Bulky but Still Beautiful: Representations of Healthy Femininity in the CrossFit Narrative

The end of summer has come, and the quiet blog is testament to how much of a whirlwind it’s been. Between my half Ironman debut, defending my thesis, and starting a new gig at Hybrid Fitness Centre, I’ve had a pretty amazing summer, I’d say. I’ll leave the part about how I dropped a barbell on myself (a wakeup call, perhaps?) out of it and just say that while I’m sad to see summer come to what feels like a quick close, I’m excited for what fall has in store: teacher’s college, working at the gym, and gearing up for some updates to my services–coaching stuff–that I’m anxious to share with you all soon!

But in the meantime, I’m going to share my thesis. The link is live, and so far I’ve had 52 downloads according to the email that came my way earlier this week! I’d like to see the fruits of my labour over two years of my life read by a few more sets of eyes, so if you’re interested in sociology, health, the body, body image, CrossFit, femininity, etc. then do me a favour and take a looksie–it’s available through Western for download.

Here’s my abstract to whet your appetite:

“Positioned in the area of feminist cultural studies, this thesis examines representations of femininity, fitness, and health in four key publications related to the fitness programs offered by the CrossFit™ Corporation. A critical discourse-analytical methodology is used to deconstruct notions of fit femininity in the CrossFit narrative. I argue that themes on femininity reflect contemporary healthist ideologies that promote concerns for health as an individual, moral responsibility, and normalize entrenched notions of the female body as a project to be managed. Drawing on the language of feminine empowerment, the CrossFit narrative constructs the ideal female body as one with increased muscularity and functional abilities, while also offering up a singular feminine ideal that reproduces ideological views sustaining unequal gender relations. An overarching dominant theme of the CrossFit narrative stipulating a need for constant improvement, anchors a discursive effect promoting continual consumption and self-monitoring of, and for, health.

Keywords: CrossFit, Gender, Femininity, Critical Discourse Analysis, Consumerism, Healthism”

…enjoy! I’d love to hear some of your feedback in the comments. I may be done this Masters, but I hope that this is just starting the discussion.

some sort of idea

Do you have any thoughts on CrossFit media?
Have you ever done a CDA? 
Have you written a thesis? 


Worth it: Musselman and my half ironman debut

I always seem to procrastinate on post-race write-ups, but I have decided that the longer I wait, the less likely I’ll do the event justice! If you’ve been around me in the last couple weeks, you’ll know I’ve been gearing up for my half ironman debut at Musselman.


I chose this race because:

  • It has a cute mascot – the zebra mussel!
  • In 2011, my first year in triathlon, a woman at the local pool was raving about her experience at Musselman. She said that if I was ever to do a half, I should do this as my first—it’s very friendly to first-timers.
  • My locker neighbor at the rec centre (who KILLED IT on the weekend!) signed up and peer-pressured me into it. …Just kidding, she asked me politely and encouraged me, though!
  • Instead of doing a 70.3 (aka Ironman-branded) race, I wanted to avoid the tri-hards (and pay a little less to enter as a bonus, though I got my registration gifted to me by the awesome owners of the spin studio I work at!).
  • I could drive there!

As the week went on, I got more and more nervous for the weekend. First there was rain in the forecast, and then I rolled my ankle out for a walk with Brent. I am a really clumsy person, but I had all of these scenarios (and contingency plans) in my head of things that could go wrong: rolling my ankle was not one of them. Luckily a little physio and a visit to the chiropractor (because better safe than sorry) helped me to rest assured that I would be okay to run, even if it hurt, just knowing that I was doing my recovery a disservice if I chose to! I had some encouragement from some of the women I look up to in the sport (like Angela, who I thought of lots during my race for inspiration!). I had some athletic tape packed and I put my mind to it and got myself all ready.

I felt a little frantic running around town buying gels and bars and water bottles I wouldn’t mind tossing, etc. My friend Katie was a life saver along with Angela and all the other people I asked for advice. My coaches (for swim, Balance Point Triathlon with Gabbi and of course my coach Chris Helwig) gave me a lot of encouragement and of course advice. I got a card from the people I swim with and it made me feel so much more excited—such a simple gesture but also greatly appreciated! I finally had my things together and hit the road! I was going to do a quick swim because with the ankle situation I was feeling a bit sluggish, but the pool was closed so I just went for it.


Packing light is not something I know how to do!

Taped up and ready to leave!

Taped up and ready to leave!

