covid19 · fitness

Thought: we can workout, run for office, not be haters and wear a mask, all at the same time

Last week, Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene– an anti-mask, anti-trans, anti-Semitic, pro-conspiracy theory member of the US House of Representatives– posted video of herself on Twitter doing her usual Crossfit workout of lifting weights and doing those odd-looking Crossfitty kipping pullups. I’m not linking to her social media, but in her post she said, “This is my Covid protection. Time to #FireFauci.”

Even (or especially) those who find her politics repellent were nonetheless fascinated by her workout. Why? I can only guess that lots of people find politicians (especially female ones) who are working out to be a novelty.

Well, they’re not. How do I know this? The internet told me. Herewith exhibit A: US Vice President Kamala Harris. She spins, she works out with weights, and she even runs up and down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial when they’re handy. You can read more about her workouts here, and watch her in action below.

VP Harris also takes time out from her workouts to pose for selfies with strangers, all the time protecting them by wearing a mask.

Vice President Kamala Harris on right, posing for a safe masked selfie with fine folks in DC.

By the way, in case you were wondering who the cover photo person is, it’s New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, working out with dumbbells in a gym before COVID. Just FYI.

The US doesn’t have the market cornered on active female politicians who believe in science and public health. Former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne , who Cate blogged about here, is an avid runner. She races when she can, and keeps working out when she’s traveling, as we can see here on her twitter feed from a few years ago:

Premier Wynne, in the middled in a red jacket, running with friends and fans.

I couldn’t find a photo of her wearing a mask, but she’s very clear and vocal about her support of masks, both at the local and national levels.

Lots of local politicians are helping to run cities while also running COVID out of town through their efforts. Take Brad Bradford, Toronto city councilor. He helped the Crush COVID: Ride for Mind 24-hour fundraiser net more than $430K.

Toronto city councilor Brad Bradford in hour 9 of 24 hours of indoor cycling for a CRUSH COVID fundraiser.
Toronto city councilor Brad Bradford in hour 9 of 24 hours of indoor cycling for a CRUSH COVID fundraiser.

What we’re seeing in these three public servants are advocacy for science-informed public health, a commitment to being active for themselves and as role models for others, and sending out positive and accurate messaging about how we can live our best lives. At the moment, that includes wearing masks and getting vaccinated. Oh, and not firing one of the longest-serving government workers with expertise that we all need.

Take that, Congresswoman Greene and see if you can pull that message up.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, wearing a tie and a mask, giving us a thumbs up.

fitness · holidays

Easter feminist finery: these shoes were made for spring(ing)

It’s springtime, when a woman’s fancy turns to…. shoes?

Our bloggers have been full of new-shoe-talk lately. Christine bought a new pair of hiking boots, letting herself experience “doing well”, instead of “doing fine” (from the ankles down). And my friend Pam guest-blogged about her new shoes, which were really, truly made for walking. Yay!

Sometimes, however, we want to spruce ourselves up or spice things up a bit. We here at Fit is a Feminist Issue love kicking our heels up, and many of us have a variety of shoe styles to aid in that activity.

Also, today is Easter Sunday. For those of you who observe this holiday or grew up participating in some of the traditions of Easter, new shoes are often involved (hats, too, but that’s another post). My favorite fancy shoes from childhood were a pair of lemon-yellow patent leather flats with mother-of-pearl buckles on the toes. Sadly, I cannot find a trace of them anywhere on the internet, nor do I have any pictures of us (the shoes and I) from that period. After some extensive searching, the closest I could come up with was this shoe:

medium-yellow patent-leather flats with yellow buckles on the toes. Mine were lighter and springier-looking.
medium-yellow patent-leather flats with yellow buckles on the toes. Mine were lighter and springier-looking. And don’t forget the mother-of-pearl buckles!

All that searching for my elusive childhood shoe was not for naught. I found all sorts of lovely yellow patent-leather lovelies for you to enjoy this fine morning:

If your taste runs to multiple contrasting colors or textures, try these on for size:

Some of us just aren’t flats people. Maybe we want a loafer, or a shoe with more substantial support. Fear not, folks, I found some styles just for you– in yellow:

There’s one more shoe I have to show you all, which is the one I bought today. It’s called lemon sorbet, but my friends Martin and Andrew think it’s more pistachio. We shall see when they arrive, but either way, I’m delighted.

