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  • Dr. Seuss, Boxed Wine, And Lines In The Sand

    Hi, Friend. The first time I read Dr. Seuss’s books aloud, I thought I was having a stroke. Partially, because Dr. Seuss feels like the children’s book equivalent to “dance, monkey, dance!”, while pointing at words in the air. Partially, I am missing the cultural context and familiarity that comes with repeated exposure. Also, I generally hate reading kids’ books that make me produce various sounds. No one has ever read me children’s books in English. I don’t know how you are supposed to pronounce “kerplunk!”. I make my best guess, and feel like a fraud, and that makes my performance less than believable. And I hate bad acting. But I love books, and I want my children to love books, and so I make my way through “Ten Little Fingers And Ten Little Toes” or whatever they pull off the shelf. Here are the three book rules that I have established (aka made up) that help me keep my sanity, while encouraging literacy in my household. 1. We do not throw books. That’s a no-no. Books are not to be thrown, kicked, or stood on. 2. I will always read when asked. (Almost) no exceptions. I will turn off the stove. I will step out of the shower. I will put away my own book or my phone. I have walked through the door from a trail run, dripping in sweat, shins covered in dust, and had a toddler plop themselves in my lap AT the entrance with a book. “Mommy, read this.” Worth it. 3. I will not read any book more than three times in a row. Self-explanatory AND crucial to my sanity-keeping. I can read the last page of Grumpy Monkey {Why are you so grumpy, Jim?}, and then turn right back to the first page, knowing that there are only two more passes left. Then I tap out. You notice all of these “rules” are quite arbitrary, and specific to my household. There is nothing particularly magical or RIGHT about them. You might not give a shit’s rat about reading and books, and, while we will never be friends, that is still a-ok. They are helpful to ME. Speaking of rules… children seem to elicit the need to make the unspoken rules explicit. Have you noticed that? You hear yourself speaking evident (to you) truths aloud. “Don’t lick your sister”. “Peanut butter is not for painting!” “We do not spit on the floor.” Then those truths are thoroughly challenged by someone still wearing a diaper. I’ve talked about “food rules” in a recent letter, and how those CAN be helpful (as well as hurtful). I have the “rule conversation” with clients often. Many of them come in with decades worth of unhelpful rules like… “anything above size 8 is unacceptable!”, and “bacon is not allowed!”. So, I ask: “What rules can they set for themselves that are HELPFUL?” For example, here are some alcohol-specific rules that I helped someone with recently, as they are re-examining their relationship with alcohol: I don’t do shots. I don’t mix drinks. I don’t drink out of plastic cups. I don’t drink wine out of a box. Notice these rules are not designed to get this person to quit drinking (as that was not their goal), but rather re-shuffle the ROLE of alcohol in their life. Alcohol as more of a food, rather than an escape. More of a high-end elevated enjoyment, rather than a coping mechanism. I think of rules we set for ourselves as lines in the sand. The lines are clearly visible, and yet… they are permeable. Changeable. The lines are there to help us visualize whether or not we are on the right side of the actions and behaviors and habits. They are not cages. At least, they do not have to be. They can be guardrails. Like the toddler gate at the top of the stairs. YOU draw the line in the sand. YOU can choose to ignore that line, or draw a new one. Hugs,

