New Fitness and Pushing the Comfort Zone

I do not remember learning what “comfort zone” means. It has been a part of my generation’s upbringing, and a phrase that was naturally ingratiated into our vocabulary at young ages. Rather than being a one-trick toddlers and teen, I have always been pushed to get out of that zone of complacency and comfort.

As an adult, I had to realize what my comfort zone actually was. Though I was taught to always push myself and try new things, I was also keen to accept praise whenever the endeavour was successful and even more eager to avoid complete failure. I am 25 years old, and I realized that I generally reject what I am not good at. My comfort zone is built on feeling accomplished, and failure is perhaps the most scary thing to me.

This mind set has been detrimental to my fitness. I realize that now. I have avoided gym memberships and classes, marathon training, going solo to a yoga studio, etc. because I do not want to be a failure in front of others. I don’t want to display my physical weakness, the fact I can’t touch my toes, or the way I sweat like a giant man. The thought of it is NOT COMFORTABLE.

Enter Rock Climbing.

I have always been a “finesse” fitness person. I have done yoga, tennis, ballet, and generally avoided the high impact sports (especially with teams). I have considered myself weak and incapable of things like rock climbing… even though I have always wanted to try it. My chance came this February, when my husband was invited to go by his school’s departmental secretary (who is the nicest person you will ever meet). I wanted to go and see what it was like, but I was so nervous to be an amateur in a room of experienced climbers. My hands were sweaty from the moment we left our apartment to the moment I stood in front of the wall ready to climb. I was shaking and scared that I had made a mistake. Negative thoughts ran through my head faster than I could process them. Then I started to climb.

I was not very good. I had a hard time positioning my legs on the wall and using my fingers to grip the rocks. I forgot I had muscles anywhere else but my arms, and I awkwardly made it to the top of the wall in about 5 minutes. When I got to the top though, I did not feel like a failure in comparison to others. I felt a high of accomplishment. THIS is what getting out of your comfort zone feels like. It was not a perfect climb, nor was it my ideal way exercise, but getting to the top of that wall was a feeling of triumph. For that moment, I did not care what others thought.

We have continued to go to the same facility to climb nearly every week. I started at the lowest level of climb, and I have managed to go up one level since then. I’m still the worst climber out there, but I can’t get enough of that feeling of pushing myself further. It has also inspired me to try other things that I usually avoid because of the fear that I will not be comfortable (like going solo to a yoga class).

What has pushed you out of your comfort zone as an adult? What piece of your fitness routine drives you the most? What have you learned about yourself through trying new things? These are all questions that I hope to answer POSITIVELY by the end of 2018.

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And It Was All Yellow

Hi my name is Forrest and yellow has a special place in my heart. I have always loved the colour, but rarely find the right shade to compliment my fair skin tone and green eyes (which can turn a little catty in contrast with sunny hues). This season I have noticed a wonderful array of mustard and daisy yellows in shop windows, and I cannot WAIT to add some of these pieces to my wardrobe.  My personal fave of the bunch is the wrap skirt!

  1.  Waterfall Shirt
  2. Striped Wrap Skirt 
  3. Polka Dot Surplice Top
  4. Slide Sandals
  5. Floral Shift Dress
  6. Kimono
  7. Rain Coat
  8. As If Print

Friday Favourites – Amazon

Anyone else a serial Amazon window shopper? I find the cutest things and add them to a list of things that I think I will eventually buy. Here are the things I fell in love with this week, all of which I would spend my paycheck on (if I had one…. I’m currently on strike and not getting paid). I’ll keep you updated on what I buy and try out!

 

  1. More Coffee Tumbler
  2. Herbivore Bathsalts
  3. Herschel Pack
  4. Daniel Wellington Watch
  5. Yoga Socks
  6. Plant Lamp
  7. I Did My Best Yoga Mat

A Young Female PhD Student – My first encounter with “innocent” misogyny

I started my Ph.D. in the Humanities in the Fall of 2015. Riding out the energy from finishing my Master’s degree the previous term, I was ready to begin the long winded process of receiving the title of “doctor”.

Every Ph.D. student in my program receives a Teaching Assistantship (TAship). The TA’s assist in grading and examinations for full time courses, and they are also given designated tutorials to help students learn how to work with the material in their given class. Being a TA was a dream come true – I love grading and it was like an apprenticeship before I actually got to direct my own course one day.