I drove down to Geneva on Friday afternoon. It’s about a 4.5 hour drive, plus whatever the border adds, which in my case was just less than an hour! I got there in time to pick up my key to get into the “Athlete’s Village,” where I booked a room for less than 50$/night. It was in an old college there, which meant no air conditioning but my friend advised me to pack a fan and it really wasn’t so bad. I also made it to the grocery store to grab some things and ate my last vegetables before the race (tapers are hard, not eating like normal is hard) along with my first big ol’ dose of pasta! I got a pretty good night’s sleep on Friday and then on Saturday I was up early enough to drive to course and head down to the site of the event to watch the “Mini Mussel,” a sprint triathlon, finish.

athletes village

I got lost a lot on the drive, but the course was beautiful and looked like a pretty moderate ride – not many hills I’d be avoiding if I was at home, but water so I was anticipating some wind. I got more and more excited as the day went on, and my ankle was bugging me less and less. I met up with one of the women from London, Jennifer, and watched her husband cross the finish line of the sprint tri (he’s training for an ironman and is twice as crazy as I am). She did her first half not too long ago and was super encouraging, even though we were both pretty nervous! Her son did the kids’ race on Friday—talk about a family affair!

Here I am with Jennifer after her husband, Mike, crossed the finish line!

Here I am with Jennifer after her husband, Mike, crossed the finish line!

We had a pre-race meeting on Saturday afternoon, but in between I rode my bike a bit (felt slow but good) and jogged around the campus a bit to prove to myself that I would be fine with my ankle. I also made it to the outlet malls about 15 miles from Geneva, which was a welcome distraction and let me get a visor that I was grateful for on Sunday! The meeting gave me butterflies. As I sat with Jenn and Ileana, the friend who roped me into this in the first place (:)!), I could feel us all getting more excited and nervous. I did have lots of my questions answered, though!

A snap from my bike ride on Saturday.

A snap from my bike ride on Saturday.

Ileana and I went to the pre-race pasta dinner, which was small but nice. We made friends with some people from Connecticut and also met up with some more people from London, who we don’t train with but were sure we recognized! Both of these couples were encouraging the day before, at the race in the morning, and post-race, of course! Triathletes are so friendly. We racked our bikes the night before, which was new for me, but nice since it was less to carry on the long trek from parking to the transition area Sunday morning.

Besides a little freak out before bed, which Brent had to put up with but also helped me with, I had a good evening preparing myself mentally and trying to get to sleep early. I probably got about 6 hours of sleep before my 4:25am wake up call. I managed to get some coffee and oatmeal with peanut butter and banana in before heading to the park. I drank Gatorade and chatted as I got ready for the race. There were lots of first timers, which made me feel better.

I did basically 0 warm-up, though I did hop in the water and get myself ready. We went in waves, with the gals 25-39 going second (after the young bucks). My goal was not to get caught by the ladies I was with – Jenn and Ileana and Pam, who is in her 60s but KILLED it and got second in her age category! By the time the national anthem was sung and we were getting shuffled into the water for the start (waist-deep), I felt ready to go!

Looking a little nervous..and trying to find the buoys!

Looking a little nervous..and trying to find the buoys!

pre race

Swim – 1.2 miles – 41:31 (1:59/100m)

The swim course was good for me. The buoys (doritos and cheese balls, in my head) were large and I could see them with the light just fine! I didn’t get too off course, and the waves don’t bother me as much as they do other people. I swam most of the way with one other pink capped gal, who breast stroked a lot for someone keeping up with me while I was swimming along steadily, but whatever! Some of the next wave (or two) caught us, but I ended up with an average pace faster than a lot of my shorter races. I liked starting in the bigger lake and then heading into the canal, where it was harder to swim off course. The swim training must have paid off a little. I think my new wetsuit and going to open water practices with Gabbi made a big impact, too! I was 10/25 in my age category, which makes me feel pretty good too! I peed in my wetsuit, yes, and I hope I left the water smiling because the worst part was over in my head.

Bike – 56 miles, 3:05:30 (29.1km/h average)

I wanted to bike in 3 hours really badly, but I am more of a 29 averager I guess these days. I used to have in my head that anything below 30km/h was not very fast, but I’m happy with this time. I was 5th in my age category for this leg of the race and not that many women passed me. It was windier than I thought it was going to be and I pulled over once to check my tire because I thought it was rubbing. I am NOT good at grabbing water bottles, and I definitely underdrank and did not eat enough – one gel, one pack of shot blocks, and most of a clif bar with two bottles. I felt okay though. There was one gravelly stretch, but I really enjoyed this bike course, which went along two coastlines and was relatively flat. There was one hill, and I passed a lot of people on it! Go me.

Run – 13.1 miles 2:04:43 (5:56/km average)

The run was HAWT, but there were sponges, kids with hoses on their front yards, and aid stations at every mile to help my case. My ankle not hurting kept me happy enough to ignore all the other pain I was in from running up hills and from a blister I got on my other foot. It’s all minor. I walked through each aid station and drank a mix of water, hose water, Gatorade, etc. I ate a few shot blocks but probably could have had more as I was hungry by the end. I was conservative at first and ran just over 6 minute km, which I tried to make shorter as I got further along. I walked up 2 hills but otherwise chugged along just fine. I was so happy to be doing it and realizing that I was going to finish made me feel like I could go a little faster, so I did. I got passed by a few people at the beginning, mostly men, but I passed some myself. I was 11th in my age category on this part. With the walk breaks, I still managed to finish in a respectable time, in my opinion, and I knew a few miles before the finish that I could make it in less than 6 hours (my private goal, with my out-loud goal being to finish between 6 and 6 and a half hours), so I had plenty of reason to kick it up a notch. I almost teared up when I saw the finish line, but I managed to cross the line with what I hope was a smile (or at least a grimace). My only regret? Not putting my hands up for a finishing photo (which you can check out, with the others, here!).

My total time was 5:58:10. I did it! I don’t ever have to do another one, but I probably will. My interwebs history would show that I’ve already researched other races. I was 8th in my age category out of 25, and in the top 50 of over 200 women. That made my ego happy, but I was just feeling proud of myself for achieving my goal, regardless of what other people did! And as for a full Ironman, maybe before I’m 30 seems like a goal that’s far enough away to seem realistic but pressing enough to keep me planning on continuing to train, albeit a little less, for this sport! I’ve got a new gig working as a Personal Trainer / Coach at Hybrid, which I am the most excited about. I know that being in that environment keeps me excited about all the strength sports (weightlifting, powerlifting, CrossFit, even Strongman) that are out there, and keeps me training for health and well-being, which is so important! I have been putting the two together personally and I know lots of members with triathlon on their bucket list or who have asked me questions about endurance stuff so I’m really glad to be working there now! With teacher’s college in the fall, my schedule obviously has less time for mid-afternoon bike rides or for long workouts on Tuesday (love grad school for that), but I know I can find a balance that will of course look different from these past few years but that will hopefully leave me racing, healthy, and happy!

...happy about something!

…happy about something!

pam winner!

Pam placing second in her age group!

Ileana on the top of the podium for her age group! She won wine and intimidated the third place woman, it seems!

Ileana on the top of the podium for her age group! She won wine and intimidated the third place woman, it seems!

As for the rest of the summer, I don’t have a plan. I am registered for Vulture Bait (a 25km trail run in October) but have decided I’m on the fence about keeping up the long distances. I’m feeling run down, but I know I need to give my body a chance to recuperate before I make any decisions. I’ll be making an appearance at the triathlon in my hometown, Bluewater, in two weeks, and hope to do something else later in the summer! Some bike touring and workouts with friends for fun sound like a good way to use this fitness I’ve got.

Speaking of recuperating, since I did an admittedly bad job of eating and drinking on the bike, I felt like a whole lot of crap on Sunday afternoon. I finally stopped rolling around and feeling sorry for myself late afternoon and drank some water and some Nuun from Ileana. I was able to eat dinner / suffer through (ha!) some ice cream, but I did not eat as much as I would on a normal day, let alone one with 6 hours of exercising! Headaches, nausea, all kinds of GI things you don’t want to hear about…it all sort of has lasted longer than I wish it had. I’m not very sore, but the aftermath of the dehydration has demonstrated the importance I’ll place on figuring out how to drink more during my next go at this kind of race!

post race ice cream

I also called that I’d be having a migraine this week and sure enough, one hit this morning. It was nothing a 3 hour nap couldn’t help me get past. I often get the migraine attacks with weather, post-stressful periods, and with my hormones. All three are coinciding so I’m really not surprised, and I will take feeling a little crappy for having that check off my bucket list! I’m drinking extra water and taking it easy this week—light swim yesterday, mobility at the gym today, working on my bibliography (home stretch!)—and am going to get back to more “training” when I feel like I’m ready, not when my ego says “GO!”

All in all, I am so glad that I signed up for that race (thanks Ileana for encouraging me!). I had great coaching to get to it. I had support from my friends and family and people who listened to me talk about this thing for months. I had wonderful company there (the women I was with ALL ROCK and everyone was SO NICE who I met!). The weather worked out great. I would recommend this race to anyone who is going to do their first half, or someone who wants to travel somewhere and stay a few days. Geneva was beautiful and I would have loved to stick around. I have to go back, mostly because I missed out on the “Wine Slushie” advertised in the region. Darn it, dehydration!

Setting a goal that seemed like it might knock me down along the way—and it certainly tested my resolve—was as cheesy as it might sound, exactly what I needed right now. I know that there are people who would call me out on being a sports evangelist, but all those pinterest quotes about achieving goals/focusing on the journey/sport making you a better person are true to me right now! I sometimes think of myself as a quitter, or as fragile. I’ve seen that I’m pretty darn tough, and I’m also more badass than I let myself feel sometimes. I can run in the snow. I can suck it up on the trainer. I can wake up early when I’d rather sleep in. I can do things I don’t want to or don’t think that I can! Maybe I can resist chocolate after all…nah!

Last month, I did that CrossFit competition and felt so friggin’ strong picking up a heavy barbell and swinging around on the bars and climbing ropes and things. This month, I showed myself that strong doesn’t mean I can’t still have success in triathlon or in doing the other things that I love. This race coinciding with me submitting my thesis has made for a pretty big week, if I say so myself. I may be tired, but I am feeling more accomplished than I have in a heck of a long time! Right now I’m relishing my accomplishments, but soon I’ll be setting some more goals, and with the reassurance that I can do the things I set my mind to!


worth it jump outta bed

understeim jump outta bed

worth it

Have you done a triathlon?
What’s your favourite distance to race?
Do you write down your goals?
What are you working towards right now?
What’s your proudest athletic moment?

Did someone say “taper?”: The MEC Century Ride and happy biking

Since I’ve become one of those triathletes who can’t seem to stop talking about their races, you might know that in t minus 6 days, I’ll be racing in my first half Ironman distance race in New York State. With some planning ahead (i.e. what the heck do I eat and drink?) that I’m glad to have help from my fellow triathlete friends with, I feel mostly ready.


If you follow the blog, you’ll know that I was a bit under the weather last week and the week before leading up to a vacation to New York for a gran fondo. But I’m feeling much better (though still not 100%, and especially not when I’m exercising) and this weekend I was able to get out for an open water swim with a local group and then for the MEC Century Ride (100km, not miles).

Getting ready to ride!

Getting ready to ride!

Given the way I took a lot of extra time off, I don’t think 100km will tire me out too much with my race a week away. For some people, 100km is big and scary. For me, it’s maybe the perfect distance–long enough to warrant ice cream in celebration but also short enough that things don’t really start to ache and I’m not rushing to get off my bike as soon as possible. 100 mile centuries are long and fun with the right group, 100 kilometre ones (or “Medio Fondo” distances, perhaps) might be more my style. I sort of take pride in the fact that I can go and go and go when it comes to distance, but riding a quick 100km yesterday felt so darn good.

from behind

Maybe it felt so good because of the sunshine–Mother Nature made up for the rainy ride last weekend with this past weekend. Or maybe it was the company–my training pal Katie and I went out together and I knew that even if I couldn’t keep pace with our super duper fast friends (this means you, Amy and Chris), there would be people I know going all kinds of paces. We fell in with a group of people we didn’t know personally but that I recognized from some social media posts from friends who I ride with! I am so glad I (creepily) mentioned that I recognized them, because riding in 7 strong was great and there was lots of conversation to be had in between Clif bars.

Post-ride, with our new friends!

Post-ride, with our new friends!

The event itself was also so well run! I saw tons of familiar faces, like Sam, who blogged about her day and said she had fun riding herself even if it was hot. I agree with her that the ride on the path out of town was not my favourite, but it gave me a reason to push a little when we got off of it and onto the open roads and away from all the fellow riders and turns that make me nervous. The rest stops were well-stocked and filled with friendly volunteers, and the cost was less than 50$ whether you registered day-of or in advance. That’s what I’m talking about! MEC does a good job with these rides, which I know they have in other cities, and with their running series. Next year, I’m thinking of signing up for the whole series for 75$ and getting a bunch of races on my student budget for what would normally pay for one. Plus they still feed you post-ride!

post-ride food

We ended up averaging a pretty quick pace, which I’ll take as a bonus on top of the fun I had. After my 23km/hr fondo in the rain and hills with bike issues, I’ll take 30.6 over 100km as indication that I’ve still got “it.” I’m excited for my race but will be glad for the freedom after of being able to ride with friends a little more and to do more group riding.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 9.34.09 AM

For now, it’s time for a taper. This week and next, when I’ll be recovering and relishing my accomplishment if things go according to plan this weekend, I’ll be glad to have some shorter workouts to give me the time to finish my thesis, which is in draft form and coming along, finally, at least in my opinion! Usually, and I think like a lot of other recreational triathletes who do the training as a form of exercise and stress relief, I get pretty antsy backing off before a race. So today I’m thankful for my thesis, even if it is kicking my butt!

Happy Monday, folks!

Have you ever done a MEC event?
What is your favourite distance to bike?
How did you enjoy the sunshine this past weekend? 


Weight, vacation, and checking in beyond the scale

Happy Canada Day from…America!


This is my first Canada Day as a Canadian citizen!

We are on the final leg of our journey from the trip we made for the Farm to Fork Fondo last week. I’m enjoying the trip and the extra sleep and the break from being alone with only my thesis to keep me company, but I’m also excited to be home. I am starting to feel better and am eager to ride my bike a bit and maybe swim some laps at the outdoor pool that’s open now, even though I’m tapering for my half ironman, which is coincidentally not very far from where we are staying today, next weekend.

I was thinking today about the scale, and not having one on this vacation. For a few years, I didn’t keep a scale around. I was in the thick of my eating disorder recovery, trying my best to focus on letting my body do what it needed to in terms of size while I got back to a relationship with food that was healthy. Lately, I’ve been using it, albeit consciously, to see what’s going on with my body: not a whole lot. It seems training for a half ironman vs. mostly lifting weights / dabbling in Olympic weightlifting have left me remarkably the same in terms of how much I weigh, and I think in how I look.

This trip, I haven’t had access to a scale. I also have not been wearing my FitBit or tracking anything by hand or on an app. I did see that when we were in NYC the other day, according to my iPhone, Brent and I walked nearly a half marathon – 20km in one day! That seems like a lot to me.

I got to thinking about the way I used to freak out on the last days of a vacation over the “damage” I had done while I was away. Now, this trip involved minimal exercise—one bike ride, one little run—and some admittedly junk food—pizza under the Brooklyn Bridge, s’mores, and a chocolate bar that tasted like my childhood. But, without a scale to measure where I’m at and see if I can “get away” with such indulgences, I’m forced to ask myself if I’m happy with my choices.

The answer is yes, for this trip. For the most part, I’ve been following my hunger signals. I’ve been enjoying the food along the way—the pizza was part of being a tourist, the s’mores were over a campfire, the beer in NYC—and for the most part I’ve been able to eat ‘til full and not stuffed. There have been no binges, no tears, no big fights over food—all things that used to be commonplace for me when I got out of my routine with eating and/or exercising. Do I miss the gym and want a salad? Yes! Do I wish I’d felt better and was able to run once or twice? Yep. Do I wish the weather had been better so I could get out on another bike ride? Yes. But that’s alright—that’s the kind of thing that happens when healthy is your normal and you can enjoy the change of pace on a vacation. For me this time, it’s not about “indulgences” or “cheating” but about being in the present and choosing what’s healthiest and happiest in the moment. Sometimes that’s a candy bar, sometimes it’s an apple. Sometimes it’s sleeping in, and other times it’s getting up early to fit in a workout.

chosen to be happy

When I get home, the scale won’t be waiting for me to let me know how I did. I already know that I’ve had a good trip and that I can go home feeling pretty good about the choices I’ve made, and also with a few lessons about what makes me feel my best to go along with it.

So maybe, rather than the scale, it’s about asking ourselves: How are my food choices right now making me feel? Can I look back on today and say that I made choices I can be proud of? Does what I’m doing fit with my vision of “healthy” living?*

chosen to be happy

*Your vision of healthy living might be something you’ve never thought about. For me, it’s not all kale and wheatgrass, but it’s about letting things be simple: from shopping at the farmer’s market and eating lots of whole foods to taking a break on vacation to having an ice cream cone on a hot day. It’s about doing things that make my body feel good and build it up, not break it down and wear me out in terms of training. It’s about trusting myself.  

…what’s yours?

Farm to Fork Fondo: Rain and hills, but worth the journey!

I’ve been a little MIA for a while on the blog, but more generally for the last couple days as Brent and his parents (who seem willing to drive me to tarnation in order for me to bike up and down hills that we can’t find at home) have made the trip in their big fancy fifth wheel to New York State, mostly for the Farm to Fork Fondo. This is my first experience “glamping,” and I’ve managed to do a little thesis, eat some s’mores, ride my bike, and go shopping–so I call it a win.


One cannot run far enough from a thesis with an impending due date, it seems…

S'MORES make me happy.

S’MORES make me happy.

The drive on Thursday and Friday was lovely and we had sunshine the whole way. We made a stop outside of Rochester for one night and then made the rest of the journey to Port Jervis, which is pretty close to where the start of the Fondo was. Unfortunately, the rain followed us and on Saturday, the day before the Fondo, we had to hide from the rain in a mall. The forecast was not looking good for Sunday, but we picked up our race packets and realized we were in for a treat of an event.

The venue for the fondo, Cedar Lakes Estates, was absolutely beautiful. Like, if you are getting married, you should do it here beautiful. No matter where you live or how far your grannie might have to drive to be there for it.


The swag bag was great, and probably the best one I’ve ever gotten. From a bag of pasta and some olive oil to my favourite flavour of Gu AND a women’s t-shirt with my favourite fondo logo yet in it, I was pretty happy with the decision to make the trip down for this!

The terrain, however, looked like a little much for the recreational rider. We’d planned on doing the “Piccolo Fondo” together as a group, but with the rain and the hills a little bigger than the fam jam anticipated, my company got smaller. We woke up on Sunday to rain and it didn’t clear so by the time the ride start (which was postponed 30 minutes) rolled around, I was scrambling to pump up my tires in time to start with the group of cyclists who decided to brave the wet roads.

I’m entirely aware that exercise should improve the quality of your life–not risk it–so I told myself I’d turn back if I felt unsafe. I didn’t! The ride was beautiful, and I can mean it honestly when I say that I enjoyed it the whole way. 35 miles is shorter than my normal, but I think I learned that perhaps I like not doing the Gran Fondo (100 mile) option. Maybe the Medio Fondo (more like a metric century of 100km) would be perfect for me–I’d get back in time to enjoy some of the food–one of the sponsors was Fine Cooking magazine and there was a spread of things that included all kinds of things from kale salad to fried chicken and some kind of southern style corn that blew my mind!


At the start, a man I started to chat about my reservations about riding hills in the rain assured me that the rain was nothing to worry about. Further, he put an end to my whining by telling me that we were already wet and might as well go. It’s true. The same thing happened at my half marathon a few years ago when I was bummed about the rain and a woman in the washroom told me “Once you’re wet, you’re wet!,” putting an end to my whining.

The hills were tough, and I was happy my lungs were cooperating even if my gearing was not (I could not get into the big chain ring, but I really didn’t want it THAT much). I have been using a puffer for some kind of allergies or asthma (?!) that I’m currently dealing with so I tried to focus on how grateful I was to be able to ride at all, even if I was soggy.


The first rest stop, at a farm, of course, was great. There were farm dogs–cute, hot chocolate and cornbread–yum, and a pro woman (there were a bunch riding with us from the Colavita / Bianchi team) told me to ride over the gravel that freaks me out instead of ruining my shoes–cool!




After the ride, I was greeted by a super friendly group of volunteers at a cute finish line. The “medal” was a spoon with “Farm to Fork Fondo 2015” engraved on it, which I thought was a nice touch! Like I said, the food was great and I was back early enough from my short ride to catch the event organizer, who I’d interviewed last year for a profile of the top fondos for Canadians in Canadian Cycling Magazine (a different event, but he nailed this one again!) briefly. I hope that he has better weather for the second Farm to Fork Fondo in Vermont on the 12th of July (unfortunately the same day as my Half Ironman debut!) because the only thing I can complain about was the weather.


Soggy but smiling!



If you’re on the hunt for a Gran Fondo to put on your radar, go with this one. Or it’s probably a safe bet that if it’s a Wrenegade Sports event, you’re going to be good to go. If you get a chance to come to this area of New York (Orange County), do it. Brent and I took off the afternoon of the Fondo for NYC and I was able to ride my bike in the morning and see Times Square by the evening. Not too shabby, and a fine way to take a break from my thesis for a few days.



…about that.

not this day

Body Positivity Tuesday: Make a Bucket List

I spent a lot of years “future-tripping,” caught up in all my worries about the future. I would think about what I was going to eat the next day, wear next Wednesday, and how I’d fit in my workouts next July (seriously). I’d be tallying my calories for the day, prepping my food for the next week, and obsessively trying to control my world by taking it out on my body. While I think it’s great to take responsibility for our health, I know that crossing the line into obsession took my focus on my health to a point where it no longer served me. A big shift for me was realizing that I want to create health in my world so that I can live the life I want to live, no longer wanting to live my life as a slave to food or exercise or the pursuit of perfection when it came to my health. 

This shift, though it didn’t happen overnight and still requires me to step back and gain some perspective from time to time, opened up a lot of energy to use towards doing things with the health that I do have. Running races, learning new sports, building relationships, taking up hobbies, reading books…these are all things that I can do with the energy that I used to spend loathing my body or obsessing over how to “fix” it.

So, what do you want to do? Even if it’s not an eating disorder that distracts us, sometimes we can get so caught up in our day to day lives that we forget to dream. I think making a bucket list is a great way to channel our inner dreamers and reading over it is a great way to re-inspire ourselves. This should be a different kind of to-do list, one that excites you.

Today’s task is to come up with a little list for yourself of things you’d like to do, places you’d like to see, people you’d like to meet. These things don’t have to be directly related to loving your body, but notice that if you’re being body positive and taking care of yourself, you’re a heck of a lot more likely to have the energy to do the things you’ve decided on and to enjoy checking things off the list.

If you have trouble thinking of some things, maybe start here:

  • Where would you like to travel?
  • When you look back on your life, what would you like to remember?
  • What is your dream vacation?
  • Do you wish you could learn how to play an instrument?
  • Is there a class you want to take?
  • Do you want to learn another language?
  • What is the race of your dreams?
  • Who do you want to meet?
  • What do you want to do before you retire?

etc. etc. etc.

I keep my bucket list on my computer, updating it on a regular basis. It’s never complete, and I like that. Things come off as I complete them or, at times, as I decide they are no longer for me. New things get added on as I discover new passions. This is by far my favourite to-do list of them all!

you shoudl go do them

Do you have a bucket list?

No Diet Day–Should it be every day?

This will be a short post because I’m already a bit late for my afternoon run — it’s a speed sesh so maybe being hurried to get there will start the workout on the right foot? I didn’t want today to go by without putting a post out though, as it’s International No Diet Day.

no diet

In honour of that, maybe check out this article by Health at Every Size advocate Linda Bacon over at the NEDIC website.  She advocates for learning to trust our bodies, which goes in line with the kind of intuitive eating and self-acceptance/love approach that I myself get behind. I especially like the part where she hits the nail on the head when it comes to the element of control that dieting so alluringly offers:

“As long as things go well, the dieter can maintain control. But if anything gets in the way or changes, she can’t. The reason is clear: Dieters don’t rely on the normal signals of fullness to regulate their eating, so there are no brakes in place.”

…I know that when I have gotten sucked into restriction, or obsessing over/tracking my every meal, judging it, etc., there’s been a sense of control and power that I have–and it felt good. It’s nice to feel like you are totally in charge. And what thinking we need to get really strict about our food does all the time is convince us that we are otherwise out of control monsters who will binge at the first chance.

And unfortunately, after restriction, that’s what happens. I still have foods that were formerly “forbidden” that I have to remind myself–it’s OKAY–or else I end up overeating them to the point of feeling like crap. My experience tells me that I am not in fact a madwoman around food, but the more I think that I eat too much or eat the wrong things, the more likely I am to go ahead and go “off the rails.”

My hope is that some day, it won’t be the exception or the one day of the year where we don’t diet–but that we’ll learn to feed and take care of ourselves in a way that doesn’t require us to feel like failures or to give all of our energy to controlling ourselves.

two diets


Remember: we are not crazies. The diet industry likes us to think that, so that we keep paying them for programs. And trackers. And diet coaches. And unless these products and people teach us long term habits that make it so we don’t require them, I’m weary. Our bodies are on our side!

There’s my two cents!
What do you think about ditching diets?
Do you make a point to avoid diet talk / dieting / buying diet books, or do you just go with it?
Does controlling your food work with you? Tracking? Monitoring? 
Have you given up on diets? What have you found?
What keeps you dieting? 

Body Positivity Tuesday: Clean Out the Closet

Many of us have closets filled with clothes that we never wear. I’m guilty of having more clothes than I could possibly need, but one thing that I refuse to do is to keep things that are too small or too big for me hanging around. Those clothes that we don’t feel wonderful in are just taking up space and not serving us.

Today’s task is to let those things go. If you’re keeping your “skinny” pants or your “fat” pants around, what for? If you have a whole wardrobe that you can’t let go of, what’s up? Is it the cost? If you can’t wear them, I’d encourage you to think about the cost to your self-esteem on a daily basis.

You could always move them to a “maybe” bin. If you still haven’t dug them out in a few months, it might feel easier to donate them to charity, sell them, or give them away to friends or family. It comes down to deciding how you’d like to feel when you open your closet door every morning. The best kind of closet is one where you know you’ll be able to reach in and grab something that makes you feel like a million bucks.


Weight a minute: Perfectionism rears its ugly head again


I am just caffeinating and getting myself ready for what I’m sure will be a beautiful day at the park. I’m volunteering at the road races at Springbank, which are some pretty fierce bike races that I am too scared to participate in personally. There’s geese, there’s curbs, and there’s corners—on top of all the other parts of cycling that make me prefer tours/club riding and triathlon.

And I’m thinking about my ongoing recovery from perfectionism, scales, and a reminder why I don’t want to rely on the scale to assess where I’m at.

recovering perfectionism

Yesterday I had an awesome brick workout: 70km on the bicycle followed by a 5km run. My half ironman is just over two months away and I haven’t felt this consistent with my workouts in a long time. The bricks and the runs more generally are feeling better than ever and I’m sure that now that we have warm weather I can get my biking legs back on the real road in no time!


I can’t remember doing as many workouts as my coach has scheduled me as this year, or feeling good while I’m doing them. Other than some migraines that I’m addressing with my doctor and some complimentary stuff, I think I’m healthier than I’ve been in a long time: hormones in check, staying on top of injuries, etc. I’m winning.

But I weighed myself today.

And it shouldn’t surprise me that I stay the same weight or slightly change, as I’ve been at this weight for years now, save losing ~2 or 3 pounds a year.

But I think I was looking for some kind of validation, or comfort that I hadn’t gained weight or something, because I wasn’t feeling proud of my choices yesterday.

After the workout, my appetite felt off. It came in waves and as it often does when I’ve done longer rides or workouts, I, I felt like I’d “messed up.” Brent and I had frappucinos (because Starbucks is out to suck all of us into it’s delicious and sugary web with their half price frappucino happy hour), I ate all kinds of trail mix and granola, and I think I ate the equivalent of half a veggie tray and a pre-made salad at dinner time.


So feeling a little uncertain of whether I’m “OK,” stepping on the scale was perhaps an attempt to wipe it all clean or to show myself that I’m still “good.”

But I know that you don’t gain or lose a whole bunch of weight in a day. A solid week of training doesn’t do it. Getting hurt and taking a few days off won’t affect you greatly. Further, what I really want to focus on are habits. I think it’s tricky when you’re feeling less than proud of your habits: how do you feel good then?

Well, I’m trying reminding myself of a few things:

  • I know that regardless of whether I’d done a hard workout or not, a day of eating things that aren’t perfect like yesterday is fine. Workout or no workout, I can count the number of frappucinos I’ve had in my life on one hand – it’s not worth fretting over yesterday’s treat!
  • I know that over the long term, I’ve been more consistent with my training and prouder of it than ever before—even if it hasn’t changed my body (and if I have to be reminded on occasion that I’m fitter, and that’s what it’s about–>Thanks Brent).
  • I know that my idea of a healthy diet is mostly around eating enough real food to keep me feeling good so that I don’t turn to chocolate every night or feel like I need to use food and my weight as a distraction from the rest of my life.
  • I know that if I weigh this amount for the rest of my life, that would be okay—and if I think about what I would do in terms of food and exercise if I knew that it wasn’t going to be about weight, I should probably trust that guide to help me on this healthy, happy journey.
  • I know that there’s a lesson here–maybe it’s about what I need to feel good when it comes to eating after tough workouts, or maybe it’s about throwing my scale out again (I was planning on weighing myself once a month, ideally).
  • know that I could have saved myself some trouble if I’d remembered the advice of my dietitian to aim for 80/20. I am learning just how much of a trap perfectionism can be, and this is a testament to the idea of needing to plan for imperfection–so that when we don’t hit perfection with the habits we’ve set out as our goals, we don’t feel like failures and jump on the scale.

Looking back, I think I’m doing a pretty good job of the 80/20 as it applies to my goals. I can be honest and say that there’s room for improvement, but when I get away from focusing in on the less than perfect efforts (because they fit in that 20% and it’s part of the end goal), I can start to at the same time feel proud of all the progress I’ve made. Anyways, part of health for me is moving on and making the next meal one that feels good and trying not to get swept up in the past or too worried about the future. So to that end, it’s time for me to go watch fast people in spandex race by me!


Do you struggle with the scale?
What happens when you don’t nail the habits-based-goals that you’ve set for yourself? 

Owning it: Athletics as (a) source of self-esteem–and why we need to take a darn compliment

Lately, I’ve noticed a(n unfortunate) tendency for some of the most badass women—the strongest ones at CrossFit or the fastest or most experienced ones on the bike—to play a game of downplaying their achievements. They ask “Who, little old me?” when someone tells them that they’re great or assure people that really it wasn’t such a great job or that someone or something outside them was the reason for their success.

This makes me sad.

I know I’ve returned a compliment with the kind of downplaying I’m talking about. But this is an issue I’m working on. Ever since I had the experience of a friend telling me she was going to be “slow” and then proceeding to be much faster than me in a running situation, I’ve tried to watch how I talk about my own performances or abilities—whether I think they’re good or bad. I’m sure that my friend was innocently trying to appear humble—not to make me feel bad—but it certainly made me think about times when I’ve maybe done the same thing to other people.

This is cute, but be careful whose accomplishments you downplay.

This is cute, but be careful whose accomplishments you downplay.

I know some people who can’t just take a compliment are after reassurance and want to be told a little bit more how great they are. That’s fine. I want to talk about the times where it’s more about not being able to own up to how great we are.

My fellow blogger and cycling friend Sam and I had little bit of a chat about this issue as we watched a club race together last week. Our coach (a man) worked with two ladies to do really well in the race together. It was a men’s race. The gal who won absolutely impresses me with her talent and dedication, but I can remember the first time I met her being met with the kind of downplaying that I’m getting at. Sam pointed me towards “Self-Deprecation and the Female Cyclist,” which is certainly worth a read if you feel like you hold yourself back or downplay your athletic accomplishments and want a reminder to stop that right now.

Maybe for some of us, this comes down to perfectionism—or that ever-looming sense that we aren’t good enough coming back again. We focus so much on what we aren’t or on where we fall short that it’s hard for us to appreciate the things that are really worth celebrating in ourselves. You just ran a great race? Yeah, but it wasn’t as fast as my PB. You just did your first CrossFit competition? Yeah, but it wasn’t Rx.

But it was still badass.

It was still worth being proud of.

It was definitely worth celebrating.

While you’re at it, stop adding the word “just” to things. You didn’t “just” do a 10km when someone else did a marathon. You didn’t “just” go to the gym twice this week when you meant to go four times. Those things count for something.

I’m torn on whether or not I think celebrating our abilities is unquestionably the best way to build our confidence. I certainly don’t think that our only source of empowerment should come from our abilities.  But I do know that pretending that these things don’t make us feel good or don’t contribute to our sense of self-esteem would mean we’d miss out on a whole lot of potential. Maybe the answer is that we can’t base all of our self-worth and confidence on what we’re capable of (so that when we aren’t so capable, we don’t suck), but this kind of appreciation can be a valuable part of what fills up our confidence buckets.


Anyways, I don’t think that it’s fair to expect anyone—man or woman—to be confident all the time. But it’s my hope that we can think about the way that brushing off compliments or trying to convince people that we’re really not all that good is a habit worth getting out of.

What do you think?
What have you done lately that’s worth being proud of?
Where do you downplay your accomplishments, and what’s up with that?