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.

advice · Book Reviews · fitness · motivation

The 100 Day Reclaim: Day 31-40, 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.

Christine:

In Days 31-40, Shanks is getting further into some of the aspects of fitness mindset that I need to work on.

Day 31 is about how our repeated actions are investments in our health and fitness, some of which pay off quickly and some that pay off over time. This is really one of my sticking points. I’m not exactly looking for a magic bullet (and I don’t generally buy into the distractions she warns us against in Day 32) but I have a lot of trouble remembering that each individual workshop will add up to a positive result.

(This is an ongoing issue for me in many areas, I refer to it as a reverse forest-for-the-trees problem. It’s not that I can’t see the forest for the trees, it’s that I forget that the forest is made of individual trees and I get overwhelmed at the idea of trying to deal with the whole forest at once.)

For me, most of this section builds on the idea of investments. She reminds us that there will be setbacks and we might get sidetracked, but if we keep moving forward with purpose (not passion – Shanks makes some great points about the limits of passion on Day 34), and do things that support us instead of undermining us, we will find the fitness practices that suit us best.

I like how she doubles down on the idea that food can (and should) be guilt-free. This is not a problem for me but I know it is a pervasive issue so I like that she is returning to it over and over.

Some highlights from Days 31-40 (these are the messages I liked in each section, not the title for the days):

Day 35: Focus on being a person YOU approve of.
Day 36 – Failure is an experience, it doesn’t define you. You decide what it means.
Day 37 – We should seek a fitness lifestyle that enhances our lives instead of dominating them. Bonus: The way she talks about what counts as a supportive action is especially useful.

I think that some people might find that this section repeats a lot of the previous messages, but in different terms. I found that there was a feeling of familiarity with some sections but it didn’t feel repetitive. Instead, I felt that she was adding a layer to her previous messages and some of them resonated more thoroughly with me this time because of the different phrasing.

There was, once again, a lot in this section that I can use to help me shape my approach to being more consistent with my exercise.

Catherine:

Investment. Purpose. Sticking to the basics. Supporting. Growth. These are some of the phrases Nia uses in days 31-40 that really appealed to me. It feels to me like she’s allowed us to freak out, get angry, shilly-shally around, and take some time to get used to this 100-day process. But now it’s time to settle in and focus on the work at hand—that most important work, which is us.

Day 31 starts with thinking about self-caring activities as investments, deposits in the portfolio of my own wellbeing. Immediately, I thought: hmmm. does Nia think that when I avoid exercise or miss sleep or eat poorly-to-me, I’m making withdrawals? Is my every move a plus-or-minus, to be totted up on a spreadsheet?

No, I don’t think she’s endorsing an accounting plan for self-care and self-esteem. During these 10 days, we are encouraged to look to our goals, our plans, our habits. We stick to what works. We notice what sorts of activities support us in our development of agency over our own wellbeing. Then do those more. When something doesn’t work, we look at it, and see how we can grow from that experience.

My favorite lesson was day 34, on recognizing that we don’t need to feel passion for something important all the time in order to keep doing it. What we have (or can have) is a sense of purpose. We form goals, which may be big and lofty and long-term. But progress toward a goal is inevitably made through mundane, ordinary activities: grocery shopping or food package ordering, laundering sports clothing and packing the gym bag, keeping track of winter cycling gear so it’s always handy, making those regular dates with friends to walk or cycle or swim or do yoga or have a cup of coffee. Consider these your inner postal carrier: remember, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”.

Nia is encouraging us to bring the mail, just keeping bringing the mail. Okay, Nia, I’m on it.

Sam: I often think about writing and exercise in the same way. They’re both things I need to regularly and sometimes they can both be difficult to motivate. In my life it’s interesting that some of the strategies that work for one also work for the other. On Day 34 Nia reminds us to think of exercise in terms of purpose not passion.

If you wait until you’re overcome with passion and motivation, you don’t get around to moving or writing nearly enough. Make it a habit. Schedule it.

On Day 38 Nia suggests other goals for seeing progress besides fat loss. Fat loss, she remind us, is not the only option for tracking progress. I know this. I really know this. But sometimes I need reminding. Thks Nia!