Every year there are workshops at the beginning of the year for new TA’s to attend in order to learn the ins and outs of the classroom. During the first session (which had about 60 other keen Ph.D. students from several different departments), I was approached by an administrator. He was tall and thin with white hair and glasses. He asked for a private conversation, and then began whispering to me at a level where the rest of my peers in the immediate area could hear exactly what he said: “You are so young. Students tend to not respect younger women, so are you prepared to deal with the consequences of that?” My jaw dropped. My beet red face was throbbing with anxiety and anger. I was singled out. I was not scared of his warning, but more concerned with the reason why he would feel he needed to approach me before I had even entered a classroom.

When this administrator approached me, he set a very dangerous equation before me: (age)+(gender)+(authority) = disrespect from students. What was left unsaid? This could possibly lead to an ineffective classroom model for both me and my students. This is a bold assumption. This is “innocent” misogyny that seems to come from a place of care… but it doesn’t.

Fast forward to today.

My first year as a TA in the classroom wasn’t easy; the second year was better; and this year is the best so far. I teach full courses in the summer as an adjunct professor at another university. And you know what? I have never been disrespected by a student. My students are awesome. I have excellent attendance from my students. I have excellent evaluations. I feel good about my overall experience.

Further, I have witnessed that students who are held accountable to a mutual respectful relationship rise to that task. I am sure there are the outliers and that some professors (both women and men) have been disrespected in more ways than one in the classroom; however, it seems toxic to expect disrespect before class even starts.

That first conversation with the male administrator illuminated a problem that continues to be confirmed for me: male authority figures at my university judge me by my age and gender and not on my merit. While I may be expected to succeed, it is not surprising if I fail. I have been belittled by that one administrator, my program director (indirect), and the first professor who I worked for (who thought I was too young and unexperienced, and therefore useless. Might I point out that he read his lecture straight from the powerpoint….).

I am not really sure how to end this post. I think this ugly symptom of graduate school is problematic, but definitely not the end-all-be-all of my career or the very capable women around me. I am disappointed every time I have faced a male authority figure who sees my age and gender as a liability, but part of me just loves proving them wrong.

Let’s go ladies.

*PS: I also should add that the university that I teach at in the summer is amazing and gives me hope for equitable relationships in the academic workplace.

Walking on Lake Ontario – Free Toronto Weekend Adventure

Do you ever do something awesome and then immediately feel like you should have had it on your curated bucket list? It’s probably not an every day occurrence, a random enjoyable experience can sneak up on you and you just know that it was bucket list worthy.

This sort of experience happened to us last week (and by us I mean: me, the husband, and the dog).

It was another day of going to the dog park with our pup. We decided to forgo our normal winter area and check our the Cherry Beach dog park since it was above freezing and parking is free. When we got there, we realized the lake was FROZEN SOLID. Not only that but people were walking on the ice… with their dogs!

We had heard tell of this before, but we’re not necessarily all that familiar with winter. In my mind ice = danger. I think of scenes with near death experiences from Its a Wonderful Life, Little Women, The Chronicles Of Narnia, etc. However, how could we pass up a chance to walk on a Great Lake?? & with our dog??

When we stepped our onto the ice I went into oscillating states of happiness and pure fear. Eventually the fear went away and I was able to really take in how amazing this happen stance opportunity was. I could tell that walking on the lake was kind of normal to other people there, but it was honestly something that I would have never known that I wanted to do until I did it. It was beautiful, natural, and a lot of fun!

Monday OOTD – Work Casual

Lately I’ve been shopping the Zara sale and I’ve found so many work appropriate items. This silk top is one of my favorite colors (forest green 👌🏻) and is perfect for pairing with jeans for an easy work casual look.

Silk blouses are actually my favorite to wear to work. They aren’t stuffy and they steam easily in the bathroom while I shower (so no ironing!). I paired it with a pair of flare jeans from Gap and my favorite heeled black boots from Amazon. The flare jeans are about 8 years old… but a closet staple for my long legs! The gold necklace is vintage and a part of my late momo’s (grandmother) extensive costume jewelry collection.

Do you want more work casual looks? Let me know in the comments!

-Forrest