  • Rural Vermont, The Ultra Running Mantra, And Our Perception Of Suffering

    Oh hey, Friend. There are three things that can predictably end your race before your time: – Your stomach. – Your feet. – Your mind. Your stomach → Figure out your fuel. Know what you can tolerate, and what you can’t. Your feet → Feet are sacred. Change your socks. Know your shoes. Lube up any likely areas for hot spots. Your mind → That one is self-explanatory, isn’t it? You let the distance get to you, or the pain in your feet get to you, or where you think you are in relation to other runners - get to you, you are done. Except today, it’s neither of those three. It’s the fucking mosquitoes. I am wearing bug spray - the most poisonous one, none of that organic candy. It’s Deet 4.0 in 456% concentration. Mosquitoes seem to slurp the bug spray off my skin, making nom-nom noises. “Mmmmmm, hot sauce.” Meanwhile, I can’t take a full breath, because with every sip of air, I inhale mosquitoes into my nostrils. I feel them in my ears. I can’t open my mouth, because when I do, I immediately swallow a handful. Months of training (however insufficient), hours of driving to get to rural Vermont, shoes, energy gels, gear, lubing up the feet to avoid any possibility of hot spots, and it was going to be the damn mosquitoes that were gonna end this race for me. We are only three miles into the race, climbing a long gradual hill - up, up, up. There hasn’t really been much running yet - it’s been all uphill almost immediately, and you gotta earn the running. Want to run? Climb this damn mountain, then you can run down. It’s been an hour. Maybe, two hours. We have another seven hours to go (if all goes well). Can I handle the mosquitoes at this level for another seven hours? Is this the mosquitoes getting to me? Or is this item number three from the earlier list - my mind - getting to me? Infinitus is a rugged trail race, offering distances anywhere from 9 miles to 888k. Yes, you read that number correctly - a handful of crazies get to Vermont a week before everybody else, and run in (very large) circles, trying to cover 888k in just over a week. There’s been six people so far who have been able to do that. With that said, running a marathon distance is practically a 5k - a short sprint. The course is two loops - you start out with a nine mile loop, come back to camp, and then head out on the eighteen mile loop. Did we finish? Yes. Did we get lost on the last loop and turned a 42km race into a 50km race? Absolutely. Was this on brand? Oh, so much so that when I told a friend I got lost in a race, he asked if it was on purpose. What I really love about long races is the sense of things constantly changing. At some point you will be hopeful, excited, happy, sad, angry, frustrated, irritated, tired, energized, surprised, amused, amazed, terrified, and everything in between. There is less time to do that in shorter races. Ever ran a 5k? You come out of the gate fast, but not too fast, so you don’t burn out too quickly. You are breathing hard, your heart is beating hard. You are running, running, running. You are trying to hold on to that aggressive pace. Then you hit the halfway mark, and you speed up. This is it - all you’ve got in the last 2.5km. Open up, and hold on for dear life. No time to process emotions, or experience a variety of feelings - you just feel like you are going to throw up the entire time. Am I selling you on a 5k or what? I’ve always joked that ultrarunners run long distances, because they don’t have the balls for a 5k. That distance truly tests how much you are willing to suffer. Ultrarunning is a different animal. You get to live an entire life in a span of one race. You rise with the sun, and head out all fresh and bushy-tailed. You keep moving through late morning and lunch. You are still on your feet in the late afternoon. Maybe you are approaching the finish line in time for dinner. Maybe. There are moments in the race, when reality blurs, and that’s it - this is what life is. Life is just hiking / running / scrambling / one foot in front of the other / sweaty / breathing / sore feet / stiff back. It has been this way forever. And it will be this way forever. “Just wait ten minutes” is the ultra running mantra. “If you are feeling bad, just wait ten minutes”. “If you are feeling good, just wait ten minutes”. We don’t think about suffering this way, you see. The assumption is that suffering is linear. That experiences are linear. The assumption is that if something is good, it will continue being good, be it a race, or a marriage. The assumption is that if something is bad, it will never be anything else. If I have a headache, and it gets worse, I panic. Because surely there is only one way to go - worse, worse, worse. We think of hunger this way. You feel that pang of hunger, and panic. It will only get worse. Except… if you have ever gone without food for an extended period of time - 12, 24 hours or more - you know it’s not true. Hunger comes and goes. In waves, in peaks, in valleys. It attacks, and recedes, it rumbles in the background, it rages, then disappears completely, only to come back two hours later. The mosquitoes never went away. But they backed WAY off once we got to the top of the mountain. In the suckiest moment, relief was only ten minutes away. This is what a long race is. A long exercise in realization that “this too shall pass”. Hugs,

  • The Sky Is Grey, The Sun Is Orange

    Hey, Friend. A number of you have reached out, asking if we were ok with all the wildfires around. We are ok. On one hand, life goes on without changes. I am at work, and kids are at school, and I am working on my next newsletter about the Vermont race. Stay tuned. :) On the other hand… I heard from our school this week, informing us that all the outdoor activities will be moved indoors due to poor air quality. The sky is grey, but there are no clouds. It’s the creepiest thing ever. I am wondering whether the long run on the weekend is even a good idea. Everyone seems to be coughing, and it’s hard to tell if it’s seasonal allergies, random spring colds, or smoke in the air. Air quality is expected to continue to deteriorate, and hit its worst today. Italian works outside, and I try not to think about that. The headlines are downright scary. But then again, yours truly WAS born in a small coal mining town, soooo black smoke in the air is practically my birthright. Or something. Between global pandemic headlines, war headlines and “it is currently impossible to find Tylenol” headlines, and now this, I’m torn between feeling 1. Old and 2. Like I am in some sort of post-apocalyptic video game. Hugs,

  • Picking Sides, Walt Whitman, and Botox

    Oh hey, Friend. Before I get into the post this week, two things: 1. My coaching books are full right now. I am anticipating a few coaching spots opening up in September. If you know you want to work with me, but right NOW was not the right time, but it might indeed be in September, please let me know. We can chat, and if you are a good fit, then I’ll reach out to you FIRST. 2. I am geeking out on ChatGPT, and specifically, how it applies (or can apply) to coaching and health. Have you been using it? For fun? For work? For something else entirely? If so, can you hit Reply and let me know? I’d love to learn about all the applications. I’m playing with some creative prompts, and so far have been quite impressed. Would you be interested in hearing more about specific use cases I’ve been experimenting with? And now to our regular programming… I wrote about noticing my crow’s feet earlier this year, and went on a little skincare kick in order to… I’m not sure, to be honest. Slow down time? “Fix” the wrinkles? My skincare “regime” as long as I can remember was “take a shower and get dressed”. For real. If there are any dermatologists on this list, they are crying real tears right now. And yes, perhaps, I could use a regular sunscreen routine AND also some eye cream wouldn’t kill me - beauty standards or not. Everyone likes to be pampered, why should the skin under my eyes be any exception? Here you go, eyes, a little bit of cream for you. Enjoy! In many threads on the topic of “what is the best eye cream?” in an online mommy group, the overarching crowd wisdom was “the best eye cream is Botox”. It’s the frustrating truth with many things, isn’t it? We want a particular type of solution (“eye cream”) to our particular type of “problem” (crow’s feet). But it turns out that to really solve THAT problem you need a different kind of solution entirely. Want “the best exercise to get a six-pack”? It’s not exercise. It’s nutrition. Want “the best app to help with work stress”? It’s not about finding the right app. It’s the actual work that needs addressing. You are asking for a recommendation for the best thing to solve your “problem”, and it turns out THAT is not really the thing you want. Your “solution” is this OTHER thing entirely. And, so, in a hilarious (to me) turn of events, I bought a round of Botox a few months back, when a local highly recommended beauty clinic had a Women’s Day sale. There is deep irony there on many levels. I knew joining an online mommy group would cost me eventually. Now, with the “problem” of crow’s feet, and the “solution” of Botox → All “problems” and “solutions” are in quotes, because are they problems, really? Only in a sense of “here’s this thing I would like to CHANGE right now” for whatever reason. I have never had anything injected into my face (still haven’t, but hey now I’m mentally and financially committed, so stay tuned for the season finale of this trainwreck, I guess). Mostly I’m curious. And I don’t mind contradicting myself, which most people find very unsettling. :) There is something rare and rebellious and counter-culturey about committing to hold all the multiplicities of human nature, have you noticed? There is a lot of push to decide and pick a side, and join an appropriate support group for the side you have chosen. “Oh, you work in health and wellness?”, a new massage therapist muses at me recently. “So, what camp are you in?”. What camp are you in? You NEED a camp. Do you LOVE parenting? And therefore, have children, and have them be your everything? Take a parenting class, put some family stickers on your car window. #blessed Or do you HATE parenting? And therefore, NOT have children, avoid children, roll your eyes every time you see children and choose the life of self-fulfillment and pleasure forever and ever till death releases you? Are you going to be true and authentic and age gracefully like Mother fucking Theresa? Are you going to embrace your bare face, and crow’s feet, and be “raw” and “honest”? Everywhere always, zero exceptions, obvs. OR are you going to be one of those “shallow vain women” [lolz], and do eyelash extensions, AND make-up, AND Botox, AND eyecream, and bring-on-all-the-IG-filters? Wear see-through four-inch heels, giggle hysterically, and blink too often? PICK ONE. Those are the only options, and you must choose one, damn it. Meanwhile, I’m over here, both loving and hating parenting at the same time. I’m over here, wearing progressively longer eyelash extensions, AND quitting them overnight, only to get them done again six months later. I wear all the make-up and then none (most of the time), and then some. [“Mommy, why are you putting that on your face?”, my four year old asks. “For fun”, I shrug. She nods.] And I sort of hate the wrinkles around my eyes, but know why they are there, and know there is nothing to fix. I’m curious about Botox, because I am literally curious about everything, and injecting a thing into your face to make it look slightly different sounds both perverse and therefore, fascinating. In the depth of my bones, I know that it is ok not to choose. As Whitman wisely says: “I am large, I contain multitudes.” Hell, many people probably feel the same way, but… it sure does feel lonely sometimes when it feels that everyone has chosen their camp, and I belong nowhere. Or, perhaps, I belong everywhere and I just join ALL the clubs? Where do multi-camp people go? But hey that’s why we're here - it’s a reality check to that little nagging “my goodness, is it just me” voice? Hugs,

  • Jazz Hands, And The Power Of Digging Deeper

    Hey, Friend. The facilitator throws out a writing prompt, and we scribble furiously for five minutes. “Ok, time!”, she announces. I’m sitting on a yoga mat somewhere in Portland, Oregon - taking a writing course. Some are balancing notebooks on their knees; others are lying on their bellies. Few people are still scribbling. “Gimme jazz hands, everyone! Let’s see them all in the air.” Twenty people raise their arms and do “jazz hands” to demonstrate that they are no longer writing. “We are going to use the same prompt, and we are going to write again”, the facilitator continues, “but this time around, I want you to ask yourself a question. Ready?” We nod. “What is the story underneath the story?” “We will do this once”, she continues, “but when you have some time, ask yourself that question three, four, five times in a row. I know that for me, the first response is complete garbage - a story that I made up - something that sounds reasonable, but is completely false. It is not until I keep digging that I arrive at the actual truth.” The story underneath the story. The question behind the question. The thing before the thing. In coaching, a similar exercise is called “The Five Whys”. Ask a question, and once you get a response, ask why. Then ask why again. And again. Five times in a row. It can be annoying or unsettling or illuminating or all of the above. The surface answer is easy, quick. But the answers that follow can be surprising even to the answerer herself. I use this tool with a new client. “It might feel a little silly or even forced”, I remind her. “But humour me.” She nods. Me: “Why are you here?”[WHY #1] Her: “I want to become a better coach.” Me: “Why do you want to become a better coach?” [WHY #2] Her: “If I become a better coach, I would be able to help more people get better results and keep clients for longer.” Me: “Why do you want to be able to help more people get better results and keep clients for longer?”[WHY #3] Her: “If I get better results for clients and retain them, I would be making more money.” Me: “And why do you want to be making more money?” [WHY #4] Her: “If I make more money, I would have more freedom, I would be able to do things without worrying about money.” Me: “And why do you want to have more freedom?”[WHY #5] Her: “Because I would have more choices in life, I would have more confidence and have more belief in myself.” This client just went from wanting to become a better coach to wanting to have more confidence and more belief in herself. A very specific goal now has a global and universal appeal. It ties into this person’s life vision. If you want to find yourself on the receiving end of this particular mind-fuckery along with many other tools of tortu… I mean, self-improvement. If you want to try this tool with a friend or a client, keep these two strategies in mind: #1 - Ask full questions. Don’t just ask “why?”, “why?”, “why?”. Incorporate the statements from the previous answer (like I did in the example above). This makes the questions easier to answer, and makes the conversation sound much more natural, as the actual “why” blends with the rest of the sentence. #2 - Notice and name the discomfort. Call it out. Forewarn your conversation partner that you are about to do something that may sound strange, and would they please go along with it? You can even use the following script:“Hey, I want to try something here. I want to help you arrive at some of the deeper motivations for the change you seek, and there is this exercise that can help. I will ask the same question five times in a row, and I’d like you to do your best to answer. Are you game?” Hugs,

  • Motivational Pillows, And Cinderella Stories That Lack Nuance

    Hey, Friend. Few years ago Roberta Groner came 6th in the marathon distance at the World Championships in Doha and made headlines all over the world. Why was it newsworthy? Groner was not a professional runner. She was a 41-year old full-time nurse, and a mother of three. The media had a field day with this. The motivational pillows with slogans like “If you believe it, you can achieve it!” were practically crocheting themselves. The superficial story as I heard it was as follows: It was super hot. All these runners were dropping like flies, but our nurse, who did not run her first marathon until her mid-thirties, full of determination and grit, just kept on keeping on like the little engine that could. And voila – 6th place. This is like the runner’s version of Cinderella. Except, Roberta Groner is no average 41-year old nurse, y’all: — She was a competitive runner in college. — She ran her first marathon in 3:12:42 – more than an hour faster than the average finishing time (light years in marathon time). — She ran 100 miles a week (12-15 hours of training) leading up to this race. — She met the 2020 Olympic standard with her 2:29:09 race in Rotterdam earlier that year. Sure, based on her past performances, placing 6th at the World Championships was not the most likely scenario for Groner. Before the carnage began, she was on track for 30th spot in the field of 68 runners (28 of them never finished). This IS an incredible accomplishment for a master’s runner. Groner HAS worked hard for this, and every second of her marathon time is well-earned. There are only two other women in US who managed to break 2:30 after their 40th birthday – both professional runners. But if we only look at the top layer of the story, we miss the complexity and nuance. The overarching message of “work hard, and you’ll get there” is oversimplified at best. Groner started out with incredible genetics, AND solid running background – at least two variables that we’d have to account for, when looking at her success. The message is not “it doesn’t matter how old you are”. It’s not “if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything” either. Rather, it’s: “Solid running base, consistent training coupled with great genetics and a little bit of luck, can help runners elite-level performance into their 40s.” Unfortunately, THAT wouldn’t fit on a pillow. Examining the stories - our own and those that others have of us - AND tapping into the nuance - is one of the things I do often with my coaching clients. Hugs,

  • I Climbed Three Peaks In The Himalayas, And The Hardest Part Was The People

    Hi, Friend. Ten years ago I joined a mountaineering group on a whim, and spent two weeks in the Himalayas, summiting three peaks. I cried every day for those entire two weeks. It was freaking hard. It was new. I had no idea what I was doing. I was tired. But, the hardest part of that trip was surprisingly the people. Not the actual people. The actual people were lovely. It was being with people all day and all night with no breaks. No time alone. We went to sleep together and woke up together in the same large tent. We ate all of our meals together. Heck, some of the time we peed together, because you were tethered to each other, while summiting. Had to pee? The group stopped and looked to the horizon, while the person who needed to go, either squatted to pee - trying not to get anyone’s boots. Or peed off to the side - depending on the equipment they were working with. It was gruelling physically - long hours on your feet, early wake-ups - but nothing compared to the constant “peopling”. Well… parenthood has been feeling a whole lot like that lately. The gruelling, the tired. Ever peed while being physically attached to another person? Every parent reading this is like:... yep! Every day. Kids have been fighting bedtime and waking up early. There is a kid in front of me, or on me at all times. By the time they stop hee-hee-hawing and mooing in their bedroom, it’s 9.30pm, and I’m falling over from exhaustion. When I sneak into the kitchen at 6.30am to fuel up on coffee, there is a kid. “Hi mommy!”. I get up at 6am instead. “Hi, mommy!” I grit my teeth, and make coffee with a small human attached firmly to my thigh. I try not to spill coffee on their head, and vouch to get up even earlier the next day. They have to sleep at some point, right? 5.30am. “Mommy! Can I have toast?” For fuck’s sake. It would feel a little bit better if they at least showed some signs of being tired. You know… in a race, if you are pushing hard, and someone overtakes you with a huge smile on their face, bouncing into the horizon, you feel even more defeated. It’s not so much them passing you, it’s how easily they are able to do that. Psychological warfare. Well played, children. I’m almost proud. Send coffee. Hugs,

  • Why I Don’t Eat Standing Up, And When Food Rules Are Helpful

    Hello, Friend. Today, I want to talk about rules and restrictions that we place on ourselves, and how those can be HELPFUL (rather than detrimental). Here’s ONE rule that I have for myself: I do not eat standing up. It’s an arbitrary rule. There is nothing inherently wrong with eating, while standing up. But It feels shitty to ME, in a sense of “what the hell am I doing wrong with my life that I can’t even set aside a few minutes to sit down and eat in peace?”. Also, it’s triggery, because it looks and feels like a binge. The whole “standing over the sink, eating Kraft dinner out of a cooking pan” thing. And so, I don’t eat standing up, AND I ask people around me to NOT eat standing up. That last part is often harder, because it can include communicating your boundary to OTHER people. I may offer the person eating a seat, and if THAT doesn’t work, I can say something along the lines of: “Would you mind sitting down when you eat? It just makes me a bit jittery, when people eat standing up”. And, of course, it goes without saying that we are talking about my own household here, not a stand-up cocktail party. :) Rules, guidelines, control and restriction come up a lot in my work. Like a LOT, a lot. Rigid “do’s” and “don’t” in health and wellness have fallen out of vogue recently. Sometimes, fellow coaches cringe, hearing that I have food RULES. There is a good reason to be cautious around rules and restrictions when it comes to food, movement and other health-promoting practices. Many folks (most? all?) already struggle with all-or-nothing thinking, and rigid structures - whether it’s a meal plan, a diet, or a training regime - can elicit feelings of deprivation. If we feel deprived or restricted, the result is often a bounce-back into the opposite → binging, in case of food, or complete inactivity, in case of movement. But, sometimes, I feel like we swing too far the other way. On the continuum between complete chaos and complete order, when complete order feels oppressive and triggering, complete chaos is rarely the answer. Rules ARE still ok. Rules can be quite helpful for folks. I often suggest coming up with arbitrary rules that help you move in a desired direction. I also have a rule around skipping workouts: “I can skip a workout whenever I want, but never TWO workouts in a row.” A rule of “I don’t eat in the car” can be very helpful for someone, struggling with drive throughs and mindless snacking while driving. Notice the qualifying questions here: → does sticking to this rule feel HELPFUL? Yes? Great. → does this rule make me want to rebel against it? No? Fantastic. One client says: ” This feeling that I can have SOME rules is a huge shift. Having a few food rules helps keep me successful.” Restriction IS also ok. I might want a second (or third) glass of red wine on a Tuesday night, but it’s a workday the next day, AND I really don’t feel like feeling like shit in the morning, so I restrict myself to one. That’s helpful. That kind of restriction ADDS to my quality of life. Some folks intentionally give up eating out for a period of time, because those situations are too challenging. It’s not a forever solution, but it can be helpful in the beginning. Avoiding certain trigger foods entirely, while you are working on something else, is often the right way to go: Heck, I kept peanut butter out of my house for MONTHS – because I couldn’t eat it without eating the entire jar. Having peanut butter around wasn’t helpful. So, I avoided it entirely. I’d buy it every few months, eat the whole jar in a day or two, conclude that it was too early and avoid it again for a few months. Then I’d try again. Notice the qualifying questions here: → does this restriction result in an inevitable rebound? No? Great. [Restricting myself to ONE glass of wine does NOT result in me drinking the entire bottle the next day.] → am I actively working to repair my relationship with whatever it is I am restricting? Food, alcohol, etc. Eventually, I could buy peanut butter and eat it like a normal person. ← this hasn’t happened by magic, but through a whole lot of therapy / coaching. And that restriction was crucial at first. What about you? What rules have been helpful to you in the past? What rules have been detrimental? How do YOU tell the difference? Hugs,

  • Bare Faces, Engagement Rings And Being “Raw”

    Hey, Friend. First time I remember being called “raw” was when I posted a picture of my hand with an engagement ring. An acquaintance commented with “first of all, congrats! Second of all, now I really know how honest and raw you are! I have never seen a picture of an engagement ring before on a hand without a perfect manicure!”. It was this photo. Never mind a manicure, there is dirt under my nails. Italian proposed to me on a weekday evening, as I returned from the gym - sweaty and smelly. Under my nails - who knows what. Trail dirt? General grime of the public exercise space? The most recent photo that got similar “yay, you are so raw!” comments was this one: You are so raw! Honest! Authentic! All compliments. I think. I have this mental tick where I look up definitions of words when I’m trying to figure something out. I look up “raw”. -- Uncooked (like meat) -- Not yet analyzed or evaluated (like data) -- Coarse or crude (like lyrics) To be fair, “raw” and “honest” are the words I hear often applied to my writing. It’s gritty, it’s heavy on the detail, and it does not avoid messy shit. But hearing those words applied to my writing somehow makes more sense, than hearing those words applied to describe my face. My face is raw? And honest? Thank…. You…? I like raw things - like writing, music and fruit. I like honest things - like writing, music, and people. I like being brave and courageous - like leaving your kid for the first time with someone who is not you? Terrifying. All the courage. I don’t super like being called raw and brave for things that (at least on the surface) are neither raw nor brave - like… having a face. And yet… Bare face on camera - raw. My bare arms at a wedding - brave. Shorts while pregnant - authentic. Soft belly post-birth - honest. These comments are really a reflection of what people see and DON’T see on a regular basis, aren’t they? When we pause, when we say “whoa!” at something, it signals a deviation from what we normally see. Did you know they use the length of time babies stare at something as a measure of interest in developmental psychology research? You show babies two things and see which one the baby look at longer. The idea is that the longer the baby looks at something, the more they find it interesting. We look at a thing that is new and unusual longer. We linger. We comment. We go “whoa!”. Want to hear something funny? The very first linea negra I have ever seen on a pregnant woman (you know that dark line that runs down the belly?) was on my best friend. I was in my 30s, and have been working with women for years. I mean, sure, I was not a labour and delivery nurse, but still… Why have I never seen that line before? Well… go ahead and Google “pregnant woman”, and see how many bellies will show that line. None of them. All bellies are smooth, and perfectly round. You’d need to actually Google “linea negra” to see images of the dark line running down the belly. It’s not the default image that pops up when you simply look at images of pregnant women. I think the same goes for selfies, and engagement ring hands, and shorts while pregnant. We just … don’t see too many of them? Not unless we deliberately expose ourselves to those things. I still remember being slightly let down, when I started going to a REAL HIGH SCHOOL IN NORTH AMERICA, and while rows of lockers looked exactly like they did in all the shows I watched growing up, people surely didn’t. People seemed… how do I say this… not as tall, not as White, not as conventionally attractive as the cast of a typical afternoon sitcom that took place IN a high school. Thank goodness for that, of course, because who wants to receive an education in a fake made-up place full of cardboard cutouts, but… I did go “whoa” there for a second. Many of us have the same notion of what human physical bodies look like. Many people’s idea of what a normal human body looks like is about as realistic as my idea of what a student body at a North American high school was. One blessing of working in the health and wellness industry is the sheer amount of exposure to a variety of bodies. I am constantly changing in and out of clothes at a yoga studio, a gym, beside my car at a race - often surrounded by humans of all shapes and sizes doing the same. As a health coach, I have seen hundreds of women in their underwear, as they document their progress in getting stronger, or faster, or leaner, or more pregnant. But if that’s not your reality, and most human bodies YOU see show up on a little lit-up screen, then it’s quite easy to construct an incredibly warped perception of reality, fueled by magazine covers, Tiktok reels, and IG grids. I worked with a client once - mostly sedentary, living in a large body and managing a chronic condition - who subscribed to dozens of bodybuilding magazines. Her own body was THE only body she saw on a regular basis that was not eight percent body fat AND covered in tanning oil. When I discuss body image with clients, I often ask where they see bodies like theirs. Living, breathing, being active? And if the answer is nowhere, then I encourage them to curate their social media feed, to find those people, to find those bodies - to start shifting their perception of reality closer to… well… actual reality. So, I’ll ask you the same thing today - from unmanicured nails to makeupless selfies to linea negra to just human bodies - where are ya getting those? And if the answer is “just you, Kate” - I’ll make sure they keep coming, AND will encourage you to get more. :) Hugs,

  • 5 Things I Will Do (And You Can Too) To Recover From My Ultra Marathon

    You may already know that I ran my first ultra marathon yesterday. Later that evening I felt like I have been hit by a truck, AND like both of my ankles are broken. And like someone just kicked me in both kneecaps. Otherwise, I’m all good. So often we put all of our focus and planning into the race itself, without thinking ahead to recovery as well. A nilly-willy approach to recovery (e.g. not aiming to get more sleep, not dialling in the nutrition, taking complete rest) can significantly prolong your recovery time. Did I mention that I have a Tough Mudder in less than a week? Time for an accelerated recovery plan. For the next 7 days, I plan to: 1. Get off my ass. And go to Crossfit. Hahahaha! NO!. Walking and hiking, preferably outdoors, will work best. No stupid shit. 2. Stuff my face. Mostly with protein. Eggs, tuna, chicken. Bring it on. Add protein powder. Blend. Serve. Hell, I’ll take an IV. Hook me up. 3. Namaste, yo. Bring on the yoga. Simply moving through a gentle flow, especially in a hot room, will do wonders. The key is to avoid vigorous classes – you want recovery, not a BootCamp. 4. Guzzle down. Hydrate. Hydrate. Pee. Repeat. 5. Hit the sack. Even earlier than usual. This is the super ninja weapon of recovery. Make it happen. Zzzzzzzzz… Will you join me? (Hi, Jen!) Your newly minted ultra runner, Solo

  • Wall Balls, Double Unders And Skimpy Outfits – CrossFit Open 2013

    On Wednesday night, yet again, I rushed home, threw my bag on the floor, and (while still wearing street shoes) ran towards my computer to turn on the live feed from the CrossFit Games Open. Few friends are already online, doing the same thing. Please, please, no double-unders or muscle-ups. Please, please… … drum roll… This year’s 13.3 is last year’s 12.4. Now, apart from the disappointing lack of creativity, this is actually a pretty brilliant workout. It adjusts difficulty by the level of athlete. Anyone can do a wall ball. Therefore, anyone with any fitness level can actually do this workout, start with wall balls and get through as many as they can. Double-unders are more difficult, and may seed out many athletes (like me) who have not yet mastered them. Those who fly through the double-unders have to perform muscle-ups – definitely one of the more difficult body weight exercises. If the workout actually started with muscle-ups, then most people would automatically not be able to complete the workout. At the live announcement, the two athletes that battle it out are Talayna Fortunato and Kristan Clever. Unlike last week where Annie took the lead fairly early on, this was a very close battle. Women were going head to head, but Kris KILLED the double-unders – all 90 unbroken!!! “I heard her doing unbroken double-unders, and thought ‘shit’.”, says Talayna. Yeah, I would think that too. I still think kips are ridiculous. Swing. Swing. Pull. Kick. Kip. Give me a break. Some strategy suggestions from the video – keep the pace consistent. “Always stick with the plan”, Kris says, after methodically working her way through 150 wall balls, taking 8 second breaks after sets of 20-25. Talayna’s tip? “Don’t climb a mile in elevation”. The live workout is streamed from Boulder, Colorado at 5,430 feet (1,655m), and that can definitely play a role in physical performance. Clever beat Fortunato. I’m so very tempted to make a pun about being clever vs. being fortunate. Must resist… On a different note, I was somewhat put off by some of the comments I saw on Facebook, regarding the athletes, however. While I would really rather not repeat the offensive comments, it boiled down to calling Kristan Clever a man. Really, people? Kristan Clever goes by Kris, and has a buzz cut. She does not wear booty shorts or make-up. I wear men’s ties, most of my trail shoes are men’s, and prefer deodorant scents that are called “Arctic Wave” and “Cool Rain” to “Vanilla Va-va-voom” and “Tiny Baby’s Behind”. So what? I’m all for dress-up and pretty.. but if you think women who work out look like this (while working out!): … you need a serious reality check. This is about as realistic as porn. About as tasteful too. And I’d take a buzz cut over “I’m fully made up and manicured, and my hair is perfectly blow dried… and what do I do with these things again” look any day. Kris clearly does not go out of her way to look feminine, and prefers a more androgynous (some would say masculine) look. Other than that, there is nothing particularly different about her or her body, compared to other female athletes. Now, given how Kris looks, it actually would not be that surprising if someone honestly mistook her for a guy if they saw her at a grocery store. That’s not offensive. Plenty of tomboyish girls with short hair had that happen to them. They corrected the individual who made the mistake, and went back to kicking ass in soccer, hockey, Olympic lifting, or CrossFit. What is offensive is knowingly refer to a woman as a man with the intention of insult. In this case, it is also about as original as making a pregnant joke, while getting an ultrasound of the knee. Grow up. Rant over. I’ll be taking on 13.3 in a few hours. I’ve never done a muscle-up in my life, but fortunately with my double-unders, I do not have to worry about those! Goal – get through the wall balls, and get as many double-unders as possible. I’ll need ALL the time I can get. On an unrelated note, I will be taking on Around the Bay 30k Road Race this Sunday. This will be my longest pavement run yet. And I’m terrified! Ironically, I have covered more than marathon distance multiple times on foot, while carrying stuff and people, but there is something about the repetitive pounding of the pavement, that just makes me nervous. Keep your fingers crossed for me! And if you are in town, head to Homegrown Hamilton after the race, and say hello. Signing off, Solo

  • “I Have Never Seen Anything Like This” – Operation Lockdown

    “I have never seen anything like this”, a friend said to me a few days ago, as we watched the line in our little grocery store wrap around the aisles and go all the way to the back of the store. “I have”, I said slowly. I don’t remember much, but I do remember that there were a lot of lines in the USSR right before it collapsed. Lines and empty shelves. A loaf of bread cost a quarter (of a ruble). I remember eating most of the loaf on my way home (not because I was hungry, but because the bread was so good). I also remember that grownups were really stressed out. There was this nervous energy in the air. And the smell of fear. I asked my grandma this morning what infamous bread lines were like after the war. “Three days”, she says. “They’d write a number on your palm in blue ink. And we took turns going home to sleep and shower.” “Oh, and it didn’t matter what they sold. You’d see a line, and get in, because at least they were selling SOMETHING.” “But I have never seen anything like this”, she said. “We never had to avoid each other.” #operationlockdown #notacoachingtip #whatdoyouremember #madeinUSSR Hugs, SOLO

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