A pair of lemon-sorbet but maybe with a little pistachio green mixed in Kate Spade patent leather loafers.
A pair of lemon-sorbet but maybe with a little pistachio green mixed in Kate Spade patent leather loafers.

Yes, we all need and want hiking shoes, running shoes, climbing shoes, lifting shoes, water shoes, wrestling shoes, court shoes, dancing shoes, etc., for all our specialized movement needs. Today, as Easter arrives and spring is either here or on its way, maybe your thoughts will turn to a new or new-to-you pair of pretty colored shoes.

What shoes say spring to you? Let me know.

athletes · equality · equipment · fitness · team sports · training

A small victory in a large battle: NCAA women’s basketball tiny weight room gets bigger

These days, news travels fast and turns on a dime. Here’s an important and fast-developing story of discriminatory treatment of women athletes, from yesterday to today:

The NCAA March Madness 2021 college basketball tournament is happening this year, inside bubbles in Indianapolis (for the men) and San Antonio (for the women). They are being housed and fed, and are training in facilities set up for them. The men’s and women’s training facilities are separate. But boy are they not equal. Check out this twitter comparison pic of their weight training facilities:

Split screen of NCAA men’s weight room, large and well-stocked, vs. women’s space, consisting of one small tower of little hand weights and a few yoga mats on a table.

Some twitter users were skeptical that this was true, while others chalked it up to their beliefs that men’s teams made money, performed better and were more popular, so it didn’t matter that the women had less to work with than most of us have in our homes.

In service of settling any peripheral disputes, here are some stills from the Tiktok video feed of Sedona Prince, Oregon Ducks team member on the scene.

Of course this really made the NCAA’s face red. However, they rallied and offered this explanation:

An NCAA spokesperson told The Washington Post that officials initially thought there was not enough square footage for a weight training facilities at the convention center playing host to the women’s tournament. They later found the space, the spokesperson said.

Yeah, that’s not true. How do I know this? Because of Sedona Prince, who on Friday (the same day this story was reported) posted this picture on TikTok:

A large, empty space for the women's basketball teams at the NCAA, with nothing in it but a few chairs.
A large, empty space for the women’s basketball teams at the NCAA, with nothing in it but a few chairs.

So either the NCAA people were lying or they hadn’t bothered to check whether what they were saying was true.

After a large outcry, mainly from women professional and college athletes and coaches, the NCAA apparently found some gym and weights set ups for the women’s teams. Sedona shows it to you live:

Turns out, lack of standard weight training facilities wasn’t the only way the NCAA treated women’s basketball teams less well than the men’s teams.

Geno Auriemma, coach of the Connecticut women’s team, told reporters at a news conference Friday that his team was receiving different daily coronavirus tests than men’s teams. The rapid antigen tests given to women are faster than PCR tests given to men but “have a higher chance of missing an active infection,” according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The NCAA is using a cheaper and less accurate COVID test for the women than it is for the men. Again, the NCAA responded:

In a statement, the NCAA said that its medical advisory group had determined that both tests were “were equally effective models for basketball championships”…

Hmmm. Here’s a question: if they’re equally effective, then why use one test for the men and another for the women? And if it’s an issue of supply, why didn’t you plan for that at the women’s location as well as you did for the men’s location?

Again, please refer to my earlier comment about the NCAA either lying or not caring whether what they say is true.

Other documented differences between how the men’s and women’s teams are treated includes the food served (Sedona documented an especially unfortunately Salisbury Steak event here), and skimpier swag bags for the women. Seriously, NCAA? You’re leaving no stone unturned in your quest to make 100% clear your lack of respect for women’s collegiate sports.

And then there are those who are listening and following the lead of the NCAA, turning its disdain for women’s teams into threats to shut down women’s sports altogether.

A tweet (unaltered) threatening that women's sports will be shut down if women don't stop complaining about their unequal treatment. This was one of many such tweets.
A tweet (unaltered) threatening that women’s sports will be shut down if women don’t stop complaining about their unequal treatment. This was one of many such tweets.

This tweet is revealing in that it’s a common and threatening reaction to women’s sports players, coaches and advocates’ calls for more equitable treatment, in accordance with Title IX legal requirements in the US. I’m happy to say that these threats haven’t gone answered.

Dawn Staley, a championship award-winning basketball player and coach, former Olympian and current Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer, said this (I’m including the whole statement here):

Statement by Dawn Staley. See links below for text.

You can read a Sports Illustrated article about her statements and a letter from the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics here and here. They’re not playing about the barriers to playing that women and girl athletes face all day, every day. Hey, NCAA president Mark Emmert– you can throw some jump ropes, treadmills and weight bench sets at the problem, and say things like “we fell short” (ya think?), but you’re not getting out of it that easily.

I’m happy that Sedona Prince, her teammates, and all the women’s NCAA basketball teams now have an actual weight room for training. And yes, it would be nice for them to get buffet meals rather than prepackaged ones (the NCAA says they’re working on it). But it’s clear that the battle for respect and equity in women’s athletics is still in its early stages.

Thank you, Sedona Prince. Thank you, Dawn Staley. Thank you, players and coaches of women’s and girls’ athletics everywhere for standing up and speaking out.

But, wouldn’t it have been nice if men’s basketball coaches, players, team owners, and athletic directors spoke up and spoke loudly in support of women’s athletics now? Nets guard Kyrie Irving and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry both posted criticism of the NCAA, and both got the same scornful, dismissive pushback. But there’s strength in numbers.

Hey male players, coaches, trainers, administrators, athletic directors– where are your voices? I can’t hear you…

Readers, if you’ve seen any recent tweets or other social media posts by male sports figures (players, coaches, business, academic, children’s leagues, anything) in support of women’s sports on the occasion of this latest discriminatory debacle, post them in the comments. It’s good to know who’s on the ball and who’s dropped it. Any other thoughts or ideas you want to share? I’m listening.

fitness · gadgets · gear

Taking tips from babies: soothing and activity toys for grownups

Babies look happiest to me when they’re moving, particularly in some unusual way. I remember lifting (tossing? throwing?) my niece and nephews in the air when they were tiny, and they just loved it. They loved sensation, and movement, and comfort, and color. So do I, for that matter.

This got me to thinking: as we are all waiting around for mass vaccination to make its way around the globe, we’re all still in need of comfort and diversion and delight. Why not take a page out of the baby leisure time playbook?

For instance, babies know how to get comfy in style:

Baby, enjoying the view from a colorful patterned doughnut-shaped big pillow.

You know, we can have this, too:

Woman, enjoying the view from an enormous marshmellow-shaped beanbag chair.

It doesn’t even seem to clash with her decor. Excellent!

This mood pillow (with two modes– happy and mad) would be perfect for department meetings (zoom or live).

Sometimes, though, we (like babies) gotta move. I’ve always thought that the jolly jumper was one of the best inventions ever. You know what I mean: this.

Baby in mid-jolly jump, in harness attached to triangular thingie.
Baby in mid-jolly jump, in harness attached to triangular thingie.

Turns out, they make a version of this for adults now. Yay!

Especially since the pandemic hit, I’ve noticed more play-things for at-home adult movement distraction. Here are a few more:

The levels of fun, functionality and fear-inducement vary quite a bit for these gadgets. I doubt they’re had the rigorous testing that we get with baby-gadgets. I’m sure this thing below hasn’t been adequately examined by some regulatory board, else it wouldn’t be out there in this form:

Three steel bars, of which two attach to your feet, to crank your legs apart in hopes of doing a split and not tearing ligaments in the process. Please don’t try this at home or elsewhere.

Nor do I recommend that you plug in this purple envelope with infra-red heat (according to the FAQ), to lie in a pool of sweat for a long time. No self-respecting baby would put up with this for any amount of time.

Woman pretending to be relaxed in a very hot purple envelope, when she's really sweating the house down.
Woman pretending to be relaxed in a very hot purple envelope, when she’s really sweating the house down.

You may be wondering: what among these items would Catherine try? That’s easy– bungee fitness flying! I don’t think I’ll be setting this up at my house, but some studios offer it, so maybe later this year I can get my jolly jumper on…

Flying through the air, courtesy of bungees.

Readers– what gadgets have you seen over the past year that remind you of fun kid playsets? Have you tried any of them? I’d love to hear about it. Also, if you’re tried bungee fitness in a studio, that would be fun to hear about, too.

diets · fitness

Open letter to friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, etc. of people who gained weight during the pandemic

CW: discussion of weight, weight gain, and fat shaming

Dear folks,

No doubt it has come to your attention that some of your peeps are heavier than they were in March 2020. This likely comes as no surprise to you. We’ve all been barraged with news stories, tweets and memes about pandemic weight gain. Tracy, ever the acute prognosticator, blogged early and accurately about the issue here.

Even when we manage to avoid the mocking-toned, lowest-common-denominator posts, the battery of medical news gets to us. Their brand of fat-shaming and weight-blaming, veiled though it may be in professional concern trolling, targets people by making it the fault and responsibility of individuals to do many things now to reverse this calamitous-to-medicine course of increased poundage acquisition. On this medical site they use the word “YOU” quite clearly (and repeatedly):

  • YOU are snacking while working;
  • YOU aren’t moving enough;
  • YOU are miscalculating calories;
  • YOU aren’t sleeping enough.

Hey, medical website—few of us are moving enough, most of us have to snack while working (as we work all the time while taking care of family, home, and self), and no one except dieticians in nursing homes successfully calculates calories. As for sleep? Don’t even go there.

After one year of pandemic scrambling, hunkering down, worrying, grieving, working and not sleeping, some of us have gained weight, some have lost weight, and some are about the same weight. That’s life. I happen to be one of those in the gained-weight group. That’s my life right now.

Now, here’s my message: if you’re worried about the weight gain (or loss) of your peeps and are wondering if you should say something, DON’T. JUST DON’T. Really—do not do this.

Why not? To make it brief, here’s a list:

  • Changes in weight are not new information for anyone who’s experiencing it; we all know our bodies better than anyone else does.
  • It’s almost certainly going to make us feel bad— pointing out some change in that clearly you think is negative is going to be just that: negative.
  • It won’t help at all; we won’t a) feel better; or b) be more likely to enact what you think is a positive body change; or c) be more successful in bringing about what you (and some of us, but not others) think is a positive body change just because of something you said.

If you’re concerned about our health (mental, physical, emotional, etc.), that’s really nice. I mean it. You can help by being supportive and caring and involved in ways that promote your relationships and shared goals. Be a good friend. Be a good neighbor. Be a good boss. Be a good sister. None of these roles involve talking about people’s weight or changes thereto.

Friends, we who have gained (or lost) weight during the last year love you. We are in charge of our bodies and the care and maintenance thereof. Not to put too fine a point on it, but:

Woman wearing a T shirt that says IDGAF about your diet, Susan.
IDGAF about your diet, Susan.

Feel free to forward this along to your friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and whoever else you think will benefit…

With deepest respect and oodles of affection,

-catherine

covid19 · fitness

Catherine arrives late to the pandemic party; banana bread, anyone?

Hi there—sorry I’m so late to the pandemic party! Yes, I know the invitation said March 14, 2020; I got it. What kept me?

No, I didn’t get stuck in traffic, because there wasn’t any. At all. For months.

No, childcare wasn’t an issue, because I don’t have any kids to look after and school from home while also working.

No, I wasn’t out in the scary, contagious world, treating sick people, feeding them or supplying them with their essential needs, risking my own life and health in the process.

Nonetheless, I was pretty busy.

March: yoga-zooming like there was no tomorrow (which was definitely a possibility then).

March-April: showing up to teach-lite on zoom and respond to a mass of emergency emails from students in crisis.

May: more zoom work; attending rough-and-ready pandemic-approved substitutes for church, socializing, movement, events e.g. (a friend’s 90th distanced birthday party, everyone shouting their good wishes to the birthday girl).

June: more school zoom events, as if the term had never ended. The work days/weeks went on and on.

July: respite! A defiant, risky but worked-out-in-the-end trip to South Carolina to see family, and a North Carolina mountains distanced family vacation; yes, I’m lucky and grateful for the privilege that afforded me this boon.

August: no idea; maybe pre-semester paralysis? Sadness? Too much time inside.

Sept-Dec: head down, more zoom teaching-lite (no one fails this term); more distraught student emails, more zoom events.

Dec-Jan: another defiant, somewhat risky, but this time with genuine quarantine and rigorous distancing and testing, visit with family.

Feb: Was that last month? Who knows?

There’s this idea out there in social media-land that the pandemic has been an opportunity for people to make use of the shift to time at home (for those whose jobs and lives allow it) to do all sorts of things, like:

  • Bread baking
  • Home renovating
  • Zoom eventing with friends, family, community
  • Outdoor exploring
  • Pet adopting

Yes, some of us have done some of those things sometimes. We’ve also experienced sickness, loss, grief, paralysis, anxiety, depression, isolation, fear. Speaking for myself, I’ve had my share of all of them. And, I’m a lucky person who still has a job working from home and family who are either well or recovered/recovering from COVID.

Now we are on March 7, 2021. The pandemic is still with us, the vaccination roll-out is happening, but very slowly. People are talking about return to normal, or return to new-normal (don’t get rid of those masks, people; they’ll be with us for some time to come).

What do I want to do, now that I’ve finally arrived at the Pandemic Party?

More home improvement:  Last summer I fixed up my back porch for outside safe-socializing. And it was so much fun having people over. I want more of that this summer—more plants, more nice places for people to come to visit me (regardless of pandemic status). I have a front porch that I want to set up as another nice gathering place, replete with flora.

More cooking: During the pandemic I got a lot of takeout, and fed myself as best I could. But there was no joy in it at the time, nor much energy or creativity. Now that we’re maybe seeing an upswing, I’m yearning for new tastes and new domestic activities. I’m currently in love with sheet pan bakes. Boy, I can’t wait to cook for my friends—but that can wait until summer…

More riding and walking and swimming and kayaking and hiking, all outside: over the past year, it’s been so hard to leave the house. Friends help a lot (thanks, Norah!), and many of us have plans. Some involve resuming previous rides (hello, Friday coffee rides with Pata!), and others involve developing skills for bikepacking (hello, Michele and Pata! You said you’d help with this…). I’m planning to commandeer one of my sister’s recreational kayaks next time I’m in SC, bringing it back with me to use in rivers and ponds and flat coastal water. It’ll be a process, getting the routine down. But there’s time.

More writing: this winter, I took a 6-week personal essay writing class online with a great place for teaching creative writing of many genres, Grub Street in Boston (which is all online these days, so check them out). I’ve signed up for a 6-week op-ed class starting March 10, so be prepared for more op-ed-y blog posts to come…

All of these goals and desires and needs of mine pre-dated the pandemic. When the pandemic hit, it seemed to me like I should now use this time to work on them. But I was too busy being upset and paralyzed to do much then. Even though the pandemic is shifting and life-as-it-was may come back in some ways, I am not shifting back to life-as-it-was. I want life-as-it-can-be, focusing on what’s most important to me—friends, family, movement, meaning, community, vocation.

Will I get on a plane again? Yeah (although probably not without a mask for the foreseeable future). But has my view about what kind of life I want changed? Yeah. Like I said, I’m late to the pandemic party, but I’m here, and I made plenty of banana bread to go around.

What about you, dear readers? What features of the pandemic party do you want to keep going when the virus dies down? I’d really like to know what you’re thinking.

fitness · planning

White board menus for workout and eating plans

To-do lists don’t really work for me. First, I put way too many items on them, so they end up seem more accusatory than helpful. Second, I write them on a scrap piece of paper (often the back of an used business envelope– hey, it’s environmentally friendly!) and then can’t find it after an hour or so. Yes, I’ve tried phone apps, too. But I much prefer (or at least think I prefer) something physical, something I can see easily.

There’s also a third, tougher problem: the hefty to-do list provokes fear and defiance, sending me running away from it in the direction of fun, relaxation, or anything that isn’t on the list. That is seriously unfortunate. I mean, a gal’s gotta do laundry, go to the library, buy groceries, etc. Keeping track of tasks big and small, work and home, physical and mental, does require (for me) a bit of documentation.

Enter the white board.

A white board– this one is also magnetic. Cool.

But, you might ask, isn’t this just another medium for the to-do list, which you’ve already gone on record saying you hate?

Why yes, that’s true. In the course of some recent coaching sessions with my friend Lisa, we also came up with an alternative to the to-do list: the menu!

I love menus. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy opening up that brightly patterned card stock, handed to you by waitstaff (remember waitstaff?), perusing the contents, and finding exactly what you didn’t know you wanted?

A menu from Life Alive, a restaurant I love; this page is teas and juices and lattes and smoothies. Mmmm…

My current plan for organizing my eating and activity is white-board menu based. Here’s my eating one for this week:

A white board on my fridge, with a literal meals menu based on what's inside.
A white board on my fridge, with a literal meals menu based on what’s inside.

It’s got literal menu items for me to cook, along with other info. I’m trying this out for the first time, so will report back on how it goes.

I’ve also made a white board menu for physical activity.

My workout menu whiteboard, which usually lives in my bedroom, propped up on my chest of drawers.
My workout menu whiteboard, which usually lives in my bedroom, propped up on my chest of drawers.

This whiteboard menu divides up workouts into cardio, strength and mindfulness. Under each heading are some common workout options for me. Each day I look at this and figure out what I want to do and/or have time to do. So far I’ve only done a few of these, but I love having the variety right there in front of me. I just realized I need to add “walking/hiking outing with friends”, as I’m doing one of those this afternoon.

What I love about the menu format is that I get to choose from options, which are laid out for me. I can see how I’m feeling, and pick from a lot of options. And all of these I can afford– they aren’t workouts I can’t do or find too much for me right now. Yay me! Yay Lisa (for coaching and helping me see this)! Yay white board!

I just bought another, bigger white board for work organization. I didn’t have one at home, and figure that this will be very nice to have (in addition to my other online work organizational tools.

My new 2 x 3 white board, fresh out of the box.

For me, arranging to-do items as menu options on a dry-erase white board is helping me approach eating and activity with more agency, without feeling the tyranny of the to-do list. YMMV.

Readers, what tools do you use for organizing weekly workouts? Meal planning? I’d love to hear what works for you.

cycling · fitness

When good bikes go away…

We are creatures of habit. We don’t like change. Change is hard. But what can you do when one of your favorite bikes is no longer being made? This is the situation for die-hard fans of the Surly Pugsley, Surly Troll, and perhaps its most beloved bike, the Surly Long Haul Trucker.

The Long Haul Trucker has been, for years, the workhorse of the bike touring world. It’s tough, it can haul lots of gear, and parts are easy to come by. Joe Cruz of Bikepacking.com says in this obituary-of-sorts:

On a personal note, my first Surly was a Long Haul Trucker. That decision was probably inspired by the fact that when you typed “touring bike” into the search bar back then (probably Yahoo!, or who knows, maybe even Ask Jeeves), a boatload of photos featuring gear-bedecked LHTs were usually the first to be found. Surly had that market cornered. 

Oh yeah, other companies did and do make touring bikes. But the classic Long Haul Trucker, it will be missed. Here are a couple of pictures below– fully loaded and ready to roll, and in action.

Full disclosure: I’ve never owned a Surly Long Haul Trucker. But, I know lots of people who have.

Another full disclosure: Surly is making a new version of the LHT with disc brakes and different geometry. But it’s not the same. Hence the nostalgic outpouring here.

But surely you get this, right? Tell me, what bikes or boats or other gear are do you have oh-so-fond memories of, but which are gone now, replaced by newer but not better-to-you models? Feel free to unburden yourself; I’m here and I’m ready to be very sympathetic.

And maybe we can also dish about the new models coming out this year… 🙂

fitness · injury

On the therapeutic value of doing the twist(s)

Last week, I tweaked my lower back. Or hip. Or something. The main thing I know is that I felt extremely ouchy when trying to walk or sit down or get up from sitting down. How did this happen? Who knows? I was busy living life while being 58, and it happened. Or course this can happen at 22 or 72 or never, so we’re really back to who knows…

I responded in the usual ways: rest, heat (I prefer heat to cold in these case, but YMMV), and anti-inflammatories (again, YMMV). In addition, I spent time on the internet looking up stretches and other exercises for sciatica or piriformis or lower back pain. I know, I know– this wasn’t an advanced search based on expert advice. But I’ve done enough tweaking and wrenching with accompanying physical therapy to feel like I can at least get started on some gentle movements and see if I need more qualified adult supervision in order to feel better.

And guess what?

It’s working!

In particular, the exercises that involve twisting are helping a lot. Most of the ones I’ve been doing are related to yin yoga poses. And they feel soooo gooood. Here are a few I’ve been loving this week.

The twist comes in so many luscious variations. Here are some more:

In addition to going side-to-side, I’ve been bending back and forward some, too (when it feels good).

Gently stretching the back muscles with sphinx pose, or more deeply with seal.
Gently stretching the back muscles with sphinx pose, or more deeply with seal.

This isn’t technically a twist, but it does involve bending and stretching, so I put it in here. On the same principle, I also mention the following two stretches, one of which is a bit twisty:

Two seated forward bends: the side body one feels great and can be turned into a twist by, well, twisting. The forward one is non-twisty.

I would be remiss if I didn’t add these two classic twisting poses that I do very often: seated spinal twist and figure four (which can be done on the back or seated or standing).

Doing these twists in gentle ways this week is making my back/hips/glutes/self feel very good. So I thought I’d share the yumminess of good feeling with all you good people out there.

Do you like twisting exercises or stretches? Do they give you joy? Do they give you a pain in the neck or back or shoulders? What do you do when you’ve gotten really ouchy? I’d welcome any tips.

fitness · nutrition

Are all eggs bad eggs? Blogging the controversy

Is there any food item more hotly contested for its potential deadliness to breakfast (and other meal) eaters than the egg? Yes, coffee comes under attack regularly. But, Time magazine went on record to support coffee drinking “in moderation”– a wimpy recommendation, but it puts coffee in the clear. For now…

This coffee mug says “don’t be afraid”– of drinking coffee, I presume.

Uh, where was I? Oh, eggs. Right. There’s a new study out– a large prospective study that has people fill out Food Frequency Questionnaires and then follows them until the study ends (it ran for 16 years). And it found a small increase in relative risk of death (7% on average) for those who reported eating half of a whole egg per day (meaning 3.5 eggs a week on average). The researchers speculate that the ovo-risk is due to increase in dietary cholesterol intake.

In other words, eggs are bad. Again. Or are they?

Even a golden egg is a bad egg, and is surrounded by other bad eggs. Or so it would seem.

Of course, the news folks are all over the latest eggy results. Here’s one headline from this story:

Eating an egg a day could result in an early death, new study suggests– sensational headline mission accomplished.

What are we to make of this latest grim pronouncement about eggs? Is it true? Should we be afraid? Should we fight back? What to think?

First, some perspective is in order. Nutritional studies have been ping-ponging back and forth about eggs for decades now. As an avid egg-news follower, I’ve personally written several posts about the changing fortunes of eggs over the years.

Just tell me: are eggs good or bad this year?

In remembrance of eggs past, or not bad egg news again!

Fake egg news? more on the eggs-good/eggs-bad controversy

Why do I distrust this new study telling me that eggs are bad? So glad you asked. Here are a few reasons:

Reason one: the study uses food frequency questionnaires, which are notorious for being bogus evidence. Or, as this journal says about them, “the main limitations are systematic errors and biases in estimates.” Ouch.

Reason two: the increased relative mortality risk was 7%, of which it was unclear even to the researchers how much of that was due to egg consumption. They put it this way in the abstract:

Study limitations include… residual confounding despite extensive adjustment for acknowledged dietary and lifestyle risk factors. Ouch.

Reason three: a bunch of nutrition experts don’t believe the study results are legit. Here are some of their responses:

The conclusions of this study are overblown.  Blaming eggs alone for an increased risk of cardiovascular disease is a simplistic and reductionist approach to the concept of diet and disease prevention. (ouch)

Despite many years of research this question about eggs and health has not been answered, with multiple observational studies over the last few decades showing conflicting results… This study, although well conducted, unfortunately only adds more noise to the discussion. (yep, what I said)

The suggestion that the risk from eggs is mostly explained by the cholesterol content of eggs is also problematic as we know that dietary cholesterol does not have a clear link to levels of circulating cholesterol in the blood. (yep, knew this too; you go, egg expert!)

How many eggs’ or ‘how much cholesterol’ was based on a questionnaire, which asked people how often over the past year they ate eggs and other foods and which people only completed once. So it did not look at how peoples food intake changed over the following decade. (Yeah! One questionnaire about a year’s worth of eating and then… nothing…. Seriously?)

In short, studies have been trying to put eggs down, and they’ve kept getting back up (in a manner of speaking). But, you may be wondering, is it okay for me to eat eggs?

According to nutrition science: they have no earthly idea.

According to me: it doesn’t mater what I think about what you eat. Eat what you want; it’s none of my business (unless I’m making breakfast for you, in which case we should confab about it).

According to you: all kinds of decisions and preferences and values and constraints go into what you put on your plate. They are yours. Looking for guidelines is natural, and there are a bunch of nutritional ones out there. But those guidelines also reflect values and preferences and constraints and funding sources and particular agendas and perspectives. You get to choose whether you eat eggs, how often and how many.

Does nutritional sensationalism in the press bother you? Do you ignore it? I’d love to hear any comments you have. And if you have a good egg salad recipe, I’d be interested in that, too.