms others, and it is corrosive to my self esteem. How do I start to release myself of this burden? I’ve bought some jeans that fit and look cute. I continue to do yoga almost every day. I do activities with friends. I am looking info buying an e-bike so I can ride with speedier friends. I’m cooking more, making yummy and happy food for myself and others. It’s a daily mundane process. But so is everything. And that’s okay.

Martha: What I learned in 2019 was I had to make my training time a big rock in terms of my personal priorities. I had a very busy year where my work schedule unlike other years was not often my own. I also learned that occasional interruptions at the gym weren’t as dreadful in terms of impact as I imagined. I was able to scale up reasonably quickly and I didn’t lose form.

Sam: I’ve learned (or relearned, or realized) that I need a fitness community. The move from London to Guelph was exciting in terms of work but I really miss my connection to the cycling community, the Aikido community, my CrossFit friends, my soccer buddies, and Y people., etc etc. I had years of community and connection in London that helped sustain my fitness habits. I don’t have that in Guelph and I need it. Building that is going to be a goal for me in 2020.

Bettina: I learned that, even though I ended up not doing it, that I am theoretically capable of running a half marathon 😉 Planning to make it a reality in 2020!

Cate: The biggest thing I discovered in 2019 was that I could deadlift 175 lbs. that was a revelation, that I could learn a whole new kind of strength. But I also named a kind of grit that was new to me on our difficult ride in NFLD, and conversely, learned to be more comfortable with saying “nope I am not going to ride that part of the ride.” More clarity.

Marjorie: I learned that finding a supportive community, online and in person, is helping me push myself to new levels. I know people say this sort of thing all the time, “find a support system, surround yourself with people with similar goals and values,” but it’s easier said than done.

I have felt like a unicorn, or maybe the Loch Ness monster, alone as a woman pursuing strength in a gym that didn’t welcome me, for much of the last 5 years. Where were the people who valued strength in women? Where was the encouragement to push harder, try more, BE more?

And in this year, I began writing for the blog, I found a community of supportive people who thought what I was doing was worth doing. I moved gyms and found a space that so far seems to be safer and more inclusive. And I found a trainer who appreciates my drive and determination and pushes me to see what I can do next. And I’ve grown more in strength in the last handful of months than I had in the year previous. It’s really cool!

How about you? What’s one lesson that 2019 taught you?

Two sets of shoes and the words PASSION LED US HERE. Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash .
fitness

What’s one fitness experience that stands out for you, good or bad, from 2019?

It’s the new year and we’re doing some reflecting here at Fit is a Feminist Issue. I asked the team to share one fitness experience that stood out for them in 2019, good or bad, but significant in some way. This is the first in a series of three group posts.

Bettina:  It’s not really one single experience, but getting into cycling has been huge for me this year. I really, really love it. If you’re really looking for just one experience, I would make it a swim session from about a month ago. It was my longest session in a long time and it felt AMAZING. I just felt strong and fast and like I could go on forever.

Natalie: Managing my plantar fasciitis effectively with stretching and good foot support was a highlight this year for sure. I averaged more steps than last year and was pain free. I’ve learned to recognize the early warning signs that my feet need more attention.

Gaining the insight on what my body needs to support being more active feels great. It is a benefit of being a bit older & having an informed network of peers who are great at sharing information without judgement.

Mina: Gosh. Hard to choose. So many highs and lows. In February, I was in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, a city I hardly knew, for rehearsals for my play, which the theatre department was doing. The whole experience felt so new and strange (first production of a play I’d written). I needed my runs to stay grounded and calm. After some exploring, I discovered a route out to some cornfields. I felt so strong and independent running in the cold, past snow dusted fields at rest for the winter. I felt simultaneously alone and a stranger, but also like I belonged. The landscape was similar to where my grandparents were apple farmers in Southern Ontario. So, I had this feeling of coming home. I like running with such strong emotions blowing through. Feels cleansing.

Marjorie: I started working with a trainer on the barbell lifts less than 4 months after my hysterectomy! I am surprised and delighted at my relatively easy and quick recovery, and as a result, my mostly seamless return to the gym. I was so afraid it would be like other surgeries I’ve had with a year or more of feeling out of sorts. Instead, as far as I can tell, the activities I introduced seemed to actually reduce my pain and help me get back into full strength more quickly. 7 months post-op, I am now completely (hysterectomy-related) pain-free and enjoying pushing my limits in new ways!

Christine: Training for my 3rd degree black belt test in February! I worked consistently with the most advanced students in my class and it was a terrific experience. Not only did they help me to improve but I became more confident in the things that I already knew.

Sam: For me, the trip to Newfoundland with Sarah, Cate, Susan, and David was both a high and a low. I loved the harsh landscape and the beauty of Newfoundland’s cold, wet northwest coast. I loved riding my bike along the coast from port to port. There were days of tough riding sure and I shivered more than one expects to in Canada in June, but still no part of the riding, not even cold, wet days, not even breaking my bike, was a low. The low was when the whole group went off hiking and I couldn’t go because of my severely damaged arthritic knee. When I met with the knee surgeon later that summer, it was that day–the day of no hiking–that I kept in mind. I’m excited to have a full functioning knee.

Tracy: My most salient fitness experience this year was grappling with not being able to run due to an achilles injury. At first it was super depressing. Then I started to accept it and decided to go to yoga every day. Once I did that it took my mind off of not being able to run and let me channel my energy into other things I could do that were more adaptable to my injury. Doing hot yoga daily for a couple of months has been a really great way to round out 2019. And I’m about to ease back into running. Wish me luck!

Catherine: 2019 has been a year with ups and lots of downs physically. I was in physical therapy for an ankle injury, still on meds for a blood clot in my thigh, and then dealing with pancreatitis. All those problems resolved, and I was able be pretty active over the summer with cycling, hiking and some swimming. However, my constant friend throughout all of the year has been yoga. I do some almost every day. It helps me feel happier, more pain and creak-free, and supports everything else I do. And there’s no judgment– I do what I do, and leave the rest behind. Yoga has become the foundation of my day and the foundation of all of my activity. And that will continue to be true in 2020.

Do you have one fitness experience, good or bad or just significant for you in some way, that stands out from 2019? Tell us your story!

2019 in bright lights. Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash .