another little step: paying attention to food

Happy Thursday!

Last week, I wrote about how I am hoping to make (and document) little steps towards healthy in my life. My plan from last week about making a little step by eating less nuts  has been playing out much like I anticipated: I have been eating different snacks and getting a little more variety into my eats just like I thought I would. All in all, it’s been good. I’ve enjoyed the peanut/almond butter I did have this past week a little more since it wasn’t popping up in every other meal. Win!

This week, choosing what to work on was easy. I was feeling maximum stressed for no apparent reason yesterday, so after aggressively cleaning my whole house, trying to burn off all my nervous energy, and giving myself permission to be okay with not having my term papers done (they’re not even due in draft form yet…I need to chill), I sat down to dinner and left my phone and computer and iPad and magazines and books and papers in the other room. If you’re picturing me hauling all these things to the kitchen table for breakfast on a daily basis, know that I exaggerated…but only a bit. I almost always have my computer with me or something else to keep me distracted when I go to eat. If I’m at school, I’m “working” on my computer. Even if I am having a snack after a workout or something, I’m usually snarfing it while I’m walking, answering texts, and rushing off to the next thing.

Not ideal, right? Oftentimes, especially in the snacking situation, I don’t feel like I’ve eaten anything. I also sometimes realize that I’m not really chewing – especially if I’m watching a really interesting video or something.

While I don’t think we can escape sometimes needing to eat on the go—there will always be busy days and meals on the run, and that’s okay—I don’t think I’m busy enough to warrant not giving myself a break to eat a couple of times a day. On a regular basis, I don’t think I want the habit of distracting myself from my food any more. Geneen Roth’s eating guidelines come to mind again (I know I’ve shared them many times):

eat rules geneen

So, what am I hoping for? Well…not distracting myself while I’m eating will hopefully help me enjoy the food I’m eating, feel more relaxed at the end of my meals and at the end of the day, and to send a message to myself that my life isn’t so busy and the things I’m stressed over aren’t so important that I can’t give myself a break to enjoy my food.

Thoughts?

Do you entertain yourself while you eat?
Have you tried eating without distractions intentionally? What’d you learn?

 

bodies, shaming, and taking care of our own perspectives

This week, two of my favourite blogs talked about (sort of related) issues around body shaming. On Fit, Feminist, and Almost Fifty, Tracy blogged about the Yale student who was almost suspended over suspicions that she had an eating disorder (see the original story on Huffington Post). On The Great Fitness Experiment, Charlotte wrote about Kirstie Allie’s fat shaming (of herself).

I know that there are plenty of people who think that “fat shaming” gets too much attention. While I think the way we frame fat is a big deal and something we need to keep talking about until we don’t have an issue of stigmatizing, shaming, etc. to talk about any more, we also need to look at it for what it is in a broader sense: body shaming. And this is where I’d like to see our attention go. Fat shaming, skinny shaming, any kind of shaming based on appearances…they’re all along the same lines.

Full disclaimer: I’m guilty of this on a personal level. At times, particularly when I’ve been unsure of my own body (Is it okay to be this size?), I’ve convinced myself that my body is the way to be by making the case against all other body types. So I think the problem we have as a society has to do with people, uncomfortable with their own bodies, taking it out on other people. The muscular woman who says “strong is the new skinny” and pokes fun at runners or ladies who talk about wanting to be toned, the skinny person who assumes all fat people are lazy overeaters who don’t exercise, the fat person who thinks skinny people should eat more food…they’re all alike.

Going back to that Yale student who was told (based on her BMI) that she was too skinny to go to Yale is a case of body shaming. It’s harder to think of instances where thin people are bullied outright–especially women, because skinny applied to a woman carries a different connotation than it does applied to a man–but this case is body shaming on an institutional level. The story really bothers me because it also strikes a chord on something else: eating disorders don’t look a certain way or weigh a certain amount. The girl they’re after was healthy–but I am sure of the fact that there are TONS of people at Yale who are having a hell of a time loving their bodies and who just might realize that they have an eating disorder. What a waste of time, energy, and money to police BMIs, Yale, when universities are filled with people who are legitimately struggling with disordered eating. But I digress…

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t think “strong is the new skinny” is great because it makes skinny–something some people just are–wrong. Subtle shaming happens all the time on the internet though. Consider these photos from a quick image search for “quotes about body shaming“:

judging

12 year old

without curves

Fat shaming is easier to find–if you look for it. It’s so taken for granted that fat = out of shape = unhealthy = lazy = [insert adjective here] that I think people are starting to become numb to it. We see article after article about how to lose weight, so obviously carrying weight must be bad. The Biggest Loser, with all its extremes that seem ridiculous from a health standpoint, still flies and people love it and think of it as an inspiration. We look at photos of fat bodies without heads and make judgements about the people who we are so eager to forget are more than just their bodies.

The message it always comes down to?

“Your body isn’t right (and it makes me uncomfortable because I’m not sure mine is either). Fix it.”

But.

Your ideas about my body (and your own body and everyone else’s) are wrong. Fixing the ideas is a heck of a lot harder than trying to fix other people’s bodies. It requires us to be okay with our own bodies and the ways that they might be different from other peoples’, which won’t be easy. But I don’t see body shaming coming to an end until we start to examine the way in which we allow ourselves to comment on, judge, and try to control other people’s bodies, often based on our own.

I’m not better than you because I’m muscular, or because I’m thin, or because I’m fat, or because I’m whatever. If I’m confident in my body and let it be what it needs to be, rather than try to fit it to what I might think it “should” be, I think it’s easier to accept other people’s bodies and realize there isn’t a “better than” to worry about. It isn’t unfair that a girl is naturally curvy, so long as you don’t have an issue with being lanky. It isn’t unfair that a man is big, so long as you don’t buy into the notion that men should be big and bulky.

body shaming

I hope this makes sense. When we stop believing all the messages about the way our bodies “should” be, we can stop worrying so much about what they’re not. We can give ourselves space to appreciate and celebrate it the way it is. And without all that energy and fear about our bodies being wrong, we can stop taking it out on other people.

f body shaming

 

Where do you see body shaming?
Do you ever catch yourself shaming other people based on their bodies? 

lesson learned: wrapping up year one of my masters

Yesterday was my last day of courses in my Masters. Time has been flying by, but I took a little bit of time to think back to what I’ve accomplished and to what’s changed in my life in the last 8 months. Summary? I have a list of things I’m super proud of (getting a big scholarship for next year, being a part of the Love Your Body Campaign, getting involved in volunteering more in the community, building some strong relationships, etc.) and a whole heck of a lot has changed. From the people I surround myself with to the things I read and watch with my spare time to the way I think about food, I’ve transitioned (in some areas more gradually and smoothly than others) to a place where I can say I’m happier than I have been in a long while.

diffs

 

One area where things have changed, especially as of late, is in my exercising. These days, I’ve been spending more time on my bike (spinning or riding outside, when the weather is right), running, and swimming. These are three activities that, during my recovery from my eating disorder, gave me an opportunity where I could learn to value what my body is capable of, not just how it looked. Though in the past, I’d used exercise as a means to punish myself and to try to fix my body, the very same activities, with a shift in perspective, became part of the way that I took care of myself and learned to love my body.

perspective2

In a similar way that I think that these kinds of activities can be awesome places for us to learn to take care of and value our bodies, I think that CrossFit gives us a chance to really get back to seeing our bodies for what they’re capable of, not just for their aesthetics. Though CrossFitters and lifters have a habit of bashing cardio, these days, I, for one, don’t buy into the idea that cardio is bad for you. There are too many happy, healthy runners, triathletes, rowers, etc. out there speaking to the fact that getting your heart rate pumping on a regular basis is part of fitness and health.

In terms of its effects on body composition, I think that raises an important issue: why are you exercising? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with hoping to change the amount of muscle/fat that you carry, but I do think that it’s important to leave room for people in the world who don’t care whether they achieve a six pack. For some, running across a finish line beats the feeling of fitting into their skinny jeans—and that is okay! For others, running a race seems like a waste of time. My personal experience and journey has taught me that I relish the feelings of achievement that come along with biking up a mountain, hitting a new PR in a race, or running further than ever before. CrossFit, which gives me a chance to experience smaller victories in the form of new PRs or accomplishments on a regular basis, filled some of this need, but I’ve really missed training for and competing in endurance sports.

happy at the finish line of the last triathlon I did (circa 2012)

happy at the finish line of the last triathlon I did (circa 2012)

Hence my activity choice as of late, preferring the biking, swimming, and running that I’ve mentioned. Something I’m learning from my Masters thus far (imagine that, I’m learning!) is that our bodies and the activities we participate in are important, but most important are the ways in which we choose to engage with our bodies and in these activities. I’ve recognized more and more the importance and power of choosing an activity or a way of looking at myself as a way to create more health and happiness in my life, not as a way to meet the requirements of the health gurus or to look a certain way. Especially given all the different messages out there about what is good for us and what is bad for us and how we should and should not be, it’s more crucial than ever that we be the way we want to be and do the things we want to do—as simple as it sounds. I know now more than ever that the best reason to exercise is because you love yourself and to choose an activity that you enjoy, while the worst is to try to stamp out some perceived flaw in yourself. I know from experience that no matter how much work you put into “fixing” yourself, it might never be good enough (i.e. no matter how much weight I lost at the peak of my disorder, it was never enough). I’m at my best when I’m doing what I love because I love myself–plain and simple. Right now, that means I’m going to ride my bike, head to the pool, and try to find some trails to run on while I dabble less in CrossFit and weightlifting.

That’s all, people! I would love to hear from you:
What activities are you loving right now?
What’s your recipe for choosing how you exercise?
Do you work out to change your appearance? To stay healthy? To destress? For other reasons? 

 

 

meat eating and health

This morning, I read a post over on The Great Fitness Experiment that got me thinking. Charlotte talked about her own vegetarian / carnivore experience in “Are Vegetarians Really Less Healthy than Meat Eaters? New Study Says Yes.”

Like Charlotte, I’ve dabbled in vegetarianism. Also like her, every once in a while I struggle with the decision I’ve made to start eating meat again. I really enjoyed her post, which talked about a new study from Austria that found better health and quality of life amongst meat-eaters than those following a veggie diet. Charlotte made some really important posts when it comes to reading and interpreting these kinds of articles where one diet or eating approach is labelled superior to another, including a reminder of how the health argument is always changing: from lean skinless, boneless chicken breasts to the fattiest but grass-fed, organic beef you can get–the flavour of the day for what’s the “healthiest” meat choice will change and change and change again.

Nowadays, there are (conspiracy) theories about why we eat what we eat–from the corn farmers to the meat industry to the vegans, everyone seems to be out to get us. There are books that tell us that vegetarianism is the way to be–for our health, for our planet, for our pocketbooks, for our appearance. Ditto for the ones calling us to eat more meat–dive into the paleo cookbooks at the store if you want to see these in action! There are plenty of books that make the other way of eating wrong, but I think what’s important here is to decide what really is the “right” way to eat–for you.

It’s really tricky to define “good for you”–especially if we’re talking about something as generalizable as meat eaters vs. vegetarians. I know plenty of people who would identify as veggies who don’t give much thought to their diets and plenty of people who eat meat who are intentional about it. And vice versa. But if you don’t agree with eating meat on an ethical, religious, personal—whatever—basis, should health be used as a way to try to convince you to go against that? As Charlotte says, what’s healthy seems to change along with the diet trends.

It admittedly makes me nervous that the diet trends and the research go hand in hand in the way Charlotte says they do – with paleo/primal/atkins getting more popular and THEN research to back them up seeming to materialize. Diet industry, I’m onto you. Sadly, it’s easy to do the same for ourselves. I know–and have read–the books that take a solid stance for going veg and I know the ones that I turned to when I was feeling guilty about my decision to start eating meat again. It’s easy to cherry pick to support what we’ve already made up our minds to do or to believe.

When it comes to generalizable statements on diet, I think we need to look at why we’re making them. Will those vegetarians be so harmed from not eating meat that we need to make their choice wrong? I don’t think so. So why do that to ‘em? More steak for you, and move on. Chances are, whether you choose to add meat into a healthy diet or choose not to, you can make up a pretty darn healthy diet–if you put in the effort. Deciding on purpose to eat or not eat meat, and deciding to hold to that decision in the midst of these narratives about how meat eating is killing you or the planet or how vegetarianism will just ravage your body (we’ve all seen both sides of the extreme argument) might not be easy. I think we are wasting our energy though, and I think that the more time we spend tearing each other’s approaches down, the less time we have to focus on what we’re actually trying to accomplish by eating that way in the first place. Stand for something, not just against something else, ya know?

Picture1-3

-Are you a vegetarian?
-Would you keep eating this way even if it was definitively proven that it’s not as “good for you” as having meat in your diet?

what’s microfilm got to do with nutrition?

This term, I’m working away on an independent study course that led me to a lot of reading on gender in Canada over the ages. I basically did a survey course to try to get a lay of the land and while it was overwhelmingly interesting–and overwhelming, at times–I have really enjoyed letting myself get pulled in all kinds of directions by reading. The downside to this being a course and not just free nerd-wheeling is that now I have to try to put all of the stuff I’ve learned into a term paper–or at least some of it!

I’ve decided to do a little research into representations of women’s fitness back in the 1960s or so and as such have just started dabbling in the old copies of magazines like Chatelaine in the library’s microfilm collection. After I got over the embarrassment of needing the librarian to show me how to look at the films, I’ve been getting totally into the process of digging up what was going on in terms of the messages women received about their bodies back in the day.

I’m particularly intrigued by the diet ads, the recipes, and the lifestyle advice women get. I don’t know exactly which themes are emerging just yet, but there’s certainly something interesting that I’m seeing: that “nutrition” (diet is more accurate, I think) advice has come full circle. Back then, carbs were what people knew made them fat. Fat was less of the villain and it was sort of a taken for granted given that if you overdid it on sugar and carbs, your weight would reflect it. Nowadays, people are scared of carbs again. Knowing that the diet industry just cycles through these trends and ideas makes the irony of the OMGluten situation and the popularity of low carb approaches even more frustrating for someone who just wishes that “healthy” was something we could all get back to without people trying to confuse us with messages of what’s the best for us that serve other agendas besides our health.

Along this same vein, I read a blog post that did a good job of pointing out what’s problematic about one of today’s biggest carb-villifying, dogmatic diets–the Paleo Diet–earlier this week. You should check out what Tommy had to say about it, but if you want the summarized version, here it is:

“I’m not saying that there aren’t great aspects of the paleo diet, because there are. Avoiding processed foods and eating real food as much as possible is a great thing- but why don’t we just say ‘eat real food and avoid processed food’ instead of making up all of these ridiculous rules and justifications for dieting a certain way?
Adding a label to a logical way of eating only allows companies to profit from food fads, which you can now see with low carb, gluten free, and other shitty paleo spin off foods.”

Another post from a while back from the National Post made a similar point: the dogma’s not helping us in our pursuit of healthy living! 

The point of this post was to serve as a reminder to myself and my readers that just because the magazines, the media, or the people around us say that ____ is for sure the reason we’re fat/unhealthy/unhappy/whatever does not make it fact–it makes it a trend, an ideology, a whatever–but it’s still a matter of opinion. That being said, I think it’s a safe bet to say that eating mostly unprocessed diet made up of foods that you enjoy and that you get from the best sources that you can will be the safest, most sustainable way to go about “getting healthy.” Trust me on that one!

If you still want food rules, I would refer you to two people I trust:

1. Michael Pollan - plants

2. Geneen Roth -

eat rules geneen

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s back to my nerdiness research.

bonus: This (timely) post came up this week on Sociological Images (one of my favourite spots to nerd things up!): Is Sugar a Diet Aid? The Answer Depends on the Decade is what I’m talking about!

What do you think about the diet industry trends coming full circle?
Do you have a stance on the Paleo Diet?
What food rules do you agree with, if any? 

little steps: I’m nuts

Hello!

Not too long ago, I blogged about how I feel like I’m finally arriving at the point where I am comfortable with making “health” changes without convincing myself that I’m too disordered to too fragile to make them. One thing that I’ve come to appreciate lately is just how much my perfectionism and black and white thinking can get in my own way, which is silly.

obstacles

What I’ve decided to do next with my blog is to use it as a way to stay accountable, to invite some action on behalf of you people who read it (hi, Mom!), and to make good on some of the things I know I could be better about when it comes to my healthy (or not so healthy) habits. I’ve done a lot of getting confused but there are a handful of things I’m certain about getting back on track with. From things like drinking enough water every day to taking time to stretch daily to experimenting without some foods that I know aren’t all that great for me, I have a list of mini-challenges or mini-goals to pull me forward towards a healthier way of being. Some of them might seem tiny, but when it comes down to it, there’s no skipping what’s tiny in pursuit of our bigger goals. I know I always want to rush from A to Z, but taking the time to go from A to B, B to C, C to D, etc. makes the whole process a heck of a lot easier–and I hope more sustainable!

little steps big achievements

So, each Wednesday, I’ll be posting a focus for my week. Some of them won’t apply to you and that’s okay. The theme itself is what I need but the idea–making a small change that you can manage for a week at a time–is what matters!

This week, I’ve decided to focus on something that’s been driving me crazy about myself as of late: my habit of eating ALLLL the nuts  ALLLLL the time. Let me be clear here–I don’t think nuts are bad or that you shouldn’t eat them, but I do think that eating them at breakfast lunch and dinner and in my snacks in their various forms has gotten excessive. Given that they’re so darn delicious, easy to overeat, and come in so many ways, it’s easy to see why I have a tendency to overdo it. Also, when I stopped eating things like granola bars or crackers or cereal and other crunchy snacks a while back (I have started to eat these things again, but my love affair with nuts lives on), I definitely started to eat more nuts (if you’ve ever tried a “Paleo diet,” you probably can relate to wanting crunchy things and nuts being there for you! and if you’ve dabbled in meatless eating, you know that nuts and nut butters are an easy way to get some protein into your meals). I don’t really measure them, but I know that I’m eating far more than the serving size of an ounce…

Example: 1 oz of almonds (23 nuts) -- you get to eat one of these. Not all 6. Whahhh.

Example: 1 oz of almonds (23 nuts) — you get to eat one of these. Not all 6. Whahhh.

So, I’ve decided to tuck the nuts away for a week and see what happens. I have a feeling I’ll be reaching for more variety in my snacks and maybe bringing in some of the foods that I made wrong when I was experimenting with my food choices. Nuts aren’t out forever, but I think taking a break from them will remind me that I’m not actually addicted to them–even if they are delicious!

What are some of the little things you know you could do better with when it comes to your health?
Do you prefer little, manageable changes or big and exciting (but perhaps overwhelming) ones?
Do you eat nuts? How do you control your portion sizes? 

 

love your body challenge: completed!

A blessing and a curse when it comes to blog writing is that there are no deadlines, requirements, or external motivators to keep you posting when you mean to. This week, I dropped the ball on wrapping up Molly’s love your body challenge on the same timeline as her. But, since this is my blog, it’s okay that I’m combining a few days and reason to love your body into one spot:

  • because it’s a composite of your parents (and grandparents) – It’s hard to hate your looks when you take a look and realize you look strikingly similar to the people you love the most in your family…

moms

dad

christine

gramma

  • because it’s healthy – YESSSSSSS!
  • because it allows you to love and be loved

cutesy

  • because it’s perfect (and could use a little improvement) – I loveeeee that Molly ended her challenge on this note. She talked about this concept in her workshop and I took heart in hearing someone give me permission to be happy with myself while still wanting to improve myself. I spent a lot of time getting rid of the diet mentality and teaching myself not to base my self worth on how much I weigh or how much weight I was losing or whatever, which means that now when I take up a “getting healthier” kind of goal, it’s easy for me to question myself. I think there’s a process that I’m going through where I see what the extreme of this all looks like and am now just learning how to, from a healthy and sane place, set goals around my workouts, my body, and my health without using them as crazy-making tools. Just as making health goals the only goals in my life wasn’t healthy, not allowing myself to say things like “I want to eat more vegetables and less chocolate” because it seems like a step in the direction towards where I used to be crazy is silly and gives power to the idea that I’m somehow fragile or disordered. I’m not sure if this makes sense like it does in my head, but in short, just because you’re committed to loving and accepting yourself doesn’t mean that you can’t improve yourself. Amen to that!

accept

I’ve really enjoyed blogging through this challenge and I hope you’ve enjoyed my posts along the way. I think this was a great way to get into the positive mindset that I talked about wanting to adopt more of and keep around here. I think my biggest lesson was that we can choose to be positive and that it feels pretty darn good to do so! Lucky for you, I have a few ideas for ways to keep these regular posts coming even after Molly’s challenge has completed.

Did you take part in the challenge? What was your biggest lesson?
Do you think you’ve got a balance between acceptance and self-improvement figured out?

 

 

Blogging Fun

A big part of why I love blogging is because it makes me feel connected to people all over the place. Some of those bloggers just so happen to live in the same city as me and a pair of them recently gave me a little shout out via the Versatile Blogger award. Thanks Tracy/Sam at Fit, Feminist, and (Almost) Fifty  for the nomination for the award, which I’ll accept.

versatile blogger

It works like this:

  • Display the award on your blog: check!
  • Announce your win with a post and thank the blogger who nominated you: check!
  • Present 15 deserving bloggers with the award…scroll down!
  • Link your nominees in the post and let them know of their nomination with a comment…I’m on it!
  • Post seven things about yourself…get excited!

Fifteen seems like a lot BUT I can think of a handful of blogs (some friends, some role models, some strangers, but all ones that I check up on and love seeing new posts from) to pass the award along to (or who are “too big” to care about this little blog award but you might enjoy the link to nonetheless ;)!):

Bee Goes Bananas
Chelsea’s Healthy Kitchen
Rachel Skubel 
This is BLAM I Am
couragewhisperstry
halfbakedunrealist
Peace, Love and Oats 

And, since I do love talking about myself, here come the 7 points about myself (random!):

1. I have a hobby that involves bulk barn and baking:

cake 1 cake 2 cake 5 cake 6 cake 3

2. How I became a freelance writer: I couldn’t find a job one summer so I decided to take a summer course. “Introduction to Writing” sounded good, which was a pre-req for “Writing for Publication,” the course (taught by the instructor) that led to my volunteering at the Gazette and to lots of the stories I’ve had published. I’ve always liked writing and I did consider journalism as a career earlier on, but the process by which I became a writer on the side was more random than calculated/planned.

typewriter

3. I am writing my Master’s thesis on CrossFit and representations of women’s bodies and so far, I’ve fallen in love with the sport and then decided it’s silly–over and over again. I’m learning to separate myself from my research, reading, and writing just enough to be successful–and sane!

4. I’m American — born in Pennsylvania, spent some time growing up in Ohio, and moved to Canada when I was in the fifth grade. I consider myself Canadian, but the official documents say otherwise.

5. I don’t have a TV–and I’m okay with it. I think I’d blog less if I had one, and that would be a sad thing.

6. I recently realized I love dodgeball. And all camp games. I want to start a games day at the gym at Western where stressed out students can come and play dodgeball and freeze tag to help them destress.

7. I eat carrots and almond butter at least once a week. It started as a celery and peanut butter in the company of carrots situation but eventually I’ve gotten to the point where the carrot goes directly in the jar of peanut butter. Also delicious with almond butter.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this and want to play along! Yay for blogging!

 

the world needs more exercise–and encouragement!

Last week, I sent an email to Tracy, who is one of the bloggers at Fit, Feminist, and (almost) Fifty (I hope by now you’re a reader of the blog!) and who taught me an undergraduate course in writing, telling her about something recently frustrating in the media. Her response included the update I’d asked her four about her fitness adventures as well as her blogging goal for the next month: to focus on positive things. I love that idea and I want to steal it use it as inspiration and try to emphasize positive things here. Even while talking about what’s wrong in the fitness and health world, there are plenty of things that are worth celebrating–and we all know positive thinking is a pretty big deal.

positivity

On this note, I want to make sure that I don’t contribute to something I’ve noticed a lot of lately: people contributing to what’s already a confusing field (health) in an attempt to market or advocate for what they think is the only way. Take, for instance, all the articles and facebook posts out there urging people to get off the treadmill—cardio is killing you and/or making you fat (they’re one and the same in the world of social media, it might seem). While I understand that for a strength training athlete or for a woman who feels like she is on the hamster wheel, these articles can be a light: weight training is good for you! And you don’t have to waste your life on the treadmill!

But…

Things don’t need to be so black and white, so either/or.

If you enjoy running or going on the elliptical and this is the alternative to sitting on the couch or not exercising, I say more power to you, Queen or King of the Stairmaster. I don’t think that the world needs the message that exercise is wrong: the average person would be much better to take up an activity without worrying about whether or not it’s just the right activity for them. To a person with a specific goal, it might be logical to recommend cutting back on the cardio. But I don’t think we’re doing much good as advocates for health if we take a stand for our favourite (or income-generating) form being the best at the cost of all the others. Often, it looks like promoting our way or the highway and making anything but our way wrong and somehow “bad” for you. Really, though, if your approach is so superior, its success shouldn’t rely on you making all the other options wrong. That CrossFit is great for you doesn’t mean that Zumba isn’t a good way to get moving. That running is a full body workout doesn’t mean that lifting weights for your upper body doesn’t have benefits.

Maybe because I’m a CrossFitting triathlete who likes to do yoga and play sports for fun I can’t get on board with telling people to stop doing _________(insert activity of choice here) because it’s bad for them. Maybe because I know how many people there are in the world who are confused about how to exercise and take care of their health I can’t stand for taking a chance for discouraging someone from getting started.

I, for one, want to be an encourager when it comes to health.

 

encourager

Thoughts?

 

 

women’s cycling: a mystery to me

I call myself a cyclist. From teaching spin classes to training for century rides to jumping in the occasional race, I’m kind of into the sport.

One of my first summers of riding!

One of my first summers of riding!

That being said, there are a couple places I feel pretty darn clueless.

One of those places is when it comes to the sport itself. I know the Tour de France, folks. I know the Giro D’Italia. I know Clara Hughes. I know lululemon has a women’s team that I want to be on (#bhag).

But seriously, if a little girl who decided to take up cycling as her sport of choice asked me who she could look up to or what her pie in the sky goal might be, I wouldn’t know. I remember watching a video about women’s stage racing and then thinking that it’s silly that there isn’t a women’s Tour De France, although this news about La Course, which will run after the Tour this year is exciting and might be signalling change. I liked this article from The Independent which talked about women’s cycling (in Britain, specifically). It talks about making cycling more desirable to women via its image and encouraging them to take up the sport and why this is important:

“Sport should always look at how it can get involved at the grass-roots level, because only then can you say you’re useful to society. … Otherwise, riding around in circles is fairly pointless.”

I haven’t seen the documentary “Half the Road,” but the trailer and the website offer some insight into the issue around the lack of women’s pro cycling exposure.

On a similar note about increasing exposure and driving up women’s participation in the sport, I saw another story in the news last week that was encouraging: this press release about the British Cycling and the Football Association joining up to increase exposure to women’s sport.They’re talking about using bike riding as a social thing. Sounds good to me!

I wish that it wasn’t the case that we needed to talk about ways to up the exposure but in the meantime, I’m happy that the women’s side of the sport is going after–and getting–more attention. Seeing a pro lady riding a bike is one of those things that I think has a ton of potential. Most little girls learn to ride a bike–and cycling is one of the sports that I think could be within reach for them–if they knew it was an option. Without role models and examples of female athletes in the sport, we’re not raising a group of girls who know that it’s available to them. If we want to change the state of the sport, I think this is one of the biggest problems, which is why I think this news and these kinds of campaigns and partnerships are worthy of talking about. I see the benefits of increasing the exposure twofold: one, you’re helping to advance the women’s side of the sport; and, two, you’re helping to spur on mass participation. It’s not crazy to suggest that the average person go for a bike ride as a form of (easily accessible) exercise–and there are benefits beyond health that go along with more people cycling (consider if they took up exercise and commuting, for instance!)–male or female.

The world needs more cyclists!

nothing compares

 

What do you think? Do you follow women’s cycling?
Are you a cyclist?